I collected state #17 in North Carolina this weekend when I ran the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC. This was definitely a bucket list race for me from before I even started marathoning. This was just a half marathon I wanted to complete but then I started running the 50 states and I knew this would be my North Carolina race. The entire time I was running I couldn’t believe I was actually running the race.
The only bad thing about this race was it happened on the day of the time change. I had already lost an hour with the time zone change and then time changed so I lost another hour too. No bueno but it wasn’t that big of deal. Race morning, I arrived UBER early because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find an Uber. I arrived at the race at 6am and it didn’t start until 8am. I did like they had water and fruit available for us to eat pre-race. More races should do that.
The race started on time and had the best hype man ever. I should have taken a video but I was trying to save the battery on my phone. (I needed to call an Uber when I was done.) The start of the race was pretty amazing. Everyone was lined up and ready to go and it flowed smoothly. I was impressed, especially with the amount of people running the race.
I knew nothing about the actual course except it was pretty flat and there were some serious out and backs. We started on the street and my shin was really bothering me. It was warm and humid and I knew that it wouldn’t be a day to push the pace. The forecast had called for rain but it looked like it was going to hold off until the afternoon, which just meant the humdity was going to be that much worse.
My shin was really bothering me the first 2 miles as it had done the week before so I took it easy, but the thing that really saved me was at the 2.5 mile mark we turned off onto a crushed rock trail. It was great. It was a softer surface and I was able to run. The trail also had a small road for biking but had a shoulder that I ran on the entire time. I was really hoping the whole race was going to be like this. Like I mentioned before, it was an out and back from the start when we split with the half marathon group. And then we ran the out and back of the half marathon group.
This kind of limited the crowd support because we were on the trail the entire time but it was so pretty. It was calming and peaceful and us folks in the back had each other for support. I knew I wasn’t going to be pulling a 5 hour marathon that day and it was more important for me to finish. I was really hoping for a 5:30 finish and that is what I was aiming for.
I was able to keep running for the most part. When things got more humid I backed off the pace a bit. I was really worried about getting the side stitch like I did the week before in Georgia. I was on top of my hydration plan the entire time. I came armed with Nuun Active and Nuun Plus and it really worked because I had no major problems this race. I really know what to do in the future now.
Of course at mile 16, I had my Honey Stinger waffle break. I pick miles 16 because this is usually the point where I start to break down mentally and do my mental health check. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to during the race. I also come with another for mile 20 if I’m feeling low, but I didn’t need to take it this time. Maybe because the aid stations were super awesome at this race. Besides having the normal GU and gatorade, there was also pretzels, bananas, candy and one station even had banana bread which was SO GOOD!
When I finally made it back to the road at mile 23.5 I was thinking this is probably one of the best races I’ve ever run. Great people and the course was magical, but then I hit mile 24 which was on the road, open to traffic…that was moving pretty fast and there were not volunteers out there. It was pretty scary and unsafe because we literally had 15 inches of running room. This kind of disappointed me but it in no way ruined the race for me.
The last two miles of the race were kind of hill and the final stretch of the race was all drastically downhill (because the race started on an uphill) and it was kind of tearing up my legs. I had to walk some of the downhill because the muscle groups just weren’t having it. I ended up crossing the finish line in 5:36:55. I was pulling for 5:30 but I walked a lot of the last two miles for safety reasons so I’m not disappointed.
And there’s was cold chocolate milk at the finish. It was so cold it was frozen. I didn’t mind it on a warm day. It did start to rain five minutes after I crossed the finish line, took my picture and walked under the tent. I may have gotten lucky. I needed it for the recovery; it’s the right ratio to carbs and protein to make your body recover faster. I usually can’t eat after running these things but I’m always able to get some liquid down so this is one time I do the liquid calories.
I really loved this race and then I got this awesome medal when I was done.It’s a pretty big medal too. It’s definitely one of my favorites because it’s a classic beauty. It’s not over done but it so nice.
This is definitely one of those races I would recommend to everyone! There is something great about running through nature and just having a great time. I didn’t listen to any music and I just enjoyed the moments. I really had time to think about why I started my running journey and why it’s important for me to share our story with others about weight loss and change. I’m thankful I get these opportunities.
Expo, pre-race and post race were excellent and one of a kind. This is a first rate race that truly cares about the actual race and what the runners need. If you have the chance to run North Carolina, this is the race for you.