9 of 12…Greenville, SC

Tim's Bday Cake in honor of his favorite running shoe...Saucony! Thanks LK!

Marathon #9 Saturday October 29th in GreenvilleS.C.!  It was my 44th birthday and I choose to celebrate it with anotherMarathon. How else would I celebrate it at this point in the game?

So here it was, 4am on my birthday and I am awake getting into the car to drive two hours, run a marathon, and get back in the car to make the drive home. Not how most people would want to spend their birthday, but it was just fine for me. The drive down was an easy one, and I arrived with 40 minutes to spare, plenty of time to get my usual routine done and get to the start line. The only thing left to do was find a parking spot…well that was the adventure. After driving in circles for 30 minutes I finally found a parking spot. The only problem now was that I couldn’t figure out which way the start line was! I gathered all my gear and started running in the direction I thought the start was. After 5 minutes I saw a family in a car parked at a church and decided to ask them if I was close to the start line. They proceeded to tell me…no! They then gave me directions on where to go and said you are about two miles from the start. Two miles! Off I ran, two miles of running so that I can run 26.2 miles! Something isn’t right about that! I made it just in time to get my race number, pin it on, give them my bag and get to the start line with two minutes to spare! Unfortunately my nutrition and hydration weren’t where they should be. There was nothing that I could do about it now, the gun was fired and we were off.

If you have never been to Greenville S.C. you are really missing out. It is very well set up for walking, running and biking. The city is proud to be green and clean. There are walking bridges over the river and parks for the kids. Our race took us through all the beautiful parts of the city, and only a couple of not so pretty parts of the city. After a few miles of running by the river we entered the greenway, another rail trail covered in trees! It was much like the rail trail in WV only a few months ago, trees all around and not much to see. But to my relief it soon opened up to some beautiful areas of Greenville. We were able to run throughFurmanUniversity, which was awesome, and then make the turn back through the rail trail to get home. This is when I started to feel the missed nutrition from earlier that morning. I had a good pace of 7:35 going with only 4 miles to go, but I had nothing left in my tank! It is still amazing to me how your body can feel great at one point, and then a minute later all of your energy is gone. I went from 7:35 per mile to 8:45 and feeling like I could barely lift my legs. But, as I turned the last corner with only ½ a mile to go, I knew that some how I had made another finish line. Lesson learned, eat while you drive you need that food!

We finished inside the baseball stadium running around the warning track to the tape. I of course ran by the crowd yelling “it’s my birthday!” receiving louder cheers from the fans. This also attracted a reporter from The Greenville Gazette who wanted a quick interview! I, of course, talked to him and told him my story which was in the paper the following day. It’s good to have my name in the headlines! CLICK HERE to read my celebrity interview!

After signing all the autographs I started to make the walk back to the car, but not before stopping in Liberty Tap Room for a quick birthday beer, a perfect place to celebrate another great race! I finished in 3:21and 37th out of 500. On to the next race, #10 Charlottes’ Thunder Road Marathon November 12th! Hope to see you there!

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#8 of 12…Blue Ridge Relay

Marathon #8 September 9th & 10th, 2011… TheBlue Ridge Relay! 208 miles, 12 people, 2 vans, no sleep and running mountain after mountain mostly in the dark! Ahh… The Blue Ridge Relay only the strong survive and only the dumb attempt it.

It was my second time running one of my favorite events and I was very much looking forward to it. Even though I had just run a marathon two weeks before, and knew this would be a challenge, I couldn’t wait to get started! I couldn’t complain about being tired when three of my teammates had run a full Ironman two weeks before! So needless to say everyone was wondering what 28 hours of constant movement was going to bring.

If you don’t know what the Blue Ridge Relay is, it starts at the top of Mount Rodgers, VAand finishes 208 miles away in downtown Asheville, NC. Each team can have 4 to 12 members and must alternate runners throughout the race. You must stay in the same order you started in, so if you are the first runner you ride in the van until your number comes up again. The smaller the team, the less rest you get. You and the team continue this alternating running until you reach Asheville, or someone dies. Our team finished 45th out of 120 and in 28hrs. Finishing is winning!

