So, (have you noticed I tend to start all of my posts with “so”?) I am still mentally smarting from Richmond but, that does not diminish my LOVE for the Blue Ridge Marathon!! Check out my recaps from 2016 and this year. I’ve already starting mentally moving on to that race.
To say it is the most fun I have ever had while running a marathon would not be an exaggeration. Everything about the race is amazing, from the course, to the course support, to custom race shirts and medals. Literally, everything is my version of perfection.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the course can and will kick your ass. The full marathon has 7,430 feet of elevation change with 3,790 for the half and 2,000 for the 10K. There is no way you aren’t running/”running” up at least one mountain – unless you do the kids dash – but it is so worth it!
My second love, only recently found, is Crazy Compression socks! I have thick calves. Like, really thick. And I was always sad that I couldn’t find fun socks that would fit me. Well, I am no longer sad! These socks fit my feet and my calves perfectly and give great support without pinching.
Since I am an ambassador for both of my favorite things (convenient, no?), I am doing a give-away! Enter today to win one entry of any distance of the Blue Ridge Marathon race series (full, half, 10K – the double is sadly sold out – *cough cough freaks*) AND a pair of Crazy Compression socks or sleeves!
Don’t dawdle! The give-away is open until noon on November 25!
Week of the marathon, everyone was losing their ever-loving minds over the weather (cold) and I was feeling a bit cruddy (stomach) and stressed (headache on Friday that was close to migraine territory).
I caught a ride down with a woman from my running group and her husband. We went directly to the expo, shortly after it opened, and were in and out relatively quickly. It’s fairly small but they had some gear vendors, a few other races (including Blue Ridge Marathon! Sign up already and use RACEBLUERIDGE for 15% off!) They also had the most brilliant vendor there – Thomas’ English Muffins! With freshly toasted muffins for everyone! Soo goood….
After that, we headed to our hotel. We were both staying at the Holiday Inn Express that is downtown. I would not stay here again. My room was okay (other than having the filthiest carpet I have EVER seen in the room) but my friend got stuck with a room that had been recently smoked in and I had problems with a late check-out (more on that later). They went to get lunch but I was feeling gross so I went to my room, unpacked, and literally sat on the couch while watching 3 hours of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and ate peanut butter filled prezels. Don’t judge me.
A large group of us then went to dinner at Graffiato’s. It was very good! It is supposed to be a tapas type place but we all ate our own plates. I had the gnocchi and roasted beets. Mmmm (Fun fact, the “beet effect” is more pronounced when you are dehydrated. I literally thought I had a kidney rupture later on Saturday).
Saturday morning dawned quite cold but clear. It was about 25-27. I had an awesome race outfit, though, so I decided to stick with it.
I did have a throwaway top and a mylar blanket to wrap around my bottom while I waited. It really wasn’t that bad. By the time I walked to the group photo and then moved to the start, I was comfortable. I did run with the blanket for the first mile but I think that was more because I was feeling a little nervous about my short shorts 😉
Mile 1 through 10 was awesome! My goal pace was 9:45-10:15 and I was around 9:30 the entire time. I saw my family at mile 9 and was really feeling great!
My knee was holding up and the weather was absolutely perfect for me! My only area of concern was that I knew I was behind on my nutrition. My stomach problems of the past week made me nervous. I really didn’t want to have to make a mid-race pit stop.
Mile 11 had us coming out from the very flat river portion of the course and climbing a couple of hills, the first one short but quite steep. And I felt something “go” in my back. And my back began to progressively tighten. I started rubbing it and running with my hand on my back to give some support. No dice. I then moved to a run walk plan. I was muttering out loud “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter” as I watched my pace click higher and higher. By the time I reached the long bridge at mile 15, I could hardly walk in a straight line and I couldn’t stand fully erect. I was slowly stumbling along and crying like mad. I texted my husband and told him I didn’t think I could finish. I texted my friend who was at mile 22 and told her I was screwed.
One of the big running groups in Richmond had a ton of coaches on the course and a lady with a giant apple hat (I think it was an apple) came running over and did everything she could to help me. She tried rubbing my back and basically shoved Advil down my throat. She told me to just get to medical at the other end of the bridge and they could help stretch me out so I could at least finish the race. I thanked her and kept stumbling on.
