Tag Archives: harpeth hills marathon

(marathon) is a Battlefield

“We are gone, mile to mile we run
No promises, no demands
The marathon Is A Battlefield”

-with apologies to Pat Benetar

For the fall marathon season, I was in a slight quandary about what to do. The marathon that I really (really, really, really) wanted to do, Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon [Nashville, TN], switched their registration process from a fast and furious open registration to a weighted lottery process. Thus, I was not assured that I could be able to register for the event.

With registering for Flying Monkey in doubt, I didn’t want to be left high and dry without a marathon to run. I was concerned that by the time I found out if I got into the Flying Monkey or not, my other candidate, Chickamauga Marathon [Chickamauga, GA], would be sold out. Also, the early registration (i.e. cheaper) for Chickamauga was going to end BEFORE I could even enter the lottery for Flying Monkey much less find out if I had made it.

So, I went ahead and registered for the Chickamauga Marathon so that I would know that I had a fall marathon on the schedule. Training could begin on August 1st and all would be good with the world while I waited for Flying Monkey. When the Flying Monkey lottery opened up, I made sure that I registered first thing. After all, maybe some of the weight of the lottery was how quickly you put your name into the lottery.

So I know now my fate with running the Flying Monkey. I will be running Flying Monkey on Nov 18th. What about Chickamauga you ask? What about everything? I will be running Chickamauga on Nov 10th. Yes, 8 days apart… but it is okay… I am a professional and I have a plan.

 

The change of plans have been changed part 2

In my relatively recent post titled Marathon Uncertainty, I wrote about 2 different scenarios that dealt directly with my running. One was the lack of funds to register for the Flying Monkey Marathon in November and the other one was on whether I should run the Scholar’s Run 5k to continue the streak of running it every year since 1998 and I had the funds.

In regards to Flying Monkey, I’m sad that I won’t be able to run it this year. I need to contact the race director to see if allowed past runners to register early, because after thinking about it, I never received any emails from him talking about registering for the race, how tough the course is, why training is futile, blah blah blah.

But instead of crying monkey tears, I quickly looked around to see what other possible races I could run. They had to meet some basic criteria. One, I wanted something more than a 1/2 marathon, but would be open to running one if that is all that was available. Two, cheaper the better since there’s no corporate sponsors trying to woo my athletic prowess at the moment. Email me if you are a corporate sponsor looking for a marketing pawn at races. Will Run for Cash (or other shiny things). Three, as close to home as possible. Since we are living by a strict budget (no more slush fund marathons), I have consider costs such as gasoline and lodging (of course, by myself… sleeping in the car at race start is perfectly cool with me. I lived out of my Celica for a month in 1993 when I worked in Nags Head, NC).

So far, nothing has stuck. There’s Chickamauga Marathon, but it’s close to $80 and according to their website, registration is closed. So that one is out. There’s the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL which has been on my list of “Marathons to Run” for a while now. It’s only $50 through Sept and $60 through October, so for a marathon it’s registration cost is reasonable. Only thing is that it’s about a 4 hour drive, so would need to budget for logistics.

I’ve also started looking at the spring marathons. There’s the Knoxville Marathon, which would be pretty darn close. It’s $65 through end of November and I do have a score to settle with the course as the last time I ran it as an Official Pacer, I had my only (but very valuable) DNF.

Another contender is the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February. Although the logistics are much more complicated (i.e. airfare), it’s where most My Lovely and Talented Wife’s side of the family lives. Plus race weekend corresponds with when David-In-Law will be upgrading his eldest son to Version 13.0 (What? Seriously?). It’s $75 through October 17th, then goes up to $95. We can get ridiculously cheap airfare tickets through Allegiant Air from TYS to MYR by jumping through all of their hoops to actually get the cheap seats but we have to act quickly.

As for the Scholar’s Run 5k, I did not run that race thereby ending all the consecutive runnings of any one race since I started running in 1998. And since I didn’t run the Scholar’s Run, the incentive to run the Reindeer Run 5k in December would only be for actual training benefits and not all the cool swag that is offered in the Triple Crown of Racing door prizes.

