So many of you were kind enough to wish me well last week-end I thought I should let y'all know how it went. (Your well wishes were much appreciated BTW.)This is my third try at a report. First attempt was a "just the facts", second attempt was turning into a novel. This one will be somewhere in between.
Short version: This was my return to a marathon after three years of trying to get back there. It was marathon #18 for me. I finished in 4:41:21. First in age group. There were 119 female finishers and I was #81. I was the oldest female finisher. There were 312 total finishers and I was #250.
Did I meet my goals? Well, some of them.
First goal was to arrive at the start and the finish uninjured. Met this one
Second goal was to run faster than the 4:39 I ran in 2015. My not mentioned goal was to run under 4:35 for a BQ time for 2020. Not even close to a BQ and 2 minutes slower on the other part..
Third goal was to have a beautiful week-end in the mountains. Not this year.
Now the more info than you want to know.
We drove from Raleigh to Morganton in constant rain, heavy at times. The trip took forever because of the rain and the fact we stopped for lunch and two art museums on the way. (This makes sense if you know my husband.) We chose not to walk around downtown Morganton when we arrived because it was cold and rainy. After a bit of relaxing we went to packet pick-up. I was greeted like an old friend by the co-race directors. (This was my 7th time at this race not to mention having done a few other races in which they were either the race directors or the timers.) I am only recognized at this race and in the past The Uwharrie Mountian Trail race (my niece was the director and family, including me, and her friends were volunteers) as well as The Twisted Ankle where trailheadgirl was the director. We headed to dinner at a restaurant recommended as reliably mediocre. It was actually fantastic. The waitress was such a personable young girl I left a large tip for even me, a usually generous tipper.
Back to the hotel where I actually slept well. We ate breakfast in the morning and my husband drove me to the start. It was in the high 30's and overcast. I headed to the potty line and I ended up being behind the one other person I knew running. He told me his wife would be cheering us on from the front porch of a cabin about 2 miles in. I got my warm up pants off and headed to the starting line. We took off. The race starts on a paved road beside the post office. I started out in shorts, long sleeved shirt, jacket, gloves, headband and the thing over my face to keep the asthma form being triggered by the cold. This out fit was a good choice.This part of the course has a bit of incline but not bad. Around 2 miles I heard my name and my friend's wife was cheering me on from a car parked at the end of their rented cabin's driveway. I waved and thought things were going well. About a half mile later we came to the first aid station. From here you go left about 1.5 miles passing a Christmas tree farm and other scenery. There is a turn around and you go back to the same aid station. Here I dropped my jacket, gloves, face cover and headband. If you drop clothes at this aid station the stuff will be at the finish line when you get there. Later aid stations will get your clothes to the finish line but not necessarily before the fast finishers. Can I just admit that was not a concern for me.
This is where I got flustered getting out of my warm-up fleece one year and went the wrong way.
Right after this the downhills start. I'm still feeling great and enjoying them. I am even remembering to take an electrolyte capsule about every 6 miles. It's starting to drizzle but since I'm running that's OK. The long range views are better than I remembered and there were a few small creek like cascades now and then for interest. I'm truly enjoying everything about this run at this point. There is even some mountain fall color. That one uphill that appears somewhere between mile 13 and 16 didn't even get to me much.
Then things changed. My legs all of a sudden felt painful and tired. Not injured, just rebelling. I was expecting this around mile 20 not mile 16. I reached in my back pocket for a gu and put one ear plug in for music. The music drowned out my legs complaining only slightly. I'm thinking maybe I am just too old for this stuff. Not too long after this I realized I had managed to stop my watch reaching for my gu.
I restarted it and kept on plugging away. Around mile 18 I passed a woman who was really struggling. (The fact that I passed her demonstrates just how badly she was struggling.) I shouted out my favorite keep going phrase I learned on this forum, "Just remember, relentless forward motion!" She said, "What?" I yelled, "Relentless forward motion!" Somewhere around here the course starts following Wilson Creek. It is downright gorgeous. Even more beautiful than I remembered.
At the next aid station I asked the time. Somehow I had lost 7 minutes on my watch. I think I accidentally turned it off twice. I now realize I am not going to meet my goals but keep giving it the best I've got. The last 6 miles aren't as bad as I expected. (Maybe if you run slow enough it's not so bad.) Not to mention I love the scenery. At mile 25 I am passing the fence of Brown Mountain Beach Resort which is site of the much anticipated finish. I finally get to turn in the "resort" and then immediately turn away from the finish line for the much complained about loop to get the 26.2 just right. There were deep mud puddles I did my best to miss. I ran through the finish line and was happy to be done. I was disappointed in my time but I gave it all I had.
I usually don't get cold after a race but this time I got really chilly. Maybe it was the cold coke my husband got for me. Also it was in the low 50's and overcast. I put back on my jacket (nicely waiting for me at the finish - thank you volunteers). They were giving out awards but had not yet gotten to the later finishers. The race director walked with me to the timing tent and told me to come with him. Now my one weakness is handcrafted pottery mugs. That was going to be the prizes for the people who placed. I'm thinking , "Maybe there will be only two or three of us." There were three of us and I came in 1st. This mug is particularly special as it was made in a vocational program for adults with developmental disabilities. Most of my working years were with children with developmental disabilities. I love this mug. Well, while David and Rhonda (race directors) are thanking me for coming and I'm thanking them and thinking maybe I shouldn't be doing this any more, David says, "I'll see you next year" I respond, "I can't wait.
My husband and I are walking to the car when a woman stops me. She said, "I am glad I found you. I wanted to thank you. I was struggling and was planning to take a ride to the finish. You told me relentless forward motion. That clicked and kept me going to the finish. Thank you." I felt better about this than my placing. So whoever came up with that phrase, THANK YOU!
Now about that beautiful week-end in the mountains. We headed to Blowing Rock after the race. It was 39, windy and rainy. We rested and went to the art museum at Appalachian State (again if you knew my husband). It was 39, rainy and windier. The next morning looked like more of the same so we headed home where it was in the 60's and partly cloudy.
Now one other thing. There are 3 possible theories about my time.
1 - I am just too old and slow.
2 - I didn't train enough on downhills.
3 - That seven minute lapse on my watch was not caused by me accidentally turning it off but was the 7 minutes in which I was abducted by aliens before being returned to the course.
Obviously possibility 3 is by far the most plausible.