Randy Coffee ran: Grab a drink and some...

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  • 26 miles
  • 03:56 time
  • 09:00 pace
  • 2557 calories
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  • 5500 ft climb
  • 165 max hr
  • 152 avg hr
    • Currently /5 Effort.
    effort /5
 
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good Thunder Road Race Report (Long) 26.2 mi 03:56 09:00 pace

Grab a drink and some popcorn…this is gonna take a while.

First off, I’d be remiss if I did not thank so many of my friends and family, and the support of so many DailyMilers for getting me to the point of this marathon. I have to thank Dr. Cassas at Steadman Hawkins Clinic for introducing me to the Furman First Program, as well as Brad at Proaxis for getting me back on my feet in February. Speaking of Furman First…it’s a great program, and every time I had a question, either Scott Murr or Bill Pierce would answer me right away. They are an awesome bunch. Lastly and most importantly, I’ve got to thank my wife Christy. Without her, none of this would have been possible. She shared in my ups and downs, and kept me motivated as we pushed each other towards this “impossible” goal. She is an amazing woman inside and out.

Ok on to the race…We packed, and got the kids off to babysitters at a reasonable time, and got on the road to Charlotte Friday afternoon. on our way to the happiest place on earth (for runners), the EXPO! I expected giveaways, and swag galore, plus tons of great vendors with new gidgets and gizmos that are sure to make me run faster. Unfortunately what I got was a hall full of vendors selling me stuff at “rock bottom prices”. No shoe companies there…no bags full of goodies, no celebrities, NADA. I’m in event marketing, so I probably looked at this tougher than most, but I was sorely disappointed in the expo.

No worries though. I’m gonna run a marathon tomorrow!

On to make a quick stop at the grocery store and get a great meal in Charlotte. At some point while on the way to the store, Christy and I start talking about a cooler that had all of our hydration bottles (filled), our breakfast, etc. Basically everything we had worked for months to guarantee no GI distress before or during a race was in this cooler. The problem is…THE COOLER IS AT HOME.

We start into panic mode….Can we do the race without the hydration belts? Can we buy new bottles, Gatorade, Gu, Cereal, Milk, Bagels, Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter….you get the point. We decided it was early enough in the evening that we could go back home, get it and return to Charlotte at a fairly reasonable time (113 miles one way). We make a stop back by the hotel just to see if it is in the room or parking garage…then speak to the hotel staff to see if it has been turned in to lost and found….and then we’re back on the road home.

The cooler is sitting in the garage (where I put it while I was loading the car…and my lovely children were arguing, and threw me off of my packing duties). We retrieve the cooler, and back to Charlotte we go. I remarked to Christy, never has there been so much concern over a cooler that did not have a kidney inside.

We arrive back to the hotel at 11PM. Lay out our clothes and get some rest. At 11PM we realize that you can hear the elevators in our room. Hear them as if a freight train is outside your window. We’re in no mood at this point, and tired anyway…so we go to sleep. Or at least we try to…the amorous couple next door decided to entertain the 15th floor for a little while. Unfortunately for the lovely lady next door, it didn’t last long…fortunately we were able to get some sleep.

Marathon morning: If you run the Thunder Road Marathon…stay at the Westin (just don’t stay near the elevators). We were able to stay inside and warm until the last second, because we could see the start line from our room. It was great. In 3 minutes we were outside warming up, and getting ready for the race.

We huddle together in a mass of people (marathoners and half start together) and listen to the National Anthem. I figured that this is how you REALLY know that you are an athlete, if you’re doing something that requires the Star Spangled Banner to be played. I would by lying if I said that I didn’t tear up during the anthem….it was a great moment. Next thing you know, they’re starting the race car, and off we go.

The hardest thing about starting a marathon (so far in my mind) is not to go out too fast. You’re so jacked up on adrenaline that you’re ready to go and pass everyone. I must have looked at the Garmin about every 5 seconds to make sure I was going slowly enough. It felt like all of humanity was passing me, but I kept between 8:30-8:45 as planned.

I felt great for so much of the race…I kept shouting at bystanders…”CAN YOU BELIEVE IT…I’M RUNNING A MARATHON…THIS IS AWESOME!” Some cheered me on…others looked at me like I had three heads. Mile 11.5 was probably the best place on the course for music and crowd support…those guys did it right. I was high-fivin for a quarter of a mile it felt like. I looked down and I was hitting about 7:44….slooooooowww dowwwwnn. At around mile 12ish or so, the half marathoners veer off, and it gets VERY lonely. Not only do the runners get spaced out, but so does the crowd it seems. I find a lady who I am keeping pace with, and begin to strike up a conversation with her, so I can keep my sanity…all I’m thinking about at this point is how much longer I have to go….I’M ONLY AT HALF WAY?!?

Around mile 16, someone starts shouting my name. The bibs have our name on them, and several people have called my name, but this was familiar. I look up and see our best friends Jacci and Greg on the sidewalk cheering me on! They drove to Charlotte just to surprise us and cheer us on….and give us a PB&J! I hugged them both and heard them cheering as I ran off. If you’ve never run a marathon before, I can’t tell you what this means to have support like that. My adrenaline just shot through the roof…and so did my emotions. I looked down at the baggie my sandwich was in, and it said “GO RANDY! YOU GOT THIS”. It was an awesome moment. This propelled me on for a few more miles.

