Skora Fit

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pacing Flatrock 101K


So, I have been relatively quiet for the last few months. There has been a lot going on. I have been in the process of selling my house and moving as well as a massive work implementation. So the time to write about my shenanigans has been few and far between. On top of that, after Cross Timbers I haven’t had any races. However, a couple months ago I was asked by one of my friends and training buddies if I would be interested in pacing him as he went for a finish at Flatrock 101k.
 
Finishers get a buckle, Pacers get a bib. 
At first I was rather leery, I had never paced, I wasn’t really training like I wanted to, I knew the course was tough but had never been there, I was pretty much unsure. A little sweet talking and I was in. I really wanted to get some course experience as I would be running the 50k in September. So this was as good a means as I could think of. On top of that, the buddy that I was pacing has been absolutely instrumental in my love and growth on the trails so I owed him big time. Now that I was in, it was time to get down to business of being ready. I couldn’t think of a better way than getting eyebrows deep in a massive work project as well as sell my house and move out at the exact same time. On top of that I had a nagging foot pain that kept me from running as much and as well as I wanted to. In the end I decided that I should do 16ish miles of pacing instead of 21ish to keep the threat of me doing more harm than good down. He continuously reminded me that by the time I picked him up he would be moving very slow with a lot of walking, but still, would had to be the drag instead of the boost.  So by the time race day rolled around I was undertrained and wee bit nervous about what all was going to happen.
 
Pre-race fireworks?
For as beautiful as the trail turned out to be (more on that later) the drive was the absolute opposite. A 2 lane highway through Kansas farmland can be very boring, especially when you are in great anticipation of getting where you are going. And I had a lot of anticipation. The weather-guessers had been predicting a chance for storms ranging from barely noticeable to fury of a thousand suns. It did storm in the area that morning as well, although, thankfully not on the course itself (on a sad note, there were storms that day and they were severe with loss of life). For us however, the day stayed basically dry. The real problem I would find out when I got there was the heat. No, for the record, 80s isn’t hot, not even remotely close by Kansas standards. However, having a cold, prolonged winter and have this be the first really warm day of the year made things a bit trickier on the runners. And this was the state of affairs I found myself in when I arrived on scene.
 
Some flat ground to run on
Surviving the drive of great boringness I closed in on the park and I could tell, even from a few miles out, this was going to be AWESOME. In Kansas when you come across noticeable hills, or landmarks of any variety it is exciting. This are of Kansas is a little more plush with this kinds of noticeable distractions compared to other areas. So as I drove in my excitement level went Defcon 2.   When I arrived I scouted the race home camp, hosted by the awesome folks at Epic Ultras. Then, I got to business, time to go potty from that drive. After that important part was taken care of, I got dressed up, glide’d up, Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel ready and packed up, then, shoes. This was a predicament to me. I had been training in my Skora Forms heavily to be moving away from any need for other shoes on the trail, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to move totally away, but alas, there I was and I gave it a shot and I was not disappointed at all. Never doubt the Skoras. Even plopping the Newtons on afterwards to walk around in felt weird, but it was what I brought. Next time the cores come along as the cool down shoe. After I got my stuff ready I could see my ride coming and it was time to go, I wolfed down a sandwich and we were off to the turnaround point. I had questions along the way for my driver (my pacee’s wife) about how he was moving, feeling, weather, etc. By the time I got to the turn to wait, I had both a good idea and no clue what to expect, and it was fun.
 
Pace is for suckers. 
After a little while, along came my buddy with another runner into the aid station. This was rather exhilarating as they were the first people I saw come out into the aid station. I knew my buddy was in 3rd, but this looked like a 1st place outing right now.  He got food and drink and changed socks and stuff then we were off. Now it was time to see what was really going on. First of all, it was hot. As I said about this ‘warmer than it had been’ weather was taking its toll on most everyone. I say most because the person actually in first place was already nearly 10 miles ahead and almost done with the race!!!! As for us, we were sitting in 2nd place, which was good news, but nausea was weighing heavily on my buddy and it would prove to be a factor the rest of the evening. This meant that walking was the name of he game despite not having any serious muscle fatigue. For me this was actually tough, once I knew the place we were in I wanted to tear off and preserve that, but, I also had not been out here for the last 11 hours. However, onward we went, ever moving forward.
 
