Monday, January 23, 2012

Uwharrie Training Run

Eight of us will be running Uwharrie in 2 weeks.
Ken and Josh are just nuts.
Uwharrie is a unique trail that is difficult to simulate, so a group of us who will be running the 20 and 40 miler this year headed out to the forest for a test run. Blogging celebrities Scott and Merrell-foot Josh were there, along with some other non-blogging riffraff.

Shannon took some photos that do a good job of showing what the trail is like.

Being signed up for the 40 miler, I wanted to test out my new shoes and my old knees on the rough and rocky terrain. Somehow I thought it would be a good idea to run 20 miles.

Turned out that it was not such a good idea. Let me just say that coming down the stairs this morning, I had to stop halfway and rest for a few minutes.

Josh demonstrates proper creek crossing technique.
Uwharrie is a deceptively hard trail. There is no super steep climbs or especially difficult sections that you can point to. Instead, it slowly and repeatedly pounds you into pulp, like getting beaten to death with a rubber mallet.

Here is my stream of thoughts as I ran yesterday:

Mile 1:  Holy crap I'm cold.
Mile 2:  Hey, this is easy! I feel good!
Mile 4: Woohoo! This fun, I love this forest!
Mile 6: OK.. Maybe I'll just slow down a little here.
Mile 11: Wow, my hip kind of hurts.
Mile 12: Man this is rocky... dammit, twisted my ankle AGAIN.
Mile 14: Ow! A fricking bolder just rolled onto THE TOP of my foot.
Mile 16: Maybe I can run a little bit here... no, still walking
Mile 17: Oh God... my knees.
Mile 18: What? Still going up?
Mile 19: Good Lord is there any end to this freaking forest? Am I even on the trail anymore?
Mile 20: Is that a car I hear? Please let that be the road. Am I hallucinating again?

"Seriously? More rocks?"

Notes To Self
But it wasn't all bad. You can learn some important things from a run like this. Seriously, here are the things I learned (or was reminded of) on this training run:

  1. Do NOT try to keep up with Bart and Dan. My heart will explode on the first hill.
  2. Be patient. I already knew to walk up the steep hills. But there are also some treacherous drops that I lack the skill to run down. So don't even try.  There are plenty of run-able stretches of trail to save my legs for.
  3. Tie my shoes tighter. Wet shoes grow in size.
  4. Secure my laces better. I always tuck my laces in and haven't had a shoe come untied in years. But the Uwharrie forest is alive. Yesterday a branch reached out from the side of the trail, grabbed the half inch of exposed lace and untied the shoe.
  5. Just run through the creeks. The most painful missteps happened when I was trying not to get my feet wet. I would roll my ankle and fall into the water anyway.
  6. Drink a little bit less. Applies both to the water during the run, and the beer afterwards.
  7. Dress warmer. Being cold makes me run too fast. 
  8. Running too fast at the start causes inevitable pain and suffering later. Pick a target pace and do not go under it.
  9. When going north on the wooden bridge, TURN LEFT. Do not go straight up the hill.
  10. Do not run in Uwharrie. Seriously, it is not good for you.

The "Tick Shirt" is rapidly becoming the most popular race shirt of all time.