Monday, February 14, 2011

A Weekend Sandwich in Greensboro, NC: Groundhog Gallop Half Marathon, 2/12, Valentines Massacre Marathon 2/13

A weekend when 2 races were the bread and other adventures, the filling! 
Start of Sunday's Massacre Marathon
 (And yes, I do love bread!) Photos in this post are courtesy of Scott Bassett and Shannon Johnstone

George getting ready to hit the trail after 3/4 mile of pavement
George and I left at 5:30am on Saturday morning, 3.5 hours before the start of the Groundhog Gallop races at Northeast park in Gibbsonville, NC. This day would be the 2nd time George would run the 8k trail race and 3rd time for me in the 21k distance.

 Like many area trail runs, the bib pickup was a reunion of friends and running acquaintances. Bradley Smythe, who finished 2nd in last weekend’s Uwharrie 40 was out there volunteering, handing out bib numbers and doing a bit of everything else. Shannon Johnstone (40-mile champ last weekend) and her husband Anthony, also a top finisher last weekend were out there preparing to run.

I was surprised to find that attendance for this fine event was down. (Last year driving conditions were slick with fresh snow, so it was easy to understand the lower turnout). In 2009 the combined participants to both races was 171. This year 101 runners. I can’t help but wonder what has driven the attendance down? Same great trails and race organizer…Hmmm…

The 8k is a single loop on mostly single track trail. The 13.1 is a larger loop x2 with 4 calf deep water crossings. Both courses are a mix of flat, groomed and technical trail. Lots of little ups and downs with no big climbs. Thawing ground turned parts of the 13.1 run into very slick patches of mud that necessitated caution around some of the tighter turns.

The 13.1 (which my instincts say is a bit shorter than that), celebrated 2 young students from Duke University as the winners. First woman was Megan Beavis, 20 finished in 1:29:26, she was 3rd overall. David Roche, 22 won in 1:17:39. 

For me, the race was with Luanne Coulter, 49 who has won this race in the past and is a sub-3:00 marathoner, is just returning to racing after taking a year off.  I passed Luanne about 2.5 miles into the first loop. She looked very strong and I told her so. She thanked me and informed me she was out of shape-though I never would have guessed!  We stayed together for the next 7ish miles, she pushed me to stay steady and I like to think I pushed her to stay with me. Luanne flew by me when I stopped to re-tie my shoe, just before the 3rd water crossing.

Playing catch up with Luanne (in black)
I did a bad job the first time and lost more seconds when retying it a 2nd time. Chase, chase-what fun! I was working pretty hard!

Reversing the chase at the last water crossing...
I passed Luanne just before the last water crossing and we stayed within meters of one another until almost the very end. I was very grateful for my Mountain Masochists that gave such good traction on the mud, Luanne had road shoes on, and I think the traction and confidence the shoes gave me is what finally allowed me to finish in 1:36:45, 2nd place and she just behind 137:02. I thank Luanne for a great run together. I’ll need more than shoes with good traction to stay with her as she works her way back into being "in shape!"

The 8k winners were Allison Peters, 31 at 37:14 and Curtis Swisher, 39 with a time of 32:48. Somehow George got left off the results, he was in 28th place with a  time of 45:50, just behind Jeffery Branin, 32.

Results for both races here
After George powered down some chili and I had some PB &J on a bagel we made our way across town for an early check-in at Spring Hill Suites.Nice place! This all suite hotel with a hot breakfast, and indoor pool and hot tub has great weekend rates that allowed us to indulge in something more special than Budget Inn.

After cleaning up and chilling for a little while we were back in the car headed for Greensboro Natural Science Center to see the Bodies Revealed exhibit. Lines for tickets stretched out the door! After purchasing tickets we learned we had to wait 70 minutes until our scheduled time to enter the exhibit. We used the time to check out the animals, most of whom were out and about on the warm winter day.

The zoos 2 tigers. Photo courtesy of Natural Science Center  FB page
A exhibit piece of Bodies Revealed-photo from FB page
The exhibit was intriguing and absolutely fascinating. See above link to learn the story behind the exhibit.

After a slow, traffic-filled drive the 10 miles back to our room I intended to swim. The pool however was taken over by a tribe of screaming, splashing children so I settled for a 10 minute stretch in the hot tub.

