Running On Average

I Met Ryan Hall and Placed in my Last Race

Running | April 29, 2014 | By

So if you read my last post, you know that on Sunday I ran a 5K with my mom and sister, but wasn’t really happy with my performance. If you didn’t read it, go do that now then come back. I’ll wait.

Read it? Wasn’t it intriguing? Anyway. Last night I was looking at the race results online to see how we did and to my complete surprise, I won FIRST PLACE in my age division! We didn’t stay for awards Sunday because we figured we didn’t need to, so I was totally shocked. I emailed the race people this morning and asked if I could still get my medal and they said absolutely. So yea!! My first 1st place finish!

But I know the real reason you clicked on this post. Because Ryan Hall is in the title and he’s way cool!

Since the Pittsburgh Marathon is this weekend, our company had a mini expo today and reps from asics, Nathan, nuun, P-Tex, and Yurbuds came in with information and giveaways, which is completely awesome. We were also supposed to be able to try the asics treadmill challenge where you can see if you can run as fast as Ryan Hall, but that got rained out. Boo.

An email was also sent around yesterday saying that Ryan would be here and that we could sign up to attend the Q&A session with him so OF COURSE I jumped on that opportunity. He was with asics beforehand and signed a poster for me, which is hanging up in my cube now. The friend I went with is running the half this weekend (her first!!) and she asked him to write, “good luck!” on her poster. But I was a little star struck, so mine is simpler.

How’s that for motivation during the afternoon slouch??

How’s that for motivation during the afternoon slouch??

I asked him if he had any advice for us on how to get faster and he recommended doing running workouts, especially fartleks. He confessed that he can get bored on long runs and that fartleks make it more fun. I feel like I learned a deep dark secret of the elite marathoner- even they get bored on long runs! It made me feel normal. 🙂

During the Q&A, he was laid back and friendly. An asics rep started by asking him some questions for our benefit, so we could learn more about his background and training. He was very candid with his answers, which made him much more relatable. There were only about a dozen people in the Q&A, so after he talked a bit we all had the chance to ask him some questions. I don’t have the word-for-word transcript, but I compiled some of the highlights and advice he offered to the group.

Taking a picture on the sly.

Taking a picture on the sly.

On How He Got Started

Ryan used to hate running, which shocked me. Then one day, on the way to basketball practice, he decided that he wanted to see if he could run around a lake. He went out on another day with his dad and, wearing basketball sneakers, made his way around the lake. It was 15 miles! He didn’t run it straight through and it’s something that he would not recommend to anyone to start like that, but that’s how he got started.

On Fueling Before the Race

While he usually eats a lot of salads and vegetables, two days before a race he removes them from his diet. He is very particular about what he eats the night before a race and actually brings his on hot pot, pasta and olive oil with him to cook. And Muscle Milk!

One thing he recommended to eat was sourdough bread because it is light, but still filling and easy to digest. Yummm sourdough!

During the Race

He actually didn’t talk much about fueling during the race, other than to fuel early. And to make sure to drink water!

After the Race

The 30 minutes after the race is when it’s most important to refuel and it’s best to have sugar! What are Ryan Hall’s favorite? Gummy bears and candy corn! He doesn’t eat sugar often, but after a race is when he enjoys some sweets.

Focusing During the Race

The first half of the race, he relaxes and enjoys the race. He takes this time to check his body, make sure it’s relaxed, shoulders aren’t tense, his body is feeling good.

The second half of the race is where he really dials in and focuses on his race. When I asked him what he focuses on in the second half, he focuses on the mile that he’s in. He doesn’t focus on the miles to come or whether he ran the last mile faster than he wanted. When things get tough, he reminds himself that he’s been there in training before, that he’s felt this tired before, and that he’s pushed through it before and can do it again.

Training

Some tips he offered on training: he, like most runners, is hard on himself, so if he writes down a training planning he will stick to it. As a result, he doesn’t keep a strict running plan, and has been running by feel. By the same token, he takes the idea of rest days seriously. If he runs hard one day, the next he will only run an hour…of course, for his cheetah like speed, I figure this to be at least 10 miles, but I guess that’s light for him!

