Sunday, October 28, 2012

7 Bridges Marathon Recap: It Just Wasn't My Day

Some of my swag from the 7 Bridges Marathon
It's amazing how you can pour hours upon hours into your training, run hundreds of miles to get yourself prepared for a race, but then to have things not coming together like you planned or hope on race day.

Such is the life of a runner.

Some days just aren't your day. And this was certainly the case for me as I ran the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Sunday (October 21).

There had certainly been some hiccups in my training - like injuring myself while trail running, but in the weeks leading up to the race, I had every reason to believe another sub-5 hour marathon and quite possibly a PR was in the cards for me.

Alas, it just was not my day.
And I'm OK with that. It happens in running. There are so many things that have to be perfect and in place for one to turn out a great running performance. A PR is not going to happen every time out either.

After all, it's not like my time was bad - especially for a snail like me. I finished in 5:06:42, just under eight minutes off my PR.

Happy to complete yet another marathon
I knew around miles 7 or 8 that my goal of a 4:45 marathon was likely not going to happen. And by mile 18, I knew a sub-5 time was on the bubble. Yet, I did not let that get me down or take my joy away. Instead, I settled in a comfortable pace and enjoyed the run and scenery. I mean, I was getting to run in one of the most beautiful areas of the country during the height of 'leaves season.' The gorgeous fall colors were on display.

I did not have a fast run in me that day, but I did have a good, long run in me. What's not to like about that?

All in all, 7 Bridges is a good race. There's room for improvement, but it's a young marathon and hopefully the support will grow to make this event even better.

The course was a challenging one. It was not as hilly or have the elevation gain as the Knoxville Marathon did, but 7 Bridges was no slouch. According to my Garmin, Knoxville had a total elevation gain of 2,546 feet, while 7 Bridges had 1,132. Although 7 Bridges was less than half, the inclines seemed steeper than they were in Knoxville.

Another challenging part to this race was the fact you ran on several different types of surfaces. There was was asphalt, concrete, stone and brick work, grates (thank the drawbridge for that), wood and grass. You ran across numerous bridges (more than 7 actually but it's called 7 Bridges because the race crosses over the Tennessee River 7 times), on roads, sidewalks and in a parks.

The view from atop the Chickamauga Dam.
The marathon was a mix of twists and turns and long, straight stretches. The first 6-7 miles of the race weaved its way around Chattanooga, taking participants over the Tennessee River three times. Miles 7 and * were tough with some quick inclines followed by steep descents. That was followed by a long, straight run out to the Chickamauga Dam.

There was one odd twist in this race I was not expecting at all ... STAIRS!

Two sets of them.

That's right. TWO. SETS. OF. STAIRS.

The first set was around the 6.5-mile point, and it was about 6 steps going up as we ran through a park. This one wasn't so bad. The second set was no fun AT ALL. It appeared about the 25.5-mile mark and was 6-8 steps going down from a bridge. This last set of stairs were cruel. Not going to lie, I had to walk down these for fear of falling.

My favorite part of the course was from miles 19-25 which ran through the Tennessee Riverpark. The park ran along the Tennessee River and was shaded for 75 percent of it and relatively flat.

Happy running!


  1. Stairs?? What the world.

    Congrats on another marathon!

  2. Looking forward to reading the rest of your recap! I actually went down those stairs at mile 25 backwards :) The volunteer said I could take the stairs or ramp but at that point the stairs seemed like a shorter option...haha! I was trying to go sub-5 too and had it for so long but that climb at 16-17 took more out of me than it should have. Still enjoyed a beautiful course!

  3. I just signed up for it today. Im am hoping for a little less elvation then the marathons Ive done in Atlanta. I am hoping to sub 5 too!

    1. 7 Bridges isn't too hilly, but the hills can be steep at times. It's a great race, and I'm confident you will enjoy it, Melissa!

      Thanks for commenting!

    2. I just signed up for the 7 bridges 2014. It is going to be my first Full, I have ran 4 halfs, I hope I am ready for a Full...

  4. I appreciate this article vert much, both for the written content and its perfect explanations. you shared some memorable moments. I would like to share my own with you soon;)

  5. Hey... After reading your story i can imagine how hard you worked to accomplish the marathon race by climbing 7 bridges. Its not easy thing to do even if you lost do not worry it was your bad luck just. Keep your spirits high.