Sunday, February 8, 2015

Uwharrie 2015 - suffering IS optional

Beat Some Sense Into Me
In 2013 we volunteered at the Uwharrie 40 finish line. I  was incredibly jealous and impressed by all the people actually running through the finish line with smiles on their faces.
I had never been able to do this. I am always reduced to a grumpy limp by the end after stupidly trying to run it fast. Last year I dropped out half way.

So this year I was determined to run through that finish line. And I had an arsenal of secret weapons to help me achieve this goal.

Mark Manz manages to avoid Shannon sitting in the middle of the trail
taking pictures, and cruises to a second place finish in something like 6:24.
His first time running in Uwharrie, and first trail run in months.

#1 - Heart Rate Monitor

This gadget would give a completely objective measurement of my effort, keeping me from running too fast and blowing up as usual. The plan was to average 125 BPM for the first 38 miles and then kick it in. It was fool proof!

This plan failed in the first mile. The strap slowly slipped off my scrawny chest. I gave up struggling with it, and decided to let it slip to my waist.

Unfortunately, on the way down it got stuck on my belly. Which I guess was a completely objective measurement of my chest-to-belly ratio, and letting me know I needed to cut back on the beer.

It seemed like it was still reading my heart rate through my stomach, until I belched up my Ensure and it shot up to 300 BPM.

#2 - Balanced Shoes

I was desperately worried about my hip bursitis that I had been suffering from in January. It had failed me on all three long training runs after just 10 miles. So I sought professional expert medical attention, and had a diagnosis:

He said my left side had been doing too much work trying to compensate for a bad right knee.

The chiropractor/spiritual healer/dentist I had gone to said the root of the problem as a "chakra color imbalance".

The cure was to rebalance my Chakra.  I needed a calming blue shoe on the left side to relax it.
On the right side, I needed flashy yellow/orange shoe to pick up the slack.

This worked wonderfully. Both hips were equally sore.

Pain Is Inevitable; Suffering Is Optional.
Advil® is $3.99 a bottle; but generic is $2.39
#3 - Medication 

Before the race Shannon had packed four Advil. I thought, "Wow, that's a lot, but OK".
So I pocketed four Advil too and gulped them down around mile 19.
I didn't realize that four was to have extra.

All soreness in my hips, hamstrings, and knees disappeared and after the turn around I felt great!

Trailheads manning the mile 8/32 aid station

#4 - Haroldism

Coming back I was fading fast, and my calves on the verge of cramping. I needed something more than the 100 oz of HEED I had been drinking (by the way what is up with HEED? I admit it is easier on the stomach than Gatorade, by why does it have to taste like Cleveland tap water?)

At the mile 32 aid station, I asked the wise Harold "Galoot" Hill what the Haroldism of the Day was.
He paused, reflecting only for a second, then gave me this:
One who travels farthest in their mind travels lightest by foot.
And then Jenny "Lawst" gave me some electrolytes, and directed me to the trail.
And light on my feet I went, relaxed, as I journeyed deep into my mind trying to understand what he meant.

"This is where you cross! Come on through!", called Shannon,
 before he could realize he could cross 5 feet to the right without getting his feet wet.
Never trust a photographer.
#5 - Capitulation

It only took 5 attempts, but I understand how to run the Uwharrie 40 now.
Don't fight it. There are more runnable miles on the trail than I am capable of running anyway, so there is no sense trying to run the hard parts.
Slight incline? Walking that.
Pile of rocks? Walking that.
Steep decent? Walking that.

I waited until the last hill that comes around mile 38, the one that I always hobble up.
This time I was able to run up it,  tiptoe down the rock pile on the other side, and for the first time, run through the finish line smiling with my arms raised.

Co-race director Kim was taking finish line photos, "I missed you coming in. Can go back up the hill come through again?"

The rest of Shannon's photos in public facebook album here.

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