Sunday, October 31, 2010

R2BM - Poor strategy . . . I never had a chance!

2010 Ridge to Bridge Marathon pictures.

Laura MacLean's Pictures

I thought I had this one figured out!

The Ridge to Bridge Marathon is a down-hill run ... probably 95%!  Amazing!  My strategy was really quite simple.  As I posted it on Facebook:
I've got a strategy for RtoB tomorrow ... when the downhill starts at 7 or so, I'm going to 'ball up' and just roll down the hill to mile 14. Then, get up and run it in!! 2,700 foot net decline start to finish!

Marcia . . . before she left me!!
Well . . . I was perfect going into mile 6 or so.  Didn't even take too many pictures as I was focused on what was to come.  Enjoyed running several miles with Marcia Godwin, a fellow MTCer and certified nice lady!  Also met a nice young couple from Asheville running their first marathon.

After 6 miles on rolling pavement, we finally hit the dirt, downhill road off Jonas Ridge.  The grade was just about what I was expecting.  But before I went into 'strategy implementation' I needed to take care of a little business.

My only suggestion for this event is MORE FRICKIN' TOILETS at the start!  Think there were 4-5 porti-johns to be shared by 400 people who had just finished a bus ride to the mountain top and had 20 minutes till the race started!

Given the lines I opted to handle the simple #1 problem behind a bush . . . but the #2 problem needed to wait for the 'proper' place.  Was hoping that would be in the first mile . . . but it actually needed to wait until about mile 7!  By the 4th mile folks were asking me if I was okay and why did I look so funny when I ran!

Long story short, I finally found a 'nice' spot for an off-road adventure.  Damn those hills are steep!  While relief was sweet, I couldn't savor the moment!  I had some significant time to make up!

But I had my strategy . . .

OK, it was stupid.  Of course the road was curvy!  'Balling up and rolling' was just not going to work for me!  So I just had to run!

Truth be known, I thought this marathon was going to be easy.  Virtually all down hill!  How hard can it be??  I'll never make this mistake again.  A marathon is hard.  Any marathon is hard!  Every marathon is hard!!!!  Remember that, fool!!

On the race website, David Lee (the RD) gives some simple, time-tested suggestions for success:  During the steeper, upper sections of the downhill, run conservatively.  Don't go all out!  Wait until the road levels out some and then pick up the pace ... maybe starting at mile 16 or so.

I was going to follow David's advice originally, but after my extended visit to the 'Jonas Ridge Comfort Station and Powder Room' I needed to make up some serious time!  I was thinking of David's suggestions as I was flying down the steep, upper section.  And it felt so easy!  I hit the 13.1 mile point in 2 hours and 27 minutes!  Maybe a 5 hour run today?  No .. it would flatten out at the bottom so it would probably take a little longer . . . maybe a 5:10 or so.  Silly me!!  Maybe that new, pumpkin-spice flavored GU has a little something extra in it to make you delusional!

The road was spectacular and I had totally enjoyed running down this mountain, past a bunch of my favorite trout fishing spots like Lost Cove Creek!  And we ran by Mortimer where Michael and I camped on his very first trout fishing trip!  Leaves were probably 1 week + past peak, but still very enjoyable.

About mile 15 I was thinking again about David's suggestions.  How did he know??  I needed to slow it down or I was going to totally 'bonk' at 20.  This was not going to be good!  My quads were definitely barking . . . no . . . they were howling at me.

I tried to revert to my normal 3/1 interval and this worked for awhile.  But by mile 18 I changed to a 2/1.  And in just a little while, I just shut the watch off!  I would run when I could and walk when I had to!  I wasn't cramping . . . just tired.  Jonas Ridge had gotten it's revenge!!  For the record, I thought this course was a little easier then a normal marathon, but not MUCH easier!

Miles clicked off slowly and I almost had to worry about the 6 hour race cutoff.  Finally I came to the Brown Mountain Beach Resort and the finish line on the right.  Of course, David Lee had one final little kick in the butt for us.  The course went past the finish line about 1/4 mile, turned into the resort and then made a long circle back to the finish.  Nice!!

The 'Welcoming Crew!'
Turning into the Resort I saw Laura MacLean there at the turn cheering all us 'back of the packers' ... camera in hand!

I turned in and made the circle and Laura went to the finish line to get my picture.

Laura and Daniel
After the finish, I saw Daniel Lieb who had just set a PR!  Lot's of food and drinks at the finish, including  BBQ and pizza!!  And even 'Throwback Mountain Dew!' ... runners jet fuel!  Sweet!  (no pun intended!)  An amazing number of folks were just hanging around, obviously having fun talking with everyone and sharing experiences!
Jean Evansmore

Moma Jean came in a little later with the usual smile on her face and a third place finish in her age group.  Laura said she sort of crashed at about mile 23 I believe, but true to form, she still managed to get 2nd place in her age group!

Me . . . will . . . I finished!  And I was smiling!


  1. congrats frank!!! beth and I thought about you, doug, eva and dennis while we were running the haunted half! you are racing tons this fall!!! great race report! I really want to run R2B marathon one year! maybe next year since I'm going to run hellgate and not MMTR so the timing will be better for me!

    hope to see you soon! take care!


  2. Hi Frank, I think I was sitting across from you on the bus in the morning (behind the Minnesota folks). Congratulations on making it down the big hill - your "comfort station and powder room" comment made me laugh! What a pretty race course, but certainly not easy by virtue of the incline.
    - Beth

  3. Sounds like a neat race! Great job, as always, Frank! By the way, that GU sounds delicious... I definitely need to try that flavor! :o)

  4. The joys of downhill running! It is awful to say that you have to train for a downhill race, but that is true. The quads just take a beating and become mush. Funny how they get to where they will just not move. As you said, no marathon is easy, so enjoy your great accomplishment. You survived and beat this downhill marathon. Next year you will have the information you need to be able to go just a bit faster. Great run.


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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.