Hokie Half Marathon – Race Report

One word can describe Sunday’s race in the most basic way: wet. I was soaked to the bone about as much as I’ve ever been during a race. I woke up Sunday morning to a cold, steady rain (after getting 4 hours of broken sleep – stupid cough). The forecast was 60% chance of light rain showers, so I hoped for the best. But on this day, the best was not to be.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

I had my new favorite pre-race breakfast of a pancake with a thin spread of peanut butter, along with a cup of coffee. Once we fed the dogs and Annabelle, Barry and I hit the road to make the 30-40 minute drive to Blacksburg. It was dark, chilly, and rainy. The kind of day where you’d rather crawl back under the covers than be outside. But the second annual Hokie Half Marathon beckoned.

peanut butter pancake

We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the race start and parked with ease near the start/finish line. Barry and I separated before the start of the race, and I made my way over to the porta potties in the pouring rain. A lady ushered me inside an adjacent building, telling me there was no line for the bathrooms inside. Lo and behold there was no line and I got a small break from the rain. I hurried over to the start just as the gun went off. They had two waves for the start, and I wasn’t sure if wave 2 was just kind of going right after wave 1, so I jumped in with the mass of people moving towards the start line and before I knew it I was off and running. As it would turn out, I started at the very back of wave 1 (wave 1 was meant to be 2:11 and under).

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

Soaked already.

My goal going into the race was to run the first few miles easy, and then get in a solid 10 mile run at marathon pace. But the race day weather, along with how I felt on my run the Friday before the race, made me adjust my goals. I decided to just run at whatever pace felt comfortable, enjoy the race, and not wear myself out before the Marine Corps Marathon. Despite the weather, I did end up having a pretty good time!

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

Runners going across the overpass

All of my photos are roughly the quality of the one above, so that’s something for you to look forward to 🙂 My camera is waterproof, so I was still able to snap some photos along the course. I did a bad job of taking pictures last year, so I wanted to get a few this year, even if they were water-logged ones.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

For the first few miles we ran on roads through Christiansburg as we made our way from the start area in Blacksburg over to the Huckleberry Trail at the New River Valley Mall. A lot of people were running pretty fast at this point, and I was getting passed a lot. I let them all go, though, figuring I would see some of them again. Spoiler alert: I saw lots of them again when we hit the hills 🙂 As we turned into the mall, I saw two funny signs. One said “This seems like a lot of work for a free banana” and the other said “Quit reading this sign and get going!.” I wanted to get a picture, but they were across the road and it was open to traffic. Shortly after entering the mall we hopped on the Huckleberry Trail as we headed towards mile four.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

I was carrying my handheld water bottle with me, but I was not very thirsty until mile 9 or so. I took sips of water from it on the even miles, but I really didn’t feel like it. I guess it was just because of the cool weather and the rain. At the end of the race, I had drunk less than 20 ounces of water. That won’t fly for Marine Corps.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

Running across the bridge on the Huckleberry Trail

The first few miles on the Huckleberry Trail were relatively flat/downhill. Normally I would pick it up here to “bank” time, knowing we were headed for the hills. But this year I chose to take it easy during this section to conserve energy. I think it really helped, as I felt very strong on all of the hills. At mile 5.5 I had a Salted Caramel Gu just before we headed into the hillier portion of the course.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon elevation

I usually don’t pay much attention to what my competition is doing during a longer race like this. I focus on my own goals and compete against myself. But as we hit the hills of the Huckleberry, I started passing a lot of people. And I must admit, I was enjoying myself. It really gave me a boost to see people stop to walk on the hills as I cruised up them with plenty of energy left. There’s one long, gradual hill just before mile 8 that is always tough for me. During the race I powered up it while telling myself “no surrender” over and over.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

Around mile 10 fatigue started to creep into my legs, as we ran through local neighborhoods. Up until this point I was feeling very comfortable, both in my legs and with my breathing. I also suddenly felt very empty and hungry. I ate two Shot Bloks and drank some water and focused on getting to mile 11.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

The trees are so pretty right now.

Mile 10 felt long, but finally I reached mile 11. I had another sip of water and told myself “Okay, two more to go. Let’s get this done.” At this point we were on another paved bike trail and headed back towards the finish line. Mile 11 actually flew by and before I knew it I was passing by the mile 12 marker. There was a band at mile 12 playing “Play That Funky Music White Boy” and I had to fight the urge to dance!

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

We had one final hill to conquer towards the end of mile 12 and then it was downhill and flat to the finish! I was so happy to see that finish line. It had alternated between raining steadily and pouring the entire race and I was ready to get out of the rain. I think I finished somewhere around 2:20. My watch had me at 2:19:28 (10:41/mile pace), but I had a bit of a snafu getting it started for the first tenth of a mile of the race.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

After crossing the finish line, I received a finisher’s shirt, medal, and a car magnet. They also had a volunteer standing at the finish asking each person if he/she was okay. That was really good, because the race conditions were very similar to the Asheville Half Marathon, where a lot of people were treated for hypothermia. I actually ended up in the medical tent at the end of that race, but it was due to my own stupidity 🙂

Once I got away from the finish line area, I quickly met up with Barry, Deb, and her husband Bill. We got in line for the post-race food and took a few soggy group photos together.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

With our finisher’s shirts on top to try and keep warm.

