Well, sit right back and I will tell a tale of a little runner named Terry who decided that he was going to run the Chickamauga 10 miler on Saturday November 12th.
Friday night we made it down to Ooltewah, TN (just outside of Chattanooga) to stay with our friends Monika (mo-NEEK-ah) and Tod (Tod) since Jen was going to have a class with her friend Nina (NINE-Ah) on Saturday. Being the good runner that I am the first thing I did was check my race calendars to see what was going on in that area on Saturday and to my delight, the Chickamauga Marathon and 10 miler was not too far away. I had mentioned before that I almost considered running the marathon but quickly turned to the 10 miler as something more feasible. Chickamauga is close enough to Knoxville that I could run it next year (and after Saturday’s events… I think I will!! It’s a course made for my style, but personally, it could use a few more hills).
So that was the plan… go to Ooltewah Friday night, get up, run the 10 miler, get back in time for Jen to have the car for her class. Common pre-race advice is that before marathons or long runs that you should eat a carbohydrate rich dinner such as pasta or stuff like that. Well, Monika and Tod are on a low-carb diet, so our dinner menu was a pot roast (which has its own story). The pot roast, it turned out, was not on the menu anymore and we ended up getting some ribs from a little shack on the country road near their house. These were the best ribs that I have had in a long time. I must have ate closer to a 1/3 of all the meat (pulled pork and rack of ribs) and there were 3 other adults sharing. They were good stuff… next time we are down there, they are on the menu. So, I followed the rule: nothing new before a race but I did eat alot more protein than I did carbs. I have had ribs before, I like ribs, the ribs were my friend. We went to bed and it was all too early when 6:00am came around.
I mustered my running clothes together, but realized that I had no breakfast. I should have had brought some bagels and peanut butter since that is my pre-race breakfast of choice. Many thanks to M&T since they let me use their Tahoe to go to the race, there by elimating the need for me to come home right after finishing the 10 miler. So, as a thank you, I filled up with about 10 gallons of gas and ran in to the gas station to get some doughnuts and coffee. Turns out that I hit the bathroon right at the right time as I found myself having the pre-race evacuation of my bowels. Once I was empty and the truck full, I was on my way. It wasn’t too hard to find the race site, although parking ended up being a tad tight when I showed up at about 7:15. I should have left about 10 minutes earlier to not have been stressed out, probably the first of the components that lead to Saturday’s ordeal.
I got to the race site, parked and ran in to get my number and race bag. Race bag had a LS T-shirt, a Snickers Marathon Bar and some papers… nothing important. I went back to the truck, again stressed a little on the proper layering that I needed for the race. Since I was just doing 10 miles, I would opt for a LS coolmax shirt under the KTC shirt that I made the night before. I would also opt-out of the almost-tights that I have for temperatures in the 30s. It was 34 at race start, but I knew it would warm up some in the next hour. So I have my number on, I got my gloves, a hat, the car key is secure and I am ready for a PR time today. I had a little bit of water, I was stretching a little bit, it’s almost 7:25 and I get the sensation. Ugh. I make my way to the port-a-potties, not a long line, but long enough. I finally make it to the race start where they are giving out the last of the race instructions (but those aren’t usually important) and play the national anthem. And then in a few seconds we’re off…
The start of the course is on back streets and is a little congested with all the marathon runners. There are 3 turns in the first 1/2mile so, it makes it difficult to get up to pace, but then there is a 1.5 mile of straight away where the crowd disapates and you can find your pace. So I am in the park, cruising right along at under goal pace and feeling great. Like with any other marathon, there is a lot of talk early about goal times and other races leading up to the big event. I am near a group of runners that are from Chattanooga that are shooting for a 3:42. Perfect, at about the right pace for me, so I hang around with this group, 2 women running together and 3 guys in a seperate pack, all behind me. At the mile 2 mark, one of the women, named Nancy, asks the other woman about their split time and their pace. I chimed in and said that at mile 2, I was running a 8:24 minute mile and they were right behind me. So for the next 2 miles, I hear Nancy and her friend talk to their friends about what is going on, where they are going, hills on the course, etc.
The course is very beautiful. About 21 miles of it is set on the Chickamauga Battlefield and has plaques, statues, cannons and lots of other solemn Civil War items through out the park. One part of the course you have rows of trees overhead and others, there are large semi-rolling flat areas. I found myself thinking what it would have been like to be fighting a battle here, not with myself or the time clock, but with fellow Americans fighting for ideals. Very Eerie. I think that there were mass grave markers on the side of the road where there would have been trenches for the soldiers. I don’t know, but that was my guess. At mile 4, we saw two deer out a ways in an open field with the early morning sun reflecting off some of the mist on the battlefields. I sure wish that I had had my camera, because it was very sirene.
At mile 4.5, Nancy comes up and introduces herself and asks what goal time I was running. I told her that I was running the 10 miler but that I was running for a PR time. She says nonchalantly says that she thought that the 10 milers started at a different time than the marathoners. Huh? So she tells me that she is running for a 3:42 which would qualify her for Boston. We talked about qualifying for Boston and other running stuff. At about mile 7, things start seeming out of place. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew that something wasn’t quite right.
