run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Race Report: The Oak Barrel Half Marathon

I had been itching to really race a half marathon for awhile now, and so when I heard about the Inaugural running of the Oak Barrel Half Marathon, I signed up immediately. Before they had even finalized a course. And in that I learned a valuable lesson, folks: Never pay money until a race course has been established. Because, if you're like me... you'll get screwed.

The weeks leading up to the race, I had read a few threads on my local running message board about a monstrous hill between miles 4-5. Great. Just freaking great. Well, I thought to myself... at least there will be Jack Daniels. And then... I realized... Lynchburg is in a dry county. There will be no Jack Daniels, unless I bring it myself. Great. Just freaking great.

Despite the hills and the teetotalling, I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and made the drive down to beautiful Lynchburg. I had decided that this wasn't going to be anything near a PR attempt. While, I've been running fairly consistently lately and am back to my happy place in running, I'm no where near the shape to beat a 1:49. No.where.near.hmph. But, I was hoping to be able to keep up with Melanie who was running it also and just enjoy the beautiful spring countryside that Tennessee has to offer.

And as soon as I parked my car, the sky opened up and it started raining and thundering and lightning. Great. Just freaking great.
Melanie and I pre-race. And pre- drowned rat look.

The beginning of the race was nice. There seemed to be a lot of race newbies and I enjoyed that. I know that some people hate that running has become so popular and the fact that everyone and their brother is out running races, etc... but, I happen to love that. I mean, sure... a lot of these people could use some race etiquette lessons, but we were all race newbies at one point or another. To me.. the fact that people are out even attempting to push their bodies to run or walk 13.1 miles is awesome and they should all be encouraged.

As Melanie and I got settled into a decent pace, I was feeling good. The scenery was beautiful, even through the rain and I was feeling pretty good.

And then... we started climbing.

And as we climbed, I thought... hmmm.... this doesn't seem so bad. I think I can maintain a fairly good pace up this hill. And all of the sudden there is a man standing on the side of the road with these encouraging words... "you're not even at the base of the hill yet, folks." Great. Just freaking great.

And dude... he wasn't kidding. All the sudden the hill got much, much steeper and I made the rookie mistake of looking up and I saw where we were headed. Yup. Way up high, I could see the runners ahead of us... like a half a mile ahead of us and they were still climbing after a hairpin turn. And at this point, I stopped for a minute to walk. But, literally the hill was so steep that walking hurt almost as bad as running did, so I tried to pick back up on a little jog instead. Just to get done with the damn thing.

After that hellacious climb (seriously, one of the longest, steepest hills I've encountered in a race before, and I've ran some hilly races... Monkey... Madison, MT) we finally made it to the top and I spent the next 5 minutes trying to catch my breath.

The rest of the race was fairly non-eventful.. there were some hills (nothing in comparison to the beast) and I was a little nervous that might be a mini-beast somewhere along the way... but there wasn't and by the time we hit the 12 mile marker, I was feeling good. But, seriously.. that last 1.1 mile was LONG. It felt excrutiatingly long, in fact.

And my one real criticism of the race came at this point... the last mile of the race is entirely ran on the shoulder (well, at least in the actual spots that there is a shoulder) of the main highway into town. 2 lanes, both lanes open to traffic. I mean, WTF? As a runner... in the last mile, you want to be able to accelerate and pass the bitches you've had your eye on for the last 12 miles. Ya know... the cute girl in the skirt or the dude running barefoot or maybe just the jackass guy that cut you off at the second water station... but during this race... you better pass those people before you hit mile 12, because unless you want to risk getting hit by a car... you're only going to get one or two opportunities for that revenge sprint that's been building. Great. Just freaking great.

So, yeah, that sucked. And my time sucked... 2:06:xx. Blah. But, on the plus side... I got caught up with Melanie, who has all kinds of new and exciting things going on her life, I got a really awesome race shirt that actually fits me in length instead of doubling as a dress and a pretty cool medal.

All in all, it was fun, I'm glad I ran the inaugural, but I have no desire to return. If I want hills, I'll run in Percy Warner Park... I don't need to spend $50 and drive an hour and a half to do that.
Thanks Melanie for the pics that I stole off your blog and thanks to Melanie's mom
for taking such awesome pics! My mom always misses me in the frame...


Chic Runner said...

Meh meh, I would have cried in the rain so you are a better person than yours truly. BUT I am jealous you ran with melanie and had a great time! :)

LPT said...

I love your attitude... but you know, running with a friend always makes everything better!

johnking said...

dont worry...for the bourbon chase...there will be bourbon. bitched in skirts...classic.

RunnerMom said...

Impressive time on a hellacious course! My friends who ran it came in at least 10-12 minutes slower than they normally do on a half with "normal" Tennessee hills.

jt00ct said...

Nice job on those hills, I love your race report, thanks for sharing!

Old Man and mid pack runner said...

freakin' great. report.