I also asked how you learn to pace yourself. For instance, if he is doing 1 mile repeats at 4:45 pace, how does he know the pace he’s running? His biggest thing was to run by feel and effort. He likened this to the race where he won the American record for the half marathon. He had paces written down for how he was feeling on a good day, an okay day, but when he went out his first mile faster than those paces, he didn’t slow down. He felt good so he went with it and that earned him a record time.

But he also said that is he goes out too fast during a training run, then he’s going to keep that pace the entire run even if it’s hurting. Then next time he’ll know not to go out that fast! Haha But it’s a valid point.

Some Racing Tips

His last long hard run is 10 day before a race. I feel like that’s a little close, but he runs more than me so he knows what’s up. He also said that everybody is different. For instance, the asics rep that was with him ran Boston last weekend in 3:17(!). Her longest training run? 12 miles. That’s crazy! But his point is that everyone trains differently and a lot of it is mind over matter.

He uses Vaseline on his feet on race day to prevent blisters

Make sure to stay warm at the starting line! For marathons, he usually jogs 15 minutes before the start to warm up.

Even if you get warm once you start, don’t toss you extra layers aside. He tucks his gloves into the back of his shorts because he pointed out that you can turn a corner and if gets windy you might wish you had those gloves that you less on the ground so many miles back!

For marathons, he wears sneakers half a size bigger than normal because your feet swell over the course of the race and this helps prevent blisters, too.

On His Other Sports

Being a runner, he said, he doesn’t really have time or energy to play other sports…other than some pick-up basketball. But what he does love doing is fishing, and more recently tried his hand at hunting. He didn’t see any elk the day he went, but said being in the woods like that was still cool. As for fishing, he loves to bass fish and was doing so on a stand up board the day after he ran Boston. He hooked a bass, too, but sadly it got a way. He said he banged his hands on his board and yelled because he was bummed it got away and other people must have thought he was crazy.

This is my kind of guy!

And Finally…On His Favorite Race

One of the attendees asked what his favorite race was and he responded by saying, “I always feel like a politician when I answer this because there’s no way to please everyone.” But he decided on Boston being his favorite race. Having just run it last week, it was still pretty fresh and he admitted to being bummed that he didn’t race as well as he would have liked and that he didn’t win. But he came through it healthy and was glad that Meb, an American, won. He said it was something that America really needed to happen and he was proud to be an American running this race. With one million spectators lining the course this year, crossing that finish line and seeing people standing where the bombs went off last year, unafraid, he really felt apart of something special. He said if you ever get the chance and qualify for Boston, that you should definitely run it.

Challenge accepted.

I Beat Beethoven…but not in Hooker Heels

Happy Monday! I don’t know about you guys, but my weekend was fantastic! Friday after work, I made a solo 5-hour drive back to my parents’ house for the weekend. The plan had been to go see my old high school boy’s rugby match on Saturday, but they changed it to Sunday afternoon so I didn’t get to go. I was one of the original coaches for them and this is the first year that I can’t coach because I’m too far away. And it’s crazy, because the boys who were freshmen when we started the team are seniors now! Time flies.

It turned out to be better though, because my weekend was still busy. I met up with Danielle for coffee early Saturday morning at a place called Cafe Bold. We talked about running- of course!- and wedding stuff, work, and our fun restrictive diets- colitis for me and she recently discovered she can’t eat gluten. It was great catching up with her, but she pointed out to me later that we forgot to discuss something very important- Boston! We’re going up in June for the Heartbreak Hill Half (I think I mentioned this before), but we totally didn’t talk about details of it. Oops!

Anyway, Saturday afternoon Ronne and I went on a mini shopping spree. There’s a new DSW in town so DUH we had to go. I got a suuuper adorable pair of heels. I almost never wear heels, but these were yellow and cute and gosh darn it, I will find an excuse to wear them. Maybe even get classy for work!

These however were not so cute, but I had to get my picture in them. They have the texture of dog hair or something. I felt like I needed to bathe after trying them on! (Side note: they actually made my calves sore after only a few minutes of posing in them)

imageWe also went to my old employer for some shopping. And had fun in the sunglasses and accessories department.

