Monday, March 19, 2012

It's Maniac Time!

Yesterday I finished my 6th full marathon, my third marathon in the last 65 days and (including the marathon at IMFL) my fourth in the last five months.  I finished the Tobacco Road Marathon in 4:07:59 and ran the best race I could.  Overall it was a great day and fun time to be outside running trails.  Kelley finished in 5:34:36.  This qualified us both to join the Marathon Maniacs. 

The hardest part of the day was actually getting there.  The race organizers instructed everyone to be at the parking area no later than 5:15 even though the race didn't start until 7 am.  Apparently last year they had a few busloads of runners where the buses got lost and they reached the starting line 40 minutes after the start of the race.  This year they fixed the problem:
the "before" shot in the car

30 buses.

and had 30 buses transporting runners from the parking area 5.5 miles away to the starting line.  It worked.  We got up at 4:30 am, ate breakfast, got dressed, and made it into the staring line by 6 am.  I was looking for a couple of friends but couldn't find them.  It was still well dark and this was quite a crowd:
That many people started in front of me, you can barely see the start line

And these people were smart enough to start behind me.  I think we had 4000 runners total.  Not a huge crowd like disney but for a trail race it's a great size.

Then at 7 am the race started.  The first few miles were on roads before we hit the American Tobacco Trail in mile 3.  I decided to carry the small camera with me so I could take pictures along the course.  Lately my left hand has been making a fist on really long runs, and that causes shoulder and upper back tension/pain after 20 miles.  Holding the camera loosely kept that pain away and it was really lightweight.  Problem solved.
On the trails in mile 4
The trail is made of hard packed screenings.  Tiny little rocks smaller than gravel so they lock together and form a surface softer than asphalt that's still tighter than running on dirt.  We got one heckuva thunderstorm saturday night and the trail was still mostly dry.
Still smiling at mile 5

The trail is a straight trail, so the course turned right to get onto the trail, then at mile 8ish it hits a turnaround point.  This means I got to see the leaders and pace groups to know how far behind or ahead I was.  I stopped in mile 6 to take a quick poop, and was still between the 3:45 and 4 hour pace groups so I figured I was in good shape.  I hit the lap button on the Garmin every 2 miles to get splits:

Mile 1-2: 17:47, 8:46 pace
Mile 3-4: 17:44, 8:47 pace
Mile 5-6: 17:50, 8:50 pace
Mile 7-8: 19:13, 9:24 pace (inc poop stop)
Kelley - too fast to get caught on camera

After I made the turnaround, I saw Kelley at her mile 4, my mile 9ish.  Still feeling (and looking) good, she was only a few minutes behind the 5 hour pace group and hanging strong.  I was starting to wind down pretty good at that point, but still feeling ok overall.

Mile 9-10: 17:46, 8:38 pace
Mile 11-12: 16:51, 8:40 pace

Garmin measured that first lap as 2.06 miles and the second at 1.96 miles, hence the difference in pace.  I hit the halfway point at 1:57, so that's pretty good.  My plan was to just hold a comfortable pace as long as I could and keep those 2 mile splits under 18 minutes.  It worked for the first half.  I really wanted to feel comfortable for the whole race, so I hoped that starting out slower than before would help with that.

Mile 13-14: 17:48, 8:57 pace
Mile 15-16: 17:26, 8:41 pace

The aide stations were right on the trail, I think this one was around mile 16
Mile 17-18: 18:07, 8:54 pace
Mile 19-20: 18:42, 9:29 pace

The course was mostly flat, but there were a lot of small subtle grades or false flats.  Mile 17 was mostly uphill.  Not steep, just long and gradual.  Then we ran under a bridge near the mile 18 marker.  The bridge was the high point of the incline.  Mile 19 marked the turnaround for that end of the course.  I saw the leaders, then the 3 hour pace group, then the 3:15, 3:30, and 3:45 groups ahead of me before I made the turn.  The 4 hour group was still behind me.  After I made the turn I held in there until I saw this:
The mile 20 marker.  That was all my legs had to give.
That is the mile 20 marker banner in front of that girl.  My legs weren't clearing out the lactic acid anymore and were really showing signs of fatigue.  I hadn't taken any walk breaks yet besides the aide stations and the one bathroom stop, and my secret goal was to finish the entire 26.2 without having to walk.  yea, that didn't happen.

Aerobically I was fine. I was still able to catch my breath easily.  It just hurt a lot muscularly in my legs to keep running.  And so I couldn't hardly do it anymore.  I thought I was going to have to walk the entire 10k back to the finish.  I ended up in a pattern where I would run for 0.15 miles and walk the next 0.05 miles.  I couldn't even run a quarter mile consecutively anymore.  That's some serious ouch.

