Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Blue & Gray Half Marathon Race Report

I signed up for the half at the last minute. Things were a bit unstable with my calendar so it wasn't until Friday night that I was able to nail things down enough to plan for the race. I signed up Saturday and ran Sunday. Two years ago that would have been unthinkable. I can still remember my first 5 mile run down the road and I can still remember how much of an adventure it was for me. I'm surprised I didn't pack a tent and sleeping bag because I felt like I was going to be gone for a week. Sunday's race was wildly different. I still over-packed but my mind and body were able to handle 13.1 miles without too much thought or planning. Or training for that matter. I'm still way behind on my weekly mileage and it's catching up to me.

The race itself seems to be cursed with foul weather. The first year I ran this event I did the 5k and nearly froze in the rain and cold. Every year since things have been just about as lousy. This year was no exception but thankfully the rain held off until I had a beer in my hand. Temps were even nice enough to be able tosport a singlet rather than a thermal shirt.

There are so many highlights, I'm not sure I'll be able to remember them all so I'll bore everyone to death as usual by going step by step through the day. My morning started with an iced latte and a donut as I drove into town. I used the bathroom at Wal Mart and mildly panicked as I couldn't remember what time the race started. Thankfully I had 35 minutes to park and get my shit together instead of the 5 minutes I feared. Once I got my timing chip, I went back to my car to gear up. I swapped out my thermal shirt for arm sleeves since things felt warm enough, ditched my MP3 player since the battery was dead, and donned my Oil Creek 100 singlet.

You know those rules about wearing race shirts? Well, I broke one. And it was worth it. I was the asshole runner that wears his 100k shirt to a half marathon. Why? Because I fucking felt like it. I earned that damn shirt and I'm proud of the suffering I endured to get it. So I wore it. But I wasn't the only one. More on that later.

I camped out at the back of the start line and waited. I had my hydration pack filled and was ready to go. The race started and I just waited. I knew I'd pass people late in the race so I just took my time crossing the starting mat. The first two miles of this race are mostly downhill and mostly fast. Which means my fat ass had plenty of momentum going down to the canal trail. Once on the trail, I had the opportunity to cross paths with Prianka (hope I spelled that right, at least I remembered it!). She rolled up next to me and asked if she could ask me a question. Just as I was dropping crap out of my pocket. I stopped, grabbed my stuff, and caught back up. Turns out, she stalked me (in a friendly way) online and read my amateur analysis of Hospital Hill. We chatted for about the next mile or so and periodically saw each other during the race. She ended up with a new PR about 4 minutes ahead of me. Congrats!

Here's the start.

Moments before meeting Prianka.

Off the canal trail and onto the Washington Heights loop we go up and down a little hill. I say little now because my other running exploits have taught me that anything under 1,000 feet it little. This was when I saw the two guys carrying full rucksacks while running. And walking. And running. And damn, did that look impressive. And crazy. Then it's a giant zig-zag through the streets of town and onto Sunken Road. I missed the reenactments of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg so I had my own little battle with the ever-so-gentle slope of that road. As I neared the ball fields of UMW, I passed the water table and was shocked to see a cute lady smiling at me. Well, I assume it was me she smiled at. Could have been the lady behind me.

These dudes had some sack.

Hugh Mercer statue.

Little girl cheering us on from atop the van.

Around the gravel loop around the ball fields I pulled over for a pit stop. Back on my way I was able to gather some more speed as that ever-so-gentle slope of Sunken Road worked for me now. I zig-zagged back the way I came and used every downhill as much as I could. I continued to use my run a mile then walk a minute pattern and gradually began to pick people off. I'd pass somebody, they'd pass me, then I'd pass them for good. The girl with black hair was a prime example. We yo-yo'd a bit until I dropped her around Mile 9 (somewhere after the giraffe).

The giraffe.

Once I got to Mile 10, I began to do the math. Usually this is a bad idea for me since I do math a bit different than everyone else and tend to lose my mathematical acuity when I run. Somehow I figured that if I could pull sub-12 miles, I'd have a great finish time. That part was correct but I goofed when I thought I'd be scoring a new PR. I'd end up about 4 minutes off my PR time but still a pretty darn good pace. Each mile would click by and I'd re-figure my pace.

