Tryon Half Marathon

You can tell that I came up with my own half marathon training schedule since most don’t include an actual half marathon race less than a month before the one you’re training for.

After the Spinx Run Fest, I discovered how much more I enjoy races than long runs by myself. I kept setting out for my 9 or 10 mile long run of the week, and not being able to finish it because of things I didn’t plan for. (Like, oh I don’t know, there being a Homecoming game at the University whose campus I run on.) I signed up for a couple of local running clubs hoping that would help, and even went out to scout a couple of favorite running spots in the area.

I was really excited about Lake Summit which is just across the state line in Tuxedo, North Carolina. I did some research on-line and saw that it’s this 10 mile loop on a dirt road that goes around a scenic look lake that is surrounded by multi-million dollar homes. The Greenville Track Club lists it as one of their training venues for their elite members saying:

“One of the favorite venues of Furman University’s distance runners for Sunday Long Runs, the 9.7 mile route circles around the recreational lake covering some paved, but mostly dirt surfaces…Tuxedo is approximately 2000 feet elevation and offers some spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills and foliage.”


It looked gorgeous, and sounded perfect. However, I have watched way too many crime shows to go running in a strange remote place by myself. Thus, Ben and I drove out there to check it out first. No. No way. No way in hell would I ever run there. My first thought was, “This seems like a good place to get murdered.” Ben agreed that it had a very creepy feel to it. As soon as we returned home, I looked it up on-line and found that 4 people have been murdered there. Although the idea that I might be stabbed at any moment might really help with my speed work, I decided to keep looking for other alternatives.

While searching for different options, I came across the Tryon Half Marathon. Tryon is also in Western North Carolina and only a 45 minute drive. This half marathon would be 75% on a dirt road, along some beautiful looking valleys and rivers. Plus, it would be on the small side with about 250 participants. I figured it would be a good excuse to spend the night at a quaint Inn and then I could treat it as a long training run rather than a race.

On Friday night, Ben and I headed up and stopped by Harmon Field (where the race would begin and end) to pick up my race packet. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to be in for a good run. Everything is so picturesque in this town!

harmon field

We stayed at the 1906 Pine Crest Inn. It seemed pleasant from the pictures on-line, and THANKFULLY this time the experience matched the photographs.


While making reservations, I was asked if we wanted to eat supper there as well. Once I discovered they would be able to accommodate to Ben’s many food allergies (gluten, dairy, soy) we planned on that. I thought there would just be options for Ben, but they actually catered an entire menu just for him. It was so good that I don’t even care if it involved some voodoo black magic to make quinoa not only edible but taste delicious!

Evidently, their restaurant is usually packed but there is a lull right before Thanksgiving so we had the dining room to ourselves which is probably a good thing since we rarely go out:

Ben gave me some very encouraging advice along the lines of, “Just do your best and if your best sucks, then I guess you just suck. And you’re going to have to learn to deal with it. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

After that little pep talk, we retired to our room which had a cozy fireplace AND an awesome jetted tub. At some point, I did wonder whose idea it was to leave this to go out into the cold to run:

Since this was in the mountains, I was worried that it was going to be even colder than the 32 degrees start at the Spinx Run Fest. Thankfully, it was much warmer (in the forties). Plus, since it was such a small race I was able to park close to the starting line. After using the bathroom, I stashed my coat in the car and bounced my way toward the starting line.

2013 tryon half start

2013 tryon half1
This is around mile 4-5, and this was the road we ran on for most of the time. It was an out and back course with the first half being downhill which was a bit of a pain for the second half. Overall though, it was just a really beautiful country run:

2013 tryon half3

Before this one, I had never run more than 8 miles consecutively so I was a bit worried about my ability to finish. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t know if I could do it without walking. A little more than 8 miles in, another runner came up to me and asked if I minded if he ran with me for a while. I told him that was fine as long as he realized this was all new territory to me and I might keel over at any moment, hahanotreallyjokinghaha. I also let him know that I had just run my first mile in September so I might not be the best person to run with, but he soldiered on.

