2008 ING Georgia Marathon Race Report

I must have been the least prepared person running the ING Georgia Marathon this morning.

  1. I have a sprained/fractured foot. (someday I’ll go the doctor to find out)
  2. I have run 6 total miles since my last race, the Mount Cheaha 50K, on February 23, 2008
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”

or,

“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.”

or,

“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.

4:40:38

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.

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Comments

Hey Christian,

Thanks for the great report. I am thinking of running this race in 2009 and your report makes me really excited! I ran Shamrock this year in VA Beach and the crowds (and wind, and rain….and boring course…) were weak. I’m glad to hear that GA has a lot of supporters.

Congrats on pushing through – hope the ankle is back at 100% now!

D:

Wow – i can’t believe you ran that route twice – day’um dude!

Good luck at the mohican — i’ll be towing the line at the superior sawtooth 100 in sept for my first 100 mile attempt.

Hi Kim — cool how that works, huh? Sometimes a slow grind allows us to actually “see” where we’re running.

{wink}

Thanks for commenting.

Christian

Great job!! I did it too but for the first time. I don’t think I could have survived the temperatures last year. I was impressed with the entire race, they did a very good job and the course was quite scenic. Cool medals too. Actually I did it twice. I’m training for the Mohican 100 in June and my schedule called for a 50 miler last weekend. My original plan was to run the 80k in Nashville but that got postponed to the fall. I looked around and couldn’t find anything else. My stepson lives in Atlanta so I’m always looking for excuses to head down there. That second loop was quite tough though. I’ve never gone that far on pavement.

I see you are doing the Sweetwater H2O. I did that last year and really enjoyed it. I wish I could do it this year but it doesn’t fit my schedule.

Again, congratulations and good luck on all your future endeavors

I was very unprepared for this race, in fact, I was out on a major sprained ankle and double muscule shin splint since December, and signed up for this before the injury happened. I wasn’t looking forward to the run, but I attended thinking I’ll run slow, and said don’t worry about the people passing me. So, I did just that, enjoyed the run tremendously. In fact, this run was one of the nicer runs, enjoyed running around, outside the city and seeing the historical sites. Atlanta is very nice, enjoyed learning the history while visiting too. Very good run.

Good job Christian :)

Nice report. I thought that the ING GA marathon was pretty fun this year. I did not notice the wind, but it must have been because of the pain in my left knee starting on Oakdale at mile 18…love running down hill and hate it at the same time. In any event, rumour on the street is that the finish line was sort of messy due to some changes forced by the recent weather events, so hopefully it will be fixed next year.

Nice job pushing through the pain to grab a PR.

Great report. You ultra folks are indeed tough or is is just stubborn;) I know of someone doing a 50 miler with a broken toe. Actually, gave me the courage to do the same for a half marathon.

Looking thru the comments I notice the finish line remarks, sounds very similar to my experience with the Chickamauga marathon. Never seem to get those kind of details, except from first hand reports.

Anonymous:

Wow, great analysis – thanks for sharing.

Since you’ve run Boston, you must be one of the faster blokes out there – much respect.

Thanks again.

Sherpa:

I’m crazy?????

Dude, must I remind you that you will be attempting a 150 mile race next weekend?

150 miles …I can’t believe that – although I say that now…

…next year, I’ll probably be on the entrants list {sigh}

Joe:

No, I will not abandon running and replace with Crossfit as I still believe to be a better runner, you need to run more; but I WILL continue to train hard with Crossfit. Nothing hnas proven to make me all-around stronger than Crossfit training. Period.

I am convinced that anyone who discounts this has not really tried the training methodology.

I didn’t mention it in my report, but Friday, 2 days before the marathon, I did a Crossfit workout that included 3 sets of 20 reps of squats with 135 and I made it through fine.

Remember, I have no desire to be a skinny, singular-focused runner – I am interested in the whole package. I want to be strong, fit, and functionality capable with the ability to tackle just about any challenge and make it through – be that running 100 miles, cycling 100 miles, team sports, weight lifting, swimming, surfing, skateboarding …whatever.

Crossfit supports a lot of this thinking which fits in nicely with my personal goals.

Life’s too short to be singularly focused only to regret it later.

dave – yessur. See ya at SweetH20.

…probably crawling up top of the world.

I’m excited.

You crazy mofo… WAY TO GO!

Here are my thoughts:

I think this year’s course was tougher than last year’s, however, the weather this year was almost perfect. The wind at times was the only issue.

I started in the front both last year and this year so I don’t know everything that happened, but I expect there were no fluid issues this year.

The course is what it is. It, like the weather, does not discriminate and affects everybody. I have run 10 marathons (including Boston) and this is the toughest course I’ve ever run. However, with a few execptions I will note in my next paragraph, I actually think the organizers got the course right. In Atlanta, you’re not going to have a fast course, so you might as well make it scenic. I’ll not reiterate what other have already stated, but I will point out the subtle attention to detail the organizers showed by the perfect timing of sunrise with the Jackson St Bridge overlooking the downtown skyline.

I think the major issue going forward will be the timing of the half marathoners and full marathoners sharing the same road. The last 5km of this race was a total disaster. We had to weave in and out of a sea of half marathoners sometimes running/walking 6 abreast. I would constantly get boxed in and it was impossible to maintain a pace. I was near two women vying for prize money, and I can’t imagine what it was like for them.

The last 300 yards weaving through centennial on a track 5 feet wide was the most asinine finish I’ve ever seen. How on earth am I supposed to finish strong in this manner with throngs of half marathoners finishing at the same time?

I understand the reasons from an organizing standpoint of sharing the course for both races, but until the issue of the last 5k is addressed, I believe the organizers will continue to have problems attracting full marathoners.

Christian: For the future are you planning to only use CrossFit in between distance events? Or did you nix the running solely due to injury?

Congrats on your finish!

Joe

Nice job, Christian! I hate running feeling cold.

It looks like our paths will cross at SweetH20. Hope to meet you there.

-Dave

Way to go on the PR!

Going in this year, I knew there was going to be hills. Heck, where in this town can you find a stretch that doesn’t have any? So I complain about them, because that’s what I do when I’m struggling up them. But my complaints are really pointed at myself because I haven’t trained on them enough.

And man, that wind hurt going through Decatur. The advantage of having all the halfers before the split was at least they helped break it. :) But the quiet was nice afterwards.

I saw the kegger, but by the time I comprehended what I was seeing, I was past them and didn’t want to go back. It probably would have hit the spot, since I needed something that wasn’t sweet at that point.

There was never a doubt that you wouldn’t do it, or finish. Good job!

David and SLB:

Thanks for commenting – I guess I hung myself out there with the “I know people with think I’m and arrogant and stupid fro running injured”-comment, but, I guess if the shoe fits…

{wink}

I am hoping that no additional long-term damage was done to my foot, as I would really like to nail 4:00-4:15 at the Atlanta Marathon in November. …plus, I slew of ultramarathons to get through in ’08

Good luck with all your training and thanks again for commenting.

Cheers!

Christian

Nice job, sounds like a grand day out!

Oh yeah and you’re arrogangt and stoopid too! ;-)

Hey, you’re arrogant and stupid for running that thing! But seriously, nice job and way to show mucho mental toughness. I, myself, had a nice run at Yargo this morning and didn’t even think about the marathon. Looking forward to the SweetH20 Half and more in the future. Best of luck as you continue recovery.

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