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My mom, Ronnie and I were running the local Beat Beethoven 5K on Sunday. The race started at 10am Sunday (FINALLY a race that started at a decent hour!) and I was well trained, in good shape, feeling fine. The Tuesday before I had rocked one of my best runs ever; a 5K a 7:56 pace! This included a 7:30 mile and dipping into sub-7 pace for some brief moments. It was my third year running this race (it’s only been around 3 years), but they change the course every time. The goal is to finish before the RSYO (Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra) finishes their Beethoven pieces, which are at 31 minutes for the 5K and 62 minutes for the 10K. Hence, Beat Beethoven.

Anyway, I started off great with an 7:35 first mile. I knew this was probably too fast for me to sustain throughout the course and mile 2 was flat, mile 3 uphill. So I slowed my pace a bit halfway through mile 2, but then around mile 3 my stomach started cramping. Kind of. It wasn’t a side stitch, but my diaphragm wasn’t having it and the urge to puke was great. So I had to walk a bit and ran again. Then, no, I had to walk two more times. WTF! I didn’t walk that far at all, but I was still SO ANGRY that I walked. In a 5K! Some guy passed me and asked me if I was all right; I told him yes. After the race he came up to me and asked how I felt. I explained what happened and he said “oh you shoulda just puked! I vowed never to walk in a 5K.” And I said, “yeah me too! And I just ran a marathon less than a month ago!” I felt I had to justify myself as a runner. Haha But really, so frustrating.

But I finished the race at 26 minutes on the dot, so it wasn’t all bad. My mom, who’s been training inside on a treadmill came in just under 31 minutes (so she beat Beethoven!) and Ronnie, who hasn’t been training at all aside from gym class came in at 34:44, which didn’t beat Beethoven, but I believe that’s a PR for her! The weather for the race was beautiful, although windy and I got sweet pictures of them finishing.

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We all agreed that it wasn’t any of our best races, but brushed it off…mostly. Danielle had to convince me that shit happens and not to get upset over it. I really am too hard on myself sometimes.

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After we showered because no one wants unshowered runners around, we went to a bridal fair at the Reading Public Museum, which was weird. Weird because it was all about me and I didn’t know what to do. It was pretty small and Dave and I have most of our stuff done, so I tried food and cake (LOTS of food and cake) and learned about wedding-day stationary. I had no idea about that stuff. And flowers. I still need to figure out flowers and cake and stationary.

So it was fun, but I wasn’t overly hungry and didn’t finish all the food. I did, however, get my picture taken with the giant ants outside the museum. I mean, why wouldn’t I?

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Then I had to drive 5 hours back to Pittsburgh. My inner rock star definitely came out this weekend with 10 hours alone in the car. Sara Bareilles and Jennifer Nettles better watch out, that’s all I have to say.

How about you? Have you ever had a race that didn’t turn out like you wanted? Do you have any insider wedding secrets I should know?

My Embarrassing Blogger Fail

I have a confession to make. Last week, I had every intention of blogging. I even wrote two posts, complete with pictures and fun stories. But did I actually post them? No. No I did not. #bloggerfail

I had a pretty great week, too. I started running again on Thursday the 10th with a sweet 8:17 average pace run. My first mile post-marathon was a 7:44 pace and at one point I (very briefly) dipped down to a 7:17! Saturday I went out for another short, sweet, but slower 4-mile run then last Tuesday (the 15th) I did 5 miles of sprints and it rocked my freaking asics socks. Since it had snowed(!), I ran on the treadmill, with my sprints  getting down to a 7:30 pace. Hell yeah! Boston, here I come! (in my wildest dreams…)

Wednesday, I went out on a 5k run with Dave and we averaged a 9:44, so it’s all in moderation. It was a really fun, easy run. We didn’t wear headphones and instead chatted, casually looked at houses for ideas of what we’d want, checked out some tennis courts, and didn’t track pace (until we were finished). It was a really nice time.

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Check out that hill!

Check out that hill!

Baby sheep!

Baby sheep!