2009 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

2009 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

Date 11.22.2009

Location: Percy Warner Park, Antioch TN

Abstract

This was my second consecutive running of this race, and while I was excited about the event, I was grossly undertrained. With low motivation in August, when training was supposed to start, to a sliced heel in September and then in early November, a mysterious chest congestion which produced some amount of phelghm, I hardly was able to train like I wanted, or how I should! Regardless, I was signed up, even pleading after the race had filled up to capacity to be an entrant, so I was going to run the race even if was the death of me. [ed. Note since I am writing this, I did not die, although I would have been nice monkey fodder if they knew my state on the course]. The race was a nice tie-in to our trip to California, we were flying out of Nashville and so we would be in Nashville the day before our flight which, in theory, should make the flight easier for the whole family.

Pre-Race

Having the advantage of running this race previously, I knew when and where the race start would take place. This logistic point would be very important, as when I go to the race site, I had about 4 minutes until race start. We used reward points to stay at our hotel, which was actually the second time that I had used points to stay at a hotel for a race.

At the hotel, I got ready for the race and did most of my pre-race ritual. I tossed my clothes that I was going to use in the race near my race bag. I pinned my gels (4 ACCEL gels 2-Key Lime, 2-Orange) to my shorts. I found that I had to do this the night before, because doing that when you are rushing around doing this leads to getting poked with the safety pins!

Race Morning

There’s always anxiety and anticipation on race morning… and for a while, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t under trained for this race. I was having delusions of grandeur of coming in under my bib number (#438) at 4 hours sub-38 minutes. Then I was distracted with having to get the kids ready to take me to the race. I felt pretty decent about the amount of food that I ate for breakfast… which was mainly oatmeal, but I had saved some chicken for some protein.

Even though we sorta knew where the race was, we still used the GPS to get us there. I was getting pretty nervous as the estimated GPS arrival time was getting dangerously close to the race start time… and I had to use the bathroom (just #1).

My Lovely and Talented wife drove me through the parking, up to where the bridge was which connected to the race festivities. I hopped out of the van, said a few quick good-byes and headed to get my stuff.

I somewhere around 4 minutes from the time that I left the van until the race gun went off. I hurried to the registration table, got my goods and my bib number. Being in a state park does hold some advantages. There’s basically hundreds of places to use the bathroom.

The weather wasn’t fore-casted to be all that great, possible rain, but it was surely overcast and the temperature not all that warm… just about perfect for a marathon. The race director was warning us runners (although he is foolish to run as well) of all the hazards of the park and running… so I knew that it would be just a few seconds. And it was, because we were off!

Mile 1 Who is the more foolish? The fool or the fool that follows?

I probably had one of the best starts to the marathon that I ever had. I wasn’t shooting off like a rocket, since I wasn’t planning on making any crazy attempts at a course PR. The first to of a mile is long reprieve of being relatively flat, that probably helped too.

Mile 4 Battling against that is more like… suicide

I had another delusion since I had started off so well, that even up the first section of hills, I felt steady in my pace. I knew that the split times would vary from mile to mile, given the hills, but I felt great. At least for the first 8 or 9 miles

Mile 13.1 Will he finish where he begins?

As the race started, I decided that I would make race strategy would be to run the first half of the marathon as best as I could, trying to keep a 10:30ish pace. I had even factored in some time buffer time so that my goal time to cross the half-way time would be near 2:30. Then, I would change strategies and switch to the run-walk.

Crossing at 2:34 and knowing that I was past the point where I would be able to hold up my desired pace. I decided to do a 4 minute walk/ 1 minute walk and somehow, I was able to set my watch’s interval timer to do this. So, there I was… 4 minutes run, 1 minute walk and I was still in great spirits even knowing that I would be past 5 hours.

Mile 15 Curse my blasted circuits, I wasn’t fast enough

There’s one difficulty with the run-walk method… when you are really hurting, it’s hard to transition from the walk back to the run. I’m not a huge fan of switching from running to slowing down to a walk, especially on a hilly course, because it makes up hills longer and down hills harder on the knees. However, I wasn’t not going to deny myself of any walk breaks… so if I was in run mode and came to a water stop, I was walking through to refill my bottle… and if my watch signaled that it was time to walk just after the water stop… oh well.

Mile 20 I won’t give up! I am not afraid! Oh, you will be, you WILL BE!

