Monday, November 12, 2012

Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon Race Report

In the days leading up to a race I will often ask my friends if they're planning on running or racing. In my mind there's absolutely nothing wrong with participating in an event, "running" it at a comfortable pace, and enjoying the overall experience. I've done this a number of times myself, and have never once regretted it. Conversely, I think there's also a time to test our limits and see what we're made of. To train for 14, 16 or 18 weeks, and then "race" with everything we've got to see if we're 1 second faster than the last time we attempted that same distance. But after running the the Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon this past weekend I came to realize there's a third option I had never really considered before.


Heading to the park on Saturday morning I had every intention of racing. I'd trained to do the same at the Montgomery Half Marathon back in early October, but the heat and humidity that day was oppressive. I threw in the towel a quarter of the way into the race and instead ran it with friends, having a great time in the process. So, with another month of training under my belt, fresh legs and ideal conditions, I knew the stars had aligned for an all-out effort. I was confident I could finish under 1:35, and hopeful I might sniff 1:32.

Having run this race and this course a number of times, I have a pretty good feel for its challenges. It's not exactly difficult, but it's not easy, either. Knowing I needed to restrain myself the first half so I could finish strong the second, I decided to aim for 7:15/mi through mile 5. I didn't execute this perfectly, but the pace felt very comfortable and I was pleased with where I settled in. A couple of seconds wasn't a big deal considering the very subtle, gradual descent.

7:09 (+30'), 7:06 (+5'), 7:08 (-14'), 7:04 (-17'), 7:05 (-48')

On the course, surrounded by awesome.
Starting at about the 5.5-mile mark there's a 2.5-mile section where runners climb about 50'. It rolls a bit, but no, it's not a huge obstacle. Still, I knew maintaining my pace coming up Jays Mill Rd, turning left onto Alexander Bridge and then right up Viniard Alexander Rd would be a challenge. I beared down a tiny bit, and stayed steady at 7:09/mi for the entire stretch.

It was around this point I noticed I wasn't just racing against myself. I started taking inventory of the other runners around me, trying to figure out which ones might be in my age group. One guy I'd been running with most of the race started slowly pulling away from me, but he looked to be in his early 30s. No big deal. Then I passed another half marathoner that had a good 10 years on me, which gave me a small boost of confidence. Finally, I locked in on a guy wearing green that wasn't too far ahead. He looked to be around my age, and later I learned his name was Scott. I decided I'd try to hang on to him as long as possible.

We came out of the woods, turned left onto Lafayette Rd, and then right onto Glenn-Viniard. During this next, 9th mile - where we passed my favorite monument, Wilder Tower - we climbed another 35' and I began to feel the fatigue. Just a little farther until we pass Bloody Pond and then break out into the wide-open Brotherton Field, I thought.

After turning right onto Dyer Rd and cresting the last short, steep hill, I took the opportunity on the descent to compose myself and prepare for the final miles. Entering the woods again at the 11.5-mile mark Scott was still in front of me. I knew I didn't have much time left, and set to work closing the gap between us. It took about a mile to catch up with him, and once I did I sat on his right shoulder for about 15-20 seconds. I began to wonder if he was fading or if I was being played. Was he waiting for me to expend what energy I had left? Should I keep him in front of me and then try to pass him at the very end?

Hanging on until the very end. Barely.
Finally, I surged past him and tried to pull away. I immediately felt a combination of paranoia, adrenaline and exhaustion. How much longer could I keep this up? Were those his footsteps I was hearing behind me, or was I imagining it? I gave it everything I had left, fully expecting he'd overtake me at any time. I turned right, ran past the medical center, and then made the turn back onto Barnhardt Circle. Looking back on my splits now I see I did the last half mile at about a 6:45/mi pace, but at the time it felt like I was running in slow motion.

