"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The America's Toughest Road Marathon

Wow! What a race. When they say the America's toughest road marathon, they weren't kidding. Over 7400 feet of elevation change and 3 mountains to climb. Wow.

Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, VA was just another "training" run on the road to the Bear Mountain in few weeks time.  This journey all started with me winning a free entry from RunnerDude's Blog. Of course, my lovely wife wanted to run it as well, so a late April weekend gateway was planned. Roanoke is about 6 hour drive from Philadelphia, so we went down on Friday. Our Friday was spent driving, checking into the hotel, getting our race package and having a very nice dinner at Blue 5 in Roanoke. The race expo/registration was very small, but at the same time nice. We were not looking to browse and shop anyway. Very nice touch was the bracelets and stickers supporting Boston. We wore those during the race.

Run for Boston Bracelets
Run For Boston Bib and Sticker on Our Bags



















Race start was at 7:35am. Sun was starting to come out, but it was pretty chilly with random wind gusts that would definitely chill you to the bone. None the less we decided on short sleeve apparel for the race. We got down to the start area 30 minutes before. Free parking near the start is always a bonus in my book. There was a definitely an increased number of security and police personnel present on site. Very friendly vibe full of enthusiasm at the start line considering the events that happened in Boston earlier in the week. The race started a few minutes late, mostly due to few speeches and a moment of silence for the victims. But off we went.

Shortly after the start, the course started to trend uphill. The Roanoke Mountain was the first climb and while most of it was pretty gradual incline, it got very steep toward the top, to the point where we had to do a short walk interval. Super steep decline followed but we just took it in stride. Second mountain was Mill mountain with another decent incline but definitely runnable. We knew there was one more left, the Peakwood. Of course, on the map it was the smallest of the 3 and it did not appear very steep. Boy were we wrong. The bastard that is Peakwood was very steep and it kept going up and up and up though a neighborhood. We walked a bunch of those uphills and so did all the other runners around us. We did not see a single person running it in some sections. Very "friendly" neighborhood people kept telling us that the top is near. We believe they are all a part of some master scheme to mess with the runners and make them suffer. The top was never near. Grrrr!

Last 6 miles were fairly flat and we got some good running in to finish the race. The Marathon Mom and I did the whole race together and crossed the finish line in 4:30 holding hands. We were super excited by our time. It was definitely not our PR, but it was faster than we both expected considering the hills and the walk intervals (also 2 pee pee breaks).






Blue Ridge Marathon and Roanoke were such a great experience for us. People that we met were nothing but nice and we cannot say enough nice things about Roanoke. Such a great place. The organization was awesome and crowd support along the course amazing. Thank you Roanoke. We will be back.


This was yet another race that was mostly fueled by Tailwind. We really do enjoy it and it has made our race food/hydration strategy much easier to plan. It works!

Next up is the TNF Bear Mountain 50K. This is our anniversary trip (how romantic) and we are so excited for it. It will be a nice 4 day break from work and a mini vacation before our summer trip.
Let's hope the legs hold up for this bad boy!

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