My first leg was supposed to be straight down hill with a mediocre climb, a 7.5 mile run that looked to be fast. Well, we started straight down hill and just kept going as fast as your legs could take us. After beating our legs to pieces we then had that “mediocre climb” before another decent to the finish. I will tell you that climb was one of the hardest I have ever had! It was straight up and the fact that I had nothing left in my legs didn’t help…this climb was brutal! But that wasn’t the big story of this leg in the race. As I climbed this mountain I heard someone approaching quickly from behind, I turned to see a pretty young lady coming to give me a good old fashioned butt whippin’…this girl was awesome! She was attacking this hill like she was running on flat land. As she passed me she simply said “have a good run” with a friendly smile. She might as well have just said Hey old man you suck I’m going to kick your butt now and leave you to choke and die in my dust! And the bad part is that she was so good, she could have said that and I would have thanked her. I tried to keep up for 20 or 30 seconds before I realized how fast this girl was! So I just watched as these chiseled, strong legs churned on around the bend and easily put lots of space between us. “The gifted one” is what she is known as now… her team name was “The crazy hot legs”. It was a pleasure to have my running ego deflated, and stomped on by “The gifted one”.

My next leg was good old GrandfatherMountain. This would be the 3rd time in one year that I ran up this mountain, and the second time that I had to do it in the dark! 10 miles, all up hill, in the dark. It was around 8:30pm and here came Howard around the corner, it was my turn again. So, off I went with my headlight and reflective vest on, and the full, bright moon high in the night sky. After ¼ of a mile it became as quite as I can remember. The trees and mountain blocked any cheers from the crowd at the exchange zone. That’s when you realize that you are one of very few out in the middle of the woods running up this mountain…in the dark….very eerie. To add a little excitement, I was trying to step out of the way of an oncoming car and turned my ankle on a broken part of the pavement. I thought that was it for any racing, but after a couple of minutes limping up the hill I managed to work out the pain. I was lucky! So on I went, climbing to the top where the wind was blowing and the temperature had dropped! It was cold! But no time to complain, I handed off to Michele and had to jump into the van so that we could beat her down the mountain and get Lisa ready for her leg. Meantime, I had to get ready for my next leg which was a 7 miler running with Katrina in the dark…again! I had to add another leg to this race so that I could run a full marathon (26.2 miles), and Katrina hates to run at night by herself, in the middle of nowhere. I don’t understand why!? Anyway, we started this run at around 11:30. It was described as a 7 mile moderate run with a small ascent around the halfway point. Moderate my butt! My legs were like jelly, we have been working on almost no sleep, and every time Katrina saw a blinking red light ahead she pushed it even more to try and catch the person in front of us! Road kill is what that’s called. The only thing that slowed her down so that I could keep up was when a local pulled up beside us and said” Ya’ll aren’t from around here is ya?” Our answer was of course “no”!? She then proceeded to say “Well… we was driving here last night when a BEAR came across the road just down yonder. Just givin’ ya’ a warnin’!” That’s when Katrina stopped in her tracks. My thought was, “thank god I can rest”…her thought was “let’s go back”! Anyway, no bear showed up and we finished that leg in good time.

After a whole two hours of sleep in a church parking lot somewhere in the mountains, it was my turn again. My last leg was of course in the dark. The good thing was that it was only 4.5 miles and I wouldn’t have to run again unless it was to the bar for another round at the finish line! Howard handed off to me, and I was off. To be honest with you I remember very little about that last run due to the fact I was tired, it was dark, and cold, and I was ready to be done! So I ran as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast. I do remember handing off and hearing “Tim you’re done!” Thank god! Done! I ended up running 29 miles in all, and only had 7.5 of those in the daylight. But what an adventure!

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but I have to tell you, if you have the right group of people this is one of the best races you will ever get to be a part of. I have, by far, the best teammates of anyone else out there. We are all in it for the adventure and camaraderie! The support for, and from, everyone is amazing! It is a race that I will not miss if at all possible. As long as I am with the same Waxhaw Express team! TheBlue RidgeRelay… I dare you to try!

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7 of 12…Timmy’s Challenge…Cairo, WV

Well, I am very much behind on my Marathon blog updates! #7 has been done for 3 months now, and I haven’t lifted a finger to write about it until November! First of all, and most important, I survived  #7 of 12 marathons! It wasn’t easy by any means, from getting there late in the night, to getting back in the car and making the seven hour trip back after the finish, it was a long two days!

