April 17, 2013

Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon Recap

Earlier this year, I was actively looking for local half marathons to meet my 12 in 2013 goal.  Especially coming off our Disney races in January and February, I definitely wasn't going to be doing any traveling for races in the spring.  I settled on the local, very popular Shamrock half marathon in March and a much smaller local race for April - the Dismal Swamp Stomp half marathon.  I registered in late January and sort of forgot about this race.  And it crept up on me...quickly!

About two weeks before the race, I was getting a little nervous.  After a big PR at the Shamrock half in March, I took some time off running to let my body rest and not to mention, my hips and knees were giving me some trouble.  I did one ten mile run in between the races and the rest of my runs were much shorter.  My mileage was low, but I was still fit and getting stronger with more yoga and strength training in my workouts so I had that going for me.  I forced myself to "taper" for this race even though I didn't have much to taper from.  I ate well, got rest and did quality workouts in the week leading up to the race.  And then race morning was here...

The race was located at the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail in Chesapeake, VA.  I have gone bike riding here before so I knew what to expect on the trail, which was helpful.  The entire course was on a paved road and a very simple and mostly straight out and back course.  I had heard it was fast and very, very flat.
Cool signage
I woke up and the weather was perfect!  Crisp and cool and not a single could in the sky - definitely good racing conditions. I arrived at the race at about 7:10 and had plenty of time to park and walk to the start.  Being a small local race, it was pretty simple - park on the side of the road near the park.  I made my way to the start and got acclimated to the race setup.
I'll see you later!
Yes, the wildlife column says bobcats, bears and snakes - yikes!
I milled around for a bit until we were instructed to head to the starting line.  The race didn't have corrals and instead had pace groups set up so you could line up with people of like pace.  This would certainly not work in big races, but was fine for this race.  Based on the results, it was less than 700 runners, so the crowds were very manageable.  
Pace markers lined up
I took the opportunity to snap some pictures since it wasn't crowded at the starting line and enjoyed seeing Chessie.  
Of course I had to get this photo even though I'm mostly asleep still!

Walking to the starting line...the view didn't really change for almost the entire race!
And before we knew it, it was time. The announcer had us make our way to the starting line and I lined up in the back of the 9:00mm group.  I chatted with some other runners to make the time pass.  One VERY bizarre thing about the start was a special guest that they announced.  They mentioned a "five year life anniversary" for this woman and I expected a cancer survivor or something similar.  Nope...five years ago, she was pronounced dead at the finish line of the race and for some unknown reason, they thought it was a good idea to announce this!  WHAT IN THE WORLD?!  It freaked me out a little and the people around me were all a little confused.  Not exactly appropriate before the start if you ask me.  In any case, we were off on our way shortly and as we started moving, I realized my Garmin had lost its satellite connection.  Uh oh!  Luckily it came back quickly just after I crossed the mat.
Simply a gorgeous day!!
The first half of the race passed pretty quickly and without too much effort.  I stuck to my 9:1 intervals and was holding a pace slightly under 9:40.  At around mile 4, we saw the leaders heading back and man were they flying!  That was a great mental boost and it was fun to cheer for them.  The last half got kind of rough.  Around mile 9, I was starting to feel very fatigued and I can't say I was surprised; I knew my endurance would be in question for this race.  I powered through the last few miles as I was closely monitoring my Garmin watching my pace increase.  I knew I would really have to kick it home for the last mile to still get a PR.  As soon as it came into view, I started to relax and just focus on getting there.  After 2 hours, 7 minutes and 29 seconds, I finished my 7th 13.1, which is another PR for me!


I grabbed water and choked down a few bites of a PowerBar (not my fav).  I texted Mom letting her know my time and headed to grab some food and enjoy the post race party.  The party was complete with pizza from a local joint, a beer truck with Michelob Ultra and Dismal Swamp IPA from O'Connors brewery (also local) and a local rock band.  I LOVED that the race party was full of local food and brews.  
Band stage and the views from the finish line
I hung out for a bit and then it was time to head home for some R&R.

Dismal Swamp IPA
Overall I would give this race a B+.  It was very well organized and a great bargain (I think I paid $60 to register).  The course was scenic, fast and very very flat.  We also got some pretty nice swag.  However, given that it's a closed trail, there were very few spectators which was tough on the back half.  I was also disappointed with the lack of information until 2 days before the race.  I actually panicked that I had not in fact registered for this race because I hadn't received any emails leading up to it.  Luckily, I discovered that they had a verification on their website so I confirmed I was registered and also found their Facebook page which had some good information.  

Very nice race swag - love the fleece top!

Even wore my medal out to dinner with friends!

Well that's it, folks.  Half marathon #7 is in the books, the 4th in 2013.
{Christine}

21 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Christine! Way to go on your PR! Love the pic of Chessie, too! :0)

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    1. Thanks Karen! Yes, I was excited to have another PR!

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  2. That's so cool there's a Disney race UP there! :) Congrats girlie, revel in that PR!

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    1. Thanks so much Kat! It is always fun to get a new shiny PR!

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  3. Congratulations on your PR! That is so awesome that you got a fleece top as part of your swag. Sounds like it was a great race!

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    1. Monica, I love the fleece top....the race really was good and I may go run again next year and bring Mom!

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  4. Congrats on the PR! The trail for that race looks gorgeous!

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    1. Lauren, Ye the trail is realy pretty. It made for a different kind of race which was fun!

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  5. Looks like a wonderful race! Love your long sleeve top!! May be something worth looking into for next year....
    Looks like a pretty area. Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. The race was well done and yes, the long sleeve fleece top is really nice!

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  6. Great job Christine!! I'm getting completely jealous over your ever-continual-dropping PR times. Gives me something to shoot for!:)

    Kimberley

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    1. Thanks Kimberly. I was delighted and shocked at the same time.

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    1. Thanks Kira. It is always fun to go home with a new medal AND a PR!

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  8. Congrats on your PR! It's quite a feat to PR again, especially after having to take it easy after your last half. Great job!

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    1. Thanks Lisa. I never expected it but of course was thrilled!

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  9. Congrats on another PR!! Looks like it was a beautiful day and a pretty course.

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    1. Thanks Emily. We were lucky with the weather which is always a nice bonus for race day!

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  10. Congrats on your PR!! So awesome! I'm training for my first half marathon right now and I'm so inspired by reading your recaps!

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    1. Thanks Kristina. Good luck with your first half and beware...running can become an addiction! :)

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  11. The fleece looks awesome! And I love the medal shaped like a foot. Congrats on another great run!!!

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