The view is the reward...so perfect

The view is the reward…so perfect

Then we came home to check out the goodies in our CSA basket that I had picked up coming home from work! It’s the first CSA basket either of us have done and so far it looks promising. Lettuce, pea sprouts, tomatillo salsa, Forbes cheese, watermelon radishes, Braeburn apples and red skin potatoes. I see recipe experiments in our future! photo 1 (6)

Watermelon radishes look a little trippy

Watermelon radishes look a little trippy

Friday night we drove back to Berks County to be with our families for Easter weekend. I had planned to run Saturday, but instead spent the morning with my sister, Ronnie, and playing with our dog, Murphy. Dave took us to Panera for lunch and then we enjoyed the goodness that is a Target outing, complete with dried pineapple and Starbucks (when Ronnie and I go, these things are necessities). I also got a super cute shirt! Win.

I also planned to run Easter morning with my mom, but the weather was chilly and I only brought home a t-shirt and shorts…and well, I slept a little late and spent the day with my family instead. Again, totally worth it.

Sister love!

Sister love!

Lovey love

Lovey love

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He was not ready for me...

He was not ready for me…

But now it’s Monday and I really need to get my butt back in gear for a 5K race at home this weekend.  I’m racing with my mom and Ronnie. Then in June, Danielle and I are running the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon that up in Boston. She just beat my PR in the half marathon, so now I really need to bust my butt to get back on top! A little friendly competition never hurt anybody, right?

Danielle and I at Disney Wine n Dine Half...we found that we paced each other perfectly

Danielle and I at Disney Wine n Dine Half…we found that we paced each other perfectly

Annd speaking of Boston, today was the Boston Marathon!! I was really pulling for Shalane to win! She’s so kickass and such an inspiration to me as a runner. But even though she didn’t win, she went out with everything she had and it reminded me of the Steve Prefontaine quote, “Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” I love that quote! And Shalane, she has the most guts.

But Rita Jeptoo was incredible! Course record! You go, girl!

And Meb! Holy cow! He just blows my mind. And he’s so smiley, I feel like he channels Steve Prefontaine’s super star attitude. He’s a very incredible, serious athlete, but I feel like he really enjoys himself! Does anybody else get that feeling from him?

Did you follow Boston live via Twitter this morning like I did? How far did it inspire you to run today?

I Like Food…You’ll See

Things I Did This Weekend:

1) Made Kickass Fish N’ Chips

Friday night, our friend Mike came over for dinner and I made fish ‘n’ chips.  Thanks to allrecipes.com for proving that you can make crispy beer battered fish without a deep fryer. Even though oil may splatter all over your cooktop, some sacrifices are worth it. Especially when Guinness is being used. I even made my own tartar sauce that, despite my loath of mayonnaise, was pretty darn good. Just used loooots of relish.

All Homemade. Yeah, I'm proud.

All Homemade. Yeah, I’m proud.

2) Got the Catholic Sex Talk

Saturday, Dave and I had our pre-Cana class. It’s a requirement for anyone getting married in the Catholic church. Going into it, we had no idea what to expect. Then the first thing we saw on opening the folder was a pamphlet with SEX in big black letters and a CD about contraception. Luckily, it turned out to be a really chill course, where the priest just chatted for hours about relationships and money and told some great stories. It was basically a fun 4-hour lecture with a catered lunch hour. Fun. Lecture. WHAT? For me to say a lecture is fun is unheard of. But the priest was relaxed and luckily wasn’t the one to give the NFP talk. The lady who did was hilarious.

One more thing we can check off our wedding planning to-do list! Hurray!

3) Made Kickass Chicken

When we got home, I made a honey mustard marinade and we Dave grilled chicken. Sadly, all I have is this leftover picture from today’s lunch. It’s mixed with last night’s leftover couscous. Why spend money on buying lunches or lunch supplies when you can just use leftovers? Cheap for the win. (Because all my money is going to student loans anyway. Sigh.)

4) Got in Touch with My Not-So Inner Wino

Saturday night, our friend from high school and her husband came over for a wine night. AND THEY BROUGHT THEIR PUPPY. Her name is Kaylee and she’s actually a dog my sister rescued from a porcupine (and abusive family) in Alaska, but since she already has two dogs, two children under 3 and a husband, she couldn’t keep another dog. So, after a fun cross country flight for the pup, Laura and Mike adopted Kaylee and she is so SO loved. And since I don’t currently have a dog (ahem, Dave, are you reading this?), I was STOKED that one came over and got to spend the night.

