Sunday, March 6th’s Inaugural Chattanooga Marathon and Half Marathon was a big race for so many people for many different reasons. For myself, it was my first marathon. I had decided to sign up for this race months ago, after deciding to focus on racing more this year and using it as a training base for September’s Ironman.
The morning started off cool but the sun was shining bright – I knew I would be shedding some layers before long. It was so reassuring to run into a few of our other teammates while waiting for the race to start.
After the National Anthem was sang, we were off. We ran down Broad street and then onto Market street. Around the mile 2 mark, marathoners and half-marathoners were split off. I had a moment of realization that “This is it. This is the moment where I follow the marathon route instead of the half-marathon route”. We then through St. Elmo and down some streets I’ve never been down. The support from the crowds was so encouraging. I felt good (despite the early hills) and kept pressing on. Next, we ran down Riverside drive and then onto Amnicola and onto Veteran’s Bridge. At this point, I was around mile 11. 11 Miles in and 15 to go. I kept telling myself I could do this.
I hit the 13.1 mile mark which was up a pretty intense hill and was so happy to be able to rest on the way down. We were then taken through the Chattanooga Golf Course area, where the view of the river was amazing. Next was running down Frazier Ave onto Walnut St. Bridge and then through UTC’s Campus. The organizers of this event truly put effort into designing this course. I finally reached southside and I could feel myself fading some around mile 18. The countdown really started in my head – only 8 miles to go. Then there was one more hill we had to go up – I definitely cursed that one a bit. I chased the 4:00 Pacer for a bit and decided I needed to fall back a little bit – my muscles were aching a bit. Around mile 23, we came out of Ferger place and I told myself to buckle down and finish it. I swear these were the longest 3 miles of my life. Finally, we turned down Chestnut Street and I could see the finisher’s chute. I felt like I could have cried a little bit and that’s when I decided to sprint with whatever energy I had left. That moment of crossing the finish line and hearing people cheering all around was such a special moment. Even better was I finished in 4:18, which was under my goal time. I surprised myself.
I found this race to be so well organized and the volunteers out there handing out water and oranges and bananas and cheering the runners on was outstanding. I don’t know if the event could have gotten any better. This was my first race for the year and I am so excited for the rest of 2016.