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2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

Flying Monkey Marathon
November 22, 2015

The Reaping

Once the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon became popular the race director moved to a lottery format to chose the stupid lucky participants. The selection involves a weighted randomization scheme and while I don’t know how the criteria is weighted, my belief that Question 8 has the “X-factor”.

8. Share with us any special information we should consider with your application to the race. Please understand that we are likely to read this with much scorn and ridicule. 140 character max!

I got a handful of nightlock waiting, just in case I don’t get picked

I was happy when the email arrived that I was selected! Out of the 354 runners selected, I was in the group of 13 who had completed The Monkey 5 times.

Before The Games

In attempt to be kind to my Lovely and Talented Wife, Jen, I secured transportation to Race Start. I was appreciative that Danny Staggs agreed to pick me up and take me to the Race.

The Staggs Family of Running is comprised of Danny, his wife Sandy, and their daughter Amanda. There are 2 things about The Staggs: 1) The 3 of them run a lot of the same races regardless of distance, sometimes they run together and 2) They are super-friendly (they know everybody) and always seem to be smiling (it must be their favorite).

It was cold but not terribly cold for packet pick-up. Inside this year’s packet was a FMM Magnet, FMM Sticker, FMM Tatoo, Runner-specific long-sleeved shirt, short-sleeved shirt, running bib & chip, and some promo items.

One of the awesome things about The Monkey, is the Runner-specific shirt. Not only does it have the runner’s name on the front, but it also has badges on the sleeve to show how many Monkeys the runner has completed (aka Monkey Kills). It’s just like how fighter pilots mark how many planes they shot down. This year, since I had 5 Monkey Kills, I was getting the “V”badge, since there’s just so much room on sleeves.

The badges are loving called "Monkey Kills"
The badges are loving called “Monkey Kills”

Another awesome thing about The Monkey is that you have a Bib Number For Life (if you can remember it). Mine is 438 and have this thing called, “Beat My Bib”. The premise is that I finish the marathon in under 4hrs 38 minutes. This is easier said than done, because I never know what my training will be for any given Monkey. I’ve done it once, back in 2012. I knew I wasn’t going to try to Beat My Bib because this was really a training run for the Pistol 50k which I was running on January 2nd 2016, about 6 weeks away.

At one point, while milling around at the Start line, someone brought around a box of hand warmers. The kind that you can hold in your hand and through the magic of a chemical reaction will stay heated “for up to 8 hours”. I grabbed a pack, I’m not exactly sure why, as I had never used them before, but it was cold despite my gloves.

Just before the start of the race, we had group pictures for Run It Fast, Marathon Maniacs (I’m MM#1225), and the Streakers (no, not that kind… that’s a different race) which are the people who have run ALL the Monkeys to date.

In the spirit of The Monkey Games (i.e. The Hunger Games) theme, race director extraordinaire, Monkey Trent, was dressed as Seneca from the movies including the fashionable facial hair.

Then, The Tenth Annual Monkey Games begun.

Flying Monkey Marathon Course Elevation
Flying Monkey Marathon Course Elevation

The First Half

I ended up running the first half of the marathon with Danny and Sandy Staggs. Amanda, who was at the race, was running with a friend. We took each mile and hill as it came. Danny and Sandy (if you start singing, Grease is the word) knew just about everyone out there on the course. We talked about just about everything. The 3 of us were seasoned runners and shared some of the weird predicaments have found ourselves during races. Fun stuff. I never really paid attention to my pace, I just hit the watch at each mile marker to mark the time.

Me, Sandy, and Danny
Me, Sandy, and Danny

The weather was in the temperature band where it was sometimes too hot for hat/gloves and sometimes too cold for them. I kept taking off and putting back on my gloves as the temperature changed. What I didn’t expect was how AWESOME the hand warmers turned out to be during the race. They weren’t too hot as to keep me too warm and they were kept safe inside my gloves when didn’t have them on. Since I carry a water bottle, when I had my gloves on, I stuck them on the back of my hands for comfort… and it worked!

Warrior Mode!
Warrior Mode!

Sometime early in the race, my ankle decided it wasn’t happy. It didn’t hurt but I could tell something wasn’t right.

The Second Half

Some how at the water stop at Mile 13, I lost track of the Staggs. When I passed the half way sign, I couldn’t find them. So I focused ahead, back to the race.

Food, during any long distance run, is important to manage. Too little and you’ll feel hungry. When you feel hungry, running is more difficult, mentally at first then physically as the energy stores drain. Too much and you’ll feel uncomfortable. This type of running can have negative effects as the body is trying to process the food in the stomach while also trying to run. The wrong type of food, and well, you might see it again from one end or the other. This is one of the reasons for marathon maxim of “No New Foods” a couple of days before and during the race.

The food and drink that I carry with me during long distance races usually consists of 4 Accel gels, 1 pack of Clif Blox (Margarita), and a 24oz bottle of sports drink.  It’s a reused Gatorade bottle with a wide screw-off lid which makes it easy to refill in the race plus I don’t mind ditching it at the end, if I want to look good for the pictures.

For this Monkey, I had my bottle, a pack of Clif Blox, and ziploc bag of apples. I didn’t carry any gels with me and broke the Maxim by trying the Huma gels (made with chia seeds) while out on the course. The Huma gels weren’t too bad. Because of the chia seeds, they had a consistency different from the traditional gels but I eat chia seeds just about every morning so it wasn’t a shock for it to feel different. I don’t recall which flavors I had, but they weren’t bad. I would use them again.

The sports drink on the course was SWORD, something else that was brand new to me. I could drink it well enough when I chose it over water at the water stops.

Some where around Mile 17, I was starting to get hungry and the Clif Blox that I had with me were not appealing. At the next aid station, I contemplated eating some Krispy Kreme, but decided against the sugary deliciousness of the fried rings of gluten. I ended up grabbing a stack of Pringles, which I don’t think were Gluten-Free, but when I have had small amounts of gluten after races, I haven’t felt any side effects (cloudy thinking, sleepiness) but that might be confounded with the fatigue side effects from the running.

Apart from drying out my mouth a little, the Pringles hit the spot. I was satiated, at least for a few miles. So with my mind off of food for a little while, it drifted to where it usually likes to go when it can… to mathematics.

