Monday, April 30, 2012

From heaven to hell in 24 hrs.

 The joyous event that was High Rock was over, the post race celebration we had at the house finished early and i flopped on to the couch with one thought in my mind. "Why did I sign up for a 5k tomorrow. A road race none the less."

 I'm not the fastest runner, especially on the road. This is why in the past I gravitated to longer trail runs. This is why I am now switching back to shorter races. I'm average at best so I challenged myself to drastically improve my 5k time. I am putting in the time doing track work, shortening my distances, and increasing my speed.

 Waking up Sunday morning the first thing I did was move my legs around a little to see how they felt. My first impression was that they were pretty good, then I stood up and oof my quads were sore. I decided to go on autopilot, I walked to my dresser and immediately put on my running gear. Once that stuff is on the chance of me not running is close to nil.

 I looked back at Danielle still sleeping next to Lucia and thought one more time about crawling back into bed and then all of us head to a diner for breakfast. Nope, its easy to go back to bed especially after hard I ran High Rock but going out with blown legs is the hard choice, this is where gains are made. I finished getting ready and headed out.

 I deliberately parked on the other side of the park so I could do some recovery jogging and give my legs another chance to loosen up.  I started thinking that I did this in January. I ran a half marathon on Saturday and then a full marathon the next day so whats the worry. In reality there wasn't any. Yes I ran harder at high Rock than at the half and my legs felt a lot more worn out but I only had to go another 3.1 miles not 26.2 it's less than 30 minutes of additional running no big deal.

 Well here's the issue as i stated originally this race distance is still fairly new to me. The start is a sudden acceleration that doesn't stop until you cross the finish line. Okay, whatever I want this so here we go.

 As we line up I see a lot of familiar faces that I know i wont see again until I cross that finish line. A girl sings the national anthem pretty well i might add and then were off. Bah, i'm on the street, theres all these people around me i got no where to go but straight down the hill which means I have to go right back up another hill. Normally this course wouldn't have been that bad but it took about a half mile for me to realize that this is going to be a painful experience. As we climb up the hill I am determined to keep a consistent pace. The little voice that pops in every runners head to just quit was there real early but that's not an option. So as I try to settle in I hear this odd click, its got louder nad louder and I look over to see one of the Kimbell brothers who just won the High Rock challenge (yet again) the day before pushing a baby stroller and with a look of complete relaxation methodically pass me. "Unbelievable" I thought look at how relaxed he is. Then I thought "Look at how relaxed he is". I will remember the look on his face and try to emulate his relaxed nature especially when I venture into unfamiliar territory again.

 Mile 1, I feel....okay mile 2..well lets just say I'm glad that i'm more than halfway done. My legs don't feel stiff they feel floppy slightly unresponsive but they press on. My lungs were working overtime sucking in as much oxygen as possible even when every inhale felt like I was ingesting hot coals.

 I knew we were close wrapping this up and although I was in agony I still had something left in the tank. A cliche I know but its true. i kept going not only that I started picking people off. As i looked ahead I would see a runner whose head was either down on flopping to the side so I knew I could take them. this really helped and as I climbed the last little hill near a quaint bridge I heard footsteps but no way in hell was anyone passing me not with less than a mile to go. I came to this race to prove something to myself and I was.

 I was on the final stretch and the burning increased, my legs were flopping, and plodding to the finish line yet there I was running a PR a slow PR but I didn't quit. I woke up with destroyed legs, yet i still managed to run a 5k race faster than I ever ran one before.

 I didn't quit, I didn't go back to bed, I didn't listen to that voice that tells you to just quit. I did what I set out to do and i'm proud of that. I know I will achieve my goal of drastically reducing my 5k time because if I can run like I ran this past Sunday at about 60% capacity with fresh legs there's no stopping me.

High Rock afterthoughts.

 I gave it a couple days after H.R.C. 2012 to gather my thoughts, so here it goes.

This was my 5th High Rock and by far our best performance. It was in my estimation the best laid out  High Rock course I did as well.

 Regarding the start. Before we began every contestant had to go through the "Pit" courtesy of the
Civilian Military Combine. The C.M.C. is another company putting on the ever so popular obstacle race. I don't say that negatively, I liked the concept of doing the pit for grade and then being sent out to run an obstacle course. The problem I has at High Rock is that the vast majority of participants had never done a barbell thruster of a kettle bell swing. I saw some seriously dangerous form waiting my turn.

 I know that the C.M.C. is coming to S.I. in the fall and I am looking fwd. to participating but they could have promoted themselves in a way that was a little more inclusive to High Rock instead of gumming up the works a little bit like it did. A slight issue but really no big deal.

