Race Report

#76: 10/26/19 — Peak to Creek Marathon (North Carolina 5:40:51)

Post Dr. Meyers visit to relieve the heart beat in my big toe.

I book these races sometimes a year in advance. I never know what chaos will ensue or where I’m going to be in my training, and most importantly, I never know what my work-week is going to look like until the week before the race. You have no idea how hard it is to train and run long distances as road warrior. The week leading up to this marathon was the least ideal situation I could have possibly predicted. I was in Michigan on Monday and Tuesday. I traveled Tuesday night to Florida–my head didn’t hit the pillow until midnight on Tuesday. I traveled Wednesday night from Florida to Arkansas–my head didn’t hit the pillow until 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday (for a 7:15 a.m. departure with my team the next morning). I traveled Thursday night from Arkansas to home–my head didn’t hit the pillow until 1 a.m. Thursday night. I was hoping that our travel on Friday to Charlotte, NC was early enough to give me a good night’s sleep–but no, American Airlines hit us with almost a three hour maintenance delay (insert anger 🤬). The night before this race, my head hit the pillow at 12:30 a.m., giving me a whopping 4.5 hours of sleep before having to leave for the start. All of this…is not ideal. Also, on Monday and Tuesday, I woke up at 5 a.m. and did a treadmill run and OTF, so all week, my average was about 4-5 hours of sleep per night and I didn’t even get an outdoor run in. Sigh.


Whah, whah, whah… “I’m so slow.”

I was busted before I even hit the starting line.

The view from our Airbnb in Lenior, NC!

We traveled to Charlotte, NC and decided to stay in Lenoir, NC. If you have ever been to this beautiful part of the country, you know the Blue Ridge Mountains have nothing but breathtaking views. Our cabin rental was about a 25-30 minute drive to the buses at Brown Mountain Beach, NC that would take me to the starting line at Jonas Ridge. The Peak to Creek Marathon is a beautiful, scenic downhill course. The starting elevation is 3,980 feet (actually, too high for me), but with the downhill, I should have been okay with my breathing. “Should have been…”

As I went to bed on Friday, I noticed my big toe on my left foot was throbbing. It had its own heart beat. What ever could it be? I ignored it and went to bed. I prayed for it to be just the repercussions from heeled boots all week and stomping through six airports. More on this later.

I woke up on race morning (at 4:45 a.m.), and was on the road by 5:30 a.m. My big toe was really bothering me, but I’m like, “I can still run…right?” I got in the car and was on my way. Our Airbnb was truly–on top of a mountain! We took a dirt/gravel road up to this remote mountain-top cottage. I was terrified going ‘down the mountain’ by myself at 5:30 a.m. What’s the worst that could happen (beside driving off a cliff)? I had the route all loaded in my phone and was on my way. About 15 minutes into my drive, I saw a massive glow of red emergency lights in the distance. This was a ‘one way road’ kind of location–there was only one way to get to Brown Mountain Beach. There was an accident. I didn’t have much of the details, but it sounded like a car hit a deer and with the departure of an ambulance, I believe there were injuries to people driving. Sad. 😥

I waited for about 10 minutes behind the inferno of emergency lights, and I realized this was going to make me miss the bus if I waited any longer. I decided to turn around and try a different route. If you know me, you are reading this in dismay. I need a GPS to get to my doctor’s office at home, for God’s sake. I have NO business thinking I can navigate this desolate area at 5:30 a.m…. in the dark… with no map or even the faintest idea of direction for Brown Mountain Beach. And would you believe there is no cell service in this area? 🙄 No service. No map. No printed directions. I was way out of my league here, so I turned away from the accident and drove to a gas station. It was filled with hunters in cameo getting ready for their big day. I tried my maps again to no avail (no service), and I figured, maybe enough time has lapsed where the inferno of emergency lights were gone. I realize I’m lost and will be more lost, so I drive back toward the accident with hopes it’s cleared. Nope. I’ve wasted so much time now. I’m actually considering turning back to the cabin.

The point where the accident was. My second attempt to pass through here.

I get behind two SUVs. They both speak to an emergency person and do a three-point turn to go back to where I just came from. I get to the emergency person and tell him where I need to be and he tells me to follow the two SUVs In front of me as they are going to the same spot– (GOD BLESS AMERICA), and walks back to them and notifies them I’m going to follow. Relief. I hop out and have a quick conversation with the driver/runner dude, and I’m good to go. I follow them and we, as a group, got lost and had to turn around a few times. The buses were leaving Brown Mountain Beach at 6:45 a.m. prompt. We finally find the ‘road’ to the beach, and it’s 6:55 a.m. We thought for sure I was leaving my car and we were going to go as a group to the starting line In their car (because we missed the busses). We start driving down the road (it’s Mountainous), and see five buses… MOTOR COACH buses… BACKING UP… down the road. Up the hills, down the hills.. DRIVING BACKWARDS. WHAT?! Apparently, the mountainous roads are so hilly, the buses can’t turn around, so they are driving backwards almost 2 miles to get to the pick-up spot. Bananas. 🍌 The good new is, however, I didn’t miss the bus. 🙃 We all scooted around the buses and as quickly as we could, park our cars and make our way to the pick up spot. Score.

