Tuesday, December 14, 2010

VA Runner Blue & Gray Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, December 12
Half Marathon #18/50
Weather - 30s, foggy, COLD

Second race in a double header weekend. I wasn't able to find out much about the VA Runner Blue & Gray half marathon from their website. I could tell it was going to be a smaller race, but it fit in with our schedule.

Continuation from Thunder Road recap...

We arrive at the airport about two hours before our flight. Go immediately to the Delta counter. One of the first things the agent says is "did the United counter send you over?" Uh... No... Why? Luckily that seemed to be the extent of the problems. Boarding passes in hand we head through security.  We are ravenous and of course we have burgers for lunch. Burger King this time for a Whopper (with no mayo), small fry and salad.

We have a longish layover in Atlanta (!!!!) and decide to wait for Starbucks, even though there were PLENTY of them in the airport.

So long, Charlotte
The flight is short. I doze off a bit and before I know it we are in Atlanta. Again. I've been to that airport a jillion times this year. We get our coffee and I use my coupon for a free holiday treat (peppermint bar) for us to share later. Since we have a few hours we watch a few more episodes of "Two and a Half Men" while waiting. Finally time to board. Flight is again uneventful. Yay. Get off the plane in Richmond and head to the rental car counter. Slowest guy in the world at the counter but at least we aren't really in a rush. Get the car rented and I'm not at all amused that it's raining. Driving in a strange place is already stressful, add the dark and rain to that... I was tense.

It was about 7:30 by the time we headed out on the almost 70 mile drive to Fredericksburg. It took a long time because I was a nervous wreck in the weather. Get close to the city and L locates an Applebees and we stop in for dinner.

They were pretty busy, probably because of the UFC fight. Ordered my usual. Eater with no lemon. And got...


At least our food came fast. Yum.

We saw an ad for a new dessert $1 brownie bites? Yes, please!

After dinner we headed up the street to the Wal-Mart to pick up some drinks. Since it was STILL raining I wanted to get something long sleeved just in case. Pick up nifty holiday pin, a can of beer and a windbreaker.

Then a ten minute drive to our motel. Days Inn on the outskirts of town and... Definitely NOT the Hilton.

Got all my stuff laid out and tried to drink my beer but I was tired and went to bed.


Get up earlier. Look out the window and I can tell it rained all night, but it doesn't appear to be raining. Decide to wear sleeves and bring jacket and decide right before the race starts if I need it. Race day pick up but we are not entirely sure where we are going or what the parking situation is going to be like. First mishap is we go the wrong way on the highway but luckily realize that we are going the wrong way by the first exit so we got off and go the other way.

The race starts at the VA Runner store and is literally located in a strip mall. We are able to park not more than a hundred yards from the start line. Pick up our bibs and shirts a timing chips (ankle bracelets). Use the bathroom in the store and then sit in the car until about ten minutes before the race starts. I realized later we didn't even get a full picture! We are wearing the blue/purple argyle skirts and pink heart compression socks. So cute. And sooo many people said things like "Where are you from" and "Did the forecast change" and "You're going to freeze." We'll live :D

Me and L
We were talking to a couple right before the race started, and turns out they are from Salida, CO. Random. Gun goes off and the course literally starts by running through a parking lot. Then down a street. First water station around 1.5 miles in and I'm feeling good. I note the insane downhill between mile 1 and 2 and then we are off down some wooden stairs into a path that follows a river.

Ugh, crappy quality, but that is the river back there
This part reminds me of Alaska. Temperature, course, weather... It is NOT warming up. Get to mile 3 and a semi-circle through a nice neighborhood. More residential streets and around 4 miles a girl falls and I stop to help her. Roads were SLICK from all the rain.

Four and a half miles or so in, I've just passed a water station and all of a sudden... I have to go. Bad. There is nowhere to stop along the course. Residential neighborhood and spectators. At first it's only mildly consuming my thoughts. I promise to stop at the very next port-o-potty. Just before mile 6 another aid station. But no damn potty. Grrr. BIG hill up and then weird lap around a stadium to head back.

I am crushed. I know for 100% sure there is no bathroom until I get back to mile 4/9 aid station. I have to slow down a lot. All the pressure and I'm concerned that... well, something could happen. I'm hardly even thinking about the race or running, more just scanning the course looking for any possible solution. Nothing. Continually gets worse. Tempted to walk but it's cold and that also means more time until I make it there.

