Hokie Half Marathon – Race Report

We had a great time today at the Inaugural Hokie Half Marathon! Barry and I were able to meet up with Deb, her husband Bill, and her daughter-in-law-to-be Julie. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a mid-September race. It was in the low 40’s at the start and couldn’t have been much above the mid-50’s at the finish.

On Saturday afternoon, Barry and I headed up to Blacksburg to pick up our packets at the Innat Virginia Tech. Packet pick-up went smoothly. We waited in a short line and then received our bibs, a race t-shirt, parking passes, and a drawstring bag with a few race fliers and a freebie or two. I was a little disappointed with the race shirt, but mainly because they didn’t indicate in the registration that they were going to have gender-specific sizing. Oh well.

We headed home from the expo and spent the evening getting our stuff together for the early morning wake-up the next morning. We had our traditional spaghetti and meat balls dinner and then it was off to bed.

Barry and I were a little later leaving the house than planned and we didn’t have a whole lot of time before the start of the race. We parked and jogged about 1/4 mile to the porta potty lines which were long. Deb found us there and we talked with her while we waited in line. By the time we got through the line, Wave 1 (runners under 2:10) had taken off. We scrambled up to the starting line looking for Deb’s husband, Bill. I spotted him and she hurried off to him. I ran into my running buddy Kim and snapped a quick picture with her. She ran the 5K today with baby on board. I wished Kim well and then Barry and I hurried off to find Deb, Bill, and Julie. Less than a minute later the gun fired and we were on our way! Barry took of immediately and I wouldn’t see him again until the finish.

I ran with Deb, Julie, and Bill for the first 8 miles or so. The race started at the Corporate Research Centerand we ran the first four miles through town into Christiansburg. As we turned into the mall entrance, which would lead us to the Huckleberry Trail, I saw a sign that said “Run like someone just called you a jogger!” I wish I had gotten a picture of it. Actually, I didn’t do a very good job of taking pictures the entire race. Oops.

After a quick loop around the backside of the mall, we got onto the Huckleberry Trail and passed the mile 4 marker.  We were running along together and chatting, and I was feeling good and glad to have friends to run with. Somewhere in there I learned that Deb has never seen Mary Poppins!? I told her I think it’s because she has two sons. The Huckleberry Trail had a nice downhill for about a mile and a half, and then we started through the rolling and often challenging hills. I started to feel a little bit rough around mile 6 and I knew I had definitely gone out a little faster than I have on most of my runs lately. I ate two shot blocks that had some caffeine in them, hoping for a little boost. We hung together until mile 7.5 or 8 and then Bill, Julie, and Deb split off from me. We had all told each other that if anyone was feeling good they should go and I’m glad that they did. I didn’t want to feel like I was holding anyone back.
Deb’s picture of Julie and me around mile 6 I think

Once I was on my own, my mind just went blank and I actually thought of nothing. That’s really odd for me, as usually my mind wanders to some random and often entertaining places. Without my mind entertaining me, all I could do was keep chugging along and that’s exactly what I did. We got to the end of the trail in Blacksburgand looped around through the neighborhood roads. Once I passed mile 10 I started to feel better, like my legs had gotten their own second wind.

For the final 3 miles, we got back on the trail and connected back to a bike path that led us to the Corporate Research Center where the race had begun. There was a slightly-challenging hill to conquer towards the finish and then a nice downhill and flat finish area. I love turning the corner and seeing the road stretch out ahead of you to the finish line.

Home stretch!
As I crossed the finish line, the race director announced my name. Then I was handed a bottle of water, a finisher’s technical t-shirt (a surprise to me!), a Hokie Half Marathon car magnet, and a Hokie Bird finisher’s medal by VT Corps of Cadets. The Corps of Cadets were out on the course acting as course marshals and cheering us on. They, along with all of the other volunteers working the aid stations, were amazing! I think I finished around 2:16, but I’m not sure.

After talking for a few minutes at the finish with Deb, Bill, Barry, Julie, and Julie’s roommate, and snapping a few pictures, it was time to finish out my 14 mile run. Barry and Deb joined me for my “victory lap” until my Garmin hit 14 miles (today’s long run).  

At the finish line they had bananas, apples, oranges, bagels, sodas, Gatorade, water, and turkey and vegetable chili.

Barry and I hung around the finish line, cheering the runners in. He wanted to wait and find out what his official time was, since he doesn’t wear a watch (crazy, I know). We got to see the Hokie Bird finish! A new mascot half marathon record, 3:26!

Just kidding, Hokie Bird did not participate in the race. But he was there cheering on finishers and entertaining the crowd. You just missed him, Deb!