PUPPY!

PUPPY!

Anyway, we stayed up until 3am and polished off 4 bottles of wine, including a pineapple wine we blended with crème de coco, a box of Triscuits and a smoky bacon cheese ball. This was not a healthy eating weekend for me. (I don’t care.) Dave also punted a ¼ of a cabbage off the back deck. Yep. That’s the man I’m going to marry.

Sunday, Laura and Mike had to leave at 7:30a so I got an early and productive start to my day fell back to sleep until 11:30. Thanks, wine. But Dave got up and made applesauce pancakes for us. God bless him!

5) Got Giddy About Trader Joe’s

We also went to Trader Joe’s! I’ve only ever been to one briefly in Connecticut so I was stupidly excited for this. The prices were a little higher than we’re used to, but the food is higher quality. And there are samples like woah. Food while shopping. Yessssss. Got some cool stuff, too. I definitely want to go back!

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6) Ate More

Dave grilled TJ’s pork chops for dinner and baked beans, while I made couscous. Then I got crafty and made apples chips. They turned out way better than the first batch. As in, they were actually crunchy and not just schnitzel. Not that I have anything wrong with schnitzel. I just wanted chips. I think a sweet red apple might be better than granny smith, though.

Things I Didn’t Do This Weekend:

1) RUN.

no-running-sign-template

I love running, but it was nice to have a weekend off! I didn’t have to plan my meals or sleep schedule around it and got a chance to really sink into the weekend and relax.

2) Any exercise whatsoever.

Unless you count picking up and putting down my fork, beer bottle and wine glass. Cheers!

 

How was your weekend? Did you exercise or get in touch with your inner wino?

Knoxville Marathon Recap

The Expo:

The Knoxville Marathon expo wasn’t huge, but it was really nice. I got my race bib and swag bag with no trouble at all. The chip timing was attached to the bib itself, so there was nothing to stick on your shoe, which was nice. The bag included a Bear Naked bar, which was oh-so-delicious, and a small bag of rice because…carbs. I also love that the marathon shirts were different than the half marathon shirts. And the full ones were yellow. Winning!

After we picked up my essentials, Dave and I wandered around a bit, enjoying samples that included chocolate and glass bottles of water.

Work follows me everywhere!

Work follows me everywhere!

I talked to the pacing group to learn a little more how pacers work. Because of my stomach, I ended up not using one, but I know for next time. Dave talked me into buying another shirt, too. We were stuck between two. He liked the one that said “It’s not just a hill, it’s a rite of passage,” but after much debate, I settled with this one. It had a cool back side and the other one didn’t.

That was kind of it for the expo. It was fun and pretty chill. There was nothing overly wow-ing about it, but it suited me. I have to find out where I can buy those Bear Naked bars, though!

The Marathon:

WARNING: I don’t take photos during races. So, not many pictures, but some fantastic written imagery. You’ll love it.

On Sunday, I woke up briefly at the unholy hour of 3am, afraid of missing my alarm. I re-woke up at the equally unholy hour of 4am, this time intentionally, and dragged my butt out of bed for breakfast. I made a peanut butter sandwich and sat on the hotel room floor by the bathroom, so as to not wake Dave up by turning on the room light. I wasn’t hungry and found myself irrationally angry at the poor sandwich. It wasn’t the peanut butter’s fault. The bread didn’t do anything wrong. I just wanted to go back to sleep. But I forced that sandwich down, sans crust, and made sure to drink enough water first. Then I tried to get another hour of sleep, but without lying completely down so my food would, ya know, digest. It took some finessing and a lot of pillows, but I finally fell asleep again.

Then 5:30 hit and the real alarm sounded. It was go time. Up, showered and dressed, feeling nauseous the whole time. Like seriously-I’m-going-to-puke-right-now, nauseous. I will say that my body was kind enough to let my colitis alone on Sunday, probably one of the best days it’s been in a while. And I am incredibly grateful for that.

Why am I doing this again?!

Why am I doing this again?!

