The Runner's Reward

Monday, June 8, 2015

41st Annual God's Country Marathon Race Report

Marathon Maniacs Qualifier #2: God's Country Marathon complete. Official finishing time 4:45:23

This was a tough race, but I knew that it would be heading in. The first 18 miles are uphill. The last 3 of those uphill miles, the locally infamous Denton Hill, are very uphill! 

I arrived at the Coudersport Courthouse Square at around quarter to 5 AM. It was still dark out. A few runners had arrived and were stretching or just milling around.  At 5:30 we boarded 2 school buses which would take us about 20 miles East to the town of Galeton, our starting point. During that ride we traversed the majority of the race course in reverse. As we came up to Denton Hill and began the 14 mile descent to Galeton I sat at the edge of my seat taking it all in. As we kept dropping mile after mile my stomach dropped too. In the next few hours I would be running up this monster. 

We arrived at Galeton High School around 6 AM. I grabbed my packet and started getting ready, which included pinning my race bib on and using the bathroom a couple of times and walking around to loosen up.  I met Ron Brown, of the Steel City Road Runners.  I had seen him running the Pittsburgh Marathon. At that race he had donned his full fire fighter gear. Helmet, jacket, pants, SCBA tank. What an inspiring guy! We chatted for a bit and ran the first mile or so together. I also ran into the pacer I had run with at Pittsburgh. At least I had run part of the race with him.  He and his wife were running and she was doing so with 3 broken ribs and a broken wrist from a recent accident.

There is never a lack of inspiration and dedication within the running community and that ,as much as the running, is what draws me in.

 The temps were a bit lower than anticipated (low 50's) with cloudy skies making for perfect running weather aside from the headwind in some spots, which seemed considerable to me. 

A few things that made this race difficult for me were GI issues the whole race (I only needed the port o john at mile 15 thankfully) and waking up the night before the race to my right calf charlie horsing. It was still hurting race by morning.

The first 4 miles of the course were all within Galeton town limits. There was great crowd support  and I found the town to be enjoyable to run through. Leaving town we hit the open road of scenic Route 6 to and through the Susquehannock State Forest. I love running along open, hilly country roads. The surrounding mountains, some wreathed in morning fog, created a backdrop that is etched in my mind.

For me, the first 15 miles leading up to Denton Hill were worst than the big climb itself. Big hills..I am used to those to a degree, but a gradual and constant uphill grade is not something I train on often. The first 15 miles had 430 feet of gain which averages to a little under 30 feet per mile. Denton Hill averages 189 feet of gain per mile for 3 miles, which is more in line with the hills I have trained on and I found that part of the climb the easiest in some ways.

Somewhere around miles 7-8 I briefly talked with girl as I was passing. Her name is Amie. She would catch up to me around mile 10-11 and give me the boost I needed. I was really starting to drag a bit after mile 10. The long climb was wearing on me and the mental was creeping. Once she had caught up with me we started talking and the miles started flying by. It is amazing how an occupied mind can influence performance so greatly. We ran together until the Mile 15 aid station, at which time I visited the Port O'John due to those GI issues I have mentioned earlier.

The break at the aid station gave me a moment to switch out bottles of Tailwind and the rest a moment. Those 5 minutes or so did me so much good. I started up Denton Hill feeling fresh and moving at a good pace.Smoky the Bear was at the top of the hill giving high fives and if there is one thing I have learned about distance running it is this: Never underestimate the power of a high five.

From this point on it was all downhill and flats! Cake, right?

The downhill and flat 8 were tougher on me than the hill climbs. I dread long downhills on the back end of a long race. That said this went off well. I caught back up to Amie around mile 18-20. We ran together for a little while before I needed to walk a bit. I wasn't looking for any specific time so I walked often and just enjoyed it..and when I couldn't enjoy it I just plowed on towards the finish.

As I rounded the last turn onto the final stretch I fell into form and ran to the finish. I could hear Tara cheering from 0.1 miles away! After crossing the finish I gave sweaty hugs to Tara and received my medal. Another one down! That is Marathon 4 (5 if we count 50ks).

About 3 hours after I finished the race I was feeling good. Tired, but good. There will be no walking backwards down stairs for this guy!

The event was well run, friendly, and challenging. Everything the reviews have made it out to be was true. Tara told me that as runners approach the finish line the announcers said there names and a little about them. I heard none of it, but apparently I got a good talk up with name drops for the Epilepsy Foundation.

In 3 weeks training culminates with the Hell Hath No Hurry 50k. From here out it is taper and more trail miles. Marathon Maniacs save me a number! I'm coming

1 comment:

  1. I have done the route 6 driving tour, and area around Galeton was my favorite part! Awesome job, Tony. Congrats!