Category Archives: 2013 WV Race Reviews

2014 WV Race Review Changes

My racing scheduled has slowed down a little with winter upon us, but I’ve still been crazy busy with the holidays, work and preparing for a new semester as an adjunct professor. So I’m running a little behind on writing reviews for a couple of races I did complete at the beginning of January. (But they will be coming in the next few days!)

The main reason for my delay is that I’ve been trying to decide on a template to keep the race reviews consistent. I want to deliver information to you that may help you decide on whether or not to do the race in the future, but I want to be sure I don’t miss anything. So that has contributed to my belatedness as well. Please accept my apology and know I’ll step things up to get you more timely and accurate information.  Here’s is what future reviews will entail….

  • Race details such at distance, time, location, weather, cost, sponsor/charity, etc.
  • Pre-race and post-race events
  • Runner information such as how many, ages, etc.
  • Course details
  • How the race director, committee, volunteers did
  • Awards and how I did
  • Pros and cons
  • Miscellaneous such as history or race or area, local legend, etc.
  • Overall rating
  • Pictures of the race will always be included

Gold-Medal-225x300For the overall rating this year, I thought I would use something visual.  At first I thought I would use the Star Rating with one star being a bad race and five stars meaning it was a great, can’t-miss-this-next-year race.  But I didn’t think stars really related much to running.  So I decided to use medals.  Hey, we all love to get medals from the race…. this was my chance to give a medal back.  So I will give gold medals to top races, silver medals to middle ground races, and bronze medals to the needs-a-lot-of-work races.  Of course, please realize I’m giving you “MY” opinion of the race…. there are always others with different opinions.   But I do try to be open-minded when rating something.

Finally, and something I’m very excited about is the fact that I may have some guest bloggers helping me with race reviews.  Last year I ran in a lot of races, but of course I couldn’t hit all the races in West Virginia.  So I’m talking with some running friends of mine that hit races in other areas and of different distances to add some spice to my race reviews.

So I wanted to write-up this short post to let you know what’s coming to my running blog in the very, very near future.   If you run West Virginia races and would be interested in sharing your review here… just let me know.  I can’t pay you for the review, but I can help promote your blog, website, Facebook or Twitter page.  It’s always interesting to get a review from someone else’s perspective.

What do you think of the template I’ll use?? 

Is it too much information??

Am I missing any information someone may want to know about races here in West Virginia??


1st Annual BUMS Run 5k (Buckhannon, WV)

This was, undoubtedly, one of the most enjoyable races I have participated in to date. The race organizers did an awesome job of adding a lot of extras into this race to keep everyone interested throughout the entire day. The 1st Annual BUMS Run 5k was held on Saturday, October 26th in Buckhannon, WV.  The temps were a frigid 29 degrees, but the sun was shining bright and there was little to no wind at all.  In addition to the 5k race, there was a Halloween costume contest, great door prizes and a health fair with several venders participating.  Up-beat music blared over the speakers prior to the race getting all of the runners, volunteers, venders and spectators anxious to get started.

bums race 4

The race started at the Jawbone Park in downtown Buckhannon, wound its way through town, on a river trail that followed the Buckhannon River and back through some lovely well-kept neighborhoods and returned to the starting line.  I always like a loop course the most as you get to see constant new scenery and keeps your mind going.  This was the second race I had run in Buckhannon, and both had portions of the course on the river trail which is very beautiful.  There were very few inclines with the hardest one being a fairly steep hill near the end.  But it was doable if you kept a slow, steady pace.

The race was sponsored by Rob’s Fitness Factory in Buckhannon, with the Young Bucks Association directing it and local volunteer fire department helping with traffic control.  The organizers did an amazingly awesome job with their first 5k.  Everything went so smoothly that one would have never guessed it was the first year for this race.  Racers had to be registered two weeks in advance to receive a T-shirt which kinda threw me aback when I didn’t get a T-shirt during the packet pickup.  But it was my fault because I didn’t read the registration guidelines thoroughly.  But I purchased one at the race for an extra $6 because I really liked the design.  I greatly appreciated the cause for this race as a portion of the proceeds went to the West Virginia University Cure Kids Cancer Fund and another portion went to local youth sports teams.  The race director informed me that $1,000 was raised for the WVU Cure Kids Cancer Fund!!  Awesome job!!

