Sunday, October 18, 2009

9/3/09 Lynch's Woods 50k

I had not been running long distance for a while cause of the summer heat so when this ultra came up I knew it was going to be tough.  I talked Aly into coming with me again and just a week before the race Terri the rd emailed me and asked if Aly wants to run the whole 50k.  I said yes and told Aly to get ready as she is gonna do the whole run.  She was a little nervous as her longest run to date was about 15 miles so doing double was really a stretch she thought, but I know how strong she is and told her she could do it no problem. 
Well race day came and it was a beautiful day just a little to warm (around 82) for a long run in the woods.  We headed to the race and got a ticket so by the time we got to the start we were 20 minutes late starting.  We took off on the first 4 mile loop on the dirt road and tried to keep a steady pace not going out to fast.   We finally caught Terri the rd as she was sweeping at the a.s. at the 4 miles.  This trail was run once on the 4 mile outer road and then 4 times around the 7 mile inner trails which were quite rolling not as up and down as the Chattooga 5ok but still more hills and harder than the 34 miler at Buncombe Trails.  
We kept a pretty good pace up and caught up with a few more people on the second lap and stayed with them until third lap of the 7 miles.  Aly kept trying to tell me she was gonna stop after 25 miles but I  could tell how strong she was running that she could do the whole 50k so I told her no way.  
The third lap around the 7 mile after we left the a.s. I thought we I had left our food in our cooler so we did this lap with no food.  (found out later it was in my camelback)  This ended up being a pretty big mistake later.  Anyway we finished this lap and Aly felt good enough to go out for the final lap so we took off.  I had found the food in my backpack and was trying to get Aly to eat something but she just kept drinking cytomax and powerade.  We finished the 50k in 7:11 which was amazing to me with the temp being what it was and Aly never having run more than 15 miles.  
She was really tired so I went to get the truck from up the hill.  I took off walking to get it and my legs cramped so bad that I almost yelled in pain every step.  I got to the truck and went back an picked Aly up, she did not feel good at all.  I thought she needed more food and salt but after considering everything she had during the run we decided she was over electrolyted and needed more water.  She felt better the next day.
I am really excited and proud to have finished a 50k with Aly what an accomplishment.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

6/20/09 Candlelight 5k

The Pond Jump
My son Parker doing a 360.

Spencer just getting big air.

My nephew Dexter doing his first back flip.

My son Spencer doing a back flip.

My nephew Ty jumping in.

Aly and I talked about doing this run a little bit but with the ultra on the  June 7th and a week in Charleston in between this one kinda jumped up on us.  Well it was really hot like close to 100 all day so I took the boys down to the pond where they jumped their bike into it off the dock.  They had a blast and I had a great time just watching them.  We stayed down there for over 4 hours and when I told them it was time to go they were totally bummed out.  Well we got home from that ate a little food and headed down to the ICAR campus where this race is run.
Well we got to the race at 8:05 pm and went to register, the race was so full that they could not take anymore people.  Well I saw Jana and Amos there and they had an extra number so I ran under that number.  This was my first time ever trying to run a 5k for time.  I thought that it was going to be tough but I did not know how tough it could be.  The temperature was 94 degrees when we parked our car so at race time it was still extremely hot even though it started at 9:00pm.  Well Amos ran a fast race finishing in about 22:30 and I finished in 25:07.  I thought that I could run it faster than that but that was all I had.  I even walked twice during this race it was so hot.  Oh well I keep telling everyone don't underestimate a run and I did it again.  Aly and Brandi also ran it and they thought it was hot too.  
Aly finished like a minute behind me and Brandi did around 30 minutes so all in all it was still fun.  Though I don't think I will run another 5k in that kind of heat.  

