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#1: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 04:49:01 by tom.banchy

Unbelievable race -- I had such a great day!

Things did not start out looking too good, though. I took some time
off after December's crash and burn at Dallas, then started in with the
heavy (for me) training of 3 runs/week in Feb and March. Came down
with a stress fracture (tibia) first week of April with 13 weeks to go
til raceday. I took 8 weeks mostly off -- wait 2 weeks, try a run, yep
it still hurts, repeat the cycle.

5 weeks til raceday and I was ready to punt on this race, but the leg
finally felt mostly healed, so I decided to try an ultra-low mileage
"crash course" (is that a contradiction in terms?). It actually
worked. I did one run every 5-6 days, 7 in total: 7 mi, 13 mi, 21 mi,
8 mi, 21 mi, 10 mi, 4 mi. Virtually all were slow&steady hill runs.
Still bike commuting a couple of days each week also.

OK, so I drove the 7 hours down to Boone, NC on Friday. Stayed in the
App State dorms arranged by the race. 4 of us shared a common kitchen,
and wouldn't you know we had 3 coffee pots brewing at the same time
Saturday morning. Your classic super-prepared running geeks in action.

It was a 7 AM start at the App State track, and here was my first piece
of good fortune -- perfect weather! Mid 50's in July. So we headed
out of town, flat or slightly downhill for 2 miles. No real plan for
pace since I know it's hilly, but I hadn't seen any of the course and
my fitness was a big unknown anyway.

Mile 3 was the start of 3 massive hills in the first 10 miles, maybe
1800 ft of climb. It was crazy. I had to laugh out loud a couple of
times -- who would hold a race on these hills/mountains? I'd jogged
plenty of hills in the preceding weeks, but nothing remotely this hard.
But I still felt decent. And these were such beautiful mountain
backroads. Easily the most scenic road race I've ever done.

Then, at mile 9, another piece of good fortune. If you know the roads,
the course is well-suited for driving along, leapfrogging a runner you
are tracking, and then stopping to cheer as they pass. It's possible
to see someone 5 or 6 times this way. So I'm chugging up massive hill
#3, and I come up on a group of 6-8 people holding signs and cheering
"GO JOHN!!!". I turn around, and about 50 yards behind me is a young
(college age) guy. That's John. He's got 2 carloads of family and
friends who are following him and bringing all kind of energy. So as I
pass them, someone asks me "What's your name?" -- "Tom" -- "GO TOM!!!".
So I had my own cheering section the rest of the race too, and it
really made a difference.

Anyway, my energy starts to flag at the end of that 3rd hill so I
opened the first of the 2 gels I brought. It tasted terrible and gave
me awful cottonmouth, but all of a sudden, in a mile or so I felt
GREAT. Really strong. Yeah! Rollers for a few miles, then around
mile 16, it starts the final uphill that basically continues all the
way to the finish on Grandfather Mtn. There's a steep gravel road for
a mile or so around 17 that I had heard most people walk. I was close
to walking here, but kind of "hunchbacked" my way up it with teeny
little strides and avoided walking.

I used gel #2 at mile 18 when my energy started to dip again, and sure
enough it was another boost. The grade eased up here, and even had
some slight downhill, and I had my first-ever experience of feeling
like HAMMERING after mile 20 in a marathon. Logged a couple of pretty
strong miles at this point, and started to think maybe I could finish
under 3 hours. I had been running with no one else in sight for many
miles, but I picked off about 4-5 other runners between 18 and the
finish. That was fun (one guy had totally cracked, and was walking).
But mile 25 and 26 both had some really steep parts, and 3 hours faded
away as I started to crumble a bit myself.

And I soon found out that 3 hours wouldn't have happened anyway. There
was a minor detour this year due to a bridge closure on the Blue Ridge
Pkwy, and the course ended up being about 26 3/4 miles. Of course that
was a big surprise to all of us when we got to mile marker 26 and
realized the finish was nowhere nearby. But the finish was pretty cool
when we got there. You run up onto a 1/4 mile cinder track, and then
run one full lap to the finish line in the middle of a huge Scottish
festival. There are bleachers, dozens of tents, and a couple thousand
spectators all around, not to mention bagpipes and drums going
everywhere. I got a huge cheer from the crowd -- what a rush!

