Charlotte’s (HILLS) marathon #39

Charlottes (HILLS) marathon #39 There is a time during the running of any marathon that you wonder “What in the world was I thinking for signing up for this race!” This one certainly had a couple of those moments for me. It was nice smaller race that included not only marathon runners but a large group of half marathoners as well as 8K. We were all mixed together at the starting line so it was a pretty good group of people. However there were only 192 marathon finishers. I do believe that several dropped out from what I could tell. What made this race different from the others? There were few things. First it's a beautiful area of Virginia if you've never been to Charlottesville before. So much history abounds in and around the town and the college. It was a lot of excitement at the University because at that time UVA was pushing to make the final four.

Note: UVA ended up winning the national title for NCAA basketball. Great job Wahoo's! That being said, a race in a university town, I glanced around everyone at the starting line and noticed that there really weren't that many old people. I was one of the few with gray! Oh boy! I know what that means, I will certainly be at the back of the pack again today. What’s new?!

The main difference in this marathon from previous ones that I have ran for the hills. Lots of hills! Rolling hills throughout the entire course. As a comparison the Shamrock had a total elevation change of 295 feet. This Charlottesville marathon had a total elevation change of 1886 feet according to my Garmin. So yes I was about to have a lot of struggles. Not much training in Virginia Beach affords me the opportunity to prepare for hills. So with that in mind I plotted out a strategy that would allow me to walk briskly up most of the hills and then when it leveled off I would run those areas as well as any down hill sections. That was gonna severely hurt my time but I didn't feel like I could make it any other way. Some of these hills were very steep I would have worn myself out early on in the race and possibly had difficulty finishing if I didn't do some walking early on. So there was a little bit of confusion, at least on my part, about the course. It was very well marked with cones and chalk arrows described on the roadway. There were a few times when other runners took off going a different direction. I didn't know if they were doing something else? Or they weren't really part of the marathon and it just jumped in for a portion of the run. There were several switchbacks throughout the course and that became confusing when splits occurred between the 8K the half marathoners in the full marathoners. I had to really watch close to make sure I stayed on the course. Sure enough just as I anticipated the hills were of major struggle for me. I kept pace the best I could to keep things moving but I did start to fade pretty early on. My legs did not get overly exhausted. My feet felt fine. Even going down the hills and having to break at some parts my quads weren’t really screaming too much considering that I'm running 26.2 miles. The only thing that I still continue to struggle with is my breathing I feel like I still don't have enough oxygen to keep going at the pace I desire. Gonna have to continue to work on that until I get back to the strength that I need to be. Until then I'm just going to have slow times on all my marathons. I am what I am.

The race was fun and people were very supportive along course. Not a lot of people out but still those that I came across were very friendly and cheering us on. Once we had the split between the half marathoners and the full marathoners it got a bit lonely. That's pretty typical. However at that part I still felt pretty strong not too bad considering all of the hills thus far….Question was…how long would that last? At mile 18 I did begin to struggle some more extensively and I ended up telling myself that I was lucky to be out here running today. Not everybody can do this. They say that less than 1% of Americans have ever ran a marathon before. I have no clue how many have ever ran 39 marathons! But that was gonna be me today. I was going to finish my 39th marathon, no matter what! On and on it went hills after hills. There was a small section of trail that was a nice area and I just wondered when is this thing ever going to end. My chugging along was taking longer than I really wanted. The temptations were great! I saw the rented scooters alongside the road that were begging me to jump on and coast down several of the hills. On the trail a bicycle leaned up against the post and I thought that maybe I would grab it and go for short ride. No body would ever know! Alas, I am not a cheater. I'm tempted but not enough to fall prey to that weakness. There will be a day that I will not be able to run, but today was not going to be that day. I decided that whatever my time was it just was. I can't change how slow I am overnight. I was doing the best I could do. And I could tell on the final switchback where I turned at mile 22 the head for the last leg into the finish line that I was in fifth place. From last! Yes one of the final few runners. Oh well! I ended up finishing with a time of 6:14:06 and ahead of three other runners. However not before finally arriving at the last .2 miles of the race and getting confused on the twists and turns to finish the race. I had to holler out to a few people who were walking along the street asking them where the finish line was! I am lost! Not funny! Someone saw me and began beckoning me forward and gave me directions right here left here right again and your at the finish line. My name was called, I smiled for the photo, and walked away with another banana.

Marathon number 39, completed! One week from this race is my next marathon and if I thought these hills were challenging the almost impossible to complete is going to be the Foot Levelers Marathon in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke. It was like running up the Alpines! It has a total elevation change of 7500 feet according to their website. The Toughest American Road Marathon is their claim to fame. Yay me! Why do I do this to myself?

As always, I share my story as a diabetic and why I run. That is important to me. Continue to spread the word.

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

Eugene Thompson

Run Eugene Run

Diabetic Runner

#marathons #running #diabetes #diabetesawareness #RunEugeneRun #HaveAFunRun #EugeneThompson #CharlotteMarathon #hills

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