For the past 15 weeks I have been training my ass off for my Goal Marathon! I have put my body through a lot of work: and Saturday was the big day....
Friday: Me, Joe, Brit and Chris pack up the car and hit the road. It is a 5 hour drive from Pittsburgh to Charlottesville and we have a whole list of things we want to do. We rented a car, it was snug, but we all fit. The car ride was a blast. It was five hours of running war stories, bad karaoke, would you rathers? Fun trip!
Get to Charolottesville, head to the expo right as it opened. It had exactly two booths open (5 in all), one to pick up the packets and one selling internet. Well that sucks, I mean I like to look at stuff at the expo, get good deals on socks and stuff. Oh well. At least it is a cute outdoor courtyard that is very historic and cool looking.
Next Up: Driving the course. .... I still can't decide if this was a wise idea or not. We pull up the map from the internet (no step by step direction available at the expo) and a google map and we begin the navigation process.
As we begin the course preview we begin to make comments like "oh, that is a big hill...at mile 2". Oh Shit, what we did just get ourselves into? These hills are F'n STEEP! But we are staying positive, oh the positive statements. We are going to be fine! NBD.
Then comes dinner. Pizza, always Pizza! Pizza is good and we get Joe dropped at his air bnb and Brit, Chris and I head to our hotel. There we get checked in and head straight for the hot tub. It's tradition! And as we are sitting there, enjoying the glorious warm waters... we begin to talk. Oh the hills! I mean, we live in Pittsburgh, and our neighborhood is very hilly, but these hills, they are much steeper than the ones we train on. Well, nothing we can do now. We will make the best of the day and see what we can do.
Morning of: Up at 4:50, bathroom, race outfits, oatmeal, gear check, one last foam roll and out the door we go. Pick up Joe and head to the start, it is 61° and slightly raining. This is good. The rain will cool us down and the humidity isn't awful. We spend the normal 20 minutes in the porta potty line, where I secretly adore eavesdropping on peoples conversations, I am always amused by the things people talk about and wonder if people are as amused by our conversations.
Start time: 7 am on the dot. They sing the national anthem and say "Get ready, Get set, GO". And off we go!
Mile 1: Downhill... FABULOUS!
Mile 2: Uphill, big uphill... uh-oh, this is going to be tricky. But in my head I hear my coach, "scale it back going up the hills, faster on the downs", so that is exactly what I do.
And here goes the cycle... Slowly going up, Quickly going down. The route is on roads that have traffic out of downtown and towards the river. We hit a river trail that is pretty with a flowing river among trees and brush. These miles aren't awfully hilly, just a roll. Until we hit the steep switchback, where we climbed back up the to the road.
Mile 5-10: Big Climb! Into the first residential area we are running through. There are some steep hills here, so we go slowly up, and quickly down. We round through the neighborhood, running by Joes bnb. We wave at the landlord as we go by. Keeping on our smiles, still holding a good pace.
Mile 10: AH SHIT, my legs are already starting to feel heavy, these hills are killing me! They are already hurting, this is not a good sign. And the course is not getting any easier!
Mile 12: Start to climb again... climbing climbing climbing. but still holding a good pace. keeping them all sub 8 or only a little above. Overall FLYING! Then comes a beautiful site, a long downhill. As I am enjoying this blessed downhill, a runner coming up says "It's going to suck in a mile" .. Thanks Asshole. But I am still in a great mood,( as Brit put it later " I have never seen that Ambyr, you were sooo happy the entire time." (hahahaha).) so I respond with, "It's fine, I've got it".
HOLY SHIT! Climbing back up that hill was a BITCH! But I made it to the top and we are officially are on our way back to the finish.
Mile 16: I see the number 2 female in front of me... I start to reel her in. I could take the 2nd place spot. Slowly but surely I sneak up on her. Mile 17, I catch her and just sit behind her for a little bit. Mile 18, I pass her! WOOHOO! Her and I exchange pleasantries and I get a boost of confidence I need. Pace is still sitting sub 8, 7:58. This is still going well.
Mile 20: This is starting to suck. I am really hurting! But I am absolutely going to push through, I want this!! But the pace is starting to drop, had some 8:30's. The hills are not stopping!
Mile 22: The 3rd place woman is catching up, and she passes. Bummer. But it's okay.. I am still holding onto the 3rd, even though I have slowed down. My watch is now reading 8:03 min mile. I am not going to make my time goal. But I am going to push through and try to get close damnit! I look at Joe and say " I am ready to be done" and start to try to pick it up again.
Mile 23-25... we are by the river again, it is not too hilly but my legs are SHOT! I keep pushing. One mile is 8:13 and one is 7:56. I CAN DO THIS! Then, I hit the last aid station. I grab some Gatorade and some water and push. I am picking people off, one by one. Every time I see a guy in front on me I focus on trying to catch up and pass them. It is working.
Mile 25, there are 3 different ways we can turn and NO course marker. FUCK! Then I see the #2 female lost. Her and I make a plan of which way to go, taking 3 guys behind us with us. We PICKED WRONG! And there are F bombs being dropped left and right. But we keep running until we see the police cars a block down, we turn and go down. We have added 0.25 miles. But I am right behind her and we start our final climb.
Remember that downhill from the beginning that was so nice, now we have climb it. I. Am. Hurting. So. Bad. #2 pulls ahead and finishes 40 seconds ahead of me. Her name is Alicia and she is a very strong runner. We chat for a few moments, talking about what we have coming up and about basic running pedigrees.
Finish line: We get a bottle of water and are directed to get food. Food options are a small bag of cookies, bananas, and a small bag of chips. No medal, they didn't get them in time or something, so that sucks. But we do get a free beer and it's Sierra Nevada and they have multiple options. I use my beer ticket, Joe's beer ticket, and some very nice man from the UK's ticket too. I wanted to celebrate!
We are told the award ceremony will be at 11:00, so I wait around. 45 minutes later they do awards. I got my 3rd place. I was disappointed with my time (3:36) but I know that I gave that race everything I had.
Post Race: We all get cleaned up, take a much needed nap, and then head down to downtown Charlottesville. There we found a FANTASTIC burger joint where we all had one of the best burgers's ever! I had a glorious vegan burger that I added cheese too (just a good ole vegetarian) and a Agave Wheat Beer that was bomb! They all had their beefy burgers which they all claimed were fantastic! Then we walked around this cute this market area where we window shopped and enjoyed all the people and dogs. The most exciting part of the night was that I am finally eating sugar again, and I had a bomb ass Gelato!
I am still slightly disappointed that I didn't hit my goal, but there are always other races, flatter races! :-)