Once that gun went off my feet started moving. There was so much excitement all around me and the crowds were great. I don't run with music anymore (unless I'm on a treadmill, which is rare) so I was just listening to the conversations around me and the music when there was some. It was interesting hearing people talk. I finally settled into my pace and my thoughts and ran as best as I could.
My race plan was specific and did my best to stick to my paces but I wanted to give myself some leeway for the hills that I knew I'd be tackling. My plan also called for me to take water at each water stop and do a gel every 3 miles. That part for me now is so routine on long runs that I hardly have to think about it.
I knew early on in the race (before mile 3) that my legs just were not feeling it. Something was off. I wasn't letting that get to me mentally but physically I knew things weren't going as I needed them to. I took a short (very short) little break at just 3 miles and was back on my way. I took a gel as soon as I began the incline up Neyland Drive onto Kingston Pike and then water at the next stop. I was feeling much better once I got onto KP and knew that the downhill into Sequoyah Hills I could gain some time back from where I took the walk break. I was still on pace to hit the splits I needed to and meet my goal at the end.
Once in Sequoyah Hills the crowd spread out a little which was nice. They also really worked on their signs this year which was very entertaining! Naked cheerleaders anyone!? haha Yep, they advertised them the entire way and even hung bras in trees but thankfully those naughty girls were on break by the time I reached their spot. ;)
I hit the 10k split at 59:23 and was pleased. I waited a bit to take my next gel with just minutes to go before hitting Noelton, my nemesis hill! I wanted to run the entire thing this year but was dealing with issues with my knee since early in the race and going up/down hills seemed to make it a bit more angry than I was liking. I ran the hill portions of Noelton but took a slight walk break on the split in the middle where it "flattens" out a tiny bit before tackling the 2nd half. Once up Noelton I grabbed water and then I was headed to my favorite part of the race! I LOVE the greenway.
My only issue with the greenway was how crowded it was. I was leap frogging one girl for a while which didn't bother me. It was the group of 3-4 men that were doing some kind of run/walk interval that was frustrating. They were basically running 3-4 wide across the narrow greenway and when they did their walk portion of their intervals they did NOT move things to the right and basically stopped right in front of me. Annoying! I would have been a total turd and said something but no reason for that. I just hit the side of the greenway and moved quickly past them. My only issue on the greenway was the downhills, my left knee was grumpy every downhill movement I made. I was so worried about this but just pressed on.
I saw a lot of people complain about the portion of the half marathon into Tyson Park and going back up onto Cumberland. This portion of the race is nice to me. There's a decent water station and Gu stop plus it's where the local Fleet Feet store hangs out to cheer which is nice this late in the race. I took another gel coming out of the greenway and into Tyson Park and then water. I wasn't overly excited about the time on my watch but wasn't totally bummed either. I knew I was still making decent enough time on the course given the fact that I felt less than stellar.
Coming out of Tyson Park there was a couple with a hilarious sign that I wish I could remember. What I do recall is the girl saying, "Smile if you peed a little!!" Apparently someone behind me smiled because as I was past them the she yelled, "Oh that's a big smile, you must have peed a lot!" haha I love running humor and could totally relate.
I felt strong as I made the turn onto Cumberland and passed a lady wearing a shirt announcing her birthday. I said Happy Birthday to her as I passed and was on my way. I knew going up Cumberland that I still had to tackle the hills of Ft Sanders and was ready. There was a group with water and I took a small cup, walking as I drank it. I came up on a guy that looked about my age (and familiar) so I patted him on the back as I approached him and said, "Let's Go, you got this," before I picked my running pace back up again. He was not amused and did not start running again. (I stalked pics later and saw that he finished about 2 minutes after me).
There isn't a lot of crowd support on this last little portion of the race. This was the portion of the race that I was suppose to be running at an "all out" pace. I was trying really hard and was watching my Garmin A LOT more than I cared to be, but I was hitting sub 9 pace like I was suppose to so I was hopeful of my finish time. By this point in the race I remember thinking how hot it felt but I was close to done. I still had to meet my partner and began thinking about the exchange zone and handoff. Once I saw the downhill towards the stadium I picked it up even more. I had a decent portion of downhill left but knew from reading the race instructions that to get my official 13.1 finish time I would be running uphill. Boo hiss yuck!
I saw some friendly faces as I entered the World's Fair park area and heard lots of " Go Kim" coming from the sidelines and that was a nice boost. I handed off my slap bracelet to Dave (my relay partner) and we chatted about my part of the race, how he was feeling, how I was feeling, etc. I was on pace at the exchange for a PR but once I hit the hill to my finish I was spent. I wanted to be done. I told Dave to just go and run his best race. I would see him at the finish.
Prior to the race I wasn't worried at all about the finish. I was confident that I could run my race and meet the goal. Ugh but that finish up the hill sucked ass. I didn't like it and I didn't mind telling the girl sitting there at the clock that I felt that way. lol She didn't reply to my whining which was nice. I hit my watch a few seconds after I had already turned back around but my "official"unofficial finish was like 2:05. Not a pr as far as 13.1 goes (I actually ran 13.2, if that counts lol) but I was fine with that. I didn't hit my goal for the day but under the circumstances I was fine with that too.
13.2 miles 2:05 av. pace 9:33
I waited around the next 2 hours outside the stadium waiting for Dave to finish. I knew what our projected finish time was and also knew how long Dave planned to run his 13.1 for. It was fun watching my friends and other racers enter the stadium. I did a lot of cheering for others as I waited for Dave. When I saw Dave in the distance I prepped myself for the run into Neyland Stadium with him. As soon as he got to me he said we were going to really pick it up when we hit the grass. I was afraid I didn't have it in me to sprint at that point but I did. Team One Sock Gone finished 26.2 miles!!!
Out of 37 2 person relay teams we finished 17th. I was pleased with that. I probably will never be able to run a marathon that fast solo.
26.2 miles official finish time 4:07:41
It was so much fun running this race as a relay team. Even though it didn't go as I had planned and I didn't meet my goal finish time I am still happy to report that on the half marathon course I now have a 23 minute course PR. I ran the half as my first half marathon in 2011. That's quite an improve over the last 2 years if you ask me. THAT is something to celebrate and believe me... I did!!
It may not have been the perfect race but I still managed to keep a smile on my face.