Tag Archives: Tobacco Road Half Marathon


A confidence booster. That’s what I’d hoped this morning’s Tobacco Road Half Marathon would be.

I tried to stay chill about it, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had a goal time in mind. Last year at this time, I ran a 1:38, and judging by workouts and performances at shorter distances, I’m in better shape now. I’d hoped to crank out a 1:35 if the stars aligned.

Unfortunately, the stars were all over the place. I finished at 1:48 and change.

Making excuses for bad race performances is pretty lame, but here are my reasons for sucking it up big time today:

Reason #1: It went soft. In the weeks leading up to this race, I said it a million times: if there was one thing that would sink this race, it would be a soggy trail.

The Tobacco Road half is mostly run on a section of the American Tobacco Trail that’s made of loosely-packed crushed gravel. For a long run, it’s fantastically forgiving. For a speed workout, it’s slightly challenging when dry. And when it’s wet, it’s miserable all around.

Well, guess what it did ALL NIGHT Saturday night. I almost stayed in bed when my alarm finally went off, after being awake all night listening to the pouring rain. 13.1 miles of racing on soft, soggy terrain? Ugh.

But obviously I heeded the alarm. I probably should have adjusted my expectations for this race before I even got out of bed, because….

Reason #2: The effing humidity. I know it could have been worse: it could have been warmer. But I hate being soaking wet before I even start running, no matter what the temperature is. Enough said.

Reason #3: My cranky womb. Sorry if this is TMI, but…standing in the start corral this morning, I felt a familiar throbbing in my lower belly and aching in my hips that I knew had nothing to do with running or digestion. Rather, it was my reproductive system letting me know that it was about to begin its monthly thing, and wouldn’t I rather be at home, under a blanket, with a warm cat sprawled across my lap? Why yes, I would.

In nearly two decades of racing, this was the first time I had ever encountered such unfortunate timing. It sucked.

Reason #4: My head wasn’t in it. Instead, my head was worrying about whether the movers would be on time on Monday and fretting about boxes that still needed to be packed.

Yeah….planning a half marathon the day before an interstate move is not a great plan.

Also, honestly? My heart wasn’t really in it today, either. My heart was in Atlanta, with my husband, who I miss dearly and cannot wait to see tomorrow night.

Reason #5: I’m exhausted. For the last week, I’ve spent nearly every waking moment moving shit around, putting shit in boxes, hauling shit to the trash chute, and shlepping shit to the car to bring to the Goodwill Donation Center. Even though we have movers coming to help with the actual moving, just preparing to move is exhausting.

So, those are my excuses. I started out today’s race with a downhill 7:20 mile that felt far too difficult; I knew it wasn’t going to be my day to run hard. I dropped back to marathon pace (7:45-7:50) for a couple of miles, but once I hit the soggy path, even that felt like too much. So I dropped back again and hung out at 8:15-8:30 (pretty close to my normal long run pace) for the rest of the race. And even that felt harder than it should have.

Sometimes, it just isn’t your day.

(Thanks to teammate Jenna for the photo)

Anyway. So this race didn’t exactly make me feel like a million bucks going into the last couple of weeks of Gansett Marathon training. In fact, it made me feel pretty discouraged and doubtful. My training volume hasn’t been what I’d hoped it would be this spring, and while I’m still running pretty well (for me) at shorter distances, it seems like I’m falling short in the stamina department.

Not sure if there’s much I can do about that at this point. Oh well.

After a lovely post-race nap, I cleaned myself up and headed in to work to drop off my key (sad!) and cajole a couple of my co-workers into enjoying one last post-shift beer with me. And it was a good one…

The famed 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish HeadIt was as amazing as I’d imagined it would be.

Around these parts, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA are pretty easy to find, but the 120 Minute is an elusive beast – probably because it’s actually illegal here in North Carolina. Amazingly smooth and sweet, it’s hard to believe that this beer packs an 18%-ABV punch. You get a quick hit of full-flavored hops at the beginning of each sip, but as it goes down it mellows in to a lovely honeysuckle finish with no pucker whatsoever. Utterly delicious.

