“Disclaimer: I received entry into the One City Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
If you have been reading along, you have heard about my goal to run a marathon a month for 2016. The One City Marathon would be my March race. I was also registered for this race before I made the goal, so at the time driving 1000 miles (16 hours) each way didn’t seem crazy, as I didn’t have other races on my schedule. (Yes, I drove from Iowa to Newport News, VA & thanks to Kate, we had an awesome road trip, and I am about to tell you all about it, so get comfortable)
Registration: This was available via the One City website, prices increased as race day neared. Online registration closed a week out. You could also register at the expo. Included in registration was a long sleeve, unisex tech shirt; bib with timing chip and your name (if reg by deadline), one food ticket, 2 beer tickets, finisher’s medal, and shuttle to the start.
Kate and I took off Friday, March 11. The trip was off to an epic start, we came upon this “wide load” on the interstate. We couldn’t figure out what it was, but once we passed it, we discovered it was a GIANT potato. We stopped for gas and were lucky enough to spot the potato pulling in as well, so of course we had to grab a picture.
We were back on the road, had great weather and were gaining time according to the GPS. Kate caught a nap and I listened to the Nancy Reagan funeral. However we came to a slow crawl, then a complete stop near Dayton, OH. It was also an area of road construction. 15 minutes had passed, and with some twitter, IG, and googling we discovered that the interstate was closed and there was a 3 car accident ahead. We had passed the last exit only a mile behind, and they weren’t routing traffic. So we sat…we had all our snacks and our social media friends to keep us company. We were even stopped near the road construction port-a-potty. Oh mile marker 29.6…
Traffic got moving, 2 hours later!!! It was now dark, but we motored forward. We had started to hit the mountains in West Virginia, but it was kinda creepy, very dark…or maybe it was the fact we were listening to the Forensic Files on XM radio. We made it to the WV toll road Tamarack stop, and called it a night. Yep, we slept in the car at the rest stop. We originally thought, since we were about 5 hours out, we could power nap…but we woke at 6am. Lucky for us the Starbucks was open, so we grabbed some caffeine and carried on.
I was running this race with two other Bibrave Pros, and would meet them at the hotel to go to the expo together. Amy and Christine, were happy to see us arrive around 1pm Eastern Time, yes we had lost one hour, and would lose another due to daylight savings time.
We all piled in and headed to the expo. All while wondering where the water was, isn’t Newport News a peninsula?
Expo: This was free and open to the public. Held at the Community Center on Friday and Saturday before the race with free parking. Participants needed their bib number, which was sent via email or you could look it up. You needed to provide ID, or a pre-filled form if picking up someone else’s. From the bib pick up area, you had to walk to the back part of the expo space to get your shirt, which was specific for each distance, they also gave you a bag with some flyers, local companies of things I wont be able to use and a bottle opener key chain. (A virtual event bag was also sent a few days out via email, things I was also not interested in) The expo also had gait analysis, photo opps, running stores with apparel & shoes for sale, massages, local race information. Nice, easy, small, friendly.
We took many photos, Kate got a massage and checked her gait. Christine, Amy and I wandered around, even spun the wheel and won a Hershey’s bar and grabbed some chap stick. It was strange the expo was at a different location than the pasta party and not near the start or finish.
Kate and I were hungry, as we hadn’t eaten much, but we didn’t want to spoil our pasta dinner plans. So we found a brewery, they had lots of great beers. Amy and I got a flight, you know carb-o-load, as well as some fries (which the waitress was convinced we needed 2 plates of) Kate enjoyed a steak, and Christine enjoyed a pita. We also chatted with the waitress about a good place to hang out near the water, she stared at us as if we grew a third eyeball. She finally racked her brain and suggested we check out Yorktown Beach. It was just so strange to not see any water, the race 8k was named the Maritime 8k?!?!?
We had some time to kill, so Amy, Kate and I went to find Yorktown Beach. It wasn’t but a 20 minute drive. It was a cute little area, small colonial shops and touristy type things to see. When we left the area we also some some colonial battlefield things.
It was now time for the pasta party, which was at our hotel. We were staying in one of 3 of the host hotels. Which was also not near the start/finish or expo.
