Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Race Report: Amica Knoxville Half Marathon [Tennessee: State #6]

As I made plans for my (already tremendously successful) 2012 road trip, I came up with several baseball games and day stops along the way. Of course, this would let me sleep in on the mornings... or, I could find some races. I chose the more sleep-deprived option.

With races mostly found on the weekends and my plans keeping me in Tennessee for two nights, I checked into options in the Chattanooga area. The Amica race series, a group of competitions mostly geared toward triathletes, I found one in the woods outside Knoxville, TN. The website was pretty bare-bones, and support leading up to the race (where's packet pick-up? are there waves?) left much to be desired.

I awoke early in Chattanooga and drove the hour to the race site - a beautiful park in the middle of nowhere - and began questioning my decision. The field was small, and most people seemed just as lost as me. This was somewhat reassuring in that it proved I hadn't missed something. But, race organizers shouldn't ever want their competitors confused. That's a bad thing. This confusion matured into frustration as we found that we wouldn't be allowed to wear headphones given the course's hugging of a rather busy road. Being forced to run without music is one thing, but this is something that should have been conveyed to racers beforehand.

Either way, the race started fifteen minutes late, and I was introduced to the other surprise of the day - hills. I knew nothing about the course, so it's partially my fault. But, there was no elevation chart for it (more lack of information to runners), so it was a surprise to everyone that hadn't run the route before. Up and down. Up and down. But, I pressed on. The route was beautiful but tedious as there was no end to the trees. It reminded me much of my runs in Florida... and those are a bit boring.

My pace was faster than my previous halfs, but I didn't feel that I was pushing too hard. I did worry about the late miles given my lack of hill work when training. Then, to really bring it all together, the final 3 miles were along the crest of a sun-drenched levee, and the late start meant that we were running in the heat of the late morning when we crossed it. On gravel. Yea... we weren't happy. But, by that point, I realized that I was on a PR pace and fought through the frustration. I came back within sight of the finish arch as my watch ticked over to 1:54, and my final kick hit hard. With a previous PR of 1:59:19 officially (I'd run some faster in training since that SF race), I saw the chance to really blow my best time out of the water. The only other runner near me (with only a couple hundred racers, it was common to go a couple miles without passing someone or being passed) kicked, as well, and we sprinted into the chute. I was ecstatic to find that I had finished in 1:54:51, a more than 4 minute improvement. It made me wonder how I would have done without the hills, but it was a good day regardless.

It was even better when I found that I had won my age group. Though, admittedly, the field wasn't very large. Still, I got a certificate and a nice backpack that has already come in handy as a dirty clothes bag on my road trip. All-in-all, I'm glad I ran the race if only to stay in shape as I drive across the country. But, if given another chance, I may have chosen to forgo the Amica race and do one in Nashville that I could have turned into a vacation in the city. Another small gripe... There was a 10K run at the same time as the half. We all received the same medal, and that seems like a cop-out by Amica. Simply putting the distance ON the medal would have seemed obvious (the 19.7 refers to the triathlon). But, since they only change the city name and color from race to race instead of tailoring the design to the location, what can you expect?
Best Blogger Tips

No comments:

Post a Comment