Who's Reading?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blue Ridge Marathon..."personality part"

Mile 7 was over and done with.  As was the first hill.  I had made it!  I was feeling pretty good!  Some tightness after all the walking, but I stretched out a little bit and began the jog downhill.  At this point I found myself alongside a man named Rich.  Rich told me about being diagnosed with cancer at age 7!  He had been cancer free for over 26 years...having celebrated his 26th year in 2010/2011 by running in 10 full marathons.  Blue Ridge would mark his 18th marathon and the 17th state on his quest to run in all 50 states.  WOW, right?  Great guy.  Great attitude about everything.  We jogged for almost 3 miles together and all I got was pictures of the mile markers because our conversation was so intriguing.  We ran straight through those miles, only stopping for water at the water stop.  It was great.

I told Rich, during our run, I would remember 8 and 9 as the ones I passed when running with him
because these are the only 2 pictures I took AFTER passing the sign. 

I caught Mile Marker 10 is where Rich had to leave me for a minute...
I took that moment to snap a quick picture of my excitement at being in the double digits! 
You may still be able to see Rich.   Hahahahaha.  Completely unintentional!
Rich did catch up with me at this point, but then he went ahead as we came to the absolute bottom of the hill and I needed water.  I thought I might catch back up to him at some point, but I didn't see him again until the finish line, where he congratulated me and we exchanged Facebook information.  What a cool guy!  Rich, maybe I'll run with you again some day!

The volunteers at this water stop were very concerned about me!
While I am taking this picture they are yelling, "Miss?  Miss??  Are you okay?!"
Hahahaha.  I popped right back up and showed them the camera.  Must've been quite a relief for them!
These past couple miles were gorgeous.  Beautiful scenery all around, peace and quiet.
By the way, in case you didn't notice...we're going up again!
This is what the "up" led to this time.  Are you kidding me?!?
I stopped to stretch at this point.  I even had to remove my right shoe because the top of my foot had a sharp pain that was really, really bothering me!  I rubbed my feet a bit and did some stretching.  Until a very helpful fellow runner came by and said, "Let's go!"  Haha.   He must have recognized the look on my face that I would have been content to "stretch" (or lay in the sun) all day.  I got up and got a move on!
Sorry I missed the 13 mile mark, but this marks a very important mile! 
That ever elusive 14-miler that I just could NOT fit in during training.  This is a downhill, so I must have accidentally "flown" by the sign and then turned around at the last minute. 
This is me "flying"!  And realizing I have finally run 14 miles!
it was at this point that we were seriously going downhill...and I was feeling kinda tired.  Or a lot tired.  I was by myself at this point, and I started getting a little emotional.  Reading my notebook got me choked up, so I put it away. 
I came down the hill from the left and then a sharp curve led to the road on the right.
It was pretty cool, and great views all along.
At 15, I was a little bit nervous because I had heard "rumors" of a very steep incline at mile marker 17...
No sign of it yet, though?
There's the mile marker!  Where's the hill?
Yeah...I would be regretting those thoughts verrrrry soon.  Hahaha.
See behind me?  Yeah.  Not an optical illusion.  Just one HELL of a HILL.
Miles 15-17, I think is when I started running with Susan!  She is from Murfreesboro and we were both doing 2/1 intervals.  This was her second marathon and she had on a sparkle skirt and I kind of realized we needed to be friends.  We chatted a bit...a lot about how hard it was, but also a bit about our lives.  Anything to take our minds off the pain!  I found a bit of strength at some point, I believe just before this mile marker?  I started up my run and said "I'm sure I'll see you soon!" to Susan.  I did see her soon...as she passed me during my walk up the hill we were about to climb!  I saw her again as she was cruising back down the steepest hill of my life - she encouraged me with tales of Bloody Mary's!  Bubbles!  Music!  at the top of the hill!  So I pressed on...
I just came from the right...to run UP the left.
Will it ever end?!
Mile 18!  Surely there is an end coming soon?
Up in the distance there is a group hanging outside their house with water and gatorade and playing music!  "Against The Wind"  hilarious.  They were laughing and having a good time and really cheered my spirits...
P.S.  The 2 women up the hill would be my partners across the finish line!  More on them later...
I can still muster a smile!  Hooray!
If my memory is to be trusted, this mile marker is at the tippy top of the crazy "Mile 17 Hill". 
Also known as Peakwood Drive.  This is indeed where there was music and bubbles and very friendly people and a port-o-john and Bloody Marys.  I did not partake in the alcohol, but I enjoyed some light conversation with the "locals".  It was a very welcome break.
Wait, what?  Seriously?!?!  I have completed 20 miles???
Flat roads, some cars driving by (good distraction), and an end in sight...so to speak.  I mean, I couldn't really SEE the end, but I knew it was less than 10 miles away.  As my cousin Jenny said in a text message, "Only 6 miles left!  Like a walk in the park.  And without the kids!"

