Race Review: Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Confession:  I was terrified that this race was going to be one big failure.  It had been a month and change since my injury, and therefore, besides one 4 mile run here and another 5 mile run there, I hadn’t run at all since late August.  I had no idea and no way of figuring out how much endurance, muscle, etc. I had lost over the course of my injury.  Heck, I didn’t even know if my ankle tendons were going to make it through 13.1 miles. This race was one big question mark looming over my head.

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Race Day Attire

The race start was 8:00am, so I woke up on race day around 5:30am.  I had my coffee, some peanut butter toast, and a glass of water, then Trae and I headed out.  Traffic was a semi-nightmare getting off the interstate and I by the time Trae dropped me off as close as he could, I had approximately 8 min to find the bathrooms and be in my corral.  I swear every single runner decides to get in line for the bathrooms within ten minutes of race start… I stood in line for what felt like forever!  I finally made it to the starting area when they were calling for Corral 2.

When I had registered for the race, I was hoping expecting to finish between 2:00 – 2:10, so my bib said Corral 3.  I certainly didn’t expect to finish with that time with the conditions I was dealing with.  I went ahead and started with them anyways.

The easiest way for me to explain the race is to breakdown my thoughts by mile:

Mile 1:  Be careful with the ankle, be careful with the ankle, be careful with the ankle.  I was obsessed with making sure it felt okay.

Me being so careful took over my brain and I went out with a 9:something mile.  Not really how I planned for that to go.  Adrenaline must have been pumping.  Between miles 1 and 2, there is a bridge that you have to go up to cross over I-664.  This was just about the only significant elevation change, nothing I would even consider a hill, except on the way back during mile 12.  Everything is a hill at that point.

Mile 2 – 4:  Not feeling a thing so far, fingers crossed.

Mile 5/6:  Had a happy moment, when I finally realized that my ankle wasn’t hurting at all and I was definitely going to finish this race.  Ate a few Starbursts.

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Mile 7 – 9:  Wow!  Look at this view!!! (Unfortunately, I didn’t have the patience at this point to pull my phone out of my arm band to snap a picture… we were running directly alongside the James River/Chesapeake Bay, not exactly sure what they consider it, they connect at this area.)  The sky was clear, no clouds, and no shade.  It had been like this from the start, but it was REALLLLYYYYY beating down at this point and I was feeling it, I started getting heat goosebumps every now and then.  Whenever this would happen I would slow down and walk about a tenth of a mile.  I wasn’t taking chances of getting sick or passing out.  I was trying so hard to find enjoyment in the view and the folks that were cheering us on.  This street was definitely the most pleasant, the families in the houses were all out in lawn chairs, having their coffee, some even had ladders in the street with a sprinkler on top spraying the runners.  They were definitely supportive of us runners.  To all the Chesapeake Ave. residents:  your cold water, pretzels, and skittles were very much appreciated!!

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This was the view of the Bay coming into Hampton race morning, so you can imagine the view during the day while running…

Mile 10:  I found a “little while friend.”  We were running next to each other and about the same pace so I asked her if she minded that I ran next to her for a while.  She laughed and told me she needed somebody to talk to so she was glad I asked.  I definitely needed this distraction.  I was sweating my butt off and the sun was killing me.  (Silly me, didn’t think I’d need a hat or sunglasses…)  Eventually the heat goosebumps hit me again and I told her good luck and goodbye and started to walk for a few minutes.

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Mile 11 – 12:  Back over I-664.  This teensy tiny uphill on the way into the race seemed gigantic at the end.  I just wanted to be done and at the finish line.  The heat was really hitting me and by this point I could feel that my legs hadn’t run in a while.  My ankle was still in good shape, not hurting at all, but my muscles in general were punishing me for putting them through this after a hiatus.  At the beginning of Mile 11 I texted Trae to start heading to the finish line.  I’m so glad I looked at my phone at this point.  I had text messages from different people who knew I was running and had wished me luck.  It was definitely motivating.

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Mile 13:  I think I was seriously delirious.  All I remember is hearing my name, looking over, and seeing my boyfriend Trae running along with me (mind you, on the other side of the cones).  He had his phone out video taping me finishing.  I remember hearing someone on the other side of me say, “What is that guy doing?!  It’s way too hot to be doing that if you aren’t in the race!”  I wanted to look at him and say, I bet your significant other would LOVE it if you did that from him or her!  Trae running next to me was just what I needed.  The finish line photographers actually caught this moment, of me laughing at Trae.

