Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Race Report: Rocket City Marathon

This past Saturday was the second marathon in my three marathons in 3 months adventure. Matt, Liz and I headed down to Huntsville, AL to run in the Rocket City Marathon. Matt's wife Maureen was so awesome and drove us!

We got up early Saturday morning and left around 5am. I had planned to try to snooze, but I had too much adrenaline. We were being pretty chatty (and we later realized this was a mistake as we had shared our best stories in the car instead of saving them for mile 21) and were there before we know it. Well, only after driving through some pretty interesting parts of Alabama. If you've never spent much time in the south, let me just say that Alabama is a whole different kind of southern than what we have here in Nashville.

We got checked in and used a real bathroom in the hotel lobby before heading out to the start line. There was a chill in the air, but it ultimately ended up being the perfect temperature for the whole race. I wore capris, a long sleeve top and gloves and found myself to be comfortable the entire time.

My cousin-in-law Mark was there running his first full, and I managed to find him and my cousin (his wife) and another friend who came to watch. It was fun to see them before the race and snap a quick picture. I need to get it from her as well as the one she got of me near the halfway mark. Mark went on to run a 3:39! He says he's a one and done, but I'm hoping to convince him to do another and try to break 3:30. Peer pressure is awesome among runners, ha.

Here's the gratuitous pre-race start line photo of Matt, Liz and me.

I managed to find my pal Chris at the start line - he was running his first full marathon! I never got to see him again, but he went on to run a 3:43. Pretty awesome! (Oh, and forgive my sleepy eyes. Did I mention I worked a benefit until 11pm the night before? In heels?)

Before we knew it, the cannon fired and we were off. Yes, I said cannon. Welcome to Alabama. :)

We started out and just ran whatever we felt. After the first few miles, I realized we were naturally running a 9:30 pace. As the early miles went by, we were staying pretty consistent and feeling good in that general territory. I didn't want to get my hopes up too early, but it was pretty exciting to be running so well. I'll admit - I haven't run much at all since the Flying Monkey Marathon 20 days before, so I really had no idea how I'd feel.

I wore my shirt from that marathon and found several other fellow monkey runners out there. It's always neat to chat with people during a marathon, but it was especially cool to find all these other people who had run the same race as the three of us a few weeks before.

This next photo was taken around the mile 7 mark. I didn't realize it was being taken or else I would have smiled!

Unfortunately, miles 12-17ish are down the side of this one long, flat and straight road. There was a bit of wind, and this long stretch got really boring, really fast. We did run into some familiar faces from the Nashville Striders and East Nasty, so it was nice to get to chat a bit. We decided that there are probably more people from Nashville in this race than there are people from Huntsville. I did see my cousin and friend somewhere around the half, and it reminded me that it really is an adrenaline booster to see a familiar face when you're out there.

We finally turned off the long road, and I realized we were slowing down. I had toyed with the idea of trying to run a 4:10 and PR, but I knew around this time that I just couldn't hang on to it. My legs were tired and reminding me I'd run a marathon 20 days before, and I knew it was too ambitious to try to push for a PR. Honestly? I was going to be happy to just finish. That's really been the goal for doing all these races so close together anyways.

This next photo was snapped somewhere near mile 18-19. I can't really remember any more. I know I was feeling tired and had reached that point where I'm just looking for the next mile marker or water stop. The guy in the blue shirt (Paul) also ran the Flying Monkey. The gal in the white (Mary) is a new friend we picked up around this point and enjoyed chatting with for a few miles. It really helps to keep you going to find someone new to talk to in the late miles.

We did reach a point where there was no more talking, except for the occasional "this sucks" or "I'm ready to be done." One thing I am really proud of though is that we ran the whole time with the exception of short walk breaks at water stops to drink a little. I'm not opposed to walking, but it still feels good to know that I didn't walk. (I don't count the water stop walk breaks as truly walking. I just need to walk to actually get the fluids in and not spilled all over me.)

The last 3-4 miles felt like an eternity. We had all three spread out just a little bit, and I know I just wanted to get it over with. I wasn't really in pain - my legs just felt tired and heavy. I wanted to sit down and not be running any more.

Before long, I saw the mile 25 marker and tried to pick it up a bit. I had slowed down earlier to more of a 10:30 pace, but I ran the last mile in 9:40. I saw mile 26, I rounded the corner, and then I made it across the finish line as they said my name and city/state. It's always cool to hear your name!

I thought I felt fine as I crossed (and I remember thinking to try to smile and not stop my watch since I get my race line photo for free and wanted to not look awful in it), but I was a little dazed as soon as I started walking. They wrapped a blanket around me, and I noticed my friend off to the side. I was trying to let him know I'd come over to say hi while this other guy was trying to give me my medal. Then, I was looking to find out who had the hats. It was just funny... it was like my brain wasn't processing everything right. I got to chat with my friend a minute, and then it was time for the finish photo.

I had run my second fastest marathon ever in 4:19:08. I also ran a course PR (I've run this race two other times before).

Needless to say, I was pleased. Considering that I just ran a marathon, I'll take a course PR and second fastest time ever.

One of the things I love about this race is that it's only $5o and you get a nice shirt, medal, hat and your finish line photo. I can't wait for my picture to be mailed to me!

We headed inside to change clothes (it was cold when you weren't running, and some rain was moving in), and then we grabbed some food.

I think we look pretty good when you consider we just ran our second marathon in 3 weeks.

We headed to a little place in town called The Nook for a post-race beer. I tried something new, and I can't remember the name... but it was good!

We headed home in the rain (so glad it didn't rain on us during the race like we were afraid it might!), and I took a 2-hour nap. Then, I totally got pasta and cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory (thank you Curbside To Go) and went to bed and slept another 13 hours. I was exhausted!

So two down, one and a half to go! I'm glad I have 4 weeks until the Goofy Challenge. I'm taking this entire week off before I start a little gentle running. At this point, I'm as trained as I'm going to be. No sense overdoing it.

I actually feel pretty good. There are some minor aches and pains, but nothing crazy. I'm kind of tired and hungry all the time, but that's to be expected.

I'm nervous about the Goofy, but I'm also really excited. I know it's going to be slow, but I think it's going to be a blast!


Nicole said...

so so so so proud of you! since its been so cold in florida, you should rock your rocket city marathon shirt for disney! what a rockstar you are melanie! great job! so excited for april!!! keep it up gf! xoxo

Jen ( said...

Congratulations! Your friend Chris looks like a Chris I grew up with, but I'm certain they are not at all the same person.

I'm glad your marathon went well. :)

Amy said...

Yay!!! Congrats on a great race! Glad to hear it went well and you had good race weather!

You definitely deserve some time off and you're definitely ready to tackle the goofy challenge! :)

Getting My Words Out said...

Well...drat. I'm behind on reading my favorite blogs or I would have watched for you at the race-since I was working the finish line!

I had the pleasure of welcoming your friend Chris to the finish line with his foil blankey and medal. He was one of my favorite finishers--the look on his face when I asked him if he'd like me to put his medal on his neck was PRICELESS!!!

I'm working my way backwards but I'm assuming you're doing 3 marathons in 3 months to earn the "Maniac" title?? :D

Laura said...

Great job, and post-race beer is totally the way to celebrate! :) Welcome to the Maniacs.