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2012 Chickamauga Marathon Race Report

 

2012ChickamaugaMarathon

This report will be “out of date” within the blog because I am writing it almost 6 months since Race Day.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.

Race Morning
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.

Race Start
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.

Miles 1-5
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.

2012 Chickamauga02

Miles 6-21
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.

Mile 22-Finish
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.

Post Race
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”.

 

Preparing for Battle(field) Marathon

As I compose this, there is (technically) less than 4 days until the 2012 Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon and so this warrants a blog post to try to capture what I have done to prepare for this marathon. I would have liked to post on a more frequently basis, like in the blog-old days.

Marathon Training: The Ups and Downs

Training for this marathon has been the Dickens… it’s been the best of times and the worst of times. As with my Standard Operation Procedure for a Fall Marathon, training officially kicked off on August 1st. However, on July 29th, I pulled my hamstring and that put a damper on getting my training started like I wanted. All was good, it was at the beginning… I could deal. I would train for 12 weeks instead of 14.

For the most part, I followed my training schedule at least until I got an infection in my right leg. That infection, which was pretty annoying, kept me from running for almost 2 weeks!

Something new and different that I have been doing for this marathon season is taking TaeKwonDo classes while I am training. I had waited until after the Knoxville Marathon this past April before I started taking classes again. I was afraid that jumping into TaeKwonDo while running long distance would be too hard on my body. So, I started back with TaeKwonDo after Knoxville, so that my body would be used to the different exercises during the summer and then I would start in the fall with a TaeKwonDo base as I started running the longer distances.

So far, running and TaeKwonDo have complemented each other. TKD has improved my flexibility (GREATLY) and  body coordination (I’m thinking some parkour!) while my running has given me great stamina and recovery when it comes to free sparing in TKD. There’s a high percentages of Black Belts in the adults class, so being able to have the stamina gives me a slight advantage. Of course, I still get schooled each round, but I like learning this way from the senior students.

Marathon Training: By The Numbers

August
Total Miles: 57.12 (Average pace over all runs 8:53)

September
Total Miles: 92.58 (Average pace over all runs 9:05)

October
Total Miles: 68.49 (Average pace over all runs 9:21)

Marathon Training: to the Music

During most of my runs, I usually am listening to something on a portable device.  Now, I do not do this when it comes to sanctioned races though and I don’t seem to have any difficulty switching between the two. This Fall Marathon season, I seemed to have a Tale of Two Genres (yes, another Dickens reference).

At the start of the training, I listened to audiobooks while running: The Mood Cure by Julia Ross and a few others. However, after the infection setback, I switched to music. On the drive to Chickamauga, I’ll listen to the music but will run sans headphones. I’ll just listen to my internal speakers playing music in my head.

History apart from the Civil War Battlefield

The 2012 Chickamauga Marathon is not the first time that I have run this race. Quite the contrary, in fact, exactly 5 years from Saturday, I ran the 2007 Chickamauga Marathon in my personal record time of 4:08:38. It is my intention, even despite the setbacks, to keep the Chickamauga Marathon as holding my PR time, except with a faster time!

In 2005, I also ran at this event, except I signed up for the 10 miler race. However, I arrived late and in a rush, I started with the marathoners… 30 minutes early but I didn’t realize it until sometime later. Then took a wrong turn, was chased by dogs and ended running much more than 10 miles. Hence, ALWAYS know the course and the start time! You might just save your toe nails.

This year, I am excited to be running with Susan Stout, long time running buddy who we finally get to run in the same race!

Long Run Flipside

Strange things can occur on the long run. This past Sunday, I had something of a time altering experience in which I am driven to write about this small happening rather than finishing up the post that I have dedicated to 6 weeks of my training.

Since Running is not everyone’s special interest, I am going to toss up the Visual now and include a couple of definitions. Hopefully, you non-runners who have made it this far won’t fall asleep.

Long Run Stats

I was supposed to only run 18 miles during this run, but I miscalculated when I should have turned around, I ran a BONUS 0.75 miles. I am really only looking at the run up to the 18 mile point. The table shows each mile split (i.e. when I hit my stopwatch – tried to do it at mile intervals), how fast I ran each one of those splits, and how much time it took me overall.

