15th Bilmore Kiwanis 15k Classic

This is the race that introduced me to and motivated me to run. Albeit the first time I ran it, I did the 5k. Last year, due to the recently added Antler Hill Village, the race took place on the trails of the NC Arboretum. While the trails were fun, it hurt the Kiwanis association since very few people ran the race last year. I think what makes it such a big race is that it takes place on the ground of Biltmore Estate. While visitors and Twelve Month Passholders can hike the Biltmore Estate trails, the roads are off limits which makes this race pretty unique. No one can practice on the course.

Now this is not the race for crowds of spectators. Race entry provides the runners with a ticket to the grounds but not the Biltmore House. Spectators need to purchase tickets as well. As a result there are only volunteers on the course. Runners gather at the end to cheer each other. But what the course lacks in spectators it makes up in beauty. 8000 acres of unspoiled and well managed land, pasture, and forest along with a 250 rooms historic mansion are part of the course.Fellow runners Eve and Bart made a great video that shows most of the course (exception made of the loop behind the parking lot since the runners take it in reverse from the parking lot shuttles).

This year the race was sold out. 567 people finished the 15k and and 232 for the 5k. My husband’s sister and brother in law were supposed to run the race, but unfortunately due to a last minute trip to Canada they had to cancel. But my husband did join me to be my official photographer…

The race start was in Antler Hill Village. Because it is an area people tour there was no port-a-potties but real bathrooms instead and the lines weren’t bad. The 15k started about 5 minutes before the 5k. Chips were embedded in the bib which made things easy. The first mile was easy and flat following the river. However because there is no pace group it was crowded. It took me a good thirty seconds to pass the start line and I felt like a mouse trying to get out of a labyrinth by dodging many, many runners to find my pace.

We turned left going towards the Deerpark which also meant a light uphill. I came across a girl from my running group which was fun. I also passed my former HR director so I slowed down a little to chat with her and then went up my way. The hills didn’t bother me much. I have to say that after a 7600 ft of elevation change marathon I see hills with a different perspective.

Past the Deerpark it was downhill again toward the Welcome Center (mile 3). Then we took a right up the approach road. 3 miles of meandering beautiful road. We went by many rhododendrons in bloom. I have seen that road many times by car but to be on foot was a real treat. This is also where I passed most of my fellow runners (thank you hill training). I did started to have a side stitch on my right side but I managed to keep it under control. We went by the additional parking lot and a back road that I’ve seen used by shuttles. There was a little surprise uphill there but I knew the reward was close: the Biltmore House.  Oh what a treat it was to run by the Lady on the Hill, seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains in the back!

After the Biltmore House we ran around the Walled Garden (mile 6), barely getting a glimpse at the summer flowers then it was down to the Bass Pond. At that point the side stitch started bothering me more. I really had to work on my breathing to keep myself from walking. I’ve learned that embracing the pain works better for me. I just try to accept it and somehow it seems easier to deal with.

We were back on flat grounds after the Bass Pond. We still had to make our way to the Lagoon (where the 5k turnaround was) and speed to the finish. Until then my left leg had been fine. I could feel the shadow of my injury but it was not bothering me. But in that last mile and a half the pain suddenly flared. I went through several spasms going through my knee where I honestly thought it would buckle under me. I could have stopped but I decided to just grit my teeth through it and make it to the finish line. My stupid competitive self wanted to finish under 1:20 pain or no pain. I did have to slow down however and was passed by a few girls.

On the last 1/2 mile I came across my husband who was sitting under a tree and enjoying the view of the runners. He managed to get a picture of me sprinting to the finish.

The finish line is at the top of a small uphill. I could hear some of my colleagues cheering me. I finished right behind another runner that I almost caught up with. I had a moment of shock looking at the clock when I saw that it said 1:10 but I quickly realized that was the 5k clock and that I had finished in just over 1:15. No wonder my knee was hurting, I definitely pushed that one!

As soon as I started not feeling so good. I thought I might throw up, so I sat down for a few seconds and that was enough to make me feel better. However, if my stomach settled, my knee did not. It hurt to walk. I limped back to the finish line to cheer fellow runners and then signed up for a post-race massage which only helped mildly.

We then proceeded to check the results. Turns out that I finished in 1:14:58 chip time. I was beyond thrilled. This was my secret goal, the goal I would have had if I had not been injured. My husband then asked me if I had placed. I wasn’t sure as I knew a lot of ladies were ahead of me. But I went back and looked through the list and thought that I could be and if so might be 3rd of my age group. The bad news to that was that we were hungry and now had to wait for the results. And yes I was 3rd of my age group.

