Thursday, March 17, 2016

One City Marathon

 Disclaimer: I received entry to One City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!
 I left for Newport News, VA Friday morning, it was about 11 by the time I got gas and a few items from Wawa.  I was excited to get away for a relaxing weekend.  Emir had been away in Colorado for work since Saturday so I was single parenting all week.  It's nothing I can't handle but it's exhausting.  Emir is super involved with everything around the house and with the kids so when he's not there, there's a lot more for me to do and only me for the kids to bug about EVERY LITTLE THING ;-)  Anyway we all survived but I was ready for a little break.  The only downside was having to drive 300 miles solo.  Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever driven that far alone.  I've done plenty of 2-3 hour trips but anything further and I've either been with my family, friends or Emir.  I'm usually out like a light by 30 minutes into a car ride, so I was curious how I would feel having to drive the entire thing myself. 

It was a beautiful sunny day and other than annoying traffic going into VA on 95, I made it just fine.  As I mentioned before, my #BRF Angie was meeting me there to also run for Bibrave and was bringing her friend Kate from home.  There was also a 3rd Bibrave runner Christine, who I have never met before, coming. Angie & Kate were expected sometime Saturday and Christine sometime later Friday night and since I arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon, I had some time to myself.

I checked into the Marriott in the Center of Newport News.  It's a pretty small downtown but very cute.  All centered around a lake with fountains.  The hotel had a nice outdoor area so I grabbed a beer from the bar and enjoyed the remaining hour of sunshine.  After that a nap, some Facetime with the fam and dinner at the Cove.  All that and it was still not even quite 9 so I walked around the little downtown and the lake a few times.  Eventually I made my way back to the hotel and Christine arrived around 11:30.
Maybe I should change my name to "Beer Mom"...

I couldn't have asked for a better day before the race on Saturday and maybe a lot had to do with the fact that I was so relaxed, as you may recall this race was just a training run for me.  Christine and I didn't get up until around 9:30, I felt so great getting that extra sleep.  We walked across the street to a really cute coffee shop.  Breakfast was great and we had a nice time chatting. 

or I could also be coffee mom....
Once we went back to the room, Angie gave us her update that she would likely be there in an hour, maybe hour and a half.  I figured this was a good time to go for my run so we could all go to the expo together when Angie and Kate arrived.  Coach had scheduled 6 miles since as I said, this is just normal 100 mile training protocol.

6 mile run on Saturday
As I was leaving to go out, the kind young man working the door asked me if I needed some tips on where to run.  He seemed so eager so I said sure.  He whipped out his little map and was so proud that he knew the distances of the two different loops around the lake and the distance if you ran the square around the downtown.  Unfortunately, the loops around the lake were .25 & .33 miles and the square .95 miles.  I proceeded to ask if I went further down the road and he looked so upset that I just said "thank you so much!" and literally ran out the door.  I made my own course and still ended up having to loop back around the downtown a couple times but it was better than a whole bunch of loops.  I felt good and enjoyed the nice temps even though it was cloudy.  By the time I got back, Angie and Kate had arrived.  We cleaned ourselves up and headed out to the expo.

we look amazing in Orange!

The expo was not big but it actually was a bit bigger than I expected.  I've run a couple of small marathons so I've seen packet pickup have way less than what One City had set up.  We  had some fun taking pictures in front of the fake finish line and headed in. 

Getting our bibs and shirts was super easy and fast.  Christine, Angie and I browsed the various running clothes/gear vendors while Kate got a massage and her gait analyzed. 

Kate and Angie were hungry and I desperately wanted some beer so we ended up at a nice brew house.  Since we had tickets to the pasta party at 6, we decided to just have some drinks and snacks.  Angie and I went for the beer tasters, the biggest I ever seen.  I followed that with some chocolate beer.  SO GOOD. 
Since we were under the impression that Newport News was on a peninsula therefore there should be a coast somewhere, we had been eager to find a beach.  The waitress gave us a tip to check out Yorktown Beach which was about 20 minutes away.

We dropped off Christine at the hotel and the 3 of us went on a romantic walk in Yorktown.  It was very cute, very colonial with some bunkers a cool bridge and a beach.   Next thing we knew it was time to get back for the pasta dinner which happened to be at our hotel.

ummm Kate was really there, I swear...