After watching my oldest son’s first football game I climbed into the car to begin the seven hour trip to a little town in northern WV named Cairo. The race actually began in North   Bend State Park and ran through Cairo. So I decided to camp at the State park so that I wouldn’t have far to go for the start. Well, it turned into an adventure in itself to just find the state park!  The GPS told me to turn onto roads that looked like one lane driveways with steep drop offs on both sides and a strange looking kid playing a banjo at the end!? The GPS told me one way, and the park signs told me another! I went with the signs and it ended up costing me 30-45 minutes extra time! That’s not good when it’s after 10pm, I haven’t eaten anything that would help me at the next days race and I haven’t even found the park! You know it’s bad when your GPS says you are at your destination and you’re staring at a switchback road going straight up a mountain in the pitch dark with no clue where your are! Well about ten minutes later I came across an unlit sign that said Welcome toNorth Bend!!?? Now all that was left was to find my camp site… down the switch back mountain road I went, to find my campsite. But it was so dark I couldn’t read any of the site #’s to know which one was mine! After turning my bright headlights on all the sleeping campers, I finally found a place to rest my head.

I might have slept 3-4 hours in the back of the mini van, but woke up to a beautiful morning in the mountains. After breakfast I jumped in the van and drove the long 400yds to the start line. I was ready for the race!

 The highlight of the trip was definitely when my Dad, Judith and their new dog Maggie made the drive from Morgantown, WV to watch the race. Marathons aren’t the most exciting races to watch, being that you see everyone start and then wait over three hours before you get to see them finish. But they were there for the whole thing. They had the pleasure of meeting some of the people I have met along this adventure, like Brian the young speedster that was trying to qualify for Boston, and Jose’ who was running his 79thMarathon. Dad and Judith were able to watch the pre-race nerves, the excitement and camaraderie of a marathon…pretty cool!

The race itself was very challenging. We ran the entire race on an old rail trail line. Now, it sounds cool and I thought that it would be but the problem was that the whole time you are surrounded by a tunnel of trees. There are no vistas to look at, no fans to cheer you on, and only one town to run through and there was not a person to be seen! Trees… that’s all you saw for 3:45. Another runner said it best when she said “it was eerily lonely”!  I like to be alone when I run, but I didn’t see another runner for the last 6 miles of this race! None in front, none in back. Just a trail, trees and wondering how much farther the next water stop was. The one thing that was really cool and different about this race was the deep, dark, eerie tunnel that we ran through. You were given a flashlight before you entered the tunnel that you dropped at the other side, and picked back up on your return visit. It was so dark that you couldn’t see your hand when you put it up to your face… DARK!!! As you ran with this not so bright light, you could see the bricks that formed the tunnel, they seemed to get closer and closer as your eyes tried to adjust. Some freaky claustrophobic feeling!! You would feel like you were about to run into the wall, but when you reached out to touch it, you were 3 feet from it!!

Well I ended up finishing in 6th place overall, and 2nd in my age group! Not bad for a freaked out, board, undernourished, 44yr old getting ready to climb back into the car for the 7 hour trip back home!

All in all, I had a good trip, but won’t put that race on my calendar again. A special thanks to Dad and Judith for making the trip down and being a part of a pretty cool personal goal. Hope to see you again soon.

 Off to #8, and theBlue RidgeRelay!

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6 of 12…Grandfather Mountain Marathon…July 9th, 2011

Up, up, up, that’s the only way to describe the Marathon that I finished this past Saturday! Grandfather Mountain Marathon has been ranked as one of the top ten hardest marathons in America 16 years running! Now I know why…UP, UP, UP! It is definitely the hardest 26.2 miles that I have ever done. Miles 16-19 felt like we were struggling to go nowhere due to the steep grade on the, middle of nowhere, gravel road! My wife Heather said she became very nervous when the SHUDDLE BUS she was riding to the top in, had trouble making it up the hill…UP, UP, UP!

