Sunday, April 8, 2012

Race Report: NC Half Marathon

Belated NC Half Marathon Race Report

Because things have been really busy around here lately, I never found the time to make a separate race report for the NC Half Marathon, while everything was still fresh in my mind.  I'll do my best to provide some of the highlights in the paragraphs below.

On the spur of the moment (another of my impulse running decisions!), I contacted my fellow running, blogging, Gator alum, and Daily Mile friend, Danielle, to see if she was interested in running the NC Half Marathon with me in Concord, NC since she lives in that area.  It sounded relatively flat as it was to be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway - right up my alley, so to speak!  Danielle graciously offered me a place to stay, and said she'd run the race too.  I was so thrilled to get a chance to meet her since it was her blog, Long May You Run, that inspired me to start one of my own.  It was also partly through reading about her training for her first marathon that I gathered the courage to attempt one myself.  Reading her blog really made me feel that I already knew her, even before we met.  Therefore, it was doubly exciting to get to meet her in person and run a race with her all in one weekend!

It's not all that often I can just pick up and leave for a weekend getaway, so I was very thankful when my good friend, Maria, offered to keep my daughter overnight while hubby and son went on a Boy Scout camping/biking trip.

I headed out at 2:00 Saturday afternoon, planning to make it to Charlotte in time to pick up Danielle and her husband, and go to the expo. for our race numbers before they closed at 7:30.  Unfortunately, about an hour outside Charlotte, I came upon one of those accidents where you can't tell what has happened or how long it might take to clear.  Minutes passed.  Then, more than an hour passed.  I grew more and more anxious that I would not make it there in time.  There was no way to turn around on the interstate and the cars around me had long ago turned off their motors.  After an hour and 20 minutes (what seemed like an eternity) I finally got going again.  I picked up Danielle and her husband, and we made it to the expo. at the very last minute.

I was excited that the tech shirts were red!

We woke early the next morning and had a light breakfast before heading to the racetrack.  It seemed kind of humorous running on a track meant for much faster speeds than even the best runners could even dream about.  The weather was ideal - somewhere in the low 50s and cloudy.  I was thankful for indoor plumbing at the race track, and the lines were very reasonable.  Danielle's husband, who ran the 5K race, took a couple of photos of us before we headed to the starting area.  Don't you love how they color the seats so it looks like the place is packed?!  There were no crowds, though, except on the track itself.

As the race started, we made a full loop around the track, clinging to the inside lane.  I felt pretty strong for the first three miles, and kept a sub-8 pace.  Mile 4 was the first sort of mild hill, and my pace slowed to 8:19.  I picked it back up again, though, for three more sub-8 miles.  We ran down a long, flat, straight track and back.  While on that track, I slurped down an Accel gel and plugged along through mile 9.  Somewhere about mile 10, my little engine started to run out of steam.  There was only a slight incline to tackle, but it seemed to go on for a while.  I finally stopped and actually walked a little.  Then, I heard someone behind me shout, "Go green shirt!"  I realized, "That was ME!"  Somehow, that boosted me enough to pick myself back up to a trot.  (Thank you, whoever you were!)  The damage was done, though, and I realized I was not going to get a PR that day.  My final time was 1:47:37, and my average pace was 8:13.  At my PR race, I had started more conservatively, and had run my fastest two miles at the end.  Note to self: pace yourself to feel good!  I am still very happy with this time, and I even came in 5th in my AG out of 177. Experience is a great teacher, and I am getting to know myself better with each half marathon I do.  It's truly my favorite race distance, too long to sprint, but long enough to require endurance.

At the finish line, we were greeted with a person handing out the most awesome, huge, gaudy, blinking race medal I have ever seen!  The little race cars actually move back and forth, and a set of multi-colored blinking lights is embedded to add to the glitz!  My daughter has had her eye on it ever since I returned.  Guess I'll know where to look if it disappears one day.  :-)

After I caught my breath, I quickly made my way back up to just before the finish line.  I was so excited to get to cheer Danielle as she made her final sprint.  It's much more fun when you know someone at the race.  We got a photo together with our hardware, and then headed to the line to get yummy post-run treats.

After a nice shower and change of clothes, I hopped in the car and headed back to Atlanta.  I forgot how sleepy running a race can make me, so I stopped for a soft drink to help keep me awake.  I think at one point I also rolled down the window and sang out loud.  I hope I didn't scare any fellow drivers!

It was a really fun weekend, and a great race.  I still think the highlight, though, was getting to know Danielle.  She and her husband and her two precious dogs were all just wonderful.  I am already at work trying to get her to come down here to run a race with me soon!

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