Race Report : Run Woodstock 1/2 Marathon

After scaring my friends for life with the mental image of my t&a and making my first two hot-dogs of an embarrassing amount of processed food for the weekend, most of my group opted for bed as we were going out in the morning for the 1/2 marathon.

Sleeping in a tent alone was all kinds of creepy. The noises didn’t bother me too much, but the random flickers of headlamps kept waking me up. I did manage to stop thinking creatures were trying to sneak in though. Before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to run 13.1. Well WALK 13.1.


The ladies and I gathered and off we went into the wilderness. Except it wasn’t wilderness. Most of us were trying to “win” last place, but I quickly became the “winner” in that category. Luckily for my pride it was last of our group, turns out 3-4 people finished overall after me. The first 6 miles were crushed limestone, like the local Towpath. I won’t lie, I struggled a lot mentally and physically the first half of the race. My friends were just far enough ahead of me I could tell they were laughing, but I wasn’t able to keep up or hear. I tried to tell them I wanted them to stay with me, but they told me I’d be fine on my own. Unfortunately the surface was just similar enough to pavement that it wasn’t doing my leg any favors during the third consecutive weekend of moving it 13.1 miles. My heart and body hurt, but I realized just as they couldn’t expect me to keep up, I couldn’t expect them to slow down just to keep me company.


The first mile was actual road then we turned off onto the limestone. Another few miles out before a turn around and then along the way back we entered the trail. With nearly 600 people entered into the event, it was probably a good move on the directors to adjust the course this way for force people to spread out. Along the way we crossed paths with several other distance runners as the different loops dipped in and out of each other. There were the 100 milers, 100K, 50K, marathon, half marathon and 5 miler runners. Also along the way we kept wondering why our miles felt so long, our pace only dropped about a minute per mile. Thankfully, the scenery was beautiful and the elevation was gentle. There was quite a bit of sand which was difficult to navigate and also caused a lot of blister related issues.



An interesting thing about 13.1 miles is you are able to see what your personal strengths and weakness are and you’re able to see other people have their own ups and downs too. I really thrive on the trails, this is one reason I miss trail running so badly, I was good at it and I was on my way to getting better. I was slightly reminded of this as different members of our group slipped in and out of the lead (myself included). We all power hiked/ran together (my leg prefers trail surfaces and I was able to stretch at an aid station picnic table) and I can say this is a very runnable course. Under different circumstances this would have been an A+ game day for me.

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Nearing the end my body decided to try and shut down. Maybe not that dramatically, but it felt like it at the time. Over the duration of 4 hours and 15 minutes (yuck) we had maybe 3 aid stations despite the heat (I remembered to bring my own) and there were 0 bathrooms. You were told you could use the woods, but I didn’t see a good ducking in spot. By the end of it I was dehydrated, hungry, overheated and tired. I zombie-walked to the end. Picked up my medal and made my way to the bathroom.


From 11:45 when I finished to 12:00 I used the bathroom, ate 1/2 a bagel and changed my shoes/socks. Then at 12:00 I joined the crowd for a 4 mile hike into town for lunch. Yep, immediately after my 13.1 miles I added another 4. What was I thinking? Ha! This is one of the reasons my group opted to walk the 1/2.

For simplicity’s sake I’ll summaries the rest of the day and then share some pictures.

The “Hike to Hell” was fun, I was able to zone out and not fear a time cut off. While in town we took pictures and waited for lunch. It started to rain so I cut back early, and wanted to do the hula-hooping anyway. Due to the rain I don’t have hooping pictures. I grabbed some lunch, worked my abs, and then met up with friends for Yoga and then tie-dying shirts. Finally it was nap time before heading out for the second natural run and spending the rest of the night by the fire with good company.

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Sunday I woke up in the back of my car (I was freezing and not prepared) and opted to skip the Sunday 5 miler. I wanted to do it because each time you did an event you were given a tiny button for your medal. If you did all 4 “extra” running events you were given a BIG button.


It gives me something to look forward to next year I suppose. Besides I did a lot for someone still making a comeback! 23 miles in 24 hours! Yikes. No wonder my feet were swollen until Wednesday. Haha.  Sunday we all had some breakfast before heading home. It was a wonderful weekend and I can’t wait to head back next year!

Race Report : Virginia Beach Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon

Well folks I said I would never go back….and for two years I kept my word. Once again I attempted to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach half marathon and on Sunday Sept 1, 2013 I completed my 25th official half marathon. I can honestly say it has not gotten old and each and every finish is special. Two of my friends went with me, one completing his 2nd half the other completing his first half a day before turning 31.