From that point on this really did turn from a race to just a very fun long run. My pace slowed down by about 2 minutes a mile, but it was just so enjoyable that I didn’t care. My new running partner was a retired Ultra Marathoner who had also run more than 15 marathons. He instantly corrected my running form (which, evidently, gets a little slack when I’m tired) and I was AMAZED that I didn’t hurt at all the following week. No twinges in my hips, knees, or aches in my shoulders. He did bark at me a few times, “Chin up!” which was a little unsettling but more than worth it for the lack of aches.

Of course, he also felt the need to tell everyone that we passed that I had just run my first mile two months ago. This is when I discovered that when I’m really exhausted – I don’t get embarrassed! It was like running with a very proud grandpa.

The run was pretty perfect and with the exception of walking through a couple of the water stations, I ran the entire thing. There were only a few negatives which I hope to get worked out before my “real” first half marathon race in 3 weeks:

1. Either I tied my shoes too tight or my feet were swelling too much for my shoes to handle, but I had a lot of foot pain during the run. After several tries of retying my shoes, I finally got it right and I was good from thereon out. However, before I fixed it it was dreadfully painful. I ended up with a huge bruise on the top of my feet, and this was the only thing that hurt me the following week. I really love my shoes otherwise, but I don’t know how to fix this. Any ideas? These are the shoes I was wearing:
sauco651372_246527_jb1Saucony Cortana 3


2. As soon as I stopped running, I felt terrible. I noticed everyone else was smiling and laughing whereas I just wanted to cry. There was this delicious looking breakfast spread for all of the runners, and as soon as I walked close to the building where it was being held I had to turn away. I LOVE breakfast, but the smell of food was too much. I hobbled to my car (without saying goodbye to my new running buddy because he had already entered where the food was being served and I knew I wouldn’t make it through the doorway without getting sick) and drove back to the Inn while feeling very shaky about it.

I have never had any problems with depression, but I just felt despair. It worked itself out in an hour, but it really worried me how much I just wanted to sob. (I was able to get in the jetted tub for a few minutes before we had to check out so that helped the physical pain.) After talking to some more experienced runners, I’ve been told that crashing is normal but it really weirded me out. Logically, I was happy because I had just run longer than I had ever ran before, it was a beautiful day, and I had had a lot of fun. But that’s now how I felt. Thankfully, by the time we got back home I was back to normal and with a new shirt and medal to show for my pain:

tyronhalfmarathon 001 half

(These are my favorites yet! I love the design.)

4 comments to Tryon Half Marathon

  • Cicely

    I didn’t realize that you’d just started running in September! That’s awesome! I started last year and I’m not even close to where you are. What kind of guides are you using? Have you had your running stance checked out or been fitted for the right shoes? I feel like I just walked out the door and started running, and I’m sure I’m not doing it “right.”

    • 1. Well, I didn’t go from “couch” to running. Earlier this year, I did Jamie Eason’s Livefit Trainer which is a 3 month program that really got me into pretty good shape. (I loved it too! I’m tentatively planning to do it again after my second half.) The foundation of it was weight lifting, but it added a lot of plyometrics and cardio exercises which is what I credit to being able to transition into running so easily.

      2. I also have a trainer at my gym. (I always get deals so I’ve been able to afford it much longer than I thought I would be able to.) My one trainer moved and I got a new one in September, and he is a runner. So, he checked my gait and worked up a running plan for me to follow to get me running 7 miles (for the Savage.) It wasn’t really geared directly toward me (since he hadn’t worked with me that well when he came up with it) so I did have to weak it. However, it’s been very helpful to have an experienced runner to ask questions to, and I probably drive him crazy. BUT, most runners are crazy any way so I figured he won’t know the difference.

