This past weekend, I did my first Marathon! I am now just coming off my marathon high! I ran the first inaugural race of Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon in Abbeville, Georgia. The race turned out to be very small with maybe 30 marathon runners. There were three other people also running their first marathon! For the most part, I was not nervous about the race until my drive in that morning. One of the many benefits of running a small race is I can arrive 20 minutes before race time, get a good parking spot, use the restroom, have my energy drink and still make it to the starting time on time! At 6:30 or so, (in conjunction with the half marathons at a different location) the cannons were fired and off we went. The course consisted of mainly back roads with approximately 6 miles of dirt road.
The first half mile or so, it seemed like the other runners were also running at a slower, easy pace. I briefly chatted with a few runners who passed me. Mile 1 passed pretty quickly and because of my pride, I could not let myself walk. My plan is to ( loosely follow the galloway plan) 1 mile run and 1 minute walk. Mile 2 also went by very quickly but I knew this was going to be a long race, 26.2 miles after all! If I wanted to finish, I better stick with my plan. So reluctantly, I took about a 50 second walk break and continued on. I'm not sure when exactly the dirt roads started (mile 3, mile 4???) but I rather enjoy running on the dirt road. There were some areas with loose dirt/sand but it was mostly shaded. I ran some parts of the race by myself and had 2 other runners pass me. I was glad they passed me because I could hear them talking and I like the solitude. I listed to my music with one ear bud and taking in the scenery. At that point, I was enjoying the running, the experience. Back on the road, I had to cross over to the other road. There were several people standing around chatting and no one bothered to look up or direct traffic. There was no traffic anyways so I continued on. I must admit I was annoyed by this. I continued on and made my way to my first water stop. The people were nice and I thanked them for the water. Around this time, I met up with another runner we chatted on and off for a while before he eventually passed me. Being out on the open roads, there were no shades and it was hot, hot, hot! Also, the gnats were terrible. They would literally swarm around me!! I had never experienced that before. For the next 5 miles maybe, it was a solitary race. I could now see 2 other runners way ahead of me.
I did start to feel better about the race. The people at the water stops were friendly and nice. (Some even filled my water bottles for me, offering me GU and fruit). Law enforcement, race personnel and other drivers checking on me, waving, beeping and giving me the thumbs up. Around mile 17 or 18, the heat finally hit me. I was able to catch up to one of the runners. For the next several miles, it was great to have another runner there! I think the heat was getting to him too). My legs were starting to cramp and I worry I would have a repeat performance like my first half marathon. (flash back to my first half marathon: running great until mile 7 and calf cramp. Bad!!! I could not run at all not even to cross the finish line). Panic did set in. I took out my biofreeze and rubbed them on both of my calves. It felt better and I was able to run some. I remembered later, being stopped at the railroad tracks to wait for the train to go by. One of the race staff (in his car) handed me a powerade. I was happy to accept it. I know, don't try anything new on race day but with the calf cramp and heat, I took it. I dranked some and I waited (along with my fellow runner) for the train to pass. It was a great excuse to rest! When the train passed, I did not want to liter so I asked the police officer if I could give him my powerade bottle. I tried to run some more and later, my other calf started to cramp up! Not good. I rubbed more biofreeze on my calves. At the next water stop, I poured water on my arms and legs and I felt better. I was able to run a little more. During these miles, it was nice to get encouragement from the other runner and we chatted about our families. We had some things in common and I talked about my daughter. I think talking about her gave me the strength to continue on. I looked at my watch and I knew I had if I stayed at it, I could still complete this marathon within the 5 1/2 hours. I started to run again, if only for a minute and walked. I continued on like this and kept going. I eventually passed another runner. Ok, for the record he was walking. He too was suffering from cramping. (I did offer him my biofreeze). I was thrilled to see a sign for mile 25! Finally mile 26, with 2 very enthusiastic girls working the water booth. On my last mile, a runner passed me...it seemed like out of no where! One last hill to go (ugh) but then I see a sign to turn onto a dirt/grass road. Yes, I am close I see the trailed taped off by ribbons and I hear cow bells. Crossing the finish line and I said Thank God, I'm finished! A wonderful lady gave me water and sat me in a chair in front of the fan. She then gave me a cold wet paper towel. Someone else came over and helped me fill out my place card. A big thank you ladies!!!!
Some things I wanted to add. There were very few spectators but I really enjoyed reading the race signs placed along the way. I looked forward to reading them during the race. Despite my initial reaction, this was a very friendly race with great support from race staff, law enforcement and emergency response. It turned out to be a great experience. I was able to catch a shuttle back to my car shortly after finishing the race. I was eager to make the drive home.
When I got home, hubby had water ready for me n the juuzzi tub and I got a nice message afterwards. I also got a beautiful card from my daughter and hubby.
It is now Thursday and I am fully recovered? My quads were hurting for several days and my lower back was also sore but by Wednesday, I was feeling much better. I am also ready to sign up for my next marathon. I am thinking in November, I will run another marathon!
Final thoughts. Training: I have trained on running mostly 3 days a week. Mainly because of injury (Achilles) but for my next race I would like to train 4 days. I think on my next marathon, I will follow Hal Hidgon's plan more closely but still incorporate walk breaks. I think I am less sore because of the walk breaks. For hydration, I may try something different. Instead of Nunn, try tailwind. I like the thought of not having to carry GU and blok. Not sure how I would avoid the cramping but maybe tailwind will help with that. I would keep up the carbo loading the week before the race and maybe more gatorade week before race. Music or no music? Though I always trained with music, during this race I wore1 earbud and last 5 miles without.... I was surprised I could run without music!
That's it, a very long race race report with all my thoughts. I am sooo proud of myself. To have a goal (a hard goal) and achieve it. Completing a marathon is hard, it is both mental and physical and I dd it! I am proud. I look forward to my next marathon and I hope to better my time!
No race photos!