Sunday, June 28, 2009

6/7/09 Chattooga River 50k

With just over a month between ultra's I figure to train about like I did for the first one.  I only do one long run in between so Aly and I decide to run 10 miles downtown Greenville on the rubber track at the Swamp Rabbit trail and then I will run home from there which will add another 10 miles.  The day we did this run I woke up that Sunday morning and just figure today I will do my long run.  I did not worry about what I had eaten on Saturday and figured no problem I was very wrong about this.  We went down and started running and it was very hot until about 4 miles in then it started to rain really hard so we kept on running and let the rain cool us off for a while.  Then it actually started feeling really cold but Aly and I kept on running splashing through puddles until we got to 10 miles.  She asked me if I really wanted to run home from downtown and I said ya go ahead and leave I will see ya later.  I took off running home along Wade Hampton Blvd.  Aly's sister Norma always told me how much she liked running along this road so I did want to try it at least once.  It was pouring rain on me and I was so soaking wet after only going a couple miles I was wanting it to be over.  I kept running very slow and made it to 17 miles and Aly came to check on me and refill my gatorade, when I saw her coming I made a quick decision that I had enough so when she asked me if I needed more to drink I was already in the car.  She laughed and said what are you doing I said take me home 17 is going to have to be enough of a long training run for the Chattooga 50k.
On the Chattooga 50k race morning we had to leave early to make it to the 7:00 am starting time.  We arrived right on time, the race briefing was already done and we just had to head right onto the trails.  Aly and I were going to run the first half together and then Kyle and Ariel would pace me in on the next half.  We started down the trails and right away I knew we were in for a long day.  This was not a rolling hill course at all this was the foothills.  The trail was very narrow (gnarly singletrack as Wayne would say) with roots, rocks, moss, tree branches hanging low and switchbacks for the first 5 miles. We were alongside the Chattooga river for most of this time and man it is awesome, the rapids, the cool water, the sounds this is a real Ultra.  Aly was not feeling real well and after about 3 miles we had to start taking some pit stops.  She is really tough and impressed the heck out of me by running in between the pit stops and finishing to the 10 mile aid station.  The trail for the second five miles was a little more runnable but it was still up and down quite a bit.  
After the 10 mile aid station I told Aly, Ariel and Kyle to meet me at the turn around at Oconee State Park in an hour which was about 5.5 miles away so I took off by myself for awhile.  I came upon an older gentleman and asked about his story. His name is Marv Bradley and he is 70 years old running in this ultra, he had finished marathons in 50 states twice and is working on his third time but this time running mostly ultras.  He also had ran 7 100 milers what an inspiration, he said this was a training run for the Leadville 100 in August.  I was so fired up talking to him I looked down at my Garmin and we were running under 9's, so I checked with Marv and he said that was way to fast for him so I went on ahead by myself.  This is the part of the trail where we started meeting the leaders as they had already made the turn around.  They were all looking really good and strong so I told em so and kept on running.  I made it to the turn around in just about an hour as the trail was really nice for running.  The watermelon at the a.s. was awesome, I fueled up best I could and Kyle and I (Ariel decided to only run last 10) headed up the trail.  I told Kyle that we should try to catch some people so we started out at a pretty good pace to do that.  I also told him it was going to be tough as it was uphill mostly for the 16 miles as we lost over a 1000 feet of elevation on the first half.  We did pretty good I think and we made it to the 21 mile a.s. got some food and drink, Ariel joined us and off we went only 10 miles to go.  Ariel had alot of energy and she led us down the trail at a great pace and I just kept thinking about the last 5 miles and all that climbing.  We were going along and had passed a few people and no one had passed us until at about 6 to go we hear someone come behind us, I turn around and there was Marv just a running like it was the start of a 5k.  He asks me "Josh you don't mind if I run by as my legs are nice and warm and I don't want to let them cool off".  He ran down the trail and I knew we would not see him again till the finish line.  Now I was totally wore out again,  with about 3 miles to go we passed a girl who was soaking wet she had fell into a creek and was complaining of cramps, I told her after 28 miles If felt like I was cramping every where.  Basically I had totally underestimated the Foothills Trail, Carl Aho had told me it was tough and now I believed him.  Luckily my Garmin went dead at 8 hours into the race so I didn't have to check that anymore it was just slow moving till we reached the finish line.  At just about 9 hours on the trail we did man it felt so good to finally be done with the hardest thing I had ever finished in my life so far. 
I feel like this ultra was definitely harder than the Buncombe 34 for me but I am still totally sold on running all four of Terri's races as she did a great job with the support again.  I got another nice finishers award and we headed home.

Kyle and Ariel headed up a nice section of the trail.
In a nice spot by Chattooga River 

A campsite by the river.
Me by a waterfall you can't tell from the picture but the fall is about 30' down to the river 
At the finish, Kyle enjoying a well deserved Coke, he ran 17 miles with me what a great pacer.

