TRI-ING FOR CHINA — March 15th, 2015

I’d really been looking forward to this race! Ever since I did the marathon last year I was planning to do the half this year, and being selected as an ambassador only made me more excited about it. My friend Steph was an ambassador too and our friend Kim decided to run the full and our other friend Kristin was going to cheer and volunteer so I knew it would be a fun girls’ weekend.

Steph and I drove up after work in Friday and met up with some of the other ambassadors at Wicked Weed for dinner. I knew they had good beer, but I’d never actually eaten there. The Greek burger, sweet potato fries, and Brussels sprouts appetizer were delicious and it was fun to get to know some of the people I’d only known through facebook for about 6 months.

On Saturday, my volunteer shift at the expo didn’t start until 10:15, so my parents came over to take me to breakfast at Biscuit Head. More yummy food!
The Expo was at the Doubletree hotel in Biltmore, just down the street from the entrance to Biltmore Estate. I worked the general info and future race registration table at the expo and had a great time! I loved getting to know some of the runners a little better by helping them register for next year (a full weekend of racing with the half and full on different days – mark your calendar for March 12-13, 2016!) or for the Royal Trifecta of races at Biltmore.
I remembered this runner from when she registered for Asheville at another expo and she was so excited to be the first person to register for the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge (half on Saturday, full on Sunday).
And then this is my new friend Jenny who actually lives near Greenville too. She and her friend Kelsey are all set for the full trifecta!
I also enjoyed talking through the course with runners and spectators and telling people about Biltmore (I’ve been a passholder for years and been there more times than I can count).
Once again, the swag was excellent.
When my shift was over I was pretty exhausted. My mom came back and we had lunch at my sister’s house and then went for a nice sunshine-y walk in West Asheville. The weather was so much better than last year!!!
Then I headed back to the Doubletree because I had earned a free room for Saturday night. I took a short nap and then Kim and Kristin arrived (Steph wrote “Go Wonder Women” on the chalkboard for us – Steph and Kristin and I are doing Ironman Raleigh 70.3 in May as a relay and all dressing as Wonder Woman).
Now that we were all together we went over to the White Duck in the River Arts district for tacos (at my request/insistence). It was quick, easy and delicious- perfect for a night where we needed to get to bed early.

Even though the beds at the Doubletree were super comfy, I always have trouble sleeping the night before a race and this was no exception. The good thing was that we were super close to Biltmore and we were planning to ride the shuttle from the hotel, so we could sleep slightly later than we otherwise would have. I was disappointed by the Doubletree’s decision to no longer include free breakfast in the rooms, but at least they did have some food available for purchase.

When we got to Biltmore, we saw that the race staff had consolidated more of the race activities up by the barn, including the post race food tent where we saw our favorite volunteer cutting oranges and bagels.
We hung out in the barn for a while, then dropped off our bags at the checked bag tent and headed for the start line. Steph and I met up with the ambassadors for a picture.
The sun was rising just as the race started.
I told Kim I would stay with her as long as I could, and I enjoyed jumping to the side and taking a few pictures along the way, like this view of the sunrise. My friend Liz also decided to stay with us.
The half follows the same course as the full until after mile 10, so I knew pretty much what to expect – a slight downhill from the start before a steep uphill to the Deerpark restaurant. On the way up, we ran into Jenny. Race day was her birthday! 🙂
The first water stop was at the top of the hill and just like last year the volunteers were awesome.
Next was that amazing downhill back to the Approach Road. The course follows the original path that the architects designed to being people into the Estate, slowly climbing through forests of rhododendrons and azaleas (not blooming yet though) up to the house. At the top of the (long) hill, there was a detour through the parking lots and another water stop with great volunteers, like this guy.
Then around the corner, through the gate and we got our view of the house. I sprinted ahead to take a picture of Kim with the house and then got a selfie of both of us too. 🙂
After the house, there’s a long downhill to the French Broad river, through beautiful woods and gardens.
I loved that there were actually flowers blooming in the gardens this year!
A nice view of the house from the side:
And Kim and Liz enjoying the downhill:

Once we got down to the river we had a nice flat path to run on for a while. I was looking forward to grabbing this shot of Kim by the lagoon with the house in the background, but the light didn’t exactly cooperate.

The next aid station had Girl Scout cookies! I think others did, but I was ready for it at mile 9 or so. (Also, they had all sorts of Gu flavors. Kim had a french vanilla one around mile 8 that tasted like that icing you get with cinnamon rolls.)
Just after that, Kim left me to cross the bridge to the west side of the Estate (see my race report from last year for more on that).
Around the next corner I saw Kristin and told her I’d be back soon to help cheer for Kim. She took this:
The 1ish mile out and back between 10 and 12 seemed long, but I passed the time chatting with other runners and being amazed at the first place marathon guy who was around mile 17 when I was around mile 12. Then it was up the last little (but still tough!) hill to the finish and the blankets and medals.
Like I said, the weather was amazing. It was pretty cool at the start, but I was comfortable running in short sleeves. But when I finished, I got cold pretty quickly and was very glad for the blanket!
A different color this year:
I took a quick detour up to the barn to use the restroom and grab some food. Once I finished eating I took a quick minute to change into my brand new Undress. I love it! I didn’t really need it at Biltmore since they had restrooms, but it was super convenient to be able to change in a tent full of people quickly and easily.
Then I found Steph and we joined Kristin to cheer (her sign was very popular).
We saw my friend from the expo with her friends (love their costumes!):
And then Kim came by!
After we saw her we went to mile 21 (where the marathoners pass almost right by the finish line) because I knew from experience that cheering there would be a nice boost for the runners.
We saw our friend Marty finish his first marathon!
Kim passed us and Kristin had a special sign for her:
Steph hadn’t eaten, so we went to get some food. And Liz had a PR so I took a picture of her ringing the PR bell!
Here’s Kim finishing!
After she finished we went up to get her food and actually take time to eat enough ourselves too. The post-race food was great! They had bananas and oranges, bagels, fruit bars, doughnuts, moon pies, pretzels, chips, water and hot chocolate. Yum. I definitely ate a couple moon pies. 🙂
Post-race picture of all 4 of us:
Once everyone had a chance to eat, stretch and change we went into the winery for a little tasting…

… and then stopped at the Hop (I know, no one who reads this is surprised) for an ice cream lunch before heading back to Greenville.

It was an exhausting weekend, and I still don’t think I’ve caught up on sleep, but I had a great time! I really love this race. I’ve already started trying to talk Brad into doing it with me next year…