I made the 3.5-hour drive to Blacksburg on Saturday and went straight to Blacksburg High School for packet pickup. I was fortunate to briefly meet up with my friend Rhonda from high school and wish her luck running her very first half marathon! We almost missed each other, too, because she was leaving just as I was arriving. I stopped for a geocache on my way to my parents’ house, who were out of town for the weekend. Later I picked up Matt and we went to Mass at St. Mary’s and dinner at Bull and Bones, then it was off to bed.
(See that bird? It’s fake. It’s really a geocache!)
On race morning it was in the 40’s, and it was hard getting out of the warm car to head to the start line! I caught up with Rhonda but unfortunately we lost each other after I stopped for one last visit to the port-a-potty. We tried to reach each other via cell phone (“Where are you?” “I’m by the bag check tent, where are you?” “By the bag check tent!”) After wishing each other good luck and hanging up, we were off!
I started the race with a 1:30/30 run/walk interval, which is what I’ve been using for the last year or so for runs and races longer than 9 or 10 miles. We quickly exited the Corporate Research Center and ran along U.S. 460 to New River Valley Mall. After running through the parking lot for a bit we hit the Huckleberry Trail, which this year made up about six miles of the course.
Mile 1: 10:36
Mile 2: 10:42
Mile 3: 10:41
I love the part of the race where the course leaves the mall and enters the Huckleberry trail. The next several miles or so are heaven! I can remember exploring this old railroad bed even before it was a paved trail.
(I’ve run this race the last three years, and every year the course is slightly different. This year there were more hills, and I got to run past my elementary school!)
Mile 4: 10:34
Mile 5: 10:36
(I look like a goofball, but hey, I’m having fun!)
Mile 6: 10:47
Mile 7: 11:20
I think Mile 7 was when I decided to up my game and change my running intervals from 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes. I guess I had to walk a little longer than 30 seconds to reset my timer…good excuse for that slow mile. Ha.
Mile 8: 10:20
I had turned on Spotify somewhere around Mile 4, and at one point Tech Triumph (Virginia Tech’s fight song) played in my ear–and of course I turned up the volume. And then between Mile 8 and 9, I was treated to the same song by some members of the Marching Virginians. Of course I had to stop and take a photo!
(To the left of this group is a geocache. At least I think it’s to the left, because I’ve looked for it a bunch of times but never found it. Someday…)
Mile 9: 10:28
Mile 10: 10:26
At Mile 10 we ran right by the house where my friend Mary grew up. Mary died of cancer a couple of years ago, and I always run this race in her honor. I took this photo for her brother Geoff, who has been extremely supportive and encouraging during Ray’s cancer journey.
Mile 11: 10:15
Mile 12: 9:34
Mile 13: 10:47 (a big hill that wasn’t on last year’s course…)
Mile 0.29: 10:03
Official time: 2:19:43
I set my half marathon PR here last year at 2:18:33, and given the fact that the course was more hilly this year, and I kept stopping to take photos, I’m happy with my finish time!
After I crossed the finish line and collected my medal, I went back along the course to see if I could meet Rhonda and cheer her the rest of the way. For some reason I had this idea that she would be a ways behind me, and struggling–since this was her first half and all. Boy was I wrong! She was a quarter mile back at most, and ROCKING IT. That girl is a rockstar, I tell ya! She’s training to run the Myrtle Beach marathon in February, and her ultimate goal is to one day qualify for Boston. I have no doubt that she’ll be there someday, and maybe sooner than anyone expects.
(My tenth half, her first. May there be many more for both of us!! Look for this gal in Boston.)
So it was back to my parents’ house for a shower, lunch at Mellow Mushroom with Matt, and then the 4-hour drive home. I got stuck in some traffic (not much) and did not stop once to stretch my legs. Maybe that was why I was so sore the next day…
I’m planning to run the Fredericksburg Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, and it will be my first 5K in almost a year and a half! We’ll see if I can beat my PR of 28:08. And on December 4 I’ll be running the Blue and Gray Half Marathon! I’ve run the 5K a couple of times (that’s the race where I set my PR), but not the half. It will be on a familiar course, and I’m going to try and run the whole race with a 2/30 interval. Wish me luck!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m hoping to get out to find at least one geocache over the Thanksgiving holiday… if not it won’t be the first time I’ve gone a whole month without geocaching, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Gobble Gobble!!
(From last Easter. Not a Thanksgiving turkey…)