This weekend the TN State Park Running Tour made its stop in my neck of the woods for the Over the River 8-miler. Just so happened that I had 8 miles on the schedule for this weekend, so why not go and take advantage of policed road closures, a visually stimulating route, and manned water stops for the bargain price of $6??? I’M IN.
I’ve been wanting to run this race for a couple of years now. I heard about it in 2009, the first year I started running, but for some reason that I can’t remember now, I wasn’t able to make it out that day. Then in 2010 it was the same weekend as RnR Vegas, so I obviously didn’t run it then. I was happy to finally be able to make it this year. It’s a shame to miss a race so cheap and in your own back yard!
My least favorite thing about this race is the same thing as all the other state park events–the start time. It doesn’t start until 11:00 am. They do this to allow for out-of-towners to come in for the race without having to plan an overnight trip or leave well before the sun rises, but to me an 11:00 start just kind of screws up the entire day. Start time aside, the race was perfection. It was about 35 degrees at the start, full sun, very little wind. I was comfortable for the first couple of miles and then I had to start shedding stuff. First the gloves, then the ear warmers, and finally the jacket around mile 4, and even then I was still a little warm in my cold gear tights and long-sleeve shirt. (Funny how much warmer a sunny 35-degree day feels than a cloudy 35-degree day.)
The elevation profile for the course didn’t look too intimidating, so the course was actually quite a bit hillier than I was expecting. I knew that we would be running over this bridge (hence the name of the race) to a turnaround point, then back across the bridge. I didn’t take any photos, so I borrowed this one from my friend’s photography web site.
That was pretty challenging in itself, but I managed to pick a few people off coming back over the bridge the second time. After a little bit of a straight, flat stretch, the course went across another overpass and back, and then the most challenging hill was closer to the end when you ran up to and around the highest cabin on a hill. It wasn’t all hilly, but the parts that were were pretty significant.
Overall I was pleased with my splits. Five of the eight miles were in the 10:05 to 10:10 range, the first mile faster, the last mile slower, and the seventh mile a little slower than my average but not as slow as the last mile. Garmin time was 1:21:34 for 8 miles, which is a 10:12 pace and 18 sec/mile faster than I’ve run any 8 miles before. The official results aren’t up yet, but I expect them to be about 5 seconds slower. My Garmin beeped 8 miles just a few seconds before I crossed the finish line, and I just hit stop when I heard it beep. I’m not real concerned with what the official results are, as I wasn’t really treating this one as a race, but rather my first long run going into the next training cycle for my spring half-marathon(s). I consider week one a success. If nothing else, it helped get the bad taste out of my mouth from last weekend’s half…