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.


Jaymie said...

Get well soon e-rod. Hope those needles do the trick for you :)

e-rod said...

thanks, jaymie! you too!.

Stephanie said...

Yes, the ultra season!

Are you planing on running mt. dis this year?

I want to.

e-rod said...

steph, mt. dis is high on my priority list this year. thinking about doing the 50-miler (or at least the 50k) if i can stay healthy this season.