Knoxville Marathon Race Report

My grades and race report for the 2nd Annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon

Expo/Registration: B
It's wasn't all that big of an expo, but it was well organized and carefully laid out so that race pick up was easy and intuitive. My only complaint was that free parking was a ways away and it has cold… plus with two kids and a stroller… well, you get the picture.

Race Goody Bag: A-
The race bag had the normal paper advertisements – ho-hum. However, you got a frisbee… because you want to chase it after the marathon. A lip balm tube with a neoprene holder. A pair of white (why white?) Covenant health gloves… I guess if you “lost” them at the marathon, it wouldn't be too bad. and a small bag of Mahatma Brown Rice… it's too cute.

Weather: B-
It wasn't that the weather was all that bad. It was cold at the start and then warmed up, but it did get cold again in someplace and hot in others, so with no way to vent the heat out, I was forced to take my LS shirt off, but good thing I kept it because I got cold again 5 miles later. But marathoners would rather have cooler weather than hotter weather. We did get some clouds in the later part of the race and that kept the sun off of you.

Course: B-
This was the toughest course by far. There was never any flat area for any significant time except at mile 21/22 in Island home. There were lots of short steep hills, and even though I trained with significant hill training, it was still quite a bit. The course around Knoxville was pretty scenic and finishing in Neyland Stadium was great – and like people last year… I forgot to look at myself on the Jumbotron!

Volunteers: A
The volunteers where wonderful, there were stretches of the course where there were few volunteers, but they were still very energetic. Hats off to all the police regulating traffic and the volunteers on the bicycles helping out on the course.

Official Course Support: A-
The course seemed to have enough water stations… I visited everyone except the first two… I had brought my own! The only problem was that the GU station that was supposed to be at mile 18 was at 21, but they had oranges at 19 and they helped quite a bit.

Finish Line Spread: B
Only a short walk out of the stadium to Thompson-Boling Arena for Water, Gatorade, fruit, pizza, chips & salsa, yogurt and some candy. It was all GOOD but a tad bit crowded.

Shirt/Medal: A-
The shirt was a SS cotton shirt, but it was a darker gray color, very unique. I like it. My first impression of the medal was… it's a skull head. No, it was the top part of the Sunsphere and it pretty sharp looking… pictures will be included in the album. The finisher hat was a Coolmax hat with the race logo on the front and “Finisher” on the back… very very cool!

My Race: B+
I woke up around 5:00am with plenty of time to get everything ready. The only thing that I really needed to do was finish my breakfast, sit on the throne, find my The Stick and load the car. Oh yeah… get dressed! I ended up choosing shorts over my Almost Tights in a last minute decision. I had tried to find my Breathe Right strips but could not find any, not even my back-ups. So I debated whether to go to Kroger and get some. So, I had better leave and I couldn't find my wallet… no where. Ugh!

So, I was strapped for time and headed out with some borrowed money from Jen to Kroger. Yeah, Kroger had a 30 pack for $12.99 but I only had $10. Crap. So I stopped by the Pilot near the interstate… none there. I then am cruising down the interstate at about 70mph when I debate (with myself… and I won) on whether to go the Kroger near the race route. I thought, okay… I have barely enough time to make it there. While I am driving, I am prepping my Carb-Boom gels by taking the safety pin and poking them once through the tab and then sticking them in the seat. I hadn't done this the night before because I didn't know what I would need to wear.

As I am off the interstate and on Northshore, I see a Walgreens… and I know they have them. It's about 6:30 (race start at 7:00) and YES, they are open! Sweet, I break a few laws and run it and the place is quiet. I found a small pack of 12 strips for $5.49 and found the first employee I could find to help me check out. This way, I could leave Walgreens and hit the interstate. So, I bust ass to UT and decided to park near the Stadium. This would mean that I would have to run over to the race start to make it in time… maybe.

I got out of the car and put on my hat, pinned the Carb-Boom on me. I had a sweatshirt, so I had to put my phone holder over than and then carry my phone head piece (which never was useful), two kids-sized bottle of Gatorade and the phone thing wouldn't stay on… so I had to hold that too…

I had a little cross country warm-up run getting over to the starting line. I have to see how far it was but if I had walked, I would not have made it in time. As I rounded the corner… I could hear the doing race announcements, then as I hoped on to Clinch the National Anthem started. Well crap. I don't want to not be respectful of the National Anthem… I mean Marianna would send the Brute Squad after me. So in a semi-compromise with myself, I took off my hat and walked quickly to past the race start and got in line. Since I had all my crap still hanging out, I put everything on the ground to sort it out. I got the phone ready to post an entry. Luckily, Solange wasn't far away and she found me and I took all my stuff over to Marty.

Then the gun went off… So I had all the crap and was talking into the phone “LIVEJOURNAL” – I had set voice activation so that it would automatically go to the recording section and I wouldn't have to do anything. But NOOOOOOOoooooooo… it wouldn't recognize the name, I think because of the noise, so I had to manually go to the address book and find it, while running.

