My Asheville Marathon Results ~ Spoiler Alert

We are not going to talk about my curious absence from blogging this past month.  I just haven’t had enough time on my hands.  There is a ton to recap about each of the individual races I paced last weekend in Asheville, but I just don’t have the time right now to do a recap justice.  I guess we’ll settle for snippets, and results…..

image

Btw…I am still trying to gather pictures from the event, which I have to search for and grab/copy before my long recap posts.  But, isn’t this an awesome picture of the Biltmore Estate from a cool spot on the race course?

I had an awesome weekend in Asheville participating in the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge.  What is that, you ask?  Well, this year the race doubled down, and held the events on two consecutive days.  The Half Marathon on Saturday, and the Full Marathon on Sunday.  I ran both!  I paced both!

This weekend was all about having fun, and running my heart out.  Giving back to my fellow runners by pacing them to a specific time goal.  For the Half, I paced the 2:00:00 finish group.  A very popular group, containing all of those runners out there trying to get the sub 2.  The weather was perfect, maybe just a tad on the warm side, but me and my pacing partner Louis brought those runners in at 1:59:23.  Just under the mark!

I then refueled, and spent five hours working an expo table for the marathon the following day.  All the while chatting up marathon runners, taking gulps of Gatorade along the way.  Yes, I had a chair, which I requested!  After having run the Half, and having another 26.2 miles the following day, I needed to be off my feet.

Marathon Sunday came so very quickly.  Back at it, I felt good.  I was pacing the 4:00:00 group for the marathon, and the weather?  Not so good.  It started raining about 20 minutes before the race began, and would rain intermittently for the entire race.  I don’t often run in the rain so it was an interesting twist.  Pace the hills for 26.2 miles, in the rain, and mud.  All after having run a Half the day before.  I felt good though, and knew I could manage it.  About 10 miles into the race, my pacing partner Andrea fell off the pace.  Now alone on dirt and rock trails, I had to dig in.  Climbing, climbing, the often washed over mile 11-12 was grueling.  I maintained pace somehow without a helper, and in the quiet.  Runners around me, but no one with me.  I carried on…..

Mile 12 is when she appeared.  A 23 year old medical student from Iowa.  Payton was her name, and she was my angel.  She sidled up to my left side, and said, “I want to break 4:00:00 today, so I am going to run with you to the end!”  I desparately needed the company, so welcomed her with open arms.  We traversed the difficult trails on the backside of the Biltmore Estate through the vineyards, past historic barns, up and down, through the rain, the mud and muck.  Payton kept me honest.  We both almost fell a few times due to slick muddy spots, but I kept on pace.  On pace!  13, 14, 15, the miles we left behind….

We stayed together up to mile 23 when she began to fade just a bit.  I willed her to keep up, She just couldn’t.  She silently started lagging further and further behind me.  I had to keep going however.  I had a schedule to keep.  I had a date with the finish line and would carry whoever I could to cross with me or in front of me.  The rain ebbed and flowed, but my shoes kept moving forward.  3:59:32 was my magic number on the day.  Made it perfectly to the end, urging runners to beat the clock.  It was a magically wet marathon, one I will remember forever.  I absolutely loved it.  Both days!

39.3 miles, two epic days at the Biltmore.  Two spot on pacing days, to boot.  One day sunny, one day rainy.  Perfect!  More details and pictures to come, including why I love pacing, and more on Payton.  :). Happy running!

image

Asheville Marathon Discount Code

Have you ever run a race where the beauty of the course takes over and you almost forget you’re running 26.2 or 13.1 miles?  Those are my favorite kind of races!  I’m sure you would agree that a race course full of history and beauty is hard to find.

image

Well, the Asheville Marathon & Half in North Carolina fits the bill perfectly.  A boutique-style race, with limited entries, amazing race course and equally amazing swag, the Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate is a one of a kind event.

Registration is now open for 2016, and I have scored a discount code you can use during registration to save money.  The deadline to use this code is July 31st, so act fast.  The code is good for the Full, Half or Challenge, and will get you 15% off current pricing.

This will be the fourth running of this event and it has sold out earlier and earlier each year.  I ran the Full marathon in 2013, the Half in 2015, and who know, I may try BOTH in 2016.  Save some money now and join me for the race.  This will be your view at mile 6!

image

Use this code: PAUL2016AMAROCKS while registering at https://www.imathlete.com.

