Oak Barrel Half Marathon
May 23, 2013


I know I’m super late with this race recap, but there was so much awesome in this race that it took me a while to get it all together, then ya know life gets busy.  I gotta say I’ve never been to a race that had such a welcoming small hometown feel.  The runners were clearly the priority that day.  To give you an idea of this race’s demographics: About 1,100 people ran the race (including a lot of locals), and the town only has about 5,700 people in it.  So, with the runners and the volunteers, pretty much the whole town was out for this race.  Every water stop was manned with several people and there was a water stop about every couple miles.  And those who weren’t running or volunteering, were sitting on their porches waving back at all the runners.  The only thing I probably saw more during the race were cows and they’re rude and don’t wave back.

town square

“Downtown Lynchburg” The cutest little square you’ll ever see.

Lynchburg, TN is also the home of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey.  Yes, it’s made here.  No, you can’t buy it here; it’s a dry county.  Yes, most people who live here work there.  You see the influence Jack all over the town, and they are a sponsor of the race.  No, there wasn’t any Jack at the finish line.

Oak Barrel Half Marathon – April 6, 2013

Fortunately this race didn’t start until 8am, so we had time to drive the 90+ minutes to get down to Lynchburg, TN.  Normally it takes about 90 minutes, but with the tiny town (and roads) and extra race day traffic, we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there.  Early morning wake-up, make coffee, prep a banana and a bagel with peanut butter and throw on my race clothes, hop in the car and point it south.  I was able to do my pre-race nutrition in the car ride down and made one potty stop along the way.  When we got there, we wound around the town and back fields to get parking, then went to registration and picked up our packets, shirts, and bib numbers.  I made a bee line for the porta potty lines to get one last relief before the race, attaching my bib number while in line.

Pretty soon it was nearing 8am for race start.  We all just stood around near the start line (love small races!) and the race director literally just counted down 3-2-1-GO for the start.  Nothing fancy, no starting gun,  just getting down to business, just how I like it.

We quickly wound around to the main highway for a very short stretch, then were deep into the farmland.  We ran past a cow pasture, that smelled very strong.  Nothing like huffing and puffing along in a race, and all you can smell are cow patties.

Not long after the cows, we started the slow climb towards Whiskey Hill.  As this is a very rural, small town race, you don’t have a lot of bands or cheerleaders along the course. So as we were running into the wooded area and starting the slow climb, I could hear “Dueling Banjos.”  Yes.  That.  Nothing like being in the backwoods and getting flashbacks of Deliverance.  Turns out someone had a generator and a boombox tucked back into the trees.  Nice one.

Whiskey Hill
This is the race’s defining aspect and pops up around mile 5.  It is a mile long hill, and you don’t notice the first 3/4 of  mile, but the last 1/4 mi is character building.  It starts getting really steep, then it turns a corner and it becomes impossibly steep.  I came down a couple weeks before to preview the course and the hill.  I knew what I had in store for me.  I planned to try to run to the top, but it became clear that walking was faster because you could get longer strides rather than trying to tippy-toe your way up it.  That and my heart rate started getting out of control.  This hill has so much character, it even has its own Facebook page.

After Whiskey Hill, I totally expected to just fall my way down towards the finish line.  This race supposedly has negative elevation gain.  Yeah, no.  Once I hit mile 6, I knew I was near another water station. I turned the corner and it was Whiskey Hill’s baby brother.  Another damn steep hill.  I was not pleased.  This was a part of the course I had not previewed, so I wasn’t ready for it.  Actually turns out the entire course is nothing but rolling hills.  The elevation chart is a lie.  You almost never feel the effects of the downhills.  I quickly learned this is not an easy or PR course.  It is a course to have fun, enjoy the scenery and relish the finish line!

I had a goal finish time in mind.  I knew with all these hills, it might be hard to do, but I’d been training hard and I could push it.  Then at mile 9, a side stitch hit.  What?! I haven’t had a side stitch in years.  It got so bad, I actually had to walk for a bit, and if I let my pace drop below 9min/mi it became unbearable.  I could see my finish time slipping away. I pushed through and maybe around mile 12, it finally let up. I seriously had a side stitch for 20-30min! So I tried to haul whatever I had left on the main highway towards the finish in the last mile.

Final Time: 1:55:56 (15/114 AG) I still had a PR, even if it’s just by a minute.



Finish Line
But the real bonus to this race is the finish line!  You cannot ask for a better race finish!  You get handed a wooden medal, a pair of Swiftwick socks with the logo on it, and your choice of a running hat or visor with the logo on it! All to match the shirt you got when you picked up your bib!


