Intimidating hill of the day (and other funny things)

April 21, 2008

Saturday, I had the first half of my exciting weekend running, getting ice cream. Now, as exciting as this was, it was all roads, shoulders and sidewalks, dodging cars and breathing exhaust.  So Sunday, the plan was miles of trails.

Our group planned to meet at Ft. Yargo State Park at 7:30. This is when we usually meet, and has the advantage of getting us off the trail by the time the bikers are started. Clay, Joe and myself made the early hour. Everyone else was AWOL. Now, normally I won’t name drop like this, but it comes back later.

For a change of pace, we decided to go counter-clockwise. This will be against the bike traffic, which is good so we could get out of the way as needed. Off we set, and the speedsters rapidly take off. Because I screwed up my knee the day before, I decide to play it by ear. I made it through the first mile and was ok. At the end of the second mile, I thought about turning around, but decided it was just as easy to go forward to get back to the car. (Okay, never mind the fact that it was 2 miles back or at least 6 miles forward. Hey, I was in pain and not thinking clearly. Yeah, that’s the ticket…pain blurring the thoughts. You did buy it, right?)

Now, not being the total masochist, I did cut across the bridge near camping area B, cutting 3 miles off the trail. I had the vague thought I’d catch Team Speed at some point, but it never happened. I think I heard them talking at one point on the gas line, but I was on the trail in the shade.  At this point, about 4 miles in, I realize I’m almost hiking instead of running, so I adjust myself mentally and decide to take it easy.  Ah, that’s better…my knee only hurts half the time going downhill.

As I headed down the gas line (after the trail comes back out of the trees), I kept going down. And down some more. Boy, I realized that if I was going the other direction, this hill would be REALLY INTIMIDATING!

Here’s a picture of it, so you can feel appropriately in awe. If you look closely, you’ll see a mountain biker powering up it. I had to stay and watch him…he made it up, but I could’ve sworn he was wobbling from exhausting at the top:

(Now, just so you don’t thinking I’m a sniveling whinger who’s all talk, I did run UP this hill once. And, it was at about mile 25 of my 29 Cubed race, so I wasn’t exactly on fresh legs. And yes, it was a long ways up.)

So, as you may have noticed, I mentioned a biker. He passed me at the bottom of the hill. As I continued on, more and more bikers started coming. Now, I knew I was going slow, but that’s okay, since I was packing plenty of water in my fancy new CamelBack. Of course, a few made smart comments, such as “dude, your going the wrong way.” I continued on, and at one point, one of them wiped out right after passing me. (He must have past bad karma, since he only said hello as passing.)

A while later, a group of three passed. The first guy, in a proper a English accent, said “two more behind me.” So I hang on the side of the trail, and see the other two coming. I tried cheering them on with a “Come on! You can take him!”, but they didn’t understand me. As they get closer, it was two women, and one of them says with her accent, “hey, where’s your bike?”.

Well, to cut it short, I finished in a dreadful 2:21. My GPS said about 8.5 miles, but reviewing the tracks, it did lose coverage a little bit, so I’ll call it an even 25 miles. 🙂

Getting home, naturally I did want every team player does. I sent an email to the group, something along the lines of “Hey, where the heck were y’all? And you missed British accents! everyone loves accents. ”

A while later, I get this message back from an esteemed member of our club, and nearly fell out of my chair laughing:

That’s funny, that was my wife asking about the missing bike. she was
out riding Yargo this morning and came across a runner with a camel
back. I saw your message and just asked her, she replied – “how did
you know about that”! She’s from Liverpool, UK.

(Thanks Simon, that made my whole  day! Say hi to the wife from the idiot who forgot his bike. Sorry for confusing the accent, but you now how us dumb Americans are so culturally insensitive to these things.)

Ah, and to complete the mood of the weekend, I treated myself to an ice cream shake in the afternoon.


29 Cubed – the second half (Thrill in the Hills 1/2 Marathon)

March 1, 2008

As you know, my challenge started on Friday, 2/29/08, with trying to run 29 miles. The plan was to do 16 miles on Friday, then a previously scheduled ½ marathon on Saturday to make 29 miles. Simple enough.

Friday went fine, and I actually got in a bit over 17 miles. I even finished feeling pretty good – barely sore at all. A good dinner and off to bed early got me through the night. Waking up and getting out of bed, I still wasn’t too bad. A little stiff, but I could tell that it would wear off soon as I walked around a bit.

