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.


  1. Great report on a great run! Love all the family being there. The feet look awful. :)

  2. The feet felt awful, they feel much better after all the nails are gone, by the way what camera do you use on your trail runs the pictures you get look awesome.
    Thanks Josh

  3. Josh, I use the Canon 590IS. Thanks for the kind words. :)