This morning, I ran my eighth half marathon – and first repeat race (see my 2012 recap of the race here) and had an ABSOLUTE BLAST!
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of this event – I was so excited that I was able to represent this race as an official blogger this year, and was extremely proud of the 2013 event today! From the challenging course well-appointed with an army of incredible volunteers, to the enthusiastic spectators of Roanoke and the wide array of post-race refreshments, I would definitely recommend this race, once again, to anyone looking for a well-organized and produced endurance event.
The only bummer about this race this year was that I couldn’t get into the Hotel Roanoke – where we stayed last year – since it was FULL! I definitely prefer staying close to a race – like, within walking or shuttling distance – but alas, I had to drive, which wasn’t too bad (more on that in another post, lol).
I arrived to the City Market downtown (where packet pickup/race HQ was) at around 6:15 AM. It was the second day of the expo, but since we drove in the night before, I had to do same-day pick-up, which was very convenient. After finding my bib number and turning in my race waiver, I received my tee, chip and bib and ran into my friend Angie and her hubs, as well as Amy. While I was chatting with them, I realized something: I forgot my Garmin at the hotel! Hmm – for some reason, I took that as a sign that perhaps today was a good day to just run with my heart anyway (in more ways than one) so I took it in stride.
It was nice to wait in the warm market area, and my coach, Liz even found me! That was awesome 🙂
Before long, it was time to head out – and I ran into this character…
#runchat David! It was great to see him again, we chatted a bit about the race before heading to the start line!
The race started on time and since I was Garmin-less, I started as easy as I could. The crowd thinned pretty quickly and I was recalling the beginning of the race from last year. I knew the first part was simply headed out of town and toward Mill Mountain, before the climb was going to begin, so I took it easy and just breathed in the gorgeous morning.
On top of the regular crazy elevation fun, the course was actually re-routed to the ‘flood’ option – this message was posted to the official website earlier this week:
So, why does this make the BRM more difficult? Well, this route change adds about 206 feet of elevation change to both the full and half courses. The full marathon will now be 7,440′ of elevation change and the half will be 2,734′ of elevation change.
This only encouraged my plan of a super conservative start. Since I had no watch, I just alternated run-walk for the steeper sections of the climb. Since the road was pretty wide, it was easy to stay out of the way of those who were kicking mountain butt, charging up the path! 😉
Running Garmin-less, I was kind of surprised to see the crest of Mill Mountain sooner than I thought! This year, I had to snap a picture!
After that portion, the course turned over to a bit of gravel pathway – and the WHEEEEEEEEE downhill back to town! I was more than ready for that part! Wahoo! I devised a game of counting the people I passed – not out loud, that would be rude 😉 – on the way down…and by the time we were back on the flatter path, it was 40! It felt like a video game!
Back in town, the re-routed course was comprised of a few more out and back / turnaround sections than last year, but it was still fun and kept me interested. There were so many spirited volunteers and spectators! I did my best to shout THANK YOU! to all of them, including the police officers! It was a fantastic feeling to really feel supported.
I know this sounds crazy, but just like in Tinkerbell, I started to get a little emotional about the race almost being over around Mile 10. I thought about how happy I was that I was running this race again and how my running has grown and changed since the last year. I recognized the last portions of the race and was re-energized at the last aid station with the loud cheering (not to mention, the weird but awesome spectator that yelled : “I like your face! You are beautiful!”) and had the hugest smile on my face when I made the last few turns.
I was still playing the number game in my head at this point that I had started on the descent of Mill Mountain (I had added/subtracted as necessary with passes) and right at the last straightaway, saw two guys running…well, I was at 48, and knew I could reach “50 points” in my game if I really kicked it there in that last .2 – BAM! Wheeee!!
Sorry guys, dontcha know that sparkle = speed?
The race once again proved its awesomeness…and really, how can you argue with a tech tee like this?
Final – 2:02:32 (20th/60 in AG, 87th/439 females and 253th/796 overall) – a minute faster than last year!
Definitely a day to remember!
So, are you ready to step up to the challenge in 2014?