Sunday, November 25, 2012

I May Never Learn

As the most loyal among you surely remember, I took up trail running about a year and half ago.  About a year and a quarter ago I gave up my new hobby.  Not a great deal of time passed there did it?  Well, after a couple stress fractures in my feet and multiple bike rides missed I decided it would be far better for me to simply walk everywhere.  Running seemed to be far better left to other people so I threw my shoes in the closet and fully intended to leave them there forever.  Oh 2011, how far away you now seem.

It's funny how time can blur the memory of painful experiences.  This summer it was suggested to me by the Little Italian that I should participate in a running seminar.  Awesome!  I love running!  I signed up and got ready for what I was sure would be a completely new and unique experience.

The running clinic actually did serve a useful purpose.  Specifically, a video during the seminar proved to be very informative.  Each participant ran past a video camera so we could have our stride analyzed by the coach who was there to guide us down the path toward better running.  I cringed when I saw that I ran like a gazelle that had been shot in the leg.  And the head.  I had some natural speed but how I ever got it out of my bounding, reach for the sky and come crashing back to earth gait is beyond me.  That was three months ago.  Since then I have have doing running drills and trying to work out the kinks in my form.  With four days off over Thanksgiving weekend it seemed like a good time to test my new found stride and my speedy new shoes out on the trail.

Black Friday sent many people to local shopping malls to fight with rabid consumers over deeply discounted home entertainment systems and other such "necessities".  I decided to forgo the melee and join a group of runners out at the USNWC.  This is where my weekend took a most interesting turn.  The leader of our group bounded off into the woods like a deer at a pace that seemed unsustainable.  This would have been a good time for me to get to know the other runners who showed up but instead I chased after him for four miles until my lungs jumped into my throat.  Much to my surprise, I managed to keep up with him kick for kick albeit with a much more labored effort.  When he announced that he was done for the day I was a bit disappointed but joined the other members for a slightly slower stroll along the rest of the trail system.  This is when I learned that I am able to crash without my bike.  As I descended a hill at a less than controlled pace I tripped over a stump hidden under the leaves and sent myself to the ground with an impressive thud.  Trail 1 - Dave 0.  Moments later I fell again and learned that I should probably look at the trail every once in a while.  The run as a whole was quite enjoyable and I managed to get eight miles in before calling it a day and propping my feat up next to the rapids.

The bit of trail rash on my knee and ankle looked much worse in the parking lot.  It clearly healed up a bit on the twenty minute drive home.

The USNWC is my version of Disneyland.  Braving the rapids is a far better proposition than having Mickey put his arm around me for a picture.  I don't know who they put in those costumes but they get just a bit too touchy-feely if you ask me.

Sunday morning I rose before dawn to slam a big breakfast and head to Crowder's Mountain State Park.  An 8am start ensured that we would roll out in the cold.

In case you are having trouble reading the temperature gauge let me clarify that it says 26.  26!!  I am way to poorly insulated for that temperature.  Do I look like an eskimo to you?  If I do you may want to  look up the word eskimo on Wikipedia because you are clearly confused.

From the very beginning I found myself at the front of the group.  Not because I am fast but simply because I have no ability to pace myself.  I see the trail, get excited and just go.  At the first turn around point that would have yielded a six mile run, I kept going.  I saw a big hill up ahead and thought it might be a good idea to run up it.  In case you are wondering, it was a bad idea.  At the top I waited for those who had not turned back at the first way point.  We decided to turn back at the next road crossing to give ourselves a nine mile total.  That would have been nice.  Real nice.  Especially considering that before this weekend I had not run more than a mile in the last year and a half.  At the road crossing I downed a Hammer Gel and prepared for the return trip the ranger station.  But no, someone had to talk me in to running all the way to the pinnacle.  I had no choice.  He forced my hand.  He said "do you want to run all the way to the pinnacle?"  What was I supposed to do?  Say no?  Apparently you didn't read between the lines in his question.  He was clearly calling me a coward.  

On to the pinnacle we went.  From the road crossing to the top it is mostly uphill.  The last push to the top is too steep to run and ends in a short rock scramble.  The group was down to three at this point so we paused at the top for a moment to look back upon the hills we had already run once and would need to run again to get back to the car.  It amazed me how far we had come.  Looking back at the hills two thoughts came to mind.  The first was that I was proud of having covered so much distance on only my second trail run since 2011.  The second........Shit, I have to run all the way back there!

The run back to the car was fast and fun.  We picked up the pace as we felt the end coming closer.  My legs felt like concrete but I pushed on ever faster to see just what I could do over the succession of small hills.  When we reconvened at the park entrance we had covered 11.6 miles.  I'm pretty sure that is the greatest distance anyone has ever run.  Don't look it up, just assume I set some sort of record.  

So how did I spend the rest of my day?  Recovering.  I have found that there are two very specific things that need to be done to help sore legs regain their snap.  The first is an ice bath and the second is a cold sushi compress.  By placing copious amounts of sushi directly into your stomach its magical healing powers can travel straight to your legs.  Ask any doctor and they will tell you this is true.  Wait, about that whole doctor thing......maybe you should just take my word for it.

Those pasty things in the middle of the picture are my legs.  The little white bits are ice cubes.  And yes, I was nude when I captured this image.  Ladies, you're welcome. 
Oh how I do so love the magical healing power of sushi.  I love sushi and Instragram.  
Just those two things.  

So why am I running again?  Thank you for asking.  I always appreciate questions from the audience.  As you may recall, there wasn't a whole lot of race news around here in 2012.  I only entered a handful of mountain bike events this year and have decided not to enter any 2013 unless someone makes a very convincing argument.  A very strong case would have to be made.  Something along the lines of "Hey Dave, do you want to go to a bike race.  I'm driving." In the meantime, I have decided to take on a few competitive running events.  My first will be held in six days.  I have signed up for a seven kilometer trail race at a park near my sprawling urban estate.  Being an American, I'm not really sure what a kilometer is.  I heard from a reliable source that kilometers are like miles, only shorter.  My plan is to simply run until somebody tells me to stop.  And for you, my faithful public I promise post-race analysis and pictures of me in tiny running shorts.  You're welcome once again.

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