[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[at-l] GMM'99: part two. If I'd known it was this hard....
- Subject: [at-l] GMM'99: part two. If I'd known it was this hard....
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Thomas McGinnis)
- Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 18:41:43 -0500
______________________________ Forward Header __________________________________
Subject: GMM'99: part two. If I'd known it was this hard....
Author: Thomas McGinnis at UCCLAN
Date: 7/20/99 11:26 PM
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: GMM'99: If I'd known it was this hard....
Author: Thomas McGinnis at UCCLAN
Date: 7/20/99 11:10 PM
If I'd known that the Grandfather Mountain Marathon was as hard as all
that, I NEVER would have run it. Maybe....
Course Summary: UP. Net climb of 946'. Gross climb 1,969'; 1,023' down
Start 2mile 4.5mile 5mile 7mile 9mile 10mile Half ... End
3333 3160 3680 3500 3800 3550 3820 3400 ... 4279
-173 +520 -180 +300 -250 +270 -420 +879
20 miles comes in 02:45:28, about a 8:16 overall pace. I've slowed, my
hip really hurts, but not to wear I have to stop. (On a scale of 0 to
10, with "Stop! You're injuring yourself!" pain at a 7, this was about
a 5. Not fun, but doable.) At 21 miles (a 7:55 whipped in there, BTW),
I stopped for some liquids and tried to stretch out the leg(s). The
aid people offered me Ibuprofen, but I demurred, thinking "I'll be
done by the time it hits." I kept trying to stretch out the legs,
looking at the time roll by on my watch, then thought "Hell! If I
crash right here, it could be an HOUR before I finish!" I said I'd
take them up on their offer of ibuprofen, and after a short delay
serving the dozen or so runners now going by, they got me some. I
crunched it up in my teeth to speed its absorption, anticipating a
horrid taste which never actually came, and swallowed the paste with
Took off from that station really struggling to make forward motion
now. But the effort is painful mostly in my calves. I take that as a
sign that perhaps the worst of the hips is over. Still, my mind is
turning to mud, my pace is slowing beyond 9:00/mile, and walking
breaks are coming more frequently. What a hill! Will it never end? The
route winds around the shoulder of Grandfather Mountain itself, now,
twisting this way and that, never straight for more than a few hundred
yards at a time, never affording you a view of what's ahead --
probably a good thing, because the incline is (at this point)
merciless. Turn the corner and WHAM! another jaw-dropper.
The miles did come harder and harder, but eventually I passed mile 25.
I tried throughout this one to "lay it on", to "give it all you got!"
and all of that Malarkey. Forget it. I was flailing. Felt like I was
running in mud; like I was stuck in one of those childhood dreams
where for as hard as you run, you don't go anywhere and the danger is
still just off your shoulder. But there is a guy ahead of me who
passed me at Mile 21, and I want him. I attempt to approach.
The last 500 yards has you descending slightly toward a turnoff, a
short sharp drop to enter a field/parking area, then a partially paved
uphill roadway for 50 yards, then a lap around the McRae Meadows
track. I didn't know this. So when I was directed to turn off of the
highway, I set my sights on the guy I've now gained on (20 yards off)
and, howling after the short drop, I chase him toward the top of the
hill. The guantlet of crowd parts slightly before him, and is cheering
us both on with gusto. I'm sprinting up the last little hill thinking
the race ends at the top, but the people are crowded there only
because of poor crowd control. I have surged mightily, to the crowd's
approval truly giving it everything I've got, and nail him as we are
directed to left onto the track.
I am wasted, blown, finished, but where's the finish line?????? I am
pointed around the track, and I realize I've been done in. I have no
lungs left to even sufficiently say I'm out of breath. I can't TAKE a
breath. I wave my cohort by, and he shuffles past, getting about 30
feet in front of me, and then slowing and matching my speed. We travel
the entire back straight like that, shuffling and shambling -- so slow
I'm ashamed. The crowd tries to applaude, but for what? No great and
glorious battle, just blown and limping and wasted. The great marathon
finish was going to be out-done by Highland Games contestants in kilts
As we come around the front straight, with 100 yards to go, my
competitor looks backward over his shoulder to find out where I am --
making sure I am not plotting another coup on him -- but he sees me
shuffling right where I should be. He didn't know that in that
nanosecond I'd decided that I was NOT going to be beaten by a guy who
shambles. If he's going to win, he's going to earn it!
I searched out the finish line, measured it with my eye, looked down
and dug down deep for all that was left in me. I knew it wouldn't be
much, but with someone in front of me like that, I knew I could tap
into it, too. I strode out. I surged. I knew I wouldn't be real
pretty, but in a few strides I knew I was earning my keep. I closed
half the distance to the other guy and yelled out "Foot Race! Let's
make this a Foot Race!" This was, surprisingly, loud enough to echo
off the crowd, and I could feel the faces turn and then heard their
approving roar. I reached the other guy as he turned to see where I
was, and truly, the race was on.
But he had another gear. I was at top speed, redlined and sucking
fumes, and he had another gear available. I passed him, but he came up
hard and pulled even. I leaned down and pounded the ground with my
feet, my leg turnover seeming as fast as anything I'd ever run, but he
slowly pulled away, and by the time we neared the end of the
straightaway, and the Marathon finish line, it was apparent he was not
But he sure didn't shuffle! No!
Douglas Engel and I crossed the line officially one second apart, me
grateful that I had enough left to give him (and the roaring Highland
Games crowd) a run for his money. Unbelievably, my time for the last
1.2 was 7:58, a 6:38/mile pace. Honestly, I think the last mile was
Afterwards, I went about half a mile back to await my sister, cheering
the other runners as they went by. It was a thrill when I saw her,
chugging up the last piece of rise before descending toward the
highway turnoff. Her two sons were running the last mile with her, but
they were not running very steady and Kathy was about to run them
down. As she passed me, she yelled out "Run with me!" in tones half
prayer and half command. I had been stretching the entire time I had
waited for her, and still my legs had locked up.
Once I had gotten going, I ran the parking lot guantlet for her,
yelling "Runner! Runner! Make a hole!" and eliciting cheers from them
(for her) for my effort. Her trip around the track seemed just as long
and laborious as mine -- and she imformed me that there'd be no surge
from her -- but I wanted SOMETHING. As we rounded the last corner, I
yelled to the crowded stands "Hey! This here's my SISTER! and SHE
hasn't run a marathon in 15 YEARS!!!" The generous Highland Games
crowd was only looking for an excuse: they roared their approval for
Kathy's rock steady finish. "Not fast" she forewarned me, "But I
won't *walk*, either!" And I don't think she did, either.
Carpe Viam, Y'all.
Tom McGinnis in Indy.
* From the Appalachian Trail Mailing List | http://www.backcountry.net *