Monday, February 27, 2012

La Sportiva Mountain Cup: Ugly Mudder

I tricked Ryan Woods into driving up to PA together for Ugly Mudder this weekend. That way I'd have someone to talk to on the long drive up and a back. Ryan and I have gotten together for several runs over the last couple of years, but this was our first road trip. On the drive up, we talk mostly about running, but as I do, I eventually drifted off into my story telling.Which had Ryan saying a couple of times, “I didn't know that about you.” Which tells me he obviously doesn't read my blog, at least the non-running parts. Anyway this made us realize that we've basically always talked running when we get together. The 14 hour up and back road trip, plus hotel stay, was much the same, mostly running with a few Jason stories. So on to the running.

Ugly Mudder is the third stop on the Mountain Cup train and is a burner of sorts at just 7 miles. Fast is not really my forte, but I'm willing to put my head on the chopping block. Mine grows back like a lizards tail. Warming up, I saw Matt Byrne, then Gina Lucrezi, then Maria Dalzot with her coach Tad. There were a few Rosemont Running Club guys who come to my 10km Championships in NC. This trail racing thing is beginning to become a gathering of friends no matter where I travel. I like that. And as usually I met a few new folks here.

We had about 600 meters on a road at the start, then we turned up a trail and were on trail almost exclusively the rest of the way. The course was technical rocky, turns, mud. No long climbs but steep leg burners and quick rocky descents. My Highgear watch had
the total climbing at 1500'. By a mile I'd settled into 5th with a couple of guys right behind me. Around 2 miles we hit a big climb and I could see all but Woods spread up the hill. I could see 3rd and 4th were coming back a little. Then we began a longer descent with 4th staying in sight mostlyand 3rd just coming into view periodically. Near the bottom I lost sight of the other two guysand started to go off course, but the guy just behind hollered his off course warning. I'd just lost about 50 yards. As we came out to some open straights the other two guys didn't come back into sight. I was surprised as I had been closing on them some. Could they have taken off that much? Could they have missed the same turn I had? I caught the guy who'd gotten in front me while I detoured and passed back in front of him. The last twenty minutes I tried to mount a little charge, but no one came into sight even on some very long straightaways. I finished and asked what place am I? Third. I'll take it with Ryan and Matt in the race. I was glad slip into this short Mountain Cup race and slip away with a third. My training has been ultra focused lately as well. Nueces 50 Mile next weekend.

Ryan and I did quick cooldown, drive to hotel, shower, drive back to race and time to socialize. It was good to hang with Matt a little and his friend Patrick. I got to catch up some with Gina and Maria. Tell some lies to Ian. A good, quick road trip race. So am I running the Mountain Cup just to fill my social calendar?

The results I know:Guys -

1st Ryan Woods – 47?

2nd Matt Byrne – 47?

3rd Jason Bryant – 52?

Ladies, plus Tad -

1st Maria Dalzot (Her coach Tad finish before her)

2nd Gina Lucrezi

I'll try to get pics at the next race. That way I can showoff my goat beard I'm working on. It was Alison's idea... sort of... by accident. But don't give me any ideas, I'm very prone to suggestion.

Thanks to Janice Ellis and Perry Ligon for the pics.

Other running news for those of you who are lost and found my blog:

My good friend Mark Lundblad crushed (my words, not his) the Fastest Known Time for the Foothills Trail along the NC/SC border this weekend. 14:26:18

I really just wanted to post that on my blog just so I can be associated with Mark. I'd consider that a honored association.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Trail of Regression?

For most of my life I have felt stuck at the age of 17, roughly. Before I was teenager, I often acted far more mature than my age, yet with a mix of childlike enthusiasm, optimism, and naivety. Once I passed the actual age of 17, I was still mature, maybe, but also still mixed with enthusiasm, optimism, and naivety. In my 30s I seemed to have begun to age and lose some of those qualities. I am probably more like a 23 year old just out of college. In recent years, I've found myself thinking a little too much. Especially things like: can I jump across those rocks? should I climb that? What is my point? This weekend I may have regressed a bit, thankfully. I had almost a perfect day Saturday. I won't bore you with the details of the entire day, just the most significant, my regression.

