Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Groundhog Gallop

Worth risking injury
Yesterday Shannon and I headed out to the Groundhog Gallop.

Some Race photos here from On The Mark Sports.
Shannon's Photos are here, which of course, she took while running.

We had signed up because our friends Iris and Josh would be there, and a trail half is my favorite type of race.

It might seem excessive and somewhat stupid for us to sign up for a race just a week after an ultra.
But during the week everything fell into place: We finished washing loads of clothes we had worn before, during, and after the Uwharrie, we finally got around to hosing off our shoes, and I was actually walking normally by Thursday.

Of course, trying to race too soon after a hard marathon or an ultra is a good way to get injured. So we vowed to to take it easy and not push too hard.

That was before we saw the cool little Groundhogs given away as age group awards. They were definitely worth rupturing a tendon or two.

Ultra Brad 
As I walked up to the registration table the volunteer was holding out 2 bibs for me. I was severely confused for a good 3 minutes, because I hadn't told him who I was yet. But finally I realized it was Ultra Brad, who is usually kicking my ass in a race, and not behind the table.

We also ran into elite ultra runner Annette Bednosky who was there to practice running short races like half marathons. seriously.

Aline, freezing, but smiling

The race started promptly at 9:23am. I say prompt, because that was actually 7 minutes before the posted 9:30 start time. We were very lucky today, because usually 7 minutes before the start time is when we are pulling into the parking lot.

I ran the first couple miles with Barefoot Aqua Josh, discussing 19th century Russian literature (he just would not shut up about Vasily Zhukovsky!), while Shannon ran ahead of us.
The first mile was on the road, and then we followed a group of people down the trail onto a little wooden deck with no exit. We were trapped there a good 30 or 40 minutes, running in tight circle until someone found the exit.

The Watch
Back on the trail, I noticed a Garmin Forerunner laying in the mud.
"Hey a garmin", I pointed. Then I stepped over it, because I am thoughtless bastard.
Apparently it was some sort of morality test that I had just failed, because the watch was actually mine. I'll explain shortly.

I saw Shannon pulling farther ahead, and started to get agitated. She had been lording her giant 1st place Uwharrie trophy over me all week and I couldn't let her beat me. So I told Josh I was going to try to catch her, and sped up.

"Hey, how are you feeling?", I asked when I finally caught her.
"Terrible. I fell really hard.", she said. She had banged her knee pretty bad, adding more scrapes and bruises on top of the ones she acquired last week.

"I lost the Garmin too, it popped off when I fell.", she said.
"Crap! I saw it and stepped right over it. I'll get it on the next loop!"

On the next loop, I stopped and looked for it. But it was gone.

Josh, the good samaritan that he is, had been right behind me and picked it up. He turned it into the race organizers after his first lap. The watch reported that Josh ran an impressive 8:11 for his 5th mile, and was, in fact, morally pure.
Still works! 

The Water
Shannon provided more entertainment on the second loop, which was captured by the race photographer from On The Mark Sports. There is a stream crossing on the course, which presents a choice.
You can be hard-core and run through the icy stream, or be a delicate princess and lift up your dress as you tiptoe over the rocks.

That's me in the hat tiptoeing over the rocks. I was terrified of getting my feet wet and ruining my pedicure.
My lovely wife Shannon splashes through the water, while taking my picture.

Apparently someone at the aid station there suggested that if she got her hair wet, she would be awarded one of the little ceramic groundhogs.

So despite the 37° temperature, she took a swim. She said just did it for the groundhog, but obviously she was mocking me for taking the rocks.

Iris fished her longest trail race ever with a smile on her face, but failed to finish last.

The post race food included some wonderful chili, which I scarfed 2 bowls. 

A good time was had by all. Shannon and I both scored the coveted groundhogs without having to sacrifice any body parts. Though I think we placed in our age groups because most of the fast people were still in the bathroom when the race started early.

I would recommend this race to anyone. Though if you see a watch on the ground, please pick up. It's probably mine.