“Let’s see,” Alan said thumbing through his small white book of eclectic statistics, “he’s got Beech Mountain rated as the sixth toughest climb in the Southeast. It’s three and a half miles with an average grade of 9.2 percent — and a maximum of 17 percent.”
I looked up the road to the next street sign. “That’s it, right?” I asked. “Smallwood Drive?”
“That’s it,” Gavin confirmed. “Now we just have a couple hundred meters to go.”
Not what I wanted to hear on this steamy (92 degrees, 85 percent humidity) evening training run. We’d already done three mile-long fast tempo miles; this was No. 4 and I just wanted it to be over — now, not 200 meters from now. But I was running with my coach and my training group, and so, despite the militant protests by my gasping lungs and cramping legs, I poured it on for another 200 meters.