As light at the end of the pandemic tunnel began to appear, my athletes (and myself) were chomping on the bit to find a live, in person event. I read about the Greenville Half, touted as the “fastest half in the south” on a flat and net downhill course.
It didn’t take much arm twisting to get a few friends and athletes on board, and we all decided to make a long weekend of it. My friend Shannon offered to drive. As a professional passenger, I packed an incredibly delicious cooler of snacks, to hopefully avoid being compared to the scrub in the TLC song (the one hangin’ out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride.)
On the six hour ride to Greenville (more like 12 hours after Shannon stopped to inspect every item at the Restoration Hardware outlet in Asheville) we passed through severe storms and torrential downpour. Shannon was meticulous at navigating through the hollers and winding roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We pulled into the super cute downtown of Greenville, and checked into the Spring Hill Suites. It is a beautiful hotel with a great staff, fluffy clouds for beds. It had swings, a huge bar, an outdoor courtyard with a pool and firepit, and a nice sized gym.
After checking in, we hooked up with some friends and grabbed dinner at Green Fetish, just across the street. Our friend Sarah had graciously picked up bibs for about 20 of us, so we were able to collect them at dinner. I had a delicious bowl of rice, tofu and veggies. Shannon and I went back and passed out by 8pm.
The next morning we were ready early, as “we” (Shannon) had to drive about fifteen minutes to the start of the race. It was a point to point course, starting in Travelers Rest and finishing near the hotel. One of my more ambitious athletes, Austin, was thinking about running to the start but we talked him out of that idea.
After a little hiccup of a forgotten bib (Caroline) we finally made it to the start. Fortunately, the rain had almost stopped. It was mild and even a little humid. We all warmed up together with a short jog and some drills, and then it was time to go.
Shannon, Caroline and I all lined up together. Sarah, Shannon M and Cheryl lined up in the corral just behind us. The gun went off, and so did the masks. We were racing!!
I had been nursing a posterior tib injury (deep in the calf) and hadn’t run much the week leading up to this race. Being in a marathon build of 80 and 90 mile weeks, it was probably an overuse injury. It had plagued me last fall, but always seemed to improve with rest. It felt OK now but the rest of me felt sluggish and flat.
The first four miles felt bad. I could not find a rhythm. It was much hiller than I expected, and I could feel my heart rate through the roof. Splits ranged from 6:25 to 6:44 these few miles. At about mile three, my left leg locked up. This happens sometimes on the treadmill and on flat courses, and is really terrible. I feel like I can’t control that leg, my gait changes, and I almost feel like I am going to fall. Unfortunately, it would last the entire remainder of the race so I never got comfortable.
Turning onto the bike path for a fast few miles with a nice decline made things feel a little better. Splits dropped from 6:40s to 6:20s and low 6:30s. I was in no man’s land, but saw a big group ahead of me so worked on bridging the gap. Eventually I did, and started to pick off a few runners one by one. I saw some runners in briefs, so knew I was approaching the fast crowd. I am always in awe of runners in briefs!
My stomach was not perfect, so I was not interested in getting any gels in. I made a mental note to work on this, because while a half is doable on no fuel, a full is not. I did not drink much either. I think I had one gulp of water at about mile 10.
My calf hurt, my left leg was locked up and I was being a Negative Nancy in my head. I knew the last two miles would be tricky, with twists and turns and road construction and a couple uphills. I was not quite on pace to PR anyway, so I just tried to maintain through that hard stretch. I held it together, but my last two miles were 6:35 and 6:40. It was a relief to finally see the finish line. I did not celebrate and looking at my race photos did not even smile. I was over it by then, but in retrospect I am really happy with my time of 1:26:49. It was good enough for 3rd Master’s in a really competitive race.
Two of my athletes, Caroline and Austin, and also Shannon, finished around the same time. We snapped a few pics and cheered on Shannon M, Sarah and Cheryl as they came roaring to the finish. It was great to be able to walk to our hotels and take the hottest shower of my life.
The race itself was an A+. Greenville knows how to put on a show, and the atmosphere was great. As the day went on, the sunshine came out and we had fun exploring the town and grabbing pizza. I was even a good sport when I found a slice of ham the size of a small cat on my vegan pizza! I couldn’t finish the pizza after that, but made up for it with some Insomnia cookies.
Shannon and I spent the night listening to live music at our hotel bar after indulging in some fabulous chocolates. We explored the wooden sculptures around the lobby, requested 90s songs, chilled out in some swings, got invited to spend the night on a floor at a nearby party, and sat around a campfire, all while wearing our fancy slippers from Restoration Hardware. We know how to party.
We finished the Greenville trip with a fancy shakeout run the following morning. We threw in some flexibility and mobility exercises, and recovery ran like rock stars. We grabbed a quick breakfast at a bagel place, grabbed a few juices from the Southern Squeeze and hit the road back to Kentucky. It was definitely an enjoyable weekend and I hope to be back!