I never did see the medical tent in that section but the Advil eased the pain a bit so I could get my head on right. I had three big problems. 1. I could not run. I was having spasms so bad that the pain was radiating down both legs just walking. 2. I had to check out the hotel by 1:00 because they refused a late check-out and told me I would be charged for an extra day if I was late. 3. I had to finish the race. I already bought a quarter zip and a Christmas ornament! Oh, and 4. I was PISSED.
So, I texted my husband and told him to have my sweatshirt ready for me by the time I got to 19. I was going to walk the entire effing back half, if I had to. I gave him my room key and asked him to check out for me and then meet me at the finish (I was going so slow, he’d have plenty of time). I then let my BRF know what was going on and she said she’d meet me at mile 20.
So, my friend is totally nuts but has a heart that’s bigger than anything. She was also wearing a a pink Llama costume and had been spectating all morning. After I left my husband, I was slowly slogging to mile 20, feeling pretty miserable. I looked up and suddenly see this pink llama sprinting down the road towards me, hair akimbo and looking a bit crazy. It was the funniest, and best, thing I have ever seen! She then proceeded to walk with me for the next two miles. We chatted, made snarky comments, admired the houses. MarathonFoto got a picture of us but I won’t post it since she hates it but let me tell you, it is the BEST. We’re both smiling and trying to act like the camera isn’t there (I was feeling pretty sheepish for walking).
Mile 22 had us back to the MRTT aid station. My BRF stayed there but I think only because I hooked up with someone else from our group who was also injured and we were going to do a slow wog (walk/jog) together. I got a bit more Advil and a few more hugs and then my new partner and I slowly moved on. Somewhere in our wog, the meds kicked in and I was able to pick up the pace just a smidgen.
I lost my partner somewhere in mile 24 but found another friend in mile 25. By this time, my back was screaming again. My new friend was also hurt but we decided that we needed to just “finish this shit” and started our final push (big thanks to our other friend who saw us to the last corner!) Our decent down the finishing hill was 100% profanity. We were so done but we weren’t going to let the bastard get us down!
Official time: 5:39. Not my slowest marathon, so there’s that, but almost an hour slower than what my “C” goal was. Bah.
Overall: The race itself was great. Tons of support. Tons of spectators. Good course. I love the blanket at the finish. I have no complaints about anything to do with the race. Also, the support of my friends and family was, literally, everything. I would still be sitting on a curb somewhere without them
With me, though? That’s another story. I am supremely frustrated by my body. My training was on point. The first half of the race was perfect. I KNOW I can hit 4:30 but for some reason my body fails, yet again, to agree with me. Maybe I should stop trying to run for time and just stick to “fun” races. Maybe I should get serious and lose 30 more pounds so I’m not lugging so much around all the time. Maybe I should try something else. Maybe I should stop kidding myself.
I can’t believe race day is almost here again! Almost all of the miles are done, the gear has been checked, the weather is being stalked. Yikes!
Here’s a random hodge-podge of a mental dump….
How awesome is my race shirt?
I’m a huge Tom Petty fan so this seemed quite fitting. Seriously, 85% of my playlist will be TP. I’m pairing it with this skort from InknBurn
Kinda BA, no? Of course, it’s now supposed to be freezing at the start – which is good because I prefer cold but… whew, that’s cold! Thank goodness I bought a new pair of heavy arm warmers! They kept me cozy on my cool and drizzly 8 miler on Sunday so I am hopeful they will be enough.
See the knee strap? Yeah, that’s been bothering me for about 3 weeks now. It’s getting better but I still can’t run without it. I plan to tape the crap out of my leg (red and black skull KT tape!) and then put on the strap. Just keep it together, body!
My goals range from 4:15 (pie-in-the-sky, perfect day) to 4:45. Hell, I’d be “happy” with anything less than 5:xx – but I know I can do better than that! The trick will be staying out of my freakin’ head. I need to do my best and forget the rest!
