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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

RR - Scenic City Trail Marathon

As I am walking up to check-in… I see these two fit looking dudes talking to who I assume is the Race Director.. Both are carrying packs.. and both have these high zoot flippers attached to the webbing of their packs… the one with long hair… who looks suspiciously like Spicoli (of “Fast Times” fame) says “yeah dude… we are going to totally rock the stream crossings this year”

I think to myself… “I had no idea there would be stream crossings but... I have been training in the pool”

And just then… I hear music… “is your bed made? Is your sweater on?” Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” cranking right next to my head…

That would be my alarm… and Spicoli’s flippers were just a dream…

And thus began my morning…. Coffee dressed… out the door by 0630….

The race was held at the Raccoon Mountain Reserve… with a 13 mile trail loop up/down and around the ridgeline surrounding the man-made preserve…

The place was beautiful… and mountainous for a Florida Cracker such as I.

This race was a combined ½ Marathon and Marathon running simultaneously. The loudspeaker announced before the race that the race had doubled in size this year… I would guess that 500-600 folks toed the line.

I was really just doing the race as RATS training and towards that end had my Nathan hydration pack loaded with 150 oz of fluid… and some other junk in there as well. They had stakes to mark off where folks should line up based on proposed finishing times… I seeded myself with the 4 hour group… never dreaming that I might finish in 4 hours but… I knew that soon we would leave the road we started on for the trail and I did not want to be at the back.

I ran the first ½ mile pretty hard… trying to hold my position or even improve it… ½ mile in and we, the entire field, came to a complete stop… and waited in line to get on the trail. When my turn finally arrived I started running down the trail following, well, it looked like everyone… we were like a nation of Indians… then… ¼ mile later… we are all walking again… frustrated I yelled… “c’mon you dang Galloway runners” I think someone laughed…

And so it went… the trail was beautiful… but I dared not look around… the few times I tried I either

a. Ran into someone in front of me
b. Tripped over a rock
c. Ran into a tree
d. Ran off the trail.

The race was like a big slinky… breaking from time to time in to smaller tribes of Indians… and I, well, I got impatient… and kinda went Leroy Jenkins… vaulting from group to group… running up inclines I’d be better off walking just to get some daylight… 8 miles or so in I began to see some daylight but… I felt cooked…. I knew I’d be able to finish but was already tired and wanted to stop…

I did slow down a little and started walking some of the steep uphills… but the down-hills… I ran them like Carl Lewis… I never did eat it but… I also started paying a little more attention to nutrition and stuff…

I was still a little obsessed with passing people and tried to run down everyone I saw ahead….

Just before the halfway point the ½ marathoners turned off to the finish and we turned for another loop. Here I caught a couple of college age girls and ran along with them and talked a bit… it was their 2nd marathon and first trail run. Nice kids… I eventually dropped them to because I was on a mission… not to finish or run fast…. Nope I had to um…. Go.

At the next aid station I inquired about facilities. They said that there were some at the mile 20 aid station… well.. maybe a mile from that… of course… great! Now even tho the race was in the woods… there was not a whole lot of… ummm… cover. Well I found some brush and ran off into it to try and see if #1 would make me feel better.

Okay… here gentle reader, is where I am going to leave the factual story and instead tell an alternate one I made up..

I knew that #1 was not enough… I had to have some blackberries! I saw some and squatted down to pick some… when I stood back up my pants got caught in some briars and the force might have yanked them down a bit… now my cover was great from the approach down the trail… and this was confirmed by the rustling and voices I heard coming up the trail… what I did not take into account was the view from the other side… I realized my error in judgment as the two college girls got past me on the trail and to my horror one looked over her shoulder… saw me in the “briars” and not knowing the whole story said “Oh God”…. Well sh*t!

I started back to running and then realized that I was going to catch these girls in the next mile or so… that is when I invented the blackberries story…. Much to my relief, we did not touch on that subject when I passed them…

When I got to the next aid station I asked how many miles were left. They said that I was at mile 20… since I’d been eating and drinking like I should and thanks to the blackberries, I was feeling much better and thought for a few minutes about running a 3rd lap… I might have made it but I didn’t want to miss my flight… so I decided to just run as hard as I could to the finish.

I started passing a few more people. One dude… in a blue singlet I chased for about a mile. I finally passed him and said “you were hard to catch”… he told me “keep running strong”… so I looked back over my shoulder and said “well come on with me then” he informed me that’s just what he planned to do.

Well.. I was tiring… and might have wanted to slow down but… I’d just thrown down a challenge.. and the dude stayed a few steps behind me… I ran a little harder thinking that if I dropped him we could both ease off a little… and so it went for the next few miles… by I finally got away from him at around mile 25 but not too far as he finished only 15 seconds back.

I crossed the line and stopped running and just as I was turning away one of the volunteers ran up to me… “hold on” she said “I forgot to give you this” I was afraid that it was going to be a medal but much to my delight it was an ice cold rag… awesome.

