Sorry this one took so long to post…
I decided to drive up after work on Friday for this. The early morning wake up and drive through the mountains in the dark was the deciding factor. Aside form normal work traffic at rush hour in Charlotte, the drive was nice and relatively quick. I decided to stay at the Sleep Inn in Morganton. There was a lot of road construction going on there. I had no trouble finding the hotel. The lady at the front desk was very nice while checking me in. I went to my hotel room and it did look decent.
I knew it was a budget place so I wasn’t expecting too much. The bathroom was much smaller than I expected with only a small box of a shower.
I decided to go out and stop for some water, Gatorade, and protein bar for breakfast. I ended up at a drug store. Since it is a small town, I asked her for good dinner places. Since I didn’t want to chance any food sitting poorly, I ended up at Fatz which is a chain. Service there was great and the food was really good, too. It was just down the road from my hotel. So, I went back and got things ready for the morning. The bed was comfortable and the TV was nice and did have a sleep timer.
All too soon my alarm went off. I quickly got ready and went to the front desk to check out. The process was quick and soon I was on the road. Luckily, starting my navigation from the hotel worked. The drive was very dark and winding to the Brown Mountain Beach resort. Soon I was following another car that was going the same place. My GPS kept up the whole time. The turn in for parking was farther down the road than my GPS said. Luckily, there was a car a bit in front of me so I knew I was going the right way. They had volunteers directing us to parking spots in the dirt and gravel area. I should add it was raining the whole way. Knowing it would be rainy, I didn’t bother to put my change of clothes in my bag. I did bring a large ziplock bag so it kept my things dry. I gathered my things and headed for the bus. It was a bit of a walk in the light rain, but not too bad. The bus was a school bus. I got on the first bus. We waited until about 6:45 and then left. Our bus was not completely full. As we pulled out, I could see a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. The ride was about 30 minutes on winding roads. Eventually, we came to the gas station and store that was the packet pick up area. We exited the bus and got in line for our packets. Pick up went smoothly. I ducked into the store to put my bib on my shirt and tuck the race shirt in my large ziplock bag. I decided to make a pit stop before the race started. They had a bank of port-o-potties next to the store. They were in good condition at that time. Then I waited on the steps under cover. I got another runner to take my before picture here.
Soon, a person came by to say we could wait on one of the buses until the start so we could stay dry. I dropped my bag in the pick up truck and got on the bus. There were about 10 of us on there. We chatted until someone came and told us the bus had to go back to Asheville. So, we got off and headed towards the area everyone was waiting. At this point it was about 10 minutes to start time. The mass of people started walking towards the start line.
It was really foggy and drizzling off and on. I’m sure the view would have been even better without the fog. The sun was out by now. The race director made announcements through a bullhorn. There was one start flag on the side of the road. I stayed towards the back because I knew I would be one of the last group of finishers. I did not train as much as I would have liked.
Soon, the race started.
In Mile 1, we were all asking where is the downhills. I was keeping up my 1min:30sec run/walk intervals.
When I got there, the first water stop was breaking down. The volunteer was putting the folding table away as I approached. I almost missed the right turn from pavement to gravel ranger road here. Luckily, there was someone in front of me.
There was a very friendly lady at the water stop that said all we have left is Gatorade. I was just happy they had something.
I think there was a water stop in the area but I can’t quite remember.
This water stop was manned by a couple adults and a kid. They were really cheering you on. It lifted my spirits.
I think there was a water stop in here that was broken down and had containers of water and bags of pretzels laying on the ground. I believe we had just passed the volunteer sitting in a car. It was rainy so I feel for the volunteers. However, these stops are extremely useful.
Between Mile 11 & 12 we came back to civilization. We were also running right beside the river.
It was a crazy, steep drop down the embankment to the water.
The Mile 12 sign had been knocked over at some point. Luckily, I saw it on the ground. Once I got to Mile 12, I had really run out of steam. The roads were more gravelly and seemed harder to run on with the rain. At that point, I gave up hope of a PR. I just wanted to finish.
Shortly after that, I crossed a little bridge over the river.
There were 2 men fishing. It was almost like a postcard.
Somewhere in here was another water stop. I believe they had cookies although I didn’t take any.
The Mile 13 marker was right by the bus pickup. So, there were a lot of runners that had already finished at this point. A lot of cheering happened which was nice. I could see the finish line just up ahead. I started running again shortly after the Mile 13 marker. I ran across the finish and saw the clock was over 2:50. I got my medal still in the plastic bag and continued to the chip return. I untied my shoe to get it off and then put it in the bin. I remembered I needed to stop my phone app. It said I finished in 2:51:29. Since I knew I stopped it a little late, I figured I finished in around 2:50. With all the walking I did at the end and the rain, I was happy to finish in 2:50.
There were bottles of water left, too. I grabbed one and kept walking to the truck with the bags. There were only a few left since most people had already finished. I walked back to the Mile 13 marker to get the bus to my car and lunch.
There were a lot of people waiting. We saw more people finishing and cheered them on. After the last man finished, we moved to the pavilion to stay dry (even though we were already soaked).
I decided to take out my medal and get an after picture. Shortly after the last man was finished, two buses came to take people back. We all went to get in line. It was obvious after 5 minutes that we wouldn’t be getting on these buses. So we went back to the pavilion. A guy came and took a count of everyone that was left. Not too much later, another bus came and we all got on. The bus driver was a blonde woman and she was a hoot! The drive back was definitely entertaining. When I got back to my car, I took off my bib and grabbed my change of clothes leaving my bag. I walked the long way to the lunch.
It was barbeque, pasta salad, chips, beans, fruit, and a few other things I can’t recall now. The lunch was pretty good.
They also announced the awards while I was eating. I don’t normally finish early enough to hear that part. It was fun. When I finished eating, I checked the times posted on the wall. It said I finished in 2:53. I knew it couldn’t have been that long since my app said 2:51 after I took off my chip. I decided since I didn’t PR, it really didn’t matter. I made my way to the Bride’s room and into the bathroom to change. Thank goodness I found a bathroom because I unfortunately had women’s issues going on. I was able to take care of everything and get my dry clothes and sandals on. I walked back to my car and it was lightly raining yet again. I stayed decently dry. When I got to my car, I had a towel that I used on the seat. The drive home was uneventful.
I checked online later and my official time was recorded as 2:50. I am happy with that. Overall, this is a well run race and in an interesting location. The volunteers were out in the rainy weather so I won’t fault the ones who decided to wrap up early or sit in their cars. I was more sore for a few days after than I have ever been, even for my one full marathon. I am not sure if I will do it again but that has more to do with other races I want to try and less to do with not wanting to run this particular race again. It is a nice, small race with nature all around.