BUMS race One of the best parts of this race was the number of young people who participated.  Of 122 participants, 45 were kids 19 years old and under.  That’s 37%… what an amazing turnout!!  I didn’t set a new PR for a 5k, but I did very well in this race.  I finished 44th and was 2nd in my age division with a finish time of 28:24 (9:09 min/mile pace).  My racing buddy, Wanda was closing in on me as she finished 4th in our age division with a 29:39 time…. another sub-30 minute race for her… she’s gonna catch me one of these days. 😀

The medals were unique as winners received a dog tag with the races name and date on it.  The funniest part of the day was the costume contest.  Mr. Banana won and he definitely deserved it.  Actually, I thought he was quite a ham.  😀  Also making an appearance was Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf; Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2; and a host of other characters.  Additionally, a lot of spectators braved the cold to cheer on the runners.  Buckhannon as a whole did a great job supporting this race.

bums race 3

It was a good day, a great race and a whole lot of fun.  I hear they will be hosing another race in April 2014 and plan to attend if possible.  Thanks for doing such a great job!!

A note from the race director:  BUMS stands for “Buckhannon Upshur Middle School”- most of the sports teams that participated were from the middle school here. The YoungBucs Association is a nonprofit that was created by my brother, Travis Foster (he also coaches middle school basketball). The association is intended to be a “blanket” organization for sports in Upshur County. The concept is that the organization works to fundraise throughout the year (with the help of all the benefitting teams/groups) and then when there is a need, teams can look to YoungBucs for support. So if the football team needs a little extra money for a trip to play-offs or if the soccer team needs new jerseys- YoungBucs can offer a stipend to help with the costs. It is really a neat concept! YoungBucs was started by my brother to help his basketball teams but has grown to the point where it can fiscally support more teams in our community.

Photos compliment of  Robbie Skinner and Young Bucks Association of Buckhannon, WV.  Used with permission.

Miles of Smiles Half Marathon & 5k (Monongah, WV)

This week is typically known as Thanksgiving week, but here in West Virginia we call it hunting season.  It’s the first week of buck gun season, and my two Tony’s (husband and son) have been waiting patiently for this day to come for quite a while now.  I took the week off to enjoy some downtime from work and get caught up on housework and laundry, maybe do some Christmas shopping, and of course get some running in.  But like any other day off, here I am wide awake at 5:00am.  I was even up before the hunters this morning.  I just couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned all night thinking about yesterday.  What’s so big about yesterday?  I did it, folks…. I finished my first “Real” half marathon, and I did it in a fairly decent finishing time.  Technically, this was my second half, but I did so poorly on the first one (which was a too-difficult-for-a-beginner trail half marathon) that I decided this would be my first “real” half.  I shaved 30 minutes off my time, so that tells you just how difficult the first one was.

Since I won’t be doing much housework today and I’m up so early, I thought this would be a prime opportunity to catch up on my blog posts.  I’ve run a few races that I haven’t reviewed yet, and need to get done so I have a journal of the event.  In this post, I’ll talk about the half I ran in yesterday.

It was Miles of Smiles second year for this half marathon and 5k run/walk.  Miles of Smiles is headquartered in Western Pennsylvania and provided timing services for nearly 300 races in 2012, and I would guess more than that this year.  I’ve participated in several races where they are the timers, and they’ve always done a great job.

This was their second year for the Miles of Smiles half and 5k which is held in Monongah, WV (near Fairmont, WV… home of Mary Lou Retton… remember her?)  Monongah (pronounced Ma nawng’ ga)  is a small town of slightly over 1000 residence, but used to be a booming coal mine town in the early 1900’s.  It’s quite rich in history, including a devastating coal mining disaster in 1907 when 362 miners lost their lives.  It was a double out-and-back course on the West Fork Rail Trail, which was 90% paved and included short jogs across a renovated wooden railroad bridge crossing the river.  The majority of the course followed the sleepy, lazy West Fork river which made for some beautiful scenery even though the leaves are gone by now.  The course was flat and fast, with very minimal inclines that any beginner could easily handle. The sky was blue with temps being in the mid-20’s.  There was a cold brisk breeze most of the race that took my breath a few times, but other than that it was perfect running weather for November.

miles_smilesHMmedalThe race was well ran under the direction of two veteran runners, with several water stops, post-race food and of course the chip timing is always appreciated.  We all received a beautiful finisher’s medal with trophies for the overall winners and nice place medals for several age groups.  We also received very nice long-sleeved tech shirts that I’m sure I will wear often.  There were 110 racers in the half and 45 participating in the 5k… just the perfect size for a first half marathon.