By Mile 20, I had figured out that I was in good shape to finish in under 5 hours. I wasn’t running this race for time, but I was beginning to change my mind. If I could keep my average pace under a 12:15 mile pace, then I would finish. However, at Mile 20, the hills are not done. It was at this point that shifted from “training run” mentality to Race Mode. Under 5 hours was now my goal, and the race was now afoot.

My ankle which had felt different at the beginning of the race hadn’t gotten better nor worse. Something was up with it, it wasn’t happy but it was complying with running.

HHFMM X_1536

At Mile 23, I was still in great shape for under 5 hours. I had added some time to “the time bank” and could spend it if needed. When I’m in Race Mode as it gets closer to the finish, I begin to look at runners ahead of me as prey. Who can pass before the finish line? Sometimes they are runners who started ahead of me but have slowed down for some reason and pose no threat, but the ones I have to watch are the ones that are close to my pace. Those are the hard ones to catch, because even if I can close the gap they may still have plenty of juice to match my kick at the end and stay ahead of me.

One runner seemed to be the one to beat and I had about 3 miles to do it. Challenge Accepted. I kept the runner in my sights as we went over the hills and around the curves. I lost some time when I stopped at the last aide station where I filled up my water bottle and stretched my legs. Ankle still an issue, but intact.

At Mile 25, the runner that I had been tailing was too far away. I would have had to increase my pace too much to close the gap. However, there were still people ahead of me meandering towards the finish line.

The first and last 3/4 of a mile or so is off the road and on a grassy area of Percy Warner Park. You can see the runners who are making the approach to the finish line and if you know what someone is wearing or know their running posture you can identify them.

There are two massive evergreens that shield you from being seen as you pass behind them. In a moment of vanity, I stopped behind the first one  to stretch my legs one last time to maximize any energy I had left in them before they turned into stone pillars. One of the volunteers that was there was chastising me that I had stopped so close to the Finish Line. Just Keep Moving! I told them that even if had just a little left in my legs, I didn’t want to “look” like I had little left.

As I rounded the last tree with roughly 0.15 of a mile until the Finish. You can see the Finishing Chute from there and the Time clock as well. It would be under 5 hours for me today.

In my races, I have a mental process of figuring out at what point I can start running at maximum effort and still make the Finish Line. I process through how my body is feeling, add in my fatigue level, and a couple other factors. Then when ready, my mind tells my body “Go For Throttle Up” a NASA Space Shuttle command that I explain in a previous post.

I started lengthening my stride as much as I could and felt the increase in speed noticing for the first time that there is a slight downhill slope toward the Finish Line. I also remembering thinking that my ankle didn’t feel bad at all, how interesting.

At the Finish Line
At the Finish Line

I finished  in 177th (out of 321) place with a finishing time of 4:54:30 [Chip Time] for my 6th Monkey Kill.

Post Race Goodies
Post Race Goodies

Another wooden Finisher’s medal (wooden) which was a pin style instead of over the neck. Also Finisher’s receive a customized SiliPint which is handy for the Yazoo Brewing tent located at the Finish Area. We stayed this year for door prizes which I scored a handmade Flying Monkey hat.

Later that day, my ankle became very sore. During the night, I could hardly walk on it without limping. However, my visit with my chiropractor on Monday put it right and haven’t had any problems with it.

There’s was no waiting to see what the 2016 theme will be, it will be The Year Of The Monkey!






HHFMM X_0213-S

Warrior Mode Update

This was supposed to be the first part of a series of updates on the my training for the Pistol 50k (31 miles) which I am running on January 2nd 2016 in memory of my late Taekwondo instructor/mentor James Rich. However, some how time marched on (and on and on) and so it is now a single training recap.

I had wanted to start training a little earlier than I did, but sometimes life gets away from you. Or rather, it confuses you as it runs away FROM you. (The older you get the faster it seems to move.) Then when you stop to look around, you say “[expletive of choice]! Where did the time go?” That was me. I had wanted to “officially” start training on August 1st in anticipation that I would be representing my District in the blockbuster hit: Flying Monkey Marathon X, May the Hills Be Ever in Your Favor. Each year, the race has a different “theme” and the one for 2015 race was based on The Hunger Games series.

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

The premise is that I would treat the Flying Monkey Marathon on 11/22/2015 as a training run. Ideally, I would run ANOTHER marathon maybe as another training run in early December. The Rocket City Marathon on Dec 12th was a great candidate because it was relatively close (Huntsville, AL) and it is a flat course. So after the undulating hills of the Flying Monkey (Nashville, TN) it would be a nice scenario to attempt a Sub-4hr marathon. However, there was a failure to launch for Rocket City and the elusive Sub-4hr attempt would have to wait.

Congratulations, it’s a Monkey!

The Flying Monkey marathon is very popular for those runners who like hills that hurt you. For the past couple of years they have used a weighted lottery to choose who be running. Apparently there are enough crazy people who want to run that they have to limit the number. While the actual weighing of criteria is an ancient Chinese secret, it is possible that someone who has run the Monkey multiple times (I had run Flying Monkey 5 times previous) could not get a spot. Fortunately for me, the lottery went in my favor and I was going to The Monkey Games.

Pneumonia Road Bump

In mid August, I started to feel sick, but it never lasted more than a day or two and the symptoms changed. There was overwhelming fatigue one time, a super sore throat another, neither of which was accompanied with a fever. Without having a fever or chest congestion, I thought it might be allergies. In early September, almost 2 weeks since my initial symptoms, when I still felt bad with new symptoms, I decided that I would go see the doctor. Turns out, whatever “it” was decided it would turn into pneumonia.

I have had pneumonia multiple times, and there are certain warning signs that throw up Red Flags that I am on my way to getting (or already have) pneumonia. However, none of the ailments presented themselves like they were supposed to, so only because they wouldn’t go away did I seek counsel on what was going on.

As a result of my diagnosis, I went on antibiotics and took a 9 day hiatus from both running and Taekwondo. Training suspended.

Damn the 10% Rule, Full Speed Ahead

By the last few weeks of September, I was healthy again and ready to “restart” my training. At this time, I was already 6 weeks behind on my training for Flying Monkey, but I still had enough time for The Pistol. I decided that I need to take some big leaps in training to try to “catch up” or rather “not be too far behind” in my training.

