2009 Flying Monkey Marathon Race Report
Location: Percy Warner Park, Antioch TN
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.
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!
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 ½ to ¾ 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]