There is a hand hanging there that you slap as you finish...or else. 
We had another guy (The guy who rolled into the aid station with him) with us for probably a good 6 or 7 miles. He was laboring too, come to find out this was his first run ever over 13 miles…EVER!!! That’s some indomitable human spirit right there, or as he put it a lot of stupidity. He ended up taking off to try and run it out shortly after we had gotten passed after about 7ish miles never to be seen again, or, until after the finish. As the daylight was fading we got passed by the first place woman, 5th place is where we found ourselves and 5th place is where we stayed. The nausea lingered and reared its head on occasion, climbs were especially rough. But always moving forward we made progress. 5 hours later, down a dark road, head lamps on, we saw the end, heard the Epic Ruckus, and made our way to the line and finished 16:03:13. Even more epic, there his family waited and he was able to run across the finish line with his kids. It was AWESOME. And there, shortly after, he collapsed, happy and done. I was ready to turn around and go back, that was fun!
I think I felt better than he did at this point...

That is a brief account of 5 hours of solid walking. But I have left a lot of my personal observations to be expressed here, ‘cause while I was pacing and racing for him, I was also experiencing the course for me. Here is that part. From the outset you can tell this course is amazing. This is not normal Kansas trail. While we have our own bits of rocky, rooty, hilly joy, this is a different beast all together. It is a 16mil stretch of finding your footing while trying to take in the surroundings. The motto of the race(s) they have here is “If you look up you are going down”. This is a very valid warning, but truth be told it was hard as hell not to do.
As you start diving in to the trail from the back end, you carry along the Elk City river, and this is absolutely gorgeous. From that point things start getting rockier, and not the bad rockier, but literally, rock formations. That is the theme of the course, obviously named Flatrock, and it is truly a beauty to behold.  As you progress you run along the awesome rock walls and eventually up them to a higher vantage point over the river and lake. This may not be a Tahoe, Squamish, Grand Canyon level vista, but it is gorgeous in its own right. However this is not the only remarkable feature. Throughout the trail you also have many instances of running rock “canyons”. Places where it looks like rock has pulled away and allowed a trail to form between. It was a very different experience for most of us here in Kansas. It’s also badass at night with a headlamp on (unless you don’t like that kind of thing in which case it could be terrifying I suppose). There as a point with a sort of waterfall that we ran past, I was told that in the more rainy times it is awesome to run through. From there we kept on meandering through and going up. As it got darker there was less to see, kind of. While it was a bit more difficult to take in the scenery there was still plenty to look at. The moon on the lake was gorgeous. But what really stole the show was when we came to a clearing, turned our headlamps off, and looked up. It was unlike anything I had seen before being so farm from a major light source. You could see so much, feeling so very small out there in the woods.
 
Just right of center frame is a person...

Sorry, this was long. But it was a truly awesome experience and I do recommend it if anyone feels like traveling to the area. I was very happy to get out and help give, and also get an awesome experience. It was just what I needed too with as much as I have had going on. I needed a reminder that stress rolls right off like sweat when you find something to get your mind right and my mind needed righting. So. Thank you Flatrock. 
I'm terrible at trail pics.
I'm really terrible at trail pics.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Cross Timbers Trail Marathon Recap - DNF

D-N-F, Did Not Finish, 3 letters that runners despise.  Up until Valentine’s Day weekend they were letters that I knew existed, but had not experienced put together as a runner. They were mythical, mysterious, dreaded, like zombies and unicorns. Things that happened to other people.  I had contemplated them, like my first trail race, but not allowed them in. Like door to door salesmen, they were banned from entering and thus, they couldn’t get me to buy into their scheme. Unfortunately, one snuck past the goalie in this case and there really wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it.

I have bad luck, well, more bad timing. Last year saw snowstorms cut short a race trip, ran a half on the hottest day ever (roughly), and had a clan full of super-sick before a marathon. Apparently just the challenge of the race isn’t enough, I must do it with a big sack of life on my back. This race, The Cross Timbers Trail Marathon, was no exception. I had been fighting knee soreness the last month or two and so I eased into training. I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be, but wasn’t completely unprepared. That was the small problem. The large problem came about a week before the time to travel. Kids got really sick, which meant that a few days before it was time to leave I got really sick. Luckily it was one of those in and out in 24 hours, drive through flu type sicknesses. But the damage was done. I drudged myself down to Texas, still reeling a bit.