Pasta Party: There was an optional pasta party at one of the 3 host hotels (not at the expo site) There were tickets available to purchase online, and at the expo for $15, this sold out. The pasta dinner was buffet style and featured a panel of guest speakers, including runners Sika Henry & Bryan Morseman, a guy who has ran 175 marathons (forgot his name) a doctor and former NFL player Roger Brown. There was a salad and a marinara pasta and alfredo pasta, chicken and breadsticks too. Each table got 2 dessert plates one of brownies and one of cookies. There were some videos and guests of the dinner were encouraged to ask questions to the panel.
This was a nice touch, but as you may know I eat my pasta plain. I also don’t like to chance my food before a marathon, keep it bland. So, I really didn’t eat much pasta, but the salad was very fresh. There also seemed to be a lot of dessert. The panel of speakers was nice, and fun. Guests at the party were encouraged to submit questions. It also appeared if most of the tables were reserved for sponsors, leaving us to have a table for ourselves.
Then just like that, it was over. We made the trek back to the room, and Kate worked her magic with the desk clerk, Dylan, to get us an additional half hour at check out. The host hotels already offered a late check out, but due to the check out time being the same time as the race/party ending and the 20 minute drive back, we needed a cushion.
Race Day!! Sunday, March 13. As I mentioned it was daylight savings, we had set our alarms, and I have set my watch ahead. However, I woke at 4 am, to discover my watch had automatically moved an hour ahead, so I woke in a panic thinking we missed the shuttle. After realizing what happened, we all got our act together. The hotel had a runner’s breakfast available in the lobby – bagels, breads, apples, cereal, yogurt, bananas. However there was no coffee. The room had a coffee maker, but only one coffee pack. My pre race routine was suffering, as we allowed an hour before we hopped the shuttle bus and I didn’t have time for my 2 sips of coffee to work.
Kate is not a runner, although an avid crossfit afficiando. We tried not to disturb her and left her behind. The shuttle was prompt and we got on and then went to the other host hotels before making our way to the start, I think it was about a 45 min to 1 hour adventure.
Pre-race: The course is point to point, meaning you would need to get to the start. The race provided shuttles from the host hotels and the finish parking area. You could also get dropped off, or park here for free and figure out how to get back to your car. The race started at Newport News Park, a nice wooded area. There were plenty of port-a-potties, gear check and space to warm up. The corral was a self seeding system, based on pace. There were pacers. The live rendition of the National Anthem was sung and the race promptly started at 7am.
Before we took off, Amy got a message from Kate, (I had switched my phone to airplane mode) she was at Virginia Beach for the sunrise, AWESOME!
Race/Course: The point to point course takes you on a journey through Newport News. Running the busy streets, some highways, and back roads.
- all paved, mostly asphalt surface, lots of uneven spots, roads that “banked” or sloped to a side
- wide course, always at least 2 lanes wide, coned off, and no traffic problems
- volunteers – they were every where!!!!! Manning aid stations, at every intersection
- Law enforcement at all major road intersections.
- Every mile was marked with a permanent road sign, you know those metal signs like a stop sign, they appear to be there all year round telling the city where the course is.
- Photographers everywhere, not sure if they were with the race or local newspapers
- Aid Stations – These were about every 2 miles, all had water, all in paper cups. Then about every other stop had lemon-lime Gatorade, in a different colored paper cup
- no race provided food, but a couple of GU stops.
- Spectators – there are not a lot, but the ones that were out, were all encouraging and clapping. Some even provided oranges, candy, and bananas…oh there was some beer too
- bathrooms – there were plenty on course, at each aid station
- medical – there were ATV’s on course with EMT’s and tent stations, even towards the end course marshalls were on bikes asking about the runner’s well being
- Timing – there were timing split mats at the points where the relay exchanges were
- scenery – passed lots of strip malls, residential, parks, wooded areas, even peaks of the bay
- terrain – FLAT! and the race is at or near sea level. There were some gentle ups/downs, but not hilly
MY RACE- The race started at about 50 degrees, I chose to wear a tank and arm sleeves. The weather was all over the place leading up to race day, at final check it was to be partly sunny and 67 degrees and 70% humidity and a possible rain chance at noon. With the exception of one warm weather run, I had been training in about 40-50 degree weather, and was not ready for a warm race. The forecast was wrong.
The first mile was pretty in the park, runners were given the entire width of the road. The race is small, but the marathon shared the road with the relay runners too. I started with Amy and Christine, and that lasted for about 500 feet…they took off.
