Atlanta Marathon grows up
Typically, a low-key, quiet race through the burroughs of Atlanta, the Atlanta Thanksgiving Marathon changed up the mojo a little bit by adding a big name sponsor. This year, the Atlanta Track Club teamed up with the Weather Channel and more than doubled the race participation for 2008.
More cheering fans, too.
The Atlanta Marathon race course is the same course run during the 1996 Olympics Marathon. It’s a challenging course, with lots of rolling hills, but it’s a really great tour of our city.
The coolest thing about the race this year was having my wife run the half-marathon. Her first. She kicked you-know-what and I am very, very proud.
“Woo Hoo LuvPi”
Fat boy baby steps
This race is sentimental for me.
Rewind to June, 2006 – I was 36 years old, nearing 250 pounds, in terrible shape, and unhappy with my career, its stress, and traveling all the time. I made the decision that “enough was enough”, and that I was going back to being the Christian that enjoyed life and bounced off the walls with energy and excitement.
F work stress. I was done.
I was letting go and decided that whatever happened with my life, happened.
The Atlanta Marathon was my first race in November 2006. Probably grossly unprepared, as I am for most of my events, I ran the race and finished in 5:10:36. Almost dead last in my age group. When I finished, the race officials were breaking down all the race tents, and other than my faithful wife, no other spectators were left.
But I finished, and I felt great.
Since then I have run over 50 races, from 10Ks, to 100-mile ultramarathons.
I’ve become an aspiring runner.
The next year, 2007, I ran the Atlanta Marathon again and shaved off over 30 minutes with a 4:41.
Still slow, but better than 2006.
Gunning for that sub-4
This year, at 195lbs, a lot stronger, and 38 years young, I have been training harder than ever. Crossfit has become a huge part of my training life, and I believe the CrossFit training methodologies will change fitness and strength training forever.
But the benefits of engaging in a lot of strength training as a runner is in heated debate. I don’t care about that, though. I’m convinced that for me, getting stronger equates to getting faster.
My dream goal was to shave 42:00 minutes off my time, and get that sub 4-hour marathon. I knew I was strong enough, but since my 100-mile race experience in September, I had not endured any training runs beyond 15K (9.3 miles), but had run quite a few 10K and 15K races, plus lots of shorter, faster intervals.
Dude, come on, you just might make it
I had a great first half of the race, but I started to wane badly during miles 15 through 24. This is probably where I would have benefited from a few more longer runs over the last couple o’ months. I started to slow way down and the mental low-points started seepin’ on in.
“I can’t make a sub-4, I should just slow down and enjoy the run”, I’d say to myself all woe-is-me.
But when I hit the 24-mile mark, I looked at my Garmin and saw 3:40-something, and realized that I might still have a shot for a sub-4 after all.
I started to push and push, and I am not sure where the drive came from or how I found the strength that late in the race, but I became hell-bent on the sub-4.
I was an obsessed runner.
Spittin’ and snottin’, calves wanting to cramp. They’d do these little mini cramps, almost making my legs buckle as if to warn me to chill out or pay dearly.
I ran as hard I could. Through the intersection leaving Peachtree, around the corner, down-then-up the last hill section, and literally sprinted the long stretch to Turner Field and the finish line.
People watching along the finish could see the clock and tell I was pushing it hard, chasing the 3:59, and they cheered and offered lots of encouragement, but I could only barely hear’em…
I was possessed.
My Garmin says my fastest pace was down to 5:24/mile. For me, that’s blistering speed.
“DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!”
I ran under the clock and it read, 4:00:06
“I can’t believe I missed it by six seconds.”, I screamed to my wife. (and anyone else within about 100 yards)
I complained the whole way home and sulked around for awhile until I remembered that I had started towards the back of the pack – my actual chip time was definitely going to be faster than the race clock time because it took me awhile to cross the actual starting line after the gun went off.
…but was it far enough back from the starting line to erase the 4:00-hour mark?
The Atlanta Marathon web site recorded my actual chip time as 3:59:58 – I got my sub-4 by two seconds.
I am so, so happy.
Setting and obtaining goals feels good.
It’s all about seeing that “3”.
So, great, now what’s the goal for 2009?
Funny you should ask. Here are a couple goals for 2009:
- Running 175 miles at ATY
- Sub-6 at the Mountain Mist 50K
- Sub-6 at the Sweet H20 50K
- Finish the Keys 100
- Sub-8 at Laurel Valley in August
- Head back Superior Sawtooth 100-mile for a sub-35 hour
- or, finish Cascade Crest 100-mile trail race
- A sub-3:30 at the 2009 Atlanta Marathon
Never stop trying to be better.