The proverbial Wall of Mile 20 had come much earlier, but still there is something special about reaching the 20 mile mark. It’s the end of the warm-up for the 10k that you are running! And while this spot of a marathon has it’s own evil influence over the psyche of runners, I look to a different sci-fi movie as my mantra for Mile 20, The Matrix.

When Neo is finding out if he is The One (a similar title that Qui-Gonn Jin heralded Anakin, in The Phantom Menace) , he is an apartment room which children who see to have some special abilities. One of the kids is bending a spoon with their thought which leads to the phrase There is no spoon. Hence, at Mile 20, There is no Wall.

Mile 22 The circle is now complete, when I left you I was the apprentice. Now I Am the Master!

The Mile 22 marker is one of my favorite signs. Double-Deuce! Only 4 miles away… and it’s at this point that you can start to estimate finishing time. I knew that it wasn’t going to be anything to write home about, but still a refreshing sight.

One thing that I hadn’t expected was that I was well hydrated. Despite being deep into the race, I had an urge to use the bathroom that did not go away after a mile or two. Again, I took advantage of being in a State Park.

Mile 24 Help Me Obi-wan Kenobi, you are my only hope!

This was probably my worst mile from an attitude point of view. I knew the terrain ahead, I knew how I was feeling and was starting to lose focus on the race. At this point, I was alone on the course, with no runners ahead that I could see. I started to get myself focused on the finish, despite the fact that I wasn’t going to finish with the time that I wanted, I was still going to go through my normal finish ritual.

Mile 25 The Force is strong with this one

There’s one volunteer that you pass twice that you enjoy seeing. He gets to see you early and at the end. So when you see him the second time, you know that you are close to the finish line. It also helps

Mile 26 Echo Base, this is Rogue 2, I found [him]. Repeat, I found [him]

Mile Splits

1 10:19

2 10:45

3 11:46

4 12:14

5 10:58

6 12:41

7 10:22

8 12:05

9 11:16

10 12:16

11 11:55

12 11:58

13 14:23

13.1 2:34:35

14 13:17

15 14:00

16 11:59

17 13:38

18 14:37

19 12:56

20 16:17

21 13:52

22 13:39

23 13:05

24 11:22

25 11:57

26 13:14

26.2 5:31:58

Catching Up

The past 2 weeks have been pretty busy for me… and I am going to post an abbreviated post while I work on the more lengthy stories about our Adventures!

Flying Monkeys: I finished the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon in the SLOWEST time ever for a marathon, a 5:31:58. I am not upset with this at ALL. Because you have to remember that I ran this on 11/22/2009 and the last time that I had ran was on 11/06/2009 because of sickness! I was in a good mental (other than being a marathon maniac) form for the entire race, I almost had to be in order to survive. My legs weren’t all that happy with me though… I don’t have the audio recorded yet, but am working on the outline of what I want to say about the marathon.

The day after the marathon, we flew to California (LA Area) for My Lovely and Talented Wife’s Sister’s wedding. We missed our first flight which left the rest of the day to waiting lists and mayhem, but we finally made it to California, after a couple of stops across the country. I was there, not only as part of the wedding family, and that The Younger was the Ring Bearer in the wedding, but I was shooting parts of the wedding events where the “professional” photographer wouldn’t be. There was actually a time where I filled in for the Professional Photographer while he was busy somewhere else. I brought Stella (my Canon DSLR) and AV-1 (1980s 35mm SLR) along with my hand held digital camera. The fun part was being the Interviewer for Melanie-In-Law and Joe-In-Law for a pre-wedding interview. So, I had my camcorder with me as well! I am now in the process of consolidating my pictures along with My Talented and Lovely Wife’s pictures so that I can send the Married Couple their pictures.

Work has been keeping me busy as well. I am in the process of creating another database that looks at ARRA construction and so I have been in the trials and tribulations of getting that worked out as well because on Thursday, I am traveling to Washington DC for work as well, 2 days of workshops. More airplanes…

I do have a race this weekend, the Reindeer Run 5k, this is one of my normal annual runs that I like to do. Usually since it follows a marathon in November, I don’t always run as fast as I “think” I should run it… but the door prizes are usually pretty good. It’s just a matter of winning some of them!