Miles 21-22: 22:16, 11:06 pace
Miles 23-24: 23:40, 11:23 pace

My mile 22 was Kelley's mile 16, and I didn't want to warn her about the grade in mile 17.  Since we were both walking when we crossed on the trail we got these pics:

Kelley walking towards me, feeling dead

I couldn't stand up straight anymore and thought I might die.  Notice the line of sweat  on my shorts. 
Yea that was pretty cruel.  I couldn't even walk in a straight line at that point.  It was crazy humid and I was sweating like a madman.  But I knew in mile 23 I was going to get off of the trail.
Boy was I glad to see that mile 23 marker.  Ready to get off of that trail.

This is the 23 mile death march.  That is exactly how I felt.
Barely feeling alive, I hustled it off of the trail and back onto the roads.  The trail always looks the same, doesn't make for many interesting pictures.
Back on the roads, I caught a strawberry farm

Mile 25-26.4: 22:44, 10:08 pace

I managed to keep up my run/walk routine, walking 5 times every mile. In my first marathon the best picture I got was a self-portrait I took in mile 25 that I called the "death march" photo.  Not much changed, I got one this time too:

2012 mile 25 death march - not much has changed right?

2009 mile 25 death march in West Virginia
I finally came around the last few roads and back into the baseball park where the finish line was. Then we had to go around a ball field to get to where the finish line was.  In 2010, we went the other direction so it was a downhill finish.  But this time everything was ok, and I did manage to run the entire last half mile or so.  That made the finish line hill particularly difficult.  But I did see my friends Scottie and Jenny hanging out there cheering me in, so that was great. I crossed the line like a maniac.

The climb to the finish line

Got a space blanket and ready to chill out and wait for Kelley to come in.
Overall:  4:07:59, 26.49 miles, 9:24 pace

I beat my 2010 time of 4:31 pretty good, and after getting 3 bottles of water, 1 beer, and some pizza at the finishers area I was feeling much better.  I made my way back down to the finisher chute to cheer the other runners and wait for Kelley.

Here comes my girl

She's blocking the clock there but wants me to claim the first digit is a 2.

Now with more bling!

It is a nice hefty 4" medal.  She was very glad to be done.
Officially her chip time was 5:36:49, a 12:51 pace.

We both really did love this marathon.  She wants to do it again next year because she liked the course a lot, but wasn't as prepared as she was for Charleston. We're both glad we're done with full marathons for a little while.  Next year she wants to just do the myrtle beach half, then save the full distance to do this one again.  I said the same thing in 2010, I really wanted a repeat performance.  It really is a very well organized race with a great course and tons of volunteers.  The miles seem to just fly by.  Then, in the end, you end up with this:


Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

That's awesome! I didn't know you guys were running a marathon! I thought it was 5ks all the way...

Um, A "quick" poop stop!?

Also, did you know you can set your Garmin to auto lap at 1 mile, or 2 miles, or whatever? Then you don't have to hit the button all the time.

Good job! That sounds like a fun race!

B. Kramer said...

Congrats on your mania, and a nice finish time to boot! Now get some rest. Cheers!

ActiveEggplant said...

Wow - that's a whole lot of marathons in not very many days! You and Kelley just might be crazy...but you are definitely impressive and inspirational!

Karen said...

LOVE all the pictures! Congrats to you and Kelly for another awesome marathon :) Time to scale back the running!

Matty O said...

Great job man!!! Good time despite the suffering at the end :)

Those cinders are what we get to run on all of the time, so easy on the knees and joints haha.

Keep up the great work!

Unknown said...

Looks like a nice race, and that is a HUGE medal!

Unknown said...

Good job, you maniac

Wes said...

It took us 10 minutes to cross the start line in Atlanta on Sunday morning :-) Nice work, and congratulations on achieving Maniac status. I'm sure it's just a rubber stamp on what we already know ;-)

B.o.B. said...

wow! congrats on becoming maniacs!!!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Nice work! Now I can officially call you a maniac - even though you were one before you did this. ;) I love the pictures at mile 25 now v. then!

sarah said...

Congratulations!!! That is a lot of running!! Woohoo!! I'm very impressed.

Ironman By Thirty said...

Congrats Maniacs!!!! True craziness.

Badgergirl said...

Congrats to you and Kelley on becoming Maniacs!

{will run for margaritas} said...

Yayyy!! Congrats on a great race and beating your time from last year. That's something to be so proud of. I LOVE all of the pictures of you and Kelly! :)

This weekend was a tough one to race - it was hot in A LOT of places, something you could have never trained for. It looks like you did the best you could, given the heat and humidity, and listened to your body. That was smart.

Either way, you finished and are now a MARATHON MANIAC!!!!! :)

Thanks for a great race report!

Al's CL Reviews said...

Great job! And Mile 25 Death March look WAY different!

Caratunk Girl said...

Funniest part of this post is " I stopped in mile 6 to take a quick I figured I was in good shape."

OK. So I edited a wee bit, but it was just funny!!

Great race!!

That medal is HUGE!!!

Are you going to be racing in Maine this year??

Caratunk Girl said...

Oh PS the mile 25 death march is also hilarious.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh... those are the best pictures every John! :) Congrats to both of you!!!