The first 9 miles took me 85 minutes to run (Yellow Square)… that’s 1 hour 25 minutes. That means, on average for the first 9 miles, it took me 9 minutes and 26 seconds to run a mile.

But something happened around mile 11, and something in a good way. The second 9 miles took me 78.38 minutes (Green Square)… that’s 1 hour 18 minutes and 23 seconds. An average mile in 8 minutes 43 seconds. In the industry, that’s called a Negative Split. And it’s a sizeable one too!

You might say it could be the course, but the course I ran was pretty much out-and-back, meaning that I was running across the same terrain. The first half was about as hilly/flat as the second half.

This run was 5 weeks out from the Chickamauga Marathon, but it suggests that were I able to keep my performance up for another 8 miles that I could finish in under 4 hours (my highest goal for the marathon distance). Who knows what it really means when it comes to Race Day (November 10th 2012), but it bodes well.

You non-runners can wake up now…

The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks of the fall marathon training had a total mileage of zero. That’s right, there was no mileage because of a “tweeked” hamstring. August 1st is the day that I used for my mid November marathons. I have found that 14 weeks is the optimal training period for me. Anything longer than 14 weeks and I tend to get bored and stray from my plan. Anything less and I end up packing in too much speedwork and not enough long runs.

So, there I was, the last weekend in July. On Saturday I participated in a regional Taekwondo tournament, placing 1st in my pattern and 4th in my sparring. On Sunday, our church had a end of summer party for our MERGE program at Tata’s, a local gymnastics training place. I ran and climbed and jumped and swung on the ropes, dropping into the foam pit. All was just peachy and I went to play ultimate frisbee with some of the guys from church.

I’ve only played ultimate a couple of times, my frisbee throws has room for much (very much) improvement. However, I can run, and run and run… Sometimes even fast. And I can catch two, although my vertical jump is hampered by gravity.

After warming up and playing for about 20 minutes, on a rather mundane play, I started off toward a wide position. Nothing too fast, it wasn’t a quick turnover but whatever I did,my hamstring was not happy. I instantly felt a pain in my right hamstring and I knew in 0.759 seconds that I was done for the day. Thankfully, I could still walk on it but I limped off the field.

I immediately started first aid on it, compressing the sore area, light-light stretching, and even getting some ice on it. Thankfully, it was not tender to the touch and did not see any bruising. But now what was I to do? I was clearly injured but had to train.

At least the injury came early in the training. I wasn’t deep into training, so for me to miss runs, now was the time. I decided to play it day by day with Wednesday being the first day that I thought about running. When Wednesday came, it was a little better but not enough for me to try it out. All during the week, I had it wrapped, iced it when I got home from work and tried not to be too strenuous.

I used walking up stairs as a barometer of how it was healing. For at least 8 days, it ached walking up the stairs. Since I have a desk job, I used a tennis ball as a make shift roller that I used work the hamstring.

If my memory serves me correctly, I was contemplating trying to run on it that Tuesday, 8 days since the injury. However, the upcoming Friday was belt testing for Taekwondo and I still needed one more class. I used Rock Tape on my hamstring for the practice and again on testing itself. Not only did the testing go well, but the legs were fine afterwards. I did take the precaution of skipping running over the weekend.

My marathon training for the first two weeks summed to the grand total of 0 miles. In other words, my fall training was reduced to a 12 week training period, something I’d rather do when I had more of a base but what can you do?

(marathon) is a Battlefield

“We are gone, mile to mile we run
No promises, no demands
The marathon Is A Battlefield”

-with apologies to Pat Benetar

For the fall marathon season, I was in a slight quandary about what to do. The marathon that I really (really, really, really) wanted to do, Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon [Nashville, TN], switched their registration process from a fast and furious open registration to a weighted lottery process. Thus, I was not assured that I could be able to register for the event.

With registering for Flying Monkey in doubt, I didn’t want to be left high and dry without a marathon to run. I was concerned that by the time I found out if I got into the Flying Monkey or not, my other candidate, Chickamauga Marathon [Chickamauga, GA], would be sold out. Also, the early registration (i.e. cheaper) for Chickamauga was going to end BEFORE I could even enter the lottery for Flying Monkey much less find out if I had made it.