 Oh and one last thing about the pit. After i completed the barbell thrusters the C.M.C. guy asked if i was a Crossfit guy. I simply shook my head and said no. I got no beef with Crossfit, it's a great workout obviously but I learned proper lifting technique from Donald Girard, head trainer at he is a master.

 Okay, the race. First of all i told everyone that came along for the group trail runs or were at the workouts, listened to my nutritional talks that this is primarily a running event. You have to be ready to run at least 7 miles on the trails up and down a lot of hills. Well, I ran about 8.5 miles up and down the hills of the Greenbelt and I was in heaven for every second of it.

 We started of cautiously for the first mile. Warming up the legs, getting used to the terrain etc.. By the time we had to scale Moses Mountain we were ready to rock. We shot up Moses with little problem, ran to the tippy top and began the trek back down.

The only terrain that I really hated was that service road with the broken up rubble. I had a hard time getting a purchase other so we decided to power walk up it and resume running at the top. That was a judgement call and in hindsight I probably should have just jogged up it. Either way, it was a tiny section of the course. the kayaking on the pther hand was amazing. Mike and I flew through that by the time we rounded the bouey my chest and arms were burning but there was no way we were going to slow down.

 The run after the kayaking to the pioneering was terrific. If you did the Sunday runs with me then you did that section a lot so it should have looked familiar. As we reached the table to get ziptied together we knew that this challenge was all about slowing down, figuring out the best course and then picking the pace back up. We did exceptionally well with this challenge.

 The draw on your partners face challenge was a little silly but fun and I assume thrown in to give first timers a chance to catch there breath before they move on.

 Here's where it absolutely paid to start early and why i will start as early as possible for every High Rock here on out. From the face painting to the creek run and the crawl under Rockland avenue we were alone. I know that later on this area had a good 20 minute wait. I think that unfortunately the High Rock has gotten to big for the underpass crawl. If one person freaks out and freezes in there it can screw up a lot of peoples times.

 Now, once we made our way out of the freezing water, and it was really cold we began my absolute
favorite part of the course. A long, long trail run. To me the High Rock Challenge is not an obstacle race like the Spartan, or Tough Mudder it's an Adventure Race where you have to travel a long distance and do some mental and physical challenges along the way. As we traveled up the red trail and were turned left to go up the long red trail hill we slowed down to suck down a gel pack. I don't know if it was totally necessary but by the time we climbed the top, shot down white trail and then looped back onto yellow/red we both felt great.

  Here is where we slowly turned up the heat. Mike and I have both run these trails dozens of times so we knew when they were going to slowly elevate and slowly decline. We pressed forward knowing that the end was less then 2 miles away. As we came to the lowest part o the yellow/red trail we turned it up again. In the distance I heard another team and at this point I made it a goal to only pass other teams not to get passed. the trail switched back and forth all the while consistently getting steeper and steeper but in the distance is another team to catch, We see them, we reach them, we pass them. My heart is racing, my lungs are burning but I know that this is the last hill to climb so were going full blast until the top. That was sweet relief reaching the peak of that hill because heading back down was a twisting, turning recovery run until we hit the nature center.

 I let Mike take charge of the math problem station and although his answers were correct the girl insisted they weren't until we were done when she admitted that he might have been right all along. We lost a minute of time due to some silliness but at this point its a short run up the gravel path back to the recreation center and here's where rule number one applied for the second time this year.

 I knew that the course veered to the left behind the tennis courts a team ahead of us went straight into the courts and probably lost a couple of minutes until they realized that they missed the course. The section behind the courts is the last of the running so we started sprinting. Zigzagging until we were sent to that weird back road behind everything until we ended up back at the soccer field. We ran to the log hop which I loved but they should have added penalty pushups if you fell off esp. since i didn't fall. The log walk was fun and the run up the wall, rolling over the matt and the crawl down leading to the final sprint was a blast.

What a great experience! I loved this years High Rock Challenge.

My next blog will be about the painful 5k run I did the next day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

running as meditation

 Can running be considered a type of meditation?
Yesterday as I was leading the group trail run in preparation for the upcoming High Rock Challenge I found myself on different parts of the trails without really being aware of the run that got me there.

 This got me thinking, if your so relaxed doing any activity, running, fishing, whatever and you become so relaxed isn't this a type of meditation. I can literally find myself on the trails and I don't feel my feet hit the ground, my breathing becomes rhythmic almost hypnotic, my mind goes clear.

 Even if it's not technically an official form of meditation its working for me.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What does trail running give me

This flashed into my mind tonight.
I run in the woods so that I can escape from it all and find myself all at once.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where have you been?

Where you ask , running my friends running. I seems like my foot ailment has passed and I have been spending all of my free time in the Greenbelt. Running, cross training, hiking. enjoying.

As things calm down I will begin to ramp up the blogging but until the High Rock Challenge on the 28th of April I will be outside more than online as we all should be.