It was an incredible race. We were able to start on the Appalachian State University Track, located inside the football stadium. It was really cool to be able to stand on the 50 yard line of the stadium. The gun went off and we ran twice around the track and then DOWN, yes I said down, 2 miles to the elevation of  3100 ft. If I forget to tell you, we finished at 4279 ft! After that, it was basically all uphill, or downhill depending on how you felt, from there. The elevation chart said that we would climb and descend every two or so miles until we hit mile 13. Well, I don’t remember descending at any point in those 13 miles! I’m sure that we did but I guess my idea of descending is very different from theirs. After 13, we just went up for a very long time. We were supposed to level off around mile 19, but once again where the leveling off was I’m not sure. One of the hardest parts of the race was when we actually did go down hill. On mile 22 we went down hill for maybe a quarter of a mile, and my hips, knees and ankles were hurting so bad in that short part that I couldn’t wait to go UP HILL again! My body was so used to climbing, that when I was faced with going downhill my legs hurt so bad I thought about lying down and rolling to the bottom!

The finish was just as brutal as the rest of the race. Up hill until the very end when we got to run on the Highland Scottish games nice level track for ¾ of a lap. Everyone was cheering us on as we slowly and painfully completed the race. A great accomplishment for everyone who finished! I was able to complete the race in 3:45, which put me 43rd out of 475 and 3rd in my age group! Not bad for one of the hardest races in America!

The post race celebration wasn’t what I was hoping for due in part to NO BEER at the festival. But the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock made up for it with great restaurants and beers and beautiful scenery throughout. I have found my favorite post race meal at The Mellow Mushroom, a cold IPA and an Avocado Hoagie. Absolutely awesome! A great place to get away with just my wife and enjoy some adult time. All in all if you want a real challenge in an incredibly beautiful place with a lot of things to see and do afterwards, this is the race for you. I am proud to be one of the few who have beaten the mountain. 6 of 12 done, now on to the 7th!

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5 of 12…The One Man Marathon! Waxhaw’s first!

Well, it has been a week since I ran my 5th marathon, only 7 more to go for the year! I know everyone has been anxiously waiting for my next blog about the adventure that I had this last race. Sorry to keep you waiting, but all my kids were gone for a week and I thought it was better that I take myself fishing instead of sitting at the computer. And if you knew how long it takes me to write this, you would understand more.

With that said I must tell you that this marathon was one of the most, if not the most, memorable races that I have ever had. It was by far the easiest race to get to. I’m not sure who gave me the directions, but they did a great job! It was extremely well put together, with a great start that included plenty of fan fare and fireworks to kick it off. It also had more than enough support along the entire course. This included the best water station and support team that any race could offer, and I had a traveling food and support team with me from start to finish!! No other race can provide those kinds of benefits for every runner who signed up! This one did just that!! The finish line was the topper, loaded with loud, exuberant fans cheering every finisher until the last one crossed the line. I was able to run through a wonderful finishing line, with all the streamers and decorations that any runner could want. The post race snacks were also a big hit, from the usual bananas, and oranges to the unusual watermelon and granola. And this race didn’t skimp on the post race party either, providing Corona Light free of charge to all the finishers, AND the workers.

The race itself was a very difficult and hilly race, which I would recommend for anyone who wants a challenge. But a little advice to the race organizer…maybe we should run this one backwards! I’m not sure who the moron was that decided to put ALL the HARD hills at the end, but that wasn’t very good planning! The great news for me is that I did something that I never thought that I would do, and that is I WON A MARATHON!!! That’s right everyone, I won first place overall! Shocking, here I was a sprinter/ hurdler in college and couldn’t stay up with any of the distance people, and now I’m winning marathons! Who would have thought!?

The One Man Marathon Banner

O.K. here’s the kicker; I was the only one running! This was the first ever Waxhaw One Man Marathon! I couldn’t find a marathon close enough to fit into my schedule, so with the help of many, I made my own. There are so many people to thank for making this a great day. First, I must thank Tracy Hays, and the Magnolia Ridge Girls for a wonderful start and finish line. These girls had everyone in the neighborhood sign a big banner for me to start and finish from. They also had the kids hang streamers from the finish line tent, and got up very early just to see me off. Girls, big thanks! It really made it a special day! My wife was able to make me a finishing shirt and set up a great post race feast for me even though she had been out-of-town for the entire week. You can’t buy the kind of support I get from my wife! Quite lucky am I! Ron and Tammy and their entire family stayed with me the whole way. Providing not only water, but most importantly incredible support. Ron either rode his bike or ran with me the whole way. No family has more enthusiasm than that family. Chris Tenold (aka BFF) also rode his bike the entire way with me, handing me protein bars and Gatorade from his backpack. This was quite possibly Mr. Tenolds best day ever! Love ya’ BFF! His wife Julie came and picked up all our kids and drove them from place to place yelling at me to “push it”…Something you always love to hear on mile 24!! But I’ll tell you what, seeing and hearing Julie and the kids sure helped me through those last miles! Steve, Michele, Katrina, and Tom all from the Blue Ridge Relay team (a team I cherish by the way) finished the race along side of me.  And then there was Bob, another member of our relay team. He was waiting at the finish line for me in his wheel chair, cheering louder than anyone. For those who don’t know, Bob was hit by a logging truck in his car only a few weeks ago, and still there he sat waiting at the house, just to see me finish a self-made marathon… I can see no better way to finish a marathon then in front of a man who even sitting down… stands so very tall! Thanks Bob, unbelievable!

