Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Legend Among the Turtles of Yates Creek

A few days ago my work as a gypsy moth hunter took me back into some remote woods.  It is a mountainous area with very limited access and just a few woods roads or atv trails.  So a good bit of my day was spent traversing up and down the mountain ridges and hollows cross country style.  Of course to make better time, I aim north, south, east, or west and just run through the woods.  This day I was running down a hillside and I jumped over a log.  As I cleared the log, there was a box turtle working up the mountain just where my foot was heading for landing.  In that brief moment of danger for the turtle, I looked in his face, just before he jerked his head in to hope for the best.  It seemed a shocked and fearful expression.  I was able to readjust at the last moment and just barely missed landing right on top of the box turtle.  With my high speed on this steep downhill I was suddenly gone from our brief encounter.  Considering where I was, I imagine that box turtle had never seen a human before.  I'm not sure what a box turtle would actually name me, human is our term.  I imagine that turtle saying what the hell was that.  He sees his friends and tells them how he was nearly crushed by this strange creature bounding speedily through the woods.  They all laugh and tell him that he's confused or afraid of everything.  He had probably jerked his head in so quickly that he had mistaken some deer or even bear for a strange bigfoot creature.  The box turtle reaffirms to them that this was no deer or bear, he doesn't know what it was.  But they had better be careful as they roam those woods.  And that is how I became the Legend among the Turtle of Yates Creek.

I must give credit for the Legend title to Cory since he came up with it on our run the other day as I told about my encounter.  Other side notes, Alison said the snapping turtle that lives in our pond is Bob.  I also drove on dirt roads for about 8 hours straight while working the last week.  There was a Highway 90 I was on, a one lane dirt road.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I got thrown off this Mountain Cup ride; Jemez Half Marathon

Driving through southern Colorado

Rio Grande Gorge
For being overall tired from working like a manic lately, Jemez Half-Marathon was going fairly well.  The top three guys had gone out fast and left me on the section over to the climb up the mountain.  Once on the climb, it looked like I was gaining on all three.  As I neared the top, I could see that Ryan Woods was pretty close.  I tried to throw myself forward and let gravity yank me down the mountain.  A few minutes after starting the descent I caught Ryan and passed him.  I could tell he was having a rough one and told him to hang in there.  But I was glad to have the opportunity to beat him and get one of the pottery prizes.  Then I got thrown of the Jemez ride.  I missed a turn as I bombed down the mountain.  Since there had been few marking on many sections, I didn’t realize that I was off course until I was probably a mile down the mountain in the wrong direction.  I knew my race was screwed and decided I was not interested in a climb back up the mountain.  I just kept going down until I found a guy loading some post on his truck and caught a ride.  I won’t pretend that I just took an “oh well” attitude.  I was a bit pissed at the situation.  Sorry, I’m not the “it’s a beautiful day to be lost on the trails” kind of guy.  To sound like that wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of myself.  I like being out on trails, but I travel to races to compete at whatever level I’m capable of, not to roam around off course.  I don't want to pretend I some super nice, love everything type of guy.  Some things stink, get over it, and move on.  Gina Lucrezi stayed on the same fireroad and realized it at the same place I did.  She also went from racing in 3rd to out for a run in New Mexico.  Alison actually missed the same turn, but fortunately a guy was close enough behind her and noticed the turn.  I thought Ryan was pretty cool as he told me that I had beaten him today.  He knows I’m competitive.  He knows as well as I do that I don’t get a chance to beat those top guys unless they are having an off day.  I told Ryan that I did not beat him.  Ryan said I did, but it just wouldn’t be in the results.  I just thought that was kind of Ryan to encourage and support me when he was having a rough day himself.

Me, Jason Taylor, Nate Bosey
So enough with that, here are the salvaging parts of my weekend.  I got to visit with Nate Bosey and some of his friends.  I meet Nate in 2007 when I went to Albuquerque to run the La Luz trail race.  I found Nate on MySpace (does MySpace still exist?) and that he was a local guy running La Luz.  I contacted him to see if I could camp in his backyard.  He agreed and I slept in a playhouse in Nate’s backyard before La Luz.  I've since learned there's always some random place to camp, no need for planning.  Nate and I have stayed in touch some and I had met one of his friends, Jason Taylor, at a race in Taos a couple of years ago.  Another friend of theirs, David, was with them and was running the Half.  Nate ran the 50K which was his 2nd ultra.  Jason ran the 50 Mile and finished 2nd, less than 2 minutes out of first.  It was cool to visit with Nate and Jason again, plus be around to see them finish their races.  Another friend Jeremy Duncan was also running the 50 Mile and finished 3rd.  Jason Schlarb won the 50K with a new course record and I got hear what is going on with him some afterwards.  Yea, races are definitely a somewhat social thing for me.  In fact it's get hard to have time to see everyone when I travel to these races.

I was glad for Alison to run well, finishing 2nd for the women in the Half.  We flew into Denver and drove down so we got to see a different part of Colorado.  We always seem to enjoy traveling together, she's still laughing at my stupidity.  Maybe I’ll keep her around for now.  Speaking of stupidity, on the drive back to Denver we saw the La Sportiva van at a gas station.  I got Alison to stop so I could show Ian my glutes as he came out of the store.  For some reason he said that he didn’t need to see that.  I thought the team manager was supposed help the athletes in any way.  I just wanted to see if Ian might know what was causing my glute pain.  Anyway, his reaction really cracked Alison up.  Finally, we stopped by Manitou Springs to visit with Peter and Nora that evening after the race.  It sounds like they’re popular people who get a lot of visitors.  In some ways, I wish we lived somewhere that friends, runners, or people in general had reason to travel to.  But if any of you friends or temporary strangers have reason to be in northwest NC, you’ve got an open invite to stay with us as long as you’re willing to feed the chipmunk.