So, I went ahead and registered for the Chickamauga Marathon so that I would know that I had a fall marathon on the schedule. Training could begin on August 1st and all would be good with the world while I waited for Flying Monkey. When the Flying Monkey lottery opened up, I made sure that I registered first thing. After all, maybe some of the weight of the lottery was how quickly you put your name into the lottery.

So I know now my fate with running the Flying Monkey. I will be running Flying Monkey on Nov 18th. What about Chickamauga you ask? What about everything? I will be running Chickamauga on Nov 10th. Yes, 8 days apart… but it is okay… I am a professional and I have a plan.

 

Before the Fall

I just posted my May running recap and while I was writing that post, I wondered what my June and July would bring. I had a friend at church ask me if I was running any summer races. My reply was that I did not have anything planned other than a 5k in August even though there are quite a few races around here during those months.

Historically, I don’t run very much in June and July. First, there is the heat. It usually takes me all of June to acclimate to heat, so that running in July, August and first part of September is manageable. Second, June and July is my rest period in between the Spring Racing and Fall Racing seasons. Expo 10k is the Farewell to Spring racing while the Scholar’s Run 5k (the one on August 18th) is the Hello to Fall Racing (fall training technically starts on August 1st).

Now, just because I don’t log much running during June and July doesn’t mean that there’s not running stuff happening. It does have LOTS of planning and this year, late July is going to be crucial. My fall marathon of choice is the Flying Monkey Marathon on November 18th. My “alternate” marathon is the Chickamauga Marathon on November 10th. However, it is not that simple…

FMM LogoThe Flying Monkey Marathon is advertised as a marathon for fools. In fact, it is so foolish that training for the marathon is futile. Now, as someone who run the Flying Monkey marathon with little training, I agree. Flying Monkey is a marathon where you are going to get a PR if it happens to be your first marathon, and if it is your first marathon, that’s pretty foolish. However, the Flying Monkey marathon is super cool and sets the bar high to other marathons on how marathons should be organized and how to treat the runner. It’s so popular that it sells out fast. Real fast. Because of this, there is going to be some sort of lottery. What this tells me is that there is a chance I might not be chosen, therefore, I need a Plan B… so say hello to Chickamauga Marathon.

Chickamauga Marathon just happens to be the course of my current marathon PR time. It also does a great job of treating the runner right, it’s just not as sassy as Flying Monkey. A bonus for Chickamauga is that it’s less than 2 hours away, an easy day trip. Another bonus is that “I Run For My Life” Susan has Chickamauga on her short list. Except that if I am going to run Chickamauga, it’s going to be for business (PR time) not for a social outing.

These two race’s registration will collide together at the end of July. Flying Monkey is supposed to have their lottery toward the end of July or on the traditional day of Flying Monkey registration of August 1st. Chickamauga is having “early bird” registration through July 31st. It might be that I won’t to know if I am running Flying Monkey before Chickamauga goes up in price. If this is the case then I would need to register for Chickamauga and then see if I get into the Flying Monkey Marathon.

Worst case scenario, ‘I don’t get into Flying Monkey’, would be the easier of the two scenario as I would only have one fall marathon. Best case scenario, ‘I get into Flying Monkey’, would be the tougher because I would have 2 marathons within 8 days of each other. But for those of you who have been around, might remember that I ran a similar set up back in 2008, with Rutledge Marathon and Flying Monkey Marathon.

Either way, my Fall Marathon training will start on August 1st regardless of the number of marathons I will be running.

 

 

Marathon Uncertainty

There’s a dark cloud that has begun to loom over my plans of running a fall marathon. What’s worse is that time is running out, fast!

FMM Logo The Flying Monkey Marathon registration will open on August 1st at 8am Central. Being one of the privileged crazy people that have ran the race in the past, I get to register early. Last year, the regular registration filled up in 32 minutes. Heh, there’s lots of crazy people trying to run this race.

