Great Smoky Mountain Half

I have this amazing friend, Jewel, who has been working his ass off to get in shape. Over the course of the last year he’s dropped 75 pounds. Several months ago I challenged him to push himself and walk a half. I knew he could do it. I saw the numbers he was putting up. He registered and this weekend not only did he finish but he CRUSHED it.  

The morning started off a little rocky. First, I had forgotten to take my asthma meds and we had to turn around and go back to the hotel. (I was wondering why I was so wheezy.) Then we got on the shuttle bus to the start line and our bus driver got lost. When we finally got to the start line even getting a group photo wasn’t without its drama; Jewel accidentally punched me in the eye. (I wonder just how much was an accident, I am kind of a pain). Not a good way to start the race. 

We started across the finish line together. Then we started to spread out a bit. C runs faster than both of us so she led the pack most of the way. I just wanted to stay as close to my training heart rate as I could to see how far I could go without walk break. Jewel just wanted to finish. 

Around mile 4 I got hungry. Not sugar low, but hungry. I hadn’t eaten since 0500 and like a Hobbit it was time for second breakfast. Luckily, I had remembered my Picky Bar.  Yay food! 

 At this point I was in front of C as she had made a brief stop at mile 3. I just kept trucking along. Slow, but steady. She eventually caught back up with me. That speed demon. 

The road was miserable to run on. It was banked like this \ or like this / the entire time. My legs never hit the pavement at the same length. I’m used to uneven trail surfaces but this was so much worse.  I never have issues with my hips, but by mile 7 I was in so much pain. Poor C, who had had stress factures in both of her hips (thanks Army), was absolutely miserable.  Lots of folks out on course were all in pain for that reason. 

  Around mile 8 we popped over the river and onto a concrete path. As much as I hate running on concrete, due to its lack of give, I was thrilled to finally running on something semi level. I just kept plugging on. Around mile 10 one of my favorite Biker Barre songs came on and it gave me such a boost. 5k away and I knew I’d be ok. 

Sprinting across the finish all I wanted to do was see my friends cross. I got my medal and turned around. C had been right behind me. I waited. And waited. Watching the clock I began to get really worried. Where was she?!

  
Finally!!! Apparently, her hips pain was nearly unbearable. I had never been happier to see her cross. 

We got her medal and then waited for Jewel. As we saw him come down the finishing chute we began to hoop and holler.  He finished! He finished strong!!! I’m so proud of him. 

 

My final results? Chip time; 2:51:59.5 pace 13:08. Overall finisher 914/1215 (75%) Gender 527/918 (57%) Division 97/135 (71%) 

Last September I finished my first (barely) at 3:16:14 with a pace of 14:58. In March I finished in 2:53:17 with a pace of 13:12. I’m making progress. It’s still slow, but I’m thrilled.

  

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