Marathons: Paul #77, Leah #67, State #49 : Southern Tennessee Marathon 2015
3rd October 2015, Winchester, Tennessee, USA
Finish Time (Paul) = 3:39:59
Finish Time (Leah) = 3:42:01
Leah: 1st Place Age Group (4th female overall)
Paul: 2nd Place Age Group
We flew into Nashville and drove down to Winchester, a city just on the outskirts. Packet pickup was simple, no expo but a table set up just outside the Oldham Theatre. We got to speak with the race director and she was pleased to hear that we had chosen their marathon for our Tennessee State and number 49.
The next morning we drove back to the same area for the start, parking was easy with a number of places close by to park and being a smaller race the lines for the toilets were also quick.
We got talking with 2 guys at the start who had noticed us putting on arm warmers and commented that it was a good idea and they should have thought about it too. It was quite chilly but it was one of those situations where it’s hard to predict how it’ll feel once you get going. You don’t want to wear too much, that’s the worst situation, but you also don’t want to be miserable and cold for the entire run.
The race director announced that we were here doing our 49th sub-4 hour marathon state which was nice. Shortly afterwards the race got underway. We ran along some roads to begin with and thankfully we were feeling good despite our fast marathon the weekend before.
The Best Sign
We ran past a pawn shop which had probably my favourite sign outside ever, in big letters.. “Gold Guns Guitars”. I mean, what more could you want in life?! To be fair, as far as best signs we saw in Tennessee goes, it does tie with one we spotted while driving down the highway to get to the race. There was a gun store nearby and they had several billboards along the highway. One had a picture of a guy pulling a strange face, holding a rifle. The caption read “More guns than your weird Uncle”.
It wasn’t long before the 2 guys we had spoken with at the start caught us up, they were Rory and Joe. We ran and talked with them for 10 miles, swapping stories and discussing races. It was great to chat with them as it had started to rain and the conversation was a good distraction for all of us I think. We were very glad we had our arm warmers on although with rain coming down in my face I regretted leaving my visor in the car.
Shortly before halfway we stopped at an aid station and Rory and Joe carried on, they were planning to run a faster time than us. The rain was on and off and the course had changed into running along quieter country roads with views of green fields and farmlands. If I didn’t know any better I could have easily been back in the UK, except the few cars that did drive by would have been on the wrong side of course.
The volunteers were great, despite also getting wet from the rain and wherever there was a turn to take someone was there, and usually police to control any traffic and direct runners. It was a well organised event.
We wondered if given the small size of the field, Leah might win a place. We stopped to use the restroom and 2 other females ran by. After we were done we decided we should catch them up and spent the next few miles doing so. We kept up a brisk pace in the last few miles to keep ahead of the females and there was a guy running close to us who I thought might be in my age group. With a mile and half to go he turned up the pace so I stuck with him, we battled it out and I managed to overtake him with around half a mile to go. As I got closer to the finish line I could see from my watch and the timer that I needed to speed up as the seconds were going higher and higher. I like high seconds and normally wouldn’t be as concerned about rolling over to another minute anyway, but the clock was on 3:39. If I made good seconds it would be a 3:39 finish rather than a 3:40. I sprinted as fast as I could and when I stopped my watch after crossing the finish line it was on exactly 3:40:00! ARGGH.
I saw Rory and Joe who had already finished and then a couple of minutes later Leah ran through also just ticking over into 3:42:01. We sheltered under a tent from the rain which had really started to come down hard and as soon as we had stopped running our bodies got really cold. We chatted with the race director for a while, she took a picture for us and also went to get an advance copy of the results.
Due to the weather most people wanted to collect their awards and head to some warmth. It turned out Leah was the 4th female so she just missed out on one of the interestingly custom-carved trophies, but she did win 1st place in her age group and an extra, gold coloured medal. I actually won 2nd in my age group, picking up a silver coloured medal in addition to the finisher’s one. It turned out the guy I had been competing with towards the end wasn’t in my age group after all but a bonus was that my official finish time was 3:39:59! So it had paid off to push out those last couple of miles.
While we were in Tennessee we had contemplated driving from Nashville to Memphis to visit Graceland, but in the end we had decided to go home after the marathon. It was a Saturday event which meant we could be home by Saturday evening and just enjoy being back home for once. With the weather being terrible and the roads quite treacherous to drive on we were glad of the decision.
We enjoyed the Southern Tennessee Marathon. It was a shame about the weather but we’re still glad we ran the event. It’s nice with the lower key races to be able to meet people like the race director and to enjoy more relaxing logistics. State 49 is complete and sub-4 State 48. Now to bring it up to 49 all-round next weekend.
Published in the local newspaper
We found out later that we had made it into the Winchester Herald Chronicle. Here are some snippets:
Full article (click to view):
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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