Splits:
1) ?
2) 13:16 = 6:38/mi
3) 7:04
4) 7:10
5) 7:13
6) 7:18
7) 6:59
8) 6:16
9) 7:31
10) 7:07
11) 7:17
12) 6:34
13) 6:32 --> first 13 in 1:30:22 = 6:57/mi
14) 6:43
15) 6:33
16) ?
17) ?
18) 21:21 = 7:07/mi
19) 6:55
20) 6:32
21) 6:39
22) 6:45
23) 6:21
24) 7:03
25) 6:46
26) 6:51 --> second 13 in 1:28:35 = 6:48/mi
26.?) 5:18

finish = 3:04:16 = 6:53/mi? (26 3/4 mi says Google Earth, and I
estimate 3200+ ft of climb)
8/347 overall

So that was it. I'll gripe just a little bit here by saying that the
cost-to-amenities ratio is probably the lowest I've ever experienced in
a race. I think they probably spent about $20 per runner, maybe less.
So hopefully the rest of the $60+ went to a good cause.

Still, it's such a unique event (the course, and especially the finish)
-- I definitely recommend it. Well, maybe not for the BMI-challenged
whiners who have been stalking my posts on r.r, but anyone else, YES.

Report this message

#2: Re: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 08:21:36 by Dot

Tom B. wrote:
> Unbelievable race -- I had such a great day!
>

I like race reports that begin this way.:)


> Mile 3 was the start of 3 massive hills in the first 10 miles, maybe
> 1800 ft of climb. It was crazy. I had to laugh out loud a couple of
> times -- who would hold a race on these hills/mountains?

Hmmm, if you're doing 7 min miles even on the hills, they must not have
been *that* big.;)


> So as I
> pass them, someone asks me "What's your name?" -- "Tom" -- "GO TOM!!!".
> So I had my own cheering section the rest of the race too, and it
> really made a difference.

Definitely cool.

>
>But the finish was pretty cool
> when we got there. You run up onto a 1/4 mile cinder track, and then
> run one full lap to the finish line in the middle of a huge Scottish
> festival. There are bleachers, dozens of tents, and a couple thousand
> spectators all around, not to mention bagpipes and drums going
> everywhere. I got a huge cheer from the crowd -- what a rush!

Sounds like a fun finish to a fun day. That must be really neat ending
with the Highlands games that way.


>
> finish = 3:04:16 = 6:53/mi? (26 3/4 mi says Google Earth, and I
> estimate 3200+ ft of climb)
> 8/347 overall

Really good time for a marathon with that much climbing!! Congratulations.

>
> Still, it's such a unique event (the course, and especially the finish)
> -- I definitely recommend it. Well, maybe not for the BMI-challenged
> whiners who have been stalking my posts on r.r, but anyone else, YES.
>
Definitely sounds like fun.

Dot

--
"Success is different things to different people"
-Bernd Heinrich in Racing the Antelope

Report this message

#3: Re: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 16:11:56 by Doug Freese

&quot;Tom B.&quot; &lt;<a href="mailto:tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com" target="_blank">tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com</a>&gt; wrote in message
news:<a href="mailto:1152672541.277986.254760&#64;b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com..." target="_blank">1152672541.277986.254760&#64;b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...</a>
&gt; finish = 3:04:16 = 6:53/mi? (26 3/4 mi says Google Earth, and I
&gt; estimate 3200+ ft of climb)
&gt; 8/347 overall

I don't doff a lot of hats but this is one great effort on one hilly
mother! Kudos, Tom!!

I'm surprised yet pleased they had 347 finisher which suggests 350 or
better showed up for a quasi ultra race with some serious elevation.

&gt; -- I definitely recommend it. Well, maybe not for the BMI-challenged
&gt; whiners who have been stalking my posts on r.r, but anyone else, YES.

:) :) :)

-Doug

Report this message

#4: Re: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 17:07:21 by lanceandrew

-- I definitely recommend it. Well, maybe not for the BMI-challenged
whiners
_

since you bring it up, what is your bmi?

great report and you did a great job, 8th overall, 3rd in your AG. i
wish i could be like you and invest 7 hours of commute time one-way to
cherry pick a weak field in middle of nowhere. unfortunately tom my
time is far too valuable. nonetheless the fringe &amp; B list is
important, no shame in standing tall in the shallow end of the pool.
however i'll stick with the cream, A list, and deep end thank you. if
you ever muster the courage to face some competition, perhaps you can
race in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc. They are
far shorter commutes for you. But you won't get to whip up on the &quot;O
Brother, Where Art Thou&quot; field of participants.

anyway great job!

