Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shaking off the Darkness and Running on the Sunny Side of the Street: 2012 Ga Marathon Race Recap

~Seen the carnival at Rome
Had the women, I had the booze
All I can remember now
Is little kids without no shoes
So I saw that train
And I got on it
With a heart full of hate
And a lust for vomit
Now I'm walking on the sunny side of the street
--The Sunny Side of the Street, The Pogues

~I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out. . . 
--Shake it out by Florence + The Machine

~Oh, and I know this of myself
I assume as much for other people
Oh, and I know this of myself
We've listened more to life's end gong
Than the sound of life's sweet bliss

--Missed the Boat by Modest Mouse
What were the words I meant to say before she left
When I could see your breath lead where you were going to
Maybe I should just let it be
And maybe it will all come back to me.
Sing O January O
~ January Hymn by The Decemberists

For those that don't care for the story here are the results of my 6th turn on the Georgia marathon course and my 17th marathon. This ties for my second fastest marathon and is a course pr by a minute.

Natalie Fischer      #137
Age: 40 Gender: F
Distance                  Marathon

Clock Time            3:28:51
Chip Time             3:28:38
Pace                        7:58

Overall Place          95/1872
Gender Place         17/638
Division Place         4/97
10K                         48:28
Half                         1:40:41
22 1Mi                     2:51:28


Two weeks ago I ran the Albany Snickers Marathon. It was a disappointing day for me. I had wanted to run my heart out for a pr. But weather, lack of sleep and quite honestly a dismal attitude made it an impossible and miserable day. Given the conditions of that day--70+ degrees, rain, humidity, tornadoes etc--a pr wasn't going to happen. BUT. But I could have had a better experience if I hadn't been so damn negative. I have so much regret about that and it has nagged at me.

I LOVE running. I really think it is happiness in motion. I think races,  marathons in particular,  are a blast. I try to always have a smile when I am out running-- whether racing, on track, treadmill, sidewalk or trail-- and try to make it look fun--even when sometimes it most certainly is not and I am definitely suffering--because I want all those non runners to know that they are missing out.

So I apologize for my negativity and forgetting that I run because I love to run. That I run because I think it is fun,. But mostly I am really sorry for forgetting that  being a better runner does not always mean having your fastest time. I am sorry for forgetting that a successful race isn't just what the clock at the end says or where you place in your age group.

I will admit it took me almost the entire 2 weeks between Albany and the Ga Marathon to recognize all that. I was depressed and self pitiful--as many people are after a bad race. And then I was depressed about the forecast for the Ga marathon. I whined, complained, shook my fist at the air for the injustices and  spewed negativity everywhere I could: Facebook, my log at Beginner Triathlete, on the Runner World forums, to friends and  to complete strangers. Some people joined me in my complaining--misery loves company, right-- others just flat out ignored me and then there were the few who gave me the tough love that I needed to hear. In particular was my friend Harvey who upon every running related facebook comment or negative training log blog I typed would simply advise:  "Don't think. Just run."

And then Ryan reminded me, when I was ( yet again) complaining (that it was going to be hot! ): "No one is making you run." I realized he was absolutely right and that I had no rebuff to make.
Why was I complaining?
 He was 100% correct.
I chose to sign up for this.
No one made me.
I was, supposedly, doing exactly what I wanted to do.
And further more, and more importantly, I was doing exactly what I  lecture my kids about NOT doing.  I am always saying to them:  "Don't whine. No one cares. No one wants to hear about what you can't do. They only want to know about what  you can do."

With that in mind I starting thinking what I could do even though Harvey told me not to think.( NOT thinking, btw, is a hard habit to break.) So Friday afternoon I printed out 3 pace bands. 3:25 for a pr (sigh) 3:28 for a course pr and 3:35 which was a guess at what might be realistic given the course, the fact that I just ran a marathon 2 weeks ago and that it would be hot and humid. I studied them. I even tried some visualization; imagining the course and trying to see the time on the clock at the 5k, the 10k, the half and the finish line. I could see all of them and I could see none of them. All I kept coming up with was my dream the night before.