I didn’t do too bad as I finished 87th overall and 8th in my age group with a final time of 02:19:18 (10:38 min/mile pace).  I feel certain it’s a time on which I can improve and makes for a great motivator for my next half marathon.  Below is a picture my daughter took just a couple of seconds before I crossed the finish line.  It was awesome to have her there cheering me on along with my racing buddy, Wanda who ran in the 5k and placed 2nd in her age division with a sub-30 minute time.  Congrants, Wanda!! 😀


All in all, it was a great day and a great race.  I’m very satisfied with this accomplishment and look forward to my next half marathon hosted by the same crew in Fairmont again in January 2014.   Did you race this weekend?  How cold was it where you ran??

Calhoun Days 5k Trail Run/Walk (Mt. Zion, WV)

This morning, I crawled out of bed at 6:30am to get ready to meet Wanda for this weeks’ race. We had chosen to run in the Calhoun Days 5k Trail Run/Walk in Calhoun County, West Virginia to support the Calhoun County Park where the race was held. As I was making my coffee, I looked out of the kitchen window at the thick fog that hid everything past our driveway.  I walked outside on the front porch to sip on my coffee and get an idea of the temperature.  It felt cool, and I was certain that we would have a good day of running as long as the cool morning lasted.  Start-time for the race wasn’t until 10:00am, so the sun could still come out hot enough to burn off the fog and heat up the morning.  Knowing we were in a trail run was a comfort as one could safely presume we would be running through or, at the very least on the edge of the woods which would keep us cool.

I had to run some errands before I met up with Wanda at our designated time and location, so of course I was running about five minutes late.  Fortunately, Wanda is laid back, so she didn’t mind.  We always leave early enough to be at a race at least an hour early, so we knew we had plenty of time.  We actually arrived at the race just as planned at 9:00am,  We were one of the first participants to check in and pick up our packet, so the delay didn’t hurt us at all.

Once we got our packets, the next thing we did was locate the bathroom and changed our shoes.  I brought both my Saucony Mirage3 as well as my Brooks PureConnect 2 as I didn’t know what to expect with the terrain.  I decided to wear the Mirage3’s when I saw how damp the grass was due to the heavy fog.  I can get a little better traction with the trail shoes, so I probably needed all the help I could get to keep from slipping.

We all met at the top of the hill for the race director to make some announcements.  We had group prayer prior to the race as well which I greatly appreciate.  I’m thankful for the health to be able to run the race and covet God’s protection for myself and all the other runners.  A few directions were given and then a warning from the XC coach about “Big Mama”, a steep hill we would face somewhere on the course.  The coach was very familiar with the course as it is the trail used by the XC team for training and meets.

We started the race on time with 42 participants taking off from the starting line.  It was a good turnout for the first race the Calhoun Days committee had ever done.  The race director did a good job publicizing it on Facebook and throughout the community and high school XC teams.  There were kids from at least two, possibly three different high school teams participating.

Runtastic GPS map of the course.

Runtastic GPS map of the course.

The trail was not a disappointment at all.  I ran XC one year in high school when I was a sophomore, and the smell of the autumn air and the sound of footsteps hitting the grassy trail brought back memories from many, many years ago.  It made the race exciting.  The course ran around the edge of the Calhoun County Park and included running through meadows, beside and through woods on lightly gravelled trails, on one-lane gravel roads and a couple of mud puddles.  I was very impressed with how well the trail was maintained as not once did I have a concern or worry about tripping over something.  Also, there was plenty of room for runners to pass each other.

My Runtastic app showed that the length was actually 3.4 miles.  I asked three other people what their apps read, and they all had the same distance reading.  Personally, I don’t care if it’s a little more or less than an actual 3.1 5k … everyone is running the same distance.  Most races are off a little anyway, so I’ve learned to not pay much attention to the overall time, but the pace.  I ran an average of 10:00 minute/mile pace, which is over 1:00 minute/mile slower than the race I ran in last weekend, but this was a hilly trail race so a slower pace was to be expected.

In regards to elevation gain, there were 3-4 minor hills included in the trail, and then of course “Big Mama.”  At around the 2.5 mile mark, The CCHS XC coach was cheering us on from the sideline and telling us “Big Mama” was just ahead.  All I could think was… Dang!!  I was hoping that last hill was “Big Mama!”  Well, “Big Mama” definitely gets her reputation honestly, as she was quite steep and long.  Some people like having the hardest part of the course at the end, but I would prefer to hit a big hill like that at the beginning to get it over with while I have lots of energy.  So I struggled up her, but fortunately coasted down to the finish line once I got over her.

