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!



Wooooooooooooooooooo! Way to go!!

Ironman By Thirty

Woohoo!! First marathon!!!! (see what I did there... "first", not "only" ;) )

This race sure does sound like it was poorly executed (by them, not you). I know an awesome October race that is super well organized, has great finish line food (beer, chili, ice cream, etc.), and free lodging next year :)

Self serve aid stations?!?!?!?! Oh dear...

Look at you Mr. Ladies Man... chatting up all the ladies on the course ;) Hope Jenn didn't too jealous :) haha

Sweat HDR photo!

Oh... and damn you! You beat my first marathon time of 4:53 ;)


1st - congratulations on your 1st marathon finish. It was great meeting you!

2nd - Thank you for being so honest about it all. I am friends with one of the race directors and I am going to relay this info to him in hopes that he can improve on this next year. It sounds like they did not have nearly enough volunteers. (which all racers rely on!):(

3rd - You must do another marathon! Mark Chicago Marathon on your calendar for 2014. :) With 45,000 people running and over a million spectators, you will never be alone.


Well done with your 1st marathon finish! I think that's a perfect 1st marathon time. Pity about the organization. We are used to that here in SA although most races are incredible. We never get food after a race though. Rest well!


I'm with Kevin on you beating my first marathon - I wanted to go 4:30 and I think I finished in 5:07. Seriously. It happens.

Matt, you did amazing! Don't get down on yourself about not hitting your goal. You never ran a running race this long. You did amazing. And we all have the wheels fall off around mile 18 at some point (or in my case at all marathons). You persevered and finished, having a smile on your face all the time.

And if you never want to do another marathon, that's cool. My bet is you will. And you'll rock it. :)

it's all about pace

my sincere congratulations...

and... you are a runner.

thanks for the insightful report.

my 1st marathon... wanted to break 4 hours... did a 4:44


I am so insanely proud of you and thrilled that you finished your race with a smile!!! You are absolutely a runner and an awesome one at that.
Congratulations!!! Next stop: IRONMAN!!!
BTW, nice shirt :)


Congratulations! How did I miss the fact that this was your first marathon??? My first marathon wasn't the best time ever either so don't beat yourself up over not meeting your time goal. I feel like you must have met everyone on the course - ha ha! Actually impressive that you remember all their names. Love that picture of you on the bridge, that is definitely a keeper :)



Katie Duffy

Great job! I love that you're smiling in all of the action shots. Also, way to keep your composure after shutting off your Garmin - I definitely would have freaked!

Big Daddy Diesel

Congrats on the marathon!! That is awesome

karen nelson

Congrats on the first marathon! I like the positive attitude, you indeed have a long way to go. All the best!

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I read your race report yesterday but didn't have time to respond, so I'm back today with time to type :).

I can't tell you how proud I am of you and how excited I was for you on race day. Did you hear me cheering from Denver??? I was! The marathon is a truly humbling experience, I don't think one truly realizes just how tough those last few miles are. But you did it and you did it with so much greatness! I am so happy for you.

Sorry the post race festivities were lame. I hate how some races can't spare a few extra dollars for some electrolytes and food we may actually want to eat. Stale pizza had to be the worst. But the medal and the shirt are super cool...wear them with pride! :) Congratulations!!!

Luke Powell

Always good to get a marathon under your belt before Ironman. Don't get too intimidated thinking about swimming and biking before having to run 26.2 again...plenty of time to train!

kessia reyne

Way to go, Matt! I've never run (or walked!) 26.2 miles, so I can't imagine what the experience is like, but I'm impressed by you. I bet you that a better marathon organizational committee will make your next one even better :)


Great job on your first marathon. I always hate when I mess up my garmin during a race or a long run. It kinda ruins the mood for the rest of the run

Jason, Mindy, and Brynlie

LOVED the pics, man! Dad really got some great shots! So impressed that my bro is a marathoner. I'm glad that you actually enjoyed it and that you think you may do one again. Super proud, Matt! Love you tons!

Caratunk Girl

Awesome write up! I am sososo happy for you!

Yeah, I'm that person who reads blogs 12 days after the post but congrats! How is it that all of your race pics look awesome? I have yet to get a good one! Haha.

Some races just don't do much post race, which is a bummer!
when's the next one? :)

Vicky Cook

Congratulations on your 1st marathon, we have something in common,one marathon each :)
I keep hearing this same thing from fellow runners not liking the 'what time did you do?' question, I think I'm going to stop asking! Maybe 'were you happy with your run?' would be better. Sorry the food and drink after was not up to much, I had to get my 3 kids home after mine so never even got to sample the pizza :(
Glad to have found your blog!

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