Saturday, September 29, 2012

2012 Bluegrass Half-Marathon

September 23, 2012 7:30 AM
Johnson City, Tennessee

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Michael 1:36:19 7:21 M1-14 1/1 18/237 23/485 264
Owen 1:36:26 7:21 M35-39 3/39 20/237 25/485 265
Malissa 2:41:26 12:19 F30-34 45/49 217/248 440/485 263

Written by Owen:

Wow, what a fun weekend! When you have three kids, it's very rare to spend one on one time with them for any amount of time.  Malissa and I have been making an effort to do that with each of our kids, and this was the weekend that we went away with just Michael.  We dropped Kyle and Alicia off at Opa and Neina's house, where they were spoiled by their grandparents.  Then Michael, Malissa, and I headed for Tennessee.

We got off to a shaky start in the car.  We drove through Boone, NC.  The canyon roads in that area are very twisty-turny and Michael has a tendency to get car sick.   He made it through the canyon, but as soon as we straightened out in town and hit a stoplight, he lost his breakfast.  Luckily we were prepared and there was no mess to clean up.

We stopped and had lunch at Applebee's in Elizabethton, Tennessee, just before we got to our hotel in Johnson City.

We drove there on Saturday, for a race on Sunday, and were driving home right after the race.  So not a lot to do, but we wanted to enjoy the day after checking in to the hotel.

Michael got a kick out of all the pillows they provided.
Malissa wasn't feeling very well, so she stayed at the hotel, while Michael and I found a Dick's Sporting Goods store to buy some Gu that we had neglected to buy beforehand.  Malissa gained enough strength to go out to dinner at a local Italian place where we all had a very large plate of spaghetti.

Malissa was still feeling flu-like symptoms so we packed it in early.

The start line of the race was on one side of our hotel, and the finish line was on the other, which made for a very convenient race morning. Our alarms went off and we all got ready.  I was still worried about Malissa, if she was going to be able to run a half-marathon feeling the way she was.  We looked at the course map together, and I told her if she wanted to start, the course runs near our hotel at mile 2 and again at mile 4 if she wasn't feeling well.  So we all headed down to the start.

In the hotel lobby before the start.  Temps were in the low 40's so it was nice to stay warm.
We got out there about five minutes before the start.  Michael and I said our goodbye's to Malissa and we wouldn't see or hear from her again until after the race.

 Michael and I started fast (as always), but this time I forced us to slow down.  At about the half-mile mark we were going at about a 6:40 pace.  Our goal was a 7:20 pace.  So I slowed down.  Michael and I both commented that it felt like we were walking. 7:20: walking?  It's amazing what adrenaline can do for you.  During training, 7:20 definitely doesn't feel like walking.

After a couple of miles, the adrenaline had worn off and 7:20 felt like 7:20.  But Michael and I both felt great and we decided to stick to our plan. 

Of course the first photographer was right were I took off my gloves, so I had to adjust my watch strap.

The plan was to stick together until either I couldn't keep that pace anymore, or until mile 12, whichever came first.  We had averaged right around a 7:20 pace everywhere except mile 9, which was much more hilly than the other miles.  Around mile 11.5 I told Michael I wasn't going to hold him back any more.  He immediately pushed the pace faster than I could go and slowly started to pull away.

So from that point on, I knew he was going to beat me, I just wanted to stay close enough to be able to see him finish.  I desperately wanted to see him finish.  So I stayed close.  My watch showed about a 6:59 pace for that last mile.  Which means he ran about a 6:52 pace for the last mile.  That's insane!

As we finished, I half-expected Malissa to be at the finish cheering us on, since she was feeling so lousy before the race.  But she was nowhere to be seen.  Michael and I went to the part on the course where we could see the course, but we could also see and hear the stage.  That way we wouldn't miss the start of the award ceremony.

We watched frantically as each runner passed, hoping to see Malissa.  A couple minutes before when we expected to see her (based on her goal time), the band playing on stage said they would play one more song, and then they'd get started with the awards.  I really wanted Malissa to see Michael get his award.  After that song, I heard them announce: "OK, let's get started with the award ceremony."  As they paid tribute to the sponsors, I saw Malissa coming!  I ran up to her, congratulated her, and told her we had to go to the award ceremony.

As we waited for Michael's division, Malissa had time to finish and joined us just in time for the award.  Check out the video below to see his name called.   I love when the announcers aren't robots reading names and actually show personality like he did.

Malissa finished right at her goal time, even under horrible circumstances.  I am really proud of her sticking to it and finishing. She was pretty happy that she was able to finish also.  It was a beautiful course and an amazing race.

After Michael won his award, I thought "oh yeah, I might win an award".  My focus had been 100% on Michael, so I was pretty happy when the announcer called: "3rd place, from Charlotte, North Carolina..."

A few notes:

I beat my previous half-marathon PR by 4 minutes, while Michael beat his previous half-marathon PR by almost 14 minutes!

Michael now holds the family record for 5k and half-marathon.  I still hold it for the 10k (by 2 seconds) and the marathon (he'd beat me if I'd let him run one).

My favorite part about running long-distance races with Michael is all the comments the other runners give us (him) as we pass.  Seeing an 11 year-old kid that is small for his age pass a very accomplished half-marathon runner at the later stages of a half-marathon is not a sight you see that often.  They're always very kind and complimentary and give us a big moral boost as we pass.  The comments at the finish line are a close second, everyone always comes over and talks to us and asks us how old he is, etc.

While I was disappointed that Michael was the only one 14&Under, his time was outstanding.  If they would have made his age group 19&Under, he would have taken 2nd out of 9.  He would have taken 2nd in the 25-29 year old male age group! I took 3rd in my division and he beat me!

We all ran the race so there's no video of the race, but here's video of a really well done award ceremony.  That's two races in a row where they really focused on how well Michael did.

And here's my Garmin data from the race:


  1. I just love reading your race reviews! You all are so inspiring!

    1. Thanks! I just hope the kids continue to enjoy it. We're having so much fun with them! ~Malissa

  2. CONGRATS to both of you!!! and yes, yall actually got a shout out (kept your names private) in a newspaper article i was interviewed for this past month. they asked about an inspiring moment on the course-and they left out Team in Training but kept the story about Michael passing me, and me being in shock. :) it really is so awesome. glad yall had some one on one kid time too.

    1. That's cool, what newspaper/issue? I'd be interested in reading it.