Yesterday was the big day! My little sister ran her first half marathon and I was alongside her for every step of the way.
Our day started early, as we left the house at 5:30 AM to get up to Blacksburg for the 7:30 AM start. We arrived about an hour prior to the start of the race, and got a great parking spot really close to the start/finish area. My dad and my little sister’s boyfriend were along to cheer us on, and Barry was also running the race. Barry and I are on our way to becoming legacy runners, as we have run the race every year since it started (this was year three).
The first year was a bit too warm, the second year was freezing cold and raining, but this year the weather was perfect – partly cloudy and in the low 60’s. Third times the charm! We did the porta potty thing (short lines due to our early arrival!) and before I knew it, it was time for the start of the race.
The first four miles or so we made our way down some local roads towards the mall. It was a gorgeous morning to be out running. I love the feeling of starting a race and all of the energy from the surrounding runners. It was even more fun with my sister by my side.
I knew from years past that there are always some folks holding funny signs as we enter the mall area, so I made sure to get a picture this year. They’re probably really hard to see, but they say “Chuck Norris never ran a half marathon,” “Stop Reading this sign and keep running,” and “Seems like a lot of work for a banana.” That last one is my favorite.
After a loop around the mall, we entered the Huckleberry Trail right around mile 4. We were on the trail from miles 4 – 9.5 and miles 10.5 – 11.5ish. Up to this point there were a few rolling hills, but once you get on the trail you have a slight downhill and some flat sections for a few miles. (I posted a course elevation profile in last year’s race recap)
I was having a great time and feeling good, and enjoying sharing something I’ve loved since 2007 with my little sister. She was still having a good time, too, and we rolled along on the trail as I told her old stories here and there as they came to mind. The trail is my favorite part of the course, because it’s my old stomping grounds from college.
You hit the main hills on the race course around mile 7, and that’s where things started to get a bit tough for us. My little sister has been having some issues with her hip. She was very strong running the uphills, but the downhills were painful for her. Unfortunately, her hip continued to hurt for the rest of the race.
But she hung tough and pushed through the hills, and we continued moving forward. A little after mile 8, and after a long gradual hill that R kicked butt on, we got to see our dad and R’s boyfriend cheering us on. It was great to see them and I think it gave her a boost! We continued on down the trail towards mile 9, on a section we would be coming back on around mile 11.
With less than 4 miles to go, I decided it was time to snap a selfie (‘ussie?’) to document the occasion. R was a good sport and smiled for the camera!
A little before mile 10, we exited the Huckleberry Trail to do a small loop through a neighborhood. At each road crossing and turn in the race course, there were great volunteers, police officers, and VT Corps of Cadets cheering us on and keeping us safe. As we exited the trail I told a group of them that it was R’s first half and they gave her an extra loud cheer which put a big smile on her face.
Just before mile 11, we reentered the Huckleberry Trail at a different trailhead, and started to make our way back toward the start/finish line area. We were getting close! Running 13 miles is tough on any day, but especially on the day you’re running it for the first time. I know R was hurting and really having to dig deep at this point to keep going. I’m so proud of how she fought through the pain and fatigue to get through those final miles.
As we approached mile 12, Barry came walking towards us. He had come back to collect me after finishing his race, as he often does, and yesterday he ran both of us in to the finish. He had a good day and finished in 1:45 and change. Only a minute off of his best time for this race! Fun fact: he had bib number 666 for the race. The high schoolers working the expo were so excited to give it to me when I picked up his packet the day before the race.
We ran up one final hill in the last mile before making two left turns and running downhill to the finish. My little sister found another gear in the home stretch and ran it in strong to the finish line.
After we crossed the finish line, we were immediately handed bottles of water, a finisher’s t-shirt, finisher’s medals, and a car race magnet. Hokie Half knows how to do swag!
We easily met up with our dad, my little sister’s boyfriend, and Barry. The race is small, so it’s easy to find your group, but it’s also really well organized and everything just runs smoothly. We meandered over to the food tent where they had fruit, chocolate, turkey and vegetarian chili, and bagels available. After grabbing some post race food, we found a spot in the grass to sit down and chill.
We hung out for a little bit before making the short walk back over to our cars. From there it was time for the special post-race treat my sister requested: Carol Lee Donuts. Carol Lee’s is an awesome donut shop in Blacksburg. They actually did our wedding cake, too (although they no longer do them). What better way to celebrate the Hokie Half than with a Hokie sprinkle donut?
Shortly thereafter (and after my sister grabbed a shower) they had to make the four hour drive back home. All in all, it was a fun day and a fun weekend. I think my little sister had a pretty good time. Now we will see if she’s caught the running bug!
**Edited to add: At HoHo Run‘s suggestion, I’m linking up with her and MissSippiPiddlin’ today for their weekly wrap link up. I didn’t realize it was okay to link up with just a race recap! 🙂 Click the button below to see who else is linking up today and to join in.
Who raced this past weekend?
What types of themed races have you run?
How was your weekend?