I posted on Friday my goal setting dilemma. So much of marathon racing (even at “just” the half distance) depends on knowing how fast you can go at the end.  Kinda hard to know without trial and error.  My running buddy Kelly decided to shoot for 9:40, I thought 9:45 was more realistic*.

*She thinks a goal shouldn’t be attainable  but rather something to strive for.  I want a goal of what I think I can actually hit.

Although most every training run (even the mid week ones) were done together, we decided to run our own races.  We car pooled, registered, and took pre-race pictures.  Then we separated, trying to lose one another in the crowd.

I’m a social person and a nervous talker, so I sought out others to chat with while I waited for the gun start.  I chatted a bit with Daphne (from Scooby Doo) and the Cookie Monster before we got down to business.

The first mile looped a couple of times through downtown.  On the first past, I noticed a girl wearing an Ohio University sweatshirt.  Notable, because the Bobcats are all but unheard of in Tennessee.  During the second loop, I called out to her “let’s go Bobcats!” to which she responded “OU – Oh Yeah!”

MILE 1 – 9:40

I was shocked that my first mile was at goal pace.  I’d intentionally held myself back, but it felt much slower than it truly was.  If not for the people in front of me, I would have probably pushed out faster, so I’m thankful to have positioned myself where I did.

MILE 2 – 9:39

There isn’t a whole lot to say about the course – it travels through downtown and into the industry section.  While most of the race is flat (or as flat as east Tennessee gets) the air quality sucks.  This race is a great PR opportunity, but its not pretty.

MILE 3 – 9:43

I ran along side one of the 3 little pigs (who pointed out the lack of porti-potties on the course) and kept pace with several other runners.  It took me a few miles in to see Kelly ahead of me, but she was focused on running her race and didn’t see me at the bend in the course.

MILE 4 – 9:40

Still feeling good at this point, I tried to plan in my head.  Did I want to pick it up on this mile, or wait until this mile finished up before moving into my “comfortable push” zone?  Somewhere in the process of thinking, I realized the decision had already been made for me.

MILE 5 – 9:34

At points in this stretch, I couldn’t see Kelly in front of me but I tried to relax and let her go.  Run my own race.  After all I was already faster than I had anticipated, and I didn’t want to blow it by going too hard too fast.  Would it suck for her to finish before me despite my 4 prior attempts (this was her first half)? Sure, but she’d worked hard for this and had earned every speedy moment.

MILE 6 – 9:34

Somewhere on the back stretch of the loop, I overheard some ladies discussing the bad air quality of Kingsport.  “Coal country has nothing on this!”  Sure, the Eastman Kodak plant smells like a dirty vitamin, but the smell the were referring too wasn’t what they thought.

I turned around, slowed, and yelled “We’re near the sh*tter plant.” They looked confused, so I repeated myself.  Still confused, I rephrased “Up ahead is the Waste Water Treatment plant.”  Apparently they thought I said “sugar plant” and were hoping for samples up ahead.  Ewww.  I chatted a bit more with them then got back on pace.

MILE 7 – 9:42

As the course looped around for a 2nd time, I started to get excited.  I was really doing this.  I was running a sub 10 min/mile pace (and not feeling like I wanted to die!).  I was still hoping for a pick up at the end but biding my time.

MILE 8 – 9:35

MILE 9 – 9:36

During mile 9, I caught back up with Kelly.  I saw her in front of me stop and do some leg swings, then start running again.  When I asked how she was feeling, she said hip pain was starting to get to her.  We only ran a little piece together, then she stopped at the water station to stretch out some more.

MILE 10 – 9:25

From this point on, the plan was to push as hard as I could and for the first couple of miles it worked.  I was starting to feel fatigued, but I knew I could hold out another few miles.  I pretty much knew at this point I had it in me to finish strong.

My fastest mile.  Not sure how or why.

MILE 11 – 9:13

The wind started gusting pretty bad, or at least it felt like it.  Not sure if it truly was, or just the effects of my exhausted body.  My pushing effort met or exceeded the previous 2 miles, but the clock didn’t show as much.

MILE 12 – 9:34

As we neared the finish line, I really started to tire.  I had given it my all.  A tired body at this point is just proof that everything was left out there.  I already started to puff up, proud of my accomplishments, but still had to push.

MILE 13 – 9:37

I tried to sprint the last section, but it just wasn’t in me.  My cheering section (Sister, BIL, Princess & Little Man) cheered me into the finish.  I did slow long enough to give them high-5s as I passed.

0.27 – 9:22


Previous PR (and last year’s course time) 2:22
AVERAGE PACE (give the 13.27 miles actually traveled) 9:34 min/mile

After crossing, I immediately went to find my family, and make my way back to the final stretch.  I knew Kelly would be coming in right behind me.  She told me later that she had to run/walk the final 3 miles.  Apparently the “run” sections were at a pretty quick pace because she crossed the finish only a minute behind me.  So proud of her!