As you may remember, I signed Barry up for the race as a surprise birthday gift (his birthday is tomorrow!). He had a good race and finished in 1:37, which is either a PR or is two minutes off of his PR. We both thought he had run 1:35 before, but the best finishing time he can find is 1:39. So he may have PR’ed today! Not a bad way to celebrate your birthday.

Overall, I had a great time at the race today. Everything went smoothly, especially for this being an inaugural race. And I got in a solid 14 mile long run, a new personal distance record!

Have you ever had to scramble to get to the start of a race on time?

Do your legs ever get a “second wind” during a long run/race?

What is the funniest sign you’ve seen at a race?

18 thoughts on “Hokie Half Marathon – Race Report”

  1. Way to go and I am so glad you got to run with friends. I think we need to follow up with Deb to make sure she sees Mary Poppins asap! I hope the finisher’s shirt you received at the end of the race fit better than the first one. I never know if races are going to do gender-specific or not. They really should let you know. Congrats on the personal distance record!

    1. I was so glad to get to run with them, too! My finisher’s shirt is a women’s medium and it does fit πŸ™‚ When it’s women’s sizing I need a medium… and that’s what I was handed. Either the cadets were good at judging size or they were out of smalls already.

  2. Congratulations on a great race and being willing to let your legs have that 2nd wind. Sometimes my legs do, other times my mind tells them they’re out of commission. My legs always believe my mind.It sounds like you had a great day all around! :)Happy longest distance ever day! πŸ™‚

    1. Sometimes I think my mind is my worse enemy πŸ™‚ I know it tells me I can’t go any further long before I really can’t go any further. Like it’s trying to preserve my existence or something πŸ˜‰

  3. Congrats on a great race. Sounds like everyone had a good time.Funniest signs I ever saw was Richmond when the runners went through the Greek area at VCU. You could tell there was no adult supervision’ or network sensors!LUD.

  4. Loved reading both your race recap & Deb’s! Sounds like a fun event. Congrats on a great race and getting your longest run EVER in. That’s awesome. And I love the ‘jogger’ sign. I ran a trail race on Saturday (race recap later this week), and the weather was AWESOME! Nothing like a cool fall morning to make a race that much better!

  5. Happy birthday to Barry!!!It was great seeing you yesterday. It was definitely a great race and I want to run it again next year! You in?I heard the announcers say something about Hokie Bird when I walked up to check my official time before we left. I assumed he had just left, but now I’m thinking that he was probably on his way. Oh well, bummer! I love your pictures of him finishing!One time we walked up to the start of the DC Marathon just as it was starting. Somehow we walked up, randomly spotted our friend Bob, and took off. It was pure luck that we found him so easily!

    1. Are you serious? If so, do you want to meet at the C’burg end of the Huckleberry and run an 11-mile out and back nice and easy? What time would be the earliest you could meet?I read on another blog that they played Enter Sandman just before the first wave took off. We were in the porta-potty line and we heard the National Anthem. How did we miss Enter Sandman??????

    2. My heart wants to run the race again, but it would not be the best idea for my legs. Meeting up for 11 miles is a definite possibility. I will email you!

  6. What a wonderful race weekend recap!! I had such a wonderful time chatting with you while we ran. Thanks for showing me the best mailbox on the Huckleberry Trail! I look forward to the next race we run together! Also, CONGRATS on the new distance PR!!! Go you!! Good luck with the rest of your training (not that you need it)!

    1. I had a great time chatting with you, too! I loved your story about the sign you held up for your mom at her first marathon πŸ™‚ Every time you run past the Tweety Bird mail box you will think of the Hokie Half πŸ™‚

  7. I have definitely show up to a race late before, but hey, that’s what the timing chips are for, right =).I LOVE the idea of finishers shirts. I actually really don’t like medals..I usually don’t take mine…but shirts I can never have enough of =).

    1. Thank goodness for timing chips! I love races that have finisher’s shirts, too. Especially when they don’t tell you beforehand that there will be finisher’s shirts. It was such a neat surprise!

  8. Congrats on the distance PR! A have to admit, though, I’m about as far from Hokie-crazy as you can get, and the bird on that finisher’s shirt? Looks slightly like Thanksgiving on crack, or something… [Sorry, somebody had to say it. That bird is just WEIRD looking. Far weirder than the mascot himself, who – again, somebody’s gotta say it – already looks a bit odd.]

    1. I respectfully disagree with you on the matter of our beloved Hokie Bird mascot πŸ™‚ You might have a different opinion if you had seen the predecessors to today’s Hokie Bird: http://www.hokiesports.com/hokiebird/images/three.jpgAs Deb put it, the old version of the Hokie Bird would scare a ten year old. But even if your opinion remains the same, I agree to disagree and I stand by the fact that our mascot is cute πŸ™‚

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