A quick breakfast (oatmeal with honey and a tablespoon of peanut butter) and I was out the door. Getting to the race was no problem, but there was a traffic backup getting in, since they had park rangers collecting the parking fees. No problems with packet pickup, and I met up with the rest of the posse-Roman (who did 16 yesterday), Clay, and a co-worker of Roman’s whom I hadn’t met before were running and Brad and Ryan as support and photographers.

The race starts with a nice uphill, supposedly to separate out the pack. After powering up it, I definitely started feeling the burn from yesterday. And being in the crowd, it carried me a bit faster than I would have liked, but the first mile wasn’t bad. Over the next couple, it finally started to space out a bit and I was able to catch my breath. To make matters worse, at this point I was severely overheating! And I didn’t have any fluids with me, since the stations on the course were spaced where I thought was comfortable.

At around 3.5 miles, Brad and Ryan were waiting and cheering me on. It definitely made me feel better. (Especially as I was yelling out “Mile 22” as everyone around looked at me like I was delirious. Heck, maybe I was, but who cared. I carried on until the water stop at 4.6 miles, where they were waiting around again. This time, I unloaded what I needed from my pockets and handed off my jacket and extra shirt. (Sorry Ryan K, I wasn’t no longer wearing the team shirt.) Ahhhh…much better, and off again. The interesting thing at this stop was the teenage girl who showed up wondering if anyone had seen her mom.
Rahn around mile 8 of the half marathon

Well, a couple miles later, definitely having cooled off and feeling better, there was a lady hanging out cheering people on with a camera. On a whim, I asked if she was looking for her daughter. Turns out she was, and wondering where she was since she missed her planned turn-off to find her. She was happy to know she was only a few minutes behind me. (Well, I assumed. I never saw her again to verify they found each other.

After the next water stop, and Team Photo there to capture my smiling face, the next thing of interest was passing a lady who asked if I had an asthma inhaler. (Uh, no, and would you really want to share one?) She wasn’t dying, but ran out of juice in hers so was looking for a backup. We hung out for a few miles before I left her behind for the last time. She asked me to find her friend at the finish and let her know she was coming along slowly.

The next mile or two was casual, then I hit the gas line hill. Ugh! That’s a cruel joke! Having avoided it every time we’ve ran here before, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, needless to say, it wasn’t so pleasant. Long and drawn out, I had a slow walk up and felt bad for asthma lady who had no idea that it was coming. The next mile or so until the next water stop were pretty much a blur. I know I had some coherent thoughts at that point, but I can’t remember what they were.

At the 10 mile stop, I had the lady check in to see if the medics could bring asthma medicine out. They weren’t sure, and decided to wait until the lady who needed it made it that far to check with her. That’s a good plan, I suppose, so I loaded up with a bunch of GU packs for the road, and took off. I hit 10 miles at just barely over 2 hours, and actually thought it was possible I’d set a PR for the ½ at this point.

Then I went. And went. Then I went some more. Eventually I saw a mile 11 marker. Wow, it was a half hour since mile 10! What the heck? Their mileage markers must be way off somewhere. My device told me I was at mile 12, so figured that was a bit more accurate. Well, I kept on truck’n.

Eventually, I crossed a road and knew the finish was within a ½ mile. I thought about pushing hard at this point. Really, I did. But the legs didn’t listen and I kept on poking along. Even when I went down the big hill and everyone was there cheering, I don’t think I picked up my speed more than 30 seconds/minute. (In case you didn’t figure it out yet, I was definitely feeling the burn at this point.)

Woo Whoo! I crossed the finished line and gave the guy my info. I never even looked at the clock to see what my time was. The gang was there, and we planned on meeting in an hour or so for lunch. I found the friend and told her her friend was coming. All is good. I just completed over 30 miles in 25 hours. Woo Whoo!

Next up, ING Marathon at the end of March.

P.S. Lunch was great. Had a Calzone and spent quality time with my wife and friends. My nap on the sofa was also good, even if not long enough. And after a bit of stretching, I can now get up off me chair without a problem. My beer is also good, even if it’s not a good microbrew from Seattle.

I should get a copy of the pictures in a week, next time I see Ryan.
I am disappointed in the race t-shirt. Besides the colors making it looks like a christmas shirt, it doesn’t have the name of the race on it. It says “Xterra Trail Run, Georgia Series”, which is fine because this is part of that series. However, I want it to brag that I ran a half marathon.