I had dreamed about the race. An obstacle course dream where it was extremely crowded for the first 3 miles. The 5k timing mat caught on fire and the race navigated through buildings and later through a party where lots of my friends and family were. And all through the dream I was carrying a dark green down blanket that I wanted to get rid of but couldn't find anywhere to put down. I never saw my time on any of the clocks and my alarm had gone off before I got to the finish line.

I looked at the pace bands and I just didn't know. And then I got an idea. I pulled up the elevation chart and I made another "pace" band. This band, rather than having a time/pace corresponding to each mile I made either a red arrow pointing up for significant hills, purple wiggly lines signifying rolling hills or a blue arrow pointing down for significant downhill (ie fast parts of the course). I put the elevation gain/loss next to my symbols.  I printed it out, cut and then sealed it with scotch tape. Then I ripped up the other pace bands and threw them in the trash. I decided my pace would be whatever my pace was but I would chill on the up hills, hammer on the downhills and roll with the rest of it. I knew this meant I was in for a fade since the last 3 miles is all up hill. I didn't care. I wasn't going to think about it. I decided, I was just going to run.

Unlike at Albany I had an un-stressful day before the race--both kids won their lacrosse games. And as a mom, I have to brag: Beau scored a goal. He hadn't yet scored one this spring and had really been trying but either he would miss or the other team's goalie would knock it out. The weekend before at Dream Team Triathlon training Jill Poon asked the kids what their goals were and  Beau said that his "goal was to score a goal."

So Saturday morning on the way to the game I reminded him of his goal and told him to "make it happen." He played terribly the first quarter but got it together for the last half of the game.  In the last few minutes of the game he scored the final goal helping his team win 6 to 4. I don't know who was more excited.  It was pretty awesome and quite inspiring. He had a goal and he made it happen. Love. it.

And then after their games we shuffled the kids off to my parents so I could make my goal of a good night's sleep happen too.


I woke up at 4 am on Sunday and went about my usual race morning routine--coffee, breakfast, shower/stretch, gear check etc. While waiting on Ryan to get ready I wrote on my hand Harvey's advice:  "Don't think. Just RUN!"

 At 5:30 Ryan and I loaded up the Jeep and  with Lola (the dog) headed into Atlanta. I realized riding into the city I was not cold. We had the back windows of the Jeep out and I was perfectly comfortable sitting there in my skirt and sports bra. The temp on the car dash said 65 degrees. I decided not to believe that since I had looked at the weather hour by hour and it said 60 degrees and 95%  humidity for the start.  And told myself; It doesn't matter. You will be hot and will probably run slower and that will be okay. Every time I had a panicky thought I would just reassure myself that "I would be fine" or that "it was going to be an awesome day!"

 I have done the race day  self assurance a la Stuart Smalley  in the past and as silly as it seems, it totally works!  Maybe just thinking of funny things makes everything better. I mean really: Trace it, face it. Erase it! 

Why I didn't do it at Albany I have no idea. Maybe I was too busy drowning in my self pity. I really don't know but I will admit to failure on many levels during that race and only a few of them had to do with the weather and none of them had to do with my training.

Anyway, Ryan found parking on a side street and I again decided not worry about my car getting broken into (this is not an unfounded thought in Atlanta. My sister lives in the city and regularly has her car broken into. Trashcan Honda notwithstanding). Ryan and Lola walked with me to the start and he waited while I spent way too much time waiting to pee and then walked me a bit towards my corral. He kissed me good bye and instead of wishing me luck, said "have fun." 

And even though I know that was a tongue in cheek "have fun" because Ryan does not think there is fun in running marathons I decided that sounded like a great plan! 

I pardoned and excused my way into corral B. I settled on the right side (left side is evil) somewhere behind the half's 1:40 pace group and a good bit in front of the full's 3:30 pace group. I jumped up and down and did some stretching and took stock of what hurt, worried about it and reminded myself that today, stuff was gonna hurt and what hurt now would go away and be replaced by something else so no sense in obsessing about it. (trace it, face it, erase it!) Then I thought I might have to pee again. And I told myself, not to worry since soon I would be sweating so much my body was gonna need that pee. I know it doesn't work that way and it was just nerves. Thankfully I saw Christian and passed the time chatting with him before the start. 

