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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I got to him, I saw him holding this absolutely fantastic sign.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dave met up with me in the stands afterward and we got some pictures on the field, then had food! YEA FOOD!
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?
I know I haven’t written in a few weeks, and there’s a simple explanation. When I decided to start this blog it was supposed to be about my running and traveling adventures. However, since then my colitis has taken on a mind of its own which makes my running stories redundant and whiny. I’ve considered pulling out of the marathon, especially after my last 20-miler where I averaged a 10:46 pace and kept doubling over with stomach pain and cramps. But I did finish the run and last weekend ran a 10-miler which an average 9:36 pace. Sooo onward to Knoxville?
All hail the taper!
Anyway, I finally got in to see a doctor on Monday and hopefully the medicine he prescribed will help and I’ll be feeling okay by next weekend. HOLY CRAP, IT’S NEXT WEEKEND.
Also, I’ve learned my lesson that I cannot NOT take medicine for extended periods of time.
So now I am just in panic mode until the marathon. A large majority of me is freaking about my stomach and the hills and being tired and keeping good time. But a small SMALL part of me is just like, “I got this. I’ve run a marathon before.” Confidence for the win? Right? lol
And for anyone who has tapered before, you and your loved ones understand this:
Run on, runners!
On March 30th I will be running my second marathon! Yea! It’s the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. I looked at the 2013 course before I registered and I knew it would be a hilly course, but stupid is something I do well. Or determined. So hills be damned, I decided to run one hilly-ass marathon.
Luckily, I live outside of Pittsburgh and my home is surrounded by hills. Saturday I had a 12-miler in wind and cold with slushy and icy roads. I did the first 7 3/4 miles on my own in my Mizuno Wave Rider 16’s, then I came home, changed into my spankin’ new Mizuno Wave Inspire 10’s, picked up Dave and we ran the last 4 1/2 miles together. I was dying the last few miles and whining like a baby, but we finished it. Came home again and propped my feet up on the wall for a few minutes. It drains the blood out of your legs and feels fantastic.
I had some almonds, a tangerine, and some nice HOT COFFEE for a snack while Dave cut up and added some bell peppers to a frozen pizza and put it in the oven for lunch. We were both really hungry, so I forgot to take a picture of the pizza, and only got the last, lone slice.
We decided to have a date night on Saturday night and went to see Wolf of Wall Street, which we both agreed was a horrible movie. It was out of control, and I guess it was based on a true story, but it was too much for me to handle and became uncomfortable to watch. Afterward, we decided to try Bubba’s Burghers for dinner. I got a buffalo chicken burger and fried pickles. And a Black & Brew beer. I’m a sucker for a good stout. It’s such a fun and spunky sports bar and the food was all AMAZING. But not at all healthy. Life is all about balance. Run 12 miles. Eat like King Henry…on occasion!
My goal for my second marathon was a 4:03, but with the hilly course I’m not so sure I’ll be able to achieve that. I’m going to try, but my back up is basically to PR and get under a 4:30.
How do you handle hilly runs? Cold runs?
Do you change your goal time depending on course difficulty?
What are your thoughts on The Wolf of Wall Street?