Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Race Recap: Reston Half Marathon

This is a re-cap from March 24th, 2013...I'm behind.

The day after I conquered the Marine Corps 17.75k I was crazy and ran the Reston Half Marathon.  I had not intentionally planned these two races back to back, which also happened to be the weekend after I ran 2 back to back half marathons (DC Rock N' Roll & Caesar Rodney).  I signed up for the Reston half marathon the end of December not realizing it was the day after the 17.75k.  My body was definitely tired, and after the 17.75k I wasn't sure if I would run the Reston Half.  On my way home from Quantico the night before I decided to run and pick up my packet.

Packet Pickup:
This race was a very small community race that was organized by the Reston Runners Club.  There was no expo, but the packet pick up process was very small.  They provided nice, long-sleeve technical shirts, a runner buff (I love head bands!) and a nice cinch bag to put everything in.  I don't have the bag in the picture because I gave it away.  I have too many of them!  They also gave a water bottle, which I also gave away because I don't like drinking out of plastic bottles.

They had arranged a pre-race pasta dinner that was free to all racers.  I had planned on attending, but in the end decided to skip out and eat at home.

Race day:
I have to admit that I wasn't very excited about this race.  I didn't have any fellow Red Felt Club members to meet up with and it was my first race in a while that I was going at solo.  I had seriously considered not doing it, but decided I paid a lot of money to do it and I'll feel better about myself and wouldn't regret it if I ran it so I willed myself out of bed.  I did end up running into someone I had met in a previous race through a RFRC member so that was nice.  It was also close to home so I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to be there.  There was plenty of parking and no issues getting in or out.

The race started at South Lakes High School in Reston and the school was open for participants.  I was so happy it was because it was quite chilly outside and it was nice to have somewhere warm to wait.  In addition, there were several school bathrooms open and I didn't have to wait in a line!  That was two races in a row that I had no line.  I was feeling like a VIP.  They even had some breakfast available if we wanted it, but I learned the hard way from the Reston 10-miler not to do anything new on race morning.  I had already had my standard bagel and jelly and was good to go.  I will definitely have to start experimenting with different pre-race foods though because I'm bored with my bagel.

The race had a marathon as well as a half marathon.  The marathon course was a double loop of the half course.  They started 30 minutes before us.  When it was our time to start one of the organizers had us all walk out to the start together.  They did a national anthem, set a few words (it was their first race I think) and we were off.  The course ran through many of the same roads as the Reston 10-miler I'd done earlier in March, but also went on the local Reston trails.  It was hilly, but it was nothing compared to the MCM 17.75k the day before.  Unfortunately I couldn't track down the elevation map on the website, but here is my Garmin watch read out from the race Reston Half Marathon by Amy_Bell at Garmin Connect - Details.  Don't judge my time!  Also, my watch was off and said I only ran 12.86 miles.

Throughout the course there was almost no crowd support.  They did have some people who went out before the race started and placed signs throughout the course and someone had done lots of chalk messages on the runner trails.  It was a nice touch and made up for the lack of crowds.  They had well-spaced water stops and fuel stations.  Several of the water stops also had food provided and they had great snacks.  I didn't take any of the food besides fig newtons, but I remember seeing bananas, oranges, cookies, and bagels.  I remember being impressed by the options.  Gels and gus are sometimes overrated so it was great to see other, "real" food options.

There were not many runners so for the most part I felt like I was a solo racer. The race photographers did manage to take the above photo of me on the race.  I love that picture!  It was even featured on the main page of the race photos after the race.  I think I look determined in it.  I also wanted to stand out and wore a nice, bright color!  After I hit mile 8 or 9 I was passed by the first place marathon racer.  He also passed me a mile later because of the way the course was set up.  I believe I was passed by about 8-10 marathoners.  They were hauling ass!

The finish line was set up on the SLHS track.  It was the same way for the Reston 10-miler and I don't like that.  I hated having to run around a track at the finish.  I was embarrassed and felt like all the eyes were on me.  There was also a speed walker that I had passed a few times in the course.  We kept passing each other, but finally at the end I sprinted and beat him.  (I ended up seeing him at another race a few weeks later!  That was cool).  I know it doesn't make a difference if he beat me because my time was already slow, but I didn't want to be beat by a walker!  To his credit, he was a fast walker.  I ran/walked my first half and still wasn't as fast as him.  Heck, I was "running" most of the Reston half and we had a similar time.  I did not have a PR, but I was happy to find out I still finished in under 3 hours.  Considering I did 2 halfs the weekend before and an 11-miler the day before I was proud of myself.

I got my race medal and was making my way back to the high school to get some food when I heard my name.  I thought someone said good job and read my name off my bib so I just kept walking.  Then, out of nowhere appeared my boyfriend!  I was so happy he came.  He hadn't been to any races before and I didn't even tell him where I was running.  He stopped by my house and got all the details from my Dad.  I thought it was really sweet, especially since I didn't have anyone to meet up with.  It was great to have a little company.

Post Race:
The post race was my favorite part!  Not only was I done (wahoo!), they had quite the feast organized.  They had chili and pizza and chicken wings and banana bread, corn bread, chips, soda, water...the works!  After having pizza at Caesar Rodney I was really loving the pizza as a post race snack.  I also really love soup, but they didn't have any at Reston.  It was all good though because what they did have was great.  They served it all in the cafeteria so there were tables to sit at and it was warm.

All in all, I'm so happy I decided to run.  Considering how small of a race it was, maybe only 1500 runners, they really took care of their racers.  It was well organized and executed.  I enjoyed it and will happily run the Reston half marathon again.  I might even do the full marathon one day.  Although I'll wait a few years until my speed has improved because I would probably literally be last.  The downside of smaller races is you don't have many people to keep you company if you're at the back of the pack.  With the larger races there are also a lot of slow runners at the back with me.  Also, for the time being I need a little more crowd support if I was doing 26.2 miles.  If someone is faster, maybe in the 3:30-4:30 marathon range I would highly recommend completing this marathon, or at least the half :)

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