U.S. Air Force Marathon Race Weekend Report (Marathon #2)

21 Sep


I was a bad blogger this weekend and forgot my camera every time I left my hotel room.  My lack of organization could be due to the fact that I woke up Friday morning at 4:52 for a 6:25 flight.  Whoopsy. I set both alarms on my clock radio, so I have no idea what happened there.  I’m glad I normally wake up around 5 to work out.  I ran through my house Tasmanian Devil style getting dressed and wrapping up any last minute packing, and was out the door by 5.

Things went really well for me from there:

  • I was already checked into my flight, and since I was only going for two days I didn’t check a bag.
  • The shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal was sitting right by the parking spot I chose.
  • The security line was long but moved fast.
  • When I got to my gate, my group of seats was lining up to board.
Phew.  I was in my seat by 6:19.  Talk about cutting it close.
My flight and arrival were uneventful (aside from a landing that felt like the pilot threw the plane at the runway…yikes). 
Later in the day Tim, Jim, and I headed over to the expo to pick up our packets.  The expo was good, but most of the vendors were the same as what I saw at Rock N Roll Providence, so I didn’t spend much time browsing. However, I did manage to score a free reusable water bottle and sweat towel!
The expo was held at the Nutter Center at Wright State University which to me looks like where they hold sporting events, concerts, etc… We made our way down onto the arena floor where packet pick up was taking place.  The booths were very well organized with knowledgeable, friendly volunteers. We were able to pick up our bibs, t-shirts, and race bags very quickly.
All three of us were hungry so we headed straight over to the Air Force Museum for the all you can eat pasta dinner. I don’t normally buy tickets to pre-race pasta dinners – I’ve seen a couple and they looked terribly unappealing, but we were assured that this one was really good.  And it was! I loaded my plate up with salad, pasta salad, tortellini with Alfredo, rigatoni (I think it was, I don’t really remember) with meat sauce, and of course a breadstick.  I also grabbed a banana out of the fruit bowl for the morning.  The food was delicious. After eating, Tim mentioned that he had seen a few people with dessert, so naturally we scoped out the dessert table.  I had a chocolate chip cookie, a small piece of German chocolate cake, and what I believe was a magic cookie bar .  We were all officially stuffed after that.  Stuffed but fueled up and ready to go!
Tradition has it with our group of friends that whenever we go out for a race weekend we scope out a local watering hole and make it our headquarters for the weekend.  Jim scoped a place before we arrived in Dayton, so we stopped in for a couple of beverages to discuss our morning game plan before calling it a night. 
We all headed back to our hotel rooms early Friday night for a 5 a.m. wake up call. 

Rise and shine around 5:15 (I just can’t get out of bed without hitting snooze). The guys and I had decided Friday night we were going to go to Tim Hortons for coffee/breakfast on our way so we all loaded into Jim’s car by 6 and hit the road. 
We were told to be on the base 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the race start (7:30). We figured we’d have plenty of time since the hotel wasn’t too far from the base. Oh boy did we ever cut it close (two close calls in one weekend – that’s enough for this girl thankyouverymuch). When we exited the highway and started driving down the road that leads to the base we were greeted with a long line of traffic. Dead stopped, not moving traffic. I tried to stay positive, Jim looked like he was starting to  panic a bit, and Tim was more concerned about the fact that he forgot his Garmin. 
But there we sat – and sat, and sat some more. Creeping forward every so often. We finally made it and parked the car around 7:15.  It was a chilly morning (about 55 degrees) – I decided to leave any extra clothing in the car, since we didn’t even have time to check a bag at this point.  Poor Tim – he’s from Louisiana – he was freezing and looking for snow flurries. 
We warmed up with an almost mile long power walk to the start line from our parking spot. About 75% of the way from the car to the start line we stopped for the national anthem. Then we continued our power walk to the line.  We all quickly spotted our project finish times, wished each other good luck, and got in line.
Right before the starting gun a B-1 Lancer flew low over us – holy cow, that was SO COOL.  Loud, but cool.  Really cool.  Like I had to call my mom after the race to tell her about it cool. 
Next thing I knew the starting gun (cannon? That was loud too!) had gone off and away we went. 
I felt great from the start. I couldn’t find my pace group so I figured I’d just run at what I felt was a comfortable pace and hopefully catch up to them eventually.  
One thing I really enjoyed about this race is how wide the course was.  I’d say I was at my pace and comfortable where I was within the first mile, and there was no more dodging people or shuffling trying to pass. 
The miles ticked by.  One person asked me if I was a pacer, since I had my name and projected time on my back, to which I replied, “No, I haven’t been able to find them yet!” 
Then I heard another voice from behind me say, “Oh, look, there’s a 4:30 pacer”.  I turned around and told them I wasn’t, but I’d run with them if that was the time they were trying to reach. One of them immediately picked up on the fact that I’m from the northeast by my use of “wicked”.  They were from NY. Around mile 6 we finally spotted the 4:30 pace group. They were cookin’. I had run all of my miles up to then at a sub-10mm pace (except for one – pee break!).  The pace for a 4:30 marathon is 10:18! I was less than impressed with the pace leader for that group – she had zero cheerleading skills, held the sign up with the time on it maybe 50% of the time, and spent the majority of the time just chatting with the people that were running right next to her. 
I was still feeling really good though, so I stuck with the group.  At this point, my new friends had pulled ahead of the group. We ran through a beautiful area that I believe was either Air Force Housing or part of Wright State University – either way, it was beautiful.  Lots of trees and well maintained buildings/houses with beautiful landscaping. I made sure to look around and really take in the scenery. 
At this point I had met another person – he was running his first marathon.  He was in the Air Force and it was fun chatting with him because he educated me on some of the planes that were flying overhead during the race! As we were headed into the little town of Fairborn, I had just commented about all the people headed back toward the base.  I said, “Wow are these people really fast or are we near a turn around?!” Turns out it was both, because those words had no sooner come out of my mouth when I saw Jim! I shouted to make sure he knew I saw him! He was looking great – strong, happy, on target. He said I looked like I was doing really well at this point too. I was about 9 miles in at this point, so he was probably at least at Mile 11. 
I reached 13.1 in 2:12:20 – which is only 2 minutes and 7 seconds slower than my half PR.  I had all the confidence in the world, but I could tell that I wasn’t going to keep this pace for another 13.1.  Things were starting to feel sore.  I kept pushing though.  Then of all things I had to go to the bathroom! Ugh! That slowed down my Mile 16 and I was never able to regain the momentum. 
I must have pushed Mile 16 too hard trying to regain my speed and make it a decent mile because suddenly my left hip felt like it was going to give out and send me to the ground. I saw a figure up ahead that looked familiar – it was Tim! I had seen him once earlier on, but we lost each other. He was running kinda slow – so once I caught up to him, I slowed too to see what was wrong.  He was getting a bad blister on his foot, which he had experienced before, and knew it could get pretty ugly.

