I must have been the least prepared person running the ING Georgia Marathon this morning.
I have a sprained/fractured foot. (someday I’ll go the doctor to find out)
I have run 6 total miles since my last race, the Mount Cheaha 50K, on February 23, 2008
I had registered late last year, but I was not expecting to run this race since it’s on roads, I am injured, and I just wasn’t “feelin’ the ING” this year.
Saturday night, instead of the usual pasta pre-race dinner, I had chicken wings and Corona’s, watching NCAA with my wife.
Should I Run or Shouldn’t I?
Even though I had this injury and have been unable to run for a month, as the race got within one week of the starting gun, my stupidity and ego kicked in, and I started rationalizing:
“Well, my foot still hurts, but it’s tolerable, maybe I’ll just show up, start with the crowds, and just bail out when the pain starts.”
“This would be a great experiment to see how far utilizing Crossfit, coupled with the low impact endurance training I have been doing, could carry me in this marathon.”
“Well, I ran the ING Georgia inaugural race, so I might as well at least start this one with zero expectations.”
So, this Sunday morning, March 30, 2008, I popped outta bed at 5:00 A.M., slugged down some oatmeal and coffee, strapped on the timing chip and my ING bib number, and rode the train down to the starting line at Centennial Olympic Park to “just see what happens”.
What happened was – unexpectedly, I ended up with a personal best.
The ING Georgia Marathon | A Big Improvement
This year’s race was a complete opposite of last year’s ING Marathon. They corralled runners at the start, they had more-than-enough fluids, and the weather was damp, cold, and chock full of a biting headwind. …like an idiot, I was wearing only an ING wicking shirt and a flimsy pair of Umbro shorts and there were times during the race when I thought I was going to freeze to death.
Although the course was a little different this year, I found it more difficult than last year.
I’d like to know what others thought.
Maybe I just want to believe it was harder, but those that complained about all the hill climbing last year, will most likely complain about the hills this year.
There was especially a lot of climbing at the end, and this is where, in the last 3 miles from miles 23-26, I began to see people starting to fall out of the race.
We again traveled through some of the greatest neighborhoods of this city: downtown, midtown, old fourth ward, East Atlanta, Little Five Points, Candler Park, through the Agnes Scott College campus, Emory campus and neighborhoods, through Decatur and the Decatur square and through some other neighborhoods that seemed unfamiliar in my exhausted state.
Mentally, it can be tough when you know the city well and therefore know just exactly how far you are from the finish. “Man, I am waaay out here?”
I especially liked it when we split off from the half-marathoners. It couldn’t come soon enough – those half-marathoners that were running for time, pushed a faster earlier pace, and I ran my first mile in eight minutes — too fast for me to maintain, and I had to forcibly back-off.
Once the half-marathoners split off, it became much more peaceful and solitary. I’m sorry if that sounds sorta’ snob-like. It’s not meant too. I have zero reason to be a running snob. I’m a sloth.
The race organization was excellent. I didn’t carry anything this year since I expected that they would be in overkill mode due to last year’s fluid nightmares.
I was right.
Lots of water, lots of Gatorade, and lots of GU to feed my muscles along the way.
Crowd Participation at the ING
The crowd participation was again top-notch and it goes a very long way towards making the run extra special. It might have been a tad less crowded on the streets compared to last year, but considering the cold, damp morning, the sheer enthusiasm of those out on the course was much appreciated.
Like last year, families were out in front of their homes offering pretzels, orange slices, candy …and, one house had a keg out front, at about mile 21, offering runners a cold cup of beer.
No one was taking advantage of such generosity, so I slithered over, thinking a cup of beer might help numb the pain, and slammed a tall glass for the sheer experience of it.
It didn’t help – but at the time, it was the best beer I’ve ever had.
The Finish in Centennial Olympic Park
Now this was cool!
The last .1 mile of the course weaved through a maze of barricades behind which were screaming, yelling supportive crowds, cheering us on to the finish line.
I really loved this – for a second there, I felt very special and like one of the elites. The crowd roar was deafening and they screamed out congratulatory messages over top of one another creating a ton of noise and chaos and excitement.
Hats off to the ING race director on that one – in my opinion, setting the bar for the marathon experience in ’08.
A Personal Best to Cap Off a Great Race
As I crossed the finish, and looked up, I realized that enduring all the pain of running with my injury was worth it – I scored a personal best.
And yea, I realize to many of the runners that read this blog, this is slow, but for me it’s thirty minutes faster than last year’s ING Georgia Marathon, and one minute faster than the Atlanta Marathon which I ran on Thanksgiving, …a much easier race.
I’ll take it. …especially since I was injured.
As long as I continue improving with each race and continue to improve my finish times, I know that one day I will begin to log some respectable times in this game.
Lessons Around Every Corner
I feel that I grew mentally in this race. While some will certainly say I was arrogant and stupid for running injured, those that truly know me, like my wife, knew there was no stopping me – and even though I felt biting pain with each step, I endured that pain, swallowed it, and kept on moving to get where I had to go.
My wife told me the Saturday before the race:
“You’re full of sh#*, you won’t quit. “, “You’ll finish.”
…and she was right. Deep in the back of my mind, none of that early rationalizing, about stopping when I felt the pain, was ever really an option.
I will get to the finish line if I have to crawl.
It’s just who I am.