Tuesday, October 23, 2012

7 Bridges Marathon Race Report

Tuesday, October 23, 2012  at 10:45 AM
People ask me all the time, "Are you a runner?"  My response is usually a "Yes."  But, I think it's sort of a lie.  I don't especially enjoy running.  I don't really look forward to doing it...ever.  I'm not really good at it.  I usually struggle through most running races and end up a little disappointed in my results.  I deal with running because I enjoy the sport of triathlon so much.  The hard part is getting compared to people, girls or guys, that are pure runners, who enjoy it and do so well every race they ever enter.  Maybe I've just got issues with competition, or self esteem, a core fear of failure, or just my own confidence when I don't live up to my goals at running races.  It is just disheartening when the first question I get is, "What was your time," and I have to report something less than amazing.  Maybe this should just be motivation to make me faster or at least more driven...

Thanks for letting me vent!  Now on to the race report!

Short Version:
I completed my first marathon!
Time: 4:48:04
AG Place: 19 out of 23

Long Version:
First of all, I have to say that I really did have fun at this marathon.  That's hard to believe after that first paragraph, right?  I knew it was going to be hard, and one of my goals was to have a positive attitude the whole way and keep a smile plastered on my face the whole way.  Well, I did both of those, and I think that's why I had such a good time.

Jenn and I woke up way before the sun on Sunday morning to go to packet pickup.  We had stayed at my sister's house which was only 20 minutes from the race site, so it was no trouble finding a parking spot really close.  As we arrived, I noticed that there were no signs telling us where to go.  This was a foretaste of things to come as I felt the race was not executed very well.  We finally found the packet pickup tent.  The poor volunteers inside didn't even have any lights to perform their duties with.  There was only one person that had a headlamp to use to find race numbers and fill bags with swag.  I was lucky enough to meet fellow blogger and triathlete, Beth, who has an awesome blog, The Petty's Quest.   She was just like all the other bloggers that I meet...super cool.  It's always fun to put a voice with the face and name you already know.  I would see her several other times during the race, and several of these pictures are from her camera.

After packet pickup, Jenn and I went back to the car to warm up since it was a chilly 45 degrees.  Before long, we headed one block over to the start line.  Of course the porta potties had a huge line, but I had found some earlier, so no worries there.  I gave Jenn a hug and kiss goodbye, and then got in line in between the 4:15 and 4:30 pace groups.  My game plan was to go out at 9:30's and see how far that carried me.  I knew that this wasn't "going out too fast," but I didn't know what would happen.  It's kind of scary running your first marathon or even your first full 20 miles.  At 7:00, when the race was supposed to start, THEY MOVED THE START LINE!  Everyone had to move to a completely different area and line up again.  Soon the national anthem was sung, but it wasn't someone singing it but rather a recorded version.  No big deal, but it kind of gave the impression that the little quality things of a well-organized race were missing. Jenn told me later that right before the song began, the girl that was going to sing came up and said that she was there to sing the national anthem, but it was too late.  Finally, at 7:15, the race began.

Miles 1-13.1:
The first few miles were dandy.  A half mile into the run, a friend, who was running the 1/2 marathon, came up beside me and asked what my goal time was.  I told him, and he said, "You're going out a little hot, right?"  Well, I knew that I was right on the money, so I went to show him on my Garmin.  Well, I hit the power button rather than the light button AND SHUT IT OFF!  I immediately realized this and turned it back on, but the rest of the day, it wasn't accurate.  Bummer.  By the first mile, I had ditched my sweatshirt and was enjoying the cool morning.

The first aid station was the third as well, since we were doing an out and back, and I was amazed at the lack of organization.  There were two, TWO, volunteers that had to fill cups and hand them out for ALL the marathoners and half marathoners.  It was ridiculous.  I carried my little Nathan water bottle, so I didn't have to stop at too many stations.  I was just amazed at the lack of organization.  There was even one station that was "self-serve!"  There were coolers and cups, but people had to stop and fill them to have anything to drink.

