Tuesday, December 8, 2015

VA Runner Blue and Gray Half Recap

Somewhere along this journey, I decided I would rather try and fail. I do not want to sit back and wonder what could have happened.

Fredericksburg is an about hour and twenty minutes from home. I had lots of time to drive and think which can be dangerous. 

Luckily, I had resolved most of my jitters the night before. The past few weeks my focus was to not worry about time, but as the race approached I changed my mindset just a little. I missed a few weeks of runs, but I have not fallen completely apart. I realized I can still run hard, I was just not sure for how long, but why not try. I should be grateful for whatever I can do and enjoy it. I had studied the elevation chart and I knew it was rolling hills in the middle and a very large climb at the end. I knew I would slow dramatically at the end, so I really wanted to make the most of those middle miles. Run as hard as you can until you are tired, that was my plan....

Sunday morning it was 29 degrees, so much nippier than anything I have run in lately, but great motivation to move and get warm!

I ate a Luna bar and had one cup of coffee, and hit the road about 10 minutes later than I had planned. No worries, traffic was thin at 5:40 a.m.
I made a pit stop at Wawa and proceeded to pick up my bib.

I drank 20 oz. of Lemon Lime Nuun in the car on the way. I made about six porta potty stops before the start. I am usually an anxious mess before a race starts. This was the calmest I ever felt pre-race, it actually felt strange there was no huge knot in my stomach. 

Very cool running store that hosts the race

The gun went off at 7:30 sharp and it was tight. I did a lot of dodging during mile one trying to carve out a running space. Arghhh, I hate all that weaving, but by the mile two sign I wasn't feeling as claustrophobic.

The course ran by the Rappahanock River and through some really pretty neighborhoods. The coat of frost over everything shimmered in the sun. I ate most of my honey stingers by mile 6.

I have never had these, but Dick's was out of Sport Beans - I liked!

I was cruising along feeling pretty good and resisted the urge to look at my Garmin. I tried to push as hard as I could and not over think it. Anytime I felt challenged, I thought about how HoHo has been working so hard while injured. 
If you read yesterday's post you know I had decided to run some miles for Holly, and if I was going to do that, I wanted them to be good miles. I sneaked a peek at my Garmin as I passed the mile 10 sign. Mission accomplished, nine pretty strong miles. 

I tried to hang on, I kept telling myself to push, but there was a big change in my energy level at this point. I tried to stay focused on making the best time I could until I hit the big hills. My legs started feeling a little heavy and my feet a bit flat. I tried to focus on little tiny steps and lifting my knees, but I guess this is where my lack of training/running started to show up. I could feel a tingle in my left foot, I wiggled my toes back and forth in my shoe and made an effort to relax. It's just running, right. I was starting to get an okay groove going again, and then the uphill started and wow!! WOW!

It felt worse than I thought it would...up, up, up 147 ft. no break for a whole mile. I caved and walked a bit. I felt defeated for a few seconds, but I told myself to stop whining and try to start running. I knew I would beat my A goal, so onward. 

Mile twelve, up again, not quite as intense, but 110 ft. up. I put my head down (not good form) but seriously, I couldn't deal with seeing any more uphill in front of me. My feet kept plodding along. I was dying to walk, but I kept running. I had to tell myself over and over, not to blow this right at the end. I was relived when I saw some level looking asphalt ahead of me. As I turned the corner into the shopping center, I could hear the finish line hustle and bustle and I did my best to speed it up.

My official time was 2:06:08 ~ 9:37 average pace. I guess my Garmin was being generous with the average pace.

I feel thankful and thrilled considering how these past few weeks have been. That is my second fastest half ever.

The elevation gain for this course was 489 feet, not too crazy, but I felt shredded by the end. The first two half marathons I ran both had course elevation over 680 ft., but I think this course felt harder, it is all about the positioning.

Looking at my Garmin charts, I walked about 25 seconds on that hill, it is funny that it felt like an eternity. Well, it is funny now...

