Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Big Day! Marathon #2

I made the decision to run race this just a few weeks ago! My name was pulled off a wait list and although I had a few moments of apprehension, deep inside I felt ready to roll. I was excited to see some Fall color, run down a mountain, and become a 2 x marathoner. 

Although, I did not formally train, I had a pretty good base of several 100 mile months before I started half marathon training and I felt like my 2 hour base was pretty solid. 

I have struggled producing any speed this year with the half marathon distance but I have felt like I could keep running after many races this year...time to test that theory! LOL 

The weather had been great leading up to the race and then on the Thursday before....(Ahhhhhhhh!) the forecast changed to rain...and that kind of changed how I was viewing this day. It made my “for fun” race a little more real. 

                                                        Scene from the course

I worried about rain on a 40 degree morning, I wondered if I would make it to the end, I wondered if I should stay home, I wondered if the forecast would just be wrong, I wondered what to wear LOL 

I obsessed a bit...

I prepped for rain because it was 100% on the forecast. I got a waterproof phone case, took my sleeveless vest, took a tight long sleeve shirt, got heavier gloves that are water repellent, but I never once thought about what if it is warmer than predicted!!!

I prayed on Friday and started to feel a lot more optimistic. I wasn't sure what the unpaved road was like, but rough conditions or not, I was still going to make the most of this day.

It was a little over four hours to Lenoir, NC. I went on Friday to pick up my bib and my shoe chip, it was at the race organizers place of work.  It was my first ever shoe chip! 

I made new a friend...

I stayed about 30 minutes from the race shuttles. When I woke up race morning in Lenoir it was warm! 48 degrees. I was kicking myself, I did not have anything for warmer weather with me. I had capris and a few long sleeve tech shirts. Both my shirts were pretty lightweight and had sleeves I could roll up, so it wasn't a total disaster, but I should have carried shorts and short sleeves.  It was supposed to be 40 on the mountain top though so I felt like it would be okay.

I ate a banana with a little peanut butter and a Luna protein bar race morning. 

I drove to the shuttles and was pleasantly surprised to see big comfy tour buses. I sat next to half fanatic member who has also run a ton of marathons. She is doing 50 states and has already checked off 40 something...Alaska the most gorgeous according to her, and she was headed to Hawaii in January. I laughed because she was going to run a half on Sunday after a marathon on Saturday LOL OMG! I kept looking at her thinking what kind of crazy person can run the day after a marathon???!!! She entertained me with her stories as we road up the mountain. I promise you, I could not even entertain the thought of running the day after

At the top it was very windy, misty, and the clouds were rolling by fast. It felt like it would rain any minute. I felt better about my outfit choice...I put on my thin sleeveless vest that is water repellent. I did not want to get soaked early on.

I waited in a store with tons of other runners. I used the restroom 3 x's before we started running.

I had my hydration pack with 2 tablets of Nuun, a banana, a pack of honey stinger chews, a cliff shot, run gum, my phone in a waterproof case, wore my vest, and emergency blanket in my pack...LOL 
I was ready for anything!

Off we went at 8 a.m., it was moist and misty, but not actually raining.  Willie Lowe took most of the photos and gave us permission to share. My phone was in the waterproof case in my pack the entire race. 

Hanging at the start line 

2.5 miles was the first aid station and I left my gloves and vest. It had rained momentarily, but it was so warm as soon as I was away from the top of the mountain I couldn't wear the vest...way too warm. If it rained, I decided I was just going to get soaked. 

Most sections of the first 10K were paved, however the bulk of the course was on unpaved road, the texture of which changed throughout the course. Some sections had tons of small rocks and that was hard on the tootsies. Oddly, the unpaved at the top felt easier to navigate than some sections in the later miles...some areas had little gravel cover, but lots of flat stones. I watched those flat stones carefully because they are slick when wet.

The first 6 miles I was being conservative with my pace because there was uphill and slopes. I am not sure my garmin elevation map really captures how big some of the slopes felt. Conserve energy! I was enjoying the sea of gold trees, which looked amazing even with the gray skies. I ran the first 10K in 1:06:13 (11:10 avg)

I had to take another quick potty break about mile 6. My bladder sucks. The thought occurred to me maybe I am over hydrating now that it is not quite as hot.

I used 3 minutes running with a 40 second walk break. I had programmed several hours of 3 x 40 into my Garmin.

I started fuel early, I ate a honey stinger chew during each walk break - I think I finished the bag around mile 5.
Mile 7 some downhill kicked in, which felt great after the slopes at the top.
Mile 9 I took my cliff shot. I was running at a really good clip and I was tempted to skip the walk breaks, but I did not. I knew the rocks were going to take a toll on my feet.
Downhill running is very dreamy :) It will make you feel superhero like. 

