chickamauga marathon – race recap


chickamauga marathon race shirt tech lonseth
nice red tech shirt
time: 3:22:57
pace: 7:47 minute miles
10 minute and 36 second improvement from a marathon 7 months ago
placement: 25th out of 400
2nd in age group 40-44

I’m only now noticing I’m dipping into age group awards, I should pay more attention and stick around for the added bonus. But on the other hand, do I want to be reminded how old I am? 😉


It was a cold sunny Saturday morning at Chickamauga Battlefields. Everyone was huddling
around heaters or sitting in cars right up to the lineup for the race.
Luckily the body heat at the starting line kept us warm while waiting
for the gun. Did I say gun? I meant big ass cannon. Boom!

The event was remarkably well put together, the amount of volunteers was surprising. Standing out in the cold for hours on end handing runners cups of water is almost as impressive as running the race.I ran a few minutes short of my lower end goal, so that’s a disappointment. In some ways it was similar to the Knoxville marathon, with a goal time of 3:30, I came up short by 3 minutes, all because the last few miles. I missed the 3:20 mark by the same this time around. This tells me I mainly need to focus on being strong the last 4 miles or so, something everyone has difficulty with.

Recovery has been surprisingly quick, after a complete restful day on Sunday, my 5 mile recovery jog on Monday through the woods was relatively pain free. I was a little winded and out of energy, but that’s to be expected. Full recovery should take at least a week.

Getting to sub 3 hours might just take a little longer than anticipated. I’m still shooting for that goal at this race next year but not so sure I can shave off 23 minutes in 12 months time. It took 7 months to take off 10 minutes. Not all races are created equal though and this one could have been somewhat of an outlier.

right things

new pr:
Although not meeting my goal, I should be thankful for taking a large chunk out of my road marathon PR Progress is progress.

fuel and hydration:
My shorts were stashed with 5 Hammer Gels, I took one gel every 30 minutes up the last hour of running. Grabbed a cup of water at almost every aid station. Not sure how I could improve on this other than I could have forced down the last gel, I may have burned myself in the last 4 miles because of it.
running form:
Form was decent up to the end, just a little hunching the last couple of hills. Cramps were surprisingly absent.
mental game:
Was relaxed the whole time, even when I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal. When the main goal time was out of reach I remained focused on finishing and managed the disappointment well.

wrong things

long runs:
I run a lot of longer races, longer than marathon distance, but it’s been a few months, and they are on the trials. I only did one 20+ mile run three weeks prior to the marathon. Everything else has been easy 5-10 milers.


Does talking slow you down? I’m not sure, but am leaning towards yes. I chatted it up with a woman from Memphis for over an hour in the middle of the race. I’m used to talking during ultras because the pace is much slower, but with a road race it seems a little iffy. I initiated the conversation so only myself to blame, not that I regret it in any way really.


Was too far up front at the start, forgot there were half marathoners as well. It’s hard to pace oneself when people are running 2 different races. Had to let people pass me at the start who were mostly half runners. Not good mentally to be passed by people that early.My pace was just slightly too fast in the first 10k, by about 10 seconds per mile. So I didn’t follow the race strategy exactly, but not sure 10 seconds a mile is that bad. I adjusted and hit the halfway mark just under a minute faster than planned. I managed to stay on pace up until mile 22, when the proverbial wheels started coming off.

I might have tapered too much or too long, not sure how I can tell really. I throttled down my mileage more than the recommended amount, so had two weeks of miles in the teens.

Hands swelled up, got dizzy. Perhaps electrolytes were lacking.
Was not feeling 100% this whole week.
Diet has been sub par
Did not approach it like the A race it was supposed to be.
A little over confident and too relaxed 

how to improve more

Come the new year I’ll be doing more to get better. This year has been primarily focused on building a base and on running form. I will continue my baby steps towards improving, adjusting my strategy as I go along. Next year I see doing a few things that should help keep the improvement going.

more races:
Getting better at pacing during a race, running my own race as they say. I already signed up for a half marathon in a couple of weeks. This was not planned, just feel the need to compare some more races to see where my level is at in reality. I haven’t raced enough to truly get a sense of it.

faster runs:
Add one faster run to my MAF running, probably a tempo run. once a week. but only on the weeks I don’t race

volume increase:
Slowly increase volume in the first few months of the year to 50-75 per week. I’ve had a few weeks above 50 and one over 60, but the average has been around 35 miles per week. That’s alright, but I think almost doubling my mileage over the course of the spring should help boost performance considerably. This would also add more time commitment, which to be honest I have no problem with.

body composition:
I’ve shifted my body fat some over the months to more muscle, but not as fast as I was planning on. In fact this has been the hardest part of my “training.” I will have a future post outlining thoughts about weight and body composition.

flexibility and core training:
I don’t stretch at all, I have perhaps some odd views about stretching not being very beneficial. But general flexibility is beneficial, I tighten up and almost cramp during the end of long races often because I’m so inflexible. Some solid yoga workouts are hopefully in my future. The core as usual needs to get a good workout as well. I’ve been bad about this for so long, not sure how to motivate myself to get these workouts done.

stationary bike with power cranks:
I won’t go into detail over what this entails here other than it’s a specific form of cross training that is beneficial to running. I’m still waiting for the right moment to add this to my training, it could come as soon as the first half of next year. When and if I go ahead with this would reveal a certain level of seriousness about my goals. I may not go here, it mostly depends on if I think I’m ready to commit more time to training.

With this increase in focus it shouldn’t be impossible to break the 3 hour mark in the next 12 months.

cheers and happy running