Finally the start happens. I always mean to pay attention to how it happens but I always forget--could be announcement, horn, gun, cannon. No idea. But we are off. I hit my watch and put my earbuds in, turn on my ipod and giggle happily that The Gambler is the first song shuffle has picked for me. Perfect! Best life advice ever. 

Okay, so one of my most favorite things about this marathon is that we start in darkness. It is absolutely the coolest thing to run through downtown Atlanta in predawn darkness. 

Mile 1
I was so HAPPY and excited this first mile. I was trying to take it all in but it is very crowded since we are with the half marathoners. I can see up ahead the 1:40 pace group and I am determined to stay behind them and not pass them. I know my first 2.5 miles are going to be fast because my awesome pace band tells me we are dropping 110ft . I hit the split but I can't see it since it is dark. Actually, as it turns out, I don't ever look at any of my splits till after the race. There are clocks pretty much every mile but I semi ignored those too. Anyway, 7:35 for the first mile and I am DRIPPING with sweat. But I definitely do not feel overly hot. I just think to myself that this is the effect of the humidity and just means I am going to have to be extra vigilant with my hydration and nutrition.

I am just running along. Occasionally I yell out "hole" or point to cracks/obstacles in the pavement to the runners behind me. I really feel fabulous. I wave at the spectators  and my heart swells with happiness of just getting to run! I am so excited for my tour of Atlanta and getting to listen to my awesome play list. In my recovery since Albany my longest run was only 10 miles. Which after my months of logging higher mileage I was just plain missing running. I decide then that I am going to think of something positive every mile. 

I run through the first aid station, Gatorade, sip, sip and water, sip sip sip toss and dump some water on myself and think wow, I am really sweaty. I decide that I should probably walk/slow jog at least every other aid station for the first half and in the second half walk them all if need be. I did this strategy at Soldier's marathon and last year at Boston. I finished 3:31 and 3:33 respectively so  I knew I would probably still hit sub 3:35 even with the slow aid station passes and all the hills. Not exactly Gallo walking but enough that you get your fluids in and your heart rate down and digest all that nutrition goodness. 

7:30 for this mile. Ha, and I thought I had slowed down. 

Mile 3: It is still dark as we pass over the Jackson Street Bridge. Last year when I ran with Steph the sun was up at this point. I am pretty stoked to still be running in darkness with the lights of the city gleaming. Atlanta really has one of the prettiest skylines of any city I have ever seen. 

7:44--we are now going to gain the elevation we just lost. 

Mile 4: I walk through this aid station. I take Gatorade first, couple sips. Then a couple of sips of water. Then another cup of water that I dump on the back of my neck and I am off running again. I will repeat this at every aid station for the rest of the race.

This is the Auburn ave area and I see people out on their porches. Some  look to be drinking beer, others probably their morning coffee and I wave to them. So fun! I remember  that in the earlier years of this race there use to be a gospel choir that was out singing when we ran through here but I haven't seen them the past couple of years. Bummer. 

7:57--chilling on the uphills

Mile 5
 We are easing into the day light and also the  Inman Park area. A beautiful neighborhood, Atlanta's first suburb full of old Victorian houses. I've had many friends over the years who have had apartments in the old Victorians. I think about all the fun parties and  parades I've been to in this part of the city.  I have my first Gu. Always a Roctane. I don't wait for the aid station to take gu's. For me it works better to have the gu in my tummy ready and waiting. I also take the gu over the mile. 

