Monday, April 29, 2013

Trail Half-Marathon Recap

Saturday just started out being one of those day where your brain is a total piece of crap.  I had everything put out the night before for my trail half.  Experience has taught me that trying to get everything together in the morning is a sure way to forget things or end up screaming, "Where the *expletive deleted* is my *expletive deleted* noun.  *expletive deleted*!!!!!!!  So you learn to put things out for you like your mother did in elementary school.  Admittedly, my brain in the morning is lucky if it's as good as it was back then, when, like every child, I was actually a morning person.  So after the show Friday night, I went through the usual checklist.  I put it all out there in nice little piles and/or bags.

The alarm goes off, my wife nudges me awake.  It's 5am, and I'm 100% prepared.  The run isn't until 8am and it's only a 50 minute drive, so plenty o' time.  I take my time getting ready, and I'm about to head out.  I fill up the water bottle, pop an English muffin in the toaster, and then start considering which horrible pair of shoes I want to use.  Right now, I literally despise every pair of shoes I'm wearing to run.  To put it in perspective, the Nikes I hated from the March Madness of Shoes over a year ago that I never wore before are currently the best ones.  So that's inevitably what I ended up choosing. 

I gave the wife a kiss, headed out the door, stopped by the Speedway to fill up and realized I forgot my water bottle.  Oh well, as Kumar would say....
...No, we've gone too far
I could just buy a water with the gas, and all would be fine.  So I did, along with a gatorade, and headed off onto the E-way, only to discover I left my phone.  To say that it was too late and I'd gone too far then would have truly been the Kumar moment, but, nope, I went back for that.  You never know.  The one time I forget it, my car craps out on me.  That would be typical.  So I went back, grabbed the phone, grabbed the extra water bottle, but still managed to leave that English muffin, that I had completely forgot about, in the toaster (saves pastries, but not the British pastries).

About 5 or 6 miles before I get to the state park, I realize that I drank a lot of freaking gatorade.  I also realize that I'm heading to a run where there are usually swarms of people waiting for the bathrooms.  I also realize that I'm on the border of making it to the park, and either way, this is going off outside.  So, despite valiant efforts to contain, my 8 year streak of no roadside urination has met its end.  Why am I sharing this?  I honestly don't know.

Anyway, I made it to the park about 15 minutes before race start.  After getting parked and picking up my packet, it was already 8am, and the waves were going off.  I didn't bother rushing myself, and made another trip back to the car to pin on the bib and throw the shirt in the car.  I figured as out of sync as I was today, I wasn't in any hurry to get things moving.  So by the time I got back down to the start, the last wave was heading off, and I just kind of blended in to the back of them.  I didn't really care about my pace, and figured the trail would have me completely subdued to nothingness by mile 10 (like usual) so I didn't try passing too many people and just kind of settled in with them.  Sure it was slower than I wanted to go, but I was fine with it.

After about mile 4 or 5, I woke up a little bit.  Just now realizing I forgot my english muffin (damnit!), I popped a Gu to get some energy and at least give the tummy something.  I'm not sure about everyone else, but the second I have one of those, I feel like I want to die.  My energy and muscles have a mini-collapse right after taking one.  Now, it only lasts for a moment, and if I fight that off, I'll feel generally better with the stuff over the long term, but right away, it's like I lose half of my body's system power.  Maybe there's an actual scientific explanation (initial sugar crash?), or maybe it's just psychosomatic.  I don't know. 

After that I started passing a few people here and there.  There were also about 5 or 6 folks that I kept playing leapfrog with for a good chunk of the race.   They seemed to be stronger than me when things flattened out, and I seemed to take the ups and downs a lot better.  This included one girl with her headphones in the whole time that obviously had no idea when people were right dead behind her, and she'd slow down unexpectedly and caused a lot of near misses (one with me where I brushed her arm just a bit and she looked at me like I'm the jerk).

Listen, it's just proper etiquette not to have your stupid headphones on for trail runs.  This goes especially for trail runs that specifically request on the race's site that you ditch them.  Besides, with them in, you can't hear how many people are calling you a blooming idiot (not on the Outback Steakhouse menu), and are hoping aloud for you to wipe out.   To be honest, I'm not sure I would have helped her up if she did.  I probably just would have kick-rolled her down into a gully, finishing the job that nature started, to the sound of applause from fellow trail runners (I'm kidding...I think).  So the back and forths with these people went on pretty much the entire race until about mile 10, when I just decided I'd had enough and it was time to kick it in gear and get this stupid thing over with. 

