|Finishing up a great morning|
With the exceptions of the 3 World Championships I’ve
participated in, Blue Ridge Marathon
is probably the highest profile and most
delightful road race I’ve experienced. The race announces that it’s “America’s
toughest road marathon”…with over 7,400’ of elevation gain/loss. (Start/finish
are in the same place). That on it’s own is cool, yet the Roanoke City,
communities, police,volunteers and Park Service, made things go almost over the
top. I felt like a rock star all day (except when I didn’t-and that was only
I arrived in Roanoke about 6pm at my palace for the night:
This older, but clean motel was perfect for me (mircrowave,
fridge, coffeemaker, desk, table, etc)
with Sheets and Wendy’s being practically across the parking lot, and
the race start/finish just under a mile away, fully accessible by sidewalk.
Friday evening, using a little hydration pack, I jogged to packet pickup in
downtown. Very efficient and I walked back appreciating the open air café’s and
art and pedestrian streets in the downtown of this outdoor friendly city.
With the event starting at 7:35 am, it was nice to sleep in
until 5:30 and still have plenty of time to pack up the motel room, make a
bagel, pour a mug of hot chocolate and walk downtown. Three events started at
the same time:10k, ½ marathon, and our race. Runners were asked to “self-seed”
according to our anticipated minutes per mile: Corral A=8:00 min and faster,
B=8:01-8:45, C=8:46-9:30, etc.all the way through Corral F. I choose Corral B,
and after the national anthem was sung by a member of Roanoke Opera, we were
|Working our way "up" for the first many miles...|
I don’t remember many details about the first 10 miles. At
first there were lots of people together on the roads as the different races
all shared the same course for several miles. It wasn’t crowded. I remember
running up, up, up and down, down, down. You could hear the cheers and screams
of the different aid station volunteers sometimes from ½ mile away. I have run
several events that either cross or utilize the Blue Ridge Parkway as part of
their courses. BRM is the first that I’ve experienced that runners actually got
the right of way. This element added to the “rock star” quality of the event.
There was even a trumpet player on the parkway having his own personal
endurance event. He played the “charge” melody for hours on end. The sound made
me smile both approaching and returning from the steep Roanoke Mountain. I
thought about David Horton
on this mountain, if he designed road courses, he
would have definitely included this portion (but he probably would have put it
at mile 21).
|I think this was taken running up Roanoke Mountain...|
|I got this photo off a photo sharing site from day of race...top of Roanoke Mountain...|
|Coming off the 2nd climb of the marathon. Lovin' the grass and blooms!|
Aid stations stocked with GU Brew and water were no more
than 2 miles apart and every few aid stations there was gels, pretzels, fruit
etc. My favorite aid stations were in the Peakwood Community...
|Great support and fun in this community|
|Doing my best to "Do the Locomotion" as the speakers were |
screaming out while entering Peakwood
This was a turn-around
for an out ‘n back and it was fun to nod and wave at other runners. There were
cheering spectators, music, little shot glasses of champagne, pound cake on a
platter and an overall celebratory energy. It was about at this point that the
marathoners running around my pace started to mingle with some of the half
Time passed quickly and I definitely took advantage of
liquids and other fuel at each aid station for miles 12ish-24ish. I probably
should have been fueling better starting around mile 8…but, when I return
again, I’ll know better…Next time, I’ll anticipate the champagne and slow long
enough make a quick toastJ
The race ended for me, feeling strong, well-fueled and
honestly, glad to be done running for the day. Shortly after finishing, BrieJackson
, an amazingly vibrant woman I met in January at Sandman Extreme ½
marathon and who recommended the event shared congratulations Thank you Brie
for letting me know about this event…and congratulations to her too for her 3rd
place finish in the 10km!
|Psyched to feel good crossing the line!|
After crossing the finish line I enjoyed 16 ounces of water
and a Fresca within 30 minutes. Within the hour I enjoyed 2 little slices of
cheese pizza and a yummy local IPA all included with the race registration.
After socializing for an hour or so, I walked back to my car. Every time I
touched my legs a cloud like baby powder would form…yet it was the salt from
all that 75 degree-ish sweating!
I certainly consider this run to be among my favorites-the
icing on the cake was the perfect spring day and multitudes of dogwood and
cherry blossoms all over trees and bright bulbs throughout neighborhoods. I
look forward to returning to Roanoke for both running and non-running fun.
Upon my arrival home, before dropping into bed, I tuned into
the race website to learn I finished “America’s toughest road marathon” 23rd
overall, 5th woman and 1st masters with a time of
3:41:58. (Average pace of 8:28 per mile-so the self-seeding was spot on.Yay)!
The free photos came out on Thursday, hence it’s taken a week to get this post