Sunday, January 8, 2012

"The wheels on the bus go round and round..."

“Just be a mover,” I repeated what the aid station volunteer had said as I worked myself up for the last three miles of the Harbison 50K on Saturday. 
It was a beautiful day, warming to about 65 degrees through the morning. The course winds and twists through the floodplain and bluffs of the Broad River just outside of Columbia.
After my good run last Saturday, I was feeling pretty confident about finishing the race. Then I ran on Thursday (my first miles of the week), and sure enough, 45 minutes into an hour run, my left calf tweaked, the same pinpoint pain I’ve been experiencing in my right calf that makes me limp.
“F***,” I yelled in frustration. What had been an easy jaunt through the darkening night turned into a hobble. I returned to my thought that I would volunteer at the race, or maybe run one of two loops.
Gordon, Carol B., Seth and I headed to Columbia on Friday evening. We stayed at a hotel about 5 minutes from the start, along with a bunch of other runners. When we got in the room, I noticed Seth had brought his Stick. I used it on my calf, which had been feeling okay all day, though still with the pinpoint pain. I’ll be purchasing a Stick ASAP!
The next morning I ran around the hotel parking lot a little to see how my calf felt. I could tell it was there, but decided I would start anyway. The first quarter mile or so is on a gravel road, and then the course turns onto a fire road for another quarter or so. Then it’s onto single track trails and some more fire road. Because the trails wind so much, we often saw runners coming towards us, except that they were on parallel paths. 
The first nine or so miles are mostly flat, but the twists in the trails beat up my hip flexors more than I expected. From 10-13 miles we ran the Spiderwoman and Spiderwoman II trails, both with steep climbs and descents, by far the roughest trail we ran, though all of it runnable. From the end of Spiderwoman to the start/finish area was more relatively easy trail.

I sported the Team Fox jersey. I have to say
that "shuffling" takes on new meaning for me,
and I thought of my dad several times during
the race. He has no choice but to finish, too.

I told myself throughout to slow down, to not be tempted to run harder because I still had a second lap to run. Turns out I was well trained for one loop, which I finished in 2:35. Ten minute miles felt very easy, which bodes well for running a faster time when I'm better trained. I had no pain in my calf, but knowing how clobbered I was, I hoped I could run under 5:50, my 50K PR. 
I held onto the 10-minute mile pace until the first/sixth aid station. I should add here that all the aid stations were well stocked with goodies, and the volunteers were fun and enthusiastic. I did manage to say something funny (at least to me) at each stop, one of my main goals in any race. 
At that point, about 19 miles in, I was almost totally beat. I never came close to dropping, though the conversation in my head included the thought, pushed aside by my desire to finish, to wipe out the previous DNF at the Kanawha Trace 50K in July, to push through the discomfort and to keep moving forward.
I knew that after the next aid station at 22 miles I would start into the tough part, but the thought just let me think I would be able to walk without feeling defeated. I ran when I could, walked when I had to. At the last aid station, I knew I couldn’t beat the 5:50 time. I was cramping in my hips when I ran more than a few minutes, but walking felt fine. I walked it in, and felt good about it, finishing in 6:22, a terrific training run for races later in the spring and summer. I held off the nausea throughout, at least until the end. Many thanks to Cam and Pam Long for helping out with that one! And many thanks to Dan Hartley for a very well organized race.
My mates did great, too. Carol B. set a new course record for the women, winning in 4:56. Gordon ran 5:07 in his first (last?) 50K. Seth fought foot problems to finish in 5:31. Full results here.
Tuesday 1/3 Sick--upset stomach.
Wednesday 1/4 Ukulele practice
Thursday 1/5 7 miles from Dairy Ridge Road. First night-run of the season.
Saturday 1/7 31 miles
Total 38 miles in 2 runs
Funny things: 
AS 1  They told me this was a 5K. AS 6 Thanks for being here.
AS 2 (Tag) It’s a relay, go! AS 7 “No, really, it’s a relay”
AS 3 “The Wheels on the bus” verse. AS 8 “The wheels are the bus are shuffling'"                    
AS 4 (Funny that I can’t remember.) AS 9  (I remember laughing.)
AS 5 (start/finish) Crazy bantering with everyone.

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