The quality of these photos really captures how wet it was outside and how wet we were. There wasn’t even any way to wipe off the lens of my camera. I guess we can call these “dreamy” photos.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

Living the dream at the Hokie Half finish line

In talking with Deb, Bill, and Barry it sounded like everyone had great races all around! Barry finished his race around 1:44 (he doesn’t wear a watch). We were rewarded with some piping hot, delicious turkey chili. Definitely a special treat, and a staple item for the Hokie Half. They also had granola bars, bananas, mini chocolate candy, pretzels, water, soft drinks, and vegetarian chili.

2014 Hokie Half Marathon

Instagram {turkeyrunner}

Once we all got through the food line, we headed to our cars since everyone was freezing. I was shaking so much that I splashed chili on my white finisher’s shirt. Barry had the same thing happen with his shirt after he finished. Luckily, I was able to get the stains out by washing them as soon as we got home!

The Hokie Half is definitely one of my favorite races. Virginia Tech will always feel like a second home to me, and this race has a hometown feel. Hopefully I can continue to run this race every year, and become a “Hokie Half streaker.” With this race behind me, it’s on to Marine Corps!!

Have you ever run a race in the rain like this one?
Are you seeing some pretty fall foliage in your area?
What’s the best post-race food you’ve had after a race (that was provided by the race)?
I think the turkey chili wins this one for me!

12 Comments

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  1. Congrats! Your race recaps always make me want to run more races 🙂 The Tacky Lights race we did in Richmond was in a cold, steady rain. Yuck! Fun to look back on, but kind of miserable at the time.
    JoAnne recently posted…Seen on the run (October 9, 2014)My Profile

    1. Steady, cold rain is probably my least favorite type of rain to run in. Typically I like racing in the rain – either it’s refreshing or you feel hard core 🙂

  2. i ran the hokie half this year too! i started reading your blog (and deb’s) a few weeks ago after googling last year’s hokie half recaps and was looking forward to reading your recap for this year’s race. i think i recognized you and deb by the food tent but didn’t stop and say hello because you guys looked like you were heading out and i was really cold and miserable myself and trying to get through the food tent as quickly as possible. this was my second ever half marathon, and despite the sub-par weather, i thought it was a really fun race!

    1. Sorry we missed you at the finish line, Katya! It was not the best day for hanging out after the race, but it would have been really neat to meet up. Congrats on your second half marathon finish!

  3. First off, I love your cow plate! 🙂

    That’s great that you found an indoor restroom to use. I didn’t even think to check to see if any of the surrounding buildings were open. You and Bill must have started near each other. He started at the back of Wave 1 after he had to go back to the car to get his bib.

    You got so many fun pictures along the course. Like I mentioned in my recap, I think the rain on lens just helps sum up what it was like being out there in the rain!

    The vegetarian chili was delicious. Just wish I hadn’t spilled so much on Bill’s jackets so I could have eaten more! 🙂

    And finally, how are you feeling? Hopefully, you got some rest and have shaken your cough by now. Happy MCM tapering!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…2014 Hokie Half Marathon ExpoMy Profile

    1. Thank you 🙂 My best friend gave it to me a few years ago as a birthday gift.

      The doors to the building I used were locked (at least the door I entered through), but people inside opened it for me. Not sure how people initially got in there, though. I probably did start near Bill!

      I am finally feeling almost back to normal. My cough has gotten a lot better and I’m actually sleeping through the night for the first time in a month! Just in time. 🙂

  4. My Reston half marathon was just like this! The whole race I kept thinking the rain eventually had to stop but nope, in the end snow and sleet just came! I was SO glad I backed out of doing the marathon for that one! I loved reading all the race recaps and glad everyone had a great race despite mother nature’s gift… I hope to run this one someday!
    Becky recently posted…October 14th PastsMy Profile

    1. I remember that race! It probably was good you backed out of the marathon on that day. I feel like I can handle a half in any type of weather, but I’m not so sure with the marathon distance. But as long as the race is being held, if I trained for it I’ll be there!

      You would love the Hokie Half!!

  5. During one of the marathons I ran, my legs were so cold and numb that I couldn’t feel my shorts on my legs. Chili would be great after a cold race. Congrats on finishing the half!
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted…20 Mile RunMy Profile

    1. I didn’t mention it in my race report, but my legs were numb during the entire Hokie Half, too. I was actually wishing I had worn capris instead of shorts for the first few miles. The chili was a great post-race food, especially on this day!

  6. I ran this too, as did my husband – he’s actually that goofball in the neon green poncho in your picture haha! It was his first half and he was NOT happy about the weather. Congrats on a solid race and best of luck at Marine Corps!
    Tracy recently posted…The Second Best Day in OctoberMy Profile

    1. How funny that your husband is in one of the pictures I took during the race! I hope he gives the half marathon another try. I promise it doesn’t rain at all of them! 🙂

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