Jemez Half Marathon:
We'll give free hugs if you stay with us as well.
1.  Rob Krar 1:32:??  Course Record
2.  Chris H.
3.  Ryan Woods

1.  Megan Kimmel
2.  Alison Bryant
3.  Petra McDowell
4.  Christina Bauer

Jemez 50K
1.  Jason Schlarb  -  Course Record
Nate Bosey

Jemez 50 Mile:
2.  Jason Taylor
3.  Jeremy Duncan

Friday, May 18, 2012

Random Thoughts

I wrote most of this two days ago, but my car was suddenly ready so I was back to work.  I figured that I'd better get it posted or it'd never happen.  So there may be some typos that Alison can correct tomorrow or sometime or never.  I'll try to post a Jemez race report tomorrow evening or Sunday.

Where to begin? I’ve had several ideas for blogs, but no time to write a blog up. That problem was solved today as my car began to die repeatedly on me while out working. I made it to a dealership who had openings to check it out and then fix it. So I was left with about 4 hours to kill; write up a blog for La Sportiva that I’ve been meaning to get to, do a run I wasn’t sure I’d get in today, do some emails I’ve been putting off, and now write this.

So I’ll rewind to a few random thoughts from several weeks ago. I was out working over the weekend, meaning I was working until dark, running, sleeping in the car, and up to work again the next day. As darkness fell that Saturday, I found myself hanging a trap at large golf course in the Greensboro area. A great place for a night run in the rain without a headlamp. I cruised along the golf course, drifting around, wondering if I’d be able to find my way back to the car within the distance I had planned on running. I began to think about the last time I was at that golf course. That was with the previous girlfriend before Alison. We were playing golf with her parents. She was crazy, like bad crazy. She had liked the stories of my foolishness and adventures when we were first getting to know one another. But that soon became “time for me to act more mature.” I believe she was confused about who she was talking to. The final straw as they say was when we got into an argument over what I wore to a wedding rehearsal for a friend of mine. It wasn’t overly outrageous, but a little loud. I was just having some fun; my friends there appreciated it. This girlfriend said I was seeking attention. I argued that what difference did it make to her, she wasn’t even there. She said that it made her look bad for dating a psycho like me.  The tie from that evening is the same tie that I wore to my and Alison’s wedding. I roamed the course thinking how good Alison is for me. She rolls with my foolishness and still sees the humor. It just fun to do things together and laugh.  Alison said early on in our dating, "I like dorks."  Some people point out that she was calling me a dork.  I point out to them that that was and is accurate.  I like that she saw who I was, not who she could make me into.  Plus Alison isn’t too concerned with what everyone else thinks might be wrong with her for being married to crazy, goat bearded Jason.

Then I thought about the previous time I was at this golf course. It was when cross country nationals were there. Adam Goucher won. I was there with Coach Mitchell and Amiean who ran at the high school. I helped Amiean procure a souvenir later in the day. Something I seem to be good at.  The best memory from that day was while we were roaming the course between races. We walked by a guy and after we passed, I looked at Coach and said, “That’s Billy Mills.” I'm not even sure how I knew that it was Mr. Mills as I had only seen photos from his running days.  I had read about Billy Mills in high school and seen a movie about him. Billy Mills is the only American to win the 10,000 at the Olympics, in 1964. In high school I had decided to be 10,000 runner and try to make the Olympics in the event. Oh well, just another failure from my delusional mind. I had to go speak to Mr. Mills. He was friendly and kept trying to introduce me to his author friend, Nicholas Sparks. I was not interested as I was talking with Billy Mills. As a young person there was only two athletes that I thought would be neat to meet someday, Billy Mills and Terry Bradshaw.  That was a fun day.  Though Terry Bradshaw was not there and I haven't met him.

Throughout my running on this evening, I had never checked my pace on my garmin. I was just roaming the golf course in the rain and thinking. When I looked at the end, I had been fairly quick. It was nice to just drift away on a run, unconcerned with how I was running. I found a puddle to bath in post-run, then a place to park and sleep in the back of the car.

As for my recent racing, I’ve run a few local races. I did a local 5K to work on my speed. The 5K mainly showed that I needed to work on my speed as I only ran 17.37. Most fitness was back from my break in the winter, but not all of it. I was second in the 5K as a fast guy from Texas who was in town for work and a co-worker told him about the race. The next weekend, I ran a friend's crazy trail race at Stone Mountain Park near home called the Drool Deer. I finally got my second win of the year. The following Thursday, I did the Critter Crawl 5K at Grandfather Mountain, as I was doing some work in the area. It started at MacRae Meadow and ran through the animal area on the way up Grandfather Mountain. I felt pretty good climbing on the both the more gradual sections and the steep sections. When I finished in 21.30, I assumed the course was short. But I spoke with someone who said it was wheeled and was actually closer to 3.2 miles. That would have put my average pace around 6.45. I was a little surprised, though I’d recently had a really good mountain workout at Pilot Mountain. Next I did the Shelton Vineyard Running of the Vines 10K. The race finishes 2.8 miles from my house. Most of the course is my 10 mile night time loop. I went hoping to run it at the fast end of my tempo pace, 5.45 pace. I was pretty steady around that pace, getting just a little under through 4 miles. Then there is a fairly big 1+ mile climb. I lost a little time there finishing in 35.52 with a 5.46 average pace. Plus I got another win to make it three in a row. The 10K time was actually a PR as I’ve never done a flat out 10K when fit or focused on a 10K. My previous 10K PR was on a trail course from 2009.

Now it is back to the more competitive races. Up this weekend is Jemez ½ Marathon in New Mexico. It is the sixth race on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.