Then I felt my right calf nearly pull (invoking thoughts of Rod Marinelli's "he had a calf" press conference), so I backed off.  After favoring that for a mile, I could feel the other one starting to go.  I slowed down, and ran a little more stiff, babying both calves (get it, baby...calves?...wakka wakka).  I was just hoping to get this thing over without yanking either of them and having to Tin Man my way two more miles to a finish.  Besides, I have a heart, it was really the brain part that was in question on Saturday.

After some careful striding through the last couple miles, I could see this finish, and started heading in.  I was pretty much focused on the finish, and not really paying attention to anything else, when I heard my name being yelled by a small group of people to my right as I was passing them.  I turned to look over my shoulder, wondering who the hell I knew there.  I didn't really have a clue, thinking it might have been the one guy that went to high school with us that runs a lot of these races and maybe his wife and some other people.  I really wasn't sure.

I finished, grabbed a water, and started heading back to see who was back there just before the end line, and it turned out to be Spike and Red.  So after many of times not crossing paths at races, I finally ran into them.  They were spectating for some friends, since they're both OOC right now.  One doesn't generally think of running as a spectator sport, but don't tell these two.  If there is anyone out there that can turn it into one, it's probably them.  So if suddenly there is talk on the news of EPL-style hooliganism being brought to the running community, take it from me, it will be spawned from them (and you'll agree if you see their Lansing Marathon Spectating Recap).  Both signs were explained to me, I'm not quite sure I got either of them completely, but I was amused by Spike's conversation with an older woman regarding the existence of 200 lb prehistoric beavers and Red's talk of photoshopping Jesus's feet out of photoboming their precious wedding photo moments.  I'm sure he'll understand.  Pretty much, they're the same personable living sillyness you'd expect from reading their blogs, which is a.... 

After a couple long series of stretching out my calves, I realized my feet also hurt in the two usual places.  They weren't as bad as usual, which makes me think I'd much rather do trail than road right now.  Sure it's harder, but it's better on my feet, and right now I'll take that.  To numb the pain down a bit, I went down to the water and soaked them in for a bit.  The water was pretty cold, so it did the trick.  I took a short barefoot walk up the hill, put on the shoes again, and decided to head home.

It was time for some homebrew, a spinach omelette, and, yes, a twice toasted English muffin.

As far as aftermath, I don't think I've ever been this sore.  Part of it's a product of just not having mileage and the rest of it is going after a trail run this early in the year.  I'm supposed to run with J today, but I don't expect much.  Be on the look-out for a 1.5 mile run at 14 minute pace, and talk of more sampling of my pale ale on dailymile.  That's probably what's going to happen.

All pain aside, though, this is a really enjoyable run.   There's a lot of good shade to be had. There are some parts with wood bridges going over waters and gullies that, if you time it right with other runners, you can get some nice positive interference to bounce you along on your way. Starting and finishing by Silver Lake is pretty nice too. Honestly, it wouldn't be a bad place to just hang out if you weren't running. I guess I just never bothered to take this one up before for the simple fact that it's just called the "Trail Marathon." The name just didn't do it for me. Yeah, I know, that's a stupid reason.

The trail is also cut back a lot better than in Sleepy Hollow State Park in Laingsburg, where The Legend is, and you don't have to worry about stray branches coming back at you.  So, I didn't have to go with the sunglasses, which protect the eyes, but may make you miss something sticking out of the ground that will wipe you out.  I didn't have as many near misses out there as I usually do.  I only really had two trip ups, and they were easy to recover from.  They also did a really good job of making up for some of the extra rain we've been getting by putting sand down in some of the low spots.  I was really impressed by how little muck running I had to do out there.  It was a really enjoyable experience.  I definitely want to come back for this one.


Medal Front

Medal Back
My Beer :)


  1. It was great to finally meet you after all this time! Sorry if we wigged you out, gotta love that awkward first IRL meeting of internet peeps! LOL! :) And so you know, you looked strong coming in to the finish, good job out there!

  2. Wigged me out? Nah. That's impossible with the company I usually keep.


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