Posted on 21 November 2011.
Race Recap: 2011 Flying Monkey Marathon Nov 20,2011 by Charlie Taylor
Trent reminded us when he was giving out awards that this one would be remembered as “The One where it Rained”
I ran the Monkey last year as my first attempt at the marathon distance, and, in spite of going off course at mile 25 (for 3 extra miles), was really looking forward to running it again. The Monkey is one brutal animal, with about 3,500 feet of elevation gain, but the charm is the atmosphere that is there. Runners bring loads and loads of food for after the race and the swag is really special. A personalized long sleeved technical shirt is included with the Race’s logo displayed prominently across the back. If you have run this beast in the past, you have the number of monkey kills displayed down the arm of your shirt. Trent also includes a cotton monkey tee shirt that in itself is a nicer shirt that many races provide. A personalized race bib (you get to pick your race number), a car sticker, a race logo magnet, a temporary race tattoo, and some other goodies are in the race packet. Now that’s some race swag!
Registration opened for the monkey this year on July 30 and promptly sold out in 3 minutes 58 seconds! If you were slow to punch in your credit card numbers, you were not going to run the 2011 Flying Monkey Marathon. Trent has a special opening for registration 3 days prior to July 30 for those who had run the race the year before, and I estimate that about 100 runners signed up in this allowed time. I made sure to get myself signed up and did so the first available day. My other HRC buds that ran last year did the same. Tom Dolan, Doug Boomer, and Scott Jordan. So, we were in. Now, the 3 1/2 month wait for the race.
Skip forward to race week. I had run a fast 10 mile race the Saturday before, which is not a great idea 8 days before a big marathon race, however, I felt like I was in good enough condition that it wouldn’t hurt me. During the rest of the week, I only ran about 28 miles, all of it pretty easy. Normally, I would run one speed day but did not do it this week. I did run a 10 mile trail run in the rain and mud on Wednesday, but took it pretty easy and had a lot of fun running through the water.
Race morning: Since Terri and my 8 year old granddaughter, Caroline had volunteered to work the HRC water stop, which would be located at mile 3 and 23, we got up about 4AM, I made a big pancake, sausage, and egg breakfast and we were off. We met our buds in Hendersonville and made it to the race site in plenty of time to be able to setup our camp just barely off to the side of the start/finish line. We all jumped in and set up the canopy tent, having not really any idea that it would be raining like a cow peeing on a flat rock within an hour. The canopy was a great idea, thanks Tom. Our HRC signs went out, our Monkey logos and we all put on our safari hats to finish the scene. Runners started coming in and before long, it was time for the race to start.
Pictures were made at the starting line of all the Marathon Maniacs, a group from all over the country who, you guessed it, are real marathon maniacs. To get into this group at even the lowest level, you have to run 2 marathons in a 16 day period. The upper levels are crazy. One of the higher levels requires that a runner complete something like 40 marathons in a year. Now that, my friends, is a maniac! The other group, much smaller, was the Swampies; a group of runners that connected and stay connected on the Running ahead website. I am one of the Swampies.
Trent lined us up and yelled GO! And we were off. The race starts at the Vaughn’s creek cross country course and the first quarter mile or so is on grass. We went up the little hill, made the right turn at the big evergreen tree, then followed the path past 3-4 more of these trees before we went through a little clearing and onto the 11.2 mile loop road. Another quarter mile or so and we went right to cut across the park as part of the double loop of Percy Warner Park. The first mile and a half of the race has an elevation gain of 300 feet and Trent had a little sign that read, “You have just climbed 300 feet, you only have 3,200 more feet to climb” I’m sure this takes some of the wind out of the sails of many newbie runners. I had started somewhat in the front pack and hit my first mile in a comfortable 7:36 and by the time we got to the top of the hill, the 2 mile time was 14:50. Boomer was right with me and we ran side by side getting our pacing like we wanted it. Now, we were back on the main road, heading toward the Stone Gates at the Belle Meade Blvd entrance. Then it started to rain.
This course has several places where you run forever on gently rolling terrain, but when you get to the hills, they are merciless. There are actually 7 major climbs in the entire run. From mile 2-6 is one of those hills. We logged 7:24, 7:29, 7:42, and 7:33 times on these miles. Somewhere in this area, Boomer pulled away from me. It was raining harder and it does not take long in these conditions to get really wet. Right after mile 6, there is a steep descent of a mile at I hit that one in 6:59, then another mile up hill. Then from mile 7 to mile 8, you pass the stone gates and head back up the other side of the park and a couple easy, gentle down hill miles. Mile 8 was 8:21, then 7:33, 8:22 and I hit the 10 mile mark in 1:16:06. This was only about 9 minutes slower than my 10 mile race last Saturday and I began to realize that I had probably gone out too fast. Right at the 10 mile mark, I caught a young kid, probably no older than 14, who was running with his body swinging every whichaway. His arms were flailing from side to side and legs were doing the same. A lot of runners do not realize that when you have un-necessary body movement in your running style, you are wasting a LOT of energy and will tire much faster. Anyway, I passed him and left him in my dust. Several 200 foot climbs and 200 foot drops were in store for me. Really, the backside did not have any real crazy climbs until from 11.5 to mile 13. I hit the half marathon mark in 1:40 and knew that I had probably screwed myself with my too fast miles. Mile 11 was 8:03, 12 was 7:44, and 13 was 8:19.