I made a friend, Helen, at mile 4 that was running the half, and we struck up a great conversation.  Before I knew it, I had seen Beth, Jenn, and then I saw my dad at mile 7.  He and Jenn were awesome all day as they leap-frogged me and each other to be a mobile cheering squad.  They really helped!
Helen is on the right
At mile 10, Helen peeled off, and I continued.  I found myself in no man's land between the 4:15 group and the 4:30 group.  I didn't want to push it up to the 4:15ers, but I didn't want to drop back to the 4:30 group either.  There was hardly anyone around.  Finally, I connected with Lizz who lives in Atlanta and was running my pace.

Miles 13.1-18:
Lizz and I had fun talking to each other and telling stories.  She had run several marathons and had actually run the All-State Half Marathon (See race report HERE) a few weeks ago.
Lizz and me chatting it up

We got to the one hefty climb of the day that goes up and over the Chickamauga dam, and of course we slowed down.  I ran/walked it but kept the same pace as Lizz.  At mile 18, we finally made it to the Riverwalk that I had been looking for, but the wheels started to fall off.  I had to make a pit stop, and wished Lizz good luck.

Miles 18.1-26.2:
After "draining the radiator," I felt pretty good and picked up the pace.  I ran to mile 19 where I saw Jenn again.  She saw that I was hurting pretty good (although still smiling!) and got a little choked up.  That choked me up too, but it was great to see her pretty face.  The run/walk started shortly after that, and it was slow going from here on out.  I made one more friend to get me through the race, Rachel, who was a student at UTC.  This was her first marathon too, so we stuck together.  We ran what we could, and walked quite a bit as well.  It was SO lonely out there.  I really thought this would be a bigger event, but there were some empty roads with few people.  I think if I ever do another marathon, I will pick a bigger one just to have people around me.  Rachel and I pushed each other and did our best. With 1.2 miles to go, we decided to run the rest and powered on.  With about 3/4 mile left, I told her that I wanted to pick it up, so I did and floored it to the finish line.

My goal was of course to finish my first marathon, but I really wanted to do it under 4:30.  Well, that didn't happen, but it's finished!  YAY!  It was quite the experience, and I can look back on a beautiful day and a whole lot of calories burned (almost 3500).

Post Race:
Again, I was a little disappointed with the post-race food.  They handed out water bottles (bike bottles) full of water, but there wasn't any powerade/gatorade/chocolate milk/electrolite drink of any kind.  The had a few bins of fruit that was chopped up and some REALLY stale pizza.  Maybe I'm being stuck-up, but I thought it would be a little different.  I just thought my $110 would have bought me a bit more...

I found a seat on the bottom of the Market Street Bridge, and ate, drank and rested.

I had to go over to the finish line area and ask someone to look up my time since they didn't have a huge clock or anything hanging over the finish line.  It was weak!  Soon, we left, and I got my ice bath and chocolate milk.  Awesome!

Today, two days after the race, I'm feeling a bit sore, but it was worth it!  I definitely don't have a marathon on my race calendar, but it could happen...we'll see.

***Special thanks to Jenn and Dad for taking their Sunday to be spectator/cheerleader just for me.  It really helped, and you guys are the best!  I love you both!***

One last HDR shot that I thought looked pretty cool.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Feeling Good

Wednesday, October 17, 2012  at 5:21 PM
I'll never know what it's like to be pregnant!  And, I think I'm kind of glad.  While my awesomely beautiful wife gets more and more uncomfortable as her belly expands for that little boy inside her, I just don't even have a clue how tough it really is.  Sure, I try to help by picking up stuff off the floor or helping her out of the couch, but I still sleep like a baby while she tosses and turns and tries to get comfortable.  She's such a trooper and doesn't even complain.  I married a good one!!!  6 more weeks to go...

