Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mountains-to-Sea 12 Miler

The Mountains-to-Sea race was supposed to be the conclusion to my winter racing, but as it turned out it was my first "race" of 2012. I wisely moved down from the 50K to the 12M, but even then was taking somewhat of a gamble after being maligned by a variety of ailments and injuries earlier this year. I missed much of what seemed to be the mildest winter in recent memory, and so I am just getting started again here on the 1st of April. The way everything is in bloom now, it seems like it should be the end of April. This made for a nice day out on the trail -- which was surprisingly dry after last night's monsoon and hailstorm. I had never been up to that part of Raleigh before, near Falls Lake, which seems to be somewhat of a high rent district for these parts.

The trees were full of green on the trail today
(I need to get better at this whole blogging thing and take real pictures)

I never know how to pace a trail race quite right, but the one thing I've learned is everyone goes out too fast in an effort to jockey for position before the first bottleneck. Given I am 'out of shape' I really had no idea what to expect. I ran 6 on Monday and 5 on Wednesday in the 7:30 - 8:00 a mile range, so I figured I'd stick to roughly that pace and try to hang on for 12.

4 miles in I was still feeling strong, and ended up trailing behind 2 guys for most of the middle part of the race. Here I digress... but I still had parts of the movie "Hunger Games" stuck in my head (I never read the books, but Megan wanted to see the movie, so yes I caved and we caught it really early yesterday; it was actually the first movie I've seen in the theatre since "Inception" which goes to show how often we go the movies in the days of Netflix streaming and Direct TV On Demand). I found the movie to be fairly messed up as expected -- I mean, not many movies show kids dying, let alone hacking each other to death (though this was mostly covered up). Then again, I also thought Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was innately terrifying. I was thinking about how in that situation I would have probably just run off into the woods at the start (much like I was right now). Athletically, that really is the only unique skill I would bring to the table. I didn't understand why there weren't more hookups in the movie, I mean if you were 15, 16 years old and knew you had a 23/24 chance of dying and these were your last days on earth, what would you do?!? These were the thoughts in my head early in the race, which offered a good distraction. I would rather be competing in the race this morning than the Hunger Games. The knee starting acting up about 4 miles in too, but I was too far in it to do anything much about it, so I told it to screw off in my head and kept plugging forward.

I would have cowardly run as fast as I could in the other direction

I devoured a honey sticker that I poached from the Umstead Marathon around mile 8 in preparation for the inevitable bonk. 9 was my longest run this year, so I figured that's when I would start hurting. Shortly thereafter, I heard some yelling, and sure enough in the other direction was Ronnie Weed and Ken Becker going 1-2 in the 50K. I yelled for Ronnie, and then mistakenly yelled "Bart" (as in Bart Bechard). I'm sure that pissed off Ken if he even noticed. He probably didn't as they seemed to be in a zone. Then sure enough about 20 seconds later came Bart floating on through. So I cheered for Bart a second time. Since I rushed home after the finish, I never learned the outcome of the race, although it goes to show how small the local running world really is if I sporadically train with the top 3 runners in a race, at least when I can keep up.

At 9, I took a risk and surged ahead of the two guys I had been trailing, but suddenly grew delirious and clumsy. The honey sticker wasn't sitting so well in my stomach, and my legs were starting to give out. I let them pass me back, and then settled into a really slow pace. At some point, I passed Karen Murphy, who was in the 50K, and thought about sticking back with her for a brief moment, but she reminded me I was only about a mile from the finish, so I kept going. By this point, I still hadn't fallen, and thought I was in the clear, until I clipped a root and went sprawling into a pile of rocks. The same big toe I busted at Triple Lakes last October (and still is missing half a toenail) was the victim. So now I was hobbling on both sides, my left toe and right knee angry at me for subjecting them to this foolishness.

Miles 10 -12, the woods no longer seemed so friendly

I finished in about 1:38, no idea on place (should have been somewhere in the top 10, but don't know), considering I've run about 5-10 mpw this year, that wasn't such a bad result. Ultimately I was glad to be back in the game, but hopefully I don't regret going out this AM tomorrow.

Back to bed, but first a shout out to the musical genius of J Mascis. "Beyond" and "Several Shades of Why" have been regulars on my iPod lately, but this is an old favorite:


  1. Love the 'pictures.' You should be playing Draw Something on your phone/pad whatever!

  2. Great finish time! I guess the MST 12-mile was a back-from-injury testing ground for you, too.
    And, your illustrations are marvelous!