Fellowship of the Idiot 19.7 mile Run

My sister lives near Morrow Mountain State Park so I’ve known about the Albemarle area for over 40 years.  In fact, my niece got married on the top of Morrow Mountain.  What I didn’t know about this area until I got into running was this awesome running store called Vac & Dash.   Vac & Dash is a unique store.  They sell vacuum cleaners and running shoes.  They also are a UPS shipping outlet, sell and repair bikes, time races and sell disc golf supplies.

Back in 2012 when I was doing a race a month, I stumbled upon Vac & Dash and the awesome Run the Valley half marathon.  I was very intrigued about running to the top of Morrow Mountain.  I signed up and ran with a new friend from my Galloway running group.  I wasn’t at all concerned with speed at that time so I went into that race with a very relaxed attitude.  It was a hoot!  Beautiful scenery and very well run race.   It is the only race to date that I have placed in my age group.  (disclaimer:  I got 3rd place in my age group…and there were only 3 of us in the group.  I got a trophy though.  LOL)

Fast forward 5 years and my oldest and one of my dearest running friends, Lisa, messaged me and ask me to join her in the Fellowship of the Idiot Run.  The Fellowship of the Idiot Run started back in 2003 with a few friends getting together for their last long run before the Myrtle Beach Marathon. They started at the YMCA in Albemarle and ran to the top of Morrow Mountain and back.  Every year since then, idiots have gotten together for this awesome long run.  This year there were 174 runners making it over 600 official idiots since the run’s inception.  Fellowship was 19.7 miles and there was a hard cut-off at 2 hours to make it the top.  I jumped at the chance to run such a fun run with such a great friend and said yes immediately.  However, when I learned about that hard cut-off, I worked myself up and became very anxious.  That meant I had to average about a 12:00 minute mile.  Not too much of a worry on a flat course but going up the mountain…. Hmmmm, I didn’t know if I could make it or not.

I really, really wanted to become an Official Idiot and earn my shirt.  I tried to keep a positive attitude and tried very hard to just enjoy the run and not stress so much about pace.  My good friend Claudia told me to run 30:30 intervals if I had to on the steepest incline (30 second run: 30 second walk).  So that was my plan.

The run starts at 5:30am and since my sister lives about 25 minutes from the start, we traveled to her house on Friday night.  I stayed up way too late visiting but somehow managed to wake up at 4:00 and make it out the door by 4:30.  I was in Albemarle just before 5:00 and had plenty of time to use the bathroom, find Lisa, and check in.

Peter, the owner of Vac & Dash, welcomed us all, said a few words and then it was a simple, Ready, Set, and Go.  We were off!  Here we are just before the start.

Idiots at the start

The first few miles were in the small town of Albemarle.  Since it was so early there wasn’t anyone on the streets except us.  It was very dark.  I had my reflective vest on for safety and I also wore my new headlamp.  By the way, I highly recommend the Petzl Headlamp.  I love the USB charging feature and it is very comfortable.  It stays put on my forehead and doesn’t bounce at all.  The only thing I wish is that it had a blinking feature on the back some way.  That would be cool and even safer.  There was one hill early on in the run and it was very tough.  Lisa and I were talking and I was having trouble completing my sentences.

The next miles passed effortlessly.  We talked and talked and enjoyed meeting other idiots out for this 19.7 mile run so early in the morning.  Before long, we started seeing the sun begin to rise.  It was a beautiful orange.  The weather was on the chilly side but not too bad.  I like chilly for a run so I was in heaven.  There really wasn’t a wind to speak of at all.

Lisa’s whole family came out to support her and they were blasting cool songs and ringing cow bells, and hootin’ and hollerin’ and pretty much being the very best supporters ever!

We stopped a few times for pictures and I walked a few steps when I was drinking or taking a Gu but for the most part, I ran all the way.  I didn’t even have to use the 30:30 plan to make it up the mountain.  I was so surprised I was able to run the whole way up.  I was all smiles coming in at the top of the mountain!

Here’s a shot that Lisa’s husband, Wes,  captured of me.

me at top

 

And here we are at the top.   This shot was from the race site and we must have been looking at Wes.

us at top

And just look at this amazing shot Wes got of the sunrise!  Breathtaking!  We really ran to heaven that morning!

 

Wes' sunrise

After these photos and a quick Gu and bathroom break, we headed back down the mountain.  The run back was just as awesome.  Morrow Mountain State Park is so peaceful.

