The Best 8k of My Life. Probably Forever.
The Roanoke Canal 8k. My new favorite race. And possibly my new favorite distance.
Bri and I signed up to run this 8k two weeks ago completely on a whim. I needed to squeeze in another 5-6 miler before the half and we were on our way to NC for my mom’s birthday. The race was on our way and just happened to be the perfect distance.
We ended up leaving Richmond around 5:30am the morning of the race. The start was about a 1.5 hour drive and we weren’t sure how easy it would be to park, pick up packets, etc., so we wanted to allow plenty of time. We ended up making two pit stops…once at WaWa for gas and some pre-race fuel and once for a pre-race potty break for me (so utterly important). We ended up arriving at the start area with about an hour to spare before the race, and easily found parking and got our bibs.
The race really featured a half marathon and the 8k was kind of secondary. The halfers took off at 8 and we spent the next 20 minutes staying warm in the car. Around 8:20 we made our way to the start, which was in the middle of a forest. Basically the entire run was on trails! It was super cool.
Brian really hoped to place in his age group (or even place overall) during this race, so he started out in the front of the pack. I found a comfortable spot near the middle and told myself to think of it as a training run. But, of course, 3 steps into the thing I decided I wanted to race.
I didn’t know this at the beginning but the 8k only had 91 participants. Super small. I think I started out in a good place in the pack. I was cruising along but didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard, and no one was really passing me.
Mile 1 – 8:47
I ended up passing 1 girl about my age during mile 1. I was a little worried that I was pushing too hard, but this didn’t feel super hard. There was a nice downhill that probably helped (although it turned into a not-so-nice-uphill on the way back).
Mile 2 – 8:37
I was feeling pretty darn good. I wasn’t getting passed and I didn’t want the girl from earlier to pass me. As I approached the turn around I kept my eyes peeled for Brian and he looked to be in about 6th place overall. I didn’t really notice what sort of position I was in since I was so focused on trying to find Brian.
Mile 3 – 8:55
Starting to slow down. The rolling hills were starting to get to me and I ended up being passed by a lady, but she was definitely older than me. There was no way I was going to keep up with her.
Mile 4 – 9:09
Totally focused on NOT being passed by anyone else. I didn’t want to turn around to see how close the next runner might be, so I just told myself to push it. Again, rolling hills were so nice during the first two miles, but killer at this point.
Mile 5 – 9:17
The uphill of doom. It was all I had to make it up this hill. Thankfully everyone else was seriously struggling, and I actually ended up passing a guy. He was having a hard time and I tried to encourage him, but I could barely breathe. At the top of the hill I was sure no one else would pass me, so I hoofed it to the finish line.
I found Brian at the end of the race and he was confident that he placed in his age group so we decided to stick around for the awards. We grabbed some snacks and pretty much just sat on our butts for 45 minutes. I snapped a whopping two photos with my iPhone…
When they finally started announcing awards, they went by age group and gender. Youngest to oldest, and ladies first in each category. They got to my age group, 20-29, and announced the 3rd place runner and her time. And holy crap, her time was SLOWER THAN MINE. I about threw up. Then then announced 2nd place AND IT WAS ME. Little old me. I PLACED in my AGE GROUP!!! I won a pint glass!! I was so surprised and excited. I really didn’t expect it and am SO GLAD I pushed myself a little bit. Brian also got 2nd in his age group (see, I am just as good a runner as he is!). So now we have a pretty matching set of pint glasses.
So, not only did I PR, I also won an award for my age group. I highly doubt that will ever happen again, but man oh man was it awesome.
I’m seriously considering framing this:
So my time would not really be that impressive in a bigger race, but it is still super cool for me. I’m NOT fast but I still went out there and pushed myself and had a great time doing it. Now I’m totally on the hunt for super tiny races to run…they are so much fun and less stressful than those MASSIVE races I tend to do (ahem, Monument 10k).
We’ll be back next year!