The award is pretty cool, a piece of clay with the Biltmore House on it. I’m a little worried about breaking it but I think it will look great on the Christmas tree. Although I might change the ribbon color to something more cheerful. It is in any case a huge improvement from last year’s award which could have been from any events. It definitely made a difference for them to have a sold out race.

2012 Award

As soon as I grabbed my reward we headed to the hotel above Antler Hill Village: The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Our plan was to eat breakfast there so we had left the car at the top of the hill. Had I anticipated the state of my leg I would have parked at the bottom. I literally limped my way up. I freshened up and changed into the race shirt. It isn’t a tech shirt but is at least in a woman’s size and turned out to be a very light and comfy cotton shirt. The only thing is that the red color wasn’t the most flattering with my post-race complexion but thankfully I don’t race everyday. We then got sited outside on the Dining Room patio.

On the Dining Room Patio at the Inn on Biltmore Estate

Both Hubby and I ordered the Oscar Crab Egg Benedict. It was amazing. Think poached eggs on top of crab cakes, served with fingerlings potatoes, asparagus and roasted tomatoes. The perfect post race meal. The temperature was perfect outside and the view amazing.

Oscar Crab Egg Benedict

Once home I started stretching and icing my leg. Three days of no running and stretching later it feels a lot better. I’m definitely hoping to run this race again.

Oh and remember my big news about Asheville getting a marathon? Well turns out we are getting two! There was a flyer at the race pick up announcing a Marathon on Biltmore Estate (website to go live June 1st) coming up March 3rd 2013!!! Now the question is how much are they going to charge for those because I can’t see myself being able to afford two marathons in the same year.

Biltmore Kiwanis 15K Classic, Race Report

Course de 15km de Biltmore Kiwanis

Last year the same organization had its race on Biltmore Estate. I wasn’t trained enough to do the 15k but I did the 5k and won a medal. I’m a little sorry that it can not take place on the Estate anymore because the 15k ran right by the Biltmore House.

So this year the race took place the NC Arboretum. It was not a big race. I do feel sorry for those who organized it because it goes to a good cause. A big part of it has to do with the location, people loved to run on Biltmore Estate. I also think that the brand new Ramble run 5/12k the week before with bigger sponsors took runners away from it.
The 15K had 118 participants finishing the course, the 5k 82. Last year we were 300+ alone in the 5k.

The packet pick up was the night before. No expo here, too small of a race. I was disapointed with the T-shirt though, last year it was a nice sports shirt. This year it was cotton. I take it that the difference comes from the lack of funds.
I carpooled to the race with a colleague on the day of. I’m on my work’s running team and they paid for half of the fee .

Like last year the 5 and 15k were starting at the same time but splitting direction during the course.  Now one thing that bothers me with this race is that there is no chip. They time it manually, which means that since I wasn’t right at the start my time wasn’t 100% accurate.

The course itself was beautiful. The 15k had three loops, each slightly different that the other. It starts with a good downhill on the road, turn around the entrance and then get onto Bent Creek Forest Rd for a long flat section along the creek, back up the hill on Wolfe Branch Forest Rd and by the Arboretum main building. Nothing too hard.

The second loop went down the same hill and onto the Forest Rd but then turned onto Owl Ridge, that’s where the course had most of it’s uphill. That’s also where I passed the most people. The trail training paid up on that section. It was a little tricky on the gravel downhill and one of my colleagues even rolled an ankle there but I made it ok. The next strech was a good mile downhill on Hardtime road before heading back onto the flat strech of Bent Creek Rd along the river with the uphill finish at the Arboretum  Education Center.
My favorite thing was to see all the mountain laurel in bloom.

I was told that at the end you should pick someone ahead of you and aim to pass them. So I had four ladies ahead, one of them went from being in front of me to passing all of them. So I am for the nearest one, but she stopped at the water station and I went right by her.
The next one I was slowly catching up on but then she started walking on the uphill. The third one was out of view by that point so I just raced myself to the finish.

I was shocked to see that I finished in 1:26:47! That was 10mn less than my training run of 9.1miles. I had told myself to take it easy, I went at a pace that felt comfortable. While my knee wasn’t too happy with the long downhill it felt perfectly fine the rest of the time. Enought to joke around with one of the last volunteer asking him “Is the breakfast that way?” as I pointed to the last uphill.