As I got to the bottom of Hospital Hill, I literally put my head down and ran. Part A went great. Part B went great. Part C I had to walk a bit more than I wanted to but still ran the majority of it. Part D went great. I got back onto Cowan and saw a local runner from the YMCA ahead of me pacing somebody. I passed them at the bottom of the last hill on Cowan and ran most of that one too. Coming into the final stretch I felt winded but new I'd finish with a decent time. I ditched my hydration pack at my car and ran the last bit strong. Not crazy strong like I usually do but strong enough to pass two guys in front of me.

At the finish I got my coin, declined the foil cape, and caught my breath. As I stood there a lady came up to me and shock of all shock, she was sporting an Oil Creek 100 shirt! I about passed out! We had a great laugh, exchanged stories, took a photo, then went on our merry way. By far the best part of my race. I just wish I could remember her name. I'm so horrible with names. I stretched a bit, grabbed a beer, ate a slice of pizza, and chilled out. The rain started so I headed back to my car to get warm and head home. Turns out Prianka had parked right behind me so we said hello again and congratulated each other. Still not used to people knowing me when I'm out in public. Had two ladies do that on the last hill on Cowan and I could only smile and say thanks.

With my fellow Oil Creek finisher!

With my beer!

In the end I ran into a fellow OC runner, a blog reader, fellow DMer Ralph, a cute lady that smiled at me, two ladies that knew my name, a fellow DRHT volunteer, and had a great time. Oh, and let's not forget the compliments on my T-Star Running shorts. Had lots of those too. My ego was totally on fire. I hopped over to Panera for some food and had a couple ask me about the race.

As with the Force, so is life. For my running high, I had a low when I got home. Dishes, laundry, scrubbing the bathroom, and more. At least I had a happy helper willing to keep me humble while I scrubbed on my hands and knees with my ass in the air.

On your knees boy.

Temps were about 50F at the start and about 55F at the finish. Sky was overcast and foggy. Light sprinkle here and there but it was mostly the fog that you felt. Light breeze every now and then but nothing major.

Fluids and Fuel:
Donut and iced latte for breakfast. During the run I had plain water in my hydration pack. Ditched about a third of it. Had a bottle of Hammer Fizz that I finished and refilled once or twice with plain water. Had a Hammer Gel at Mile 5 and Mile 10. I loved the Espresso one but hated the Montana Huckleberry. Always makes me want to gag. Thankfully it was the last one. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite, frozen mocha, spinach and artichoke souffle, and a breakfast power sandwich.

Aches and Pains:
Not really anything hurt during the run. The last few miles I could feel the rocks in my shoe from the gravel loop and a toe on my left foot was getting caught on my sock a bit. Outside of that, I felt pretty good.

Wore my hydration pack but didn't drink much of the water in it. Seriously thinking about ditching the bladder next weekend and just using it to carry the gear I need. Also took my GoPro along for the ride. Really starting to enjoy that little camera. Wore a singlet with wool arm sleeves. Gloves came off for a few miles then went back on. Neck gaiter came off and stayed off. Wore sunglasses so my fans wouldn't recognize me. Wore a pair of Ruez under my T-Star Running shorts and got a bit chafed. Won't be wearing the Ruez under them anymore. Just not worth it.

Codename - Get in there nice and deep like
Wasn't thinking about this Dodgeball scene when I was scrubbing but it certainly is fitting.

Time to cross Start line - 1:15
Mile 1 - 9:59
Mile 2 - 10:27
Mile 3 - 11:14
Mile 4 - 10:59
Mile 5 - 10:56
Mile 6 - 11:34 (includes a bathroom break)
Mile 7 - 11:34
Mile 8 - 9:54
Mile 9 - 10:25
Mile 10 - 11:25
Mile 11 - 11:06
Mile 12 - 11:45
Mile 13 - 11:03
Finish - 2:23:18


Prianka said...

Spelled my name right, and I'm wearing the blue singlet over your left shoulder. This whole blog stalking thing can be so self-fulfilling. :)

The amatuer analysis definitely helped - by the time I got to the base of Hospital Hill, I kept thinking, "break it down - make it to the roundabout and then you have to get over the bridge on Cowan. GO!"

Great race report and good luck at your 50K!

Neil Richard said...

Glad I spelled it right and I'm glad I could help you get up the hill!

Anonymous said...

I was one of the girls on the bottom of Cowan :)

Neil Richard said...

@Christine - Guess it's been so long since I've seen you I didn't recognize you!