Last Wednesday, I received an email that there were a few spots left for the Biltmore Kiwanis 15k & 5k race. I thought about it, talked to my husband and decided to sign up. I needed to get an 8-mile run in this weekend, and I didn’t really have any friends that could do that distance. I’ve done this race in the past, so I knew what I was getting myself into.
That said, when I ran it last time, it was the race’s “last” year. They went away for one year and the race was back last year. I was kind of annoyed. I didn’t want to run the race based on principle. (Um, I already ran the final race!) Huge sigh. Oh, and I’m still upset with the marathon held at Biltmore in March. This was the same event organizer, and I just wasn’t happy with the way the marathon was run.
Needless to say, I gathered my stuff Saturday night and stayed up way too late. I wore pretty much the same outfit I wore at Nike. My race number was 765, which I thought was pretty brilliant.
I had a 5:00 alarm set. I woke up fairly easily and got dressed and ate my oatmeal for breakfast. I left the house around 5:40 a.m. and pulled up to the estate entrance at 5:54. That’s fast if you know the route from my house to Biltmore. I left super early because the entrance for the marathon was such a mess. Yesterday, I ended up having an hour to hang out before the start. The 15k started at 7:15 a.m. and I was able to use the bathroom twice and get plenty of stretching in.
I had a couple of goals in mind. I’ve been running 10-minute (or better) miles in my training runs. At one point, 1:30 was my goal for this race. At another time, 1:35 was good enough. So many things going through my head. I threw my iPod on shuffle, and thought I started my running app so that I’d have a cooler way of looking at my splits. (I later found out that despite hitting “start” it didn’t actually start.) Since I’ve taken SO many pictures of Biltmore in races past, I decided not to take as many this race. I just wanted to run and get it out of the way. Honestly, now that I look back at it (and I thought this during the race), if I didn’t stop to take photos, I definitely would have been many seconds faster. I almost regret stopping. Almost.
The weather was cloudy/drizzly/rainy. It was in the low 60s and when it wasn’t raining, it felt really humid. Mid-way through my run, it was raining harder. The rain stopped for about my last 25 minutes.
My first mile was under 9 minutes. The second mile had a lot of hills and the course is described as having two challenging hills in the first half. Every time I got to a hill, I tried to remember if that was the “challenging” one or just another long hill. The second half of the course was truly rolling, downhill and flat. Honestly, I have trouble running miles of flat ground. I need an uphill or downhill.
I remember looking at my watch and making sure I was running at least a 10-minute mile pace. At the 6-mile point, I was under an hour (58 minutes, I think) and it was at that point that I knew I could finish in around 1:30 if I kept it up.
My Garmin says that I ran 9.48 miles. There were a lot of people, and I was weaving in and out and across the road a lot. Lots of wasted yards there, I think.
The course finishes on an uphill. I hate Asheville races because most finish on an uphill! I remember seeing the clock and realizing that I was going to finish in an hour and 30 minutes, and some change.
My watch time ended up being 1:30:02 and my official time was 1:30:01. That one second has been bothering me so much! But I’m so proud.
The last time I ran this race (in 2010), my time was 1:36 (and I think 48 seconds.) So I PR’d by over 6 minutes!
Now, for a few technical things. The packet pick-up was still kind of a mess. It was crowded, the lines were going in crazy directions. Thankfully they had the tickets to get onto the estate with the bib numbers. (I missed the ticket for the marathon. It ended up being a non-issue, but they did take the tickets this time.) The shirts are fantastic this year. I had to go up another size to get a shirt that fit me, but they let me get whatever size I wanted on Saturday. (Seriously. I love the shirt. I’ll end up wearing it until it falls apart.)
There were water stops at around every two miles. I carried my on Gatorade, just in case, but there were plenty of water stops and port-a-potties. I took Gatorade chews at miles 4 and around mile 8. I plan on taking the chews during my half, and I wanted to continue to train for those.
Because of the nature of the course, there is very little spectator support. I’m glad I had my iPod. They were charging spectators $20 (I think) to watch the race.
At mile 7, my iPod played “Call Me Maybe” and I suddenly envisioned my newsroom flash mobbing the heck out of that song.
Will I run this race again? Possibly. It was a good day for me. I felt strong and I’m really happy with the outcome of the entire event. This race kind of made up for how awful my marathon experience was.
Biltmore, I kind of love you again.