Mellow Mushroom, Dragon Tattoos, & a Very Epic 26.2 Finish

So, I wrote a really awesome post a couple of days ago recapping the weekend. It was all about my intense love for the mountains and friends and life and what have you…..

……and then somehow it was completely deleted right before my eyes. Grrr. I wanted to punch someone in the face! For real. But the only person I could punch was myself, because I was the one that hit the delete button. Shame.

So, sorry ’bout your luck, but you now get the highly condensed version sans all of my estrogen laced, schizophrenic banter. Maybe that’s a good thing? I’m not even going to proofread this one. I apologize if it is incoherent, rambling, and overall just filled with absolute suckiness.

Let’s begin.

This weekend was a trip, y’all! No really, it was an actual trip. We traveled from our home in the land of rednecks and bumpkins to…well…another land of rednecks and bumpkins just a few hours north: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Why there? To run the nearby Knoxville Marathon, of course. We invited a couple of friends along on this glorious journey of running and rednecks. Since I’m going to blog incessantly about these friends, I should introduce the cast of characters:

(Left to Right)

JOE: Country southern boy Joe, originally from Brooklyn, is like your best friend and your dad rolled into one person. Tons of fun is to be had with Joe, but only if you leave the bull behind. Joe was along for the 26.2 ride, not to run, but to support his gal.

TRACI: Traci is Joe’s lovely bride, and a dedicated client of ours for over a year and a half. Traci’s was in on the Knoxville weekend fun for her very first attempt at the marathon distance. Nervous, anxious, and ready to knock down the ferocious mileage beast, Traci was a bundle of energy added to our mix.

ME: That is me. (I have nothing interesting to say.)

DAN: You all know Dan. He’s hot. He does burpees and muscle ups for hours on end. He is funny. He is sweet. He is perfect…okay stop drooling over my man!

BRUCE: aka DIVA. Ha, okay I don’t know how else to describe Bruce other than he is my male Asian counterpart. He is outrageously random like me on randomosity enhancing steroids. He likes to laugh, he’s a major goofball, and he is very entertaining. AND..He runs 100 milers like they’re cakewalks. Bruce came to Knoxville to tackle the challenging 26.2 mile course hopeful for another sub 3 finish.

TOM: Tom is Bruce’s friend, but perhaps the exact opposite of Bruce! While Tom is also a talented marathon runner, and quite the conversationalist, he was far more reserved and definitely less spazztastic than our dear Asian diva friend. 😉 While Tom remained virtually quiet the entire weekend, he became a key player in the actual race. More of that towards the bottom!

After hours and hours of driving, and me doing crap like this torturing Daniel:

We finally arrived well after dark, yet none of us were quite ready to crash and call it a night. So we headed out to the local Mellow Mushroom, and that’s where the fun began…

“What can I get you guys to drink?” our server asked.



“Diet Coke.”..

“Water with lemon.”…

……..”Hmm. Do you have sparkling water…? Perrier?…” (Bruce)

*intense laughter from the redneck half of the table: me traci and joe.*

“Uh… NO. We don’t.”

And from that point on, Bruce became Diva Bruce…

Diva Bruce scored us some free food from MM, thanks to a screwed up order, and also a slightly deranged manager. (One that apparently had a thing for Asian ultrarunning men.)

So, those of you that know me well understand that I just don’t take things too seriously. Well, other than running, sometimes. I can, and often do, turn just about anything into a laughing matter. I RARELY act my age, and I also RARELY find people that are willing to play along this way with me. When I do though, I’ll latch onto them like a leech!

So at the very mellow mushroom, I began noticing that Diva Bruce obviously loves to act like a frivolous middle school kid. I’d known this already, because we’ve done 100 mile races together, but not to the extent I was witnessing at MM. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to play crazy with a fellow nut job. I began to try to convince Bruce to get a tattoo of the word “DIVA” written in Korean. And whadya know, the dude says, “Okay, yeah, let’s go get a tatoo.” Which turned into us all scoping out the trashiest and skankiest little tattoo parlor on this side of the mason-dixon… and we walked right in.

Wait, is this really happening??

Yup. Diva Bruce had decided he wanted a tattoo. But unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in getting DIVA painted across his abs. He thought instead maybe a dragon, and not just any kind of dragon, but a happy looking dragon. So while Bruce scoured the parlor’s books for just the right dragon, and Bruce thought and sat and thought some more, he finally decided, after an hour or so, that he would save the happy dragon for another day. Whew that was a close one.

