On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flying Monkey Marathon redux

I'm back to it.  This race is still on my mind.
Specifically: how I was weaseled by a weasel.

As you may remember, ages ago I made a bet with a friend of mine.  I wanted to do the Flying Monkey Marathon but, with a race this small, I was concerned about being last.  Ian bet me that he would be last.  I was game.

But then, my plans changed and I was out.  Ian was out, too (because he's a wuss), so the bet was just off and I wouldn't be doing the race and that was that.  Right?  Well...  No.  Of course, as you know,  I got a last minute ticket and was good to go race morning.

Ian, his brother, and I all lined up at the start.  Ian's plan was to run the first 7 or so with his brother and then meet up with him for the last 7 or 8.  If I could stay with his brother, then I'd get Ian's company, too.  I didn't think I'd be able to keep up with him, but once we started running we fell into a pleasant camaraderie and were fairly well matched.  Ian's brother was undertrained (by a lot) whereas I was experienced - but slow and tired.

For a while we rolled along (and that's all you can do on a course this hilly, just go with it).  I was in good spirits - we were going slowly enough that I could just talk... and talk... and talk..., and Ian's brother is interesting and engaging and (most importantly) was willing to listen to me blather on.  We hit a few rough spots, and his knee started bothering him pretty badly.  I was happy to take it easy for him.  I could have maybe picked it up a little bit in there, but I wanted the company more than I wanted to finish a few minutes faster.

We met up with Ian again around 18 and our party kept moving on.  I hadn't been watching the time, but when we hit the 23m marker, I looked down at my watch: 5:30.  Drat.  I'd been hoping to break 6 hours (and I think I would have with no problem if I'd left Ian's brother behind).  I said something aloud, jokingly, about how we needed sub-10 minute miles for the last few to break 6 hours.

Well.  With that, Ian's brother took off.  I don't know how else to describe it.  He just took off.  No real warning, just a massive burst of speed.  And he kept it up!  He dropped his pace by nearly 4 minutes per mile for the last 3.2 and finished in 6:02.

On one hand: seriously, you weasel. For real? After we all just went through, you ditch me?

On the other hand: it's a race. As in, every man for himself.  And he rocked the finish.

On the (hm, okay, go with it) third hand: I was jealous. That kind of mind-over-body determination? I don't have it. Can it be learned? I sure hope.

Honestly? I was just impressed.  This was a bastard of a first marathon, and to do it undertrained? Insane. To do it undertrained and blast out sub-10 minute miles on crazy hills for your last 3 miles after averaging closer to 14 for the rest of the race and dealing with debilitating knee pain?  DUDE.

Still, I feel like I have unfinished business with this race.  Partly because I was definitely holding myself back at points for Ian's brother, partly because I had such a rough go of it between Chicago and NYCM and I wasn't prepared to do this race except as a lark.  Like I tweeted my imaginary friend Angry, "there's no glory in a 6 hour marathon finish, even if there is a 3500 ft elevation change."


  1. Twitchless in TennesseeThu Dec 02, 10:56:00 AM EST

    What's the deal with Ian? Why did he drop out? Why would he go to a marathon and only run about half of it?

    What a wuss!

  2. I'M just impressed that you've done three marathons over the last two months. Even the thought of running another one makes me want to cry.

    And I think I agree with all three of your hands. I'll do anything for a reaction, so that sounds like something I'd do to for a laugh, IF I could actually pull it off (which I couldn't) so kudos to him on both counts.

  3. The term "weasel" needs to be used more, thank you for bringing this to my attention. It's effective here and made me giggle. I think you should find a way to be weasel-y back, in revenge. In a nice way.

    Also, I can't imagine having that comparatively fast of a finish... I'm pretty sure my only marathon finish was four minutes SLOWER per mile than the rest of my pacing... good for him.

    How you managed to run three marathons in two months? Is beyond me. Ahhh! Craziness.

  4. Why did that Ian drop out? Funny, "wuss" is the word I found myself using a lot in the days after the marathon...

    And thank you guys for your kudos, but it still doesn't feel earned. I'd rather have run ONE of those races an hour faster than I did than having run all three. Oh, well, next year...