Sunday, September 30, 2012

White Tail Trail Half

This race is a keeper. The race is very well organized, a large crowd of runners and supporters, and a really cool course that snakes around Caesars Creek Lake. The first half of the course is pretty flat with great scenery and a mix of surfaces. I suspect this is what attracted a larger than normal group of people that looked like road runners looking for a new challenge. The number of runners that carefully fold their bib's into postage stamp size artwork then pin them to their shorts, numbered less than 20%. (a trail runner thing) It looked like a really young crowd compared to other trail races I have done which is great!

A few buses took turns shuttling runners from the eventual finish area to the start line. Wow, do kids really inhale those "bus fumes" every day? No wonder our math scores are low.  

Although a chip timed race, the start is w/o a mat so everybody gets the same start time. So I started up front (again) to preserve precious seconds and I frankly enjoy feeling like an elite runner for a few minutes. The first mile or so is uphill on a road and I averaged under a 6 pace with a 5:35 max, whee! Into the woods we go and I'm still in the top 30 or so. The drama begins.

The first decent was a bit technical and with the front runners, pretty fast. I caught a toe, went flying, rolled and popped back up not even loosing a place. It must have looked like I practiced this but those around me kept asking if I was ok. hmmmm Then I noticed my hand felt wet and started to hurt a bit like a typical fall.
5 stitches and a tetanus shot

Turns out I landed on a rock or something that poked a hole and opened up the fleshy part of my hand. looks a bit sketchy but it really did not bother me except for the wet feeling as it continued to bleed throughout the race. That was probably a good thing as it washed away the forest creatures I disrupted from their nap.

At the half way point I was at a 9m/m pace, so I am thinking the coffee cup to the first 3 (in each age group) is in the bag. Unfortunately, the second half was more difficult and my legs were giving up. At about mile 9 or so, I fell again, on a flat section and landed on guess what? Yep, the hand gets another hit but the real problem was a hamstring lock up. I lost a few minutes to stretching until I could start running again. 

By now, my singlet was looking like I had been shot by a hunter. It felt good to my hand putting it on my cool and wet shirt but it was staining it red. This probably explains why the kids were reluctant to hand me water at the aid stations : ) 

A guy was snapping pictures at random places thoughout the course. He started by asking if I was ok, and then he would ask if I was still ok at a later point. At mile 10 or so, he told me I looked like a BAMF, a highlight : )

I was able to "sprint" (maybe a 7 pace) for the last hundred yards without cramping a calf or the hamstring. After the finish I took a look at my hand and decided this would require professional treatment.  I stopped at the ambulance for a disinfectant wash and maybe an opinion and he offered me alcohol wipes and did not even bother to get out of the truck. Really?

I decided a stop at the ER was wise so enter phase two of my adventure.
to the ER I go

The ER was not busy and I went directly to the area where they work on you. As is turns out most of the staff (all ladies) were runners and were curious about trail running. I really had fun talking with them and sharing my enthusiasm for running on trails versus the road. Perhaps a difficult "sell" when I looked (and probably smelled) like I wrestled with a bear.

I hope to see some of them on the trails in the future. 

Next up..Stone Steps!
All better

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bad To The Bone

The race was forced to change the name to Big Bone Lick - Can You Lick It (no kidding) this year because our legal system tells us we can claim exclusive rights to words. I would rather have t shirt rights to Big Bone Lick, sounds like a cult goldmine to me. I'm not sure I have the nerve to wear my t shirt though. But runners will continue to call it by it's rightful name as it should be.

A beautiful day for a race, 50F at start and sunny. Only 100 or so people raced which seems low for such a cool and well run race. But like last year, the people were relaxed, friendly and understood why we were there. The trail course was well marked, groomed and the road course well marked with police at intersections.

I started with the front group and by the time we reached the woods, I was in a good position. Few passed me on the trail, and I ended up with a 31:38 split, about 1.5 min faster than last year. So far so good.

On to the bike. Same old story, not sufficiently bike fit, blah, blah, blah. Calfs started warning me after the first major climb at 5 miles. 
Top of first Evil Twin
My reward was a PR for speed with a 48 mph decent. No oncoming cars at the bottom, so full lane apex for the left then right turns. wheee! Passed 3 people (safely!) like they were standing still.

Muscles did not lock up on the bike, but the calfs continued to threaten when the cadence was over 85 or so.

Shaved about 4 min off of last years bike and only 4 or so passed me. The race leaders were already in front of me before the bike. Their bike splits were 10 + min faster than mine.

Like last year, my 2nd run was dreadful. The bike caused major distress with calfs, quads and even hamstrings, but nothing fully locked up. So slow, but still 1.5 min faster than last year.

I finished about 6 minutes faster than last year, so I thought I may get a 1st or 2nd place award. (2nd last year) I was walking my bike back to the car (pre award ceremony) when I heard "hey snyder". It was Sue who once again surprised me which was great! Sue will once again see me get my award. (not)

Two fast old farts (both 55) had apparently decided to show up today and I was a full 22 min behind them. Their splits were almost identical as were their final times. Apparently friends who ended up racing to the finish line.   kids  : )

Where's the award?

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Mountain Experience

Sue and I had the opportunity to spend the week in the fantastic Vail Village in Colorado. This provided me the opportunity to run on a “real” mountain for the first time. For local (Ohio) runs we talk about how a race has “x” feet of overall climb. In Vail it’s pretty simple; climb 3000 feet, then decend 3000 feet. I started at 7000 and ran (call it a spirited hike) to 10,000 feet then ran (call it a quick step shuffle) back to the base. Round trip from the hotel was just under 9 miles.

Running (aka falling) down a mountain takes a toll on knees. I’ll bet actually running down would put more stress on the quads but my stutter step thing stressed my knees. More time on a mountain would probably yield big improvements. It’s probably like skiing, where local runs last a few minutes but runs on mountains can last 30 minutes. The longer runs give you time to “try stuff” and see what works and what doesn’t.

I thought my local (Mount Airy Forest) trails were considered very technical. And compared to the other trails, they are difficult. The hiking/running trail in Vail I ran was called Berry Pickers. This name conjures up a casual hike with the chance to find wild berries to eat on the way. Not. The average grade is over 15% with sections much steeper than that. Here is a section that lasted about 100 yards that was very steep, rocky, off camber, and slippery. Decending was just as challenging as climbing it.

The views were just incredible. Many stream crossings, groves of Aspens, and traverses across the face of the mountain provided views worthy of postcards. Most of these pictures were taken on my first run which also gave me a chance to give my oxygen-deprived lungs a rest.

There is a 5K race they have every year on this trail and times are between 35 min for elite runners and an hour + for age groupers. I just can’t imagine people getting up that mountain in 35 minutes. My second day climb was about a 19 min pace which would have been just under an hour for the 5K. My second day decent was 12:20 min pace or just over 38 minutes. So these people are climbing faster than I decend !
Ski Run

moon-near summit

I think Sue and I have found a new contender for a summer condo when we retire. But this place is expensive to live although the trail running is free.