On Saturday, my running partner and I ran the Snickers Marathon in Albany, GA. Originally, we had planned to race in Hyannis, MA but that didn't work out due to bad weather. Most of you know that story but feel free to click here if you want the break down. Before we decided on Albany, we considered flying to Dublin, OH to run the Last Chance Marathon which was being held on the same day as Hyannis. At the time, this was the most appealing option as neither of us wanted to re-taper or continue stressing about the race for another week. Before we booked a flight, we read the fine print and checked the course to make sure we weren't running over a mountain at 5 o'clock in the morning. Turns out, an early morning mountain run would have been a dream compared to the actual course which was 26 laps around a one mile loop; each runner responsible for counting their own miles. What? Ok, so Dublin was out. Next option Albany, Georgia. Two flights, three hotels and a rental car later, our trip was booked. We managed to make it through one more nerve-wracking week and by Friday we were pumped up and ready to go. Plus, I'm not gonna lie, the thought of two nights in a hotel with no kids waking us up in the morning and with no agenda was really nice.
|Sunset in Tallahassee.|
We ended up having to fly down to Tallahassee, FL because there were no flights directly into Albany that worked with the race schedule. Definitely not ideal to drive an additional 80 miles after flying for three hours, but we didn't have a choice. The drive ended up being the first of many treats on our adventure. The scenery included huge pecan groves and big, beautiful farms that we took in while also witnessing a jaw-dropping sunset. We rolled into Albany at 7:00pm and went straight to the expo to grab our numbers. Both the hotel staff and those working at the expo were incredibly warm and friendly and helped to relieve some of the anxiety were having due to the fact that the race was a mere 12 hours away. Our 5:00 wake-up came fast. Not good because of how tired we were but good because it gave us little time to think about what lay ahead. The temp outside was 34 and the sun wasn't up yet as all the runners slowly ambled to the starting line. We heard a muffled voice saying something over a microphone and then we suddenly heard a cannon fire, which we quickly realized, meant the race was underway. Quick note: very little fanfare at the start of the Albany marathon, in case you plan to give it a go. I immediately tucked myself in behind Pacer George who was leading the 3:15 pace group. I have never used a pacer so I was thrilled to have a professional guide me through the race. This pace was undoubtedly going to be a stretch for me, but I had trained hard and was feeling coureagous so I figured, what the hell? For most of the race, we were a tight-knit group of about 6, shuffling positions at the water stops and having short conversations with George who was calm, cool and and effortlessly keeping us on track (while also holding a large wooden pace sign?!?).
Pacer George, just ahead of me in
the orange shirt. Thanks, George!
This is the first marathon I've run where I didn't look at my watch ONCE. No joke. I put all my trust in George and just went with the flow. It was incredibly freeing. I did start to run out of steam during the last 10K and watched as George continued on without me. That was hard. Doubt seeped in a little as my brain was trying to convince my feet to stop. My music was my saving grace at this point as I willed my feet to keep step to the tempo of each song. My mantra for those final miles - "Don't think. Just go." Once I got to mile 24, I could feel myself relaxing as I was pretty sure my legs would carry me the final 2 miles without completely breaking down. I rolled through the finish line with not an ounce left to give. Such sweet relief. Final time:3:16:05. Of all of the marathons I've run, this was by far the hardest I have pushed myself. I can honestly say I have never been happier to be done with a race than I was at that moment. I quickly found George, gave him a hug and thanked him several times for his uncanny ability to keep a steady pace. Note - if they are available, I highly recommend running with the pacers.
|Celebratory dinner at 'The Catch'. And, yes, |
this beer tasted as good as it looks.
That evening, after a very long nap (another huge treat), KH and I rewarded ourselves with dinner out at The Catch, a local seafood joint. Excellent food, fantastic service (thank you, Jeremy) and the perfect ending to a very long day. About halfway through our meal we realized we were sitting next to the three race directors. They, too, were celebrating the end to a long, and in their case, incredibly successful day. We made a point to tell them how much we enjoyed their race and that we would be sure to recommend it to our fellow runners. For KH and I, this was another feather in our cap, and the end to an amazing journey that started four long months ago. Not a moment went by on this trip when I wasn't thinking about how lucky I am to be able to travel to a race, to have such a passion for running in general, and to share these sentiments with such a good friend. Next on the agenda....TBD. Suggestions welcome.
Listen to this:
Spotlight - Leagues