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Mile .1:  Just like anyone who wants to be finished, I started sprinting.  Not that I was racing to win, but it feels good to have a strong finish, even if it’s only worth a few seconds.  I just wanted that damn wash cloth!! Seriously though, whoever decided to start handing ice-cold wash cloths out at the end of races, you deserve a medal.  BEST FINISHER’S ITEM EVER… hahaha

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Finish Line!

I finished the race in 2:27:38.  Not a PR, not what I planned, not what I was aiming for, but… I am definitely OK with this time.  For not having run in close to a month and a half, having a just recovered injury, and the heat, I’ll definitely take this time.  Had these circumstances been different, I know that I would have gotten a PR.  I can’t wait to go into my next half, trained and ready to run like crazy.

Overall, this race was both frustrating and needed.  I needed that push to get me motivated again.  I needed to know that I hadn’t lost everything.  I needed to feel the excitement of the race to get me going and looking forward to another race.  But, it was also very frustrating in that it didn’t go as originally planned.  I hated having to walk more than just the water stops.  I hated feeling like I was struggling.

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Dragging….

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It worked though.  I am already coming up with a training plan to possibly run the Shamrock Marathon in March 2014.  I am also thinking about sneaking in another half this fall.  It’s a little late but the Virginia Running Festival Half, Norfolk Freedom Half, and the Outer Banks Half Marathon are all on the exact same day.  All three are equally appealing and all three are being debated.

Anyone who has participated in these races, feel free to comment about your experience and give your opinion!!

GIVEAWAY: Color Me Rad 5k Race Entries

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Time to get colorful!!

Color Me Rad has so kindly offered up two separate race entries to give away (you can find the Giveaway link below or here) to my readers, likers, followers, etc.  The entries are for the Virginia Beach Color Me Rad 5k being held on Sunday, November 3rd.

Color Me Rad has been around for a bit now, so most of you probably have heard of it or have even run in it.  I think this is the perfect 5k to do right in the midst of fall race season.  It’s a fun run.  It is not timed and there is no declared winner.  It’s pure fun.  What a great way to blow off some racing steam and enjoy the experience.  This is a great race to get your family involved or those who are not necessarily the running type.  This 5k is very walker and family friendly!

Check out this video to see the fun in action:

I ran the race back in May 2012, the first year it came to Virginia Beach, with my friend Katie.  It was definitely a good time!  Like I said, there are usually a lot of walkers and children, so you have to just enjoy yourself and soak up all the color you can get.  What’s the point of doing a fun run if you don’t actually have any fun?!

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BEFORE…

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…AFTER

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Not convinced yet?!  Here’s what Color Me Rad has to say:

Color Me Rad is a 5K that fires off in a blaze of color bombs, color cannons, color mortars, and multi-toned courses that guarantee your outlook will be brighter, your boyfriend will be more affectionate, your boss will finally remember your name, the hair on your head will grow back and the hair on your back will fall out, and your gray outlook will turn green like a spring morning.

You’ll start off with a shirt as pure and white as your granddaddy’s dentures, and throughout the run, we’ll coat your chaffing thighs with Color Bombs of blue, green, pink, purple, and yellow until you come out like a tie-dyed hippy on the other side.

Each section of the run adds a new explosion of color to your clean, painter’s palate until you cross the finish line into a final blitzkrieg of color.

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Enter the Giveaway Here

Race Review: Run for the Dream Half Marathon, 6/2/2013

Run for the Dream Half Marathon - Williamsburg, VA

Run for the Dream Half Marathon – Williamsburg, VA

This past winter I decided that I was going to go for it, run a half marathon. I was already a frequent “gym goer” and 5k-10k runner but had yet to consistently train for a long distance race. I started running 3 days during the week and a long run during the weekend. My weekly runs would include an interval/fartlek run ranging from 4-6 miles (usually on the treadmill), an easy slow jog around the neighborhood ranging from 2.5 – 5 miles, and then a 5k pace/tempo run ranging from 3 – 5 miles. I would end my week with a morning long run, adding 1 mile to my previous weekend distance. I started my long runs at 5 miles and quickly worked my way up to 13 miles, going as far as 15 miles on one occasion (we may or may not have gotten lost on the trails during a group run…).

