After the Race: Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon, 4-14-2012

I ran yet another race today, the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon in Chesapeake, VA. I actually hadn’t decided on this race until very, very, recently. Just a couple weeks ago, I thought it’d be nice to pay my parents a visit April 13-15 since I’d have a three-day weekend and hadn’t been to Hampton since late December. And then I got an email from about upcoming races. I figured I’d see if I’d hit the jackpot- usually there are only dinky 5K’s in Hampton Roads whenever I’m going to be around, but not this time! A half marathon, yay! Free two birds with one stone! (that’s a more compassionate version of the traditional saying)

Anyways, my dad was awesome to go to Chesapeake on Friday to get my race “packet”. The packet consisted of my race number with a Chrono-B Tag, a gigantic technical tee (on some planet, it’s a “Small”), a couple of non-vegan energy bars, and some flyers for races. Eh, not the greatest swag, by far, but I got what I needed, which was my race bib and (attached) timing tag.


All set for the race. Got my Fuel Belt and my organic, vegan gels in my favorite flavors!
This morning, my parents and I headed out at 6:30am to go the Dismal Swamp. We’ve lived in Hampton for three decades, yet none of us had ever been to the Dismal Swamp. According to Google Maps, it was going to take ~50 minutes to get there, and I was just super-anxious about getting there and not having enough time to prepare. Pssh, this wasn’t some DC-type race that has looooong porta-pottie lines and parking a mile away from the race; I was there with plenty of time to stand around and shiver! The porta-pottie line was non-existent, parking was right by the starting area, and there were no crowds to fight through. I jogged a little to (try to) warm up and pass time. But still, it was 40-something degrees, and my toes went numb and my hands were like ice as I waited to start. Also as I was waiting, I looked around at the other racers and tried to size up my competition. Most people, the women, especially, didn’t seem to be the Type-A personalities I see in DC. One young woman about my age, though, looked like she would be a really good racer, but, oddly enough, she lined up farther back, near the 10 min/mile pace marker. And then I saw one older woman who did NOT look like a great runner- she had a big, flabby tummy and spindly legs that looked devoid of muscle. But she passed me in the race and finished well ahead of me. Just goes to show that I certainly can’t judge an athlete on how he/she looks!

The race itself was out and back on the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, just a straight and flat road. There was only the occasional cheerer, though it’s good that the Mile Markers were all present, and there were sufficient water stations. It soon became warm and I was glad I hadn’t thought to wear my running gloves. But I also hadn’t realized to bring a Clif Bar or Clif Shot Bloks package from Arlington, so I only had two Clif Shots to fuel me. I probably should have eaten something other than a Clif Shot before the race, but I didn’t want that heaviness in my stomach. *Sigh*… a few calories probably would have good for me, though, because my legs were feeling a little leaden. I didn’t understand it. I was running on a flat road, and still found it tough to maintain an 8-min/mile pace.

Right before the turnaround point, I got passed by the 1:45 pace group. I turned the corner, had my second Clif Shot, and soon caught up to them. It felt unbelievably great to be running right at the front of the group, running strong, having others follow me, and then passing the 8-Mile marker and realizing I had only a 5K left to go. Alright, I can keep this up for 3.1 more miles, I thought. We pass the 9-Mile marker and I’m super-excited that I have only a tad over two miles to go. And then hits me. Agh, idiot! 13.1 miles, NOT 11.1 miles, what were you thinking???? And with that realization I slowed down because I couldn’t maintain that pace (at least, I wasn’t sure I could) for two additional miles.

Around that time, some big guy coming from the other direction pointed to me and the woman behind me and said, “13th and 14th woman”. Really? Cool! The other woman asked me my age group- turns out we’re both 30-34. That implied that now we were directly competing against one another. I stayed ahead of her for the remainder of the race, but another woman came out from behind, which put me at 14th overall. Oh well.

I finished at 9:50 and the awards ceremony wasn’t scheduled to be held till 11:30. My parents were tired, and I doubted I’d even gotten third in my age group, so we left a bit before 10:30. I hadn’t planned on sticking around for another hour, but I did take a photo of the trophy that I wished I was getting.

All the trophies were beautiful, just like this one. Feeling silly and wishful, I took a photo of the one for the first place woman, age 30-34. Maybe I just knew???
I got an email from just a couple hours ago with my official results- 1:45:49.77, 8.05 min/mile

Overall: 121/821

Gender: 14/436

Age Group: 1/74

FIRST in my age group??! Wowee, that’s super-duper fantastic news! I’m sad that I won’t be able to display my awesome trophy at work on Monday. I just called the race organization and was told I have to contact Chesapeake Parks & Rec on Monday to see about picking up the trophy. Sigh…. I want my bird! At least I have bragging rights, and am pumped up for my next race next Sunday. I don’t have any aspirations about placing in that one, since it’ll be back home in DC (the GW Parkway Classic, to be exact).

A little bit sore, but injury-free and happy, which is my marker of success!!!

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