On the flip side, I'm feeling REALLY good!  Not only are my legs feeling fresh and rested, but my mind is in the right place too with all sorts of confidence.  I have been enjoying these taper weeks (maybe a little too much with a lack of almost all running), and I feel like I'm pretty ready for all 26.2 miles.  I did my last "long"(this becomes a relative term when training for your first marathon) run on Monday.  It was a weenie 8 miles.  The craziness is that I had to pull the throttle back the whole way!!  Ever since running the Allstate Half Marathon with Colleen a couple weeks ago, I have totally changed the game plan for race day.  There will be no "banking" time at the beginning, but instead, the goal is to just keep it pretty steady at 9:30 mins/mile.  I executed this on those 8 miles and felt terrific at the end.  I'm feeling good GREAT, and I just want to go out there and have fun.  If I can do that, I know it'll be a great day.

Speaking of a great day, the weather is looking pretty nice...
Hopefully, it will be the perfect race day experience.  If it's not, I don't know if I'll ever run another full marathon (outside of an Ironman)!

The plan is to line up with the 4:15 group and make some pretty quick friends.  That's not too hard for me to do, and I think that they will help the miles click by as we talk about whatever.  I'm sure I'll fade a bit, but if I can just get to mile 20, I think I'll be ok.  The last 7 miles are on a riverwalk that I'm pretty familiar with, and I think that will give me an energy boost.  Oh yeah, and it's slightly downhill for the majority of those 7 miles.  If I can finish under 4:30, I'll be a happy guy!  If not, I'll STILL be a happy guy if I just finish.  :)  It's going to be fun either way.  I'm pretty excited!!!

Here's the elevation profile.  There really only appear to three hills, and one of them is up and over a dam.  Hopefully I won't be doing the marathon death shuffle by then.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

All State Atlanta Half Marathon Race Report

Sunday, October 07, 2012  at 12:18 PM
I have officially started tapering as of last Tuesday for the Seven Bridges Marathon.  That was my attempt at my longest run ever, 20 miles, that didn't quite go as planned.  Oh well.  I guess there are good runs and bad ones.  I wasn't really feeling confident, UNTIL TODAY!

Last week, I got an email from a fellow Atlanta blogger, Karen, at Working It Out (Go check out her blog!  I'll wait...) that I had won a free entry into the All State Atlanta Half Marathon.  She was running it too and had been given a free entry to give away on her blog.  I actually wasn't the officiall winner, but evidently, the real winner could not use it, so she picked me.  Yay!  Thank you so much, Karen!!!

This morning, I got up at 5am to drive the short 35-40 minute drive to the start line.  Soon after I got there, Tom and Colleen, a.k.a. Irondiva, arrived as well.  By the way, Jenn and I have had so much fun getting to know this fine couple.  They are some of the most fun people around, and we love hanging out with them!  They had already been signed up for this race, so it was perfect that I got to run it too.  Since I'm starting my taper, I didn't want to cook my legs and try for a PR, and Colleen was nice enough to run with me.  Tom was going to go quite a bit faster, so after meeting up just a few minutes before the race started, we heard the national anthem and were off!  Colleen and I had so much fun!  We talked about everything as we slowly clicked off the miles.  She says she's not very good at pacing, but she was spot on for our goal of 2:05.  The first 5-6 miles were not all the great for me, but after a little while, I started feeling pretty good.  The course was pretty hilly, but it wasn't anything different than what we train on all the time.  Before we knew it, we were at mile 9 with only 4 miles to go!  Tom finished the race and then came back to meet us at mile 12.  We finished exactly at 2:05!  After we were done, we scored our sweet race medals that spin, grabbed some chocolate milk, and headed home.
Bling Bling!
I'm still riding the high from a really fantastic run!  I kept telling Tom and Colleen how great I felt and that I could definitely go longer.  Twice as long?  I guess we'll have to see.  But, my confidence is through the roof!!!  One thing that really helped me was how we ran today.  Usually, I try to bank a bunch of time at the beginning and then watch the time slowly slip away as I slow down.  Today, we stayed very consistent throughout and nailed our goal.  I think this is how I will attempt my marathon in 2 weeks!  I hope all this training will get me through all those ridiculous miles.  :)  Thanks for reading!