There is a Rule of Thumb in running called “The 10% Rule”. It suggests that you should increase the length of your workouts (overall mileage, long runs, speed workouts, etc.) by 10% from week to week. The premise is that this progression helps the body transition to the rigors of the longer runs (or faster workouts) better without exposing one to injury. It is also one reason a marathon training program lasts 16+ weeks or more. Build the mileage up step by step, mile by mile.

With 8 weeks before the Flying Monkey and my longest run of my training a whopping 10 miles, I had to push the limit a little. Disclaimer: As a seasoned runner, I have a good feel for what I can and cannot do when it comes to running. This won’t work for everyone.

I started with a 13.5 mile long run at 8 weeks out. This was followed with a 13.3 mile run the following week. Then at 6 weeks out I made the big jump with a 23.4 mile run. Normal training program has a “Recovery Week” after a very long run, so my run at 5 weeks out was supposed to be around 16 miles, but I only ran 2 because I had some problems and I didn’t want to be that far from home.  So I took 5 weeks out as basically a Rest Week.

4 weeks out was a 18.6 mile run. However, the next weekend, which was Halloween, I was just too busy for a long run and recorded 0.0 miles for my long run. This trend continued and I didn’t have anymore long runs before race day. I was able to get a handful of 4-5 mile runs in during the week. Also, I was going to Taekwondo class multiple times a week, so it’s not like I was sedentary.

HHFMM X_0213-S
Flying Monkey Marathon (Nashville, TN)

Monkey, Monkey, Monkey!

On November 22nd, I ran Flying Monkey in just under 5 hours. As I mentioned above, this was a training run, so I wasn’t trying to run for a certain time. I haven’t written the Race Report for Flying Monkey yet, but I’ll go more into details there.

The Flying Monkey was 6 weeks out (that Magical Week) from The Pistol. I didn’t come away from Flying Monkey unscathed and my chiropractor put me back on the right path the Monday after.  The next weekend I took as a Rest Week (5 weeks out). It was Thanksgiving and we were out of town. I almost decided to run a 10k but decided it would be better to rest than to race. Tough decision to make but never underestimate the power of a rest day.

It Beginning To Look Like Race Day

With it now being December, just 1 month left before Race Day, I took another Rest Week. Also at the beginning of December, I tested (and passed) for my Second Degree Black Belt and didn’t want to be distracted from what I needed I to do to earn it.

Me and Mr. Church at awards night with my brand new 2nd degree Black Belt
Me and Mr. Church at awards night with my brand new 2nd degree Black Belt

The next weekend, 3 weeks out – Dec 12 (when I had wanted to run another marathon), I ran 24.3 miles. I decided I would run from my house to Eddie’s Health Shoppe (about 8.3 miles away) where I would meet up with the Knoxville Marathon Training Group and run with them (6 miles) and then run home (around 10 miles based on the route). It ended up being kind of fun. I ran a little faster than normal going to the training group as I didn’t want to be late. Then ran closer to my 10k pace because I ran/talked with another running for 3 miles, but then was slower for the last half of the run.

Since the pattern of a 20+ mile run followed by a rest week seemed to work fairly well this training cycle, I decided that at the 2 week out point, I take another rest week.

So it is 1 week before the Pistol 50k. The rain that we have been having has moved on and I’ll get one more long run (about 12 miles or so) in before Race Day. I’m also going to try to get in 2 mid-week runs of about 4 miles. This helps with the nerves during Race Week when the looming race is only days away and the anxiety of the unknown envelopes me.

It’s time now to get into #WarriorMode !

Training, better late than never

This post was originally laying out, in general, my training regiment that I would use for the Fall Marathon season. That changed with my diagnosis of pneumonia earlier this month. I haven’t ran since 8/13, a week before the first signs of sickness manifested. I haven’t really worked out for 9 days, which was Taekwondo the night before I went to the doctor.

Now that I think the pneumonia is almost 100% gone, I am hoping to jump back into my normally scheduled life on the weekend of Sept 12/13 which will be 10 weeks before Flying Monkey. I’ve lost a good chunk of training time, but I will have to be diligent about training.

The basic skeleton of my training will follow something like this:
Mondays – Utility Day:  Tempo Pace, Taekwondo, and/or Soccer Coaching or Rest Day
Tuesdays – Speed Work
Wednesdays – Tempo Pace /Taekwondo or Rest Day
Thursdays – Hills, Hills, Hills
Fridays – Easy Pace/Taekwondo or Rest Day
Saturdays – Long Run or Tempo Pace depending on schedule
Sundays – Long Run or Tempo Pace depending on schedule

Long Run distances will fluctuate from week to week from 12 – 20 miles. I’ll miss one whole weekend as we will be gone on vacation. I would like to have one long run where I run 20+ miles which I was thinking would be in early October, but I might have to push it back to late October.

After Flying Monkey (11/22), I’ll continue the weekly schedule, with maybe one long run of 24+ in preparation for the Pistol 50k (1/2/16). December, of course, is tricky because of all holiday activities and food, especially the food.


Monkey Wrench

My nemesis, Pneumonia, decided to pay me a visit last week and throw a monkey wrench into my life.  Thankfully, this go around is of the lesser impact type and can be treated with medicine and patience.

I knew that it had been a while since pneumonia decided to show it’s ugly face. Using the search feature, I was able to find a few references to when I had it back in December 2010. I have had it a couple of times in the past and even have warning symptoms that throw up red flags. This particular time, there wasn’t the standard order of symptoms, they all seem to be unique and unrelated. My guess, is that I was experiencing several little things, that opened the door for it. However, since these little things kept me feeling ill for over a week, when the pneumonia finally set in, I was already at the doctor’s getting medicine. So, they helped catch it early on.

One of the biggest impact of my illness is to my running. Specifically, my training for 2 upcoming races: Flying Monkey Marathon (Nov) and The Pistol 50k (Jan).

