Monday, May 16, 2016

Gateway to the Smokies Half

Where to begin...

The best thing was meeting Holly!
It was not raining and it wasn't humid! (it has been raining in VA for two weeks)
It is the most beautiful area, seriously it was a blanket of green mountains, just stunning!
I had no business trying to run 13 miles, but I did it anyway. 
That sums it up if you hate reading recaps. 

Friday,  I worked until 11:00 a.m., then hubby and I got packed up and on the road to Waynesville, NC.
It was raining when I left home (as it had been most days last week) This was our view for about two hours...

After we got into North Carolina, things started looking up!

It was about a 6 hour drive, and I was thrilled be somewhere the sun was actually shining!
We stayed at a hotel with a pretty golf course. The humidity was low, the breeze was blowing, and I was excited to meet my long time bloggy buddy in the morning.


I hit the sack early and got about 7.5 hours sleep. I woke up at 4:18 a.m. and tried to go to sleep, but I was too excited. I ate a vanilla power bar about 5:30 a.m., because my hotel didn't serve anything before 7 a.m. and drank 20 oz. with a Nuun tablet.
I got dressed and met up with Holly about 7 a.m. who is even prettier in person :)

It was about 50 degrees when we started running, sunny, totally gorgeous, and I was trying to tell myself I would be okay. I forgot two key things on this trip...the wall charger for my phone and my timer! Yikes...I realized Friday night I would just have to wing my walk breaks.

I really wanted to run with Holly a little bit, so I decided I would run as far as I could before I took a break.  I realized after the first mile I wouldn't be able to hang with her. I am just too far out of shape now. My last half was April 16th (that I never trained for), and since then, I have not run many miles, or even been on my bike for any long rides. I have gained weight too, so I was just hoping I could get to the finish without any major issues.

My Garmin credited the course with 864 ft. of elevation gain and it felt like it! LOL

I couldn't decide which chart I liked 

This is my hilliest half to date!  689 ft. is my second hilliest. 

10:13   9:54   9:53

We took off and it was a hilly beginning and we chatted for a bit. I think I lost Holly during mile two. She was going at a good clip, and I had her in sight until about mile 5, then I lost her.

9:39  10:08   9:30

I hit the six mile marker right at an hour, and I was feeling pretty optimistic...I figured I could finish in 2:15 or under and that was a happy vision in my head.
I was getting pretty warm at this point. The sun was shining and the temp was climbing fast, so I eased up just a bit. I can not remember what miles the water stops were at, but they didn't seem plentiful at all. At this point, I had only walked when I stopped to drink Gatorade and water.
I chatted with a man who was doing a running /power walking thing. He had hung pretty close to me the first six miles. I had never seen anyone walk that fast! He was really pumping those arms and ended up finishing ahead of me.
I could not believe I forgot my timer! I knew the random walking was really going to mess with my head, and I was trying to prepare to relax about it...hahaha. 

10:16   11:17   10:50

Oh, the hills! It was pretty everywhere we ran; green, lush, and hilly. I had studied the elevation chart and thought if I could get through the last big hill around mile 9, I would be okay. I managed the walk breaks as best I could, but obviously during mile eight I was struggling. My feet hurt and I knew the extra walking would give them the break they needed. I had a hard time finding a rhythm without my timer. I actually have the intervals programmed into my watch, but I have never used that feature yet, and the race didn't seem like the time to try. I kept reminding myself I have not trained in months, but that 2:15 goal was stuck in my head.

10:51   10:04   10:45

At this point, I started getting a bit nauseous. It didn't feel humid, but it was very warm, and being in the sun so much was getting to me. I eased up and the nauseous feeling was manageable, but I was discouraged. I chatted with some sweet girls and hung with them for a few miles, and it was a good distraction. I felt like I had backed off enough the second half, and expected to feel more energetic, but I was petering out.
Oh, hello...lack of training...
...then my feet started protesting  a little louder, and then the mental battle...decent finish or listen to my feet.

11:43 ugh, what a last mile...

The last mile was soooo loooooong.  I was walking way too much, and I was irritated that my feet would not cooperate!

I tried to shift thinking gears, and I hoped Holly had a great race.  I told myself it was silly to have any time expectations. I reminded myself that I had barely run this past month,  and I have damaged feet, but none of it really made me feel any better. Crazy, yes, I know!! It was just hard to lose it so close to the end.

I have never claimed to be 100% rational...especially, when I am hot!

for some reason Garmin put my avg. moving pace...the actual pace for a 2:17 half  is about 10:30 

I ran to the finish line and perked up. The finish is always fun :) My Sole Sister looked awesome, while I was a sweaty, salty mess.

