First thing first, I did not plan to run back to back marathons. As part of my Dopey Challenge training, I wanted to feel Goofy miles before running Dopey miles. I registered to runDisney's Dopey Challenge in January 2014, this challenge consists of a total of 48.6 miles over the span of four days (5K, 10K, 13.1 and 26.2). To hold myself accountable in my training, a Goofy weekend presented itself locally and I made sure to register for the Silver Comet Half-Marathon on Saturday and the Atlanta Marathon on Sunday. This Goofy weekend would allow me to gauge my training up to this point and be able to tweak my training as necessary over November and December before the Dopey Challenge in January.
What I did not plan on, was my lack in training during my first couple months while working. It took a bit longer than I expected for life to become a new normal with me working part-time. Most days, I worked the opening shift at Starbucks at 4:45am which also meant my bedtime was much earlier. My training was not what I hoped it would be, and I was disappointed.
In the weeks leading up to the race, I read somewhere that the Silver Comet race on Saturday wasn't just a half-marathon, there was a marathon option as well. The Silver Comet is known for being a flat and fast, and when I have run there for training runs in the past I always am pleased with my pace. Did I think running back to back marathons was possible for me? Not really. I didn't give it much thought.
In a huge surprise revelation, two weeks before my big race weekend, I got a big fat positive on a pregnancy stick. I will still say, "a huge surprise" is probably an understatement. I still wanted to run and race but I didn't know how being pregnant would factor into the mix. I was having similar first trimester pregnancy symptoms to my pregnancy with Abigail: I was easily fatigued, always hungry, my bladder was being squished and my bust seemed to double in size overnight.
After all my training up to this point, I knew I would be able to race while pregnant. I also knew there would be more potty stops and instead of my normal running fuel, I would need real food for my runs. I decided to change up my race plans. I decided I would run 26.2 on Saturday instead of 13.1. The flat course would be my best chance to have a good time to submit for the Dopey Challenge corral placement. The flat course would also be better to feel out my body, running while pregnant. Since the Silver Comet races were an out & back course, I felt confident that if I was not comfortable running the full distance, I could just turn around at the half turn around spot.
Atlanta was hit with a cold snap during, it was 32* on October 26th. I had planned to wear my new InknBurn Skeleton Kit for Silver Comet, and I was excited to wear my first pair of InB arm sleeves. I had to layer my InB capris over running tights. In an emergency shopping trip in days before the race I found a running headband to keep my ears warm, running gloves and a long sleeve warm tech shirt to layer for Sunday's race. Since the weather went from barely warm to freezing, I had not trained in cold weather and it was slightly awkward running in the layers but I did manage to stay fairly warm, and most of all not have any chaffing issues from running with new items.
Besides the extremely unusual cold weather, I really enjoyed the Silver Comet Marathon. The first couple miles were a bit rough. The course was packed with all the runners and all paces starting together. I stopped to use the potties as necessary. I ate my granola bars and other snacks, and made sure to drink plenty of water at each water stop. After the half-marathon turn around point, the course thinned out a lot. There were only 123 racers completing the full marathon distance. I loved the beautiful fall colors and the time to myself (I hadn't been on a long run in a while). I kept my pace and 3:1 intervals steady, I felt good. It was an added perk I got so many compliments on my skeleton gear since it was the weekend right before Halloween. I finished 26.2 in 05:23:12! I was pleased to set a new PR, especially since this was only my 2nd marathon and I ran it completely solo.
Immediately upon finishing I went to Atlantic Station to pick-up my bib for the Atlanta Marathon. I should have stretched more before getting in the car, and immediately after I got out of the car. I was undecided what, if anything, I would race the next day. In addition to the full 26.2 distance there were 10 Mile and 5K options. I decided to sign up for the 6hr pace group, they would be running 1:1 intervals (run 1 minute then walk 1 minute). I spent the remainder of the day relaxing and thinking about what I might the next day. I did not want to get injured. I did not want to jeopardize my pregnancy.
I woke up and rolled out of bed to see how I was feeling. I was surprised I felt alright. I had minimal soreness but nothing serious. After lots of internal debate, I decided I wanted to at least try to run the full. I'm stubborn and determined, and I didn't want to wonder "what if" if I didn't at least try. I layered back up for yet another cold morning and made my way to the race.
I found the pace group quickly and we all chatted a bit before the race began. I was impressed with some folks running their first marathon as late-in-life runners. I was equally impressed with the pace group leaders and a few others, who were part of Marathon Maniacs, upon hearing how many marathons they have run. I was very excited about this course, it's like a tour of Atlanta. The race started and the intervals were very easy. It seemed as soon as we got in a good running stride it was already time to walk again.
As the miles went on I noticed an ache here or there but nothing too bothersome. I really enjoyed the course, and I was surprised with all the wonderful volunteers! Organizations apply to "Adopt a Mile" and if they are selected, they receive a donation from The Atlanta Track Club for volunteering their time during the race. The volunteers weren't only in charge of passing out water, they all had cheer stations too! Some organizations had themes or were dressed up (with Halloween around the corner) an they also posted inspirational signs throughout their mile. I was blown away by the amount of time I was told THANK YOU by volunteers because I was running a marathon.
The race had it's ups and downs, literally. It's a hilly course but I am glad I decided to run and am glad I raced smart with the 6hr pace group. The pace group leaders were wonderful and we had nice conversations throughout the race, which helped pass the time and the miles. My official finish time for The Atlanta Marathon was 05:57:46.
I still cannot believe I ran back to back marathons, especially being 8wks pregnant! After finishing these miles, 52.4mi in 36hrs, I felt very confident in my training and I knew I would be able to complete runDisney's Dopey Challenge in January (46.8mi in 4 days).
Another added perk, I was able to join Marathon Manaics. I ran my first marathon in January and immediately said I didn't know if I would ever run another marathon, and if I did it would have to be a repeat at Disney. I cannot believe I ran another marathon, let alone two! This is only the beginning of my marathon journey. I am already looking forward to running The Atlanta Marathon again in October 2014, it will be my first marathon after our June baby arrives.
**This blog post was written on February 12, 2014.**