Tag Archives: Virginia

For whom the cowbell tolls

Because the weather has been seven levels of crap here in Boston, I thought I’d cast my mind back to a happier time—one that didn’t involve wearing winter socks at the end of May and shivering my butt off. (UPDATE: So, Memorial Day turned out to be a stunner, but it was a cold, cold road to get there.) My sunny time-machine moment comes courtesy of the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, Va., which was a month ago, but I had to post about my awesome adventures in Pittsburgh first, so I’m a little out of chronological order.

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K 2013

Waiting for the elites to start the Ukrop’s 10K. Look at that sky!

I’ve done a lot of races, but the Ukrop’s 10K is officially my favorite. It’s the happiest run around. You should all put it on your calendars for next year. Ukrop’s is a huge event (40,000 participants) but run so smoothly you’d think it was tiny. It has a superior expo (having also been to a number of expos, I know that for sure. Is it possible to get expo fatigue?). And it has a fantastic course: flat as a pancake, which, as you all know, speaks to me. As do pancakes, but that’s another story. The route, which travels out and back along Monument Avenue (wide road, gorgeous houses) is lined with great bands and crazy spectators. There are so many bands, in fact, that you don’t need headphones. I love that, because my new headphones suck.

It’s such a big race that Hubby’s 10K is over before mine even starts, which I find more amusing than it probably is.

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K 2013

Walking to the start of my run. Hubby has already finished running. Or has he …

It’s become a cliché to say that I wasn’t prepared for a race, but this time I had a legitimate excuse: a horrible, no-good, weeks-long cold, which on the flight down from Boston had developed into horrible ear pain. At the risk of sounding like a whiner, it was really, really, really bad.

But I wasn’t going to spend yet another runcation stuck in the hotel (hello, North Carolina Half), so I decided to suck it up. I was meant to be in a slightly faster corral, but I hung back a bit, assuming I’d just walk the whole way. Hubby, who had finished his 10K in fine form, as is tradition, decided he’d run/walk along with me for moral support. He also brought along a cowbell.

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I think I may have forgotten how

About three weeks ago, I caught a cold that turned into a keep-me-up-all-night-hubby-sleeping-in-the-guest-bed cough from heck. So I haven’t been doing much at all besides working and sleeping—and sometimes sleep working.

During this hacking-up-a-lung period. I went to one of my regular Tuesday night Strength & Stride classes at the Y, just for kicks. I couldn’t walk for four days. No kidding. I honestly believe my muscles have forgotten how to exercise. They have a pretty short bloody memory. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that they were helping me reach new heights of activity and red-facery in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge?

This past week, I got something in my inbox that put the fear into me.

Ukrop's 10K number

Eek!

This race, in Richmond, Va., which I ran triumphantly (relatively speaking) last year, is on again this weekend. In 2012, I was freaked out about it because it was my first 10K. In 2013, I am freaked out about it because I think I may have forgotten how to run. Something about bibs and heel striking and IT bands …

Two weeks ago Hubby and I traveled to Charlotte, NC, where I proceeded not to run the North Carolina Half-Marathon. While I am determined to go one step further and actually start the Ukrop’s 10K, I imagine there will be very little running involved. Maybe a little jogging …

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K

Last year’s Ukrop’s 10K.

It’s a good thing my entire identity is not wrapped up in running (and thank goodness it’s not), as I’d be having a major existential crisis right about now.

Wish me luck!

America’s Friendliest Half-Marathon

My running buddy, aka Hubby, has gone from a non-runner/exerciser to an occasional marathoner and frequent half-marathoner in the course of two years. It’s amazing. And when I say frequent, I mean frequent. The American Family Fitness Half-Marathon in Richmond, Va., a couple of weeks back was his 19th half of 2012. I think that deserves a guest post, don’t you? …

This is what happens when you don’t run with a camera! You get a logo.

When you run a race, you always want to do your best, and there are so many factors that come into play as to your results. Shoes, temperature, maladies, crowds, hills (so many hills) … or even if you’ve just made a bad choice on your playlist.

Sometimes, though, in spite of all these things, you are handed a race course that you just want to complement with your best possible run in spite of everything else. I found one of these in Richmond, Va., at the American Family Fitness Half-Marathon. It was a mostly flat course through wide, quiet streets and a scenic park, with a downhill finish – and not just a moderate downhill. No daredevil kid would ever take a go-kart down this without ending up with some part of him in a cast for all his friends to sign.

Speedy Richmond

Richmond is a running city. It is home to a group called Sports Backers, who put on a swag of great events. Among them is the Ukrop’s 10K. This is a race that everyone should run at least once. Given the wave start system – 46 in total – if you were absolutely keen on doing it twice, you could pull off the feat in the same day. You’d just have to pony up for the registration fee two times … or three if you were super keen.