I can be a pretty stubborn guy. If you tell me I cannot do something, I am probably going to try. I am strongly adverse to quitting or giving up. I think this tends to be a necessary trait for runners. Mrs. Squatch said I should have stayed home, and she was probably right, but I didn’t. So when race day morning came, I wasn’t quite sure what the day had in store for me. I didn’t have quite the same nervous excitement. It was more, anxious dread. I knew at BEST it was going to be very difficult day, and at worse, a DNF was in play. But again, my own head was telling me I may not be able to do this so I needed to try it. Besides, I didn’t drive 500 mi to go even lower and get a DNS (Did Not Start) right?  Off we went to the race, very early in the morning, mostly me in my own head wondering if I had enough in me to do this.


I am going to start with the bad part of the race first and get it out of the way. I felt so much better Sat. morning illness wise. It was basically gone. However I still had some lingering, disruptions. I wasn’t eating as well as I had hoped/needed to be. When I got to the tent to get much bib, I seriously contemplated asking if I could drop to the half (in hindsight this would have been 100% the correct call). I didn’t, I wanted the full or nothing because stubborn. I got my bib and pinned it on and waited. Time soon came and off we went. This is a new trail to me, so I was rather cautious to not go too fast not knowing what all was in store for me other than the general reports/terrain map. It was not easy. It wasn’t by any stretch brutal or impassable, just more challenging than I had though. That really wasn’t a big deal as I wasn’t setting a blistering pace or anything. What really started nagging on me by about mile 3 was that I had no energy what so ever. Everything felt absolutely dead. I felt like I had finished running a marathon and was starting a new one.  This was very disconcerting to me. What was compounding the issue was that I was still having trouble eating. It was around mile 9 that I decided to pull the plug and withdraw. I wasn’t necessarily broken at that point, I wasn’t in acute pain, and I wasn’t violently ill, I just knew that things were deteriorating rapidly and I was putting myself in a bit of danger. Out I went, back to the tent, phone call to my dad to get me, and some real disappointment and lament. My first DNF.
 
This is actually from the Ft. Worth Nature Conservancy Trail we hiked the next day. It was pretty though. 
It wasn’t a total loss though. Now, on to the good stuff. First of all, I did 9 tough miles on what was at that point, basically a shell of myself. Could I have done more, probably, could it have damaged me, probably. I made a decision to protect myself and I was proud I wasn’t too stubborn for my own health and safety. Another reason I made my decision is due to the awesome terrain. There were lot of tricky ups and downs (for me, I mean, I am sure this would be considered a bunny course for them super gnarly trails) and some had decent drop offs to the side. I was getting really worn down and dragging my feet, which generally results in tripping. It’s one thing for this to happen on mile 20, but another at say mile 8. I didn’t want to injure myself, I have much bigger plans this year. So I was at least content with pulling out. Furthermore, I got to see 9 miles of an awesome trail. It was gorgeous. The lake at sunrise was worth the admission. It was misty/foggy out, really just one of those nature moments you soak in. The trail ran along the lake and had very nice views. It was tough enough to require attention be paid, but open in areas to soak it in. The sandy dirt was not super-tough, or super-slick where wet and muddy. The climbs were hard and had names. S.O.B. hill and Stairway to Heaven were aptly named. While not having gas in the tank, I had a lot of fun experiencing the trail. The aid stations were great as were the people in them. The one I stopped at to withdraw was awesome. They were playing catch and having fun until the next runners came, then right to action. They learned my name not just my number and took care of me, keeping my spirits up despite the situation. Plus, it sat right on the lake, so if I had to do the unwanted deed, it was at least a scenic place to do it and reflect for a few minutes.
 
Also the Nature Conservancy. I actually regret not getting more Cross Timbers pictures, it was gorgeous. 
In the end, I am glad I efforted, I am glad I tried. I hate DNF, very very much, but I understand it. I failed to do what I had set out, but perhaps I also was successful at recognizing what was happening and preventing something worse from happening.  It sucks that I was looking forward to this for so long and it didn’t pan out, but, there is always next year. I do need to come back and redeem myself, still stubborn after all. It was an amazing course with amazing people and I want the damn medal. I guess when I get there, it will be that much sweeter. Until then, I have a little motivational agitation.





Thursday, January 30, 2014

Topeka to Auburn: Did a Cow Just Fly By?