Between Tim’s foot and my hip we weren’t in great shape, but we weren’t feeling awful yet either. We decided to run/walk the rest of the race, to protect my hip and Tim’s foot. We were going to cross that finish line come hell or high water.

Tim kept me entertained for 10 miles, to say the least.  He is a funny man. We talked about everything.

We ate sport beans and commiserated with each other.

We talked about how 98% of the population would never ever accomplish what we were doing.

We talked about how many people there were behind us.

We talked about Jim’s finish goals and if we ran into him along the course due to some horrible reason that caused him to slow down we were going to roll him over the finish line ahead of us if we had to. (We didn’t have to)

We talked about running to the next light pole, the next mile marker, how many miles we had left to go.

We reached Mile 20.  Tim thought we were at 19 – he was happy!

We celebrated only having a 5k to go.

Then we could see the finish line – but it sure looked a helluva ways off yet. We rounded the corner at 26 miles and my watched ticked off 26.2 and I said to Tim, “Well , we’ve already run our marathon!”

As we rounded the last stretch toward the finish line I told Tim, “Lets see how many people we can pass and finish strong.” The crowd was big and we were running under the wings of big airplanes. We passed at least a dozen people in the home stretch and before we knew it we were over the finish line!

Tim had just completed his first marathon, and I had just completed my second. I was so glad to have someone to run the last 10 miles with, and it was so awesome running with Tim to his first marathon finish.

Through the finish chutes we went – and we were given our medals by Air Force Officers.  That was really awesome.  I even remembered my manners after 26 miles, and when I was congratulated by someone I believe to be a Colonel, I said “Thank you, sir.”

Tim and I found Jim shortly after our finish.  He looked like a kid in a candy shop when he said, “Guess what my time was.” (That may not be a direct quote – I was a tad delirious with pain at that point). I thought he had BQ’d he was beaming so big! He thinks I’m crazy for even thinking that! But, he made his sub 4-hour goal that he’s been trying to make for a few races now! 3:59:58.  CONGRATS COACHY! You rocked it!

After the race we all got cleaned up and headed out to dinner.  We went for steak dinners at Lone Star, then back to the watering hole we had found the night before where we drowned our pain in celebrated with Dogfish Head 90 and shots of Jameson’s.

I did PR by 6 minutes and 5 seconds, but I was hoping for much better.  I’ve had some thoughts since this weekend on what I could have done, and I’ll be talking about it here soon, so stay tuned!

Here are my official stats:

I hope you enjoyed my rather lengthy recap! I can’t wait to do it again!

2 Responses to “U.S. Air Force Marathon Race Weekend Report (Marathon #2)”

  1. Lesley @ racingitoff.com September 21, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    Great job. Marathon 2 in the books! And that is so dumb about the pacer. They shouldn't have been that far ahead of pace. Crazy.


  1. 2011 Races (Year in Review) « Running and Cupcakes - January 2, 2012

    […] Air Force Marathon – September 17: My second marathon. I had only planned on running this marathon in 2011. We all know how that went. I finished and PR’ed this race, but I wasn’t happy with it. My hip gave out about Mile 16 and wouldn’t cooperate at all for the rest of the race. 5:22:08 […]

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