The Varmint 1/2 Marathon – Race Report

Today Barry and I ran in our second Varmint 1/2 Marathon in Burkes Garden. There were a lot more runners there this year than last. I believe I heard the race director say there were about 180 running the half last year and that this year it was closer to 400 running the half. I think a big reason for the increase is the new ‘The Beast’ race series this year. The series is hosted by a race organization group called We Run Events and it challenges participants to run five different half marathons in the area throughout the year. Those who complete all five will receive a special Beast medal and achieve “Beat Status”.

The weather forecast was for it to be cooler, overcast, with a chance of rain. It was cooler right at the start of the race, but it quickly became very sunny with high’s in the mid-70’s. Not awful, but also not ideal.
We lined up at the start line and shortly after 8 AM we were off. I felt alright for about the first mile and a half and then things started to go downhill. You read that right- 1.5 miles into a half marathon I was already feeling fatigued. This has never happened to me before. But 1.5 miles into the race I found myself taking my first walk break. It was to be the first of many today, unfortunately.
My walk breaks did afford me a few chances to snap some pictures, though. The course truly is breathtaking. Most of the toughest uphills happen before mile 6 so my main focus was to get through the first half of the race. I remembered the course pretty well from last year and I knew once I got through mile 6 I wouldn’t face any really tough climbs again until mile 10.
Once I got through mile 6, I just kept plugging along until we got to the turn at mile 10 back onto Burkes Garden Road (the road we started on). The course makes one big loop around the garden, with an out and back on a side road about a mile from the finish line.
I continued my run/walk strategy on the larger hills I faced in the final 3 miles. The out and back was tough and I was glad when I made the turn back onto Burkes Garden Road with one mile to go. I would not let myself walk that last mile, even though my body was begging me to do so. I crossed the line in 2:24:53, about 9 minutes slower than last year.

I ended up placing 4th in my age group. Technically I was 5th, but the top girl in my age group pulled for an overall award. I would have had to run better than 2:10 to earn a sheep this year. I know I am capable of that, but today was just an off day. Barry ended up placing seventh in his age group. His was very competitive this year, as he finished in 1:47. So no sheep coming home with us this year. Maybe we will add to our flock in the future. Every seven years they do black sheep and next year is number 21 so they will be black. That is an incentive to run better next year!

After the race we hung around the finish line. I met up with Anita from Sole Sisters to find out how she did. She rocked it and ended up placing 2nd in her age group! We ran together for the first 1.5 miles or so, but then she took off. It was great seeing her again.
Don’t mind muscle man behind us
This year they had a live band playing covers of popular songs in the finish area. There is also an Amish family that lives in the garden and they were out selling homemade vanilla ice cream.
We stayed and watched the awards ceremony and then headed over to the Burkes Garden General Store with my mother and father-in-law who had driven up to watch us run. The store is also run by the Amish family. I know the owner through work and she had made a strawberry pie especially for me!

We hung out and talked with the owner of the store for a bit and then the owner’s husband, who was up making ice cream at the finish line, arrived at the store with leftovers. I didn’t get any ice cream at the finish line because I wasn’t feeling well, but I felt a bit better once we got to the store, so I indulged in a vanilla ice cream cone.

I think we will be back at this race again next year. It is a challenging race that takes place in a beautiful community. I am hoping to better my time from last year. Here’s to black sheep in 2014! 🙂

Maybe I will remember to keep my eyes open in pictures in 2014!

10 Comments

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  1. Oh I’m so sorry that you were struggling. Maybe it was the humidity? I felt blah just being outside in general today. Way to power through, though!!!

    The course looks absolutely stunning, though, so I bet that was good to keep your mind off how hard the run was!

    The black sheep are definitely something to tempt you with next year!!

    What’s next?!

    1. Thanks. It was just one of those days. The views on the course are amazing, though! I guess I got to take them in more, what with all the walking 🙂

      Next is a few 5K’s to have some summer fun and then it’ll be time to buckle down for marathon training.

  2. I’m glad you stuck it out even though you were having a tough race! I love when races have awards that are unique. At first I was thinking live sheep until I saw the picture. Although, live sheep, that is insane, what was I thinking? LOL I love that your in-laws came to watch. Neither of our parents have seen us run except for once in our town.

    1. The race makes one big loop so whether you are running, walking, or crawling you have to keep going to get to the finish 🙂

      Live sheep would be pretty wild for age group awards!

  3. I’m so sorry that you weren’t feeling well yesterday. Good for you for pushing through that last mile! I hope you recover quickly. Bill and I definitely have that race on our radar for next year!

    1. Thanks. We all have tough days, but it stinks when that coincides with a race. I hope y’all come out next year! I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again. It’d be great to meet up with y’all before/after the race!

  4. I think you should sign up for the race next year just in case you get another strawberry pie!
    So sorry your race didn’t go as you planned 🙁

    1. The pie is worth it! I will have to put in a special order next year to make sure there’s a whole pie available for sale. She told me she usually sells out of them as soon as they go on display.

  5. It was so good to see you there. I hate you felt so bad. It is just such an accomplishment to run that race! Anita

    1. It was great to see you, too! I’m so happy you found redemption on the course this year AND won yourself a sheep 🙂 Did you find a good spot for it yet?

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