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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??

Ever Have a Bad (Run) Day??


I came across this little guy as I attempted my LSD run yesterday.  He’s an Eastern Box Turtle, native to West Virginia and very commonly seen on or next to roads as they attempt to cross.  I’m not sure why box turtles feel compelled to cross a road . . . perhaps someone needs to make up a joke about it.  Perhaps, something like:

Why did the turtle cross the road?

He didn’t, you idiot!!  He’s a turtle!!  He’s too slow to get across the road in time, so he got ran over by a Mac truck!!

Ugggg . . . I know . . . distasteful!!  When I looked at this picture after I got home, I realized just how much I felt like this box turtle after this run.  The whole time, I just wanted to stick my head back into my shell and just sit there.  I wish I could say I dug deep within myself and found the motivation to accomplish my goal, but not this time.  I just wasn’t in the mood to run 3 miles yesterday, let alone the 13 I had planned on doing.  I had moved my LSD from the typical Sunday afternoon to Monday evening because my sailor daughter was in for a visit.  She was leaving early Monday morning, so I didn’t want to take from what little precious time I had with her to run.

The one thing I hadn’t taken into consideration was the fact that Monday evening immediately follows a 9-10 hour work day.  And let me reiterate . . . MONDAY!  And for the cherry on top . . . a Monday on which my assistant had taken vacation leave.  (Still not sure why I approved that.)

So to say I was tired, and maybe even a little grumpy is an understatement.  I tried to wait for the cooler temperatures of the evening, but with the days growing shorter, I knew I had to head out between 6:00 and 6:30pm, at which time it can still be hot and muggy, and so it was yesterday.  But I headed out with all optimism that I would finish up my last LSD before the tapering began for the half marathon.

  • At around mile one I was tired and still trying to get a rhythm with my stride and breath.  But no luck.
  • At mile two I was even more tired and already soaking wet from the sweat, and still no rhythm.
  • Mile 2.5 . . . I swallowed down a Gu Strawberry/Banana gel hoping I would find some energy.  Nada!
  • I came up to a loose dog that was not very happy and barking relentlessly at me.  So I walked so not to intimidate him.
  • When I was out of his sight, I started to run again.  But at around mile four, another dog came out in the road.  This guy, however was very happy and wanted to play.  I didn’t want him jumping on me, so I had to walk again until the owner persuaded him back to the house.
  • At mile five, I had walked more than I had run, and was already down to an average pace of 13:00 minutes per mile.  My LSD was doomed!!
  • At mile 5.5, I chased down 3-4 Gatorade Energy Chews with some water, desperate for some energy.  Nothing!!
  • Struggling to at least run a half mile without stopping, at mile 6.5 I came upon the box turtle.  I considered him a divine sign that it was time for me to give up on this run.  I wasn’t in the mood, I didn’t have the energy, I just didn’t want to do it.  If I were in a race, the box turtle would have beat me on this day.  So I called my son and asked him to pick me up.  By the time he got to me, I had reached 7.5 miles, but I never got a second wind.  Heck, I never got the first wind.  This was a hopeless attempt.

Ok, so lesson learned from the box turtle.  Keep the LSD on weekends and Monday’s as a rest day.  Just curl up in my shell, take it easy and give my muscles (and brain) a break for one day.

We all have bad run days.  Surely I can’t be the only one who’s experienced a day like this.  Tell me about a bad run day you’ve experienced and what lesson(s) you learned from it.

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!!

Running on Twisting, Turning WV County Roads

oil creek road This picture sure doesn’t do the scene justice.  This twisting, turning country road is currently my favorite LSD course.  It starts at my front door, and 13 miles later I’m at a stop sign at beautiful, peaceful Stonewall Jackson Lake.  The route entails one mile of a one-lane tar-and-chip road that twists out of the hollar from my house to a bridge that spans the small Oil Creek.  It then intersects and continues with 12 miles of Oil Creek Road with its gentle curves and rolling hills.

I just love this particular part of the road for its snake-like qualities, as it seems to be slithering through the shady woods alongside of Oil Creek (over the bank on the right side).   It’s one of those parts of a road that you see as curvy and windy, but if there’s nothing coming towards you in the opposite lane, you can actually drive straight.  I’m not sure why the road is even engineered to be so curvy except to just make it a more interesting and lovely route.  Perhaps it’s because us West Virginia hollar-dwellers aren’t used to straight roads . . . if the curves were to be removed, someone would inevitably drive over the bank and into the creek.

Another reason for including the curves may be the sheer fun of driving your car (or truck, or jeep, or 4-wheeler, or side-by-side) at a racy speed while staying in the proper lane.  I remember as a kid sitting in the back seat of the car with a brother on each side of me, and my Dad taking these roads at an elevated mph.  I can almost hear the squeals and giggles of my brothers and me as we slammed back and forth with the movement of the car on the windy road, squashing each other into the car door.  Looking back on it now, I cringe at the thought of my Dad’s seemingly reckless driving and, what’s worse, us kids in the back seat with no seatbelts on . . . heck, I don’t think the car even HAD seatbelts.  But we sure had fun.  I remember Dad and Mom glancing over their shoulders and grinning from ear to ear as they watched us kids enjoying the game of the windy road.  I miss those days!!  I miss being a kid!!  I miss my Dad!!

I will be running this route again over the weekend as I continue to prepare for my half marathon.  When I come to this section of road, I’ll definitely be thinking of my Dad and the fun times I had with him, Mom and my brothers.  No matter how tired my legs get, how much my lungs burn, or how hot and humid it may be, I’ll still smile as this twisting, turning West Virginia country road brings back some of my fondest childhood memories.   🙂

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.