Pre-Race Day for the Blue Ridge Marathon

As the days and hours started their count down before the marathon, I started doubting myself. Could I really do this? Not only run my first marathon to the finish line, but run a tough hilly course?
I needed reassurance. So on the road trip I brought along my running book: Asheville Trail Running: Taking Bent Creek and the Mountains to Sea In Stride. I flipped through the pages on our way to Roanoke and I found my strength in it. I could do this. I had done some tough training runs already. I could do this.

I had been set on my outfit: my black Lululemon speedskirt, my fairly new grey Lululemon Race Tank, Saucony Guides 3, trail running socks and all. But then on Wednesday I received an email from my local Lululemon store  and found out they had a special edition of the same tank out. You see I had had to order the grey one online because they didn’t carry it in the store. Online the only one in my size was grey. I wasn’t too excited but I wanted a tank top in case the day was to be warm. When the email came out I said to my husband “I wish they had had it two weeks ago”. His answer was “Well get it then”. We were Thursday and I had to go to work. I told him if he wanted to get it for me that was fine. He didn’t. But then we talked about it again the next day. I didn’t think I would get it because the store opened at 11am and I was hoping to leave before that. Well we left late and it turned out the store had it in my size… I was probably the quickest purchase I’ve ever done. But hey, I figured it would be more visible for my family on the StarCam. No regrets there. I can already tell you the tank worked out great.

Unfortunately on my last two training runs (the 13 miles and 9 miles one, not the 22 miles) I started having chaffing issues with my bra. I hesitated a while on that one. But ultimately decided to take the risk to chafe in a new spot with the same bra but new rather than chafe where the old tag had been.

I had been nervous on the way to Roanoke, but our drive through a small section of the Blue Ridge Parkway put me at ease. The beauty of it soothed my fears and gave me energy. I am so glad we drove that way on the way up, it was beautiful and not too much of a detour for us.Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway

We got a little lost getting into Roanoke. The signs were not all that clear to be honest. So we turned up downtown instead of the hotel and decided to go ahead and get me all set up for the race.

Packet Pick up was at the Taubman museum. With some roads already closed for the marathon it was a little tricky to find our way around. But in the end we found a great spot by the Visitor Center and only had to go across the railroad walkway to get to the packet pick up.

Now there wasn’t much of a pre-race expo there. Mind you the race is still young, this was only it’s third year. I’m assuming they don’t have that many people aware of the race yet, because I would think it’s a great opportunity to promote your products. This is a great unique race and it attracts some tough runners!

The pre-race pick up took place in the museum lobby. To the left was the bib pick up itself. No wait there at 5pm. Then they had the shirts. And here is going to be my one and only disappointment with the race. The shirt was 100% cotton in men sizes.
Mind you my entry to the race was free due to wining it on Lil’s Runner’s blogs. However… with an entry fee of $80-100 I would expect at very least a tech shirt and hopefully women sizes. When are race organizers going to realize how many women runners are out there and that a lot of serious runners are not that big? Their shirt is going to turn into a garnering shirt or sleeping shirt at best. It’s a shame really because I would have been proud to wear a shirt of my first marathon. Proud to wear it on the run.  I also think that a shirt of the race is a great way to trigger conversations on group runs and therefore advertise the race. Heck I’d be willing to have a $5 extra option to get a tech shirt rather than a cotton shirt.

Other than the race tables itself they had a table selling Gu, Honey Stingers and Body Glide. Good in case you forgot something at home. They did have volunteers handing out some great race-bags stating “Conquer the Blur Ridge” which I loved and some awesome stickers with a skyline of Roanoke and the mountains and either BRM26.2 or 13.1 depending on which one you were running. That one is going to go on my car for sure!

They also had a table from the National College handing out calculator and pens, an area with their main sponsor Foot Levelers by which Bill Rogers was signing books and a table with Roanoke information with a downtown restaurants/shops discount card and course map. So we didn’t stay long but got enough information to be ready for the race.

We then checked in our hotel: the Cambria Suites, recommended by local runner Lauren from Sweat Junkie. I loved the place. While it was a little outside of downtown, it was right by mile 15 and 22 so a great spot for my  husband. The room layout was also perfect with a separation between the bed and living room area which allowed me to go to bed earlier while my husband watched TV.

