Monday, March 31, 2008

The torture is over!

Yes, it was all self-inflicted and by choice, and I guess I must be a bit of a masochist because I really am glad I tortured myself for all these months to be ready for the Georgia Marathon, but now I will say, I am so glad it's over!! No more training!! (Well, marathon level training at least.)

I feel proud for having done three marathons, and don't feel any need to do another at this point. I guess the second two were trying to recapture and improve on the wonderful feeling I had after the first, but I guess there is no reliving the past. I'll just have to treasure that memory.

First the results. I finished with a time of 4:30. Not as good as my first, but better than my second. And this was by far a hillier route than either of those, so 4:30 is actually not a bad time all things considered.

The best part is, I really felt good all the way up to about mile 23 1/2 - that was the turn back uphill on 10th street. Things got rough after that, but that's pretty much to be expected.


MOB stood by me at the starting corral til the race started. It was pretty cold. Supposedly in the mid-40s, but the wind must have brought it down to the 30s.

I had debated on what to wear, but decided to go with shorts, a long sleeve technical shirt with a short sleeve t-shirt on top. Once we started moving, I picked up an XXL warm cozy sweatshirt that someone had abandoned on the fence. I put it on until our group was almost up to the starting line, at which point, I tied it around my neck and it draped over my shoulders and back like a cape. It did a lot to protect me from the bone-chilling breeze that pushed us through the first 3 miles. After that, I was warmed up and didn't notice a breeze anymore, so I tossed it. Many thanks to the person who left it at the starting area!!

I did the walk/run approach for the first 23 miles - intervals of running 9 minutes and walking 1. I had a bottle of water with me, but took advantage of most of the water stops in the first 14 miles. It was definitely nice to have an option of stopping or not at the water stops. They must have taken the complaints from last year to heart because there was more than enough water. I also nibbled on a Cliff bar from miles 6 to 20.

Although grey clouds hung over us all morning, thankfully it didn't rain, and the flowers blooming all along the route really made up for the lack of color in the sky. Dogwoods, azaleas, rose-buds, maybe some cherry blossoms.... it was exactly what I hoped for as I ran through my favorite neighborhoods in Atlanta.

The half-marathoners were a chatty, noisy group (MOB would say "maybe back where you run") and I was kind of glad for the quiet that followed after we separated from them. There were pockets of crowd support and my face became sore from smiling so much at the people who came out to cheer us on. I really wanted them to know how much I appreciated it. The volunteers are awesome. Running by the cheering crowd at Agnes Scott was a huge rush. No one from the other colleges we ran through (Ga. Tech, Ga. State, Emory - you know who you are), showed up as far as I could tell. Well, except my friend S, who goes to Emory and ran along side with me for about a half-mile between 13 and 14 while we caught up with each other. That was very cool.

The route through the aptly named Druid Hills was tough but lovely, all decked out in spring flowers. I knew that after Druid Hills there'd be a nice stretch of flat and downhill in the Highlands and that kept me hanging on.

Okay, this is a little embarassing. When I finally made it to the bridge entering into Piedmont Park around mile 23, I broke into tears. I've become so connected with this park over the past 5 years of living by it and running through it, that it was like coming home after a really challenging journey. That only lasted a minute, as I realized I couldn't afford to lose it all yet. It was going to be tough going up 10th street right after the park.

A couple I know live on Juniper and 10th (between miles 23 and 24), and had come out on their balcony to cheer me on. I was hoping to see them there, but was not expecting to see my name emblazoned on some kind of placards they'd created and hung off the railing. It was such a rush at a point in the race when I really needed the extra push. They made me feel great.

Then it got tough, as it does for everybody. Around mile 24, my old knee pain started to reveal itself, but I thought about how I forced myself through those last 13 miles in Detroit with that damned pain, and there was no way I was going to let it stop me with only 2 miles to go this time.

I saw MOB just before the finishing area. I was happy to see him because I knew it was almost over, and that was all I wanted at that point. It was a push through the finish. The last 50 yards or so were a twisting, turning maze, but I understood later that they had to change the finish line because of all the glass and damage from the tornado on the original finish line.

It seemed like the temperatures plummeted about 50 degrees after I finished. Luckily MOB had brought my sweats, a dry shirt, and my wind-breaker, but the cold wind stiffened my muscles. I was able to slowly walk up the hill to the Peachtree Marta station, but I could barely make it up the hill coming out of the Arts Center station.

Seriously, I've never felt so immobilized. I think I know what it'll be like for me if I live to be 100. MOB ended up going ahead of me to get the car. Once the heated seats thawed my muscles a bit, I was able to walk again. I am still pretty stiff, but now it's more the normal post-marathon stuff.

So, I guess those were more than the highlights, but more like a full report on the whole thing. :) I guess I covered it! I'm looking forward now to getting into my bloglines and reading about everyone else's race this weekend - either in Georgia or elsewhere!


Paulie said...

Kudos to you!

Yesterday was brutal, both the weather and the absence of any semblance of organization at the start and end.

While I only ran half as far as you I am probably equally glad that it is over. :)

Anne said...

This is the way to go out, in such style and with such wonderful support. I would have cried too entering the park -- and again when I saw the placards. I'm not at all surprised you finished in such a fine time. Congrats.

Joe said...

Congrats! You did a great job.