Yesterday, Mathis and I ran the Blue Ridge Half Marathon. Oh my goodness I love this race. It is hands down my favorite race, and I'm considered a 'legacy runner' since I've ran the race every year since the beginning (three years ago). Here are my recaps for 2010 and 2011.
I wasn't sure what to expect yesterday. My running has been a little off lately, and I went into the race with low expectations. It's been nearly a year since my last half, which is really hard to believe. I've run several 10 mile races in the past year, but I hadn't seen 13.1 in quite awhile. I met up with my two running buddies, Megan and Kim, before the race, and it wasn't long before we were on our way. Mathis ran ahead of me, and we had plans to meet up afterwards.
Here's a picture of Megan, Kim and I after crossing the finish line.
This was my first half since becoming a fanatic, and I was really excited to wear my fanatics shirt. I met one other half fanatic prior to the start of the race, but I was a little flustered at this point because I couldn't find Mathis or Megan and Kim. I wish I could have grabbed a picture with her, but it was still nice to bump into each other. There were a lot of maniacs running the marathon, and they definitely inspire me!
I don't know what it is about this race, but I just absolutely love every bit of it. The only thing that has left me disappointed are the t-shirts (wish they were technical), but that's such a small detail. The course is breathtakingly beautiful, and the runners are so friendly. The marathon and half-marathon runners begin the course together at the same time, and I love this part of the race. There's always a lot of talking while going 'up the mountain' and I met a man who had run over 300 marathons!! Speaking of mountains, here's the course elevation profile for the half...
This race is anything but flat. The elevation gain is 1267 feet, and the total elevation gain/loss is 2528. A good portion of the race is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's certainly not an easy race, but for some reason I just can't get enough of it.
I know that a lot of it has to do with the race being local and showcasing the beauty of where we live. I love that it's a smaller race that still continues to grow in size each year, and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get each year when I run it. The volunteers are also great, and for some reason this race has such a personal feel to it. I'm sure I feel such a strong connection to it, because it was my first half and I'll never forget that day.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting to stick with my friend Megan for the entire course. I had set up an iTunes playlist, but we were able to chat the entire time instead and I never put in my headphones. We hadn't necessarily planned on sticking together, but I'm so glad that we did. We walked/ran the course, because that's pretty much what you have to do. ;) It certainly wasn't my fastest half, but it was one of the best half marathons. This race won't give you the fastest time (although Mathis still did really well!) but you still feel so proud of finishing no matter how long it took. I really feel that the race yesterday brought back some of my JOY for running.
Mathis had such a great race too -- he booked it and ran the half in 1:55 (an 8:50 minute/mile pace!)
After the race we watched the marathon winner (who finished the full about 20 minutes after I finished the half), and then we headed out for beer and burgers. It was only about 11:00am at this point, but we were starving and ready to celebrate! :)
We ate a local restaurant a few blocks from the finish, and it was great to sit outside on the patio. The weather was really beautiful -- just a tad warm (low 60s), but overall pretty great. We got quite a bit of thunderstorms in the afternoon, and I'm so grateful they held off in the morning.
And after lunch we had one more stop to make before heading back home. Every time I see this sign I smile. I think 'we have cupcakes' are some of the best three words ever said.
Today our legs are sore sore sore, but it's definitely worth it, and I'm already looking forward to running Blue Ridge again next year. :)