2016 Inaugural Chattanooga Marathon
When registration was announced that my city was hosting a marathon, I knew it was a race I had to run. But let’s back up for a minute here. When I registered for this race, I was neck deep training for my first marathon, the WDW Marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge in January. So that means I would be completing 2 marathons only 8 weeks apart. Haha! Color me crazy!
Racing locally meant I didn’t have to worry about travel costs, so I went down to the First Tennessee Pavilion on Friday for packet pickup.
I signed my waiver, picked up my bib and tshirt, and walked around visiting vendors. There were some vendors that you expect to see at races. Vendors that sell compression sleeves, tshirts, foam rollers, skirts, chiropractic care, headbands, fuel, etc. But then there were some vendors that I wasn’t quite sure about, such as windows and siding for your home? I didn’t get that. But moving on, I ran into my running friend Jessica, who was running the half and I got to chat with her for a bit.
I don’t like to study the course map. A lot of people say that I should know what I’m getting myself into, but I know myself, and I know I will over analyze every mile. I mean, would you blame me? Just look at the elevation change!
I woke up on Saturday morning with every intention of getting in one last shake out run. But anyone that knows me knows that, if there’s a 5K going on, I am there. Not wanting to miss the registration cut off, I got dressed, and drove as fast as I could to Finley Stadium. Success! I’m in!
The morning was very cold, so I stayed in the car until the last possible second. The course took us just about down Main Street and back. My shins were bothering me, so I tried not to push it. My official time was 34:54, so I was happy with that. The bling was nice, too.
I laid low the rest of the day, determined to not let the next day’s race get to my head. So I ate, napped, painted my nails, laid my things ou, and went to bed early.
Now on to the marathon. Sigh. This race is why it’s taken me this long to write a race weekend recap. I’ll try to get through the remainder of this post with minimal crying.
We drove down to the finish line staging area at the First Tennessee Pavillon, where we were then shuttled to the starting line at the Tennessee Aquarium.
We met up with some IG friends, did some light stretching, lined up at the start, watched someone perform the Star Spangled Banner, and were off shortly after 8am. Once again, my shins got the best of me. It was cold, my legs were tight, but I knew it was too early for this nonsense. Both marathon runners and half marathon runners took off together until the split at mile 1.56. What?! I looked behind me and a huge majority of the runners took off towards the half marathon course. So I found myself quite lonely at this point and knew, right then and there, that this race was going to be a fight.
I turned on my music and pushed forward. Before I knew it, I was passing mile marker 5. I got a text from my best running friend/turned running coach, letting me know I was at the one hour mark. Ok. Good. One hour down. I can do this.
By this point, I was feeling good. I felt strong. I got a text at the halfway mark telling me I reached the halfway at 2:31, and my estimated finish time would be 12:58pm. That would be a sub 5 hour marathon finish. I knew I was going fast. I knew I would burn out. I knew I needed to save some in the tank. But I struggled slowing down. I was feeling good. I would soon come to see that I made a huge rookie mistake!
I kept running and, boom.
At mile 17, I began to question whether I could pull this off. The sub 5 hour finish time was getting further and further away from me. Which was fine because I never really had a time goal, but at this point, the wheels began to fall off. I had my 3 best running friends texting me, telling me to finish what I set out to do. I was trying. I really was. At mile 20, I. Was. Done. I was done with this race. I was done with the pain in my feet. Done with the sweat in my face. Done with the pain in my foot. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I was reduced to a shuffle when my phone rang. Who’s calling me in the middle of a marathon?
I answered the call. On the other line was my best running friend, turned running coach, turned best friend. I didn’t talk. I simply listened. “You can do this. You got what it takes. I believe in you. Finish the job.” On the other end were my running friends texting me to keep pushing forward, and my family texting me to not quit. I shuffled my feet. I cried. I walked. I cried.
But with some more encouragement, and another phone call, I made it. Official time was 5:39:12. A marathon person best by almost 2 hours! I cried. A lot. I sat in a chair, trying to process the trauma I just put my body through, and the high of becoming a marathoner again. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day. The free food was great, and the company was even better.
I hobbled the rest of the day. I slept. I ate. I rode the high of what I just accomplished. That is, until the next day.
Rumors began to circulate on social media in reference to the course length. Specifically, it was short. While the course certification was correct, the barricade placement was not. The course was, in fact, 25.9 miles. So that means, on paper, it was not a marathon.
I struggled with this for a while. I became upset. “How can this again happen? Why did this happen? My race no longer means anything.” These were some of the things I told myself over and over. But, as the day wore on, I was reminded that this does not erase all of my hard work. This doesn’t mean I didn’t run a marathon. This doesn’t take away from the fact that I was out there doing the dang thing. So, yes. I am a marathoner!
Will I run this race again? At first, the answer was a firm, “heck no!” But time heals sore feet, and all wounds. Ask me today if I’ll run the race again, and the answer is, “Yes! See you in 2017!”
Until next time.