I did not make any of the pics!! These are just to give you an idea of what the course was like. 

I had decided to run off feel and only look at my watch at key points. I seriously had no time mission since my training was minimal, but I wanted to know what I was on track to do...just in case I was having a great day.

I clicked off the miles feeling pretty great. My half marathon was 2:18:47. The colors were really pretty and I was kind of awed when I passed by a  huge Christmas tree farm.  All the lush green 
🎄🎄💚 😍

The course was pretty quiet for a long time, just me and the trees, no crowds, cowbells...notta.
I ran by several small waterfalls as I was coming down the mountain, and some sections you could see really pretty green rolling hills, but the majority of time it was all about the trees. The last section was by the water and that was very soothing.

A view of the course profile
About 10 minutes before I hit the 3 hour mark the course levels out dramatically. Going from downhill to flat was tough. I experienced this in Montana as well, my legs were in a completely different rhythm and going flat makes me feel way too heavy. I ate my banana during mile 19 :) I figured it would give me a boost. The rain started about mile 17 and continued until mile 24ish.

and the typical app capture

I stopped at the hydration station at the 3 hour mark, which was right around mile 17 and ate a few orange pieces, then popped run gum in my mouth. I felt so good at that point, I was pleasantly surprised. I was just a tad warm, so the rain cooled me off and that felt wonderful. The biggest issue with the rain was the flat smooth stones that popped up out of the road, they are slick when wet. 

I held really strong for a long time though because at the mile 20 marker, I noted to myself I still felt really good!

Eventually my feet were really wet from the rain, and even though I wore drymax socks, my feet were sliding around and the socks were bunching a bit. I had spots on both feet that were getting sore.  I worried about my tootsies and felt bad for pushing them. Mile 22 I thought about walking the rest of the way! LOL Yep, things flipped that fast, but I knew I had run 20 fabulous miles and I hated to blow it. The flatness of the course was tearing me legs up! ...and maybe messing with my head a bit too! The downhill was kind of dream like, I sure wish it had lasted just a little longer!! 
I was rolling along very steady. 
You can see from my heart rate where I started to feel fatigued

I took many extra walks breaks for awhile and calmed down my achy feet. I tried to rally a few times, but I made very slow progress for a few miles.  During the last two miles I knew I was close to 4:45 and I started beating myself up for losing minutes. I was irritated with myself about the aid stations because I wore my pack and had supplies with me, but I wanted oranges, and a few times and I took Gatorade and walked. And then there was the extra potty break...and all the extra walking. UGH!  LOL I reminded myself  I came into this with no real time mission, but I was on track to beat my time from last year and I wanted it! I brushed off the joy sucking thoughts after a few minutes and started telling myself, "Progress!"

The last 5 miles I was around the same 3 ladies and 1 guy. I was not feeling chatty and since I was intervaling our positions were always changing, but one gal in a gray shirt really helped pull me along. She walked a few times and then got her second wind and just kept plugging away. I was impressed. I tried to feed off her good energy. Someone else was belching loudly and it was making me nuts! Also, towards the end the flow of cars became very busy.  Cars in both directions at times.  That was tough mentally!! 

Cars on the course! 

At mile 24, I tried to pick up the pace. My legs were tired LOL 😅😅 I said progress to myself over and over. It had just about stopped raining and it was just kind of spitting every now and again. Progress, progress, progress. The cars were messing with my head. The last two miles I really only took one walk break. I was not producing a ton of speed but I kept at it! 

The last mile was awful tough because they brought you in front of Mountain Beach Resort where we  had picked up the buses and looped runners all the way through the parking lot and we had to run up a little incline to cross the line. The parking lot loop felt eternal and I had to watch for cars backing out of spaces LOL But I did it! I ran so hard to the finish line I made myself feel woozy right at the end. 

I saw the clock and I knew I had come really close to hitting 4:45 but I did not even care, I was so thrilled and I could already feel the soreness setting in. The medic grabbed me because I was breathing so heavy but honestly, it only took me a minute to get myself  together, my last little burst of speed felt tougher than usual. Well duh, right!! I'd been running a long time LOL

I waddled slowly in to see what they had for food and it was pork barbeque, which people were really enjoying, but I don’t eat much meat, definitely not pork. I had some goldfish and few bites of a roll, I really didn’t want food anyway. I did drink a diet coke and then worried about the impact that would have on my recovery. I stopped and purchased a protein shake shortly after I left. 

I watched some folks go the Creek to wade their legs in the water, but I was soaked and very salt covered and I was afraid to get in the cold flow of water, even though I knew it would be great for recovery. I was very worried about messing with my body temperature in big swings especially since there was nowhere to shower. I just wanted a shower. I plugged the closest Planet Fitness into to my GPS and went to beg a shower. Thankfully, they had mercy and I drove home clean :) I had a few raw spots that really stung when I finally showered. Ouch!

Overall, it was a great day. The weather was not nearly as rough as forecast, and it got very humid with the rain, so it never felt super cold. I actually appreciated  the gray cloud cover. I was  still a light shade of pink the next day #gingerproblems 

The unpaved road was tough to navigate in a few spots because of holes or dips, and when it rained there were a few slick sections because they had mud on them,  and the stones were slick, but mostly it was like dirt trail running. The toughest part of the course was going from downhill to level and the cars during the last 5 miles. I only had one truck truly squeeze me off  to the side (because trucks were coming in both directions) and cause me to stop until he passed, but for the most part it was just staying alert around corners.  Sitting and driving home that far was a bit tough after the race, but worth it! 

Don't you love my random runner shots!?? 

Looking back, I wish I would have pushed miles 7-15 (the downhill) even harder than and skipped some walk breaks, but I was trying to think big picture... finish, don’t use up all your energy at once. I could have made up more time there. 

My whole race is broken down in interval splits, since I ran 3 x 40, so I used the segment feature on my Garmin to capture my pacing afterwards.

My Garmin was only 6 seconds off my official time, so it tracked really well. Cell service was non existent in the area.

My segments:
First 10K - 1:06:13 11:10 avg

Half marathon - 2:18:47 10:35 avg

Miles 7-15 - 1:31:37 10:13 avg is easy to see how much I lost it the second half

2:18:47 for the first half
2:27:63 for the second half
4:46:10 was my official finish time :) 

I am hopeful recovery will go well.  My quads were making me yelp just a little going up and down the stairs, but 4 days out I am able to kneel and stoop, it is only my toes that are really tender. 

After the race I saw many people walking very slow, struggling to get up after they sat down, and I chatted with a few wincing people and it made me realize only a few people were skipping away pretty normal. Last year when I ran Richmond I felt like I was only one who was moving really slow after the race. It hit me that there are so many half marathon runners and families hanging out in the finish area at Richmond that I just didn't see it. I really got to see the special marathon walk because all of us had run the distance.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my adventure!! Have a great week ❤

Have you experienced the post marathon walk? 
Every run unpaved road like this? 
Have any questions about details I forgot to include? 
Relate to my...I'm a superhero and 2 miles later I'm walking...flip?! 
Do you think you would enjoy this kind of course? 
What is the longest run you've done and ran the next day!? 


  1. Wow, this sounds like a tough race with the terrain, traffic and rain. Great job! I was hesitant to run after my 14 and 15 mile training runs but I weirdly felt better after an easy run the next day. I don't think that would hold true after a marathon though!

    1. Thank you :)
      I agree, a very easy short run after a long one usually does wonders...but I was so sore after both marathons I can't imagine even a mile LOL run 13 the next day, I can't even imagine. LOL

  2. Congratulations Karen! I didn't know you were training for a marathon! maybe I wasn't paying attention?! sorry!

    What an amazing time! YOu are awesome!

    1. Thank you Ana :)
      I wasn't really training for this lol I have been half training and decided to go for it!

    I am so impressed.
    I would have been terrified on that gravel. I slip & slide just walking on it. Much less wet gravel!
    & cars?!?!?!!? That'd freak me out too - you really are amazing.
    Oh girl... bladders & running dont mesh well for me either.
    Good thinking finding a Plant Fitness for that shower. That had to be refreshing.
    I am in awe of you!!!! Congrats!

    1. Thank you so much :)
      Well you know I am challenged staying upright on regualr pavement so I did worry when things were wet, but I did okay lol
      I was so thankful PF let me shower, I can not imagine what the drive home would have been like with no shower...I was dying!!!
      I am thankful the day turned out so well :)

  4. Congrats, Karen! What a beautiful course. I don't like sharing the road with cars, though.

    And no running the next day. I usually take a week off after a marathon.

    1. Thank you Wendy!
      It was a very pretty area :)
      The cars were sparse at the top, but later when I was tired it did mess with me a bit, but I survived.
      I am not sure if a week will be enough days off running for me yet, I still feel like I need a few more days.

  5. Congrats Karen! Wow you ran a great race! Don't second guess what you should have done, you did GREAT! Own it! That's a gorgeous course but when you mentioned the no bueno. There's no way I could run a step the day after a marathon let alone a half. Yikes.