Sell Out Alert!! Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate

Quietly whispered….

…..and then it soaked in…..

Wow!  The Asheville Marathon & Half at Biltmore Estate set to run on March 15, 2015 is heading toward a record early sell-out!  It was announced yesterday that with an overall cap of 1,300 runners, there were less than 200 spots remaining.  I guess word is spreading far and wide about this truly unique boutique-style race.

image

I ran the inaugural event back in 2013.  It is truly a majestic and beautiful bucket list event.  Well organized, with a great expo and plenty of runner perks, this is a race you don’t want to miss!  I mean, who wouldn’t want to run here?

image

Check out the race website for current pricing, but act quickly.  http://ashevillemarathon.com

Follow the race on Twitter:  @AvlMarathon

image

Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate – race recap

Image

This past March 3rd, I ran the inaugural Asheville Marathon on Biltmore Estate, and had the time of my life!  You have to give this beautiful marathon a shot on its’ new date two weeks later in 2014.  It’s run entirely on the beautiful grounds of the Biltmore Estate.

First of all, if you decide to run this event, please spend a few days in the host city of Asheville, NC.  You will not be disappointed.  Asheville is a hip and happening place, nestled in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.  The food scene is insane, delicious food is everywhere, just tempting your palate at every turn.  It is truly a foodie delight!  Be sure to check out the Burritos Favoritos at Salsa Mexican Caribbean Restaurant.  Funky, small restaurant right in the heart of downtown.  Check them out online at http://www.salsas-Asheville.com.   Ok, enough about the food, on to the race!

Buy commemorative Biltmore Estate wine here!

Buy commemorative Biltmore Estate wine here!

The expo was very easy to get to from the Residence Inn by Marriott, the hotel I was staying at.  Just minutes from downtown.  The expo had a good number of vendors, for a first year event.  There was a raffle, and tons of happy volunteers all over the host hotel.  They were all very excited to be a part of this event.  Information was easy to find, and I made my way quickly through, stopping to buy a bottle of wine pictured below, and to pick up my Mizuno race shirt, Balega race socks, and throw away gloves.  The swag was pretty nice.

Limited Edition Biltmore Marathon wine

Limited Edition Biltmore Marathon wine

Nice swag!

Nice swag!

We headed back to the hotel for a restful evening.  It was that evening that I really started to fear the weather, and potential race day effects.  The entire two days we had been in Asheville were bitter cold.  Unseasonably bitter.  The light to heavy winds made it even colder.  I had tracked the weather for a week, and was prepared with clothes, layers that could be tossed along the course.  I even went out and bought a Buff, for my neck/head, whatever I might need it for.  What will be, will be, and I will deal with it.

Race morning came very early.  I think I was up at 3:30am, which of course meant very little peaceful, hard sleep.  Coffee, coffee, more coffee.  I stepped outside to check the weather, and low and behold, it was about 10 degrees with the wind chill, and there were flurries all over.  Certainly not the weather I was hoping for.  I soon gathered all my gear, and was dropped off at the host hotel, to grab a shuttle into the Biltmore Estate.  I was on the first bus, and this was a very easy option for anyone staying at one of the race sponsored hotels.  Those of us on the first bus made it easily to the race start.  We had a ways to walk almost total darkness had us slipping on black ice.  Not what a racer wants to worry about on marathon morning.  They had set up a few warming tents, which I have to say we’re almost completely useless.  They hadn’t even gotten the heaters going by the time we arrived.  Here is a photo of the swirling snow around one of the tents.

This is what frigid looks like.

This is what frigid looks like.

The race was delayed for about 15 minutes, as the last of the shuttle buses hadn’t arrived yet.  So we all did our best to stay warm, and get a few stretches and jogs in.  Finally, the gun went off, and we began.  The first 6 miles were cold, but it was nice to get some body heat going through exercise. This part of the course was on well traveled roads on the Estate.  The surroundings were beautiful, lush with trees, pines and shrubs.  The road was undulating, but I began to catch my groove and felt like I was warming up.  I knew that about any moment, we were about to be hit head on by a view of the House.  And here is what I saw, stopping for a second to snap this priceless picture on my cell phone.

Totally amazing!!!

Totally amazing!!!

Me in front of the House, still in all my layers.

Me in front of the House, still in all my layers.

