Race Report: Tom King Classic Half Marathon 3/9

Introduction

I registered for this race as part of my goal to run a race every month this year.  I had debated whether to race it or use it as a training run but, in the end, I really wanted to try to knock off some more time from my personal record so I decided to race it.  Thus, my goal was to run faster than the 2:43:51 I set in the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

The Tom King Classic Half Marathon is a local Nashville race hosted by one of the running clubs, the Nashville Striders.  I learned that Tom King was one of the founders of the Nashville Striders and this half is kind of his baby.  He races it with a shirt on that says “I am Tom King.”

For all of you non-Nashvillians, I thought I would start off my Nashville race reports with a couple fun facts about the Music City:
(1) Nashville is also nicknamed the “Athens of the South” because of its 17 post-secondary institutions and strong music and art communities. Nashville takes this comparison so seriously that they built a full-size replica of the Parthenon in 1897.
(2) Building on the Greece comparison, Nashville has a surprisingly old running culture, with one of the oldest running specialty shops in the country.  Jeff Galloway’s store in Atlanta, the “oldest running store in the world,” was opened only two months earlier (January 1973 v. March 1973).

Pre-Race: Shooting from the Hip

The morning of the race was probably the most hectic I’ve had before a race so far.  The race started at 7:30 AM.  I woke up at 6:50 AM.  The race was in East Nashville, twenty minutes away.  Thus, I was scurrying to throw on clothes, get everything I needed together, scarf down some oatmeal and water, and get on the road.  I had to drive pretty rapidly to get to the race on time and did so just barely.  I parked at 7:30 AM, jogged to the start, and minute or two later, I was going past the start line.

Race

Surprisingly, the course was fairly flat for a Nashville race.  It started at LP Field (where the Tennessee Titans play) and went out to the end of the Shelby Bottoms Greenway and came back to LP Field.  The weather was great at about 50 degrees and 57% humidity.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 10.59.52 PM Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 11.00.10 PM

When I started out, my pace was fairly fast for the effort I was putting in, especially in light of having had only one day of rest before and having not warmed up or stretched before the race. I decided to just keep up the pace for as long as I could.  I feel like part of the reason for my faster pace was the smaller size of the race (1500).  There weren’t any corrals and there were fewer people that were running my pace.  So I set out to maintain a pace about 0:30 faster than the pace I aimed for in the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half.

I was able to keep the pace pretty well until mile 8.  Lesson learned from this split: don’t carbo load with Mexican food.  Felt a little nauseous and nature called.  Was able to pick it back up for a couple more miles and then mile 11 was really slow because I stopped at a bathroom.  Besides for these two miles, I was really happy with my pacing.  I think this race showed that I went out too conservatively  during my last race.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 11.16.59 PM

Throughout the race, I was going back and forth with a Gallowalker.  At first, I could tell that we were just near each other by coincidence.  But after awhile, she just would sprint as soon as I passed her and then would walk. I think the walk/run strategy is fine if it is for you, but I thought this unstructured approach crossed a line.  It is already a little annoying to have re-pass the same people over and over and over again.  But then when you have to do it twice as much just because someone is seemingly too embarrassed to be slower than you, it comes off as repugnant to the spirit of the sport.  After playing this game for far too long, I just sped up when she tried to pass me again and she fell back.  I think she finished 5 or 6 minutes after me so this little game she played must have really worn her out.

By the time these shenanigans were over, it was the last mile. I picked up the pace a little but not as much as my last race.  The finish line of the race was really cool: you went into the bowels of LP field and came out on to the football field.  After circling the field once, the finish was at the 50-yard line.  As you crossed, they had you up on the jumbotron. Really cool.

Finished with a PR (2:42:59)!  1224/1332 overall and 62/65 in my age group.

One thing about the course and out-and-backs in general.  The course read a little long on my Garmin, which I know is normal.  But I think with out-and-backs this is probably a bigger problem.  You aren’t able to take the tangents with people coming back the other way and I doubt they measure it with only half of the path in mind. Maybe this is nonsense but out-and-backs always measure long for me and I think this may be the problem.

After the race was over, they had a really tasty breakfast buffet in the club level of the stadium.  But, who am I kidding?  Anything is delicious after a race.  It could have been terrible I wouldn’t have known the difference.

photo(7)

I thought the medal was classic and understated.  I really like the brown strap (although you can’t see the brown in the picture) with the gold:

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Here I am in the car after the race (first race without the girlfriend, so it was harder taking pictures!!):

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Matt would you do it again?

Definitely.  The course was really scenic.  The price was right ($45, I think) and the food/ceremony after the race was really great. I also really like that the race is small and in town and that the course is very similar to the last stretch of the Country Music Marathon, which I am preparing for.  I think this will definitely be a yearly race for as long as Nashville will have me as a citizen.  For anyone considering doing this race in the future, this year was the first that the race sold out so be sure to register early.

Takeaways

(1) I feel like I could run a faster race at this fitness level.  I had two trash splits that I could eliminate with better race day preparation.
(2) I have never not PRed a race.  I kind of want to keep this up for as long as possible.
(3) Feeling pretty good about the Country Music Marathon on 4/27.  Still a little nervous but this race eased my nerves a bit.

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