We  run through the Little 5 Points area --it is an eclectic area with  interesting record, tattoo, clothing, head shops and fun clubs/bars. For those that don't know; Ryan and I went to elementary school (Holla fellow East Side Elementary grads!!) together and grew up in essentially the same neighborhood. I moved to Roswell in middle school and didn't see him again until a random night in October when we were both 25. It was at a  Dayroom  show at The Point (now defunct). We ran into each other that night and have been together ever since. And every year in the marathon I get to run past the building where The Point use to be. And that was my positive happy thought for mile 5!
Dayroom clip (couldn't find one from the show at The Point)
(And that is our friend Brad on drums that also went to elementary school with Ryan and I. )

7:24! oops! Maybe a little too much positive thinking.

Mile 6 
We turn on Freedom Parkway and run past the Carter Center. And my story for this mile is that Jimmy Carter once babysat me. I, of course, have no memory of this since I was 2 but I am certain I must have made quite the impression. Jimmy Carter was governor at the time and a close friend of my Aunt Boo and Uncle Charles Kirbo. My aunt was babysitting me and Jimmy was over visiting. Boo had to run the maid to the bus stop, probably a was gone all of 20 minutes but I was left in Jimmy's care while she did that. 


Mile 7
We have turned off Freedom Parkway and I see a girl that looks familiar. I realize it is Iona! She is my sister's friend who I adore. She is a retired Olympic triathlete. As in The Olympics. She is from Jamaica and has the best accent ever! I love hearing her talk. I am so excited to see her and I can tell I completely overwhelm her with my enthusiasm. She tells me it is HOT! And tell her she is from Jamaica and should love this. She does not. I don't either, but what can you do? 

Here is Iona and I at Universal Joint enjoying beers after the race. How pretty is she? (Note to self. Suck in tummy when standing next to Iona.)

7:12--I am thinking maybe I messed up hitting my splits for 6,7.8. I know I was excited to see Iona and all but I don't think I was running that fast. 

Mile 8 
I see a guy in a tutu with a wand and I decide that I am grateful that there are men in this world so secure they want to run a marathon in green tutu and carry a wand. What a beautiful thing. 
We split off from the half and I scream over the runners 'Have a great race halfers!! Woohoo for the marathon!!"  
The race had greatly thinned out at this point so I was flying solo. I remember somewhere after the split running down North Avenue and past Buddy's gas station (where my friend got robbed once while pumping gas) and I was above the sunrise. Higher than the sun and running down the hill towards it.  It was a spectacular view. So beautiful. I shouted good morning to a couple sitting on the curb sipping their coffee. In fact I shouted good morning, hello to so many people and they would cheer for me or say something like "beautiful day for a race." And I would say, "Yes it is!"

8:04--I was late hitting the split since this is where my ipod fitz out when I dumped water on it. Doh! I was pretty bummed since I love my sound track and I stopped to try and get it going but it was dead! I decided maybe it would be good for me to hear myself breathe. And maybe it would start working again. But either way I wasn't going to let it get me down. 

Mile 9
 This is the area near  where they have the Sweetwater festival every spring. I am still trying to get my ipod going but it is dead dead dead. I am still feeling  good and just not about thinking that I am probably running way too fast since the miles are just flying by. This is also a nice downhill but I know the ugly long hill is coming so I enjoy the downhill while I can. 


Mile 10 
This is the mile with the longest hill of the marathon. I settle into it. I pass a guy during this mile and tell him this is the worst hill. I know later he will probably thought I lied to him when he was in the the last miles that are all.up.hill. but the elevation change for this one mile is technically more.

7:54 Gu time!

Mile 11
 I don't like this mile usually. I think that is probably because this is where I feel the effects of the hill from mile 10 because my pace band tells me that the next 5 miles are gonna be pretty fast rolling mostly downhill.  I pass a corner and realize we are near where Ryan and I  rode during the Fridge to Fridge ride this past fall before Colby's Venison Stew party. That was such a fun day. My mind rewinds to think about the fun that day. So many good times on the streets and old neighborhoods of Atlanta.  This is a picture for the ride and our friend Chris's house in the Kirkwood area. We rode that day between Kirkwood, Decatur, Candler Park areas. Good times. Good times.

