Grandfather Mountain Marathon Recap

Is it really time for me to do a recap on this marathon? It's crazy how time works like that. {Warning: recaps are always long}. Tanner tells me that literally every time I'm about to start a race. He always says "You are so nervous but just think, in less than 6 hours, we will be on the way home and it will all be finished and I know you'll complete it." 

This was one of the scariest things I've ever done to be honest. I didn't train a lot of hills to be quite frank, and I had some minor "injuries" going in that I just never mention because I don't want people to think I'm crazy. I was having some serious pain in my achilles and my hip flexor so the week before the marathon, my taper was on the elliptical. I would do the amount of time that it took me to run whatever mileage I had planned (and oh my gosh it was so annoying hahaha). 

Long story short, I get a lot of questions of like "HOW IN THE WORLD?" or "WHY IN THE WORLD?" and honestly, I just don't think. I just do. It's such a simple concept that works so well for me. If anything hard is in my life, to be quite honest, I just push it out of my brain. The night before, we went out to eat and I just pretended it was a normal date night and yea I had waves of butterflies but there's no way I was going to work myself up. That's just too much stress to me. 

Anywho, we were to be at the start at 6:30 so we left the house around 6:10 as we were close but I got to the start line like RIGHT on time but I like it that way. Again, don't think, just do. 

casually applying anti chafing cream and laughing because Tanner decided to document it

casually applying anti chafing cream and laughing because Tanner decided to document it

We were to run around the track twice, and then we head down from the stadium, out to Rivers street, to the Bojangles (for those that know Boone) and then we turned right to go out into the mountains. I geared up for what was going to be a long long day. I turned on an Elevation sermon and that lasted all of like 20 minutes before we went out of signal. I have no music saved on my phone and always just use pandora, so I literally was like "WELP it's me and silence for the next 26 miles." What should I think about? Hmmmm.... 

{{I have no idea why and it's ridiculous but my first thoughts are always my to do list that seems never ending and new business ideas but then I had to be like 'okay NO stop thinking about that' haha}}

The first 13 miles were rolling hills and honestly sometimes the downhills are just as bad and can trash your legs so I took those very carefully. Here is the course map: 

I think because I was like envisioning Mount Everest in my head, I kept expecting the worst. I was like "okay this hill isn't THAT bad" and I just kept saying that to myself. I laughed at mile 7 because literally everyone started walking. I can't walk. I just don't like it and it makes me not want to start back up. However, I had advice from someone who runs ultras and trails that if you flush your legs with lactic acid, then you are going to be walking a lot longer than you want to be from trashing your legs so walk if you have to. So, at mile 7, I walked for maybe 30 seconds as I felt a crazy burn and it was way too early for that. Everyone was walking so I didn't feel bad. From there on out, I didn't walk a single step. Yes, that 13-19 mile incline was shuffle stepped for lack of a better word. People just can't fathom how I ran the entire time, but honestly I just had to dig deep and do like a slow jog/shuffle or I would have felt all the pain {that instead came at the end}. 

Marathons are weird. It was 4 hours alone. I didn't have music. I didn't have signal. I didn't have anything saved on my phone to listen to. It was me, and the mountains, and I can't remember what I thought about. I didn't pray. I didn't think about really anything. The only thing I can remember thinking about is how much I loved running and how much I was weirdly enjoying the hills. It made me feel so powerful and so I would kinda think about other tough marathons, the fact that I could maybe be an ultra runner as I loved the wilderness so much, etc. But, that's about it. 

I found a friend at mile 17-18 so we chatted that mile but there's only so much to talk about however she will be my friend for life. She's been running for decades and this was her 8th GMM. She came up to meet Tanner after the race, and said how my energy kept her alive when she was down. It made my day. I have no idea how but at 18 miles y'all, I was like WOOHOO I COULD RUN FOR DAYS! hahaha! I kept telling myself I was an ultra runner, and that 26 miles was easy peesy stuff....childs play ;) 

At 20 miles, my body always breaks down....always. The glycogen stores are like DONE and the aching sets in. Your body starts saying ALERT ALERT and I'm like "Legs calm down, it's only 6 more miles. Just hush and run." So, one step at a time, I kept shuffling (I seriously would call it a shuffle which is why my time still absolutely baffles me). I genuinely had no idea of my time at all. I thought I was running like 10-12 min miles up these mountain hills. Random: I can't remember exactly what mile but I think it was 16 that they gave us watermelon and it was EPIC. I was like HECK YES BEST MARATHON EVA! 