Morrow Mtn

The roads were a little busier when we got back into Albemarle but not too bad.  The directions were clearly marked and before we knew it we were back at the Y.  We had earned our shirts and now were official idiots!

got our shirts

Note, In years past someone was pictured holding their shirt upside down by mistake and now everyone does it.  An Idiot Tradition!

From the race you get that awesome shirt and a funny idiot certificate.  Wes however, couldn’t have us complete a run of this magnitude and not get a medal.  He designed this medal and got them for us.  Lisa was Idiot 1 and I was Idiot 2.  Lisa’s daughter made the buttons for us.

I had the most fun ever.  Thank you so much to Lisa and her whole family for including me!

Thanks so much to Peter from Vac&Dash and thank you to all the volunteers that make the run possible year after year.  I certainly want to be a returning Idiot next year and beyond!

When you are planning your 2018 race calendar, you really should include Fellowship of the Idiot Run.  If something comes up and you can’t make it, you can’t get a refund.  But somehow I think you’ll be okay with that.  There isn’t a race fee at all.  Completely free!

Do however, make sure to make a donation to help support this remarkable run.  Make sure to save some time after the run and go on down street to Vac & Dash.  If you’re lucky like me you might just find something on the clearance rack!

singlets

A Hinson Singlet with the year I ran on it!  Woot Woot!  Best $4 I’ve ever spent!   (Vac & Dash does the apparel for Hinson.)  I also got the red one and it was only $4 as well.  I’ll be stylin’ for sure this summer!

Happy Running Friends!

Advertisements

Run the Valley…..and the Mountain

Run_the_Valley

most photos by Christy Crisco and used by permission

In my quest to run a race a month for all of 2012, I came across the little gem of a race called Run the Valley.

Since my training mileage is increasing every week, I knew I wanted to look for at least a half marathon. If I was going to miss my Galloway training run I knew I had to make it worth it. However, my stipulations were many. I wanted a race destination that was not too far away. I wanted a low entry fee. I wanted a medal. And, most importantly, I wanted a cool race shirt. Run the Valley met and far exceeded all my expectations.

Run the Valley begins in the town of Badin and runs to the top of Morrow Mountain and then back again. I had never heard of Badin but I knew Morrow Mountain. My niece got married there so I knew it was close to my sister’s home in Mt. Pleasant, NC. Total distance from the Raleigh area was only about 2.5 hours away. Perfect. I knew I could either drive early the morning of the race day or I could spend the night with my sister. No hotel costs for me. Huge Win!

Best_of_Badin

The entry fee was only $35.00. I could not believe it. At first I just knew that you’d never get a medal for that price and if you got a shirt, it would be a” rotten” cotton one.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. For the very low price of $35.00, somehow they provided us with the most amazing race you could imagine. Nice medal. Very cool shirt. A long sleeved technical one and you even had the choice of a man’s or woman’s fit.  And we even got a sweat towel.

548399_3639535712101_1114303676_n         IMAG0850

I was sold! I knew I wanted to do it but I knew that running a race alone (no matter how cool of a race it is) is never as much fun as when you share the adventure with a friend. My only problem was that Ron hasn’t been training as much lately and he isn’t prepared to run that far right now. I knew I’d have to drum up a buddy to run with from my Facebook friends. I posted on my FB page and I didn’t get any takers so I also posted on my Galloway pace group page. That’s where I met up with Dottie.

Dottie has been running for over 30 years and is an inaugural member of the Raleigh Galloway Program. She said there couldn’t have been more than 20 or 30 members when they began and now our Raleigh group is over 500 members strong. That makes us the largest Galloway program in the nation. Dottie has 10 full marathons under her belt and too many half marathons to remember. She saw my post and was also intrigued. She decided to register that day.

This year, Dottie mostly runs with the 11:00 pace group and I run with the 10:30’s. We kept missing each other on Saturday mornings and remained FB only friends for about a month. Early race day morning, we met for the first time face to face and became in person friends instantly. Isn’t it so cool how a common hobby such as running and racing can help you find a new friend!? One of the group leaders in the 10:30 group told me that all of her best friends now are people she met at Galloway.

I’ve thought about how I was going to put my thoughts into words all week and how in the world I would ever give you a glimpse of the beauty of the valley and the mountain.

