Monday, August 15, 2011

Lynchburg Half-Marathon

This event took place on Saturday August 13th was hosted by the Riverside Runners, a running / walking / swim store in Lynchburg, VA. This event is part of the Lynchburg Road Runners Race Series. Some of the main reasons I entered this race was because It had been a while since I ran the Conquer The Cover 25k, and July was coming to an end with no races run. Which simply put, meant that I wasnt running much at all.

I hadent run over 8 miles since the day of the Cove race, and I was concerned I would even be able to complete the Lynchburg half, and feel good at all. Of course I knew if I resorted to walking - that would be OK.

Weather was intermittent rain during the drive and prior to race start, but no noticed rain fall during the race. Temperatures were cool.

After you are done reading my race report, be sure to visit Dave's blog and read his report as well.

Circumstances surrounding this event that make it different than any other
1) My mom just got into town from Florida late the previous evening. ("Hi, Mom - going to miss you tomorrow, as I'll be running a race an hour out of town").
2) There was a suspicious police car parked on our street, like he was blocking traffic down the road on the morning before I left around 5AM. That was a real deterrent, but I locked the doors before leaving the house.
3) Most importantly... My wife just delivered our daughter 4 days ago. So needless to say, I had second and third guesses about not going.

Getting to the starting line
Leaving the house nice and early, I felt I had plenty of time to arrive at the race for check-in. I was headed to new parts of Lynchburg that I was unfamiliar with, but got there with out any trouble, parked in a decent location, took a small walk to the race check-in and it was 7:01AM. The race was to start at 7:30. My race packet consisted of them checking me off a list, and being handed a t-shirt. I trotted back to the car, avoided a short rain fall, got dressed, decided on what paraphernalia to bring. I decided on just my headphones and 2 GU gels, (deciding to trust the water stops), applied Bodyglide (which I have begun to use regularly on my long runs or just in HOT weather), Took a couple bites of a Cliff Bar (a recent pre-run habit), dropped 400mg of Ibuprofen and about half a mixed NUUN then I  hit the obligatory port-a-potty, and assessed the crowd for potential familiar faces.

Ya think I have too much of a pre-race routine? Well, it is what has been working for me, pre-run and pre-race, so I'm sticking with it.

Familiar faces are good
I saw a couple of faces I've seen before, but when I saw Courtney Griffin, I recognized her as a fellow Mountain Junkie and said "hello". she and I talked, and ended up running much of the race together.

They're off!
After some pre-race announcements that were yelled without the help of a microphone, the air horn blew, and off I ran. I was thinking that the field of runners seemed smaller than the numbers I saw when looking at last year's race results. I wondered even into the first and second mile if I had started with the 5k runners and not those running the half. Apparently we all started together.

I'm not sure where else to put this in my race report, but it was soon after the start of the race that I once again encountered it. I know I'm one to wear headphones often when I run, I enjoy music. I understand the safety concerns about running with headphones. I am conscious of this when running on the road or trail, day or night, alone or in groups. Often at races I'm overhearing someone else's headphones over top of my own headphones. That is when the concerns for using headphones becomes evident. I almost always keep the volume so low that I can hear my feet hit the ground and listen to my own breathing. That is important feedback to my own running performance that I need to pay attention to. Being able to hear another runner's music over my own makes me want to avoid running near them.

The course
The course, and the race headquarters was on an area called Percival's Island in Lynchburg, VA. The path we began our run on was the Blackwater Creek Bikeway, over which we crossed the James River. This path was a paved path with a couple of well-built wooden bridges, and then a short gravel and wide trail area. Then we were on road for 2 loops around the CVTC campus, which resembles a campus that has passed it's prime with various buildings in a sterile and abandoned presentation.

The history
Central Virginia Training Center was established as a center to serve persons with epilepsy. The facility grew rapidly taking in patients and residents with varying illnesses and changing it's name and focus of care many times. A population was recorded of over 3600 residents with various mental handicaps. The facility has a long standing history of good and bad stories, including trends and changes in the national and Virginia mental health care system. It is the largest of Virginia's 5 facilities that support those with mental handicaps. I once read somewhere that it was the largest in the nation at one time. I read that it still houses around 500 residents.

