Inaugural Petersburg Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the 2015 Petersburg Half Marathon in Petersburg, Virginia this past weekend. I needed to get in a long training run, and knowing my track record lately, I knew that I needed to register for a race if I wanted to guarantee getting that run into my schedule. I decided to run Petersburg on pretty short notice, just a week or so ahead of time. It was just south of Richmond, not far from home, and looked fun.

I drove down to Petersburg after work on Friday and met up with Letty for dinner at a local pizza place, Vincenzo’s. The pizza was good and I got to try some beer from Richmond. Letty was kind enough to share her hotel room with me, and we got some sleep after dinner. The next morning, our drive to the start area was not far. We managed to park a couple blocks away from the start/finish and met up with Sid.

Before the race with Letty

Pre-race pic with Letty and Sid; you can see the cobblestones
Union soldiers at the start

We congregated near an old train station. They did a nice job with the civil war theme, having reenactors dressed up in both Union and Confederate clothing at the start. I was worried that the start corral was on a cobblestone road. Thank goodness it quickly switched to pavement.

I was a half mile or so into the race when Jen and Pam from Shirlington Running Club spotted me. We chatted for a few minutes until I tripped on an open drain pipe and face-planted. Yes, again. I had just tripped on uneven pavement the previous Sunday at the Cherry Blossom. This time my shoe came off because it momentarily lodged in the pipe. I scraped my knee and my elbow and banged up my right hand, which was just starting to heal from the previous week. You might think I’m pretty clumsy, but I've been running since 2004 and until this month I had never fallen on asphalt. On trails, yes...on ice, yes...but not on a regular road. Let’s hope this fluke luck is behind me. Pam and Jen made sure I was OK, then I told them to run on as I dusted myself off and put my shoe back on. Thankfully, I had packed a large Band Aid, which I needed to put on my bloody knee. The bloody elbow was ugly too, but at least it wasn’t dripping. I washed it off at the aid station.

Selfie with Jen and Pam

The first couple miles of the race were on city streets and a stretch of highway. Then we entered the Petersburg National Battlefield. These were the most scenic miles of the course. We ran on rolling hills through woods and past historic landmarks and monuments. Civil War reenactors were our entertainment. It was a refreshing experience, quite different from the usual rock bands that provide on-course entertainment at many races. I was trying to run this race easy with consistent run/walk intervals. But I had to do more walking up the hills in the battlefield. Conversely, if a walk break fell on a downhill portion, I chose to run it.

In the battlefield

Here comes Sid with the flag, watching the reenactment

Reenactors in the trench

After the battlefield, we had more highway and city miles. We ran through a historic district in Petersburg. Sadly, many of the stately houses had fallen into disrepair. But, I was still able to appreciate their architecture. And through this stretch, I smelled the most amazing flower blossoms. I don’t know what they were, but they permeated the air for several blocks and added a nice springtime note to the race experience.

Just one of the historic homes we ran past

There were also a couple miles through some not-so-nice neighborhoods. While the scenery wasn't much to look at, at least the folks on the street were friendly. There was also a police officer at just about every intersection, so traffic was well-controlled, and most of the cops were friendly too. In the last few miles I saw Pam and Jen again. By then, the sun was out in full force and we were hot. Everyone just wanted to finish. The last mile was a tease. At about Mile 12 we ran practically right past the Finish line. But we had to go on an out & back to make up the last mile. There was a steep hill, and an interesting, run-down but seemingly historic set of houses, and another field with reenactors. As I came in for my finish, I saw Sid starting on that last out & back with two Team RWB runners, so three flags coming my way.


Nearing the end of my race, Sid still had a mile to go when I spotted him with these RWB runners

Finally, I made the last turn, crossed the railroad tracks, and finished the last few yards back on the cobblestone street. I was very careful not to trip, so I may have come in somewhat slowly. I was fine with that. I waited for Pam and Jen to finish. Then it was time for beer and meeting up with Megan.

What an awesome medal!
With Megan, Pam, Jen and this soldier after the race; Jen and I did not plan the matching of our Blerch shirts

The finish festival was nice. They had local Virginia beer, pizza and pancakes. There were various small tents with vendors or services being provided. I didn’t check everything out, but it seems they did a good job with this race. I had some beer and chatted with my firends until it was time for them to head back to their hotel and for me to head home. This was not an easy course, but it was a good race experience, and I would do it again. I don’t run a race just for the medal, but this one was pretty spectacular. It was large and beautiful, and very unique. It suited the Civil War theme perfectly.

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