Bottom line: This one definitely lives up to the hype. If you have a chance to get your hands on it, definitely buy it – and buy me one too, please!

Well…tomorrow is moving day. Every closet, cupboard, and drawer in the apartment is empty; the only thing left to be packed is the TV/cable/modem setup. By this time tomorrow night, if everything goes smoothly, I’ll be rolling in to Atlanta with two confused felines in tow.

Wish me luck!

Tempo Tuesday: chasing sub-7

So I’m a little conflicted about this one.

I headed out at lunchtime today for a tempo run. The plan was 5 miles at goal half marathon pace, which is 7:15-7:20. I figured I should start rehearsing since I’m running one in a couple of months.

(Did I mention this? I don’t think I mentioned this. I signed up – just in the nick of time, as it’s now full – for the Tobacco Road Half Marathon. It’s on Sunday, March 18. Moving day is March 19. So that should be a fun weekend.)

Anyway, the tempo. I hit the first mile in 7:04 and felt really really good…aaaaand poof! 7:20 pace went right out the window.

I don’t know where that came from, but…that is not half marathon pace. I’m not even sure it’s 10K pace. At an average per mile of 6:59, it might actually be closer to 5K pace. But today, it was OMG THIS IS FUN pace. It was hard but it felt great.

(That first mile is junk, BTW…I was too impatient to wait for the satellites to load so I just took off on my warm up and didn’t start picking up distance until a couple of minutes in.)

On one hand, I’m thrilled, because I ran pretty darn fast (on a hilly course, too) and felt fantastic. On the other hand, I totally missed the point of the workout, which was not to run balls out, but to rehearse half marathon pace.

Also, it always makes me feel a little sheepish about my race performances when I run workouts like this. Like…something is not clicking during races. Why can’t I fly along like that when I’m running a 5K? Because the last time I ran a 5K, it was a major struggle to hit 6:XX. Today, it felt natural and…well, not exactly comfortable, but manageable.

It’s a mystery, I guess. Anyway.

In honor of tonight’s SOTU, I opened this bottle of Fermentation Without Representation, which is an Imperial Pumpkin Porter.

This beer is part of the Salt Lake City-based Epic Brewing Company‘s Exponential Series, a collection of quirky, seasonal and/or limited release brews  which the brewery markets to the “accomplished consumer or the ever-curious.” Well, I’m not exactly the former, but I’m always up for trying something a little different.

Sweet and smooth, this porter goes down easy. The pumpkin flavor (which I’m not generally nuts about) actually goes pretty well with the beer’s toasty dark malt, and is more squash casserole than pumpkin pie. Of course you get some nutmeg and cinnamon, but I appreciated that they were balanced by more traditional porter flavors: coffee beans, dark chocolate, burnt caramel. 7.6% ABV.

Bottom line: It’s probably a little late in the season for this one, but grab it if you see it! Definitely worth trying. (Purchased at Bottle Revolution, $6/big bottle)

Even though presidents rarely say anything surprising or earth-shattering in their annual laundry lists, I try to tune in each year. I could say it’s because of my CIVIC DUTY or spout some bullshit about being an informed citizen, but really, I watch the SOTU for the same reason I watch the Superbowl. I’m not really rooting for either team, but on the off chance that some drama goes down, I don’t want to be the person at the water cooler the next day who has no idea what everyone else is yapping about.

And I’ll admit that by far the most entertaining part of the whole ordeal is watching the camera zoom in on the various members of congress and other public figures as they try to look appropriate in their reactions. Oh hey there, I see your barely-concealed smirk – and that lady across the aisle raises you a furrowed brow of forced consternation!

With that, I’m off to watch some more serious programming…Iron Chef America is on! Morimoto’s got my vote.