Friday, March 23, 2012

Instant Classic Trail Marathon: A Weekend of Firsts

My 25th marathon -- a weekend of firsts!

Preparing for the Instant Classic Trail Marathon involved finding childcare (my mother) and making the route as child-friendly as possible.  We decided to leave around 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 15th to travel about 8 hours to Roanoke for the night.  Then on Friday we would head to a children's museum about an hour away in Lynchburg, VA before finishing our drive to Richmond/Chesterfield for a total of about a 10 hour trip.
Thursday's car trip was exciting for all us of since my son lost his first tooth!

First lost tooth!
On Friday morning, the children's museum, Amazement Square, was very adequate at burning some of the children's energy off!

Playing at the museum
Then it was on to lunch and then Carytown to get the race packets at their local running store, Roadrunner Running Store.  It was in a cute little shopping area in Richmond.  We got our packets and signed shirts for the race's beneficiaries (Fisher House-McGuire Hospital), and then it was on to ice cream at Sweet Frog.

Roadrunner Running Store, site of packet pick up

Signing shirts--our daughter added the happy faces :)

At Roadrunner

Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt
The kids were ready for the pool as soon as we arrived at the hotel.  I really wanted to relax and then go out for a nice carbo-loading dinner.  I settled for taking the kids to the hotel's indoor pool while Rick got the food to-go from Carrabba's.  He brought it to the pool for us to eat there.

Spaghetti from Carrabba's
Then it was time for bed, and since the race started on Saturday at 7:45 a.m. their time (they were an hour ahead), we all went to bed at the same time.  The hotel didn't have a room with two beds available, so Rick reserved two rooms.  Mom was able to sleep next door and come over in the morning at 6:30 a.m.  I had to knock 3 different times to wake her up---I was getting worried that something was wrong!  She is usually an early riser!

Gear and clothes all ready!
The race started at Pocahontas State Park.  We arrived with plenty of time to park and walk down to the porta potty line.  The start/finish line area was in a wide open field.  Runners were mingling there and in a small nearby parking lot.  We dropped our stuff back at our car and headed back to the start.  It was nice out--in the 50s--so were started in singlets and shorts.  It would warm to a hot 75 degrees by the finish though!  For that reason, I carried water/gatorade in a handheld bottle (not usual for me).
The Race 
The start was done in waves, and Rick and I were in the first wave of number 1-49 (we were numbers 2 and 3).  Rick and I planned to run 8:00's or a little under for the first 15 miles or so.  At least that was the plan!
I found a pretty funny blog entry from another runner (the guy in the blue), and I got this picture from his blog (you can see me next to the guy in orange).  This is shortly after the start of the race (we are still in the big field where the race started and ended).  I liked this guy's blog because he joked about the weird signs marking the course.  They were everywhere (for every turn).  Read his post on the link below for more. He also describes the terrain of the course well.

picture from here
Total Photography was on the course taking pictures.  This one was from the file called "Marathon Start," but I am not exactly sure what mile we were on. 

This one is from Mile 4.  I wish the photographer had gotten a picture of Rick and me together, but I guess there's no way of him knowing that we were a married couple!  You can see Rick's arm in my picture and about half of me in his!

I was first female for the entire race, and mostly in the top 10 also, though the first few guys had a pretty good lead from the very start.  I wasn't wanting to push my pace to try to hang with them--not in this heat!  The course was mostly loose gravel, and the trails were fairly wide.  There were many rolling hills.  See the course elevation below.  Each of the little hills was harder to run on the loose gravel than it would have been on the road, especially since I had opted to run in road shoes and not trail shoes.

Elevation profile for Instant Classic
So, of course, I found it hard to keep my pace consistent, and I struggled with that.  Mile 4 was my first mile over 8 minutes.  It was just too hard to push it early on without knowing what was ahead.  I was very thankful for the mile markers, since Rick was wearing the Garmin.  This is where actually seeing the course beforehand or training on similar trails would have been helpful.  He and I ran together some and flip-flopped for most of the race.  Around Mile 15, he took off, and I said, "Have a good race!" because I thought he looked very strong.  Then shortly after that, I passed him and stayed ahead of him for much of the remainder of the race.
Around Mile 18, I started slowing down to a 9 minute mile.  The miles started feeling like they were taking forever.  I was struggling and unaccustomed to trying to run close to my marathon pace on a much tougher course.  I passed a couple of men and found talking to them for a short time to be a nice distraction.  The last 4 miles were some of the hardest miles I have ever done.  Not walking during them was a huge victory for me.
I enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way and the friendly volunteers.  I heard many of them shout, "You're first female!" which was very neat to hear!  I was savoring the feeling of winning a marathon.  It was a very special time even though I was struggling to feel good while running.  Isn't that contrast amazing??  To feel so good, yet so terrible!!
I finished the race in 3:36:36 and won a nice prize of a pink drawstring bag from Roadrunner Running Store, a pair of shoes, and a $15 gift certificate to Road ID (I've wanted one of those for years anyway!).

Finish line
Rick finished in what his Garmin said was 3:42 something, but the official results had him finishing in 3:40 and had him listed in front of people he clearly finished behind (we can tell from pictures).  And there were no chips.  So he talked to the race timers via email and tried to get an accurate finish time.  Kind of a strange situation! (UPDATE: He is now listed as 14th overall, with a time of 3:42:38.)
We headed back to the hotel for showers, and then it was on to Carytown so I could get my prize shoes and we could shop some more.  Dinner was at Apollo's, a nice little Italian place with good pizza near our hotel.


Race numbers, a medal, a shirt, and my prizes (shoes were a "dummy pair" and I had to exchange them)

Back at Roadrunner---to get my prize shoes!

Apollo's Pizza
We drove back the next day, and my son lost another tooth on the way!  Two teeth in one weekend--Wow!
First overall female and the first two lost teeth for my firstborn.  What a good weekend!

1 7:54
2 7:41
3 7:24
4 8:17
5 8:39
6 7:44
7 7:39
8 7:03
9 8:13
10 7:46
11 7:27
12 6:19 (this one can't be right??)
13 7:55
14 8:14
15 8:04
16 8:14
17 8:00
18 9:06
19 8:43
20 9:24
21 7:56
22 8:51
23 9:35
24 9:21
25 9:19
26 9:56
.2 1:46

3:36:36 official time
1st overall female
7th overall results here


  1. Congrats on a great race Katie! Always exciting to win a pair of shoes at a race.

  2. WOW...Katie...two teeth in one weekend?? MILESTONE!!

    and...what a FANTASTIC race to add to it! Thank you for saying not walking at the end was a victory for you. As I was running McKay Saturday I kept telling myself "everyone hurts...this is not easy for anyone" whereas I used to get really upset at myself when I felt so bad. It's strange how realizing even an elite runner like you FEELS like walking sometimes can make me keep running when I feel like walking. I hope that makes sense.

  3. Okay, that looks and sounds like the coolest place and race ever! I love the shirts and the running store and sweet frog. I really like your t-shirt that says Run in your family pic too. Where did you get that? The kids are SO cute at the museum!

    Congrats on an AWESOME race, my friend!! I had this FEELING you'd do wonderfully. :) And it is VERY cool that you won SHOES! Love it!

    1. Oh! You noticed the shirt! Don't you love it! I got it from Fleet Feet! It a Life is Good shirt. I also got one with a clover on it for St. Patty's Day.