It was so nice to finally meet, but we didn't have much time to chat. I had to race back to the hotel to get a shower before check out! The cleaning ladies were waiting to clean my room, I was about 15 minutes late checking out.

I did win a little extra piece of bling. I was shocked. I was disappointed with how I performed. The funny thing was, I had no idea what it was for because I couldn't hear the announcer clearly lol 

When they posted the results I found out it was 1st in my AG - (think small race) I feel strange about it, but I am not giving it back! I rarely win extra bling! 


Overall2:17:3210:3076th of 11034th of 110
Chip Time

The race overall was well organized. Everyone was extremely friendly, they were plenty of course volunteers, and plenty of after race food. My only complaint would be, NOT enough water stops, especially this time of was 70 + degrees by the end of the race. 

This was part of the course.  I stopped on my way out of town :) 

I was sad to leave. 

The drive home was pretty, but I could not get comfortable. My nemesis left hamstring continues to tighten when I run and sitting always makes it worse. I put on my compression socks and kept trying to stretch in the car and shift positions. A few hours in, it started to feel better.

Hubby and I ate a lot on the way home. Often I don't have much appetite after I run, but this time I did. 

First we ate at  Zoes, which had awesome pasta salad, then later at an Italian place lol

Oh and props to Giles Chemical - look at the awesome box of Epsom salt in the goodie bag! 

I slept 11 hours Saturday night! Now that is recovery ❤  
This was a fun little adventure that went way to quick! I would love to go back when I can stay a little longer :) 

Have you every visited the Waynesville or the Asheville, North Carolina area? 


  1. Congrats on your age group win!! I wouldn't give that back either! You earned it for racing out of your comfort zone. :))

    1. Thanks Raina :) It was a fun little adventure, I just wish I was in better shape!

  2. I haven't been to Asheville (or anywhere in NC, for that fact), but really want to go.

    See, I told you, you are NOT the turtle. Not even close. Oh, just wait for my recap. Also too hot, also not enough water -- and much, much, MUCH slower than you.

    But at least mine was pain free, so there's that. I admire your grit for going out there & just doing it!

    1. You will need to check off NC for a race in every state :) I highly recommend this area, you will not be sad.
      I was so thankful it wasn't it wasn't humid, that helped me a lot! I probably should have carried water, but I hate doing that during a race. I hope you still had fun even if you felt like a turtle.
      I am over being in pain for sure, but I don't think that is going away honestly.

  3. Congrats on your AG finish!!!! :) I am notorious for not doing as well as I wanted in a race but then winning some sort of award. Then I feel ungrateful for being upset that I didn't reach the goal I set for myself!

    That is so cool you and Holly got to meet! I love meeting bloggy buddies. Maybe we will meet someday if I ever run a race in VA :) Actually, my 50 miler was in VA!

    Whew I bet you needed that sleep! It is so nice to catch up.

    You know I have never been to NC!!

    1. Thanks Megan :) I still feel weird about the AG...your AG wins have been so much faster!
      I am so happy I actually got to meet a few online friends now. I hope we get to hangout one day! I am not sure how much racing is in my future, I flip flop about it every day...I still want to be part of it, but it is hard knowing I can't do what I used to.
      NC has a lot to offer :) The beach area in the outer banks is really nice and now I know the mountains are incredible! It is hot in the summer though!

  4. I've been to this area several times, but it always surprises me at how pretty it really is! I forgot to tell reason I sped up in the 2nd mile was to get away from the power walker/runner man. He was making so much NOISE and I couldn't find my own rhythm. HA. I do think there should have been at least one more water stop. I didn't drink enough. I'm so glad we did this adventure together! I'm looking forward to our next one!

    1. ha! He was extremely noisy!! I couldn't go fast enough to get away, so I finally caved and accepted it. He spoke to me several times along the way, he was very nice. I don't think he has a clue how overwhelming all the racket can be lol but it distracted me from my tired feet!
      I think easily they need another stop and I wish they had put the sport beans on the course!! If I ate some I may have felt better. I had mints but forgot, so my only fuel was Gatorade.
      I am glad we did it!

  5. Congrats on that 1st place age group finish! That looks like a really tough course, especially with the water stops being sparse. I love that there was a bag of epsom salts in the bag :)

    1. Thank you :)
      I am goign to the Epsom salts to good use!

  6. You did an amazing job.
    I can only dream of a time like that... so know you are still doing FANTASTIC - even if it feels like others are zooming by you. you'd zoom by me :)
    Congrats on the extra bling - that's so cool!

