We started by meeting up inside the Knoxville Convention Center for last minute bathroom stops & to strip off our jackets because it was already really warm. Jaime & I headed toward the back of the full/half corrals but then realized we were behind a barricade (where walkers started) so we hopped some bushes & moved up. Brooke headed to the 4:45 pace group & Kay asked for last minute 5k instructions & went to wait for her race to start. Within a minute or two, the gun sounded & Jaime & I made our way to the start. We had discussed our strategy to walk at the top of every mile, through aide stations & on any hill we felt we could walk faster than run. Or just walk when we needed.
The course started near Worlds Fair Park on an immediate uphill. (I'd commented to Brooke about being worried about that hill. She asked if I wanted to drive the course but I said "no" since it would have freaked me more. She knew that hill was NOTHING compared to what was coming and was a bit worried about me.) The course took a few turns in town, up some other small hills & along the Tennessee River. The river was quite beautiful but hard to see though the thick fog. I wish I'd taken a picture of the river, but here's some proof of the fog. The river is on our left :) (splits 11:11, 10:39, 10:59, 12:29)
The course then turned into one of the most beautiful neighborhoods ever (think tons of million-dollar homes & amazing landscaping). People were parked at the bases of their driveways giving high fives & cheering. There were lots of twists & turns & the longest hill on the course. It went up a ways & flattened just long enough for us to realize it wasn't done. Jaime & I walked some but also ran some of that hill. Even backwards.
At the top of the hill we had a little jaunt through town (I felt bad for anyone attempting to drive but kuddos to all the police keeping us safe) and then headed into the Third Creek Greenway. (splits 11:39, 11:22, 11:57,12:46)
This section was all on a pretty trail but it was narrow, hilly & slippery. As we turned onto the greenway, I could really tell the heat & humidity were getting to me. Somewhere in here I took another hit off my inhaler, but it didn't really help. (Found out later we were under a yellow flag warning because of the air quality - might have explained why I felt like I couldn't breathe.) All of the little up/down hills (they were steep & short) were doing a number on my legs. Not only were my calves/shins hurting, but my hip/ass were feeling the pain. We walked a bit more in here but no shame. It was tough. I really started to hit a wall somewhere around mile 10-11. My legs kept cramping up & I couldn't will them to move anymore. (splits 11:24, 12:32, 13:18)
Mile 12 took us past the children's hospital & through frat row. I was really hoping for some frat boys with beer but they all must have still been sleeping. There were more hills & more need to walk. I was so ready to be done. It was hot & sunny. Jaime & I both commented how we hoped Brooke was going to be ok with the heat. Seeing the girl directing us away from the full course was a welcome site. I have this rule about not walking in the last mile of a race, but we walked a bit of mile 13 and then turned it on for the last .1 into Neyland stadium and across the 50 yard line. (splits 14:02, 12:20, 10:04)
We finished & found our families in the stands & then went on a search for fuel. This was probably my one complaint - we had to walk a long way to get to the post-race party area & when we got there, the lines were so long that we didn't wait. Only water at the finish line was a fail in my opinion. There should have been at least some bagel pieces & fruit in the stadium.
This was, by far, one of the toughest races I've ever run. Much harder physically than my 25k last year & harder mentally in some spots than my full. I'm feeling the effects on my shins/calves today & can barely walk. (This has me very discouraged for the 25k coming up in 6 weeks. As in, should I switch to the 10k or skip it completely. It's already paid for which sucks even more.) I'm proud of finishing this half though, even though my time wasn't what I was hoping for. I basically ran it injured with minimal training. I still had fun & got to spend a ton of time running & chatting with Jaime, which made it all worth it. The bling is pretty awesome, too.
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