Kristen R: Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon Recap

Hot. Humid. Endless hills. Slow. Mentally draining.

I could probably add a few other choice words to sum up this race, but I think you get the idea. This race was a tough one for me.

Just one week ago, I ran eight miles and it was in the mid-40s, topping out in the mid-50s by the end of my run. I hadn’t run in much heat to date this year, so I was not ready for the high temps and humidity. They broke me a little.

I would say it started after the halfway point. The first third of the race was on pavement, a mix of exposed roads and shade, then it finally turned onto dirt and gravel that was well shaded. The shade was good, but the gravel was not working for me.

My race partner — and blogging partner — KHP was loving the dirt and gravel, but I have to admit that I’m a full-fledged road runner now and the loose road didn’t jibe. Mix that on top of unending hill after hill which took me by surprise, and I can now mark this race as one of my slowest – and lowest.

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And it’s my fault. I was not nearly as prepared for this race as I was for the Waynesboro Half I did back in April. As you know, May was a month of low mileage, a job change and a little vacation, and the lack of preparation really showed. It wasn’t so much that my body couldn’t do the run, as it was my head. I was playing a mental mind game with myself out there.

At every new hill, my body would just stop running. I flipped into power-walking mode just to keep some speed going. KHP was kind enough to walk with me, and she swears that she was having a bad race as well, but I think she looked strong. She could have done very well, but she kindly spent her entire race by my side.

It wasn’t all bad, though. We laughed; cursed the endless hills; groaned at the hot, exposed roads; giggled about needing potty breaks along the course; and indulged in a sip of wine at one of the aid stations.

In a nutshell, we enjoyed our slow, hot and humid half, despite our [MY] lackluster performance. We never wanted to quit; we just didn’t want to run the whole time. So, we walked out some hills. We walked through all the water stations. And, sometimes, we just walked because everyone seemed to be doing it, too. We both said afterward that never, at any race, had we seen so many runners walking, ourselves included. It’s this detail that makes me think we weren’t alone in feeling unprepared for the dreaded “H” trifecta: heat, humidity and hills.

As for this race, I don’t know that I would add it back into next year’s race schedule. Trust me, I’d love to tackle the course again just to prove I can do it. It was a “Destination Race,” and for as big as they are, I was underwhelmed in how it was organized. However, I will also admit that I was not a runner who was staying at the suggested hotel and using their transportation shuttles. The race was definitely geared toward the runners that were.

Destination Races pick a course like this one — in wine country — then plan several events around the chosen destination. In this case, it was wine tastings, vineyard tours, post-race wining, and a big dinner at a vineyard. Everything was just so spread out, though — from the expo to the race start and other events.

The Expo was about 30 minutes from the actual race start — and in Northern Virginia, 30 minutes can be a game changer depending on traffic. KHP and I opted to join in the post-race dinner. That was also somewhat far from the race course, and for what we paid, it was not worth the travel or the food. We thought it would be a nice sit-down dinner with complimentary wine and really good eats. Instead, it was a BBQ buffet (and you were limited in how much food you could get) and we sat under a covered tent outdoors at a picnic table. You had to buy wine if you chose to indulge. For what we paid, it was a total rip-off.

They also communicated the time for the dinner incorrectly on the website, so when we arrived a little late, we were actually still quite early. Plus, the race director and other runners arrived by bus late — and the venue had no details about when it was actually supposed to start or how to go about getting our food.

Didn’t they know we were hangry runners?

We survived but it was a rough race for both of us.  The race was very hilly but it was the heat that took the toll on many of the races that morning.  It definitely hit us hard.  It was not always pretty but we finished!!

KHP shared this image yesterday but I just had to include it, too. She set up her tripod and snapped our post-half victory smiles. It was rough, but we finished – and we’re still smiling.

The highlights, though, were being allowed this short getaway with my husband and seeing my good friend Kristen (KHP) and her husband. Big thanks to my parents for  staying with our girls so we could travel. Good and bad race stuff aside, this weekend away was really great.

KHP also captured some wonderful images of the weekend that she shared yesterday.

Just a reminder, tomorrow begins my month of 5Ks. June is all about not training for any races, but focusing on my diet. My daily running will consist of 5Ks Mon-Fri, a long run on either Saturday or Sunday, and one “rest” day one-miler. Here we go!

Gotta run!
Kristen R.

The running streak continues!

The running streak continues!

KHP Art Below

KHP - Still working on Flying Zebra.  It is going to be a series of fantasy style images that I am working for my kids summer classes I am teaching at the local art council.  I am trying to get inspired for Monster and Creatures camp and Fairies and Giants.  It should be fun!!

KHP – Still working on Flying Zebra. It is going to be a series of fantasy style images that I am working for my kids summer classes I am teaching at the local art council. I am trying to get inspired for Monster and Creatures camp and Fairies and Giants. It should be fun!!

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About Kristen R.

Counting down to 40, while juggling motherhood, marriage, the corporate grind & middle-of-the-pack running. It's OK to point & laugh. http://mamaontherunblog.wordpress.com
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7 Responses to Kristen R: Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon Recap

  1. Nice recap and yet not all races are provided with ideal conditions. I don’t know if there’s ever a way to train for those type of conditions. Runningin the heat, cold, or rain is never fun. I did like the photos posted yesterday. I had no idea Virginia was so scenic; might be worth a road trip with the family!

    • Kristen R. says:

      Thanks for the comment. It’s beautiful there, and we stayed in Harper’s Ferry (West Va), only 20-25 minutes from the start. There are a lot of family friendly things to do — and you’re close to D.C.

  2. khpixler says:

    I was hiding my discomfort well. LOL The heat was killer but it was a great weekend. I love the course but I don’t think I will do it again. I was very disappointed that they only had drinks on the course. For as expensive of a race it should have had a little Gu or trail mix. Great water stations but the lack of nutrition was lame. I think my favorite race still is the Freedom Run in Shepherdstown, WV. The race was just an excuse to hang out so I am thrilled with the weekend. Even though I was not thrilled with the actual event organization, it was so confusing and way too much driving.

  3. wwwmama says:

    The post-race smiles say it all: you two are tough! I just found out there is a Wicked Mud 5K Run in my town in a couple of weeks. Ironically, I can’t run it because my work friends talked me into an end-of-school getaway that comes with a massage timed at the same time of the run 🙂 True and funny, no? I’m sorry that the race was tough, but you both proved you can handle it and finish with smiles. I’m so glad I got to see the pictures!

  4. Pingback: Kristen R: An open letter to my blogging partners | Making It Daily

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