There is something different about this marathon. It has extra Savoir Faire, to quote John & John, to say the least. I discovered this right at packet pickup when I met the race director, Trent, and him telling me that I was a fool and didn’t heed his advice.
While standing in line, Trent asked one of the runners if she remembered her number from last year. She didn’t, but that’s okay because once you sign up for the Monkey, you get a race number and that’s YOURS for LIFE. I think I might try to use it for my SSN instead, my FMN (Flying Monkey Number) which is 438. One guy has 3.14159265, another has the infinity symbol and I am stuck with 438.
I get my packet and my timing chip. Oh wait, did I say “Timing” chip? Sorry… they were handing out potato chips as timing chips. i think it was one of the chips with ridges, they should have said it was a course 3D map… it’d be accurate!
Now, the race packet was a few pieces of paper, my bib, with my NAME on it! And the bib even MATCHED the color of the race shirts. Oh wait, did I say race “shirts”? Technically that is a misnomer, because the race shirt was a Long Sleeved Technical Shirt, with the race info on it AND my NAME! The OTHER shirt was a Tshirt that said “My Monkey Made Me Do It”… which is how I have 2 kids, huh.
The race bag wasn’t some cheap plastic bag, nor was it the nicer paper bags that I have gotten. No, it was a Publix (Grocery Store) canvas bag! This did NOT have my name on it, as my legal name is not “Publix”. Although, I think that I may have been called somethings that are close to that word. If there were other stuff in there, I don’t really remember… I’ve run a marathon since then.
Now, before the race start, we had the normal race info meeting and then there were group pictures. Although I think these might have been requested for remain and missing persons identification, they disguised it as a picture of the Marathon Maniacs. Next year, I will be able to be included in there… if I get off my lazy post marathon ass and send in the email application [ed note: which I did as I was inserting links into this post].
The weather conditions were pretty good at race start. It was upper 20s, but it was suppose to warm-up to the 50s, so I braved the cold weather with what I had on in the pictures from a couple of days ago. Usually, if it below 40, I wear my Almost Tights for warmth, but given that the forecast was 50F by the race finish, I stuck with shorts.
Right before race start, I wasn’t all that nervous. I was excited, but I wasn’t overly giddy. Although I wasn’t disappointed, I was glad that I would be in control and not taking off trying to get a PR time, only to create a huge train wreck. I wouldn’t have the “weather” to blame for my poor performance and slow time. Of course, there were the big MoFo hills… and they proved to be formidable adversaries.
The marathon course in Harpeth Hills was definitely the hardest course that I have run. It’s the sheer number of hills that does it. There is little to No flat areas of any notable distance, except for the first and last 0.3-0.4 of a mile. Everything else is UP or DOWN and some even seems to be BOTH at the same time.
The marathon is run through Percy Warner Park, which you can think of all the hills in the Nashville area crammed into a small tract of land and we were running on it! For all practical purposes, there is little to no marathon crowd cheering support, but the few spots there are are rockin! There is plenty of Support (water, food) on the course. I don’t think there was ever time when I was in need, the Water stops were spaced out almost perfectly! In fact, I didn’t even bring my own food.
One thing was visibly missing from the water/food stops and my only rationale is that they didn’t want to excite the flying monkeys more then sacrificial running ritual marathon runners out there in their honor, and those were bananas. Nope… no bananas. Aren’t bananas like communion wafers of marathons?
The course, although sparse of crowds, did have quite a few personages on it that were out there voluntarily. A number of walkers were on the course. There were a few runners on there. I mean, why run on the course for free when you could pay GOOD money for 2 shirts with your name on it? Oh, and a Green Canvas bag? Also saw some hikers and I did see a couple trail runners out there as well. I would imagine that the trails out there would be like running Big South Fork, just longer…
The views were fantastic while I could still focus. The leaves were past their peak and some what fallen off, but that just made the vista view even more gorgeous as the sun beamed through the holes in the yellow tinted leaves. The cooler air clearer in the distance allowed you to see for miles and miles, as we ran for miles and miles…
I can’t really talk about my times, because I was slower up the hills and faster down the hills. Most of the mile split times deviate by over a minute from mile to mile! I felt really consistent in perceived effort (not actual pace) for the entire race. It was the water stop at the top of the hill at Mile 24 that I really started to feel the beginning of the end of my endurance. Up to this point, my legs were HURTING, but with my water bottle in hand, I was still motivated to run. Instead of lasting a number of miles before needing water, I was having to fill up my water bottle every stop. But, I learned that I can withstand ALOT of pain, as long as I can feel hydrated. Which tells me that Rutledge could have been ALOT worse if I hadn’t carried the water with me.
Around Mile 14, I saw a tiny figure in the distance… and then there was another… The monkeys are out to get me. Then I realized that they were MY crazy Monkeys! I ran up to them and stopped and bent down to give both hugs! They ran with me to where My Lovely and Talented Wife was standing. Now, The Elder ran pretty fast and was bragging that he beat me running to mommy… but I KNOW that I could have taken him… I was just saving my energy. The cool thing was that I was not expecting to see them at all.
So at the last water stop around 24.5-25ish, I fueled up as best as I could and tried to manage the pain. The best I could do at this point was just look ahead and try to relax. I couldn’t focus on anything else, just get me to the finish line. I wasn’t demoralized at all when I went past 4:30. I had no expectations on finishing times… or even if I was going to finish. Near 25.5, I finally convince myself… to walk. I had hit the wall. Although I could physically move forward, I had mentally stopped and went to walking. I was also starting to get a tad delusional as well… my head was getting light and I was thinking that I was Batman. I knew that I had less than a mile to go and so I collect myself and realized that I would not be able to make a super mad dash to the end… but I would survive.
I left the asphalt roads of Percy Warner Park to the final approach to the Finish Line on the trail leading to the finishing chute. I stared at the ground looking for large clumps of dirt that would reach out and grab my feet and pull me down to the ground. And there is was! The glorious finish line! There were cameras there and so I needed some good promo pieces and didn’t want it to look how I was really feeling…
With about 50 yards to go, I met up with The Kids and tried to get them to come with me. Had The Younger known the drill, I think the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon Guess My Time, WIn Crap Winner, My Other Running Brother Darrell would have been spot on with 4:43:00. I was able to get The Elder to turn with me and run over the finish line with me… The Younger, clueless, was still following to the finish.
I LOVED this race. I want to do it every year! I think that my “goal” for the race will Beat The Bib! that’s a sub 4:38 marathon which, on a normal course with moderate conditions is pretty doable… on this course, ehhh… not so much.
Okay, so there it is. Most of it has been written, just as a draft. I am glad to get this blog post sent so that I proceed to the normal “quality” content! Pictures of both races are coming shortly…