Run faster...I hear banjos!

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Some races you can't forget. The Hillilly Half in Leiper's Fork is exactly that race.

I didn't want to run it in 2015. At that point it had been a little over a month since I had ran even a mile following the Nashville Rock N Roll full marathon and I couldn't imagine running a half marathon without at least a few training miles. I remember laying out at the pool two days before the race was to happen as a group text ran wild promising those of us not yet convinced that it would be a fun time.

The hard thing about being a runner is that while you're running the race you ask yourself why you would put yourself through it. However, once you cross the finish line your memories of pain and sorrow are completely erased and you will foolishly sign up for five more races that day, minimum.

So there I was, poolside, signing up for a race I hadn't prepared for.

At the time the race was called the Franklin Half Marathon and I had heard horror stories of "heart attack hill" and of the heat that a June race in Tennessee promises. In fact, that morning the weather report was 99% humidity with a temperature in the 90s and the fog from the extreme humidity didn't let up until a few miles into the race. But that's not the most important detail.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DETAIL. ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ

The thing no one had warned me about - hillbillies. I run by towards the end of the video, 4:57 or so, and while I look like I'm keeping my cool I'm now realizing I have many miles to go for a race where I may have to outrun some very frightening rednecks.

The heat seemed to beat me down quickly, and I can remember struggling to get over some small rolling hills. I was playing the game of "you can walk until the next fence post but then you have to run the entire next mile." I had a cold rag on my neck that was handed out around mile 8 or so, and I always tried to have a water bag in my hand (a water bag is a water filled plastic bag that you bite, then squeeze to get your fluids, an awesome addition to this race). Soon enough I felt so worn out and my walking became more frequent. I finally was able to pick up cell signal and played my current Spotify playlist which started playing the perfect song.

American Kids - Kenny Chesney

I have said since the first time hearing this song that it would forever be my favorite song and it's still true three years following it's release. I tend to be a pretty big fan of anything Shane McAnally has a hand in, so it made sense that this song would be the one to pull me through. 

 "Sister's got a boyfriend / Daddy doesnโ€™t like / Now heโ€™s sittinโ€™ out back, 3030 in his lap / In the blue bug zapper light."

The rhythm of this song in the intro to the lines that stress small town living (and perhaps a redneck's preferred style of life?), I felt rejuvenated and ready to finish up a great race that I could feel proud of. You know, and happy to have survived.

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For a few months this race was my half marathon PR of 2:15:39, even with heart attack hill that is truly no joke. One of the greatest parts of finishing was the sweetest Georgia peach I have ever had from The Peach Truck. That was my first PeachTruck experience and now every summer I wish the season lasted just a few weeks longer.

All in all, this was a fantastic local race and I ended up running it again in 2016. And it turns out those hillbillies populated a whole heck of a lot since the year before. We'll see if I have the guts to run it again this June... 

 

If you are up for the challenge, I highly suggest running this half marathon at least once. This year the route is going the opposite direction, the way I believe it was originally ran, so if you think you have what it takes you can register here: https://register .chronotrack.com/r/22017 

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The year I fell in love with running

2016 sucked.

For a lot of people. And for a lot of different reasons. December 3rd, 2016 I ran the St. Jude memphis Marathon for the third year in a row. Somewhere near mile 20 a spectator held a sign that read "F@ck 2016!" to which runners all around me agreed. I don't recall a year that was collectively thought of with a sigh the way it seems 2016 is remembered. And I feel thankful that I'm not alone in the idea that 2016 wasn't the best year ever.

I started 2016 by taking my first full-time, 9-5 day job. I started to struggle with time manage and stopped making time for the things that made me truly happy. I missed the first 10 weeks of my spring marathon training program and tried to jump back in on week 11 - an 18 mile run. I began the training run with the 4 hour group but got left behind after just 5 miles. Around mile 15 I was struggling when the 4:15 group caught up to me. And passed me. Just four months before this, November 2015, I had ran a marathon with a personal best of 4:11:53, and now a training run was causing me to feel I was no longer a runner. DEFEAT.

As a back story, 2015 was a great year for me and running. I became a Marathon Maniac (#12090) by running 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga in October, The Nashville Marathon in November, and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December. Sprinkle in a Ragnar Relay and a Zooma half marathon (another personal best) and you would have the happiest version of myself that has ever existed.

My spring marathon eventually rolled around and I struggled, both with the actual running of the race and with enjoying it. I ran a half marathon a few weeks later and didn't find it as exciting as it once felt. I had high hopes for the Chicago marathon, my 7th marathon, and felt that a sub 4 hour marathon was in my reach with such a flat course. But my motivation was gone and I started to tell my running friends that I was burnt out on running. Chicago, the most incredible experience marathon I've ran, came and went with improper training and a lack in personal best to accompany it. Two months later I ran the St. Jude Marathon and beat my personal worst time by only 13 seconds. I felt like 2016 was the year I gave no importance to training and in return received no reward.

2017, the year I fell in love with running.

This is what I have planned for this year. I want to find the passion I once had for running and remember why I love this crazy sport. Music is also an important aspect of my life and my running. Each week I plan to draw on the building blocks of running - training, workouts, running sessions, gear, fuel, races, and the songs that helped me get through that week of running.

Runnin' Just in Case - Miranda Lambert

I love this song for the place I'm at currently with my running. Between the rhythm of the song that makes my feet want to run, to the line that reminds me that running can help me achieve something that I may not be directly focused on.

"It ain't love that I'm chasing / but I'm runnin' just in case"

Running sucks. I know this. It can be so rewarding, but it can also be so difficult. I run in weather that is too hot, or too cold. I've ran at hours that are too early when I'm so tired, and I've ran too late when I have to speed to beat the setting sun. Sometimes I set out to run three miles and I finish wondering how I ever ran a marathon. But I've also had some great laughs while running alongside my best friends. I've raised thousands of dollars for kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital who are fighting cancer. I'm planning on finding my love of running again this year, and maybe my goals are out of reach, but I'm still runnin' just in case.