Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon
Oh boy, where do I even begin… Lets start by saying that I just recently past my year anniversary for my 1st Half Marathon on May 31st. Wow has it really been a whole year already!? This race was my 7th Half Marathon and by far the most difficult of them all.
I was really dreading this race. Mentally I was not ready and physically I felt very fatigued. I had just recently returned from Iceland and it took me a while to adjust to being back. My anxiety started getting to me that week. My resting heart rate went up a beat every single day until the race to show for it (thanks fitbit). Those who know me know how hard I am on myself when it comes to these races. I just recently placed 3rd and had a personal record at the Petersburg Half Marathon in April. The pressure was on to try and beat it, but this time I was just not up to the challenge. Those sleepless nights were finally catching up to me.
The day prior, I went to pick up my race packet out in Leesburg. It took me around 2 and a half hours to get there after work and the scattered thunderstorms and traffic further aggravated my panic.
I had spaghetti for dinner to make sure I had ample carbs for the race. I woke up at 5 am race morning and had 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter and banana. It was an hour drive to Doukenie Winery and a much better drive compared to the day prior. When I arrived I rushed to find the porta potties and the lines were absolutely outrageous. I knew I was not going to make the start of the race in time, but then someone came by and told us there were more porta potties in the back. I made a dash for it and was so thankful to have made it to the starting line in time. I needed a good start to this race with all the dread I was having.
Everyone was pretty cramped up towards the front. I am not a big fan of crowds, so I tried to stay to the side as much as I could. I was worried it was going to be raining during this race, but I honestly would have much rather had rain compared to the scorching humidity we had that morning.
I started off at a nice easy pace and was already struggling in the first mile. I knew this was not going to be good, but I could not lose it just yet. This was the first time ever that I took my time to walk through the water stops. Normally I am on a roll and flying by, but my body just could not handle it this time. The humidity was absolutely killer that morning. I felt like I was running through the 6th layer of the smog of hell. There is nothing worse than feeling like you can’t breathe and the suffocation of the heat made it quite the struggle . Not only that, I could just see the devil sitting up at the top every hill just laughing at us all. Many of us were walking up the hills only to find another one waiting for us. How about the terrain? Funny you asked! Back country gravel roads, and roads that were many years past due for pavement. I’m glad I did not sprain my ankle out there!
Now I normally do not take pictures during a race, but I knew this was not going to be my best so I attempted to get a first person view of my run along the course. My thoughts were murdering me during this race. When I say murdering I mean a full on head to head R-rated blood bath of negative versus positive. Trust me when I say it wasn’t pretty. Fatigue, apathy, hills, heat, humidity, torture, pain, sweat….what did I get myself into? Every time I looked at my watch, it was just not moving fast enough. My mental game was strong. A guy ran by and the back of his shirt said “I thought this was a good idea 3 months ago”. That statement could not have been more true, but I had to stop beating myself up. I had to stop letting everything get to me. I knew I couldn’t give up, as much as I wanted to walk I knew I had to keep going. I kept pushing myself and drank at every water stop. It was a fight just to finish. I did not even care about my time anymore (even though deep down I truly did). My heart rate was sky rocketing even though I was running much slower than usual. There were a few times where I felt like I just wanted to faint and not ever get back up. I had to keep telling myself it was going to be okay and to just power through and finish.
According to my stats, you can really see my struggle. This was my first half marathon that took me over 2 hours to finish. I finished my Petersburg Half Marathon last April in 01:48:25 with an average heart rate of 148. This race took me 2:06:46 with an average heart rate of 174. My slowest half marathon to date, but you know what? That’s okay. This may not have been my best race, but I realized that whatever brings you down eventually makes you stronger…so I’m thankful for the experience and I’m looking forward to seeing where it all takes me.