This time got me a second place in my age group, 51st overall and 20th of the female. Yeah! Although they messed up and gave me the 3rd place medal. So it wasn’t until I looked at the official results that I realized the mistake. It was a fun run with nice shade and a beautiful course. I hope they get more people next year.

L’an dernier la même course était sur la propriétée de Biltmore Estate. Je n’étais pas assez entrainée pour courir le 15km donc j’avais juste fait le 5km où j’avais gagné une médaille.  Je suis un peu triste que la course ne puisse plus se faire sur la propriété car celle de 15km passait juste devant le chateau de Biltmore
Du coup cette année la course avait lieu sur l’Arboretum de Caroline du Nord. Ce n’était pas une grosse course. C’est dommage pour les organisateurs car c’est pour une bonne cause. L’une des raisons je pense est le lieu, les coureurs adoraient être sur Biltmore Estate. Je pense aussi que la nouvelle course du Ramble Run 5/12km la semaine d’avant avec ses gros sponsors n’a pas aidé.
Le 15km avait 118 participants qui ont fini la course, 82 pour le 5km. L’an dernier nous étions plus de 300 juste pour le 5km.

Les numéros et les petits cadeaux pouvaient être récupérés le jour d’avant. Pas d’expo ici, c’est une trop petite course. J’étais déçue du T-shirt par contre, l’an dernier c’était un T-shirt de sport. Cette année un en cotton. Je suppose que cela viens du manque de moyens.
J’ai fait du co-voiturage avec une collègue le jour même. Je fais partie de l’équipe de coureurs du travail et  ils payent la moitié des frais d’inscription.

Comme l’an dernier les coureurs du 5 et 15km partaient en même temps mais se séparaient durant le course. Il n’y a qu’un truc qui m’a embété c’est qu’il n’y avait pas de puce magnétique cette année. Le temps était noté manuellement, du coup ce n’est pas à 100% correct.

Le parcours même était magnifique. La course de 15km comprenais trois boucles, chacune un peu différente. Le départ va direct sur une belle descente sur route, un virage en épingle à cheveux à l’entrée de l’Arboretum puis on va sur la route forestiere de Bent Creek relativement plate et en bordure du ruisseau. Il faut ensuite monter par Wolf Branch Road et repasser devant les batiments de l’Arboretum.
La deuxième boucle commence pareil mais monte ensuite le long d’Owl Ridge, c’est les plus grosses montées de la course. C’est aussi là que j’ai dépassé le plus de gens. L’entrainement sur sentier paye. C’était un peu délicat par endroit à cause du gros gravier sur la descente, l’une de mes collègues s’y est d’ailleurs tordu un peu la cheville, mais rien de grave. Ensuite c’est une longue descente d’un bon kilomètre sur Hardtime Rd avant de retrouver Bent Creek Rd et de finir à l’Arboretum. Ce que j’ai préféré c’est voir le Laurier des Montagnes en fleur.

On m’a dit qu’a la fin d’une course il faut choisir quelqu’un devant soit et avoir pour objectif de passer cette personne. Il y avait four filles devant moi, l’une d’entre elles qui les dépassaient toutes donc pas possible pour moi. J’ai choisi la plus proche mais elle c’est arrétée à la station d’eau.
Je rattrapais doucement la suivante quand elle a décidé de marcher sur la dernière montée.
La troisième étant déja hors de vue j’ai fini en course contre la montre plus qu’autre chose.

J’étais choqué de voir que j’ai fini en 1h 26mn 47s! C’est 10mn de moins que l’entrainement de 9.1miles la semaine précédente. Je m’étais dit que je ferrais ça tranquillement, à  un rythem comfortable. Et si mon genou à moins aimé la descente je me sentais bien tout le temps. Assez pour blaguer avec les volontaires en pointant la dernière montée et demandant si “le petit-déjeuner c’est par là?”.

Mon temps m’a donné une deuxième place dans ma catégorie, 51e total et 20e des femmes. Super! Bien qu’ils ont un peu merdé et m’ait donné la médaille pour la 3e place. Ce n’est que quand j’ai regardé les résultats officiels que j’ai découvert l’errerur. Mais c’était une chouette course, bien agréable avec de l’ombre sur un beau parcours. J’espere qu’il y a aura plus de coureurs l’an prochain.