Natalie Fischer #146
Age: 39 Gender: F
Clock Time 3:59:26
Chip Time 3:55:27
Overall Place 493 / 2235
Gender Place 113 / 799
Division Place 15 / 140
Age Grade 59.9%
22 1Mi 3:16:32
This marked Ga Marathon number 5 for me and it was marathon unlucky number "13" for me. I signed up last year for the race for $35 way before I knew for sure I would be doing Boston. And certainly before I had a new litany of injuries. But regardless, Ga marathon was never going to be a goal race for me. I honestly don't think I will ever again toe the Ga marathon line with the intention of trying to run a personal best. I am not saying it couldn't happen but it is, I think, what most people would consider a tough course. So I just think if I ever happened to run a personal best on this course it would surely be bettered on a more forgiving course. But who am I kidding? Future personal bests. Snicker. I do think it is cute how optimism always creeps in. Blah blah, Hope is the thing with feathers blah blah nestles in the deep dark crevices of the soul blah blah.
Once I signed up for Boston in the fall I knew Ga marathon would have to be a training run. But then in January I was side lined and barely running so I was worried that I might be lucky if I could just do the half. As it turned out February was a solid training month for me and the Ga marathon would work perfectly--tongue firmly in cheek--as a long training run. The trick would be for me to not run the marathon too hard.
I no longer wear a watch in training (or racing for that matter) but for the past 4 or so years my long run pace falls in the 8:30 to 9: 00 min range. Weather, injury, and hormones being the deciding factor of whether my pace is closer to 8:30 or closer to 9:00 min miles. Based on that I knew my finish time for this year's race could be no faster than 3:45 and ideally no slower than 4 hours. However slower than 4 hours would be okay provided it was due to lingering at aid stations and socializing with spectators.
My BFF workout partner Steph was very nice and said I could run with her. She was shooting for 4 hours so it would work out perfectly. Steph is good at maintaining her pace and everything is just better with a friend. I was a little worried that she was sandbagging and was going to end up running sub 3:45. I had to have a serious talk with myself that if that happened I was just gonna have to let her go because Ga marathon was my practice marathon. Not my real marathon.
Practice makes perfect practice makes perfect practice makes perfect . . .
I decided to spend the night at my sister's. I've done this some years. Other years I've driven down to her house. Either way her husband drives and drops us at the start. It was a rather uneventful evening so I'll spare you the details.
However, at 3 am I was awaken by a raging headache, cramps and back ache. If you're a dude you are probably thinking stomach flu; if you are girl, you know the issue at hand. Let's just say the white skirt I had wanted to wear for the marathon got replaced by the black skirt. Let's also say that I have never had to make that choice on race morning ever.
Rather than be angry at the things I cannot control I took it as a sign that universe was keeping me in check. So with the universe's help and some Motrin--something else I have never taken race day or before a run-- I got dressed and ready for the race.
Wes dropped (left to right) Christina, Pookie (my sister), me and Shannon at Luckie St and we wandered down the race. The other girls were doing the half so we parted ways so I could go find Steph.
Steph had been texting me since 5 am so I knew to meet her at the bag drop though I had no bag. The thing I hate about GA marathon is that it starts at 7 am and is therefore dark until 7:30. It annoys me not being able to see everything. It is like those dark TV show--x files, CSI--where I want them to turn on the lights already cause I can't freaking see anything.
So I find Steph. Run into my friend Brett. And Brent. And Jamie. And Doug. Whew. Not bad for not being able to see shit.
I made some guy take (right to left) me, Steph, Jamie and Doug's picture while we waited in line for the porto potties. After this Steph and I parted ways with Jamie, doing the half, and Doug, is goal to beat me and Steph. He easily did.
Right. Running and darkness does not make for good camera phone pictures. Whatever.
We are running and the wave of humanity begins to roll through downtown Atlanta in the predawn darkness. Rock and roll.
I note as Steph and I cross under the start clock that we are at 4 minutes. I am not wearing a watch but I know that there are clocks on the course and I am relieved that 4 minutes is not too hard for me subtract. Sure 2 minutes would be easier but 8 or 9 minutes would be way harder on my brain.