Training for Flying Monkey was supposed to have started 4 weeks ago in mid-August. Since August 1st, I was in a “base” mode, where I didn’t really worry about workouts/distance, just get some mileage under my belt. With not feeling well, since around August 20th or so, I hadn’t ran hardly anything. In fact, my log book says 0.0. At best, I’ll be able start running again during the weekend, but that’ll be bare-bones type of mileage, with only 10 weeks until race day. Thankfully, this isn’t my first time toeing the line for a marathon. I’m just going to have to be very creative. I won’t have any miracle workout that will get me a personal record or even a course record on Race Day. I’ll get from the Start Line to the Finish Line without killing myself (much).

The 2nd race, The Pistol 50k which I am running in memory of James Rich #WarriorMode, is still okay in terms of time to train. The Flying Monkey is one training component for The Pistol, and I am hoping for a good run at Flying Monkey to help bridge the 6-7 week gap between the 2 races.

As of writing of this post, I’m finished with the antibiotic protocol but still have an inhaler to keep the lungs open and drive everything out. I’ve also been resting when I can, but still have a few days before I start getting back into moderate exercise.

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

Here Comes The Monkey

Getting to the start line of the Pistol 50k will require a lot of work. I’ll be building my training program for it shortly and will have some key milestones. One of which, I hope, will include the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon.

Entry into this race is a weighted lottery. “What is a weighted lottery?” you ask. It’s where you name is tossed into a pool of entrants and certain “things” about your application increase your probability of being selected. One of these “things” is how many Monkeys you have run, more the merrier. I also think wit and sarcasm weigh in your favor in the “For goodness sake, why would you do this? Are you insane?” question.

Of the many cool things about this race, one of them is the theme. Each year there is a theme which influences the t-shirts, posters, goodies, and more. For example, for the 4th year, it was ‘A New Hope’ theme. You’re a nerd if you get it.  The runners for the 2013 “Faster than a Flying Banana” theme received a cape. Forget what Edna says about capes… it was still cool. Some even ran the marathon with their’s on. Last Year, the theme was Game of Thrones… and I missed it! This year, the theme falls under the Hunger Games with the motto  “May the hills be ever in your favor”.

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

However, for this course, “hills” and “favor” don’t really mix. This is a description of the course by Mike Sohaskey at RaceRaves:

And while the organizers may take themselves lightly, they clearly take their responsibilities seriously with over 7,200 feet of total elevation change, grades of up to 12% and a cadre of dedicated volunteers providing encouragement and guidance along the way.

With landmarks like “Three Mile Hill” and “Nine Mile Hill” boasting lung-burning ascents and quad-punishing descents, the HHFM isn’t monkeying around. Or maybe it is. In any case, your legs will doubtless be ready to See no hills, hear no hills, speak no hills long before reaching the finish.

Maybe to go along with the theme I will make my running shorts out of fire. Ummm, maybe not. Hopefully, they won’t have any Nightlock Gels out on the course.

Registration opens on August 1.

2013 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

“MONKEY!” – Race Director Trent Rosenbloom (Monkey Trent, Bib # -1) starting the race instead of firing a starter’s pistol.

It’s a long wait from the beginning of August, finding out that you won the lottery, to donning an official Flying Monkey Racing Bib on race day. This year, I was one of 24 runners (7%) who had ran four previous Monkeys (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012). I’ve run a couple other venues multiple times including Richmond Marathon (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002).

The trip to Nashville includes a visit to the Adventure Science Center where The Boys can run around like the crazy kids they are. In 2012, we went to the Science Center after the marathon and somehow I managed. I was very grateful that we were going before the marathon. Also part of the Monkey Tradition, we stay at the Candlewood Suites near race start because it’s fairly reasonable and plenty of space for The Boys to stretch out and more importantly, Jen and I get to watch some Football on TV.

I wasn’t able to get a ride to the Race Start, so Jen and The Boys had to drop me off at the race venue (Percy Warner Park). I had the impression that the Race Started at 7:30 when in actuality it started at 8:00. So while I was early, I got to hang out, walking around in freezing temperatures (about 19F) for about 45 minutes. As it got closer to race start, the people began to show up and soon the pre-race pictures were taken. We got our last minute race instruction from Monkey Trent and then to start the race, he didn’t fire a starter’s pistol but yelled one word, “MONKEY!”

MONKEY! Race Start
MONKEY! Race Start

One of the drawbacks of running the same race, especially a long distance race, the different races tend to blend together. However, sometimes there is something, maybe just one thing that stands out. This year, it was the cold. I was cold from my head to my feet, especially my feet. It felt like I had extra socks crammed down in my shoes. Turns out my toesies were numb and it took about 2.5 miles for them to finally warm up. Once they were warm, everything felt normal. I even took off my outer shell jacket to help regulate my temperature.

Out on the Course
Out on the Course

I didn’t train like I wanted between the Darlington Marathon on September 28th and the Flying Monkey. As a result, I guessed that I would finish somewhere between 4:45 and 5:00 if everything went well.

Besides the cold temperature, the wind was brisk, not strong but enough that you really didn’t want to be in it if possible. Almost all of the course is protected by the trees and the ‘Big Hills’ that the course was laid upon. I did see a family that was having a photo shoot, out in the cold, in the wind… in the cold. They were gone when I came back around, so I don’t know how their photoshoot went.

 One of the neat things about the Flying Monkey is currently, the bib number you get running your first Monkey stays with you… forever. For me, it is #438 and I have my own little game that I call, Beat The Bib. In this game, I, Terry run the Flying Monkey in less than 4 hours and 38 minutes. However, as the higher miles passed by, I realized that I would finish within the time frame that I thought and not Beat The Bib.

The last 1/4 of a mile or so of the course is off road, as you head off the roads in the park and head to the finish line. This year, I was alone when I left the asphalt, both in front of me and behind. I’m usually sizing up the runners ahead of me to see who I can pick off in the last tenth of a mile of the race while at the same time conscious of people behind me to avoid them doing the same to me. Without any runners around me to worry about, it was just me and the clock battling it out. As I inched nearer to the finish line, the clock kept counting, taunting me that I had not Beat My Bib this year.

Soon enough my running of the 2013 Flying Monkey Marathon was over. I was finished. I went straight to the nearest volunteer that I saw holding the finishers medal, so that I could be knighted as a finisher. For the second year in a row, finishers were given a Silipint Cup with the race logo. A Silipint is a silicon pint glass, I didn’t use last year’s mug much at all. The 2013 mug, I use on a daily basis.


