Sunday, April 3, 2011

Knoxville Marathon 5k

My second official race of the year turned out MUCH better than the first.  At least with regard to weather and being with people I know and love.  Brian and I signed up for the 5k associated with the Knoxville Marathon at least three months ago.  I know this because I made us separate training plans based around our work schedules.  The schedules were followed loosely, but we still felt prepared going into the race.  Also,  my best friend signed up to do the race as well.  And we both had a couple of friends that would be competing that we hoped to see.

But let's back up a bit.  The night before the race, Brian and I went to the Health and Fitness expo to pick up our race packets and t-shirts.  I actually got an extra technical t-shirt because I work for Covenant health and they are a corporate sponsor for the event.  Here we are with our bibs and the 5k route map:

The expo was packed full of people and it got me all anxious.  So, what did we do?  We went to Market Square where there were MORE people out for Rhythm and Blooms.  We actually had a lovely dinner at Tomato Head, delivered my best friend, Christi's race packet to her, listened to a couple of Robinella songs and then headed home.  Oh and this happened:

Came home, put oats and apples in the crockpot, laid out our clothes, and went to sleep.

 The morning of the race, we got up at 5:15. Our race didn't start until 7:45, but we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to be ready, eat breakfast, and get there before parking got bad. Check, check, and check - everything went as scheduled. Not so with poor Christi, she woke up sick, tried to make it, but, wisely, turned back home.

Pre-race pics:

Starting line was at the Sunsphere.
Fun fact: we got engaged very near this landmark.

red nose - it was COLD!

We watched the marathon and half-marathon runners start.  Then it was our turn.  We squeezed hands, wished each other a good race and were off.  This course was far hillier than the New Year's day 5k.  It is Knoxville afterall.  I shudder to think of what the half and full marathoners had to survive.  I am proud to say that I didn't stop to walk once.  Not even on the hill right after the turn around that I thought might kill me. 

While I was on that hill, I saw Brian and gave him a wave.  Then I saw another girl just ahead of me wave at him too.  It was our friend, Jennifer Pence!  We stayed near each other in pace for the rest of the time. 

Before I knew it, we were trucking down Cumberland and then making the turn toward Neyland Stadium.  The finish line was on the 50 yard line - super awesome.  We were trotting up a little hill and there was the 26 mile marker for the marathoners (.2 to go).  Then there was the 3 mile marker (.1 to go!)  I kicked it into high gear and really busted it to the finish line, looking up just in time to catch myself on the Jumbotron - amazing!

Here are a couple of "just finished!" pics:

Jen and me :)

Our friend, Chris Ladd, who came out just to cheer us on, was in the bleachers.  He's so cool to come support us.  Too bad neither of us heard his cheers because we had earphones in :(

Brian, Chris, and Sparticus (aka the best dog ever)
This was a fantastic race.  I felt strong, confident, and full of energy.  I might even venture to say that I could've kept going.  I don't have official stats yet, but I will update when they come in:

Clock time:  37:16 (nearly 3 minutes faster than New Year's day! woot!)
Chip time: 36:19.9
Average pace: 11:43
Place: 727/1441

Abram's Falls

As I've probably mentioned before, we are lucky to live near mountains and have access to many hiking trails. The biggest park in the area is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It attracts a lot of tourism in the summer and fall. GSMNP really is beautiful. One of the most popular trails is Abram's Falls. It's a manageable hike for most activity levels, it's relatively short (5mi round trip), and you get the benefit of a beautiful waterfall. During the summer, you can't do this hike without looking at someone's rear end the whole way.

We both wanted to do Abram's falls again, so we decided to hit it up before the tourist season really picks up. It also helped that the day we went was overcast. Brian and I have done this hike together at least two times before. The last time we did it - well over a year ago - I remember both of us were struggling. I'm talking sucking wind and wondering when it was ever going to end.

Here we are at the trail head:

We took this picture when we were done with the hike. Shh.

and the obligatory self-portrait:

Brian channeling our dog, Otis:

see the resemblance?

we made it to the falls in what seemed like no time:

we ate a snack before hitting the trail back to the car:

This hike seemed so easy compared to the last time we did it. We were still breathing a little heavy on the uphills (who doesn't?), but it was so quick! This, my friends, is a benefit of regular exercise. It's also what I call a "non-scale victory" Another victory from this hike? I peed in the woods! I never do that. Was that too much info? sorry. Here's a sign that I thought was funny - I call it "tragic cyclist"

no cyclists were harmed in the taking of this photo