|Green Legs and Ham|
They came up with green legs and ham. It's hard to tell from the photo, but those are lime green compression sleeves. Yes, that's Waldo. Now, I don't think Waldo had anything to do with Dr. Seuss, but it worked. Waldo (Scott) is such a ham. We had to have him on the team.
I loved seeing my team on the morning of race day. They helped me to stay focused through all the prerace photo ops. I had one goal......finish the half in less than 2:00:00. Last year, I missed it by 38 seconds. I was o.k. with that last year because I didn't even plan to come close to that time. I would have been o.k. with a 2:15:00 last year because it was 45 minutes to a hour faster than I had been running.
Normally, I would have been completely social. This time was different. I kept to myself, only talking to my relay team to plan exchanges and reuniting with them to come into the stadium. The plan was for me to run the first leg of the relay while I was running the half.
After several photos with the Covenant Health Marathon Biggest Winner team, I made my way outside where I found Amelia and Kaycee. For Amelia, it was her first race. For Kaycee, it was her first half marathon. These two ladies happen to teach with me. Somehow, I talked them in to doing 13.1. I loved their tribute to Tim Tebow.
|February training run with Missy Kane|
I lined up early. It wasn't really early. They had been asking people to move towards the starting line for a few minutes. It was cold. People weren't exactly moving fast. I found my spot in Corral B. This was a new place for me. I wasn't used to being toward the front of the pack. I knew I had to be upfront to have a chance.
|It's cool to have parents who don't mind to serve as paparazzi.|
The gun sounded. Before I knew it, it was time to run. For the first tenth of a mile, I had one mission: position myself for a photograph. It wasn't easy. Some tall guy kept getting in the line of sight. I knew where my dad was, but it wasn't going to work. Somehow, it did.
|See what I mean? That guy is tall. He kept getting in my picture.|
With the first incline, I tried to manage my pace. I didn't want to go too fast and burn out in the first quarter of a mile. I didn't want to lose the race either in its first few moments. I held my pace right at goal pace. I was so thankful when the course turned left and headed through UT's campus.
The first few miles of the race were easy. I kept an 8:55 pace. One thing I've learned in racing is to keep your watch on average pace rather than lap pace. It gives you a better idea of where you are at, especially in the later miles. Anyway, I kept the pace because I had a relay exchange to get to. One thing I knew was even if I didn't get my sub 2 hour half, I wanted to get the team off to a good start.
I passed the 10k mark. I was just off of my PR pace from a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Was I too fast? I wasn't sure. The relay exchange zone was approaching. I was looking for Waldo. Yes, it was the book coming to life. In a sea of people, I had to find him. As I got closer, I could see the red and white strips of his shirt. I took of the relay slap bracelet and my race belt that held my relay bib on it. I made the exchange with Scott and dumped my belt hoping Kelsey would pick it up.
|That's just the beginning of Noelton. There's another hill||after this one.|
A few moments later, I made it to the Fort and a couple of more hills. With my watch reading a 9:00 minute pace, I knew I had a little room. I walked most of the hills getting into the Fort Sanders area. Once at Children's Hospital, I took off again. I took when little walk break on a slight uphill and then I kicked it into high gear. I was still on pace for a sub 2.
I passed mile 12 with around 11 minutes left. All I had to do was maintain a 10 minute pace. I came down the hill by the Knoxville Art Museum where the marathon and half marathon splits. I was thinking about taking a walk break going up the hill into the stadium until I heard the cheers of my relay team. Then I knew I had to run it through with no stopping.
|I was trying to smile but I was dead.|
|Official Time: 159:19|
That wasn't the highlight of the day. About two and a half hours later, I got to cross the finish line with my relay team. I think that was as much fun as finishing my race. Thank you Kelsey, Brittney, and Scott for making it happen.
The day wasn't over. I waited a little while longer for our friend Phil Kaplan to cross the finish line after doing the marathon. Fast Phil is the one who helped me become Flyin' Bryan. I owe a lot of my success to him.
In the end, a good time was had by all at the Covenant Health Marathon. For me, that time was a PR.