Blue Ridge Team with the Winner of the Waxhaw One Man Marathon!

The post race party will go down as one of the best. Where else can you sit and have great conversation with great people at 10:30 in the morning! Days like that make me realize what many great things running has given to me. For those of you who wonder why I run, there it is. Thanks to all for making it a fantastic and memorable day. One that I will never forget. And not just because I WON!

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4 of 12…New River Marathon “Survival of the Fittest”

Well, to those of you that have been worried and anxious, I finally have the time to tell you all about the “Survival of the Fittest Marathon” they call The New River Marathon.

Due to scheduling conflicts this month I decided to try something that I never thought that I would try, much less do… run back to back weekend marathons. So, my plan was to take it easy and enjoy both marathons while focusing on the long term goal of 12 in 12. After theNashvillemarathon of 3:23, I thought that I would slow down and really have a nice run in the town ofTodd N.C.I soon found out that that would be impossible!

The weather was great, although a little chilly to start. The scenery was amazing from start to finish. We ran most of the marathon right next to theNew River, passing many fishermen enjoying a sport that by the end of the day I wished I would have chosen.

Just about 200 of us decided to run instead of fish, and I expect that most would have rather skipped both if they had seen the mountains that lay ahead of us. Yes, I said mountains. I know that (they) called them hills in the description of the race, but calling these hills is like calling theMississippia creek! Our first challenge came right out of the gate at mile 2. Nothing like a good one mile warm up before running 308 feet up for one full mile! The winding road kept bringing more hill at every turn. Did I say that was mile 2!  After a difficult descent we leveled off to some beautiful country that I was able to enjoy. Then came an easier hill at mile 5, only climbing 122 feet in 7/10 of a mile. Oh yeah, nice and easy! We had a nice run until around mile 13 when we were asked to take another challenge that was around 187 feet up. Don’t worry, it gets better!! We all realized that those hills were just a way to warm us up for what lie ahead… mile 16! I had heard people talking about the “hill” on mile 16, but I had no idea. As I approached the mile marker feeling pretty good for just running a marathon 7 days before, I saw the sharp turn to the right. This is where the fireman positioned on that marker decided to “support me” by saying “this is where you find out if you’re a man or not”!  I just ran 4 killer hills and 16 miles, and I’m still not a MAN?!?! Well…up I went. Two 174ft climbs on both mile 16 and 17 at a sometimes 16.1 % grade!!  I think my “stride” was reduced to around 2 inches. This was really going to hurt. Mile 16 went up, crested and eased into a tease of a downhill and went right into mile seventeen’s climb. That’s when the mountain went in for the kill…the descent at just as steep of a grade with no leveling rest. Needless to say my quads were barkin’!!

The last 3-4 miles was flat and beautiful, but our bodies were so beaten up that there was little enjoyment in those flat miles. Reduced to a shuffle by the last two miles it wouldn’t have mattered if a bear was chasing me, I could move no faster. Luckily no one else could either, so it didn’t make me feel too bad. Finally the end was upon me and I crossed the line in 3:36 with a 25 place finish! A better time than I thought I would do, and the satisfaction of finishing one of the hardest races I, and many others, have ever run!!

I would defiantly run this amazing race again. I loved the challenge the hills brought, and it was the prettiest course that I have run. I would expect nothing less from the organizer Ken who is responsible for The Blue Ridge Relay. Great job Ken! And for me, it’s off to the month of June and back toElerbieN.C.for a night marathon!!! WOW!! Happy running all.

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Tim’s Interview by WhyMarathon.com


Read about Tim’s Why… This interview was after the Marathon in March in Ellerbe, NC

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