Half Marathon #35
NC Half Marathon #5
Tryon Half Marathon #3
I continue to love this little race although with all the life changes, I almost forgot to register.
Spinx served as a definite motivation boost heading into this one. I knew that the course is much easier, much flatter than Spinx. (I made the mistake of describing it as flat and on one of the small hills Mom made sure to point out the hill’s presence.)
We arrived with plenty of time to pick up our bib and shirt and cycle through the bathroom line twice before race start.
The weather was perfect too. (Mom would disagree with that but I love running in the cold.)
As we walked up towards the start line, I heard the race organizer on a microphone saying something about having to delay the race start a little due to a road not being blocked off yet.
Okay, no problem. This is a small, uncertified race. Totally understandable. We used the time to take a pre-race picture.
We ended up waiting only about two or three extra minutes before heading up onto the road to start the race.
This is when things became downright laughable. The organizer comes back on the microphone to thank us, twice, for being patient through the delay because, after all, the delay was for our safety. She then says, “Alright. We’ll just go ahead and get started. Ready! Set! Go!”
There were a couple cars on the road facing all the runners about to start not to mention the abrupt nature of the start meant that most of the runners had barely time to turn towards the start line much less get ready to run.
Ellis took the below video. You can’t see everything since he was a little ways down the road but you can hear the confusion.
Runners in front of us stopped, were pointing at the cars, protesting and sounding just plain confused. I had my finger on my Garmin’s start button but I had no idea whether I should press it and start or wait.
Yeah, we all headed back to the start line and she tried again. This time she was a little more successful.
Mom and I took off. Since we were towards the front, our pace was a little fast. Mom suggested that we find a good, comfortable pace. I agreed and started focusing on getting my perceived effort level down a little.
During the first few miles it felt a little odd to be passed by so many people. Our pace wasn’t shabby by any means. At a couple points we were running just a little sub 8 and working on getting it down to a more reasonable level. The early pace of so many people really surprised me. This is a small race and it isn’t certified. I told Mom that those people would likely pay for it later on and start coming back towards us. I was right but not as right as I had expected. We didn’t end up picking off that many people.
Mile 1: 8:26
Some point into the second mile we entered the hard packed dirt/gravel portion of the race apart from a few small portions of pavement were sprinkled throughout the remainder of the course at intersections.
Immediately I knew that I had waited just a little too long to replace my running shoes. (I need to just make myself get out there and buy them.) There weren’t many pieces of gravel but they were significant enough that each time I stepped on one I could feel it through my shoe. My Saucony Zealots already do not have a lot of extra cushioning but after 320 miles they certainly don’t.
I continued to feel absolutely great throughout the rest of the entire run. Apart from the gravel, this is the prettiest portion of the race. The course is one of the easiest and most beautiful courses I have ever run. It’s just gorgeous.
However, Mom and I did not have the opportunity to enjoy its beauty during this portion until the second time through on the way back. The reason? We spent a few miles running next to a couple I named “Chatty Cathy and Chatty Kevin.” Neither of them stopped talking for longer than 10 seconds. Do I talk during races or runs? Yes, of course. Do I talk the entire time? No. By the time we had run a mile almost neck and neck with them it had become ridiculously annoying. I could not wait to pass them and considered increasing our pace a little so that we could be free of them.
It was too early in the race to do that though so we suffered through and finally managed to break away from them just past mile 5.
Mile 2: 8:31
Mile 3: 8:36
Mile 4: 8:47
Mile 5: 8:47
Mile 6: 8:43
Starting just after mile 5 until the turn around at 6.5, I occupied myself by counting the women that went by to see which place we were in. I was disappointed to see that a woman I had noticed earlier wearing an obnoxious looking Trump headband was in 4th place. (Seriously, why would you want that man’s face on your head? Don’t answer that.)
By the time we reached the turn around, I calculated that we were 20th and 21st woman. I wanted to get us both in the top 20 if I could but not by increasing the pace just yet. “Strong and Steady” became my motto.
We stayed “strong and steady” for another few miles before I first heard Mom say something about wanting to walk for a few seconds.
Mile 7: 8:52
Mile 8: 9:02
Mile 9: 8:49
Mile 10: 8:52
Instead of saying, “sure” in response, I said “no! You can do it. Keep going!”
I had roughly calculated that if we kept our current pace, Mom might have a chance to defeat her merely two weak old PR. She told me later that she was pretty surprised and had already slowed down. She picked the pace back up though.
I continued to feel good. That includes the usual aches and pains that come from sore muscles in the final miles of a race.
Mom asked just two more times to walk, both in the final two miles. The first time wasn’t really asking to walk. Instead she said something to the effect that she thought that she might need to walk. We were so close. I told her that she didn’t need to.
The other came within the final half mile. She asked and then slowed to a walk. I shouted back encouragement for her to keep going. A spectator even joined in. (I think he had finished the same race a little earlier.)
She picked up her pace and followed me in.
