Rec celebrates our 21st Marathon
3:00am: The soft tinkling of a wind chime played outside on Jenn's porch. In the next room, Jenn's wake up alarm began buzzing and was promptly switched off. Silence crept back in and so I continued to rest on the bed listening to the melodious sounds of the wind chime tinkling.
3:50am: Caught my alarm before it blared off. From there it was all go and by 4:20am we were on the road to Williamson, me following Jenn's car. Coming from the UK, was glad I did not have to think about the driving differences. Lucky Rec could stay asleep listening to the drone of the car engine.
Unlucky me, had to stay awake or risk crashing the car. From my own past experiences, I know that sleepiness comes in waves and can be so overwhelming that the mental self can just cave in to the mere thought of sleep. Driving an automatic does not help the monotony of motorway driving.
15 minutes into the drive, the eyelids wanted to shut. Time to drink water and eat a cereal bar, then a short sing song. Tried listening to the radio, decided it would lull me to sleep.
Half an hour into the drive, I contemplate about closing one eye at a time. Focus.....focus....focus.....time to rip open the jelly snakes and hopefully 5 shots of sugar would do the trick washed down with more water. Obviously I was not focused as found my car had wandered into the other lane. Good thing we were in the "sticks" thus it was too early for any sane person to be out driving. Wound down the windows for fresh air and spoke out a prayer that we would arrive there soon and safely.
With the morning glow appearing in the sky, thought about sucking on a green tea bag. John Denver's song "Country Roads" entered my head. Yes the mountains do look blue in the morning glow.
Soon the "sugar fix" was doing its job and making me feel a little more alert. After a couple more mind games and one and a half hours of driving we got there safely and in good time.
Click to see description of course at Hatfield McCoy website
Being out of the car into the fresh air and sensing early morning excitement, mental fatigue soon disappeared. Prepared Rec and secured bucket on whilst talking to Jenn and others intrigued by Rec.
Checked had water bottle, gels, cereal bars and a sandwich. Threw a rain coat into bucket. Thought I had everything but would later realise I had forgotten suncream, hat, and salt sachets.....and by mile 2, I would have a nagging thought that I had forgotten to lock the car.
Oh well, I had my passport on me and this being "out in the sticks" in God fearing country probably had very low petty crime rate and perhaps the odd feud or two.
Rain - a god send for uphhill
The Event - kicked off at 7am and the first mile and a bit was on the main motorway. However there was police car support to stop the traffic for runners to cross the road as well as throughout the event on the minor roads to ensure safety of the runners. Yes there is a great big hill at mile 6 that lasts a mile and thankfully it rained on the uphill to ease the pull of Rec. It was then followed by a glorious wet downhill glide and flew past those who had overtaken me going uphill.
It is hill billy country so do expect to pass lots of hill billies.
Hill Billy 1: Where are you from?
Hill Billy 1: Is London in England?
Hill Billy 2: Turns to HB1, now you making us Hill Billies look ignorant!
By 11am the sun was in full stride and one could only pray for more rain and as the day continued, one would also pray for more shade. However, I was distracted by scenery (reminded me of the Malaysian rainforests that I've grown up with), flora and fauna; stopping every so often to watch dragon flies soaring and colourful butterflies floating. Did you know dragon flies are known as mosquito hawks, eating more than 50 mosquitos a day (thanks Andy for the fact).
However I was dawdling, and if I hadn't dawdled so much I might not have suffered as much in the latter part of the second half. (completed 13 miles in 3:38) I had taken over 50 photos for memorabilia that might have equated to 20 minutes of time. By mile 20 the heat had been stoked up and had to use my t-shirt to cover my head and shoulders as well as continually pour water over my head and feet. Thankfully the water stations were still out and most had ice to fill one's water bottle. Every so often I would lick my lips searching for salt residues from my earlier sweat wishing for the salt sachets I had left in the car. (I had stopped sweating by mile 18).
By mile 22 I wanted to go to sleep, eye lids were heavy, the events leading up the marathon were taking its toil on me.
Mile 23 - a police car pulled over to check I was okay. I was struggling but I was okay after all I'd completed marathons in Singapore's humidity and heat, just that the body had forgotten. The mental fatigue was simple a state of mind that I needed to get over. I always thought it really did not matter how mentally tired I was, physically I was strong and here I was allowing my mental state to affect my physical state.
Mile 24.5 - Mrs Hatfield (event organiser) drove by to check I was okay and that she would be back to check on me again. A mental smack here and thought "no way are you going to be checking on me again. Stop poncing TG and finish the event. There's a hog roast event at the end to look forward to and toe-tapping, lip-smacking, rip-snorting fun".
And that was all that was needed for a small mental kick to get moving. The sun was belting down but the distance was now small. Finished in 8hrs 15mins, happy.......but disappointed there was no hog roast event. However there was BBQ food in a local restaurant/bar and new friends to hang out with (thanks Alexis, Lauren and Mum).
That night I travelled back to the airport and took 4 hours to complete the journey. Of course sensibility took over; when I began to feel tired I would stop and either had a short snooze or a fresh air break. Now at the airport I notice little floating trails of lights. Airport personnel, watches me following and playing with the insects and tells me: "Lightning bugs....real common out here". For me it is magic :-)
Thank you to everyone for your hospitality and friendship :-)
Hatfield McCoy Overview
Type of race: Chip timed
Course: Beginning mile and end mile is along motorway, the rest is on minor roads and trail. Lots of scenery and history of the Hatfield McCoy feud.
Drink points: Water/gatorade @ every mile; gel/fruit stop after mile 17
Goodie Bag at start point: Cotton t-shirt and a little food
Goodies at finish point: Ice cold towel; medal; trophy; food and drink
Pre-Pasta Party: Didn't attend. Many said it was really good.
Weather: 7am @ early 20s C and by 11am got to the late 20s C/ 70s F
Mid-day about 35 C/ 95 F
Potential Accommodation: Fire station (has to be done if I return!)
Getting to Venue: Straightforward drive from Charleston Airport to the event, all the way on the 119 motorway. The start, Food City is just off the motorway!