I signed up for the Midtown Raleigh Race 13.1 half marathon about four weeks after running the Tobacco Road Marathon back in March [READ: #RapOnTheRun: 2014 Tobacco Road Marathon Review]. I wanted to give my body and mind a couple of weeks “off” to relax and not be worried about sticking to a running regimen. It may be easy for others, but being in training for a major race can be mentally and physically draining for me at times. I need short breaks between major events to be in absolute chill mode.
Race 13.1 bills itself as the Southeast’s premier, family friendly half marathon series. They produce events through North Carolina’s major cities (minus Charlotte). June 7th’s Midtown Raleigh Race 13.1 half marathon was my first time participating in one of their events. It was also my first time incorporating a mostly vegan diet into my running regimen.
My race soundtrack was stic.man’s The Workout. The entire album covers all aspects of healthy living, including rhymes about various types of workouts, the mind-body connection, fitness motivation and more. It’s jammin’.
On the day of the race, parking was a breeze. Matter of fact, out of all the larger races I’ve done, Race 13.1 had the smoothest parking experience ever. There was plenty of parking available and we had no trouble coming to or leaving the event.
There were plenty of port-a-potties! They were situated right by the starting line. In addition, race organizers had plenty of hand sanitizer available. This is a big deal to me, as I usually carry hand wipes in my race belt for that very reason. Some races have limited supplies of sanitizer or they run out by the time the event is over. There were also two port-a-potties at every aid station.
The race route was very well shaded. On race day morning, we were out of the house by 5:45 am and it was very cool, right around low 50’s. I think the temp highs reached 90’s by mid-race. I meant to check the weather app on my phone at the end of the race but I forgot. It was extremely hot that day. I’d prepared for the heat by drinking a gallon of water every day during the week leading up to race day. Every aid station offered both water and Gatorade. Either way, I would say that 80% of the race was in the shade.
The post race snacks were neatly packaged in individual boxes. Each runner was given a snack box after crossing the finish line. My box had a granola bar, a soy-based trail mix, yummy vegan blueberry granola nut crunch bites, cheese dip and another granola snack mix. There was also lots of pizza and McAlister’s sweet tea available for everyone to eat and drink.
Mile 12-13 was on Lassiter Mill Road and all one seriously steep up-hill! Chile! I did my best to run that whole last mile but it was too much. By that time, even with drinking water at every aid station and fueling throughout the race, I was pretty drained from the heat. I ended up walking mile 12.75 through 13. The hill peaked right before mile 13, so I was able to run the last stretch across the finish line.
At the aid stations, there weren’t any snacks. At mile 11-12, there was an aid station with candy, gummy bears and the like. The candy was already opened and runners had to reach their hands into the bowl/plates to grab some. I bypassed eating any because I wasn’t too sure if everybody reaching into the bowls had clean hands. Yuck.
As mentioned earlier, it was very hot. During the race, I saw two runners being tended to by EMS. One of them got loaded up into an ambulance around mile 9. The other one was laid out on the trail around mile 11. I’m not sure if the one at mile 11 got taken away by EMS as well, but according to race organizers, both runners ended up OK.
At the post race party, every runner was entered into a $500 cash and brand new, 2015 Lexus giveaway. Shawty, they had the new Lexus parked right by the finish line. The catch was the giveaway was at 10:30 a.m. (the race had started at 7 a.m.) and you had to be present to win. With a chance to win both $500 and a new car, y’all know good and well I was going to stick around for my chance.
The set up for the giveaway was one runner’s big number was pulled randomly. If that runner was present, then s/he automatically won $500. Then that person selected one envelope from a choice of ten. Nine of the envelopes had smaller prizes and one contained the actual car prize. The runner whose bib was selected did not win the car, but she did win the $500.
During this last round of race training, I followed an approximately 90% vegan diet. I’ve been vegetarian for a couple of years now, but had been reading a lot on plant-based runners like ultra marathoner Scott Jurek. Over the past couple of months, I’d also been following several plant-based athlete pages on Instagram such as @VegLight (Sadiya Wims), @TheVVeganPowerRanger and @DSanders36 (Darnell Sanders) for ideas, tips and inspiration. I read blogs such as No Meat Athlete and Plant Based On A Budget regularly and found them to be very helpful too.
Without going into too many details in this post on what and how much I ate, I can say that not eating meat, dairy or fish seemed to make a huge difference in my performance. Throughout my training and the actual race, I felt lighter, faster, recovered quicker after long runs and felt more focused. My finish time for this race was 3 hours, 1 minute, 24 seconds, a personal record. (The goal was to finish in under 3 hours, but that hill at mile 12 got me). My last three half marathon finish times in order were 3:48, 3:25 and 3:15, respectively. So I’m very pleased with my finish time. Adding in cross training on a routine basis surely made an impact too [READ: #RapOnTheRun: Final Fitness Boot Camp + Cross Training Results], but I feel pretty confident that a mostly vegan diet did as well.
Mind y’all, I did say mostly. Cause there were a few occasions where I did have some traditional cake. It’s hard turning down my mama’s homemade pound cake. I’m not ready to give that up yet.
All in all, Midtown Raleigh Race 13.1 was a good race experience. I hit a PR, the race was well organized and there were no major snafus. I’d never been in a race that offered both a non-running related prize ($500) AND a chance to win a new car. This bonus was enough to convince me to seriously consider signing up for another Race 13.1 event in the future.