After pacing one of my high school girls to big personal best in a 5k that morning, I got back into my “Wild Specialist” truck and headed to the mountains for a run. A quick detour on the way turned into my unexpected regression. I stopped at Rob and Stacey's house to drop some things off for Stacey. Stacey and I talked a bit which is always good, but... As I was really preparing to head off for my mountain run, their kids, Harper and Isaac, asked me to come down into the woods to see the fort they were building. Fortunately, I had learned long ago to not hastily overlook the invitations of kids just to get on with our overly important tasks. They had already gone down as I finished talking to Stacey. I could tell they were surprised that I showed up as I had told them I'd come down before I left. They had piled sticks and hunks of bark around an old fallen tree. There was a wind flag up as the 20 mph winds kept it flapping. An old tire found in the woods was hang overhead in a tree along with a piece of concrete tile. Isaac had hidden light sabers in notches along the old stump. It was quite the fort. I began helping gather sticks and adding them to the fort. I helped pack leaves in between the sticks to insulate, then adding more sticks. We worked out a piece of the stump and dug out more to increase the room inside. Isaac wanted to show me an old airplane he had found in the woods. As he showed me the pieces and described how they would have fit together, he said it probably wasn't a real airplane. I said that didn't matter, it's good to see more than what is actually there sometimes.

We returned to the house briefly and I went to my truck to add a hat and gloves. Stacey had sent her kids out to play in the woods in 30 degree weather with a howling wind. Sounds like good parenting to me. I had also gotten an old blanket with a couple of mouse chewed holes which worked perfectly to hang it as the door. We each took a turn inside, it's a one person fort, and talked of more building ideas. I had probably been fort building for an hour, an hour and a half. I don't know as I never looked at my watch. Finally, Stacey came down to inspect the fort additions and announce it was time for lunch. Stacey asked if I wanted a sandwich too. Of course my answer was yes. Somewhere in here I must have totally forgotten my age, as I asked Stacey if I could have some hot chocolate too. Soon after eating Rob returned and asked Stacey if she had fed the kids. Then looked at me, but asked her, “All of them?” I told Rob, “I consider that a compliment.” I'm glad I have friends who appreciate a 39 year old playing with their kids in the woods. All three of us turn 40 this year, at least in human time.

I soon left and ran the 6 miles through Stone Mountain Park to the top of the mountain where it was 20s and 30 mph winds with a little snow. Then the 6 mile tumble back down. It was a great day. That is one of the things I love about trail running. The opportunity to still play as an adult. Jumping rocks, logs, and stumps, then sometimes jump on and off them as well. Splashing through cold creeks, sliding through snow. Playing a game of king of the mountain, only 6 mile style. I hope the trails continue to keep me young of mind and body for many more years. In the woods, I told Harper, who is 10, “Don't ever grow up too much, so you no longer build forts in the woods.” She gave me a strange face that said what a silly comment. Which if you know Harper, you know which face I'm talking of. Then still with that bewildered look, she said, “I won't.”

As I told Alison later, “Sometimes I forget that I'm not 39.” My tendency to misspeak things was probably more accurate than if I'd said it right.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

His Hands

His Hands

she told him
not to hide his hands
but a life of work
had left their marks
so she said his hands
were tough
hands that knew
hands that knew
her skin

she said his hands
were gentle though
leaving her comfortable
an uncommon softness
to cover the tough
so she’d surrender
to the naked after
as she felt his hands

and she’d notice
the remnants left
beneath the nails
she said she didn’t mind
hands get dirty sometimes
his hands weren’t afraid
so she’d lay still
squeezing time

she felt his hands
she said too much
she couldn’t stop
so she said his hands
were strong
yielding a safeness
his hands could hold
so she left herself bare
and she left words unsaid
his hands knew
and she’d lay awhile

she said this wasn’t
like her
she said she’d miss
his hands

It's been awhile since I posted a poem so here one is. I'll leave it without explanation. Sadly, my hands are growing soft from the lack of manual labor. I do look forward to really working again and toughening my hands.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

First Stop on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, Uwharrie Mountain Run: Chasing Ghost

Today's race at Uwharrie Mountain Run went fairly well. I started out as I normally do, aiming for a steady pace. I quickly settled into 6th place with Scott Williams. Scott said he considers himself an even pace type of runner as well, so we were a good fit. He and I would end up running almost the entire race together, all but about 2 miles at about 1:36. I turn my balky right ankle again here and told Scott to go by. I'd be limp running for a bit. Scott was nearly out of sight before I got back to running and it took a while more before I was back to really running. It took about 2 miles to finally catch back up. It was nice to be running with Scott and to talk a bit. Those that know me, know I'm somewhat social.

