Saturday, March 26, 2016

2016 race #6 - Backyard to Vineyard Challenge: Half marathon


The weather for this race weekend changed at least three times a day for the entire week leading up to the race... it was going to rain, it was going to be 70, it was going to be sunny, it was going to be cold, it was going to thunderstorm... needless to say, the unpredictable weather made it very hard to plan race gear for the weekend! Beth and I both overpacked for this weekend, but the good news was, no matter what the weather was going to be, we were prepared! 

Since it was the weekend before St. Patrick's Day, we decided to dress up for the half marathon, including clover earrings, bows, homemade tutus (complete with glitter tulle) headbands with 4-leaf clovers on them and ridiculous shirts from Target. 


We stayed at the host hotel where the expo was held, which turned out to be a great idea, or a bad idea, depending on whether you think going to the race expo multiple times is a good idea. To complete our crazy outfits, we both bought shorts from Gypsy Runner so that we could use the pockets to hold all of our GU and other gear without interfering with our outfits (fashion first, clearly).


Since the race was all within the Biltmore Estate, we took a bus from our hotel to the race and then back again after we finished. It was really nice to be able to just walk to the lobby of the hotel to get on the bus instead of having to drive into the estate and much less confusing since when we left on Saturday morning it was still dark! Because it was warmer than we expected and I had a marathon to do the next day, Beth offered to pace me for the half and we had fun with the race, stopping to take pictures and making sure to walk when we needed to on the uphills.





Beth prancing up to the Biltmore

The majority of the hills on this race were before you got to the Biltmore Estate at mile 6, and after you get back to the bottom, you do a couple out and back sections so we got to see lots of people throughout the race. 

They made this sign just for me!

The volunteers throughout both races were awesome! On Saturday, we had one guy high-step run with us for awhile and then on Sunday they were out there in the rain, wind and cold cheering us on and offering us all kinds of goodies (I ate at least 3-4 cookies during the marathon) and supporting all of the runners. My favorite was definitely the guy who filled his beard with glitter. There are a few miles that are on a mostly gravel road and that was the worst part of the race for me because it was so uneven, but it wouldn't be enough to stop me from running it again in the future. We had a lot of fun with this race and I finished at 2:38:01, which is my slowest road half ever, but I went into the race just wanting to take it easy to save up for the marathon, so I'm happy I accomplished that goal!


In addition to the race medal, all finishers got a fleece blanket embroidered with the race logo, Asheville Marathon & Half, Biltmore Estate, "Relax & Celebrate" - the race directors definitely know how to take care of their runners. There were plenty of snacks and water after the race, though it was at the top of the hill which can be a bit of a deterrent after racing. Overall, I really liked this race and I felt good going into the marathon the next day.


I will say that I did everything you shouldn't do on race day - I tried a ton of new things - new clothes (shirt, shorts, tutu), new inserts in my trail shoes (though I did keep my old inserts with me, which another reason I wanted the super large pockets in the shorts and the inserts were ones I had previously used in hiking boots), a new headband and I didn't carry water with me. Probably not the best idea given I was planning just under 40 miles for the weekend, but I've gotten very comfortable with the half marathon distance and didn't feel like I was going to put my marathon in jeopardy by trying all these new things. This is definitely a do as I say, not as I do situation.

We also learned the hard way that glitter tulle is not your friend! In addition to getting glitter everywhere when we made the tutus, we were both covered in glitter by the end of the race and the glitter tulle was more stiff than the regular tulle and kind of scratchy, so we both ended up with marks on our arms from where our arms rubbed against it during the race. Lesson learned, but they did turn out pretty nice and we both got a lot of compliments on our attire for the day, including multiple comments that if there had been a costume contest we would've won - totally worth it!

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