Coming down the final stretch I had a brief moment of clarity where I heard the announcer call out my name. And I heard my friends cheering me on, as well. Then, I crossed the line and saw the time on the clock: 1:33:45. I had no idea how well I really did against men 40-44, but was pretty happy I held on to beat Scott at the end. 

After collecting myself I had the pleasure of watching Amanda (big PR!), Duane and Hilary finish. I refueled on the Chickamauga hallmark, banana pudding, and soaked up the sunshine and festivities. While waiting for James and Kaitlin to finish the marathon, Kate and I went over to the awards tent and studied the posted results. Here's how I fared:
Gun time: 1:33:45
Chip time: 1:33:43
Overall place: 14th
Men 40-44: 1st
Overall pace: 7:10/mi
Even though I won my division I feel I should give proper credit to 41-year-old Paul Horton, who finished 3rd overall with a time of 1:23:57. He would have been the winner of our age group, except he was awarded the winner of the Masters Division instead. I also want to express my appreciation to Scott Williams, who unwittingly pushed me to compete. He was very gracious at the awards ceremony, and without him I may not have found that extra gear.

All in all it was another outstanding experience at the Chickamauga Battlefield. I fully expect to be back again next year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Past, Present and Future

Inspired by my friend Amanda and her bliggity blogging ways, I thought I should check in here and post an update of sorts. Maybe even do it more than once. Since it's been a while I figured I'd throw out a quick entry about what I've been up to recently, what I'm currently doing and what's ahead.


FIBArk 10K Trail Race
FIBArk Finish Line
Early this summer after the Country Music Marathon I replaced training with running, giving my legs a much deserved rest. I'm not sure I could go cold turkey like Geoff Roes advocates, but in the month of June my weekly mileage dipped into the teens and 20s. And I was taking not just one but sometimes even two days off per week.

Despite dialing things back, I still managed to fit in two races. The first one was the FIBArk 10k Trail Race in Salida, CO. I was almost 20 minutes slower than my typical road race time, but it was an absolute blast. There was a tough climb of 800' at high altitude over the first four miles; however, the reward of twists and turns on single-track trails made me feel like a kid again. Thumbs up for sure, and I really enjoyed having Kate there to support and encourage me. It was a great way to kick off our vacation in Crested Butte.

The second race was the Franklin Classic 10k in Franklin, TN. It was a hot mess out there with the oppressive humidity, but it, too, was a lot of fun. The best part of that one was crossing the finish line with Amanda, who took mercy on me at the end and let me catch up to her.

Franklin Classic 10k
Franklin Classic 10k on Labor Day
Outside of racing I was thrilled to get in some Running Recon. All summer long I learned more and more about the routes in and around Franklin, TN, which has become a second home of sorts. Just the other day I did a medium-long run on the Stone River Greenway in Nashville, which I found to be really nice.

There was also the aforementioned trip to Colorado, where over the course of the week I checked out various trails and dirt roads. As I'd expected, running at 7800' was much different than the 350' I'm used to. Paces I'd normally associate with a zone 2 run saw my heart rate soaring into the 170s.

Finally, I had the opportunity to run up in Ithaca, NY when I took my daughter there for her college orientation. That may have been my favorite "running" experience all summer, as the weather was fantastic and they had some great rails-to-trails routes (1,2) to run. If I could find a way to summer there and winter in the south I'd give it serious consideration.


These days you'll find me training in Alabama on the weekdays and Tennessee on most weekends. I've been loosely following Hal Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon Training Guide in preparation for the Montgomery Half coming up on October 6th. By loosely I mean that I glance at it on Mondays and just try to get close to what's on the schedule the rest of the week. My biggest deviations have been substituting my own speed workouts in place of his intervals and adding a few miles to each week's long run. I'm not sure if it'll work to my benefit yet, but time will tell. If I had to guess though, I'd say I'm not positioned to PR any races early in the season. No matter, I'll do the best I can and live with the consequences. At present I'm enjoying myself and don't intend to mess with that.