My problem lies in the fact that my running budget has a mere $20 in, basically enough to register for a 5k (more on that in a moment). So I don’t have enough for the registration fee… but I don’t have the funds for the other parts of running a marathon that are important but not always included: hotel, gas, gels, food, etc. And while I really really like this marathon, I do not want to go further into debt because of it.

One option is for me to run Chickamauga Marathon. It’s probably not going to sell out [Ed. Note: RATS! Apparrently it might just sell out early – *sigh*], so I have longer to work to get the registration fee. It’s just on the other side of Chattanooga, so it’s a day trip, not an over nighter. Now while the Chickamauga culture isn’t quite as dynamic as the Flying Monkey Marathon, they have in the past provided great sundries for the runners.

I also have the Be Not Afraid Project to think about as well. More on that in the future.

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In reference to the 5k mentioned above, this event has sentimental value plus potential “good stuff” in December. In 1998, Feb 28th to be exact, is when I became a “Runner”. In that year, I ran as many 5ks that I could. Over the years, some of the 5ks became defunct or I missed running them do to travel, illness, injury, etc.

One 5k, however, is listed in my running history from 1998-2010, the Scholar’s Run 5k. In 1998, it was the 5k that set my PR time (not counting my first 5k) and in 1999, it was the 5k that I set the previous year by exactly 1 minute. Now, there have been years where my time has been relativity very slow but in those times, it has been coming off long periods of inactivity when running that 5k is the only speed work that I have done in weeks or even months. In 2001, it was my “Welcome Back” race from my hamstring injury I suffered that spring. For me, this race has a history.

The Scholar’s Run 5k has historically had a t-shirt design that I have not cared for very much. Typically, they go straight to donation. The Scholar’s Run 5k is a bigger part of a running triad: The Triple Crown of Running. It is race #2 of 3 races which if you run #1 (Spring Sprint) and/or #2 (Scholar’s Run) AND #3 Reindeer Run, you are entered into the Triple Crown of Running Door Prizes. Each of the prizes are at least $100, which motivates most in running the races.

So the question hangs: Do I run the Scholar’s Run 5k, there by depleting my running account and making funding a fall marathon much further? Were it a KTC race, then I would use the Volunteer Coupons that I earn for working the local races, but that is not the case. Decisions Decisions!

 

Terry went down to Georgia

Terry went down to Georgia, he was looking for a PR to set.
He was in a bind ‘cos he was way behind: he was willin’ to take a bet.

Whether it’s your first, your 10th or your 100th, you will never leave a marathon without learning something. Sometimes it’s about you as a person, sometimes it’s about your running but after 26.2 miles you don’t away with nothing. You also can learn just as much from what you did right as from what you did wrong.

What I did right

Staying on the Plan: I had my plan and stuck to it. Even at the beginning when I wasn’t hitting the 9:00 pace, I didn’t worry and soon enough I was in a 9:15 pace that carried me through the first 20 miles. I didn’t sweat it when I was being passed by runners or I would runners ahead of me that appeared as if they shouldn’t be faster than me. So even though my plan didn’t unfold like I wanted it to, I did not readjust my strategy during the early parts of the race, I let it play out for the first few miles.

Gloves and my form: After I took my gloves off I proceeded to carry them, thinking I might need them again. I did, just not in the fashion that I thought. Towards the last 8 miles, I started to use the gloves as reminders for my form. What I noticed was that when I would carry one in each hand, my shoulders were relaxed. The Rule of Thumb for running form is to pretend you are holding a potato chip between your thumb and index finger. Instead of pretending to have potato chips, I was holding the gloves in this way and that relaxed my shoulders, reducing the tension in my body and helping with keeping my form in the last few miles.

I had been listening to a podcast that was talking about increasing speed during swimming isn’t always about power, it’s about swimming efficiently. The same thing is true for running. Having the right form, even if you are slowing down or hitting the wall, will conserve energy than running with poor form. So, by running with proper form, you can get further than if you ran with poor form.

What I did wrong

Food: I don’t think that I carbo loaded enough during the week and as My Lovely and Talented Wife pointed out, the night before. Also, in the morning I made some oatmeal and a waffle for the trip down. When I finally got off the interstate, I was actually hungry again. I could have eaten alot more oatmeal to keep me full during the trip down. I hadn’t made that long of a trip (1.5 hours) for a race before.

