Virginia Wine Half Marathon Race Report

Hey y’all! I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I promise that I am back to (overall) regular blogging, but my job is kind of a disaster. Who plans two major conferences two weeks apart (besides some sort of conference-planning business)? My organization! And conferences, even the greenest of them, still mean lots of publications. So I have been busy. I’ve also been training a bit and enjoying something of a normal social life. So much so that I had to schedule “social rest days” because I was missing my couch a bit too much. I think the problem is that during marathon season, I have a legitimate reason to stay home. I have to get in my runs or my sleep. Now that that excuse is gone for a while, I just say yes to everything. So the blog, my sleep, and my sanity all suffer as a result.

But anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about me! A few weeks ago, without realizing exactly how soon June 4 was, I let Dash talk me into buying someone’s bib for the inaugural Virginia Wine Half Marathon. Some of my favorite running partners were doing it, plus there was wine at the end, so what was not to love?

Of course I forgot that I wanted to run a PR the very next weekend. And that my longest run during my 5k frenzy was 5 miles. Heh heh. And then the heatwave hit. I did 6 miles one weekend, sweating my balls off, as my legs screamed at me every step of the way. The next weekend I went out and did another 6. It was super hot, I was super sore, and I just didn’t feel like pushing myself for a race that didn’t matter. And then it was race day. My longest run in the last 2 months was 10 miles at Cherry Blossom–exactly 2 months ago. I was panicking about the pain and the heat, but at least the heat backed off. It was just me and my hip flexors.

I’ve read a bunch of race reports from the weekend that involved having to wake up at 5am. Bitches, please. I got up at 4:30. We had a girls’ night slumber party at Dash’s dad’s house (that’s not a joke) so we could drive down the street and take a bus to the start from one of the host hotels.

The race started at a gorgeous vineyard.

I'm going to steal all Dash's photos before she posts them.

And ended at another.

See? Ponds everywhere!

In between there was 13.1 miles of gorgeous, rolling farmland. From the looks of it, everyone in Leesburg lives in some kind of bucolic paradise, with ponds and solariums and barns a plenty. The first mile was crowded, so I took it easy and stuck with my whole crew. The next mile things started to break up, so a friend and I sped up. For the next few miles I kept it comfortable, running about 8:50s. I was pleasantly surprised with how fast I was going with such a comfortable effort, but I knew I had a long way to go.

Turns out I was right to be cautious. I started to hurt around mile 5. At mile 6 I turned on some tunes and got a second wind from Wes Tucker and the Skillets. At mile 9 I was pretty much ready to give up. Both hip flexors hurt, the sun was super high in the sky, thanks to a late start (I’ll get to that), and I still had 4 miles left. I knew by then that I would break 2 hours, which was my only real goal, and the hills were coming fast and furious. I figured I’d just run comfortably and finish it up. But then, in the distance, I caught sight of a friend.

I busted out an 8-minute mile and finally reeled her in right as we passed the 10-mile mark. I held the pace for another mile before dropping back a bit, 8:24 for mile 12. We ran through a cemetery, and my calves started to cramp up. I felt like I was walking up even the smallest hill. As we passed mile 12, I knew I could finish well under my goal.

The night before the race, Dash and I had a conversation about what kind of time you’d have to run to be able to justify pooping your pants in a race. We both agreed that it would have to be some kind of super-elite world-class time, but as the finish line approached (we could see it from about a 1/4 mile out), my body told me that it really wanted to use the bathroom. And I realized that I was so OVER running at that point that there’s no way I’d stop to answer nature’s call in a real emergency. I would try my luck and keep pushing to the finish. So apparently my shit-threshold is a pathetic 1:52 half marathon. Sorry, anyone next to me in a race.

I feel like I’m getting off topic. Where was I? Oh yeah, I finished! I crushed my goal of beating my National Half time, which was 2:01, and I even met my super-secret A goal of 1:52. See, I thought my first half marathon time was 1:52, so I figured I should be able to run something like that. Turns out my first half time was 1:53, but it was also the closest I ever came to pooping my pants (hey, I was new to distance running). Next year I’ll tell myself my first half was a 1:40.