[$20 says DF can't hold out 24 hours before responding to my
post....soooo predictable...blah blah blah...this time he gets to
defend the hinterlands....as he basically lives in New York's version
of the Appalachia)]. Chill out everybody, just dishing old Tom a
quip back in light of his swipe...it's all good.

Report this message

#5: Re: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 18:08:58 by tom.banchy

Doug Freese wrote:
&gt; I don't doff a lot of hats but this is one great effort on one hilly
&gt; mother! Kudos, Tom!!
&gt;
&gt; I'm surprised yet pleased they had 347 finisher which suggests 350 or
&gt; better showed up for a quasi ultra race with some serious elevation.

Hey now, thanks for the kind words (and Dot also). I wish I could
repay with some nice weather for Saturday. As of this morning, the
current NOAA forecast for Woodstock is 94 and sunny! I've been reading
your posts about trying to get heat-acclimated. Best of luck to you
for the race. Sounds like it will be a character builder, as they say.

As for the size of the (GMM) field, I think there were a lot of locals
for whom it's &quot;their thing&quot; to do any year when they can be there, and
the course is no surprise. I actually expected a few more finishers.
They had a full field of 450 signups, and with the excellent weather I
expected over 400 starters. Maybe there were 400+, but then lots of
DNF's?

&gt;
&gt; &gt; -- I definitely recommend it. Well, maybe not for the BMI-challenged
&gt; &gt; whiners who have been stalking my posts on r.r, but anyone else, YES.
&gt;
&gt; :) :) :)
&gt;
&gt; -Doug

Report this message

#6: Re: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 18:42:49 by tom.banchy

<a href="mailto:lanceandrew&#64;aol.com" target="_blank">lanceandrew&#64;aol.com</a> wrote:
&gt; -- I definitely recommend it. Well, maybe not for the BMI-challenged
&gt; whiners
&gt; _
&gt;
&gt; since you bring it up, what is your bmi?

I can honestly say I don't know what my BMI is. I posted my race pics
last year, which you saw and commented on -- so maybe you can guess
from those? Let's just say I'm a former fattie (even fatter than
you!) who set things to right.

&gt; great report and you did a great job, 8th overall, 3rd in your AG. i
&gt; wish i could be like you and invest 7 hours of commute time one-way to
&gt; cherry pick a weak field in middle of nowhere. unfortunately tom my
&gt; time is far too valuable. nonetheless the fringe &amp; B list is
&gt; important, no shame in standing tall in the shallow end of the pool.
&gt; however i'll stick with the cream, A list, and deep end thank you. if
&gt; you ever muster the courage to face some competition, perhaps you can
&gt; race in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc. They are
&gt; far shorter commutes for you. But you won't get to whip up on the &quot;O
&gt; Brother, Where Art Thou&quot; field of participants.

Heh heh, we can always count on you for a good laugh, Lance. Good luck
at the Trials.

Report this message

#7: Re: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 18:46:51 by email_tonys

&quot;Tom B.&quot; &lt;<a href="mailto:tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com" target="_blank">tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com</a>&gt; wrote in message
news:<a href="mailto:1152672541.277986.254760&#64;b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com..." target="_blank">1152672541.277986.254760&#64;b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...</a>
&gt; Unbelievable race -- I had such a great day!

That's what it's all about!

....
&gt; OK, so I drove the 7 hours down to Boone, NC on Friday. Stayed in the
&gt; App State dorms arranged by the race. 4 of us shared a common kitchen,
&gt; and wouldn't you know we had 3 coffee pots brewing at the same time
&gt; Saturday morning. Your classic super-prepared running geeks in action.

That sounds more like an orienteering or trail race atmosphere than a road
race. I've never driven 7 hours for a race though, well maybe once to a
ROGAINE, but that was more like a weekend outing party with friends.

....
&gt; Mile 3 was the start of 3 massive hills in the first 10 miles, maybe
&gt; 1800 ft of climb. It was crazy. I had to laugh out loud a couple of
&gt; times -- who would hold a race on these hills/mountains? I'd jogged
&gt; plenty of hills in the preceding weeks, but nothing remotely this hard.
&gt; But I still felt decent. And these were such beautiful mountain
&gt; backroads. Easily the most scenic road race I've ever done.

Sounds like a priceless moment when you laughed. I've had those in ultras
where I laughed at how crazy I am to be out there after 7 hours or something
in the heat of the day.