    1. Thank you Marcia :)
      It is so hard not to second guess!!! but you are right, I just need to let it rest.
      I could not stop thinking about her running a half the next day as my quads sang to me on the stairs LOL

  6. Thank you Marcia :)
    It is so hard not to second guess!!! but you are right, I just need to let it rest.
    I could not stop thinking about her running a half the next day as my quads sang to me on the stairs LOL

  7. Congrats on your race! Way to jump into it just a few days before and crush it!

  8. Congrats! That looks like a tough course and you ran it like a champ! :)

  9. What beautiful views on this course! I am just so freaking amazed by you Karen! What?? "I just decided to do this marathon!" A good base you had for sure! I could have trained for 16 weeks and still not finished as strong as you my friend! Congratulations to you!

    1. Thank you :) It was very pretty! I really enjoyed the waterfalls :)
      Last year I did train for 20+ weeks and couldn't do this lol it is hard to know what is right. I just know I can't put long run after long run on my feet anymore feet barely held up for this! Thankfully I made it across the line

  10. Woot!!!! I think you did well considering you hadn't officially trained for it! The views must have been amazing!

    1. Thank you :) I am thrilled with the outcome. Had I come in under 4:45 last year I may have never wanted to do this.
      The course was pretty nice, I could've done without the cars though!

  11. Looks like a really beautiful course! The rain would have definitely slowed me down; I hate slippery rocks. Congrats on your 2nd marathon!!

    1. Thank you :) The rain did make it harder on my feet, but I am thankful it did not rain the whole time!

  12. Congrats on Marathon #2! This course looks really hard with the elevation drop and the loose stone - I would be surprised to see many people not hobbling around after that. Downhills just DESTROY your quads (as you said, lol).

    It looks really beautiful! Yay for overcast days. Boo for traffic on the course!

    1. Thank you!! Yes, normally I don't feel my quads when I run it always my glutes and hammies that are tore up feeling or tight after, but this was so about the quads lol I have only felt this way a few times so it was kind of fun to yelp a little going down the steps - I know I worked hard :)
      I kept thinking the whole time it would have been a stunning course in the sunshine, but I am thankful it wasn't...too warm, had it been sunny I am not sure I could have moved that fast for that long lol

  13. I'm so proud of you, Karen! You are a bad ass woman to go out and do this on your own, then drive all that way home. It looks like it was gorgeous. How is recovery going?

    1. Thank you :) It was a really nice area and I wanted to see how different it felt to have some downhill involved. I was feeling really great when I ran on Sunday but today I felt a bit rough...but I have caught another cold and I think it is zapping my energy. Nothing aches now :) My feet took several days though.

  14. The course looks like a gorgeous one, but the terrain sounds tough! The cars along the course sounds kinda rough too. Great job on the race!!

    1. Thank you! I really liked the scenery but the cars not so much lol I think this will be a one and done for me but I did enjoy it!

  15. I freaking love when people last minute do a marathon, what an awesome sign of fitness and this looks so pretty!

    1. Awww, thank you :) I wanted to check out the course! The one I trained for endlessly last year didn't go nearly as well lol

  16. Congrats Karen! This really seems like a challenging marathon and the road must have offered a hard time. How long did you prepare for this marathon?

    1. Thank you :) I did not follow a specific marathon plan, I have been half training for about 9 weeks and steadily running all year so I just went for it. I have run 6 half marathons so far this year.

  17. Wow, wow, wow! Huge congrats!! I find flat courses challenging too, but you did it!

    1. Thank you Coco!!
      I keep wondering if the flat would have messed with me if the whole course had been like that! The downhill really used up my legs lol

  18. Karen, I can't tell you how inspiring this is to me. I know you're not advocating not training, but this shows me the power of confidence because you believed you could do it and you did! And I can't help but add this to my growing evidence that less might be more when it comes to training! I hope you feel some redemption from not having your best first marathon. You ran a smart race and should be very proud. Congrats!!! Also, the course looks gorgeous! I think I'd love it.

    1. Thank you so much :) I worried it would come across I was advocating no training and I really wouldn't have attempted that at other times in my running journey, but I truly felt ready when this opportunity rolled around so I went for it.
      I have so many issues with my feet it seemed less strain to go for one big day then to load miles on my feet with weeks of long runs. Also, going through the experience one really changed how I feel about investing so much time in training! I needed every bit of of training the first go around because mentally I couldn't imagine running 26 miles but having accomplished it once when I felt pretty yucky I knew if I felt good I could have fun...and I did!! and downhill is a dream lol I liked the course, I do think parts were tough but I think it the case with any marathon course lol I know you love trail running maybe this a race you should think about next year!! It feels like it would be right up your alley :)


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