My finish time was 4:29 and I’m pleased with that… once again more than a little surprised how much I like running trails…

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hot Like Wasabi

Well.. Summer is here!

Kinda snuck up on us…


Leaving for Saturday’s ride I remarked to my training partner “Ya know… the warm weather is here… I think that this is the first Saturday ride I’ve started for a long time without arm warmers”

That was a harbinger of things to come.

This was the second Saturday I’d done this ride/route. I like to ride with the St John’s county Hammerheads but… I’ve been trying to up my mileage, and they are all training for ½ Ironman events this year… so I figured a way to ride from my house, met up with them for 80% or so of their ride, then ride home.

Along the way we picked up Jeremy, a friend of mine from work. The Hammerhead boys were a bit late so we me them further along than usual… which in essence added 5 miles to our ride. The ride was smooth and uneventful, which is the norm with these guys, until one of the guys stopped with a mechanical… we all stopped with him and the conversation immediately turned to the heat and specifically where/when could we get some ice…

We stopped and loaded up… and finished up the ride 80 miles in all… drenched and with empty water bottles.
I had dinner pans Saturday night but I did manage to squeeze in a quick 5 miles in the afternoon… the warm moist air felt so god in my lungs… I ran pretty hard… composing summertime sonnets in my head… but I think I was still sweating an hour after my shower.

Rode 40 Sunday morning with my friend Mark… nice steady ride but once again easily went thru 80oz of fluid in 2 hours.

My main workout of the weekend was supposed to be 4 hours on the Ft Caroline trails… That was not to be.

The kids wanted to go to the beach… so… I mapped out a plan.
I decided to ride to the beach with them then run home. I mapped a course that would be close to 20 miles. The idea being that a few hours out in the hot Florida Sun might begin to simulate my future in the desert.

We got to the beach… the kids headed for the surf… I headed home.

What a fine idea I’d had I thought… beach cruisers, babes, bikinis, folks having a good time… everything that is 1st Street in North Jax Beach on a summer afternoon… that ended all too quickly, however as I soon turned to the west. I still felt good…

I’d knocked out a couple of sub 10s.. So far which considering the heat and my 11# pack was fabulous… we can discuss fabulous a little bit more later.

Here’s a quick shot looking back towards the beach.

Soon I got to the Beach Blvd Bridge over the Intracostal… my only real hill of the day… I felt so good that I had thoughts of running it a few more times… good sense intervened and I decided to just keep running and I’d get fancy later if I felt good.

Leaving Jax Beach…

The next section was along Beach Blvd… Busy road on a summer day but… they are putting in extra lanes which meant that I had a nice graded dirt road all to myself… I felt good… ran steady.. Having quite a good time. I even tried to eat a little… managed to choke down 2 cookies… as it turned out the only solid food I attempted all day. I was enjoying the sunshine and sweat.

I left Beach for Hodges… and a few miles of sidewalk and sunshine… this was about an hour in and I started to slow my pace a bit… I saw shade on the other side of the street and abandoned the “desert acclimation” plan for a smidge more comfort…. I was trying to hydrate as much as possible… I knew it was still a long way to go.

The next section was through a golf course community that I’d never before visited. I’d pictured trees and a nice path… not to be… lots of sunshine… some sidewalk. Another thing I noticed was the lack of any players out on the course… I got a glimpse of more than half of the 18 holes and saw nary a golfer.

By the time I got to the UNF campus I was… decidedly not… fabulous… low on water… my 1st bottle of Gatorade long since gone… and my thirst seemed unquenchable. I got in the shade of one of the bus stops on campus and pulled out a polar bottle full of Gatorade from my pack… Gatorade never tasted so good… I had to stop myself from drinking it all at once.

I did dink it all in the next mile and finished my water in the mile after that…. I’d started taking walk breaks… at first because of the heat… running to a shady spot, then walk… I kept drinking because I was thirsty… and soon I was taking walk breaks because I had stomach cramps. Needless to say I was happy to see the Publix sign.

I grabbed some G2 Gatorade from the cooler… all they had… I just don’t get G2… I mean it’s Gatorade… why not get some glucose for my muscles along with fluids and electrolytes? But I digress… Bought a bag of ice too. Got some strange looks outside Publix… haggard middle aged dude stuffing ice in a backpack.

When I got it all together… I felt better… ran for a mile straight… but I was thirsty and soon was waterlogged again… back to walking until I burped or my cramps settled down.

I was within 2.5 miles from home running, once again, on a freshly graded roadbed and came upon a huge lake of a puddle… no good way around so I hopped up onto the unattached curb… ran down it for 100 meters or so until I spied what I took for dry land…. Jumped off the curb and sank mid-calf into the mud… luckily my shoe came out with my foot… and after I snapped a couple of pix I was back on my way. Shoes full of grit, stomach full of G2 I trudged home walking some… running some… caring very little which.

Despite the fact that I had ingested close to 250oz of fluids I was down about 11# of bodyweight…

In the end it was only 18 miles… and only just about as much as I could do…