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Nashville – Another 26.2 Mile Experience

Sorry this post is so long, but I wanted to try and capture the entire experience for everyone.

7:00AM.  The announcer sent off the Elite runners.   Runners that would have completed the entire course in the time it takes most of us to complete only half.   Each corral of runners was walked to the start line, encouraged to make some noise by the announcer and then set off.  I have to admit that I was a little Leary of the corral start method but I liked it.   Instead of having to run slower or be rude for the first couple of miles we were able to run freely at a good pace.  (I hope they use the corral start method for more Marathons and large events.)  As our corral got closer and closer the start line the excitement grew.  No pre-race butter flies either.  I felt confident and ready.  I am not sure if my runner maturity was kicking in or if knowing that Coach Ken was starting with me was the reason I felt confident.    

 

Our time had come we were standing at the start line.   Coach Ken started blowing his whistle, I started yelling – if you call it that – and then our whole corral group began making tons of noise.  It was awesome!  We could see the announcer and for the other corral groups he made some effort to get them pumped up, but he did not have to for us.  He was actually laughing, and waiting for a point to speak, but we never became quiet.  I think he said go – and we were off.  I started out at a nice and easy pace.  Coach Ken and I were moving along well, talking to other runners, and having a good time.  (One big thing that I learned from this training session and our coach was to yell, be talkative and have fun.  It makes long runs more enjoyable for everyone.  You may get some weird looks, but lots of laughs too.)  Sooner than later I got my first taste of the hills on this course that people talked about, they were steep and long.  But hills are fun right!  Little did I know that the hills would get worse and really wear me down.  Coach Ken dropped me off around Mile 3 so that he could run with some other people.  I thanked him for everything and I was off on my own with all of the other runners. 

 

Miles seemed to be going by well.  Lots of people to run and talk with, a new course that I had never run so each new turn presented new ground, Power Gel every 4 miles, and I hit a water station right after I took the Power Gel.  I heard at least a hundred times a “Go AL”, “Go Team”, or even a “Go Michigan” all though out the course.  The fans on the course were awesome and I tried to wave or give a “Go Team” back every time I heard one.  I also liked how points of the course passed in opposite directions so you were able to cheer on people as they passed by you.  I tired to yell a “Go Team” with every purple jersey that I saw.  I think it was around mile 7;  My right heel felt like something was rubbing, a new blister?  I looked down while running, not safe I know, and noticed that I could not see my sock.  I got over to the right and off the course, untied my shoe, and reached in to pull my sock up.  As I pulled the sock began to rip!  Yikes!  I must of chosen the wrong pair of socks to bring, too late now, I was going to have to run the rest of the race with basically half a sock.  I tied up my shoe and kept moving on.   I could feel the shoe rubbing my heel but I would not realize the true damage until after the race.  At the halfway point of 13.1 miles I had a time of 1:58, under two hours, that would be a PR for the half marathon if that is what I was running that day.  As I continued on the hills began to take their toll on my legs, not only going up them but also going down them became difficult and slowed down my pace.

 

At about mike 18 I think it was, the biggest hurdle of the day hit me.   My left calf muscle went into a spasm!   I stopped, rubbed and stretched it out, and then continued on.  This same episode seemed to happen every mile or so.  My slow pace from the hills became a very cautious pace, walking when ever I felt the calf tighten up, and lots of prayers being said to please allow me to finish.  So I journeyed on, getting water at every water station, thanking the Lord that I was not one of those people down on a stretcher getting medical attention, and knowing that the finish would be coming soon.  I do have to say that in the later miles I saw lots of Medical Stations and people getting help when they needed it.  Great job to the race team for being there for those people!  As I was walking through the last water station and I saw Coach Ken.  My mind immediately told me that you can not let him see you walking, so I began the current slow pace.  Right when I got to him the calf once again stopped me as I hobbled in embarrassment, and few curse words.   But like he had been dealing with it all day, he immediately clamed me down, got my calf stretched out and back moving again.  I made my way to the finish line and was picked up by Sandy that trained with us.  She gave her words of encouragement and took me towards the finish line.  The final stretch was amazing!  Both side of the course was packed with people, all screaming and cheering.  I head my name yelled out several times but I was too focused on crossing the finish line.  As I crossed, I pointed towards the sky and looked up in honor of helping me finish.  Even with all the pain it was truly another great experience of my life.

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May 2, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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