Field: A few thousand between all three races (5k, half, and full)
Spectators: Good for a small race. Most of the Downtown portions of the course had fans and even some of the outskirts along the river. Chattanooga has a good bike-share program, so I saw a lot of the race fans riding bikes and popping up at several spots along the course. A great idea if you are trying to spectate for your loved one.
Start: Renaissance Park, right next to Coolidge Park where the finish was located.
Course: A mix of parks, Downtown, and some highways.
Schwag: Dri-fit shirt, water bottle, very large medal.
Other: I received free entry into the race by winning a blog giveaway. Since I was due for a 20 miler this weekend anyway, I figured why not?!
See, there are a lot of Bridges in Chattanooga. Source.
On Sunday I ran the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga. Though it wasn't originally on my race plan, a few circumstances made it fit right in (winning free entry, already planning a 20 miler, and being home alone for my birthday weekend). Only in it's third year, I didn't know much about the race before getting a bib. I did know I was going to run over 7 bridges and have some super views of the Tennessee River. My goal for the race was to run a good training run for 20 miles and then finish without any time goal.
I chose to drive up to Chattanooga on race morning. It's less than 2 hours from Atlanta, and since they offered race day bib pick up (something that is awesome for a runner on a budget), I chose to take advantage of it. Parking was a breeze. I parked within about 200 yards of the finish line, giving myself an easy
hobble walk back to the car as a birthday present. I arrived in plenty of time to get my goodies, visit the port-a-john, and stay warm in the car since it was only about a block from the start. The start was a little chilly (40 degrees) and I haven't run in temps that cool since last February. I was definitely a little under dressed (gloves would have been nice and perhaps not my mini running skirt), but I felt comfortable later in the race.
I really like the shirt and the medal is huge!The race went well. I wanted to run consistent, but not go all out. My goal race is still 3 weeks away, so this was just another chance to gain confidence in the marathon, explore a new place, and work on some race day strategies for the marathon. I came out of the gate a little faster than I wanted (I was excited), but settled into a nice pace for 20 miles. After that, I didn't push much and took my time.
This had to be one of the best aided courses I have ever been on. For the full there were 22 aid stations with water, powerade, and powergels. At least half of them (in all honesty, I didn't count but many of them) had additional food ranging anywhere from bananas, oranges, and apples, to chips, candy bars, rice krispie treats and even pickles! The volunteers were wonderful and eager to help in anyway they could. I did not eat much at the aid station (a few oranges and a banana half) because of my finicky tummy, but having it available was awesome. I am happy to report that I did take 4 Island Boost packets at miles 5,10,15, and 20 with no trouble at all! This is a new PR for fueling in a Marathon. I even tried the yet to be released Chocolate Island Boost (full review coming Friday) and it was awesome. It was so nice to have one less thing to worry about during the race.
In addition to fruit and fluids, they gave out snack boxes full of recovery foods at the finish. Perfect for the ride home!
I have mixed feelings about the course. There are several portions that I loved, but a couple sections that I wasn't so hot about. However, the not so hot sections are necessary to get you to and from the cool parts. The race starts out with a tour of downtown. Having never actually been to Chattanooga (I've driven by many times), it was fun to check out the city and surrounding areas on foot. I liked running through downtown (miles 1-6) and all of the bridges had fabulous views of the Tennessee River and the city during fall. I also really liked running through the city parks along the river (miles 19-24) even though I was cursing running at this point. However, there were a few segments of highway running and industrial areas, which were not so pretty or exciting, but were required to get you between other parts. I've found that a few miles of not so pretty happens in pretty much every marathon and by far isn't a deal breaker for me.
A view from the finish line of bridge #7(mile 26).
Because a birthday marathon requires more than the minimum flair!Overall, I liked this race. It was well organized and extremely well aided. I had a good race and was very happy with my 20 miler. I slacked off a bit for the final 10k (big time positive splits), but that just gave me more time to enjoy the river views. I would definitely do the race again but probably just the half, mainly because I love the half and am only seeing the marathon on the side.
26 miles for 26ish years.Time: 4:25:45 (Half splits: 2:03, 2:22)
- Marathons are still really long.
- Marathons don't get easier with age.
- Never underestimate the power of flair.
- Fueling during a marathon makes life so much better!
- Cute Birthday socks can give you blood blisters, but it wouldn't be a marathon if I didn't have bloody feet.
How was your weekend? Any fun races?