Just a small portion of the beautiful trail at the Calhoun County Park.

Just a small portion of the beautiful trail at the Calhoun County Park. This is NOT “Big Mama.”  🙂

All in all, this course was absolutely beautiful yet challenging.  Not impossible, but definitely not a walk in the park either (no pun intended).  As a matter of fact, Wanda and I talked about making the trip once every 6-8 weeks to run this course as a strength training run.  The director, Amy Nicholas told me this was the first time she had ever directed a race, but you would never know it.  She did a good job running the race, and we all walked away with a really cool T-shirt and some other goodies (see below).  I placed 1st in the 40-49 year old Female division, and Wanda placed 3rd.  We have decided we will be doing the Second Annual Calhoun Days 5k Trail Run/Walk next year, and look forward to it already.  If you’re looking for a small race that’s run well, with courteous participants on a beautiful, challenging course that supports a worthy cause, then watch for this race on the RoadID and iPlayOutside websites.  See ya next year!!

The race T-shirt, souvenir chit, metal, bib and some post cards of the beautiful park.

The race T-shirt, souvenir chit, metal, bib and some post cards of the beautiful park.

9/11 Heroes Run (Clarksburg, WV)

Yesterday morning (September 7, 2013) I ran in the 9/11 Heroes Run in Clarksburg, WV. The race started at 9:00am with temperatures at around 55 degrees… darn near perfect. The cost for this race was $25 and you could easily register at the 9/11 Heroes Run website.   There was no map of the course available on the site which became a pre-race conversation piece with several runners.  It can cause some anxiety for runners who are not familiar with the downtown layout.  This is the second race I’ve run, and the third my racing buddy Wanda has run in Clarksburg.  Although every race has been in the same area, the course for each has been a little different, taking different streets to end up in the same place.

This time, we started off on Main Street and kept making left turns until we ran a large rectangle, then repeated it 1 1/2 more times. The entire race was on city streets that made for a flat, fast course. I use Runtastic to track my run, and it read that the greatest elevation gain was only 127 feet, so it wasn’t too hill-challenging. The local law enforcement showed up in force to block roads to keep the runners safe and give us plenty of room to run. As always, they did a great job.   There were no water stops available on this race.  It doesn’t bother me as I don’t drink any water for shorter races… I usually need hydration for the longer runs that are double digit in mileage.  But there may have been some runners that would have like to quench their thirst during the last mile of the race when the temperature started to get a little higher.

Unfortunately, not many folks showed up for this inaugural race. As a matter of fact, there were only 27 participants making it one of the smallest races I’ve run in this year. It’s really a shame that more folks couldn’t have been there, but it was scheduled on the same day as the Color Me Rad 5k race in Morgantown, WV. Rumor was that 6,000 to 8,000 people were registered for the Color race, which really pulled folks away from the 9/11 run.  After the race, I chatted with the race director (a soldier with the US Army Recruiting office) thanking him for starting it and encouraged him to give it a try again next year.  Hopefully he will give it another go and will be able to avoid other big races in northern WV.  It’s a very worthy cause with a large portion of the NET proceeds raised from the local race distributed back into the community.  Since I work with a lot of military veterans and firemen/EMT volunteers, and especially since I have a daughter in the Navy, the mission of this race has a special meaning for me.  I ran it in honor of my sailor girl and all of her shipmates!!

9_11 heroes runI felt really good during the race.  I had been very busy with a graphic design project the week prior, so I didn’t get to run near as much as I wanted to.  I was worried that I had lost my edge, but I did well.  The cool temps helped a lot as well.  I finished the race at 28:52 with a pace of 8:52 min/mile, but after looking at my Runtastic app it showed that the race distance was actually 3.25 miles instead of the typical 3.1 (something I notice at a lot of the smaller races).  I did some figuring and realized that had the race been the true distance, I would have finished in 27:35 which would have been a nice PR for me.  I finished Third Overall female and was right behind the first and second place winners.  The three of us finished within 10 seconds of each other.  They were both 10-15 years younger than me, so that gave me another reason to be happy with my performance.  It’s always nice to be able to keep up with the younger runners.  We earned some really awesome medals, and received nice T-shirts and a dog tag, too.  I will be very proud to wear this shirt to other races and when I workout.