I knew it was going to be hard. Especially hard because I had only one photo to share with you. My phone has officially bit the dust. It hasn’t really worked well at all since I ran with it in the rain back in March. I had charged it all night but before I could even snap one picture on race morning, it was dead. This photo of me and Dottie with our medals was taken by a nice person I met at the awards ceremony. Her name was Kara and when I told her my phone had died, she didn’t hesitate to snap a picture and email it to me. Thanks Kara!

Missy_and_Dottie

What I really needed were all the cool pictures that the race photographer took. So, I found her on FB and sent a message to her. I asked for permission to use her pictures and luckily she agreed. I’m not positive that she took every single one of these pictures but since she seemed like she was the head race photographer, I’m hoping that it will be ok. Please visit their FB page for a complete viewing of all the wonderful race day photographs. 

Early Saturday morning, I drove into Badin. It was still dark and when I approached the town limits and I could just make out the lake that Badin is famous for. Badin Lake is very popular and the boat dock was quite busy that morning as are most Saturday mornings I am sure. There was a slight mist rising from the lake and that mixed with all the lights from the trucks and boat trailers gave me a sense that I was in for quite the adventure.

Just around from the dock, my Garmin told me to turn and I found my way to an Elementary School that runners were supposed to park at. One foot out of my car and I knew something was different. It was Saturday. It was dark. But it was cold. I have been running all summer and every Saturday I faithfully apply sunscreen while it is still dark and try to find something to wear that will camouflage all the sweat that I will be swimming in moments after I begin running. Today was different. It was cold. I couldn’t believe it. Fall was actually here and the horrors of this challenging, humid, HOT, Summer were finally coming to a close. I was SO happy.

Dottie and I met up at the bib pick up area and quickly became friends. We then started planning our Mountain strategy. Dottie doesn’t normally run her Galloway intervals on race days anymore since she is so experienced. However, I really wanted to. She didn’t think twice and agreed to run them with me. I set my Garmin to the run 3 minutes – walk 1 minute interval and just like that we were off.

Note…that’s the one small suggestion I have for the race directors. It was fine to just say, “On your mark, get set, Go!”   I liked that part a lot. I didn’t miss the gun start at all. I did miss the singing of the national anthem. I did really miss the prayer. I’m sure there was someone in Stanley County that would have loved to showcase their voice with the singing of the national anthem. And, with all the Run for God t-shirts that I saw in the race, I’m sure others missed beginning the race with a prayer.

The race began very quickly and before I knew it I looked around and Dottie and I were dead last. Not a single person behind us. That has never happened to me in a race. I could not believe it and was sort of freaking out. Dottie wasn’t irritated in the least and just told me to stick with the intervals and that we’d catch up to some other runners soon enough. Her easy going attitude calmed me down and we settled into a good rhythm. The run down Valley Drive was so tranquil. Dottie kept pointing out different houses she liked and how nice the landscape was. It was a very pretty run.

me_and_Dottie_on_Valley_Drive

Not long after we started up Morrow Mountain Road, I spotted some runners in the distance. The mountain was tough but with the intervals it was doable.

Morrow_Mountain_sign

Here’s an elevation graph so you can get an idea of what we were facing.

577011_3633414679079_1885294008_n

We kept chugging up the hills and then there was this huge hill and a sharp horseshoe curve. There was a race photographer right there in the curve so I told Dottie that we had to run and smile for the picture.

Here’s a shot of me in that curve.

Missy_running_up_hill

Here’s my very favorite picture of the entire race. Two runners giving each other a high five as they pass one another.

two_runners_on_hill

And here’s another great mountain shot:

578585_10151028000181669_1369497731_n

We made it to the top before we knew it and then we began the descent.  We met up with a two other runners and chatted with one of them a bit.  It was his first half marathon and I told him that he really picked a hard one.

We trailed 2 other runners the entire way back into Badin.

426901_10151027883496669_312299234_n

We finished up just behind them and when we met up with them at the food tent, they just smiled and smiled and told us that we were really challenging.  They said we were relentless.

This race was one of my very favorite that I’ve ever run.

Dottie won 1st in her age group and I won 3rd in mine.

198472_3639503951307_1683553744_n

My very first trophy ever.  I am so proud of it but I promised myself that I’d come clean tonight and reveal that there must have only been 3 women in my age group.  LOL

85 total participants.  The smallest but most wonderful half marathon I’ve ever run.

Way to go Vac and Dash!  Next time I’m  in your next of the woods, I’ve got to visit your running store.  Well, running and vacuum cleaner store that is.  I’ve got nothing but the highest regards for you all!