This is definitely long overdue, but those that follow my blog understand that it has been anything but a normal kind of month for me.
On Saturday, June 3, I had the opportunity to run the Downhill @ Dawn Half Marathon in Ridgecrest, NC. This was a special one for me as it was the first time that I was able to run a half marathon with David, who got me into this crazy world of long distance running. He and his pastor were driving up from SC and I drove down from VA.
I left for NC on Friday morning with the plan being to meet up with David for packet pickup and then we would head to dinner. Traffic was a bit heavy for me so we ended up doing the packet pickup separately and we met for dinner. The pickup was at the Ridgecrest Conference Center where the race would start and took me all of about 2 minutes to go through. I picked up my bib, chip, shirt and sticker and headed out. They were kind enough to post the race map at the pickup.
Upon leaving the conference center, I met up with David and his wife, Pastor Tommy and his wife, as well as one of Tommy’s friends, Brian and his wife. I was traveling alone as our kids here in VA were still in school. We ate dinner at the Trail Head Bar and Grill in Black Mountain, NC. I went with a different kind of carb load before the race and had some fish and chips. After dinner it was back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep considering I had a 4am wakeup call coming my way.
I woke up bright and early (well maybe not so bright) at 4am to get myself together for the race. Race organizers had requested that those of us not staying at the retreat center arrive on site by 5 for the 6:01 start time. I can tell you that I don’t think most people paid attention to that as there were not many people around until closer to 5:30. I met up with David, Tommy, and Brian and we got ready to run this race.
The name of this race is Downhill @ Dawn and they aren’t kidding. A vast majority of this course takes you down the mountain heading towards the town of Old Fort. The name is at least slightly deceiving, though. The start of the race is a two mile downhill run to the turnaround point. The problem is, you then start climbing back the way you came and actually climb pretty significantly from miles 3-5. I can tell you that reaching the highest point of the run brings a ton of relief, but it has already taken its toll on your legs.
The next five miles take you back down the mountain on a combination of packed gravel and paved trails. This is easily the prettiest portion of the course. I didn’t stop to take many pictures as I was trying to run a PR, but here’s a couple of the shots I got on the way down the mountain.
The last few miles of the course take you into the town of Old Fort where you finish at the First Baptist Church of Old Fort. Waiting for you at the finish line is your medal (of course), water, chocolate milk, and multiple fruit options. I finished the race in a PR time of 2:06:44, taking 1:08 off of my previous PR. The other guys finished about 10-11 minutes ahead of me. We enjoyed ourselves at the finish.
Here are the details of the run itself. I found it interesting the both my Garmin and David’s Garmin had the race short of 13.1. Tommy and Brian’s apps both had the run longer than 13.1. I’m sure that satellite reception is a little quirky up in the mountains.
All in all, this was a fantastic weekend of running. I got to meet up with a good friend and make some new friends. We had such a good time that we are already discussing the possibility of running this race together again next year.
You can check out my friend David’s recap of the weekend here.
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