Dr. J on Running

20 Knoxville Marathon, Knoxville, TN

1 April 2012

I treated Marla to a trip to Knoxville for her birthday. On the flight out of Syracuse, I treated us to my favorite in-flight drink, Bailey’s in coffee. It became quickly her least favorite drink. During the layover in Washington, we lunched on a hamburger and French fries from Five Guys. We arrived safely to Knoxville, checked into the race hotel, and took a nap. We walked towards the finish line, marveled at the neatness of the campus, and contemplated the hills. We enjoyed dinner at Chesapeake’s, and retired early.

We rose early Saturday and walked several miles looking for cappuccino and breakfast. We settled for Peter’s Café that did not serve espresso café, and we visited with Jim – a naval officer from Arlington and a fellow Marathon Maniac.

Race Expo and packet pick-up took place in the Convention Center next to the hotel. Marla registered for the 5K, then shopped for clothes to wear for the race. She found Team 413 booth, and purchased shirts for our running friends from church. At noon, we listened to the testimony of Chris ??, the founder of Team 413.

The weather was nice and warm on April Fool's Day. The start line was literally outside the hotel. We attended a brief prayer service, and took off on an uneventful adventure. The race course featured 118 turns, and covered every imaginable terrain from asphalt, to trails, to six-lane highway bridges.

I started slow, breathing 4-and-4, and alternated running 1.5 miles and walking 0.5 mile. I passed 5 miles in one hour and 10 miles in two hours. We lost the half-marathoners around mile 12, passed 15 miles in three hours and 20 miles in four hours. I donated my stash of Ibuprofen to a young woman in distress around mile 18 as she prepared to drop out. The heat and humidity rose higher as the day progressed, giving me my fourth hot marathon in a row.

I ran alone pretty much the entire race, although there were people near me. I entered the stadium with my head up, and crossed the finish line in 5:13:44 – a whopping 6 seconds faster than Little Rock. I felt awful and on the verge of crying when I met the birthday girl outside the stadium. She was jubilant with her 5K accomplishment, in which she beat some 400 participants. We skipped the post-race party, and looked for the shuttle. Marla helped me onto a school bus that drove us back to the hotel.

I washed the salt off my sorry body, and laid still for an hour. Then, I partook in a post-race feast of steak and eggs, followed by a return trip to Chesapeake’s for soup and crab cakes. A short night and an early wake-up call, and we headed back to our beloved home and dogs. Twenty states down, thirty to go.

Dr Kamal Jabbour ran his 20th marathon in 20 states in Tennessee, his 17th marathon in 18 months in his 50-state quest. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphins call.

© 2012 Dr Kamal Jabbour

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