As a runner I couldn’t think of a better way of celebrating the 4th of July than running a 17.76k. This race was located on Shirley Plantation in Charles City on the James River.
For you History buffs, Shirley Plantation is Virginia’s first plantation founded in 1613. Shirley Plantation is the oldest family owned business in the US. The famous General Robert E. Lee’s mother was born at Shirley Plantation and he received some of his schooling in the converted laundry house. I was surprised I had not heard of this place before this race. Gotta love discovering new places!
It took me about 42 minutes to get there. I arrived the day before for packet pick up and to check out the area. The plantation was huge and very pretty. I walked around and checked out some of the outdoor buildings such as the ice house and smoke house. I was able to walk inside some of them and read the history of the structures.
The willow oak tree on the property was absolutely stunning and is over 375 years old.
The drive in was also very beautiful as well. I tried to get some rest the night before my race, but I always seem to have pre-race anxiety the night before. I woke up at 5am and had my two pieces of toast (one with peanut butter and the other with apple butter). I was out the door by 5:30am and got there about 6:15am. I was worried parking was going to be horrendous since it was just a one lane road to get into the place, but luckily there was no traffic at all. It started drizzling a bit on the drive up and I thought I was going to have to run this race in the rain. It thankfully stopped just before the start of the race.
Before a race I try to mentally prepare myself. I plug my headphones in and walk around and stretch trying to warm up my legs. I ALWAYS use the bathroom right before the race. There is nothing worse than feeling like you have to go during a race. The race started at 7am. The national anthem was sang and we were off.
I started up towards the front of the pack to try and avoid the crowd of people. Just about a mile into the race everyone started turning around and I was very confused. Apparently the bike lead had taken us the WRONG way off the course. I was a bit upset thinking how could our leader get us lost and not know the course!? I’m sure everyone else was not happy either. I overheard one person say “there goes the standings”. It was hectic trying to turn back around. I got caught up in the crowd again and it is always hard trying to get past people. The people running in the front of the race had to run a lot more compared to the people in the back did. It definitely was not fair and threw everyone off.
The course was very simple. Mainly roads and trees. There were a few swamps and hills. Part of the roads were very lopsided which I did not like. My feet and legs did not enjoy running on a slanted road. I kept trying to run from side to side trying to find the flattest part of the road. That was without a doubt a new challenge for me. It definitely was a shaded course which I very much enjoyed (I’m sure everyone else did too). I always seem to run faster when the sun is not out and it is a heck of a lot more enjoyable. The most interesting thing I saw on the course was a dead frog with his guts coming out. Random I know, but not something you see very often. Other then that it was pretty nice run. There does not seem to be much at all in Charles City as you can see below.
Charles City is mostly countryside. The course ran off the front part of the plantation, loops around, then we ran back towards the back of the plantation. When I started seeing the plantation again I began to pick up speed. I was getting excited because I thought I was nearing the finish line. When I reached the last water stop they said we still had about a mile and a half left. The last stretch of the race always seems to be the longest part. I surprisingly still had a lot of energy towards the end of my race. I was able to sprint past all the runners who were in front of me. I definitely finished strong in this race despite getting lost and having to run an extra mile.
According to my fitbit app I ended up running 12.08 miles instead of 11.03. Of course our timing is not accurate since the bike lead got us lost, but I was still able to place 1st in my age group!