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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Race Report: Rocket City Marathon, Huntsville, Alabama

Marathon morning found me up at 4:00 am throwing 3 different running tops into a bag, along with ear muffs, two different pairs of gloves, 2 different pairs of socks and a complete change of clothes for afterwards in case the unspeakable happened (in case it rained).

Matt rode down to Huntsville with me, so it was nice to have someone to chat away to for the two hour drive. He's probably regretting this decision however, because he had to hear everything I had to say twice that day.. once in the car and then once again while we were running. Oh well.

Much thought went into race attire. The weather was in the 30s and windy with a slight change of rain. I hemmed and hawed throughout the morning on to bare my legs or cover them with leggings. To wear short sleeves or long sleeves? Eventually I decided to stick with my long sleeve underarmour top and leggings. This turned into a good decision.

We hooked up with Melanie and another one of her friends and took a pre-race photo:

(It's sick to see how happy we can be before running a marathon, I tell ya).

Let me re-cap on my situation and introduce you to Matt's and Melanie's regarding this race.

So... This made the 4th marathon in a row that I didn't specifically train for to PR. I was basically using this marathon as a training run for the 50k in January. I wanted to do well, but I was in no shape to bust my ass at this race.

Matt and Melanie have both ran marathons in the past couple of months. Both had PRed at said marathons. Neither of them were looking to bust their asses on the race course.

So, we banded together and started the run all together.

The first 10 miles or so, I was feeling awesome. We were running an easy pace, we were chatty, we weren't too phased by the wind, we joked about the "hills." It was fun. REALLY fun. By the time we hit the half mark, I was still feeling pretty good... but the wind was starting to get to me. I had moments were I felt like I was freezing and then I had moments were I felt like my wrists were burning me alive (weird, I know... but my wrists kept getting hot and then cold).

The thing about a marathon or a long training run is it's really a battle of cycles. You can literally feel on top of the world one second and then 15 seconds later feel like you are going to die. It's the strangest thing, but it's something that I've learned to accept and just try to battle through. The first 15 miles or so, my bad cycles didn't last that long, I took this as a good sign.

Amazingly enough, the mile markers always seemed to come quick. I'm sure the awesome company helped that, but even if we weren't talking, I was always pleasantly surprised to see the next mile marker. (Instead of stalking the horizon constantly looking for the next mile marker which happens so often).

Mile 5ish I think...

The aid stations were set up every 2 miles and we stopped at just about everyone for a quick gulp or two, before we were off again.

The crowds were great. There weren't loads of people lined up in the cold to spectate, but the ones who were there were AWESOME. They were vocal and encouraging. Most of them used the phrase "almost there," but, I forgave them. It was cold... their brains were probably just numb. There was even a tunnel of students outside of a high school that we all got to run through!

Mile 16, I think?

Around mile 19 or so, I had a quick feeling of stomach grumblings. Luckily, it happened right at an aid station and there was a porta potty. As sad as I was to break off from Matt and Melanie... I KNEW that I had to take advantage of the porta potty right away.

I waited in line and was in and out all in about 3 minutes. Not too bad. I could see Matt's yellow shirt about a quarter of a mile ahead of me and I decided for a few minutes that I would try and catch up. I felt really good right after relieving myself and probably pushed a little too hard. Because not long thereafter I had to slow down significantly.

I knew I was in the home stretch and just continued putting one foot in front of the other (although, some of those footfalls were SLOW ones). After the mile 23 aid station I started to walk a little. During miles 23 and 24 I walked off and on a bit. My legs were sore. Achy sore. I found that they actually hurt less when I ran, so I tried to force myself to keep going.

By the time Mile 25 rolled around, I was feeling better I knew I was going to finish under 4:40 and have my 2nd best marathon time, yet. It was somewhere around here were there were a group of specators outside their house in the driveway and while I really appreciate their effort for being outside in the cold, I really disliked breathing in the smoke from the enormous fire they had going in their fire pit. Like, seriously... there's nothing like inhaling smoke and coughing up a lung for the next half a mile at the end of a marathon. Great decision, guys.

