Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Morgantown Marathon 2016 Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's Morgantown Marathon Race Report. Video and Dave's comments follow the report.
West Virginia has a couple of marathons to choose from. I had my eye on the Freedoms Marathon but due to scheduling I decided to try the Morgantown Marathon instead. They had their first running of the race last year and the reviews were pretty good. They decided to redo the course so course maps were not up when I signed up. That was unfortunate. They said it was hilly, but I figured how bad can it be? I’ve done some really hilly courses: Big Sur, Atlanta, Knoxville, and New Hampshire. I was wrong, oh so very wrong.

We got in to Morgantown Friday night and went to Morgantown Brewing Company for dinner and had some beer. We then hit up Apothecary Ale House and that was a fun place with a good beer list. We finished up at Applebee’s because where else would we end up? As we were driving around, it was dark, but that didn’t stop me from realizing that there were a ton of hills and they were long and steep. I was pretty sure I was going to die. Our Uber driver even agreed with me.

Saturday was a rainy morning and we did a drive around Dorsey Knob Park. Next we hit the expo which was the only negative of the race organization. It was in the middle of nowhere! We had trouble locating it on our navigation systems. The expo itself was small, but everyone was super friendly and the shirt was a very nice long sleeve quarter zip.

After the expo we headed downtown for lunch and of course one more brewery (actually two: Mountain State and Chestnut). Again we were now driving around in the daytime and I could really see the hills and I was even more certain I would die. We had my traditional pasta dinner at Puglioni's and I tried to go to bed early.

The weather forecast for Sunday was a 90% chance of Thunderstorms. Luckily when I woke up it had rained overnight but looked good for now. I was probably going to get wet at the end of race but I hoped for the best. The start was a quick drive from our hotel the Hampton Inn. They started promptly at 7 am, my only complaint was no national anthem. I was also a bit nervous for this race because my hamstring has been bothering me since the Jackson Hole marathon, 2 weeks prior. So between, the hamstring, predicted storms and killer hills, this means Holly’s head is not in a good place. It was a downhill start which was a nice way to ease into it. The first half of the course was not too bad. It was rolling for the first 5 miles or so then some big hills and I started walking up the hills and running down the hills. I was feeling pretty good, but it was hot and humid, and I was soaked early on. The humidity was really draining me.

After the first half things get ugly. The hills get bigger and I get more tired. I pretty much mentally threw in the towel around mile 14 or 15. I was done and didn’t want to do this anymore. It’s been awhile since I have been in that place and it’s not a good place to be when you still have 11 miles to go. I started walking more and more until that was all I was doing. This was a big mistake. I really should have tried to get my head back in the game. I wasn’t feeling great due to the humidity so I was worried I wouldn’t finish so I talked myself into taking it easy. But it wasn’t easy. It was harder. I’m not used to walking that much and my shins were killing me.

I also had my bib rip around the halfway point and was trying to repair that so I didn’t lose it. Also I itched my back at one point and this caused my bra to come unclipped. This was not the back part but the part that slides in at the shoulder blade. This is pretty much impossible to fix while you are wearing it. I was panicked. I kept trying to fix it and couldn’t get it. There was a cop car up ahead and I was going to ask him if I could sit in the back of his car and try and fix it. Thankfully by some miracle I was finally able to get it back together. At this point it was just comical.

I was very happy to see our friend Erinn who was volunteering at a water stop. She had a sign for me and got all the volunteers to chant my name. It was a great pick me up!
Dave was doing a great job of following me and was being very supportive. I was going so slow. Towards the end they had popsicles and I was so happy. I had an 18 minute mile while I was enjoying that popsicle! Good thing because I needed to save whatever energy I had left to walk up the last ridiculous hill. I finally made it to the top and actually ran it in to the finish. I was so happy to be done, but I now only had 45 minutes to get back to the hotel and shower and checkout. I chugged half a beer and jumped in the car. The medal was nice and the volunteers for this race were really great, except for the one at mile 18 who said “Only 8 miles to go”, UGH, that is far! If you want a super challenging race with tons of hills then this is for you. This is now going to the top of my least favorite marathon list, beating out the Indiana indoor track one. Super tough and I’m glad it’s over. And as they say, “Yes it’s hilly!!”

Dave's Comments
I flew to Pittsburgh a few days early for work reasons. I had to drop off my work rental car an hour before Holly was supposed to land and pick up our new car. Of course her flight was delayed due to mechanical reasons. She wiggled herself onto another flight, but it would be a few hours later than planned. So to kill time I found the nearest brewery. Insurrection Aleworks was in a non-descript building in a working-class suburb. Inside the restaurant was nicely decorated and the food coming out of the wood oven smelled great. I had time to have two great sour beers and some tasty chicken wings. Eventually we made it to Morgantown and decompressed in a few local establishments.

At lunch on Saturday I picked up a drink stirrer shaped like Mr. Jack Daniels. Holly had to deal with impromptu puppet shows the remainder of the weekend.

Race day navigation was hard. Most of the race occurred on back roads or neighborhoods. Almost every branch of law enforcement or national guard were out blocking roads. The early portion of the race bottlenecked a whole neighborhood for at least an hour because the half course repeated back onto itself while marathoners ran a different route. In some sections I passed Holly a few times but there were no turnoffs. The town traffic circle was closed so I had to go way out of my way to get back on course. Good thing we did this the day before getting to the expo and I had landmarks: notably the airport and the strip club.

Watching the race in downtown was surreal. The only spectators were me and a man that I guessed was homeless. He didn't seem too into it. Some of the roads in older parts of town were narrow for a kid's pedal car let alone a regular vehicle. Snacking options were lacking. There were a few options near Mile 1, then nothing until town and mile 10. Mile 15/16 had a few fast food choices then nothing again until back in town for mile 24. At the finish line I was able to buy a beer.
To visit our friend Erinn, who was stationed at a waterstop on a closed road, I had to walk up a steep hill for a 1/2 mile. This was not the worst hill I saw on the course so it showed me how brutal this race must be.

We left Morgantown as quickly as possible. We figured out that we had enough time to get to The Church Brew Works - one of my must-see breweries. It's housed in a church built in the early 1900's that was closed in 1993. The food and beer were good as usual (not much changed since Wednesday).


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