So, in addition to the Montgomery Half that's coming up in a couple of weeks I'm also signed up to once again run the Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon over Veteran's Day weekend. As usual, I'm really excited to go to The Battlefield and "run through history." I had a pretty good half there last year (It was a training run where I cruised the first 4 then raced the last 9) and am looking to improve on my time. I think how well I do at Montgomery will determine how I train for it in the month leading up.

Beyond these two races I haven't decided on any others. I said I was going to take the year off from marathons, but recently noticed an inaugural race over in Greenville, MS that intrigued me. The Mississippi River Marathon, being held on February 9th, will start in Arkansas and end in Mississippi. And, of course, it crosses the Mississippi River. How cool is that? I definitely wouldn't race it, but it sounds too good to pass up. My long runs are already in the 15-16-17 range, so it wouldn't be a stretch to improvise some and make a good time of it.

I imagine I'll run a few more half marathons over the course of the fall and winter months, but haven't settled on anything yet. Hilary and Amanda are both after me to sign up for the Louisiana Half, but I'm not sold on it. I may also try to run in some of the Tennessee State Parks Running Tour, which is a series with events held at parks around the state. Others that I'll probably look for a race around Thanksgiving while I'm up in NH visiting family, but haven't done any searching yet.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Country Music Marathon Race Report

This is a re-post of my dailymile entry about the CMM. Mostly for continuity's sake, though I've added a couple more thoughts at the end.


Pre-Race Goodness!
An awesome race experience with Amanda M. Her second marathon, this one she was not-so-secretly attempting to finish under 4 hours. We knew going in the hills and expected heat might prevent that, but gave it a shot anyway.

Some of the highlights for me, besides having a great friend to run it with, were passing by and actually recognizing some places that hold meaning for me, like Union Station, the Frist Museum, Honky Tonk, Belmont University and PM. Also, the crowd support was excellent -- especially the first half. I was really impressed with the number of people lining the streets cheering us on, and there were tons of kids offering up high fives! I have to say, however, that the coolest thing that happened on the course was when we came across some nuns. There were about a dozen in their habits cheering on runners, and when I ran up to them asking for holy high fives they all really got into it! A final highlight was, of course, coming across Tim M. and Lincoln. It came at just the right time and gave us a lift for the next couple of miles.

Still Smiling at 16!
Starting out in corral 10, we did a great job of not locking in on pace, but on effort instead. Overall we maintained a 9-min/mi pace, but it fluctuated +/- 10-15 seconds each way due to the crowd and hills. At no point did I think we were going too fast or too slow, and a blessing in disguise came around mile 10 (?) when Amanda's Garmin memory first filled up and then died shortly after. She kept looking at her wrist out of habit, but was relegated to trusting me instead. We cruised uneventfully until about mile 20 when fatigue started to become a factor. I thought we both might fade in the later miles, especially when at mile 24 I hit the wall and started cramping in my legs at the same time. But Amanda done good when she beared down and began pulling away from me. I saw her glance back a couple of times, but she smartly ran her own race at the end and finished strong. I couldn't be prouder of her PR 3:57 finish time, which is a huge achievement considering the suboptimal conditions.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good race. I don't think I'll ever seek out another Rock 'n' Roll event, but given the number of people participating they did well. There was a timely start, good bands, plenty of aid stations and a decent finisher's chute. If you're looking for the party experience with thousands upon thousands of other runners, this race is for you.



