Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Race Report

Well, I am a sub-4 marathoner. Race was great. The time hasn’t fully registered with me yet, so I’m still kind of numb but thrilled! So happy!

So the course is run thru the Chickamauga National Park where the key Civil War battle was held. The course is 2 loops for the marathon around and thru the park, so all day long I ran past monuments commemorating the lives sacrificed on that day, which really put into focus the sacrifice we runners had made to get there. Yes, we work hard, but it holds nothing against lives lost in service to one’s nation. The weather was perfect. 41 degrees at start, warmed to about 58 by the time I finished, sunny day, but the park was shady, so no sun beating down on me for long periods. Was perfect in terms of climate and conditions. I wore a singlet, shorts, gloves, arm warmers, and a hat. Carried 20 oz of nuun, 4 gels and 8 endurolytes. I planned to consume water/powerade on course and supplement that with the nuun.

My pace bubble is 8:45 to 8:15, so the plan was to stay in the upper portion of the bubble for the first part of the race and then slowly increase speed. You’ll see the paces below but the plan worked great. I felt so strong and happy through the first 21 miles of the race. I found myself smiling, giggling even in the middle of this race because I was having so much fun, I was running a marathon, I was fit, happy; where I wanted to be! I smiled at spectators, I said good morning to people while running, gave little kids high fives. I was having a blast!

At mile 22, I started to fade. I had felt a little weird at 19, and found that I had miscounted gels and had taken one fewer than the plan to that point, so I quickly consumed 2 gels and drank some nuun. That helped, but at mile 22 I started feeling fatigued and the hills seemed larger! So my pace slowed from 8:40 to about 9:05 or so for the last 5 miles. I had a mental battle to fight through the fatigue and get to the finish. I wasn’t sure why I was tiring…more on that in a bit.

As I rounded the final corner and had about .40 of a mile to go, I looked at my Garmin race time (had only looked at the total time 2 times during the race, when Megan (www.veganrunningmom.com) called to get a status update, and at 20) but I saw that I was at 3:46 and change and I determined I would NOT come in above 3:50, so on pure adrenaline, I mustered a 7:24 pace for almost a half a mile and sprinted across the finish with a huge smile on my face and arms raised triumphantly.

After getting my medal and sitting down, I noticed the all too familiar white salt crystals on my shoulders and it hit me. I knew why I slowed at the end of the race: hydration. I had taken in fluids at every stop, but not enough. The perfect temps had deceived me, and that I was wearing gloves prevented me from feeling how sweaty my shorts and hat were. I had lost more water than I thought. This is easily fixable for the next race. my training was SPOT ON. So HUGE THANKS to Megan for coaching me to this super result! Without her training, I am nowhere near this time…thanks M! 🙂

Here are my splits:
8:38
8:41
8:33
8:40
8:40
8:40
8:44
8:37
8:36
8:34
8:35
8:34
8:27
8:24
8:22
8:18
8:34
8:41
8:26
8:35
9:05
9:14
9:15
9:06
9:06
7:24 (last bit at finish)

I finished as 93rd out of 502 total runners (Men and Women), and was 20th in my age group (40-44) out of 71 men in the AG. I am thrilled. I can finally say I am a mid-pack marathoner.

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9 Comments

  1. Congratulations on a race well done! Nice consistent splits for pretty much the whole race, a good time & enough for a good kick at the end! What could be better than that?

  2. Terrific race and report! It’s cliche, but it is inspiring hearing how it is possible to hone your body into a lean, athletic machine. I’ve passed on your before/after photos and story to a coworker whose husband looks like your first photo and just had his first cardiac stents. I started out at your second picture and am working toward your current photo…I’m running, and vegan, but when do I get tall??? I love the “Go Vegan” shirt, too…I need to get one when I go sub 10! I can’t even imagine how it feels to run a 8 minute mile but you keep saying you did it, so I try not to say “never.”

    My only critcism…your math is not as good as your training. You cannot say you are “middle of the pack” when you were in the top 20% overall!

  3. Hey Gordon, Congratz on a well run Marathon! I’m a new listener, beginning with the “TRL”. I call around some of the other podcasts, but am always looking for something new and fresh, such as your latest venture. I happen to think your story/journey is pretty inspiring, and wish you continued success in your health and fitness goals!!

  4. Congratulations on your marathon success. I have been bragging about this ‘vegan podcaster’ to my mom. I think that Megan is right, you will be catching up to her soon. Btw, I don’t mind that you talk about Megan, I also listen to her podcast so its kind of like hearing from two friends that know each other. I feel like I’m in the loop.

  5. Congratulations! I found this because I am running the Chickamauga this year… Do you know if they strictly enforce the no headphones policy? I’m not sure I can run that far without music! I’ve only done one marathon so far and the music is what kept me chugging along.. katemcelliott@gmail.com…. Thank you!

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