Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tobacco Road Marathon

Well after a week of thinking and over thinking I finally ran the Tobacco Road Marathon today.  I must say that I am "not a very smart man" to quote Forrest Gump.

When I first thought about running a marathon, my thought was that I would only do it if I could qualify for Boston.  Then I started researching it and discovered that with my 45th birthday my time went from 3:15 to 3:25 I felt like I could do it.  I was also intrigued with running on my birthday.  Kinda  a present to myself.

Tobacco Road is a run at the American Tobacco Trail.  Its a greenway that replaced an old railtrack. Many people think that its flat but in reality it isn't.  OK, enough back story, lets get to the race.

As I said earlier I have been thinking about this race all week. With that being said, I slept pretty good last night.  It was a rainy night and we have some loud thunder booms but all in all I slept pretty good.  I woke to pouring rain.  I knew that it wasn't supposed to last very long so I wasn't really concerned.

Don't I look relaxed?

We arrived at the park at 5:30.  Right on time.  Parked and relaxed.  I was totally in a Zen mood.  Then as often is the case, something came up.  Linda had a problem with her pump.  Her BG was over 400.  Then her pump malfunctioned.  So she couldn't get insulin.  OMG, I am going to have to leave.  I decided that I would go to the medics to see if they could/would give me a needle.  I walked down to the medic tent and there was no medics.  Great.  Walk back to the car and Linda still couldn't get her pump to work.  Again my heart starts racing.  Finally I see an ambulance pulling into the parking lot and get a needle and the day is saved (except for the little run I still have).

By now its 6:30 and I start stretching.  Getting ready for the run.
Surprisingly, I was still very relaxed.

Remembering that my goal was to run a 3:25, decided to run with the 3:15 pace group.  The pace for this group should have been just under 7:30 per mile. I felt that since I normally ran 7:30 miles that I should be ok with this group.

The pace leader was really great.   He was talking and calling out splits the entire way.  "We will be going downhill for the next half mile", "The next mile will be flat".  Very encouraging.  Loved it.  We had a group of about 7 that were hanging together really well.

Well the first 13 miles we coasted.  We were at the half point mark with about a full minute in the bank.  As I think back I remember a coach telling me that in a marathon, you never bank minutes, because they always come back to bite you.

Once we arrived at the mile 14, I really started feeling the pace.  By mile 18, I lost contact with the group.  Then I told myself just to keep them in range.  By mile 19 the second turnaround, they had put about 2 minutes on me. I gave up the thought of catching them.  I was wearing compression on my injured left calf but for some strange reason my right calf started cramping.  Nothing major, but enough that I was looking for gatorade at each water stop.  Not something that I do but I wanted to make it.

At this point I was looking at my watch and looking for mile markers.  I just want to get to the finish line.  Every time I slowed down too much I cramped.  I just didn't have the energy to speed up so I just trying to ensure that the pain was manageable.

Every mile I tried to judge is this uphill or downhill. Any upgrade hurt like the dickens.  But I knew that I had to finish a 10k in less than an hour.  I felt like I could do that even with the pain.  Mile 22 and 23 were both uphill.  When I saw the mile 23 marker, I thinking only a 5k to go, about 30 minutes.

That was the longest 5k I have ever run.  I think every other step I was looking at my watch.  Finally I arrived at mile 25 and I felt that I had enough time to make it.  Then I remembered that I would have an uphill finish.

I am not far away, just down the hill.  But I finished. In time.

Needless to say I was really excited to make it.  The race really challenged me.  I really could have stopped several times but I knew that I needed to get to the finish.

Going into this I didn't think I would run another marathon until competing in an Ironman but after today, and seeing the struggle in those last couple of miles, I have to redeem myself by running another one (TBD).

Sorry this was so long but I am still a little thrilled to have this marked off of my bucket list.


  1. So totally awesome bud! Sorry I am channeling my inner 80's after watching 21 Jump Street yesterday, but that is awesome. I can see myself running a marathon and checking my watch just to get it over with! Good mental strength too! Great job on the BQ! The only (rhetorical of course) question is; you going to do Boston? Hope so! And good luck!

  2. Dude, that is awesome! I love the way the sport sucks you in, so that you can redeem yourself. LOL........

  3. Way to go Ken! Great narrative!