Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Marathon #2 Done!

I finished the Tobacco Road marathon in 4:34:33 on Sunday. All the goals were met from the marathon preview:

1. PR - 5:07 shouldn't be too hard to beat. - Success!! PR by 33 minutes is freaking exciting!
2. 4:3x:xx - I really feel like a 4:30 something is within my reach. Might be able to break 4:30 if I don't go out too fast and don't hit too much pain. - Success!! 4:34:33 rocks
3. Don't Die. - Success!! Still alive and kicking ass.
4. No ER visit this time. - Success!! I hydrated right, fueled up and stayed strong.

I owe a beer to The Snail. We were texting saturday (he ran Wrightsville Beach full marathon about 2 hours east of me), and his plan was just to knock down 10 minute miles and finish around 4:20. I thought that sounded like a good plan. He finished around 4:30.

I did not have any kind of camera to carry with me, and I wish I did. Some of the sights that are now burned into my brain I wish could be shared. I did get a before shot at 5 am:

and then Kelley's dad dropped me off at the starting line in plenty of time. I found the 4:30 pace group and got in line. It was right in front of the 2:20 half pace group, and there I found my boss who was running the half. He finished in 2:10.

I didn't here anything starting us off. The crowd just went and I went with them. When I crossed the starting line, I hit the Garmin. I got into the starting line while it was still dark, we started right at sunrise. It was perfect.

This course had the first 3 miles on local roads. I hit the lap button on the garmin at mile 1, then planned a bit more efficiently. I thought the Snail had a good idea for once. So I was just going to knock down 10 minute miles and see how everything felt. I know 10 minute miles seems easy for me, and my nature said to push the speed while I could. But I know... plan to keep an even pace.

Lap 1: 1.01 miles, 10:15 - all day long. I wasn't breathing hard, didn't even break a sweat.

Then I figured I would hit the lap button at more strategic points on the course. At 3 miles it turned onto the Tobacco Trail, a rails-to-trails conservation project. The half'ers went right, and the full'ers went left. So that was the next place I hit the lap button.

Lap 2: 2.06 miles, 19:48, 9:38/mile pace. Whoa there tiger. Watch out.

Less than 10 steps after I turned left onto the trail, I saw a woman run 2 steps off to the left, drop trou and pee. She wasn't even close to being behind a tree or anything. Whole ass hanging out. That's when I knew I was among my own kind today, and was in for a fun race. These people obviously have no dignity; I was going to fit right in.

100 yards later down the trail I saw 3 dudes on the left and 3 dudes on the right of the trail. All peeing. It was like a convention or something. People can't hold it for more than 3 miles? 200 yards later there goes another chick off to the left. These people obviously were properly hydrated for a marathon. I'm just knocking down 10 minute miles.

Now this course is supposed to be flat, and I saw a lot of false flats. When you really look, you are actually running uphill. In fact, the race web site said 300 feet of elevation change over the full course. The garmin tells me it has 4750 ft of elevation climb. That seems like a helluva underestimate by the organizers.

We're heading south on the trail here to a turnaround point, and I'm just knocking down 10 minute miles. At the turnaround, I did have to give a pause for the cause, found a port-a-let and dropped off some friends. I hit the lap button at the turnaround.

Lap 3: 4.37 miles, 41:59, 9:36 pace - steady as she goes heading south.

Made the turn and headed back north and I keep knocking down 10 minute miles here. I'm double checking my times with the mile markers. By 8 miles, the garmin says 1:20. 10 miles, 1:40 (100 minutes). I'm barely breathing hard and currently feeling great. The next place I hit the lap button was the halfway point.

Lap 4: 5.83 miles, 59:00, 10:07 pace heading north

I hit 13.1 (according to the official results) at 2:10:59 for an exact 10:00 pace. I felt great. I was sweating pretty good, but the tall trees kept a lot of the wind and sun off of us. The weather was perfect - mid 50's but getting warmer. By this point the leaders of the full and the slower halfers were coming towards us - two way traffic on the trail from here on out. Also everyone had sort of fallen into their pace line at this point so there was very little passing.

I had in my head to just keep knocking down these slow 10 minute miles as long as I could. Just keep running. Steady pace. No hills (yea right). Just keep going. Finally, 18.7 miles in I did something for the first time.


My previous LDR was 12.5 miles. The goal in my head was to get to 18 miles without walking. I picked that goal around mile 6. Yes I know I have to count the crap stop at the south point turnaround. But I want you to ignore that for a second. 18.7 miles with no walking. I'm still kind of letting that one roll around in the noodle. When I set my 5k pr, I walked 4 times. in a 5k. This was 18.7 miles. with. no. walking. I took gu's on the run. 2 cups of water at every aide station on the run. just to see how far I could go.

18.7 miles is the answer.

