This post is the first of hopefully many others...I just want to get this off the ground! I had created this blog after Natalie, who has a great blog site, had suggested it quite a while back, but just didn't know what to write. I cruised around and looked at other blogs and got some ideas but everyone else's blogs looked so great and they wrote so well...I guess I was intimidated...somewhat. Sooo....I'll just jump in here with my first race report and later I will get caught up for the last year.
I ran in the inaugural Dismal Swamp Stomp yesterday...my second half marathon. All through the week I had been watching the weather report because it had been forecasting rain and high temps...which I wasn't looking forward to. Race day was almost a perfect cloudy 48 degrees and no wind but it was still projected to rain later in the morning. I woke up at 5:00 and did my normal morning routine...showered, dressed, ate breakfast (cereal with a banana and coffee...in case you wanted to know) and relaxed a bit until Melissa (my daughter) came down to get ready...she is in JROTC and their group was manning one of the water stations...but she didn't know which one...I ask her to call me to let me know...although it's hard to miss a bunch of teenagers with JROTC t-shirts on. She leaves because they need to be there early. My wife comes down after Melissa leaves and goes takes her shower...she has never come to one of my races because she always has something else going on...and I'm thinking she just might show up this time...at least she hasn't said anything about other plans. I tell her bye and I'm out the door around 6:50 just as Melissa calls back saying she's hungry and would I stop at Hardy's to pick something up for her and meet her around the start line and I agree. She calls back a few minutes later saying never mind because they are already being taken to the water station...but still doesn't know which one. The drive to the race is a short one since I only live about 10 minutes away. She calls back as I'm parking and says she will be at the 1 and 12 mile marker ( this is an out and back course)
The race course is on a 8.25 mile section of an old two lane highway (Route 17) that runs next to the intercoastal waterway...the waterway runs from way up north near NY to Fl...I've heard...but we are only running a 6.5 mile out and back section that has recently been made into the Great Dismal Swamp Trail and park where people can hike, bike, rollerblade, walk their dogs, ride horses, fish...they can almost do anything except use motorized vehicles. So it is a very pretty setting with a long straight two lane asphalt road with water on one side and trees and bushes on both sides. When the trail was first created, a Boy Scout...as part of his Eagle Scout project...had put out quarter mile markers the length of the 8.25 mile main section, so it is a great place to run and bike and a great place to have bike and running races. The beauty of it also is that it's a great place to do long runs...an out and back on the main trail is 17 miles but there is an additional 1.5 mile section of road connected to it, so it's great for a 20 mile run also.
I get to the course and get parked about a mile from the start line. They do have vans shuttling runners to the start area, but I'm there early so I walk/jog to the start are as a warm up. As I get near the start area, I see a stream of cars coming in from both directions and think there is noway they can get over 1600 runner's vehicles in such a small area...but they evidently did...although later I heard that some runners were late to the start line...some almost 30 minutes. I wait near the port-a-potties since I usually have to go two or three times before the race, and look for people I know but can't spot any...which is unusual...there are lots of local races in Virginia Beach and Norfolk and you usually see the normal local runners. I get my three potty breaks in and it's 10 minutes before race time and I head to the start line and look for the 1:30 pace group...that is my ultimate goal to break 1:30 with a realistic goal of under 1:40...my previous race PR was 1:45 six months ago and during my training I have run 1:38 and 1:36 and during the Shamrock marathon just a month ago, my 13.1 mile split was 1:43. Five minutes before the start of the race...I feel the urge to go...again! But the port-a-potties are about 300 yards back with long lines. I look around for a suitable spot and since there are lots of trees around, I head to the canal side with some nice size trees, and then of course...I can't get it started. I hear from the speakers as the guy is counting down how many more minutes to the start time..."It is now two minutes till start time"...come on any day now..."It is now one minute to start time"...and I'm finally going..."It is 30 seconds till start time"...and I'm still going and trying to hurry...10...9...8...I finish and race to the start line...3...2...1...and we're off and I push start on my watch as I cross the start line. The Kenyans, Ethiopians and other elites are of course sprinting way in front already. I spy the 1:30 pace group and settle in with them...there are only about four of us. The pace seems to be really fast but I'm thinking I just need a few miles to loosen up and all will be fine and then glance at my watch at the .5 mile marker and see that my watch hadn't started...I guess I didn't push the start hard enough. So I decide to rely on the actual time which was real close to the start time at 8:00. We get near the 1 mile water stop and see a line of JROTC cadets in their blue t-shirts and pick out my daughter...and tell her hi as I get a cup of water still running full stride, and she says "Go Daddy!"