Holy Crap, y’all. This weekend was basically perfect in every way. I wouldn’t change one thing, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Everything that could have gone wrong (and does, as many racers can attest to) went right and I ended a 75.3 mile week feeling like I had just finished any other build week in preparation for my 100K training. Except for the monstrously sore throat which I think is either a sign that my body is like, “FINALLY! WE CAN GET SICK!” or maybe it’s just the after-effect of ingesting so much salt to avoid cramping. Either way – when you do a 50K followed by a marathon and the only thing you have to complain about is your sore throat? You’re doing great.
This race report will be short because it was my fourth Dizzy so not much new to relate about the course or my experience. My plan was to go in and take it easy and walk ALL of the uphills because I knew I needed to save my legs for the Flying Monkey with it’s insane elevation profile. I teamed up with two friends and the three of us just decided to stick together and it was GREAT. We had a few other friends pop in here and there – not racers, just friends looking for people to run with – and that was a pleasant change to past years! I’ve never had the random drop-in from a non-racer before and it definitely gives you a boost of unexpected energy. But the two friends who I stuck it out with the rest of the race gave me my best Dizzy to date. Not my best time, but the best day. The weather was great. I never got The Sads which I sometimes do on ultras when I end up alone out in the woods. I never thought about quitting. I never walked when it wasn’t a “Kim Needs To Save Her Legs” decision. Nothing ever hurt too bad. My back started tightening up on the last 9 miles, but I stretched it out on a bench in the woods and then just kept moving the final 5 miles so I could get to my foam roller before it cramped up entirely.
All in all? A lovely day with friends on the trails. I finished in an unofficial time of 7:50 which is only about eleven minutes slower than my first Dizzy, so considering how deliberate I was being about “taking it easy” – I’m proud I came that close to one of my previous years!
And then I threw my stuff in my car, headed home, soaked in the tub, ran to the store, and hit the road.
And then Donnie realized he forgot something so we turned around. And then hit the road again.
And then I realized I forgot something so we turned around. And then hit the road agin.
We made it to Nashville, ate a quick dinner next to the hotel, and I think I was asleep by 9 at the latest.
I woke up with my alarm (I rarely need an alarm but the morning after a 50K I knew I would) around 4am and spent some time drinking caffeine and rolling out my back with my foam roller. I felt pretty good, I was mainly just loosening thing up in preparation, not because I was hurting. I felt stiff but not sore which is an important distinction that you make whenever you do back-to-back long runs. Basically I felt just like I would on the days I was going for another Sunday long run on top of a Saturday long run, which I’ve done often this season. I had no new blisters or chaffing. Two things I was REALLY worried about because it would suck to start a difficult marathon already blistered or chaffed.
It was sub-30 when we got to the race start and my nerves were settling in. I was opting to take advantage of the early race start because I was worried I would need more than 7 hours. There weren’t a lot of people there yet because I was early and I could feel my nerves just spiraling out of control. I really wanted to see my friend who talked me into the Dizzy Monkey because I didn’t know anyone and after the friend-supported day before, I missed my friends. I stood out in the cold amazed by how many people from other states were meeting and greeting each other. There were TONS of the “Marathon Maniacs” there which seems like a great running community that I could qualify for, I just never have bothered signing up. After seeing how spirit-filled they all were, though, I kinda want to now.
Trent, the race director, wearing his Seneca Crane facial hair (every year the race has a theme, this year was The Monkey Games), made some hilarious announcements saying things like, “If you get to the finish line and you’re device says more than 26.2 miles, I won’t charge you for the extra.” We started a very short grass path to the road and we were on our way!
I knew it was going to be a fun day when the first sign I passed said, “TRENT SUCKS.”
There was also a sign on the first major hill that said, “LAST HILL” (every hill would end up having those signs) and at the top there was one that said, “300 feet of elevation gain. Only 3200 feet to go!”