My official finishing time was 4:46:02 and I was the 167th finisher out of 311. I was the 25th male of the 40-44 age group out of 28. My split times are as follows: 9:44, 9:37, 9:21, 10:21, 9:29, 10:31, 8:44, 11:09, 9:55, 10:30, 10:07, 10:28, 10:30, 11:03, 11:36, 10:20, 10:39, 11:05, 12:07, 14:00, 11:40, 12:05, 12:52, 12:52, 11:32, 12:10, 1:35

[editor’s note: Thanks to my wife for helping me in my old age, as I forget significant things. Hence the post-race Soccer with The Younger]

Not more than 1 minute after crossing the finishing line, getting my medal, my Silipint and congratulations from My Lovely and Talented Wife, The Younger came up to me and asked if we could play soccer. I was still breathing hard and thought to myself, “Oh, in my current condition.” But then I thought, “Well, I am still able to move… if I rest now, there would be no way to start again.” So, I replied to The Younger’s question with “Sure.”

Post-Race Soccer Cool-Down
Post-Race Soccer Cool-Down

Finisher’s Bling:

Finisher's Medal and Silipint Drinkware
Finisher’s Medal and Silipint Drinkware

As part of the runner’s packet, each runner was given a cape with the year’s Race Logo. a couple of runners wore their cape during the race. I didn’t want the cord rubbing my neck for a couple of hours, so I took Edna’s advice… “No, capes.”

131124 Flying Monkey 04
Off to save the world… or run another marathon

Each runner is given a custom shirt personalized with your “race name” on the breast (it’s tough to see on the previous picture) and on the sleeve, the number of previous Monkeys you have ran previous to Race Day. As mentioned above, I had already ran the Flying Monkey 4 times… and there is the proof. Next year, I will get 5x Monkey Kill Badge… if I get a win in the lottery.

The badges are loving called "Monkey Kills"
The badges are loving called “Monkey Kills”


The theme for 2014 is A Dance with Monkeys“… MONKEY WINTER IS COMING

2012 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

Bananas in black!

We've Got Big Hills
We’ve Got Big Hills

Just a mere 8 days after my PR finish at the Chickamauga Marathon, I was getting ready to run the Flying Monkey Marathon (11/18/2012). The Flying Monkey Marathon is my absolute favorite marathon, the culture around the marathon is so awesome, you don’t care that the course is brutal. And if the course doesn’t kill you, the monkeys will.

For this race, the whole family made the trip to Nashville on Saturday with the race on Sunday. Due to poor planning on my part, because My Lovely and Talented Wife is the awesome planner, we missed out on Children’s Museums on Saturday.

This was my 4th running of the Flying Monkey Marathon, I had previously ran in 2008, 2009 and 2010. I had missed the 2011 running because I stupidly thought I could get registered with no problem, but it was closed before I could even blink. This year, registration was done by weighted lottery and because I wasn’t sure if I would get into Flying Monkey, I completed the early registration for Chickamauga Marathon as a “back-up”. If I was chosen to run Flying Monkey then it would be “oh well, gosh darn, I’ll just have to run both”. And that is what happened.

Because Flying Monkey is 1) A tough course: They have Big Hills and 2) I ran a PR time of 4:08:02 at Chickamauga just 8 days earlier, I had no expectations on my performance at Flying Monkey. All I wanted to do was finish. And finish I did!

The one nice thing that happens is that there are pre-race photos for running groups which cuts out the whole “where is the picture going to be”. I know that Marathon Maniacs (I’m MM#1225 – which Flying Monkey 2008 was my qualifying race) and Run It Fast both had group pictures and I think the other group was those runners that had run all the Monkeys to date.

Miles 1-7
(9:19, 9:41, 9:40, 10:22, 9:37, 11:14, 8:38)

Starting off the race was pretty easy. Like I have mentioned earlier, this was just a leisurely run in the (literal) park. Corresponding with the course profile, my mile split times were correlated positively with the elevation changes. During these first few miles, I was running with a runner who had run all of the Flying Monkey and was just passing time.

Miles 8-13
(10:51, 9:45, 10:14, 10:02,10:18, 11:03)

By about this time, I realized that the pace that I was running was fairly comfortable, very comfortable and by the calculations, I would be finishing in a sub 5 hour time. But it was a no-worries marathon and I figured I would keep the pace and see what happens.

Miles 14-22
(10:00, 11:52, 10:27, 10:21, 11:00, 9:09, 12:03,11:01, 10:17)

Unfortunately, writing a race report almost 9 months post-race about a race on a course previously ran 3 other times, the memory tends to blends races together.  However, things were still going well, pace going well, legs in good shape.

We've Got Big Hills

Miles 23-26.2
(10:43, 11:03, 10:41, 10:47, 1:21)

With things going relatively well, it was now a question could I accomplish my Monkey Goal. I would be pretty close. One of the cool things about the Flying Monkey Marathon is that once you get a bib number, you keep your bib number. My bib number is 438. So my Monkey Goal is to finish in 4 hour 38 Minutes.  In 2008, I was close with a 4:43, but then in 2009, I was 5:31 and in 2011 I finished in 5:41.

On final approach to the finish line at Flying Monkey, the course breaks out from the roadway and crosses into a field with about 0.3 of a mile to go. The about 1/2 of the approach is to a tree, which you take a left turn then the remaining 0.15 mile is a straight shot to the finish line. It is this rounding the curve where I make my final move to overtake anyone at the finish.

My first Monkey finish, I finished running with The Elder and The Younger. My other Monkey finishes have been foot races, coveting a higher finishing spot in the overall results over other runners.  This finish was no different. After the left turn around the tree, I started to pick up speed.

I could tell that as I passed two runners, that at least one of them was going to challenge me toward the finishing. Sensing that they were starting to accelerate to catch me, I started to go full throttle. I had never put on my timing chip, so the race results do not really indicate how I finished. I only had my watch time, which would be close to my actual net time.

