If all goes well I hope to complete the Delaware Marathon in May which would make the 12th state in which I have completed a 26.2-mile race. I like to complete a warm-up race in the weeks leading up to a full marathon. Perfect timing and location made the Blue Ridge Half Marathon the logical choice as a training race. As the name implies, the event is held in the Blue Ridge Mountains, specifically in and around Roanoke, Virginia.
They offer a full marathon that goes out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, but for now I like to save 26.2-mile events for states that I have not yet completed. Besides that, with two mountain ascents this particular race is also known as the toughest road race in the United States. The half marathon course takes you up Mill Mountain, while the full marathon also throws Roanoke Mountain into the mix and rounds it out with plenty of rolling hills.
I have gotten in some decent miles this season with a few solid long runs. I had an 18-mile training run the weekend before the Blue Ridge Half Marathon, so I felt prepared for a good day on the 13.1-mile course. The race starts in downtown Roanoke then quickly moves to the climb up Mill Mountain. By the 2nd mile I was unexpectedly running out of air. It is a rare occurrence for me to do any heavy breathing during a marathon, but this climb really had me huffing it.