Mystery Mountain Marathon

3 11 2008

elevation profile etc click here

This run would be technically my first marathon, and it was my good friend Trevor’s first time to go this distance. We woke up around 5 am on Sunday to start fueling ourselves for the event. It was surprisingly easy to get out of the bed, I think mainly because we were housing 5 dogs at the time. Trevor brought his, we had our normal 3 and we have a visitor for a few months, O-dog, who is wintering in Atlanta instead of North Carolina.

We started our fueling with a few hard boiled eggs, which I think I am going to have to remove form my pre race/ long run regimen, as the thought of them right now makes me feel sick. We loaded the truck with Java in tow for the race. He was antsy on the drive up as he most likely thought he was going to spend the day in the Cohuttas instead of on a leash at an aid station, assisting Corinne, who is out currently because of a twisted morphed ankle. In spite of all that she still showed her full support by volunteering not only to drive us home but work the aid station as well.

We made it up to Ellijay in almost record time and were on the ridge top on Highway 52 in time to see the sun peak over the ridge with a golden amber that would inspire most poets to write line upon line, and may come up with something like “Nature’s first green is gold.” Oh well ponyboy back to the subject at hand, the marathon.

We arrived about 50 minutes before race time and received our race packets in record time. We suited up in our race clothes, thanked Corinne for being our chaperone for the day and volunteering for the race in general. We listened to the pre race instructions, took a pre race photo and headed to the starting line.

We started in the parking lot down at the lake for the only flat part of the course for the day, and we leap frogged a few people exchanging positions for this first mile or so and crossed a road and were greeted by the Race Director, one sicko named Janice Anderson, and the course marker Jason Rockman, who assured us we were looking good. That’s good to know, one mile in and we look ok, so far so good. Once you crossed the road any idea of the word flat was suddenly stricken from the vocabulary. The hills during this first part were not too terrible, and most of the challenges thinking about them were taken away by the overall beauty of the surroundings or talking with Trevor. The first few miles of the trail consisted of rocky, rooty, singletrack and kept you focused on the trail, but in the rare instances I would steal a view to my left, looking out over the valley of holly creek near Chatsworth it was amazing, it was like running along some panoramic shot of the Fall in Appalachia. The view was so amazing it did not seem like it was real.

After being treated to spectacular scenery we were then charged for those views on the climb up to the tower at about mile 5. This was the first time the hills had made it through my adrenaline and I was able to feel them. The feeling, well it hurt, but it hurt in that really good way. The hills kept coming and the scenery deep in the forest away from the long range view was just as good. At some point we saw a couple of deer pass by, but it was somewhere near an uphill so the sight of deer was not of my concern. What was of my concern was keeping the contents of my stomach in my stomach. I thought I had my pre race nutrition dialed in, but apparently I need to do some more lab work concerning that. I managed thanks to Trevor a couple of shot bloks and kept them in my mouth for a few miles, but could not bear to swallow them as my stomach was sending warning signals. I made it to the next aid station at about mile 7 with a half eaten shot block and I forced myself to eat some pretzels and pringles and avoid anything sweet. I got the food down, albeit with some difficulty. Trevor looked at me a few times, hoping that I would toss my cookies, as it would have upped the entertainment value for the day, but somehow I managed to hold on. For about a mile I was not so sure about the race but shortly after that battle things got good for a while. We stayed the course on rolling hills and leap frogged a few positions with people until we got to the aid station at about mile 11.

We took a look at that hill, grabbed a few gels and started our way up the hill. I call it the hill because I recently read a report about infamous hills in races like the Peachtree and how they were a big challenge to the motivation of a runner. I am not sure why this would demotivate anyone, as Trevor and I exchanged thoughts about what kind of sick person would think to throw this hill in the middle of the race. Spot on! This climb is not as ridiculous as it looks, however it is still a swift kick and it was not even the hardest climb of the day. Once you crest out you start the most ridiculous downhill along a powerline with a great view of the clear valley floor about 1200 feet below. You cruise down at this gradient for a little over a mile. My toes were attempting to escape the front of my shoes. I have never been so happy for a down hill to end in all my life. I always thought downhills were a nice diversion from the gruelling grind of a good climb, but I have found that I much prefer going uphill…  

I’ll tell the rest of the story later, but needless to say the day was spectacular and we finished 13th overall.  Not bad for a first marathon!, However the lead guys finished about an hour and 45 minutes in front of us.  I think they were on motorcycles.