Mile 12
I see a girl up ahead of me. She looks awesome. I admire her physique and her stride. I wonder if I look like that when I run. I decide that I don't because I am not as fit or as tall as her and I decide I shouldn't pass her but next thing I know? I pass her. She says "good job" while I say hi and then I assure her this is just a for now. She seems really nice.And she does pass me later--around 21 or so and finishes about a minute ahead of me. She was really strong looking.


Mile 13
We run through Decatur and it is such a blur. I am happy and waving and shocked that I still feel this good. If only the rest of the race would have this terrain. I know that at 17 miles this fun is going to end and it will be time to dig, dig, dig.


Mile 14
No memory of this mile and apparently that is because I was flying!

7:31 weeeeee!!!!

Mile 15
Another Gu.  How crazy is that? In training I'll run 15 miles and not even stop for water never mind a gu. I am still, believe it or not, walk/jogging the aid stations. Process is still a sip or 2 of Gatorade, some water and then some water on my head. It is warm. The sun is out. But honestly, it really isn't an issue for me. It has to be in the mid 60's at this point, probably 80% humidity. When I checked before the race the hourly forecast predicted low 60 for the start with high humidity. The morning would progress towards  low /mid 70's for about 11 am and the humidity would drop to about 70%.  By comparison Albany was almost 100% humidity the entire race and the temp was always above 70. I felt like I was suffocating. The wet shoes didn't help. So for me, this was a million times better. But I can tell--by others breathing and how they look  that they are not faring as well. I know the heat and the hills is going to get to me too but for now it is not.


Mile 16
Almost to Druid Hills. This part is hard! But it really is my favorite part of the course. I am excited to run through it even though it is going to hand my ass to me. This section of Atlanta is so beautiful and was designed by landscape architect of Frederick Olmstead of Central Park fame. The cherry,dogwood,  red bud and pear blossoms are in full effect. The road is flanked by stately homes high on wide grass lawns dotted with bright pink and white azaleas. People are out with their kids, dogs, drinking--at least in my mind--mint Juleps. I so very much wish I could live in this area. Maybe if I win the lottery.

I run pass a guy who tells me I am doing awesome and I tell him now the real work is about to start and we turn the corner and run up the first of the Druids. I see on the clock that if I can keep my miles under 9 minute miles I will finish around 3:30. Surely I can do that, I think. But really I don't know. Don't think! Don't think! Just run!

Mile 17
I know at some point soon I will get to see my sister, Wes and his family  since she had told me they would be somewhere around 17-19 miles. I am excited to that Ryan is with them. Even though all I do is untangle myself from the ipod and yell "Dead ipod! Dead ipod! Take it! Thanks!"

8:11 Here I am running up that long hill, untangling the ipod. 
After the race my sister who has always run the half said she was surprised we have to run up that hill. She admits it is awful. Really this one doesn't bother me so much. That one at 23? on Spring Street? 67 feet in less than a quarter of mile of evilness? Kills me every time. But more about that later.

Mile 18
Some where in either this mile or maybe later I see Santa from last year. I scream, as loud as I can running up a hill SANTA!! The guy running next to me laughs, I mutter,quietly  "I know him." But Santa doesn't seem to remember me. I guess I've been naughty.


Mile 19
 I am passing people. People are passing me. No one wants to chat with me though. Even when I give shout outs to other runners they all but ignore me. No love for the Nat! No friends to go to the Island of Misfit toys with me. The spectators and volunteers all have love for me though! They yell out "Streaker!" or "Yay for the girls!" or "Yay for the skirt!" or sometimes even my name "Nat Nat you are doing awesome!' And I say "Thank you! This is awesome! or what a Beautiful day or Hells to the Yeah for a yard party" That last one got me lots of cheers from one group. 

It is awesome but it is also really hard because my legs are getting trashed and I am hot and I am getting a little tired now. But seven miles to go! I'll be done in around an hour. Just do as many sub 8:30 miles as you can do I tell myself. You are doing great! And I have another gu! 