But here’s the real treat. You know you’re at a race in the South, when there are Hoecakes and SunDrop at the finish line.  Yes, I did partake.  And yes they are the best hoecakes I’ve ever had!  There was plenty of other food and drinks too; pizza, bagels, bananas, fruit, Brunswick Stew, Gatorade, water.

sundrop hoecake

Then they had a little local band set up that was actually pretty decent playing off past the food area.  Love the stage set up around the Whiskey Barrels.

post band

But my favorite (ok maybe second favorite after the hoecakes and SunDrop) was coming across the spontaneous pickin’ session in front of one of the shops on the tiny town square.  You can’t get any more small Tennessee town than this!

All in all, I would totally do this race again.  It was a cheap race registration, had the best volunteer support, and the finish line and swag were phenomenal.  And I’ve learned my lesson to stop trying to get massive PRs on hilly courses.  This is a race to enjoy!

Pre-race thoughts
July 11, 2012

My first Olympic triathlon is in a few days.  It takes a lot of physical training to get ready, but you mentally have to prepare as well.  As I approach this race, there are several things going through my mind.

I’ve done the training, I can do this.

This is going to be the longest race I’ve ever done.  I will be racing for nearly an hour longer than the longest race I’ve ever done (in any sport).  More than 3 hours.

It’s just about literally surviving the swim.  If I can get through that, I know I can finish the rest.

I’ve spent a month of intense training and deep internal reflection.  My body, mind, and heart just have to get through it.  There is no other choice.

When I finish the race, I get to go to an awesome music festival and see my favorite band.  Rock!

I really want to reward myself after the race and try this as a “recovery drink” just substituting protein powder for malt!  Chocolate Stout Beer Milkshake

Even though this is taper week, I haven’t had the crazy hunger like most taper weeks.  In fact, it’s been surprisingly less intake of food at times.  Don’t get me wrong I’m craving cookies, etc. occasionally, but I probably should make sure I’m front-loading this week properly.

Speaking of food, what am I going to do for my pre-race dinner.  I typically like to eat “Breakfast For Dinner” the night before a race or long workout.  Really thinking about hitting up this local gem for some protein rich eggs!

Coach has warned me the river is extremely murky, to not wear a white sports bra, and I’ll find all kinds of grossness in my bra after the race.  Fun! *sarcasm*

I want to do a Half Ironman next year.  This swim is only 0.2 mi. shorter than that the swim distance in a Half Iron, so I’m mostly up to the distance on my hardest event!!

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this first Oly race.  Then comparing them to my next one in 2 months!

I’ve been wearing a piece of jewelry I picked up last month.  Not only is it perfect for my presence on this blog and on twitter (and a great joke), but it’s a good mantra for this race (and life), because ultimately nobody else is going to get me through this.  And I can’t let anyone else get in my way of doing it.


eyes & ears
June 28, 2010

What I’m currently watching…

“Top Chef” (Season 7)
I’m not a big reality show watcher, or even a big TV watcher.  But when I found out one of the cheftestants on this season’s Top Chef was local, I knew I had to check it out.  Arnold Myint, is definitely my favorite for the show.  I knew Arnold years ago when he went by Aye and was figure skater too!  Now he owns 3 of my favorite restaurants in town! (PM, ChaChah, and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum)  So, yes, every Wednesday night I settle down with some yummy food and watch more yummy food (and usually ridiculous elimination rounds) on TV.  I’m also hosting other Top Chef/food/Arnold fans at my house, potluck style.  It’s definitely more fun with friends!

West Wing
I always avoided this show, because I figured the politics would bore the life out of me.  After attending a West Wing party at a friend’s house, I realized just how smart and witty this show is!  So, now thanks to Netflix we’re watching it from the beginning.  The characters are so engaging and the lines are so quick and funny!  Also, now I can finally get all the jokes and one-liners my friends drop all the time.

What I’m currently reading…

Undead and Unemployed (by Mary Janice Davidson)
So, this is actually the second book I’m reading this summer.  I know!!  Me? Reading? 2 books? Yep!  The first book in this series, Undead and Unwed, went to the beach with me last month and it was completely consumed in about 4 days.  But now, I’m back from the beach, with less free time.  But the second book sits in my pool bag and I get in a chapter or two every now and then.  This book can be not-so-easily characterized as chick-lit/vampire/paranormal romance/satire.  Usually categories, except for satire, that I have no interest in at all.  But the main character, an unwilling vampire of sorts, has a major affinity for shoes and just wants to ignore the whole vampire thing.  I love shoes, so I gave the first book a try, with a Grisham novel as a back up in case it sucked.  It was the perfect beach/pool reading material!  She is so snarky and obsessed with shoes, I love it!

