Monday, November 12, 2012

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon- 43 States To Go...

I ran my 8th marathon (not including the 2 at the end of the Ironman races) Saturday in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia.   Now I can check Georgia off my list of states.  I'm already looking for a spring marathon to run.  I don't know if I will be able to find a race close by in March or April, which are my preferred marathon running months since they don't interfere with triathlon season.

This marathon was one of my favorites, if not the favorite one other than Boston.  I like New Orleans too.  This one was smaller than the others, with no crowds so not very many spectators. That can be a negative if you like that.  It didn't bother me.  I loved Boston and New Orleans with the crowds and the cheering, but I loved this one too in a different way.  Twenty three miles of the two loop course was inside the Chickamauga battlefield park in the mountains of north Georgia, right outside of Chattanooga.  We actually had to go through Chattanooga to get there.

You can see the Confederate soldiers behind me getting the cannon ready to shoot before the race start.

The course was rolling hills, mostly on paved roads through the park.  It was a beautiful Autumn day running in the woods with all the colorful leaves.  At one point at around mile 15, I thought I saw someone in a red coat up in the woods.  My first thought was that it was the ghost of one of the dead soldiers who was killed there, but I quickly realized that, hey, that was the wrong war.  No red coats in this battle.  Only gray and blue.  Besides it was probably just the red leaves I saw.  It was a long day.

All the runners took off at the start line after the boom of the cannon.  It was so easy to get lined up at the start.  I was right behind the 3:50 pace group and decided to try to keep up with them.  Ha!  They disappeared by mile 2 and I was somewhere in between the 3:50 and 4:15 pace group.  For most of the race I thought I could make it to the finish in 4 hours. I was 2 hours and 2 minutes at the half and feeling great.  That made me think for sure I would do at least 4 hours 10 minutes on the marathon.

 I was wrong!  The first loop was easy and I hardly noticed the hills.  The second time around those hills were much more noticeable.  I think they got steeper.  Somewhere after mile 17,  I slowed down, not because I wanted to, but because my quads were toast.  The 4:15 pace group caught up with me around mile 19 and I picked up my pace to try to hang with them the rest of the race, but after mile 20 I had to slow down and I watched as they got further and further away.

All that downhill running on uneven roads shredded my quads.  By mile 21, my quads were hurting so bad I could barely run.  It was painful.  I began to wish I could pull the compression sleaves I was wearing around my calves up to cover my quads.  It was at that point when I knew I was paying for my lack of proper training.

Yes, I did the long runs as needed, but I just didn't put in enough weekly running mileage.  More specifically, I didn't do the mid week long run I needed to do to get my mileage up.  In most training programs I have followed in the past, I did a run mid-week that was half of the mileage of my Sunday long run.  If my long run on Sunday was 20 miles, then on Wednesday I would have done 10 miles, usually at race pace and then Sunday 20 miler at slightly slower than race pace.

I haven't done that in two years.  As a matter of fact, I rarely do a run over 4 miles during the week.  If I had done the extra run, I think I could have held out a little better and maybe even have gotten in under 4 hours and 15 minutes instead of falling apart.  One good thing is I didn't fall apart until after mile 19, unlike this time last year when I did the Pensacola marathon and fell apart around mile 12 because I started out too fast and I hadn't done any 20 mile training run either.  I won't do that again!

My finish time was 4 hours and 24 minutes and I was very happy with that.  I loved the finisher medal with the woman holding the sword up in one hand. It matches one of the monuments in the park that we ran past between mile 2 and 3.  In 2007, the race officials started picking one monument in the park that represents each state (or battle or something) and this year was the Kentucky sword lady. 

I really, really would love to have a sword of my own, but the Murph said that is out of the question.  I don't know what  he thinks I might do with a sword if I had one.  Nobody would mess with me that's for sure!  I would put my highlander moves on them.  I could just see me now doing one of my long runs in a seedy part of town with my sword in tow.  Who needs pepper spray when you have a real sword?

But anyway, I don't see a sword in my future so the pepper spray will have to do and if I run in a seedy part of town, I will stick with a large group.

I think it would be fun to come back and do this marathon again when they have the Alabama or Florida monument on the finisher medal.  (if they have an Al or Fl monument)

At the finish line they were giving framed certificates to all the first time marathoners.  I thought that was a great idea and they were really cute.  It made me wish this was my first marathon so I could get one too.  

The expo wasn't huge, but it had all the essentials.  All I needed was a couple of extra Gu and they had that, as well as a few other things.  They were giving Gu out at some of the aid stations on the course, but I always carry some of my own during the race, as well as some salt tablets.

Another plus was the hotel where we stayed was only about a mile from the race start.  There were shuttle buses that were taking racers to the start at 6 a.m and 6:30 a.m, but I didn't want to get to the race start that early and stand around in the cold.  The race didn't start until 7:30 a.m.  We left the hotel at 7:10 and drove to the start in our own car.  We got to the start around 7:15 and found a parking spot right away not far from the start line.  Easy!  

Then I headed straight to the porta-potty line, as usual!  I drink lots of G2 before a race and it makes me have to go.  I made it to the start line somewhere between the national anthem and the cannon blast.

Driving through Chattanooga brought back memories for both me and The Murph.  It has always been a favorite vacation spot and the mountains are beautiful.  We headed straight home after the race and passed up on going to some of our favorite spots.  We have no children with us anymore to take to these places.  Sad, I know.  I did pick up brochures on some of the places we have taken our kids in the past when they were little.

I remember going to Rock City and Lookout Mountain when I was kid and taking The Boy to the TN Aquarium when he was about 5 years old.  He loved it!  I miss those days!  The Murph has taken The Girl to all those places as well.

Enjoy your children.  They grow up way too fast!


  1. Congratulations on another marathon!
    I love your pink socks and arm warmers.
    "Wrong war", lol!

  2. Thanks Steph! They were actually not socks but compression sleeves that only go to the ankle. I find them more comfortable to wear for long runs than the compression socks. I love wearing arm warmers instead of long sleeve shirts on colder run too.