The level of soreness that I had on Sunday and Monday has been very surprising. I am sore, but not to the extent that I have been at other marathons. I have been walking without hobbling, I can walk straight downstairs (although it’s sore). I am very surprised at this because my legs from top to bottom were sore during the later stages of the race AND I sat in the car for 2 hours to drive back.

My conclusion is food related. That I had enough strength in my leg muscles that the distance wasn’t the problem, but that I didn’t have enough fuel in them to last. I only had about 20 miles worth of life in my legs, then managed to get 5 more miles out them, but then it was over. I have run other marathon where I only lasted until mile 16 and then it was a struggle until then.

Chickamauga Splits

What I Learned

So even though I didn’t eat enough on race day, I think the oveall change in my diet this year made up some of the difference on Saturday. One key thing to my diet has been drinking a vitamin enriched smoothie every morning consisting of Flax Oil (Omega 3,6&9), Frozen Blueberries, Soy Milk, and the Vitamin Smoothie Powder. Since I have been on the Gluten Free diet, my snacking has dropped some. Where I might have 2 donuts in the morning 2-3 times a week, I don’t do that anymore and some of the gluten food that is here at work are left untouched by me. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat my fair share of candy bars and other taste-good-bad-for-you stuff, it’s just now, I am more conscious about it.

I also added a tweak to my “Marathon Survival Mode.” When my legs start to fatigue to the point that I can’t go on, I stop to do a simple leg stretch that I learned at the 2002 Mardi Gras Marathon. From a standing position, you squat down (as if you were going to lay an egg) and stay there for about 5-10 seconds, then straighten from the waist and move to a position were you are touching your toes (or close to it). Then stand straight up and continue running. The first time that I did this at Chickamauga, I didn’t drop down as far and it felt pretty good. I’m thinking that given my inflexibility there is a threshold for how far I can go to where it changes from stretching the muscles to putting extra tension on the muscles.

Speculation

I went back to my logbook and my average mileage for the last 14 weeks was 18.5 miles with weeks 11 & 12 being the highest at 29.10 and 29.25 miles respectively. This is very good news for me and breaking the 4 hour barrier. If I can run a 4:08 marathon with minimal discomfort (so far I have taken no pain medication) on an average of 18.5 miles a week, if I could train at the proper 30-40 miles per week, I would really do well.

The two questions are How Well? and When?. I’d have to start with When first. I do have to recover from this marathon first, this was not a training run. I did push myself and I am recovering and so I would need at least 4 weeks to fully recover and probably no more than 6 weeks. Now, I wouldn’t be sedentary during this time, I would be on a 4 or 6 week training schedule with another medium to long run (about 16 mile) thrown in there and then a taper. That would put me in Mid December to Late December, maybe even Early January.

Looking in my region, not many races fit in those parameters. 4 weeks out (Dec 8th) are: Huntsville, AL; Kiawah Island, SC; or Charlotte, NC and there is nothing really close anytime soon after that. I’ve decided that since I am prone to pneumonia in the late winter (feb/mar) that I wouldn’t train for a Feb or March marathon. I would participate in one if everything was right, but I’m not going to plan on a late fall/early spring marathon. It wouldn’t be until April or May that I would even look at the schedule for a pre-summer marathon.

Now, how well do I think I could do? I’d have to say around a 3:58. If I was able to get in good training like I have been up to Chickamauga, I’d say around 3:55. I think I could go out a little faster and hang on to the pace longer as well.

So on my quest for 50 States & DC and Boston Qualifying, I completed my 5th State (VA, SC, LA, TN, GA) and I only have to shave 52:39 off my marathon time to qualify for Boston.

2007 Chickamauga Marathon

Training Motto: Train, Just in Case.
Here is the grade:
Expo/Registration: B ; I didn’t go to the past a dinner or pre-race pickup., I drove down from Knoxville the day of the race. I did have a little trouble getting to the race site. THe directions on the race form and the directions from Mapquest were totally different. Thankfully, I had been there before, so I had some vague idea of where to go… and it paid off. Once I found a place to park, I followed the crowd of people to Packet Pick Up. I never saw any signs on where to go but the crowd of people made it easy. It was packed in the little gym and it took me a second or two before I found the preregistered table.