Me again "one happy camper" finally sitting down.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

5/3/09 Buncombe Trails Ultra 34 miler

My first ultra marathon, who would have thought that four months ago when I was sitting on the couch most of the time that now I would attempt an ultra marathon.  This was one of those things that you heard talk about thats all.  I did not know that races longer than a marathon existed.  Oh I guess I knew about the Ironman in Hawaii but that was different this was something that I could attempt.  Now I had lost over 20 pounds and was feeling pretty good about my conditioning but had no idea what to expect as I had only raced on the road so far.  Irene Backer had told me that it was going to be a lot more laid back than a marathon so I figured just take it as it comes.  Terri the RD (race director) of the had asked for more help at the aid stations so I asked Aly, Ariel and Kyle if they would like to try it and they readily agreed to my surprise.  This was going to be an added bonus to have them at the a.s., but then I asked them if they would like to pace me and they said yes again.  What a deal, I now had a pace team for the run.  We decided that I would run the first 14 miles alone an then Aly would run the next 14 taking us to the 28 mile a.s. then Ariel and Kyle would do the last 6.  Training had went fine as we are now in new territory for us and are not on any plan just kinda loosely following a marathon plan and trying to get out to Paris mountain state park (a great little training mountain in Greenville) as many times as we can.
Well race day finally arrives with the temp supposed to be in the low 80's.  We load up the truck, packing a cooler with everything we think we might possibly need and head to the Buncombe trails which are in the Sumter National forest along I-26 and Hyw 66 winding all around up toward Whitmire.  We start at the Brickhouse campground where Terri has set up race headquarters and organized it very well, she did a great job on the whole race.  Aly, Ariel and Kyle were to help out at the a.s. until they ran with me.  There was a nice sized group of about 70 at the trail briefing and then they said go and headed down the trail.
Now the Buncombe trails were not supposed to be a real hard ultra course it was more of rolling hills with a some rocks and roots etc...  but the thing is if you are going out to do a 34 mile run in the woods don't think it is going to be easy.  Terri had a.s  at about mile 8, 14, 20 and 28 along with water drops at a couple of points in between.  So now with this being my first ultra experience I had taken my camelback and fuel belt so I figured I had about 72 ounce of liquid with me at least, along with roctane gu and a few snacks.  The worst to me would be running out of liquid.  
The trails starts out with a 4.5 mile out to get to a 25 mile loop and then you come back on the same 4.5 mile section.  The first 4.5 mile go down to a creek and back up  and down a few times thru some quite steep rolling hills.  This section was the muddiest of the course with the rain we have been having the footing was not good at all and there was many spots where you could lose your shoe in the mud if you weren't watching out.  We also crossed the creek  a few times so my feet were already soaked.   I was trying to keep a good pace and had started out last so I had to pass the trail sweep along with anyone else I could catch.  After making the turn off the 4.5m out trail onto the loop I remember the trail kinda leveling a bit to more rolling hills with a lot of sand.  I caught a few people during this section and also got lost for a while with two other runners I finally decided which way to go and headed down the trail to the first a.s. 8 miles were done.  I grabbed a little bit of food and started running again.  The trails now were nice with rolling wooded trails and some fields with some rocky and root sections but overall very runnable.  I made it to the 14 mile a.s. in about 2 hours and 40 minutes.  I was really doing quite well except my right top of the arch of my foot kept barking at me.  Just as I was about a quarter mile from the a.s. a man came running by me very fast and I talked to him at the a.s. and he said he legs were finally warmed up, wow finally warm after 14 miles of running that is awesome, come to find out later Aly was talking to his wife at the a.s. and he has done many ultra's and she crews for him his name is Thomas Brussiere check out his blog I follow it now.  Oh well Aly, Ariel and Kyle were at the a.s. and I was real happy to see them to get some food and take a little break.  I spent a little too much time there and finally Aly was getting excited to hit the trail with me so we headed out for the 14 miles to a.s. at 28, this would be Aly's longest run to date.
