New River Marathon–An Amazing Surprise

A couple weeks ago I laid out my goals for this race. I can say in hindsight that I’m fairly certain that I planned well.

When we arrived (plenty early as instructed) we stayed in the car a little while because it was sprinkling a little. After a few minutes it stopped so we walked over to the staging area and waited for the race to start.

Would you know…it started raining.

I wasn’t too thrilled about it but thankfully the restaurant behind me had plastic wrap so I could protect my phone. šŸ˜€

When I headed to the start line I throughout all possibilities of my reach goal. Finishing in weather like that would be great.

Right at 7:30 we were off.
Can you spot me? Hint, I’m not the tall guy wearing an orange shirt.

The rain wasn’t too bad and after a mile or so tapered off. The heat quickly dried us off.

During the first couple miles I did glance down at my Garmin a few times. I felt like I was running too slowly. All three times I glanced down my watch displayed paces ranging from 9:30-9:50. A little fast but right on track.

Then we encountered the first hill. While I ran, slowly, up it I didn’t remember seeing it on the elevation profile. As soon as I started the descent, I remembered.

I felt strongest during these miles on the first loop.

The first loop came back in front of the restaurant/starting line. I’m glad it did. I took my iFitness fuel armband thing (eloquent, I know) and handed it off to my dad. (Technically I gave it to one of the volunteers at the water stop. She gave it to him.)

I still felt strong through the halfway point and even until the hills.

I’d been expecting the hills to be incredibly tough. After all, I “ran” up Paris Mountain. I’m not saying that they weren’t tough…just not as tough as Paris Mountain.

I walked up these hills (which by the way were unpaved) and was perfectly okay with that. It was in the plan. When we crested the first hill I was a little confused. The course description promised amazing views at the top. All I saw were trees. Plus, it wasn’t mile 17. The downhill was great. Then another hill approached. This must be the one.

I wish I could remember which song was playing as I made my way up the hill. It was perfect, just the right “plodding” beat. Then, right as I crested the hill and gazed in wonder at the absolutely amazing view, “Move” by MercyMe came on. Again, perfect. I couldn’t have timed it any better.

Then came the downhill. It was not easy on my quads. I still felt fairly strong and a little amazed that my music hadn’t run out yet. I had 3 hours 40 minutes (at least that’s what I thought. It turned out to be 3:35ish and I’d skipped one song) on my playlist. I promised myself that once I reached 20 miles I would let myself look at my Garmin to see the total elapsed time.

Turns out the girl running in front of me also wanted to know the time. What was it? 3:27:xx. I couldn’t believe it. If I ran the last 10k at a 10 minute pace I would more than surpass my goal.

I had to restart my music a couple minutes later but felt amazing. I’m fairly certain that it was just adrenaline. I probably pushed a little too hard then.

As I approached mile 22 things started to hurt, bad. It wasn’t the same as Spinx. My hips (IT bands probably) were fine. It was my hamstrings. They hurt like crazy.

I’d been taking fuel on the even numbers. A marathon is so much easier to handle in two mile sections. I told myself to run until mile 22. When I started to walk I wondered if I’d be able to run again. Then I saw the water stop up ahead a little ways. I made myself run until the water stop. This was probably my lowest point, pain-wise.

At the water stop I started walking as I had done all the others. I kept walking. I walked for almost 5 minutes and wondered if I was going to be able to run again.

By the time this five minutes was almost up I knew that I could walk the remaining 4 miles and still get a PR. I was almost okay with it. Several runners passed me. Then a pair that I recognized passed me. I think she was struggling as much as I was. Something about them made sparked something in me. I had to start running again. So I did. It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t as painful either.

Those last 3.5ish miles were fairly slow and tough but I knew I was almost done and my reach goal was actually still within the realms of possibility. I have no idea how this happened. I’m still not sure it was real. (almost)

I walked several times but always started walking again. Thankfully the course was flat.

As I came around the corner I knew I was almost there. Somehow I still had a little speed left.
(That’s me in the distance.)


It was about this point that I began to wonder where the finish line was. The distance on my Garmin had ticked past 26.3 and I still couldn’t see anything.

The only negative thing I have to say about this course? The finish was absolutely awful! We had to circle around the restaurant and finish on the uneven field. I wanted to sprint to the finish (I’m not sure where the speed came from but somehow it was there) but I had to hold back because I didn’t want to twist my ankle feet before the finish.


Just like that, I was done.
Final results? 26.53 with a time of 4:36:03

I made my reach goal! (Yes, I know it was 4:35:xx but since the course was long I’m counting it!)


oops…let’s try that one when I’m not laughing at Dad


Since the hotel wouldn’t let us check out late (long convoluted story) I made use of the restaurant bathroom and the Shower Pill (based on skinny runner’s recommendation). It wasn’t perfect but it did the job.

Another good reason to have a restaurant at the start/finish of a race?
Chocolate shake! I had a craving for one starting around mile 12. Hit the spot!

This race was so amazing I’m still processing it. I’ll probably have more thoughts to share on Monday. I’ll share one last thing.

Splits from Spinx:
Screen Shot 2012-05-05 at 5.30.39 PM

Today’s splits:
Screen Shot 2012-05-05 at 5.31.03 PM



Filed under marathon, race recaps

11 responses to “New River Marathon–An Amazing Surprise

  1. Great job on the race, love the photos. Yay for hitting goals!

  2. Pauline

    Congrats! Well done!

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