Sunday, October 14, 2012

Freedomʻs Run Marathon Recap: Pre-Race Events

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This weekend I ran the Freedomʻs Run Marathon in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  Even though Iʻve been training for the Richmond Marathon, after my 24-miler last weekend--and with Richmond still five weeks away--I was ready for 26.  So I signed up for Freedomʻs Run at the last minute, making it my very first marathon.

Although Shepherdstown is only a little more than an hour away from us, it was still a bit of a scramble to get there.  With the holidays coming up, neither DJ Research nor I wanted to use our leave for this weekend, so we left right after work on Friday, meaning we got to packet picket just before they closed at 8:00pm.  DJ Research made us this snack of nutella and ritz crackers for the ride, much to Nuggetʻs delight.  

Ritz Crackers and Nutella

We missed most of the Expo since we got there so late, but I did manage to get a pair of Freedomʻs Run socks made by Swiftwick!  I have a pair of Swiftwick compression socks, which I love - theyʻre so comfy! (though I run in Pro Compression socks, because they offer more compression, which I like).

Freedomʻs Run Swiftwick Socks
Freedomʻs Run Marathon Swiftwick Socks

I got my bib and my race shirt.  At first glance, the race shirt is pretty hideous, but lots of people were wearing it during the race and it actually looked ok when worn.  Iʻm planning to wear it during the Richmond Marathon.  Its also made from 10 recycled plastic bottles, which is pretty cool.

Freedomʻs Run Marathon Race Shirt
Not my favorite color,
but I love that its long-sleeve
Since it was late, choices for dinner were few, so we opted for Kings NY Style Pizza, which also serves pasta.  Since we still needed to check into the Holiday Inn Express Charles Town, we took our food back to the hotel.  We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Fredericksburg, VA for the Marine Corps Historic Half, and I really liked it.  The rooms are nice and the rates are really reasonable.  The Holiday Inn Express in Charles Town, WV did not disappoint!

Holiday Inn Express Charles Town West Virginia
Home away from home

After dinner, I laid out all my gear while Nugget got some work done.  I think we made it to bed by 11:00.

Orange Pro Compression Socks Inov-8 F-Lite 230s
Racing in Fall Colors

All the cool toddlers are sporting this look

Despite my pre-race jitters and the fact that I got to bed late the night before, I slept well and was feeling good when I awoke.  I was up at 5:00am to catch the 6:00am shuttle that River Riders, a sponsor of the race, was providing to the start of the race.  For breakfast, I had a piece of toast with almond butter, a banana, and some coffee.  I knew it was cold out, so I wore two additional layers over my tech shirt, plus ear warmers and fingerless gloves that I made from a pair of my socks.  Its not as gross as it sounds, and they really helped, but I think actual gloves would be better next time (I just didnʻt have time to buy a disposable pair).

Layers (so not enough)
On the shuttle over, I met another runner who was attempting 50 marathons in all 50 states.  Sheʻs only done a handful and still has a ways to go.  She ran the Richmond Marathon as her Virginia race, and said she LOVED it.  I only hear good things about Richmond, so Iʻm excited for that race!

Even though I knew it was cold out, I was not prepared for just how cold.  To give you an idea, a Freeze Alert had been issued for the area; DJ Research said it took forever (plus or minus a few years) to get the ice off the car.  Luckily, we were allowed into the heated Harperʻs Ferry National Park visitors center for the hour we had to wait before race time.  We were quite cozy and packed in that little building like sardines. :)

Coffee and water was supplied at the start, and on top of that, there were REAL bathrooms.  With electricity, and flushing toilets, and running water.  If youʻve raced before, you know how rare that amenity is!

About 15 minutes before race time, I decided to brave the cold and do some light running to warm up.  And by warm up, I really mean try not to freeze to death.  It was sooooo cold.  I had to wiggle my toes constantly for fear they might fall off.  As I was just trying to shake myself loose, another runner comes up to me and introduces herself as Abbi from Higher Miles.  She was running Freedomʻs Run for the second time, and using it as a training run for the JFK 50.  She is basically living my dream.  We didnʻt get to chat much since the race was about to begin, but it was super awesome to meet her in person!

The race director, Dr. Mark Cucuzella, announced that the race is about to start and asks that everyone proceed to the starting line: a piece of tape on the ground between two cones.  I loved that there was no big hoopla at the beginning.  Because race times were determined according to gun time, I positioned myself at the front of the pack because I wanted my official final time to be as close to my actual running time as possible.  There was lots of space to spread out early in the race, so I didnʻt feel bad starting to close to the front.

Freedomʻs Run Marathon Starting Line
At the start

On Dr. Cucuzellaʻs command, the race began: "Runners take your mark! Go!"  And we were off!!

More to come...stay tuned! :)



  1. Leaving us in suspense! I just learned you ran this over on Abbi's blog and I was scratching my head b/c I was thinking Richmond, but apparently it's both! Congrats on your first marathon! You picked a tough one!!

    1. Yup, it was a last minute decision! But I'm so glad I did - it was awesome! Thanks!