This report will be “out of date” within the blog because I am writing it almost 6 months since Race Day. Here is post where I talk about the ‘upcoming’ Chickamauga Marathon.
The Chickamauga Marathon is located in Northern Georgia, pretty close to the Tennessee border and not too far off the interstate. This allows the Chickamauga Marathon to be a day trip race, being able to leave in the early morning and return the same day.
I fell asleep the night before with a couple of alarms set, but I think being anxious about the race was the deciding factor in me waking up. In those wee hours, I gathered the rest of my gear (95% was set out the night before) and loaded it into the car. I put Rock Tape on my hamstrings to prevent injury and shorten the healing time, after all, 8 days later I was going to be running the Flying Monkey Marathon.
One interesting thing about this fall’s training regiment is that I fed myself with just an apple or two before my long runs. And it worked. So, given that I was racing today (I was shooting for a PR time, if not a sub-4 performance), I cut myself 3 of them to eat in the car.
The trip down to Chickamauga was rather uneventful, except when I turned onto the main street leading to Race Start. The traffic was heavy and stressful. Fortunately for me, I landed a decent parking spot right in the main area where START/FINISH was located. I ran down to Packet Pickup to grab my stuff and head back to the car to get ready.
I hadn’t found Susan yet, but Chickamauga is not a mega race, so I wasn’t too worried that I find her. And while I waited in the line to answer Nature’s Call, Susan found me and we were able chat a bit before the race start. I had noticed someone wearing an ASD Athletes shirt, it was fellow runner friend Darrell James!
My plan was to finish the race and then head back out on the course and run with her back to the finish line.
The Chickamauga Marathon is intimate enough that you just walk up to the starting line and the spectators create the one and only corral. And like at all races there was lots of excitement in the air.
One cool thing about the Chickamauga Marathon is that it is run primarily through the Civil War Battlefield, and what better way to start the race then with a big mofo cannon? When it fired, it was so loud! Good thing I had already used the porta-potty.
The first 5 miles I managed to record sub-9 minute miles. Now while I knew these were a little fast, they felt really good.
I’m used to running with little to no crowd support, or even few runners, but there is something uplifting when people are cheering, even if it is not specifically for you. I did have my Marathon Maniac singlet on, so I would get the “Good Job, Maniac” which then I knew was for me. This helped keep up my pace for a majority of the race.
I was reminded on the second loop that the Chickamauga Marathon course has some inherent difficulty to it. It doesn’t have any huge hills that are quad busters, it the “rolling” hill profile. If a “Hill” is a rise in one plane of space, call it the X-axis, Chickamauga has many technical turns with rises and dips on the Y-axis. It’s sneaky… and if you don’t recognize it, it’ll get you.
Psychologically, there’s a bunch of battle monuments through out the entire course, so you get to reflect on those who were there and what they had to endure. Battling with the 1860s warfare technology… tough.
Even though I was running the course efficiently, I was starting to fatigue. At this point I was on target for a 3:54ish finish, but I could tell that I was going to have to give back some of that time, but the question was how much.
One thing you learn while running 20+ marathons is not to panic. However, while you learn that, practicing it is something completely different. Instead of trying to muscle through “The Wall”, I went straight into marathon survival mode. This included unstructured walk/run intervals, plenty of fluids, lots of looking at the watch and mental math. After 3 hours of running, that mental math gets tough, but strangely helpful, it helps keep your mind off the fatigue in your head.
The last few miles, my pace was all over the place. Mile 23 was in 11:45, Mile 24 was in 10:42, Mile 25 was in 11:40 and Mile 26 was in 10:47. When I eventually get to writing my book on marathons, I am going to have a whole chapter on the last 2 miles of the race. It’s here where I do a good deal of “technical” running with almost 1/2 of it is mental preparation for the finish line.
I didn’t really study the map very well (shame on me, especially after my 2005 ordeal with Chickamauga) and so when I reached the last 0.5 mile I realized that I wouldn’t have to go around the entire loop to finish the race. Instead, it was up a small hill and then a right turn onto the loop with 0.2 miles left to go. Once I realized this, I could hear the finish line commotion. My mental math was calculating a 4:07 finishing time, but was unsure if I could last much longer.
My current PR time was 4:08:38 which I ran at the 2007 Chickamauga Marathon. It was going to be close, I knew that I had to be deliberate when I walked because I didn’t have too much time to give.
I am a “Kicker”, this means that at the end of the race, at some point I start to run as fast as I can toward the finish line. It doesn’t matter how good/bad the race was or how well I am feeling, I find a point on the course and decide that is when I am going to go full throttle. The last 0.2 mile of the course, is about 0.15 mile down hill, sharp left turn to the finish line. At the 26 mile marker, I started to lengthen my stride, then increasing the turn over to speed up. Once I neared the last turn, I started to accelerate on a wide turn. I knew that I didn’t want to turn too sharply and lose speed just to gain a few feet in distance, my speed would make up more than enough. The clock was ticking closer to 4:08 and I didn’t have anymore time to spare.
I pushed faster, then reached deep inside and used every last drop of energy that I had. As I crossed the finish line, the clock was right near 4:08:30. Given that this was the Clock Time, I knew that I had successfully achieved a PR time. My official time, Chip Time, was 4:08:02, a 36 second PR.
My legs were spent, I had nothing in them. I hung around the finish line waiting for Darrell James to finish because he was not too far behind me. I walked over to the food tent where I ran into a fellow Knoxvillian, Jason Altman – race director of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, to learn that he won the marathon overall.
I took a few minutes to get some food and drink in me. Then I headed back out to meet up with Susan. Unfortunately, my master plan of running ALL the way back on the course to find her was thwarted because my legs were so exhausted that I made it about a mile where I had to stop at the water stop right before Mile 25 to rest a while.
I headed up to the part of the course where there was a timing mat and the guy was nice enough to let me rest my legs by sitting in his chair. Susan found me lounging around, but soon we were off to bring her to the finish line. It was so nice to get to chat with Susan while actually running and not on via the intertubes. I told her I doubted I would ever run an ultra marathon (a race greater than 26.2 miles) because at that point I had logged in about 28 miles and felt like crap. Of course, that was just crazy talk… I think there’s a 50k in me.
I gave Susan the low-down on the finish line, because knowing is half the battle. I was going to split off from her near the finish line. Her crew (Chasen, Isaac and Isabelle) were waiting to see her finish and Isaac even ran the last part of the race with her! Way cool! Here’s her race report to see some pictures from the race.
After the race, I went back with her and her crew back the to hotel to get a Stout Approved Ice Bath. Thanks to Chasen for getting all the ice. My legs were coooold but felt pretty darn good afterwards. The best part was that Susan had a surprise for me to take home, a Homemade Chocolate Cheesecake. Oooo it was so good… I recommend everyone getting one!
I headed back home with a PR time and cheesecake. It would only be a mere 8 days that I would be running the Flying Monkey Marathon. I ran Chickamauga for “business” (i.e. for time) I was going to be running Flying Monkey for “fun”.