Monday, 5 May 2014

New River Half Marathon, Todd NC

I've been drowning in a sea of numbers at work the last couple of weeks so I haven't had a chance to update in a while. Good for my work not so good for my blog :)

This weekend gone past I ran the New River Half Marathon in Todd NC.

Man it was tough. I can summarise in a few points:
I was very tired from last weeks race.
Hills, I walked up every single one and shamelessly took advantage of the downhill.
Beautiful, probably the most scenic course I've ever ran.

Ok for those of you who want the full details....

The race is in a teeny tiny town called Todd in NC, about 3.5 hours from home. The nearest 'big' town is Boone. That meant either driving almost an hour to the race start at 5 in the morning or camping. Camping it was. We stayed in Blue Bear Mountain Campground. A big open campground in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful and blessedly quiet after camping at Myrtle Beach. It was really cold on Friday night, almost freezing, and really windy as we were perched on the top of a hill. Even the puppy cuddled in under the blankets. I slept wearing most of the clothes that I brought.

That made changing into my race outfit the next morning fun. I underestimated how cold it would be and packed 3/4 length tights, I would have been better off with full winter ones. Luckily I also brought my running jacket with me, thinking I'd wear it to the race start, but ended up wearing it for the entire run. Note to self..until its fully the summer the mountains are a lot cooler. Another change from Myrtle Beach where I ran in shorts and a vest top.

The race didn't start until 7.45, so I got up at 5.30 am and was leaving the campgrounds by 6, as I had to do my packet pickup that morning. All went smoothly and the race staging area was well set up, beside a restaurant. The race organisers had lots of porta-potties and even two little changing rooms set out.

 Besides the T-shirt the race packet had a lot of flyers and some discounts with local restaurants. BTW if you ever want to run this race the women's t-shirts run a little small. I usually get a medium just in case, even though I can usually buy a small/XS is most stores, and even the medium is a close fit.

Until the race started we stuck to heating ourselves inside the car. First to start were the marathoners, a little behind schedule and then the half marathoners...we started even later. Lots of standing around at the start, brrrr! But in fairness it was to let some traffic through as we were on tiny country roads and the traffic had to pass or turn around and drive miles out of their way.

We got going and the field spread out fast. These people weren't joking around. By the time I got to the first mile marker I was a lot warmer, thank goodness. There were aid stations every two miles and porta-potties randomly throughout the course.
 So besides the cold I underestimated a bunch of stuff. Like how tired I was going to be after last week. How doing all your training and racing at sea-level doesn't really help race performance in the mountains at almost 3,000 ft at the lowest point. Finally, how frickin big some of those hills were.
Of course I didn't check this out beforehand!

I wheezed my way though the first couple of miles only to hit some pretty serious hills at the 1.5 mile point. They just kept going up and up as switchbacks. Overall I felt like I ran more downhill/flats than anything but when the hills hit they were impressive, I got flashbacks to running the marathon in Asheville. Those little bumps in the middle were a loop included especially for the half marathoners, that was fun and then finally the last big one at 8.5 miles. Although it looks easier than the first one it was a lot worst..I really didn't run any of it, maybe I was just done at that stage.

Don't get me wrong I loved this race. I'm absolutely in love with North Carolina, if I could live in the South West of the state I would, its just that beautiful. Walking during this race was no chore, I took my time and soaked up some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, I was just under-prepared but for once that was a plus. On the downhills I ran as fast as my scaredy cat self would let me. I knew I'd pay for it later but I had to make up time somewhere. That made for a lot of passing and being passed by the same runners, who were running those hills like its their job!!
Again I picked up a running buddy for the last half a mile, we just kept coaching each other to the end, a first timer dong awesome!! I ate her dust at the finish but I was grateful because at that point my left knee was so sore I was nauseous and she kept me running a lot more than I would have for the last bit of the race.

After the finish I got a pretty cool wooden medal. There was plenty of food around so I met up with Martina and Boomer to snag some, although I missed the cookies it all tasted pretty darn good, as I'd been hungry all through the race (maybe I didn't eat enough the day before). There was a band playing and awards ceremonies were ongoing, but since I wasn't even close to placing in my age group we left after a little while.

 Out of all the races I've run so far this year, this is the one I'd run again. I'd love to come back with a less crazy racing schedule (more on that later this week) and more hill training and see what I could do. It was a challenging but not overwhelming course and I'm sure with any amount of hill training and proper rest I'd find those hills no problem, so don't let my little ol' blog put you off the race!
New River Marathon, Todd, NC 2:16:47 (Chip Time).

Once again my Garmin 220 was an epic fail (no gps despite an initial gps lock)...Garmin and I shall be having words. I didn't spot a lot of the mile markers so my pacing was pretty wild......
Miles 1-3 30.02, mile 4 9.24, mile 5 9.49, mile 6+7 20.39, mile 8 10.10, mile 9+10 22.29, mile 11 10.33, mile 12 11.31, mile 13 10.54, 0.1 1.11

Some of my slowest running in a long while :( but I finished!!! My legs are trashed after this race. My IT band is still a little sore and my quads are paying me back for the downhills. Now my races stretch out a bit more, so I want to use the next few weeks to get back into a bit of a groove with my eating, training and get my IT band issues under control. Basically time to regroup before I race anymore and to give myself a chance to heat acclimatise again before summer training kicks in.


  1. What a cool medal! And what a cool course. I can only imagine how beautiful the rest of it was from the photos! Those inclines look hellish. You totally rocked it!

    I think it's so fun you camped the night before, too :)

  2. Yeah I kind of regretted not taking my phone with me to take a few pics along the course, but most races don't want you to now!!
    The camping is fun with a big enough tent and if you are doing a good few races a adds up to some good savings on acc. Plus you get to stay in some pretty cool places.