Mile 20
Oh Nelly, it is getting hot in herreee! 
Thankfully though I get handed a nice cool wet towel. Fabulouliciousness. I feel like a boxer with the wet towel wrapped around my neck. And a left hook, then a right to those hills. Bam! Bam. Pow! Nope. Not at all.
The water and Gatorade I am being handing though is warm at best. Mmm, warm electrolytes! That makes them digest faster, right? 

8:19 I know we are about to get a brief down hill and I am going to make the best of it I can but boy are my legs feeling heavy.

Mile 21
I actually pass a few of the people that had passed me in the last few miles. I know they will probably pass me again since I am just working the down hill. It is also kind of shady here and there is a family in this part that hands out Jolly ranchers every year . I think about grabbing one but I am worried I might choke on it and that wouldn't be so fun.

 I pass a guy with an Albany marathon shirt on and I tell him I am a survivor too! He said this was his  "do over" and boy does he not sound like he is liking his do over. I, on the other hand, think this is a million times better even if in another 10 minutes it is going to feel like we have to hike up a mountain.


Mile 22
We bottom out in Piedmont park and now are onto the part of the race that I don't like. Every year, with the exception of last year because I was running an easy pace, the park is  my undoing. The first year this is where I started to feel really sick with heat exhaustion. 2 years ago it was where I almost flat out quit and didn't only because I thought finding a ride was going to take me longer than to actually hobble my way to the finish. 

They changed the course in 2010 and added a hideous out and back lollipop in the park. You run up a hill that is in full sun, hit a mat and loop back down the hill. It is nice getting to see people you didn't know were behind you but it also totally sucks when you see the 3:30 pacer is right.behind you. and know that he is going to chase you down. Damn it.


Mile 23
Right before I hit the mat  that heralds the end of  the 22nd mile and the beginning of the 23rd I see Doug and Steph . He is less than a 1/4 mile ahead of me.
 Doug yells  "Come and get me Nat!" 
And Grr. 
Oh boy do I want to charge after him and smack him in the ass but I am cooked. I am not worried about it nor am I surprised. I knew I would be paying back the bank at this point. I just didn't know exactly what I the interest rate would be. 
Did I owe 1? 2? 
Or God forbid more minutes per mile? 

I decide to have another gu because I think there is going to be an aid station before we exit the park and I know I am going to need something for the climb up to the finish. I can already tell I am about to be hit with some cramps in my hamstrings. If I didn't have to run uphill it wouldn't be an issue. It is only about 150-200 ft gain over the next 3 miles but there is no reprieve from it, no shade and it is hot!  Apparently around this time the race officials yellow flagged the race. I never noticed any flags at any point though. All I know is that at this point I was feeling every bit of the heat .

 Steph is waiting for me as I pass our friend Kim. She takes this picture of Steph and I.  
Steph asks me if I need anything and I tell her some water if she has it would be great. She loosens the cap and hands it to me but I realize even with her loosening it for me I still have a hard time getting it off. I think maybe I am not cooked. I am fried. Done. Game over. 

But then Steph tells me that I look great and asks how I feel . Really? I look good?  I tell her I am pretty tired and hot. She babbles on that she told Doug that he looked great but that she was lying to him. He looks terrible she says. On the one hand I  think maybe she is trying to mess with my head. But I know Steph always only has good intentions so instead I tell her that now I know she is lying to me. She insists that she isn't and also that she isn't going to be able to run with me for long because this pace is too fast for her with her backpack.

No problem! We can walk for a minute.  I drink some of the water, dump a little on my head, thank her and hand it back to her. As I toss my gu packet in the trash I assure her that I have not littered at all today (she likes to pick up trash while she runs and I am trying to get brownie points with her for being a non littering runner.)

I start running and she stays with me and I thank her for being there and I tell her that I am in the "valley of darkness" but she is making me not feel it so much. We exit the park and head up the hill at Spring Street. Halfway up I feel my left hamstring seize and I tell her I have walk. Ugh. She says that is okay and I am embarrassed at how bad I am doing now. I tell her I knew I wouldn't run a pr but I had thought maybe a course pr would happen but it was looking like 3:35 was what was going to happen. I am going to be happy about that I tell her. I've had such a fun  race. 

