Race Recap: Oak Barrel Half Marathon 2014

This weekend I ran my fourth half marathon, the

Oak Barrel Half

 in Lynchburg, TN.  I ran this same race 

last year

 & it's still one of my favorites.  It's put on by

Mach Tenn

& they do such a great job.  Coming in at under $50, it's also one of the most affordable half marathons you can run around here.  And look at all this awesome race swag!

The fun part about running the same race two years in a row is the potential to beat your time.  Since running this race last year, I've lost 23 lbs, which has obviously made me faster.  But getting faster has made it hard to pace myself.  Luckily, my friend Polly, a fellow East Nasty, is the 2:30 pace leader for CMM.  Since I was hoping to finish Oak Barrel at/under 2:30, I asked Polly to pace me.  I was shooting for an 11:30 minute mile.

Like everyone, I have a tendency to start races too fast, so I decided to start with Polly & stay at her pace in the beginning.  I ran the first few miles with Polly, Casey & Lana.  It was cold & it took awhile for my legs to warm up, but once I warmed up, our pace felt too slow.  At the first water stop (mile 2.7), I left the group & picked up my pace by about 20-30 seconds.

Mile 1:  11:50

Mile 2:  11:37

Mile 3:  11:50

Whiskey Hill starts at mile 4 & continues for a mile.  I ran it alone & stopped at the water stop at the top to catch my breath & take a gel.  As soon as I started running again, Polly, Casey & Lana were there, so we fell back in stride together.

Mile 4:  11:21

Mile 5:  14:14 (Whiskey Hill)

Mile 6:  11:05

When we passed the marker at mile 6, I felt great & even patted my legs & said, "Good job, body.  Half way there."  Famous last words.  Like one second later, my knee spasmed, which it does sometimes.  I looked down at my Garmin to take a mental note of what mileage I was at so I could tell my coach & the next thing I know I'm on the ground.  I went down like a ton of bricks.  I skidded a little & landed on my hands & knees.  I have no idea what happened.  I didn't trip on anything.  In hindsight, I think my knee buckled & I just went down.

Thankfully Polly, Casey & Lana were with me, or I probably would have put myself out to pasture.  Fueled by adrenaline (& pride), I had them pull me up & I walked for a few steps to make sure all my parts & pieces were in working order, then we took off.

Mile 7:  11:44

Mile 8:  11:25

Mile 9:  12:41

I realized blood was dripping off my hand, so Polly hosed me down with her Camelbak & gave me some toilet paper to stop the bleeding.  Oh, & I dug a big piece of gravel out of my hand with my fingernail.  They wanted me to stop at the next water stop & ask for a band-aid.  I looked at my watch & realized I could still finish in/around 2:30, so I said I'd rather finish bleeding then lose my PR.  Polly was like, 'You're not kidding about the HAM'.  I am never kidding about the HAM.

Mile 10:  11:36

Mile 11:  11:01

Mile 12:  11:41

I honestly didn't feel much pain from the fall, but my knee was weak & kept giving out.  I was terrified I was going to fall again.  Polly & Casey were great & kept encouraging me to keep up the pace, but I fell back.  Once they got pretty far ahead of me, something clicked & I decided if I was going to fall, I was going to fall, but I was going to get that 2:30 finish time.  Also, Yeezus.  I somehow sped up from 11:41 to 10:43 & made it across the finish line without falling.  Probably because, baby, I'm a firework.

Mile 13:  10:43

I was the last one across the finish line, so as I turned the corner to run into the finish chute, I saw Jaime, Polly & my entire family.  It was awesome.  Official finish time, 2:34, beating last year's time of 2:50 & setting a new half marathon PR!

I didn't get back home until later that afternoon.  That's when I saw my knees for the first time.  One knee clearly hit the road head-on & no longer has any skin on it, but the other knee got it worse.  It hit sideways & there's a huge blue/green knot beside my knee cap.  That knee is swollen to double its size.  I didn't have full range of motion on either knee for a few days.  I also have a bunch of bizarre auxiliary injuries like a bruised wrist, forearm, shoulder & collar bone.  Y'all, I am straight busted.

Body malfunctions aside, I still love this race & highly recommend it to anyone used to hills & looking for a fun, challenging race.  Race participation is capped, so you have to register as soon as it goes on sale.  They'll announce it on their

FB page

, but it's usually in September/October.  If you run with East Nasty &/or can run the 5.8 at Percy, you can run this race.  There's usually a substantial number of East Nasties there, so lots of carpooling & pacing options.  Do it!

Full race photostream


.  Lastly, below is a video of my 5-year old niece, Jessica, doing a cheer for me at my parents' house the night before my race.  Enjoy!

Weekend Wrap Up: Pinterest Cake FAIL Edition

Weekend Wrap Up: Oak Barrel Half Edition