I believe I left you at the Star on top of Mill Mountain. If you recall, I had sort of caught up with Angie. We headed, not together but close, down Mill Mountain. The down was curvy and a fairly sharp incline. Not far down the hill, about a half mile or so, there was a statue of a cow in the road. I specify statue because where I live, I have had to wait for real cows to get out of the way during runs. At the turn where the cow is, a lovely home is off to the left. Nancy stood at her home’s driveway entrance, with the very substantial gate closed, serving mimosas to runners who wanted one. In. real. glasses. She apologized deeply and said she would have plastic glasses next year so the glasses could go with the runners. At this point in the race, I met the two women I would eventually finish with and their then running partner from Scranton. I only mention this because Scranton is just a little over an hour south of where I live.
Down and around the next bend in the road/path (I do not really think two cars could fit on it, one maybe), there was a house with a huge mosaic on the side of it. The tiles formed a picture of Jesus and the children. Absolutely beautiful! So thankful I was near two local people at the time and they told me all about it. I run without my prescription lenses so would never have noticed it without someone mentioning it to me. I swore I had a photo of it on my phone but I cannot find it. If I do, I’ll come back and put it here later.
Now, started my fear. I knew I was going to need an additional tampon and had not brought more than one on the race course with me. The next water stop, about 14.5 miles, I asked – quietly because who wants to embarrass the volunteers – the females if anyone had a tampon. No one did so I continued on. Suddenly, I heard someone yelling “runner” and “ma’am” in all their Southern charm. One of the volunteers knew she had one in her car – at the bottom of the hill on a side street. She went down the hill – close to a half mile – with me and off to her car while I stayed on the course to get me a tampon. Then, with all thoughtfulness, she brought me two, just in case. Thank you so much unknown volunteer as this race may have been a disaster without your help.
The first time through River’s Edge Park consisted of a timing mat and a bathroom stop in a porta-potty. Let me say up front that previous marathons I have stopped my Garmin when I make a pit stop. I did not stop my Garmin at all during this race so my “running” time is probably less than my total elapsed time. I do not care, though, as it was usually beauty that had me stopping to pull out the cell phone and snap a photo.
As we came out of the park , we headed up into a residential area. This was the only real residential part of the race. I have grass allergies and seems everyone and their brother was mowing on Saturday. Thankfully, regardless of our lack of warmth in upstate NY, I started my allergy meds on April 1st. This area eventually led me to the top of Peakwood Drive. This is basically one never-ending hill that winds through some gorgeous houses. Once peaking Peakwood, the worst downhill of the race began. While the map I have shows it to be straight, I do not know that it was all that straight. It was extremely steep at times.
As we continued down and turned, I saw the GU tree that was going to be on the course somewhere. My guess this is the water stop at mile 20.
Miles 22 to 25, approximately, were not the same as on the course map. On Thursday, or maybe it was Wednesday (I swear I have post-marathon brain as my excuse), the marathon organizers chose to use the pre-planned flood route due to heavy rains that were anticipated – and did occur – on Friday afternoon. In the shakeout run on Friday morning, we ran over the one area that was in question and the water was already to the bottom of the bridge so a good thing. In retrospect, I didn’t pay any attention to where this flood route would take us as I ran right through the parking lot of my hotel. That was at about the point where a shower was sounding pretty good.
On the way down Peakwood, my right calf balled up in a knot. I managed to run more slowly than usual until about mile 23, at which point I had caught up with my friends from the mimosa lady. The guy from Scranton had run on but the two women were walking, one with an ice pack on her knee. I originally thought I would just walk with them a little but I stayed with them until the end of the race, only running at photo times and the finish line. My calf was none to happy at those running stints but I was going to finish regardless.
At about mile 25.9 (guessing but it was just too easy to say at mile 26), we saw this sign.
My official finish time is 6:22:18. I walked a great deal of the uphills and those last miles. My first, and previously slowest, marathon time is 6:14 so only 8 minutes different and that first marathon was flatter than flat. I am very happy with my results and my training and have put the 2014 Blue Ridge Marathon on my calendar.