living in the now

Still rambling about running. Sometimes other things.

Filtering by Tag: Blue Ridge Half

Just what I needed

A photo posted by David H. (@runningbecause) on

I've walked away from every Blue Ridge Half without many words or thoughts. The race weekend brings together a variety of people in my life to one event -- this year included family with my sister running the half for the first time. It's been an amazing weekend every year no matter what happens on the course.

Leading up to this year's race I kept thinking about how I felt last year -- my blog entry was relatively pointless in reflecting my thoughts. Despite having a fun weekend overall, the race wasn't all that great. Peakwood -- the second major climb in the race -- beat me up. I was defeated. It made me question for a while whether I wanted to return to this event. 

After switching from the full to the half a month ago, I was at peace with my decision. Then I thought a lot about how I would approach this race. I know I've always started too fast, trying to tackle the first climb of Mill Mountain, then fly down the front side for a couple of miles to make up time. 

Having done that four times, I've finally learned I can't do that and be happy with my performance. This year I slowed way down for the first mile then shortened my stride and kept pushing all the way to the top of the Mill Mountain. It's the first time ever that I didn't stop to walk in that stretch.

Coming down the mountain I put on the brakes just a bit instead of going all out. Once I came off the mountain and hit a flat stretch for a mile or so, I felt really good. At the 5.5-mile split, I was 2 minutes slower this year than last year. 

When I got to Peakwood, the unbelievably brutal neighborhood of hills, I was actually looking forward to seeing if I could improve my time from last year. I did a lot of walking up the extremely steep grades, took on as much water as I could, dumped a lot of water on my head and then let myself go a bit faster down the final big decline 10 miles in. 

In the last stretch down Jefferson Street in Roanoke, I was a little disappointed the final two hills on bridges felt so tough, but it was nowhere near as bad as last year. It was warmer, but that didn't seem to bother me too much. 

I crossed the finish line in 2:22:04, 1:19 faster than last year. Looking at it another way, I gained 3 minutes in the final 7.6 miles over 2014, which is what I'm excited about more than anything else.

I had such a bad taste in my mouth after Shamrock just 4 weeks ago that I seriously considered not doing Blue Ridge. I've been thinking about a blog post about how I wasn't going to race anymore this year and that I needed a break. 

But now? 

Now I'm finally excited about what's next. I don't know what that is, but I'm really looking forward to it. 

Down, down, down Mill Mountain. #runBlueRidge #RunChat #roanoke

A photo posted by David H. (@runningbecause) on

6 Things

It's been a while since a "things" post, but I have a few things brewing on my mind about a variety of things with running ... 

1. This Saturday will mark the final time I run the Blue Ridge Half for a while. I won't say "ever," but in the past few weeks I've realized more and more how I can't get my mind and body focused on this race. "A while" just means at least a one-year break.

2. Shamrock Half 2016 ... I have to do it. And I have to rediscover what's worked for my best experiences in the past. I'm determined to set a PR at this race again before I'm 40. (Which is one of the reasons Blue Ridge is not going to be a focus of mine next year.)

3. It's been a long time since I've had a true "aha moment" while running, but this week I did. I haven't lifted weights since February. I started the year off well doing a push-ups challenge with a friend and carried some momentum into the next month, but I've really slacked in the past 2 months. If I don't get my upper body and core strength back, it's going to be a long year. So last week I lifted weights twice ... and I was really sore. 

4. I did a track workout recently for the first time in nearly a year. Surprisingly I wasn't as slow as I thought I would be, but it was much tougher than I was expecting. 

5. If I can do #3 and #4 above much more often, then #2 should happen.

6.  All of these things combine mean that I probably won't run a marathon this fall after being so excited about the idea a few months ago. Things change, and I'll offer no other thoughts than that. 

Q1 check-up

As the first 3 months of the year come to a close, I can't help but think about how it feels like a disappointment with an awful Shamrock Half. Overall, though, it was actually a really nice start to the year. 

I've had to rearrange a lot though based on a really bad stomach bug in January, a few rough nights with my youngest sun and fewer miles because of the weather in late February/early March. Changing from the Shamrock Marathon to the Half was an easy decision; I also realized I wasn't ready for the Blue Ridge Marathon and have switched to the half for that in a few weeks. 

In fact, I'm not sure how I feel about a marathon this year. More on that below as I look at where I stand with my goals for the year: 

1. Run 3 new races. 
There really weren't any opportunities for this in Q1, so I'm not too worried about the big ZERO for this so far. 

2. Run 1,000 miles.
The bright spot in running for Q1 has been more miles without feeling like I'm pushing it too much. I'm at 265.2 for the year, well on pace for more than 1,000. Now I just need to do some faster miles so my legs don't hate me on a race day. 

3. Run a 3:45 marathon. 
I was so excited about marathon training at the end of 2014, but I feel like I have so many other things to work on right now before I focus on this distance. I might change this goal in the coming month, but I'm not set on the decision yet.