Monday, January 31, 2011

A Brief Recap of my Cloud Snapple Half Marathon

Running along the snow covered C&O Canal towpath going downriver along the Cloud Snapple Half Marathon, 2011.

This is the second year this race has involved snow...last year the race started out super cold (teens as I recall), then significant snow accumulated as the day progressed. Unfortunately the weather in 2010 was predicted to be a light dusting to 1-2". By the time the 2010 storm finished there was nearly 6 inches of snow!

Although plagued with snow, this race is very well organized, very cute and located within about 10 miles of my home.
Being awarded my finishers medal.

I love events in which you get a finishers medal, even if I have only run for a few hours!!

The volunteers were super at this event at all the aid stations as well as the start/registration as well as the finish line.

I thought it was really cool that they placed the medal on each finisher.

In this picture notice my new glasses..I am not sure I like them as they transition to sunglasses even without much (any!) sunlight. This created a moderate issue under the bridges.
Here is my friend Rosy H who I met last year at this event.

We have kept up with each other and I was thrilled to be able to run with her for a bit.

This was her second half marathon, her first being last years Cloud Snapple Half. One day this race has to not involve significant snow, right?

She is really enthusiastic, has been improving as a runner and is even getting ready for her first marathon this coming March.

I am so proud of her and I know she will do GREAT!!!

Here is my new friend Liz S who I met alog the course.

Liz was great company to help me build more miles as I tried to get to run >15 miles for the day (I ultimately ran about 17 miles by retracing my steps from the finish line to find runners/friends).

Liz has run other marathons but she suggested this was one of the toughest (which I strongly agree!).

She is thinking of running a 50 mile ultra and I know she has the determination and strength to do this. Perhaps we will share the course at an upcoming JFK50 miler:-)
My friend Laurie drove up from Philly to participate in this race. Several years ago Laurie ran 100+ events in a year with nearly all of these marathon or greater distances.

This year to raise $$ for Ovarian Cancer, Laurie is running predominantly half marathons.

It was great to see Laurie and to catch up...sadly recently I have missed Laurie at events, but she has seen my husband and even stolen a few hugs and kisses!!


This past weekend I ran a very snowy but very fun Cloud Snapple Half Marathon. I ran the inaugural half last year and let's just say in my world I am going to refer to this race as the race that must involve snow. Last year snow occurred during the event with ultimately those of us who did not leave until ~4 hours after the start digging our cars out of about 5-6 inches of snow. The drive home was interesting and I considered myself lucky that my entire drive involved me facing in the direction I was supposed to. This was more a matter of luck and 4 wheel drive then any skill in winter driving that I might have (although my dad did teach my sister and I to drive in parking lots and since my birthday is in winter quite a few of my lessons involved ice/snow...with a stick shift!).

The Cloud Snapple Half Marathon starts at the Carderock Recreation Area. The course is an out and back course that goes downstream along the Potomac River on the C&O Canal towpath towards the Chain Bridge/DC. After 6.55 miles the runners turn around and head back to the finish line.

I was supposed to try for a 1:55 time. I am not sure my legs could make this time even on a perfect weather day. But with 5-6 inches of snow that was partially melted with divets of footprints, crusty snow mixed with fluffy snow made for difficult footing. Last year under better conditions I finished in 2:22 and less then 2 inches of snow had fallen by the time I finished. This year I was very pleased with my time of ~2:18. And I even had a negative split with my first half in 1:10 and the uphill return was in 1:18. Some of this was because I had figured out where the good footing was and partly because I did want to push myself.

Throughout the race my mantra each time I wanted to give up, slow down or leisurely walk was "this could be the first 20 miles of Western States....I NEED TO TOUGHEN UP". This kept me going although quite a few times I felt like Bambi and my legs were going every direction except forward.

Getting to the race I knew I had a few friends running. My friend Laurie from many, many marathons including the Disney Marathon, B&A Trail, George Washington Birthday, Bob Potts and other events was running this half marathon. And my friend Rosy who I met last year at this event was running it for the second time as her second marathon. Tristan drove me to the race, stayed for a bit then headed off to Difficult Run in VA for a hike. He could not make it to the starting line because of significant ice. I almost did not but decided to walk very slowly stooped over to ensure I did not fall.

