After a one week hiatus from my blog, I am back to give my account of the 2007 Rocket City Marathon of which I was a participant. It was an interesting and rewarding experience and I am thrilled to have my first marathon under my belt.
We arrived in Huntsville Friday night and I picked up my race stuff and we went to stay the night in Decatur with family. Up at 5:00 the day of the race feeling quite nervous about a number of things. My wife could not understand why I was so nervous about a simple race but most of you probably understand; "Have I trained properly?", "Am I wearing the right pair of shoes?", "Is my injured left foot taped up well enough and will it hold up for 26 miles?", "Can I finish?". The weather at the start of the race was unseasonably warm and drizzily. It actually rained lightly for the first couple of miles before stopping.
I felt really good for the first 7-8 miles and I stayed on a 9:00 minute pace. ( I had hoped to run a 4 hour race). Soon after mile 8 I started getting a cramp in my left ankle and had to work at keeping that to a minimum. My parents met me at mile 12 and gave me a boost seeing them. The race was really going well until the turn around point at mile 14. The cool breeze we had been enjoying stopped and I started feeling my energy level crashing. I was really hungry along then and could have eaten a couple of Big Macs if I had them. Instead I ate one of the energy gel Cliff Shots, which are nasty and did little to give me energy.
The rest of the race was pretty much an exercise in survival. I saw my parents again at miles 14 and 18 and then at mile 22, my wife was at the aid station with much needed nourishment, a banana and a tangerine; just the fuel I needed to get me to the finish. My longest run in my training program was 22.5 miles and in the race after that point was TOUGH. I knew I was going to finish but it really hurt every step I took. I had to stop two or three times and walk in the last few miles. At mile 25, I decided I was going to run all the way in and I did. I actually crossed the finish line in a normal gait looking better than I felt. With a time of 4:32, it was slower than I had hoped but I am thrilled to have finished.
Looking back on the race I realize now how very important it is to put in a lot of miles running during training. Because of my hurt foot I laid off running the last couple of weeks before the race and I think that had a negative effect on my performance. BUT, it was necessary to rest my foot or it would not have healed enough to allow me to finish. (I actually had it taped and supported so well, it gave me NO PAIN during the race).
Despite the pain and soreness in my legs a day after the race, I am proud of how well I did and looking forward to training for another.