An update longer than 140 Characters

SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! FLYING MONKEYS! RUNNERS! HILLS! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!

It’s Race Week, and I have been getting anxious… more than I have in the past (except for 2009 Knoxville Marathon). The Race that I am running is the 4th Annual (A New Hope) Flying Monkey Marathon run in the “rolling” hills of Percy Warner Park just outside of Nashville, Tn. Like any of my marathons, I am very excited about it, but I am holding some reservation on getting too excited. When I get to excited, I get delusions of grandeur and when I get delusions of grandeur, I get stoopid. Usually this comes in the form of “temporarily forgetting” the amount of training that I have completed before a marathon. I have yet to train adequately for ANY of marathons, despite the passion for running them, I find myself not having enough time to get it all in. Sometimes it is that clever avoidance technique that has me miss runs or cut runs down in length. THIS time was supposed to be different. Oh, and it was… just not in a “good” way.

What was supposed to be around a 15-16 week multi-moderate distance (16-18 miles for long runs), ended up being a sporadic shorter distance 5-6 week training plan. With the “Taper” being NO running because of chest congestion issue that I didn’t want to inflame to pneumonia or something in that neighborhood. As of today’s chest x-ray (part of my annual physical exam) my lungs are clear and my symptoms are gone. I am being to believe that my issue was 50% cold and 50% allergies. While I did have a slight sore throat, I never had a fever, but was really tired for a number of days… one of which I slept close to 18 hours. I kept having a cough with some phelghm with little improvement. Last week, I did an overhaul of the kids bedroom, thinking that they were having allergy issues, and I felt better, but I still had the cough.

In running, there are a few Rules of Thumb that most people abide by. One of them is the 10% Rule, which is used for different aspects of running. I don’t necessary follow (but understand the logic and reasoning behind it) the 10% Rule for Weekly Mileage: Thou Shalt not increase weekly mileage by more than 10% of the previous week’s mileage or suffer the wrath of INJURY. I do follow the Sickness Rule… if your cold symptoms are Above the Neck, You Can Run; If Below, Don’t!

Since I still having the cough, I took an Allegy med late Sunday and in a few hours felt much better. Monday, I was feeling MUCH MUCH better, but I still had “The Cough”. On Wednesday (which is yesterday as I type this), I only had times where I felt the need to cough and the volume of phelghm was smaller and smaller. Today, I have only coughed once, with minimal results. Plus, verification from the doctor who not only saw my Chest X-ray, plus listened to my breathing said he couldn’t find anything. So, I feel that I am Free and Clear now. But where does that leave me?

###

Over in the STRAT3GY MARATHON ROOM, the debate on “How to Run the Marathon” is being discussed. There are 3 different methods being debated. The consensus is that it will not “Be Raced” but that leaves the questions, ” How Shall it be Run?”

  1. Race It
  2. Start Running and Hope for the Best
  3. Tortoise and Hare method (Run-Walk)

You might think that this marathon situation is new to the Planet3rry Universe of Running, but you would be mistaken. I have encountered a very similar situation back in 2002. I was on a project in Lake Charles, LA when it went from going okay to “uh-oh”. The tritium clean-up we soon discover would take longer (it ended up being 3 weeks longer) and that left me the opportunity to run the Mardi Gras Marathon. Previous to the Mardi Gras Marathon, I had run the Strawplain Half-Marathon the week before and cumulative mileage for 2002 up to the Mardi Gras Marathon was 40 miles. I was in the “Rest” mode coming off my PR performance at the 2001 Richmond Marathon (November 2001). I was at the Mardi Gras Marathon where I perfected my “Marathon Survival Mode”. I knew that since I had little to no training, plus running with a friend for the first Half of the marathon, but by myself the rest of the way, that I would need to be “Slow and Steady” for the entire race. The course is ridiculously flat. Seriously, the ONLY incline that we went over was a man-made bridge that rose to 10′ or so over a culvert, which we ran over twice. Other than that, it is FLAT! But too much of one thing is not always good. While it was flat, you use the same muscles over and over and over, with no reprieve given from rolling (i.e. gentle) hills. So my deficit in training miles was also amplified from the fact that we were in New Orleans the night before. If there was any carbo-loading, it was from the sugar in the alcohol. Plus, we didn’t get to hotel until later in the evening early morning leaving the amount of sleep to a few hours. But, I one of the maxims that I use is that it is not the Night Before the Race where sleep is important, it’s the ‘Night BEFORE the Night Before’ the Race that counts.

