City of Oaks Marathon – Race Day

Here’s part two of the super sized post of City of Oaks Marathon

We made plans to meet at 6am to leave for the race start.  I wavered back and forth on what to wear and finally stuck with my tank and skirt (my original outfit).  The temps did not dip as low as we thought and I feared becoming overheated in capris.  I have to have at least one body part cold when I run.  But while the temps were behaving, the wind was not!  We had pretty steady wind with gusts reaching 24mph!  We arrived to the parking area with plenty of time to hit the bathroom (Thanks Harris Teeter!) and head to the starting line.  I made a beeline to the port-a-potties again before we moved to our corral.

The start of the race was way more crowded than last year and we had a hard time trying to get between the 4:30 and 5:00 pacers.  We didn’t want to start too far back and have to weave around walkers.  We just couldn’t move up anymore and we were right with the 5 hour pacer. After the horn blared, we were off!  Nathan and I decided to stay together for as long as we could.  I was sticking to my HR plan and we’d just see how long we’d run together.  Christine was running the half and she was just ahead of us from mile 2.  I could see her yellow flower! 🙂

After a few miles, we finally had some breathing room.  Nathan and I just chatted as we ran and enjoyed the race.  Katie was going to meet us along the course to take pictures.  If there is one thing that really helps when running a marathon is seeing your people!  While the crowd support is great, the boost you get from seeing a familiar face is the best!  We saw Katie several times as we weaved our way through downtown Raleigh.  Right before mile 10, Cara caught us just past the water stop.  She was trying to catch Christine, who was super speedy.  Cara ran with us for just a bit before heading to mile 12 to run with Christine to the finish.  Cara was going to come back out to 23 to run us back in to the finish.  finishline

By this point, I was starting to feel the hills.  I knew signing up for Raleigh that this was not an easy course, but I underestimated the hills just a bit.  I knew if we got to mile 11 and the greenway section of the race, we’d have a break. I was doing an awesome job of keeping my HR below 140 too.  Even though my HR was staying low, we were actually getting faster with each check point.  We hit mile 11 and had some good downhill sections.  It was definitely a lot flatter than what we had been running.  Nathan and I were still together at this point too.  We also met up with another pair of runners who were running our pace.  We linked up with them for a few miles, which helped the time go by.  Nathan and I would lose and find each other again a couple of times.  Neither one of us ever felt really bad, just needed a break here or there to get ourselves together.

We hit the turnaround at mile 17.5 and we were on our way back!  I was still keeping my HR low.  I had started to let it creep up to 150 now.  Going for 165 for the last 5K was my goal.  That also meant that we would be hitting some nasty uphills too.  Miles 22-23 were not runner friendly.  There was a sign that said “Steep Grade ahead”.  Not exactly the type of sign you want to see at mile 23 of a marathon.   I walked most of it while Nathan jogged up it.  I couldn’t even jog up it without my HR going crazy.  We did the best we could from mile 22-23.5. Cara caught us at mile 23.5 just at the same time, my nasty calf cramps started.  I stopped to eat some salt.  I had packed salt packets in my water belt for this reason.  runningmile24

We headed off the greenway back onto the road and we’re heading to the finish.  This part was a mix of uphill and downhill and with my calf cramps, I would run until they would tighten up and then walk for a bit.  I was still in great spirits though!  Unlike my previous marathons, I didn’t feel awful.  We hacked at the last few miles, finding our cheer squad at mile 25 and by mile 26, it was downhill to the finish.  Nathan and I headed off and ran into the finish!  Nick was there to take pictures right before we crossed under the banner.  He said it was the best he’d ever seen me finish a marathon!  Mission accomplished!

I finished with a 4:46 and could not be happier!!  Marathon #5 done!!  That was the toughest marathon I have ever run.  With 951ft gain of elevation over the course, I’ll take it!!  My best time was at Richmond which is about half the elevation gain.  To come within 7 minutes of my best (4:39) on a much harder course is so rewarding!!  I love the challenge of City of Oaks and I’m contemplating running similarly tough courses.  If I run them like I ran this one, they would all be awesome!finishlinecoo

PROS

Very well organized race!  Everything is where they say it will be (water, Gatorade, and GU).  The course is clearly marked and accurate to my GPS too.  The crowd support along the Greenway was awesome!  I like that the course is a mix of running through downtown and the greenway.  The variation is nice!  The medals are awesome!  As big as a dinner plate!  The post race event was a little thin by the time we came through but nice.

CONS

I have just a few suggestions for improvement.  This year, each runner received a finisher’s tee.  By the time we got through, the women’s sizes were picked through and I didn’t end up with the right size.  My shirt is huge!  I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t plan that better.  My other suggestion would be to have actual corrals vs a mass start.  The race had its largest field this year and it was obvious.  They need to consider a wave start to avoid a lot of the congestion at the start. bibandmedal

Happy Week!

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City of Oaks Marathon – Pre-Race Edition

As soon as my marathon stopped, life got crazy busy at work. So without further delay, part one of my City of Oaks Marathon Recap!

I’m still on cloud nine with how everything went.  I ran this marathon with a specific race plan and I stuck to it.   Usually, I feel very nervous and worry about pace but because I knew that I was just running this one to feel good at the end and to have a great marathon experience, I felt at ease leading up to the race.

Nick and I arrived in Raleigh on Saturday late afternoon and met our friends who were running the race for a late lunch before heading to the Expo.  City of Oaks is a smaller event, although this one had the highest participation from previous years, the expo is just the right size for the event.  We grabbed our bibs, timing chips and long sleeve tees and walked around to look at the other booths.  Of course, we were totally scoping out deals for our next races.  There were a few vendors as well.  Everything was well organized!expo

We headed to the hotel after to just relax and get our things ready for the morning.  Christine and I headed out for a bit to Whole Foods to grab some more Essentia water and a sweet treat for after our dinner.  There was a Fleet Feet right there so we stopped in to look at their clothes.  I found a 26.2 medal rack on clearance and snagged it as my “You just ran a marathon!” gift.

Once we got back, we finished finalizing our morning plans and all settled in for the night.  Our friends, Katie and Nathan, were arriving later in the evening and we’d see them in the morning.  I touched base with some of the runner girls who were coming into town to cheer us all on.

I have been eating the same pre-long run food for about 15 of the 18 weeks I trained, so before heading out of town, I got take out for dinner.  My usual a Carne Asada burrito stuffed with guacamole and pico de gallo with beans and rice.  I also shared some Caldo de Pollo with Nick.  If you have never had Mexican Chicken soup, you are missing out!  So good!preracemeal

We just chilled the rest of the night.  I had a hard time figuring out what I was going to wear in the morning.  Second guessed myself between wearing capris or a skirt.  I settled on capris before I went to bed, but wasn’t totally sold on them.  I fell asleep easily and enjoyed the extra hour of sleep.  Thank you time change!racingoutfit

Tomorrow was the big day!  26.2!

Stay tuned for part 2! 🙂

Happy Week!

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