Hello! Anthony and I ran the Chattanooga 4 Bridges half marathon over the weekend. Here’s a recap.Since race day was Saturday, we had time to explore Chattanooga (which is about 2.5 hours from Nashville) and stop by to see my dad along the way on Friday night! When we made it to the city, carbs were in order. We randomly popped into a mom-and-pop shop called St. Elmo’s Deli and were blown away by how fresh and delicious our sandwiches were. I got a stack of veggies on multi-grain bread — homemade potato chips on the side for good measure!St. Elmo’s set a tasty tone for the rest of the trip, as you’ll see soon…
Anyways, after wandering around the streets of Chattanooga for a bit, we stopped into Coolidge Park to pick up our bibs. We’d be running across this bridge the next morning!The Four Bridges half (+ Seven Bridges full and Two Bridges 5k) was a good-sized local race. Not overwhelming, but not super small either. Just right! We grabbed out bibs and the race excitement started to set in.Up next: dinner! We checked out Easy Bar & Bistro, a swanky yet low-key spot near the river. We weren’t kidding around about carbing up!Here’s me with one f the 100000 bites of bread I ate from Friday to Saturday (ps I don’t really think that carb loading is the secret to success, but I like to eat lots of bread for fun anyways because why not. I wrote about the actual science of carb loading here and here)For the main event, I went with a mushroom/veggie risotto. I guess I was feeling vegetarian on Saturday? It was awesome. I need to learn how to grill mushrooms like this ASAP.Anthony’s pan-roasted salmon was pretty delicious, too.We were pretty full at this point but decided to go overboard and order a super-tasty bourbon bread pudding. Not sure whether this was the right choice 10 hours before we had to hit the start line, but I don’t regret it at all because it was the best thing I’ve eaten in my entire life.To top off our Chattanooga adventure, we went to the historic Tivoli theater to watch the old silent film Phantom of the Opera while a live theater organist played alongside the movie! It was totally random but actually really impressive.Oh yeah, the race! We’re getting there. Sunday started with 5:30 am bagels + coffee:And by 7 am, we were at the start line! The best thing about this race’s start-up: relatively easy parking and very uncrowded 6-8 pace minute corrals. Just saying: I was pretty proud to be one of the only ladies standing among all the speedy guys One of which was Anthony!
The start of the race was pretty chilly (just under 50 degrees) and dark (Chattanooga is on the western edge of the Eastern time zone). At the last minute I changed out of short sleeves into a long-sleeved top and think I made the right decision. I ditched the gloves after mile 3!
As for the dark, I was a big fan. It helped break the race up and allowed for some awesome sunrise views as we crossed the first two bridges (enjoy this on-the-go blurry photography coming up):The first three miles flew by for me. I knew I was toward the front of the pack and was trying to stick with one woman who was only slightly ahead of me (you can actually see her with the blonde ponytail in the photo above). At mile 4 we hit a hill, and she really picked up the pace to 6:40-50. At this point I decided to play it smart and stick to my 7-7:10 goal instead of chase after her so early in the race. Your biggest opponent is yourself, right?Meanwhile, Anthony was tearing ahead with some speedy dudes a couple minutes ahead of me. Cheetah!
Miles 4-8 weren’t too bad, though there was the first of two significant hill at mile 6 which slowed me down a bit. We also had to run with some of the 5k walkers at this point, which was sort of inspiring and uninspiring at the same time. A sharp turnaround threw me off for a second as we came off the second bridge, but I tried to stay focused!
Mile 9 was were things started to get a bit tougher. The course got sort of funky as we headed onto a river walk section (180-degree turn at mile 9) and since I was still toward the front of the pack, there were few other runners to guide me. Around mile 10 I started on the scenic (and mostly flat!) parkway path that would take me to the finish. I was feeling tired, but still strong. At this point I knew a PR just might happen and tried to stick to my goal pace.Then I hit mile 12, which was by far the worst mile. There were a few sharp turnarounds and some course direction/mile marker confusion, plus a few hills — all of which added about 30 seconds to my split for that mile. I was pretty frustrated when I had to full-on stop and turn around at one point. Luckily the course volunteers helped get me back on track!
It’s fun being at the front of a race, but also confusing too sometimes. Ha.
Mile 13 was a gloriously gradual downhill and I basically “emptied the tank” and tried and beat the guy in front of me (the woman from the start was a solid minute or so ahead of me, so I had given up on her). I went into a full-on sprint for the last 0.1, which was fun!
Official time: 1:32:46 — 7:05 average pace, 4th place OA for women. Anthony came in at 1:30, in the top 20 for men and 4th in his age group. Speedster!Despite a bit of route confusion, I’d still give this race a thumbs up. It was just the right size, had good support along the way, and was full of scenic and inspiring views. Plus, Chattanooga is just a fun city.
In terms of my performance, I’m pretty pleased! Even with a stomach full of bread pudding I managed to beat my goal time by 1.5 minutes and snag a new PR by about 2.5 minutes.
- Locals: Have you done this race? Thoughts?
- Did you race this weekend?! How’d it go?
- Massive dessert the night before a race: yay or nay?