Finally at 18.7 miles I was going up this long hill that wasn't very steep, but was intimidating. I knew I had passed the 18 mile mark (at 180 minutes - well, 2:59 actually) so the last .7 miles was just gravy. So I told myself it was ok to finally walk some and bask in the fact that I just ran 18.7 miles with only 1 poop stop and no walking. Yes, yes that is what I just did.

Lap 5: 5.91 miles, 59:34, 10:04 pace - like I said... all day long. These miles were all heading north.

At the north side turnaround about 19 miles into the marathon - I stopped for another quick poop break. If I had known the damn turnaround was only .3 miles away I might have pushed it instead of walking. oh well. I was feeling all 19 miles at this point. The leg muscles were burning. Sweat was everywhere. The fact that I only got in a single 20 mile run in this training cycle was running through my head. The day was starting to catch up to me.

Heading south on the trail again, I would run when I wanted and walk whenever I wanted. There was a fair amount of walking. At mile 22 they had an aide station that was only serving shots of PBR! HA!! I think it was an official aide station, the organizers asked (on facebook later) if anyone noticed the "alternative beverage aide station" at mile 22. I didn't even notice it while running north, but going south it was in plain sight. I did not grab a shot of pbr and instantly regretted it. Sure it wasn't exactly the Kentucky toothless redneck offering me a hit on his joint from the last marathon, but PBR? I should have taken that. These are my people, and I should have listened to them.

Lap 6: 4.36 miles, 51:11, 11:44 pace. with walking.

I have no idea how the second half of the trail was uphill both ways, but I swear it was. Running north to the turnaround the uphills killed me. Running south it seemed to be uphill the whole way. How does one trail do that? argh.

At mile 23 we came off the trail and back onto the roads to head back to the start/finish line. If you've never run a marathon before, you truly cannot comprehend what happens to your body and your mind at mile 23. I don't know why that's the magic mile, but it is. That's when you see the best athletes doubled over in pain. That's when you hit the wall. That's when the mind has to take over and you have to deal mentally with physical pain and suffering.

At mile 23 we came out of the trail and back onto the roads. I was shocked at how much it had warmed up while we were under the cover of shade trees. It was now in the low 70's and we were running uphill into an incredibly strong headwind. In full sun.

Lap 7: 2.91 miles, 32:43, 11:14 pace all on the roads to the finish line

Yea, I hit the wall. You can't talk, words just kind of slur together. You can barely breathe anymore. The only requirement is to flush lactic acid from the legs. Lots of walking. Hydrate. Endurolytes. Gu's. What hurts? EVERYTHING. Just keep moving.

By mile 24 I had at least gotten used to the sun and the roads had flattened a bit. Breathing was labored but steady, and I had any discomfort (notice I'm not using the word pain here) under control mentally.

The mile 25 marker came and went and I was happy. I was starting to get my second wind. Watching my pace on the Garmin, I started running again at 25.5 miles. I kept around a 9 minute pace from there until the finish line. Luckily, it was a downhill finish, and there were plenty of spectators cheering me in.

That was a beautiful finish line. I know I had just seen it about four and a half hours ago, but it was still an incredible sight.

Totals according to Garmin:
26.44 miles, 4:34:33.27 total time, 10:22 average pace.

Official stats:
4:34:32, 10:29 pace (I don't see how the pace could be different from my chip time)
Finished 353 out of 464 males, 43 / 53 in the 30 - 34 age group

This was an incredible race, fantastic course, and it was well organized. The aide stations were great, volunteers were incredible. I would do this one again in a heartbeat. I'm actually sorry YOU missed it (unless you ran it too). Put this one on your calendar for next year and come on down to NC.

Kelley and the girls got there a few minutes after I finished, so the only pics I got are standing near the finish line with the finishers medal on.

The worst part about the post-race was getting on the bus. We had to take a shuttle back to the parking area and I thought I was going to need a handicap lift to get me up those steps. Still today (tuesday) my legs are really sore. I got adjusted at the chiropractor today so everything else is feeling great.

I had 3 bottles of water at the finish line, my Recoverite and a protein bar on the drive home, and I slept a lot that afternoon. They had pizza and a beer garden at the finish line but I could not partake and risk the dehydration from the beer (from my first marathon) and after eating pizza after the first marathon, I wanted no part of that. They did have a local baker there with bread samples which the kids and I got plenty of. They were really good. Overall the recovery was outstanding compared to the first marathon. No trip to the ER this time. No dehydration or heat exhaustion. Everything felt good in that happy but painful kind of way.

I did not wear knee braces for this marathon like I did in past long runs. Didn't need them. I had no joint or tendon pain. Really no pain period. Muscle burn and lactic acid soreness aren't really a pain like a blown knee is, or an overused hip flexor. The balanced approach of triathlon training for a marathon proved to be the best way for me to go. I put up a 33 minute pr and finished with no pain. So when's my next marathon? ah, next year. oh well.


Badgergirl said...

Congrats on the fantastic race! A 33 minute PR? Amazing!

An aide station that had shots of PBR? Not taking the first walk break until 18.7 miles in and (most importantly) no post-race trip to the ER? Sounds like a great day to me! Congrats again!

