thunder road marathon race report

December 13, 2009

start your engines!

image credit

and, while you’re at it, put your feet up and fix yourself a hot beverage, because this recap is a marathon in itself!!! thank you all for reading and your wonderful support in the days leading up to the race. you can bet i thought about all of you when i needed motivation in the final miles.

in schematics

orange arrows indicate fuel stops. purple region is self-explanatory.

in words
pre-race: ohhhh, i was nervous. mostly about the temperature — i couldn’t remember if i had EVER run in 20-something degree weather. however, on seeing other runners dressed overall in way fewer layers than i had on (i saw many in shorts!!), i started to feel better. plus, the thermometer outside read 31 — which sounded much more reasonable to me. almost above freezing!

miles 1-3: pump-up warm up. aaaaaand with a roar of an engine, we were off! i crossed the starting line fairly soon after the gun went off, so i am guessing my chip and gun times will be close. it actually wasn’t too crowded and my adrenaline led to a speedy first mile (8:21). i reigned it in (to some extent) after that, though, and found a good rhythm. i wasn’t cold and running just felt EASY. my headphones were staying in (due to my hat, which i never took off!), and i was comfortable once i tucked my jacket into my pants to stop my gels/iPod from bouncing around. this did make me look like a 1st-trimester pregnant lady for the remainder of the race . . . but oh well. i felt like i was off to a good start!

miles 4-10: the decemberists miles. i’m glad i ended up choosing the hazards of love album for my playlist! i think the strong but moderately-paced tunes kept me from going too crazy when i was feeling good over the first 10. i kept reminding myself, “this is still warm up! DON’T PUSH YET!”, and for the most part i did a decent job.

there were some parts where it just felt so easy and it might have benefited me in the end to hold back a bit (basically, all of the 8:20-ish miles), but i was just trying to run by feel. and i felt excellent! i took a piece of an honest foods granola bar at around mile 6 washed down with some water. the cold made it way too hard to chew, so that was it for my solids intake during this race.

miles 11-17: i love you, lady gaga. seriously, her music is just SO PERFECT for running! plus, i had listened to so much gaga during training that i just felt at home with “pokerface” and such blasting into my headphones. at one point, things felt so good i was starting to get my hopes up for a time near BQ-territory — the 8:20-something splits were just happening so easily and i felt like i had more gas in the tank. i stopped to drink some powerade around mile 12 and took a caffeinated powergel at mile 16.

miles 18-19: lily allen + other assorted tunes. i continued to truck along, excited about what the final part of the race would bring. i remember seeing the clock say 2:40 at the mile 19 marker and thought “if i could just run 7.2 miles per hour, 8:19/mi, i could maybe even BQ!” unfortunately, as my head was having these fantasies, my legs were starting to see a dose of reality — the fatigue and pain that inevitably followed my fastest ever 20 mile run. still, i couldn’t wait to get to 20, thinking that seeing that number would give me a boost (it didn’t).

miles 20-21: the longest mile everrrrr. i remember all the sudden realizing that it felt like i had been on mile 20 FOREVER. it took me several minutes to realized that i had missed the marker for mile 21, so it really WAS a superlong mile (ie, 2). unfortunately, i think my morale really took a blow with this experience, and i clocked a sad 18:56 split for those 2 miles (9:27/mi average). although now that i think of it, i also stopped to eat another gel (an absolutely disgusting strawberry banana gu that i could only choke down half of) and it took FOREVER to get it open with my frigid fingers, so maybe it wasn’t quite that bad. still: the fun part was over. i knew the rest would be a struggle, and decided that i would be quite happy with sub-3:50. goodbye, BQ!

miles 23-24: the hardest miles. no matter how many times i said to myself in my head, “just 5K!”, it didn’t sound the least bit reassuring. there were hills that i just didn’t want to face, and i was having trouble keeping my head up (my neck really started hurting for some reason). i worried that i was hitting the wall. actually, i felt like i did hit some sort of mini-wall. i’m really surprised — and thankful — that my splits here were really not that bad!

miles 25-26: finally. hitting 25 was when i regained a little bit of confidence that i’d be able to make it to the end without seriously crashing. i kept re-framing what i had to get through: “2.2! that’s just 1.5 and then 0.7.” i also compared the distance to my usual run in chapel hill, as in “that’s just from the trail path to home!”. i don’t know if i convinced myself or the mental games just kept me occupied, but i managed to keep my pace sub-9 (barely!) during these miles.

at mile 25.7, josh appeared!! and it wasn’t just a mirage. he said something like, “you did it!” but i was not convinced . . . the finish line still seemed SO FAR! he started to talk but i honestly couldn’t process anything he was saying (plus, my headphones were on) so i yelled, “DON’T TALK — JUST BE WITH ME!!”. it was so comforting to have him running next to me and i really think it helped me at the end of the race.

the last 0.2: no kick whatsoever. i ran across, but there was absolutely no extra energy available in my body to allow for a dash across the finish. i missed the announcer calling out my name, and i didn’t even hear kath and matt screaming my name (and they have proof — it’s on video!), and i came to a dead stop as soon as i crossed the timing mats.

i felt beaten up. but i was so happy with my time and even happier just to be done!!!