I'm literally crying because this sucks SO bad. I come around the corner and if I wasn't in so much pain I would have screamed and done a little dance or something. I stop to walk just before it because I don't feel like I can hold it any longer. Two or three minutes later...

I have survived. Barely. Take a Gatorade at the aid station right outside then off I go. Somehow only four miles to go. I feel light headed but not at all tired. MAD about the lack of bathrooms and how crappy (haha) it made the middle of my race. I see L at the base of the loop around the neighborhood, she is not that far ahead of me.

Statue in Mile 3/Mile 10 Loop
Neighborhood in the Mile 3/Mile 10 loop
Still feeling good. Head back down the path, up the stairs. Mile 11. Get off the path and it's all uphill from here. Seriously. Luckily since I had to pace down earlier I still had the energy to "run" up the hill. Almost EVERYONE was walking. One old guy kept jogging. He kept me motivated. Pretty much all uphill the last two miles. Still cold and glad I had my arm sleeves. Cross over the bridge and head onto parking lot. I know I'm home free. I see the old guy I was chasing on the hills start to run by me but I sprinted past him. Smoked him!!!

Cross the line. Done. Stomach feels blah which sucked because there was beer and pizza and donuts. Got my coin and we got in the car to head out.

Crazy hills at the end!
Not a medal, a finisher's "coin"
Official Time - 2:06:02
Overall - 302/526
Gender - 84/229
Division - 18/41
Garmin Distance - 13.15 miles
Garmin Time - 2:06:02
Garmin Pace - 9:35
Mile 1- 8:51
Mile 2 - 8:45
Mile 3 - 8:58
Mile 4 - 9:13
Mile 5 - 9:18
Mile 6 - 9:37
Mile 7 - 10:01
Mile 8 - 9:38
Mile 9 - 9:28
Mile 10 - 11:25
Mile 11 - 9:33
Mile 12 - 10:23
Mile 13 - 9:32
Mile 13.1 - 7:55 (Take THAT old guy :D )

Best part of the race was the NUMBER of people that made comments like "Didn't you just run through here" and "are you running this twice?" Heh. I love matchy, matchy.

Quick trip to Wal-mart to return the jacket. Back to motel for quick showers. Check out right at 11 and then have to drive 70 or so miles back to Richmond.

Get to the airport with our two hour window. Return the car. Check in with NO problems. Decide to eat at Applebees. They are having "problems" in the kitchen so no grill. Grrrrr.

Ridiculously long walk through an empty security line. Go through the new X-Ray thing and patted down. Eat at Cheeburger. Delicious.

Jalapeno cheese!
Flight to Houston is insanely long and we are in a teeny tiny plane. Arrive in Houston and I'm hungry again.

Snack on a granola bar  on the plane, finally headed back to DIA. We are delayed getting off the plane because someone had a medical emergency and we had to wait for medics to get him off the plane. Dinner of a fabulous Mac & Cheese bread bowl from Domino's.

State #18 done.

Memorable trip. Glad I don't have to do THAT again.


  1. Congrats on the double (again, right?) I just hate those ankle bracelet timing chips, mine slid down during the Seattle Half.
    Sorry about your um, delay, in the middle of the race. At least you know you can handle it if it ever happens again!

  2. Phew! Quite the double-header! Glad you made it home mostly as scheduled. Pretty nice performance considering the pit stop & back-to-back races. Your times have really come down.

  3. back to back races ! cheers to you!! good for you for not stopping going up the last hill..willpower...

  4. Agreed, crazy hills at the end. Love the medal too! I must admit, after reading your blog I am suddenly hungry!! :)

  5. Poor you! 'Crappy' issues half way in the race. Know how it feels. Know that it sucks. I feel for you. ;)
    Yay for chicking the old guy! ;)

  6. Phew! I feel far less stressed about this leg of the journey!
    You must have an endless supply of energy with these back to back races. Go you!!

    How is that mac & cheese bowl? I almost bought one before a 10K once, but I was scared to try something I've never had. But they look tasty!

  7. I missed you at the half in VA! I wasn't able to run, but I went there as a cheerleader! I saw L finishing, maybe she remembers the crazy cheerleader with a small white dog :) Nobody else was cheering on, so I was triple as loud :) It's very interesting to read a race report from my home town and I know the last 2 miles are KILLER! :)


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