  • After 5 or 6 miles Amanda's water bottle was empty and I started looking for water pitchers at aid stations to fill it up. Seeing one ahead I said to her, "take your top off!" She had no idea what I was talking about and  said, "what?!?!" So, of course, I just repeated myself. But louder! "Take off your top! Take off your top!" When it finally became clear to her we weren't on Bourbon Street, she took the lid off her bottle and we got her topped off faster than a Nascar team.
  • Notable runners included Elvi (there were a couple of Elvis out there), a Chinese dragon, a soldier running (?) in full gear in honor of a fallen comrade, women in tutus, two guys in tuxedos, and a couple "getting married."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mississippi 50 Race Report

There are a lot of first timers signed up for the 50 miler. I'm sorry say that many of you will not finish it tomorrow. -- Dennis Bisnette, Race Director

Back in July of last year I had the pleasure of dinner with Mark (bamarunner) while he was in town on business. At some point the conversation turned to ultras, and before I knew it he'd put a bug in my ear about making the Mississippi 50 my first. It's an easy course, he said. You can even switch distances mid-race if you feel like it. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I paid the suggestion forward to my friend, Dorothy. For some reason she took me seriously and signed up, and at that point my fate was sealed.

At no point did I consider doing the reasonable thing and attempting the 50k distance. That's "only" five miles more than a marathon, right? In my mind I already knew I could do a 50k, so the only choice was to sign up for the 50m. As has become a pattern of mine, I underestimated what I was getting myself into and was too overconfident. I neglected to consider how much of a factor running on trails would be, and that five miles was a hell of a long way after you've already done 26.2.


Late Friday morning Dorothy rolled into town, we moved all her stuff into my car and then headed towards Laurel, MS. It had been a few months since we'd seen each other, so there was plenty to catch up on and she had me laughing most of the way. There were many quotable moments, but my favorite was when I asked if she was hungry and she replied, "my stomach is like a swallowing crocodile!"

After checking into our hotel and getting settled we headed over to the race HQ for packet pickup and the pasta dinner. I knew Mark was going to be there doing the 50k, but when he called asking for directions he said "we." I shouldn't have been surprised when he showed up with his partner in crime, Doug (SweetDaddyD), who was also tackling his first ultra the next day. He was smarter than me though, opting for the 50k.

L-R: Dorothy, Me, Bamarunner and SweetDaddyD!
Unlike your typical road race, there was no expo. Without fanfare we just picked up our race packets and fell into line for the standard meal of spaghetti, rolls, and salad with cookies and brownies for dessert. While the four of us chatted the race director went over everything we'd need to know for the next day and took a few questions. In all I think we were there for an hour before we headed back to our rooms for the night. I somehow managed to get a decent night's sleep despite a late, unexpected distress call from my daughter and heavy rains that pounded the rooftop.


Up at 4:00 and out the door by 4:45, we made it to the race with about 45 minutes to spare. We checked in at the officials tent, got our dry bags loaded up and staged (Thanks, Hil!), and after a last-minute bathroom stop went over to the start line. We ran into Mark and Doug again, and a few minutes later were off into the twilight with an unceremonious start.

Although the weather conditions were almost ideal (50°/84%), it quickly became apparent the heavy rains from the night before were going to be a factor. The word of the day was mud, and it got tossed around like a baseball at spring training. It was around every turn and had the consistency of margarine. When you planted your foot not only would it slide and you'd have to steady yourself, but it clung to your shoes. Every time I exited one of the muddy stretches my feet felt like I was ready to sleep with the fishes. There were also a number of creek crossings, some of which came up to the middle of my thigh. They weren't as technically challenging and were good for rinsing off the mud from the exterior of my shoes. Unfortunately, that luxury was typically short lived with more muddy sections awaiting.

The first time I went around the big, 12.5 mile loop it a blast. We started around the middle of the pack and everyone was chatty. We struck up a conversation with a woman named Wendy the first couple of miles, and also talked at length with another guy who was a beer distributor. After Dorothy and I cleared the first aid station at mile 6 I became impatient with the pace. I didn't feel like I was running that fast, but kept pulling away from her. Finally, she told me to go ahead and I stupidly did. A rookie mistake, this turned out to be a huge regret. In hindsight I should have stayed with her, measured my pace and stuck to my original plan of running together. Instead, I let my natural pace lead me around the rest of the loop. I hopped, skipped and jumped around obstacles and felt like a little kid at the playground. Too bad the rest of the race didn't go the same way.