Bib, check. Hat, check. Nathan bottle with nuun, check. Extra nuun, check. Swedish Fish, check. Tissues, check. Tampons/pads because yeah I got that lucky, check. I had everything. My Under Armour bra was stuffed to capacity. After about the 10,000th trip to the bathroom, we left the hotel a little after 7am to make our way to the starting line (and porta johns). I don’t know if it’s because I have a nervous bladder, colitis, or it’s just normal for runners, but race mornings are basically just a series of bathroom stops with getting ready interjected in between. Apparently I’m all about the TMI today.

Anyway.

The corrals were labeled A-E and I was in Corral C. The weather had cleared from Saturday so instead of being rainy, it was overcast and cold. It was 34 degrees, but was supposed to hit the mid 50s over the course of the run, so there I was standing in a Nike running skort and long sleeve Under Armour HeatGear, freezing my butt off. Dave kept his arms around me until the National Anthem was sung and the starting gun had gone off. Then I scooted into my coral and was amazed at how quickly it moved! Definitely quicker than any Rock ‘N’ Roll race I’ve done. I was across the line within 2 minutes of the gun start.

Me with my personal blanket. I mean, Dave.

Me with my personal blanket. I mean, Dave.

Ready, Set, Run!

Ready, Set, Run!

American Flag with a neon color back drop...'Merica!

American Flag with a neon color back drop…’Merica!

There was a brief dip as you crossed the start line, then the uphill began.  It really wasn’t bad. I kept an easy pace, taking in the buildings and the scenery. It was still grey outside and there is something s cool about running a race in the early hours. Yes, the waking up early sucks, but having this big event going on while so many are still sleeping is something special.

The first porta john didn’t come until mile 2.5. Made a stop and was on my way. The sun was rising by this point and the temperature rose into the mid 40s (I’m guessing) and it was perfect. I absolutely loved the first half of the race- every bit of it. People were out front of their houses cheering us on, one man had Krispy Kreme doughnuts if we wanted them (no way, José!) A house had a sign saying that runners could drop their jackets there if they were hot and pick them up later. Southern hospitality for the win!

Around mile 4 we reached an area called the Sequoyah Hills. ABOSLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Nice houses, green yards and trees, a gorgeous view of the Tennessee River. Of course, as we turned into the Hills there was a giant sign that read, “Welcome to Sequoyah Hills – Where All That Hill Training Pays Off!” Consider us warned. But Elizabeth was right. The hills were rolling and encouraging. I was listening to Rob Thomas, jammin’ out, air guitaring, drumming, having a grand old time. I later realized I should have saved this energy for miles 20-26. Hindsight is 20/20.

The signs in the Sequoyah Hills were fantastic. Some were naughty! “Blah Blah fuels with (picture of a chicken) Breasts!” “Blah Blah gets a nipple massage!” “Blah Blah isn’t a virgin anymore! (with a  picture of cherries)!” I’m assuming the last one was for someone’s first half or full. Anyway, the signs cracked me up. Then came a mile or so stretch with a series of signs. The first sign was a picture of a dog’s head, the next sign “Goes,” the next sign “WOOF.” Then a picture of a cat’s head, “Goes” “MEOW.” Going through a whole string of animals. Do you know where I’m going with this?

You got it! At the end there were signs saying, “But there’s one sound” “No one knows.” Then “What” “Does” “(picture of a fox)” “Say?” Then a shit ton of posters saying “RUN!” At this point there was a big crowd with people cheering, some with fox stuffed animals, some dressed as foxes, all yelling and having a blast! I cracked up at this point. It was just too good. They put a lot of effort into it! Right after that was the relay exchange, followed by another poster that said “If you were running the relay, you’d be done by now!” Yeah, thanks!

Mile 6.8-7.3 was THE HILL. It is a 150 ft. climb in ½ mile. But it’s not gradual. It’s up – brief reprieve – up again. But dammit, I did it, and I passed so many people. Thank you Pittsburgh for your awful hills! This thing was no match for me! But I was grateful for the following downhill.

