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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Race Report: Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon

I have to be honest, the only real reason I signed up for this race this year, was so that I'd have a cool veteran tech tee (for every Monkey Marathon you run, you get a "Monkey Kill" printed on the sleeve. Very cool and smartest thing a race director can do to lure you back into doing a stupid marathon).

I was, however, looking forward to this race. Because, yes, I'm a masochist.

Race morning found me up and about at 5:45 am (yay! I got to sleep in!) and with a headache. I immediately took some ibruprofen (which I never do) and ate my breakfast of a Luna Bar (note to self: stop eating yogurts, bananas, toast and any other weird things you've tried before marathons... just eat an energy bar and call it a day. It's plenty of fuel) and drank some water while I got dressed and ready. I had my outfit planned out... short sleeve Big Sur shirt, nike tempo shorts, visor. I was good to go. I also packed a bag with a full change of clothes, gatorade, water bottle and I grabbed a couple of packs of shot blox to carry with me.

I made two trips to my car. One, to carry the Monkey cupcakes I made for the race:
And then to carry my bag down and I was off to the race. I decided to leave pretty early. I was already up and ready, and since the weather was pretty mild, I knew I wouldn't mind waiting around and talking to people.

Before the race I caught up with Matt, Melanie, and Liz and we started the race together.

First things first... I felt pretty bad the first 6 miles or so. I knew it was just taking me awhile to get warmed up, but the last thing I wanted to do when I started was run a whole marathon. My legs were just not in it. Once we tackled one of the biggest hills in the park and my quads started hurting, I started feeling like maybe today wouldn't be my day.

This year I could definitely tell that there were a lot more people running the race. It seemed like we were never alone, which was cool. We unknowingly spread our posse out the entire length of the road, which was rude, yes, but it also came in handy when we wanted to intimidate other runners from passing us. That's how we roll. We take these non-certified races seriously, bitches! (In actuality, the mood just felt like a training run and none of us really thought about it, until we heard someone grunting behind us, wanting to pass our slow asses).

At mile 9 my watch told me that my lap times were full (I had no idea I had to manually delete these, I thought they deleted when I uploaded onto my computer). The good news is that my watch continued to keep the mileage and the overall time on the display, but I had to hit enter to clear a warning message and the message only went away for a split second. So, I couldn't just look down at my watch and easily see the distance or time. It worked out fine, though.

One problem for me early on, was that I didn't memorize the water station stops. And so for the first 11 miles or so, I didn't take any shot blox. Everytime we'd happen upon a water station and I'd think, Shit! I should've eaten some shot blox before this stop. Finally, around mile 11 or 12 I saw a station far enough in advance that I was able to eat some and I continued eating them through the rest of the race. And as much as I hate to say it, because I used to like to think of myself as a badass purist who didn't need no stinking race fuel, shot blox help me a LOT. Especially on warm days like Sunday (it was in the 60s on Sunday!).

We were cruising along and the miles started to go by faster and faster. We started taking it easy on some of the uphills, as we were all trying to reserve a little and I felt like the breaks were short enough to not mess with our time, but long enough to really get some benefit from. They were perfect.

We hit the half-way point in 2:15.

It was around this time that I started to get a bit nervous. Last year, I started burning around miles 16-18 and was never able to get over the hump. And I honestly didn't expect this year to be any different. My training this year was very similiar to last years, I haven't been running particularly fast or feeling well on my runs. I fully expected for the last 10 miles or so to be a real struggle, mentally and physically.

We hit the big water station around mile 19 and I saw my neighbor and a friend of his! I stopped and talked to them for a few minutes and it was at that time that I realized, that it should be fairly reasonable to expect to beat my time from last year. I was pretty excited, but stayed reserved... afterall.. I still had 7 miles to go and the one of the hardest parts of the course was coming up immediately.

We took off again and I remembered going up that hill last year. Last year, I walked up the entire thing! This year, I realized I was feeling fairly decent and I decided to start running up the flatter part of it. So, I started running slowly up the backside of 9 mile hill. I had a bit of a vendetta with that hill. It owned me last year and this year, I was back to own it. I cruised along and I couldn't believe how good I felt. I kept clicking along, taking short walk breaks up steep parts, but trying to run as much as I could and I was truly amazed at how good I felt 19 miles in and tackling a huge hill. My legs felt the best they'd felt all day long! (At 19 and 20 miles in)!!

