Monday, September 28, 2015

Belle Isle 5K

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to run a small local race in Lancaster, VA.  It was held at Belle Isle State Park and benefited the Friends of Belle Isle State Park.  This non profit organization was founded in 2001 while supporting the park through advocacy, volunteerism, community relations, events and programs and fundraising.

Belle Isle State Park has 7 miles of shoreline on the Northern Neck's Rappahannock River along with farmlands and forests, campground, a camp store, picnic shelters, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking and a visitor's center.  One of the trails even has a boardwalk area along the river.  There is also overnight lodging available at the Bel Air Guest House.
Bel Air Guest House

 The visitor's center boosts programs such as Colonial Classics, Whoo's for Dinner, A Hiking Stick, Campfires and Nature walks.
Visitor's Center

Belle Isle State Park is located about two hours from Richmond, Northern Virginia and the Tidewater/Virginia Beach/Norfolk area.  

I found out about this race by doing a google search and it popped up on Active.  I registered myself and John (his first 5k!). The night before, I laid out my race outfit.  I had a hard time deciding what to wear since the weather on Saturday was calling for rain.  I decided to wear my jacket and tights.  
Race day arrived and John was up bright and early.  I guess the idea of pancakes afterwards had him excited about the race.  We left about 7:15 am since the state park is about 10 minutes away and the race started at 8:30 am.
Of course, it was raining and the heaviest rain was slated to start around 9 am.  I had strict doctor's order that no running was to occur so I thought it would be a long, cold race with the rain.  Bummer! We arrived and picked up our swag bags and bibs.
John and I

Me with Rappahannock River
 While waiting, we met some really nice people and had great conversations.

The race started around 8:40 am since we were shown the race course on the trail map.  It was a small venue of about 28 runners.  The race started and the runners took off!  Boy, it was hard for me not run with them!  I did leave John with a new friend, Ann and walked faster.  The trails were well marked with arrows; it was quite lovely.  The rain was coming down harder and John had the umbrella however I didn't mind; I was enjoying the beauty of the park and trails!

My favorite park was the boardwalk area of the trail.  It was quite slippery with the rain so I slowed down my pace.  I will have to admit that I did do some running prior to this part of the trail and also afterwards too!  The rain had made the river quite high.  After the race talking to the friends volunteers and park ranger, they told me that the boardwalk area would probably be flooded with the tide.  It was just breath-taking!  God's work at His best!  

There were two water stops at mile one and two.  Very nice for a 5K race!  I finished the race in about 48 minutes-longer than my normal time however I was happy with that finish time since I had surgery for my uterine cancer three weeks earlier.  It was difficult for me not to run during this race however for the most part I did follow doctor's orders!
Belle Isle 5k Finisher

What I enjoyed the most was that everyone waited at the finish line for all the runners and cheered everyone across the finish.  How amazing was that and talk about support and camaraderie!  John and Ann finished  about one hour and 10 minutes. I am so proud of him completing his first 5K!
John with Ann (His first 5k!)

 I expect that we may be doing more races in the future together.  However, I will admit that I felt guilty leaving him behind!   We all walked to the sheltered picnic area for the pancake breakfast.  I'm not sure what I was expecting but it was fantastic!  Hot blueberry pancakes, sausages, orange and apple slices, hot coffee and orange juice!  Again, WOW!!

At breakfast, I noticed two people with shirts that read "Run NNK".  I know that "NNK" stands for Norther Neck so I asked if they were part of a local running club.  Yes!  I was so happy to have the opportunity to talk with them. Ellen told me that  Run NNK is local club supporting runners and walker in the Northern Neck.  They have group runs, track workouts, club race series, facebook and an Earth Day 5k. I'm so excited to know that when I visit John, I can potentially run with other runners in the area! I plan on joining the membership and look forward to building running friends in NNK! 

After the breakfasts, awards were announced.  The first place female and male runners overall won gift certificates to a local shoe store along with a one year pass to the Virginia State Parks.  The winners in their prospective age categories won a one year pass to the Virginia State Parks.  I was shocked and surprised to find out that I had won.  They had my name in a different age category and while I was uncomfortable receiving the award, everyone said that I had earned it especially given my outfit and my status of being in recovery.  What wonderful people and again may I state how blessed I am!  (I did come in second place in my age category though).  
Second place winner!

John and I headed home-tired, wet and full from breakfast but I don't think that either of us will forget this race experience anytime soon. At home, we opened up the swag bag and again, WOW!  So much in it for a small local race.  Even my local races at home in the Baltimore area don't normally have this much in a swag bag.  
Swag Bag
I loved everything about this race while I will look forward to next year to compete in this race!  Till next time and  remember, my journey continues....If you can dream it, you can do it as Walt Disney said!

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