Race Goody Bag: A ; I haven’t plundered through it all yet, but there are at least 2 SoyJoy bars and 2 bags of Clif Bloks. You can always score high points with free stuff!

Weather: A ; It was in the 40s for most of the race. It started to warm up just a tad toward the end of the race but it still was very comfortable. There was a slight head wind from time to time, but the course layout sheltered us from both the wind and most of the time.

Course: A- ; The course is a very gently rolling course of which about 23 miles of it is inside the Chickamauga Battlefield. The course is protected from mature pine trees that offer ample protection from wind and the sun. Not only does the trees offer protection but provide a very scenic course as you run past countless monuments, canons, and markers in the battlefield. If you have any interest in history, there are markers with descriptions about activities that took place in certain location. There are 1 and 1/2 drawbacks to the course. The full drawback is that there are often a couple of miles between spectators, so you can go for some time without crowd support, but when you do get it, it is very refreshing. The other drawback that’s only a partial drawback is that it loops twice in the park. The bad thing is that you have to do two loops. The good thing is that you have an idea of what to expect in the later races. This way you know when you are going to get aid stations, crowd support, have to face hills, etc.

Volunteers: A ; Volunteers were great on the course. There was plenty of water, powerade, bananas, and other foods. I think the only thing that I had a problem was that would call out “water, powerade”, but you didn’t know which side or what order until you were right there. This is more of a perk than anything else and is more beneficial to faster runners because they don’t have to slow down as much or weave.

Official Course Support: A+ ; Because there were many locations on the course that were pretty far between aid stations, aides on bike patrolled the course. They were constantly around, with big yellow signs on there backs saying “Runners Aid, Ask Me For Help”, you couldn’t miss them.

Finish Line Spread: B ; They were out of pizza when I got finished. I was going to cheat with a piece of gluten (half piece) but I opted for the Southwest Chicken Soup, which was a nice touch. I’m sure there was better food there, but mid/back of the packers just had to deal with the leftovers, which is pretty typical at any longer distance race. They did have plenty of water and powerade at the finishline, which was better than anything.

Shirt/Medal: A- ; The medal is a standard metal medal with the race logo. It’s a decent medal and will go in it’s own shadowbox along with my running bib and finisher’s certificate. The race shirt was totally over the top. Not only was the race shirt a LS tshirt, it was a technical shirt (moisture wicking) as well. Not only was it a technical shirt, but it was a brand name (ASICS) shirt as well. Very, very cool!

My Race: A ; Give how little I had trained for the marathon

I started the race with a hat, gloves, shorts and a long-sleeved shirt for the mid 40s temperature. Something happened at race start that I have never seen before and it was totally awesome. The national anthem was done by bugle, which in itself is pretty cool. Shortly after the bugle started, I hear a murmur in the crowd that became clearer that the runners were singing the national anthem. Typically, you get a few people who sing it, but this was a majority of the runners. The volume never was too loud, it was the most reverent version of the national anthem that I have ever heard.

Miles 1-4 [36:33] For about the first few miles, I was having a hard time (my perception) to find a good pace. The weather was cool and my hamstrings were not warmed up yet. This was the coldest temperature that I had run since the fall and I wasn’t accustom to it. It wasn’t cold enough for me to warrant wearing long pants, especially since it was supposed to get up to the 50s at some point. Both hamstring felt like knots in my legs and I had an idea that by 2-3 miles they would warm up, but they didn’t.

Miles 5-9 [1:22] I’ve found a nice 9:10ish pace for the first 9 miles. I had paced with a few people the first 5 miles as a way to keep me from going out too fast, but by mile 7 my hamstrings were warmed up and I was on my own. At the turn around point at around 9.5, I see that I am about 45sec to 1 min ahead of those that I paced with earlier. I figured that if I were to slow down, that I could pace back with them… like a safety net.

At the aid station at mile 8.5, I did have a gel packet malfunction. I opened the gel, normally, but as I was bringing it up to eat it, I squeezed prematurely and shot a big squirt of gel on my chin neck and some even dribbled down my running bib. I have a picture to include.

