Race Recap: Chattanooga Four Bridges Half
Well, I finally did it:
A sub-two hour half! This past weekend, we headed up to Chattanooga, Tennessee so that I could run the Four Bridges Half Marathon.
I was talking to my sister a few days before the race, and I told her that I honestly had NO idea how the race was going to go. Since deciding to register for the full marathon in December, almost all of my training runs have been pretty slow—I usually hover between a 9:30-10:30 pace, depending on how far I’m going. I knew that with the kind of training I’ve been doing lately, a sub-two hour half might just not be in the cards at this point. Plus, I’d heard all sorts of things about what a hilly race this half was—obviously the bridges would provide a climbing incline, plus Chattanooga itself is a very hilly town. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I’d be finishing kind of slow, and that was okay.
We spent the Saturday afternoon before the race picking up my race packet in the park, eating an amazing vegetarian dinner (Sluggo’s is our Chattanooga tradition!), and just relaxing before the early morning:
(What, you don’t ride horse statues topless when you visit new towns? Whatever, weirdo.)
The morning of the race came EARLY—5:15 early. The race started at 7, so I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to eat, drink coffee, dress, warm up, etc., before Ryan and Lila dropped me off. They ended up dropping me off at the base of one of the bridges that I’d be crossing just a few minutes later.
I can’t say enough good things about this race. It’s relatively new, so I’d heard that there were problems in previous years with organization, water stands, etc., but everything ran very smoothly! The race began just a few minutes after 7:00, and we were off! This race route WAS hilly—but it was also BEAUTIFUL! Running over the bridges was a really cool way to see the city, and seeing the sun rise over the Tennessee River about thirty minutes into the race was a breathtaking view. I was running naked—that is, no Garmin, no music or i-phone…just me and the miles! It was strange to have no idea what my pace was, especially since I had a specific goal in mind! I *felt* like I was going pretty fast, but sometimes I feel that way during training runs, only to look down and see that my pace is way slower than I’d thought. Still, running without the Garmin was a good thing overall, I’d say—it allowed me to not stress out about pace and to just enjoy the run.
Still, when I started to close in on that last mile, I was wondering—will this be under two hours?! How long have I been out here?! I pushed really hard for the last mile and gave it all I could, hoping that it was enough. As I crossed the finish line, I saw Ryan and Lila cheering from the sidelines. It sounds so cheesy to say, but seeing the two of them when I finish these races really is SO great—it just makes me feel so proud and happy. They’re the best two supporters I could ask for.
I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and stumbled around looking for the clock. Someone next to me said something about 1:57, so I figured that was pretty close to my time—under two hours! Yay! I was excited—but I also wanted to see the race results to know for sure what my official time was.
Well, they went up this morning, and it’s official: 1:56: 36! That’s a pace of 8:57, which is WAY faster than I would have thought I could have run this race, especially with all the hills! This is a nice confirmation that all of the hours of running I’ve been putting in lately—even slow running—*have* been paying off, even if sometimes they feel like they aren’t. I feel a bit more confident going into the rest of my training for the full marathon now. I’m not going to run it fast, and it’s not going to be easy, but at least I’m starting to feel like I can drag my ass across that finish line, come December.
Hope you had a good weekend and that your week is off to a good start—we’re dealing with a doozy of one over here. Crazy school stuff, grading, etc. Gotta power through it!
Have a great day!