I finished the 2012 Flying Monkey Marathon, officially, in 4:31:22,  149th out of 285 finishers, 19th out of 22nd for my age group. Most importantly, I beat my Monkey Goal, by a quite a bit. I was truly amazed that I had ran the entire race so strongly to have kept up that pace.

We've Got Big Hills
Official Time: 4:31:22

Another successful Flying Monkey Marathon.

One bit of Terry Trivia, finishing the Flying Monkey for the 4th time ties it with the number of finishes of the Richmond Marathon (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002). I am currently signed up for the 2013 Flying Monkey Marathon (Faster than a speeding banana).

Before the Fall

I just posted my May running recap and while I was writing that post, I wondered what my June and July would bring. I had a friend at church ask me if I was running any summer races. My reply was that I did not have anything planned other than a 5k in August even though there are quite a few races around here during those months.

Historically, I don’t run very much in June and July. First, there is the heat. It usually takes me all of June to acclimate to heat, so that running in July, August and first part of September is manageable. Second, June and July is my rest period in between the Spring Racing and Fall Racing seasons. Expo 10k is the Farewell to Spring racing while the Scholar’s Run 5k (the one on August 18th) is the Hello to Fall Racing (fall training technically starts on August 1st).

Now, just because I don’t log much running during June and July doesn’t mean that there’s not running stuff happening. It does have LOTS of planning and this year, late July is going to be crucial. My fall marathon of choice is the Flying Monkey Marathon on November 18th. My “alternate” marathon is the Chickamauga Marathon on November 10th. However, it is not that simple…

FMM LogoThe Flying Monkey Marathon is advertised as a marathon for fools. In fact, it is so foolish that training for the marathon is futile. Now, as someone who run the Flying Monkey marathon with little training, I agree. Flying Monkey is a marathon where you are going to get a PR if it happens to be your first marathon, and if it is your first marathon, that’s pretty foolish. However, the Flying Monkey marathon is super cool and sets the bar high to other marathons on how marathons should be organized and how to treat the runner. It’s so popular that it sells out fast. Real fast. Because of this, there is going to be some sort of lottery. What this tells me is that there is a chance I might not be chosen, therefore, I need a Plan B… so say hello to Chickamauga Marathon.

Chickamauga Marathon just happens to be the course of my current marathon PR time. It also does a great job of treating the runner right, it’s just not as sassy as Flying Monkey. A bonus for Chickamauga is that it’s less than 2 hours away, an easy day trip. Another bonus is that “I Run For My Life” Susan has Chickamauga on her short list. Except that if I am going to run Chickamauga, it’s going to be for business (PR time) not for a social outing.

These two race’s registration will collide together at the end of July. Flying Monkey is supposed to have their lottery toward the end of July or on the traditional day of Flying Monkey registration of August 1st. Chickamauga is having “early bird” registration through July 31st. It might be that I won’t to know if I am running Flying Monkey before Chickamauga goes up in price. If this is the case then I would need to register for Chickamauga and then see if I get into the Flying Monkey Marathon.

Worst case scenario, ‘I don’t get into Flying Monkey’, would be the easier of the two scenario as I would only have one fall marathon. Best case scenario, ‘I get into Flying Monkey’, would be the tougher because I would have 2 marathons within 8 days of each other. But for those of you who have been around, might remember that I ran a similar set up back in 2008, with Rutledge Marathon and Flying Monkey Marathon.

Either way, my Fall Marathon training will start on August 1st regardless of the number of marathons I will be running.



Marathon Uncertainty

There’s a dark cloud that has begun to loom over my plans of running a fall marathon. What’s worse is that time is running out, fast!

FMM Logo The Flying Monkey Marathon registration will open on August 1st at 8am Central. Being one of the privileged crazy people that have ran the race in the past, I get to register early. Last year, the regular registration filled up in 32 minutes. Heh, there’s lots of crazy people trying to run this race.

My problem lies in the fact that my running budget has a mere $20 in, basically enough to register for a 5k (more on that in a moment). So I don’t have enough for the registration fee… but I don’t have the funds for the other parts of running a marathon that are important but not always included: hotel, gas, gels, food, etc. And while I really really like this marathon, I do not want to go further into debt because of it.

One option is for me to run Chickamauga Marathon. It’s probably not going to sell out [Ed. Note: RATS! Apparrently it might just sell out early – *sigh*], so I have longer to work to get the registration fee. It’s just on the other side of Chattanooga, so it’s a day trip, not an over nighter. Now while the Chickamauga culture isn’t quite as dynamic as the Flying Monkey Marathon, they have in the past provided great sundries for the runners.

I also have the Be Not Afraid Project to think about as well. More on that in the future.


In reference to the 5k mentioned above, this event has sentimental value plus potential “good stuff” in December. In 1998, Feb 28th to be exact, is when I became a “Runner”. In that year, I ran as many 5ks that I could. Over the years, some of the 5ks became defunct or I missed running them do to travel, illness, injury, etc.

One 5k, however, is listed in my running history from 1998-2010, the Scholar’s Run 5k. In 1998, it was the 5k that set my PR time (not counting my first 5k) and in 1999, it was the 5k that I set the previous year by exactly 1 minute. Now, there have been years where my time has been relativity very slow but in those times, it has been coming off long periods of inactivity when running that 5k is the only speed work that I have done in weeks or even months. In 2001, it was my “Welcome Back” race from my hamstring injury I suffered that spring. For me, this race has a history.

The Scholar’s Run 5k has historically had a t-shirt design that I have not cared for very much. Typically, they go straight to donation. The Scholar’s Run 5k is a bigger part of a running triad: The Triple Crown of Running. It is race #2 of 3 races which if you run #1 (Spring Sprint) and/or #2 (Scholar’s Run) AND #3 Reindeer Run, you are entered into the Triple Crown of Running Door Prizes. Each of the prizes are at least $100, which motivates most in running the races.

So the question hangs: Do I run the Scholar’s Run 5k, there by depleting my running account and making funding a fall marathon much further? Were it a KTC race, then I would use the Volunteer Coupons that I earn for working the local races, but that is not the case. Decisions Decisions!