Mile 10-13.1 [2:00] By mile 10, I already had my gloves off as I was warm enough, but still needed the hat. The shade of the trees really helped in keeping the runners sheltered from the sun as there were few clouds for protection. Had most of the race been in the sun, I wouldn’t have fared as well. Just after mile 11, I took the hat off but proceeded to carry it with me, I wasn’t sure if I would still need them. The second loop starts at mile 13. My chip time was 2:00:26 and for the first half, I ran a fairly consistent half. I only had to take a pit stop, once at mile 11 which threw off the pacing for that mile, all the others were a low 9 min pace.

Mile 14-20 [3:04] It was about mile 17.5 that I could feel the first permanent fatigue start to set into my legs. It wasn’t bad, but I knew that I was on the other side and that I would eventually hit The Wall sooner, rather than later. After the aid station at mile 18, I had miscalculated the number of gels that I had. I knew that I brought 6 but only remembered eating 5 after the mile 18, but feeling for the gel packets, I couldn’t find any more. This was going to be a slight problem as I would need to scavenge for food at the aid stations. At the 20.5 aid station, they were offering Clif Bloks which I had 2 and felt better very quickly. I finished the first 20 miles in 3:04:14, which was a 9:14 min pace and only 44 seconds off pace of my predicted 4:02:05 finish. It was nice to know that if I missed pace for a mile or two, that I wouldn’t be sunk.

Mile 21-25 [3:56] By now, my legs are hurting, both quad and hamstrings. I’m also getting pains in both shins, something that I hadn’t expected. I imagine that I wasn’t 100% healed from the shin splints before. Then something funny happened, not really believing that I missed calculated my gels, I searched again and found the lost gel. It was wedged in such a fashion that I could not feel it the first time. So after the slower Mile 22, I had a gel for the 23.5 aid station and was able to salvage paces at mile 23 and 24 of around 10:20 pace average. For these last 6 miles, I was unsure if I was going to get a PR or not. I could imagine that I was and I could imagine being really close but not making it. I hadn’t hit The Wall yet, I still had the will and power to move forward, but I could tell that it was coming fast. At Mile 25, I started my marathon survival mode, but I really should have started it earlier.

Finish [4:08] At the 25.2ish point, is when I had to stop again. This time it was That Wall that made me stop, but I didn’t walk. I stopped, stretched and then started to run again. I knew it was going to be like this for the rest of the way, but I wasn’t sure when I would stop again. Just after Mile 26, I had to stop again, this time a little more defeated than before. I knew I was really close not just from the finish line, but also from a PR, yet it was hard to move forward. Then something happened and I had that spark again.

The last 0.1 of a mile is down a different street that the one I stopped on. I had a little way to go before making the final turn to the finishers chute. I’m in a daze when I had stopped and then I’m snapped out of it as a runner that I had been passing each other early passed by me. I figured that if nothing else, I would pace behind her and that would carry me to the finishline. I started following behind her by about 5 feet or so, but then I could feel some strength come back to my legs, then my mind focused again on the PR time and I picked up speed. As I rounded the corner the first thing I saw was the clock reading “4:08” something and realized that I could still make it.

I ran as fast as I could to get to that finishline. I don’t know if it was a 8:00min pace, a 9:00 min pace or a 10:00min pace. All I know is that it was fastest that I could run and it was enough. My official Gun time was 4:08:53 and my Official Chip time was 4:08:38, a 35 second PR.

The volunteers led me to get my chip off. At this point I was pretty out of it. I knew that someone would take my chip off and that I needed water. Someone gave me a medal and I looked around for some water. I found a water and powerade then found a patch of grass so I could collapse. I sat down, took a drink of the best powerade ever and then laid down on my back and reveled in the new PR that I just ran.

After a couple of minutes to regroup my thoughts, I found myself making my way to post race food. My legs were sore from top to bottom, but I could still walk. I had some Southwest Chicken soup, which I thought was a great post race snack. It hit the spot and didn’t make me feel bad for missing the pizza, which now I am glad that I didn’t eat. I’m going to post a “what I learned at this race” soon, because even though this was my 10th, I stilled learned a few things.