Monday, January 26, 2009

Callaway Gardens Marathon - 1/25/09

This was my 4th run of the Callaway Gardens Marathon in Pine Mountain, GA. In 2006, I ran a 5:01:03 and received a plaque for finishing 2nd in my age group. In 2007, I ran a 4:40:38 and didn't even place in my age group, lol. It's been very, very slow since then. Last year, I finished in 5:56:18. This year, my finish time was 6:26:51. I took the one hour early start (along with about 10 other runners). There's a 5.5 hour cut-off for this race, so the early start gives us 6.5 hours to finish. I am in no shape to run a marathon in less than 5.5 hours and finishing in less than 4 minutes under the cut-off makes me question whether I should be "running" at all. But that's just the "ugh" side of me showing. Let's move on to why Sunday was such a great day.

I love this course. That's why I keep coming back. It's a double loop, all within the confines of Callaway Gardens, so there's very little traffic on the roads. There's a nice lake we circle and hills galore. After the hilly road section, there's a relatively flat, bike path for a few miles. We usually get a long sleeve cotton shirt, but this year we got windshirts. I love windshirts! And it's a loud, lime green color. This thing may glow in the dark, lol. Unfortunately, they ran out of medals this year, but the volunteer at the finish took our names and addresses so that the medals could be mailed to us. This works.

I ran the entire race with Frances from IL. What a treat to run with her! Her husband, Joe, was fast enough to take the regular start. In fact, we started an hour early, and he still finished before we did.

Vicki Sue from FL is the "Balloon Lady" at the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL. Runners have to stay in front of Vicki Sue to get an official finish at Mercedes. She is on a strict 6 hour pace, race-walking the entire way. Absolutely incredible! If I could walk as fast as she does, I would never run, lol. Frances and I chatted with Vicki Sue a little during the first loop, but it wasn't long before she left us in her dust. Cheryl, also from FL, joined us on the second loop. We three pretty much finished the race together, chatting the entire way.

Anne from GA was also there. She had her new hubby with her. She said he's a great crew person. This is important when you run long distance races, lol. Anne is tough, finishing the Umstead 100 Mile in 2008. I, on the other hand, had problems and had to take a 50 Mile finish at Umstead last year. I'm on the wait list for 2009, so hopefully, I'll be able to redeem myself.

I talked with Scott and Al, also from GA, briefly during the race. These two are also fast runners that do not need an early start. Scott has written a wonderful book about his running career and literally running every day (Running Through My Mind: Confessions of an Every Day Runner). He is such a down to earth guy. He's the race director for the Peachtree City 50K, which I've run twice, and he does a wonderful job. Al asked about Ghost Town, since he ran it in 2007 as I did. I joked with Scott about giving Ghost Town a try. Scott doesn't particularly care for trails, although he's done very well at the Western States 100 Mile.

I also ran a little with Chris from TN. I met Chris at a marathon in WA of all places in 2007. I had taken an early start at that race as well. Chris is very fast, but just as he did yesterday, he slowed down to chat a while.

I met a new running buddy, Renita, a fellow Marathon Maniac. Renita from DC had way too much energy at the end of the marathon. In fact, I joked with her about getting her started on ultras, lol. She, too, was fast enough to take the regular start, but she slowed down long enough to introduce herself. This would be her 10th marathon state, which is the minimum needed to sign up for the 50 States Marathon Club. I'll be seeing more of her in the future, I'm sure.

And last, but not least, my friend Peter from NY was there. He drove 1100 miles to run this race. Peter is very fast, finishing 19th overall on Sunday. We stayed at the same hotel the night before the race and lucked up getting rooms right next to each other. I met Peter at Around the Lake 24-Hour in Wakefield, MA in 2008. He was doing the 12-Hour race and thinking about quitting early. Since I would be out there longer and I'm always willing to entertain company in a race, I convinced him to walk a few loops with me. We've been friends ever since. He's planning to also run the Tallahassee Marathon this upcoming Sunday, so I'll see him again soon.

So Sunday was like a party for me, a social gathering, a little get-together. I ran with several of my running buddies that I've known for a while and acquired a new one. What more could a girl want? It could not have been a more perfect day.

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