2010 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

2010 Flying Monkey Marathon

Percy Warner Park, Nashville TN

November 21, 2010 [ed. Note: I noticed that although I wrote the majority of this blog post 3 months ago, I am not finally finishing the Race Report exactly 6 months since I finished the race]

This was my 3rd Flying Monkey Marathon and once again, it did not disappoint! Despite the fact that my average weekly mileage was a pitiful 10.08 mile average over 16 weeks of training with the long run of 18 miles, it was still an awesome time. I will have to say that I would not recommend such a lean training program for the marathon unless, of course, it was because of necessity. However, the one thing that saved me was experience, not only with the race course, but also with the marathon. The 2010 Flying Monkey Marathon was my 17th Marathon start and with 1 (all important) DNF (Did Not Finish), I know what I can handle, how to handle and what to do if things start “not going well”.


The Theme of this year’s Monkey was “Groovy”… Monkey Groovy. Each year has a theme and this theme influences the Volunteer Shirts, Runner Shirts, Posters, Emails, etc… Seeing that it was the 5th Running of the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon (the official marathon title), the “groovy”, from my point of view, came from the peace sign “V”. Not only an awesome 1980’s Alien show, but also Intergalactic sign of ‘Peace’ (or ‘Victory’, or [Editor has removed his own content]), it was Monkey Groovy… Peace, Love and Hills.

Originally, I was supposed to travel with my Family Entourage, but something close to the Bubonic Plague had visited our house earlier in November and it was agreed that it would be best for me to fly solo to Nashville for the race. This was fine because I was having thoughts of 2009, when I arrived there on race day, I had just enough time to get my packet, find my number, shove everything else in a bag and get to the starting line right as the gun went off. Seeing that this was my 3rd time running, I was comfortable without having any personal crowd support while I was out running (again, another helpful experience tidbit). I drove to Nashville area the night before. I ended up catching up with a friend from Longwood who lived in the area and had dinner with her and her awesome family.

I had everything ready for Race Day ready to go in the hotel room. Since I knew there would be no chance for me to come back and shower, I had everything ready so that I would get ready for the race AND check out. So, what to do in hotel room the night before a race? Seeing that we have not had cable in our house since Sept 2009, the first thing I did was turn on ESPN and watched some College Football. Then just flipping through some channels, I found “Bloodsport” on Versus Channel. Ahhh, the great B- 1980’s movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme. The marathon is like Chong Li You break my record, now I break you, like I break your friend.… kicking the hell out of you, trying to beat you down into the ground… and you Frank Dux “You told me to use any tactic that works, never to commit yourself to one style, to keep an open mind!”, with everything stacked against you, have to find the inner strength to find a will to win. So with vision of Kumite in my head, I drifted off to sleep.


Race Day! Weather Forecast looked decent for the day, overcast, 50ish. However when the sun rose, there seemed to be an absence of clouds, it was pretty… but every marathoner knows that the unshielded Sun is one of the worst things possible for a race (really, for any distance but the longer the race the greater the exposure). I kept that in my mind… for race day strategy. At least most of the course has partial shade with the trees (with no leaves) but some stretches are fully exposed to wind and sun. Arriving at the Race Site, I found myself parking quite a bit further away then I thought. The race is growing in popularity, which is good, especially because I have faith that the Race Director (Monkey Trent) will not go “commercial” with this race, so more people running should equal more swag (and we get a nice Race Packet already!).

Enjoying the extra time from arriving onsite to having to be there for race start, I prepped the car for the most efficient post race experience. Putting things I would need for the car ride home in a logical (at the time) place and just plain taking it easy. With about 10 minutes to go, I headed up and got my Race Packet. One of the “neat” things about the Flying Monkey Marathon is that the first race number that you get is the race number you keep. So when I signed up in 2008, the “newbies” running bib numbers went from 400-599, and I was knighted with #438. So, I shall forever be Terry – 438. Oh, and the bibs are Personalized with your name as well and being Monkey Groovy, the running bib color was Tie-Dye with a nice “Groovy” font.

I got everything out that I needed for the race from my race bag and put it off to the side. I came prepared this year for the post-race with a Sponge Bob folding chair for a place to sit down after the race. Heading to the start line, it was time for the pre-race Marathon Maniac picture which is all the members of Marathon Maniacs running the marathon. I used the 2008 Flying Monkey Marathon in conjunction with the 2008 Rutledge Marathon to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs. I missed the picture in 2009 from my accounts earlier.

And then the race started and while this was my 17th marathon start, there was something VERY VERY different about this race. In fact, in the 12+ years that I have been a runner, this was the first race that I would run this way. And what is one of the Cardinal Rules of Marathon? “Never do anything new on race day”. This race, I was Chronologically Naked! I didn’t have a watch… and it was different… but not ‘bad’ different.

For years, I have worn a wrist watch… 24hrs a day, 7days a week. The only time that I would take it off is when I would put on a nice dress watch or the watch band I was wearing broke off. In either case, I would quickly put on another watch, because I have to know what time it is to help with my (and the kids) schedule. Sometime in September, I don’t really remember now, my watch band broke and, of course, the watch that I really really really like has a watch band that is not replaceable. Once it breaks, the only thing to do is to cut the band and fashion a pocket watch or something and get another one. In this case, we didn’t have the budget for a new watch… and with not having a backup, I had to rely on something else. For running, it turned out that while it was very awkward at first, it proved to be refreshingly new. I started timing my runs by using a Stopwatch App for my Palm Pixi to record the entire time I was away from my car. I didn’t want to carry it with me since I didn’t have a carrying case for it and while it’s not bulky, I didn’t want to have the hassle.

Without having the watch there during my training, I had to run based on feel and not necessarily be motivated/depressed based on my split times. During the marathon, not having a watch was not a problem as well. Since I wasn’t going to be setting any sort of Personal Course Records (based on my lack of training), I wasn’t worried about hitting time targets. There were a few people out there calling split times, so I was able to do some recreational math to pass the time as I tried to calculate my pace.

Since this post is grossly delayed, I am going to spare the Mile by mile details. I know, those are the most exciting parts… to see what kind of trouble I get myself in, yeah, yeah train wreck. One thing that I did notice was that around Mile 21, when I was pretty worn out, I was still mentally in the race. I remember running up a hill and being pleasantly pleased that I wanted to continue to run up the hill before I took a walk break where as the same spot in the previous year’s race, I was starting to get a little loony. And so as I approached Mile 25, it was time to switch into Finish Line Mode.