I crossed the finish line in 4:36:20 and for whatever reason, the girl who finished right behind me and I ended up hugging. (It's a weird marathon thing.. I can't explain why you always wanna hug people after you've run 26.2 miles. But, it's nice).

Afterwards, my legs HURT. They were so sore and achy. My back was sore. I stumbled into the lobby and after this photo was taken...

No I didn't lose my left arm in the race, I was such a pansy that I was leaning on the chair behind me.

I sat down on the floor and tried to rub, stretch, and beat my legs with my hands. I've never had such achy legs after a marathon before. I was beginning to worry about the drive home. But magically, after about 20 minutes of sitting and stretching them out..  they started to feel better and didn't bother me anymore.

This marathon was fun. I LOVED running with Matt and Melanie and SOOOO wish that I could have forgone the bathroom stop and stayed with them... if I could have, I dont think I would have walked during 23 or 24 or slowed down as much. They finished with awesome 4:25s. Another neat thing about this race, is that although it was small (only allow 1500 runners) I was never entirely alone during the race. There were ALWAYS people around me.. maybe just one or two, but still... it was nice that the group didn't spread out so much that you felt like you were running solo.

But I did realize one thing... 4 marathons in a row without attempting a PR is kinda boring (and frankly pretty damn lazy). And I felt especially guilty this time, because this course is a perfect PR course. Flat and cold. What more could you ask for?

Anyway... I've got my sights set on my next marathon (the exact marathon is chosen, but still pending a final decision) and my new 18 week training plan actually started yesterday! I'm super excited to go for a PR this next time around and will share my training plan with you this week.

My splits:
Mile 1: 10:04
Mile 2: 9:54
Mile 3: 9:45
Mile 4: 9:43
Mile 5: 9:54
Mile 6: 10:01
Mile 7: 9:48
Mile 8: 10:13
Mile 9: 9:57
Mile 10: 10:06
Mile 11: 9:44
Mile 12: 10:02
Mile 13: 10:13
Half: 2:10:35
Mile 14: 10:17 (I think I shot bloxed here)
Mile 15: 9:50
Mile 16: 10:12
Mile 17: 10:03
Mile 18: 10:19
Mile 19: 10:08
Mile 20: 12:41 (Porta potty immediately after mile 19 marker)
Mile 21: 10:47
Mile 22: 11:22
Mile 23: 13:20 (long water stop and some walking)
Mile 24: 13:38 (walking some)
Mile 25: 11:10 (made a deal with myself to just run slower instead of walking)
Mile 26: 11:05
Mile .2: 1:54 (not accurate, I didn't stop my watch immediately).

**Thanks to Melanie and her Mom for the pictures!!!!


Beth said...

YES! You totally want to hug someone after running 26.2 miles. Why is that? I almost hugged the Budweiser man. Awkwerrrd :)

Congrats, girl! Great job :)

Mike Russell said...

Come on, that was a great race. I loved the report. You can PR your next marathon!

Spike said...

running with friends is awesome, and about the only thing that can make the wind seem less intrusive. congrats on another marathon as you prep for your 50K.

Beth said...

Congratulations on a great run. Sounds like you had a great time sharing it with friends. Can't wait to hear about the next round of training.

Melanie said...

I KNOW! That fire pit was seriously annoying.

I'm SO glad we got to all run together for so long. We should definitely all run another one together sometime... and shoot for 4:00 I think. :)

Chic Runner said...

YAY!!! :) Congrats on a great race and I loved the report. Nice work on the splits too. :) Running with friends makes thing much more fun and sometimes I think those races are more memorable!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Great race report. I was so bummed that I had to cancel this one. (hip issues). Sounds like I missed a great day. Congrats!