I’m planning to follow the same nutrition as I did for Blue Ridge, since it served me well there. I’ve started my caffeine fast today and will start my NOx load tonight. It is supposed to improve your blood flow. When I’m doing a load, my veins get super big and it’s a bit freaky looking. But, if it helps…
On Race Day, I will primarily use the Isagenix AMPED line – e+shot at the start and one or two during the race, the AMPED Fuel gels, AMPED hydrate in one of my water bottles (plain water in the other), and a few other things in case I need it (fruit bar from Trader Joe’s and some peanut butter pretzels). I’ll also have some electrolyte capsules but I probably won’t need them if it is as cold as predicted. I will also have some toast with almond butter and honey in my room and then a banana at the start line.
My family will be spectating (with my son wearing a Peanut Butter and Jelly costume and handing out fruit snacks and Nutter Butters for part it!)
I will see some of my MRTT sole sisters on the course. I sure am lucky to have such a great support system. I’ll be honest, though, I will be looking for the guys with the Jim Beam again! They saved my bacon last year! 😀
Of course, my thought in the final .2 will be “don’t trip!!!”!
Long time, no “see”! I have a little race report for you today….
I ran the NAF last year and almost died. Okay, that’s melodramatic and not funny, considering that I did see people go down on the course (this year, too, but we’ll get to that). Still, it was SUPER tough! It was so bad, I never even wrote about it! My hip was a mess and I was in a lot of pain around mile 6. Also, the weather was super hot and sunny. Even with that and a chest cold, I still got a distance PR of 2:15:53, which was 8 minutes faster than my previous one.
This year, I needed a half around the same time and thought, surely the weather gods won’t screw us two years in a row. WRONG!
Packet Pick Up
The packet pick up was at the DC Armory this year. I was surprised because last year it was at the ball field and there were only a handful of vendors. I didn’t think they would fill the Armory. They didn’t. It was outside, under tents. They had more vendors but I was in and out in ten minutes. It was a nice, low-key pick up and went fine. The race shirt is a nice, dark blue long sleeve tech. I’ll post a picture of it later.
At the last minute, I abandoned my plan to park at my work and walk the two miles to the start and bought a spot in the Reagan Building for $15, as advised by the race. As did everyone else in the free world. Even though I left my house at 5:40, I didn’t park until almost an hour later (only a 20 minute drive) because we couldn’t get into the garage due to congestion and security has to inspect all of the cars (life in DC!). Pro tip: next time, I will go past the main entrance (by staying in the middle lane) and turn right to enter the back entrance. No line!
After that, I had to find the portajohns. Which were at the finish festival area, as far from the start as they could get. There were only three lines and they were long!
Per usual, I was in line when the National Anthem was sung. Luckily, I was able to run to the starting area right before they closed the first yellow wave. I had to almost trample a ton of red bib runners who were already crowding the start even though the announcer was yelling to let the yellows through. Bah.
After that stressful beginning, my heart rate was jack rabbiting all over the place. I couldn’t get it to come down and I was running in the 8s. I read that in order to run a 4:15 marathon (my plan for November), you should be able to do a 2 hour half so that was my plan. That meant keeping a pace around 9:09. The first 4 miles had me in the very low 9s, high 8s. I knew I needed to control that! The good thing about starting way at the end of the wave was it was pretty empty ahead of me. I had to pass a lot of people but I didn’t feel boxed in for the first couple of miles during the first out and back and then around Hains Point, like I usually do.
I was running with my Hydra Quiver from Orange Mud so I didn’t need to stop at the water stops. I had one bottle full of Amped Hydrate and the second with “smart” water, both half frozen. It was so hot, though, that they completely thawed quite quickly. At mile 6, I used half of a e+ energy shot from Isagenix.
By mile 7, I was HOT. This was around the Kennedy Center and Watergate. It was really the only spot with a lot of spectators but most of the families just stood there silently, some holding signs. I asked a guy next to me if they were watching a funeral. Pro tip: It’s okay to cheer for runners other than your own! They actually like it!
We were now going up Rock Creek Parkway. It is not really flat. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a dirty liar. The road is severely canted in some areas so you are fighting gravity in two directions. We also had to go up a legit hill to the turn around. Let me tell you, my legs were begging for mercy at that spot. Luckily, I knew some of my MRTT friends were just ahead so I kept moving. At this point, was a bit ahead of my needed average pace (but I knew what was coming).