My Finish Line Mode is a component of racing that I train for almost each time I run. I have to give props to Matt Tartar of The Dump Runner’s Club for having a podcast episode about Finish Line (perhaps Episode #10?)  strategies that prompted me to put a bunch of pieces along with some things that he does into a unified strategy.  My strategy is the same basic sequence, but the longer the run, the longer my Finish Line Mode will take. Like anything with running, it has to be constantly tweaked and altered as needed because of weather, course, or my motivation.

I would be called a ‘Kicker’ if you were to label my running type.  I will reserve some amount of energy during the race and try to pool it together at the end for one last kick. The problem with Kickers is that you have to understand the relationship between your effort during the race with what you will be able to do at the end. There are times where you might think you have more in the tank and so you kick too early. Flash and burn. Then again, you might start too late and end at the finish line with a lot more in the tank. So what do you do? Practice! Of course. Both in actual races plus during training and that really helps during a race situation where you are trying to finish as best as you can.

My strategy goes pretty much in these phases which I am sure that at one time, I had official “labels” to them, but have slept since then. The first stage is Assessment of Self, how do I feel, what hurts, etc. The next stage is Assessment of Competition, who is ahead of me, who can I realistically catch, who is behind me. Once I have the information from those two stages, I then build a “plan”. Typically, up to this point doesn’t take too much time for long distance as you have plenty of time to contemplate you and the World and this race.

For this race, there was a group of 3 runners ahead of me around 50-60meters ahead of me. I wasn’t exactly sure if I could over take them, but that was my plan. Stage 3 is the Engage Stage. For the runners ahead of me, I tried to find the pace that they were running and increasing my pace so that I was gaining ground on them. One of the guys of the pack started to drift slower and soon fell back of the other 2. I approached to within 10 meters of them, but made sure I did not pass, as it was still too early and I didn’t think that I had enough energy to sustain a pass and any attempt to challenge.

The first and last 0.3 of the race is run on grass. Going out is not that big of an issue, but finishing, the uneven terrain can feel horrible for tired legs. Also, there is a big 90 degree turn around a tree for the final ~0.15 miles straight into the finishing chute. You can hear the finish line for the first time back around mile 25, then just after you get on the grassy part of the course, you can hear and SEE the finish line. Now on the grass I remained that 10 meters away, in my time following them, it seemed to be that one of them was running this race for the first time. The other runner was a seasoned runner and had run this course a couple of times and was running with his friend. Running on the grass felt much harder than usual, but I think it was a combination of being close to the finish line and trying to manage enough to pass them at the end.

The last stage consists of the final approach. It is one last inventory of what energy I had left, who was in front of me and when to let loose, i.e. “kick”. Emerging around the tree on the last turn, I could now focus on the finish chute, primarily the race clock. I started to lengthen my stride as I began to ready for the final push. At ~0.1 mile, I decided that was the time to kick. Lengthening my stride had put me at a faster pace and so I was covering the 10 meters the runners were in front of me fairly easily. They didn’t have any type of (obvious) plan to kick at the finish and so I passed them. But then I heard the more experienced runner tell his friend something and start to engage me to overtake me.

RATS! I hadn’t planned for a challenge! I had planned on getting to that pace and then passing with the intent to stay at that speed through the finishline. I didn’t think that I would need to speed up and honestly at that moment that I realized that it was a sprint to the finish, I wasn’t sure what to do. Could I maintain or would I crash and burn and BOTH runners pass me at the very end? Who knew, but this wasn’t a “fun run” marathon… it was a race.

After my mini-panic attack on being challenged, I tried to increase my speed to as fast as I could. I have NO idea how fast I was actually running, I’m sure it wasn’t as fast as it felt, but an all out sprint at the end of a marathon is tough when the last 26.1 miles you’ve run a 10-11 min pace and are now *uh-um* “sprinting” at a 8-9 min pace. Form, at this point, is not one of the first things you are thinking about, so everything is bouncing around as you try to keep breathing and ignoring that your legs are getting very very mad at you. The closer we came to the finish line, the runner behind me didn’t seem to be going away. RATS! I had to find another gear somewhere. How, I don’t know. Make one up! A mental gear. At this point, sure why not, sure there was absolutely NO fortune and glory for a sprint finish at this part of the race, even the photographer wasn’t taken pictures of finishers at this time.

So, in my mind, I forced myself to push “faster” and used a mental image of  me accelerating to fake running faster, at least to myself. My eyes were locked on the clock, I was still moving forward, my feet hadn’t tripped on anything, my legs despite objecting to this sprinting nonsense after a 26 mile warmup had not buckled, my lungs were trying to get any molecule of air that it could find, my heart was probably at a new max heart rate for me and then it was all over. I crossed the line.

Trying to be The Good Runner in the finisher’s chute, I ripped off the tag on my bib and held it up in air, for anyone, preferably someone with the race, to take from me. I was delusional trying to get oxygen, where was that ambulance? They have oxygen. I knew I had to keep moving forward to prevent my legs from taking advantage of loss of momentum and let gravity take over. Only half-delusional at this point, because I knew I had to get my finishers medal wherever they were, I kept moved passed the chute and POOF there was the volunteer with my finisher’s medal. Ah, the success of finishing… a finisher’s medal was all the fortune and glory that I needed. Now, with my breathing almost back to normal and some adequate blood flow back to my brain, I started to become more aware of the world around me. Oh, I’m cold; I need a sweatshirt. Oh, I’m thirsty; I need a beer. Oh, I’m hungry, a beer would help.

One of the things that I love about this particular race is the culture that the Race Director, Monkey Trent encourages and demands at this venue. While they were presenting the awards, when a runner or runners were nearing the finish line, he would say to us over his Bullhorn… “why aren’t you cheering? MONKEY! MONKEY! MONKEY!” until the runner(s) would cross the finish line. It’s expected whether you are an Elite, and middle-back of the pack runner or a Volunteer.

Mark Your Calendars! November 20, 2011

Registration is on August 1st at 8am CST, if you try to register at 8:33am CST based on the 2010 registration, you will be too late, you have been warned.