With Robyn - my Old Navy leggings kick butt! So comfy and warm. Here is the link if you need something affordable and warm :) 
Old Navy Activewear

Food tent after the race - Chipotle and pizza and Krispy Kreme donuts...

I was not quite feeling the eats when I finished; I felt a little woozy, it takes my tummy a bit to settle after a run. I grabbed a very small slither of veggie pizza and drove home. I wanted a shower!

After my shower, I was very ready to eat, so Kenny and I headed to Red Robin. I had a garden burger, topped with a fried egg, and didn't not even hold the mayo like usual. I ate every sweet potato fry on my plate, 

plus some of his ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I did minimal walking around while Kenny shopped for new shoes. My legs were moving pretty slow.

I do love the race swag from this one. I am sure I will use this top all winter :) 

Kenny made me a special treat while I was at race! and yes, I ate them all :) xoxoxo to my honey ❤ 

I actually ran in this fleece vest. It was 30 degrees and I couldn't decide if my top was warm enough with just one layer. 

Here is the break down...I am not kidding when I say the hill almost got me at the end!


I am more sore after this race than normal. I can feel a pinch in my left shin. My tibia bone, even after all this time, will remind me to be kind to my legs.  I need to give them rest after I work them hard. My calf muscles are feeling it too! I am sure that is a combo of the hills and not running much, but I am so glad I did this race. I never regret running!

Overall, this was a  great event, but I am not sure I will go back next year...that hill! LOL

Thanks for reading!! 
Have a wonderful week, 
Karen  ❤  


  1. Hills are so tough in a race, both mentally and physically! Congrats on another half marathon :) Love that Kenny made you chocolate dipped strawberries while you were off racing, what a great guy!

    1. Thank you Christy!! yes, it was tough at the end, even though I had tried to mentally prepare for it, I was challenged lol
      Kenny is so good to me :)

  2. Congrats Karen! You ran so strong on such a challenging course! What a sweet treat Kenny made for you. I'm the same way: no appetite immediately after a race but later? Watch out!

    1. Thank you Marcia :) I feel like I did all that I could and that is a good feeling :) Kenny's treat was yummy, I was impressed.
      That delay in the hunger is funny, but yep, when it kicks in...look out ;p

  3. Strong paces on a tough course, Karen! :) Your second fastest half?? That is awesome!!! :) I love reading your race recaps because you think of some of the same things I do before/during a race. Oh we have the same port o john habits as well hahaha.

    1. Thank you Megan :) I am hoping i can get back to training and run a really good 15K in January :) we'll see...
      I am ridiculous with the P-o-P but i can't help it lol

    2. I hear ya. It is amazing I don't collapse from dehydration before the race even starts. :)

  4. Great job, Karen! What an awesome time! And look at those splits - an 8:22 mile? Dang girl!

    FYI, you ran 13.23 miles so the average pace on your Garmin is correct! Probably all that weaving you did in mile 1 :-) I almost always run a little more than the race distance, but I always take the official race time over my watch :-)

    1. Thank you Hanna! haha, think downhill :) It sure helps!
      That is true, my distance is a bit off ") My official pace avg. was 9:37 and I am happy with that, I really expected slower miles out of myself.

  5. AWESOME post, congrats on a great race. This is why I visit fellow blogfers, this type of grit and perseverance helps me through tough times in my training. Great post and great race!!

    1. Thank you so much Richard!! I am working hard on not beating myself or getting down when things get hard, I used to get really derailed so easily. I think Cheryl helped inspire me too with her it is just cupcakes post. Happy training :)

  6. A wonderful race, Karen! Look at those splits in the 8s...holy cow. I appreciate you thinking about me and running some miles for me. You are such a sweet friend to do that. I don't like when the hills are at the end. I prefer to get that torture over with at the beginning. That is a great top! PS. I like Kenny's new shoes!

