Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 Georgia Publix Marathon Race Recap

When I started running three years ago I really only had one expectation. It was to get in shape and lose weight so I could play with my kids without passing out. Not only did running help me lose the weight and get me in shape, it has done so many other things for me. It has taught me how to be more self disciplined for one. A day like Sunday was where that trait came in handy. The other thing that running has shown me is how cool the comraderie is among runners. It doesn't matter what your running ability may be, runners have fun together! I watched two of my Anniston Runners Club friends finish their first full marathons on Sunday. Both Paula Roberson and Erin Thielker did great and I know they will never forget that moment. I know I'll never forget my first full! I also met Stefanie and Jennifer from Birmingham who are running on my team for the Dixie 200. My friend Paige finished her second marathon and took an hour off of her time. Finally, Brian Mount also finished another marathon. This guy is doing more marathons than I am. I could stop here because watching friends accomplish goals with their running is awesome to me! This picture is of Brian , Erin, Paula, and me at the Start/Finish Line.

When I decided to do a marathon a month I wasn't sure which ones I would run but this one seemed like a no brainier. It was close to Chattanooga and I had a few friends running it. What I didn't know when I signed up was that it would be 87 degrees when I finished and I guess I didn't listen when folks told me it was hilly. Well, I should have because it was!

I got to Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and met Brian at the expo. I thought the expo was set up pretty wel. The traffic flow was great and the vendor selection was good too. I bought me a pair of Newton Motion shoes there and I absolutely love them. I also bought me another RUSeen short sleeve shirt to run in at night. After the expo we went to dinner and tried to settle in a little early. We stopped by the Start/Finish line on the way back to the hotel and took a few pics.

On Sunday morning we met up at the corrals. I love this part of a marathon. You can see the excitement building and being with two first time marathoners, it was that much more elevated. I was assigned to Corral I but I have to admit, I moved up to G with Brian to get a little bit ahead of the crowds. This one was nothing like Chicago. My buddy Michael was in Corral D with me and they absolutely would not let you move up! The gate was even guarded. A highlight for me now is to meet and see Marathon Maniac runners in the corrals. I met two in the corral on Sunday. Of course I am horrible with names but I did talk to them!

As the race started I had a specific strategy in mind and I got to it. I wanted to do 3 miles at about an 8:30 pace and then move into my 4/1 run/walk method after that point. Brian and I weaved through the crowds at a pretty quick pace. At mile three I was about where I needed to be on pace and eased into my walk/run method. From the start you could tell that this course was going to be a bit more hilly than I had experienced before. There were several gradual inclines of .2 to .3 miles long along the way. As was the case with Mercedes, I was very surprised at how well I felt. I began clicking off the miles at a pretty good pace.

At about mile 7 when the half marathoners split off we were once again at a hill. Seemed to happen often Sunday! I commented to a few people that I couldn't remember ever running a race where hills seemed to never end. Each time I would look up ahead to a turn and think that it had to go downhill there, it didn't. Right turn after right turn led to another hill. Obviously, the major upside to that point is that there had to be downhills too. That was the case and I took advantage of them when it gave me the opportunity. I made up time often by running some pretty good paces down hills. At mile 9 my IT band started to give me some trouble. I have been battling my right one for a few weeks now and it started hurting pretty bad. I made up my mind right then and there though that I would win the mental battle and I did. Though it bothered me, I never let it get into my head that I couldn't run fast. What's ironic, is that I have found that it bothers me less when I pick the pace up a bit.

At mile 14, Stephanie, a friend of ours that we met at our Auburn tailgate, was there cheering runners on. She had bananas, oranges, and gave me some of my Spark and NUUN. Most importantly she was there with her Auburn stuff on. Another runner passed and yelled "War Eagle" and we both responded in kind. Those little things are what make marathons special. Meeting new folks, hearing your college teams battle cry, and seeing folks cheering you on!

At mile 15 I was on a great pace which was going to put me way under the 4 hour goal mark. I made the decision there to back it down somewhat so I could take on the hills that I had heard were coming around mile 16 or so. I settled into a 3:55 or so pace hoping for the best. I was glad I did. At about that time the temps really started becoming an issue. It wasn't unbearable by any means but I could feel it draining my body. Well, the hills came on at a vengeance. Each mile that passed seemed more hilly than the last. I trudged on trying to make the best of it holding to that 3:55 pace. At mile 22 the course took you out and back in a big park. Out and backs are tough for me. Seeing runners considerably ahead of me right beside me discourages me for some reason. It was also a paved path with very little shade. The sun was beating down and it was really noticeable at this point.

After making it through the park holding my pace I came to mile 23. Let me just say, the hill at 23 was a doozy. It was probably .4 miles to the top and it was a decent incline. About midway up the hill I made a conscience decision to back it down again. I had PR'd Mercedes by 22 minutes and I was on pace to do the same Sunday. I decided to back it down to a PR pace and conquer the 4 hour mark another day when conditions were better. I probably could have held the pace I was on but I really didn't want to end up in the OR as Brooke Nelson inadvertently put on my FB page! A lesson I learned not too long ago was that you listen to your body and pay attention to conditions for your own sake so I did it here. I also have to admit that I was thinking it would be much easier to PR at St Louis with a 4:10 mark instead of a 3:55 mark!

Miles 23 through 26 were really not eventful other than the fact that I knew I was on a PR pace and I knew I was about to finish my 9th full marathon. The crowd support was great as it was for most if the entire race. The event coordinators did an excellent job putting it together in my opinion. The City of Decatur deserves a huge shout out. They went all out in their efforts to support the runners!

I came to the finish a little slower than expected but well within PR time. As I made the left turn to the line, I thought about all of my previous finishes to date. This one was special because I knew then that all of my hard training, base mile building, and my change in nutrition had worked. I am really coming around as a runner and I love it. There are so many folks to thank for that fact and I would leave out a ton if I tried to list them all. I do want to mention Adam Swan though. The guy is an inspiration and he helps motivate me with his attitude and his guidance!

Next up is the Go! St Louis Marathon on April 15th with Brian Mount. Hope to see you out there on the trials or on the roads!

My updated medal rack by @ironsportworks


  1. Way to Go!!! I hope to be a Marathon Maniac too!! Ive only done one marathon but hope to change all of that this year. Now that I read this I guess Im going to the gym instead of sitting on the couch which was my earlier plan. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  2. Great Recap of the race!! Looking forward to a fun Dixie 200!!!