Sunday, June 9, 2013

Race Report: Varmit Half Marathon

Races are much more fun when your friends come out to play too.

This year's Varmit Half Marathon, located way out in the picturesque town of Burkes Garden, VA, happened to fall on my husband's birthday. To celebrate, he decided to invite down a group of friends so that we could all run together. This race is known first and foremost for it's beauty and second for its difficulty... Either way it's a must do race if you live in southwest Virginia!

Going into the race, I had pretty low expectations. It was a long, rough week of work/travel coming off last week's race and my energy levels were pretty low. Really, I wanted nothing to do with running another half marathon! Friday, though I should have been resting, I was busy catching up from two days missed work (from a conference I attended) followed by preparing our house for visitors and baking the hubby's birthday cake. After not nearly enough sleep, we woke up and hit the road for a very rainy two hour trip to the race site. Luckily, the rain subsided with our arrival and we were greeted by this:
No rain clouds in Tazewell County!
We arrived with only 30 minutes until race start. My husband was kind enough to wait in the long registration line while I got myself ready and warmed up. We pinned our numbers, said a few hello's and waited for the start. Typical me, I remembered about my gels about a minute before the start and raced back to my car to retrieve them. 

My "race strategy" was pretty conservative. Since I averaged 7:25's last weekend, I knew I had no business going out any faster than that on a harder course (especially with the first few miles being mostly uphill). Plus, I barely got in a warm-up, so I knew I had better ease into things. I stayed relaxed and was able to average 7:28 for the first 4 miles which are definitely the hardest in terms of climbing. At that point, things were clicking along pretty good, but I was worried I still started out too fast. I paid a little better attention to my perceived exertion and decided what "feels like" marathon pace for me is probably actually half-marathon pace, at least on a course like this one. 

5-6-7... the miles quickly flew by and I was enjoing the rolling terrain and beautiful scenary. I was slowly tracking down the people in front of me, focused on running steady and relaxed. By mile 7 I was growing a bit more anxious, not sure if this is where I would start to kick into a higher gear or fade like the week before. I was feeling good but not quite sure when would be a suitable time to kick into a higher gear. 

Mile 9 came and I was still feeling strong, so I decided it was time to pick up the pace. I figured if I could hit sub 7:00/mi to finish I could potentially PR. Honestly, I thought that was a bit ambitious but I really had nothing to lose. All I knew is that I didn't want my final miles to be like last weekend's race (which felt more like a death march than a fast finish). I kicked it into high gear and started passing a lot of people, which was fun! We climbed a hill between miles 10-11 and I pretty much felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. There were only two miles left though and I so I put my head down and kept pushing forward.

All this time I really had no clue regarding the girl's competition. I had no intention on running for placement because I knew I could go the entire race without seeing or passing another girl. Around mile 11.5, an aid station volunteer informed me I was in 3rd place. After this point is a long out and back section and I was able to see that 2nd was not too far ahead. This kept me going through those last two miles! I don't know if I've ever pushed so hard at the end of a race...

The last mile was quite a struggle but I was still running strong. I wasn't even able to give my husband my usual smile as I ran by him. At this point, I wasn't going to catch 2nd so my eye was on the clock with hopes of at least breaking 1:36. I was close, finishing with a net official time of 1:36:05! A PR of about 1:10 from the previous week! Even better, this time is a full 16 minutes faster than when I completed this same race in 2011.

 More finish pics of the gang:
I love that our family and friends run too!
 Fun times...I'm so glad everyone could come out!
The birthday boys!
One-on-One Endurance crew... thanks Tanya for the pic!

One thing that I haven't yet mentioned is that this race is also notorious for its unique awards...

The Kenya pup with her friends (aka. our collection)
I'm so happy that I could celebrate my husband's birthday with our family and friends doing something we both love. I blame him for a lot of the crazy things I do... it's true! He helps me step outside my comfort zone in so many ways and I love him for it.

This one's for you babe!


  1. Congrats on your PR! It looks like your hubby and friends also ran well. I love the picture of your pup with her new friends!

    I grew up not to far from Burkes Garden and I'm thinking of running it next year. I'd never heard of the race until I read about it on another bloggers site.

  2. You definitely should!! A great race, well produced


Follow by Email