Well y’all my 2014 race season is officially over. Last Saturday I ran and finished the 2014 Greensboro Marathon. The 26.2 mile race was my 2nd attempt and I’m thankful to have finished in 6:35:24 (6 hours, 35 minutes, 24 seconds). Back in March of this year I finished the Tobacco Road Marathon in 6:53 (6 hours, 53 minutes). The Greensboro Marathon was extremely hilly. So even with the hills, I still managed to complete the course with an 18 minute improvement from the last marathon.
2014 was the 2nd year for the Greensboro Marathon. The race expo was on Friday October 17 at the Greensboro Cultural Center right in the middle of downtown. There were three floors of vendors and sponsor tables. I usually don’t get excited about expos. My goal is always to get in and out as fast as possible. I’m not one of those runners who go to expos to hang out, look for new gear or buy products. The race expo included a full schedule of lectures, from course tips to training gear demos. While breezing through the expo, I did take a moment to check out the Flow Audi table and read about the 2014 Thunder Road Marathon taking place in Charlotte next month. The only thing that stood out to me at the expo was how friendly and engaging the lady at the Flow Audi table was.
I knew the Greensboro Marathon was going to be extremely hilly. Back in March I told y’all about my challenge of getting leaner and faster [READ: #RapOnTheRun: I Need To Run Faster, I Need To Get Leaner]. I’ve learned that the leaner you are, the fast you go. So I’d been checking out the race elevation map all Summer and added in extra hill training whenever possible. Funny thing is, it was my first time really taking time to try and understand an elevation map. Reading an elevation map, driving the course and actually running it are three totally different experiences. Shawty, this race was one of the toughest I’ve ever ran!
That Friday night before the run I completed all my pre-race rituals and was in bed by a reasonable hour. The race had an 8:00 am start time, which I thought was pretty late for a marathon start. At 7:00 am on race day it was still pretty dark, so if that’s the reason why the race director decided on an 8:00 am start, I understand.
One thing I really loved about the Greensboro Marathon was the accessibility of parking and the ease of getting to the starting line. I got dropped off at 7:30 am literally a couple of feet from the start.
I completed a routine of stretching and warm ups then went over to the start line. The weather was right aroun 50 degrees and the sky was clear. I really couldn’t have asked for better running weather.There were about 264 folks signed up for the marathon, so there was plenty of room to move around. The race started promptly at 08:00 am and we were off.
The hills started off right at the beginning and pretty much didn’t let up. It was literally hill after hill after hill after hill (and more hills!). There were a few flat spots but not many. As I mentioned earlier, reading an elevation map and driving a course is totally different from running it.
The course was absolutely beautiful. Honestly, the 2014 Greensboro Marathon is the prettiest race I’ve ever ran. The route headed north into the country out towards Summerville, NC, looped around Lake Brandt and then went back into the city. We ran by a few farms, a dam and some swanky neighborhoods.
The course out in the country was very remote. There were few houses and lots of trees or open farm land. Between miles 10-14 the police drove the course every few minutes. There was one point where I’d left the pack and was running alone. This was right around miles 11-12. I ran up on two men that came out of the woods who began walking ahead of me and did not appear to be a part of the race. I thought it was pretty strange, especially considering how remote the area was and immediately felt extremely uncomfortable. Luckily very shortly after that a policeman drove by again and slowed down. I heard him ask the guys if they were part of the race. One of them responded no. I kept on running and picked up my pace enough to catch up with a pack that was about a half mile in front of me.
I made it to the 13.1 mile halfway in 2:59 (2 hours, 59 minutes). I was very pleased with that, considering how hilly the route was and the fact that I’d walked a few steep hills.
The last 13.1 miles were super tough. The 2nd half was hillier than the first half. To top it off, there was an extremely strong headwind for pretty much the whole second half. Running up hill and against the wind is not something I want to experience again! Right around mile 17 Rick the race director gave me a few words of encouragement, which was definitely appreciated.
There was supposed to be soda at mile 20. When I got there it was all gone! That pissed me off. I don’t even drink sodas regularly but because I was so worn out, by mile 19 I was really looking forward to that sugar rush. By mile 22, I was walking the steep hills and running the flatter spots. My get up and go had got up and gone. To top it off my stomach was also cramping from the Gatorade, which I never drink. Since there wasn’t any soda at mile 20 I had some Gatorade instead (mistake!) for the sugar rush.
The last few miles were pretty uneventful. The course was still pretty and very interesting to look at. It wound through the Greensboro Country Club neighborhood so I enjoyed checking out the houses. By this time the temps had risen a bit but it was still relatively cool.
The finish line was set to close at 2:35 pm so I did all I could to make sure I finished in time. Right around mile 25 I could see the finish line up the hill. I couldn’t see people at the finish line but my family evidently could see me. They began yelling my name, which gave me the push to run the last mile.
I crossed the finish line right at 6:35:24, just as they were beginning to break down the set up. A fellow runner draped a finisher medal around my neck and boy was I glad the race was finally over! My biggest gripe is there was no food or drinks available that I could see. As a late finisher I understand that sponsors can’t stay at the race all day, but a drink or small snack would have been appreciated.
The 2014 Greensboro Marathon is hands down the most difficult race I’ve ever ran. At this point I’m not certain if I’ll run the 2015 event. If I decide to, then I’ll definitely need to add in more hill training and perhaps some swimming. A sports medicine physician told me that swimming is a great anaerobic exercise to help build endurance. In addition I hope to be even more lean this time next year, which would help with a faster race pace as well.