Dont you hate those stories that start in the middle and then go back to the beginning? I am so far
so, two weeks before, I decide to do the Grandfather Mtn Marathon. I know, smart huh. Jyst wait until I go back in time. I knew my time wouldnt be stellar, I just wanted to finish, say id done the race. The race started at Appalachian State in Boone and ended on Grandfather Mtn at the Highland Games. How epic is that? There was a time limit, 6 hours (or 6.5, never got that straight) you had to finish by 12 to cross the finish line, they broke it down for the games. Im not going to lie, I wanted that finish line finish but didnt really think I had it in me. Just finishing would be great.
We started at 6:30 am with a half mile around the track, then off we went for a little downhill, then up, up, down, up, up, down, and at 13 miles just up. I felt sleepy and lethargic first half of the race, but was able to run with Alice about 11 miles. We were averaging right under 11 min mile but my legs were already beginning to hurt. I switched to run/walk, inevitable with that uphill. Thank you heavenly lady with watermelon. But at 17 miles the dreaded cramp so bad I couldnt move (you will hear much more about cramps later) my leg or foot. All the sudden, racers all around me helping, offering tylenol, salt, bio freeze ( I will carry that forever now) and one runner gave me a message, seriously, amazing. Then one runner informed me, sadly, that I would not be winning the race, to take it easy. Haha, she was joking around (well, I wasn't going to win but she was just being funny).
Surprisingly I took her advice, after a couple of minutes of not. I was hobbling and trying to run on when I heard someone behind me say, "yeah, I'm fighting that too." Turns out he had done the marathon several other times and was walking off some cramps. We talked and walked for about 5 to 10 minutes then he went on his way. I walked a little more, then gave running a try. At first I was walking more than running, but I was getting it done. Getting passed but getting it done. I continued this way, passing through several aid stations. Then I realized I was at mile 22 and I was running more than walking on the steepest part. I also could tell by my watch that a finish line finish was still achievable. Then I started passing people back. With about two miles left I passed the first guy I talked to back. Everyone who knew I had been hurting was cheering me on. Kept making me feel stronger and stronger. Would look at my watch and hitting 9 to 10 mph on speed uphill running. I was going to do this and finish strong.
Half a mile left, Alice is standing there cheering me on. Starting to cramp again but am determined. Then, Mark is there, running beside me. I cut into the parking for the highland games and go up another hill...finish line! After I run the track I am informed. It's time to find that something you save inside. Pick up those feet, try not to look like you are dying and in pain and try not to cramp as you run a quarter mile around a track with everyone watching. Halfway around the bag pipe marching band is coming the other way. Amazing as I run past them, pick up my feet a little more. Then there it is, the finish line. 5 hours 21 minutes. Not fast by any means, but I am so proud of the strength and determination I found in myself again. My favorite marathon by far. I'll do it again.
The strength I found in this race led me to my next decision, which I had been doubting my abilities.
I signed up for my first 50 Mile Ultra. The last Saturday in September, Table Rock 50 Mile Ultra. Holy crap on a cracker.... :-)