Preface: I am aware this took place just under 2 months ago so this race is old news, but I did have a really great time so better late than never, right?
Race: Oak Barrel Half Marathon
Date & Time: April 5, 2014
Weather: Cold, sunny, absolutely perfect running weather.
Race Time: 01:59:49. 7th in my age group and 295th overall (out of 71 and 1181, respectively). For a race in which little to no training was involved, my only goal going into this was to finish and do it in under 2 hours. Done and done.
Worst Mile: Easy. Mile 5. Whiskey Hill is no joke and with a pace of 11:30, it’s clear that I was on a pretty steep climb for the majority of the mile.
Best Mile: 11. Around mile 9, I choked down a GU and it may as well have been miracle juice because soon after, I got a very uncharacteristic 2nd wind that catapulted me into freakishly fast paces for so late in a race. 7:53 at mile 11? Whatever dude, no complaints here.
Fuel: I had an hour and a half drive to get to the race that morning so with a 4:30 wake up time, lots of coffee was involved. I only managed a few bites of my power bar and half a banana. And my above-mentioned miracle GU. Vanilla flavored. Num.
How did I feel: With the weather as perfect as it was, I was feeling pretty good. I had created a rockin’ new playlist the night before so that entertained me, plus, it was nice to zone out for 2 hours. I didn’t start getting really tired and feeling my lack of training until the last half mile, but by then the adrenaline kicks in so I was happy to end the race injury free.
Best part of the race (besides the finish): The swag. This was one of the least expensive races I’ve done, with the best goodies I’ve ever received. A half zip, a pair of swiftwick socks that have become my new favorite, and the choice of a visor or hat – I chose visor. Not to mention the after race set-up: Music, great food, Jack Daniel’s everything. A small town race at its finest.
Worst part of the race: That damn hill. And the damn photographer at the top of it. Ain’t nobody gonna be smiling for you, sir, move along.
Weirdest thing I saw:
The Hardware: This was fun – It’s a piece of a barrel! The lightest and most original medal I’ve ever received.
Final Thoughts: Surprisingly, this race turned into one of my favorite half marathons. I came by myself, I didn’t have anyone at the finish line, it certainly wasn’t my best time, and let’s be honest, I’m not much of a whiskey drinker. But look at my face in this picture:
I’ll be damned if I don’t actually look happy to be running for 13 miles. Truthfully, running with the weight of the past few months on my shoulders was in some way a release and it felt good to be back at it.
Aside from the emotional heaviness I was running with (and from?) this race was really great. A race cap of 1200 ensured that it wasn’t too crowded, it was well-organized, and a great opportunity to see a small, yet infamous part of Tennessee. And in a world where race fees can reach well over a hundred dollars, it was refreshing to pay such a low price.