The second time around the big loop started out well. A few minutes before I arrived at the start/finish area the 20K race had started, so I got to fly past some of the walkers. I was still having fun until I again ran into the mud, which was now even worse having had over 250 people trample through it. It was becoming more difficult to skirt the edges, as the pits had grown in both length and width. Still, I kept pushing on and felt strong until about mile 23. At that point, however, my splits started to slow some. I finished the second loop and completed 25 miles in 4 hours flat. I was a little surprised when I saw that number on the clock at the check-in station.

When I started the big loop for the third time I was dreading the mud I knew awaited me. Sure enough, it was somehow worse than the second time. There was no getting around it, and every step was getting more and more painful on my quads, who weren't used to all the extra time my feet were contacting the ground. In a road race on solid footing my foot touches the ground for a fraction of a second, but in the mud I had to plant and then fight my shoes as they slid around underneath me for an extra second or two. It all was starting to add up and take its toll. It's hard saying what my splits were when you figure in the time I stopped at aid stations to eat, drink and collect myself, but the Garmin data suggests my last moving miles were in the 13- to 14-minute/mile range.

L-R: Bamarunner, me and SweetDaddyD
By the time I hit mile 35 or 36 my feet were screaming and my quads failing. I was having difficulty lifting my shoes up to clear small obstacles along the path, and my legs started buckling underneath me when I planted. I reached the end of my third loop, stopped at the check-in station and tried to process what was happening to me. I asked myself if there was any way I could run another 12.5 miles. Would the next two trips around the small loop be any different than the big loop? I hadn't seen them yet, so I had no way of knowing. Could my feet take any more of running on insoles caked with mud? I've experienced a hazy state of mind for a few minutes after completing a marathon, but at this moment the fog showed no sign of lifting. I remember the sensation of my teeth tingling. What the heck does that mean? I hoped Dorothy would come around the corner and make my decision for me, but she didn't. Slowly I turned around and told the race director that I was done. He asked if I was sure, and after I confirmed it he handed me a 50k finishers medal and an Amphipod water bottle. 37.5 miles and done.

Shoes, socks and inserts. They actually
felt "clean" compared to most of the day.
Right after I threw in the towel I turned around and noticed Doug and Mark cross the finish line to end their race. We talked for a few, and about 25 minutes later Dorothy completed her third loop looking strong. I confirmed that I'd dropped and encouraged her to keep going. She disappeared into the woods while the three of us talked some more and got our photo taken. After the guys left I went to the car and spent at least 30 minutes changing out my muddy shoes. It was a painstaking task, and what I found in my shoes - which were relatively clean - was so unbelievable that I had to snap a picture. Now that I've read a few others' race reports I see I wasn't the only one with that brilliant idea.

50m. Tough. As. Nails.
Dorothy completed her fourth loop, but this time when she passed the start/finish area she didn't look so hot. I transitioned to support crew mode and got her some Gatorade from the car, trying to be supportive. My encouragement wasn't really needed though. "I may have to walk the rest of the way," she said, and it was understood from the look on her face that the course wasn't going to win. At the 10:08 mark she rounded the last bend in the road and slowly walked up to the finish line. As she waited to receive her belt "buggle" she reminded me of a victorious, yet weary prize fighter standing over her defeated opponent.


As I already mentioned, one of my regrets for this race was not staying with Dorothy and managing my pace better. Although the rolling course and abundant mud certainly taxed my legs, I wonder if I could have squeezed out the last 12 miles with a disciplined partner and a smarter approach.

"It hurts to a point and then it doesn't get any worse." -- Ann Trason

A second regret that ate away at me a couple of days after the race was my decision to drop. I knew going into the race it was going to be mentally taxing and painful, but I wasn't prepared for the degree. Hindsight is 20/20, and thinking back on that moment at the check-in station I wondered if I truly was done for the day. Could I have kept going? Did I sell myself short? There's nothing I can do about it now, so the only thing to do is learn from the experience and apply those lessons next time. Yes. Next time.