At mile 11, we passed the starting area off to the right and from 11.5 to 13 was a good climb on the backside of the park. At mile 13, we turned to the left and went down the hill that we had climbed to start the race, hit the bottom of the hill at mile 14.5 and turned right to head back toward the stone gates. We had a 200 foot climb for ¾ mile, then a pretty easy run all the way back to the stone gates at mile 18. Mile 14 was 7:52, then 8:36 on the uphill, 7:59, 8:39, and mile 18 at 7:53. From mile 18, when you turn at the Stone gates is the hardest hill in the race. All the way to mile 20.5 is uphill. Several places have switchbacks and you never seem to get to the top. Somewhere in this hill, I started having a pain in my left hip. Halfway up the hill, Meredith Smith, who would go on to be the 2nd female overall passed me like I was sitting still. I ran mile 19 in 10:37 and 20 in 9:41. We had a decent little level run for a mile and I hit that in 8:20. That was my last good mile.
From mile 21 to 26, there are only really 2 hills, most of it being slightly downhill. Mile 21 was 8:20. Just before mile 22, my hip was hurting more and more and then, just all of a sudden, I had a massive Charleyhorse knot up in my right thigh. It took my breath away and I had to stop and pound on my leg to try and beat it out. I did stretch it out somewhat and manage to keep running, although slower. Mile 22 was a dismal 10:12 and 23 was 10:19 (and Im running flat land!) I passed the HRC aid station and got some Mt Dew and stretched some more. I only had 3 miles to go and was determined to make it work if I had to walk. After a couple more stretches, I managed to keep a decent pace the rest of the way. Mile 24 was a crazy 12:20 (walked a bit more) and as I got close to mile 25, My HRC buddy, Tom Dolan came up on me and left my sorry butt in the dust. In spite of my hurting and slow times, I must have been pretty far ahead of other runners, because nobody had passed me for at least 3 miles. I hit mile 25 in 9:19 and as I passed the place where I made the wrong turn last year, vowed that I would not do that again. From Mile 25 to the finish is pretty much downhill and I just hung on and ran the best I could. Just before I made the turn from the road to the field back to the finish line, my friend Teresa Saupe passed me. I had nothing left, she would have probably slowed down to run I with me, but I told her to go on. Past the evergreen trees then left and the finish was ahead. I crossed the line in 3:38:15 with my last mile coming in at 8:52. Teresa beat me by 10 seconds and Tom Dolan was finishing just before I rounded the last curve. He ran 3:37 and some change. I finished 22nd overall and 2nd Grandmaster, behind Tom. (they really did not have a grandmaster division, but if they had, I would have been 2nd)
I hurt pretty bad when I finished. Terri and Caroline had come from the aid station to meet me at the finish. I had told her before the race that when I finished, I would run the 3 miles back to where she was to cheer for fellow runners. I sure am glad she decided to come to me. I couldn’t have run back to her if I had wanted to.
It had rained pretty hard the entire race and part of the time, we were running into a cold wind. I started chilling when I finished and quickly changed clothes and sat down to rest. Boomer had run and amazing 3:15 and finished 8th overall!! Great Job Boomer!!!! When he left me about mile 7, he had not slowed a bit. I rested for a while. Our other HRC guys came in, Scott Jordan, then Jamie Abbott, then Marcia Steiner (running the Monkey as her first marathon).
Once I got myself back to where I could walk, I got something to eat. Did I mention how much food these people brought? The food was a welcome sight and I certainly enjoyed that. I spent some time chatting with friends, to many to mention by name, I did get a picture with Dorothy, who has run every one of the Monkey marathons, and another with my friend Mrs Ellie Foster, the official race photographer,
Overall, it was a great race, Considering what happened to me, I am pleased with my time and finish. I had wanted to run 3:25 and would have if I hadn’t started too fast or had problems. The winner, Ben Schneider, won in 2:38 and was Champion for the 4th consecutive year.
Caroline had a great time handing out water and more fun sliding in the mud after the race was over. Some kids really know how to have fun. She also challenged Super Start Stud runner, Scott Wietecha, to a race and beat him!! Of course, he ran holding a paper plate with a large muffin balanced in the middle of the plate. Not to mention that the race was about 30 feet. You go, Caroline!! I wish I could beat Wietecha. Only in my dreams.
Will I run this again? Of course. One of the finest races anywhere. I’m lucky to have this one in my back yard. Runners were here from all over the country.
What would I do different? Probably start 10-15 seconds a mile slower. Other that that, I wouldn’t do anything different.
Thanks Trent, for a class race.