Now I was following Aly just trying to somehow keep up with her as she had a FRS energy drink and a Roctane gu so she was rested and ready to run.  The trail now was awesome,  between miles 14-20 it was rolling through the forest with a nice pine needle padding for your feet and not near as muddy although we did cross the creek a couple of times.  Even with this softer trail at about 18 miles my right foot was killing me and I was walking way too much, Aly was trying to get me to run but the pain wasn't letting up so I took a couple of ibuprofen and tried to run as much as possible. I was not wanting to take anything after my ING experience but my toes felt fine it was the top of my arch that was hurting me now.  We made it to the 20 mile a.s. and got food and liquid and headed out for 8 miles to the final a.s. at 28m.  This section of 14 miles was really the most runnable part of the course to me but I think I had spent a little to much of my energy on the first 14 so it took us over 3 hours to make it to the a.s. at 28.  Ariel and Kyle were running on the trail to us as they were waiting so long.  We had passed a few more people along that section also so that was nice.  After we finished Aly said we should go try to that 14 miles some day just to see how fast we could do it and I agree we should.  
Well 28 miles are done and only a 10k left right?  This should take just over an hour is my thought.  Now my mind is still pretty good, Ariel is just kinda floating down the trail and Kyle who ran a 3:20 marathon on his first one is just telling me "you got this" and I am hooting and hollering away for the first mile we ran just over a 12 minute mile real good for me at this stage but then my energy kinda just fizzled.  We had to turn back on to the 4.5 mile muddy trail we started on  and I was slap wore out.  Just then we meet two guys heading on the trail towards us and looking kinda lost I knew we had to make a right turn to get on that trail so I told them follow us and they did.  This is where I met Wayne Downey a really fired up Christian ultra marathoner I started talking to him and ended up gaining some energy by doing so.  We made the turn onto the last 4.5 and were getting so close we thought we could taste it.  "That is what thought did" is the saying right man alive was it tough, the down hills now were just as hard as the ups as my legs were basically dead tired.  The trail was more muddy now from the days use and footing was not good at all, you kinda just slid down the mud and scrambled across the creek and back up the hills.  We were not going very fast at all but I was really enjoying it still as Wayne and I were just praising the Lord together talking away.  At about 3 miles left I was not concentrating enough on the trail and I caught a root and fell down.  Ariel then told me dad you need to eat a gu so I did and I drank the last of  my liquid.  This made me really nervous but Ariel again saved the day by giving me her gatorade bottle and we kept going.   We made it to about 1.5 miles to go Wayne and I still talking away and a stinking root got me again, so down I went.  Now at this point with over 32 miles done I am not thinking super clear anymore but it does hit me I need to concentrate on the trails so I tell Wayne to go ahead and I will see him at the finish.  He takes off and Kyle runs ahead a little way too.  Ariel stays with me but I know she has plenty of energy and could easily run with those guys so I am very thankful for the company at this time.  She just keeps giving me positive talk and I keep moving slowly getting this thing done.  They say the last 6.2 of a marathon is like a second marathon and I agree but now I think the last 2 of an ultra is another ultra, what I mean is at this point in the race I was moving real slow and all I can think is I want to sit down.  Everything hurts even with ibuprofen and the only way to make it stop is to sit.  The littlest hill now looks like Mt. Everest and you know the only way to get it done is to get it done, so keep moving.  We finally start to see the burnt forest which happened earlier this year and I know it is almost finished and finally there it is the finish!  Whew that was tough, Aly must have told some people my name as when I came running in I heard them saying it so that felt really good.  What a feeling finishing my first ultra, the time 7:15:40 the longest I have ever done anything like this so far.  The final 6 miles had taken 2 hours to finish but the important thing is it is finished.