After a mile in I was already done with the arm sleeves. I knew I was in for a treat, it was humid, I was sweating. I had my Orange Mud pack with me, so I had water, but I needed to make sure to stay hydrated.
I kept a 11 min per mile pace, stopping for water and more importantly Gatorade, I knew that worked for me, and helps with the post run dehydration. Then at about the half way point, I had to use the bathroom, so my first stop.
I kept on going, and the sun was out, with out many clouds in the sky. I heard a couple Go Hawks, gave some high fives, and enjoyed the crowd. Speaking of the spectators, at mile 10 I heard “go #bibchat” Then a couple miles later I hear “Go Angie” I was a thousand miles from home, who was it? Later, I find out it’s a fellow twitter personality, as I see the wonderful picture he snapped of me. Thanks Derek!
By mile 16, I was roasting. I was monitoring if I was still sweating, and I was dripping with sweat. I had a Buff around my neck, it was drenched, so I moved it to under my hat, and it helped keep the sweat from my face. At this point I started playing that cat & mouse chase with other runners…you know you walk and they pass, you run and pass them. My pace was crap! When I stopped for my only course selfie, some guy was like – how many pictures do you have by now? LOL – I run with my Go Pro so I don’t have to stop…oh well.
I was on the struggle bus, but I was down to single digits to go. I knew I would finish in the allotted time – 7 hours, but it wouldn’t be pretty. I was also worried, I would make us all late for the 2:30 hotel checkout. I kept plodding away.
This last part of the race was tough. Racers were spread thin. I would see a fresh legged relay runner sprint by me and be mad I was getting passed, but other than that, I was out there on my own. It was also HOT!!!
The last few miles, I was walking, running, sweating, struggling. There was no shade. I really enjoyed the town local who had orange slices at about mile 22, REAL FOOD!!!! I had some nutter butters and fruit snacks with me, but the 2 orange slices were heaven! I also grabbed a twizzler from a cheering group. I really wish more races with have non gel options.
With about a mile to go, we were approaching the Newport News Shipbuilding yard, which is also where the Navy builds ships. There were 2 women in uniform who cheered me on, impressed at what I was doing, that made me pick up my pace. This is also where the bike marshals were making sure people were ok. It was about 75 degrees, way too hot for me.
I am not a fast marathoner, I try to improve each race, but the heat got to me, and I was sick the week before. I don’t like to use excuses, but I am sure that is why I didn’t have a great race.
Finish/Post race: The finish was clearly marked with an arch and timing mat, and the announcer told everyone who was finishing. There were spectators cheering on either side of the chute. Once you were done running, you proceeded across the street, to claim a bottle of water, your race specific finisher’s medal. There were also bottles of Gatorade, granola bars, whole oranges and bananas, also a light weight paper jacket with race logo. From here, you proceeded down the vendor lined walkway, where you could grab a bag for all your things,or claim your gear bag. Port-a-potties available.
I saw Kate clapping for me as I finished, I gave her a “look” she laughed and knew I was struggling. I didn’t even jump across the finish. I just wanted to be done. I don’t know what my Garmin time was, I had some weird problem, and had to restart it at mile 5. My official time was something like 5:40…in comparison, I have run “America’s Toughest Marathon” in 5:51. Not my race, but I am happy with a finish.
I got my well deserved medal, and a banana and granola bar in addition to more water and Gatorade. I was disappointed that the oranges had to be peeled. Food that is difficult to eat after a long run can be a struggle.
Then I saw Amy sitting towards the side, and I completely forgot I would meet Kate out at the end of the finishing area. I was happy to sit. I learned Amy got 2nd in her age group, she had an excellent race, but she’s a resident BADASS!! (Check her review here) She was 3 weeks out from a 50 miler. I asked if she knew anything about Christine, as Kate told me, before her phone died, that Christine was tracking 10-15 mins behind me.
We sat and chatted, then we saw Christine walk by, she was in a zone and didn’t hear the yells for her, I think the heat had got to her too (her review). So we got up, and I remembered I was supposed to meet Kate -oops. We did all eventually meet up, and we went to see what the post race party was all about.
The post race party was hoppin! There was a beer tent to claim your beer tickets. There was a food truck row set up, and you could claim only one item for free with the ticket on your bib. There was a stage with a rockin band, and the overall awards were announced before I finished. There was no shade or tents unless you had access to private groups or VIP. There were picnic tables to sit at and activities for kids. The walk to the car seemed long, but free parking was about 2-3 blocks away.
