I do not have a lot of races on my schedule for the rest of the summer. In fact, I have signed up for exactly one! I will tell you about my summer race schedule, but first, let me tell you about my June races.
The first weekend in June found hubby Bill and me in Purcellville, VA to run the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. The first miles of the race seemed to be slightly uphill on a road lined with fields and woods. This is Virginia Wine Country, a beautiful area with farms, vineyards and natural areas. The weather was warm, not hot, but the humidity was 100%, which made running slightly uncomfortable.
The course was rolling, and before the halfway point, the paved road turned into one with a stone surface. The best place to run was where the stones had been worn away to bare dirt. I ran with Bill for the first eight miles of the race. Bill played softball the night before we left for the race, and his legs were tired. He started walking and told me to keep going.
Miles 9 – 12.5 were back on the paved road, and I felt very good. I was running strong and enjoying the beautiful scenery. It was mostly very slightly downhill on the way back, which made running more enjoyable. At mile 12.5 we turned back onto the gravel drive at the vineyard, and I ran out of gas. I started walking.
As I crossed the finish line, the announcer called my name and I pulled up to a stop. I was tired, completely soaked with sweat, and very glad to be done running. I collected my finisher’s medal, got some water and food, and waited for Bill, who finished soon after me. We changed into dry clothes and moved on to the post-race festival, where we sampled wines and listened to a great blues band.
I somehow managed to win second place in my age group, which was a $25 gift certificate for wine. I exchanged it at the festival after the race for a very good bottle of white.
My second June race was the XTERRA Big Elk Half Marathon in Elkton, MD, a trail race. I ran this race last year and loved it! This year, I convinced Bill to run it with me, and I am so glad I did.
At 6:50, we lined up at the starting line marked on the ground with chalk and listened to the race director’s message, (basically, follow the signs). The race began promptly at 7:00, and we were off, down a gravel road to the trails.
We turned onto wooded single track within a quarter mile. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and bright with low humidity. The sunlight dappled trail was mostly flat at the beginning of the race.
When we had run about half a mile, I placed my left foot on the side of a rock and turned my ankle. Pain shot through my leg. I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. Bill and I were running together, and we both moved off the trail as best we could so that other runners could pass. He asked me if I thought I would be able to continue the race. I have never DNF’d before, but I thought this might be my first time. I told him that I wanted to try to walk a little bit. I knew if I could put weight on that foot, I could continue.
I walked gingerly at first, then began running slowly. My ankle felt alright. Not 100%, but not too painful. I told Bill I could continue.
As the race progressed, my ankle felt better and better. I was able to enjoy the course. My favorite kind of trail race is one run on a variety of surfaces, and this course definitely checked that box. While the vast majority of the course was wooded single track with plenty of rocks and roots, there were stretches of double track, gravel road, fields of high grass (tick check after the race!), and dirt single track through low cut fields for variety. There were mile markers at each mile, and the trails were extremely well marked.
The finish chute came into view, and we crossed the finish line, happy to have finished another half marathon together. The award ceremony for the 5k, 10k, and half marathon began soon after we finished. I did win my age group. Awards were pint glasses with an XTERRA logo – nice!
Oh, and my ankle…when we got home, it swelled up like a tennis ball. I could hardly walk on it for the rest of the evening. After hobbling around for about 24 hours, however, it was much better, and I resumed running on the Monday after the race.
On to my summer race. After vowing that I would never do another road marathon again (for the umpteenth time), a friend convinced me to sign up for the Tunnel Vision Marathon in Hyak, Washington. The name refers to a railroad tunnel that runners must pass through at the beginning of the race. It is three miles long, therefore you must wear a headlamp to safely traverse it. I am running the race with two friends, and Bill is coming along for the trip (I think he is hoping to visit one of his favorite restaurants, which is located in Seattle!)
The course is a gentle downhill, but run on a gravel railroad bed, so in my mind, those two factors will cancel each other out. I am having trouble making myself do the long runs necessary for marathon training, so I am somewhat worried about running the race. Oh, I think I will finish, but it won’t be pretty!
I will probably also look for a local, flat 5k to test my speed sometime this summer. I love those short speedy races. I don’t even mind the pain associated with running fast, but “fast” is a relative term at this point in my running career!
I am looking for suggestions for fall races in the mid-Atlantic region (I live in southeastern PA). Anyone have something good to recommend?