....
&gt; Anyway, my energy starts to flag at the end of that 3rd hill so I
&gt; opened the first of the 2 gels I brought. It tasted terrible and gave
&gt; me awful cottonmouth, but all of a sudden, in a mile or so I felt
&gt; GREAT. Really strong. Yeah! Rollers for a few miles, then around
&gt; mile 16, it starts the final uphill that basically continues all the
&gt; way to the finish on Grandfather Mtn. There's a steep gravel road for
&gt; a mile or so around 17 that I had heard most people walk. I was close
&gt; to walking here, but kind of &quot;hunchbacked&quot; my way up it with teeny
&gt; little strides and avoided walking.

Hmm, was there anyone else around you and did they walk? I'm sure you've
heard some of us talk about power-hiking the steep hills.

....
&gt; And I soon found out that 3 hours wouldn't have happened anyway. There
&gt; was a minor detour this year due to a bridge closure on the Blue Ridge
&gt; Pkwy, and the course ended up being about 26 3/4 miles. Of course that
&gt; was a big surprise to all of us when we got to mile marker 26 and
&gt; realized the finish was nowhere nearby. But the finish was pretty cool
&gt; when we got there. You run up onto a 1/4 mile cinder track, and then
&gt; run one full lap to the finish line in the middle of a huge Scottish
&gt; festival. There are bleachers, dozens of tents, and a couple thousand
&gt; spectators all around, not to mention bagpipes and drums going
&gt; everywhere. I got a huge cheer from the crowd -- what a rush!

Sounds like a great race and atmosphere! I like the ultra-ish 26.75 also. A
3:04 there with the climb and extra distance is impressive. Congratulations.

-Tony

Report this message

#8: Re: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 18:57:46 by lanceandrew

serious question. what shoe did you wear &amp; did it serve you well? do
you wear something different for trail racing v. road training? did
you wear a watch piece of some kind to self monitor / govern your
pacing or did you simply go with &quot;feel&quot;. i thought you did hammer that
back half as you mention. and the back half, mostly isolated lone
running? first rummer marathon? fyi, i know it's a tough course, i've
read the marathonguide.com reviews, supposed to be one of the toughest
in the country, a lot of marathons claim that but this one is actually
in the top 10 as I understand it. in that context you did an amazing
job. why'd you pick this one? it's challenging reputation?

Report this message

#9: Re: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 19:38:25 by Doug Freese

&quot;Tom B.&quot; &lt;<a href="mailto:tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com" target="_blank">tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com</a>&gt; wrote in message
news:<a href="mailto:1152720538.466247.57450&#64;35g2000cwc.googlegroups.com..." target="_blank">1152720538.466247.57450&#64;35g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...</a>
&gt; Hey now, thanks for the kind words (and Dot also). I wish I could
&gt; repay with some nice weather for Saturday. As of this morning, the
&gt; current NOAA forecast for Woodstock is 94 and sunny!

Accuweather has 91 but 90 or 95 is still bloody hot with similar numbers
for humdity. My survival plan is to do lots of walking from 11am - 3 pm
in the heat of the day and the sun is directly above. Once the sun
starts to lean I can use the trees for shade and run a little bit more.
I'm hoping by 5-6 pm the temps are in the 70's. It may drop to the high
60's once the sun goes down and maybe recoup some energy.


&gt; I've been reading
&gt; your posts about trying to get heat-acclimated. Best of luck to you
&gt; for the race. Sounds like it will be a character builder, as they
&gt; say.

I was crewing at this race in 1999 when they had these same conditions.
It was not a pretty sight to see some of the aid stations looking like a
mass triage area with IV's hanging from trees. It's one of those days
where the clock gets ignored and all attention goes to eating, drinking
and salt just to make it to the finish line.

On Tuesday a friend and myself doing the same race when for a 4 mile
run. It's his first and very apprehensive as you would think so we
talked about variuos strategies. For the first time however , I drove to
his house with towel on the seat, the windows up and the heat full
blast. I don't know if it well help but others that do races like
Badwater use this and running on a T-mill in a sauna for prep.

As my my old running guru use to say, &quot;put your quarter in the juke and
boogie till ya puke!&quot; :) This may be a reality not just funny adage. ;)



&gt; As for the size of the (GMM) field, I think there were a lot of locals
&gt; for whom it's &quot;their thing&quot; to do any year when they can be there, and
&gt; the course is no surprise. I actually expected a few more finishers.
&gt; They had a full field of 450 signups, and with the excellent weather I
&gt; expected over 400 starters. Maybe there were 400+, but then lots of
&gt; DNF's?

