Monday, March 21, 2011

Tobacco Road 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Getting Up and To the Race (because I think you all care THAT much):

On the morning of March 20, 2011 I work up at 4 AM to get ready for my first half marathon of 2011. My alarm went off and I didn’t want to get up. I never do. The thoughts start coming, “Why am doing this?” “Really? Do I need to go join 4,300 other loonies to run 13.1 miles? No.” But hey, I AM one of those loonies and I rolled out of bed, literally. My foot was not only asleep but tangled in the mess of sheets. I hit the floor. Great. This was going to be a good race.

The Hubs had brought home an article about nutrition and fueling before races a few days ago. In short it recommended eating at least 3 hours prior to a race. There is science behind it that I could maybe get into at another time, but for now I will spare you. It worked out perfect as far as timing. I drug my still asleep foot to the kitchen and hoped it would wake up and I hadn’t deprived it of blood for too long. I ate my breakfast while reading what you all thought I should wear. Running skirt or Tempo shorts, that was the consensus. I chose Tempo shorts then changed 2 minutes before waling out the door. I know better. I should have stuck with the tempos.

I met Breaking Pace and J-Ninja off the highway and we headed to Cary, NC. THANKFULLY Breaking Pace had accidently, or unknowingly, purchased an on-site parking pass. No shuttle riding for us!! THANK GOODNESS! It was a chaotic mess.  We found a spot and started to prepare. There was some confusion in the car about race start time-7:15 or 7:00. It was 7 according to the peeps parked around us. Opps….We asked a dude parked next to us to snap a picture. “I’m a professional photographer.” SCORE!! He took a couple and we were on our way to the start. We jogged over half a mile to the start. It was the perfect warm up.


The Race Start:

We came into the corral start and made our way back behind the 1:30 pacer, 1:40 pacer and called it good at the 1:50 pacer. For a minute I thought maybe I could actually keep up with the 1:50 pace group.

Here we are at the start!


The race start was late. There was an issue with the shuttles and a lot of people hadn’t arrived yet. The crowd was getting pretty antsy. But for the most part we stayed calm and unbothered. Then they said GO! We were off!


I could tell right off the bat that I was fresh and my legs were ready to run. I had laid off spin all week, as hard and painful as that was it was necessary so that my legs would be rested. I was worried about my calves after a huge calf cramp Friday night and extreme tightness in my calves over the last week. But as I ran I was checking in with my body, searching for signs of stress or trouble and there was none. That was my ticket to go. I decided to run by feeling after the first mile. the first mile I held back. I have a history of going out way too fast and hitting my first mile sometimes sub 8. Yeah, I cannot sustain that for 12.1 more miles. I’ve added the graph of my splits for you. As you can see after holding back the first mile I still went a little faster than I should have on mile 2 but I don’t really feel it affect me negatively or slowed me down. I was feeling good.


The course was pretty good. We started out on closed roads and had plenty of room to spread out. We did not have to dodge and weave too much. Once the route turned off the road and onto the trail it was considerably more narrow but people had thinned out enough it was not annoying, at least for me. I found myself with a chunk of distance between me and the people in front and behind me a number of times. I passed and was passed. There was a couple obviously doing the Galloway Method. The would run the mad then walk, then run and pass me then walk, I would pass them and so on for a few miles. It was obnoxious even thought I knew what they were doing. It is a great method and it works. It’s just not for me.

There was one girl I played leap frog with for a few miles until her horrible form got the better of her. It pained me to watch. I so wanted to give her some running form tips but unsolicited advice is not EVER a good idea in the middle of a race, actually ever for that matter. Her head weaved from side to side and my neck was getting stiff jut watching her. Her ears were resting on her shoulder and her arms were crossing the front of her body like she was boxing. I don’t say this to poke fun but rather to point out that she was expended so much energy from her upper body and her form eventually, I would think, brought her down. Nothing like watching bad running form to bring you into a quick Check of your own from. I tightened my core and relaxed my shoulders, minded my stride, loosened my jaw, I relaxed my hands. My toe to head check list was complete and I was still feeling good.

