Happy Friday! I’m looking forward to an action packed weekend with NO training runs. I ran 3 treadmill miles yesterday and they weren’t TOO awful so I’m going to run a little more today and a little more this weekend, only if I want to though. 🙂
So about Blue Ridge….WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! I was fortunate enough to be named a race ambassador by Blue Ridge this year after training all of 2020 and not getting to run. I just didn’t have it in me to run a virtual marathon, so I used the training to PR a half marathon instead. Obviously, it’s nice to have my race comped, but it was such a privilege to spread the word about the closest marathon to my house. After now having run it, I can confirm it’s a great race!
First, let me say a little about Roanoke. It’s such a cool little city. It has lots of charm and plenty to do. The course allows you to see the best of it, for sure. There were limitations on spectators due to COVID, but soooooo many amazing people were outside their houses and on their porches cheering on runners. It’s so nice when you have total strangers taking time to come out and give you a boost (or a mimosa, or a beer, or a donut). I can’t say enough about how that pulls me through the tough miles.
The course itself is TOUGH. I mean, they call it “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”, so you should know what you’re getting into when you sign up.
You get about a mile of nice and flat to get the blood flowing and warm up. After that, the climbing begins. There are 4 MAJOR climbs: Up Mill Mountain (partially up), Up Roanoke Mountain, up Mill Mountain to the Roanoke Star and a neighborhood called Peakwood. The good news is that what goes up, must come down. If you like to fly down some hills, you’ll get your chance. The face finishes flat. That’s pretty nice.
There was a guy that I probably went back and forth with 50 times or so. He was a much better uphill runner and I was a much better downhill runner. We noticed it after a few times, so as I passed him on a downhill I said, “See you at the next climb!” We had a good laugh. 🙂
I have to say, my training really did have me well-prepared. There were multiple horrible runs up Tobacco Row (the local spot to punish yourself) as part of my training. I really was pretty hard on myself for the way I performed there. One mile up and I was ready to die, every time. It had me a bit discouraged. Coach Craig told me what I needed to hear and got me over it. There was nothing in this race that crushed me like Tobacco Row did, so I guess I was ready! Full disclosure: I did walk a LOT of Peakwood.
This race was not without some difficulties (goes for all marathons though haha), but I really had a great one. It was so refreshing to not have a Boston Qualifier on my mind, cause I had literally ZERO shot of a BQ on this course. I just took it all in….the people, the beautiful scenery, the mimosas, the beer, the donuts…..all of it. I really left it all out there.
During the race when I realized that I was going to finish under 4 hours, I was quite content. After finishing, when I surprisingly heard my name called for an age group award, I was through the roof! The award is a railroad spike with arms and legs welded on….AWESOME!
The next day, I felt like I was hit by a train, so it was definitely fitting to get the railroad spike award.
Another perk of Blue Ridge were the free race photos. I’m pretty sure this is the best one I’ve ever gotten. My fierce determination to crush a rival runner is captured so perfectly!
The joy was definitely worth the ride on the pain train. I hope to participate at Blue Ridge again for years to come and I hope that you’ll join me!