Things I was happy with included my fueling. I didn't experiment with eating real foods prior to the race, and threw caution to the wind when the time came. I ate pretzels, chips, M&Ms, gummi bears, Saltines with peanut butter and bananas, and never had GI issues. I made sure to consume just a little at each aid station so as not to overdo it, and that seemed to work for me. Another thing that turned out well was taking Hammer gels. I'd never tried them before, but they didn't give me any trouble, either. Even better, at no point did I feel like I'd hit the wall. I had decent energy throughout.

Hydration wasn't a problem for me, either. Most of the time I stuck to water, and I popped an S!Cap every hour or so. And when I got tired of water I'd let the aid station volunteers (Awesome!) fill my bottle with Heed. Between these two tactics I was able to fend off the sensations of impending cramping I felt in my hamstrings every once in a while.

Finally, for a couple of months leading up to the race I fretted about what shoes I should wear. I tested out a pair of Adidas adiZero XT 3 (admitted Adidas fan boy here) back in January, but ended up returning them. I then tried some Brooks PureGrit that were designed with input from Scott Jurek. I didn't fall in love with them immediately (35 miles total), but race day was fast approaching and I decided to at least put them in my bag. When faced with the decision to use them or some old Brooks Adrenaline ASR hybrid shoes I figured they were the best option for the conditions. They ended up performing well for me, offering adequate lateral traction under the conditions and I came away relatively unscathed. I'll continue putting them to the test on future runs to see how well they perform on dry trails.


As we ate our dinner Friday night I shook my head defiantly when Dennis said many of us wouldn't finish the next day. As it so happened, he knew what he was talking about. Of the 114 people that started the 50 mile race the next morning, 36 didn't complete the entire distance. And I was one of them. It may take me a couple of years to get back to the De Soto National Forest, but I fully expect to redeem myself one day. Maybe next time there won't be quite so much mud.


Postscript. Though you won't find the same amenities as you would a road race, the MS50 delivered in every way. I was thoroughly impressed with the course, volunteers and how well organized and executed everything was. Kudos to the race director and everyone that made it all happen behind the scenes. Carl Touchstone must have been quite the man to have a race like this held in his honor.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Callaway Gardens Half Marathon Race Report

This past weekend I paid my first visit to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA, and ran in the "Fitness Series" half marathon held within the 13,000 acre resort community. Since I've been slightly (barely) more focused on preparing for an upcoming ultra marathon, I was pleased when my friend Janie accepted my offer to pace her.

Warm Up

Amanda the Stowaway
I headed over Saturday afternoon and along the way picked up a hitchhiker in Opelika. The McQueens caught up with me at Starbucks, and before I knew it Amanda and I were on our way while Tim and Lincoln continued on listening to the soothing sounds of NPR. We took the scenic route to the expo (No, I wasn't lost. I still had gas.), picked up our race packets and then scouted most of the course until we stumbled upon the hotel. Off to an interesting, but good start!

After checking in and coordinating plans through a text messaging blitz our entire group met up in the hotel lobby for drinks. Shortly after that we all made our way to the Carriage and Horses Restaurant for dinner. I'd researched restaurants a few days before, and had a hunch it would be a better option than Three Lil Pigs BBQ or the Whistling Pig Cafe. Fortunately, it was a hit. The food and service were good, and the entertainment was out of this world. The two-man band that took requests wasn't too bad, either. ;)

The Crew!
We all met up at the huge tent by the starting line on Sunday morning and took some photos for posterity. I looked around for fellow dailymiler, Skip, as I knew he was there for his first half marathon, but couldn't find him anywhere in the small crowd. Janie and I then went out for a warm-up run, last-minute bathroom breaks and stopped by the car to drop off extra clothing. As we made our way to the starting line a man approached me with his hand outstretched. Seeing the confused look on my face, Skip re-introduced himself! I didn't recognize him because he'd lost so much weight!


