At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be able to sign up for the Knoxville Marathon.
When we initially scoped out the Knoxville area in early 2016, I knew that the Knoxville Marathon was in early April. Registration prices were a little steep compared to what I was comfortable with paying, especially since I had already signed up for the Derby Festival Marathon at the end of April in Louisville, KY with one of my best friends.
I wasn’t counting on finding a relatively cheap entry to the race, but sure enough, I checked the Knoxville Track Club‘s Facebook page and there was someone who had a previous injury who wasn’t going to be able to do the race. He was signed up for the half-marathon. I messaged the guy and we discussed things. The next morning, I sent him the money to get our registration figured out. Sure enough, at that point, I had a $12 half-marathon entry to the Knoxville Half-Marathon. I was content with the half-marathon. It would have been a good time, regardless.
I then found out that my old trail running and speed work out buddy from Lexington, KY was coming down to do the Knoxville Marathon. This would be his 12th Knoxville Marathon, since he’s done it every year since the race’s inception. The initial plan was for me to run with my buddy, Scott from SWORD, for the half, and then I’d find him around mile 18 and we’d reconnect and I’d help keep pace for him until shortly before the finish where I’d pull off the course and let him finish. However, I decided to email the race director and see if upgrading from the half to the full was an option.
Sure enough! The race director said that another $15 would get me to upgrade to the full Knoxville Marathon. At packet pickup, we gave the folks some extra cash, and I was registered! Talk about smart running, $27 for a marathon. That’s nearly unheard of. Toss another $8 for parking… so $35 for a marathon. That’s really affordable!
Race morning came around and it was chilly out, but we knew it’d be a great day. Scott wanted to hit right around 4 hours. That meant we needed to run around a 9:15 per mile or better. It was a hilly course, so we knew it wouldn’t be the fastest course. Scott had Boston Qualified on this course a few years back, so if the heat needed to be turned on, we could do that
It wasn’t until around mile 21 that we took off our under layers (picture to the right) as it was pretty chilly for the majority of the morning. But, it was a fantastic day to run! There was an excellent “aid station” at the mile 7 hill that offered FireBall Whiskey shots. We participated. And then around mile 23 another “aid station” that had Pop-Tarts and Michelob Ultra. Scott had Pop-Tarts and Michelob, I just had Michelob. And then we continued. We were looking good at that point to hit hit just before 4:00.
**NOTE: Those were not official aid stations by the race director and organization. Those aid stations were kind people just having fun, offering goodies to runners.**
We hit the final hill, then it was just a few winding turns through downtown Knoxville and part of the UT Knoxville campus. Then before we knew it, we were in Neyland Stadium crossing the 50 yard line for the finish! 3:58:20! Boom. Surpassed the goal. Sure, Scott and I could have run faster if we wanted, but we were just enjoying ourselves having an awesome time. Scott set the pace, and I just made sure that we stayed on pace to hit the goal.
It does pay off to have someone pace you, so you can focus on the task at hand and not have to constantly worry about the time, distance, etc.