9:22 (that's ugly)

Mile 24
Steph leaves me a little after this point and I start running again. I think someone gives me another wet towel maybe it was the next mile. I really wish someone would turn on a fan. I really can't say what happened when in the last few miles. My "don't think just run" plan is in full effect because my brain? It has melted. Zombies wouldn't even chase me now.


Mile 25
Is this Ga tech campus? I think so. I don't like this part. Lots of concrete, no shade and slight uphill. Volunteers are nice but this part is just painful. I am working through my cramp. I've have to shorten my stride to hold off the seizing. It works but is slow and uncomfortable going. It is so annoying when you reach this point and your legs become so uncooperative. Stupid legs.


Mile 26
Last mile. I am doing math now. Or trying. It is so hard but I know sub 3:30 should happen. I have doubts I can hold on for a course pr but I will try. Every now and again I hear someone yell my name or at least I think I do. Either way  I throw up an arm and wave. I try to encourage those I see start to flounder--Come on, almost done now. Hang on. Keep it up. I say this out loud and it is as much for them as it is for me.

Mile 26.2
I see the sign that says 1/4 mile left. One lap around the track I tell myself. Do it in 2 minutes I tell myself. I don't know if I can but if I do I will come under 3:29 for a course pr. I make myself run as hard as I can because  I decide for 2 minutes I can do anything. Any longer than that is impossible though. 

And I do: 1:54 

And I am done!  On my watch 3:28:44. Official time faster. Hell yes!! No cartwheel necessary. Thank God because I have the wrong skirt on for a cartwheel.

I work my way through the finishline and my phone rings. It is Ryan. Yay!! No wandering around mumbling to myself like Beaker. Meep. Meep, meep. Meep. Of course he parked, like always, at the top of the hill behind the Tabernacle.And then there was,  I am sure, the quite humorous spectacle of me trying to help him take the Jeep top down while I was hit with Charlie Horses all over my body. Which I would laugh, even though they hurt, and make more Charlie Horses happen. So am this sweaty, gross, jerking woman on the side walk. I think I even had part of my skirt tucked in my ass cheek.

We go to my sister's and I shower and change and have several beers.

And then we pile in the Jeep and go meet friends at Universal Joint for burgers and many, many beers. Here I am with my friend Shannon who ran the half and my sister who did not run this year (slacker). 

So it was a great day!

Final thoughts:

I can tell you now that I figured out during the race what my subconscious was telling me in my pre race dream: That it would be crowded early on because we were with the half runners. That the fire at the 5k timing mat was because I went out so fast I set the course on fire. The party I ran through was the race--filled with long time friends who were running and family that was spectating in the city I have called home for all 40 years of my life. And that dark green blanket? It was my mind's way of telling me that I was going to be pretty darn warm during the Publix Ga marathon but I would manage just fine.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Great race, great race report, awesome sub 3:30 marathon Nat!


  2. Awesome job. I love to read about you finding your joy, and overcoming your self-doubt!

  3. Natalie, I have no words except for Supercalafragilisticexpialadocious! The End.


  4. awesome awesome awesome awesome - I love reading your stuff - love love. This one deserved a comment, because you rock!

  5. I have been semi-lurking on your blog forever and I love your race reports and your writing style! You should seriously consider writing a book!

  6. Some of the yelling in the last miles was me. My not-so-smooth attempt to cut the corner to beat you and Doug to the finish backfired and I ended up running up Techwood with Christian and then shadowing the course via Luckie Street until I gave up and chased Doug up Marietta St. Oops.

  7. I like this post a lot, I learned a lot from those nice race report you had. Thanks for sharing this to us, looking forward for more updates.

  8. Great job Nat! Very impressive on a two week turnaround! I'm glad you are out of the valley of darkness.

  9. Just chiming in to say that that turnaround in Piedmont Park is really and truly evil. I went from 8:50 splits there to 10:30s. I blame the course, of course. :)