Such a happy dragon.

With all of us tired of sitting around and not having much fun, we left the skank dungeon and went to the next skank dungeon: 1am Karaoke Bar! Now trust me, running friends, I rarely see this hour unless I’m kicking up the trails in hot pursuit of a 100 mile finish, or just training my freakin’ butt off, and I don’t drink- not even a sip- of any type of alcohol. So needless to say, this whole karaoke bar thing kinda freaked me out. But…(BUT) I was very very entertained by what I saw when I got there. First, I was entertained by the fact that tough guy Joe had to get his hand stamped with an X because he forgot his ID, and he was highly insulted by this….

And then there was this lil tidbit… hahaha…

…..bless his heart…. was trying so hard!

After that awesome display of vocal inferiority, we hightailed it out of the karaoke bar and took our tired butts home where we all collapsed in “we’re too old for this” type of fatigue.

The next day was a big one for Dan and me, our seventh anniversary!

First we hit up the Knoxville expo where I definitely was telling anyone who would listen that it was Bruce’s first marathon.. just because.. And in return, he was getting loads of stellar running advice from far more superior marathon specimen…. FYI, Bruce has finished 90+ marathons averaging a sub 3 hour pace for most, and this is on top of his multiple 100 mile wins…So this was an entertaining continuation to the endless craziness from Bruce and me.. Shoot, what else we s’posed to do in Knox-vull.

I’ll tell ya what else we s’posed to do in Knox-vull! Celebrate our anniversary!

We biked some awful tricky trails..

Ate a delicious dinner by the river…

And took some cutesy anniversary pictures…

It was a great day.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

OH YEAH, the marathon!

So, this whole marathon gig… If you didn’t notice by reading NOTHING about a marathon so far, I wasn’t all that concerned with the 26.2 over the weekend. Not only did I almost leave my house without ANY running gear packed in my suitcase, but I never really had a passing thought about the race. I’m not sure if it was because I was so focused on my client finishing her race, or because I simply didn’t think I could even finish it due to my over training bout, but either way… I wasn’t caring.

Marathon morning came early. I almost wanted to sleep through the alarm what with all the insanity from the weekend, and I kinda wanted to slap myself and be like, “Hey.. ASHLEY.. are you still in there anywhere?!” but instead I just took in some caffeine, put on my shoes and got in the car with everybody else. I allowed myself a negative thought string, “I’m totally not going to finish this race. I haven’t done jack in 2 months, and I don’t even want to run the stupid thing.” Then I decided negativity would put a damper on my super fun weekend with my friends, so I ditched the vibe.

I rolled up to the race start, and focused my energy onto Traci. All I really cared about was that my client have a fun and successful finish at her first marathon. She had trained hard, so I knew a finish was inevitable, but I also knew that she was nervous. Nothing can mentally prepare you for that first 26.2… it’s like childbirth. So I just stood there next to her, and while I waited with her, I remember to look for the other party in our running group. No, not Bruce, he was up there with the Kenyans, but TOM! Tom was planning to hit 8:30’s the whole race, so I thought maybe I would try to tail him.

Sure, you probably think that sounds ridiculous considering I sat on my butt for 2 months straight, but what you may not realize is that before those two months, I was running my 10-15 mile runs at a sub 7 pace. So 8:30 wasn’t too much of a long shot in my mind.

I found Tom, and asked him if I could try to hang with him for a bit at the start. The gun went off, and I wasn’t even paying attention! I just started moving with everyone. “Oh okay, guess we are starting!” I quickly found that Tom and I are both Christ followers, so we got into a deep conversation about church, religion, and faith, and before I knew it- 7 miles were out of the way at a comfortable 8:20 pace. What the heck????

And that pretty much continued for the next 13 miles. Here I am talking.. as usual.

I never stop talking. I know.. I’m so annoying. pretty much ANYONE that has ever met me.

But then the fun ended, my lack of MOVING for 2 months kicked in, and I had to tell Tom I could no longer keep up.

Crap. I suck.

But then THAT feeling went away after about 3 minutes, and I was back to feeling absolutely spectacular again! Ha! Whadya know. A tiny lil miniature marathon wall!