At about mile 8 or so, (I’m still running a 8:23 mile) I think to myself, I guess the 10 mile course is a loop of some sort that we’ll break off from the marathon route to the finish line. Mile 9 comes along… still running great… getting more and more anxious about getting to that finish line. At this point, I am under my goal time of 1:26:00. I bet my face went white, as I went into a slight panic when I realize that up ahead is the turn around point for the marathon, not the finish line for the 10 miler. At the turn around, I stop to ask the course monitor about where the 10 mile course was. He said that he didn’t know, he was just at the this U-turn and that was all he knew. I thanked him and picked up the pace to catch up with Nancy and her friend. As I was trying to catch up, I was thinking… I didn’t see a turn around marker… I didn’t hear anyone call out about the 10 mile.
I catch up with Nancy right after the 10 mile marker and tell her that I just got an Unofficial 10 mile PR time on a Certified Course. I turned 10 miles in 1:24:20 (8:26 pace). So, now what do I do… I don’t know the course, I don’t know how to get back. So I do what I know how to do… run. I came across a couple of course monitors that that told me to stay with the marathoners. I ended up falling behind Nancy who finished in 3:49 and never got a chance to thank her for letting me pace with her for the better of 6-7 miles. Oh, and get this… my Half Marathon time 1:51:04, which is ONLY 1 minute and 49 seconds slower than my PR for the 1/2 marathon!!! If I hadn’t of stopped those 4 times to ask for directions/help, I might have made two unofficial PR times that day!
Turns out that the marathon course doubles back on the 10 miler course at about 13.5 or so. So, I was fortuante enough to get back on the course. At just past mile 14, the marathons turn back into the park for their second loop while the 10 milers head back home. Once I got back on the 10 mile course, it was lonely and I slowed down. I actually went into to “marathon survival” mode and did what works best for me after hitting The Wall in marathons. When I come to a mile marker, I start walking and I walk for about 1 minute, regardless of how I feel. I then stop and go into a squat position where I hold that from 5-10 seconds then stand up to a toe-touching position and hold this for 5 seconds. I then run to the next mile marker. By doing this, it keeps my average pace per mile down than if I had walked anymore without stretching. You can see that my mile 7 (~16) was only 9:28 even though I was hurting at that point.
Within the last two miles I missed a turn. I ended up staying on this crappy country road thinking ” They wouldn’t put runners out on this road, it’s very unprotected and no shoulder.” Then what happened next confirmed that I was, indeed, not on the right road. 8 unruly yappy dogs became a little aggitated at me as I approached. Once the swarm started moving in my direction I immediately decided I was in the wrong place and decided to turn around and do it quickly. At this point I felt like I was running 6 minute miles, it must have just been my perception since I was hearing the dogs closing in on me. After what seemed to be 30 seconds, I heard their “yaps” fade in the distance. Okay, that was a little scary. So, then I turn into the park.
As I turned into the park a gentlemen in a white cadillac stops me to ask how to see the marathoners. Who better to ask then someone with a race number on right? I wasn’t going to break any records today and after the savage dogs, striking up a chat was just the ticket I need to give my legs a little rest. I told him that I didn’t know where he could go but up around the way, he’d be right at the mile 14 mark and could see some runners there. Little did I know that he was right at the mile 24.75 mark and could have turned his car around and seen all the runners.
So, now I am back on course, with more than a mile to go, thinking about how stupid I was with the days events. Early on, after mile 10, I started to think what the Blog title would be for this post. Titles that didn’t make it: Comedy of Errors and Chickamauga 10, errr, 18 miler. I wanted to finish the last mile strong, so instead of walking, I stretched for 30 seconds and then went to work. I imagined the finish line and made that my goal… no walking, no excuses. I turned down the final 0.1 and then finish line guy got all excited “Marathon??” “No,”I replied “10 miler” and my replied seem to echo in the area. After all, I didn’t look like a 10 miler running a 13:30 pace. So, I finished (officially) in 2:13:24. So, here is what that means… I officially finished the 10 mile course in 2:13:24, but I unofficially had a 10 mile PR of time 1:24:20 and finished approximately 18.75 miles in 2:44:05.
So what went wrong? In the race packet there was a yellow sheet with Race Day instructions… I violated #1 and #4. #1 was know the course… I didn’t know the course. I didn’t print a map, I didn’t look at the nice maps in ther egistration area… I didn’t read the map in the race packet. More importantly I ignored #4 which was Marathon 7:30am, 10 Miler 8:00am. WHOOPS! Most (but not all) of the races that I have ever run all start at the same time… I assumed wrong. Now it made sense. If I left with the marathoners, I would have hit the turn around point at about 8:07am, it would have been another 16-19 minutes before the first official 10 miler would have been there. If 10 miler started on time and the winner (1:01:18) ran consistently, he would have been just past the 1st mile marker when I hit the 10 miler turnaround. So there was no need to have any signs up or people yelling directions. The only thing in my favor was that the race numbers were different colors, red=marathon and black=10miler, so someone may have been able to catch that, but… oh well. Even if I had turned around at the right place at the right time, I started too early (cheater)!
Here are my split times:
|Split||Split Distance||Overall Distance||Split Time||Split Pace||Overall Time||Overall Pace||Comments|
|10||1.0||10||8:41||–||1:24:20||–||10 Mile PR and includes some stoppage time talking with a course monitor|
|12||1.0||12.0||8:59||–||1:41:54||–||Asked for directions some here|
|13||1.0||13.0||8:18||–||1:50:12||–||13.1 mile time = 1:51:04|
|15||0.6||14.6||6:08||–||2:05:09||–||This put me back onto the 10 mile course|
|17||2.15||17.75||20:04||–||2:34:41||–||This includes the yappy dogs and white cadillac dude|