Despite the fact that the Mile 4 water stop was grossly unmanned for the number of runners demanding water, nor the fact that at the Mile 9 water stop, it had either NEVER been staffed or had been abandoned because there were two 6-foot table with packages of cups and two trash cans of liquid for you to “Self-Serve”, I still had a decent first Half-marathon. By Mile 14 I was starving, which means “It’s TOO late for fueling, eat and wish for the best”, I started to succumb to the fatigue and began shifting into my survival mode. At first, it was purposely walking through water stops and food tables to maximize my intake of solids and liquids. At Mile 21, I had shifted into stopping to massage and stretch my legs after each water stop (now a mile apart). Near Mile 24, I had created a simple stretch routine that would give my legs a breather while being quick to perform it. And then at mile 26, I had gone through my Finish Line “procedure/technique” and knew the point where I could go “full throttle” to the Finish Line. My finish time was 4:38:14, which was a surprise to me since I knew that I wasn’t going to “race” it. My original Race Report of the Mardi Gras Marathon can be found here.

Here’s my Mile Split Times from last year’s Flying Monkey Marathon

Miles of (s)miles
I should match this with the Course Elevation Map!

So what does that leave me to believe that I can do? I am not too sure!

Septeremember Continued

My Running in September took a HUGE hit! And right in Marathon Training too. My total mileage for September was 4 miles. That’s right FOUR miles, just the same number of letters as the letter “four” which is one more than 3 and one less than 5. Why? Why you ask on how, in weeks 5-8 of marathon training that I would be held back to only 4 miles. Two main reasons: Self-Deprecating Attitude and Injury.

I’ll address the Self-Deprecating Attitude (SDA). Coming off of the Flying Pig Marathon in May, I thought that I would be more excited on continue some maintenance runs during the summer, so that come August 1st, I’d be ready to go for the Niagara Falls International Marathon. Well, a couple things happened, that while none by themselves were bad things, combined, they really threw me off. I hate to imagine what would of happened, if I wasn’t on my meds and that’s more for those around me.

One factor was that our Our Reliable and Resourceful Au Pair moved out of the house to live with her fiance. The effect that this had was the disappearance of Terry Day: A Near 4 Hour Excursion Time for Me to Do What I Need to Do at My Own Pace, which pretty much killed my Weekday Mid-Distance runs. I could have done them after the kids were in bed, but after working all-day, then coming home and doing the whole kid thing, it wouldn’t be until 7:30 or when I would get the first chance to relax and so often I would be too tired to want to run, knowing that I only had a little time to work on some of the stuff at the house. Since I was tired at night, I would try to catch up with things in the morning, thus making me late for work, so instead of working out at lunchtime, I would make up the time at lunchtime, since I couldn’t make it any other time, or be forced to take personal time for it.

Another factor was finances. During the summer we decided/ forced to move to a stricter budget. While we could still pay our bills, every month were still coming up short for stuff like Groceries and Gas (which would be put on a credit card). So we started making some difficult cuts to our lifestyle and one of them was to forego the Niagara Falls Marathon. Since we were going to going to California for Thanksgiving for a Family Wedding, the tickets for that alone for 4 were over $1200, not to mention the drive to Nashville and parking. That’s a rather sizable chunk, especially we knew we would have to pay for hotel in Cali for our stay… also having to pay for Food and a Rental Car and Wedding Incidentals. I was pretty darn bummed that I wouldn’t be able to do the Niagara Falls Marathon since you ran in two different countries! The Free Entry Fee ($60) was insignificant to the cost of the hotel, travel, etc. However, the ever fun Flying Monkey Marathon fit very nicely with our California Trip. We could drive to Nashville the weekend prior to the trip, I could run the marathon on Sunday and we would already be there for the flight out. We’d also be able to use our Priority Club Points (Holiday Inn Family) to stay in Nashville for Free. So the only increased cost of the race would be the entry fee and the residual cost of training.