The weekend of the half was less than a month away and my weekend long runs had to take a back seat so I could focus on final papers, a final thesis, exams, and GRADUATION!

Graduation!

Graduation!

It was an exciting and stressful time and while the running would have helped relieve this stress, I just couldn’t find the time amongst the research and craziness I was buried under. After graduation, I started my new job at the library and had to adjust to the new schedule. Before I knew it, the half marathon was quickly approaching, and at two weeks away, a time I should have been tapering my long runs, I was trying to recover and rebuild my stamina. Come race weekend, the longest run I had completed in the past 5 or so weeks was 10 miles. Having analyzed many training plans, 10 miles is usually the longest run they have you complete, so in terms of distance, I’d already completed the half, however, I am a worrier and a perfectionist; I didn’t want to blow this race.

Race Day Gear

Race Day Gear

Race weekend was finally here. I stayed overnight in Williamsburg the night before; I had an early wake-up call for 4:45am. I was a nervous wreck from the minute I woke up. What if I can’t do this? What if the hills that everyone has told me about really are as bad as they sound? Will I beat the heat? (It was reaching the upper 80s this particular weekend and the humidity was suffocating and thick the day before) Should I carry water? I had second thoughts about my shoes, did I choose the right ones? I had brought multiple pairs with me just in case. The questions were swarming.

Run for the Dream Half Marathon Course Map

Run for the Dream Half Marathon Course Map

The time had come the walrus said… I was dropped off at the start line. I was running this race alone so I wandered the parking lot to calm my nerves. I found a spot to stretch and made a “little-while friend” (this is someone you meet for a short period of time but you connect, talk, laugh, etc. like someone in the airport waiting for the same flight, a fellow grocery shopper waiting in a ridiculous line, you chit chat and pass the time away). Kay was from Charlottesville, in her upper 40s maybe early 50s, and was running this race alone as well, her umpteenth half marathon. She was a racing veteran, with multiple halfs, marathons, and ultras under her belt. We discussed our race plans, training, and goal times. We were both planning on running a 10:00-10:30 pace for the first 6.5miles, so we decided to run together. I am so thankful for meeting Kay, she pushed me and definitely helped me get past the threatening three (this is referring to the first three miles… I don’t know about you, but I semi-loathe those first three, especially being nervous and anxious, sometimes it can be hard to find your rhythm). She was motivating and I soaked up every bit of running knowledge she offered. Together we maneuvered our way through the crowd and fell into step with the 2:15 pacers.

Duke of Gloucester Street

Duke of Gloucester Street

At the halfway mark, Kay and I said farewell and she ran ahead. I was on my own and felt great. Miles 6 – 10 were located on the Colonial National Parkway, the southern portion of which takes you over College Creek Bridge to the entrance of Jamestown Beach and features rolling hills. Certain sections of the hills were tougher than others, especially after the turnaround at mile 8. The breeze blowing off the water and the morning view were enough to keep me distracted and I was able to push through. Mile 11 quickly approached and I was surprisingly greeted by the best cheer squad of the day. Local ROTC high school students lined the streets, cheering, dancing, high-fiving, and running alongside us – it was just what I needed to put a smile on my face. The positive energy definitely carried me through the rest of the race.

The last .25 mile around Zable Stadium's track

The last .25 mile around Zable Stadium’s track… I’m the runner closest to the tent…

Finish Line

Finish Line

Crossing the finish line.

Crossing the finish line.

The last .25 mile was inside the College of William & Mary’s Zable Stadium. Everyone was cheering and watching from the stands as every runner completed their last lap. It was an awesome way to end the race and gave me the extra push to sprint through the finish line. I completed the half with a time of 2:18:52 beating my goal time of 2:29:59 by 11 minutes and 7 seconds! It was overwhelming, especially for not having hardly run the weeks prior.

Post-race

I would definitely recommend this race. Running through Colonial Williamsburg was pretty surreal and the views didn’t hurt either. The Run for the Dream Half Marathon and 8k 2014 registration is available here.