While I hate the darkness before the race I do like starting the race in the darkness. It is pretty cool. It is like I am in disguise and can hide a little while I ease into the race; try to negotiate the pace. It is crowded but Steph and I stay together fairly easily. I keep telling her to slow down. We are going too fast! But really we aren't. We are on pace for four hours according to her splits. That stinks because it felt like I was running a 7:30 mile. That's how crappy I felt.
While I am taking this picture I get yelled at by a police officer over his loudspeaker. "Tighten up Ponytail! Get back inside the cones."
I smile and wave at him and step back in the cones and run on with group. I am excited about my new nickname. Ponytail. It's like a stripper's name.
I am pretty excited to see John, Desiree and Kim. Kim gives me an Advil and a bottle of water which I down. I chat with them while I wait for Steph. While standing there a guy runs past me and calls out, "Come on Ponytail! I need my pacer!"
New nickname is sticking!!!
After taking the picture I see I have a text from Ryan. Our plan was for him to pick me up at the finish. But if the race is going slowly he was going to drop the kids at my sister's. His text says he is on 75. Hmm, that is pretty close.
I see the four hour pace group coming down the small hill and I can see Steph behind them. I thank Kim, Des and John and start running. I decide maybe I should have GU since I don't know how my stomach is going to feel taking an Advil. All new for me and it has the potential to go bad but my thinking is food might be a good idea.
As I down the GU and run out of the park I roll my eyes so far in the back of my head at the umpteenth homemade sign that says "Winning... duh!" Charlie Sheen, please go away and heal yourself.
I check over my shoulder and Steph is still with the four hour pace group. I turn to go up that short, terrible steep hill. I pass a guy getting an I.V. from the bicycle medics on my right and I spy the 23 mile marker sign on my left. I whip out my phone and text Ryan back. Only it is really hard to text and run uphill and it comes out "ayytm23". He figures it out and texts me back "Push it!!!"
And so I do. At least that it is how it feels. My mind though isn't sharp which I realize at mile 24 when I see a friend and I call out "Hey Heather!!!" only to realize that it is Leslie!. I try to correct but it is too late. I am past her.
I am now on the Ga Tech campus. The scene of the worst calf cramp ever. Two years ago when I ran 3:29 I was on pace to PR until my calf muscle turned into a snake and I had to hobble and walk it in. But this year I am fine and so I just keep running. I pass everyone! It is fantastic even though I think this is the most torturous tour of finish line stretch of any race I have done (Twisted Ankle not counting). It is a stealth hill that turns and turns and you know you are close but God damn it you are still not done.
But this year?
Not so torturous for me.
I try not to be obnoxious about it but inwardly I want to be cheering everyone on and telling them They.CAN.do.IT!
But I know by the looks on their faces that I have been them and would not have appreciated a hyperactive cheerleader runner girl coaxing me on. So I say nothing and run on. I do pat one girl who is a half mile from the finish and starts to walk on her back and tell her, you have this. And I only say it to her because she looked so strong physically. Mentally though, I knew, she was getting the shit beat out of her.
As I near the finish line I start to run harder. I want to put distance between myself and the other runners. I am not trying to be a brat and beat everyone in the last 100 yards to the finish but rather I want some space so I can do a cartwheel across the finish line and not kick anyone in the face. Cause that would really suck for them.
I see on the clock 3:5x and think sweet! Sub 4. Perfect! I cast a glance over my shoulder and dash over the finish and throw my body into a round off and land fist punching the air. A lady at the finish line comes up and hugs me and says I have more energy than any person she has seen cross the finish line. I ask if I can stand there and wait for my friend and she lets me.
So I stand in the finish line chute and wait for Steph.
I take few pictures.
And then my girl Steph comes through. Missing sub 4 by 56 seconds but who is gonna complain about a 40 minute pr? She rocks!
What a great race despite not feeling good. If I hadn't had Steph to run with I definitely would have quit. Her being there motivated me. And as a result I got my last solid long run for Boston in.
I met up with Ryan. Steph and I parted ways. I went to my sister's, showered and then headed over to the Marlay House for lunch.
Here is Pookie, Me and Shannon post race and happy with beer and to be done.
Now. On to Beantown. Fingers crossed for a good day.