Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CompletING the ING

This year’s Atlanta ING marathon was one of the better ones from my past experiences. I ran the inaugural ING in 2007. Being the first year, there were a number of logistical challenges they had to deal with. Water stops not being setup where they were supposed to be and then running out of water to give at the finish line when the temperature was close to reaching 90 are two major snafu's that stick out in my mind. I remember crossing the finish line and being handed a Coke due to no water. Last year Rhonda and I volunteered at the TNT water stop and don’t remember a day that it seemed no matter what I did, I could not get warm. The day just got colder and colder as it when on.

This past Sunday was the best weather I have experienced with the ING. Mid 40’s all day it seemed. It did get colder as the day went on, which could be viewed as a blessing or a curse. Blessing by the fact that it is later in the race, your body is working harder and it would keep you cooler. Curse if you are needing to walk some of the course, like the many up hills, and you cool down from not running, then you are just cold.

If you know me, then you know I like to talk. I have even been caught talking out loud to myself on the trails by other hikers. I had considered wearing a blue tooth ear piece just so I might be able to play if off if need be! ☺ Well, I had talked to few friends at work about how great running a marathon was. To my totally disbelief, they actually listened to me and signed up for the ING!? I guess that I shouldn’t be too surprised due to the fact that this was the same group of folks that I talked into doing the Silver Comet Half Marathon.

So, the journey of this adventure starts back in November. The laying out of the training schedule for everyone. The different questions about training, diet, and addressing the one everyone asks “Can I really run 26.2 miles?” The challenges that came with aches, pains, and blisters as the long runs get longer on the weekends. There were days when some of the group could hardly do 5 miles. There were others days that some felt like going on after 15 miles. For the most part, everyone was able to get in the miles that the schedule called for while still balancing family, work, and everything else. Sticking to a marathon training schedule is a bigger commitment than the actually race.

We were able to meet up at the starting line. We had all talked about starting together, but with 15,000 runners, if you don’t purposely stay right with someone, you can lose them very quickly. I think the 5 of us stuck together for about 3 miles and then got separated due to a bladder break. Three of us had decided to stick together no matter what, to be there to keep each other going. My wish was just for everyone to finish, don’t worry about the clock, just cross the finish line. The Atlanta ING is no joke of a marathon. It is not a race for someone looking for the “flat and fast.” Some sections of this marathon have inclines that last over half a mile, one of the longest and worse coming at mile 23. So, by no means is this an easy marathon for a first timer.

I am so proud to say that every one of the group crossed the finish line! I shared with them my opinion that if you can run the Atlanta ING, you can run a marathon anywhere in the country.

Adrianna, you truly amazed me with your determination to keep running after the pains you were having on the training runs and the one visit to the ER. You are a true runner in my book!

Nik, I know you face a lot of ups and downs through out the training, but you did not give up on the goal of running this marathon. You totally shocked me with hearing you having pains at mile 3 and you kept on going. Way to go!

K2, long distance running is something that is done with your heart and that is a strength you have. It is true, an Indian man can run a marathon!! ☺ I know you have heard me calling you from the dark side of the ultra world, but if or when you are ready for that, just let me know.

Dave, I look are you and wonder how different my life would be if I got into ultra’s at your age. You showed some serious heart going back to help Hank after running the whole marathon. Pretty impressed pulling a 30 mile day. Let’s go have fun at Sweetwater!

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