Tobacco Road Marathon was completed BEAST MODE style


When you train for a marathon like Tobacco Road Marathon (Sunday, March 18) the plan seems so simple: run, run some more and run more and more. It's not too difficult of a plan to keep. The distances of training runs increase. For me there was some running and biking included.

What you don't plan for is life: kids, work, weather and unfortunately...illness.

Training was going along great for Merrill and I until one unfortunate Sunday/Monday early in March. Merrill got the flu. When I say flu, I am meaning the flu that knocked her out and had her staying home from teaching for two days. That is really sick for a teacher. This derailed training, but worse than that, it wreaked havoc on her body. I was worried about her, but she is strong and I knew she'd battle back.

The picture at the top describes Merrill. She is BEAST MODE!

Sooooooo, the week of the race arrived. I kept asking Merrill if she was ready
and would be ok. Her answer...YES! I finally shut up and accepted that she was doing the marathon.😀
Hello Kitty is ready for the ride!

I had all my hydration ready in baggies
 for pre- and during race fueling.
 Love my personalized INIFINIT Nutrition blend

We left for the race on Saturday, March 17 (also known as St. Patrick's Day) after Merrill went riding with her Tri It For Life group. The drive up to Cary, NC, is about 2 1/2 hours from home. We needed to get up there to pick up our race bibs and shirts.
St. Patrick's Day green!

The morning of the race came bright and early. The runners and triathletes out there will understand this. When a race starts at 7 or 7:30, it means getting up earlier then you ever would. Say, 4 a.m.! Then the process of getting everything put on and organized begins. At this event, G was with us. She also got up at the same time. Hello Kitty and her Camelbak were filled up with INFINIT. We left the hotel room and G went back to sleep.

Let me get this out of the way at the beginning. My personalized Ultra Run Blend of INFINIT Nutrition is amazing. It has enabled me to have one single source of hydration, electrolytes, caffeine and protein in one thing. The blend is my own special one created specifically for what I need because of my Salt-Wasting Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. I am an ambassador, but that only happened after I used the product. Merrill says that my energy level is crazy. During training she said it was like I was on something. Ok, back to the race recap.

Also, my Hydrocortisone dosing seemed perfect. I dosed 5 mg at 5.2 miles, 10.4 miles, about 16 miles, 20 miles and 26 miles. Then after the race I had about 10 mg two hours after the race. From there I dosed extra when I felt I needed it throughout the afternoon. The day after, I thought I was pretty good until I felt "weirdly." I dosed extra at that point and then for the next few days as I felt needed it. It is not an exact science and those miles might be a little off, but it is pretty darn close. For me, updosing is critical when I do endurance-type events.

The race was amazing. The Tobacco Road Marathon course is only about 2.5 miles on road before getting onto the old Tobacco rail trail that brought the tobacco leaves from the farms to the factories. Now it has been made into a trail for everyone to enjoy. It is relatively flat with some very moderate hills. Not at all like Charlotte hills. It is the shape of the T: the first and last 2 miles are the vertical line, then it is out and back for about 10 miles to do the right side of the T and finally about 9 miles on the left side of the T. The numbers aren't exact but close enough.

Merrill and I had our intervals set and stuck to them. We would look at the pace every once in a while and not say anything to each other, but they were better than we had ever run! I did the runner math (yes, it is a real thing!) and we were both on a pace to set an amazing Personal Record. I had my Marine Corps Marathon time to beat and Merrill had her time from last year's Tobacco Road to beat.

The beginning of the race was hampered by some STUPID rock or little stick that was stuck in my sock! We had to stop twice for that.

Around mile 11.5 we came back around to Team Mimosa. We passed it at around mile 5.5, but I wasn't ready to stop. Team Mimosa is a location on the race, who call themselves the unofficial libation station, which serves mimosas to eager runners. I was not eager, BUT guess who was????? Hello Kitty made her way up, tired of facing backwards and said, "Give me one of those!" As I couldn't take the picture, Merrill happily did.
Hello Kitty enjoying her mimosa. Thank you, Team Mimosa!

13.1 miles, halfway, had us stopping for a break to visit the bathroom. I needed to reapply some anti-chafing stuff. Stuff is a technical phrase. Really it is!

We restarted and kept our pace going. It's a long way from the halfway point to the other end of the T in the course. When we crossed over the start and finish part of the T we started seeing the half-marathoners and the finishers of the marathon. I even got a shout out from a fellow Charlotte Running Company racer!

When we started getting to about 15 miles it seemed as if Merrill was struggling a bit. I was getting concerned about the flu catching up to her and making it so she shouldn't continue. Beast Mode kicked in and she said she was fine.

Then round about mile 19 or 20, things started to get out of sorts. Our walk breaks got a little longer. The runs got shortened for walk breaks. We stopped at the refreshment table that had all of the good late in a marathon treats: PB&J sandwiches ("Fresh. Never frozen. Made that morning!), pickles, candy (sadly no Starbursts for Merrill, but she did get Twix Bars) and Coke. I don't usually stray from my INFINIT and a little water, but I will tell you, THAT COKE TASTED REAL GOOD!!!!!! I believe I may have taken a volunteers Coke that he was pouring for himself, but I did not care!

Then around Mile 21 it happened. Merrill was done! Her legs were hurting and she could barely move. Emotions were coming out of both of us. We had just done 21 miles and our bodies and minds were drained. She was upset that she couldn't go any harder and kept telling me to go on and set my Personal Record. I was not talking for about a mile and a half. Too much was going through my mind, mainly frustration. Then around mile 23 I got myself together and said, "This is the race we were going to finish together and that is what we are going to do!" It was nice to walk and talk the rest of the way.

One thing I will tell you non-runners, different muscles are used for running and walking. Our legs were done. Oh, and the blisters we each had on our feet were popping as we kept going...not fun at all. For me, the blisters also came from not wearing socks I trained with. I did not listen to the age-old advice: DO NOT TRY ANYTHING NEW OR THAT YOU DIDN'T TRAIN WITH ON RACE DAY!!!!!!! Oh...and I blew out the heel of my shoe. Thankfully, it didn't rip apart my heel. In fact, I didn't know until I took the shoe off.
How did this happen to my Asics GT2000-5s?

Our official time: 6 hours and 27 seconds. Way past what we could have done, but as we all find out...we finished. 26.2 miles on our feet. I finished my 2nd marathon and Merrill finished her 4th marathon! She is a BEAST!
Hello Kitty was tired!

While we were struggling at the end Merrill said, "I don't think I can ever do another one of these again. I think I am done." Yes, I hear all of you runners/marathoners out there laughing. Later on after a shower and dinner, she said something along the lines of, "Disregard what I said about another marathon. It was emotions." The week following the race she said, "How would you feel about a trip to Richmond in November for the Richmond Marathon!" Yep, that would be runner mentality.

What is next? Let the picture explain:

This would be a trip to Starbucks on a date with Merrill to create my fully dedicated training schedule for Mountains to Main Street 70.3 Triathlon on Sunday, May 19. Merrill is doing the short race, the half-marathon. Yes, we know it. We are crazy! My Dad has some other words for it, but they aren't appropriate for a family blog.
When you have a few A2 Bikes hats, you need to label the one
that you need to make comfortable to wear at Mountains to Main Street 70.3.

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