By the the first road crossing at 16 minutes the other 5 guys were out of sight. About 45 minutes in, Tom Clifford came back into sight. He had run a 1:08 half-marathon 3 three weeks ago and came to the start with a bit of a cold. Tom ended up dropping at 8 miles. This race was more of the same for me, basically. That same being just pushing and believing someone will come back into sight. I call it “chasing a ghost.” Unlike road racing where you can typically see a long way, trail races can leave you wondering where your competitors are. I'm not good at going out fast and hanging on. So I figure on running the fastest I can and that'll beat whoever it beats. Around 17 miles, Duncan Hoge came into sight and our patient ”ghost chasing” was paying off. Then around 18, David Roche came into sight. He had led most of the race, but had gotten off course for a while. Somewhere around here I had the conversation with Scott about needing to race for the position for the Mountain Cup. I said that I was all good with any move he made. I didn't want to run with him for over 2 hours and then throw my own surprise move in the last mile. Scott said he was really training through for the Mt. Mitchell Challenge and he wasn't making any moves. Girls in high school never threw any moves on me either. I was glad of no moves this time, I'm married anyway. Which Alison won the women's race, promising to throw some moves on me. I hope that will be a good thing.

It was a good start to Mountain Cup season. Plus, it was nice to race again after the long layoff. Here's the guys top 5.

1st Ryan Woods

2nd Patrick Reaves

3rd Jason Bryant

4th Scott Williams

5th David Roche

Mike Mason won the 40 Mile race with Jonathan Allen getting 2nd.

By the way, typing with a contraption strapped to your arm is a little difficult. I started using a bone stimulator this week. I wear it for 3 hours a day for at least the next two months. Plus continuing the hour + in a twisting contraption. I'd recommend not breaking your arm. And if you do, most definitely don't do it quite so significantly as I did.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

La Sportiva Mountain Cup

The 2012 La Sportiva Mountain Cup gets rolling this weekend at the Uwharrie Mountain Run. The Mountain Cup race is the 20 mile distance. I'm looking forward to racing again. I haven't really raced since October. I did a mostly uphill 5K in December, just my 3rd run after 6 weeks off. You can guess how well that went. But the race was up my mountain, Pilot Mountain, so I wanted to take part. My only other “sort of race” was the NC Snowshoe Championship on January 7th. There was no snow and no snowshoes, but a great 10K trail race. Though it only had 4 people in it. Alison and I accounted for half the people in the race. So anyway, I'm itching to race.

Uwharrie is nearly 100% trail which I like. Personally, I would not consider it a difficult trail. The main thing that slows it down is the constant twists and turns. I consider the footing as medium technical. No significant climbs or descents, just lots of short, somewhat steep, ups and downs. For me, it's a speed race. At least it is 20 miles and not a 8K or something.

One of the best things about the Mountain Cup for me is the friends, the ones I see regularly, the ones I get to see sporadically, and the new ones. It's a good time playing in the woods with friends. Added in the new places to see, great areas to run in and it only gets better. I like revisiting some favorite races as well. Still, the people in the trail running community are the best. And I like messing with Woodsy.

So Saturday should be fun regardless of the outcome, though I'm looking for something good. It's Mountain Cup time and game on.

Training Note:

On Tuesday, there was great rejoicing among all the clans within my head. I went back to Pilot Mountain for my run up the road workout, 2.25 miles @ ~10%. My climbing skills have been off badly since March of '10 when my back went haywire. Since then every attempt at this workout has been wretched. This was finally back to normal, plus there was very little pain in my ass. My glutes had been failing all together or felt like a knife was in my ass, especially when climbing. Hopefully, the good feeling in my ass will last for a while.