Medoc Mountain Trail Marathon

Even though I’ve been running and racing for over 2 years, Medoc had me pretty scared.  And I’m not talking about the Medoc legend.  I’m talking about how scared I was just thinking about THOSE HILLS and that awesome trail!  I had run one loop of the 3 loop course two years ago and I knew what I was getting myself into.

I don’t have any pictures of the trails (my stupid phone died again) so please please please, go to their website and look at their pictures.  To fully appreciate this race recap you must look at the trail.

The day before the race I had my usual pizza for lunch.  For dinner I had two more slices of pizza, an egg, half an avocado and some watermelon.  Most people swear by spaghetti but my favorite way to carb load is plain ole’ cheese pizza.

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Then it was time to get all my stuff together for the race.

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Oh, the best laid plans.  More details about my choices later.

I got to Medoc plenty early and the very nice race volunteers gave me my bib and race swag bag.  My number was 201 and since I didn’t have a trail name, I let them choose one for me.  CLAYTON COPPERHEAD!

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Now this trail name would be very fitting if I were a red head like my big brother and my 2 big sisters.  But not me.  I’m a black snake.  But Clayton Black Snake?  nahh.  Clayton Copperhead.  I’ll keep it.  In honor of my siblings.

Then only problem with my number was that earlier the race directors had posted on their FB page that they wanted us to line up in race number order.  Smaller numbers in the front and larger numbers in the back.  They said that they gave us our numbers in a prediction of how we’d finish. (I think we must have included our 5k time or our marathon time in our registrations.)  No problem there.  I know to let the elite runners line up first.  I know to line up in the back.  The only problem was that there were only 200 participants in this year’s marathon.  (A few must have been no shows)  Number 201 on my bib was messing with my head BIG TIME!

The race shirt was in my bag and it was AWESOME.  There were also many flyers for upcoming trail races, a Medoc man sticker, a Honey Stinger waffle, and a few other items.  Honey Stinger was a sponsor of the race.  I had tried the waffles before but not the strawberry one.  The waffle flavor I tried was vanilla and it was delicious and felt very good on my stomach.  Since I hadn’t tried strawberry, I opted to not take that one with me out on the course.  I know the hard rule of “nothing new on race day.”  I had my Hammer Gels anyway.

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The weather for the race was nothing short of BRILLIANT.  It was a bit chilly at first at 47 degrees but I knew it would warm up nicely.  I’ve run in all kinds of weather, and when you luck out and get a perfect day, you know your are very, very blessed!

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Here are a few shots I snapped before the race and before my phone died.

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You just have to visit their site and read the legend of Medoc Man.  The entire race website is the funniest one I’ve ever seen.  Those directors had me in stitches for weeks before the race with their hilarious newsletters.

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And here’s one of me that a nice fellow runner snapped.

in front of sign

Before the race I met a runner named Ben.  He was 65 years old and has been running marathons for over 6 years.  Medoc was his 4th marathon this year and he’s even doing The City of Oaks next month like I am.  What was so amazing about Ben was that when we got to talking, I told him about Mt. Zion doing a small group to get ready for the Myrtle Beach Half.  He just laughed and smiled and told me that Myrtle Beach was one of his first marathons and during that race, a car broke through a barrier and hit him.  A CAR HIT HIM!  What!?  Yes, he survived but had to have extensive shoulder surgeries.  Not long after his shoulder healed, he had to have back surgery.  Then he had a stroke!  But even with all of those obstacles, he never stopped training.  Ben was an inspiration!   I was too shy to ask him for a picture but maybe if I see him at the City of Oaks, I see if he’ll agree.

It wasn’t long and then we were off.  I’m glad that the directors started the race on time but they didn’t begin with the national anthem or a prayer.  They do this at the OBX and now any race that doesn’t,  really gets my goat.   Oh well, that is the ONLY negative you’ll hear out of me and Medoc.

I’ve been training all summer with Galloway so I decided that I’d run my intervals just like normal.  I set up 3’s and 1’s on Ron’s Garmin (mine’s being repaired) and even though I felt sorta silly walking only 3 minutes into the race, I kept at it.  I spotted plenty others right off the bat that were doing intervals too so I quickly relaxed and settled into a good rhythm.

I made the first loop in just under 2 hours and I was thrilled.  2 years ago when I ran that loop with my good friend, Lisa, we made it in 1:57.  I was in the best shape of my life then and to repeat that time, I was on top of the world.

There are a few challenges in the race and 2 of them are what I am calling ROCK HILL and LONG HILL. Rock Hill is a very steep hill made of rocks.  It’s short but straight up.  Long Hill doesn’t have any rocks but it is a slow steady climb for a very long time.  See the ecology of Medoc here.

