It was a great morning for running. It was still dark when I arrived at Thomas Wolfe Visitor Center to pick up my packet at about 7 AM. I warmed up inside the center and did a little stretching out front. About 176 runners lined up on Broadway in front of the Mellow Mushroom for the start at 8 AM.
We dashed north on Broadway to Woodfin where we turned right and passed the Renaissance Hotel. I could still see the leaders at that point but I knew they’d become a blur in the distance as the race progressed. We turned right on College Street and had a long straight-away during which we passed Nancy taking photos for the blog.
We turned right on Haywood Street and went past the Flying Frog and up toward the convention center. We wound around the Grove Arcade – it was a little bit reminiscent of the finish of the Citizen-Times Half Marathon just two weeks earlier. But today we were just getting warmed up by the time we reached the Grove Arcade whereas on September 16th we were wrapping up 13.1 miles when we reached the Arcade and the finish line.
We eventually crossed I-240 on Montford Avenue and ran north into the Montford neighborhood. A left on Watauga took us past the Wright Inn (bed & breakfast) and over to Pearson. Left on Pearson and we quickly reached Riverside Cemetery where Thomas Wolfe was buried. We looped through the cemetery (past the 3 mile marker) and as we’re exiting the cemetery it was nice to see the runners who are just entering, a few minutes behind us.
As we left the cemetery and made our way back to Pearson and left on Chestnut we start a bit of an uphill stretch that put a mild strain on my pace. I had been managing about a 7:25 pace up until that point and I was bound and determined to keep it strong and finish in less than 38 minutes.
Back across I-240 at Montford Avenue and right on Haywood. We pass the 4 mile marker and I’m feeling good about breaking 38 minutes – but all contingent on how challenging the uphill stretch on Patton Avenue will be. We reach the lower end of Patton Avenue and start the gradual uphill climb to Pack Square. At this point I can see the square in the distance and I can see everything that is challenging along the way. I’m very confident. I reach the square, pass a few others and turn left onto Market Street. Great news! It’s a downhill finish. I can turn it on a bit as I’m running on the brick street. There’s the clock and I’m feeling really good about breaking 38 minutes.
My time – 37:33.