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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…

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