The race began promptly at 8am (contrary to what I read on an review) and the course took us past Robin Lake on our right. The pace was a little quicker than what I wanted in the early miles, but considering the gentle descent we were still doing just fine.

Normally, this is where I'd dissect my race. But since it was Janie's and I was just along for the ride, I'll comment only on the event itself.

  • The Course: I thought it was great. Even though everything was dormant it was still pretty, and I really liked the elevation. The hills we encountered from miles 5 thru 8 were challenging, though not insurmountable. There were a couple of tight turns that made things interesting, but overall it was a good course.

  • Aid Stations: While there were plenty, I was surprised to find that volunteers at them were not handing drinks to the participants. Instead, they just had cups of water and Gatorade sitting on the tables and you had to find what you were looking for. It wasn't an issue for me since I wasn't racing, but I could see where someone serious about their time would be peeved. Once I figured out what was going on I told Janie to continue on and started grabbing a cup of water for each of us.

    Another thing about the aid stations I didn't like was the placement of a couple of them. At least two were on tight turns that created bottlenecks. At one of them I accidentally stepped in front of someone after picking up cups. I hate being that guy.

  • Finish Line: It seemed like the only normal thing going on at the finish line was the announcer calling out finisher's names. After Janie and I crossed we stood just beyond the timing mats trying to collect ourselves. All of a sudden I heard a young man asking us for our timing bracelets. Most races have the volunteers take them off for you, and for good reason. Even though I wasn't the mess I usually am after a race, I still had a difficult time removing them first from my leg and then hers'.

    About 10-15 minutes later I realized we didn't have our finishers' medals. I looked around and noticed that nobody else did, either. We made our way back to the finish and a single woman was there handing them out as quickly as she could. It was kind of comical.

  • Awards Ceremony: I've never seen an awards ceremony begin early before, but that's exactly what they did. A few of us had gone back to the hotel to quickly shower up and change, and even though we returned a few minutes before 11am, they'd already started.

    Also strange was that they didn't give out awards to overall winners or masters/senior-masters groups. Everything was strictly by age group.

Cool Down

Post-Race Glow!
Afterwards we all gathered inside the tent, trying to recover. Skip finished just a minute after Janie and me, and I really enjoyed hearing about how his first half marathon went. It was also great seeing his wife, Susan, and their three daughters, and thrilling to hear that Erin had won the 5k earlier!

As the rest of our "crew" filed into the tent it was fun hearing about their races. It turned out that Barbara won her age group and Amanda took second in hers! A great day all around!

So, what was the outcome of Janie's race? Well, she kicked ass. All the hard work she put in training the weeks leading up paid off with a PR, 3rd place overall female finish and she won her age group! 

Goal Achieved!
I've had the opportunity to pace people at a few races now, and whenever I offer I'm amused at the surprised looks I get. I guess it's difficult to understand why anyone would "give up" their race to help someone else? Thing is, I think there are few things better than helping someone achieve their goals. If I'd run my own race I wouldn't have this shared experience with Janie. I wouldn't have been there in the early miles to chat and see how effortlessly they went by for her. I would have missed seeing how she dealt with all the challenges the course threw at her. And witnessing her dig deep the last couple of miles and finish strong never would have happened. Racing for myself is fun, challenging and sometimes rewarding, but it can pale in comparison to seeing someone else realize their goals.

Edit: Roxy's comment below made me realize that in my haste to wrap this report up I neglected to make clear how much I enjoyed the event. The few shortcomings I outlined above didn't detract from a great experience overall, and I'd recommend this race to anyone looking for a challenging, fun half marathon.


For another perspective on this race check out this great review by Scott Sarisky. And as soon as Amanda gets around to posting her report I'll add a link to it --> here!