8 Years ago today I ran the race that would make me “A Runner”. I had run only one race for and that was Stroh's Run for Liberty in 1976 which was a 2k, yes, I am old. I still have my race bib for it and a results book. It was a race that was run simultaneously across the entire United States and I ran the Richmond, Virginia flavor. I have no idea what my time was but I do remember running on the streets.
Fast Forward 22 years and Jen and I had been in Knoxville for close to two years and living in an apartment while I was working in Oak Ridge and she a grad student at UT. My friend Gray from Knoxville was visiting and call to ask if I wanted to run a 8k. He had found on the Knoxville Track Club website that they were having the Smoky Mountain Half Marathon and 8k that Saturday morning. So, I said “Sure, what's an 8k”, he replied “5 miles”. “5 miles… oh… okay”. So I decided that I should at least run once before the weekend so that I could complete the 5 miles. I was playing indoor soccer, so there was some aerobic conditioning there and I ran 2 some miles, at Lakeshore Greenway, I think. I don't remember.
If you have never been to the start of a running race of any length, there is alot of excitement and energy being passed around among all the people. The race was held in the town of Townsend (funny since I have an ex-girlfriend with the same last name) and right along the river and is near the entrance to Cades Cove, a very popular place in the Smokies. The gun went off and we moved forward. I had no idea how I paced myself, but Gray commented that were running consistently. The 8k course was very flat and level, not flat and very gentle hills. I can remember being able to hold a conversation at the turn around point and I would like to think that I picked it up at the end. I will have to ask Gray about his recollection of the race. We went back to the room where they had all the refreshments out: Donuts, Bagels, Fruit, Coffee, water… plus they had a bunch of race forms for upcoming races and I grabbed ALL of them. One of the race forms I picked up was for the Trideltathon, a sprint triathlon, here in Knoxville used as a fund raiser for the Delta Delta Delta (can I help ya, Help ya, Help ya) Sorority. I told Gray that he HAD to come to Knoxville to compete in it with me. We now have this as an annual event and I have not missed a Trideltathon since I started back in 1998, only the Scholar's Run is only other race that I have ran each year since 1998.
Look back at my Race History and I ran the Smoky Mountain race 4 times: twice as an 8k participant and twice as a half-marathoner. In fact, my current Half Marathon PR time of 1:49:45 was secured at the 2002 running of the event. The event changed it's length a couple of times due to construction in the area but was always a two event distance race. It was eventually mothballed after 2004 due to the coming of the Knoxville Marathon (which is run in the city) in its time slot. Townsend does have a new race, but I haven't run it.
Today's run was, did you guess it? an 8k run from the Aquatic Center to JW Greenway and back… maybe I will make that a tradition. Here are the split times:
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So, 8 years… 118 organized races and 3,498 logged miles… I AM A RUNNER