Last Saturday I took on a new distance as I ran in the Virginian 6.6K, a race put on by my friend Jen. The race was held in Bristol, Virginia and was set on the picturesque, rolling (and I MEAN rolling) hills of the Virginian Golf Club. I would be making a weekend trip of it all, starting out with a stop in Asheville, NC on Friday night to catch one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Town Mountain. If you like bluegrass, definitely check them out. The put on a great show!
We stayed over in Asheville Friday night, and headed out for Virginia Saturday morning. The race had a very friendly start time of 11am, so that gave us plenty of time to make the hour and forty five minute drive to Bristol.
We arrived in Bristol around 10am and made our way to the race site after a stop at the local Starbucks. I picked up my packet, got my bib on and decided it would be a good idea after looking at part of the course to do a proper warm up before the race! I am glad I did since the race started with a hill climb right off the bat.
I made a decision NOT to wear my Garmin during the race. I did not want to worry about my time, I just wanted to run hard and have some fun. The horn sounded and up the hill we charged. I crested the hill, breathing hard already, a mere 2 minutes into the race. I had the run hard part down already, wasn't sure about the fun thing though.
The hills kept coming throughout the entire race. Not being familiar with the course, I held back a little, not knowing if the next hill was going to be bigger than the last. The course had mile markers, which helped. I was feeling good after passing the 3 mile mark. I knew there was one last big hill right before the finish, having drove that part of the course on our way in. I hit the climb, came around the bend and saw the finish chute. I ran hard the rest of the way for a time of 35:33 for a little over 4.1 miles, good enough for 3rd place in Men's Masters and 17th place overall. (Gotta love small races!)
I was happy with my time, and even happier that I ran hard up each and every hill along the course.With all the ultra running I do, I get paranoid that I can no longer run with any speed, so every now and then it is good to run short and fast! Thanks to Jen, I got my speed and hill work done in one shot!
Post race I received a cool pint glass for my 3rd place, and also won a really nice wind jacket as a door prize!
We hung out in Bristol and stopped in to my favorite stores, Mountain Sports Ltd. Always fun to shop there! We grabbed some lunch after that at 620 State in downtown. We then headed back to the hotel at Glade Spring to get some rest.
We were up early Sunday morning to meet some friends in Damascus to go out on a trail run along the Appalachian Trail. We got shuttled up to the trail head at Elk Garden, where we started in rain and fog.
After a mile or so the rain let up, and we settled into a nice run. This is a really pretty section of the AT, and it was a blast to run! I felt good up to about mile 8, then I ground out the last 4 miles, walking the hills and running (okay, shuffling) the rest.
I was happy when we reached the car. I said goodbye to the folks who were continuing on down the trail, and we made our way back to Damascus to pick up my car. The most challenging part of the weekend was driving the 3 + hours back home after all this! It was well worth it though. A great weekend!