Almost a month in to 2014 and no race recap yet? Please forgive me for my failure to provide running ramblings. Let me fix that immediately. The first outing for this year was the Topeka to Auburn Half Marathon.  It’s a local race put on by the local running group, the Sunflower Striders. It’s got a lot of things going for it: over 30 years of races, great hills for the area, Kansas’ standard could be anything weather, and varied scenery. I thought , when I signed up, it would be a good test to get ready for my goal races this year. It was.

Let’s start off with me. I have been nursing a nagging knee nearly 9 (yeah, take that alliteration) weeks. I had basically decided I need to back down and really re-build things. Slow slow slow was the name of the game and it seemed to be working relatively well. I decided I needed to carry that into the race too. Which meant slow the eff down and don’t mind them people passing you. Oh and something about enjoying the scenery along the way yada yada yada.


Now, on to race day. This deserves it’s own paragraph. Kansas, we do love ourselves some weather.  One of literal draws to this race is that it is in late Jan and not even god knows what the weather will do.  Well, we knew a week out it was going to be windy. And it did not disappoint. Thankfully though, the temps were very un-seasonal. Upper 40’s to love 50’s is a rarity around here. That being said, it was still windy. Well, windy doesn’t describe if very well, gale force may be more apt. We had 30 mph sustained with 50+ mph gusts. If I had a sail, I could have taken off.


Thankfully the course was laid out so that for the most part, the first half of the course was either in areas where the wind wasn’t quite as strong, or was at our back. This was mostly residential areas, a couple hills, nothing too out of the ordinary. The second half, however was a different story. Starting at about the halfway point is Urish hill, which is the biggie. Now, I get it, you folks near mountains would think our little hill is a speed bump, but for us it is one of the best we have locally.  That being said, it wasn’t race shattering. Doing more trail running lately, I enjoyed this part. They set a camera guy at the top to capture people slogging up it, sort of a race tradition. All in good fun. This point on, the hills rolled and we moved on to gravel roads. Another thing that changed is we moved out of the residential and into more open farm land area. This meant far less wind blocks as well as a turn back into the wind. And man, it really punched you in the face going up hills into a 30-50 mph wind with the lovely around of cow being rammed into your nostrils. Just for fun, it also started sprinkling a bit, or light hail, I couldn’t quite tell as hard as it hit us. Again though, it was fun. It was different, I enjoyed it.



Finally coming around a corner and over a hill or two we could see the finish area. At Cowtown I talked about passing a little girl that passed me previously, here, in a Karmic kick in the butt a 12 year old-ish girl absolutely flew past me. I did nothing but laugh and wish her luck. She was earning it. For me, it was a slow sprint (I know that is an oxymoron but it really is what it was for me) to the finish. I gathered myself and felt great. I bounced around a little to see how the knee felt and it was good. I saw friends, talked to them a bit, and rode a wind gust back to my car feeling like I actually followed a plan for once. I really wanted to use this a training run and I think it went well. Skora Forms took care of my feet, Orange Mud Hydra Quiver Double Barrel on my back felt amazing for carrying water and other gear and goodies, the Island Boost “gel” was delicious and rocket fuel as usual. I think I am ready for Cross Timbers in TX on the 15th which means I am completely not ready or something incredibly odd will happen. But that is the fun right? 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Orange Mud Hydraquiver Double Barrel Review

One of the drawbacks of being human (or sasquatch-ean?) is that water is necessary to sustain life. While this is probably good news for companies that sell water, for people on the move it also means the need to schlep water around. A water bottle on my desk at work or in the gym cup holder is relatively simple and probably not worth much fuss. Running around in the great outdoors on the other hand is a bit more problematic. Once upon a time one could probably have stopped and taking a refreshing pull from a crystal clear stream to quench the thirst. Now, if you do that, you will probably die within 10 yards from some horrific cornucopia of parasites.  This leaves us runners few options for carrying this necessary liquid. Bottle in hand, bottle stashed along your route, belt, or a hydration pack.


