This weekend I ran my fourth half marathon, the Oak Barrel Half in Lynchburg, TN. I ran this same race last year & it's still one of my favorites. It's put on by Mach Tenn & they do such a great job. Coming in at under $50, it's also one of the most affordable half marathons you can run around here. And look at all this awesome race swag!
Like everyone, I have a tendency to start races too fast, so I decided to start with Polly & stay at her pace in the beginning. I ran the first few miles with Polly, Casey & Lana. It was cold & it took awhile for my legs to warm up, but once I warmed up, our pace felt too slow. At the first water stop (mile 2.7), I left the group & picked up my pace by about 20-30 seconds.
Mile 1: 11:50
Mile 2: 11:37
Mile 3: 11:50
Whiskey Hill starts at mile 4 & continues for a mile. I ran it alone & stopped at the water stop at the top to catch my breath & take a gel. As soon as I started running again, Polly, Casey & Lana were there, so we fell back in stride together.
Mile 4: 11:21
Mile 5: 14:14 (Whiskey Hill)
Mile 6: 11:05
When we passed the marker at mile 6, I felt great & even patted my legs & said, "Good job, body. Half way there." Famous last words. Like one second later, my knee spasmed, which it does sometimes. I looked down at my Garmin to take a mental note of what mileage I was at so I could tell my coach & the next thing I know I'm on the ground. I went down like a ton of bricks. I skidded a little & landed on my hands & knees. I have no idea what happened. I didn't trip on anything. In hindsight, I think my knee buckled & I just went down.
Thankfully Polly, Casey & Lana were with me, or I probably would have put myself out to pasture. Fueled by adrenaline (& pride), I had them pull me up & I walked for a few steps to make sure all my parts & pieces were in working order, then we took off.
Mile 7: 11:44
Mile 8: 11:25
Mile 9: 12:41
I realized blood was dripping off my hand, so Polly hosed me down with her Camelbak & gave me some toilet paper to stop the bleeding. Oh, & I dug a big piece of gravel out of my hand with my fingernail. They wanted me to stop at the next water stop & ask for a band-aid. I looked at my watch & realized I could still finish in/around 2:30, so I said I'd rather finish bleeding then lose my PR. Polly was like, 'You're not kidding about the HAM'. I am never kidding about the HAM.
Mile 10: 11:36
Mile 11: 11:01
Mile 12: 11:41
I honestly didn't feel much pain from the fall, but my knee was weak & kept giving out. I was terrified I was going to fall again. Polly & Casey were great & kept encouraging me to keep up the pace, but I fell back. Once they got pretty far ahead of me, something clicked & I decided if I was going to fall, I was going to fall, but I was going to get that 2:30 finish time. Also, Yeezus. I somehow sped up from 11:41 to 10:43 & made it across the finish line without falling. Probably because, baby, I'm a firework.
Mile 13: 10:43
Body malfunctions aside, I still love this race & highly recommend it to anyone used to hills & looking for a fun, challenging race. Race participation is capped, so you have to register as soon as it goes on sale. They'll announce it on their FB page, but it's usually in September/October. If you run with East Nasty &/or can run the 5.8 at Percy, you can run this race. There's usually a substantial number of East Nasties there, so lots of carpooling & pacing options. Do it!
Full race photostream here. Lastly, below is a video of my 5-year old niece, Jessica, doing a cheer for me at my parents' house the night before my race. Enjoy!