Monday, October 29, 2012

Race Report - The Middle Half 10.13.12

For the 6th year in a row, I ran in my favorite half marathon in middle TN - The Middle Half in Murfreesboro, TN.

I have run in this race every year that they've had it, and I fully intend to keep the streak alive.  My half marathon PR is from this race, but the past few years I've run it mostly for fun.  Since I ran my first trail race at Stump Jump the week before, I just wanted to take it easy and enjoy the race.

My mom and my friend Erin were going to walk the race together, and my sister and I decided we would run together.

We also found my cousin Amy at the start, so we set out with her as well.  I love running through Murfreesboro and around MTSU as it brings back a ton of memories from my four years in school there.  The weather was perfect - not too hot, not too cool.  I love how there are a couple of small out and backs on the course - I spotted friends Amy and Andrea along the way as well as some old high school and college friends.

We kept a pretty gentle 10:00 minute/mile pace.  Somewhere around mile 8 the 3 of us split up a bit.  I was feeling fine, and I started picking it up a little bit in the last mile.  I spotted some friends from my Ragnar team toward the end, and we ran it in together.

I ran a 2:09, which I was totally pleased with considering I haven't been training all that well lately and had just raced a tough race the week before.  We had to wait for mom and Erin to finish walking, so we grabbed some food and enjoyed socializing with everyone.

Mom and Erin did great and finished walking in about 3:50! It was mom's second time to walk a half, so we were super proud of her.

I always recommend this race to folks because the course is flat, the weather is usually good, the medals are always nice (though I was glad to see they changed the design a bit as they were tending to all sort of look the same, just in different colors), and they do a long-sleeve Brooks tech shirt that is nice.

My only pet peeve this year was that the women's shirts were hot pink and the men's were red.  Not all women like pink!  And I'm ok if you do pink, but then they ALL need to be pink.  I ended up trading my shirt out for a men's red... which doesn't fit quite as well as a women's shirt, but I just couldn't handle the hot pink.

Anyways, I digress.  Another great Middle Half this year!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Race Report: Stump Jump 11-Miler October 6, 2012

Earlier this month, I headed to Chattanooga to run my first trail race.  I had originally signed up to run the Stump Jump 50K, but the summer just was not conducive for training... so I switched to the 11-miler.

My parents and a friend went with me on Friday.  After picking up my packet (including a super awesome Patagonia tech shirt!).  We grabbed some dinner and then went to the Haunted Caverns at Ruby Falls.  That turned out to be really fun!  Then it was off to the hotel to get some shut eye.

I had known from stories of others who have run this race that it can be hard to find it.  I had considered doing a dry run the day before, but since I was just doing the 11-miler I was pretty relaxed and didn't think it was necessary.  This of course meant that it took us a while to find the race, but we had left early enough that we still had some time to kill before the start.

It was pretty cool and rainy.  I find this the perfect weather for running, but I knew it meant I'd need to be more careful.  Fortunately I was just here to run for fun, so I had no plans to go all out.

I started off just focusing on keeping an easy pace.  The first couple of miles felt pretty easy... nothing too technical, nothing too steep or slick.  After those miles, we came across a stretch that was pretty narrow and steep.  Everyone I was near was just sort of in a line climbing through it all.

When we got to the first aid station, we were for real on the side of a mountain.  Even though it was cloudy and rainy, it was still just beautiful.  I thought about how cool it might be to come back and hike out here sometime.

It got a little steeper and more technical for the next few miles, but I chatted with a few people around me and the time went by quickly.  I even saw Melissa from Nashville.  I hadn't seen her in a while, so it was nice to catch up and also find out that her husband Jeff was taking on the 50K.  (I later found out he killed it.)

I started feeling pretty tired the last 2-3 miles.  The mud and rain had definitely made it harder to run, and I was a little tired of going uphill.  I was definitely glad I didn't try to take on the 50K when I hadn't been able to do the training I had hoped to do.

I finished the race in 2:37, and I was pleased!  For my first trail race ever, I felt it was a success - especially considering all the rain and mud.

We all grabbed lunch and then went to check out the Ruby Falls cave tour (surprisingly, I had never done it even though I have lived like an hour and a half away my whole life.)  It was pretty neat.

It was definitely a fun experience, and I for sure want to go back and do the 50K sometime.  Maybe next year!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mangia Birthday Party

I've written about going to Mangia before... it's the dinner experience that includes 4 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 pastas, 3 entrees, 1 vegetable, 2 desserts and lots of fun and dancing during the 3-4 hours you are there.

My sweet friend Erin decided to have her birthday dinner there a few weeks ago, and we had another super fun experience!  If you live in the area, go eat at Mangia!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Great Smoky Mountains

I grew up going to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains quite often.  Nonetheless, it can still be fun to take a weekend trip over there and spend some time hiking as well as doing some of the tourist things.

Last month, a few friends and I decided to rent a little townhome for the weekend and head over there mostly to do some hiking.  In 2 days, we hiked a little over 16 miles including an 11-mile roundtrip climb up and down Mt. LeConte.  It was SO much fun and felt so good to be up in the mountains.  We had a blast!

We also ate some good meals, spent some time in the hot tub and wandered the strip.  Some of the stuff in the area can be cheesy, but I have never had a bad time spending a weekend with fun people in that part of the state.