Sal's BrushettaDinner wise we went to Sa’ls. An Italian restaurant a bit out of the way, located in a strip mall. It was recommended on Tripadvisor.com and I knew I wanted pasta before such a big race. The brushetta was amazing, very fresh and flavorful. My Pasta alla vodka tasted yummy,  Hubby enjoyed his Stuffed Shells and the Garlic Knots were perfect.

I went to bed full and ready to tackle my first marathon the next day.

20 Going on 22


When I look at the Blue Ridge Marathon elevation course, I feel lucky I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t see how I would train for it if I lived in the flat lands!

I debated doing a 20 miles trail run for a while. But ultimately I realized it would end up being way harder than the marathon itself (at least the one I had in mind), and I need to keep my legs for the race. So my last really long run of the marathon training would be on road again. I decided to go up the same way I did my 20 miler but add an extra hill after it to simulate the Blue Ridge Marathon course. This is how it turned out:
The elevation gain isn’t as much, or as steep but I think it gives me a good feel on how I will feel on race day. Now I did not have 22 miles scheduled on my training plan, nor did I plan to run that long. I was thinking about running somewhere between 20 and 21 miles, especially since I had additional elevation. Well it turns out that the road mapmyrun was showing me going to Patton Mountain Rd was not one. Nope, it was a steep driveway, and it stopped. So I pretty much ran an insane uphill for nothing other than training purposes.

So I had to go around the mountain. Patton Mountain Rd played with me again. I was at a fork, to the left I could see a dirt road to the right a real road. Now mind you I was in a fancy million dollar residential area up the mountain so by logic I figured the dirt road was a driveway. Nope again. I ended up on town mountain road (not where I wanted to be) having to back track my steps and ask directions to a nice dude with a smartphone. Well that road was hard to find, but it was so worth it. It was gorgeous, lines with rhododendrons, pine trees and other trees and the dirt was a nice rest on my joints.

Because of the detour I rerouted my course and went straight to the next hill. Let me tell you. I walked! Not all of it, but I walked several sections. I’m glad for this run ultimately because it made me realize that in a marathon, there is a time for running and there is a time to walk and give a break to the legs. I plan to walk some parts of the marathon course with no shame.

Even with the detour my run turned out to be 22 miles. Am I glad I took extra water or what? I was pooped by the time I got home. As I started walking I could feel some painful cramps (or was it just the lactic acid build up) hitting my legs. I took just long enough to put some gatorade and ice cubes in a container and sipped it as I cooled off. I followed it by a cold leg bath and a recovery smoothie (banana, frozen blueberries, GU recovery powder, greek yogurt). And took the rest of the afternoon as an opportunity to sit on the deck and do absolutely nothing productive thank you very much.

Breakfast 2hours prior to running: sesame sprouted bagel, almond butter, banana, honey.

Run fueling: 1 GU Roctane, 1 handhelf waterbottle, 1 water amphipod, 1 Gu Brew amphipod

Stats: 22.05mi, 3h32’17”, 9:37 pace

Gear: Drymax trail socks, lululemon skirt, brooks shirt

Lululemon Speed Running Skirt Review

In August I bought a Speed Skirt from Lululemon. I was lucky to get it on the back to school Tax Free day for $54 even. Sure I could have found another running skirt for cheaper but I really liked that one.

One of the things that got to me is the style. Yes, it’s cute and that matters to me. I like to feel good in what I wear and that skirt did that. I love the pleats in the back (shown in the royal color), they move around when I run in a really cute way. I have gotten tons of comments by fellow runners, both male and female, must people asking me where I got it because they would like one too.

But it’s not all about looks I also love the technicality of it. It has a nice breathable material that wicks most of the moisture away. I don’t feel it on my skin at least even if I can see wet areas on the skirt after the run.

Below the skirt is a short with a grip band at the bottom. It does not move, actually if it wasn’t for stretching and bending needs I don’t think it would be needed because the skirt itself stays where it’s supposed to.

There are three pockets, one zipped in the back and two little pouches perfect to fit an energy gel in there.

I ran my half marathon in it. While I had  no chaffing issues prior to the race, I did find a little chaffing post race but below the skirt, so that had more to do with me. It worked great with my running, it’s short enough to allow speed work and just as flexible as a classic pair of short. It just has the added plus of making me feel fashionable and pretty when I run.

Do you have a running skirt? What do you look for in your running skirt?