At mile 10, I dropped my half full Amped Fuel packet. I had just taken some and it flew out of my pouch. I wasn’t sure if I would need the rest so I trotted back and tried, and tried, and tried to pick it up. Finally got it up and secured on the 4th try. Did I mention I was hot?
Mile 11 and 12 were rough. The sun came out and we had to go on a fully exposed area by Lincoln Memorial and on the Memorial Bridge. I took the rest of my e+shot but my pace still dropped to 9:35 and 9:42. I could tell from my average that I would not make my 2 hour goal but I didn’t give up and walk, like I usually do! Instead, when I beeped at 12 I decided to go as hard as I could. Normally, I have a strong finish kick. There was no kick this year. My tank was E-M-P-T-Y. My last mile was 9:00 even and I crossed the finish line at 2:02:58.
At the finish, I got my snazzy medal and a bottle of water but I was shaking so bad, I could hardly hold the bottle. I immediately took two Endurolyte caps from Hammer and they kicked in while I was talking to some MRTT friends and I felt better. I then went to the food area and got some pretzels (which I immediately ate), chocolate chip cookies (ditto), a muffin, and two granola bars (neither of which I ate). I almost attacked a sketchy looking guy to find out where he got his banana but, alas, he brought his own (insert raunchy joke here).
After that, I decided to head back to the parking garage because I knew we had to go through security to get into the building and last year it was a nightmare. Luckily, I ran into two more MRTT friends who told me about the “secret” entrance. Pro Tip: skip the line at the main doors and go a bit further down the building and take the first right. No one used that entrance so we were through in a heart beat and the bathroom is right there. But, if you all crowd it next year so I have to wait in line, I demand the ability to cut the line 😀
This is not a Marine Corps race (or even Army). They needed more bathrooms at the start and closer to the start. They need a better wave system. They need better communication, overall. The weather still sucked (but the race couldn’t control that one). There were hardly any spectators so if you need a crowd to keep you going, this isn’t a good choice. It would have been nice if there was a HS pep group on Hains Point or something. That was so boring. The race shirt is nice. The medal is fine.
I’d give it a solid B. I say I won’t do it again but… well, I’ll likely see you next year.
Well, it’s back to Day 1 of marathon training! Richmond will be my 8th marathon! I can hardly believe that!
Training started nice and gentle with only 3 miles today. Tomorrow has 6+ miles of intervals, though, before 6 am so I’m not so giddy about that… My training buddy and I are trying a plan from Runner’s World this time around. We are trying to break 4:15. Which is insane. It’s especially insane because everything but the speed work days are to be at 11:00 minute miles or slower!
After spending so much time trying to run faster, we are having a REALLY tough time going slower. Like, really tough. I understand the reason but I’m not sure how successful we will be with this. Since my pace naturally slows so much during the marathon, I don’t know how training at this pace is going to help me “learn” the correct pace. Maybe that’s “old school” thinking, though. Maybe the physiological benefits of not trying to continually kill my legs will reap great benefits on race day. I’m highly intrigued by how this will all unroll.
Needless to say, if this works, I’ll be over the moon!
Have you ever tried a plan from RW or spend the majority of your time at a much slower pace? How did that work for you?
So, I went from a season of sloth to running full-tilt, with about 24 hour’s transition time.
My BRF and I have decided to take on a 3 times a week weight training plan to improve our strength before marathon training begins and we’ve decided to train for a “fast 5K” somewhere around July 4th weekend, to improve our strength. While both of these are “good”, both together is a bit tough to schedule.
In all our planning, we have recently discovered a distinct lack of rest days. We are on week 3 and our burn-out risk is super high!
It’s so difficult! We want to do all of these great things but we just don’t have the time! As much as I hate to say it, I think either my beloved Friday boot camp (and optional Wednesday one) will have to go or be replaced by a weight day. So sad! (I never thought I’d see the day where I was sad about missing boot camp…)
What’s the point of this post? Hell if I know. I’m tired. And hungry. (Ohmygod! I’m more hungry now than during marathon training! Send food!)
Meanwhile, my new FitBit is getting snarky with my routine 6 hours of sleep. It actually told me that one day’s workout was going to hurt worse because I didn’t get enough sleep in a certain stage the night before. Not helping!!