Around mile 7 I began to see the winners heading back to the finish.  They were rolling up on the 10 mile mark and taking it home. They looked good. The first place female was hauling and I cheered her on but on the inside I thought, “She doesn’t exactly look like a runner. I could beat her----up. Obviously not running but I could take her.”  Don’t get me wrong, she was fit but not just not what I always imagine a distance runner to look like. Shows how much I know.  Seeing the “winners” always makes me think I could so be one of them. just give me a trainer, a coach and a nutritionist and I could win a local half.  No doubt. Maybe….pretty sure. Ok, I wish.

Around mile 10 I checked in with G.Money (my Garmin). I realized I had time in the bank and all I needed was three miles under 10 min to get me a sub 2. My pace slowed and I chilaxed. Yes, I just said I chilaxed at mile 10. I had somewhat of an inner battle happening. My breathing was fine. My heart rate was stable, a little above my average of 163 but that was fine. My body felt good. So what was the problem? Why couldn’t I push it a little harder? Why should I? Why not? I was afraid. I am always afraid to run out of juice, have no kick, end up crawling to the finish, to not have enough left to chick people at the end-to die.  It is a mental road block that I face nearly every race. I know I hold back. Mel-Tall Mom puts it “untapped speed”. I know she is right, I have tapped into that speed in the past but not for a duration of 13.1 miles. I should begin with some shorter races, 5k, 10k, 12k, 10 miler then half marathon and beyond!!!

The trail was really pretty. We were surrounded by trees and at one point I very well could have been on the Orting Trail in WA. Sometimes I forget where I am. I know it sounds weird but for a moment I felt like I was racing in WA but I looked around and I didn’t recognize anyone, although on the out and back I had seen J-Ninja not far behind me and Breaking Pace was holding strong, grinning ear to ear. But other than that it was unfamiliar.  I didn’t recognize the different race shirts and the people were not my usual racing crowd. One day though, I am sure I will begin to recognize the faces that hit all the races. It is just a strange feeling.

After mile 10 I was holding back a little bit but I was also feeling tired. I decided I should just go ahead and get the race over with but the course began to psych me out a bit. I had no idea where I was in relation to the start. I had no idea where the finish line was. I didn’t know what to expect. I should have at least looked closer at the course map to see where the finish line was and how the finish would be. I felt like I was moving farther away from the start and the finish, everything was unfamiliar. But finally I could see a pretty big crowd ahead. I figured I had .75 miles to go and I picked up my pace. I feared I had began my kick a little too soon but kept telling myself it would all be over soon. What is the worst thing that would happen? So I ran and passed a girl who had put the pass on my about 30 seconds before. I saw a corner ahead and behind the trees I saw the blue banner indicating the finish line. I was close. So I went faster. I brought it home strong. I crossed the line and new I had gotten a sub 2. Mission accomplished.

I received my huge honkin’ medal and declined the space blanket, after all there were marathoners out there too. I didn’t want to take one if I didn’t need it (lesson learned from Tall Mom who didn’t get one after RnR Seattle Marathon-they ran out). I grabbed a water bottle and stood there and waited for J-Ninja to come in. She was barely a minute behind me and also got herself a sub 2! We got water and meandered to find some Port-A-Potties (when in Rome…I no longer refer to them as Honey Buckets, people look at me strange).  We began to make our way back to cheer for Breaking Pace. It wasn’t long before we saw here making her way to the finish line of her FIRST 13.1!!! The best part was the ear-to-ear grin plastered on her face!  We ran with her a little ways as best we could but she had it and finished well beneath her goal time! All around we all came out and did what we set out to do!! Such a good feeling to meet a goal!

I don’t know if you can read this but it is my placing and stats: 130th out of 499 in my age group. 725 overall. Not too shabby.


So a few things that I mentally noted during the race:

  • A girl with her pet goat. Awesome. I want a pet goat. Actually I want a couple of pet fainting goats to eat our grass. That goat is huge.
  • Why is that girls hair down? How do people do that?
  • Wow, I smell poop. I was told to watch out for horse poop. I don’t see any but I sure smell it. Sick.
  • Oh I should give that kid a High 5. Yeah! That’s awesome!
  • Man this sure looks like Orting Trail.
  • Hmm, checking out race shirts is a good way to discover local races. I should look into some of these.
  • Whoa! That is a race shirt from 1998! What in the world?
  • I remember seeing a Mercer Island Half race shirt at Vegas. I should have talked to that guy.
  • I wonder if any of these people have run a race in WA.
  • It sure is nice of these people to come out and cheer us on. I think it should be a rule for runners to acknowledge spectators. I can’t really hear a word they are saying over Lady Gaga but I will wave and say thanks.
  • Oh man, that kid is like 8!
  • What the HECK! Why does my Garmin say I am going sub 8 min/mile right now. That is so not good at mile 7.
  • Yep, there is the marathon mile 14 marker. SURE AM GLAD THAT IS NOT ME.
  • Why am I doing this again?
  • Can’t I just do step aerobics in my living room like most other moms in this world?
  • Wow, how am I going to feel doing this after swimming over a mile and biking 56 miles? Don’t think about that…head in the sand. Yep, that works.
  • Nope, still wondering how I will feel in the half iron.
  • Will I put a 70.3 sticker on my car? I should but my back window is starting to look a little…uh, showboaty?
  • If I do put a 70.3 then I will need a 140.6. Dang. That is going to suck.
  • Maybe I just need a new car.
  • I am never wearing this skirt on a run over 3 miles again. I know better. This is annoying.
  • Ugh, I can’t believe I forgot to take off my jewelry. What was I thinking.
  • I’m going to wave at those two people over there! Oh man, why are they taking my picture, dang! I think they think they know me. Oh this is awkward. Funny, but awkward.
  • I can’t believe my calves aren’t cramping but man my biceps hurt! I should relax my arms and shoulders.
  • Oh man, am I done yet? Almost.
  • I can’t wait to get a massage…The Hubs really earned some points with this bday present. I wonder what a sports massage feels like?
  • Man, I can’t believe tomorrow is my birthday. Ugh. Getting old kind of stinks.
  • Birthday races ROCK! As long as I can run a race on my birthday (or birthday weekend) I’ll be happy.

I am happy with my first 2011 race and I feel like I have nothing but improvement ahead of me. Next race: OKC Memorial Half!!


Breaking Pace-she is so cute!! Finishing her first (of many to come) half marathon!!



J-Ninja back in the Sub 2 wonderland after a short hiatus! It’s on now!


Who’s this??


Not many posts would be complete without an appearance by LB. LOVE this kid with all my heart!


If you made it through this recap then I commend you. It was long. Sorry about that.

And now, off to finish up some work so I can go on a birthday swim and then dinner tonight!!! And major props to The Hubs who gave me a certificate for a 60 min Sports Massage for my birthday!! I must get that scheduled today!


  1. Awesome race recap!! Enjoy your birthday sports massage!!

  2. Happy Birthday!

    I got a massage gift cert for my birthday, too! That reminds me - I need to use it!

    You need to give your mind some rest during those long runs! You thought about A LOT of stuff ;-)

  3. Happy Birthday!!! Congrats on the great race!

  4. Congrats!! That was a killer time. Love the random thoughts. Glad to know that I'm not the only one who things about all the crazy stuff along the way!

  5. Awesome job and happy birthday! Enjoy your've earned it!

  6. You rocked it out!!! Congrats on sub-2 - with plenty to spare. I think it's a HUGE step to recognize that you are "phoning it in" (okay, not quite) b/c you're afraid of having nothing left. You just need to take a chance one of these days and go for it. Sometimes it will pay off, sometimes you will suffer for it considerably. But how are you gonna know? You're stronger and faster than you think, girlie!!

    And I freaking love your random observations. How do you rememebr so much? Races are such a BLUR for me.

    Congrats lady!!!

  7. Congratulations and happy birthday!

  8. Happy birthday, and Congratulations!! Glad you didn't get caught in the shuttle-bus mess. I had a parking pass last year, so didn't experience it, but they had similar problems last year and apparently didn't fix them. They allowed more runners this year, so it apparently got worse. Some pretty brutal reviews on their Facebook page. Too bad, because the course is nice and flat, although a bit narrow, and great for a PR. Hope it doesn't drive people away from the race.

    Enjoy your birthday and your massage. Well earned.

  9. Congrats and Happy Birthday!!! Sounds like a great race all the way through. So was the girl running with a goat? 'cos that would be hilarious!! they are pretty great lawnmowers!! :)

  10. Hey Lady runner! Great job on the run. I need to read the rest later, but wanted to say HOLLA to my t-town friend. Love all the pictures.