Now, everyone stop and listen… because what happened next was something I had been cookin up for a long long time……

See, Dan and I have always gotten a total kick out of elite marathon finishes. They are always so intense with the runners throwing themselves into the ribbon, or racing it out arms flailing all around them. Right? so intense…

I always told Daniel that one day, when I was doing a long slow race, I would just randomly come storming into the finish with arms swinging and chest out, aiming for an invisible ribbon- even if I was finishing a 30 minute 5k dead last, I would do it – as serious as a heart attack- and act like it was all totally legit! And people would be laughing thinking it was hilarious, but they wouldn’t know what to say, so they would probably say something like “Wow, great finish!” or something along those lines… would be so freakin funny.

So yeah, I was feeling so daggum good, quite randomly, during this race, that I decided to whip out my cell phone at mile 24 and tell Dan, “Aye, have your video camera ready.”

And exactly 3 hours and 45 minutes after I started the Knoxville 26.2, I approached the finish….. which is inside of the huge University of Tennessee stadium- with lots of people in it watching their beloved marathoners finish their race- crossing the finish line on the 50 yard line- on the JUMBO TRON.

Ha….this is too good.

So the instant I saw myself on that jumbo tron, I knew I had to do it. I started windmilling my arms like crazy, I stuck out my tongue like a sick dog, and I ran like that until I approached the finish, at which point I threw out my chest and hobbled like a crazy person across the line… HAHAHAHHHAHAHA.

YES. I so did. For the entire world to see.

And lucky for you, Daniel got it on tape.

Hahahah! If I can get my hands on the jumbotron version, I’ll share it, trust me.

UPDATE: found it!! Be sure you look at the pics under it too, omg they are priceless. hahah!

So there ya have it… Knoxville 26.2 turned out to be a strong comeback for me. Mentally and physically!

Not only did I have a blast with some great friends, it was awesome to act like a complete fool all weekend..which I really needed after a year of steady downward spiraling into two severe months of depression! But, I also had a blast running a race I didn’t even train for. Go figure. Haha. You know, I think God is trying to tell me that if I just relax, everything will work itself out like it always does. I put so much pressure on myself to meet personal goals, run a certain speed, etc, and it’s just so pointless. I love to improve and be my best, but obviously- I improve and reach my potential when I’m not even TRYING to. For me, ditching the pressure seems to be key. Reaching my goals is often just a byproduct of my happy-go-luckiness… hopefully I’ll remember that when I’m busting it for my next 100.

So what about the rest of the characters???

Well Ms. Traci finished her very first marathon 3 minutes faster than her goal time of 4:30! I was so proud, I just about cried.

Bruce ran his sub 3, and got a nice surprise on his car from Joe waiting for him after the finish….which he loved 😉

Tom kept his steady pace and ran a solid 3:40, I was a little jealous that I didn’t hang with him ;), but happy for him!

Joe was super proud of his wife, as was Daniel for the epic finish, and we all lived happily ever after.

Check out the pics if you already haven’t:

15 Replies to “Mellow Mushroom, Dragon Tattoos, & a Very Epic 26.2 Finish”

  1. Your race finish is a back-handed slap on the cheek to the legendary Eric Liddell. Seriously, you should have more respect for the sport in which you participate. My athletes push their bodies to the limit until they cross the finish line (in first place). Sometimes a collapse occurs immediately after finishing due to the overload on the body. This is the price you pay to be victorious. Having “fun” during a race is absolutely ridiculous. Many people die during marathons chasing glory. With that in mind, maybe next time you should “windmill your arms like crazy” off of a cliff and see if you fly. Cheers!

      1. I wasn’t being humorous. You are a disgrace to a sport that many athletes live and die for. I already revoked my offer for you to train under me. Now, you’ll be lucky to ever race, or “have fun”, again considering how many race directors value my opinion of participants. Cheers!

        1. Hahah I don’t even know who you are. I know you’re trying really hard to rile me up for some reason, but you’re really just too hilarious. I can’t take you seriously. Thanks for being such a fun troll:).

      2. Great idea! You can windmill your arms like Mr.(Mrs.) Cloud suggested at the Canyon! And really Ashley, have more RESPECT(sung Aretha style). I mean after all, we would hate to be insensitive to those runners who put their lives on the line every day for……oh yeah, never mind, runners run for PERSONAL gain!

        CHEERS all around!

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