Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Race Recap: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Part 2

You can find part 1 of my recap here.

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, November 9, 2013 Fort Olgethorpe, GA
Field: 1500 between the half and full. There is also a 5k and Kids race.  Beware, the half and full filled up in August this year, so plan ahead if want a bib.
Spectators: For such a small race, there were a good number of enthusiastic spectators.  The race offers a spectator shuttle to move fans around the course because many of the roads are closed/limited to traffic. 
Start:  The 6th Cavalry Museum at Chickamauga National Battlefield.
Course: A double loop course through the battlefield.  It was beautiful and an incredibly enjoyable route.
Schwag:  Long sleeve tech shirt and dri-fit hat. If you are a first time Half or full marathon finisher, they give you a framed copy of your bib number at the finish.  It's a really nice touch.
Other: The post-race food was ample to put it nicely.  Perhaps they heard I was coming.  There was a tent specifically for runners serving fruit, cookies, MoonPies, Soup, Banana Pudding, and Pizza.  I may or may not have visited it more than once.  In addition, there were many food vendors, bounce houses for the kids, and a live band.  There were still large crowds at the finish when the marathoners were finishing. It was a true party at the finish line and a great family race.
No, it's not pre-race jitters. This runner is cold and standing in front of a cannon.
The start of the race is pretty fabulous.  Instead of the classic pre-race horn or even gun, Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon sends you off in style by firing off a real Civil War Cannon.  It's loud and totally awesome.  So with one loud boom and lots of excited/nervous clapping, we were off.
Boom goes the dynamite cannon.
My plan was to tuck in with the 4:15 pace group for the first part of the race. Oddly enough, the one of the 4:15 pace leaders happened to be the very pace leader, George, from 7 Bridges Marathon who initiated my mid-race birthday serenade!  He is a very nice and funny gentleman and makes for an excellent pace group leader.  He gave the 4:15 pace group some sage advice pre-race:
I laughed because it is so true! The mile 20 gremlins always seem to appear.
In true me fashion, I stuck with the pace group for 1.5 miles before deciding that the pace was slower than I wanted.  It's always good to toss your marathon race plan out the window in the first 2 miles of a race, right?  I decided to run on feel and run at a comfortable pace for as long as I could.  I figured staying between the 4:15 and 4:00 pace groups shouldn't get me into trouble.
The reenactors camped out the night before.  Good thing they have wool uniforms.
So away I went, plodding along at my own speed.  I felt relaxed, yet still cold.  Though the sun had come up, the temperature hadn't changed much and my feet were pretty cold from standing in a frosty field before the start.  There were even runners with frost forming on their shoulders from their sweat! It remained cold throughout the race and my gloves didn't come off until after mile 20 (both literally and figuratively).
Monument to the Ohio Infantry.
 Around mile 6, I started running with a nice fellow in a red shirt (I didn't catch his name) who was running his second marathon.  He lives in the area and actually does most of his training at the battlefield (jealous because it is so stunning), so he told me a little about the park and the different areas we were running through.  Red Shirt Guy asked about my marathoning past and I fessed up that until recently I was an avid barfer in races.  He laughed and mentioned the advice he received from one of his friends:
While I appreciate the sentiment about hard work and pushing yourself, I truly believe that the marathon is far more pleasant when you are not throwing up!
It is always nice during the early miles of a marathon to think about things other than the race ahead.  For me, it's all about hitting a comfortable stride and staying relaxed. Red shirt guy and I chatted and ran together through the half (the only time I looked at a clock the entire race!) at which point we joked that the practice lap was over and it was time for the race lap.  I lost him shortly afterward around the mile 14 aid station (I plowed on through with my hydration pack), and then was out on my own for the rest of the race.  Yes, I blatantly wasn't following the sage advice I heard at the start. (Are you noticing a trend here?)
The race shirt is fits great.  It was a different color for each race.
The second loop was still as fabulous as the first. There were more fans on the course.  I was more familiar with what was in front of me, which definitely helped me stay relaxed.  I started to utilized the aid stations for oranges and the miles just kept ticking by.  After losing red shirt guy, I gave myself one rule: It's not allowed to hurt until after mile 20.  Those thoughts were not allowed to enter my head and it wasn't until after mile 21 that they start to show up.
Medal, hat, and surviving Moon Pie (it's friends were eaten during the car ride).
Shortly after mile 22 I rounded a corner for a short stretch (maybe about 0.1 miles) leading up to another corner. I was all alone and I kind of tucked my head down to grind through it, when I heard in a loud, booming voice "Elisabeth, is that you?" The volunteer positioned at the corner was non-other than Chris, a gentleman that I ran with for 7-8 miles of the 7 Bridges marathon!  It was a wonderful surprise and just what I needed at around 22.5 miles!  I stopped for a quick photo (sorry I couldn't chat longer!) and then continued along my way with a new bounce in my step as Chris called out, "You got this girl!"
Kicking it into the finish, hoping those kids in the back don't catch me.
With 5k to go, I knew that I would finish and now it was all about the mental game.  I did a good job battling my tired thoughts/gremlins and only slowed down once or twice.  Just before mile 26, the race turned a corner revealing the field with the post race party, fans galore, and a short lead up to a left hand turn before the down hill finish.  As I pushed down the hill, I heard the Jayhawk off to my right cheering and with that, I cruised into the finish with a new PR of almost 6 minutes.
Thanks to the Jayhawk for the awesome finish photo!
4:10:27 (Half splits: 2:02, 2:08), 4th in age group

Recap of Race goals:
  1. Finish.  Yes!
  2. No barfing.  Barf-free is the way to be! I used 3 Island Boost at 5,10,15 miles and a bunch of orange slices. And I definitely made good use of the post-race food.
  3. Smile.  Yes! I am hoping there is photographic evidence somewhere!
  4. Haul ass and winRun the best race I can that day. I did.  The cold weather got to me a bit more than I realized, but I am happy with how it went.
How was your weekend?  Any races?


  1. Congrats again and enjoyed your report. Yay for no barfing!

    1. Thank you! Racing is so much better without barfing.

  2. Yay for no barfing indeed! Sounds like you had a pretty great race. :) Great recap!

    1. Thank you! I think I am getting the hang of it.

  3. Congrats on a well ran race!! I can imagine how wonderful finding someone you know at mile 22 would be- a lift for sure.
    Nicely done, lady!

  4. Framing the bib for first timers is very nice. It sounds like you had a GREAT race. Nice age group placement.

    1. The Jayhawk liked the first timers thing so much, he wants to make it his first half next year!

  5. Great race report plus you a little bit of history, win-win, no? Glad you had a great time and happy you didn't barf. Congrats on your PR! P.S. Love the framed race bib idea.

    1. So a little bonus for the readers! Thank you!

  6. Sounds like an amazing race and the food sounds fabulous.
    I think that you ran it very well even if you did not place as you had hoped.

    1. It is a beautiful course and it feel so peaceful.

  7. Awesome!! Huge congrats on your new pr! (and no barfing). :)

  8. Congrats on the 4:10 time! That is awesome - I will be running my first marathon in December and to hit that mark would be great. I have to say I am a bit nervous but really excited too. I hope your little toesies get better soon. I am not a foot fan and the fact that long runs are grueling enough, I loose more toenails that I would like. Makes it even worse.
    Congrats again!


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