I find it hard to reflect on a race. It's sort of like reflecting on the way you cooked dinner. "How did it feel when you sliced up the carrots and dropped them in the calphalon pot?" Hmmm.
An ideal road race like a marathon should feel mundane, exactly like your training except people kindly handing you water and saying, GO! It's almost so effortless and forgettable because if you're like me you've run almost every day for over a year. Can you remember everyday? If you can, kudos, mine all blend together. But I'll break down America's Toughest Road Marathon because reflection is good, especially when others were so kind and supportive. Parts of the race were mundane, but because my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Steve came in from MD and Melissa ran the 1/2 too, and Barb Smith from church came to cheer, it made it way more special than any old training run.
Start-Miles 1-2- With the horrors of Boston still fresh on all the runners minds, the start was quiet. We said a moment of silence before a local opera singer did the honors to the Star Spangled Banner. The first two miles ascend on Walnut which is a not-so-gradual incline up the Mill Mountain Parkway. AKA, it's "easy tough." I lost Melissa somewhere before mile 2 where the 1/2 marathoners continued to the start.
Miles-3-5- Familiar ground. I ran this bit of the parkway at least 12 times the past 5 months so doing it with a few spectators was amazing. I averaged 8:30/9 pace on this incline of about 1,000 feet over 3 miles
Miles 6-9 - Roanoke Mountain is this crazy, up-hill and then DOWN hill loop of 4 miles. I found that I kept passing a lot of males on the downhill who'd then zoom by on the up. It was such a gorgeous day with the leaves budding and that trickly, sunshine that I thoroughly enjoyed by 2 miles downhill. And I got to pee at the top of the mountain (yes, in a porta-potty)
Miles 9-15 - we re-looped through a part of the course we'd been on and then up Mill Mountain. It was again part of the course I'd actually trained on. They had cliff CANDY and it was so yummy. I always intend to run with my pockets full of starbursts but it never seems to happen. When i was offered "healthy candy" I loaded up.
Miles 16-19- The race became HARD. But at 17, right before I was about to head up Peakwood mountain, I saw Barb. She's such a sweetie and told me that she had been praying for me. Wow, it's just a marathon so it's always humbling when people are praying for you when you're just doing something "fun" that doesn't seem to serve any eternal purpose except to show off or just enjoy life. Haha, but I was praying for me by the time I finished that awful mountain.
Miles 20-26- Slow. I started noticing the giant blister on my left foot. I started cursing the race-course designers. I started regretting I hadn't really trained on this part of the course. It was hard. I met Pete, who was doing the ultra-marathon. He passed me. I passed him. He passed me. I never caught up. Team FCAE with Mark Long were camped about mile 23ish which was an encouraging boost. He said Seth Huffman was way ahead of me and having a great race. So glad. At this point I was hoping to break 4 hours but was just so glad I felt ok.
At mile 22 on Riverside drive, I ran into Blair Disque who zoomed past for her relay team. I'll admit the relay runners were annoying to watch with their over-zealous energy next to your pure exhaustion.
Miles 26.0-26.2- Though there was little crowd support right at the end, Aunt Kathy and Uncle Steve were just walking up and yelled, "Hey, Caroline!" I kept running at a decent clip through the finish despite the obstruction of 2 wide late-finishing 1/2 marathoners who I almost ran into.
4:01:32. Praise Jesus.
Now I never have to run again but something tells me I will...