The half-marathon was part of a trifecta of races put on for the Richmond Marathon (marketed as “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” and I will not argue with that). As well as the marathon and half-marathon, there was also an 8K. After the cancellation of the NY Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy, the numbers for the marathon rose by another 1,000. Folks determined to race after all their training. I am sure a few of them will choose Richmond over NYC next year.

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 22: Better off Fred

Rather than give running some space, I decided to crowd the heck out of it this past weekend by doing a double-header. Bad idea? Maybe. But at least I would know how it really feels about me. (And I’d have a run up my sleeve for the 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge.)

Someone who has no issues defining his running relationship is Hubby, who on this all-running weekend decided to do a trifecta: a 5K (the previously mentioned Brian Betts run), a 10K trail run (the James River Scramble at the Dominion River Rock festival in Richmond, Va.), and the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, in Fredericksburg, Va. (Overachiever.) Luckily for me, the Marine Corps folk also put on a 5K, the Semper Fred, thus saving me from potentially three more hours of torturous bib counting.

Marine Corps Half Marathon

The day before. Hence the lack of Lululemon-clad chicks and compression socks.

This was the fifth year of the Marine Corps Historic Half/Semper Fred, and it is one of those events that was organized so seamlessly and had so much energy, it was a joy to be a part of (despite starting at 7am). These guys also organize the 30,000-strong Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Va. (October 28), which this year sold out in two hours, 41 minutes, a record for all marathons. Can you believe that? This is one well-loved race series.

Probably because it has a mascot called Miles …

Marine Corps Half Marathon

Hubby and Miles get friendly at the expo.

And bands that play jaunty tunes as you run …

Marine Corps Half Marathon

Jaunty!

And porta-loos as far as the eye can see …

Marine Corps Half Marathon

Seriously! They just kept going.

You’ve got to love a race that provides that many places to go before you go …

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 14: Did someone say 10K?

I ran 10K this past weekend.

No, really, I ran 10K.

Some might say that what I was doing was jogging. But that’s just semantics. For a distance of no less than 6.2 miles, I did not walk. I may have slowed briefly to obtain water, and I may have adjusted my pace to snap a photo or two, but there was more than enough running involved to make up for all of that. Did I mention that I ran 10K?

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K

The super-fast folk take off at the start of the Ukrop's Monument Ave. 10K in Richmond, Va. Meanwhile, a photographer runs for his life.

The occasion of my triumph (which may be overstating it) was the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, Va., No. 14 in the 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. We had signed up for our second mini-runcation many moons ago. At the time I could barely get through a 5K, and had no idea how I was supposed to go any farther. I still felt that way a few weeks back. Although I had been racking up the 5Ks, and had even managed my first five-miler, I wasn’t exactly powering through them with ease, as anyone who has seen my face at the end of a run will attest (I’m not even going to address my frankly ludicrous running style; let’s just say you would have a hard time distinguishing me from a moose).

But I was excited about this run. For one, it has been named one of the best races in the US by USA Today. And it is one of the 10 biggest races in the country, with more than 40,000 runners participating. That’s right, 40,000.

Particularly amusing was the idea that Hubby would complete the entire distance before I even started. So ginormous is this event that runners were put into waves depending on their estimated finishing time. Hubby was in Wave C; I was in Wave WA (jog/walkers: 90 to 100 minutes). Not only did I have time to watch him come home, we were able to squeeze in brunch and a movie before I started. OK, maybe not, but I think we had time.

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K

Hubby's wave. Fast folk.

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K

My wave. What we lack in speed, we make up for in enthusiasm.

It was a drizzly day, which was perfect for me. I have a narrow temperature comfort zone at the best of times, but it’s reduced 10-fold when I’m running, or jogging, or whatever you want to call it. Cool with 100 per cent chance of cool is my ideal situation …

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My first-ever 5K

To say I was unprepared for my inaugural road race is an understatement.

Before the Chick fil-A 5K. My first run ever.

My expression conceals my fear pre-5K No 1. I may never look this relaxed again.

Army hubby, who had started running about six months before, was picking up his “packet” (which I was quite sad to learn did not contain potato chips) for the 2011 Chick fil-A 5K and Running of the Cows in Newport News, Va, when he turned to me and said: “You want to do it too?”

“Errrrrr, sure,” I replied, promptly breaking out into a lavish sweat. I am an asthmatic, you see. I know that means little at a time when every second athlete seems to be sporting a puffer, but it has always kept me from doing anything that even remotely resembles running.

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