The last time I remember feeling good, was at a point in Downtown, I think about mile 18 or 18.5 where there was a pedestrian bridge of some sort with a big sign that said something like “Do you feel the Thunder” I whooped and hollered at the people on that bridge.

I popped my last Gu Roctane Gel around mile 19.5, and I really started feeling it in my legs. When people say you hit the wall, I guess it wasn’t really what I expected. Mentally I felt good…I wasn’t delirious or cramping or anything, but when I saw my pace slipping, and I tried to speed up, and my legs just wouldn’t respond. I was at a 9:30-9:45 ish pace, and when I would try to accelerate, the best I could get to was the low 9’s. I’m sure some race director thought it would be a great idea as well to put about 2 miles of uphill from miles 20-22. Once these hills were done…so was my goal of 3:45-3:50. My goal now, was just get there under 4 hours. I find that people lie to you a lot in the last 6 miles of a marathon. “You’re almost there!” No I’m not. “Lookin good!” No I’m not. “One more hill!” No it’s not. Maybe they can’t think of anything to say…I think I would prefer something like “There is a rabid Pit Bull right behind you..RUN!!!” I dunno. I achieved my goal…and crossed the line at 3:57:01…my chip time was 3:56:14. As I crossed the finish, every possible emotion just came out…I was sobbing. I got my medal, and embraced my friends at the finish (still sobbing)

So many things go through your head on a marathon…self doubt, praise, joy, fear, excitement, weakness…every possible thing. So many things go through your mind too. I couldn’t help but remember hearing my mom’s voice saying “C’mon Randy” when she was trying to encourage me to do something. I couldn’t help but think that she would have been there at the finish line, had she not crossed her own finish line 358 days ago due to brain cancer. I know she’d be so proud.

All in all, it was an amazing experience, not without several rookie mistakes. I’m SO sore today in my quads…I’m sure that tells me something like more hill work, or more hill work when tired or run longer than 20 miles. I think I probably will run farther than 20 in any future preparation, and try to concentrate on routes that mimic (as much as possible) the course I’m facing. Thunder Road seemed like a tough course, but I’m glad I conquered it…I can’t wait for the next one!

  • Jessica W.
    Jessica W.

    YAY, RANDY!!! What a ROCKSTAR you are! So happy for you. I loved reading your race report, and I agree about the expo... it was kinda blah. That was a tough course, even for a half-er -- my quads are killing me today, too. We had a similar experience with getting very little sleep because of some heck-raising girls on our floor who were clearly not running the next day. What was your favorite sign on the course? Mine was, "Your feet only hurt because you're kicking so much a$$." :)

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Bill O.
    Bill O.

    I just got finished pulling up your results earlier. Great job and an outstanding time !! I just read your post and it's so awesome ! I wish I could be so good with post-race reports but your's is great ! I'll tell you one thing , my 1st marathon , I was so soar even that evening that I could barely walk but one thing I learned is no matter how tired, walk for a little while and it kills ALOT of the soarness . You did an outstanding job !

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Kesha K.
    Kesha K.

    Randy - My friend and motivator. Your report has tears rolling down my cheeks. I am so proud of you and Christy. So moved by your words and experience. You've had an amazing year and you've come so far. Your mom, I'm sure, is so proud of all that you have accomplished this year and she was cheering you on along the way. I look forward to the day when you come back to DC and run the MCM so that we can cheer you on AGAIN! Hugs to you both!!!

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Randy C.
    Randy C.

    @Jessica...you know Christy asked me the same thing about the signs...honestly I can't remember one.hahaha. How was your race? I was hoping you'd get to come to Dawn's party so we could meet! @Billy My right quad is considerably more sore than my left...not sure what's up with that. @Kesha Thanks. I'm glad I can have a positive effect on your training...its not easy, but its worth it Keep up the great work!

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Jessica W.
    Jessica W.

    It went pretty well! Looking forward to the next one. I was actually feeling pretty beat-up after the race, and we had valet parked our car for the weekend at our hotel, so we just decided to walk a short distance to get dinner and to stay put after that. I hope you guys had fun!

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Bill O.
    Bill O.

    We all favor one side more than the other , some people more than others and some people's way off but regardless , after 26.2 miles , it'll show because once the weaker side gives out , the other's got to compisate so that may be the problem. I'm so impressed with your 1st marathon ! You're so right about the "almost there " , still have a very long 10k to go and they're trying their best to encourage us but it mentally plays tricks.

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Tim B.
    Tim B.

    Great job Randy! You worked really hard in your training, and it paid off. Thanks for the narrative too, that's what makes DM so much fun!

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Kara P.
    Kara P.

    Congratulations!

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Rob
    Rob

    Excellent!!!

    over 6 years ago Like

  • Jessica W.
    Jessica W. Congrats
    Congrats:

    p.s. -- it wouldn't let me attach this motivation to the last comment, so: CONGRATS!

    over 6 years ago

  • Jenny B.
    Jenny B. Congrats
    Congrats:

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY, randy!!!!!!!!!!!!! great race report, and great race!

    over 6 years ago