How did I use my personality to make it through this middle "hunk"?  Well, I did engage in conversation with volunteers at the water stops.  As long as I could still make people laugh, I felt like I must be ok.  I realized at some point I hadn't eaten anything during the run, so I did munch on a couple of Gu Chomps, but I wasn't feeling hungry.  Not really thirsty, either, but I took water and Gatorade every chance I got.  I was by myself for some of this portion and I was okay with that.  I had my ipod in the trusty fanny-pack, but never felt the need to use it.  I did meet a really nice gentleman earlier in the run and we kept passing each other.  He was on his 5th marathon, 3rd time doing the Blue Ridge.  !!!!  Really nice guy with a lot of great information, about the race as well as other "Adventure Races".  I enjoyed our chats immensely.  In fact, as I wrap up this portion of my recap, I believe I was hanging out with him. 

At the top of the hill (mile 19) I really felt done.  Like, really done.  Even walking was beginning to hurt.  The downhill wasn't encouraging me.  I kept getting emotional, but if I allowed myself one full tear I knew I would be in full-blown panic attack mode.  I couldn't allow my mind to think about the fact that I was truly on the finishing side of this accomplishment.  If I started to think about how far I had already come, I would feel my chest tightening up and my eyes burning.  So I pressed on.  One sweet volunteer at this point must have seen how I was feeling.  He was just sitting in a chair by the road...I wouldn't have known he was "working" if it weren't for the bright green shirt!  He smiled at me, and I thought I smiled back.  He didn't have anything...no water or gatorade or even a first-aid kit that I could see, but he asked me if he could get me "some water...or something?"  True to my nature, I politely declined, but my voice caught.  It is impossible to put into words, but something about the way he said, "You're doing great" was just different from the way all the others had been saying it.  I will likely never know this guy's name, but he is the reason I kept going on.


  1. You amaze me Audrey, I hope to have half the strength you did when I run my full in December!

  2. You have to post the last 10k soon because that last part of this post is making ME cry! ;)

  3. I am tearing up reading about your marathon journey. What you did is truly amazing and I am in awe of your determination and strength. As a fellow runner, I know the aches and pains of running and desperately trying to push on, even when you think you cant muster up one more ounce of anything. But you did it, and the sense of accomplishment you feel has to be overwhelming! You inspire me. My hubby and I are doing a 10K next month, and are thinking about a half marathon in November. I hope one day to participate in a full marathon. I could cry right now just thinking about how that must feel!
    Keep up the good work!


  4. true grit right there.

  5. Wow...as the chair of this race I've yet to actually make it out on the course during the actual event. I constantly hear tales of what our community puts forth, and your pictures and descriptions go a long to making feel like I actually got out there.

    Congrats to you!

    Pete Eshelman
    Chair, Blue Ridge Marathon

    1. Thank you, Pete! I loved my entire experience.

  6. Audrey, I am still amazed that you ran THIS marathon with not even 14 miles under your belt! That is crazy amazing! So glad that my sparkle skirt and I got to share a portion of this race with you! Looking forward to seeing you again in Nashville this September! That course will be a breeze after this! In fact the now defunct "hard" course they had would be a breeze for you after this one!

  7. Audrey are you doing the women's half in Nashville? I plan too since I'm not doing Music City. I hurt my foot a while back and didn't run for 2 weeks. When I started back again my heart just wasn't in it. I am now beginning to get the running bug again. Not for 26.2 though ;)

    1. Yes!!! September 22. I would love to see you there!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...