Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grandfather Mountain Marathon


I came into the Grandfather Mtn Marathon (GFMM) with low expectations as I had not recovered fully from the 50 Mile Dust To Dawn 2 weeks before. I also was having an over-use niggle (injury pain) in my right shin. Whenever I over-train I develop niggles which is my body’s way of staying I need to stop and rest. I did not run the week before in hopes I could finish the marathon. I put on shin sleeves in hopes it would help keep down the pain during the race. I also wore my cushion shoe, which is the Ultra by Skechers.

Stu Stepp and I went to the race Saturday morning. Stu had never run the 4th hardest marathon in the US so he was looking at it as a hard training run.

The GFMM is usually the second week of July and is the only marathon or longer race during the month of July. If offers a great way to see some of the prettiest part of the state and get a heck of a hill workout at the same time. My experience shows you should add 15 to 20 minutes of time to your normal marathon time to get an idea of where you will finish at GFMM on a perfect day. If it is over 80 degrees with humidity, it can be a long day. The finish is one of the best as you enter the stadium where the Highland Games are being held and run around the track. It is neat to hear 3000 Scotts cheering for you as you finish.
My strategy for GFMM is simple. On the flat to downhill portions of the race, you have to take advantage of opportunity. The 5 big hills are going to eat up time and you cannot walk them if you want to have a good race. The first 3 miles are net downhill so it is more important than in most races to start strong. I drank a cup of Scivation Psycho Supplement which gave me a mental and energy boost at the start of the race.
Scivation Psycho- Pre Run Drink

I wrote where the 5 bigs hills are on my arm so I knew throughout the race what was coming. I started off with my friend Jake and Alisha from Boone. Jake has already won 2 marathon or longer races this year and Alisha is a professional tri-athlete. I expected to run with them if I was able to have a good race. Jake at mile 1 disappears into the porta-potties and says he will catch up. They finish the race 3 minutes behind me together. Alisha ends up 2nd women overall. I toll her if she had not waited on Jake she would have won. The shin started hollering around mile 8 and I mentally focused on a song to focus on something else. Whatever I focus on will only grow stronger. I started passing runners at mile 13 as the hills were taking to take casualties. My goal was to keep my heart rate on 155bpm knowing that it would rise on the hills. I intentionally never look at my heart rate as I am running or finishing a hill as I use to use it as an excuse to ease up. I knew from my breathing that I gave it my best on the hills which my heart rate peaking at 177bpm. I had one runner past me during the race at mile 18 as if I was standing still. He finished in 6th place. I used Scivation Xtend EnduranceSupplement in my handheld for my fuel instead of using gels. I used a small 12oz handheld that I filled up twice. Xtend Endurance contains the electrolytes and carbohydrates for fuel during the race. I finished strong and was happy with my 9th place finish. 350 runners started the race. Last year I finished 13th place.This year,  I was lucky to win my age group. My time was 3:27 and last year my time was 3:14. I ran a much better race this year and surprised at the end with the total time. This year was much hotter and more humid. Last year 31 runners ran faster than 3:30 and this year only 13. It would good to connect with runners I see at GFMM each year including Bobby Aswell, Phyllis Tsang, Baki Oguz &  Caleb Masland with Bonk Proof Running who won the race. He is a professional runner from Boone. Great coach too.

Stu finished in 3:45 which is an excellent first attempt at GFMM.
Next year one of his goals will be to not walk any of the hills which has to do with pacing.

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