The whole weekend wasn’t easy for me. The drive down was long (as was to be expected) and my friend did most of the driving, as a way to be nice probably. Unfortunately I become ill and do not travel well unless I’m driving. This was also a concern because if I had driven my leg would have given out on me and I wouldn’t be able to run. Really I was screwed either way. Friday night we arrived in enough time to unpack sleeping equipment and curl up to sleep. I didn’t even make it to the couch, I slept on the floor.

Saturday I was MASSIVELY pouting because I missed John Bingham’s presentation. Technically we could have made it, but my friends didn’t feel like rushing to get to the EXPO early. Not cool. Oh well. When we arrived I started to have flashbacks to my last trip there and how uncomfortable I felt. It also didn’t help I have been dealing with my leg issues for over a year. I don’t feel like a “real” runner. I didn’t feel like I belonged and I was scared and nervous and embarrassed. I told the boys how I felt, but they seemed to blow it off. Then there was a mis-communication about sticking together and when I realized I was alone I couldn’t hold back the tears. Knowing how stupid I looked only made me cry and panic more. When I finally found them I couldn’t get the words out for WHY I was upset and one of my friends became very upset and yelled/cursed at me. Not a good way to start the day. I was able to get a stuffed cow from Chick-fil-a, take a cool REFUEL picture, “win” a new towel designed to stay cooler longer and visit a few other fun booths. The fun photo op booths I couldn’t do because I wore a green shirt and would blend into the green screen! oops!

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After the EXPO we walked around downtown Norfolk and grabbed some dinner. I was super nervous and distracted the whole afternoon because I didn’t know what race day would bring.

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Race day I was up and bouncy way more than I expected to be for 4 AM. Yes FOUR FREAKING A IN THE MORNING M. I think like with Moebius, accepting I didn’t know my fate helped me to let go of the pressure. We were out the door and driving to the parking area in no time. Although the boys didn’t sleep well and were all over the place not being seasoned running professionals like myself. HA! Right?!

We found the field and parked with moments to spare before the cut off for the buses to take us to the starting line. I used the potty and we climbed onto the bus. A short 20 minute commute later we were there and giving drop bags to crew. I was excited to know when I saw that bag again it was bathing suit and beach time! I applied extra sunscreen to myself and ran off to use the bathroom again. I couldn’t believe how many people were there! Well, maybe I could as I had seen it before…but still! Yikes!


I was excited to see my friend Toni, who was also running the race and I was playing phone tag with all weekend. Wouldn’t you know it though, I found myself stuck in a massive potty line and missed her. Boo.

After potty time I found the boys again and we took a quick “before” shot to prove there was a time we all still loved each other. JK.


Then it was time to decide. Do I start with my assigned corral? Do I start with the walkers? I opted to line up with the 2:45 pace bunnies.


The race started and I managed to keep an even pace with the bunnies until the 5K mark. I was fully prepared to duck out at the 5K mark, call it a day and build a sandcastle. Then on the opposite side of the road from the 5K turn was a sign and on it was the message “There will be a day when you can no longer do this…today is not that day”. Luckily I was wearing my sunglasses, because this made me tear up hard core.

I knew it wouldn’t be the BEST performance, in fact I didn’t even know if I would complete the event. I knew I could do more than the 5K though and I knew tomorrow isn’t promised, so I kept running and walking. I finished the 5K portion in about 38 minutes.


In my careless morning efforts, I had only eaten a yogurt as fuel. I can’t process GU so I was worried how I would deal out on the course. By other stroke of luck they were serving lemon-lime Gatorade…one of the very few sports drinks I can drink! I drank 1-2 cups at the stations for my calorie boost. The first time was at mile 3.5 or 4 ish. I found although I wasn’t sick, I also wasn’t able to make it settle at first so I was forced to walk.

A quick stop at the med tent at mile 5 for a massage (hurts so good) and a bathroom break and I was a new woman. I ran to mile 6 and up to the 10K mark. I finished this section around 1:30:00. I was happy when I realized running 3 miles took about 40 minutes and walk/running took 50 so I wasn’t slowing down too badly.

After the 10K mark and as I approached mile 7 I couldn’t find my oomph anymore. Although the friendly neighborhood gorilla did put a smile back on my face.


Maybe it was my leg or being on pavement? More than likely it was lack of nutrition. It was around this point I met Jennie.

