• Asheville,
    North Carolina,
    United States
  • March
  • 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
  • Road Race

Deanne Avery

Morganton, North Carolina, United States
19 15
"The Backyard to Vineyard Challenge "
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Deanne Avery's thoughts:

Wow talk about a runners high!! I have always felt it, well often I have felt it I should say. The runners high, the feeling of happiness and accomplishment I feel after running. This is one of the main reasons I love running early mornings. I get my runners high and feel amazing most of the day. What good would that do me to get in the evening before going to sleep lol!

The Asheville Marathon Weekend however was a high like no other!!

This truly is my favorite race weekend of the whole year and I really do spend the whole year in anticipation of this weekend!

Yes I am a race ambassador but that’s because I love it so much and have so much love for this race to share!! I want everyone to experience this at least once!

On Friday I spent the day at the Race Expo, helping other runners with questions they had about the race.

I met up with several other ambassadors which is always fun! Many of them I keep up with on all the socials so I feel like I am a part of their life and so to get to see them for a bit in person is super fun!

I love this race expo and I actually was given a lot of feedback from other runners too that it was awesome! There was so much to see and do with all the booths and brands there showcasing and selling their goodies!

I generally always buy a shirt, a sticker of some sort and always a bottle of the commemorative wine!

The expo goes for most of the day so as people are getting in from out of town they can stop by and get their race packets and explore the event.

The race packets this year consisted of the race bib, a pass to get onto the estate, a Lululemon bag full of goodies including a lucky buff, a beverage coozie from Oscar Blues, a fruit bar and fruit peeler from ingles, several coupons, etc. As you work your way through the expo you get your shirts at a table at the end. This year the half marathon shirt was short sleeved and blue and the marathon shirt was long sleeved and grey! I love them!

I stayed this year at the Residence Inn and when I checked in on Friday they had welcome bags made up for all the runners staying with them!! They were full of water, snacks, protein bars, details about the race and the information sheet from the race along with stickers and other fun things!! There was also a signed letter from the staff! Such a nice surprise!

At 6pm I picked up a fellow ambassador and we headed on the Biltmore Estate for the pre-event dinner.

This year’s guest was to be professional runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald. Unfortunately the US has been affected with some crazy weather and her flight was cancelled. Not to worry though we were able to video conference her in and it was like she was in the room with us anyway! What a ray of light she is! I am so honored I had the opportunity to hear her words of encouragement as she shared her very real story of her battle with cancer since she was 22 years old. Boy that hit me, I found myself with a steady stream of tears through most of her talk. My daughters will soon be the age she was at her diagnosis, they are so young to me, and she was so young. I cannot begin to imagine having to so quickly grow up and face cancer at that age. She has since fought cancer additional rounds and is currently fighting in her fourth round. Next month she will be a 10 year survivor which is incredible. She is however still fighting for her life! She made a huge impact on me and I was humbled to hear her encourage our runners for the race ahead of them. I hope she does know how many people wish to encourage her as well for the race that lies ahead of her.

The dinner was lovely, we had pasta and salads and bread and yummy deserts and I had a beer!

That night I headed back to my hotel and pulled out my stuff for the half marathon so that I was ready to go!

I wore Lululemon Leggings, a Lucky Running Shirt from ETSY, Lululemon Jacket, Lululemon Hat, a Buff and my Brooks Cascadia Shoes. I had my Aftershokz Headphones and I carried my Camelback hand held with me!

Saturday morning, the morning of the half marathon, I woke up super early as planned. I have found that for longer distance runs I need two hours of “up time” to get everything going so that I have a good run! I need time to just be as I wake up, I need to use the bathroom, brush my teeth, make some coffee, eat a small breakfast (bagel with PB), use the bathroom again, get dressed, brush my hair, use the bathroom again, sit for a bit and if needed use the bathroom again lol! It take some time and having two hours makes me not feel rushed. I grabbed my bib and estate pass and headed to the race.

Ambassadors were meeting for a quick picture before the race. The barn does not provide the greatest lighting but whatever, we snapped our pic and headed to the start.

Saturday it was pretty cold and super windy!! My strategy was to start behind Kim. I know I have probably said this a thousand times but she is the most perfectly paced runner I have ever met. I don’t think her pace changes from start to finish of a run. (This is not exactly true in a race, I have witnessed her run down a person before to pass lol.) This is sooooo helpful for me. I tend to start too fast and then have nothing left in the tank at the end. By starting out at the pace I want to finish with I am able to conserve energy.

I also decided to use the strategy that had severed me well on recent training runs of not looking at my watch at all the entire race! This is so freeing!! Sure I have a time in my mind I want to finish in but it’s so much less pressure not looking at my watch. If I look and see a 9 something pace I think, oh no I’m going too fast and I better slow down or I will hit the wall, if I look at my watch and see a 12 something pace I think, oh no, I will never pick it up and so I might as well throw in the towel. By not looking none of this enters my mind! There were a few times in the run Kim really wanted to tell me but I insisted I did not want to know.

