Training Motto: GO DAD!
This was a different marathon all together. Held in Abingdon, Virginia, it was about 3-4 hours away from Knoxville. Jen and I went to Johnson City, TN to a Statistics conference at ETSU. We then made the remainder of the trip and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express for free (thanks to all the traveling with Chase). We had a catastrophe at Cracker Barrel with an exploding Ketchup bottle (on Jen’s Birthday!) and it was sure cold that night. I could not go to sleep that night and watch a documentary on how The Beatles were satanists and anti-this-and-that I should have watched the weather channel. We woke up to a 2 inch covering of snow, on everything! We got ready and got out to the school, where a shuttle would take us to the actual race start.
The snow was still coming down at race start, the pictures are there to prove it. The first 2 miles of this race is on pavement, so there was some decent traction for a little while. At mile 2 you turn onto the trail and the rest of the 24.2 miles are on this trail. The course is set up in such a fashion that you cross by the start 4 different times. This was ideal for Jen P. She was able to talk with other spectators (despite the weather, there were a few) and she’d be able to see me. She only gets to see me 2 times during the Richmond Marathon, so this was nice for her. You head East for 3.5 miles and then loop back, which you actually do twice over the course of the race. So, running out there, the path was pretty deep in snow. It was very difficult footing, even trying to run were the runners ahead of me had plowed the snow. The tricky part was to not find the rocks that were completely hidden underneath the snow, that would be bad. So, at about mile 4 there was a station set up with music and food. The Top Gun soundtrack was playing and things were looking good.
Nothing too dramatic coming back to the start, which at this point is at mile 9. The next leg of the race to run out 4.5 miles out on the Western half of the trail and then back. By this time, the snow had finished but the sun had not came out yet. The course was pretty muddy from the other runners, but still durable. At about mile 11, there was this stench that creeped up on you light a mugger at night. It was a pretty foul smell from a farm with a number of cows. Man, it was not a pleasant smell, especially while running. The worse things was when I realized that I would have to be coming back through here. By the turn around at mile 13.5, the temperature had risen high enough that some of the snow on the trees was beginning to fall. So, now it was like it was rainy – Yippee!
I felt pretty good when I went out to do the Eastern leg again, just 8.2 miles left. The one nice thing about the snow, was that there was water EVERYWHERE. The snow was deep enough that you could just grab a handful and wallah you had water. Now the sun was out and the trail was pretty much uncovered, so the rocks were easy to see. But now that everyone had run over the trail at least 3 times, it was pretty mushy in some spots, but manageable.
When I came up to the Top Gun people at mile 20, I was pretty darn hungry and the Carb-BOOMs were just not fixing the hunger. Much like my Mardi Gras marathon where I found solace in the “shortbread cookie with the chocolate stipen”, I found a little brick of heaven from one Ms. Little Debbie. Little’s Debbie hard as a brick rice treat was like ambrosia in my belly. Forget that it sucked out all the water in my mouth trying to chew the chips of treat chiseled by my teeth. The sugar was so scrumptious, not even Wonka could have made something so satisfying.
At this point with less than 5 miles to go, I felt decent. I hadn’t done any really hard running, just followed an easy pace that seemed comfortable for the condition. During this time, I began to do the calculations for my finishing time. Taking into account all of the variables, I figured that I would be right around 5 hours. Well, something had to be done! I wasn’t going to finish an official race in under 5 hours. I had to pick up the pace a little. So, I did the stretch routine I learned at Mardi Gras Marathon and it worked! I made it to the finish line in an official time of 4:57:54.
I really liked this marathon and would like to do it again. It’s small and on trails, both bonuses. The scenery was pretty nice, all white at first, but it got better.