The signs were part of the spirit of the race. People had monkey hats on and many – like me – had stuffed monkeys somewhere on their person. People were walking hills which is probably something a marathon maniac knows a lot about because the only way you could do all of those marathons (one guy there had done 300 in one year!) is to take it easy at all of them. So, I followed suit and was happy to have company. That was my plan I stuck to the whole day: I walked all of the hills and ran all of the downs.
I struggled a tiny bit mentally early on, just because I was a bit lonely. But the day was BEAUTIFUL. Cold, REALLY cold depending on what side of the mountain you were on, but the skies were the perfect color of blue with just a speckling of white puffy clouds so every time I felt lonely I’d look around and be grateful I could enjoy such a beautiful race.
By the time I got past the halfway mark I started feeling MUCH happier. I was thinking about how I was going to talk my friends into joining me the next year. The aid stops and sentry locations were filled with wonderful cheerleaders that were so encouraging it gave me a boost every time. And when the “regular” starters started passing me as an “early” starter, they were all kind and encouraging. I tried to hug the outside of the turns to let them have the inside so I probably added a mile on my distance just to stay out of their way, but they never made me feel like they were annoyed by me.
Everyone there was just NICE. No one is trying to qualify for anything because the course isn’t certified, everyone is proud to be a repeat-monkey so they’re excited to find people who have never done it before. And everyone is MISERABLE on EVERY hill which is kinda comical and makes you all laugh together. Towards the end on one short but steep climb there was a sign that said, “This is not a hill” and I just laughed my ass off. I also cracked up over the one that said “8 miles left!” when we only had 3 remaining.
All in all? A race I can’t wait to do again. And again. And again. I could see it being terrible if I had gotten blisters or if I hadn’t committed to walking the hills, but yesterday was simply great. My only issue was I felt my quads, mainly my left quad, on the verge of cramping basically the entire day. So, I kept my electrolytes in check the entire time. I definitely couldn’t have done trails on that kind of issue because any stretch in the wrong direction might have caused a cramp. I was glad I could just do the ultra shuffle on the road and not stress about logs to climb over or roots to catch me up.
I’ll do it again. And by “it” I mean the “Dizzy Monkey” – not even just the Flying Monkey. I think I liked having an excuse to walk the hills. I settled into a great trot that carried me over the downs/flats and just power-walked the hills for an unofficial finish of 5:30.
I ran 57.3 miles in two days and it took me about 13:30. This gives me a good feel for how long it will take me to do my 100K. I’ve been saying “under 15 hours” and I think I can still hold to that.
About the Sign
I took it off before the race even started.
Before race day I envisioned myself being the lone walker on all of the hills and people just flying past me all day, hence the sign would be funny. But as I stood at the start line, feeling surprisingly good, I starting worrying, What if I’m not the slowest one today? I mean, how terrible would it feel to be struggling on a tough marathon and see ME pass you WEARING THAT SIGN? That would probably make you feel terrible. And while I knew I’d be walking the ups, I felt good and figured I’d probably be running everything else so…why make someone else feel terrible?
And I’m glad I took it off because, as an early starter, I was actually finishing with some 4:30 marathoners and I would NOT have wanted to make them feel bad when I passed them because they were an hour faster than me and they had no way of knowing that.
I don’t know what my big goal for next year will be, but as long as the Dizzy Monkey doesn’t conflict with it? I’ll do it again. But hopefully I’ll talk others into joining me. It’s that fun! Donnie even wants to do it next year! Maybe not both, but at least the Monkey! If for nothing else but for the shirt WITH MY NAME ON IT! Do you see? It says “ZOOT” – so did my race bib! If I understand things correctly, next year my shirt will have a monkey on my sleeve to indicate I’ve survived ONE before. How awesome is that?
I feel good, y’all. It’s amazing what a difference proper training makes. I told Donnie last night, “If this weekend had gone terribly I would have regretted every 3am wakeup of the last 2 months.” But it didn’t. It went perfectly so it’s all worth it.
I’m a proud Dizzy Monkey.