First and foremost I am not fond of carrying anything in hand while I run. I have an irrational (wait, I do it all the time, so totally rational) fear of falling. And I know if I fall with a bottle in my hand that my bottle, hand, arm, and/or pride are going to take a massive blow. I like to keep my hands clear to pretend at least like I could catch myself. Plus, you can’t fight off the inevitable werewolf attack with hands full of water. That’s important too. Stashing bottles is a flat out no, come on, that’s just asking for someone to tamper with, or drink it in a thirsty moment of panic.  Plus it ain’t easy making your way out into the middle of a trail just to set water down then back so you can start your run. Unless you have a Iron Man suit or something, which I do not. Speaking of super heroes, belts always made me feel like bat man. I should be flinging batarangs not sipping Gatorade from them. And again, should I (ha, should I, how about when I) trip, having a bottle precariously close to regions of my body that should NEVER be used to cushion a fall is a bit disconcerting. This brings us to packs. Most packs are big and bulky with bladders that are heavy and flop around. That works about as well as it sounds. This leads to a tough decision on what to suffer with. Well, queue up your best infomercial voice. That is no more. Let me introduce you to the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel.

Unlike an infomercial, this is a bad ass product. First of all it comes in 2 flavors for runners: the single barrel and the double barrel. That is how many water bottles it holds. “But you hate bottles” you say to me. Well these are bottles you hold these are bottles that sit in holsters on your back. Not low slung like a bladder but high on your back between your shoulder blades. This is awesome as it means that the swaying and flopping is very minimal and is so much easier on the back for long distances. The lightness of the pack cannot be understated as it was one of the toughest things I dealt with for my long trail races. I assume it’s called a hydra quiver cause it really is like reaching in and plucking out an arrow from a quiver, which, when you get down to it is awesome. Furthermore, you don’t even have to use their bottles if you didn’t want to, although they do make for a perfect fit in the holster. It also has abundant cargo space for food stuffs or whatever on the shoulders, making for an easy reach. On the back is another compartment for phones, wallets, cards, cash, maps, and assorted other small things needing carried. There is even a draw cord between the barrels for cinching down a shirt or jacket or whatnot.

I really cannot understate how comfy and easy this thing is to use. No water tube to keep clean or have a plastic taste. The padding is soft and easy on the back where it rests. Really it is exactly what I had been searching for out of a pack. My only qualm was really just getting used to putting a bottle back into it’s holster behind my back. But once I got used to where it was, the mouth of the holster is wide to guide it back in and it became a smooth action. I had been concerned that the straps that go under the arms to secure it to the body would chafe but I really didn’t even know they were there. I saw pictures of others wearing them with no shirt so I think they are very well placed to minimalize that kind of thing. I highly recommend this for anyone who needs a means to carry water (be it the single bottle or double) or doesn’t like their current method for transporting it. You won’t be disappointed. For the record, I purchased mine online at www. Orangemud.com so my opinion is my own and isn’t influenced other than my own squealing glee at having a pack I love instead of dread.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Last Runs

While I try and figure out a way to write a year recap (been a really busy year) I thought I would share something awesome from last weekend. It has been, for the most part, unseasonably warm. I know one long run it was almost 80 out, in late December. Well, winter is a cunning warrior and was just setting us up. Winter’s distraction tactics are second to none. Little warm weather, holidays, ample food…then pow, hit them square in the jaw. Yes, winter is a ninja, and we forgot it was there. But alas, he has shown himself and the throwing stars of cold air are flying all over the place.

 
Luckily for me I like the cold weather much more than hot weather. I can put more layers on if need be and it offers a sweet opportunity for ice beards (more on that later). Something about some cold air in the lungs and seeing your breath is rather exhilarating. Also, the near total elimination in spider attacks cannot be understated. So really I was rather excited to see winter make an appearance in something else besides vague foreshadowing in Game of Thrones.  I decided to go ahead and take advantage of this and get some good long runs in. When we started on Saturday it was a balmy 3 degrees with a -9 windchill. Not the coldest weather ever (see: Antartica) but it was a bit chilly. I was glad for that too, I had new cold weather gear to try out. What resulted was an amazing run. 2 hours and around 10 miles later I was still nice and warm. It really was a lot of fun and after about 5 min I didn’t really notice the weather except when I took the gloves off to snap a picture. Oh the punishment we take for a picture.




