Last Saturday, I ran the Oak Barrel Half Marathon for the third year in a row. I didn't exactly train for this race, at least not in terms of how I usually train. I missed weeks of runs due to weather, so I just did what I could and hoped for the best.
Some quick stats. I PR-ed at my last half marathon, the Mt. Juliet Holiday Half in December, with a finish time of 2:22. I knew I wouldn't beat that time, but I was pretty sure I would beat my previous two Oak Barrel times of 2:34 and 2:50.
Mile 1 - 10:48
Mile 2 - 10:49
Mile 3 - 11:02
When we hit Mile 1, I told Melanie we were a little fast, but the pace felt comfortable, so we kept it up. Somewhere around Mile 3, we started going uphill and Melanie dropped me. At this point, I came up with a race plan. I decided to walk the big hills, run the first half of the race conservatively, and run the last half fast.
Mile 4 - 11:05
Mile 5 - 13:38
Mile 6 - 11:20
Oh, Whiskey Hill, you son of a bitch. The reason this race is so hard is because of the 1-mile hill that goes up to the top of a ridge line. The elevation is 1,127 feet. That's a big hill, guys. Every year, there is debate about running vs. walking. The argument for walking is A) it is unrunable, unless you're a mountain goat, and B) you can walk it as fast as you'll run it, so save your energy. The argument for running is - you don't walk during races.
I walked it.
Mile 8 - 11:29
Mile 9 - 11:01
The mean thing about Whiskey Hill is as soon as you get to the top, you have to run up another hill. It's rude. I walked that hill, too. Eff it. Also, not for nothing, but when I fell last year, I fell in-between miles 7 and 8, and I swear it's because I ran all those hills and blew my knees out. Not this year! You're welcome, knees.
Mile 10 - 10:43
Mile 11 - 10:16
Mile 12 - 11:38
Yay, downhill! I started picking up my pace somewhere between miles 8 and 9 and continued getting faster as the course flattened out and eventually became a downhill sprint. I love the end of this race. I also got chased by the Wicked Witch of the West at the last water stop, which cracked me up and gave me the final push I needed to finish strong. Thanks, Witch!
Mile 13 - 10:54
Finish time - 2:28:23
I cannot believe I finished in under 2:30. I easily walked 10 minutes of this race. If I had known, or cared, I probably could have beaten my PR of 2:22. WHATEVER. In 2013, I ran this race at 192 lbs and finished at 2:50. Last year, I ran at 175 lbs and finished at 2:34. This year, I ran at 161 lbs and finished at 2:28. So yeah, I'm okay with this year's time.
L to R: 2013, 2014, 2015
Hold on to your hats, because I'm about to go full-Oprah.
So here are things that happened to me for the first time during this race: I had fun, I had zero knee pain, my knees didn't give out, my shoulder-neck-collarbone zone didn't hurt, and I made a couple of new friends along the course, namely a heavily tattooed man I called 'Stripes'. This was my seventh half marathon and it's the first one I've enjoyed, and by that I mean, I didn't spend any part of the race in excruciating pain and/or telling myself I'm not doing anymore of these races.
At the Music City Tri last summer, I put a lot on pressure on myself about my finish time, because it was going to play a big role in estimating my 70.3 finish time for Augusta. I was so worked up, I was almost sick, and right before the swim start, my friend Sarah Shearer basically told me to chill the eff out and just have fun.
At the time, I had no idea how to do that. I was so scared that if I was having fun, then I wasn't taking it seriously. And if I wasn't taking it seriously, then why in the hell was I doing it? I had some real talk with my therapist and realized that I am never in danger of not taking something seriously, so I might as well have fun. It took me eight months to get here, but I think I'm finally here. Raise the roof for therapy, y'all!
Full photostream here.