I had been debating running the Blue & Gray Half Marathon in Fredericksburg since I ran the Richmond Marathon. I was a little hesitant based on my knees being a little iffy and not knowing if I would injure them more. However, all last week my runs progressively felt better, so after an awesome and beautiful Saturday morning run,I decided I would do it!
It was too late to sign up online, so I called the organizers to confirm that I could sign up morning of, and I could. It was a small race run by a local Fredericksburg running group (VA Runners). My friend was running it, too, so I was able to ride up with her at 5:50 AM on Sunday morning (talk about a fun weekend wake-up)! We made it to the race by 6:50 AM and it was nice because the VA Runner store was in a big strip mall where there was tons of parking. We were able to park about 25 feet from the start, and my registration was very easy and quick. We went to the bathroom twice before the race and even hung out in our cars a little bit to stay warm.
This course was beautiful- it goes from main roads around the Mary Washington Hospital, down to the Rappahanock River running/walking pathway and back. We ran along the river and through some neighborhoods. I don't know much about the area, so it was neat to see a different part. My friend and I were running together and our goal was to break 2 hours (that would be a PR for her). We started out VERY fast through the big downhill, but felt good enough to maintain that pace the whole race. We were averaging about an 8:29/pace through most of the race. The end was very tough as it was essentially two miles straight uphill. We split up around mile 11.5 when I had to walk a bit. I caught back up to her around mile 12 but had to walk up a part of another hill around 12.5 (she was stronger than I on those hills). She finished with a 9 minute (!) PR at 1:51:35, and I finished with a 3.5 minute PR at 1:52:12! Needless to say we were both very pleased.
My legs felt good the whole race and while the pace was challenging, it was attainable until those ending hills.
My coworker, Karen, also ran the race and I saw her at the end! She is the one who told me about this race a few weeks ago.
Rachel and I enjoyed the food at the food tent and watched the finishers for a bit before heading back to Richmond (and an obligatory Starbucks run). It was so nice to run a smaller race (about 600 runners) and the course was beautiful and challenging. The weather was great- crisp but not freezing (in the 30's) with abundant sunshine and no humidity. It was a great morning. We both plan to do it again next year!
I think my goal for 2016 may be to break 1:50, because if the course is flatter, I think I could have picked up my speed slightly and cut off 2 minutes. Considering I have done no run longer than a 10k since the marathon and no speedwork and did not even rest for this race (I ran Tuesday-Saturday since I didn't know if I was running the half), this race left me optimistic for that. We'll see! Rachel and I commented about how much nicer half distances are on our bodies, so this race makes it very tempting for me to stick with 13.1 as opposed to 26.2 miles!
Anyone else ever run an impromptu race?