Normally an early to bed kinda girl, I love the Pigeon Forge Midnight race. This is my 3rd year of running it (my first year was at a time of 51:34 - I've improved a lot since then!)
I originally wanted to run the race because it was one I remembered my dad doing back in the day (80s? 90s?). Now I run the race because I enjoy the atmosphere of Pigeon Forge at night. Surprisingly, there are still plenty of people out and about - willing to honk their car horn or holler a cheer from the sidewalk.
For me, the biggest excitement came before the race. Jay and his parents dropped me off at registration around 11PM, and a text from my running buddy had me hustling to get my stuff together to join them for a 1 mile warm up.
We ran on the sidewalk, keeping a conversational 10 m/m pace. Too much so. I didn't notice an uneven raise on the sidewalk and went flying.
My left elbow (above) and right knee (below) took most of the impact, but as I fell I landed on my left hip and my left ear made hard contact with the pavement.
After waiting a beat to catch my breath, I was able to shake it off and complete the last half of the warm-up. One of our teammates had a first aid kit in the back of her car, so she cleaned me up in plenty of time to make the start of the race.
I lined up just behind my faster teammates, and with the gun we were off! I tried to keep my pace around a 9 m/m - the average pace I was hoping to finish the race in.
In front of me, I saw who I thought was my boss's wife. I'm faster than her, so I worried that the pace my garmin was showing wasn't accurate. Also, there was a 84 year old man running in front of me. (He finished with a time just over 50 minutes.)
Mile 1 - 8:40
Just past the first mile marker was the first turn - I saw the lady was not my boss's wife. I allowed myself to slow down a bit in an effort to save energy for the end. The next 2 miles were an ever-so-slight decline, so the pace was fairly easy to maintain.
Mile 2 - 8:49
Mile 3 - 8:47
While it was cooler than previous years, the humidity of the race started slowing me down. I got a little wheezy in these later miles as well - probably thanks to the car exhaust. On a 6 lane highway, only the 2 inside lanes (one each direction) are closed to traffic.
Mile 4 - 8:58
The ever-so-slight incline at the turn around was definitely felt in the last part of the race. I switched on my music to distract myself and tried to pick up my pace. I did end up passing a handful of people in the last mile, but wasn't able to close the gap in the last half mile of the race. To further distract myself I tried to focus on getting to the next traffic light, to the Shoney's, or whatever was the most noticeable landmark ahead.
Mile 5 - 9:01
Not sure just how fast my final kick was, but I know I was really pushing it. Thankfully Jay didn't get a video, because the embarrassing grunting made an appearance, as well as some extra wheezing. I really wanted to get this mile under a 9 minute pace.
Chip Time: 44:05
Age group: 9/35*
*#6 was "Nathan" so I suspect I was truly 8/34
I felt like I gave this race all I had. Add to that my 1:05 PR from 2 weeks ago and I can be nothing but thrilled with my race. Immediately upon crossing the finish line, my knee started to hurt, but I think my recovery benefited from having the race after I got banged up. Thankfully soreness is minimal.