Just as I had mentioned in my Longview Half Marathon race recap, this was a last minute addition to my schedule. It was a beautiful thing that I didn’t have to change hotels from the race prior, so I was able to get another solid night’s sleep prior to this race. Even though the race was about 8 minutes away and a 8:30am start, I had planned to leave at 7:00 AM. Yes, I have become that person who gets to races super early.
Around 7:15am, I pulled into the complex where the race took place. It was a large corporate complex with a plethora of office buildings. I am glad I took a little extra time getting there, as I got hit with some closed roads and had to find my way around to the start line area. Once, I got there, I quickly parked and headed to the bathroom line. Well, actually I just headed to the bathroom because there was no line. It was like paradise. When I had looked later around 20m to race time, there might have been 200+ people in line.
Since I was there so early, I parked two rows into the parking lot and was maybe 200 feet from the start line. I waited in the car listening to some podcasts. Around 8:00 AM, I walked over to the start line for a photo with the Half Fanatics and the 50 State Club. It was one of the few times I actually could make it to the photo. It was nice to say hello to fellow club members. After the photos, I headed back to the car until 8:20am. While it wasn’t super cold, I didn’t want to just stand around in the cold if I didn’t have to.
I settled into the start corral and saw Stephanie, one of the pacers from the day before! She was pacing 2:25 for this race and while I would have loved to run with her again, I knew it wasn’t possible. I was thinking more of a 2:40-2:45 for this race if I was lucky. While I wasn’t that stiff, my legs were feeling it. They announced they were running a few minutes late as there was a long line to get bibs. This is why I always get a bib the day before if I can. We were not too delayed, as at 8:36 AM, I was crossing the start line.
For some dumb, well I thought it was dumb, reason, I started with the 2:35 pacer. She was so nice and I figured I would stay with that group until I broke down. There was a fair amount of people with the group and it made for some great chatter. The first 2.8 miles of this race was done around the complex. In fact, some of the first mile was done around a parking lot. It certainly wasn’t the most scenic, but it was at the same time. This whole complex was surround by wooded area and the fall leaves made for the perfect fall background.
For the early miles, I found myself a few steps ahead of the pace group. I was always within earshot and still apart of the group, but was just a few steps ahead. Around mile 2.7, we turned from the complex roads and onto the Indian River Trail. The trail was paved and probably allowed 3 people across. I felt a little more squished with the group and maybe pushed a few more steps ahead.
Again, just like the day before, being with the group meant that I ignored my run/walk ratio. I actually didn’t hit any walk breaks on this race except for at a few water stops. It was interesting that the first 2 stops I went through with the pace group, the pacer didn’t really walk through, but more shuffle. In fact, I actually heard her say, just shuffle through and grab your water. I am not sure if she was taken back by doing a walk break or what. At the second water stop, I took a full walk break and this was actually the start of me pushing away from the group.
Just after that stop, the group got pretty close to me. I really don’t know what it was, but I felt almost boxed in on the trail and I pushed to get those few steps ahead again. That seemed to be working for me. However, I ended up starting to push and didn’t actually look back. Through mile 4 and 5, I just kept pulling away from the group. These miles were still on the trail that took us around residential areas and some parks. At mile 5.4, the lead man passed me as he was headed into the finish line.
These were by far the toughest miles. When I went to pick up my packet, one of the store employees warned me that there was a nice mile climb around mile 7 and then a good downhill around mile 9. Was so happy to have this bit of information before hitting the course.
Around mile 6.2, we turned off the trail and onto some main roads. They had us in the right hand lane and it was opened to traffic int he left. It never felt threatening though. We were on these roads running a big square until just before mile 10. Once we were on the road, you could see the hill. Well the first hill.
The climb I felt started around mile 6.6 and didn’t stop for almost 2 miles. The worst climb was certainly around 7-7.5. Even then, you might have hit a short plateau, but then another small climb, lingered somewhere else. Just before mile 8, there was a family and this small boy yelled out, “Keeping climbing, you’ll get there!” We got a good chuckle and I grabbed a high five. My quads were on fire, so his cheer was a nice distraction.
The next bad climb came at the end of mile 8. We were back n the trail, but it was the city sections. We ran alongside a golf course in this part. At the top of the hill though, we hit mile 9 and the downhill finally came. While it wasn’t a screaming downhill that I had been expecting, it was a beautiful site. I was so proud of myself though as I didn’t walk once up the hills. In fact, I seemed to power up the hills and I passed so many in this section. From mile 6 on, I only had about 5 people actually pass me.
In mile 9, we had one water stop toward the bottom of the hill. I asked for Gatorade and got a response that they had already run out. I was shocked! I wasn’t;t even the real back of the pack by this point and I just felt for all of those coming behind me. Toward the end of mile 9, we turned right and were back on the trail in the wooded area. This is also where the full split from the half. The full went right and the half went forward. I had actually had a nightmare that night before about missing this turn and having to run the full. I asked the volunteer twice at least that straight was in fact where the half was to go. Thankfully I went straight.
By this point, I didn’t realize how well I was doing. I knew I had lost the 2:35 group, but I didn’t realize how “fast” that I was actually going. I also didn’t mean to actually pick it up, but according to my splits, I did. These were miles we had already covered, so the course was familiar. I knew it was pretty flat except for a few dips in the trail.
My quads were just burning even more by this point, but I kept going. In fact, in this last 5k, my only walk break was a quick 20 seconds at the water stop around mile 10.5. That’s it. Just like the half before, I spent most of this race actually running and only had some small walk breaks during the water stops. For this race, I probably walked even less though than the day before.
My splits for the last miles were: 11:12, 11:06, 11:16 and then 10:46 for my last mile. I really did not think I was going that fast, but apparently I was. It was finally around mile 12.3 that I actually felt it though. I knew I couldn’t give up at this point though. I pushed forward and was so happy when I saw the mile 26 sign. I never actually saw the mile 13 sign, but I did see the finish! I never really ha a pick up, but I made it through the finish again with a huge smile on my face. I was so happy with how I finished. I was hurting, but was just so thrilled. I had finished almost 2 minutes faster than the day before.
We went through the finish chute where we got our medals and a surprise pint glass. This race was again on top of the swag. The medal was top notch and again instead of a race shirt, we got a nice hoodie again. This one was a little thinner, but still very nice. I grabbed some post race food, snapped some pictures and then headed back to the hotel to get a shower. I wished there were massages given, but I didn’t see any. My legs were pretty done. I was definitely walking around with a swagger.
Even with those tough middle miles, this was a fun race. It was well done and you certainly got a lot for your registration fee. In fact, we also got free race pictures. I would gladly pay $5-10 more each registration if I knew that I could get free race pictures every time. I didn’t necessarily have negative splits, but knowing the last part of my race was my fastest was a good feeling.
Again, just like the Longview Half, I would recommend this one. I don’t think I’d do the full as I believe it was just an extra out and back on the trail, but the half had enough variety in the course that it wasn’t boring. Surprisingly, it had less elevation gain than the day before. I think it just felt worse before it was all shoved together versus a little more spread out at Longview.
Pairing this up with Longview was a great way to get two states. Logistics were so easy. There was certainly no disappointment in State number 31 and half number 52. It was all smiles, well, except up those hills.
Official Finish Time:
44/60, Female 30-34