Amber said...

Way to go! I'm so proud of you!! I had no doubt you'd come within the 4:30 mark. You rocked it! I hope I can maintain a similar pace come my marathon in October!!

I can't believe all the people dropping off to pee. That is hilarious!!

Georgia Snail said...

Congrats CJ!!! I enjoyed reading the recap and liked seeing you put a plan into action. Okay, next trick up my sleeve, ICE BATHS! I am telling you this is the way to go...36 hours after my full mary and I am ready to run...

Being Robinson said...

congrats and awesome! amazing job. so excited for you and an incredible PR, 30 minutes?! wow. what a great feeling that must be. um, and you crack me up, PBR and the toothless redneck at the other marathon? priceless. i need to go do some races in that area!

Mike Russell said...

Hell of a race and an even better report. I always figure when I start prairie dogging it, it is time to pull over for a comfort break. And either you do it now with dignity or take a walk of shame later to get sprayed down by someone in a biohazard suit...

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS!! Awesome race- you didn't only meet your goals, you kicked their butts! All 4 of them! I started laughing really hard when I saw a ton of people head straight to the bathrooms before we were even out of the park. :)You did so fantastic!!!

Sun Runner said...

"These people obviously have no dignity; I was going to fit right in."

You know you're a runner when...ha ha ha.

A PBR "aid" station?! Sounds like a hash house harriers kind of thing. Those are MY "people." :)

Congratulations on kicking ass!

Unknown said...

GREAT JOB!!! You rocked it. Well done. :-)

Kim said...

yay yay yay!!!! that is a GYNORMOUS PR! congratulations!!!!!!!!

Matt said...

Great job!! Gotta love the south - just drop it and go when the urge strikes...30 minute PR's kick ass!!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Awesome recap. I am so proud of you, buddy! I hope I have a similar experience at my marathon!!

So the pee stories remind me of my first marathon. We were maybe 1.5 miles in & we hit our first turn & dear God, I bet about 30 men lined either side of the course, peeing. It was the weirdest, and funniest thing to see!!

C said...

Congrats on the massive PR! Well done!!

B. Kramer said...

Congrats on the shiny new PR. Great job. Sounds like a cool race. Cheers!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...


And thanks also for, for once, uploading a race report that did NOT include a pic of your naked, pasty-white Irish gut. You could blind someone, Cletus.

Really no pain period.

You did this while you were having your period? All the more impressive.

Seriously though, CJ, congrats and well done!

Wes said...

That's when I knew I was among my own kind today.

Dooood, you were running with the herd! Great job on the marathon. My PR is sitting at 5:07. One of these days, I'm gonna do another one. Not this year though.

Congrats CJ! That was an awesome race report. You pretty much nailed the plan and your fitness shows!

Unknown said...

Congrats! That's an amazing PR and it sounds like the race went exactly how you wanted it to! :)

Jess said...

Congrats on job well done CJ! You totally kicked that race's boootay and are rocking a new PR! Way to go!

Al's CL Reviews said...

WTG! Fantastic race report.
Kudos on the PR and not having to go to the ER!

RockStarTri said...

Great job!

Annsterw said...

Congrats to you - great job - thanks for inspiring me to SOMEDAY run a marathon!!! :-)

Manderz said...

Amazing!!! I am so proud of you. 33 Minute PR - ahh fantastic.

I literally LOLd about the woman that dropped her pants in the open to pee!

Retta said...

I've been dying to read your recap! What is PBR? Super proud of you! You definitely kicked that marathon in the ass!

Blake said...

Awesome job!

Rachael said...

CONGRATS!! Your new PR is awesome :)

I like how down to business people were..they didn't care who watched them go to the bathroom haha

Unknown said...

Congrats on your kick ass PR! That race sounds like a great one.

Alisa said...


Way to PR BIG TIME and not end up in the ER doing it.

Great race report, you ran a smart and successful race.

Amy W said...

Great job! I was at mile 3 and then at mile 7/9 of the half...it was very well organized. I personally don't like running on the Tobacco Trail because of exactly what you said - false flats. I always feel like I am running uphill BOTH ways.

I am running Raleigh Rocks tomorrow, I am going to need all kinds of luck with the hilly course.

Would love to get together to run or get the kids together to play and meet up. I am always looking for people to run with!

Anonymous said...

Way to go!!!!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

DUDE!!! You rock!! Congrats! :)

James said...

Great job on the marathon! You have an interesting take on running blogs. As an ex smoker, I know how hard quiting can be. I wish I would have followed your path when I quit!

healthy ashley said...

How did I miss your second marathon!? Congrats!!!I got so excited reading your recap. I'[m so proud :)

Sara Cox Landolt said...

WOw! Such an exciting report! Well done on the race & PR. I hope I can run a solid marathon & meet each of my goals in the future. The public peeing is part of the culture, but it is funny what people will do at all stages of the race!!