The finish!

What I just ran 34 miles in the woods?

Kyle and Ariel after pacing me for the last 10k.
What a great help that is thanks alot.

Me and Aly, I finally got to sit that felt real good!
Aly looking great after running 14 miles pushing me the whole time, I think she could have run that 14 in just over 2 hours without waiting for me.  Way to go thanks I love ya.

Kyle and Ariel post race

Wayne Downey the ultra man and I sharing contact info.
Terri has some great help as when you get done their is plenty of food and drinks.  I really can say she does a great job of organizing the races as the a.s. were well stocked and the people were all really friendly and helpful at everyone of them.  We ate some of the food and soup, drank some more powerade chatted with Wayne and shared contact info. and then it was time to head on home.
Well now what, to tell you the truth after finishing my first thought was I wanna find another marathon on the road this trail stuff is to hard, but after the runners high hits me and I mean like for 2 days I feel so pumped I have to sign up for the rest of Terri's ultra's so I do.  The next one is a 50k up on the Chattooga river June 7th  see ya there!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4/25/09 Greer Earth Day Half Marathon

Well now that this running bug has officially bit and infected me, I had searched the internet for another marathon to run and could not find anything real close until I found Terri's website.  I have been knowing Irene Backer (Byron's wife) for 15 years or more as she is my attorney's paralegal and after my experience with my toes at the ING I was talking to her she said she loved doing ultra's more than road marathons and said I should look into them.  So I signed up for the Buncombe Trails 34 miler.  Well knowing that I had just over a month to get ready I signed up for the Greer Earth Day half marathon.  I had already signed up Brandi and Parker for the 5k so I was going to be at the race anyway.  So I figured may as well run that half.  Its only a half marathon right?
Now I can say anytime you get off the couch and out the door to do a run do not think "it is only".  You have to respect the run you are doing at that moment, take account for weather, how you are feeling, what you have ate etc...  Race morning in Greer was beautiful only the temp was a little to warm for me.  It was supposed to be in the high 80's, so I thought bring some extra liquid and I will be fine.  I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Upstate of SC weather in the spring but our days in April can go from 20's and snowing to 90's easy.  Well this makes it tough on race organizers, also they had some glitch and we ended up starting a little late.  
We got running the half and I told Aly (she ran the 5k with the kids) my goal was to break 2 hours.  We started out relatively fast, brother Nate ran with me at first, I had decided to run without watching my heartrate to much just push it as hard as I could.  After five miles I had average 8:35 and was feeling really good.  I noticed the  heat was getting pretty bad but had filled my 4 bottles on my belt so I thought it would be no problem to continue at that pace.  Well I was very wrong as the heat kept wearing me down and my four bottles ran out and I had no more liquid it became an endurance situation to the next aid station, for the rest of the race.  I talked to a man who had ran the half at the ING in Atlanta and he told me that this course was actually much tougher on him every year and he always broke 2 hours in Atlanta and never did here.  This surprised me as the half course at the ING as I remembered it seemed like it had more hills.   The difference was the heat, the amount of aid stations and in Greer their is no shade for most of the course. The ING had water and gatorade every mile  for the last six and this I tell you is very awesome.  In Greer they had 3 water stops in the last six.  So when you run out of water you just keep running in the sun.  At mile 11 people were starting to cramp up and someone actually fell over from the heat, there was 2 people helping him already so I gave him some S'caps and kept going.  I caught my nephew Josiah at 12 as the heat had gotten to him.  I kept running and finally came to the final aid station I actually stopped and filled up my water bottles there as I was so scared of running out again on the last mile.  Well I finally finished and my time was just at 2 hours so I was really happy.
Aly and the kids had a good 5k and they were waiting for me when I got in.  We waited for some others to finish and for the awards which didn't happen until later so we checked online and Parker had finished 2nd in his age group.  We picked up his award a couple days later at Fleet Feet.  All in all it was a great race in our hometown.

Brandi, Me and Parker after we finished.

Aly, Brandi, Me, Parker and Gramma who just came down to watch but ended up running the 5k great job Gramma!

Enjoying a cool water after suffering some 90 degree heat in April.

Parker at the finishing chute great job and congratulations on your 2nd place finish!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

4/4/09 The Cooper River Bridge Run

The Cooper River Bridge Run is the largest race in SC with over 38000 racers on Saturday and over 1500 kids running at the kids runs on Friday.  The expo is held in downtown Charleston, so it can get quite congested but the organizers do a great job handling the huge crowds.  The kids fun runs are held at a park with all kinds of fun things for them to do.  Brandi and Parker ran the 1 mile run and Ryder ran the 50 yd dash.  Aly, Ariel, Brooke, Spencer and Brandi (with my number) ran the 10k.  The 10k starts in Mt. Pleasant runs over the bridge and ends in downtown Charleston.  With so many people running they have hundreds of buses bringing the people from where you park downtown to the start line.  Anyway Aly tells me it was so crowded that during her race she was forced to walk as there was no way to get thru the crowd.  I was resting my toes still from the ING marathon and stayed at the condo with the Parker and Ryder.  They all finished the race and I am real proud of all of them and for Brandi and Spencer this was a great accomplishment as this was their first 10k.

Heading into Hamptin Park for the kids run.

Ryder, Brandi, Ariel, Brooke and Me

They even had a camel to ride.

Parker & Ryder practicing with muskets.

Ryder warming up for his race.

Ryder enjoying his postrace gatorade!

Parker finishing strong!

Ryder running his first race, he tells us he only runs 2 miles.

Bryson and Ryder showing off their medals!

Brandi Starr finishing the 1 mile race on Friday at the Park.