[Mile 1-3]
The race start is probably one of the most exciting events that you can ever be around. A lot of anxious runners have that sense of relieve since the noise of the gun has set them free. Weeks of training are now coming to a head and at this point, everyone still feels good. The race starts off… uphill, but then turns and is a nice down hill. This is probably a very good thing because it forces you to start off slower and helps you to conserve that first couple mile jitters. On the downhill, I decided that my sweatshirt was ready to go, so Marty held my water bottles as I took off my sweatshirt, but I was in the middle of the road and had to carry it for about 1/4 mile before I could do a hook shot to the sideline. At the start of the second mile, we go down Lake Loudon hill… the same one that I train on going up. There was a big noise maker someone had fashioned with trashcans very similar to a gong. I told Marty that next year we should do that with some of his empty kegs. It was still pretty crowded, well not crowded but there was still a bunch of runners around.

Mile [4-7]
At Mile 4, Marty started talking with Keith, from the LawDogs, who was running the half-marathon. At the mile 4 split, I told Marty the time and he picked up his speed. So, Keith and I ran together talking through Cherokee Blvd. Luckily, this has a lot of rolling hills that I trained on before, so I was prepared and I didn't have the urge to look around much because I knew what around. We kept a good pace during these miles, for both of us. One of the big hills in the course is at Noelton. It's a two part steep hill (not as bad a Lake Loudon) and is well placed as it comes early in the marathon and is followed by about a mile of flat course good for recovery.

Mile [8-11]
My old stomping ground… Third Creek Greenway. There is a distinct advantage to knowing the course to where you know every little turn and hill that comes along. A Keith and I were able to keep a good pace, while carrying on a conversation. Mile 11 was the hill that I was dreading, it was a significant hill (not as steep as Noelton) but you start the hill in Tyson Park, and then turn onto Kingston Pike, Continue up to 21st Street where you finally crest in the middle of 21st Street. AS we turned onto Forest Ave, I got to see my Volunteer Post from last year. And sure enough, the course monitor was talking with someone who wanted to drive though the course with runners still around. Go Figure.

Mile [12-14]
Since Keith was running the half-marathon it was time for him to break off and head back toward the Stadium for his finish. I told him that he would finish just above 2 hours unless he gave the course hell. I think that Keith (because I don't know his last name, but there is a Keith about his anticipated time) finished in 2:02:06. This part of the course is part of the Expo 10k and so there was some familiarity here as well. Around here is when I could feel my foot. It wasn't hurting, but it was there. I could also feel the onset of fatigue in my legs.

Mile [15-17]
This was part of the course that I never been, neither on foot or a car. So it was all new to me. And there were hills. At the Mile 16 water stop was the first time that I stopped to stretch. Oh, and at this neighborhood, they had a big float as a pirate ship and there where 3 pirates cheering the runners on. I did not see a bottle of rum anywhere, so what gives? It was around here where my face started bleeding. Some spectators said “Hey, your face is bleeding”. I touched my face but no blood, so… oh well. By this time, there weren't a lot of runners around. At Mile 17, I had a biker come up and ask me if I was okay. He saw that my face was bleeding, but that it was dried. Since it didn't hurt or anything that I would probably be okay, he said it looked pretty dramatic and all I thought was “Coooooooooool”.

Mile [18-20]
I am now, full fledged hungry. I have one Carb-Boom and another GU station up on the course. As I turn the corner, there was a musical group playing some hip-hop music. Sort of an ad-lib version of “Rapper's Delight”, they were really jamming and the energy was well appreciated. I was starting to feel the heat effects of the sun since we were more out in the open. Right after the waterstop at mile 18, I decided to stop and shed my LS shirt. Unfortunately, it was underneath my SS shirt with my race number. I stopped and systematically took both shirts off and then put my SS back on and tied my LS shirt to my waist. I think my legs got the most satisfaction out of that stop. There were a number of smaller hills around here that were killing me. I kept forging up them as best as could and kept getting hungrier and hungrier. At mile 19, I saw my friend Beth, who was helping out at the oranges station. I must have eaten about 3 chunks of Oranges and they were what I needed. I was hoping for bananas but the oranges made a huge difference. I had made a pact with myself that I would not look at the overall time until Mile20. I didn't want to get depressed or anything from my time. There was a big time clock and I knew that my chance for a PR was out the door, but that I could still have a decent time if I just hung in there. We were now heading toward Island Home where I ran the Race for the Deaf on a number of occasions. Oh, and GU station up here on the right… how nice!

