I’m going to warn you upfront. This race was amazing. This recap will be long. It may take more than one post to get it all out. Roanoke is a beautiful city. Friends that I have met before and those who I had not met yet made the weekend even better than the beautiful surroundings.
If you all remember last week, I was concerned about the Blue Ridge Marathon’s elevation. I had trained on elevation. I have run elevation before. I still was far more concerned about the downhills than the uphills in Roanoke.
The race was set to start at 7:35 am for those of us who were only running the course once. Yes, there were 20 people who ran the race twice. They started at 2:30 am – as my son and his friend were leaving the downtown bars. The Unofficial Official Double Blue Ridge Marathon ran the course once in the early hours of the day and then returned to start with the rest of us on the 7:35 course. And friends here thought I might be a big crazy.
I was driving myself to the start. Hotel was only about a half mile from the start, a fairly straight warm-up walk. Unfortunately, I did not know the area so I decided to head into downtown about 5:50 to ensure I could get to the parking garage and get a spot. While many thought this was early, I was okay with it. I managed a spot on the second level – I figured I could get up that many stairs after the race – and was not the first runner to park in there.
The streets of downtown Roanoke were deserted with the exception of runners and police with K9s. The entire downtown area – as the start would run through a fairly long distance – was being checked by dogs. I managed to watch the check point areas get set up for bag searches. My first stop was to see if I could swap out the shirt for a larger one. The cut of the women’s shirt was just a bit small for my taste. Then, I used the warm, indoor restroom before heading out to be the first to check a bag. My cinch sak had a full change of clothing plus a quart of Gatorade, a protein drink for after the race and Premier protein bars for after. Strangest sight of the morning was Pete – the race chairman – unlocking individual porta-potties at the start line. Evidently, each individual porta-potty was locked to prevent mischief from bar goers the night before and to keep them safe.
Luckily, I started the race without crying at the National Anthem. I am pretty sure that the race would have been horrible if that had happened. Probably an asthma attack to start the race. I didn’t think to pull my phone out and take a photo. It was an awesome sight – the American flag on bank building flying straight out as the wind was blowing so hard, helicopters hovering over the course.
The beginning of the race had us heading out of downtown and up and over the Roanoke River. Angie – my newly met running friend as we all know I am all about the socialization of running – and I stuck together. My original plan was to do my normal 5 minute run/1 minute walk the whole race with additional walking on the mountains. Angie had spoken to a woman this morning who said to walk the uphills and not worry. You’d be okay on the downhills. Sounded like a plan to me and I am nothing if not flexible.
The uphills start right away. Just getting over the bridge would be what some consider an incline. Hopefully, you are not included in “some” if you are running Blue Ridge. The half and the full marathoners started together and continued up the first incline until approximately the 3 mile point. Us fully crazy people, as opposed to those who are only half crazy, continued up hill while the half crazies headed to the Star on Mill Mountain. We headed to Roanoke Mountain – the first of three peaks we would visit today (yes, I call Peakwood a peak).
The uphill going up towards mile 5 was not consistent. We would run when the incline was not too much or there was a small downhill or even a flat portion of the hill. Angie and I also stopped to take photos occasionally. How often do you see sights like this on a road race?
As we passed the first relay exchange, I got a high five from Bart Yasso. Shortly after this point, we turned up into the loop that would take us up to the peak of Roanoke Mountain.
About two-tenths of a mile down Roanoke Mountain, having just passed porta-potties, I had a feminine issue. I was not going back up to the bathrooms but knew I could not wait until the next water stop. I told Angie to keep going. I hoped I would catch up with her as there were still just under 18 miles to go and it is always nicer with someone. I did what I had to do. Headed down the mountain and around one bend – as few of the roads were straight – someone else should have used the porta-potties, also. There squatting was a bare butt. Kept running. I did eventually catch up, sort of, to Angie.
We would run together again for a bit but would loose each other for good by the Star on Mill Mountain. Once the loop was over, we ran back the way we came until hitting where the half marathoners had split off on the way up the hill. As we were heading up to the peak, some guy in probably his mid-20’s said he wished he had run the half. I reminded him this would have come much earlier if he had and smiled. He laughed a bit.
At this peak, I took more photos.
Now I am at the halfway point of the race – more or less – so I will finish with more details later.