    1. Thank you:) I know I am crazy, I mean really should I expect to go like usual, of course not...but once I got out there, I just expected more of myself lol
      We are all on equal ground when we get the finish no matter what pace we got there with! 13 miles an accomplishment :)

  7. Way to go, Karen! Sounds like an amazing trip and a wonderful race all topped off w/ meeting an online friend. Congratulations on 1st place in your AG. I love it. You deserve it. Hope your feet are recovering nicely.

    1. Thank you Susan! I wouldn't have done that if getting to meet Holly wasn't part of the deal :)
      My feet didn't love it, but I managed. I will say I was so glad to have my timer back on Monday morning! The rhythm is better than trying to wing it!

    2. Do you think your feet are healing overall? Or could you be setting yourself back by running so many miles on them? Please take care, my friend!

    3. That is a complicated question I think about all the time! According to the Doc, I will never be all the way "healed", so I am just trying to figure out what I can do. My toes will let me know when I push too much. I wondered if I should try one more break to see what happens, but honestly they hurt all the time, so I am not that optimistic about it.
      I mostly think I am working out my anger over the whole doesn't seem fair to lose the one thing that keeps me sane.

    4. Keep your chin up! I think all of us runners need to ask ourselves the question 'what will I do if/when I can't run'. I know I ask myself that all the time because it's not lost on me that a day when that happens might come.

    5. I know that is right, but it hard to go through the process! I can be happy walking - I hope that feels good when the time comes...which I hope isn't too sooon :)

  8. The area looks beautiful. I'd love to visit someday. You are amazing to get up and drive 6 hours to a race. And time wasn't slow.... not is my book. I'll need to step up my game for December if I want to see you guys during the race.

    1. It is a really pretty area, I have always wanted to visit, so it was a good reason to go. I hope I get to go back and stay longer one day :)
      I would have been okay with how I performed if I could ran a little more my last mile. I was just so tired and hurting by then, I just had to go with it.
      I am not sure what kind of shape I will be in Dec.- intervals or running, but I am sure we can run together! I can not come close to your 5K times right now!

    2. My endurance is what sucks. I get slower every mile. So I struggle with half marathons.

    3. I understand. I have lost a lot through this injury, I am not sure if I will be able to get it back, remains to be seen.

  9. Congratulations on your AG Award!!! very well deserved! No need to justify it with the small race, You earned it!!

    The pictures look beautiful! It looks like a great and hilly race! Great job!

    I hope your legs are feeling better!

    1. Thank you Ana!
      Hills are kind of fun, they are a challenge for sure.
      My legs are feeling great, I am always working on the left hammy lol :)

  10. Congratulations on your age award, and getting a little extra. That's always nice. How fun you got to meet up w Holly.

    1. Thank you :) I really enjoyed finally meeting Holly!

  11. There is never enough time with friends is there? I'm so very glad you got to meet Holly, yes I've been telling yall. I love the comment much prettier in person, exactly what I think too! Congratulation on your race! See you in December :)

    1. Thank you :) It was so pretty there, I wish I could have explored more. It was a challenging course, but i really liked it :) May be a bit too far for a repeat though lol

  12. Congrats on the 1st place age group win! I like the quinoa salad at Zoe's!

    1. Thanks Tina :) That was my first visit to Zoe's! I wish there was one here in the area.

  13. We have had way too much rain lately!! First we needed it, now we got too much. I love that first picture! That's basically my view every day, but it's gorgeous and it never gets old. I'll bet y'all drove right through my neck of the woods on your way, actually.

    Congrats on a great race! It was really hilly and you ran tough! Congrats on snagging the AG win, too. I love Zoe's Kitchen. So good!! I've been to Asheville several times (my husband and I ran a race the year before last where we ran through the Biltmore grounds) and it's such a neat area.

    1. I am so glad the sun finally came out! My weeds are growing out of control LOL
      I would not get tired of that view either!I wish I could get to the mountains more and hike.
      That was my first time at Zoe's - very yummy!
      Thanks, it was a really great place to run in! We were going to go to Biltmore, but its $50 to get in lol I am sure it is amazing though :)

  14. Congrats on your AG placement!!! How fun that you got to meet Holly!

    Now... are you going to give your feet some rest?! It doesn't seem like you are! :P

    1. Thank you!! I was tickled to meet Holly :)
      I am trying to be good to the feet! I just run a few times a week lol ;)


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