Wednesday, January 28, 2009

splish splash at the wtrs 15k

Baz's professionally-made sign directs high speed drivers along Ortega Highway to the Winter Trail Run Series.

Saturday morning was a wet and fun adventure at the Blue Jay Campground for the Winter Trail Run Series 15K (the 2nd of four runs). The course was the same as the previous "12K" which had to be rerouted because of trail damage. I didn't do particularly well at that run (2:09:51) so I was anxious to do better on this one. But with the rain coming down, the already treacherous and technical singletrack required more agility and care to run it.

Runners gather around for the pre-race briefing. Everyone was anxious to get the race started and start to warm up.

When we were given the go signal, the speedsters led by Dean Dobberteen, leaped out and wasted no time in taking the pack to the skinny singletrack. I didn't want to go too fast. I think that was my problem last time which led to those miserable shin splints. I stayed with Molly for the first part of the course. She wanted to run with someone since she was worried about the trail conditions. At about 3.5 miles, as the trail was going uphill, I pulled back and Molly soon left me behind. I knew she's a strong uphill runner and I really couldn't keep up with her.

The rain seemed to relent at first but soon came down and kept the runners and the trail soaked. Although I was feeling a lot better than I did two weeks ago, I was being very careful out there. One wrong and careless move could cost me some blood and DNA. I was wearing my low profile New Balance 790s and surprisingly, they held up well considering the wet and slippery conditions.

Mile 6 marked the attack of the shin splints that hobbled me two weeks ago. This time though was a 180 degree turn from that day. My breathing was better, my legs felt fresh and whereas I seemed to be tripping on every root and rock on the trail last time, this time around I felt like I was floating on the trail especially the downhill sections.

I saw the cars with about three quarters of a mile to go, and I knew that the finish is near. As we came out of the trails, our friendly forest service rangers pointed the way to the finish line. I sprinted the last 100 yards finishing at 1:45:49. I was very happy with the 24 minute improvement especially with the wicked and slippery trail. Surprisingly I didn't see any signs of anyone falling on the trail (i.e. blood) unless of course the rain just washed them away.

By the time the most of the runners were finishing, the rain had been coming down nonstop.

All in all, a great morning and definitely worthy of a 5:30am wake up. And by the way, it's hard to beat a great morning run especially with cold beer and hot pancakes (thanks to Jon R.) at the post-race festivities.

Jon (in red) volunteered his pancake cooking services for the cold and hungry runners. From L-R , Rich, Leon, Mike and Ted wait their turn.

Baz was warm, cozy and dry inside his RV as he was doing the awards ceremonies.

Click here for the recap from Baz, our friendly race director.

Photos courtesy of Doug Malewicki.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the day after

Thanks to the The Bull Runner for passing this on...

I'm sure many of you out there can relate to this somehow. A word to the gents – use band-aids or Body Glide.


Monday, January 12, 2009

return of the forest gimp

Saturday morning, up in the hills of the Cleveland National Forest, roughly 150 runners gathered 'round Baz Hawley, our foul-mouthed and lovable English RD for the pre-race briefing of the first of this year's Winter Trail Run Series, a dubious 12K. Well as fate would have it, the previous weeks' winter storms and the Sta. Ana winds that had been blowing for the last couple of days wreaked havoc on the trails downing branches and trees. The forest service gave the go-ahead for the race only two days prior. However, Baz and his crew had to reroute the course to avoid some of the damaged trails.

The runners quickly bunched up, and I got mixed in with some of the stronger runners. I slowed down to catch my breath and fell behind in the process. About mile 3 or so, I was starting to get into a groove, except for what felt like shin splints. On both legs. OK, I thought, if I stretch some and back off a bit, maybe I'll be fine.

Well, that “maybe” soon turned into a “no.”

Around mile 6, the dull soreness on my legs has gotten worse. The right leg was painful at times. I had to hobble and limp when the pain was too much. Grrreat! – I thought. I'm out here gimping in the middle of the forest. Well, at least I wasn't out here alone. Slowly but surely, the back of the packers were coming in behind me... and passing me. That, somehow, was no consolation.

This was beginning to be too reminiscent of my second WTRS run. It was almost two years ago when I published my first post about how I kissed the ground during the 18K. I twisted my ankle badly that I had to limp my way through the woods to the finish line.

This day, I thought, I would have to do the same thing again.

I wondered just how far back I was and how much was left in the race. My Garmin registered over 7.5 miles which is already more than 12K. Baz's runs are notoriously inaccurate as far as distances go, so it was still a guessing game where the finish was.

With the Garmin reading nearing 9 miles, I saw some cars not too far off in the distance which means the end is near. I made my way out of the trees onto paved ground where a couple of Forest service dudes directed me to the left and to the finish. Wow, I thought, it seems like everyone and their brother had already crossed the line.

Final result for those keeping track was a forgettable 2:09:51. The “dubious 12K” was actually 9.18 miles, almost 15K, with about 1804 feet of climbing.

Part 2 of the WTRS, the official 15K is in two Saturdays. If you're a trail runner or wanting to try it, you really owe it to yourself to sign up and run it. Beautiful trails, great people and a nice warm up to the ultra season to come.

Friday, January 9, 2009

blagojevich impeached

Embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the state's House today. So what does that have to do with running? Well according to the Associated Press, he was out on his jog when the vote came down. And when asked about the vote, he refused to answer specific questions but compared his predicament to long distance running.

He said, "Let me simply say I feel like the old Alan Sillitoe short story 'The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner.' ... And that's what this is by the way, a long-distance run."

It's entertaining to see the hubris of this guy, and it sure is filling the void for political drama now that the 2008 prez election is fading into memory.

My prediction for the running guv... a big DNF when the Illinois Senate decides on his case.

Read the whole story.