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Red Top Roaster

I woke up at 5:45 this morning and headed to Cartersville, Georgia for the 1st Annual Red Top Roaster Trail Run. The race featured a 5k event, and a 15k event.  Being the idiot that I am, I thought 15k sounded fun.  Well, not really.  My dear Coach Monster said it would be good fun.  Maybe it was Mountain Goat.

Or something like that.

My first clue of the business of this race should have been the fact that the race was taking place at Red Top Mountain.  A normal person would say, yeah, that’s probably going to hurt.  My second clue: I knew I was in trouble when I saw the array of runners.  Usually, there are a few that I think, “Yep, I can take him” or  “that girl’s dead meat.”   I didn’t really see alot of those people today.  Okay, I don’t think I saw any.  I saw my reflection in the park office window, thought I can take that one… oh wait….that’s me
Mountain Goat was running the 10k, and my good friend Carol (far left, who I call “W” for undisclosed reasons) was taking a stab at her first ever 5k.   

The third reason I knew I was in trouble:  three minutes into the race when the first hill hit.  To my credit, my legs were less than fresh, working off this week’s workouts and Coach M’s spin class yesterday.  But really… the freshness of the legs was less of a problem then the fatness of my body.

So, the suffering commenced.  And commenced with a vengeance. Up, up, up we went.  My heartrate was in high Zone 4, and my legs were burning.  

I pass a sign:  Mile 1.   Oh. Dear. Lord.  
More of the same for the next mile, but I popped a chocolate GU and that helped. So, I felt okay.  Started settling into a rhythm for a bit.  Walk a little up the tough ones, steady run up the manageable hills and try not to fly down the others like I’ve morphed into a human wheelbarrow.  But I think this so-called rhythm was because Miles 1-2 were relatively friendly.

Then came somewhere near Mile 3.  (Don’t you love how precise I am. Clearly, I am terrible at race reports… I think because the suffering is so intense that I just try and forget… then at the end, I think, crap, I needed that for the blog…)

                                                                                   (SMB video clip)

So I am trucking along.

Around 3.5 (?), there’s a water station.  Mmmmm.  Not that I needed water with my 72 ounce Camelbak…but I stopped anyway.   Along with this other guy.  We keep moving forward, and about ten minutes later, we realize that we were moving forward in the wrong direction.  We missed the turn.  We find a race volunteer who has no idea where to tell us to go, other than “go back where you came from.”  Nice.  I’m struggling to make the 2.5 hour cutoff, and now I’m backtracking a half mile?   We backtrack, nevertheless, and get proper directions.

That little deviation from the plan got in my head.

And the suffering really started to set in about Miles 5-6.  Other runners were on their last leg of the race, and they were passing.  No matter what, this always gets to be annoying.

I wanted to quit.

I remember distinctly having a mind-versation with myself about “I wonder if this is harder than childbirth? I mean, I pushed Stella out pretty quickly – this doesn’t really seem to end.” To compare a trail run to childbirth is insane.  Of course childbirth is worse.  But this was still pretty bad for me.  And runner and after runner was flying past.  How do these people do it?

Hi, Mountain Goat! I see her heading home… zoooooom!

But really, quitting wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I still had to get back home. Plus, the “sweeper” (the dude that sweeps up the rear, telling everyone the race is over) was actually on a mountain bike – so not like he could give me a ride home.

I had a rock in my shoe, tormenting me for while. I would slow down, dig around a little, but couldn’t seem to get the rock to go away.  Finally, I stopped and slipped off my shoe.   Nothing in the shoe.  Oh, must be in my sock.  That’s negatory;  this “rock” I had been digging…was actually a blister the size of a quarter.  No rock there, just bleeding flesh – move along people.

Only three or four miles to go (?).  Three or four miles on a blister and legs that I left on the course somewhere back.  Runners zoomed by, saying encouraging things like “almost done” and “you are so close,” and I was thinking, “shut up – I still have way more to do.”

I see the water station.  Whew.  Two or three miles (?) left, I’m thinking.  I could have given up there.  I was near the parking lot.  Coulda hopped in the car and called it a day. But approaching the aide station, I decided I was going to finish.  Even though my timetable was closing in, and my time most likely wouldn’t be counted.

“How much further and where do I go?” I asked the volunteer at the station.

You are almost done! Just another mile or so!”  I look down at my Garmin.  It says 8.5 miles.  Darn Garmin is always off.

What?  No.  I have more.  Where do I go?”  I asked her, pleading.

No, you are done!”

But I got lost awhile back. I have more to do? Am I supposed to loop again or something? Am I supposed to run this loop again?”

“No. Did you go around here, up the trail around here, then back down there and back up……then….” she goes on and on.

I was nodding, because I had been everywhere she mentioned except the part where I detoured (a/k/a “got lost”).  The volunteer back at the detour then told me and the other lost dude that we did missed much because we did an extra out and back…  Maybe not. Okay. I was so confused.  I must have looked confused.

The volunteer smiled and smiled and shooed me along, saying “Go! Go! Go!”

So I went.

And a mile or so later, I was rolling into the finish, with a time just under two hours.

At that point, after Mountain Goat gave me her Powerade, I realized that I had probably missed about 1.5-2 miles due to the little “lost” excursion, because I was watching fast looking people, people I had never passed, finish after me.  Crap, I thought.   At a time around 2 hours, if I had run 2 more, then I could have probably finished around 2:30:00, which with the detour, would have been about right.

I still have no idea what happened.

I was very glad to only do about 7.3 miles (or whatever I did).  Still, I don’t know how I get into these situations.  It’s so Swim Bike Klutz of me.

What I learned today (in general, and about trail racing):

  • On trail races, it might be a good idea for me to walk up the hills, especially at the start.  Thou shalt not blow up at the start of the race.
  • Do not get lost. Seriously, pay attention and ask questions, and often.
  • Always pack way more fuel than needed. I sucked down three GUs, and only had one left.  I was conserving it.  If I had run the final 2 miles, I could have been in a mess.  Or if a mountain lion had found me.
  • I received some good advice about picking up my knees on the uphills, and leaning slightly forward on the downhills. This was good advice, although I felt like a bat out of hell on the downhills like this.
  • Hydrate well. I think I actually hydrated pretty well for this one, but I was sweating like hell.
  • Mental strength is everything.  Really. The pain was present and very real.  Letting that pain seep into the brain cells is disaster.  I fell apart a little during the race, but was able to recoup pretty quickly.  I have grown in that respect.  But I have much more growing to do.
  • Run my own race.  It’s just me, my legs and my run.  To compare myself to others gets me absolutely nowhere.  I should have just started out walking this one.  I got a little caught up in the “race” aspect, when I knew this wasn’t a “race for me.”
  • Get foot powder.  Stat.
  • Pace, pace, pace.  Oh, and pace some more. 
Heading out for 52 on the bike tomorrow.  Back to nice, flat Silver Comet.  I can’t even consider a ride with hills these days.  I’m glad Miami is flat. 
(Congrats to W (left) who took 2nd place in the age groupers,
and Mountain Goat, 3rd place overall women!)
Happy Saturday, everyone!


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