Saturday, December 3, 2011

2011 Run at the Rock

Running On Empty
As Shannon and I were making the drive to our 4th "Run At The Rock", the car was complaining.
Distance to Empty: 20 miles.
A rational response to this is to get gas. Being insecure, I take this as a challenge:
"Oh yeah?", I tell the car, "I bet I can go thirty!"

Which we did. Pulling into a gas station a few miles from Cedarock Park, I reached for my wallet...
Uh oh.
Shannon didn't bring hers either. We scrounged for change in the seats, but only found 10 cents and $15 gift card to Inside-Out Sports. Both useless.

So we decided to push our luck and drive on to the race, tapping into uncharted regions of the gas tank.

Trading Body Parts for Cash
My running this year has been a steady cycle of overdoing it and injuries.
My latest crash was a DNF 3 weeks ago at The Misery Run. I had to quit running after 2 miles because my Turkey Tendon (behind my knee) was threatening to snap in half.
I only managed to get a few 8 miles runs in since then, so it was questionable if I would make it through a hard 14 miler.

But I decided to risk injury because I was doing surprisingly well in the NC Trail Half Marathon Series, mostly because of my stellar attendance record. So I didn't want to miss Run at the Rock, which was the final race of the series.
If I could place in the top seven, I could over take David Roche for 1st place in the standings. Assuming, of course, he didn't show up.

"Damnit! I was hoping you wouldn't show up", I told him, as his mere presence crushed my dreams.
Now I had to live with Shannon besting me once again, as she had 1st place in the series safely locked up.

People get a little crazy during the first mile
Run Like A Bargain Shopper
Like most single track trail races, Run at the Rock starts with a half mile or so of open road. The purpose of this is to give time for runners to settle into a reasonable pace and allow the pack to thin out into an orderly line onto the trail.

But most trail runners approach this first mile like Black Friday Walmart shoppers. At the "GO", I sprinted off like a lunatic trampling several people trying to get to the trail first. Before the first turn I pepper sprayed several people next to me so I could take the corner.

My goal for the race was to average an 8:00 min/mile, but a quarter mile in, the Garmin said I was running a 6:00 min/mile. Despite this ridiculous pace, there was still about 30 people in front of me. In the open field, I made an asshole move and ran outside the couse markers to cut ahead a bunch of them and then hit the trail.

Damn elves 
Out Of Gas
After a mile, the pack thinned out and I was running with just a couple other guys. We splashed through a few small gullies, and clomped through some muddy patches.
I was feeling surprisingly good. My Turkey Tendon and knees felt fine.

So at the 3 mile marker, I stopped being conservative, and let it rip.
I crashed down rocky slopes and charged up the hills. I felt great, but was breathing really hard.
After what seemed a long while, my legs became weak and I was hunched over, gasping for air, trudging slowly up a hill. Almost completely spent, I looked up and saw... the 4 mile marker.

I laughed, because at that point another 10 miles seemed impossibly far. I walked for a while to catch my breath, but was only passed by a couple guys. As I finished the first loop I thought about dropping out, but nothing really hurt, I was just exhausted.

So I ran the second loop more to my abilities. I walked up all of the steep hills, conserving my energy so that I could fly down the other side. My apologies to Brian Tajlili and Dan Bedard, who must have thought I was an idiot.

But the walking allowed me to finally see the waterfall. I have run this race 3 times before, so that means I ran by it 7 times without seeing it. I know why I never look at it though, because just as I did, I took a wrong turn. Damn you, beautiful nature.

I finally made it to the finish line and collapsed in a heap. Yes, this was overly dramatic, but I was really happy. It was my longest run in 5 weeks, my fastest in 2 months, and most importantly nothing broke.

Shannon just keeps getting faster on the trails. She was 3rd female, while taking pictures as usual. Click here for the album. Her speediness has resulted in a decline in photo quality however, as we had to delete about 100 blurry ones. She did get this one of Tim Gautreau's prodigious blisters.

I have to thank Scott for lending us money so we could get home.

Be sure to check out his race report here, as it is absolutely way better than mine.
Oh, and me saying that may or not be part of the terms of the loan.