Even in good wether, DNF's are common in a marathon of this stature. Can
you imagine if was a real hot day?

-DougF

Report this message

#10: Re: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-12 23:14:40 by tom.banchy

Tony S. wrote:
&gt; ...
&gt; &gt; OK, so I drove the 7 hours down to Boone, NC on Friday. Stayed in the
&gt; &gt; App State dorms arranged by the race. 4 of us shared a common kitchen,
&gt; &gt; and wouldn't you know we had 3 coffee pots brewing at the same time
&gt; &gt; Saturday morning. Your classic super-prepared running geeks in action.
&gt;
&gt; That sounds more like an orienteering or trail race atmosphere than a road
&gt; race. I've never driven 7 hours for a race though, well maybe once to a
&gt; ROGAINE, but that was more like a weekend outing party with friends.

I combined the race with a long weekend to visit family in the area. I
don't know that I would drive so far otherwise, except maybe if I could
get a group of buddies to road trip down there.

&gt; &gt; There's a steep gravel road for
&gt; &gt; a mile or so around 17 that I had heard most people walk. I was close
&gt; &gt; to walking here, but kind of &quot;hunchbacked&quot; my way up it with teeny
&gt; &gt; little strides and avoided walking.
&gt;
&gt; Hmm, was there anyone else around you and did they walk? I'm sure you've
&gt; heard some of us talk about power-hiking the steep hills.

I was totally alone for this stretch. If it had been a little steeper,
I probably would have walked. There is a small local XC race here in
the fall that I have done for a few years. I power walk the steep
hills in that one. They're at least 30% grade.

&gt; Sounds like a great race and atmosphere! I like the ultra-ish 26.75 also. A
&gt; 3:04 there with the climb and extra distance is impressive. Congratulations.

Thanks. It gave me some more thoughts of a 50M this fall. I posted
about maybe trying the JFK last year, and now I am back to thinking
about the Mountain Masochist in Lynchburg, VA. It's been moved to
early November this year.

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#11: Re: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-13 03:04:35 by Doug Freese

&quot;Tom B.&quot; &lt;<a href="mailto:tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com" target="_blank">tom.banchy&#64;gmail.com</a>&gt; wrote in message
news:<a href="mailto:1152738880.882269.78960&#64;b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com..." target="_blank">1152738880.882269.78960&#64;b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...</a>

&gt; Thanks. It gave me some more thoughts of a 50M this fall. I posted
&gt; about maybe trying the JFK last year, and now I am back to thinking
&gt; about the Mountain Masochist in Lynchburg, VA. It's been moved to
&gt; early November this year.


I'd go for MM not because it is harder, nor because it's likely to be
50++ miles(Horton miles) , but because it is a real trail race. JFK has
16 miles on the AT and the rest is roads and toe/tow path. Yes popular
in numbers but nonetheless BORING. The Vermont 50 in late Sept is also
beautiful with about 8-9K of up and respective down.

-Doug

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#12: Re: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-13 04:47:33 by email_tonys

&lt;<a href="mailto:lanceandrew&#64;aol.com" target="_blank">lanceandrew&#64;aol.com</a>&gt; wrote in message
news:<a href="mailto:1152716841.907191.254340&#64;m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com..." target="_blank">1152716841.907191.254340&#64;m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...</a>
&gt;...
&gt; defend the hinterlands....as he basically lives in New York's version
&gt; of the Appalachia)]...

Not quite. Everyone who's lived around here for a while knows that's
Sullivan county in these parts...

-Tony

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#13: Re: RR: Grandfather Mountain marathon, July 8

Posted on 2006-07-13 12:28:49 by Doug Freese

&lt;<a href="mailto:lanceandrew&#64;aol.com" target="_blank">lanceandrew&#64;aol.com</a>&gt; wrote in message
news:<a href="mailto:1152716841.907191.254340&#64;m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com..." target="_blank">1152716841.907191.254340&#64;m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...</a>

&gt; anyway great job!
&gt;
&gt; [$20 says DF can't hold out 24 hours before responding to my
&gt; post....soooo predictable...blah blah blah...this time he gets to
&gt; defend the hinterlands....as he basically lives in New York's version
&gt; of the Appalachia)].

You betcha that's why I'm always trying to get you to come up north - we
always have a fresh batch of tar simmering and with chickens in
everyone's front yard(the hogs are in the back) always some quality
feathers. We only want to help celebrate your renewed training and
enthusiasm with a new suit of clothes.

Who's yur Daddy!
-Doug

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