The “residual cost” of training was offset on the morning of September 18th, when I was getting some eggs for the refrigerator in the Garage. While trying to get to the fridge, I stepped on an electrical cord with my left foot, which I knew from the pain (and I have a high pain tolerance) that it was cut. But Fridays are French Toast Days for Breakfast and it’s wildly popular in the household. If there is not French Toast in the morning, there is alot of crying and begging and upset people in our household. When I came back in, the heel of my foot was tender, but when I did the “Take A Regular Step too See How Much Blood Is There” severity test, there was hardly any blood at all. I thought that I was home free. HAH! Good one there.

The injury that I sustained was an approximately 2 inch incision on my left heel which was near where my foot stride initially lands. This means that all my weight would land it first, ouchie. Another characteristic about the cut was it such an angle that it only cut into a couple of layers of skins. Having thicker skin on my feet, along with the angle, the cut didn’t penetrate very far, which is why there wasn’t much blood visible with the initial testing. Also the angle was good that it didn’t penetrate too far to mess with any of the muscles or ligaments in the foot, else I would be really screwed and not in Fun and Exciting way. I went around the weekend as usual but my foot was hurting. After 2 days, I inspected the injury, and there were 2 pieces of skin that were flapping around which was the source the sharp pain. So, I broke out my Time-Life Book Series on Home Surgeries and with a pair of toe nail cutters (don’t worry, they were sanitized) I took off those flaps of dead skin. The sharpness went away, but not the pain.

Now that it was in the week, I went though a regiment of bandaging up the wound with antibiotic and kept as clean as I can keep the bottom of my feet. The gash was starting to heal and there was about an 1/8″ wide opening that still needed to close up. I was asked if I had needed stitches, but that wouldn’t have worked that well because the gash was too wide, and it didn’t go very deep either, it’s just that the heel has tough skin and doesn’t grow back very quickly, especially when you walk on it. Things were going well… until I showered.

Although I wasn’t stinky anymore, the shower had softened up the area and the tenderness was back! It had been about a week or so since the injury and now I was back at Square 5: I was beginning to be able to put full weight on it. Now, I couldn’t and that pretty much shot running the weekend of the 26th. With another round of bandages and antibiotics, it was around Sept 30th, that I could finally put my full weight on my foot and walk normally. It had healed up enough that only pressing on my heel with significant force, that I could feel the injury. So, on October 2nd, I ran for the first time since September 12th, when I ran with Brian Wilson, my friend, not the Beach Boy or Canadian President.

The cool thing about making my entrance back into running was that this was the first time that The Younger was coming to run on his bike. Since he mastered riding his bike without training wheels this past June, I have been itching to take just him running. I wasn’t sure if he’d last the 2 miles, but he did just fine. I was running with Brian again, his class was finished and he was leaving that morning. I stayed home from work to spend a little time with him and his wife Dori before they left. The Younger only crashed once, but that was because he got to close to me and hit my leg, causing him to crash… ego hurt more than anything. So, I’ll be able to take him on other excursion with him and just his bike in the future. Later that day, he was a little tired and was constantly hungry!

So with those 2 things doing a double-whammy on my running, I ended up with 4 miles of running September and so far this month, I have 2 miles in October. This weekend is the World Wide Festival of Races, and I have ALL intentions to complete the Half-Marathon distance! I have 6 weeks until race day, and so, I need to play my cards carefully, so that when it comes to the marathon, I won’t be too destroyed. The Flying Monkey Marathon isn’t known to be runner friendly with the hills. But Me Likey Hills!

Understudy Runner

All HOPE is not lost… yesterday I found A New Hope…”Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.”

I found this through the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon Forum, we I had finally come to accept that I wouldn’t be running in the Flying Monkey Marathon. Shortly after my post, I had a reply from the Race Director.

Monkey Trent: You want to be put on the waiting list?

Me: HELL YEAH!

So there may be a Flying Monkey’s chance that I WILL be able to run on November 22nd. The Question is… WHEN will I know if I get called to service? Ooooo, I love a good mystery. I better start getting that training program together and ACTUALLY start running again.

Here is a link to the Forum Topic

2008 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report

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…