Monday, November 14, 2011

Thunder Road Marathon

November 12, 2011 7:45 AM
Charlotte, NC
Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:40:24 8:25 M35-39 30/121 117/606 138/907 399

Written by Owen

Wow, what a great weekend!  I've never planned, prepared, (or trained) for a single event more in my entire life.  Ever since I decided to run a marathon back in May, my mind has been on this race more than anything else.

The weekend finally arrived.  I decided to go to the expo on Thursday night, even though I'd be staying at a hotel across the street on Friday night.  I figured that was one less thing I'd have to be on my feet for on Friday. Michael and I drove to uptown and enjoyed the expo together.  It was pretty small and hardly anyone was there, but fun to feel the excitement start to build.

Michael took this picture of me at the expo
Michael was excited to pose by the Thunder Road Racecar
Thursday night my Raiders were playing in the first Thursday night game of the season, but my sleep was more important so I went to bed early, knowing I probably wouldn't sleep good on Friday night.  I slept really well and started work on Friday.

I worked until 3pm on Friday, then had Malissa take me down to the bus stop and I boarded a bus for uptown Charlotte.  I got to my hotel room by 4:30 PM, got checked in and unpacked.  I can't explain how I was feeling, not nervous at all, just pure joy and excitement that the moment was here.
The view from my hotel room
At 6:30 PM, I headed to the traditional pasta dinner.  The food was good, but the speaker was unbelievable.  It was Dick Beardsley, he probably spoke for a half-hour, but it seemed like 5 minutes, I was hanging on every word.  He was very entertaining, inspirational, etc.  If you haven't read "The Duel" by Hal Higdon, I highly recommend it.  It's about Dick Beardsley's amazing Boston Marathon in 1982.  It is only $3.95 and is a very short read.  It seems like it only took me an hour or so to read.  You can also watch these highlights of the race.  Anyway, Dick was so much fun and I consider myself lucky to have met him.
Dick Beardsley speaking at the pasta dinner on Friday night.
After the dinner I walked back to my hotel room (half a block away).  Nothing else to do except relax and set everything out for the next morning.  I decided to set my alarm for 4:30 AM so I could eat and give the last minute carbs time to digest.  So I went to bed at 9:30 PM, not expecting to be able to sleep very well.  Surprisingly I fell right to sleep and next thing I know my alarm is going off!  Very unexpected, but a great night's sleep.
Race morning, from my hotel room.
I ate a bagel, banana, and drank some orange juice and water.  I decided to not drink anything after 5:45 AM until on the course, so I wouldn't have to stop during the race.  At about 6:45 AM I decided to head down to the start area to hang out with my family.  Malissa and my kids, along with my mom and step-dad were coming to the race.  We came up with a plan for them to just use the train back and forth so they could see me at multiple points on the course.
The kids had a blast with "Lug Nut", the mascot for Charlotte Motor Speedway

My cheering squad, they were such a boost every time I saw them.
It was really cold, around 31 degrees, so we went into a building near the start to stay warm.  My mom and step-dad found a bathroom in there behind a secure door that was propped open.  They made it through, but we got turned away by security.  By the time we were done waiting for them to use it, it was too close to the start for me to risk the port-a-potty, so I knew I would most likely have to use one on the course.

I made my way to the starting line at 7:40 AM.

The race started and I couldn't believe it was happening.  Other than my wedding and the birth of my three kids, I don't know that I've experienced that much joy before. I know that sounds weird, but I trained so hard for this, and now I got to enjoy it.

I told myself, no matter what, I would not run faster than an 8:20 pace the first 20 miles.  My goal was to finish happy, with a time of 3:40.  If I felt great after 20 miles I would try to push it then.  That was the plan, anyway.  I could not get my body to slow down.  Every time I looked at my watch I was at a 7:50 something pace.

Miles 1 thru 10 were all through beautiful Charlotte neighborhoods, and I felt great the whole way, no issues at all, with the exception of one quick port-a-potty stop at mile 8 that probably only burned 15 seconds.

I knew my family would be waiting for me at mile 14, so that was what I was looking forward to first.  Well, that and mile 13, when all the half-marathoners split off and we got more room.  Mile 14 came, and I can't explain the joy I felt when I heard my family cheering for me. 

After seeing my family at mile 14, I knew the next time I'd see them was mile 18.  So that's what I was looking forward to next.  I still felt great until about mile 17 or so.  Then it got slightly harder, and as you can see by my split times I got slower at that point also.  Not horrible, just didn't feel as good as I had before that. I saw my family cheering for me at the bottom of a hill on mile 18, gave them each a high-five, then knew I had 8 tough miles left.
Mile 18, the support was AWESOME
Knowing I wouldn't see them again until the finish was hard.  I averaged about a minute per mile slower the rest of the way, but pushed through it and still enjoyed the experience.

Turning on to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and seeing the finish line was the most amazing feeling.  I was overwhelmed.  I crossed the line at almost exactly my goal time, just a few seconds slower.  My time for the first 13.1 miles was 1:45, and slowed to 1:55 for the second 13.1 for an overall time of 3:40:24.  I enjoyed every minute of it and wouldn't change a thing.  The weather was perfect, family support was fantastic, just an amazing weekend.
Michael ran with me to the finish line
After the race we headed to my hotel room so I could shower, then went straight to TGI Friday's for a great meal.  Then later that evening we had a get together with family and friends that was a lot of fun.  Here are a few more pictures and my Garmin data.  A special thanks to Udit Patel for taking so many great pictures.  All of his pics can be found here.

In the elevator on the way to the shower.

"I'm running in memory of Dad": Several runners during the race shouted out: "You're dad would be proud".  That was great.