Monday, April 22, 2013

Blue Ridge Marathon 4/20/2013 - America's Toughest Road Marathon

So a few months ago after signing up for the North Face 50k, I figured the Blue Ridge marathon would be an excellent training run for the North Face 50k in June.  The Blue ridge marathon website said it had been deemed America's Toughest Road Marathon...psssh, I figured they just put that on there to scare runners.  Besides, how hard could it be, its on the east coast and other than named after some mountains, how bad could it be.  So the family and I head down to Roanoke, VA for the race on Friday the 19th.  It rained most of the way down but didn't hit any real traffic as we were going west of civilization.  Here is a quick pic of one of the moutains I would be running:
Yea, that looks like no fun.  We get there and head over to the expo and get my bib which is 107.

After getting the bib, we stop by the book signing for Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers...the kids posed with them as I thought I was too cool for such a thing :) ...Here is a picture of the expo, not much to look at but it was nice not to fight the lines you usually see in DC:

Below is a picture of Bill Rogers signing this girls jacket.  Apparently, she ran Boston last week and was getting interviewed by

Hit a bowl of spaghetti at this hole in the wall and then back to the hotel to get some rest.   Because I am freak, I got a picture of this as well!!!  btw, I ate the rest!

 Up early the next morning to eat my marathon bar and part of a banana at 4am, race was at 7:30am.  Head over to the Marketplace to stay warm before going outside and freezing my ass off in 40F and 15-20 mph winds...yikes.  Got some pics with the kids before heading out:

After 42 stops to the dumper, I squeezed every possible thing out of my ass and bladder, I felt like I was ready to run "America's toughest road marathon".  I still didn't know what to expect.  On to the starting line were a few words about the Boston marathon incident were said - then onto the national anthem which I could barely hear and really didn't want to, given the butchering it was getting...guess mariah carey was all booked up this week.  Another guy who I run with Michiel was doing the marathon as well.  We decided to use this race as a training run for the North Face 50k as well...Here is shot of us before we enter hell:
I wore my classic cherry blossom with the arm warmers as I had no idea what to expect up in the Mountains.  And then we were off!  Oh, forgot to mention, there were around 1200 1/2 marathon runners, 500 full and about 100 team relays doing the full marathon.  Ok, out of the gate I am doing a nice and easy 9:03 for the first mile.  I told Mike I kinda wanted to keep it at 10 given the hardest of the three hills were coming first.  Then we make a turn out of town, then up this hill.  The hill which started at mile two didn't end until mile 7 - fucking unreal.  4 miles into this bitch, I am thinking you can't be serious as I am keeping a around a 10 minute mile.  Mile 6 approaches and the legs are feeling it as we continue to go up and we hit this 180 turn and all I see is a road with a 30% incline, just sick...walking ensued by EVERYONE.  One guy who I was walking/running near said he ran this part of the course two weeks ago and said it took him 26 minutes running and 28 minutes walking....after hearing that, we walked up that bitch till I got to a runnable area.  So its back down the mountain and now I am crusiing at a 8:30 pace thinking I am really moving now.  3 miles of downhill straight and my feet and hips are starting to actually ache.  I never had pain in either of those two areas ever so this was new.  About mile 9 we start heading back up to the Roanoke Star which ends about mile 13 or the half marathon mark.  Another eye opening experience as I am thinking to myself, what was I thinking.  At this point, my achilles in my left foot is starting to feel more pressure than usual.  Guess 10 miles of climbing will do that.  However, we finally started to decend around mile 13 onto mile 17...At mile 16, I got to see heather and dump my arm warmers and get my headphones as I am pulling out all the stops here...

Actually, at this point, I was thinking in any other race with no hills left I could of got a sub 4 but I knew what lied ahead...the infamous peakwood drive...I heard it was devastating because it starts at 17 and ends at 21.5...ok, so I am off again

Off to peakwood...about a mile from here we start this ascent which is through a neighborhood.  Your thinking, come on, how steep can this thing be.  people live here, right?  wrong...the fucker was murder...up 4 miles, left a little, right a little, turn here, no turn here...I felt like I was going to walk all the way in to the finish at this point.  The only thing that kept me going was (besides Michiel) was the people in the neighborhood who came out to cheer us on...they were incredible and definitely appreciated the love.  That said, by the time I got to heather again at 22, I was on a death march.

As you can see, I am struggling!!!  However, my boys had pulled out the signs for me and I gave them high fives for all the support...

The last 4 miles felt like they lasted forever...what wind we didn't get in the mountains, we got in town and it felt like a wind tunnel.  You could tell they were stretching the course a tad by making us back and forth on this bridge before we started towards downtown and the finish.  By the time I got to the bridge before downtown, I could barely run that tiny tiny tiny little hill - it was embarassing.  Finally, got about a mile out and I knew we would be done soon.  About .5 to go a girl says "only 3 more blocks" and I am loving it...then we get to the next block, some dude says "only 4 more blocks", WTF!  At this point, I can see the finish banner so we pick up the pace and don't want to look like slouches coming are a couple shots of us coming in:

and here:

and finally at the finish line:

All in all, we didn't do to bad and I got a 4:29:47 which was 23rd out of 42 in my age group.  Here are the mile splits per their tabulation:

Mile 5.4 - 49:45 / 9:12 pace
Mile:  9.8 - 1:35:42 / 9:45 pace
Mile 15.7 - 2:32:05 / 9:41
Mile 22 - 3:40:51 / 10:02 pace (when shit fell apart!!!)
Mile 26.2  - 4:29:47 / 10:17 pace

I am pretty happy with the final results and everyone had a blast.  Looking forward to the North face 50k in about 5 weeks, now just resting the legs a little.  Going to hit the bike on wednesday real easy...crazy thing is, the legs feel real good but I am not going to push it back.  Running this race and having no injuries as a result were really my main goals..Some sides notes, I need to get better at having better nutrition at the end of the race..I seem to really die at 22 in all my races...I need to practice eating more during my long runs..of interest is that I actually stopped to piss two more times during the port-o-dumps no less...later...


  1. Sounds like a tough marathon. Congrats on tackling that one and finishing strong!

  2. Thanks was a monster of a course and really think I could of cut some time off if I really tried. But I am happy with the training run and might do it again next year...don't know. When is your next race?

  3. Good Job, Sir! Those hills sound tough.