Monday, November 30, 2015

Monkey Games ~ A Survivor's Tale

It has been seven days. There's still remnants of the battle scars. My body hasn't hurt this bad since last year, which hadn't hurt as bad since the year before, and prior to that it had never hurt that bad. But yet I keep coming back for more. There are 7,200 plus feet of elevation change. 10 hills and some 3 mountains. Two of these, one at mile 5, the other at mile 10, are hard but very doable. I ran/walked up these two without much consequence. The mother of all came at mile 19. I think I crawled. There was no running, there was no walking. I have no memory of this. For my protection, my mind has blocked this out. I'm not sure there is any human alive that after running 19 miles could physically run up this behemoth. Except of course my friend Scott W. I think he ate this one for lunch. Or was it breakfast? He was done way before lunch.

The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon is held at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN. The 10th Annual Monkey Games did not disappoint. It is a small, locally organized event. No one knows how many folks are accepted into the race. It is a tightly kept secret. As is the selection process. You have to enter a lottery, you have to wait for your fate. This year, 324 marathoners finished, most of us bruised and beat up but with bragging rights intact. Reports are that 8 runners did not survive the Monkey Attacks. These reports have not been confirmed.

This was my third monkey kill. Some of my friends have killed all ten. They are my heroes. We all plan our fall racing schedule around the infamous "Monkey". However, no one ever trains for this race, because everyone knows that you can't train for the monkey, for each year is different. Same course, same miles, same hills, but a very different experience.

I'm not going into step by step, turn by turn detail of my day. I'm not going to tell you how my friends Rick, Scott J, Aine, Luc, Alison, Steve, Leigh, Jason, Karen, Tammy, and Charlene provided some much-needed support along the way. I'm just not going into how special a hug from Season at mile 20 was, nor how good it was to see my friends Paul and Kennette. I'm not going to tell you how magnificent "Water Station 23" was, and what a sight it was for me to see my wife's smile and support.  Nor am I going to tell you how an angel caught up with me after stop 23, started some small conversation and brought me home. I'm just not going to tell you. I will tell you, however, Marathon #14 is now in the books.

Next year is the Chinese Year of the Monkey. First one since the marathon started and the next one not for another 12 years.  Will the hills have special treats for us? Will the monkeys multiply and fly high? Will we survive the monkey attacks? One way to find out. We'll see you there, we'll see you at the finish line.