What I’m currently listening to…

I have a confession to make.  When I’m in my car, I listen to pop music.  And I mean really bad pop music.  I don’t know why.  I’m generally a rock chick at heart, but I’m a classically trained musician so I have an appreciation of most music.  I chalk it up to all the hula hooping.  Honestly, upbeat, rhythmic music, and sometimes risque lyrics just lend themselves to hooping.  But I’m driving in my car, not hooping.  I have another confession to make.  I actually like it.  Enter Ke$ha, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Ludacris, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and the list goes on.  My excuse, it’s the summer, get over it!

OK, Go (watch some video)
January 20, 2010

Ever wonder just how record labels and online video posting and bands interact?   It’s a sticky situation full of all kinds of difficulties from a dying business model called the music industry.   This is a wonderful letter from a very creative band (well known for their treadmill video).  It’s definitely worth the read to learn about it, but also to find out just how I posted a link to this video online.  (unfortunately it is not showing the video in the post, perhaps due to WordPress restrictions and my lack of programming knowledge)

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.

Just plain hopeless?
November 22, 2009

I have no idea why certain weird things pop into my head when they do, but it often causes me much deep thought and conversations with myself.  Recently I was thinking about how to explain how I approach most things in life.  I figured out that I’m a dichotomy of hope – though not quite the way that initially sounds.

On the one hand, I am a hopeless romantic.  Always falling in love with something or someone, and looking towards the bright side of things with a happily ever after ending.

On the other hand, I am a hopeless cynic.  Taking a jaded, realist approach that life is hard and not fair, and not allowing the real “good” around me to just simply be good.

So, while I really want things to turn out as perfectly as a romantic ideal,  I don’t actually believe it really will.  You might think that two opposing hopeless-nesses would cancel each other out.  Or do they make one just plain hopeless?  I’ve discovered one of the greatest lines that comes closest to capturing my internal hopeless struggle.  A local rocker has a new single that sticks in my head, and is good advice for everyone.

Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.

eyes & ears
November 2, 2009

What I’m currently listening to…

Who Says”  (John Mayer)
I have never been a huge John Mayer fan.  Don’t love him, don’t hate him either.  But as with any over-played, college-girl loved music, it wears out on me quickly and I start to dismiss it.  But I heard this new single on the local indie radio station and love it!  There are some great lines in the lyrics.  I also love how fluid the whole song is; you can just groove right along.  The album comes out in a couple weeks, guess I might give the crooner another chance.  And yes, “it’s been a long time since 22.”  (Thank goodness!)

eyes & ears
May 7, 2009

What I’m currently watching…

The Wire
Thanks to Kentucky (and my inability to turn down a challenge) I am completely and utterly hooked on this HBO series!  My Netflix queue has had nothing but the entire box set for the past two and a half months.  Kentucky warned me that it is an addictive show, and I thought I could withstand the draw, but I was wrong.  This gritty, crime drama has such compelling characters.  I love the way they shoot the episodes as well, as if you are really there eavesdropping on the activities.  The best part, you don’t even know how well the story lines interweave until you’re a few seasons in.  I’m on the final season right now.  I don’t know what I’ll do without my fix of McNulty, Bubbles, Kima, Bunk, et al.

What I’m currently listening to…

Circus (Britney Spears)
Go ahead, judge me.  Are you done?  Thanks again to Kentucky, I went to the Circus tour in Las Vegas last month.  I was originally more excited about the trip to Vegas than Britney, but I figured it would at least be a good show (or a good trainwreck).  It was an incredible entertaining experience.  We got our money’s worth with the circus performers alone!  So, after having that much fun at the show (while  moderately sober no less), I decided I should at least get the album.  It came in yesterday and I spent the evening listening to it.  Darnit, that stuff is catchy!!  And who doesn’t love some (as Perez Hilton said on the big screen before the show) “crazy bitches in fucktastic britches!”  Yes!  He did say that and who am I to argue with a queen?

Singing along with the radio
March 25, 2009

Have you ever been singing along to a song and realized that what you just belted out doesn’t make any sense?  Happens to me way more often than it should.  Either it’s the poor diction in pop songs or I just don’t listen closely.  (probably the latter; wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of that)

Here are a few of my more notable mis-croonings

“My Kind of Lover”  (Billy Squier)
The chorus (and song title apparently) “My kind of lover”  sounds a lot like “My candelabra.”  Um, why would you sing about a lighting fixture?  Then again he’s the same one who sang “Stroke.”