Jennie randomly began talking to me along the course and had been doing interval running. We were hitting it off and decided we both walked faster together and neither of us wanted to run anymore. We talked and enjoyed the next 5-6 miles of the course. One of my highlights was entering the camp/military base (roughly miles 8-10) and telling her they were terribly boring and soul-sucking miles so be careful. A woman passing by on the left laughed and told me everyone thinks that about this section. She looked a lot like Yoga Jones from OITNB.

The last few miles were rough physically, but when we knew we made it to boardwalk we could see the ocean and we knew it was over. She told me she couldn’t have done it without me. I told her the same thing applied to me.


I finished my 25th half marathon in 3 hours and 34 minutes and with a new friend.


Every race is different and for me it’s always better when you can share the experience with someone else. I still don’t feel like a “real” runner, but I’m getting used to this walking thing and if it gets me out there, it’s better than sitting at home and pouting.

After the race I promptly walked down the sand and into the water where I sat down fully dressed (sans shoes of course). I spent a glorious 15-20 minutes in the water before the boys made me leave. So I STILL have not been able to go to a beach and relax and enjoy it, but at least I was able to spend time in the water this time around. I couldn’t have swam anyway, I was so tired I would have drowned for sure!

PS. Word of advice, the ocean is salty.

Race Report : Rock N Roll VA Beach Half Marathon

On the heels of my latest learning moment, the Buckeye Half last weekend, I ventured down to the ocean side for an attempt at a final road half marathon for 2011. Today’s post will strictly be about the event, tomorrow I will share tales of the vacation aspect.

Like the last 200000+ races I’ve done, the race started in a way where I felt annoyed with myself thinking I could post a race report mad-lib.

I woke up ____. My stuff was ____. I arrived at ______ and I _____. By mile ____ I was ___.

Luckily the day turned into something other than a repeat.

Now I did wake up “late”, but I woke up on the floor of a strange apartment with two other girls (sounds like a great Sat night, huh?) Together we stumbled around in the dark getting some version of dressed and out to the car. Since I won’t know how they feel about me using their names I will call them L and K. K is on Team Marathon with me, L just wanted to do the race and is a friend of K’s. I drove us to a fellow teammates house, but since we were running a little late, she had already left so it was time to just leave the car and get moving.

Along the way we were worried we wouldn’t make the starting line on time. I wasn’t too worried, I figured if it was anything like Chicago then 700 was not when we would be starting. My only concern was my drop bag and how I refused to run with it for 13.1 miles. L was in a beginning corral and wanted a good time so she took off jogging while K and I walked at a brisk rate. K and I both do trail running as our primary sport so we weren’t sure how today would end.

As we neared the starting street a car pulled up and asked if we needed a ride. We (myself and K, L was long gone) agreed and popped into the back of the truck and chatted with another running late runner. Her husband/boyfriend/male driver chatted with us too. She was running in memory of her dog who had recently passed (how sad). When I wondered out loud what to do with my banana peel the driver said “I eat mine” to which the lady quickly corrected “Oh, you do NOT”. He was a lil red neck in looks. He had his hair and beard neatly placed in pony holders.

We made it to the start and K and I thanked them and took off. It sounded like she gasped and said “Wow” when we took the corner to see the sea of people in the street. I didn’t think it looked like too many and as I snapped a picture my camera died.


Later I confirmed in the results, just over 11,000 runners. She paused to do the pledge, while I walked with a few other people toward the trucks. Finally I had no choice but to run across the parking lots to the trucks as they were shutting their doors! Yikes! Bag was safe and secure as the lead people were being released. I made my way over to the crowd and snuck into a section. I was assigned to 11 or 12, I found myself standing with 10. I danced to “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts and moved across the starting mat about 12 minutes after 7, listening to loud speaker announced warnings of “It’s a hot day” “It’s a strange hot for those out of the area” “Don’t try to push” “Find someone to talk to and just aim for fun”.

I found the first few miles to be easy, I ran them around a 10:30 pace and only hated when we passed a few restaurants and I found myself tasting fish the scent was so strong. It was also funny to pass a hotel advertising “2010” specials and wondering if I was going crazy. Right away I vowed to hit every aid station even if I felt I didn’t need to stop. By mile 3 and the 5K mark I was feeling beat. Still I was pleased with my time, I was keeping a reasonable pace and wasn’t pushing too hard. I waved and smiled at the camera, hoping for a better video than I had in Chi-town.

