When we began thinking about fall marathons, Ron and I were hoping Thunder Road in Charlotte would be a good match for us. My mother, sister and her husband, an my niece and her family all live just outside of Charlotte in the quaint town of Mt. Pleasant.
Marathons can get a little pricey so not having to spend the extra for the hotel was a big plus for us. We were very excited.
Excited that is until we started telling people which marathon we were training for. All we heard was either complete silence or something negative. It got so bad, I just stopped telling people. All the good marathons came and went (Medoc, City of Oaks, and OBX) and I was so sad that we had to run Thunder Road.
I decided that I might as well try to make the best of it and keep an open mind. I’m so glad I did because Thunder Road ended up Rockin’! It is an awesome marathon!
Thunder Road was really good about keeping their Facebook page up to date with important information and motivating posts. I had printed out the directions on how to get to the Expo and all our parking options. They had warned us that we’d have to pay to park but that some of the garages would offer discounts if we showed our race bibs upon exiting. I’m not sure how we managed it but we didn’t have to pay at all in the parking garage that we found. They just waved us out when we left and we didn’t have to show our bibs. (I guess they could tell us country bumpkins had to be there for the race.)
We drove right to the Expo and parked only one block away. The Charlotte Convention Center was so pretty! Charlotte is known as “The Queen City” and for some reason I also think of them as the “Clean City”. It felt so clean and modern.
I loved all the beautiful buildings and the day was gorgeous!
When we got inside the Convention Center, the way to the Expo was clearly marked.
We were there in no time and were ready to Feel the Thunder!
The Expo was sold out and was every bit as good at the Rock-n-Roll expo back in April. It was one of the very best that I’ve ever attended.
We had gotten there in the middle of the day and it wasn’t crowded at all. We walked right up and got our bibs and shirts and they were very nice about letting Ron switch to the half. He did have to pay $10 but we were expecting that. Since Ron has had to work so much overtime lately, he hasn’t had the time to train. Halfs are good for Ron. He’s happy with that distance.
We moseyed around and bought a few neat items. Ron got some socks and I got some new sweat headbands. These weren’t Bondi Bands but the were just like them and I found some cool new sayings.
When we happened upon these neat new sweat towels, we both had to get one.
Actually, Ron got 2 and I got 1. It is similar to the sweat headbands except that it has a soft face cloth attached to it. You wear it around your wrist so you never have to worry about dropping your sweat rag. Such a neat idea.
The coolest thing was that a reporter stopped us and asked us some questions about what we were buying. I had purchased some throwaway gloves and she was intrigued. I told her that I wasn’t too concerned with the cold but that I wanted something to keep me warm in the beginning until we had those first few miles out of the way. I had also stopped at Good Will the night before and got Ron and me some fleece jackets. We planned to shed those along the way once we got warmed up. We knew there would be volunteers that would be picking up the clothing and taking it right back to Good Will or other charities. Win – Win!
That evening my sister and her husband knew we wanted Italian so they suggested one of their favorite restaurants. We went to Gianni’s Trattoria in downtown Concord. It was a little pricey and they were very crowded so it took a while for us to be served. But boy was it worth the wait. So delicious! I didn’t have my camera with me and I’m so bummed. It would have been a great restaurant to review. I’m definitely going back!
After we were adequately carbed up, it was straight to bed for us. Thunder Road had a 7:45am start which was actually very nice. With Mt. Pleasant being about 40-50 minute drive from Uptown Charlotte, we wanted to be on the road by around 6:00am.
It was a chilly 22 degree start. However, with our layers and fleece jackets we were good to go.
Right at the beginning of the race I said goodbye to Ron and shed my jacket right away. I kept my throw-away gloves on for a long time. It might have been around mile 18-20 that I finally shed those. I was careful to throw them away at a water stop so I wouldn’t litter.
The race for me was very good. I started out too fast and I knew it. I was so excited and I felt wonderful. My coach had told me to start out near the 11:00s and when I saw a 10:10 on mile 2 on my Garmin, I knew I was in trouble. I really concentrated on trying to slow down and got mile 3 down to 10:25.