Afterward I slipped into my ice pants, which were a birthday present from Dash and are just about as good as I imagined.

Then I ate one 50-calorie bag of fucking pop chips and had a bunch of wine. So overall, good day for sure. I have just two complaints.

Complaint 1: Late race start. So something went wrong, and one of the buses got held up. If I had been on that bus, I would have been going completely apeshit. But I wasn’t on that bus. I was standing at the starting line with every other person, and we all stood around for an extra half an hour while the sun rose higher and higher into the sky. What’s better? Having 20 people mad at you or 1200? The race ended going off at 7:30 without the bus, so it was truly no-win, but I can’t blame the race directors for trying to salvage a bad situation.

I can, however, blame them for

Complaint 2: Diet food. So I got out and burn roughly 1300 calories, and at the end, I’m greeted with water in tiny paper cups, pop chips, which aren’t even real things, green bananas, and skinny water. Excuse me, but what? There was food we could buy, but this race cost, at a minimum $95. You’re going to have to do better than pop chips! And what the hell is skinny water? Why can’t I just have a bottle of water? Isn’t it a liability to not feed half marathoners before you send them off to drink free wine and drive home?

Then again, maybe not, because I am the biggest lightweight in the world, and I didn’t even catch a buzz off the wine. I can only assume that my body needed calories SO BADLY that it was metabolizing the alcohol instantly. Do better, Destination Races.

But I don’t want to leave it on a bad note. Check out the medal. Yes, that’s a wine stopper.


14 responses to this post.

  1. Looking good, Liz. Looking good. I’d have been so pissed at the late start and lack of food. And what the hell is skinny water? Calorie free water for anorexics?!? Gah. Congrats on pulling a pretty decent time out of nowhere! I love your “I don’t run, I only race” training plan. I can tell that it works 🙂


    • Posted by lizard151 on June 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      This means a lot, coming from the girl who ran a 50k much the same way. To undertraining!


  2. Yeah! I love this race report. And your 1:52. And maybe (but not really) your shit-threshold. Welcome back 🙂


  3. When you said “pop chips” I went “where are the bananas and bagels?!” Lame. But nice freaking job pulling a 1:52 outta yer arse.


  4. Nice Race, I do love how you are seriously kicking ass on a “I’m hardly even running” routine! I do think it was mega-fun and glad I was able to “talk” you into it! 😉


  5. that’s an awesome medal! i’m glad you did this race – it sounds like a good one and very scenic. i’d like to say i’d only poop my pants if i was winning a race but… i have done that many times on a training run when i just couldn’t get to the bathroom in time. 🙂



  6. Posted by Emily on June 9, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Sweet medal! I really wanted to do this race — next year I’m sure they’ll have the whole logistics and diet food problems sorted out.

    Also, what are ice pants???


  7. This is why I always bring my own food to races.


  8. Congrats on that 1:52! I stayed away from this race because I was afraid of the heat – June races are such a toss-up. But the medal looks cool and the wine tasting sounds fun. Maybe I’ll commit next year if they announce they have improved the finish line food (the diet selection sounds ridiculous)!


  9. Freaking HILARIOUS. I share your anger at diet food at post-race shindigs, and your morbid curiosity about this very important question: “What kind of time you’d have to run to be able to justify pooping your pants in a race.” Your experience made me realize that it’s not only the desire to win, but the desire to be done with a race run at ANY speed that might motivate a girl to use her shorts as her own personal Porta Potty. By the way, congrats on a really solid finish on a hot day—you deserve every sip of that wine!


  10. Have fun watching your friend race the IMAZ this year. It is such an experience, you will love it.


  11. I swear the small, cheap races are the best. I’d have been PISSED about the lack of food options at the end. In ultrarunning, there’s all KINDS of food so I’m really spoiled.
    Nice finishers’ award, though.


  12. […] 10. I’m going wine tasting this weekend! My sis and her friends bought a groupon for a limo ride out to some wineries. I look forward to drinking without running 13 miles first. […]


  13. […] honestly can’t remember what we were given, but thankfully Lizard Runs blogged about the race and commented that there were also green bananas. I have a feeling the food […]


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