in numbers
marathon #: 4
PR by: about 5 minutes
gun time: 3:48:something
chip time: still don’t know!
mileage according to my polar: exactly 26.20!!!!
average pace according to polar: 8:43/mi
miles that felt pretty good: the first 20
miles that were painful: 6
absolutely excruciating: 0.2. i had NO finishing kick!
mile markers missed: 1, at mile 21. and it was sorely missed.
number of ibuprofens taken since race: 2
toenails broken: 0
drinks post-race: uh, 3ish?
number of days i will need before running again: TBD

just for me. well, me and jess who likes this sort of thing!
mile 1 8:21
mile 2 8:46
mile 3 8:19
mile 4 8:27
mile 5 8:50
mile 6 8:19
mile 7 9:01 (fuel)
mile 8 8:27
mile 9 8:18
mile 10 8:29
mile 11 8:26
mile 12 8:54
mile 13 8:20
mile 14 8:28
mile 15 8:22
mile 16 8:40
mile 17 8:36
mile 18 8:36
mile 19 8:30
mile 20 8:52
mile 21 9:27
mile 22 9:27 (missed last marker, so ave)
mile 23 8:53
mile 24 9:27
mile 25 8:59
mile 26 8:58
last 0.2 ??? didn’t stop polar right away . . .

in pictures
looking nervous before the race

ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

josh catching me mid-stride at mile 12. i didn’t see him (because i am the most zoned-out runner ever), but then he ran and caught up with me. he was the best cheering squad i could ask for! note the ridiculous jacket-with-pockets-stuffed-and-tucked-into-tights look i was sporting throughout. heh.

right after finishing, and feeling . . . not so great.

looking a bit better thanks to a bite of great harvest bread . . .

and then ready to pose in the street!

on video
pre-race interview in which i speak in nervous, up-toned sentences (i swear i don’t sound like that in real life!) and demonstrate exactly how much clothing it takes to ward off the cold for nearly 4 hours outside in 30-40 degree weather

this awesome video of the finish was taken by the wonderful spectators kath and matt! they were awesome enough to brave the cold temps to cheer emily, whitney and me on, and put the footage together for this brief-but-super-fun montage (a seasonal surprise awaits at the end).

all right, off for a short recovery run!

[just kidding, it took me 5 minutes to get up the stairs. off to lie on the couch some more and bask in the afterglow!]



workout: 26.2 miles in 3:48:something.

doin’ time: postrace eating edition.

we had a great post-race lunch at PHAT burrito with kath and matt. complete with chips, guac, queso dip, great company, AND a visit to the neighboring american apparel, it was the perfect post-run feast!

after several hours of much needed TV time (and a nap), we headed to dinner with emily and whitney at zada janes. emily ran the race on a whim, but ended up making it through with flying colors, and whitney rocked her very first marathon! we had a blast sharing race stories (highs and lows included!) while replenishing depleted glycogen stores.

mmmm, WINE. you can make out whitney through the glass!

more replenishing carbs! this coconut curry pasta with almonds, raisins, and sundried tomatoes sounded more exotic than it was, but it was still delicious.

and i know — NO GROUP PICTURE!?!? that just shows how tired we all were. whit was still together enough to send us both home with homemade gingerbread cookies (that were delicious and are now all gone!). loved getting to hang out with these runners!

the post-run (and birthday, and holiday, and housewarming) celebration continued at michelle and ben’s house, with more delicious eats (including lots of amazing desserts). michelle had just finished her first half marathon! i also enjoyed getting to meet diana for the first time, and sampling beer (and mead!) with kath + matt. for a recap of the amazing culinary delights available (my favorite were the white chocolate coated OREO BALLS!), check out kath’s or diana’s posts. we had so much fun at the party that we were there until after midnight — nearly unheard of for josh and me these days (we’re 80 years old).

reading: yeah, i know this section has been missing from my posts for a while. i admit i’ve been a little preoccupied lately! but tomorrow i am going to refocus my efforts back on work. after all, since i am pretty much going to be a lump for the next couple of days, i might as well be a productive one!


  • Reply Anonymous March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    i <3 the "prerace nervous" picture!

    great recap & i love that josh ran with you at the end. seems like that was such a great lift for you 🙂

    congrats again. you are a beast. enjoy basking in the marathon glow — you earned it girl!!

  • Reply Diana March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Congrats on your marathon time!

    So nice meeting you guys at Michelle&#39s house. I&#39ll def be letting you know when we&#39re headed your way! 🙂

  • Reply atilla March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    great race great commentary great pix.. congrats

  • Reply Allie (Live Laugh Eat) March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Hahahaha I was crackin&#39 up at Josh&#39s Bojangles comment. Love the interviews. Congrats again!!!!! You are mighty mighty fast. I&#39ve tried watching the video of the finish line a couple times but it keeps saying there is an error 🙁 Now Kath&#39s comment is making me want to watch it EVEN more!

  • Reply Marlow March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Great job!! Very inspiring 🙂 The only night I could hang out this week would be Tuesday…it may be too short of notice? Just let me know! After Christmas Day my schedule really opens up!!

  • Reply Whit March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I love this recap! Especially the music breakdown, haha. Dinner was so fun and I&#39m glad you enjoyed the cookies! 😀

  • Reply hjlongmo March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I loved your marathon race report – all the various forms of presentation arguably made it the best one I&#39ve ever read – plus the video! I&#39m so glad yesterday was such a success!

  • Reply Denise March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Congratulations, Sarah! Great job! I&#39m so happy for you that it went so well and injury-free.

  • Reply Be Fit Be Full March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Congrats, congrats, congrats! If I ever run a marathon someday, I hope my splits are as good as yours! (ha – yeah right!) I love reading this post!

  • Reply The Happy Runner March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Great report and, obviously, GREAT race! It&#39s good that you had no kick in that last .2 b/c you left it all out on the course. Way to go!!!

  • Reply Melissa March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I loved reading your report – congratulations on the race! TR was my first marathon and I cannot wait to do more.

    The music breakdown is great (mental note to add to my playlist)

  • Reply aron March 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    CONGRATS girl!!! you did AMAZING and you are right there 🙂

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