That night we got a nice dusting of snow. So I was very excited to get out and run again. It was a bit warmer but same general principle as the day before. The run was even better!. 2 hours and around 12 miles in the fresh crunchy snow. I really felt like I was flying. It was amazing. Special thanks to Island Boost For anyone who has not tried it, it's AMAZING. Straight rocketfuel, and tastes great, easy on the tummy, and most importantly…DIDN’T FREEZE! I really didn’t want to stop. This was really a great way for me to kind of wrap up my year (I know a couple weeks left).  Now, if only those spiders would just leave me alone…




Tuesday, November 19, 2013

KC Marathon (The Low)

I came To Kansas City for the KC Marathon on leftover fumes of awesomeness from Hawk 100, trepidation from getting back to this evil concrete, and an overwhelming stench of Vicks. Yes, because my timing is impeccably bad, my body decided this in between month was the right month to run down the list of illnesses sweeping the nation like they were the hot hits top 20 or something. I had some sort of plague flu, some sort of stomach adverseness to eating (which if you know me, if I am not eating it can be safe to assume I am probably beating on deaths door), some violent reaction to breathing and using my throat in general properly. And because my family loves me so dearly, everyone decided that they should pitch in and get sick in KC too, ‘cause they care.
Skora Forms with the loot

So the hotel room was a bastion of illness and little sleep. There was even consideration of packing up and going home. Even after waking I wasn’t sure I should be out there. But instead in the dark and quiet (or as quiet as you can be getting race gear ready in the dark) I got ready. My hotel room looked out of the opposite side from where the race start was so it wasn’t until I got down to the lobby and out the door that I could see the throng of people. It was, jolting. Not the “touched a live wire and now have no eyebrows left” kind of jolt but really a “this is freaking awesome”. I have never experienced a race this large before. This many people toeing the line all at once. It was amazing to see and even more amazing to swim through the people to find some friends and get in our areas to start.


On to the race itself. First of all the course was gorgeous. If you have never been to KC I would highly suggest a trip down. It goes through a cool area of town from the Power and Light district, by the hotels again, up to and out of the War Memorial (incredible in the early morning), through the plaza, through the very upscale neighborhood, then through the not so upscale neighborhood, and back home. It was a scenic route. It was billed as hilly (for around here anyways) but I didn’t think it was THAT hilly. Maybe that’s the recent trail running spurt talking but there were hills and they were manageable. You probably won’t set a PR here if you run other super flat courses, but it was a very solid course. Perhaps the most evil part of this course was running by Gates BBQ while they were smoking ribs. Slight aside, KC is really known for 2 things, fountains and BBQ and you get both on this route. Again, come check it out. You will not be disappointed. Back to the route, the day was also perfect. Cool in the morning, sunny, just warm enough by the time I crossed the finish line.
War Memorial - Not befitting of the awesomeness

I had high hopes for this race despite the fact I wasn’t feeling nominal. My goal was under 4 hours. I had felt good coming out of the Hawk in Lawrence. Well. Things were ok for a while. I was hovering around that 4 hour pace for about 16 mi then I really started laboring. Then it really just fell apart. Started feeling pain in my right hamstring and had to stop and walk. That was really the last thing I wanted to do.  If this was a trail race I would have been running with intermittent walking, but this was not and walking was the absolute death of me. The slower I moved the more things tightened up. I tried to run/walk/run as best as could. It would work for a while until the pain crept in. Slowly I crept towards the finish getting passed by people, encountering other “walking wounded” (that’s another post for another time). Finally getting close enough to hear the finish I had to pass a group of people sitting, tailgating really, with a sign saying “Free Beer if you quit”. That was when I started running and carried me right up to the finish line with many adoring fans lining up to see me finish (sorry what I really meant was a few people left over waiting for others to finish who really wanted me to get out of the way). It was one hell of a feeling to stagger across, grab my bagel and fruit, grab my water, grab my medal and correctly put one my neck and the others in my pie-hole.

Laboring

But that isn’t quite the end of the story. Another reason I had hoped for a 4 hour marathon was to give me time to shower, get dressed, get the van packed up , maybe stop by the free bbq/beer tent before I headed home. Well, that didn’t really leave me a lot of wiggle room before I was unceremoniously booted from my hotel room. The slower I went the slower I wedged up against that time. Sure enough the margin was too thin and the family packed up and checked out right about the time I was crossing the finish. This meant that no food and no shower. It also meant a stink van ride home. Sorry all involved. That seemed to be the worst part until I tried to get out when I got home an hour or so later…you know, once rigor mortis had set in. Getting out of the car may have been the hardest part of the whole weekend.

Where's the crash cart, with beer?





Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hawk100 Marathon (High Point)


I like to start my posts off with something funny or catching so that you, the reader, might actually hang around for another sentence or two. I am having a hard time starting this one off. I am quite literally that speechless about what I did on Saturday. In my previous post I stated I had signed up for back to back races. It was time to reap what I had sown.