I enjoyed the food and the speakers.  It was nice to hear about running a marathon from a few other runners perspectives.  I also really liked hearing about how the One City Marathon events had created some great community building for Newport News.  There is a marathon and marathon relay but there's also an 8K and a 1 mile run.   The shorter races creating an opportunity for many of the locals to be involved and become active to get ready for the races.  There's also a program for kids that involves running and reading that helps them to get ready to run the 1 mile race.  I know how much my kids love being involved in stuff like that and I could tell the kids from Newport News were just as excited.  After thoroughly stuffing myself with pasta and cookies, it was time to get to bed especially since we were losing an hour to daylight savings (booo!!).  But first we had to convince, Dylan, to give us a little bit extra time before checkout on Sunday.  Runners were all granted a late 2pm checkout at the 3 partner hotels but Kate was able to convince Dylan to give us an extra half hour which would prove invaluable the next day.
I slept really well probably since I had no expectations for the race whatsoever other than to just enjoy running a course I've never run and survive the 26 miles.  Aside from running a 50 miler 3 weeks ago, coach had me run 36 miles race week, so it was just going to be another long run on tired legs in prep for C&O Canal 100.  We got up at 4, which was slightly more eventful than we would have hoped since Angie had a brief freakout that we overslept and were going to miss the shuttle.  As it turns out in her determination to beat daylight savings time, she had changed her Garmin which then changed itself so it said 5 when it was really 4.  Once that was over she went to scope out the early runner's breakfast that was being provided at the 3 partner hotels.  It was a decent spread however NO COFFEE!  Yes, there was a coffee maker in the room but only one coffee pouch plus that little machine kind of took a while to brew.  We were able to get a couple more pouches delivered to the room so I was able to get a few sips of coffee before we had to catch the shuttle.
some people lay their running stuff out nicely, I prefer a giant pile
We rode the shuttle for a solid hour.  We had to make stops at the other two hotels and then finally made our way to the start.  I didn't really mind since it beat having to stand outside at the start, it was about 50 degrees which was great for running but a little chilly standing in my singlet and shorts.  The start line was lively with music blaring and an enthusiastic announcer.  There were also plenty of potties which I was able to utilize twice without any problem before we started.

goofing around on the shuttle
Christine, Angie and I started together but quickly we went our separate ways.  It was kind of weird starting in the dark but it quickly got lighter.  The temps were really perfect.  The first couple miles were really beautiful in this park and I was just cruising.  After we exited the park, we were on some major roads and neighborhoods.  The course is really flat and fast.  Next thing I knew, my next chunk of miles were all 8-8:20 pace and it didn't feel difficult so I just went with it.  I was enjoying the scenery and the crowds.  Obviously it wasn't thousands of people as Newport News is not a big town but the community definitely came out to support the runners and they were very excited and passionate.  I got so many high fives and "thank you for being here"s.  It was all very uplifting.

ready to go!
Around miles 12-14, my pace began to gradually slow down.  I could have pushed myself to try to keep the faster pace but that wasn't the plan for the day so I just kept it all comfortable.  Some highlights from the second half were a college campus, some more pretty park running, some historical sights including cannons and such, some water scenery and lots and lots more cheering people.  There was one aid station that really stood out with a high school manning it.  There were cheerleaders and just tons of students, all so pumped and it was so fun to run through there.  During the second half I also enjoyed a shot of beer, some coke and fruit, all of which was provided by kind Newport News residents who wanted to support the runners.   It wasn't until the last few miles when the sun and temps really started to ramp up and I was ready to just be done as I was getting overheated.  With about 2 miles left, the 4 hour pace leader was passing me.  He had no one running with him.  He told me he was about 1 minute ahead of 4 hour pace.  It didn't really matter to me my time but given I still had the chance to break 4 hours, I figured why not take it.  He went a head of me for a few minutes and seemed like I was getting further behind but then I just started moving my legs faster to see what would happen and next thing I knew he was getting closer and then I was passing him.  It felt good to speed back up.  We turned one last corner and there was crowds lining both sides of the street leading to the finishing arch.
the Finishing Arch
It got me excited and I sped my way through the finish in 3:58.45.  I felt good.  I kept things at easy, long run pace, still broke 4 hours and have carried on training just like after a normal long run.  I ran 3:57 at Philly and felt like absolute crap for days after with no desire to run again for a while.  Running is a funny thing like that sometimes and I'm glad to be on the upswing side.

