March archive

Tobacco Road Marathon Recap

Today I finished my first marathon running the Tobacco Road Marathon in 3:52:41. My goal was 3:45 so while I didn't meet that it was a good first marathon. Matt didn't get to run which was disappointing. My knee held up even though I was in a bit of pain for most of the race. I'm not going to complain because I still went under 4 hours. Overall it was a pretty good race and I'm happy with the result but it had a rocky start.

You had to purchase a parking pass to park at the race location and there was alternate parking location with a shuttle. The traffic getting to the shuttle lot was crazy and when I did get there I was turned away because it was full. They directed me and the other participants to an overflow lot which wasn't in the original race information. At this point it was getting pretty close to the race start but they said there were buses and we would get there on time. After 15-20 minutes with no bus were were all getting a little worried. All together there were probably 50 people running plus some friends/family there to watch and cheer. I was a little cold in my shorts since it was in the 40s and the sun wasn't really up yet. I sent an email to the race info email saying that we were still waiting though I didn't expect a reply. Shortly after my email the parking lot staff came to the line to ask if there were any runners in the line. Since the 50 or so people in running gear and race numbers weren't clear enough for them we informed them that "yes, most of us are running". The half marathon was set to start at 7 and the full at 7:15. Around 7 the staff informed us that a bus was on the way and they would delay the start for us. That excitement didn't really last. 10 minutes or so later, still with no bus, someone got a call from a friend saying they were going to start the race without us. When we confronted the staff they claimed they had no way to contact the other staff or race officials. Now given that pretty much everyone has a cell phone and that they had told us about the previous delay, this didn't seem very believable. So we continued to wait.

7:30 or so the bus finally came. When leaving the lot the driver had to stop to ask for directions to the race location which wasn't a good sign. He probably should have written them down because it wasn't long before he missed a turn and had to make a u-turn in a 50 passenger bus. The race was 20 minutes in by the time we got to the race site. They offered to do a second start but it seemed pointless to pretty much everyone. I had planned to run with the 3:45 pace group and since that was long out the window I decided to due a quick warm up and use the restroom. Once I hit the course I could feel my rage just flowing out. My race strategy of using the pace group to make sure I don't go out too fast was gone. I had spent the past hour and a half either sitting in traffic or waiting for this stupid bus. I knew I was going too fast but it was hard to slow down.

Since I started so far behind I spent most of the race passing people. While that can be fun and a nice boost it wasn't really helping me slow down. There was a nice woman from the bus who was going for 3:40 and we started running together. I saw Beth and the rest of the family at mile 4 and mile 11 which is always a nice boost. My partner dropped off which cramps around mile 12. I hit the half way point around 20 sec/mile ahead of pace at 1:48. This is where it got really lonely. I didn't have anyone to talk to or distract me. There was no one to help me with my pace. Just hundreds and hundreds of people in front of me going much slower. Around 18 I could feel myself starting to fade. I wouldn't say I hit the wall but I was getting off of pace. At 20 I tried to eat my GU gel and I just couldn't. It didn't help that I didn't have any water. The chocolate taste was a terrible combination of sweet and bitter. I almost stopped on the side to throw up. I hadn't seen my family since mile 11 and I wondered where or when I might see them again. I started to get emotional. When I saw them at mile 23 I thought I was going to break down and cry. If I had water in my body to give I might have. That perked me up for a little bit but it didn't last. I gave everything I had left in those last 3 or so miles and it was finally over.

At the end I had done what I wanted to and that was finish my first marathon. My time wasn't what I hoped but I had a few things go against me. I don't know if I could have done 3:45 with the pace group and it doesn't really matter. There will be other races. I'm sure I'll get the chance to run another marathon. Hopefully next time Matt and James will be there to run it with me. But for now I'll just enjoy the glory of having the fastest Lavin marathon time.

Posted on March 20, 2011 by Mark | View Comments