Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Blue Ridge Half Marathon

2013 Blue Ridge Half Marathon
 Garmin Data HERE
The Blue Ridge Half Marathon 
2010- time 1:49:27 (chip) 1:49:37 (gun), Pace 8:22/M, Place 58/450 overall, 10/30 age group, 51/216 among men
2011-time 1:37:19 (chip) 1:37:22 (gun), Pace 7:26/M, Place 10/368 overall, 1/36 age group, 9/176 among men
2012- time 1:35:29 (chip) 1:35:29 (gun), Pace 7:17/M, Place 8/515 overall, 2nd place Master, 7/231 among men
2013-time 1:41:53 (chip) 1:41:55 (gun), Pace 7:47/M, Place 48/798 overall, 3/42 age group, 41/357 among men
 The Expectation
My training had been for the VA Creeper Marathon this past winter and this event is falling during the recovery cycle. Consequently I have no intention of running the course aggressively and recent Garmin stats suggest 1:45:00 to be on the high end of what I might expect. 

The Event
      With this event being held 5 days after the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon there was a lot of purpose and resolve amongst us race participants this morning. Nobody really knows for certain if marathons are being targeted specifically by a terrorist group or if the attack during the Boston Marathon was an isolated incident. Either way I appreciate Roanoke City stepping up the security and increasing the police presence for this event.

     The simple fact that I had not trained for this event this year was in no way going to prevent me from participating in it. As I posted last year HERE, this race has a special psychological connection to my recreational life as a runner and if it should happen to pass that a year comes along where the best I can do is walk it, then walk it I shall. Fortunately my residual training from the VA Creeper Marathon last month has left me in a good position to confidently tackle the course today with a hard and steady tempo effort. For me a tempo effort is characterized by a lack of aggression, a focus on holding 90-95% effort, and a willingness to yield pace and/or position in favor of staying comfortable.

     This course is easily broken down into 3 sections, so I'll just hit the highlights for each:

Start to Star (miles 1-4):I started out just a few steps back from the start line. After the starting gun fired I once again realize what focusing my training on long slow runs has cost me in terms of being quick off the line. Never had a clue what spot I was in as at least 50 racers of both full and half distances were well out in front by the time the first mile was knocked out and the strenuous climb to the star began. I had half way thought to be able to hold my own for the climb up Mill Mountain, but a good 20 or so more people blazed by me on this section too. No idea how many of those in front were doing the full and how many were doing the half. I was satisfied with my effort and a quick look at my Garmin when I reached the Star revealed that my avg pace was in the high 8's.

Star to Greenway (miles 5-8): After leaving the star the course grants about 2 miles of rapidly descending down hill followed by a rolling landscape in a tour of SW Roanoke. I passed a small handful on the sharp decent and found myself keeping stride with 3 or 4 other runners for the tour around that section of Roanoke. Garmin was showing an avg pace in the very low 8's at this point and I knew holding steady would secure me an avg pace in the 7's which was really the best I could hope for in terms of a numerical goal.

Greenway to Finish (miles 9-13.1): This section only hit the greenway for maybe 1/10th of a mile since race directors decided to use the flood route this year. After the quick exit from the greenway the rolling hills continue in a tour of one of old Roanoke's historical districts. By mile 11 I was starting to feel a healthy burning in my calves and glutes. I know whats coming when my legs start feeling like means I've got about 6 more miles where I can really pour it on and then burn out fast or about 10 more miles of steady tempo running. I decided to stick with the game plan at first, but I was ready to be finished also, so when I saw the sign for mile 12 I picked up my effort and passed about 5 people in the last mile. I hadn't done the math for an avg pace to finish time conversion so I was honestly shocked to see the timing clock still at 1:41 and change when it came into view. I poured it on to the best of my ability for the final stretch to keep it from turning to 1:42 before I finished. It was close, 1:41:55 was my official gun time, so I was glad to have it.

Post Race

     Similar to last year, Kneesee was walking the course, so I grabbed some food, checked the results screen, determined a high probability that I had secured a 3rd place age group award, went to my car, changed into my Vibrams and walking clothes, then followed the course backwards to walk my wife in. She was glad to see me and had been hurtin' a little but was holding a steady walking pace and finished up with a PR of her own!

     We waited around to pick up my 3rd place AG award and congratulate the other medalists at the ceremony. It was nice to see so many of the people I regularly race and run with picking up their own awards! With a day full of errands, eating and resting on the agenda we were quick to make an exit and get back home. 
Errand #1


  1. Congrats all around. Great to see both of you at different times this weekend!

    1. Thanks, David. Always excellent catching up!