Suddenly I felt terrible and as we approached the first slight hill, a bridge/on ramp, I wanted to stop. I drank some Cyclomax and slowed my pace, but didn’t stop. The next thing I knew I was over the bridge and down the road and passing mile 5 marker. I was well under an hour and feeling fine. Not great, but fine.

I paused a moment to get a paper towel from the med tent and wipe my face. Oddly it didn’t occur to me that although I was sweating enough to be drench, enough to be dropping sweat all over, I wasn’t getting salty. At no point in the race did I felt salty sweat, I still can’t explain this, but I think it’s important. At this stretch the runners passing mile 10 were going past and I didn’t understand until later that I was watching Ryan Hall in action. I wondered why he looked familiar! ha! A guy shoved his visor in my face without saying anything and it took me quite a while longer than I am proud to admit to realize he wanted me to read it…and it was a Team Marathon visor! Oops! Go team!

Around 6 they had a salt table (packets like you would get at a fast food place) and I ate some Sports Beans and salt. I also stopped to use the bathroom. While in line I watched K run by and she looked good. I forgot to mention L passed me in the first few miles, she looked GREAT!

After leaving my “break” it took a moment to find my groove again, but I don’t regret the stop. My CEP’s were being wonderful and I think a major factor in my feet not swelling. the 2:22 pacer passed me and I was sad, but I realized something interesting. I was in the heat and the humidity and I wasn’t puking…I wasn’t ill at all. I felt fine. I was having FUN. How could this be?

Mile 7-8-9 were mentally strange to me. I was looking for my groove, I hate that stretch of any half, and we entered an area which reminded me of a deserted fair grounds. Long buildings not connected to each other on plots of grass with gravel paths all around. No people standing around cheering. Hot and boring. I dropped to a few paces below 12 minutes and couldn’t get the energy to run. We passed under an inflatable rocker as we left.

Once I knew I was near mile 10 I perked back up a lot. I still wasn’t sick, but I had walked more than I wanted. And when the 2:30 pacer passed me (while power walking) that sent a blow to my ego I wish I could have ignored. Shortly after I hit mile 10 and it was over 2 hours. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that for 10 miles and I was mad at myself. So I tried to pick it up and recover for the final 5K.

The last few miles I listened to music, ran through sprinklers and reminded myself to just enjoy the process. This is my last road half for the year, last for probably at least 6 months. I needed to enjoy it. My PR was not in reach, but a good time still was. I saw a man in a speedo with high heels. WTF? A woman flew through signing at the top of her lungs. The group of runners bonded, I smiled and just kept trekking along. On the return trip we met the bridge again and I smiled from ear to ear as I powered up and down passing a ton of people.

Somehow I had it in me for a final “kick” and I passed a lot of people again on the final longest stretch of the boardwalk. I loved the icy mist machines and looking over to see sand and ocean rolling up against us. The inflated finish arch seemed to never get closer, but I kept pushing. Part of me wondered if I could have pushed and met 2:30, but I stopped thinking that as soon as it happened. After all, I was about to finish a half in the heat and humidity without getting sick and having a blast! I was about to accomplish something.

Thank gawd I kicked it over the line to finish in a chip time of 2:43:47 I was pleased with my performance and even more pleased with how I was walking around after and didn’t spent the remainder of the day in misery land. With what pics I did see I seemed to be having a really good looking cute and thin day so I’m peeved most of my images are at an angle and I’m cut off. SERIOUSLY Brightroom? Ugg.

K finished a few minutes ahead of me, she wasn’t feeling well and spent a lot of time in the RR. L finished in 2:02 which bummed her out, she wanted a sub 2, she wanted 1:45, and when she crossed the finish line the passed out. They almost took her to the ER. Apparently they took her temp (not in her mouth) 6x and when she drank the Cyclomax she said “This is wonderful” to which the nurse said “No, it tastes like shit, you’re just really dehydrated”. Good times.

Here are the pics and my pace chart.

Click to enlarge
Happy w/ my medal and the AC
These girls wouldn’t move, it was very annoying…
Not gonna lie, I like my legs in this shot
I’m lifting my arms to brace myself, I’m about to crash those pink girls
See? I’m about to make the “stop” gesture to push them
As usual, aside from my face, this is good. EYES OPEN how hard can it be?
Where’s Waldo? Look in the middle near the 2011 date
This time I’m next to the word “photo”
Very bottom on the right, above “room”