This is one race I will definitely participant in next year.  I just hope the director wasn’t too discouraged with the turnout and not set one up next year.  He did say he was doing the same race at Morgantown, WV today (Sunday, September 8).  I encourage you to keep this race in mind to give to its worthy cause and support all the heroes keeping us safe and free.  The 9/11 Heroes Run is being held all over the county, so see if there’s one scheduled near you and sign up.  If not, consider setting up on for next year.  You can find more information about the Travis Manion Memorial Fund and the 9/11 Heroes Run on their website.  🙂


New River Gorge-ous Trail Run (Minden, WV)

A couple of weeks ago (August 24, 2013) I hit a milestone in my life…I completed my very first half marathon.  That’s right… 13.1 miles.  My time was horrible and I didn’t do a very good job, but I finished.  Actually, around mile six I came to the realization that I had bitten off more than I could chew.  Tears started to well up in my eyes as I admitted to myself this race was too hard for a beginner runner.  However, I got a grip and decided that, even if I had to walk some I would finish this race.  I didn’t walk some… I walked A LOT!!  It took me 02:49:08 to complete the 13.1 miles, but I made it across the finished line.  I accomplished the main goal… finishing the race.  I didn’t hit my second goal of a sub-02:30:00 finish, but I did learn some valuable lessons along the way,  So many so that I will save that for another post.  Today, I just want to share my thoughts and experience during this amazing race.New_River_Gorge-ous_Logo

The half marathon was held at ACE Adventure Resort in Minden, West Virginia.  Before I tell you about the race, I’ll share a little insight on the location.  ACE Resort is only about 90 minutes from where I live, but I had never stayed in that part of West Virginia before.  They’re located on/near the New River and Gauley River.  According to the Friends of the New River, it is the oldest river in the USA and the second-oldest in the world.  ACE has capitalized on Mother Nature to provide their customers one of the most beautiful and exciting experiences in the state.  They offer a variety of activities such as swimming, fishing, white water rafting and kayaking, zip lining, horseback riding, rock climbing and rappelling, mountain biking, paintball and more.  They offer several options for overnight lodging from primitive camp sites to luxurious log-style cabins with hot tubs.  We chose to pull our camper and hook it up at one of their few RV spots.  ACE also provides some excellent food at their pub and restaurant.  The resort is a little pricey, but there’s no lack of things to do if you go there for a long weekend or even a week.  You’ll stay busy and have a blast the whole time.

Well… now about the race, specifically.  This race is held by ACE annually with this being their 12th anniversary.  They offered a half marathon, a 7.8-mile run and a 5-mile walk.  The course was a trail with over 12 miles of the HM in the woods.  Three separate times during the HM we ran on gravel roads, but those times were short and sweet.  The path through the woods offered participants a definite challenge and absolute beautiful scenery.

newrivershoesThe challenging part was much more than I anticipated.  I knew a trail run would be difficult, but I honestly underestimated the race. Not only was this my first half, but it was also my first trail race, too.  I know… I’m a glutton for punishment, or maybe a little bit crazy.  There were a lot of hills… some extremely steep.  This is a no-brainer since it’s in WV.  We ran over and through several stream beds, over fallen logs and even squeezed through saplings to stay on course.  At times, the course was too small for runners to pass, but eventually it would widen out enough.  It had rained during the days and night preceding the race, so there were a lot of mud holes to get around.  I finally gave up and just ran through them.  It was fun!!  Sometimes the path would be very slippery due to the wet grass and/or leaves on the ground.   Runners had to be carefully to keep their feet under them.     It may be a little hard to tell in the picture, but my shoes were proof that I had just run a trail run.

For the advanced, experienced trail runner, I’m sure this course would be an enjoyable run, and it would still offer a challenge.  Not as much as it did for me, but it’s not a course sneeze at.  I questioned why the race started so late (10:30am), but realized during the run that had it start at the typical 7:30-8:00am race time, you wouldn’t be able to see the trail due to fog making for a more dangerous course.  Fortunately the trees kept it cool.