After the house, we ran down toward the gardens, and eventually out by the horse runs.  The horses were very happy to see us, and began running along with us.  This was a huge treat, and a great distraction from the bitter cold.  What actually happened at this point was that we had started to run more out in the open.  We had been fairly protected from the winds during the first 1/3 of the race, but now I was even colder.  I had pulled the buff away from my nose and mouth, and had even taken my gloves off, but had to retreat back to wearing them.  At this point in the race, runners move from a paved surface, to mostly gravel and dirt surfaces as you cross the bridge over the French Broad River onto the west side of the estate.

This side of the Estate is generally off-limits to guests of the Biltmore property, so this year when I ran it, was a first time for the public seeing these trails.  The terrain here on this 1/3 of the course was tough.  Tough on my ankles.  The gravel surface was so rough at times, that I was afraid of turning my ankles.  Not good!  This coming year they promise that the gravel paths will be groomed, and much easier on runner feet.  This section of the marathon is run through very scenic terrain, through vineyards and very old farmhouses.  It was truly a unique setting, and I felt so privileged to be running there.  Pine top area and  Dam hill area, a tough section of the marathon with a short but extremely difficult hill that has to be traversed twice.  note: nothing will prepare your legs for Dam Hill!!  I remember one section here, looking across a pond for a beautiful, picture perfect view of the Biltmore House far in the distance. Mileage at this point is about 16-18, and after that Dam Hill twice, you will be ready for the relatively flat last 1/3 of the race, as you cross back over the Bridge onto the East side of the property.

8,000 acre- America's largest back yard.

8,000 acre- America’s largest back yard.

I’ve gotten caught up in the story of the course, but have to remind myself, that although this was a beautiful marathon, the course conditions were very tough.  The terrain, far from perfect, and the weather was relentless, and brutal.  I was never able to shed the first bit of clothing.  I was not used to running in pants, or a pull over for that long.  I was planning on being warm enough to toss these items aside a few miles in, but that never happened.  Lesson learned.  Be prepared for anything.  The last few miles of the race are flat, and run along side the French Broad River, out to the Equestrian Center again for a loop around the horses, ( this time they were quiet, not running, tired of visitors).  I was so done with the race at this point.  I was walking through the last few aid stations, trying to stay hydrated.  Being so cold, and wearing so many layers, it masked a lot of the sweating I was doing, and I wanted to make sure that I maintained enough liquids.  Oh yeah, another important thing to mention about this day, if it sheds more light on the conditions, every time I grabbed a drink cup, I had to poke my gloved finger through the ice disk that had formed on the surface, which added to the misery of my cold fingers.  It was almost laughable.

The finish was nearing, and going sub 4, I now knew, was out of reach.  I had about a mile to go as my Garmin showed 4:00:00.  I managed to find one last boost of energy to get me close to the finish at Antler Hill Village.

Coming in to the finish

Coming in to the finish

It was official!  The finish of my 4th marathon.  I finished in 4:08:47.  Good for 232nd place out of 962 runners.  I was 24th in my age group.  Not much to be disappointed in, considering the conditions.  I truly enjoyed the race, and although there were plenty of down moments, the scenery, and just the fact that I was running at Biltmore, pulled me through and kept my spirits pretty high.  This was a very challenging marathon, but I highly recommend it.  The cost was higher than I usually like to pay for a marathon.  I think I signed up fairly early on, and still paid $125.

After the finish, wrapped in a finish line blanket gift, with the marathon logo, and the words "relax & celebrate".

After the finish, wrapped in a finish line blanket gift, with the marathon logo, and the words “relax & celebrate”.

I wasn’t able to stick around long at all after finishing.  I just simply was starting to freeze.  Now that I wasn’t running, the intensity of the cold (8 degrees with wind chill) was just too much to take.  I needed to change out of my soaking wet clothes, and into a warm car.  I heard that most runners had to pretty much leave right after.  I missed the awards, and everything else.  The winner came in at 2:46:47, just amazing!  Then he was promptly loaded into an EMS vehicle and taken to the hospital for hypothermia.  I heard this happened to many, many runners.  I guess being dressed in layers did help me.  Believe it or not I saw a couple of guys show up that morning in singlets.  OMG!  Not me.

This race was absolutely one of a kind.  Such fun.  A frozen mix of running, scenery, and fortitude.  26.2 miles of heaven really.  I will never forget it.