So, that’s my news. Oh, and I apparently have a trail half marathon in two weeks. Huh. Good times, y’all!
I always have a hard time writing this report because there is SO MUCH to tell! Bear with me, this will be long (and has a ton of pictures). TL;DR It was awesome. You should do it 🙂
My race prep started Thursday night when my Sole Sister give me a fantastic send off. She was unable to race this year due to family commitments so she did the next best thing by plastering my house with a fantastic sign, a light-up star, a bottle of champagne, and other goodies (including a shower cap because the weather guys said there would be rain)
Friday morning I picked up the other two runners from my MRTT chapter and we made the trek to Roanoke with no problem. We stayed at the Cambria hotel again and, once again, I say it’s the best choice. We had a two bedroom suite that was as big as some apartments! I highly recommend them!
We hit the expo as soon as it opened. Everything was well managed and it seems like it was a bit bigger this year. All race distances received a custom shirt. This was the first year with the double marathoners being an official distance so they even had their own race shirt! Not a lot of smaller races do that! They are also SUPER soft! We also received a free pair of socks from Farm to Feet.
And there were more clothing options this year so I grabbed the best hoodie ever and a new buff that I will cut down and use as three head bands.
We had a lovely meal at Fortunato’s. I had bolognaise with homemade spaghetti and my friend had a fennel and speck pizza. We both had sides of roasted beets 🙂
We left the hotel at 6:30 and walked over to the start. It was just over a mile and it was a nice little warm up. It was sprinkling but not bad. We dropped our bags with no problem, met up with some other friends, and then went to check out the VIP area that I had access to as part of being a blogger and having a team. The indoor bathrooms were nice and we could have had some coffee or a muffin or fruit but we were good.
The race started at 7:35 with a legit cannon and we were off!
First stop was Roanoke Mountain. The course was crowded for the first almost 3 miles but thinned out considerably when the half marathon and 10K people split off to go up Mill Mountain to the star. It was a bit drizzly and we were running through the clouds as we went up the mountain. As usual, the first overlook did not disappoint!
At the top of the mountain, there was a big aid station with gummy bears, pretzels, bananas, and oranges. It was nice to have some real food!
We then went back down into the mist and it soon turned into rain
Then we went back up Mill Mountain to the star.
Then down for the alcohol!!
Then down we went to the town, along the river and greenway and through the soccer field (including what we referred to as the “rape and murder tunnel” – though I am sure it is perfectly safe!) The weather was still holding so it was quite comfortable and it was very different from the sunny death march of last year!
And then… duh, duh, du PEAKWOOD!
Yeah, Peakwood is still a bitch. You go up, and then down and think “oh, that wasn’t bad” and then you go UP!! Luckily, I was prepared this year and didn’t want to die at the top! Though my calves were screaming for mercy!
And then down we went, back to town. Around mile 22, our friend who was supporting her husband (who placed second in his AG in the half, NBD… ) found us and was going to run with us but I told her that the police were reporting lightning and asked that she go back and find out what was going on. Not long afterwards we were informed that the course would be closing. There was a bus coming and our friend confirmed that we could finish on our own and get a medal or get on the bus and not. By that time we were almost at mile 24 so we chose to not get on the bus. They took down our bib number and confirmed that we understood that the course was now open to traffic. We said yes and off we went!
This is the first time I have had a race called due to weather and I think they handled it very well. The aid stations were packing up but they left cups out for anyone they could catch before they left and a lot of the course marshals stayed at their posts. We only had to cross two bigger roads without a marshal and the traffic stopped for us with no problem. Even the volunteers who were walking back to their cars would stop and cheer for us. Seriously, Richmond Marathon may say they are the friendliest marathon but I think BRM is an EXTREMELY close second. Every single volunteer went above and beyond to give us an excellent race!
So, the clock was ticking and the clouds were looming and we were hot-footing it for the finish. We were all hurting but we knew we were almost done. I was really happy I knew the course so I could give my team a heads-up before the last big hill and talk them through the finish.
They were tearing down the finish area but we still had a clock time and received our medals. Also, our awesome friends at the finish secured food (and beer!) for us and helped us get to shelter before all hell broke lose. Seriously, it would have been a different finish without their support!