As for the beautiful scenery, it doesn’t get much better than this.  Past races were held in October when the leaves have turned color and temperatures are typically cooler.  This year, I couldn’t see very far through some parts of the woods, but it was still beautiful.  The race started at 10:30am, so as the sun was moving up into the sky with its rays shining through the leaves.  Probably my favorite part of the course was when the trail cut through a laurel patch.  It was just before the Laurel patch that I got my first scare of the race… as I came through the woods I could hear people screaming.  I knew the trail was tough, but I started getting a little worried about what was ahead.  Did they fall in the river?  Were they being chased by bear?  Should I turn around and run for my life?  I kept going only to find a group of people flying through the trees on zip lines.  They were going through the woods a lot faster than me.  🙂

We came very close to the New River, but due to the heavy foliage, I could see it… only hear it.  At one point I did run close to a beautiful water fall.  This was the only time I paused to take a picture… if you look hard you’ll see the falls through the trees.  It was breathtaking!  It was somewhere around mile 10 or 11, so by this point I would have loved to just go down the hill and stand in the falls to cool off.newriverwaterfall

I did have a couple of complaints, albeit trivial really.  The price for the race was only $30, which I’m finding is fairly cheap for a HM, even here in WV.  But we didn’t get the traditional T-shirt or finishers medal.  That was kind of a let down for me since it was my first HM, otherwise I really wouldn’t have cared.  I would have loved to hang that finishers medal with the other race bling I’ve earned this year.  And their logo was so beautiful, it would have looked awesome on a T-shirt and metal.  Those who did place overall received cash awards, which is always nice, but the ones who finished in their age groups received what looked like a cheap dog tag-style medal.  The runners did receive this commemorative mug and free camping on a primitive spot.  In the mug was some food goodies and three coupons for the lake, zip lining and white water rafting.  If you run in races JUST for the bling and T-shirt, you definitely would have been disappointed.  But if you were out to get a good workout and experience on an awesome trail run, you would walk away very pleased. newrivermug

The only other complaint is their lack of aid stations.  There were only three places to get water during the HM, and only two for those who ran in the 7.8 mile race.  Fortunately, I had my fuelbelt to keep my hydrated.  I’ve seen HM where they offer up to seven water stations, and 10k’s with up to three opportunities to get a drink.  Considering the time of day and the possibility of high temperatures and humidity, more water stations would have been nice.

I really struggled with this race, but again I’m a newbie.  I probably shouldn’t have chosen this particular race as my first one, but I did and I persevered.  I may have walked up most of the hills, stumbled over some river rocks, got my shoes quite muddy and scratched my legs up from all the brush… but I made it.  As for my outlook on future half marathons… it’s all uphill from here!!  😀

Midnight Blast 5k (Summersville, WV)

I finished my very first midnight race on Friday night.  Leading up to it, I was quite nervous, but it ended up being a very enjoyable experience.  The race was held in Summersville, WV, and we started at the Summersville Arena and Conference Center.  The route was a double loop that took us from the center, through Food Lion parting lot, up a Northside Drive, around a bank and couple of other buildings then back to Food Lion.  On the second time around, we crossed the finish line at the Conference Center.  The route was fairly fast with only a couple of minor inclines.  The fastest time for guys was 17:36 and the fastest female finished in 19:44.

The local police helped with what little traffic was there and the majority of the course was well-lit, so I didn’t feel safety was an issue.  Additionally, with the double loop, there was always some runners around you, and there were lots of volunteers to make sure you didn’t take a wrong turn or get lost.

It was a lot of fun as nearly everyone was wearing glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets (provided by the race sponsor).  Some of us had lights on our ball caps . . . I set mine to blink on and off.  About half way through the race, I passed by some spectators and heard a little girl say, “Hey, why does that lady get a blinking light?”  I just smiled to myself and kept on running. 🙂

The weather was perfect.  I had worried that we would get rained on, but it cleared off just in time for the race.  The roads were wet, but it was fun to run through the mud holes.  The temperature was around 70 degrees and I felt a light breeze a few times.  The best part was the low humidity.  My breathing came easy and my legs didn’t feel tired throughout the entire race, so I was able to keep a good steady pace and even recorded a negative split on the last mile.

summersville midnight blastProbably the best part of this race was the amount of teenagers and young adults in the group.  There were a total of 81 runners participating, and if I were to guess, half of them were kids.  Of course, this was a fund-raiser for the Summersville Middle School Cross County team, so that contributed to the statistic.  🙂

Speaking of kids, I have to say that on a personal level, I was thrilled to have two of my kids with me.  My daughters, Brittany and Katie accompanied me and my racing buddy, Wanda to Summersville.  It was a special treat as Katie is a sailor stationed in South Carolina.  She doesn’t get to come home often, so it’s such a blessing when she does.  I was in 7th Heaven when I saw them cheering me on as I crossed the finish line.

All together, it was one of the best races I’ve competed in this summer.  Having my girls there with me, the perfect weather, the youthful exuberance and the uniqueness of the time of the race made it memorable and fun.  The fact that I placed second in my division and recorded the second best time (28:20) of the 2013 season made it even that much better.  They gave the race the perfect name . . . because I definitely had a BLAST!!