At Mile 22, you hit the steepest hill of the entire marathon. Like....a climb. I couldn't believe how incredibly steep they expected me to go at 22 miles in. I wasn't even upset about it though. I just was like "Heck yes, I'm about to show this what I'm made of." Everyone started walking. Again, I just couldn't. *Shuffle shuffle* Picture like an old man thats just like taking the tiniest little steps moving forward. That was me up these hills. You would get to a semi flat section, then up up up again. Finally, at 25 miles out, you could hear the bag pipes. The end of the race was at the Highland Games (the largest Scottish games in the US-2nd largest in the world). You turn into the games, and then up this gravel hill and into the stadium. When you do the last 1/4 mile around the track. all of the spectators start cheering for you. Tanner was standing at the top of the gravel hill, and I just started balling. I was like "Tanner it was so hard. I made it. I made it." People probably thought I was crazy. Hahaha! 

The crying moment

The crying moment

When I finished, I had to go to the bathroom and when I got up, I immediately felt really sick. My legs started aching. I don't mean just the general post marathon ache. I mean like "Something is wrong. I need a med tent ache but of course I'll never go to a med tent ache." I told Tanner, and he brushes it off because I really don't think he realized how bad it hurt. We weren't to the marathon tent but I asked if I could just sit down. So we did, and I seriously have never felt so much pain in my life. Tanner said he read about it (of course) that when you are putting forth all of that effort, all the cells in your body are going towards fueling that running and when you are running you are using those toxins that are entering your legs for that exercise. When you stop running, all of the toxins continue flowing into your legs but you aren't able to flush them out because you are stopped. Your body is like over compensating, and it took like 30 minutes until it went away. During this time, I should have been eating but I was in too much pain, so then my blood sugar bottomed. 

I knew exactly what that felt like, and I start slurring my speech and thinking I was going to be one of those stories of the people that die at marathons. I was so confused because I felt so strong on my finish. I started grasping for anything I could get my mouth on. It hit a fudge round first. I lay out on the grass, and Tanner tells this man that my sugar was just low and he said "Get her some peanut butter so she can get some protein." 

1. I did not need protein

2. Peanut butter is a fat source with quite minimal protein.

3. I needed sugar aka carbs.

Now that we've dealt with that comment...moving forward: (ha)

I finally get all this DRAMAAAAA post race settled and Tanner says "I think you might have placed. The women before you were definitely older than you too." I was like "No way Jose. Maybe like 10th if anything." So, he starts asking around to figure out. He comes back smiling, and I said "Did I place or something?" and he holds up one finger. I was like "DUDE SHUT UP. NO WAY!" And he just laughed and said "YEA YOU WERE FIRST!" I said "SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! YOU'RE LYING!" hahaha! I had ZERO expectations for that nor did I ever think that would happen. I was stoked. So, they gave out little glass plagues and I got one! Yay! :) 

To wrap up the day, you have to ride a shuttle back down the mountain. We were up high with no signal, and so I knew my entire family would be anxious to hear from me as well as my friends but I couldn't text anyone as we had no signal. 

I keep getting comments like "You're my hero" or "That's so incredible" or people telling me they "never could" or "aren't good runners" and all I can say is this...Yes. You. Can. 

You absolutely can. I am a firm testament to the fact that when you want it, it's obtainable. You put your head down and you dig deep. Your body WILL NOT stop unless you tell it to. Train. Train slowly. Train consistently. You will get better. Do not tell me you aren't a runner because 4 years ago, I started with a 2 miler gasping for air hating running. One year ago, I would have told you I hated hills with a passion. Two months ago, I would have told you I might not make it to this finish line. I'm not a hero. I simply am someone who refuses to give up. Ever. In anything. I'm a small person and I don't really have the look of someone who is tough. But they just don't know about what goes on in my head. I have been given something from God (because that's the only thing I can come up with) that I just will not stop. Once it's started, it is finished. Life without limits. Never ending passion bleeding through my veins. Shuffle step to the top but you'll have to peel me from the pavement to get me to stop. 

NEXT UP-HALF IRONMAN OCT 17TH with some small races before 

and then hopefully Thunder Road Marathon in November! 

With love and races, 

Katie

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