Crowd support/aid stations/all the volunteers
How they handled the shut down
The rain at the end but what can you do??
Solid A! This remains my favorite race! It still kicked my butt but I still don’t care. I ran without a watch (until the very end, just so I knew where we were for our support crew) and we lingered over the views and at the aid stations and that made it awesome! Yes, we could have been faster but we would not have had as much fun! We chatted with all sorts of interesting people along the way and just had an amazing adventure. I will definitely be back next year!
48 hours from now I will likely be enjoying a mimosa as I descend Mill Mountain as part of the Blue Ridge Marathon.
This will be marathon #7 and Blue Ridge #2. For a girl who never used to run, that’s saying something!
The weather is looking spotty. Maybe rain. Maybe crazy humidity. At least there will be cloud cover so I won’t burn my ears and have massive burn lines on the back of my calves (CWX capris, apparently, make a very good sun barrier!). I’m still packing sun screen, though. And Vaseline. And wool socks.
I’ve said it a million times but BRM can eat you up and spit you out if you aren’t careful. As with last year, I plan on this to be a “joy” race. I’ll start my Garmin (just so I can play with numbers later) and then stash it in my pack until the final mile.
My only goals are:
A) Keep my ess together enough to partake in the fun on Peakwood. I was a mess at that point last year and I’m very sad I wasn’t able to hang out for a minute up there.
B) Keep my ess together enough to support anyone running with me. I will have at least 1, and maybe 3, runners with me and I want to give them as much support as I can.
C) Have fun.
D) Get at least one good race picture.
Overall, this training cycle has been fantastic! I’ve been hitting paces that I’ve never dreamed of (my tempo runs are in the low 8s! What the what??!) and I’m feeling super strong. While I have no intention of “racing” on Saturday, I have been using my training to create a super solid base for the fall. This race is a celebration of my hard work and a nice set up to my summer strength work.
So, once more unto the breach, dear friends! Time to climb some mountains!
I finally had a stress dream about the Blue Ridge Marathon last night. In my dream, I was late to the start, I was wearing the wrong clothes (including a sweatshirt!), and I was worried that I shouldn’t even start since the race started 20 minutes ago and I was “so slow” that I was sure I’d not make the time cut off (which is 7.5 hours, btw). Throughout the dream there were actual, literal signs that reflected the true stressors that I’m working through right now. Uh, Dr. Freud, your slip is showing….
I’ll admit that I’m not handling things well right now. I’ve spent a lot of time crying. I missed my workout yesterday. I’m tempted to just throw my hands up in the air and walk away from it all. (I’ll admit that I am more than tempted by that last one.)
So not healthy.
So, what can I do?
I can eat well.
I’m feeling antisocial but I can kick my own butt in classes.
I can support others. Even though I don’t really feel like it and the weather will be rough, I will be out spectating at the DC Rock n Roll half marathon tomorrow (sorry, the marathon starts too early for me to get there with Little Runner). The weather will be gross so they will need extra love.
I can try to get out and enjoy some nature. Granted, that was easier when it was 70 earlier in the week but I still plan on my lunch walks in the rain. My goal is to find something pretty or amusing during each walk.
So, that’s my plan of attack for the next few days until I figure this shit out. Burning the ground and salting the earth is still SUPER tempting but I’m trying to save that for a last resort. We shall see.
I have just completed my first 60 days with Isagenix and I’m still liking the products! I only lost 3 lbs last month but I literally had to safety pin my pants so they would stay on this morning so I think it’s safe to say that I’m dropping fat 😀
And I’m definitely not starving myself! I ran 19 miles on the 26th so I ate a lot more that day but I average around 1900 calories a day unless I have a heavier workout.
I’m starting to add in the Isagenix line of fuel on the run, both an energy gel that tastes like apple pie (it’s like if Huma gels and GU had a love child) and e+ shots mid run on my supper long days for an extra boost. So far, so good! I’ll write more about these products soon!
Overall, still super pleased and I’m seeing an improvement in my endurance and speed. Still no migraines (I had one in Jan but none in Feb), my back and hip are doing great (well, my back hated Sunday’s run but that was a different problem), and my hamstring hardly hurts at all any more. This is dated but #winning totally fits!