Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hatfield McCoy Marathon Race Report


Now THAT...was fun.

(And sorry in advance for any grammatical or spelling errors...even my fingers are sore today.)

The Hatfield McCoy Marathon was an incredible race. The volunteers were friendly, the course was beautiful and the overall experience was just plain FUN.

So let's start at the beginning...

Got to the hotel and laid all my gear out on the bed.

I overpacked, but better safe than sorry. I think I brought 12 GU's and 10 Shot Blox. I ended up carrying 12 Endurolyte tablets, 3 packs of GU and 6 Shot Blox in my SPI belt (it was filled to capacity).

The race started at the Food City in Goody, Kentucky. I was so nervous, but I tried to stay loose. It was a "small" race; someone mentioned maybe 500 participants (most of whom ran the half).

Each runner was put on a "team" to represent one of the feudin' families: I was a McCoy...

...but I still got a picture with Devil Hatfield.

Oh, we were in the MOUNTAINS. I mentioned this was my first marathon and one of the locals teased me about making it over Blackberry Mountain. I tried to mentally prepare for the worst.

After a literal shot-gun start we were off...I was running my first marathon!

We followed the blue "Hillbilly footprints" along the course. This race was very low-tech, and I loved it.

Miles 1-6:

I shook off the nerves early, and tried to focus on a slow starting pace. My Garmin told me I was chugging along at 10:30ish/mile, and I was happy with that. People were flying past me...but I didn't care. This was my first marathon and I wanted to FINISH it.

My hydration strategy was simple: walk through the water stops, take GUs/endurolytes every 5 miles.

The water-stops were was a contest amongst the volunteers. The first one had a group of elementary aged kids dressed as angels with the "Hallelujah Chorus" playing on a boom-box. Do you think you'd see that at big city marathon?

Feeling good...talking to some runners but mostly eavesdropping. I can spot most of the half-marathoners because they aren't carrying GU and they are pushing the pace.

Mile 7-13

The infamous Blackberry was steep and long; a mile climb actually. I tried to keep my strides short.

I could feel my pace slipping, but I didn't care.

The ride DOWN the mountain was pretty wild. I bid a fond farewell to my toenails and tried not to fall on my face as I zoomed down.

Hubs snapped some great pictures
of the scenery while he waited for me at the half-way point.

The half-marathon ended in Matewan, West Virginia. I ran with two women for a while, Tracy and Christy, who were running the half and ecstatic to be finished. They wished me luck on the rest of the race.

I really wasn't bothered to pass the half-marathon finish and see everyone done and wearing their medals. I never had the urge to just quit at the half. I was too busy celebrating reaching my half-way point!

Only 13 more miles to go!

There I go! Bring it on!

Mile 14-19:
Things got a little wild after the half.

We abandoned the roads and started down a narrow street that became a gravel path that became a washed-out trail. It had rained the night before and the trail was covered in mud.

I had to slow down and watch where I was placing my foot...and dang, it was slippery!

The second half of the marathon was really unique because I felt like I was running by myself...usually there was a runner about 100 yards in front and behind me, but I'd lose sight of them on the country roads.

But the volunteers were amazing so I was never worried about hurting myself or needing help. One man even checked up on us via ATV on the trail.

At Mile 18 we popped back out onto a golf course and ran over a swinging wooden bridge. Again, you wouldn't see stuff like this at a big marathon.

They were handing out leis at the next water-stop, so I thought "Why not?" This is MY marathon...I can wear a lei if I want to!

As I came over the hill towards mile marker 19, I noticed Hubs and my parents were waiting for me! I hadn't seen a single spectator on the course and THERE THEY WERE!

It was a great boost...I gave some sweaty hugs and told them I'd see them at the finish!

Mile 20-26

Y'all want to hear about "the wall?"

Well, I never hit "the wall."

I decided before the race to implement scheduled walk breaks in the later miles to avoid bonking. Basically, I wanted to walk so I could run.

I never walked more than .2 a mile at a time, and I kept my pace above 14 min/mile when walking (and I pumped my arms like a power-walker too).

As a result, my legs felt as fresh as ever when I started to run. I was running 10:30 min/miles again! At mile 24!

I NEVER had a "I hate this" moment. I NEVER regretted signing up for the marathon. I NEVER wanted to quit.

Sure, everything hurt but I expected that...I didn't expect to enjoy myself the entire time.

Mile .2:

Another bonus of a small town race?

Running the last .2 by yourself, down the a city street with the entire town cheering for you. Talk about worth the effort!

I gave Devil Hatfield and Ranel McCoy a high-five and I was a marathoner

5:25:07 clock time (my secret goal was sub 5:30!)

So there's the report...I will probably be posting more about this marathon because I just loved it to pieces.

My first marathon is in the books, and I must say...I may have set the bar too high. It will be hard to find a marathon that was as fun as this one.

And holy crap, I am sore.


  1. CONGRATS!!!!!! You did amazing! Your race report has officially talked me into registering for another one. I am uber jealous of your ability to avoid the whole "hitting the wall" phenomenon. I am coming back to KY this summer so if you are ever in need of a running buddy just holler! :)

  2. I'm so proud of you, Champ. Imagine me tousling your hair when I say that.

  3. I have been checking ALL weekend to see this post!! I am so, so, so proud of you! What an awesome race report. You sound SO stinkin' happy and proud--and you should be!

    Congratulations, Marathoner!

  4. Woo hoo Brittany! My sis in law ran a flippin' marathon today! I am so proud of you!

  5. I'm so jealous of you!! Fantastic job and we are all so proud of you. We were talking about you being halfway finished after our 10K on Saturday.

  6. You go! Congratulations!!! Both for finishing and running a smart race! I'd been checking back frequently too to see your update. I'm so glad it was a blast. I hope your legs recover soon and the euphoria from your race lasts a long time. Cheers!

  7. Yay! I'm so proud of you!! Congratulations, lady.

  8. Congrats on your first finish! Careful... Marathons really are addicting!!!

  9. Fantastic Job!! So proud of you even though I never met you!!! Wonderfulm, wonderful recap! I promise if you are up to run it again next year- I will sign up for it! It looks like an absolutely great race to run! themed water stations! outrageous. glad you decided to do walk breaks to prevent the bonk.
    did you eat all your salt tablets?

  10. Awesome job BB. You ran a great race and a great time for your first one. You really make me want to continue with the idea of running a marathon. I am super impressed!

  11. You did just awesome! Congratulations on a such a great finish, and I love your race report! I really want to early register for the 2010 KDF Mini but I'm wondering if I might actually be in Marathon shape by then. Your RR makes me contemplate that! Great job!

  12. Wow!!! Your journal entry brought tears to my eyes!!! I am also a slow runner (probably slower than you) and I have signed up for my first marathon, September 27th. I am now training for it. I had a depressing long run last weekend and whined (oh, yes WHINED) to my husband that we should "give up my registration for a donation because if I can't even run 14 miles without pain and discomfort, how can I run 26.2?!"

    I am so glad that I found your blog - I know that I can do this. My goal is just to finish (secretly I would like to finish in under 5:30 hours).

    GREAT JOB!!!! I am really impressed with how you did and your willingness to do another one right now!