After that I just tried to keep it steady. I ran the entire first half all by myself. We ran through some beautiful neighborhoods and the crowd support was the best I’ve ever experienced in a race.
Coming up to the split as the half marathoners were turning for their finish line, I heard a huge group coming up behind me. They were really having a party. I knew instantly it must be a pace group. It was was the 2:20/4:40 group. When I had to make that turn for the next 13.1 miles, I felt so disheartened. It became so quiet and the crowd thinned out so much. I was happy but not sure about running another 2.5 hours. That’s when I hooked up with what was left of the 4:40 pace group. It was the pacer, Lee, and 2 other runners. Lena was celebrating her 40th birthday and this was her 1st marathon. Kiza had done several marathons. Lee had done many marathons and I was so shocked to learn that she had just run the Savannah marathon the previous weekend. Her marathon PR was 3:45 so this 4:40 pace was truly a recovery/fun run for her.
I stuck with Lee from mile 13 all the way to mile 23. We ended up losing Lena and Kiza but we stayed together and had a blast. The neighborhoods on the second half were so cool! The residents of North Davidson ,”NoDa”, were the best! They built a wall out of plywood and we ran through it. Nothing like breaking through the wall with lots of cheers and encouragements!
Then it happened. At mile 23 there was a hill and Lee kept getting farther and farther ahead of me. It was like it was happening in slow motion. I couldn’t move my legs any faster. I wasn’t in pain at all and I still had a great attitude. I was so confused. Why wouldn’t my legs move and let me keep with her?
As she ran on she did look back one time and holler for me but before I knew it, she was out of sight. When I couldn’t see her anymore, I started walking. I bet I walked for almost 1/4 mile or so.
For those last 3 miles I ended up seeing Lena again. She passed me and then Kiza passed as well. Lena kept going but Kiza started walking on and off from that point on and we leap-frogged each other. At one point when I was walking the 4:50 pacer came up behind me and shouted for me to come on. She was really sweet and we ran together for a mile or so. She was all by herself and she was about one minute behind schedule. She ended up stopping to walk but I kept going.
Those 3 miles were the longest I’ve ever run. I made it to the finish line and even though I was way off my 4:30 goal, a 4:55 was 70 minutes faster than my last marathon. It was also only 8 minutes slower than my marathon PR. I ran my PR on a flat course so this 4:55 on the rolling hills of Thunder Road was something that I was very proud of.
I’ve talked a lot to my coach, Sarah, and she’s tried to explain to me that there is no way to bank time in the beginning of a marathon. She said that I probably built up a lactic acid and that contributed to my slow down at mile 23.
Over this training session I’ve had lots of trouble with my ITB. After both of my 20 milers I was in loads of pain for days and days afterwards. After my 2nd 20 miler, I couldn’t even sleep on my side it hurt so much. I did try and do my foam rolling and ITB exercises but they really never brought the relief I needed. Sarah has encouraged me to go to Physical Therapy and get this ITB taken care of.
Curiously enough, my ITB did hurt right after the marathon but I got a massage and it really didn’t hurt that much more. Sure I felt it but by Tuesday I was pretty much back to normal.
If you’re still with me at this point let me go on to say that Ron did great. He finished right at 3:00 and had a blast. The finish line party was superb! The medals and shirts were awesome. The food and entertainment was great. I couldn’t find any pizza though. That would be my only complaint that I can think of.
Thunder Road is an awesome race and the hills aren’t really that bad at all.
That night after I showered I visited with my mother and presented her with my medal. She smiled from ear to ear and was so happy for me. I think she’s going to like having that medal on her dresser to show all her friends in the assisted living facility.
I’m not giving up on my goal to qualify for Boston. I’m just going to take some time off for now and see how PT goes. I’ve even thought of trying hot yoga. Anyone want to go with me?
I hope to keep my weekly mileage near the 25-30 range and Sarah says to keep a weekly track workout of 4×800.
Thanks so much to Sarah and to my friends and family for all your support. I love you guys!