Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marathon #5: 2009 ING Atlanta Marathon... The Story

(Written March 29, 2009- night of the marathon)

The marathon had its ups and down- and I'm not just talking about the hills!!!

1) A down... that become an up! The race started out a little shaky even before the start! When we got to the hotel I realized there was no room service. This meant NO pancakes (my typical pre-marathon meal). That was rough, but I compensated with a banana, a plain bagel from McD's and for the first time I took a GU 15 minutes before the start-- This is now my new pre-marathon meal plan!! My stomach felt great the whole time and I didn't get any hunger pains around mile 18 that I normally do! I normally do 2 sports beans every 2 miles and a GU every 7 starting at mile 7. I FULLY recommend the GU before!

2) A down... Remember the race between Joe and I for who could have the best time... his half or the first half of my marathon? Well somehow the little brat connived his way into corral #1 (out of 7). For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is primarily reserved for elite runners and extremely strong and experienced runners. We believe the cause of the confusion was Joe's entry for his "anticipated finish time." Apparently ING does NOT require proof of time for half marathoners to be seeded. I was in corral #2, starting at an estimated 20 seconds after Joe—losing the advantage I thought I would have.

3) A down... HotLanta quickly became FREEZINGlanta in my mind! It was MUCH colder than expected to start. Luckily I had a long-sleeved shirt on hand.

4) An UP! I found the 3:40 pace group. For those of you not following along, this is the qualifying pace for me for the Boston Marathon! There was a small group of guys making up the pace team that seemed great because- 1. They had a lot of energy, 2. there were at least 3 of them, which is great for a pace group, and 3. One offered to share his "Sports Beans" (running jelly beans that give you energy) with me when I realized I left them back at my bag... which brings me to 5...

5) The BIG down (or so I thought....) I'm in the corral, the national anthem has been sung, the wheelchair division has gone off, and we're freezing with 9 minutes to go-- and I realize I have neither my running watch, nor my sports beans!!! BAD NEWS BEARS!!!!!!! At this point I don't have time to run back to my bag and decide to do with what I have. I have 3 GU’s (besides the one I had just taken and hopefully there are pace clocks because, Hey! What marathon doesn't have pace clocks? UMMM…

6) Down!… of course this one!!! That’s right folks—A FULL 26.2 miles without a pace clock. There were mile markers at just about every mile (from what I could tell- I may have missed a couple), but for some reason this marathon had NO pace clocks—not even at the half marathon point I’m not sure WHY they did this and I was quite surprised being that this was an ING marathon. To get around this I focused on the 3:40 pacing group and used them as a guide to my pace.

6) Ups and Downs… and ups… and down… and ups… that started as a MAJOR up! I'm talking about those crazy hills. A VERY good majority was just climbing then shooting down large hills/small mountains. This was great at first because I LOVE hills. Flat straight roads annoy me mentally, and there is little room to change your muscle concentration on these, leading to craps in your legs. The hills allow you to shift between the muscles you're straining and give rest to some that may need it. This type of running led me to a time of 2:47.41 for the first 20 miles. This is an 8:23 pace and perfectly on target for my 3:40 marathon!

7) UP UP UP! Mile 15, running strong and who do I find? Kristina and Andrew! FMP friends from GE-Energy!!! They get a chance to shout encouraging words and get a little run of their own in as they run along for a few blocks. AND... they tell me JMG "Joe Mother Guth" finished with about an 8:35 min/mile pace. I knew around the half marathon point i was running low 8:20's and at this point I know I've won the bet!!! Sorry Joe- maybe next time ;)

8) The DOWN... those crazy hills I loved 10 miles ago? Not so much. Those hills cause a LOT of calf strain, leading to extreme calf cramps that start between miles 19 and 20 and go to the end! :( This led to a much slower pace, and my losing my boston qualifying time. :( It's ok though because Nashville Country Music Marathon was my goal marathon for the season and I feel very encouraged that I will be able to get my time this season!!!

9) The Down... ME! As I got to the last .1 mile I really feel my calves cramping up. I knew that if I didn't move fast I would have to stop running and walk... ok, maybe crawl- the last bit of the race if I didn't stop running QUICK. So, I sprint in the last kick and immediately upon finishing my calves completely give up and Stephanie goes down! The lovely EMS workers throw me into a wheelchair and bring me to the medical tent. It led to QUITE the massage of my calves, which started out feeling nice... then they called over the mean nurse who REALLY started kneading at my calves. Ok, ok, so she was doing the right thing and getting the cramps out- but it freaking hurt!!!!

Post-Marathon Thoughts
Surprisingly my legs have very very little pain. In fact, I ran up a flight of stairs shortly after the marathon. My calves hurt a little still, but nothing too bad. My hips, on the other hand, took quite the beating today! I’ve never had hip pain from running, but today they’re hurting a lot! I think this may be from my form when I go down hill. The fastest way I know to take a down hill is to lean forward and let gravity take its course. Your legs act as break rather than doing the work. However, I believe when I do this I may be pushing my hips backward a bit and popping them out of place. I may have done this so many times for such long periods of time it’s causing me a lot of pain. I’m going to look more into hip pain in long distance running tomorrow as well as begin taking glucosamine vitamins that are for bone and joints.

All-around, I think this was a great marathon for me—even with the ups and downs! I beat JMG. I got to spend time with Kristina and made a new friend (Andrew) who happened to be from Syracuse and go to RPI (we’ll try and forgive him for that because he DID get up after drinking and come cheer me on). I had a PR despite the calf cramps. I feel much better about my next marathon, which is coming up in a month! It looks like Nashville may be similar to the course we ran today. Hilly! Now that I’ve run Atlanta I’ve learned that I need to do a little more hill work, a LOT of hip stretching and maybe some strengthening, and work on some calf endurance exercises.

As soon as the official results are out I will post them along with my Marathon Ratings!

1 comment:

  1. Steph, I ran the same marathon this weekend. The course was painful. In my opinion, there were too may hills. It made things too difficult in the end. Nearly 80% of the route was either up or down hill. There was a giant hill at mile 23. Rough.

    Thanks for your great blog. I find many of the posts helpful and entertaining.

    BTW, I am eyeing the trail marathon in Kansas in late April as a possible race.