Mile [21-24]
Island home was nice and shady. The crowd support was nice… lots of people out, not too vocal, but enough to really help. I could tell that my body was ready to just shut down anytime. My foot had been partly asleep for a number of miles (I had retied my shoe earlier, which is the normal remedy), my legs were heavy, my hips hurt, I was having some sciatic muscle strain, I had a pain in my right calf and I knew that one of my toes in my left foot was going to be yucky. Hence all the systems were failing but my morale was still pretty high – Voice post reference. I actually had runner 336 pass me… I was race number 335. Runner 336 was from Birmingham, AL. Close to Mile 24, I stopped again because now the cold was getting to me. I put my LS shirt back on, stretched and kept going. There is a curvy hill at Mile 24 that I was not looking forward to running. It wasn't all that bad, but I totally forgot to say “God Save the Queen” at the Mile 24 mile marker.

Mile [25-26.2]
The last little bit of the course I had run before, so I knew what to expect. I was saving my energy for that last hill going back up Clinch before the final down hill. As I was coming down the hill of Clinch before crossing back the Start Line, the traffic going across Henley was heavy. There were two cops out there and close to the last second, they stopped their traffic and I was able to continue without having to stop for traffic… pretty neat. I remember looking at my watch when I crossed the Start line, but I don't remember the time. I made it up the last hill at Clinch and shortly after the turn, I stopped to stretch. I then set into motion my near expired legs and focused on the noise from the stadium. I past a runner as we hit the 26 mile marker and there were 3 runners a head of me. There were road blockade contraptions to help guide us into the stadium. There were 3 turns in that last 0.2 of a mile. At the 26.1 point, I passed one of the runners and picked up my pace a bit as I went into the stadium. As we came out of the tunnel and onto to the field, you could make out the crowd in the stadium and you knew that you were home. At this point, I kicked in the afterburner and flew past the 2 runner between me and the finish line. I was sprinting as fast as I could and it felt like 100 miles and hour. Nothing hurt… I just kept going. I could only see the chute in front of me and the timing mat on the ground. I heard them announce my name on the loud speaker, “Terry Higgins, from Knoxville TN” and then it was over.

Post Race
I had forgotten to look at my watch or hit the stop button. I was clueless at my time other than I thought it was 4 hours 20 something… I hadn't a clue. They took off my timing band from my ankle and I was given a Finisher's Medal and a Mylar “space” blanket. They then gave me a bottle of water and a coolmax hat that had the marathon logo and “finisher” on the back. Thank goodness that they were handing this stuff to me because all I could think about was how good I felt (mentally) about completing the marathon. I was so happy about my performance that even though my time wasn't really what I wanted, I knew that I had done everything that I could and I was pleased. There have been marathons where I wasn't happy at the end and was upset. Not today.

I walked around looking for My Mom, Jen and the kids. I couldn't find them, so I decided to go ahead and head on out to the stands to see if I could find them. As I was walking up the ramp, I found Jen and then the rest of the party and everything was good. We walked over to Thompson-Boling arena where the Post-race food was located. Remember… I was hungry and apparently Eric was too because he was eating all the food on my plate. So after about 15-20 minutes of hanging out at the post-race party we headed back to the car.

Course Winner: James Mutuse 2:33:07
Marty Velas 4:01:48
Official Time 4:21:44 (4th Fastest Marathon Time) 293th out of 541 finishers; 32nd out of 48 in age group

Split Times

Split Split Distance Overall Distance Split Time Split Pace Overall Time Comments
1 1 1 9:14 9:14 &nbsp
2 1 2 8:50 18:04 &nbsp
3 1 3 9:28 27:32 &nbsp
4 1 4 9:43 37:15 &nbsp
5 1 5 9:23 46:38 &nbsp
6 1 6 9:19 55:57 &nbsp
7 1 7 9:28 1:05:25 &nbsp
8 1 8 9:35 1:15:00 &nbsp
9 1 9 9:02 1:24:02 &nbsp
10 1 10 9:40 1:33:42 &nbsp
11 1 11 9:31 1:43:13 &nbsp
12 1 12 9:36 1:52:49 &nbsp
13 1 13 9:33 2:02:22 &nbsp
14 0.1 13.1 0:58 9:40 2:03:20 &nbsp
15 1 14 9:37 2:11:59 &nbsp
16 1 15 9:43 2:02:42 &nbsp
17 1 16 9:49 2:31:32 &nbsp
18 1 17 10:11 2:41:42 &nbsp
19 1 18 9:40 2:51:22 &nbsp
20 1 19 10:47 3:02:09 &nbsp
21 1 20 10:46 3:12:55 &nbsp
22 1 21 10:19 3:32:14 &nbsp
23 1 22 11:25 3:34:39 &nbsp
24 1 23 10:39 3:45:16 &nbsp
25 1 24 12:30 3:57:46 &nbsp
26 1 25 11:32 4:09:18 &nbsp
27 1 26 10:38 4:19:56 &nbsp
28 0.2 26.2 1:48 9:00 4:21:44 10:00 overall Pace

About planet3rry

I'm a husband, father and runner in the Knoxville area. I love the way that running makes me feel and how it has changed my thinking. I am always looking for the new PR whether in the 5k or the marathon