Race Report Winter 2014: Charlotte NC Half Marathon

13 06 2014

OK so it’s almost summer and I’ve been missing from my own blog again for months.   I have been running — not always racing although certainly running.  And it sometimes takes a lot of effort to sit down and write about a race once I’ve talked about it in person and posted on Facebook, but eventually I find myself here.  The half dozen or people who actually read this are hopefully patient enough to wait.

Anyway like I said earlier, winter sucked here.  It was snowier thaphoto (5)n it’s been in eons and each new snowfall was followed by a subzero blast of cold, so naturally the couple of races I had planned in January didn’t pan out.  I started the Polar Dash 10k but bailed after I almost fell twice on very icy pavement.

Then I completely skipped the F^3 Half on Lake Michigan when it was like 15 degrees.  Call me a Cold Weather Wuss if you want to, but I’m not willing to get frostbite or fall and break one of these 58-year-old bones just to do a road race.   ‘

February brought a Florida vacation and I did a Virtual 5k and a Virtual 10k for the Moon Joggers fundraiser down in St. Augustine where the wMoonJoggers Virtual 10k Feb 2014 (2)eather ranged from the 50s to the 70s.  I earned myself a pretty cool Enterprise medal for the effort and had fun.  One day I saw a flock of wild parrots during my run which was something I had never seen before.  It was a great 4 days.

Following those two months of pretty much non events came an actual half-marathon.   In March, my husband and I headed to North Carolina for my first half of 2014, the Charlotte Motor Speedway NC Half Marathon, which was also my first “real” race of the year.   It was in interesting event in that it started and ended on the actual Motor Speedway and included a small expo there as well along with a 5k the night prior.

I brought my husband along because he is a Nascar fan and even talked him into doing the Twilight 5k with me the night before the half.  We hung out at the expo looking at shirts and stuff after we picked up our race packephoto (6)ts for the 5k and that is where we took this selfie.  He’s a cutie but not a runner.  We ended up walking the 5k on the track and finishing in about 45 minutes but it was fun .  It’s cool to walk where the drivers actually race and to see the asphalt, looking at the skid marks on the walls and ogling all the cool cars parked in the infield.  It makes you feel like an insider.

The next morning I had to arrive bright and early for the half marathon.  It was still dark when I got to the track and I could feel the anticipation building in the air, coming from myself and the other runners.  I hadn’t run a half since November and here it was March.  I’d trained completely indoors on the treadmill (even doing 10 miles once) and wondered how that would translate to running on an actual pavement.  There was excitement and trepidation in equal measure when I saw that sign at the Start Line.  “Boogedy Boogedy Boogedy!”  I wanted to holler.   “Let’s go runnin!”

photo 2

 

A lot of the other runners were quite light-hearted as you can see from their attire;  I took pictures of the most fun looking ones.

photo 3

Disco guy here was quite striking, along with these 3 tutu girls.  But the cutest had to be the chick in the checkered outfit.  Everyone was in great spirits and prepared to have a lot of fun as we waited for the starting gun to go off.

photo 4photo 5

Soon enough the sky began to brighten and it was time for the race.  We took off after the gun and the pace car, which was really pretty awesome, and began 13.1 miles of basically circles and hills.  Here is a photo from the race’s Facebook page showing the start:

start car

How cool is that?!  It was loud too.  Having done a race at a Nascar course once before (the Iowa Speedway 8k in Newton, IA, at the Rusty Wallace track), I thought I knew what to expect  and I was pretty certain they weren’t going to do an entire half-marathon round and round a race track forever.  But I was sort of wrong.  The grounds in Charlotte are much bigger, with a dirt track as well as the Nascar track, and some other spots too, and they weren’t afraid to run us in circles a couple of times.  In fact, we seemed to cover the same ground enough that it felt like we were going in circles pretty much the whole time even though the map shows we were not.

charlotte map

Needless to say, by the end, I was tired of turning corners over and over, a little daunted by the big hill in the middle and ready to finish.  The day was cooler than I’d hoped (even though it was much warmer than back at home) although I did work up a bit of a sweat running and walking the whole 13.1 miles.  As far as amenities, It was excellent.  Aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked, the volunteers were friendly (including some very enthusiastic local high school musicians and cheerleaders), and the course was well marked with enough portapotties — everything a runner could want.

I can’t say that I didn’t like it because I love running and racing no matter where I am, but I had been hoping to get in some views of the countryside and should have had my own expectations a little more in line with reality before I went (like by looking at the map maybe….duh!).  I did enjoy seeing the awesome cars at each mile marker and my husband liked going to the Nascar Hall of Fame the day before, so it certainly lived up to its billing as a great weekend for the race fan.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes Nascar and wants to run in a unique location as well as get a close up look at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  By starting and ending in the same place the drivers go, you will really get to see places by running it that you would not experience if you showed up to watch an auto race as a spectator.  Charlotte is also a nice town for a weekend visit with good food and friendly people.

As you can see from my finish line photo (where I’m wearing my shirt sleeves like the gloves I should have brought along) I managed to finish smiling despite the limerick I wrote on my Facebook page:

Lianne came to Charlotte to run
Because that is how she gets her fun
But endless circles and hills
Did give her no thrills
As she knocked out that 13.1.

nc half marathon

 

 

 

So that was Charlotte in March of 2014.
NEXT UP:  April (featuring another race that wasn’t and an unexpected one that was), May (where an injury knocked me out of yet another full marathon) and June (the best race of the year so far).

More later…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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