...I don't need the water yet but I get one anyway and take a few sips and throw it at a trash receptacle...and it misses...I have this great big urge to stop and put it in the receptacle...but of course I don't. I'm still with the 1:30 pace group going through the two mile mark and they seem to be on time but I am feeling way to good and set my sights on a big pack of runners about 100 yards ahead and pick up my speed just a bit. As I get near the big pack...the pack seems to be shedding runners as it seems to be picking up speed. I pass a few and finally settle in with a girl who seems to be running my pace. I start a conversation as I feel a couple of rain drops. She was from Norfolk and had also raced in some of the races that I had...like the Fleet Week Half ...my first half marathon and Richmond ...my first marathon. Her marathon personal best was around 3:06 something and her half best was around 1:28 and she was hoping to PR. As we were talking about awful race pictures...since we were coming up to and passing the race photographers around the four mile mark...we hear this group coming up behind us and then passing us...it was the 1:30 pace group...which really surprised us since we were doing a pretty good pace and had passed the 3 mile split time clock at 19 and change. We stayed with them for a bit but around the five mile mark, I let them go since I felt they were going faster than my pace. We started seeing groups of elites racing back from the turn around point by the time we were passing the five mile marker...the turn around point was around the 6.5 mile mark. The next split time clock was at 6 miles and I went through that at 40 plus change and was still feeling good and confident that I could still do this in 1:30 even though the 1:30 pace group was a bit ahead of me. Came up to the turn around point and made the quick double back being careful not to slip and twist an ankle or something. It's fun to do an out and back because you can see all the other racers on the course as you double back and see and greet people you know as well as size up the competitors. I started running with another girl who was also racing for a 1:30. She had travelled in from northern Virgina that same day something like over three hours drive. We were talking and I hear this breathing that sounds like a train coming up from behind and I was just mentioning that it sounded like a train was behind us this older runner came by and said..."Here's the train coming by". All three of us were laughing and wishing each other good luck as he slowly pulled ahead...then the competitor in me is thinking...hey...he's probably in my age group and I better stick with him...So I yell out asking about his age group and we find out that he's in an older...55-59...group and I settle back in my stride and let him go. In hindsight, I should have stuck with him because he finished in just under 1:30. The next split time clock was at 10 miles and I went through that in 1:09. With 3 miles left, I still thought I could do it in 21 minutes and still get my 1:30 time and so tried to up the pace since I had dropped a lot from the 6 to 10 miles. At the 12 mile water stop, again I said hi to my daughter and got a cup of water from her as they were all cheering for me as I went by! With a little over a mile to go I looked at my watch which said I had about 5:10 minutes to get there for a 1:30 and I knew I wouldn't make it but still tried to up my pace. As I was nearing the finish line, I hear "Go Charles" to my right and glance over to see my wife taking pictures...her first to see me race...I felt really good! I cross the finish line with the time showing 1:32:25.
As I'm going through the finish corral, I'm searching for my wife as the helpers are running after me trying to get my timing chip. We finally get the chip off and I get my medal and a couple of bottles of water and a picture taken and see my wife trying to get a picture too. Twas a great feeling...it felt wonderful. We went back to the finish line looking for some of her and my friends finishing the race. We stayed till about the 1:55 time mark cheering racers on when it started to rain...she hadn't brought an umbrella and with the temps still in the 40's, it was feeling really cold, we decided to leave and walked back to our cars...as I'm walking back, I meet up with the first girl I ran with and found out she had PR'd in 1:26 and we congratulated each other. By the time I reached my truck it was raining pretty hard and I was cold and soaked...but feeling really good! We got back to the house and I had already taken a shower and put on some dry clothes and went online to see if the results were posted...thinking it was way too soon...but they were posted. I searched for my name and see that I came in First in my age group. Now when I first got to the race in the morning, I had seen the trophies for the race, which were wood...or were they plastic...carvings of blue herons...the official symbol of the great City of Chesapeake...where I live... and had wishfully thought it would be great to have one...even a third place one would have been nice...but with so many runners, my chances weren't looking too good. Well...it was only about 11:30 when I saw the posted results and my wife suggested I go back to get it, so I drive back to the race...mind you, I only live 10 minutes away...and found someone to get me my 1st place age group award bird. All was good now...a great PR...a 1st place age group award...and having my wife and daughter, who watch me race for the first time, be there too...Like they say in that commercial...Priceless!
There were 75 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 1366 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 66
Age group finish place was 1
Gender finish place was 56
Time: 1:32:26.25 for a pace of 7:03 per mile
3M time was 19:50.95 for a pace of 6:37 per mile
6M time was 40:44.40 for a pace of 6:58 per mile
10M time was 1:09:18.75 for a pace of 7:09 per mile