After finishing, I received my medal (which was very substantial), water, banana, bar, orange and a throw away type of finisher jacket thingy rather than a heat sheet.  The arch leads into a very lovely park that sits on the water.  It was very pretty and perfect for the after party.  There were recovery areas, food areas, beer areas, kid bouncy thing areas and a big stage with a very lively, fun band.  Every runner had one food truck item ticket and two beer tickets.  The beer choices were bud light, michelob ultra and shock top.  For obvious reasons Shock Top was in high demand so if anything needs improving for next time, it's more of that!  I enjoyed a taco from the taco truck.  While waiting for my taco, I met a family that ran the marathon relay.  The kids were 10 and 12, they were so happy and I could tell proud of themselves.  I congratulated them.  Then I looked around and realized there were other families that had done the same thing.  It was so nice to see that this event brought so many people together in such a great way.

out of shock top....desparate times...
While waiting for Angie and Christine to finish, I texted Emir who told me I got second in my age group.  What a pleasant surprise!  Of course when I looked, I noticed that first place only beat me by 2 minutes, which I definitely could have ran faster to beat that but that wasn't my goal of the day so I decided to be very happy with a second place AG on a day that my only goals were to have fun and run a training pace.

Eventually I saw Angie come through the arch.  I knew it was a rough day for her.  She had been sick for a couple weeks leading up to the race and hadn't had a lot of sleep due to her long trek from Iowa plus it was pretty hot the last hour and a half of her run.  I was proud of her for persevering and getting the finish.  We were so busy with each other we almost missed Christine who also seemed in a heat daze that she didn't hear us calling her.  We also kind of forgot Kate, sorry!  But we all found each other after a bit. 
One City Marathon Finishers!!
 By the time we got back to the hotel, it was just about 2.  Thank goodness Kate had convinced Dylan to give us that extra half hour!!!!  We assembly lined the shower and packed up our cars.  I was so sad the weekend was already over.  I love getting away for a weekend for races especially because most of the time it's with Emir.  But I do also really enjoy a fun girls weekend with friends.  This is the first time, I've really gotten to mix the two together, a fun friends weekend at a race.  It was not only so relaxing but it was just so enjoyable to be spending time with friends who love running as much as I do.  It was great to be around people who only wanted to talk about ALL the running too and didn't think I was annoying about having to go for a run or weird that I wanted to run a marathon for fun.
#BRF's <3<3
The weekend was also great because One City was a well thought out, well organized event.  If it wasn't advertised, I would have had no idea that this was only the second year.  Everything I've already mentioned was wonderful but I would be amiss if I didn't mention the AMAZING volunteers.  Every aid station was FULL of super enthusiastic volunteers.  They were all working so hard to make sure water and gatorade was waiting in hand for every single runner.  They were all also cheering and giving words of encouragement.  The volunteers managing the intersections and traffic too not only made the course very safe and gave us runners plenty of space but were also making sure they gave every single runner words of encouragement.  Even if you were down, they were all there to pick you right back up.  The course itself was VERY flat and definitely good for fast running.  I highly recommend it for a BQ attempt.  I may just have to come back next year when I'm ready to attempt a BQ again.  I am glad though to have run it this year not trying to PR so that way I got to enjoy the scenery.  I thought it was a very enjoyable point to point.  Yes of course a few quiet sections and a few just strip mall type sections but kind of hard to avoid in 26 miles.  Overall I thought it was a great course and I would love to run it again.  I'm really happy that Bibrave and One City gave me the chance to run this race.

Up next for me are a couple of short races and then I will have a few weeks before C & O Canal.   It's coming up fast but unlike TARC when I was kind of freaking out, right now I feel confident and have the "bring it on" attitude towards it.  Let's hope it stays that way!! 

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