    1. Thank you :) The day turned out better than I expected for sure. I am not sure who ran those speedier miles, I don't run that fast. lol The downhill and cold air get a lot credit! I am not sure I will run this again, who knows maybe next year I will be up for the challenge again. His shoes are snazzy, huh?!

  7. So happy for you! Glad one of us had a good race. I did NOT!!!! My race was flat. I prefer the hills at the beginning.

    1. Thanks Darlene :)
      You had heat and humidity to deal with...you know I would die in that!!
      The downhill in the beginning was very nice - coming back up it did stink lol

  8. You are so awesome!
    I hate when they put hills at the end of races - that's just cruel.
    What a good husband to have such yummy treats waiting for you when you got home.

    1. He is a keeper")
      That hill felt more cruel than I expected! LOL

  9. WOW! Just WOW!!! Great job - way to push through and way to ROCK that race! Hills are SO mentally challenging but you handled them like a BOSS.

    I love that you ran some miles for HoHo - you are so supportive and such a good friend!

    That post-race food spread sounds amazing. I would really love to have Chipotle available after crossing the finish line! Also - I love Honey Stinger Waffles. I've been tempted to eat them just as a snack, LOL.

    1. Ha! I have not tried the waffle still, but I will now :) I had the little chews in that pack. They would be a good snack!
      Thank you, I am still really sore today. You only get one shot at a course though, so why not give it your all :)
      I was impressed with the food, they did a really nice job.

  10. Nice, nice job! You did great! I'm like you, my tummy is a little funky after a race...I need to take it easy. Altho beer goes down nicely...

    1. hehe, a beer will go down fine...I had one after my Richmond race, but this last one lol
      Thank you :)

  11. Awesome job!!! Way to conquer the hill and finish with your second best half! :D

    29 degrees.... brrrrrrrr! I don't think I could run in temps that cold. My brain would freeze and I would totally forget how to move my legs. I am so impressed that you can run strong in that kind of cold! I think 50 degrees is my limit!

    1. Thank you Kristina!
      The ending of this one was tough, I am ready for a racing break lol
      I love that nippy air :) I guess it really is a huge change for you, but once you get the layers right I think you would be great! It will be chill in NY!!!bundle up :) I hope you have a great weekend, I am excited for ya!

  12. I love the opening line of this post!
    Congrats! Awesome job and way to stay strong. I am so impressed with your fall running! :) I like colder races, so 29 would be totally perfect for me.

    1. Thanks Elisabeth!
      Never ever did I think I would be able to run the times I did in my past two races :) I am loving the crisp temps! They sure help :)

  13. Great race, Karen! I am a run/walk person so even your slowest mile is faster than my miles!! Keep up the great work, lady.

    1. Thank you!! I enjoy run/walk and I have been considering using it to train for longer distances..if I decide to try again...very torn right now!
      When I ran this summer my 11 min. miles felt so hard (felt like speed-work) I never dreamed I would get to run how I am right now. I say as long as you are moving it is good :)

    2. I have just had to let go of analyzing my time too much. This summer I got much faster (for me) and a few months back, I slowed down again and now I am landing somewhere in the middle. And yes, you are right...as long as we are moving (and having FUN) that is all that matters. I had to learn to just swallow my ego when I became a run/walker (straight running just increases my injury risk) and go out and have fun!

    3. I think that is a very smart decision :)

  14. It was so chilly last weekend compared to the weather lately. But I thought everything was also really pretty coated in a heavy layer of frost while I was out running!

    Great job on a course that had a very challenging second half! Love the picture of you in front of the Christmas tree with your race shirt :)

    1. Thank you Meagan :) It is one of the better race shirts I have. Frost really does sparkle in the sunlight. It was nippy, but it really helps me to push :)

  15. FANTASTIC race! You killed it! And that last hill?! EEK!!!!! I love Red Robin after a race, hee hee :)

    1. Thank you Kim :)
      THAT hill...ugh lol
      Red Robin is so yummy!!


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