19 November 2012

This marathon thing (and this blog too, actually) started way back in the day.  I cooked up the blog to document my first marathon, which also ended back on a different day.  Fast forward through a couple half marathons, Warrior Dashes, a kiddo and a few (four) years of a busy but fun life, and here we are again.  Recapping another marathon.  No, it wasn't the one I was expecting to run, but the organizers of the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte were kind enough to discount the rate to those of us NYC marathon runners that had nowhere to displace all this training in our legs.

After some thought, "Coach" Mike Swaim and I decided to pull the trigger and run a marathon this year after all (his first).  Go check out his account of training and race recap (here) for a really good take on the experience, as this guy will inspire you, and he kicked this race in the face.  IN. THA. FACE.  We finally (I think) got over the disappointment of NYC, adjusted/extended our training plan for a couple weeks to try and deliver ourselves to the start line ready for 26.2 (I ran a personal best 13.1 miler to blow off the steam), and looked forward to Thunder Road.  We headed down to the Queen City on Friday to pick up our packets (and a sweet sale on a new pair of my JAM New Balance shoes, holla!), carb up on copious amounts of pasta, drink lots of water, and try to get some rest before the big day.

Neither of us slept great.  I fell asleep with the TV on and was awakened at some point in the night by Treadstone operatives trying to kill Jason Bourne.  That was fun, and I consider it a success that I didn't wet myself given all the water I've been drinking (TMI?).  I ended up popping back up before the alarm and proceeded to force down some more carbs, and more water.  Then it was time to suit up (I'm skipping all the bathroom talk that any other runner knows I'm skipping here) and head out to the start.

Our hotel was a block from the finish but a bit further to the start, and it was CHILLY.  I was happy to find the convention center open to runners when we got there (which I don't remember being the case back when I did the half in 2010), so that was a very pleasant and warm surprise.  A little warm-up time, then we trekked into the starting gates, waited a little longer, heard the roar of a NASCAR and we were off.

Magic Socks, a lil leg

Waiting for the green flag...

I didn't have a true time goal in the race, other than to beat my Big Sur time of 4:45.  Based on how I'd been training, that shouldn't have been a problem.  Best case I'd even push 4:15.  Well....Saturday wasn't best case for me.  I started out fine, great really.  I didn't push too hard and turned out the first half of the hilly course in 2:01.  All the half marathoners took a right while us 26.2 mile idiots went left, and the course got much quieter.  That's OK, I'm a fan of zen running on my long runs anyway (quiet, no tunes).  I just kept slugging away, feeling as good as someone who's halfway through a lengthy endurance event can feel.

It was around Bank of America Stadium and mile 16 when I started to feel a little off.  I blame the current state of the Panthers franchise for this due to my proximity to the field at the time.  My magical compression socks weren't working and my calves were feeling a bit tight.  Cramps aren't usually my thing, so I pushed on.  With the stadium, and a couple great "that's what she said" signs behind me, I turned the corner into the NoDa neighborhood and by far the best spectators of the course.  Energentic, loud, and offering free beer (I should have partaken in retrospect).  They built a wall for the runners to break through, and had more chalk on the street than asphalt.  Thanks, NoDa, for giving me a last blast of pep.

Once the boost of cheers wore off, I was into mile 20 and a world of trouble.  I started walking.  A lot.  My calves just wouldn't let me go too far before they requested some PTO.  As I walked along, wondering what the heck was going on, the 4:15 pace group passed me.  NOOOOO!  I tried to get in gear and stay with them, then just keep them in range, then in sight, then...I was walking again.  Oh well, still surviving and still well ahead of my goal.

Fast forward to mile 26, and the final turn to the finish line.  There was the slightest of incline and at about mile 26.1, my right calf had had enough and locked up on me.  Being the gracious runner that I am, I took a side step to my left to get out of peoples' way so I could walk it out, at which point my left calf joined the "no more" party and I took a tumble to the pavement.  Right in front of some cheering fans.  Lovely.  Aside from the one lady who tried to get me up immediately, these people were great.  They were encouraging, they helped me stretch out my legs and someone even rubbed my calves, which felt like I imagine heaven might.  Then I was back up to finish gingerly.  But finish I did.  Stupid last .1.

You can almost see the knots tied in my calves here.  I think I'm smiling, somehow.

Hardware and oooo-weeee, that orange

Stats, and for you number heads, here are the gory details

And that's how I got the marathon out of my system.  We have one more half marathon and a 5k on the schedule this year, then I plan to hang up the shoes for a while to regroup and recover, and maybe do another round of P90X to mix things up a bit.  And then next year, 26.2 in NYC.  Who else is coming with me?

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2012 by Bryan Timmons

1 comment

02 November 2012

UPDATE: Late yesterday, officials decided to cancel the race after all.  Was it the right decision?  Absolutely, given the circumstances. Was it the very last minute to make such a call, after confirming it was on just 2 hours earlier?  Um, yes.  Am I struggling to wrap my head around this right about now?  Absolutely.

I totally get it.  People are struggling, and the backlash against the race and the distraction it was causing wasn't a good thing for anyone.  And yes, me not getting to run in a race shouldn't even be in the same sentence as the devastation facing some New Yorkers.  Like the city, this will be OK eventually.  But man, does it sting right about now.

Here's to hoping I'm able to run NYC next year...

As those of you that know me or follow this blog are well aware, I've been raising money for breast cancer research and training for the New York City Marathon.  I've been stressing for months over being on the hook to raise 10x more money than I've ever raised, along with getting myself up and out and running somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 training miles to prepare myself for this thing.  In the last couple weeks, I met my fundraising goal (woohoo!), knocked out my biggest training week (40 miles!) and have been able to breathe a little easier, knowing that the hay is in the barn, so to speak, and I'm as ready as I can be to run 26.2 miles again.

And then Sandy happened.

LaGuardia?  Looks more like Waterworld to me.

We've all seen the news reports and the devastation in NY/NJ is just plain awful.  I mean, how could they possibly still hold the race when there's widespread loss, flooding, power outages and massive cleanup and recovery needed.

But then, the talk turned to trying to move forward with the race.  And after a tenuous couple days of ups/downs scouring the internet for every shred of city/marathon information, Mayor Bloomberg made the definitive to continue with the race as scheduled.  Let me first say that the "stress" I've been feeling waiting to find out about the event doesn't even compare to those in the area that have been directly impacted by Sandy, but man has it been tough.  I've really struggled with whether or not it was appropriate to descend on the city to participate in this year's race given the recovery efforts and the resources needed to put on the race.

But at the end of the day, I have to trust the mayor.  He says the race is what the city needs, so we're doing it.  Tomorrow morning, we take off for the now reopened LaGuardia and NYC, then Sunday morning we take to the 5 boroughs to run in support of the city that never sleeps in this year's "Race to Recover".

For those interested, you can track me on the day of the race HERE starting at 10:30, using my bib number (46210).  Or you can watch the real runners on ESPN2.

New York, here we come.  Suck it, Sandy.

Posted on Friday, November 02, 2012 by Bryan Timmons