Most of the rest of the race I was on my own... I'd pass some people and exchange a few words. Little did I know that my Big Sur shirt was MONEY. I seriously had about 10 people ask me about that race or make some comment about it. Awesome.

I kept taking my shot blox every 3-4 miles and I was still on it. I was tearing the course up, but with the thought in the back of mind that this could all blow up in my face at any moment. At the last water stop, Mile 24, I took my last shot blox and headed to the finish. I started to think that I might be able to come in under 4:45. But, I cautiously kept running.

Around the 25 mile marker or so, I saw relay teammate and friend, Andrea and that gave me a little boost. Shortly thereafter as I rounded a switchback, I saw Melanie coming up behind me!!! Holy Shit! I thought. She must have really picked it up! To her credit, she pretty much blew us all away on the downhills. That girl must have quads of steel. Anyway, I knew with seeing how good she looked that she would be passing me very soon. And she did and I told her to take it to the finish (like she needed me to tell her that.. haha. she was fine without any inspiring words from me). Finally I veered off the main road and hit the grass for the last quarter of a mile or so.

As I crested the hill and started the downhill, I saw the race clock still had a 4:39:xx. DAMMIT! I yelled out loud... knowing that I now had to sprint my ass off down that hill so that I could try to come in under 4:40.

I hit the finish chute (still blazing ahead until someone stopped me, because I had no idea where the official finish line was) and was thrilled with my official time of 4:39:48!

That's right... last year I ran 4:57. This year, 4:39!!!
The main posse with our beers and medals.

As soon as I finished I caught up with Melanie and Matt's wife and looked around for my family. I immediately knew... I finished too soon! They weren't even there yet! Haha. About 10 minutes later I saw my mom and my dad was getting chairs out to sit and watch the finish line. Classic.

After chatting with them a bit, I went back to the beer tent and consumed 3ish beers and chatted with some folks. I didn't eat anything after the race, because most things were sweets and I just wasn't feeling the sweets. I figured beer was liquid recovery.

I then went home and got there around 3:45. Took a shower, attempted to take a nap and got ready to head out to the post race after party at Mafiaoza's.
All in all it was a great race and a great day. It's not often that you get to sleep in your own bed, run with your running partners on a beautiful day in a beautiful park, have your family meet you at the race, and go out for your favorite pizza afterwards.

Monkey... you may have gotten a piece of me last year.. but I kicked your ass this year!

Great race! I recommend everyone run it at least once. Well organized, great swag, great people, super challenging, and super rewarding!

Read Last Years Report here.

8 comments:

April said...

I wanna do it next year!! And HaHa @ Matt's expression in the first group pic!

Love to Run said...

Hi Amy,

Congrats on a great race up and down and up and down . . .

It was nice meeting you and running with you for as far as we did. Good Luck in all you future races and maybe we will 'run' into eachother in some future race.

Kirstie said...

Great race report! Congrats on your time!! Sounds like a great race. I like the idea of the "monkey kill" on the sleeve. Great idea!

JojaJogger said...

First of all, I loved those monkey cupcakes! Second, great job killing another monkey! Third, I've got to run this next year!

jt00ct said...

Great race report Amy. Nice job owning the hills and obtaining a PR for that course! You truly spanked the monkey this year!

Melanie said...

Girl, those encouraging words were totally helpful! I was totally trying to prove something to myself at that time, and you were a big part in helping me finish strong! SO glad we all got to do this together. This may be the most fun I've had at a marathon.

Chris said...

Beer= liquid recovery: classic!

Beth said...

So we both ran the Monkey last year. Obviously you were waaay ahead of me, but still ... that's pretty funny. I ran a good bit with Larry Macon and saw on FB that he ran it again this year. If you're not familiar with Larry, you should google him - dude is a machine.

Congrats on the improved time! I do love this race!!