Archive for the ‘ORRRC’ Category

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My friends, it is quite possible that G-town was the last rodeo for these shoes. Trail shoes wear so differently than road shoes. *sigh*  I love these shoes.*

2016 kicked off with a trail half-marathon – an inaugural run at Kercher Park in Germantown, Ohio – for which I was woefully under-prepared. I’ve been running pretty regular, but since my PR at Iron Horse last October, I haven’t gone further than 7 on trails, less on pavement.  In other words, I knew this was going to hurt.

But it was the first ORRRC run of the season (Eric & I just joined)

And it was my friend Lance’s first gig as an RD, so I didn’t want to miss that.

And we hadn’t been to Kercher Park before…I love new trails!  (which if I’d had my head on right, is really bad logic for signing on to a 13.1 you haven’t trained for). And, and, and…

And so even though I knew this was going to hurt, off we went. To the hurt. On a beautiful morning in January – it wasn’t sunny, but about 50-degrees. Lots of mud – rain earlier in the week had made things slick, so most of what we ran in was that kind of mud that makes a sucking sound when you lift up your foot. It sticks to your shoes and every step is like lifting an extra 2 lbs of weight from the suction.

Later I would ask Lance “Why do you hate the dry land, Lance?! What did dry land ever do to you?” because SO. MUCH. MUD.

The first almost mile was a paved park trail, a nice warmup since we got there literally, in time to make a U-turn and start the run, courtesy of my crappy navigational skills. We started LAST. Like, the very last 2 people to cross the line. Though chip-timed on finish, the start line was manually set at 10:00am start.

After the first mile, we turned off pavement and the trail started to climb. Forever.

Kercher Park is freaking BEAUTIFUL! Eric & I were talking about how much we wanted to come back to the trail before we even got to the car after we were done. IT. IS. THAT. BEAUTIFUL!  But WOW! Does it climb! Garmin says 1560+ ft in elevation gain, 1506 ft of coming back down. There is not much flat at all. The uphills are long and twisting, the downhills are fast and steep – meaning you spend a lot more time climbing than you do descending. But there are moments in those climbs, running alongside streams and reaching overlooks, that will take your breath away if you pause to look up.  Especially with it being January, when you can see between the trees. I am sure I would have finished much faster if I hadn’t stopped to absorb so much nature into my eyeballs.

Later I would ask Lance “Why does the trail only go UP, Lance?!” I don’t think he took me seriously, but it was a real question.

Also, I would have finished faster if I hadn’t stop-drop-&-yoga’d a couple times in miles 10-12. Leg fatigue. I needed to stretch to keep going. On trails, once you pass the water stops, there is no DNF – mainly because no one is coming to get you unless you’re bleeding. And honestly, I’m not sure how that would work either. Maybe that’s how woodland gnomes are made. Trail runners that DNF’d between water stops.

Water stops were at miles 3 & 10 – which were the same as the course is a loop (water & gatorade), and 7 (H2O, gatorade, snacks).  Very well placed with more than enough when I came through at the back of the pack. For back of the pack runners, stops being packed up or out of supplies is a concern – so there being plenty for me when I knew I was pulling through 5-6th place to the end is important for me to note. My BOTP friends, you are not abandoned here. The cutoff to mile 10 is also a very generous 4-hours. I had concerns about it knowing that I would be moving slowly, but I hit the cutoff with an hour to spare.

Some things to be proud of –

  • Through almost the whole race, I stayed in a really good place mentally. I saw the stirrings of what I dub “fuck soup” – that moment where a porridge of ‘fuck this race’, ‘fuck this mud’, ‘fuck running’, etc.,  begins to coagulate into a blob that spins ugly in your head. Giving it a name helps me have some power over it and when it came up, I told myself I was NOT. GOING. THERE.  New trail, fresh year. I was not going to allow it a start with beating myself up.  Instead I looked up, I looked around, and I told myself that going more slowly wasn’t going to make it hurt any less. Keep moving. I smiled and laughed and let the joy in, of just being and doing what I was doing.
  • I spent a lot of the race alone. In a long race, I think you meet yourself several times. Let’s just say that at Forget the PR Mohican 25k, I met myself in a very bad way being alone in the woods for an extended time. It’s good to have the ghost of that out of my head a bit and realize that this time, I didn’t even realize how long I’d been out of sight of other runners for quite a while. I was in my own race.
  • A woman said to me “You’re pretty good at the mud” when I slogged past her as she was picking carefully through a downhill.  We’d been leap-frogging for half a mile at that point through some serious slop. Lady, that comes with practice! Mud is less my enemy now than it was at the WORST F*ING RACE EVER at East Fork last Summer. I’m learning to manage it. Slog through it. Minimize it slowing me down. She was right, I’ve improved greatly at handling mud.
  • My nutrition was SPOT ON! I’ve struggled with this a bit on trails.  A piece of cinnamon toast on Oatnut Bread 1.5 hours before the race. An apple in the car 45 minutes pre-run. Every mile, a decent sip from the hydration pack (I took in about 1 liter from the pack, total.) and a shot of H2O and gatorade at each water stop. A strip of dried papaya after mile 4. Half a Gu before mile 7, where I had 5 gummy bears. Somewhere between miles 8-9, a tablespoon of nuts from my pack. At mile 10, I put the best thing I’ve ever eaten on race in my mouth – half a slice of dried pineapple. OH MY GOD!  IT WAS PERFECT! Not too much sugar, and solid – so it didn’t make my stomach sloshy.  On the whole, that doesn’t sound like much for a 13-mile run, but it was exactly what I needed. Note to self: Pineapple, nuts & papaya should always be in the hydration pack!

Everything ached and screeched at me by the time I finished, but as I said – I knew I’d signed on for the hurt.  Slow, but done – and a great start to the season!

ORRRC does 2-3 runs per month, most of which appear to be trail runs. They are either free or dirt cheap if you’re member – and still cheap even if you’re not. We paid less for a year’s membership for the two of us than it would cost for one of us to register at most 5k’s now. Go check out their calendar! See you in the woods!

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*(Sidebar: Brooks, I’m side-eyeing you on where these are failing. I know a couple other runners with failures in the same spot on their Cascadias.)