Thumbs up, running strong

Thumbs up, running strong

At the end of mile 8, we were running through a wooded area, when signs started popping up saying “Git ‘Er Done!” “Mile 8 – It Gone!” “Hey, Jack!” And so on. The water station at mile 9 was Duck Dynasty themed and it was friggin’ amazing. The volunteers were dressed in camo, with duck calls, handing us water and cheering us on. I had to laugh again. Too funny. And definitely fitting.

A little before mile 12, I saw Dave in the distance and got stupidly excited. I waved and he actually saw me and waved back. Around a bend and down a hill.

Where's Waldo? We found him!

Where’s Waldo? We found him!

All smiles at mile 12

All smiles at mile 12

When I got to him, I saw him holding this absolutely fantastic sign.

Bacon as motivation? Yes!

Bacon as motivation? Yes!

Each member of my family is a strip of bacon! He made my little sister, Ronnie, a small strip. (She is teeny.) He high fived me, and I grabbed him for a quick kiss, then kept running. We ran around a loop so at mile 13, I saw him again. So I posed this time.

Keeping it classy at mile 13

Keeping it classy at mile 13

13 miles to go

13 miles to go

At the halfway point, I was doing good, but the mass of runners was really thin. Mile 16, I wanted to take a walk break, and I walked for literally one step, before going “NO! You are not doing this!” And tagged onto a girl, trailing her up a hill, nice and steady. It was a long ass hill.

Running running running. I don’t know if the course profile lied to me or I was just getting tired, but the second half of the course definitely felt more hilly than the first half! Running running.

Mile 19, I saw Dave again at the bottom of a hill, holding this sign.

There is a Reese's cup on that poster. It surpasses bacon. Yes, I said it.

There is a Reese’s cup on that poster. It surpasses bacon. Yes, I said it.

Where are the other runners??

Where are the other runners??

7 miles to go! Running on the highway with cars driving by was wild. They blocked off 2 lanes, so it felt pretty safe. And it was a lot of downhill. Hallelujah! After the highway, some ladies were handing out fruit. I know the rule, don’t try anything new on race day, but I took an orange slice and it tasted DIVINE. A chatted with some older guy from Kentucky and we plodded along. This was a long out and back strip and it was actually pretty flat.

IT WAS THE WORST PART. I found that I definitely preferred the hills and the twists and turns. They gave me small chunks to work with. One long flat stretch and my oomph and motivation began sinking. I took another orange slice on the way back. Then a few minutes later *bam.* Sharp pain in my stomach. I walked a little and luckily it went away. Onward. I did have to stop in the middle of a bridge and just stretch out my hip because it was killing me.

Still smiling at 23!

Still smiling at 23!

At mile 25, I made my final pit stop and then went for it. I almost wanted to walk a downhill past our hotel, but my inner self put a quick stop to that. “A DOWNHILL? Wtf is the matter with you? Coast this puppy.” So I did. And walked bit of the evil final uphill. Then, there in front of me was Neyland Stadium.

Home Sweet Neyland Stadium

Home Sweet Neyland Stadium

26 point freakin 2!

26 point freakin 2!

I ran into the stadium and they announced my name and I got to watch myself cross the 50-yard line finish line on the jumbotron. It was so freaking cool.

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And I was so happy because I got a shiny new metal and a shiny new PR! IMG_3892

My 2nd marathon is in the books!

My 2nd marathon is in the books!

 

Dave met up with me in the stands afterward and we got some pictures on the field, then had food! YEA FOOD!

Couldn't have done it without this guy

Couldn’t have done it without this guy

Feeling like a superhero with my marathon blanket

Feeling like a superhero with my marathon blanket

Afterparty fueling

Afterparty fueling

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So I didn’t make the time I wanted. And I had a total of 8 bathroom stops along the course, so my time didn’t match the clock. But I ran a 4:35:55 by my watch and I am so happy with that. And what’s better is that I really enjoyed this marathon. Way more than DC. Yeah, there were points where I was like “ok, this needs to be over now,” but there were people I ran with and talked to who were so much older than me and still getting out there and that was so inspiring.

If I did repeat marathons, I would do this again in a heartbeat. Knoxville, you rocked my socks! I am already looking for my next race.

Did anyone else run the Knoxville Marathon? What did you think of it? Did you conquer Noelton hill?