      3. I went to 2 local running stores. The first one was VERY nice and spent a lot of time with me but eh. The shoes I got there still hurt my feet. The second one I tried (which my trainer recommended) is AMAZING. They were also very nice, but also REALLY knowledgeable. It’s the first time I have ever had shoes that didn’t hurt my feet when running. (Basically, I was doing the EXACT opposite of what I should have been doing when it comes to inserts.) They also cut the bottom of the shoe along the sole in several places so that it makes the shoe a lot more flexible.

      I know some stores they will have you run, and then help you choose a shoe based on that. Neither store I went to did that, but I have found 2 really great shoes from the second store anyway. (One was for the Savage, and one was a thicker shoe for the half.)

      4. The clerks at the second store LOVE to talk about running, so I didn’t feel bad asking a lot of questions. They always ask what race you’re training for, so I’ve gotten a lot of tips that way. (One of the guys has done a bunch of tough mudders so he was really helpful for the Savage.) I’ve brought back a pair of shoes and said, “They’re doing this. Is there something I can do to fix it?” And they’ve fixed it! (The shoe was too wide on my foot and slipping.)

      5. I read a lot of articles and joined a lot of facebook groups. It’s still helpful to have someone else look at your form. (I appreciate the one guy telling me I was slumping my shoulders forward SO MUCH. I had no idea how it was throwing everything off and causing me to hurt so much. It’s just something I do when really tired so it’s not like my trainer would have caught it on my gait checks.)

      6. I made my own half marathon training but I based it off of Hal Higdon and Coach Jenny (

      7. Yoga! Never a yoga girl before but it is the best thing EVER after running.

      • Cicely

        Okay, so I am lame and just barely saw this reply. THANK YOU! So much good info for a starter. My only motivation has been a friend at work who keeps talking me into doing races with her. I’ve finally figured out after the last two that we are NOT compatible running partners (I thought I was slow, but she is barely moving).

        I joined a running club at work but so far that has only gotten me some reimbursements from the races. I thought it would be more social and I could get some tips that way, but no luck.

        I don’t have a gym membership either, even though we have one at work. I’m always in too much of a hurry to get home, and so have been sticking to just running around the neighborhood at 5am, which is really easy to talk myself out of.

        I’m going to check out that Jamie Eason program, did you follow the nutrition part too? That’s always my weak link.

        • I sort of followed Jamie Eason’s nutrition part of the program. I ate “clean”, within an hour of waking up, and every 3 hours after that. I tried to eat a complex carbohydrate with proteins. In the first phase you don’t really worry about calorie counting – just portions and eating the right kind of foods.

          Then, in phase 2 – she has you figure up your caloric intake based on your ideal/goal body weight. At that point you have to start weighing your food and measuring everything. You also start scaling back on the amount of carbs you eat. (You still eat carbs – just not as much.) Then, on days when you’re lifting heavy (legs & back) you eat about 300 calories more than days you’re lifting light (arms, chest, abs.) This worked really well for me and seemed to come naturally because I was a lot hungrier on leg day.

          In phase 3, you start carb cycling. This is the part that I wasn’t very successful with. I tended to eat like Phase 2 in Phase 3. All of a sudden you restrict your calories during heavy lifting days and it stunk because I was SO HUNGRY. I wanted that extra 300 calories so badly! I did that part (begrudgingly) but the whole carb cycling thing I could never really master. I always tended to be off in my macros.

          She has a sample diet for each day which I see a lot of people trying to follow to a T. I didn’t do that, but just went with the general principles. I LOVED it. It took a couple of weeks for me to get into it, but once I did it was amazing. I felt really good, I was never hungry, and I wasn’t starving at nights like I am with most diets. I also found that if I did eat sugar I would get really sick. I always thought I was eating low sugar foods to begin with, but I guess it’s in a lot of processed foods in ways that don’t show up under grams of sugar.

          Then, I started running and found myself eating more carbs again. (Not crazy carbs, but I eat a sandwich on Ezekiel bread everyday which is an increase in what I was doing.) I haven’t lost any weight since I started running in October. I want to get back into eating clean more strictly. That is when I’m most successful with fat loss, and happier.