Monday, February 11, 2013

A Fun Time Was Had By All - Strawberry Plains Half & 10K Recap

The t-shirt design for this year's race.
This is a race I had circled on my calendar. I was so looking forward to this year's Strawberry Plains Half Marathon and 10K for a number of reasons.

First, this is my first repeat race. Since I began running in April 2010, I had run 10 races, but all of them different events. This was the first time I had run the same race twice.

Secondly, I really enjoyed this race. It's a small race with a beautiful course. It's a challenging course, but fun nonetheless.

Lastly, my bride was running her first 10K!!!

Yes, I've been a bit geeked up about Genople running, but especially with her pushing herself past the 5K and to attempt a 10K.

Genople put in the work. She trained well for this race, working in all the workouts she could over the previous 10-12 weeks. At first, she thought there was no way she could do it. But as the training runs grew longer and longer, her confidence slowly built up. She was nervous heading into the race about the final mile because her longest run had been a tad over 5.1 miles.

The weather on Saturday was perfect for a race in February in east Tennessee. Temps were in the mid-30s with a slight breeze. It was sunny. Just perfect.

I can't tell you how happy I was the weather was good for this race. While I don't mind running in snowy, cold conditions, I was glad there wasn't a repeat of the 2012 race for my bride's sake. It only had a windchill in the teens with blowing snow and winds up to 20 miles per hour.

My bride pre-race.
The 10K was a simple out-and-back route on the half marathon course. A 5K out and a 5K back.

I wish I could share all the details of my bride's race, but I was running my own race and got separated from her soon after we crossed the start line. For a small-town race held on country roads, there was a good crowd of people running as 297 finished the 10K and 343 finished the half marathon.

Genople said the last mile was tough for her, and understandably so since she'd never run that far before. But she did great! Her official chip time hasn't been posted yet, but her gun time was 1:14:22 for an average pace of 11:59/mile. Her 5K PR is 37:22, so she did better overall on the 10K than in her best 5K!

She rocked that 10K!

As for me, I accomplished my goal for the race. While I posted my half PR at this race in 2012, I was not shooting for or even looking for a repeat performance. I wanted this to be a training run and testing ground for me in preparation for the Knoxville Marathon.

I felt pretty good through the first 7 miles, but mile 8 nearly did me in. This is the toughest part of the race, in my humble opinion. After you past Mile Marker 7, you begin a long, steady uphill climb toward the turn-around for the half. The climb is about a mile long and has two inclines on it. The course dupes in that you think after the first one, the turn-around is right there, but no. After a short downhill, back to climbing you go.

It was at this time I walked for the first time along this stretch. During the brief walk, I refueled with a GU and water.

The finisher's medal for the half marathon.
But that climb had done a number on me. I didn't have the same energy as I did during the first half of the race. Knowing there were still two water stops remaining, I made the plan to stop at both to grab a quick drink of Gatorade and move on. This plan served me well. I was able to re-energize myself and finish strong. Downing one last GU at the final water stop helped as well.

After topping the final climb at mile 12, I steadily picked up steam as I knew the finish line was not far away. I wasn't going to PR, but by golly, I was going to finish strong.

Powering my way to the finish, I crossed the line with a gun time of 2:10:14. My Garmin time was 2:09:54 so we'll see what my official is. Still, I posted a 9:57/mile average and hit my goal of a sub-2:15 - the time I want to hit at the halfway mark of the Knoxville Marathon.

You know we both gave it our all because we were so tired and out of it afterward that we forgot to have our picture taken together.

All in all, this was a fun race for me. In addition to my bride completing her first 10K, I had a lot of friends from all over running. Over a dozen from the local Falls Road Runners competed, while several of my running pals I've met online and at previous races were there too. And I can't tell you how much I appreciated how they wished Genople luck pre-race and congratulated her afterward. They truly displayed the running family mentality. (I loved to mention them all, but I'm afraid I'd forget someone.)

But what truly capped the race off for me was as Genople and I headed back to the hotel to clean up before heading home, she said to me, "Now, I want you to keep after me. I don't want to slack even though the race is now over."

Yup, my bride is a runner.

Happy running!


  1. Very cool medal. Congrats all around!

    1. Thanks, David! The medal is definitely unique and different from what I've received before.