2019 Tobacco Road Marathon as a prep training run for an Ultra


Yesterday, I completed the 2019 Tobacco Road Marathon. It was a perfect day, perfect weather and a perfect venue for an event. Last year I was able to volunteer to pace the 4:20 group. This year I tried for a slower pace spot, but it was taken, so I did my own thing. Since I was preparing for my 1st big Ultramarathon, the Umstead 100, the Tobaccos Road Marathon served as my final long run event prior to the Ultra. Last weekend I had 15 miles Friday, 31 on Saturday and a marathon distance on Sunday as part of the training to take advantage of the timing.

Coming from a 15 mile run on Friday and a 31 mile run on Saturday I knew this was going to be a challenge. It was not the 1st time doing back to back to back runs weekend, but I have to admit that just prior to the event my legs felt really heavy, sore and stiff. Since my goal for the Ultra is to finish before the 30 hours cut off mark, running the distance in 6:00 hours was the original plan to make sure I still have enough time for the later parts of the Ultra.

Carlos Candelaria at Tobacco Road MarathonThe morning routine was the same as the previous long event. No changes to the breakfast and morning prep. Got to the area with enough time to hang around a bit. I was feeling so tired and sleepy when I got there. The past few days I have been waking up between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM for the other training runs, including today. Also last night I had to treat a low sugar around midnight and that cut short my rest time. But after moving a bit at the runner’s village, I started to see and talked to many familiar faces. Since I have not participated in a local event for quite some time there were tons of people that I have been missing during the past 8-10 months. It was great to talk to those runners, catch up some and asked them how they were doing, their expectations and ask about their training and future race event plans.

Tobacco Road Marathon starting line


Mile 1-3: I was very stiff and heavy still. Sugars were good and trending steadily. Just before the start, I ate half of a banana to keep it steady while running. I started just behind the 6:00 hours pacer group with the intention of staying there for a bit and perhaps pull ahead a touch. These first miles were good slow miles, I was just feeling every single muscle in my legs. I started to adjust the form slightly to minimize ground impact and facilitate the warmup portion better. I grabbed some water at the 1st station but skipped the second one at the entrance to the trail, where the half turned left and we turned right.

Miles 4-8: Feeling a little bit better but not all the way kept moving with the Pacers. I was until mile 5 that I felt that the legs warmed up enough. I had gloves and jacket on at that point because it seems that I was not warm up fast enough. I started to grab Gatorade at the stations and it was COLD! but felt good. I started to move a little bit faster, few seconds faster per mile, took my gloves off but kept the jacket.

glucose trend information during an eventMiles 8-14: At this point, I was feeling much better and decided to start pressing a bit more the pace towards the next pacers group. I passed a couple of pacer groups (5:20 and 5:05) at a steady pace. Pass mile 10, about an hour and a half in, I notice my body telling me that I might be getting a low sugar soon. My CGMS was within range but lower than when I started, I took action right away and took a gel, followed by more Gatorade at the water stations. I started to feel good once again.

Miles 15-19: At this point in the event I was surprised at how good I was feeling. I increased the pace a bit, close to the 10:00 minute per mile pace compared to the 11:35 pace that I did during the first 8 miles. One at a time I was constantly passing runners, getting close and matching their pace for a few seconds before pressing the pace again. I caught up with the 4:50 pace group after the turnaround and hang with them for about a mile.  

Miles 20-23: Similar to last year I slowed down a bit again during these miles and stopped at a water station to grab a handful of ruffles potato chips. I said to my self, that was the thing I want it to try during my training runs that had not gotten the chance in the past. They settle well and washed them down with water the next water station. I pulled ahead from the pacer group, knowing that I was well ahead of plan. But I found a really good groove and I was running in the zone.

Miles 24-26.2 (Finish): 

Carlos Candelaria, Edwin and Matt at Tobacco RoadAt the final stretch, I tried to grab a few runners along the way with me, to encourage them to finish strong and remind them that they will finish no questions asked. One lady was talking to herself out loud “I am not tired.”, “I am not tired.” I replied, “you are not tired and you are doing great.” She picked up the pace and started to jog next to me. I reminded her that we were less than a 5k to the finish and that she was going to finish strong. I keep going and I saw my friend Edwin, who was pacing a friend from work that wanted it to finish before 5:00 hour mark. He was tired but determined to finish strong. He had more than a half hour to complete the last mile and a quarter.  I hang with them for a bit and talked a little bit to keep his mind away from the tiredness of the distance.Carlos Candelaria and Jack Klecha at Tobacco Road Marathon I finish strong with a 4:44:47. Which it was, by far, better than what was planned. I felt that I could do a few more miles and even longer if I slowed down. Very happy with today’s performance. Lots of good friends that were doing their 1st marathon, Jay, Jack and many others doing also the half marathon. Perfect day for a great run.

Now to taper, rest and stretch. Next event on deck is the Umstead 100. Wish me luck!

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[vtftable cols=”{0}0:c9daf8;{/}”] Event Highlights ; Learning Points;nn;


Course: Great ample road right of the start, narrowing a bit at the entrance of the trail close to mile 3. With the exception of couple small hills during miles 1-2 and 25-26 the course is mostly flat with long rolling hills.

Venue: At finish, excellent food, plenty to drink and good music.

Expo: Like previous years a very nice expo at the conference room at a near by hotel, with many booths and freebies.

Weather: Perfect weather with few cloud at the start followed by clear skies, great 37º with just 67% humidity.

T1D: Sugars were good at the start, mid event they trended downward but addressed it with a gel.

Fueling: Pre-Race: 1 serving Hot Cereal and Latte. Half of a banana about an 10 minutes before start.

Race: Water and Gatorade at the water stations. A Gel about an hour and a half into the event then additional E-fuel that I carried.

Post: Slice of Pizza and water.

Learning Points:

  • Running at an slow pace is key for long back to back to back training distance.
  • Running by effort can help you find the zone and stay there for longer.
  • Starting way in the back, when there is no time PR goal can be fun.



Tobacco Road Marathon 2019 bib and medal