Saturday, August 18, 2012

News and Sentinel Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, August 18
Parkersburg, WV
Half Marathon #67
State #49 (!!!)
Weather - Foggy and cool at start, mild at finish

Originally, West Virginia was supposed to be our final state. However, due to insane airfare costs, we had to postpone our Vermont race in July. We had managed to coerce Kim to join us for state 50 (or 49 as it ended up being). We were NOT looking forward to this race. We were anticipating heat, hills, and humidity. NONE of the things I enjoy. Then, a few days before we left, I checked the weather and saw the highs weren't even going to break 80. What, what?? I can totally deal with cooler temps. MAYBE, it won't be awful.

Rewind AGAIN. K and L booked their flights in May. Due to my traveling to Peru, I didn't have the money at the time, and by the time I had the money to book a flight (mid July), their flights were going to cost me close to $600. FOR WEST VIRGINIA (Actually, flying to Columbus, OH - flying directly into West Virgina is even MORE). I ended up booking completely separate flights - meaning my flight out of Denver was at 6:00 am - 4 hours earlier than theirs, yet I'd only land about a 1/2 hour earlier. And the return flight was similar, with my flight leaving 3 hours later. But I did book for about 1/2 of what their flights would have cost. Anyway.

The News and Sentinel half marathon was pretty much only picked for 2 reasons. It fit one of my criteria (needing to have a medal) and we weren't already committed that weekend (since racing in August should be banned anyway). So off we went.

K flew in Thursday night and stayed at our house so that she could be on our same flights. As I said, I had to leave a few hours earlier, so at 4 am Friday, I was headed to the airport. My flight to Atlanta was on time, and then I had about 3 hours to kill in Atlanta. With no free WiFi. Boo. Flight to Columbus was also on time, and I landed around 3:30 pm. None of the monitors in the Columbus airport had arrivals, so instead of meeting them at the gate, I waited for them at the rental car counter. It wasn't a long wait.

L managed to rent a Jeep Liberty for the same price as a compact. Probably not as good on the gas mileage, but it was a bigger vehicle and I enjoyed being driven around in it.  We stopped on the drive to Parkersburg for Dairy Queen. Best idea ever.

You know what's delicious? The M&M brownie blizzard. I only got a size small, even though I really wanted a bigger one. Considering how much weight I've put on lately, this was probably a good call. The drive took a bit longer than we expected thanks to the Friday afternoon traffic out of Columbus. We arrived in West Virginia with no problems.

Parkersburg wasn't that far over the border, and we didn't get lost finding where we needed to go. Parking downtown was $5. Unsure if that was a cost incurred because of the race or the awesome "homecoming" festivities. Either way, there was a carnival-esque atmosphere with food and a live band. We found the packet pickup with ease:

We got our bibs and packets, and K scored a pair of her discontinued saucony shoes. Then we decided to check out the FREE pasta dinner that was being hosted down the street. BEST THING EVER. The walk to the dinner was fun and the downtown area was super cute and quaint.

I totally could never LIVE in a tiny town, but I think they are super cute. And THEN, we saw the awesome finish line:

Somewhere there is a picture of me and K running (in slow motion) across the finish line. We found the place for dinner, and it was PACKED. We shared a table with a nice lady and her two kids. She gave us some hints on where to find our West Virginia souvenirs and was super friendly. Dinner was pretty great also:

After dinner we headed out to get our souvenirs, since we were not going to have time to after the race. We ended up going to the nearby mall and picking stuff up there. Relieved to get that out of the way. We arrived at our "motel" just before 9:00. Pretty great deal for $60, outside of the ridiculous outlet situation:

We headed to bed around 10:00 pm, after eating delicious cupcakes we had picked up after dinner.  Well, L and I ate our cupcake, K dropped a lot of hers on the nightstand and floor. Sadly, no pictures of that either. I'm slacking.

Race Day

K got up first at 6:15, and we got up about 20 minutes later. I had slept surprisingly well, and had "saved time" by taping my knee and putting on my compression socks the night before. FYI, the "pro" KT tape DOES stay on tons better than the original. Not sure about the 5 day promise yet.

We left the room just after 7:00, and we were parked less than 10 minutes later. Another $5 parking charge, but we were close, so that was ok. We used the port-o-potties by the stage and there was no wait. Score. A few minutes later, we were at the start line, with about a half hour to kill.

Outside the Oil & Gas Museum
L, K, Me - Start Line!
Cycled through the bathroom lines just in time to watch the underwhelming wheelchair start - only two that I saw. Ten minutes later, we were lined up and headed to the start line. The interesting thing about this race is the separate race walk division. Also interesting - they line up close to the front, even though the race in chip timed.

