Friday, January 11, 2013

Consistently Inconsistent

If there is one truly predictable feature about this blog it is that you never really know when new material might appear.  A predictable lack of predictability.  I tend to like it that way.  I'm just here to keep you on your toes.  Trust me, the anticipation of a new post is always far better than the actual content.  Unless I start posting more ice bath pictures.  Then the content will win.

It has been a while since I clicked away on my keyboard in pursuit of somewhat amusing blog fodder.  Inspired by my lack of motivation to do my real job I find myself locked in a back office with some time to kill while I stare out at a foggy image of the Queen City.  The weather does not need to be good today so I'm not upset.  The weather does need to be good tomorrow.  Why?  Tomorrow is race day.  Unlike so many race days in the past, Stumpy will be staying at home.  As noted some time ago, I am not currently planning to attend any mountain bike races in 2013.  So what type of race will I be participating in tomorrow?  Go-cart?  Wheel chair?  Hot air balloon?  No sir.  Tomorrow I will be joining 200 skinny folks in tiny shorts for the first event in the Search for the Mountain Goat trail run series.  10 miles in the woods on foot.  The wheel chair race concept is looking better every minute.

This will be my second competitive running event.  Ever.  That's not very many.  The hope is that I may have learned a great deal from the first one.  If you are scratching your head wondering if you missed the race report from my first event let me assure you that are not losing your mind.  I'm just lazy.  It has been over a month since my first event and this is the first attempt I have made at recapping that experience.  So here we go....

It was a dark and stormy night...

Wait, that's not it.

It was a cold yet sunny  morning....

Now we're talking!

November in the south tends to bring cool temperatures but certainly nothing compared with the barren north-land.  The day started with temps in the low 40s so I spent the hour or so after registration running around trying to keep my skinny butt warm.  The race itself was a 7k jaunt through the woods.  150 people toed the line and with this being my first foray into running with a purpose I chose to set up camp mid-pack.  I like it there.  The people are friendly, the mood is light and it is just far enough forward to not feel like sandbagging.  How long did I stay there?  For about two seconds after the gun went off.  As soon as I saw the lead group dart toward the first turn I just couldn't help myself.  I sprinted to the front and remained in 6th position for the first mile.  That mile was not so good.  We covered that mile in under 7 minutes which would have been fine on any other occasion but we still had three miles to go.  Just as quickly as I joined the front runners I started to fall off that group.  The second and third mile were spent sucking wind and wishing I had my bike.  But I didn't have my bike.  What I did have was a man dressed all in black sitting 3 feet behind me and matching me kick for kick.  I feared the devil himself may be chasing me so I inquired as to his intentions.  When I heard a friendly greeting passed through labored breath I figured I was safe.  Unless he was lying.  The devil can be sneaky like that.

As I fumbled through the middle of the course I managed to keep track of my position without much difficulty. Heading into the final mile I knew I was sitting in 13th place.  Bad luck.  With my legs and lungs both feeling a bit better I picked up the pace until I saw a runner ahead of me through the trees.  Having a rabbit to chase was all I needed to lift the pace a bit more.  It took about 800 meters for me to bring myself to his shoulder.  Apparently he didn't like that very much.  As I attempted to pass he took off like a shot.  I found that to be most unpleasant so I picked up the pace and brought myself to his side once again.  That was all I had to do get my competitive fire burning.  With the finish line in sight I kicked away and put more distance between the two of us with every stride.  I crossed the line alone and quickly turned to cheer on my two closest chasers.  And that is where I stayed for quite some time.  I knew where I finished and didn't need the specifics.  I spent the next thirty minutes at the finish line cheering on those who were rolling in.  High fives were extended.  Good chats were had.

So how did the official numbers look for my first trail race?  I finished 12th out of 149.  My official time was 32:59 which put me 3 minutes behind the winner.  3 minutes is an eternity over such a short distance but I am confident that I could have run a little bit faster had I run a whole lot smarter.  I raise my glass to lessons learned.

When I stand at the start tomorrow morning I will have ten miles ahead of me.  The race announcement bills this event as the promoter's toughest yet.  That sounds nice.  10 miles, three big hills and one happy little dude in his running shoes.  There will definitely be a race report.  There may even be some photos.  How soon will it be posted?  Could be an hour, could be a week.  Isn't that what you love most about me?  A promise to provide you with literary pleasure on a timeline that has no boundaries.  See you soon.  Maybe.

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