We had a great time today at the Inaugural Hokie Half Marathon! Barry and I were able to meet up with Deb, her husband Bill, and her daughter-in-law-to-be Julie. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a mid-September race. It was in the low 40’s at the start and couldn’t have been much above the mid-50’s at the finish.
On Saturday afternoon, Barry and I headed up to Blacksburg
to pick up our packets at the Inn
at Virginia Tech. Packet pick-up went smoothly. We waited in a short line and then received our bibs, a race t-shirt, parking passes, and a drawstring bag with a few race fliers and a freebie or two. I was a little disappointed with the race shirt, but mainly because they didn’t indicate in the registration that they were going to have gender-specific sizing. Oh well.
We headed home from the expo and spent the evening getting our stuff together for the early morning wake-up the next morning. We had our traditional spaghetti and meat balls dinner and then it was off to bed.
Barry and I were a little later leaving the house than planned and we didn’t have a whole lot of time before the start of the race. We parked and jogged about 1/4 mile to the porta potty lines which were long. Deb found us there and we talked with her while we waited in line. By the time we got through the line, Wave 1 (runners under 2:10) had taken off. We scrambled up to the starting line looking for Deb’s husband, Bill. I spotted him and she hurried off to him. I ran into my running buddy Kim and snapped a quick picture with her. She ran the 5K today with baby on board. I wished Kim well and then Barry and I hurried off to find Deb, Bill, and Julie. Less than a minute later the gun fired and we were on our way! Barry took of immediately and I wouldn’t see him again until the finish.
I ran with Deb, Julie, and Bill for the first 8 miles or so. The race started at the Corporate Research Center
and we ran the first four miles through town into Christiansburg. As we turned into the mall entrance, which would lead us to the Huckleberry Trail, I saw a sign that said “Run like someone just called you a jogger!” I wish I had gotten a picture of it. Actually, I didn’t do a very good job of taking pictures the entire race. Oops.
After a quick loop around the backside of the mall, we got onto the Huckleberry Trail
and passed the mile 4 marker.
We were running along together and chatting, and I was feeling good and glad to have friends to run with. Somewhere in there I learned that Deb has never seen Mary Poppins!? I told her I think it’s because she has two sons. The Huckleberry Trail had a nice downhill for about a mile and a half, and then we started through the rolling and often challenging hills. I started to feel a little bit rough around mile 6 and I knew I had definitely gone out a little faster than I have on most of my runs lately. I ate two shot blocks that had some caffeine in them, hoping for a little boost. We hung together until mile 7.5 or 8 and then Bill, Julie, and Deb split off from me. We had all told each other that if anyone was feeling good they should go and I’m glad that they did. I didn’t want to feel like I was holding anyone back.
Once I was on my own, my mind just went blank and I actually thought of nothing. That’s really odd for me, as usually my mind wanders to some random and often entertaining places. Without my mind entertaining me, all I could do was keep chugging along and that’s exactly what I did. We got to the end of the trail in Blacksburgand looped around through the neighborhood roads. Once I passed mile 10 I started to feel better, like my legs had gotten their own second wind.
For the final 3 miles, we got back on the trail and connected back to a bike path that led us to the Corporate Research Center
where the race had begun. There was a slightly-challenging hill to conquer towards the finish and then a nice downhill and flat finish area. I love turning the corner and seeing the road stretch out ahead of you to the finish line.
As I crossed the finish line, the race director announced my name. Then I was handed a bottle of water, a finisher’s technical t-shirt (a surprise to me!), a Hokie Half Marathon car magnet, and a Hokie Bird finisher’s medal by VT Corps of Cadets. The Corps of Cadets were out on the course acting as course marshals and cheering us on. They, along with all of the other volunteers working the aid stations, were amazing! I think I finished around 2:16, but I’m not sure.
After talking for a few minutes at the finish with Deb, Bill, Barry, Julie, and Julie’s roommate, and snapping a few pictures, it was time to finish out my 14 mile run. Barry and Deb joined me for my “victory lap” until my Garmin hit 14 miles (today’s long run).
At the finish line they had bananas, apples, oranges, bagels, sodas, Gatorade, water, and turkey and vegetable chili.
Barry and I hung around the finish line, cheering the runners in. He wanted to wait and find out what his official time was, since he doesn’t wear a watch (crazy, I know). We got to see the Hokie Bird finish! A new mascot half marathon record, 3:26!
Just kidding, Hokie Bird did not participate in the race. But he was there cheering on finishers and entertaining the crowd. You just missed him, Deb!
As you may remember, I signed Barry up for the race as a surprise birthday gift
(his birthday is tomorrow!). He had a good race and finished in 1:37, which is either a PR or is two minutes off of his PR. We both thought he had run 1:35 before, but the best finishing time he can find is 1:39. So he may have PR’ed today! Not a bad way to celebrate your birthday.
Overall, I had a great time at the race today. Everything went smoothly, especially for this being an inaugural race. And I got in a solid 14 mile long run, a new personal distance record!
Have you ever had to scramble to get to the start of a race on time?
Do your legs ever get a “second wind” during a long run/race?
What is the funniest sign you’ve seen at a race?