When you get around to the end of the loop, the trail gets pretty narrow.  That’s around mile 7 and that’s about the time that the very fast runners start to lap us slower runners.  All during the end of that first loop, I had to move over as each runner would come by me and shout the “left” that was soon a very familiar sound to me.  I do have to admit that all of those fast runners were very kind.  They always said thank you as I moved over and they always shouted something encouraging to me as they passed.

I don’t know if “Shirtless” runner as I called him or if it was “Kilt” runner that actually won in the end.  The awards ceremony was long over when I came in.  But I do know those guys FLEW!

One part of the course you come upon a set of stairs.  I implore you.  You must go to Medoc if you live anywhere remotely close.  You must hike or run that trail just for the opportunity to stop at the bottom of those stairs and look straight up.  And when you are there, imagine having to climb them for the 3rd time after running about 20 miles.

Then not long after those stairs, you’ll come upon another set.  Our race directors put up 2 paper plates on trees that said, “DANGER, STAIRS.”  They were straight down!  Try going down those stairs (again for the 3rd time) after about 22  miles of running.  Inconceivable!

If anyone has a picture of those stairs, please link to them so everyone can see.  They really were unbelievably steep.

The 2nd loop for me was when I ran into trouble.  I had my phone in my fuel belt and since I don’t normally run with it, the extra weight was driving me nuts.  I ditched my fuel belt at the last aid station before beginning loop 3.  When I ditched it, I also ditched my Hammer Gel.  Uh oh!  My only choice was to take a Honey Stinger that they had at the next aid station.  Do not do this!  You mustn’t do anything new on race day.  Luckily the Honey Stinger felt fine and all was well in that area.  My last challenge was that my shirt was chafing me like crazy.  I always use Chamois Butter but I never have to put it under my arms.  This is the exact spot that this particular shirt was rubbing.  I’ve worn it lots of times with no problems but what I didn’t remember was that I’ve never worn it on a really long run.  What works well on a 5k might not at all work out well on a marathon.  The man at the aid station came to my rescue and gave me some Desitin.  That’s right, diaper rash cream.  I rubbed it all over my arms just where the sleeve ended and even though I looked ridiculous, I at least wasn’t in pain anymore.

After that, I was fuel belt free and pain free and my last loop was quite lovely.  I no longer had to share the trail with anyone.  In fact, I ran that loop almost entirely by myself.  When I got to the Danger Stairs sign, I almost kissed them.  I knew I was almost home.

I had made it.  It was 6 hours and 38 minutes officially and I earned my medal.  1 whole hour before the cut-off.  Woohoo!

kissing medal

Here’s a close up of the coolest race medal yet.

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And here it is in it’s place of honor on my medal hanger.

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(Note:  The 4 medals on that left are Ron’s.  I’ve got to get him his own medal hanger for Christmas.  Any suggestions on what to ask them to fashion for him?)

The finishers surprise was this awesome hand held hydration system.

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So cool that it has Medoc on the bottle!

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And this pocket for your gels or keys is perfect.  I’m really anxious to try it out.

I stopped as I was driving away and took this picture of the race field.  As you can see, most of the cars were gone but to the director’s surprise, I was not last after all.  I finished number 161 out of 171.  But you know what?  Where you finish doesn’t matter.  It really doesn’t even matter if you finish at all.  I forgot to tell you about another runner that I met along the way that had fallen on loop 2 and was walking back with what he described as shooting pains up his back with every step.  He’s a winner in my book too.  Something tells me he’ll go home and nurse his wounds and rest and heal.  Something tells me I’ll see him again next year.

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After I got home and showered, I put on the coolest race shirt ever!  That’s my favorite thing in the world to do.  I can’t describe to you the sheer joy of a hot shower after a long run and then putting on a race shirt that you know you will love wearing until it is nothing but threads.

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Thank you Medoc.  Thank you for a great race.  Thank you for the best race experience out there!  I’ll be back and hopefully next year, I’ll make it back it time for more of the after race party.   I won’t be there with Shirtless, but I might make it back while there’s a few more cars in the field.

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10 thoughts on “Medoc Mountain Trail Marathon

  1. Melissa, loved your report!!! I think we passed each other once or twice because I was doing 2:1s (Will run for beer shirt). I will see you again at City of Oaks!!!

    • I was losing steam just after we ran together. That rock hill and long hill kicked my butt. But intervals are amazing aren’t they? Do you run with Raleigh Galloway? Only 3 weeks until City of Oaks!

  2. Love your blog post. Medoc was my first marathon. The extreme sense of accomplishment was amazing. I too, will never be up there with shirtless, but I was still there, and in the end that is all that matter!! -Frodo….

    • Thanks for reading! Medoc was so fun. I’m glad I did it. You are right. A huge sense of accomplishment. I ran the Tobacco Road half yesterday. Stay tuned for a race report this week. It was a great race as well.

  3. Pingback: Fun Runs! | A Handful of Spinach

  4. Pingback: My Medoc PR | A Handful of Spinach

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