Flag dropped for the Star Spangled Banner
I did not go into this race with any expectations, since my knee is still being a punk. Main goal - don't die. Secondary goal - don't fuck up my knee any worse. Gun goes off and the race starts. Mile 1 wasn't even that congested. I was feeling pretty good the first mile - the ONLY good mile of the race.

Cute house in the historic district
My calves started seizing pretty much right after we passed the first mile marker, and were super tight until mile 2. Then my knee started acting up. It sucked. I'll summarize how I felt during the race with this. DAMN IT. From about mile 2 on, it was a painful run walk. I only ran at all so that we had time to take quick showers before the drive back without anyone missing a flight. Honestly, I would have preferred to have walked the last half. The flats were the least painful. Uphills were sort of awful. The downhills were not even runnable. By mile 12 I could barely move. Even walking hurt. With that said, enjoy a few pictures I took on the course.

Around mile 4?
Every mile marker has a permanent street sign!
Mile 10.5ish  
Mile 11 or 12?
The Good
  • Pretty much everything outside of the running.
  • WEATHER - I was psyched to see temps in the low 60's for most of the race. That's much more bearable than what I've been running in, and certainly better than I expected to have in AUGUST.
  • Parkersburg is SUPER cute and everyone was very friendly. The family that we had eaten with at dinner were on the course and they did a loud "GO COLORADO" cheer for L and I when we ran by. How cute is that??
  • Most of the course is closed to traffic and there weren't any super narrow areas
  • 17 (or 18) aid stations. All had water and gatorade. Most also had ice. Two had sponges. No GU or food, or medical that I saw. At least 4 or 5 had port-o-potties.
  • The medal is REALLY nice
  • The free pasta dinner and free pizza lunch (although we didn't have time for the lunch).
The Bad
  • Calves - but at least that was minimal since it only lasted about a mile.
  • The "rolling" course was super painful because of my aches and pains. On a normal day, the hills were not NEARLY as bad as I had been anticipating, so that was great. Around mile 11.5, there was a substantial hill - the "13th Street hill" - but even that wasn't very long.
  • MY DAMN KNEE. Honestly, I thought the "worst" thing was getting slow and sluggish running. No. This is pretty much my first injury since I started racing and it fucking sucks. I felt GREAT outside of my knee and I could NOT run because every step was excruciatingly painful.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the whole experience of the race. If you have a half to run in West Virginia - pick this one. For real.

Everything is more fun with a friend!!
Bib #80
Official Time - 2:42:46
Official Split - 1:13:27
Official Pace - 12:25
Overall Place - 710/786
Division Place - 42/49
Garmin Time - 2:42:48
Garmin Distance - 13.19 miles
Garmin Pace - 12:21
Mile 1 - 9:56
Mile 2 - 10:54
Mile 3 - 13:09
Mile 4 - 11:26
Mile 5 - 11:53
Mile 6 - 12:23
Mile 7 - 12:10
Mile 8 - 12:13
Mile 9 - 12:27
Mile 10 - 12:47
Mile 11 - 12:54
Mile 12 - 14:04
Mile 13 - 14:04
Mile 13.1ish - 13:05

So yeah. You can see what went wrong and where. I'm bummed that I felt so shitty, because everything else was so good. Next blog I'll go more in depth about the stupid knee stuff.


  1. I have just begun my 50 in 50 (rather 51 in 51) and am trying to find recommendations for different states... this looks like a good one for WV!

  2. I heart WV! Thanks for making this trip amazing. Now, seriously, get your knee fixed!

  3. Awww, I live in WV, so this was fun to read! I wish you had come to Huntington for the Marshall Marathon to run the half! Next time maybe? You'd love it here!

    BUT you're right about flights in/out of WV, WHY is it so expensive!?

  4. Wish I'd been in VA - I'd have driven over to run with you guys. Glad you survived - hope you can figure out your knee.

    I hear the KT Pro. It definitely stays on 3-4 days and when my chiro puts it on me, it lasts through ice baths and showers for at least 5 days. (Not sure what he does different.)

  5. Bummer about the knee. Perhaps a long overdue rest is needed? State 49! Yay Becka! But do take care of that knee first.

  6. Congrats on state 49! I'm not even close yet but have two more on the agenda for this year. So, we're getting there. Hope your knee gets better soon.

  7. reading this really makes me want to do this one instead of the marshall race. yall looked cute (as usual). i love racing in small towns!! so sorry about your knee. have you seen a doc? And that pic of the motel plug and your phone just had me LOL on the plane. ha!

  8. That sucks about the knee - but it looks like at least you had a cute course experience!

    One more state to go!!!

  9. I was there with you in Parkersburg (though I did not know it at the time). I am doing my 50 (and DC) in less than 2 years and just started in January. I am new to blogging and am very impressed with yours. BTW, I am from CO but now live in MN. Keep up the great work!!! --Brian


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