Mile 11: 8:47
Mile 12: 8:58
Mile 13: 8:36
Before I talk about the finish, I have to talk about what happened when we were on the road back at mile 12. I have never been so irritated and terrified at the same time.
Since this is a small race, the roads are not closed to car traffic. That’s understandable. There were cops monitoring traffic and letting cars go between runners. In my opinion, they were letting far too many cars in between each runner.
There was a woman just ahead of us that I was trying to pick off. The cop let three cars go between us. We were following those cars who were driving slowly behind the runner. That was a bit nerve-wracking because I was trying to figure out how we would pass those cars if we needed to to keep our pace going.
Then came the part that ticked me off the most. The cop let a couple cars go between us and the runners behind us. Okay, fine. The problem? The woman driving the car behind us was beyond rude and completely unsafe.
Mom and I were running side by side since we were effectively boxed in between cars. That definitely made me feel nervous. Then the woman behind us started creeping up way closer than she should have been. I kept glancing back because it felt like she was going to hit us.
Then one of the cars in front of us turned off the road into a parking lot and the other two cars passed the runner in front of us who had moved as far to the side of the two lane road as she could. The lady behind us took that as her cue to intimidate us into getting off the road. She sped up!
My heart leapt into my throat. I screamed at the woman, even though she couldn’t hear me. I sped up a little myself and got onto the white line on the side of the road. Keep in mind, there was little to no shoulder. As soon as both Mom and I were hugging the side of the road as closely as we could, the woman sped past us.
I have witnessed some idiotic driver decisions while I was running, many of which involved my personal safety. However, this topped the cake.
What on earth makes it okay for someone to intimidate another person just because that first person has a two ton vehicle and, apparently, a place to be?
Chill, people. Chill.
That certainly got my heart pounding.
Back to the finish…
With about half a mile to go, we made the turn back onto the trails of the park where the race started and finished. This was where Mom said one last time – and even slowed down to walk – that she needed to walk. I kept going and shouted back at her that she could do it, less than a half mile left. There was a spectator, an earlier finisher of the race, who chimed in as well and told her not to stop.
We saw Ellis on a little bridge up ahead. I kept calling back encouraging words to Mom. She could do this. Ellis took some pictures of us and then ran a little ways with Mom who was behind me at this point.
I took off, hoping to finish strong. It was when we entered the “track” portion just before the finish line that I saw that woman from earlier that I had been chasing. The temptation was too strong. I poured on the speed, rounded the curve and started to pass her.
After I passed her I could hear her footsteps start to increase. Oh, no you don’t. I was already running as fast as I thought I could at that point but I somehow dug out even more and put her away finishing strong.
After we finished we both acknowledged and thanked each other for the competitive push.
I finished in 1:56:05 and Mom finished 20 seconds later in 1:56:26. It wasn’t another PR but it was a solid effort that on a certified course would have netted her a second PR in two weeks.
Registration and packet/bib pick up:
Registration was easy and so was packet/bib pick up which we did on race morning.
I have liked their shirts in the past. While the design is still good, this year’s shirt is not a technical shirt, just a unisex cotton shirt. I really liked the color and though it would still be a nice shirt. Unfortunately, the fit is awkward. I am not keeping the shirt.
Pre-Race/Race Morning amenities:
It’s a small race. The amenities are as to be expected. I was a little annoyed when we picked up our packet because the volunteer would not let us use the bathroom that both Mom and I knew was in that building. We used it last year. Instead, our options were the portopoties or the bathrooms by the small baseball field which are barely a step above portopoties. I’m not sure why the race organizer decided to make this other bathroom off limits but that was a disappointment.
This course is beautiful and easy. It is not completely flat. However, the hills are minimal and so is any incline or decline. It is hard packed dirt for most of the way with some gravel so my recommendation would be to wear shoes with a little more cushioning so that you don’t feel the individual gravel.
Course support was awesome as well. This rural race means that spectators are at a minimum. I don’t mind that. While having cheering on the sidelines is fun, it is not make or break for me. There were plenty of water stops – more than double what Spinx has. Each volunteer had some water and Gatorade and all of them made it abundantly clear which liquid they were holding.
Finish line and post-race amenities:
The finish line is fun. The post-race amenities are what make this race. The local community comes together and provides a full breakfast for race participants including donuts, muffins, breakfast casseroles, Chobani Greek yogurt, oatmeal, orange juice, coffee and probably plenty of other things that I have forgotten about or did not see.
I will update this portion a little later. Since this is a smaller race, this will likely be delayed.
I have no idea how the social media was managed for this race. Social media has been one of the things that I have been weaning myself off of so I have to admit that I did not pay any attention to this.
As of 2:30pm Saturday, the results have not yet been posted. This is a race that is timed by John Lehman. I have the upmost respect for Mr. Lehman when it comes to race organization. All of my favorite GTC races are organized him. When it comes to timing through, the length of time that it takes to get results posted is significantly faster than the latest and fairly affordable technology can achieve. However, he offers a service for a low fee so most smaller races turn to him instead of palmetto timing, another local Greenville timing company.