Spencer, Brooke, Brandi and Ariel looking great after the 10k race!

Aly happy to be done and out of the crowd.

Ariel, Sophia and Brandi showing off their race shirts!

Friday, June 5, 2009

3/29/09 The ING Georgia Marathon

The End Result

The final week of training before a marathon on the Higdon novice1 program is relatively easy as he has you taper way down so you run 3m Tues, 4m Wed and 2m Thursday then it is rest until the race.  So we did this program and then it was time to head on down to Atlanta.  The ING marathon their starts and finishes in the Olympic Centennial Park downtown and the hotel accomodations were great from the website as they had the hotels surrounding the park.  We drove down on Saturday morning to have enough time to go to the expo and pick up our packets and check in to the hotel and have a final pasta meal.  By the time we had finished talking up this marathon we had a total of 11 of our friends running so it was going to be an awesome time with our friends.  The expo was in the Georgia Dome and the packet pickup was very smooth as they had it very well organized.  The pace leaders of this marathon told us that we should add 20 minutes to our expected time for the hilly course.  You would not think of Atlanta as very hilly but oh my gosh it was!  The Druid Hills is what they told us we should watch out for.  

Me and Aly at the expo

Kyle, Ariel, Aly, Brooke and Katie at the expo

Lisa, Me, Marci, Luke and Nate at the night before chat

Me and Aly

We left the expo all fired up and went on back to the hotel to chat.  Now five of our group are running the half marathon  Aly my wife, Ariel and Brooke our daughters, Kyle Sikkila and Katie a friend of Brooke's she met at Furman.  Their are six of us running the full, me, brother Nate who just turned 50 on the 28th, Marci Holombo my sister, Lisa Cooper my niece, Luke Holombo Marci's husband and Jake Pyhala who had run the Myrtle Beach marathon in February.  So we talked about our training for a few hours and then it was time to find some Pasta.  Aly had found a restaurant, Stats that had a marathon pasta special so we all headed down and had a great meal.  It was really good, now back to the room to try and get some sleep before the race.  I am so excited and nervous sleep doesn't come easy and before I know it the alarm is ringing.

Race Morning all revved up and ready to go!

