Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Race # 38 - Odyssey 40 miler (DNF - 13.5 mi.)

Odyssey 40 miler
7:00 AM
Millboro, VA
DNF - 1 loop (13.5 miles)

The Odyssey 40 miler was supposed to be my last long run before Grindstone.  The race consists of 3 loops 13.5 miles long with about 2,600 ft. of elevation gain on each loop.  Perfect training for Grindstone's course. 

My buddy Jon and I headed out at 3am to drive to the race.  We got there in plenty of time to catch the pre-race briefing and set up our coolers and drop bag at the start line.  Soon enough, 7am rolled around and the race director sent us on our way.

The course starts almost immediately starting up the local mountain.  Semi-technical trail and gentle uphill made it easily runnable to start the race.  The two latter loops would probably require runners to walk this part but I ran to try and stay out of any bottlenecks.  Eventually we're climbing the mountain and something stunk.  Literally.  Smelled like bad BO.  I asked another runner if he thought it stunk and he said yes and there was a paper mill nearby which caused the smell.  Glad I didn't live there!

The first three miles were basically all uphill.  Once we got to the top of the mountain we had to check in with some volunteers that were stationed at a cabin with an amazing view.  The sun was rising and it was a beautiful morning to be running. 

After a quick look at the mountains in the distance, it was time to turn and head back down the other side of the mountain.  It was some really nice downhill running.  A little technical with some loose rocks but I was enjoying it.  Maybe a little too much though.

I decided to practice my downhill running so I let loose and started barreling down the mountain.  Big mistake.  I passed a few guys and rounded a corner and my right foot hit a root or rock or something that just didn't move.  Typical physics, my body stayed in motion while my right leg stopped.  Eventually though that right leg landed and went the other way.  Instant pain.  All I could think about was Willis McGahee's knee injury.  I'm sure mine didn't look like that but that's how it felt.  Basically hyper-extended the crap out of it.

I sat there on the trail in a world of hurt wondering what was next.  I was less than 6 miles into the race and at least 5 miles from the start/finish area.  Only one thing to do:  Get up and keep going.  I started walking to see how bad it was.  Nothing broke, and I didn't think anything was torn, so my thought process became 'let's see how it feels over the next 7 miles on this loop'.  Once I finished the loop I could decide if I would keep going or not.

By mile 9, I knew the answer.  One and done.  I could continue in the race but it most likely would put Grindstone in jeopardy, and that was not an option.  As lame as it would be, I had to drop. 

I made my way down the mountain, walking most of the way.  Runners passing me by asking if I was ok.  I was.  Just my pride was hurt mostly.  I came into the finish line and told the race directors and timers what had happened and that I had to drop to avoid messing up Grindstone.  They understood and my day was done. 

The worst part was having to wait another 6 hours for Jon to finish!  He did great though coming in around 8h30m.  I hung out and watched all the other runners from other races (26.2, 13.1, 6, they had them all!).  One girl gashed open her knee on a rock so I watched the medic put stitches in her leg.  Ended up taking a nap on a bench.  But overall a very unproductive day!  It happens though and made me realize that I need to keep myself under control going down hills and not run as fast as I did.  It was now time to rest up and make sure the knee was ready for Grindstone in four weeks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Race # 37 - Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 miler

Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 miler (with 30 mile option)
6:00 PM
Ellerbe, NC
Time: 5:22:08 (30 mile race)
Place: 3rd out of 34

The Boogie 50 miler had been on my list of races to do for a couple of years.  I had even signed up for it in 2012 but a knee issue made me back out.  I needed something on the calendar in the summer though so I signed up.  It's a road race which goes against my normal racing schedule but I figured I'd try it.  

I drove down to Ellerbe Saturday afternoon and found the race site.  You really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere at this race.  As I neared the race site, something caught my eye on the left side of the road.  When I looked, it was a huge black wild boar.  I had never seen one in person before and thought how wonderful it was going to be running roads where these things roamed in the middle of the night!

Once I got parked and checked in, I got to talking to the guy who parked in front of me.  His name was Scott and he was from Texas and was in NC on business.  Since he had to stay over the weekend he decided to run this race.  

The race consists of five 10-mile loops.  Each loop is a smaller 6-mile loop with a 2-mile out and back which is downhill then uphill.  Seems pretty simple but alas, a loop course would soon get the best of me as it seems to always do.  

Starting at 6pm, we're all giddy and head out to cover the first loop in the day's remaining light.  It's amazing to run for 6 miles and not see a single car, especially since we were running on the road!  We were really in the middle of nowhere.  The 6 mile loop was gentle rolling roads.  There were a couple of hills that would definitely be used for walking later on but we decided to run most of this first loop.  Once we got back to the area our cars were parked, we ran by the start/finish area and began our descent.  It was a long slight downhill that seemed to go on forever.  A good runner could really do some damage on this downhill but I tried to take it easy.  Eventually it levels off and the turnaround is in sight.  Coming back was a different story.  Again, a good runner could run the uphill but given the length of the race, pace was key so walking was inevitable for me.

I had planned to try and do 2 hour loops which would give me a 10 hour finish.  Definitely achievable but anything can happen.  I completed the first loop in 1 hour 40 minutes.  Probably too fast but it felt comfortable to me.  

I stopped at my car and ate/drank a little bit.  Someone had posted on Facebook not to drink the water and I made that mistake on the first lap so I had to refill with the water I brought.  I headed out for loop 2 and Scott soon caught up with me.  We ran together and talked about where we were from, what we did etc.  He was a nice guy and I enjoyed running alongside him.

The sun began to set and headlamps would be coming on soon enough.  But the moon would also be rising and it was bright and almost 100% full.  Running without the headlamp on was definitely an option and added another cool factor to the race.  After the 2 mile out and back, it was time for another break.  I had finished the second loop in about 1 hour 50 minutes so still ahead of my 2 hour per lap pace I wanted.  But the pavement was taking it's toll.  

I started on loop 3 alone.  I was starting to have doubts.  My feet were hurting.  I was not used to running on roads this much.  I also wore the wrong shoes.  The 2 mile downhill was causing my toes to slam up against the ends of my shoes.  I should have worn a pair half size bigger.  I didn't even bring another pair to change in to!  

I contemplated many things on this third loop.  Did I really want to be out there for another five hours?  Would doing two more loops do more harm than good to my feet?  The doubts had crept in and made themselves at home.  I crossed the timing line for the third time and headed to the car to sit and think.  I had covered 30 miles in 5 hours and 22 minutes.  I decided to call it a day and head home.  

I hated dropping.  I walked up and told the race director I was dropping and he said I wasn't dropping but instead just finishing my race as a 30 mile runner.  The Boogie has always been a 50 mile race but this year they added the 30 mile option for which runners could receive credit.  When I told the race director I was dropping, he handed me the finishers award for the 30 mile race and said thanks for coming!  It was some nice hand-crafted pottery.  Engraved on the bottom it said "A little Boogie is better than no Boogie at all."   I took that to heart.  Although I didn't run the full 50, it was a good training run.

The worst part about it was the shoes I wore.  As mentioned, I should have worn some that were a half size larger but I didn't.  My big toes ended up being bruised and the one on my right foot was majorly bruised.  Over the course of the next few weeks, it turned darker and darker.  Here it is October and it still doesn't look right.  I'll have memories of this Boogie race all the way into 2015!