Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Uwharrie Prologue

I had been preoccupied all last week about me.
"What the hell is that muscle, and why does it hurt so bad?"
"Will I be able to run the Uwharrie 40, which I have been looking forward to for a year?"
"Could, I, (gasp) become an Organ Donor"?

The answers to these questions have been rendered trivial, eclipsed by what Shannon did on Saturday.
In order to appreciate her accomplishment I have to provide some context. Sorry this is so long. I will do the actual race report tomorrow.

In the beginning...
When I first met Shannon, she was an accomplished runner, having done many races including a few marathons. But she only ran on roads. In contrast, I only ran on trails.

So Shannon (and my sister) got me into running road races, while I talked Shannon into running trails with me.

She did not enjoy trails at all. In fact, they made her upset, "I hate this! This sucks!"
She compared everything to the flat roads of Chicago. She hated even the idea of hills and tripping hazards.
"Why would you want to run where it is hard?"
One time I was running Company Mill with her, offering advice and encouragement, but it just made her mad.
"Can you go away? This is really hard! I hate that it is so easy for you."
After that, I ran the trails alone.

Trail Love

She would still run trail races with me however, just because I was doing them. She would usually fall and end up with "trail love", and sometimes she would cry. She would never give up though, and never turned down a trail race.

In fact she managed to complete the Uwharrie 40 last year, though she fell and hurt her leg crossing a stream, and then had to stop for a while for soup and hot chocolate. She vowed never to do it again.

Shannon running Uwharrie in 2010
Love Trails
But when it came time to sign up for 2011, she didn't want to be left out.
I told her that if she wanted to learn to enjoy trail running, she would have keep running on trails until they did not feel hard anymore, and that's what she did.

The past 6 months, we did many miles out on Company Mill and Sycamore in Umstead. Her 12:00 minute pace dropped to 11:00, and then she pushed it under 10:00. She started to get excited about Uwharrie.

Out of her League
My goal for the Uwharrie 40 was to go "Organ Donor" which is under 7 hours.
Shannon said her #1 goal was "to not cry".
But she was also peeking at the entry list to see the other women running it.
"Don't even think of placing in Uwharrie", I scolded her, "There are past winners of the 40 and 20 running it. These are hard core ultra runners, they are in whole different league than you. Don't try to run with them, just run a realistic pace for yourself."

Injured by Resting
The Saturday before the race I needed a rest day so I decided to finish a project in the garage.
I built this massive (8' x 7' x 2.5')  set of shelves to house Shannon's collection of framed photographs.

Now, the only exercise I ever get is running, and every unrelated muscle has long since atrophied away.
So it is no surprise that as I was moving the shelves into place, I strained a muscle on the inside/back of my leg.

Trail Running is My Thing
I forced a run on Sunday, but Monday I was hobbling around. It was painful to bend down, walk up the stairs and get in and out of my car.
"How the hell am I going to run 40 miles if it hurts to walk to the mailbox?"

My only hope was that somehow it would not hurt to run. So I took a test run for a mile on Thursday night, but it was painful from the first step. The muscle was swollen, and kind of flapping around. There was no way I could run it, I had to drop out.
I told Shannon "I'll still go. I can drop you off at the start, and volunteer"

"No. Trail running is your thing, this was your race", she said, "I don't have to run it, we can stay home. I don't want you to have to be there all day, feeling bad about missing it."

Of course I wouldn't let her do that, after all the training she had done. I knew she really wanted to run it, but my dropping out was putting a damper on things.
"Wait and decide tomorrow", she said.
And miraculously when I woke up Friday morning, my leg felt much better.
"What the hell. I'll see how far I can get!"
So I went and bought a pair of compression shorts, thinking it would hold the muscle in place, and we started packing our bags...

Continued here:  Uwharrie Mountain Run race report.