Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line

Yesterday I accomplished a goal that I began working on last November- I finished my first half-marathon.  It was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I've ever completed, but the rewards far surpass any pain I experienced along the way.  To top it off, I completed the 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 24 minutes, averaging around 11 minutes per mile.  Not bad considering I hadn't trained in nearly a month, and was still dealing with pain from achilles tendonitis.

To recap yesterday's events, I woke up at 5 am, pinned on my racing bib and laced up my running shoes, and Brian drove me over to the starting line at Centennial Park.  Along with approx. 30,000 other runners, I made my way to my corral and began to stretch for the longest run I've experienced at this point.  I really don't know the science behind the proper fueling of my body pre-race, I just ate a huge pasta dinner the night before, and listened to my body during the run.  I could tell when I needed water, or when my body needed salt.

Before I knew it, the race was on and I made my way down Broadway as hordes of spectators cheered us on.  I gave children high fives as I raced past them, watched a guy run while juggling at the same time, and passed a group of spectators dressed as the band Kiss as I made my way through the Gulch.  I was pacing myself particularly well for the first 7 miles, but around mile 8, I could really feel my mental and physical energy begin to drain.  I could feel blisters forming on the bottom of my feet and began to feel a little sick from the mixture of water and energy drink that I inhaled at each fuel station.  By the time I hit mile 12, I felt like I couldn't go any further, but I knew I was almost to the end and had to keep going.  I wish I could say I sprinted to the finish line for the last mile, but it was more of a shuffle.  Regardless of my pace, I crossed the finish line and it was an incredible feeling.  As soon as I crossed, we were herded through a line where we recieved our medals, grabbed up food and water, and had our pictures taken.  At this point, I felt like my legs were going to give out at any moment and all I wanted to do was find Brian and go home.

Brian and I reunited in the family reunion area and promptly headed for Mitchell's Deli for a turkey sandwich, and then I just crashed and enjoyed a nice nap.  My legs are very sore and stiff today, and I'm suffering a bit of post-race depression, but I'm already planning my next race.  I'm hooked!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

John C. Clayborn Millennium Trail

April in Tennessee brings out a kaleidoscope of colors as wildflowers blanket the forest floor.  My mom is a wildflower enthusiast (or maniac depending on how you look at it) and wanted to see the colors in their full glory by taking a long hike.  We've been talking about hiking the 8 mile Millennium Trail for a couple of years now, so we decided to quit talking about and just do it.

Located within Edgar Evans State Park, the John C. Clayborn Millennium Trail follows the outline of a peninsula in Center Hill Lake and passes by old homesteads where the only remnants of human influence are seen in the low rock walls so typically built by Scots-Irish immigrants to Tennessee.  We also passed the remains of an old springhouse before we began our strenuous ascent up the ridge.  The wildflowers did not disappoint, and every switchback revealed a new flower, a new color.  While I highly recommend this trail for its scenery and history, it is extrememly strenuous and literally sapped me of my energy.  I was so grateful for the PB&J sandwich and trail mix that my mom packed because it literally gave me the boost I needed to make it over the last few hills.

If you do decide to hike this trail, I highly recommend you stop at the visitor's center at the entrance of the park and climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower.  The tower overlooks the Center Hill Dam and from a distance, you can even see the abandoned cooling tower from the defunct nuclear plant in Hartsville, TN- which is nearly 40 miles north of Edgar Evans State Park!