Run to Read 10k (Fairmont, WV)

Last Friday night, I ran the Run to Read 10k in Fairmont, WV.  My running buddy and faithful sidekick, Wanda went with me.  This was a new experience for both of us as the race was held on a Friday evening at 6:30.  I was a little worried about the time for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s a Friday evening . . . the end of a work week.  Typically I’m exhausted by the time Friday comes, so I wasn’t sure if I’d have the energy to run a 10k.  And I proved myself to be correct.  Adding the fact that it was a 90 minute drive didn’t help.
  2. The time of day could be difficult.  It can still be fairly warm and muggy at 6:30pm, so we weren’t sure how the weather would play a part.  Fortunately, a cold front had passed through West Virginia during the previous couple of days, so at race time it was 81 degrees with low humidity.  But it was still warm and the sun was shining very brightly.  I typically run later in the evening to avoid the heat and humidity.

10k race fairmont3But even facing those obstacles, Wanda and I took on the challenge.  The course was probably the toughest course we had run all year.  I’ve run a dozen 5k’s and one other 10k so far during my 2013 running season, and this course won the prize for most difficult hands down.  A close second would be the Clarksburg 10k I ran a month earlier.  The course was a double 5k course.  The beginning was somewhat deceptive as most of it was down hill.  I kept telling myself that this would end up being fairly easy if the whole course was like the beginning.  But then at about mile 2.5, I realized that to run the down hill, I had to go up.  For almost a full mile, the incline was slow and steady.  I find those types of inclines to be more difficult than a short steep climb, myself.  My first time around the course I nearly made it completely up the hill without walking.  However, I ended up walking a little with the hopes of not completely draining myself knowing that I would have to run up this hill again at the end of the race.  Unfortunately, with the heat combined with the weariness of the end of a long work week, the second time up the hill at mile five got me.

I didn’t do well with this race.  Actually, it was probably my worst.  I added a full eight minutes my 10k time and run an 11:00 min/mile pace.  I was very discouraged with my performance, but over the past couple of days I’ve looked at it as a good learning experience.  I have a Midnight Blast 5k in Summersville, WV coming up in a couple of weeks on a Friday night, so hopefully with this one, I can get a good amount of rest prior to the race.

As for the folks who organized the race, they did a good job.  It was small (only 58 participants), but it was well-organized and a great family event.  They held it at the city pool and gave free-swimming passes to all the participants and their families for the evening.  There was loads of post-race food, too.  In addition to the 10k, they also held a 1600 meter dash and a 5k at 7:30pm.  Best of all, it was a good fundraiser for the community library and literacy program.  That’s always a plus in my book knowing that my small contribution helped the people of the community while I got to do some healthy fun.

Furthermore, this race is part of a three-race series sponsored by the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County.  It involves running a half marathon that was held in January, and the 10k and 5k held last Friday.  Those who participate in all three races earn a special-made T-shirt and prizes for the overall winners with the most points earned from the three combined races (age graded).  The unfortunate thing was if your time for the 10k was over an hour (like Wanda and me), you couldn’t get back in time to run the 5k.  I wish they would flip-flop the races and run the 5k first.  That would give folks time to rest a little and still participate in the 10k (and make it a little cooler for the longer run).  The concept is unique though, and I hope to be able to run all three races next year.  I will definitely need to do some major hill repeats to prepare for the shorter races, though.  I’m not going to let that hill get the best of me the next time!!

Knights on the Run 5K (Gassaway, WV)

The Knights on the Run 5K was held Saturday, July 6 during the town’s annual Gassaway Days event, and raised money for the Braxton County Middle School Athletic Department.  The race kicked off the Saturday’s events with a lot of fun and beautiful weather to match.  Approximately 100 people participated in the run/walk.  A course record was set by a young man from Clay County, WV.  I’ve checked the events’ Facebook page for specifics, but times haven’t been posted yet.  However, they have posted lots of pictures such as the one of me as I’m nearing the finish line . . .

knights on the run2

I’m thinking to myself at this point . . . “Almost there, almost there!!!”  The weather was absolutely perfect at the start of the race, but the heat and humidity rose quickly as the race progressed.  By the time I made it across the finish line around 8:30AM, it was quite muggy.

