It was the third annual Grandfather-Grandson Half Marathon for Ryan and me this past weekend at the Knoxville Half Marathon. It’s amazing how fast three years go by, especially compared to how long three years seemed when I was young. It was a lot of fun as always, and I’m hoping we can continue this for many more years and possibly even be joined by some of the rest of the family over time. Ryan is a great athlete — football and baseball in school, but mainly power lifting now. The power lifting doesn’t exactly complement long distance running, so it’s a bit of a stretch for him to go out and run a half marathon, but he says he feels like it’s a good challenge for him each year, and I suspect he knows that I really appreciate that we’re able to share this event. I’d love to be able to do it for the next ten years, and twenty would be even better!
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that I’ve been recording my races recently with video sunglasses. I wish that I had them for this race but unfortunately I had left something else in the hotel room and went back to get it, and in the process I set the glasses down and forgot them. That kind of stinks because there’s plenty to see along the way in this race including great scenery along the course, many bands (at least one every mile I’d say), and a spectacular finish in Neyland Stadium (home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers).
The Knoxville Marathon/Half Marathon is a great race and I’m pretty sure it’s the largest racing event in Eastern Tennessee, this year with 2434 finishers in the half marathon, another 700 completing the marathon, and 1546 running the 5k, plus the marathon relay runners and wheelchair competitors.
I run a lot of races and tend to forget how many hills there are on different courses. For some reason I never seem to remember just how hilly this race is. There are plenty of small hills but several huge hills as well, and a number of roller coaster hills along the greenway portion that is several miles long. I don’t like to walk in races if I can help it, but when I’m going up a big hill that I can walk just about as fast as I can run, I give my running muscles a break and switch to walking, usually for about 50 steps (I almost always count the steps). This time around I walked six different times.
Along the course the miles are marked plainly with large flags, so that’s good, but there are no clocks at each mile like you see in many larger races. Usually I try to maintain my heart rate at between 165-168 throughout the race, but this was one of those days where my heart rate wanted to stay about 5 beats per minute slower. That happens occasionally but I don’t know why. During those races, I want to build it up but I just feel like I’m running too hard when I do so I back off a little bit. I didn’t look at my pace on my watch at all during the race and hoped I was going fast enough. There was finally a clock at the 10k point in the race (6.2 miles). It was a relief to see that I reached the 10k split at 44:07 despite having already walked a time or two, so I felt okay sticking with the somewhat lower heart rate.
The most memorable part of the race for me came in the 9th mile. I found myself running in back of a particularly fast looking guy who appeared to be about my age. I don’t remember whether he had passed me to get ahead or if I just caught up with him, but I ran maybe 20 feet behind him for a half mile or so. I found out later he was Walt Rider, whose reputation I was already familiar with after he broke the Tennessee state record last year as a 59-year-old by running the Germantown Half Marathon in 1:26:48. He was also USA Triathlon’s “Men’s Grand Masters Duathlete of the Year” in 2012 (that’s run-bike-run). He ran the Boston Marathon in 2:34 at the age of 39, and on an average day he’d stomp a mud hole in me and walk it dry, but for some reason just after we passed the 10-mile marker he just stopped. I ran past him and wondered where he was. After a few minutes I glanced back to see if I could spot his neon green singlet but it wasn’t there, and I never saw him again during the race. I saw him after the race and talked to him for a minute or two and he told me he was having problems of some sort (seems like it was his shoes but I didn’t quite catch it). Anyway, I was definitely fortunate to finish ahead of him in what was most likely his slowest half marathon ever. I’m pretty sure it’ll never happen again.
Finishing with the fastest time of everyone 60 and over in the race, I won the award as “1st Place Overall Senior Grandmasters Male,” which I nearly won last year before I was passed in the last mile by Jody Hinds, another fast guy from Tennessee. He is a friendly fella and we talked quite a bit last year and I knew he was running this year but I was unable to spot him at the starting line. I did see him after the race and he told me he saw me up ahead of him but just couldn’t close the gap, which I was glad to hear of course. He’s a fast finisher, and I’m not. He said this year he ran the 13th mile in 7:02, which was nearly 30 seconds faster than me, but lucky for me I was far enough ahead that it didn’t matter.
If you’re looking for photos of this race be sure to check out Mike Beasley’s Photos (see link below). They’re not the official race photos but are great quality. I bought a download of a photo I found of me for only 4 bucks. It’s 3456 x 5184 resolution!
Chip Time: 1:37:02
Age Group: 1 of 45 (1st Place Overall Senior Grandmasters)
Overall: 101 of 2,434 (4.2%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:17:56 (75.98%)
* RACE RATING *
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
2 – Course Scenery: (0)bad (2)pleasant (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0)mediocre (2)not bad (5)very good (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
1 – Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent (Prize Money for OA Winners)
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (3)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
8 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
1 – Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics!
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
2 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes