Just to let you know- this blog is no longer active. I'll be keeping up my 101 in 1001 list until its completion, but will not be writing new posts. You can read the post below if you want the long version. Thanks for the journey to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New River Marathon Race Report, Finally!

I realized I had a major typo in my last post...despite the hills, I did manage to squeeze under 5 hours at 4:55:03. Here's how it broke down...

Miles 0-2.5
Meredith (my friend running her first marathon), her running buddy from home, and I started out fine. We were watching the Garmin closely and slowing down to stay at about a 10:00 minute mile pace since our goal was to get in below 4:30. This was my first long distance race with the Garmin and I was a little afraid I'd be glued to it.

Mile 2.5
First hills started. I really thought I was not going to be able to keep up even that early in the race and first started to realize these hills were going to make a huge difference in my performance.

Miles 3-13.1
Really nothing to report. Scenery was nice, chatted with a few other runners (including a guy running his 75th!), kept an average 10:00 pace by going a little slower up the hills and faster down them.

Halfway Point- Mile 16
We hit another hill and I told my running buddies to just go on. From that point on, I was walking up the hills and then just leaning forward and rolling down them.

The runners were pretty spread throughout the course and I was alone without another runners visible at several different points. I might have made a detour into a ditch at one point.

Miles 16-18
At one point, there's only one runner visible in front of me and I see her take a right onto a dirt road. I thought she was lost, but there was a guy in a truck sitting there so I asked him. He just nodded his head towards the dirt road and it was then that I realized this particular dirt road was straight up the side of a mountain. There might have been some four-letter-words and there definitely was some walking.

Miles 18-20
My quads are not happy about all this incline walking and sprinting down hills, but I've still managed to hold a decent pace overall. I hit mile 20 at a little under 3:30 and had the ridiculous thought that if I just pulled out a 10K in an hour, I could still hit my 4:30 time goal.

Mile 20-23
After the Mile 20 water station, I knew 4:30 wasn't happening. My legs (especially my quads) were screaming. I don't really feel like I "hit the wall" because I knew I could still finish and beside my legs I felt pretty okay, but I did really start to struggle. (There was a poster hanging in the woods that said, "All walls have doors," which I thought was pretty poetic.)

There was a lot more walking than running. There was self-pity, whining, and frustration. My mom and sister biked by and offered some water and encouragement which was helpful. What was not helpful was the woman who I ran with for a little while who kept saying things like, "When I get tired, I just try to keep running to a goal- like that tree up ahead!" I know she was just trying to be nice and keep me going, but I didn't appreciate being talked to in the way that I talk to my 3rd grade beginning runners. I just wasn't in the mood for being pushed.

I know my body and its limitations and that I was going to be doing a great deal of walking between little stretches of runs to get to the end of this race. My new goal was just to make it under 5:00.

Mile 23-26
This is when my Garmin turned on me.

From the beginning of the race, my Garmin was a little bit ahead of the mile markers. For example, my wrist would say we hit Mile 12, but the Mile 12 marker was 20 seconds later. This was not a big deal at mile 3, but at Mile 23, this was a very. big. deal. I was running with that enthusiastic lady when Garmin beeped for the 23rd time, but the mile marker was nowhere in sight. I finally scared her off when I yelled, "Where is the &$*#$@* Mile 23?!?!" We were going around a never-ending curve in the road and it felt like we were just going in a huge circle.

Mile 23, and then 24 eventually appeared, but that Mile 25 marker almost cost me a mental breakdown. When Garmin said "25.00," the road was straight ahead, but I still didn't see the marker. I was literally crying, whimpering, and begging to see that mile marker. It was a good thing I was alone.

The Mile 25 marker finally rolled around at "25.34" and I knew if I was to preserve any diginity at all and make it under 5:00, I was going to have to get it in gear.

Then I got passed by a girl in a cowgirl costume. That was demoralizing.

Mile 26-Finish
I saw my mom, sister, and friends cheering at the end and pulled out what I had left to push the last little bit. Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was going. They did not have the last section where you had to go around a curve marked well and I may or may not have shouted angrily at the volunteer, "Where am I going?!" (You shouldn't have to think after running almost 5 hours- the last stretch should be pretty clear.) I rounded the last little field they had marked with cones and I was crying, frustrated, and sprinting with every little scrap I had left when I crossed the finish line.

Post Race
I was pretty discouraged about my time right after I finished. (It didn't help to hear that the cowgirl runner who passed me had apparently been drinking along the route...that made me feel pretty pathetic.) After a little bit though, I was okay with it. I finished my second marathon! It was a mountain marathon! I had only had flat land training! (Which was stupid...)

Anyway, I learned a lot of lessons from this race and it makes me excited for the next one!

In other excitement, I graduated from my master's program yesterday and the 5K I'm planning will be this Saturday! (Which might help to explain my blogging absence.) I hope to get a little caught up soon though and catch up on all y'all's excitement too!


  1. Major congrats on your 2nd marathon! And one with mountains... crazy!

    But also congratulations on finishing grad school! That is a major accomplishment with a 10% raise included! :)

    I swear, Rachel, you and I are cut from similar cloth. Your dad was a dairy-farmer! We also still have beef-cattle. My brother does all the farming but I own 25% of the acres.

    Enjoy the last few weeks of school! Are you EOG testing this week? I have to proctor and divide my 23 darlings among the other 2nd grade teachers.

  2. Goodness! What a mountain of a marathon. Good job for finishing. :) Congrats!!!!

  3. Congratulations! The cowgirl comment cracked me up. I feel for you! Marathons are such a mental challenge. My first marathon I was completely in the marathon zone and loved it. My second one sucked in comparison and I wanted to give up. I was mad at my time. Mad at my attitude. But bottom line, you finished. And you should be proud! And it's good to learn lessons and make new goals for next time. I do the same thing! :) Congrats on your master's too!

  4. Congrats on the finish!!! You ran your second marathon and a mountain one at that!!! Yahoo!!!! My only advice is celebrate the finish...I still kick myself about Boston and it was 4 years ago!!

  5. y do the garmins always give up at mile 23. mine was all messed up too! ugh
    great race recap. congrats on running a marathon!~

  6. Congratulations on your finish! That marathon sounds totally hard core.

  7. As a new runner, the thought of running 26 miles is incredible, regardless of your time or how much walking you had to do. That was AMAZING and you should be so proud of your hard work. I know you might want to slap me for saying that (I was really discouraged with an 8K I did earlier this year because I wasn't ready for it and did it anyway. I had to walk and it made me sad. People kept telling me how great it was that I finished and I was like, "Please stop. I am so not proud of this." But really...you finished a MOUNTAIN MARATHON. You really deserve all the praise you got.

  8. I ran this one and finished just a few minutes ahead of you. I am happy to say I finished ahead of Cowgirl. The hills got me, also. Just wasn't prepared for them. And the finish area was a little klunky, definitely the worst part of what was otherwise a very well organized race.

  9. This sounds similar to my experience. I ran it yesterday and after coming down the final big hill around mile 20, my legs were like, "no speed here." lol, I just stuck to my 8:15 pace and drove it on home. I loved this race but will say that it is challenging. Anyone thinking of running it should definitely be training on hills. There's no way around it. My full review can be found here: