After mile 6 the course turned onto the Tennessee Riverwalk, which was a welcome break after the monotony of running on a highway. We passed by marshes and nature preserves, and I enjoyed the views. At one of the aid stations along the Riverwalk, I stopped to have my water bottle refilled. My hands were so cold that I couldn’t get the top of it off by myself, so I asked a volunteer to do it for me. At the end of the Riverwalk, we turned back into the road and were greeted with more awesome hills, and the best part of the whole race, getting to run across the Wanut Street Bridge and the Veterans Bridge! We cross the Tennessee river on one bridge, and then came back along the other. I was feeling tired at this point, but in good spirits. My stupid watch froze and hadn’t updated since mile 9, so I had no idea how fast I was going, which was why I was frustrated about the lack of people calling out time along the course. After running the bridges, we were back on the same course that we took going out, this time heading back towards the stadium. In the final miles I caught up with someone wearing a tshirt advertising the triathlon club in my area, so of course I introduced myself! We ran together until the last .1, where we re-entered the stadium. I saw Scott’s face and heard him cheering for me, and I ran hard to the finish.
Going into this race, I felt really good; the biggest thing I was worried about was whether or not the race day outfit I brought would be good for the weather. It’s not that I don’t respect the distance or think that I’m some kind of QUEEN OF RUNNING or anything, but I’m definitely at the point in my training where I feel very comfortable with the half marathon distance– it’s still a challenge, yes, but I have no doubt about my ability to finish it strong.
After getting ready and going through the usual pre-race routine, Scott and I stepped out of the hotel front doors to make our way to Finley Stadium, where the race would begin. We both had dressed for warm weather, shorts and a thin tshirt for me and shorts and a singlet for him. We were hit with a blast of cold air and decided to go back to the room and grab long sleeved shirts. After adding another layer, we warmed up nicely on the half mile walk to the starting point. We explored the stadium and jogged a gentle lap around the stadium as a warm up. Eventually it was time to start, and we all gathered behind the 50 yard line.
We exited the stadium and followed a road that ran through what seemed like a business district– lots of office buildings and large parking lots, only passing one group of cheering people along the way. We reached the first mile marker and I thought it was strange that there was no one there calling out split times– which makes me wonder, are split timers just something that my track club does for their races, or was the lack of them out of the ordinary? I thought maybe I would see some at further mileage markers, maybe at the 5k and 10k or something, but sadly I was wrong.
Just after mile 2 we passed by the Tennessee Aquarium and the first aid station and were greeted with our first big hill. I was feeling strong and cheeky as I watched several around me stop to walk up the incline, I intentionally picked up the pace, reached the top, and then flew down the other side, passing several people in the process (not something this turtle girl gets to enjoy the feeling of very often). I thought about what a hill wimp I used to be and mentally thanked trail running for making me so much stronger on them. At this point the course turned onto a highway, and stayed there for quite some time– at least until mile 6 I think. I remember thinking, “Man, for the Scenic City half, this isn’t very SCENIC.” We ran along a straight path and there wasn’t much to look at. I entertained myself by observing the runners around me– there was Leap Frog Guy, who kept sprinting past me, stopping to walk, and then sprinting past me again, repeat forever. There was Hawaiian Shirt Lady, a woman who was wearing a brightly printed Hawaiian shirt and seemed like she was having the time of her life. There was Giant Backpack Girl, who looked like a beautiful Nike running model and was running with a LARGE, black, very heavy looking backpack on her back. I even saw I a guy in a Rocket City Marathon shirt! I caught up to him and asked him about the race, and we shared marathon war stories.
(I spent the entire race awkwardly lifting up my shirt so various race officials and volunteers could see my number and wouldn’t think I was running illegally.)
(Hello, my name is Chelsea, and I am the WHITEST PERSON IN ALL THE LAND.)
I finished in 2:24:33, about two minutes slower than my PR of 2:22, and I am totally happy with this performance. All in all a strong and happy race, which, if I’m honest, is almost always my biggest goal. 🙂