Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oak Barrel Half-Marathon

When I signed up for this race I thought the medal was real cool.  A piece of the Oak Barrel used in making Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.  I knew 13.1 is always a fun distance and that I would have plenty of time to be ready for it.  (Read previous post on procrastination)  I trained like pretty easily moving up in mileage as I went along. This sounds kind of like your normal 12-16 week training plan doesn’t it?  Well that is where this one changed.  

You see in life sometimes like baseball you are thrown a curve ball.  I got mine at the end of December and it turned into a fastball in January.  For the better part of two months I was training like a mad man for work and part time for running.  I knew I was still running enough to make a half so I was not worried about it.  It was during this time I also learned of a little fact pertaining to this race.  There is a hill in this race , a hill which has its own Face book page.   What does that mean?  It has to be a monumental hill in order to have a page dedicated to it.  It has a cool name too, Whiskey Hill!!!

I have lived in this area a total of five years now over two tours.  This would be my first opportunity to go to the distillery tour.  I have drove past it countless times, but never went to it.  I would now have no excuse not to go through the tour.  (Reason two for taking this race on)

Back to the training.  

My furthest before March mileage wise was a 10K, and then I went away for 21 days to the woods of Louisiana.  Those 21 days although we did some physical training killed all my prep.  This would show on race day.  A fall during training in LA causing an injury to my right leg and I am guessing my back since I now have pain there.  So when I should have hit 10-12 miles I barely hit 5.  This is not good, unless you are an elite runner, which I definitely am not. 

We traveled down the day before the race to stay on a horse farm in Shelbyville, TN.  This is approximately 20 minutes from the race site.  This stop was a family stop since my daughter loves Horses and we would be away from the hustle and bustle of our daily life.  The Clearview Horse Farm was just what the doctor ordered for us.   We all had a chance to relax (even our dogs) and watch a horse show.  

 Race day woke up well rested.  We took the drive to Lynchburg, TN and of course when you take a town with population 361 and add 1050 runners plus their supporters traffic gets a little bad.  So we parked about a half mile from the finish line and walked in.    The weather for an April morning was a bit cool not bad though.  Had my sweatshirt and a fleece cap on to stay warm while waiting to start.  The start area was kind of boring, no music, nobody cheering or just yelling for us to get going.  The town was still asleep.   Of course this was not surprising.  This was and is small town USA.   

As 0800 rolled around I got down to my t-shirt and shorts and moved closer to the start line.  The whole time thinking about my approach to the huge hill that sat in front of me.   Trying not to let adrenaline take me over I set out to a nice and easy pace.   I did not look down at my Garmin until after I hit mile 2.  I was at a good pace and was blocking out the Hill.  This worked for a while.  By mile three I could feel what has to be allergies creeping through me.  It was making breathing a labor; I must have sounded like a locomotive coming through the area.  Then I looked down at my Garmin I was at mile 3.7 and did not notice a hill.  Was I just in the flow of the race or could I not differentiate between flat and hills now?  I was at the bottom of Whiskey hill but just did not notice it.  I kept running until I noticed what reminded me of Korea and Namsam Hill.  Whiskey hill became extreme and I had to adjust everything to stay moving forward.  Wow it deserves a page on Face Book!!!!

The end of the hill was at mile 4.7 so we were less than 9 to go at that time.  The only problem was  now I was pretty drained from that hill and the one the preceded it at about 2.5.  I also knew that at mile 9 I would get a downhill for about three miles according to the race website.  So I settled in for the long haul to get to nine.  I met a man at mile 7 who just moved to TN and just had become a dad again.  We talked until about mile 8 this helped me to keep going.  At mile 10 tragedy struck as a runner went down.  A bunch of people were around him so I thought he was ok.  Then an emergency vehicle sped by us.  It was just a SUV so I figured they were just checking on him.  I looked back and then almost got run down by the Ambulance coming to help him that made me realize, always keep your headphones low or one ear open during runs it may save your life.  I then pulled out one ear bud for the rest of the race.  

All this was powered by Marathon Bars.  The Motto Stay On Keep On was on point today

Now as we came back into view of Lynchburg, you could see it was alive.  What a difference a couple hours make.  The streets were lined, the announcer was calling out our names, this is a race day after all.  As I approached the final turn I saw my race fans cheering me on, they gave me that last bit of energy needed to finish strong.  I heard my name and raised my hands in victory even though it was one of my slower Halfs.  I had finished and beat Whiskey Hill.  Wow it was a lot tougher than expected but I again learned some lessons from a run.  Training does and always will matter.  Research routes of races so you know when to peak.  Do not wear both headphones during races, this will save you in the end.  

Once finished we went on the tour of Jack Daniels Distillery.  It was pretty interesting to see how this world famous whiskey is produced.    We then ate lunch at the Barbeque Caboose Café.  It was good southern BBQ and I recommend it for BBQ enthusiasts everywhere.  It was then back to the farm for our rest time.  
This was a great weekend and exposed me to my shortfalls in training.  I will be better for Nashville in 20 days thanks to this.  

 On to the next: the St Jude Country Music Nashville Half Marathon. 

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