Surprisingly, I was feeling ok. We walked around the post race area. I went to claim one of my beer tickets, but was sad to learn that Michelob Ultra and Bud Light were the options, as the Shock Top was gone (Thanks for drinking it all, Amy) I passed on the beer. The band was loud and rockin, they were having a good time. We wondered over to check out the food trucks. I like that there were the free post race food options, but the only one food truck item was weird, but I claimed one taco from the taco truck, it was good. Maybe the race could just give 3 post race tickets and can either be used for beer or food.
We stood around, and realized as Amy’s shoulders were the color of a tomato, that the sun was baking us. After some quick photos, we made the walk back to the car. (as we had to get to the hotel to checkout on time)
Overall: Great price, flat course, well organized. I couldn’t do anything about the weather. I would run this again.
There were only about 380 marathon finishers. This was only the second year of this race, the race is organized like it’s happened for 30 years. You can truly see why it’s named One City, as the entire city is behind this event.
We got back to the hotel at 2, good thing we got that extra half hour, thanks Kate! We showered up and had to say our goodbyes. I love meeting up with the pros, we have a great time.
Kate and I were so excited to get back on the road again. We stopped and got gas, maybe a donut or 2, and fired up the GPS, only to discover the highway leaving the peninsula was moving at a snails pace. We detoured and got back on the road, only for it to cloud up and start raining.
I was driving, but exhaustion was hitting me. We switched drivers at a rest stop, and it kept raining, and it was randomly foggy. I am sure Kate appreciated driving through the Virginia mountains in the weird rain and fog, but she did a great job.
It got dark, and I was in a weird place, I kept asking Kate if she was ok to drive. I just needed to sleep and I don’t do that in a car. We finally called it a night in Charleston, SC. I was sooo happy to have a bed for the night. I did some work on the computer, and was out, not sure I even moved until the next morning. Also on the scary side, I didn’t even use the bathroom….which after all the drinking of water and gatorade, was strange…but this is something I monitor.
We woke up to more fog, but the sun looked like it was going to burn it off. We grabbed some of the delicious fare at the continental breakfast and were westward bound. I was also feeling great, surviving in all my compression gear.
The entire trip, Kate was fascinated by the Waffle House. I said we should stop, so she was always on the lookout for one on our route. She spotted one, I think it was in Ohio, so around 11 am, we found it!
It was a small building, and not many people inside. There were about 4 people working, and it was an experience. We sat at the bar, and Jonathon came up and introduced himself as our waiter. I ordered a double order of hash browns with a breakfast sandwich, Kate ordered one of everything, even grits!
As we chatted, there was a lot to take in. There was the perverted trucker “I can keep both sides of the bed warm” The waitress with 2 teeth, who said “I took in all the kittens in the neighborhood” and the other patrons, speaking to Jonathon by name to bring more syrup.
We got a kick out of the system, even though the grill and cook were 2 feet away, the wait staff would move to the side and yell the orders to the cook. “2 eggs, side of bacon, smothered hash browns!” It was a great experience, something you would get on a great road trip.
Jonathon made sure we were hydrated asking about 5 times if we needed drinks to go, and we left. Filling up with gas at the nearby gas station. We were back on the road.
It was sunny and about 60 degrees, but that changed quick, it clouded up and started to rain, near Dayton…you know where we were stopped for 2 hours on the way out. It was fun driving through the rain near a busy city. We switched drivers and it continued to rain, we even had a tornado warning, but quickly drove out of that.
The remainder, well besides a strange slow moving car situation near Indy, was uneventful. Well, we did stop at this roadside cheese farm. We made it back home Monday at around 8pm.
Now….am I crazy? I don’t know…but what I do know, life is full of adventure, and if you don’t take the opportunities to enjoy, you might miss out.
Thanks to Kate, for traveling with me and making this a trip to remember, I can’t wait to get back to the Waffle House and meet up with Jonathon again.
What’s next? I will be visiting Kate this next weekend in MPLS for the hot dash 10 miler, then I will meet Christine again at the Lincoln half the beginning of April, then back to MPLS for the Hot Choc 15k, then marathon #4 for 2016, the RnR Country Music Marathon….and it continues…