Once again this year, I returned to Williamsburg, VA for the Run for the Dream half marathon. This year, they were offering something new – run the 8k on Saturday and the half on Sunday and get the Patriot’s Challenge medal. Considering this is the year of bonus bling, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I was already planning to go back for the half, so what’s another 5 miles, right?
Well, let’s just say that neither of these races were my finest. But boy, did I have a blast.
On Friday, a group of us headed down to Williamsburg and hit up the race expo. It’s a tiny expo, but they do have a few vendors there, and what they do have is nice. Also, Dana got a free gun lock. She wins for finding the most random race expo swag. As part of our race registration, we got tickets to Colonial Williamsburg (it’s free to walk around outside, but if you want to go into any of the buildings other than the shops, you need a ticket) and a ticket to Busch Gardens with a meal voucher. And nice t-shirts, tech for the half and cotton for the 8k, plus a drawstring backpack. Definitely nice swag!
Late May in Virginia can be hot, but luckily, it was cooler than last year. I decided to take the 8k at a leisurely pace, since we had a half the next day. It was a fun race. Definitely not flat, but the race organizers were completely honest about all of the hills on the course. This race was also a Masters competition, so there were lots of men and women running with their age groups on their backs. Less than two miles in, we saw a woman in the 80-84 age group go down. She hit her head and was bleeding. We stopped until the medics showed up, and then went on our way, hoping that she would be okay.
The race finished in the William and Mary’s stadium, and it was a lot of fun to run the track and cross that finish line and get a fabulous medal! As we headed out of the stadium, who did we see but our 80-something friend, headed to the finish with a friend. Her head was bandaged, but she was smiling, and we all cheered.
Next it was off to the post-race party, where I hoped I would find the same delicious sandwiches that were there last year. And I did. What a perfect ending to the race!
Now, here’s where things went a little wrong. And it was my own fault. We headed back, showered, and then went back out to explore Colonial Williamsburg. And let’s just say that we did a bit too much exploring. I was exhausted, and I still had another race to run the next day. I definitely ate way too much that afternoon as well.
Sunday came and I wasn’t so sure about the race. I felt okay, though sluggish. But I wanted that medal (and another delicious sandwich). So I just decided that whatever it took, I was going to get across the finish line.
Best part of the morning? They had a kindergartner sing the National Anthem! It was amazing! So many times, especially in the wee hours of the morning, soloists struggle with the song. But this little girl rocked it! The anthem should always be sung by kids!
It was muggy and hilly, surprise surprise. And my race preparations hadn’t been the best. So my plan to “start slow, then back off,” definitely went into action. Looking at my times, I really only did the first mile at any sort of a reasonable pace. The rest was a lot of walking and even some strolling.
But I’m not complaining. I had a BLAST! I traversed the course with a great group of friends and made some new friends along the way. We just decided that we were going to finish and that was that.
Finally, we hit the track and could see the finish. I joked to Dana when we were half a lap away that I was done. I was just going to drop out. She told me she was going to knock me out and drag me across the finish line if that’s what was necessary. That’s true friendship.
It slowly started to rain as we headed to the post-race party again for more sandwiches and beer. By this time, we had heard that there was a problem and they had run out of Patriot’s Challenge medals. We were bummed, but they took our names and promised us medals as soon as possible. I can’t wait!
I got my sandwich, got my beer, and sat down in the drizzle to eat. Even though it was slow and a new PW, it was still an amazing finish to my half marathon season. And there were some good lessons learned. Rest is good. Don’t overeat. And yes, I’m well aware that running 3 halfs in 4 weeks may have had something to do with the sluggishness as well.
All said, I will be back next year. I haven’t decided if I want to do the Patriot’s Challenge again or not. (Some of that depends if I ever get my medal, I suppose!) But I love the race, I love the crowd support, and those sandwiches. Mmm… sandwiches…