Packet pickup for this one was the Friday before the race. Since it was in a hotel uptown and I happen to work uptown, it worked out to go during lunch. Luckily, one of my CAPS online friends was in town. So, I got to meet KathyP in person. We had lunch at BlackFinn and then headed over to the Sherton hotel. Since the walk would take us along part of the course, we took advantage of that. The bib pickup at lunch was easy with no wait. The Expo was smaller with half the room designated as Run For Your Life store area. Kathy picked up a great long sleeved tech shirt which said flat is for sissies. I knew I needed new shoes so I went to the Brooks area. They were offering 20% off which is hard to find for Brooks. Unfortunately, they were out of my size. The guy working the booth was very friendly and wrote his name on a card and told me to take it into a store during the weekend and they would honor the discount. I met up with Kathy and we briefly toured the booths. I found out the Asheville marathon that runs on the Biltmore ground is adding a half. Also talked to the Rock ‘n’ Roll girls since I’m already signed up for Raleigh as my first full. They also had a computer set up on a desk near the doors to check your tag. Both of ours worked the first time. After that, we left since I needed to get back to work. On the way back, we walked passed the NASCAR Hall of Fame which took us through where the Finish Line would be the next day.
I had everything set out the night before and even pinned the bib on my shirt. I woke up at 5:40 and dressed. After letting out the dogs and leaving chocolate milk for the kids, I headed to my usual Starbucks with a banana. I grabbed my tall Pumpkin Spice Latte and drove to uptown. The banana was gone before I parked in my company parking deck. I decided to use my already paid for parking even though it was a few blocks away. I figured it would be easier to get in and out of since people wouldn’t be headed that way. I gathered all my things and tore the timing strip off my bib to put on my shoe. This is a slightly shiny strip that you loop through your shoe string and it sticks to itself. I put it on as instructed but was always afraid it would come off. It did not. I made my way over to the start. I was taking advantage of the 30 min earlier start since I only had an 8 minute cushion at the last half. I noticed many people inside the lobby of the Wells Fargo building and knew there were bathrooms in there. I made me way in and only had to wait behind a few people. I’m always glad to find flushing toilets before a race. After that, I went to the start line.
I talked to some people and got someone to take by before picture. It was a couple where the girl was running. She was wearing long sleeves and appeared chilly. I was in a short sleeved shirt and although slightly cold, it was bearable. She commented on that. The race people then took the numbers down of all the early starters. With about 10 minutes to start, Nicki found me. She had gotten stuck in traffic getting into a parking deck. We talked with the ladies around us while we waited for the start. Soon the race people made a very loud pointed speech about the early start being for the slower racers; those expecting to take more than 3 hours for the half or 6 hours for the full. I know some people must not have cared because after looking at the results, there were some sub-2:00 halfers in the early start group. Soon, we were off. I decided to do 1:1 intervals for this to keep myself good for Space Coast in 2 weeks. Nicki was good with that and I made the decision to run with her and not worry about time on this one. As this was the last series race, the important part was just to finish.
After the start, many people passed us. We started our intervals from the beginning. There were others walking around us, so I didn’t feel bad. The regular start people were waiting just across the start line and were cheering for us. We turned right and started going downhill. I will admit, talking to Nicki during the whole race made me less attentive to the course itself. We figured we should be able to get between Mile 3 & 4 before the lead guys would catch us. The course has almost no flat areas. Everything is uphill or downhill. They aren’t bad grades in general, but they do wear on you. Before I knew it, we reached Mile 1. Shortly after that we cut over to 4th street. The first water stop was here about halfway between Mile 1 & 2. I walked through every water stop to drink Gatorade. After the first stop we realized they had several flavors at each stop so we always asked which ones they had. Mile 2 also came up quickly. We turned onto Coleville about Mile 2.5. We hit Mile 3 on this road. I think it was along this stretch that the lead half marathoner (3 side by side) and the lead marathoner passed us. We then made a left onto Providence Road. The next water stop was shortly after turning onto the road. We stayed on this road for about a mile and a half. I had my first GU, Chocolate Mint, at 45 minutes shortly before Mile 4. I’m not fond of this flavor as it is like trying to eat a slightly melted Andes mint. Luckily, there was a water stop right after I finished it. Right at the Mile 5 marker, we turned onto Sharon. After about half a mile, we turned left. This was a residential area with interesting homes. Several people were out cheering and watching. I got a lot of comments on my American Flag skirt. We passed Mile 6 and were starting to feel it. We turned right again and had another water stop. We turned right and hit Mile 7. I believe it was in this area that we saw Kathy. She ran passed shortly behind the 4:15 pacer. She made a point to greet me and then sped away. We made a loop through a neighborhood area and turned back onto Sharon. Somewhere in this area is where I had my next GU. This one was Cherry Lime Roctane and went down much smoother.
