Today was my day to shine. Today was the day to show all of Knoxville what I have been working for the past four months with the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon Team. Today was recordbreaking for me. The goal was to break three hours since even after doing five half marathons I had yet to accomplish. But I was shooting for the moon and hoping to finish in 2:30. So here is the story of a girl who ran a half and changed her whole world.
The day began at 4:45 with my blaring alarm clock telling me it was time to run. After meeting up with my best friend Ashley, we headed to Knoxville hoping for a good race. Ashley really is a true friend because no one else I know would ride a bike alone around Knoxville watching someone else run. Thanks Ashley! After some team photos before the race, I thought I had missed the start, but it was just the handcyclist start. I quickly hopped in line near a pace group and was ready for the gun.
Once the cap sounded, we were off. As I crossed the start line, I was greeted with a big “Go Kelsey” from Kristy Altman, which was a great start. Right as I was about to ascend the hill right from the bridge, I realized that I had failed to turn the satellite on for my Garmin watch. That being said, I had to actually turn it off, load it, then wait for it to start again. This minor malfunction made my distance off the entire race, but I recovered and pretty much nailed every mile split.
The first five miles flew by. I was breathing great, my legs felt light and loose, and most importantly, I was on target to break three hours. After mile seven, I had almost reached the top of Noelton Drive when I looked up and saw Ashley and my momma! I was overcome with elation and tried to smile for the camera so I could have some good race photos. After passing mile eight and hitting the greenway, I was still feeling great, although my legs began to tense up. Somewhere around mile ten I pretty much hit the wall and had to incorporate a lot more walking. Right before mile eleven, I saw Ashley and that boosted my spirit, then just down the trail I saw my momma. Mile eleven water stop was the best because Anesia McDonald was there screaming my name and yelling for me all while handing me som much needed powerade.
As I could see the thirteen mile marker in sight, I start hearing cheers only to look over and see the one and only Stewart Ellington whizzing past me. For a brief moment, I imagined I was elite and running right next to him. So exciting. Entering the stadium to a crowd full of people and the finish line in sight was so exhilerating! I tried to enjoy every moment of it. Once I crossed, I looked up and saw that I had a clock time of 2:32 and some change, meaning that I had almost met my “shooting for the moon” goal. Ed Leaver, president of the KTC, quickly grabbed me for a hug and expressed how proud he was of me. At this point, everything in me hurt, and the only thing I wanted to do was walk off my legs. I got escorted to the VIP tent for water and got a chance to catch up with Phil Kaplan.
After walking around like a crazy woman to get my legs back to normal, I saw my momma and Ashley in the stands with a big orange shaker. I might as well have been a UT football player. Right before leaving the stadium, I said bye to Tonya, and had my photo taken right by the finish line. On my way out I grabbed a chocolate milk (which might I add I have never even drank before) and went to meet my fan club. We took a couple of photos then headed to the post race party. On the walk over, I began to feel a little sick, but pulled through enough to go grab an orange and some powerade.
The chaos died down, and Ashley being the good friend she is drove me home. Today was incredibly exciting and filled with so many emotions. I crossed the finish line feeling triumphant and proud. The weather could not have been more perfect and I was so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people. A special thanks to Jason and Kristy Altman, Knoxville Track Club, Ed Leaver, Missy Kane, Tonya Stoutt-Brown, Chip Gibson, Robyn Smith, my marathon team, Ashley Latham, my momma, all my friends and family, and all the volunteers who made this event possible. Even bigger, thanks be to God for giving me courage to attempt it and strength to complete it.
My official time was 2:31:17. Not too shabby! However, roll with me while I try to explain this little coincidence I discovered today. When I began the Biggest Winner, I weighed 232 pounds. When I crossed the finish line today, I did it in 2:32 (unofficially). 232 pounds=2:32 time. Cool, huh? There’s more! From the first weigh in to our final one, I lost a total of 36pounds. Today I beat last year’s time of 3:07 by 36 minutes. 36 pounds lost=36 minutes gone. How cool is that??? Did a little math today and figured that out.
It was seriously one of the greatest days of my life and I’ll leave you with my theme verse of the day:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished my race, and I have kept my faith.” -2 Timothy 4:7