As this is my boyfriend's birthday weekend, I flew out to visit him in Fayetteville West Virginia, home of the Gauley & New Rivers. There just happened to be a half marathon ~1/2 hour away in Beckley, so I figured I would try it out.
There were a few factors against me from the start. First of all I have runners knee and have barely been able to walk down the stairs this week. My knee started to ache after my 21 miler last weekend and got pretty bad after my monday workout, so I did crosstraining on the bike or eliptical for the rest of the week. As I lay in bed this morning, just the act of raising it made my knee hurt.
So if I can't walk down the stairs without limping, what kind of course is Beckley. Well it is an out-and back course that is up or downhill the whole time, except for ~1 mile loop around some soccer fields and a .75 mile loop around a school. Ha!
It was so steep that at ~mile 7.5 I was running down what I thought was a fairly steep hill, I realized while I was running up the other direction I had thought I was running on flat ground because it was so less steep than the rest of the course.
My knee gave out soon after this point. My quad starting cramping up painfully on my knee the way it hurt to walk down the stairs. I had to stop and stretch for the first time in my life during a race. This is also soon after the temperature dropped from 60 degrees to about 50 degrees with a cold rain and brutal wind. Also there was a complete dearth of powerade, electrolytes, or sugar along the course. Lots of water set ups with everyone having a big smile on their face cheering you on. At some of the water stops people even jogged along with you to give you water (so wonderful and adorable!!!!) But when doing this hilly of a half marathon in cold rain and having your quad cramp up on you, all you want is some sugar and salt... and there was none anywhere along the course.
At about mile 10 on a downhill my knee gave out on me again and I prayed that there would be some sugar and/or salt as I stopped to stretch my quad & try to elminate some of the pain in my knee. After that, I couldn't run down hill, it was just too painful. I had to kind of hop-skip down, but I could still run the uphills! so it was a weird kind of speed workout :) I was passed by men #3&4 at ~mile 12 and one of them turned around as I was hoping down the hill in pain and said "you can do it you're almost there." Just one more example of the great personality that pervaded this rural race.