Sunday, January 18, 2015

Charlotte Trail Race, 2015 Edition

The motley crew (before the wreckage)

"I am not a trail runner, I am not a trail runner, I am not a trail runner." 

This is what echoes between my ears as I plummet down another series of mini-canyons shifting, twisting, turning, avoiding face-planting.

"I am not a dancer."

Ok, let me find a positive in this madness.  This is as good as it gets weather wise in the depths of January.  The sun decided to come out today.  See how it glimmers off the Catawba River.  Wait, wasn't the river going the other direction?  I am confused, but I just roll with it.

I feel like I'm riding a snowboard down one descent, slip-sliding at a crooked angle for a moment before catching myself, amazed that I remained upright.  I don't have much time to bask in the glory of NOT-falling, as I'm just as soon forging up another incline - just another body in this wriggling caterpillar mass of legs and arms weaving through the Whitewater Center trails - eternally incapable of garnering the energy to pass the guy (or gal) ahead of me, driving forward to keep the tide behind me from washing over my flailing body.  

"The folks behind you on the trail are not YOUR problem.  You are theirs," I remind myself to focus on the footsteps ahead.

In this case, it is a speedy woman that I recognize from at other races around the Charlotte area and unfortunately we are skilled at the same things ... every flat she ratchets it up just enough that I really need to turn up the dial to stay close.  Damn road racers.  Wait, if I'm not a trail runner or a road racer, what exactly am I these days?

I table my existential crisis.  

I have more immediate worries, such as the vanilla glazed donut that I devoured pre-sunrise at an I-85 Sheetz hovering in my chest.  I can taste its sugary sweetness again in a series of near dry-heaves when the pace picks up.  It's ready to pounce right out of my esophagus.  Yum. 

I taunt back, "I ate TWELVE of you suckers once before, and negative split that bitch of a race!" but the memories of another event in a lifelong series of debatably bad ideas linger as a haunting reminder.  This doesn't help.  At points, I wonder which end of my GI track is going to give way first.  I am convinced the answer today is:  Both.  At the same time.  THAT dreadfully gory event never happens thank God, but it sure would make for a more entertaining race write-up (if you're into that type of sordid stuff...)

As I finish the first race of my twentieth (gasp...) year of running/brain/knee damage, I measure success yet again as:  managing not to fall, crap myself, or ralph mid-race.  Trail times are irrelevant but I managed to stay on my feet in forward motion for just over 75 minutes.  9 miles was the longest my slack ass has run since July.  

Despite what I would call a "recreational" training regiment (no long runs, speed work, or borderline OCD training), I somehow managed to finish 6th and snag an age group win.  This leads me to believe that the masses of 30 to 34 year old males are too busy/tired taking care of infants to train, like I'll be in 3 months so I better get used to lots of someone else's poop.  Either that or the truly fast ones decided to take a pass on this one.  

I know I'm a pretender, but... well I can only race who shows up, right?  Heck, the 2nd place guy in the whole race was none other than 58 year old Kevin Nickodem, our designated driver for the 2nd annual Charlotte trail race and beer weekend.

Post run, pre beer, all nine were accounted for

Our eclectic crew cleaned up our fair share of race loot, and then set forth for the real reason for the trip to the Queen City: to wreak havoc at a vast array of breweries around uptown.  Maybe I didn't run as well as I did last year but I sure managed the drinking part of the weekend better.

Tricks to a post-trail run brewery escapade: 
  • avoid anything over 6% ABV (yes you are sacrificing quality for quantity/survival)
  • avoid the beers with menacing names that imply you may find yourself seeing double or plastered to the sidewalk in a state of delirium later
  • drink plenty of water 

Cheers to 2015...

It is my year with no particular running goals or commitments.  March 25th is the main date circled on my calendar - Megan and I's due date of our baby boy.  According to Megan, he seems like an active bugger in utero, so maybe he'll be a future runner (poor kid.)

As such I've put most of the rest of the world on hold as I wait...  These days I'll just as soon sleep in to catch up on rest versus jet out the door for an early morning run, knowing in a few months I won't be able to do either.  Right now, it's purely a case where I CAN run more, but do I WANT to?  Nah.  I go through these ebbs and flows every few years it seems like, mostly around major life events (starting college, starting work, getting married, etc...)

In the meantime, while I've been awaiting Baby Taj and scaling back the mileage, it's not as if I've been ignoring running completely.  I've just found another outlet for my insanity: writing.

So yeah... I've been working on a dark comedy (heavy hitting at times) type book about high school running - off and on for well over a year.  Totally crazy, I know.  It's not too dissimilar in style from the first few paragraphs of this post - the key difference being it is purely fictional with intermittent shades and scraps of autobiography.  I recognize I have just as much chance of financial success at this endeavor as I do running (<0%) but this has been something on my bucket list for a while and not everything has to lead to something else.  Sometimes things are just fun to do.  So why the heck not write a book?

So email, Facebook, tweet me, whatever, if you want to sample a section some time.  I'll take whatever feedback I can get that helps me get better.  It's cheaper than getting an MFA (or therapy, ha.)

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