Sunday, June 7, 2015

UVA Stumblefoot Derby: 10-Year Raciversary

It's my 10-year raciversary!  I ran my very first race 10 years ago at my 5-year college reunion.

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000. Shortly after graduation, I joined a gym primarily to take step aerobics classes, which I loved. Because the class was only offered twice a week, I got into treadmill running as a way to workout more frequently. I remember my first few treadmill runs vividly. It was a struggle to run a mile, and my pace was about 10:30. I  kept with it though, and soon my typical workout was 5-6 miles on the treadmill, at a pace of about 8:20. I did this consistently for 5 years and almost never ran outdoors.

At the 5-year reunion in 2005, my friend noticed a 2-mile race in the program and told me I should do it. I had brought workout clothes with me, so I decided, why not? I showed up to the race, and as I started running, one of my college friends started chatted with me. He said he married one of my sorority sisters. We chatted the whole time, running at a pace that was challenging for me. At the end, I was shocked to learn that I was the first female finisher, and was awarded a special Jefferson cup.

My friend told me he was running the Lawyers Have Heart 10K the following weekend, and that I
Lawyer's Have Heart, June 2005
should do it too. I didn't even know what a 10K was, but when he said it was 6.2 miles, I knew I'd be able to do it. I ran the race in full-on cotton attire without using a porta-potty first. Lots of rookie mistakes! However, I put out a strong effort and my success at that race made me want to run other races, and longer distances.

Since then, I've run over 100 races, including 19 marathons. I've logged somewhere around 17,000 miles. I've had injuries-- both severe and minor. I've run in everything from 15 degrees to 90 degrees. Rain, wind, snow. San Diego, London, Memphis, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Miami, San Francisco, Phoenix, and many other places. It took me 10 attempts, plus 3 DNFs, but I finally qualified for the Boston Marathon. This is proof that if you work at something long and hard enough, if you have true passion and perseverance, you can do anything.

2-Mile race report
Yesterday, I returned to my 15-year college reunion and I ran that same 2-mile race, officially called "The Stumblefoot Derby." Due to construction, the course was different, but it still had the same feel. My friend Stacy was there and that made the experience even more special.

Greg (who is now finally able to walk without crutches) and I arrived at the race in time to get my bib
and warm up. It was a very small field, which surprised me given how popular running has become and how many people attend the reunion. I guess most people are primarily focused on drinking the night before!

After a short warm up, I lined up at the start line, which was a line on the sidewalk drawn in chalk. The course was two laps around Scott Stadium. I didn't have a time goal in mind because I wasn't sure how I'd perform on those hills. My main goal was to win it like I did back in 2005.

In front of Scott Stadium
The race started and one young-looking girl immediately got ahead of me. She was probably in the class of 2010 (UVA holds reunions every year, so participants were in the class of 2010, 2005, 2000, etc.). She was wearing a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt, even though it was in the high 60's. I thought it had to be one of two things: she was a super fast runner and would win the race even though she'd be hot in that shirt, or she was just really confident and didn't have much experience racing in the heat.

I had her in my sights for the entire first lap, so my primary focus was when I would make my move to pass her. She was running the tangents (which was the sidewalk around the stadium) but I was running in the road because I much prefer asphalt. This made my distance longer, but it was worth it not to kill my legs by racing on a sidewalk. I started closing the gap shortly after the first lap, so I passed her on a downhill, and then surged up a hill with everything I had to widen the gap definitively. I continued to push my hardest and used every mental trick in the book to stay strong up the hills.

I won the race in a time of 12:35. The course was "officially" two miles, but my Garmin read 1.78. I tried making eye contact with her afterwards and chatting with her, but she seemed to avoid me.

I was awarded two Jefferson cups. I now have a collection of 5 cups from the races in 2015, 2010, and 2005. After the race, Stacy and I visited some of our favorite places on UVA's "corner" and reminisced.

I plan to continue to train for short races for the next two months before getting serious about half marathon training. I can tell that the speed work is paying off and that I've gotten a lot better at hills over the past year.

Stacy and me in front of Scott Stadium
UVA Stumblefoot Derby


  1. How cool to come back and win it again! Sounds like a great time to reflect on some great experiences out on the courses :)

  2. That's so cool that you returned to your first race and WON. Way to represent!

    Plus, a 2-mile is a unique distance so I bet it was fun to race. That's even a different strategy than say, a 5K. I love your shoes too- I am wearing those same shoes now (as they are retired from previous training cycles).

    UVA is definitely in a hilly area... hill training pays off when you run on flat ground, and I wish I could get more hills in. It's pretty hard here in Charleston!

  3. Congrats on the 10 years!! Awesome a 2 mile race, that's a distance I've never seen up here. Bet that's fun.