  11. We should get a medal for reading that long post... nah, just kidding. Actually, the best stuff was towards the bottom so we got a reward for reading it all :)

    That's cool that you remembered all your random thoughts. I gotta try that out next time.

    Oh yeah... congrats!! I'm with ya, I would have chillaxed at mile 10 also. I kind of fell apart at Mile 12 the last time I ran a half, probably because I wasn't chillaxin like I should have.

    Well done!

  12. good job!

    happy birthday too. enjoy your massage! they hurt but you feel awesome afterwards.

  13. Loved the race report...good training for the Half Ironman. Best part...the sports massage certificate...way to go "The Hubs"!


    I'm glad it was such an amazing time!! Great job lady :)

  15. I have always wanted to run a Half on my Birthday. Jealous!!!

    Loved the recap!

    Have a wonderful Birthday Massage..

  16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY FRIEND! Can't wait to celebrate with you later. And awesome job on the race, you killed it!

  17. Happy Birthday! I really enjoyed your race report. Congrats on a great run!

  18. I love this race recap! I felt like I was right there with you.

  19. Congrats on the killer 2011 race season kickoff!

    I loved your list. The step aerobics one cracked me up.


  20. Way to go Amanda!!! Sub-2 woot woot! You did great and I'm so glad you tapped in to your speed and made it happen with time to spare!

  21. Great race report!! Sounds like a great time!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. I loved all those random thoughts!!

  22. Awesome job! Congrats and Happy Birthday!

  23. Congrat on your race. Sounds like you had fun. Happy Birthday

  24. Awesome job, and thanks for recapping it so thoroughly. I love race recaps!

  25. What would you consider good running form. I do tend to keep my arm bent at the elbows. Am I suppose to let them dangle at my side. Just curious what good running form should look like. Would love your help.

  26. Great race recap! Congrats!!! I used to live in Durham - but didn't run at the time. Kick myself!! there are so many beautiful places around there to walk/run!!

    PS - I can't stand getting stuck around Galloway runners.

  27. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! The pictures are great and it looks like fb weather!

    I love your race day observations!! Poop? You should commend me--I read the entire novel! he he!

  28. Awesome race and happy birthday!!!

  29. Awesome job - how cool to have a birthday run. I love all the random thoughts - ha I guess we all do that - we have to be distracted by something right? Love the fact that you are thinking about your 70.3....I hope to be there someday.
    Happy Birthday!

  30. Awesome race! It's so much fun to run a race on or around your birthday. I did that a couple years ago. Happy Birthday! :)

  31. Nice work and hope your birthday was great! Glad to hear I'm not the only one that rolls out of bed and says to myself "why am I doing this?"

  32. I looked through your 'graph' of times before reading the post and I totally agree with Mel on this one. I appreciate the idea of holding back a bit to make sure you don't fall over, but hitting a 7:23 pace to finish?! I would totally support running an 8:00 mile #1!

    Either way, congrats on the finish. And congrats to J-Ninja and Breaking Pace.

  33. Untapped Speed is right.. OK I sooo want to help you push to the point of ouch..this you will be ready in June?? Hmmm??

    That would be weird racing in a new place with new people and new shirts..hehehe.. Must be nice to see the trees and feel like you are back home..

    Question- Does one of your racing friends have highlights? Just askin ;)

    I want a goat too, but a tiny goat, that would be SWEET.. I smelled cow pasture my ENTIRE run in Buckley that is probably why I had to stop running.

    FYI NO CHILAXING during a race unless you are running for fun, with a friend or at Disney...come on now!!

    Love ya!! Happy Birthday, miss you tons... can we start the countdown yet? How many days are you going to stay with me??

  34. Great recap! I always enjoy reading your recaps. I really liked the bullet points!

    Congrats on the sub 2 and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  35. i loved reading your "thoughts" during the race...haha, is it bad that i think ALL of those during just a 5k :)
    great recap ~ i'm looking into doing my first 1/2 in november so i really appreciate all the input. especially your blip on the bad form you spotted along the route.

  36. Great race report! I did this race last year, just signed up for 2012.
    I remember seeing the goat, what a hoot!!


You're pretty much awesome!!


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