After running a half marathon without really training, I wanted to pick a spring half marathon that I would actually train for. While the Country Music Marathon and 1/2 are very popular in Nashville, I didn’t particularly feel like dealing with that kind of a crowd. Besides, Country Music was scheduled for the weekend smack dab in the middle of my exams for my final semester of graduate school. My mother had run the Oak Barrel Half Marathon previously, a much smaller rural half marathon set in Lynchburg, TN, the home of Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Oak Barrel was a few weeks earlier, in early April, and I convinced my husband, Joe, to train with me.
This meant training through the dead of winter. I know the South doesn’t have it nearly as bad as much of the country, but I’m from Texas. On our first 8-mile run, it started sleeting on us, just as we were turning around. But we also had gorgeous runs, 10 miles in Fort Lauderdale and peaking with 12 miles on the most perfect running day I’ve ever had in Nashville.
By the time April 2nd rolled around, I was ready. Joe was not quite as ready. With his busy schedule, he wasn’t able to train as much or as frequently as I was. Being on-call two nights before didn’t help matters. The Oak Barrel Half course is not flat and boasts the infamous “Whiskey Hill”, a not insignificant rise up to the ridge that surrounds Lynchburg. As you can see below, quite a few people are walking. We didn’t run the whole hill, but we made it up without too much fuss. I’m in orange, and Joe is in green.
My initial goal was to finish under 2:30 with Joe, but after our 12 mile training run, I amended it to sub-2:15. At mile 10, I knew I could do it, but Joe wasn’t feeling it, so he let me go. I ran the last 5K with everything I had left, passing people right and left. Running the first 10 miles conservatively had left me with plenty in my tank while many others were running out of gas.
I saw my dad, who rode his bike to Lynchburg, right before the last long mile along the highway into town. As much as I wanted to walk, I just concentrated on picking off people in front of me. I turned that last corner and kicked it in, blowing away my goal with a finishing time of 2:11:50.
My mom finished a few minutes later, and as soon as I gathered enough energy to head back on the course to find Joe, he turned the corner. I started screaming for him, and he came over and high-fived me before finishing.
It was a great feeling and a great race. After Oak Barrel, I officially had the half marathon bug.
What was your best race? Do you run with any family members?