The course for this race was fairly easy, even for a novice runner such as myself.  There was only one challenging hill around the 1-mile mark, and since it was at the beginning of the race, it was a little easier to defeat than at the end.  The entire race was on two lane roads.  Sometimes the traffic was annoying since it ran the main thoroughfare into and out of town, but you just had to pay attention to the vehicles coming and going.

The race was well coordinated and ran very smoothly with no hitches.  The only thing I saw that could be improved, which I have noticed at most of the small town races, is that you can’t hear the announcements at the beginning of the race.  I’m not sure if a portable sound system is practical, but at least a bull horn or the person getting up higher than the runners (perhaps on a ladder, back of a truck or something) would get everyone’s attention so folks would be quiet and listen.  Oh well, I didn’t get lost or disqualified, so I must have heard what I needed to hear.

knights on the run

My time for this race was similar to the race two days earlier in Summersville, WV with an average of a 9:35 min/mile pace.  The age divisions were split up a little different than any other race I’ve done.  Instead of being in the 40-49 (or 40-44) age group, I ended up in a 35-44 age group.  Somehow I still placed 3rd even though I was one of the oldest in the division.  My husband, Tony ran this race with me.  It was only his second race this summer, and he just does them for fun.  He’s not into the competition like I am, and really has no plans of doing any more races this year.  But it’s always fun to have him along and for him to cheer me on.  He did really well and placed 2nd in his division (males 45-59).

So that finished out my Independence Day racing celebration for 2013.  I don’t run a race again until the end of July when I’m registered to run the Run to Read 10K in Fairmont, WV, a fund raiser for Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, WV.

Did you get to race for the holiday?  How did you do??

Red, White and Running Shoes 5K (Summersville, WV)

My running buddy, Wanda and I pulled into Summerville, WV a little before 8:00am this morning with frowns on our faces.  The rain had been coming down for the last 10-15 miles, and the cloudy sky didn’t look like it would give in anytime soon.  We anticipated a wet race this morning and was thankful that we both had brought an extra change of cloths.

We found the check-in location for the race, located a close parking spot and signed in.  There weren’t many runners there yet, and with the minimal publicity of the event and disappointing weather, we didn’t expect many people to show up.  But as time went on and we got closer to start time (9:00am), more and more racers showed up.  By the time we took off, there were at least 50 runners/walkers participating in the race.  The Summersville Chamber of Commerce and Nicholas County Veterans Council partnered to sponsor the race with a couple of local car dealerships chipping in some donations to help with the shirts, snacks and etc.

We were counting our blessings as by the 9:00am start time, the rain had subsided and the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds.  Sometimes this will cool everything off to make for a comfortable run, but this morning, it made the air thicker with a quick increase in heat and humidity.  At least it wasn’t raining now, and the puddles were everywhere so runners could splash through them if they really wanted to cool off along the route.  I enjoyed this trick a few times myself when there wasn’t anyone around me.  🙂

The route ran through downtown Summersville and several residential areas.  There were a couple of out-and-back pieces to the run, but they were short and it’s always nice to give high fives to running buddies as you pass by them.  The entire route was on pavement, but there were some berms along the roads that were wide enough for me to run on to ease the shock on my legs.  There was only one steep hill, but it was so short that it wasn’t much of a challenge.  The route was well-marked with painted arrows on the pavement with lots of volunteers helping to guide and cheer on the runners along the way.  All in all, the run was enjoyable in regards to the route as the business owners and residents of Summersville do a wonderful job keeping their property looking nice.summersville 5k map

If I were to complain about anything, there were some minor organizational issues that could have been improved.  But, really . . . none of those were a big deal.  No one seemed to get upset about it, and had just came out to enjoy the run and fellowship.  Wanda and I plan on running this one again next year.  One recommendation that I would make is that they change the start time to 8:00am.  That one hour really makes a big difference at this time of the year with the heat and humidity.  Starting a little earlier would make a more tolerable and potentially faster run.

I finished the race in a little under 30 minutes with a 9:24 min/mile pace, which is my 5K goal for the year.  I didn’t set a PR, but was satisfied with my time.  Because the race was small, I placed first in my division with Wanda finishing 2nd, so we both went home with medals to add to our collection. (Pictured below.)  It was a good day and I met a couple of new friends who I hope to see at future races.  Wanda and I will be standing at the starting line for the Gassaway Days “Knights on the Run 5K” this Saturday in Gassaway, WV.  We’re looking forward to another fun and exciting race during this holiday weekend, then we’re taking a race break until the last weekend in July.  summersville 5K

Did you run a race for Independence Day?  If so, how did you do??  I’d love to hear about it.