I ran the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon in Chesapeake, VA on Saturday, April 13. This was the race’s 7th running and my first go at a half. I saw the ad for the race somewhere (Runner’s World?) and was intrigued by the name and the promise of a flat course. I think it was the perfect choice for my first half.
Registration, Packet Pick-Up, SWAG
The registration was handled by Active. $77 got me in, as well as my son for the “Cub Run”. Quite the bargain! The packet pick up turned out to be at the hotel in which we were staying – the Hyatt Place Chesapeake. After fighting horrendous DC traffic all the way down, we were very happy to not have to fight more crowds or drive all over Chesapeake. Little Runner and I picked up our packets while DH checked us in. It was a very smooth pick-up. No line! Little Runner received a cute “Cub Run” shirt that he insisted on wearing immediately and I received a nice fleece pull over. My pull-over just had the Mettle Events logo on it. I was disappointed that it was plain but discovered I received the wrong one and they are working on getting me one with the race logo. We also received two little drawstring backpacks and some local literature and SoyJoy bars. There were some race shirts, hats, etc. for sale but it was cash or check only so I had to pass.
The hotel itself was great! We requested a handicap room so that I could take an ice bath after my race and the room was very spacious. It was also very quiet! The bed was comfortable and I slept like a rock! There were many restaurants within a mile of the hotel so we had no problems scrounging up dinner and breakfast.
We were up at five and at the Cracker Barrel by 6. Little Runner was a bit out of sorts and we had a huge fight before leaving the hotel. We got our act together, though, and enjoyed a nice breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, a banana, and half a blueberry muffin. Perfect! Race time was slotted for 8 so we left the restaurant by 7. It was a short 15 minute drive to the Dismal Swamp and we parked with ease within a short walk to the start. The temp was in the low 50s with a bit of a breeze. I wore capris, short sleeve shirt, wool socks, my Saucony Ride 5, and sunglasses.
The start was delayed five minutes to allow everyone to park. The first ones out were the pushers. This race was being run by Ansley’s Angels and had several pushers and hand crank racers. Five minutes later, it was our turn! Even though it was a smaller race, there were still pacers. I lined up with the 2:30 group but left them after the first mile when they were staying around 12 minutes/mile. Looking back, this was not wise. Also, my right knee gave a twinge when I stepped on the start mat. Duh, duh, duh! Foreshadowing!!
The course certainly lived up to its description. It was a flat as a pancake! We ran through a tunnel of foliage for the the first 4 miles. There were very few glimpses of water, which was a bit of a disappointment, but there was some shade and everything was very green. I ran the first 3 miles without music but turned it on at the second water stop. At mile 4, the elites passed me on their home stretch to the finish. It is fun seeing the super fast runners but it made me feel like I was running in slow motion! I cheered on the top runners and all of the pushers who passed by and some returned a wave or thumbs up. Mile 6.5, turn around and do it again! Miles 4ish-9ish were in the sun since the woods gave way to a flat open field on one side so it was a bit toasty. There was also more of a headwind. At first, that was refreshing but then it was just annoying. Until mile 10, I was hanging around11 minutes/mile. That would have given me a 2:20 finish. But, right after mile 10, I started to slow so I decided to walk a bit. BIG mistake. My right knee started hollering when I resumed my running. I know I was unconsciously compensating but I couldn’t help it. Before long, my adductor muscles (boy, that sounds so much better than groin!) started cramping and I had some serious spasms going on. I kept slowing more and more until I was finally reduced to a walk. I knew I was going to blow my goal time of 2:30. When I heard the 2:30 pace group coming (the one runner was very chatty! 🙂 ), I pretty much started bawling like a baby. I feel sorry for the poor guy working the water at mile 12. I was a snotty, crying mess. Thank goodness for sunglasses! I limped through the last mile and Little Runner brought me home at 2:42:24.
I can’t get the video to embed but here’s my finish
I almost went down once I crossed the last mat. I am so thankful for the wonderful medical staff who were right there. They had me seated, iced, and dosed with ibuprofen within minutes. I rested there for a bit and waited for DH to find us. I then shared some pizza with Little Runner and sat in the grass to stretch and wait for his Cub Run. His run was a hoot! He put on his Speedy McSpeedster face and went to town! I think he had a great time!
This was a great race, overall! There was plenty of on course support – water at 1,3, 5, 7, 9, 12 and Gatorade at two of the tables (I think). There were also volunteers giving out Power Gels at some point (mile 4?). Not a lot people cheering but it was barely noticeable with the heavy vegetation. There were also 3 port-a-potties on the course. I think there should have been a couple more at the first one since there was a long line and the men weren’t able to sneak off into the trees with the course!
I give this race a solid A. My efforts, though, receive a C+, at best. I hadn’t been as diligent about my training the past 2 weeks, I went out too fast, I should have stretched when things started seizing up, and I shouldn’t have had a finishing time in mind for my first race of this distance. My top goal should have been to just finish.
Oh, and I thought that I had had a bad race – they announced that 3 years ago, a woman collapsed at the finish line and was pronounced dead. She was later revived and she ran the race on Saturday! Holy crap!