Before nursing school, I worked for a medical supply company and I would deliver items to CVTC about once a month. I have been in a few of it's various buildings. I must say the feel inside some of the buildings is very "institutional". There seems to be a lot of mystery about the place. (I obtained my sources for the above, from various websites including THIS one.)

Back to the race
The 2 loops around the CVTC campus was only slightly confusing, but the awesome volunteers were there to help. Which reminds me, that I must give credit to the volunteers, very helpful and loud and plenty of them. Some Boy Scouts were in uniform working one of the water stops, which I thought was a great service project for them! There was plenty of water stops, I would guess they were placed every 2 miles or so. I enjoyed seeing some of the residents for CVTC out there, and even stepped aside to give a high five to one of them. Thank you to the staff for taking the extra time to get them outside for some excitement!

The race was essentially flat for the most part, but there was one hill when the location transitioned from the Blackwater Creek Bikeway to CVTC campus. The hill began on the wide dirt road / trail and continued onto CVTC campus. This was refreshing to run down at about mile 10 or so.

Running the event was fairly unremarkable as Courtney Griffin and I alternated who was in front, and we talked about various races, the Mountain Junkie race series and calendar of events, running goals, etc. I sensed that Courtney diddnt have much invested in this race as she wasnt pushing her self too hard, and I have often found her on her age group podium after a race. I enjoyed the conversation and at times I felt she was making me run faster than I normally would have been. I'm glad for this.

My primary goal of course was to finish having run the distance, and feeling decent about it. If I was to choose a time to beat it would have been under 2 hours. I crossed the finish line at 1:55. and the last 2 or 3 miles, I was running stronger than before. At about mile 3, I told Courtney "Dont let me hold you up, as I'll probably slow down from here" After which she replied "Oh, dont worry, I wont wait for you. I felt her pulling me along around mile 3. she took off soon after, and I never saw her again, but there was a clock at mile 1 - which meant there was a clock at mile 12.1 and I was able to see that I ran the last mile at a 7 min pace! I bet the mile before that I was at a 7:30 or 8 at least! This clearly determines this race a success! Finishing strong.
Finishers medal

As I crossed the line and approached the post-race refreshments, the results for the 5k and some 5k raffles were occurring. After a few minutes or so to rehydrate and stretch and filter through the junk food to find a couple orange wedges. I went on a run to "loosen up" I found myself running down a quiet street in an industrial and very old area of town. I felt the need to explore and see what those buildings up the road looked like. After thinking that I was approaching running a mile out after racing for 13, I picked out a smoke stack as a turn around point. The run back to the race headquarters wasnt as enjoyable, but still felt good. It ends up I ran almost 2 miles more after the race... another boost in running confidence!

Listening to the post-race announcements, I knew to look for the guy handing out finishers medals for the half, and to pick up a raffle ticket. The event was heavily sponsored by Adidas, and one of those raffled Adidas gift bags would have been nice, but my number never came up. I hung out at the water coolers milking the last drops from some of them.... as fresh water coolers poured in, I guessed from the various water stops as they were packing up?
Race loot.

Things I did differently?
Again, "they" say to not do anything different on the morning (or days leading up to) race day. but since I dont really race these events, other than racing myself. I tend to do something different every time. and I like to end my race report blogs with this topic. Yet this time, I diddnt really do anything very differently. I diddnt carry water, and I trusted the water stops. I took a GU gel at about mile 5 and 10, which is what I would have normally done in a training run. There just wasnt much different this time. and perhaps that is why the run went so well. This race was my first road race in about a year. the last road race, I recall was the Varmint half-marathon in Burke's Garden, VA in June of 2010 which I ran in... well over 2 hours (yuck!). You can read a blog post about the events leading up to me running that event HERE.

Overall a time at 1:55, and placing 4th in my age group, only 3 mins behind the guy in 3rd was a rewarding experience and a confidence builder for sure.

What is next?
I am registered to run the 16 mile option at the Iron Mountain Trail Run early September. This event is a 16, 30 or 50 mile event. Again, I will tap into the ultra running community. I feel there is so much to learn from those who run such great distances. I'm glad that I all ready know a familiar face, Philip will be there. After that, I'm running the long awaited Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra Classic! For which registration has been long closed and full! As always, there is much to look forward to.