I scramble and head to the bus. Disheveled, actually. My new friends–who were also from PA–and I decide we are moving to the front line so we can get our bibs atop Jonas Ridge. Well thank God we did this. Essentially, the race was about 40 minutes behind schedule with the backwards driving. The buses were supposed to be there WAY earlier and atop Jonas Ridge by 7:15 a.m. We boarded our bus at 7:35 a.m. (yowzers), and I still needed to get my bib and do pre-race “stuff.” We all get there and it is a total and complete… shit show. All the buses empty, and everyone is doing what I need to do, waiting in line for bib and pre-race port-a-potty. With 500 runners, the lines are long for everything. The only thing I can think is… the longer this takes, the longer Nish and Reilly are stranded atop a mountain with no car (and no more food/snacks than I packed). I do stress out about how long I leave them. I just do.

Back to the heart beat on my big toe.

We start the race and this is a drop course, which I love. It’s gentle enough where your legs are not going to get demolished, and with the drop, you can run a little faster. However, with a small heart beat in my left big toe, this plan backfired. My toe was ramming against the front of my shoe on the downhill making the small heart beat a big heart beat. Dear Lord. The banging up against the front of the shoe is unbearable.  With that, I am forced into a tad bit of a walk/run. We also start this race out at 3,900 feet, and with rolling hills, this is above my oxygen ‘comfort’ level.  I decided early on, this was going to be another disappointing slow race.

I loved almost everything about this race except for one thing. There were port-a-potties at the beginning and at the end, but along the course, it was you v. nature.  I’ve done trail races where it truly is… IMPOSSIBLE… to get a port-a-potty anywhere on the course. On this course, however, there were quite a few opportunities for at least ONE port-a-potty.  I was really disappointed to have to squat along the dirt road (not single-track trail), twice.  We are a society that when you do that, you feel disgusting and like you’re breaking a rule and are going to get a fine or something.  I’m surprised that the local community for the race knows that that race director is encouraging people to ‘relieve’ themselves along the course and is okay with it.  This was really disappointing.

The views along this course were stunning. I did truly enjoy the course, however, I had a slow race. I was really frustrated with my time, yet again. My toe was so sore at the end that I could hardly walk. I called trusty old Dr. Meyers on Sunday morning and explained what I did. He called me in an antibiotic and told me to show up at his office at 3 p.m. on Monday.  Dr. Meyers is my kind of doc (all my docs need to be athletes).  He won the Philadelphia Marathon in 1986. His treatment philosophy for his athletes is to get them back up as fast as possible.  He has been my foot doc since 2012, and he’s worth the drive (he’s not close). We always have nice running conversations, but it was really comforting to talk about how… “your running changes as you get older.” I asked him his comfort level in running as of now, and he said he now has to do a run/walk too becasue his body is older than his heart.  I digress…

Back to the race. I finished the race and becasue there was no cell phone service, I had to stop three times and ask for directions back to Lenior. My last stop was an inquiry with two hunters. The dudes were parked outside the gas station and had dead deer in their truck. He ran in the minimart to get a big bag of chips. On his way out of the store, I asked him, ‘which way to Lenior.’ He took his deer-blood filled hand and pointed to a direction. I couldn’t even look at the direction becasue my eyes were fixated on the deer blood STILL all over his hands and under his finger nails. He then opened up the bag of chips and stuck his deer-blood filled hand in the bag, grabbed a chip and at it.  Dear Lord.

I drove back and Nish and Reilly were enjoying a peaceful day atop the mountain in our beautiful cabin.  They were so content with no TV and just enjoying the beatiful view. We spent the rest of the day chit-chatting in front of the outdoor fire and enjoying the swing.  We loved this cabin so much.  We couldn’t hike or anything becasue of my bum foot, but we had a peaceful weekend. 

I visited Dr. Meyers, as instructed, and I had an infected ingrown toenail. First time, would you believe. He was perplexed that I even ran on it (“ran”).  How disgusting. Four ‘numbing shots’ later, it was removed. I couldn’t watch. If you’re squirming even thinking about it, imagine my dismay watching it. I still want to vomit.  It heals quickly, but Dear Lord, it is so painful.

My throbbing toe aftter it was ‘fixed’ and post flight to DTW.

Later that day, I flew to DTW for work. My poor toe.

I am considering this race again for next year, but would love the addition of some bathrooms.  We do love this part of the country.

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Seth Kramer
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Beautiful photos. Hope the toe mends quickly.