- Run a few 5Ks/10Ks. In the past year, I’ve run my fastest (adult) 5K and the last (7-mile) leg of the marathon relay with the Medifast Milers at the Baltimore Running Festival.
- Add in strength training/stretching. I did this so well and I think it helped more than anything else. I did yoga, some spin, and lots more lifting thanks to the Tone It Up team! In the past few weeks, I’ve really started to notice that I’m feeling stronger.
- Run hills! Oops. We’ll cover that in a minute.
- Sign up for my next half soon. I did sign up for the Baltimore half pretty shortly after the Pitt half but ended up running the last relay leg for a friend. After that, I signed up for Charlottesville.
- Remember why I love running. If I didn’t love running, I would’ve quit long ago on those awful dreadmill runs that I had to do for MONTHS when winter refused to end.
So overall, I did a pretty good job prepping for the race. I felt good going in to it, especially because Steve was going to pace me. (He injured himself, and his slower running is my fast pace.) I knew that I was going to wear by trusty outfit (capris and tank) and go out at a slower pace to prevent burnout. I felt like this could be a good race.
Enter: Charlottesville’s hills. SERIOUSLY, what is up with them?!? We were forewarned, but they were nothing like this edge-of-the-East-Coast living girl expected. Just constant, long, gradual, rolling hills everywhere. Driving there on Friday had me texting Dianne and Hallie in a panic.
Race day: I felt both calm and excited. I did a Dailyburn warm up and we walked to the race from our Airbnb rental. It was a small race, so no worries about corrals. Steve and I dropped off our bag and strolled to the line. After some light warming up, we were off!
Mile 1: 9:05
Mile 2: 8:48
Mike 3: 9:03
Mile 4: 8:53
The hills started immediately, so Mile 1 was a little slower than the 9-min pace I’d planned. We weaved through downtown C-ville, which was very pretty. Miles 2-3 were flatter, so I got into a nice groove. I had to tell myself to slow down a few times, especially every time another hill came around.
Mile 5: 8:56
Mile 6: 8:37
Mile 7: 8:46
Mile 8: 8:41
At Mile 4.3, I gave Steve the thumbs up that I felt good and could drop the pace to around 8:50. I think we were around UVA at this point and it was pretty flat/downhill. I felt really, really good throughout Miles 5-8.
Mile 9: 8:40
Mile 10: 8:47
Mile 11: 8:46
Mile 12: 9:48 [I want to cry thinking about this now.]
Mile 13: 9:12 [Seriously — so painful.]
Mile 0.1: 0:43 [Get out the way, bitch!]
Midway through Mile 8, I gave Steve another thumbs up, noting that we could drop to about 8:40 pace. Around Mile 9, we headed into a park, which was really pretty and flat. I held onto that 8:40-ish pace … until the hill. Oh, my God. This hill was 1/2-mile long. My legs turned to lead and I wasn’t sure that I had anything left. I did the quick math and figured that I could probably come in under 2 hours, so a PR would just have to be pushed aside.
When I thought the hills might stop, they didn’t. And each uphill has a downhill, right? Right—but they’re SO STEEP that it was painful to run down them. I tried to let it go as much as possible, but I could feel my hips and shins being jarred each step.
With Steve by my side, I pulled up every little bit of strength for that last mile and when I hit Mile 13, I sprinted as fast as I could. Final time: 1:56:45.
Yes, I missed my PR by 11 seconds. You’d expect me to be disappointed, but I’m not. This course was so difficult and I definitely think I would’ve PR’d on another course. I’m happy that I even came in under two hours! I felt strong until that last round of hills, which was a sign that I’d trained well. I probably won’t run Charlottesville again, but it was a good experience. (I’ll definitely visit, though, and will have a recap of our time there shortly!)
Thanks for the positive words while I was training and the amazing cheers before/after the race. The support is so appreciated!
So, what’s next? I already plan to run the Richmond half in November (Steve is signed up for the full) and maaaaay look at something before it …