Viola Valley Half Marathon

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekends. I spent mine running a little race and COMPLETING my 12 Half Marathons in 12 Months Project! It was a wonderful feeling and I plan on writing a full recap on my experience in the next day or two.  Poster

But before that, one more race to recap!

Race: Viola Valley Half Marathon

Where: Viola Valley, TN

Date & Time: May 18, 2013, 7:00 AM

Weather:  Overcast and muggy. When the race started, the temperature was around 65. But when it’s humid out, anything above 60 feel sweltering.

Race Time: 01:56:00.  7th in my age group and 79th overall (out of 34 and 347, respectively).  Sadly I didn’t realize MapMyRun wasn’t on until mile 3. Then following the race, I failed to save the workout so it was a bust all the way around. Basic math has me at an 8:50/mile pace. Not bad, by any means, but not at all what I wanted to be doing.

Worst Mile: The first 3 were by far the worst. In an attempt to PR, I wanted to maintain an 8:20/mile pace which led me to start off way too fast.


Looking good! That lasted a whole quarter mile…

My first split was around 7:30 and half a mile in, I was having a hard time catching my breath. I slowed down only to find that my left calf was on fire. Said fire burned for the next 1.5 miles finally subsiding around mile 3 only to be replaced by a numb foot.

I’ve been experiencing this numb foot issue lately – it’s only my left foot, and I’ve loosened my shoe as far as I can without fear or running out of it. As a result, I spent time at each aid station taking my foot out of my shoe, rubbing it for a few seconds to get some circulation back in, and shuffling to the next stop. At this point, I knew my goal pace was out of reach.

Best Mile: 8. It took that long for me to finally get in a groove. I was able to maintain a decent pace and my foot was no longer numb. What I was, however, was soaking wet due to the hoses and sprinklers I was running through and the water I was pouring on my head.

Fuel: A third of a Clif Bar, 1/2 cup of fruit loops, and a cup of coffee. The hotel we stayed in had wonderful customer service and management had decided to open the breakfast nook early for all the runners. Sadly, they didn’t have any fruit (mainly the banana I was banking on) so I wasn’t able to get my normal pre-race snack on. 

How did I feel: All kind of things, depending on what mile I was on. The first three I felt exhausted, unable to catch my breath and hurting pretty bad. After letting go of my goal pace and simply trying to finish I felt a bit better but couldn’t shake the heat or my random leg issues. The last quarter of the race I felt like myself but by mile 12 I was ready to be done.

Farm 1

Did have some pretty views though!

Best part of the race (besides the finish): The aid stations. Unbenownst to me, the race was having a “best aid station” contest – which may explain why they were so great. But each station had plentiful water and gatorade with smiling and helpful volunteers. One had set up a misting tent, many had hoses and sprinklers out, and one had beer. My favorite, though, was the “Redneck Station”. Complete with an overall clad gentleman handing out daises to the ladies (which I stuck behind my ear for the remainder of the race) the women who handed me my gatorade patted me on the back and told me how great I was doing. Such a simple act that had a profound effect on my attitude going forward. 

Worst part of the race: The humidity. I guess since it’s been so cool lately, I didn’t even think that heat would be much of an issue. Well as I mentioned above, 65 degrees is far worse when it’s humid then when it’s dry. It was my first “hot run” of the year and I was simply not prepared. Also, the race was on open roads, which I normally don’t mind, except every truck that passed us was a diesel. I’m confident that I have now inhaled enough diesel fumes to last a lifetime.

Weirdest thing I saw:  So random, but I kept seeing dead frogs in the road…I don’t even know…

The Hardware:  Pretty standard stuff: photo-1

Final Thoughts: I got schooled. I had hopes of PR’ing but was ill prepared for such a bold goal. I, like a jerk, failed to check out an elevation map simply assuming it was flat. It was not. It was rolling hills throughout. I assumed it would be cool. It was not. I haven’t acclimated myself to heat or humidity yet and my body wasn’t prepared.

As far as the race as a whole is concerned though, I really was impressed. It’s a small – tiny – race that caps at 650 but attendance yesterday was only around 350. The town boasts as being the smallest in Tennessee. Don’t believe me? Check out the Town Hall: viola town hall

But volunteers couldn’t have been more wonderful. Post race food included bbq sliders and wraps, fruit, trail mix, and Sun Drop soda. They even had embossed napkins which were a simple but nice touch. Coming from my last half which was around 20,000, this was a welcome and humble change.

Well run and very organized, I could actually see myself doing this one again just to prove that I could have done so much better under different circumstances. Also, for the price, it really can’t be beat.


8 thoughts on “Viola Valley Half Marathon

  1. Congrats on completing your 12 halfs in 12 months project! Humidity sounds like the worst thing ever (says the spoiled Bay Area runner…). I feel like there should be a conversion for running in non-optimal weather, like minus 5 seconds for every 10 mph headwind, 10 seconds for pouring rain, and 15 for humidity/temps over 70.

  2. Umm considering it was humid, hilly and you had shoe issues that required you to stop multiple times…156 is FAST! I still think you are partially mentally challenged for doing 12 halfs in 12 months but awesome job!

  3. congrats on your accomplishment. i ran it also,just had neck fusion 6 weeks prior so my only goal was to finish. i too was surprised by the toughness of the course,and disappointed in the medal. It had great organization and volunteers though.

  4. Pingback: Running Isn’t an Option | The Sassy Swan

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