Someone else’s GPS trailmap

Carl Mesta is offering free downloads of his race photos. Thanks Carl, it’s a lot of work. This is the only shot I found than has a decent shot of me in it. (Hint-I’m at the far right in my usual yellow vest)

Bruce Tolbert Photography has put his photos up.
I spent some time talking to Bruce last year when we were both taking pictures. Nice guy, had a good time. His pictures are good (at least the ones of me 🙂 )

A post for the week

February 18, 2008

A cold weeks roundup.
Saturday started with a cold (around 34 degrees) run in Braselton. We had a large turn-out, 14 people I think it was, which may be the most we’ve had. We ran the Chateau Elan route. I did 6 miles, and had company for a good portion of it.

The first mile was a bit fast for me, at 9:32, but it carried over well and I finished pretty strong. My leg nerve problems didn’t pop up until the last 1/2 mile or so, and that was quite nice. I credit some of this to the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of extra stretching every evening. I’ll be sure to keep it up.

Come Sunday morning, 9 of us braved the slightly warmer (39 degrees) morning to run the trails at Fort Yargo. This is where the Thrill in the Hills 1/2 marathon was held last year, and as some of us debate whether to run it this year, we thought we’d run the course.

My goal was to get about 2 hours/10 miles in. I’m working on building up for the ING Georgia race at the end of March, and just need to put the miles in. Ryan R (who’s also training for ING) had enough to foresight to print up maps and put them in cases (big baggies). We came up with a tentative route and headed out.

The trails were great! It’s mostly single track that has a decent set of rocks and roots to trip the unwary. A number of the loops have detours, which came in quite handy. We all stayed mostly together because the faster people did the full route and the slower (me) took the detours.

Unfortunately, Ryan R twisted his ankle about 2 miles in, so he turned around and casually hobbled back to the cars to nap recover. Because of this, I was thinking of starting to call him OR (either Operating Room or Other Ryan), but I don’t think it will take since it doesn’t roll off the tongue. Will have to give it more thought…

Because of new trails that have been built since the maps were made, I think everyone got lost at least once…but that’s half the fun. The worst was Brad and Roman, who ended up doing an extra few miles by circling halfway around the lake a second time.

In the end, I was out there for an hour and fifty something minutes and did just under 9 miles. Another group did 11.5 miles per their GPS, and the Brad/Roman team probably did a bit more than that.

In the afternoon, a number of people from the Saturday group went bowling. Us non-runners wanted the pleasure of beating someone, and we put them in there places. I got a new high, 177! Yay for me!

Weekend Roundup and pictures

January 28, 2008

Saturday, the Runners Fit group heading back out to the Elachee Nature Center for our run before going to Sweet Escapes for their Runners Special breakfast.
Overall, the run was good…we started with a really big (in my opinion) hill that took my breath away along the West Lake Trail. I didn’t really get it back for about 2 miles, right before getting to the suspension bridge. I wanted to do the back half this time, but wasn’t sure what direction the rest of the group took, so I actually didn’t cross over, and headed up the Dunlap trail (clockwise). When it split off back to just the West Lake, I headed up that way. Here, I ran into Gordon, who split off from the main group to meet up with them later. He had never been here before, but wasn’t too lost.

From there, I hit the Mathis Trail connector and took this to the East Lake trail, which took me back to the parking lot. Along here, I ran into M**** (protecting the innocent and all), who was very lost and very unhappy about it! After getting him set in the right direction, I followed and we finished up.

Between M**** being lost and Gordon being on his own for a while, I was thinking next time we need to make sure we have contingency plans when people get separated. (Being an expert map reader, I never get lost…just mis-orientated on occasion. 🙂 Something for us to think about. I usually carry my phone, and have thought about carrying a whistle to signal for assistance.

Sunday, some of us met at Ft. Yargo to run the trails there. Everyone did good by not getting lost…I had a bad first 4 miles, then loosened up…but by then my pace was horrible, and I finished the 10 miles in 2:15. I thought I was ahead of the main group because I didn’t see footprints in the mud. (There was some muddy, slipper sections, which is always fun.) However, they were all ahead of me, and I get the feeling that they were waiting awhile. Sorry guys.

While there, some of us were talking about signing up for the Disney Marathon next year. Maybe even doing the Goofy Challenge. So, time to start thinking about the next set of races to do…

Because the Thrill in the Hills Half Marathon is coming up, I’ve started posting my pictures of the race from last year. (Last year, I photographed the race and had a blast. This year, I haven’t decided.)
Usual rules apply: Free free to take for your own use. If you want a higher resolution version of a picture, contact me.
The photos are here.