The restaurant we chose for our early Valentine’s Dinner was Italian and only a couple blocks from where we stayed. George and I got fancied up and hanging out in the rooms sitting area, shared some champagne we’d brought along while we exchanged cards and gifts. Usually we don’t buy each other big things, but try instead to think of things that are needed. This year, George made an exception. After the pretty card and antioxidant filled chocolate bars, he presented me with a velvet box and said he hoped I like what might be traditional for other couples, but not traditional for us. I was puzzled/curious and after opening the box so very pleased! He gave me a pair beautiful earrings with a small stone in each!

Wow! I also consider this type of jewelry for “other” people, yet I really, REALLY like these. They are oh-so-classy and exactly what I like, even though I’d never thought about it before! Thank you George, what a grand surprise!

Dinner was at Villa Rosa and was quite yummy!
Inside Villa Rosa Italian Restaurant

Passing the transition area around mile 14ish

 The Valentine’s Massacre Marathon is at Country Park in Greensboro, NC. The course is a 1.6 mile slightly hilly loop around 2 small lakes. The majority of the participants were teams of 2-4 people switching laps. Only a handful of us were solo and would run 16 laps.

Some members of teams were decked out in costumes...

In contrast to yesterday’s race which was also directed by Scott Bassett of On the Mark Sports, this Team event has GROWN!  I first experienced the event in 2008, running as a team with Carrie Richardson. There were 56 teams and solo runners in 2008. I ran solo 2009 and 2010. This year the event grew to 138 teams and solo!
Team members were of all ages and running experiences-and they had fun!

The course ran around this lake (and hundreds of Canada Geese!)

George brought his mountain bike clothes and had his bike on the car, ready for a day on the trails while I ran…only we had a snafu and left the rack keys at home.  He was bummed, but a good sport and he walked and hiked on the bike trails while I did my circuits. The weather was breezy/windy and temps ranged from 40-55 degrees. 

The transition zone/finish line area felt like a carnival with music, costumes and tons of cheering/screaming runners cheering on teammates! This was a very fun place to run through! I ran with ear buds in my ears yet listened to music only after lap 8, and then just every other lap, turning it off when coming through the transition zone, way too much excitement to miss  out on which I would have with music blasting into my ears.
One loop to go!
  I had a chair set up near the transition zone on which was deposited fuel and drink. I carried a Nathan bottle for a lap every couple laps after the first several. It was nice to have both hands free for most of the run.

I hit 13.4 split in 1:41:29 and 26.2 in 3:17:54. It was a solid, focused,  training effort and gave me 2nd place in the overall solo division and 33 out of 138 in the combined team and solo.

Jack Mignosa, 40 was the solo winner. His time was 3:03:08 and he was 13 of the entire 138.
Full solo and team results and lap splits are at the website.

Before we left for home, George and I stopped by Earth Fare and got some lunch to go: ½ sandwiches and soup, which we ate on a blanket in a nearby park. By now it was 60 degrees and spring-like! Too bad we had to return to the chill of the mountains! We did however, happily make our way home and had a short reunion with Mama Grey who clearly missed us. Ice bath soak and sleep...

Monday is a short swimming day. I’ll start back running on Tuesday.


Dave said...

Awesome races Annette! It was great meeting you and your husband--you killed it out there.

Hope your week is perfect!

Rick Gray said...

Sounds like you and George had a wonderful weekend. Never knew George had a little runner in him, but he looked way too comfortable in that picture.

annette bednosky said...

George is a good runner when he wants to be! Yet work, paddling, Mtn Biking and more work and seeking grants for our beloved New River get in the way of him generating more time to prepare for races!
I have mentioned this to George before, yet I think he'd be strong and (slowish) yet very, very steady on his next marathon...

(Mary) Shannon Johnstone said...

GO GEORGE!!! And you absolutely ROCK Annette! You are back with a vengeance. Very well done on both races!!! But what an excellent weekend all around.

David Kennedy said...


Sound like you and George had a wonderful weekend! I love reading your reports, you always sound like you're having a blast! The warm weather looks very nice compared to the wind and snow I faced at winter Beast of Burden 100 in Lockport NY.

Great job, I'm glad to see you're on the comeback!

jeff said...

i too was mystified by the small field for the Gallop. Weather was perfect for running and there was much less mud on the treadway compared to last year.

Too bad about George not getting listed in the results. Apparently, I finished right before him, the guy in the green Uwharrie shirt. Thanks for knocking down my age by half.

The grandkids love the cute little groundhog trophy.