Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wet Monkey: Flying Monkey Marathon

As RD Monkey Trent says, "I ran it the year it rained." This was my first time running the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon. I had heard great things about it. I had heard terrible things about it. Bad news first: 7200 feet of total elevation change. 3600 feet up. 3600 feet down. The good news was everything else about the race.

Me, Kristen, Troy
As I drove into Nashville, one of the first things I noticed other than the "Bat" building was that it was hot.  It had been 50 degrees all week in Ohio, and Nashville was closer to 70. Ouch. Shortly after walking into packet pickup, I bumped into Kristen and Mike. I had met these super speedy and super nice folks before the Pittsburgh Marathon at an awesome pasta dinner they hosted. What a great start to the weekend! After chatting for a bit, I picked up my bib, said howdy to Trent and John, and met Elly (the monkey shooter). One thing about this race that I was really looking forward to was seeing a bunch of familiar faces.

The pasta dinner was more awesomeness. I saw Troy as soon as I walked in. The last time I had seen Troy was when we had run Mountain Mist in January 2010. Troy and I had worked together for a couple of years when I lived in Tennessee, and I was happy to hear he had signed up for the Monkey as well. I had dinner with Troy, Mike, and Kristen. I chatted with Robert whom I had met at the Brew to Brew 44 miler earlier in the year. He had run the Dizzy 50s that day and was a looking a little tired. This would later be dubbed as The Dizzy Monkey. I also met lots of other folks including Jill, Anne, Drew, Russ, Candice, and Ben and chatted with John (one of the best ultrarunners I know).

The forcast for the next day included rain. A lot of rain. Honestly, I was happy. I wasn't looking forward to running a muggy 70 degree marathon. I had forgotten how humid it gets in Tennessee. Before the start of the race, I bumped into Karl. I worked with Karl at both Square D and Gibson, and last time I had seen him was Mountain Mist. Turns out he was running The Dizzy Monkey. He started out running with Rick whom I had met at Mountain Mist as well. It was a lot like old home week.

The first part of the race was uphill. Go figure. At the top of the first hill, a sign said "300 Feet.3300 to Go". My lungs were not happy with the humidity but luckily Monsoon Monkey began shortly after that hill. My goal for this race was to finish. I had recently come off of a foot injury that put a snag in my training. Trent said you cannot train for Monkey anyway. I just wanted to take the hills as they came and enjoy the park. The park, by the way, was absolutely lovely. There were nice winding roads, plenty of trees, and plenty of hills. There were aid stations every couple of miles with brave volunteers who stood out in the rain, handed out water and gatorade, and encouraged the runners. Trent had taunting encouraging signs along the course and every once in a while you would get a glimpse of a wet monkey. At one point on the course, there was a sign that indicated you could go either direction around a loop. Since everyone was going right, I headed left. As one runner passed by me going the other direction, he smiled and said, "There's always got to be one." I grinned back and resounded a proud "Yep!"

Kristen and her Monkey
The rain was falling at a pretty good clip for the majority of the race. I was thankful.  During one section of the second half of the run, I was running on blacktop with a mirror water overlay. Leaves were sprinkled all along the path. It was easy to imagine I was actually running down a dark, leaf-speckled stream in the middle of a forest.
Me, John, and Mike
John ran a 3 hour Monkey! Amazing!

The finish was a mudfest. The day of rain had turned the finish and field area into muddy mess.  That didn't stop everyone from hanging out and partaking in all of the yummy foods at the end or the free Yazoo beer.  The Flying Monkey is a top notch event, and I had an absolutely wonderful weekend.

Think Monkey. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Oooooh I loved reading this. Sounds like SO MUCH FUN! well, excepting the elevation climb in there. Yaaaay you! I think I may have to add this to my bucket list. well, except for the elevation, still great training for Comrades.