June 2, 2014 // 9:49 AM

Marathoners Review the Garden Spot Village Marathon

Written by Scott Miller

Meet John Batzer, who made a personal record for this distance even while dealing with a seizing hamstring a few miles from the end!

How long have you been running?
I've been running for about 5 years - I started training for a Susan G Komen 5k in the fall of 2010.

Do you remember that moment when you first felt like you became a runner?
I don't know if I can tell you a date, but it was when I first experienced the "runner's high."  I was out running, not really sure what route I would take, not paying attention to my splits or anything else that I would commonly use to distract myself from the fact that I was, in fact, running.  When I finally looked at my phone to see how far I had gone, there were a good 4 or 5 miles more than I thought -- simply, I had lost myself in running.  From there, I actually felt "like a runner."

What was your strategy for conquering The Hill?
My strategy for The Hill was to plow through it -- I knew we had a pretty good preview of The Hill right around the 10k mark, so I just took note at that incline and tried to reference it.  My goal, all along, was to start running, and continue running up to the top of the hill, and then coast to the end of the race.  What I didn't plan for was running down The Hill, how a bigger runner has to shift his weight, and my hamstring seizing in a cramp once I did so.


Meet Chris Zelonis, distance runner for about 15 years but only just started running marathons in the past year – GSV being his third.

Why did you pick the GSV Marathon?
GSV was my third marathon. For a couple of years I would run double-digits once a week, which prompted a friend to suggest I run a marathon. Soon after his suggestion I caught the bug. GSV was my third in seven months. I hadn't expected to run it, but I wasn't satisfied with my previous one in March, so I decided to "avenge" it with GSV.

How long have you been running?
This is a well-organized event. I particularly appreciated the volunteers, the pre-race expo, and the awards ceremony. The ceremony, largely because I placed second in my age group – an unexpected but welcome surprise! I am definitely open to running it in the future.

What is your favorite thing about running long distances?
I have been running for about 15 years, off and on. I enjoy simply being able to run long distances. I enjoy the calming effect it has on my mind, the opportunities it gives me to pray and to think.

What does your training plan look like?
I follow Hal Higdon's "Intermediate 1" plan, which calls for five days a week with one cross-training day and one full rest day. My training peaked with a 45-mile week. My previous marathons were not very hilly, so I didn't know what to expect with this one. I remember reading somewhere that we should shorten our stride but not run any slower, so that's what I did. I was surprised to have a lot of energy left in me for the final 10K; some of those miles were the fastest in the whole race for me.

What advice would give to someone running his or her first marathon?
To the first timer: don't skimp on the long runs. Vary your training with some hills. Enjoy the process.


Meet Scott Crawford, who made the GSV Marathon his first!

Why did you pick the GSV Marathon as your first marathon?
I wanted a smaller marathon to start off with. Growing up just over the line in Delaware, we frequently ended up venturing over into Lancaster, and so it was wonderful to see the area from a different perspective.

How long have you been running?
I have been running on and off for the past few years, but consistently started running January 2013 in preparation of my first race (Tough Mudder).

How many miles do you typically run during the week?
Typically 30-45 miles a week.

What is the number one piece of advice you would give to someone running his or her first marathon?
I honestly struggled with the wall. I had been fine powering through it during several runs before, but on race day, I got slammed by it. That being said, it's not the end of the world to have to slow down. The important thing for the first race is finishing and not any sort of time or pace- that's something to do if you want to pursue more marathons.


Meet Kathi Myers, who ran her first marathon at 24 and has run 50 marathons now.

What are your running plans for the rest of 2014?
I have 3 more marathons planned to total 5 for this year.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about running since you started running marathons?
Running has given me a lot and helped me through a lot. It’s given me wings & hope. Marathons have taught me patience with myself. It’s about running to the best of my ability on a given day.

What advice do you have for anyone new to the GSV Marathon?
Expect it to be difficult. For most of us it’s first race of year. Weather, especially wind is unpredictable, with lots of good hills. But the volunteers are awesome & scenery is amazing. I've run all of the GSV marathons and each was a different positive experience.


Meet Jeremy Garges, runner prepping for the Marine Corp Marathon this October!

How long have you been running?
Since May 2009 = exactly 5 years

Do you remember that moment when you first felt like you became a runner?
I'm still not 100% sure I'm a runner. Every time I up my weekly mileage, I feel more "like" a runner!

What are your running plans for the rest of 2014?
For the rest of 2014, I have a few more events I'm pacing and I'd like to race a 1/2 to try to PR. I'm "In" for Marine Corp Marathon in late Oct, so I'm excited to run that with my wife. Staying injury-free and having fun are always top priority.

How far in advance do you start prepping for a marathon?
I usually start preparing for a full marathon 10 weeks out. I always stay in shape for a 1/2 so the full training doesn't require a massive spike in weekly miles.

What advice do you have for anyone new to the GSV Marathon?
Anyone who is signed up for GSVM now is in for a treat. I was very impressed with the event, from packet pick up, race day logistics, SCENERY, post-race food. This event knows how to put on a top-notch event. The scenery we encountered was just breathtaking. The immaculate homes and farms are a testament to the Lancaster’s true beauty. The Amish families alongside the course were very welcoming and eager to watch us as we logged the miles. Do some hill work, there is no shortage of up and down on this course!


Meet Henry, one of our youngest runners who ran his first marathon at GSV!

How long have you been running?
When I turned 12, I decided it would be pretty cool to run a half marathon. So the summer before 7th grade, my dad helped me train. We ran the Hands on House half marathon that Fall. Now I run Cross Country, and I started training for a marathon just because I wanted to see if I could do it and I knew it would help my strength for this 2014 XC season.

What is your favorite thing about running long distances?
I like to run long distances because its like an escape from everything, and to be alone for a couple hours outside each day is nice. Running helps keep my life balanced and I enjoy seeing my results improve in races.

What kind of training did you do for the GSV Marathon?
When I decided to run this marathon, I looked on "runners world.com" and found a training plan that would work for me and then I modified it to make it more suitable for me. And every week from Monday-Friday I ran and on each Saturday I ran my long run. I finally was able to run 22 miles and felt comfortable to run the marathon.

What is the number one piece of advice you would give to someone running his or her first marathon?
My number one piece of advice is that you should prepare for hills. I did most of my runs through Lancaster city and ran on mostly flat surfaces. When I got into the race, the course was very hilly and the big hill on mile 21 or 22 was such a killer. I also advise driving the course before running it because it really helped me expect what was coming. Finally, tapering off mileage the last 2 weeks of training felt so good and I was fresh and ready to go on April 12th race day.

Plan for the Next Garden Spot Village Marathon!

Sign ups are available online for the GSV Marathon 2015 on April 11th, and if you'd like to stay informed, you can follow us on Facebook or visit the Marathon website. Feel free to leave us your own review of the Marathon. We welcome all feedback that would benefit future runners!


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