Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Road Again...

Doug super excited
For the past three years my July race has been Rattlesnake 50K in Charleston WV. Last year rumors were that 2010 would be the end of the race and they sadly enough turned out to be true. Grandfather Mountain Marathon has been on my list of things to do, but it had always fallen on the same weekend as Rattlesnake, so when Rattlesnake died it seemed like the obvious choice. It's fairly close to home, I went to college at ASU, lots of fun friends always run it, and it ends at the Highland Games!
leaving the ASU track
The questionable factor here is that Grandfather Marathon is a ROAD race and the last road marathon I participated in was in 2007, 4 whole years ago!how did that happen? time flies when your trail running I guess?? I really only step foot on the pavement a handful of times a year so I was worried the pavement would eat me alive and pummel me, leaving me hobbled for days, not to mention it's not "normal" to walk during road races and I love me some walk breaks :)
So word on the streets was that grandfather generally runs 20 minutes slower than your average marathon time so I had no intentions of busting out a PR on this course. Obviously if you are running from the Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC at an elevation of 3,333 feet and climbing to an elevation of 4,279 feet where it ends on Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC. it is NOT a net downhill course :) I actually heard a runner along the course asking someone where the finish was, and if it was a loop course?? really? did you even look at the website when you signed up?
So let's break it down. I have run 4 Marathons in my lifetime : Knoxville 2006-3:38 Rocket City 2006-3:42 Boston 2007-3:45 and Richmond 2007 - 3:35  so let's say an average 3:40 marathon time overall + 20 min would put me around 4 hrs for Grandfather.
I stayed with gracious hosts Dennis and Lou in Blowing Rock friday night so I could pick up my packet friday and not have to drive over early Saturday morning. We enjoyed the beautiful view off their back deck before turning in around 9pm. I slept well and was feeling good Saturday morning. Plenty of time for a shower and getting organized before heading to the start. We met up with Rick, Tammy, Ed, Doug, and Martha in the parking lot before heading into the stadium!

Team Triabetes!

I took a quick bathroom break and might I add much more enjoyable than most. The huge bathrooms at the stadium were perfect for a race! no line, no nastiness, no port o john! found my friend Steve as I was walking down to the track. He and his buddy David were running together in there team triabetes jerseys, they checked their blood sugar levels 18 times during the race. Very impressive duo!


I lined up on the track with Doug, his friend Beth (finished 3rd female!!) and Stan from Charlotte. We did two laps around the track before exiting the stadium and passing many of the buildings I practically "lived" in during college. I think I got a little carried away with the excitement and went out a bit to fast. no surprise there, but I knew within a couple of miles we would start to climb and I would naturally slow down and boy did I, haha. The heat and humidity seemed stifling and I felt a bit stressed with the task at hand. I was sweating buckets and soon lost track of hydration/electrolytes, my hands turning into sausages and often feeling on the verge of cramping/nausea.  I was fighting negative thoughts early on and trying not to let them take hold.
Sheep Herding
A mile or two before the half way point I met Eric from Alexandria. He was preparing for his first 50 miler in the fall and I struggled to carry conversation as I was sucking wind, but it did help take my mind off things and relax a bit. As we approached the parkway I spotted Rick and Tammy and got the Hootie Hoo. It was so nice to have them there cheering us on and offering up encouragement with a side of ice water!! They passed us in the family van on the parkway as we crossed Price Lake, snapping photos like paparazzi, cracking me up.

Eric and I crossing Price Lake

I never felt awesome, but I enjoyed the course for the most part. I yoyo'd back and forth with Marty Coleman and Sally Brooking until she pulled away as I got lazy and started taking walk breaks.
I absolutely loved the finish at the highland games! bagpipes playing as you weave through the crowds, making your way to the track at McRae Meadows. Quite surreal running alone around the track surrounded on the outside by scottish clan tents, the inside filled with competitors of the kilted sort; dancers, sheep herders, wrestlers, strong men throwing medieval type hammers! super neat stuff. I crossed the line in 3:57, just short of the 4hr mark.  Enjoyed cheering Doug, and Ed in and watching the games before the awards. I ended up with 3rd in my age group. We all gathered at Cafe Portofino afterwards and then I headed out with some old college friends to the Sugar Grove Music Festival! good times!


  1. I had a great time cheering you on. You ran great. I did not even hear too many complaints for it being on the road. I guess I will have to step out of the box and go run with you next year.

  2. I love that run, I love to run, run and run. :D
    Team Triabetes is very cool in their suites :D

  3. A fun time, ESPECIALLY for a road run for you. And more hardware! Love your reports, Beth! Very nice job!