North Carolina

There was no doubt that it was going to be Charlotte when I finally ran North Carolina. The fact that it was my tenth state as well and let me officially join not only the 50 states marathon club and the 50 sub 4? Icing on the cake.

Why write now after my tenth marathon one may ask? I guess you could say it was the doing of my new shoes. I met a representative and told him about my run and he suggested that I write a blog about my trails so he could keep up. Yes, my aunt suggested this first and yes, I am a journalism major so it all works. Oh and yes I will risk selling out and say my new shoes are Under Armour Charge. They worked well and I would say I am just getting used to them. Thank you everyone who suggested me to start writing and wait out the first couple blogs. I will get better at this I know.

1. The Expo. Anyone who has ever run a marathon can’t help but get a little excited at the Expo before the race. You get to see all the different vendors passing out their wares and consider buying some product before you realize just how overpriced it is. Lately they have started to make different variations and versions of the marathon shirt which you can buy and have at least 3 shirts for the same marathon! I joke but sometimes you do actually see some pretty cool shirts and consider it. I have yet to.

After seeing all the expensive merch you can also browse the free gimmees and try to pick up some of this free swag. This used to be my favorite part of the expo but honestly they just aren’t that free wheeling since the economy took a nosedive. You are lucky to get 2 five hour energy’s or all three flavors of the health chips. Small companies offer a small bite and that is all. I don’t blame them – I just wish it was different is all.

The last part and now my most exciting? The other marathons who show up! Here is where all the planning and thought of a consistent plan goes to waste. Well I was going to do Little Rock this year but man Georgia looks great! $10 off? It can take some major self-restraint to not sign up for another couple marathons after an expo. To be honest, when I take a newbie to an expo? I am shocked they don’t pick up running right then and there.

2. The race should always be the day after the expo. I chose to do things different this time and actually go to the expo a day early. I regretted that and was not as excited about the marathon the day it came. I was nervous I would be late but I took the Tram and made it in plenty of time. The temperature was 39 degrees but it was a warm 39 if such a thing is possible. I met a woman from Ohio running her third marathon for her 30th birthday (I always wonder why she randomly chose this city a couple years after her last one?) Then again I was looking so forward to Charlotte it was ridiculous. After that I met a guy who ran Savannah a week before. He said it was warmer than Savannah. That was hard to believe.

The race began and it was nice to see DT Charlotte and then run through various parts of the city. It was my first run without headphones actually. Maybe I enjoyed the sites a little more perhaps? I saw palatial mansions and there was some guy behind me who would not stop hacking up a lung and I could not shake him. It was awful listening to him spit and cough every 5 seconds (so not making that up). We were attached until Mile 12 then it happened.

I envy most marathon runners. They can keep a great pace and know where they fit. They watch their watches and pace their miles. I just hope to do 7 minute miles and then keep it. I never do and then in this race, the 3 hour guy passed me at Mile 12 along with the hacker. I would never see them again. I was used to that. The hills hurt my trick hip and I just watched myself float back to 3:20:04. I was happy with the finish – 2nd best ever and almost came in Top 50 and within an hour of the winner. These little things mean a lot to me and I consider it a good run.

3. Afterwards. Actually had my first beer after a run and it was not nearly as good as I thought it would be. I will expand some other time but apparently your legs are not the only thing that feel like they have been dragged through hell after a marathon – your stomach takes some damage too. I think it took me 10 minutes to finish 8 ounces. I did get one of those sweet Run Charlotte made by Turvis. That was a FANTASTIC bonus – this was something new and as far as I know unique to the marathon. Something I can buy and use that I don’t already have 10 of? Awesome.

The finish was nice and though I finished with the halves – I did not see them and they did not get in the way. The crowd was small but loud and the announcer was humorous and may be one of the best I have ever heard. “Cade from West Des Moines! Is there a East Des Moines?” I got a kick out of it in any case.

4. Overall. I did not like something about this marathon – something was off. And afterwards I got my reasoning explained in an email. I got a Survey Monkey and chose to answer it. Over half the questions were about how I got there and how much money I spent. As Steve Boone would later explain to me – some marathons are put on people who run them and some are put on just for people trying to make some money.

There was just little issues. It was advertised as the Charlotte New Balance marathon and they were nowhere to be found at the expo even though 3 other shoe companies (including John from Under Armour) were. The t-shirt was nice but there was nothing more including a free map or even coupons (sorry I am not a fan of the green marathons that let me go online to pick up free stuff). Furthermore it was the Thunder Road marathon and there was no racing theme anywhere other than the advertising and the fact we ended by the Nascar Hall of Fame. They also bragged about the hills on the course and they were numerous but if you want to brag about hills? You could have really upped your game.

I am not going to give these marathons stars or rate them. Why? You could give one a 7 and hate it and one a 7 and love it. It just gets too difficult. Do I recommend? I recommend Charlotte! What a great town. I hope they get some more runners on their committee and it will really improve. I also hope they take the racing theme and really make it fun.

In any case, it was my first time to North Carolina. I need to visit again. It was my tenth state and it was under 4 hours easily so I will be joining both clubs soon. I joined marathon maniacs just before that point and it had no effect on this race but this race was my 8th marathon this year and actually upped my status – I suppose that was another nice bonus. Please let me know what you think.


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