 

Back to the North Shore trail around Lake Clinton in Lawrence for me. It wasn’t just the chill in the 5 AM air that had me shaking, I was nervous. The race the week before had shattered any semblance of confidence I had in what I was about to do.  I did take solace in knowing I learned a lot the week before. Eat, drink, pace yourself, be smart. I kept going over that in my head. I took time to go watch the ultra-runners take off for a little extra inspiration. Something about seeing the headlamps dive into the woods like a pack of fireflies was pretty awesome. After that, it was watching the sun rise over the lake that really started getting me amped and ready to go.  By the time we were lining up to start. I was anxious to get going. I felt ready.


This really has nothing to do with the race other than... JESUS LOOK AT THAT THING. I better run FAST lest I get eaten...
 

This race was completely different from the one before. First of all, the weather was amazing. We started in the low 50’s. A nice cool breeze blew for most of the day. Even at the end it as warm but not “I could catch fire if I trip and hit the ground” hot. It was awesome. As we took off the sun was rising, the mist was lifting, was really quite the sight to behold.

 
Aww that's just majestic, I bet it was fleeing that hellacious spider.

For me, cause of my terminal case of stupidity, it was imperative that I start in the back. This would keep my ability to go galloping forward to a minimum. The marathoners started with a little out and back loop through what looked like a nature preserve trail. Easy stuff, single file, CONGA LINE!!!! The group kept me in my place pretty well. Next up was Saunders Mound, a little uphill/downhill with a cool top and a cooler view. More conga line preventing my poor pacing decisions. Finally things started to open up and I had the opportunity to show my true colors and outrun myself. Lo and behold, I stayed put. I fell in behind a couple nice ladies that didn’t mind me stomping and clomping behind them (thank you). They were going about the right pace for me not to shoot myself in the foot. I should probably mention right now that my goal was under 6.5 hours. I had no idea what I should expect and I was rather skittish after the week before and it’s, um, horror?

 
My hands look weird cause I still had the creepy crawlies from that terror-spider.

So apparently I can be taught. I was running within myself. About 5 min of every hour was spent walking. The course wasn’t chock full of hills, so some time was just spent walking of my own volition. It was nice. It was peaceful, and what the course lacked in hills in made up for in good views. The shore line of the lake was magnificent. That was also the hardest part as far as rocks go. It was easy going honestly. I was gliding. It was about 11 miles in that I broke off from the people I was tailing. This was also one of the coolest parts of the course. It was circling up a hill with a bunker (or some structure) built in the side, hence the name bunker hill. At the top we could see across the whole lake/park area. It was exhilarating.

 

Bunker hill was sandwiched between rest stops. It should be mentioned that the Hawk had amazing aid stations. The food and drink were varied and plentiful. The people were amazing. I got my pack felt up one two occasions to make sure I wasn’t lying about my water situation. The best though was definitely the awesome lady who threatened to give me “angry mother eyes” if I wasn’t eating anything and that she would find me if I wasn’t telling the truth. Ahh, nothing says caring volunteers like motherly threats to eat. They knew me well.  

 

Coming out of those stops I was about 14 miles in. I felt good, I was pacing well. Then something happened that has never happened to me up til this point. I fell. I was cruising along thinking about lots of things and nothing at the same time when that ghost root snagged me. Down I went, leaving an offering of blood to the trail gods. But thankfully no one saw me so it never happened. Back on the move I went.  And on to the last Aid station.

 

I had been glancing at my watch from time to time, seeing how I was doing. I was pleased at my time relative to how I felt. Now here I was, about 5 miles from home and pacing well ahead of where I thought I would be. This was a jolt. I took off and ran and ran and ran. It was exhilarating. So exhilarating that when I came to the turn off to go cross the finish line I ran right past it. It wasn’t until I hit a volunteer about a third of a mile ahead that I realized what I had done and backtracked. Back to the turn, out and around the parking lot and down the finish line I streaked. It was…indescribable the feeling of crossing the finish line. The race director asked me how I liked it as he handed me my medal. “Incredible” was all I could think to say. I had done it, and in 5.5 hours no less.  This was a high point for me. First marathon completed and conquered the trail that whipped me the week before.  I even managed to play it relatively smart (minus the running right past the turnoff). 
It would appear the bright green repels SUV sized spider monsters. Well done Trail Hawks.