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.
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?
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!