Sharon road actually makes a right turn. Shortly after the turn we got to Mile 8 and another water stop. Also somewhere in this area, Nicki went something pop in her knee area. She told me she’d been to her doctor and it didn’t cause any damage, only discomfort. We stopped doing the 1:1 intervals and walked as long as Nicki needed. Since I had no time expectations, I was happy to go slower. We looked around at all the pretty homes and enjoyed the people in the course. There was on pair of runners that we kept leapfrogging. One of them had pink and yellow compression socks on so I called her socks. Just after Mile 9, we turned off Sharon road. This is where I saw my coworker, Daniel and his little dog. He cheered us on. We did see a lot of dogs being walked along the course. We took a little road to Queens road. This is a road I drive home so I knew it well. I also knew up farther was a gorgeous house that I was looking forward to seeing again. We got to Mile 10 at a water stop which happened to be right by the house I was talking about. We started seeing signs about only a 5k left. I will say the spectators in the course had some great signs. Queens turns into Kings just before we hit Mile 11. I knew we were coming up on one of my favorite places. Right where we turn onto Morehead is REACH. It is the fertility clinic we used to conceive both of our kids. Although I did go through some failures there, I also have great memories. I thank them every day for helping me get my kids. Feeling slightly emotional, we turned left onto Morehead. I remember this being uphill.
We turned left off Morehead and hit Mile 12 and the final water stop. We turned right onto Dilworth and the right again on McDowell. We knew we were getting close to the end. We passed the Sheraton where packet pickup and been. We turned left onto MLK Jr Blvd. I remember it being farther on that road than I thought. We also had to make a short detour through a parking lot just before crossing the finish line. We ran from the parking lot exit through the finish. Sir Purr, mascot of the Carolina Panthers, was just before the finish. I slowed a little to let Nicki get ahead so we could both High 5 him.
We crossed the finish line at 3:10 (well, 2:40 clock time). We got our medals and continued to pick up water. I think the finisher photos came next. Then they had all kinds of food. I remember bananas, Krispy Kreme dough nuts, granola bars, chips, chocolate milk at the very end, and luckily Publix was giving out black cloth bags to put everything in. We also got Mylar blankets.
Shortly after exiting the chute, there were port-o-potties. I needed them. Nicki and I switched off things while the other used the facilities. Thanks goodness because they were already unclean. We headed back to the medical tent so Nicki could get her knee wrapped with ice. Then I wanted to wait to see Kathy finish the marathon. I knew we had about an hour. So, we walked through the victory lane area. We got to try Chiobani yogurts. They also had a full-fledged sports bar area with beer and several TVs playing the games. There was an area for massages, but there was quite a wait. I know we got the fruit skewers from the Toast tent. I’m sure there were many other tents that I’ve forgotten. After you pass the outdoor ice rink in the courtyard area of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the stage was set up for awards.
We saw them give away a few of the half marathon award. They were getting huge framed things. We decided to keep walking down and see the new baseball field. It was a few blocks away. As we walked to the other side, we realized the marathoners were coming down the street beside it. We cheered on several runners as we made our way back. We got back and found a spot by the medical tent.
Kathy crossed the finish at 4:17. She maintained about the same position from the 4:15 pacer that she passed us in earlier. I congratulated her and met her friend and then headed home. I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up my new discounted Brooks.
Overall, this was a well run race on a great course. I would do it again especially since it is local for me.
12:20, 13:47, 12:44, 12:41, 15:10, 13:21, 13:21, 15:51, 15:33, 15:11, 15:31, 15:32, 15:35