You Get What You Train For---Viola Valley Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday, I ran the Viola Valley Half Marathon in beautiful Viola, TN.  The whole family and I had gone to Manchester, TN, the night before and spent the night with my in-laws, who were only about 32 minutes from Viola.  

I got up at dark o'clock (4:30 a.m.) and left the house at 5:30.  It was chilly at 46 degrees, with a threat of rain.  I got to watch the sun rise over gorgeous country roads and arrived just after 6:00 a.m.  The race was well organized, and packet pick up went smoothly.  I ran into my running buddies Kathy and Michelle from Clarksville (in the portopotty line---of course!) and took pics with Justin and Angie from a FB page I follow, Run365. Justin and I had met at Go Commando last October and ran 10 miles of it together.   Then I ran into Bill and Diane, from Run It Fast, whom I had met last summer.   

We started, and by mile 2 or 3, I heard "Sunshine!"   My good friend George Boxley was coming up from behind.  He made my night last year at the Run Under the Stars when he'd call me "Sunshine"  every time he passed me on the 1/2 mile course. How can you not smile when someone calls you "Sunshine"?    At one point for a mile or so, Justin, George, Kathy, Michelle, and I were all running in a large group.  I think that was one of my favorite parts!   It was short-lived though.   Justin and I fell back at a water stop, and George and Kathy pulled away. Michelle was right in the middle, and we passed a few miles together.  She wound up beating ALL of us, with a strong surge in the later miles!

I was running about a 9:45/pace for most of the first 6 miles, with a 9:38 mile in there somewhere.  The course rolls and rolls.  I noticed my breathing was louder than I'd like around miles 5 and 6.  Mile 6 was my last mile in the sub-10 range.  In miles 7 and later, I slowed down to a 10, 10:10, and even and a couple way off my goal pace of 10-minute miles---10:28 and 10:31.  I think those were miles 8 and 9, always my toughest miles.  I wound up running alone after about mile 7.   I fought tired legs and hills and stomach upset a bit in those miles, but got it together and ran 10-minute miles for the last couple.  The best part was, other than a few sprinkles, the rain held off until I was in my car on the way back to Manchester!

This half-marathon was 9.5 minutes slower than one I ran in October. However,  I can't be too upset.  You get what you train for.  At that one, I was coming off four months of speed work and hard, HARD training.  For this one-- My last half-marathon was April 5.  I had a terrible 12-miler the following week with tons of IT band pain, and that was when the doc ordered me to take a little break for 4-6 weeks.  I've had several good 3, 5, and 6 milers in the hiatus of 5 weeks.  I had an ok 8 miler and a pretty bad 9 miler, nowhere near a 10-minute pace, about a week and a half before the race.   So, I think it's to be expected that I would run well the first 6 or 7 miles, then struggle.  I am proud, however, that I got it together in the last couple of miles.  I finished by my garmin at 2:11:04, a 9:59 pace, for 13.12.   I think my official finish is 2:11:09 or something.  I must have delayed hitting the start button a few seconds or something.  I realize now that I could have gone out a few seconds slower, maybe 9:55, and struggled less during the later miles of the race.   

It was a good test. I walked a few of the rolling hills throughout and also through many of the water stops. I made my pace goal of averaging 10-minute miles.  I would have LIKED to come in sub 2:10, but I was aware that 2:12 was more realistic.  The IT band made its presence known at mile 9, but never really hurt.  It just tightened up.  It was a little tight and achy last night and this morning.   

A few pics.  I thought this tiny town hall was cute!  

These are a couple of pics from the beautiful course, courtesy of Justin Stroud.  Seriously, it is a gorgeous run!   

It isn't always a "great day," but I love running and the running community.  I enjoy watching sunrises and seeing 13 or 26 miles of a new place on foot.  It's nice to cross starting lines and even nicer to cross finish lines.  Running adds so much to my life.  It may not feel like it at the time, but every mile is a blessing.