The race website says, "Riley's Rumble is the evil half that your mother warned you about. Don't be seduced by the lush bucolic countryside of rural Montgomery County. This race will challenge the best runners. If you want the 3 H's (hills, heat, and humidity), this is the race for you."
I am not the best runner and I certainly did not want any of those things, let alone all three. I wussed out last year and skipped this run, there were a lot of emails the night before about how awful it was and would be because it was stupidly hot last year - so hot and humid, in fact, that they didn't time it and turned it into a fun run. The weather this year promised to be better so I figured what the hell.
This is not a race for our program, but a well-supported training run. We do it to test race day strategies and night-before/morning-of prep but we're not supposed to go all out. I figured just finishing this thing would be enough of a challenge for me anyway so I wasn't stressed about it, though I was kind of terrified.
I got to the parking lot about 30 minutes before the start and it was packed, I have no idea why this is so popular. Hit the bathrooms, found my 12:30s and we lined up at the back of the pack. This is where we would stay and I had no problems with that. The weather wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been but with most of the road being surrounded by trees there was nowhere for the heat and humidity to escape so it was a bit stuffy. And there weren't as many water stops as I'd expected, I guess logistics made it kind of tough.
As a group I think we had a great first half, we ran the hills at a decent pace, took walk breaks at all the water stops, and were feeling pretty strong. Somewhere around mile 6.5 or so we started to split up, we regrouped around maybe mile 7, split up again. At mile 8.42 (yes, exactly, as the sign said) there were ice pops. These are magical and wonderful and were the best part of the race.
We stayed in three separate groups for the rest of the race so everybody had at least one other person for company (after Kathy turned in one hell of an amazing performance on some hills and stopped to wait for us to catch up). Which was great because, while the scenery is lovely, there is NOTHING out there. And no one. It's dead quiet, there are no spectators. Running with music was allowed but the roads weren't closed off so I don't think it would have been advisable.
The last 3.5 miles were tough and we did quite a bit of walking. We had enough energy to half-way run half-way up some of the hills, but there were SO DAMN MANY it became impossible for us. Even walking to the top of some of these things we were out of breath. Looking back you always wonder how much better you really could have done, but while you're out there it's so mentally and emotionally draining, plus you know this isn't your goal race and there's no reason to kill yourself for it.
I had my Garmin but didn't look at it until I knew we were close to the end. I saw we had about .4 miles to go and we'd make it under three hours if we ran so we did. We rounded the corner, saw the clock at 2:59:25. Sweet, just in time! We finished a little under 2:59, which is kind of exactly where I thought we would be. It's not a good time, but it was over. They're not lying, this thing is evil. Sure the uphills are often followed by some nice downhill stretches, but they do not even come close to making up for those inclines. I know I say this all the time about races, but I am NEVER doing this again!
Today I feel fine, surprisingly nothing is sore or injured and I'm not all that tired. I may still be, and always will be, a big girl but I'm a big girl who proves you can be big and healthy.