“Carry On My Wayward Son”  (Kansas)
One day, while driving across the state, I was singing along and realized that that it made no sense to “carry on like an evil suspender.”  Er…I mean “carry on, nothing equals the splendor.”

“That’s All”  (Genesis)
I initially posted this one, because I always misquoted the chorus. “You turning me on, turning me off. Making me feel like I want to MUNCH. Living with you is putting me PHOOEY all of the time.”  Oops!  That should be “like I want too much” and “putting me through it all of the time.”  Munch and phooey in one chorus of a song?  Hey, I was a kid when this song came out.  However, I only realized the phooey part when I looked this up.  But I also just realized that I always thought the song title and oft repeated lyric was “That Song” not “That’s All.”

And one more, just because it still makes me laugh, courtesy of my law school buddy, RayRay.

“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”  (Gloria Estefan)
After explaining my “munch” lyrics above, RayRay shared that as a child he thought the song warned that “Grimace is gonna get you.”  You know, that giant purple blob promoting fast food to kids was kinda scary.

So, what songs have you consistently mis-sung?

Stone Temple Sunday
August 25, 2008

Last night, Bama and I hauled our cute little butts wrapped in tight jeans to see a Rock-N-Roll show. To relive my years driving around as a teenager in the 90s and so Bama could see her “damn dirty rockstar” we settled in for an evening with the Stone Temple Pilots at the Grand Ole Opry House.

 First, it was a fun little Sunday. I decided I was craving a chicken dish. Rare, I know. The problem, you can’t make just one portion or just a small portion. So, I knew I’d have way more than I needed. I started calling friends to come over and share in the goodies (brownies included). The only taker was Bama and we enjoyed a nice girls’ late lunch/early dinner.

A couple hours later, Bama came back to pick me up for the show. We drove out there, parked, and walked to the venue. The lines were really long, but naturally we found a line that no one discovered yet and walked right in and made a bee-line for the beer. Mmm…over priced domestic lite. Inside, the opening band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, was playing. They were great. It took a while for the crowd to warm up to them, but I was very impressed. They sounded great and have such a great eclectic blend of music. Check them out!

During the BRMC show, we had a group of people sitting in front of us, who never returned later. But suffice it to say that they were, as I called it when them came down the aisle, “Trying too hard, party of six.” A brief intermission and more beer later, we realized that David Bowie was sitting next to Bama. Ok, just his doppelganger, but if he never spoke and you didn’t hear the accent you would do a double-, and triple-take! Unfortunately we couldn’t bring cameras to the show, otherwise I’d have a picture. I pretend-took a picture of Bama and got a pic of him with my phone, but I can’t figure out how to get that from my phone to another device. He even asked if we wanted our picture taken, so now I like to say that David Bowie used my camera phone to take my picture with Bama! As Bama said, “he has to know” that he looks just like Bowie.

Then the show started. It was great. Weiland wasn’t as scary-skinny as I expected. No rockstar hair, very clean shaven, but definite rockstar prancing all over the stage all night…in white platform shoes no less (a la Pee Wee Herman). Some songs he sounded great, mostly when it was his gravely belting. More melodic songs sounded a little flat/tone deaf, like someone else doing Stone Temple Karaoke. He had so much energy and was all over the stage climbing up on amps, speakers, etc. The band was flawless! It was a fun show and I’m really glad I got to see one of my angsty bands of youth while the rockstar singer is still around.

eyes & ears
July 15, 2008

What I’m currently listening to…

Katy Perry: One of the Boys
(Love this CD! Love, love, love it! She’s got so much spunk! My faves so far: “One of the boys,” “I kissed a girl” (No, it’s not the Jill Sobule song, it’s funny!), “Ur so gay” (for hipsters who wear skinny jean manpris), and “If you can afford me.”)

Ludo: You’re Awful, I Love You
(Found the first track to this, “Love me dead,” on the satellite radio. This reminds me a lot of The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. Pop punk with a sense of humor! Playing it loud!)

What I’m currently watching…

Sex & the City: Box Set
(I got this a couple years ago as a present. Watched it then and I’m rewatching it now, especially after the movie came out several weeks ago. Currently in Season 3. Oddly enough, now that I’m closer to most of the characters’ ages, I’ve found maybe I can relate better. At least, last weekend I was reminded of this episode and this episode.)