After getting to the start, after just a few moments, the star spangled banner played. Then it was time to start. I ran pretty hard both directions taking only a few pictures. Most of my attention was spent trying to focus on not falling. As with every event there were a variety of paces and limited guidance on where to line up. My first 1-2 miles was spent trying to pass runners which was quite challenging since there was very limited decent surface to run on. And in some area's there was no good surface to run on. I really feel bad for the front runners because clearly they were trail blazing at some points. I grabbed sports drink at each aid station and profusely thanked the volunteers. They were so awesome!!

At the halfway point there were a few tough spectators with DUNKIN DONUTS, YUM! It was great. I took a chocolate frosted chocolate donut and munched my way for a few miles. It was so tasty and what a nice unexpected treat.

Heading back to the start I simply kept repeating to myself, "this could be WS100!" and kept trying to run as fast as I could. I wasn't exactly out of breath but I definitely was pushing hard. Pretty soon I was under the I-495 Bridge. This was good because it meant less than 1 mile to the finish. But it was bad because I recently got new glasses that transition to sunglasses. They do not change back very quickly so I had to choose between seeing clearly or seeing at all. I sort of pulled my glasses down and pretended I was wearing spectacles. It was not very satisfactory but luckily the bridge is short.

The finish line was slight off the C&O Canal so it was only when we were pretty close did it register that the race was nearly over. I was thrilled when I saw my time was under 2:20 since I thought I had slowed down since the half and thus had figured my time would be close to 2:30!

Once I finished I headed back out on the course to go find my friends and pace them to the finish. After about 1.5 miles I came upon my friend Rosy who had taken a fall along the course. She was running strong and seemed in good spirits. We chatted about life, running and how different but no better this years race was...hopefully 2012 will be better (I can't imagine how it could be much worse). I learned Rosy is running her first marathon, the Virginia Creeper. I know she will do great and have lots of fun. With all this catching up, pretty soon we arrived at the finish.

I then headed out on the course for more runners. I went out about 1 mile and my ankle was getting bothersome. I decided at that point I would run with the next runner if they wanted company. I was REALLY lucky to meet Liz S who was running her first Cloud Snapple Half. I was able to tell her this race should be easier! Liz was good company and an experienced marathoner. She is considering running a 50 mile ultra so I was able to give her some pointers and thoughts to consider. Hopefully Liz and I will both be at the JFK50 miler or other ultra in the future! Our time together just flew by and soon enough we were at the finish where she had a friend waiting.

Although this is a moderate sized race (300 participants). I find it has a small race feel. The race directors, volunteers and others associated with the race take really good care of the runners. During this "intermission" one of the kind volunteers brought my drop bag from the post race tent to the finish line. All of the volunteers were so nice, helpful and cheerful even though this race was very cold!

Finally, I headed back out on the course one last time for my friend Laurie. She was back a bit and walking. By this time I also was walking. By going back and forth on the course I successfully had a nice warm down in which I slowly decreased my speed! Laurie and I caught up and chatted about recent events. She saw Tristan more times than I did at the Disney Goofy Marathon...for a hug and a kiss, no less! It was pretty amusing that Tristan misses me at races even though I am dressed in pink, have sparkeley my fanny pack, lots of flowers, and even have my name on my shirt and yet Tristan spotted Laurie in a race of 20,000+ participants.

After crossing the finish line for a third time, it was time to head back to meet up with Tristan, my chauffer. Overall, while a very tough race, it was lots of fun and I will be back!


Marina said...

Congratulations on your outstanding time in those difficult conditions ! I wish i could have been there !

Meredithe said...

Hi Tammy, I was looking at the Wasatch 2011 entrants list to see whether my friend made it,(he didn't and I was going to be his pacer so I was disappointed) and I saw your name on the provisional Grand Slam list. Well done and good luck! Cheers, Marj