Our first marathon morning we  woke up with plenty of time to get everything ready so Aly and I went for it trying to make sure the girls had everything they needed i.e. Gu packs, eloctrolyte pills, drinks, water for gu and gatorade, ibuprofen, and timing chips and finally the bib with your number and our names printed on the bibs which is awesome.   Then we had to get ourselves ready.  The weather was quite cold and the forecast was for it to actually get colder throughout the day so it was perfect temp wise but it was really windy.  For me 45-50 is perfect for running.  Our hotel opened right up to the corral 4 where we were starting from so we got in the group listened to the starting Prayer and the gun went off.  I knew from talking to Amos that we would not take off running because of the amount of people so we just walked with the group up to the start line.  When we got to the start line the announcer said the leaders of the race were at mile 2, that was about a 9 minute walk.  Aly, Ariel, Brooke, Katie, Nate, Luke, Marci, Lisa and me were all in this group as we started to jog just across the start line.  We stayed around each other for the first mile or so then Luke, Marci and Lisa took off.  Nate and I had talked the night before and decided to run our heartrate so we kept checking our Garmin and chatting away.  We stayed with Aly and Brooke till about mile six and then they had enough of our slow pace and they took off too.  The half marathon runs the same course as the full till mile 7 or so then they cut across a street and finish the last six miles on the same course.  
Nate and I were running at about a 9:30 pace and his heartrate was right in his zone and mine was too.  I run a lot higher rate than Nate and my target was to go 170 for the first 9, then 173 for the next 9 then try push it up to 177 for the last 8.  At mile 7 was the last time we saw any of our group as Aly and Brooke had taken off from us then.  I had reviewed the elevation chart online so I knew that from mile 8 to mile 13 if we were going to make any time this was the time as it was steadily downhill.  We were running quite well for us and we ran these six miles at a 9:23 pace.  Matt Cooper was at the mile 13 aid station taking pictures and when he saw Nate and I he told us that Marci and Lisa were like a minute ahead of us.  At this time I started to notice my toes were hurting a little bit so I took a 2 more Ibuprofen, I had already taken 3 at the start of the race.  As we were running we kept reminding each other to take our gu, electrolyte, and fluid so we were right on top of that.  I felt like the first half was pretty good and our time was 2:05 minutes so it looked like my goal of 4:20 was in sight.  I had believed the pacers and added 20 minutes to my original goal.  Well I felt good for the next couple miles but at mile 16 I started noticing that I couldn't push my heart rate any higher than 175 and the Druid Hills just kept coming at us.  The thing that is great at this race is the aid stations and cheer groups, they have a competition going on so they encourage you by yelling your name (from your bib) and cheering you on along the whole way.  Well as were running up these hills we all noticed the people were lying to us cause they told us "you look real good" and "the hill is ending just around the corner", it didn't but it sure feels good to be told that.  It felt like we ran up a hill from mile 16 to the finish line.  
At mile 20 Nate was feeling better than me so he took off and I was on my own for the last 6 miles.  As I was pushing through the last 6 miles everyone was getting very tired and most of the people were walking up the hills and believe me there is plenty of hills to walk up.  When I finally reached the Georgia Tech aid station at mile 25 there were only 2 runners in the station and plenty of people there to get you anything you needed.  There was plenty of water and gatorade at every station the whole way.  I had heard of the wall you hit at mile 20 and didn't feel like I hit a wall it more felt like I had hit a mountain and the only way thru was to bore a tunnel thru the whole mountain.  A wall would have an end but this didn't it kept coming at me and the end couldn't come soon enough.  I thought it was the hills and cramps, I had felt a little cramp in my calf at mile 13 so I was blaming the hills and cramps for how slow I was going.  I finally started to hear the sounds of the finish at about 25.5 miles and somehow got my legs to move and ran up the last little hill rounded the corner and there it was the finishing chute down a little hill into Centennial Park.  I ran and passed a few people and got thru the line I heard the announcer congratulate me by name and realized then it was finally done my first marathon finished.  I got my finishers medal and warming wrap, Matt Cooper came running up and gave me a big hug, I remember asking him where can I get some food and drink.  I was the last to finish out of our group so we headed over to the after race food to eat and get some group pictures.  Everyone in our whole group had a PR so it really was a great day.  This was 9 of the 11 in our groups first marathon and our times were.   
  1. Lisa Cooper 4:04:45
  2. Luke Holombo 4:05:42       2nd marathon
  3. Marci Holombo 4:05:44
  4. Jake Pyhala 4:06:43             2nd marathon
  5. Nate Seppala 4:15:13
  6. Josh Seppala 4:23:46
  1. Kyle Sikkila 1:43:04
  2. Brooke Seppala 2:02:28
  3. Aly Seppala 2:04:37
  4. Katie Darracott 2:07:19
  5. Ariel Seppala 2:10:42

Lisa looking real good at the finish!

Luke coming in, Marci in the background
You both look real good finishing that 26.2 miles

Nate finishing strong, way to go bro!

Me finishing one happy dude!

After finishing the marathon and chatting for a little while I was freezing so I headed on up to the room to get a shower.  I didn't feel real tired which kinda surprised me as during the marathon I kept telling my self to run faster but my body would not respond.  So when I took my shoes off and looked at my feet everything became clear.  My toes were all black and blistered and after thinking about it I never remember tightening my shoes in the morning, that was a big mistake.  Just look at the picture.  I believe now that the injury in my toes did not allow me to run any faster than I did, although the advil and adrenaline had made it so I really did not feel the pain.  Anyway after this experience I was really bugged at myself and I decided right then that I will run another marathon right away to prove I could do it without beating my feet up that bad.
Luke, Brooke and Ariel had not taken any electrolyte pills and they all got sick to their stomachs after the finish, but Luke got it the worst as he had not drank anything but water in the race and he actually had to go to the ER to get an IV to get over hyponatrea, caused by over hydrating with water and losing all the salt and electrolytes.  After the IV he came back real quick though.

Group pictures at the finish line.

Finally seeing Nate again in the lobby of the hotel!

Aly looking fantastic, just think she just finished her first half marathon
I am so proud of her and the whole crew what a fantastic weekend!

I now feel like I have completed the back nine in golf lingo.  I felt tired, my toes hurt, but I wouldn't change the experience for the world.  I learned that next time I will listen to my body rather than just taking more advil.  Also the human body God created is an amazing thing, who would have thought that in less than three months you can go from not running to finishing a marathon.  All I can say is "Praise Him", for as the Bible says "It is in Him we live, move and have our being."  The next thought I have is that I really like to run long distance.  I don't know why just something about those long runs.