Friday, April 20, 2012

2012 Blue Ridge Half Marathon: Pt 1: Foreword

     Planning out a race schedule can involve many factors and I know one of the things I look for is if I happen to be one of its legacy participants. It creates something of a territorial effect knowing that participation in an event has been consistent since its inception. Just looking at events that have been around for 3 years or more I can attach legacy status to two events...The Frozen Toe 10k and the Blue Ridge Half Marathon.

     The 2010 Blue Ridge Half Marathon was the first race I ever registered for. I had only been running regularly for a few months when the inaugural event was announced on the news. I knew absolutely NOTHING about amateur endurance sports or race preparation or anything about competitive events at all. The news release made a pretty big deal out of it, so for all I knew the Blue Ridge Half and Full Marathons were going to be just shy of Olympic level events.

     I thought about it for no more than a day or two when my running buddy, Brian R., announced that he was signed up for the full. I thought "Well, Brian knows what he's doing and I've kept pace with him for 8 miles or so...I guess I'll give the half a shot and just see what happens." I signed up the next day. I remember thinking "This thing has a 1000? runner cap! I better not wait or I may not get a spot!" I had to have been among the first 10 to register.

     That was the start of a huge shift in my running mentality. No longer was I just running to shed a few pounds, now I was "TRAINING" for an event, now I had goals, now every run had importance and many aspects of life had to be weighed against an overall running strategy for the best finish possible. This wasn't JUST a race for me, this was the BLUE RIDGE HALF MARATHON, future generations will be researching my performance at this event and I have to make a mark worth standing next to.

     Corny? Yeah. Over the top? You could say that. But as a non athletic person my whole life I had no frame of reference to attach to, so it was what it was, and I made it what I made it. I discovered the Star City Striders website and started researching race results and discovered that my training times were almost middle of the pack. I found a local race, the Bank of Fincastle 10k, and saw where the previous years 3rd place finisher had a slower pace that what I routinely run. For all I knew the same people run the same events every year so I signed up for that one as my first organized road race...sure enough, I got my 3rd place age group medal too!

     I did another 5k race that November, The Drumstick Dash 5k, no medal this time, but the results were encouraging and I was starting to get a lot of satisfaction out of these events. I looked for more events and found the Mountain Junkies. Here was not just ONE RACE, but a WHOLE SERIES...AND it works out perfectly for a lead in to the Blue Ridge Half! I did every one of them!

     Finally, the day of The 2010 Blue Ridge Half arrived. I saw a familiar face from Northside High School in Doug E., who had some experience with running and he passed on some encouragement before and during the race. I still vaguely recall the minute differences in the course that year, but what I vividly recall is being about half way through the course and realizing that there was still a lot of people behind me. I eventually crossed the finish line in total amazement that I could not just complete an event of this magnitude, but that I could finish somewhere in the top 25%. It was emotional. I knew this would be an annual event for me for as long as it existed and I was able.

  I returned in 2011 with even better finish statistics including a Top 10 with an Age Group win. Rather than re-blog that experience I'll just post a link HERE to a Race Report I wrote on dailymile. It is difficult to say what effect rain had on participation levels last year and even what effect it might have been having on me. As of right now, 20 hours before the 2012 event, it looks like rain won't be much of a factor for the Half runners, but the slower Full marathoners might see a shower.

I don't have any pics from 2010, but here's some from 2011.
I went home and showered prior to the awards ceremony. Kneesee had just barely finished walking the course when this pic was taken.

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We all got wet. Even Faithy who only walked from the car to the awards ceremony!

1st Place Men 35-39.

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