Race Report: One City Marathon (2016)
The city of Newport News, Virginia has done it again, hosting their second annual One City Marathon. This has hands down become my favorite marathon. Just about every corner and straight away along the route has a cheering spectator.
Marriott at City Center once again utilized one of its ballrooms to host all of the local venders for the expo, however it looks like this marathon is gaining popularity. The 2017 Health and Wellness Expo will be held in at the Denbigh Community Center and will include as many as 30 health, fitness, and apparel vendors. Not sure what the runner cutoff will be as of yet, but the last two years had a 400 runner cap. This does not include the marathon relay.
To complicate matters or to keep us runner on our toes, the race director and city chose to host this year’s race the weekend of Daylight Savings Time – losing an hour of sleep. This was not a problem because I went to sleep early. After spending the previous week sleeping on a cot in a tent, I could not wait to sleep in my bed!
The morning of the race was perfect! The temperatures started out in the mid-50s and there was not a cloud in the sky. I left my house to pick up my friend Eric around 5:30 a.m. This might have been a bit early, but we had a sweet parking place…not far from the bathroom. Waiting around was not a problem because we knew several other runners, so we chatted about our strategies. The race would begin at the north end of the city at the Newport News Park, and finish at the south end at the Victory Arch. The starting corral was very simple…a left and right side with easy access depending where your race pacer stood. At the front of the corral/starting line was the RD’s stage. We could hear him clearly making several announcements which included a little pre-race music. This motivated the growing crowd of runners! This year, unlike last year, there was a small pavilion not too far from the RD’s stage that had water coolers with plenty of cups. This was great for me seeing as how I left my water bottle in the truck.
The last few announcements were made around 6:50 a.m. including the National Anthem singer, a six year old from a local school. WOW, she was amazing! Did I mention she was six?! Five minutes to go and the hand cyclists were off. Nerves decided to kick in at this point. I was lined up with the 3:30 group. My watch was set for a 3:34 finish, so I didn’t want to be too far back from this group. Last year, I clocked a PR with 3:39 and my training leading up was great, so I was going big.
The horn sounded and we were off! As I crossed the timing mat, I depressed the start button on my new Garmin Fenix 3. I was able to practice with it the week leading up to the race. About 30 yards afterwards we made our first turn. The entire group of runners around me seemed to be so happy – this is what makes running fun. After about a mile into the race, I looked down at the runners in front and around me and realized the majority of them were wearing ankle-tracking pods – meaning, they were the first leg of the marathon relay. Now, I understood why they were so talkative and happy. I hung with them as they swapped out at mile seven and fresh runners started. This occurred three more times throughout the course, except I started to fall off the 3:30 pacer.
The race course was the same as last year except one minor change around mile 18. Instead of leaving the Virginia War Museum and going over Mercury Blvd, we exited the park and ended up back on Warwick Blvd. This change allowed us to go under the overpass and down to the final leg of the race. As I hit 70th street, I knew the end was near. This is about the same time the trees stopped blocking out the sun. Typically, 10:00 a.m. and mid-60’s are nice, but when there’s no shade and the finish line is near it is not so nice. I took several glances at my watch before I realized I was starting to fall off my projected pace. I really thought I was moving at the same pace as before, but my watch revealed I was doing a 9:00 mile. There seemed to an obvious disconnect from my legs and mind.
Somewhere between mile 24 and 25, the final water station came into focus. Here a high school band was playing and the crowds were cheering. They were a much-needed boost! I took one last cup of water and begin my descent towards the finish line. I could see a couple of other runners not too far in front of me and I began to pick up my pace. Could I catch them before the finish line? With just a couple of numbered streets to go before the final turn, I was able to catch two of the runners. The crowds erupted in excitement, which boosted me even more. As I passed the 26 mile sign, I felt my first twinge/cramp/electrical shock in my right calf. I did not know what to think…was I going to cramp here and fall down or was it going to pass? I pressed on knowing a PR was well within my reach. I crossed the finish line at 3:32:53, seven minutes faster than last year.
386 runners from 25 states and Canada crossed the finish line earning a spot in Newport News history.
I am more than happy to continue running in the Newport News One City Marathon for as long as I live in the area! The crowd support and quantity of volunteers make this race a huge success. It was also refreshing to see that feedback from last year’s runners was valued and implemented, resulting in changes that were much appreciated.
Overall: 48 of 386
Male: 41 of 248
Male Age Group 40-44: 9 of 39
Masters Male: 22 of 150
Gels and Salt Pill schedule (approx. time/mile):
30 mins before start – 4 Sports Legs
15 mins before start – 1 Honey Stinger Chocolate gel
5 miles – 1 Honey Stinger gel
10 miles – 1 Honey Stinger gel
13 miles – 2 Salt Sticks pills
15 miles – 1 Honey Stinger gel
20 miles – 1 Honey Stinger gel / 2 Salt Stick pills