We ran most of the way with very, very, few breaks to walk and when we did walk it was only for a few seconds. As per the usual we did stop a few times to take pictures along the way! It was a gorgeous and super fun day!! I loved so much running with her! It made the morning fly by and made the run that much more enjoyable!

At the last mile, she asked me “What was your half PR again?” I knew what she was about to say…

I said “2:24” and she said “Well come on, we are going to beat that!” and so we kicked it into gear and ran to the finish with a time of 2:19!!!! I cried!! I could not believe it! I have dreamt of a 2:15 finish for years and this was the closest I had come!! Considering this is an Asheville Course with some hills and that we stopped several times for pictures I feel certain now that a 2:15 is in my future!! We totally killed it!!

I felt great too! We did not want to push it for the half since we’d be running the full the very next day and I did not feel as though we had pushed it too hard! I was on cloud 9!

I left the race and headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready. I then headed back down the mountain for a special little girls first birthday!! My best friend Elizabeth’s little one is already a year old!!

After the party my hubby James, my puppy LeRoy and I headed back up the mountain, picked up Carabas for dinner and headed back to the hotel. We ate and then I got all my stuff laid out for the marathon.

I wore Lululemon Leggings, a Lucky Running Shirt from ETSY, Lululemon tank, Skirt Sports Spanky Skirt, Lululemon Hat, Crazy Compression Socks, Handful Closer Bra, Nike Sleeves, Zenzah Gloves, a Buff and my Brooks Cascadia Shoes. I had my Aftershokz Headphones and I carried my Nathan Hydration Vest with me!

Sunday morning, the morning of the full marathon, I woke up super early as planned and followed my same routine. I packed up the hotel room and we loaded up the car, I grabbed my bib, a day bag and estate pass and headed to the race. We were going to meet Kim and John at the entrance and I would ride with them in so the hubby and pup could head on back home. I no longer make him wait on me at races. I know how boring and long of a day that is. He supports me from home just as good as he can from standing all day at a finish line lol!

We met up with my other friend Kim who was also running again on Sunday, she did the Backyard to Backyard Challenge running both half marathons.

Ambassadors were meeting for a quick picture before the race again at the barn we snapped our pic and headed to the start.

Sunday it was warmer than Saturday I thought. The wind was not howling around so that made it feel much better. I stuck to my strategy of starting behind Kim and not looking at my watch. My only goal was to come in at least a minute faster than last year which I finished in 5:36.

Kim and I initially thought we’d start with the 5:15 pace group. We sought out the pacer to understand his strategy. He planned to run and walk hills so we decided to do our things and try not to get too far behind him.

We started out in front of the 5:15 pace group and felt pretty good. We took our time in the first half of the race. We actually walked A LOT more than we thought we would leading up to the house. We took a lot of picture breaks too along the way! I was not watching the clock but the 5:15 pacer did pass us and Kim mentioned that he had to be ahead a bit based on her calculation so we didn’t let that bother us. We kept our pace and kept moving along. Of course we stopped and took all the pictures along the way too!

The turning point at the marathon, the point where marathoners turn left onto the private part of the estate and the half marathoners stay straight is always emotional for me. We stopped to take in the vast river and snap a picture.

I managed to run down the 5:15 pacer at one point during the race, we chatted for a bit and sure enough he was a bit ahead. There was another girl with him that was running her first marathon. They planned to stick together to the finish and push for the 5:15 pace. We settled in to pace with them for a bit and then we kicked it up and forged ahead of them.

We figured we’d stay ahead of them as long as we could and if we saw them coming we’d try to hold on to the finish.

Earlier that morning we had a brief conversation with Tom, another Asheville Marathon Ambassador who was also pacing the full marathon. He was pacing the 5:20 pace group so we were going to try to stay ahead of him. We kept passing him on the out and backs and in true Tom fashion he kept encouraging us telling us what a great job we were doing! Each time we passed him I thought “We are doing this”!

Toward the end of the race Kim needed to stop for a bathroom break and rather than go on without her I wanted to wait. I really wanted us to finish together. We only lost a few minutes and then we kicked it in to gear and finished those last five miles strong!

I finished my second marathon in 5:11!!! A 25 minute PR!! It was incredible!! Two PR’s in one weekend is unlike anything I expected! I still cannot believe I actually ran 39.3 miles in one weekend!

I attribute this successful weekend to staying dedicated to a training plan.

We finished the race, got our marathon medals, picked up our challenge medals and a challenger zip up hoodie!

I love everything about this race!! The scenery is absolutely amazing! It’s pretty spectacular to run this many miles all on the beautiful estate of the Biltmore House. There is no traffic, just open fields, pastures of animals, blue skies, deep forests, a gorgeous castle like home, fountains, ponds, gardens, lakes, no noises aside from the sound of the river moving softly alongside sections of the route and the sound of feet and heart beats as other runners move alongside you. It's absolutely serene!

If you are looking for a half marathon or marathon that is truly one of a kind I highly recommend the Asheville Marathon!

I plan to be there again next year and most likely running the challenge again!!

Come run with me in March 2020!! I already can't wait!

See more photos from this amazing race on my blog www.gooutsidegirl.com

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