(#9) NC Half Marathon – Part 2 (Going Around The Speedway)

Monday, March 26th, 2012
Aurora jumping (with a lot of hair flying in her face) in the finisher area of the North Carolina half marathon 2012

I like this picture – even with the silly-ness of all that hair in my face :-P

Yesterday, I got so wrapped up being flabbergasted by two races – a week apart – feeling so different (even though my time was only 121 seconds different between them), that I kind of neglected to tell the story of the race.

Before the race started, I heard an engine revving like crazy. I think maybe they had a car drive out in front of everyone to start the race, but I couldn’t see it. It was weird, because I didn’t feel as though I was all that far back. (As I said, I’m pretty sure there were fewer than 2,000 people in this race.)

I was toward the back of the runners, and even I got across the start line in two or three minutes. Yet, even only being as far back as I was, I didn’t see the car. I didn’t see a flag wave (if they did that for the car-racing theme). I didn’t even hear a gun go off. I just heard an engine rev for a while. Then all of a sudden, we were all moving forward.

Uh, okay, the race is starting? As I got closer to the start line, I saw the clock going and people speeding up. So yeah, I guess the race is starting!

In the first mile, it was a little hilarious that the first thing everyone saw was mile marker 12. (The course was a loop, so we’d be coming back that way.) There were lots of varied reactions as people passed it, and a whole lot of people reacted.
“Oh, look! We’re almost done. Hahaha.”
“Oooooh why was this the first thing I saw?”
“Great! Can I just go from here?”
Etcetera. I thought hearing everyone comment on it was really funny.

I loved that there were cars by the mile markers (at this very well themed race), because if you were sort of far away from the next mile marker, you could usually see a car in the distance.

Something I found interesting about running around a track is that the strategy changes. (At least mine did, and judging by the people around me, theirs did too.)

Usually, the field of runners is pretty wide. I always try to stay mainly toward the right, being that I’m slow. Today, we all were going as far left as possible. Runners wanted to hug that curve so as not to add any distance to our run. (Also, the track slants up to the right. It could be really rough to run on that incline.)

Army band playing at the North Carolina half marathon 2012

the Army band playing

Some runners ran way up that incline all the way to the right, to the top of the slanting area. (And it slanted a LOT. This was not just a barely noticeable incline.) More power to them for challenging themselves! They also were taking a bunch of pictures of everyone below them. I bet they got some great shots of the field of runners.

After we ran through the Charlotte Motor Speedway, we ran out and around to the ZMax Dragway. Going into and coming out of the dragway, the Army band was playing for us. (Remember Stan who gave me that floss the night before? There he was rocking the mic.)

Mile 8 or 9 was one big hill running back toward the speedway. We had an awesome marching band and color guard cheering us on.

I had some good conversations with various runners/walkers as I kept trucking along. One woman commented, “It doesn’t get any easier.”
I said, “Really? This feels much easier than last week.”
“Last week?!” she said.

We got to talking about 52 half marathons, and Iron Mans (her husband is a triathlete).

One of the most energetic volunteers I’ve seen was at a water stop, cheering for every participant and saying with the utmost spirit, “You have less than 3 miles left! You can do it! You’re gonna make it!” I pretty much adored her. Someone get her to every race, please.

As she said, fewer than three miles left, y’all! I can’t wait to tell you all about the end of the race tomorrow.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?