Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Trail Nut 10k

I have always heard that it didn’t really matter what you ate the morning of the race, as long as you ate something that wasn’t going to upset your stomach in the next few hours. I have read that what you put in your body the day before a race is far more important. So in the past, I have always tried to drink plenty of water and eat a high carb dinner the day before races. For some reason, I decided that my pre-race dinner this time would consist of fried catfish at Mama’s in Montvale. This turned out to not be the wisest decision I have ever made (mistake #1). I will explain this more when the time comes.

I was looking forward to the Trail Nut race this year, just because I enjoy running on Bedford trails and I really like Falling Creek Park. Having run this race last year, I would have the opportunity to compare finishing times. This race would be my 5th Mountain Junkies race of the year and the last RNUTS race I would take part in this year. I am going to skip the last RNUTS race at Carvins Cove in June. The only race distances for that race are 25k and a full marathon. Having backed off my long runs over the last few months, there would be no way I would be able to get ready for distances like that.

So, I started my morning with my usual bread and banana breakfast. Although my Nutella was out of date, so I had to use peanut butter on my bread. I chased that down with a nice hot cup of black coffee and some water. Once I was showered and dressed, I headed to Falling Creek Park. It only takes me about 15 minutes to get to this park, so this is one of the closer races I will run this year. I got to the park about 20 minutes before race time. I had just enough time to do some light stretching, listen to the pre-race talk, and head to the starting line. I probably should have run a little bit to loosen up my legs because later in the race (mistake #2). My legs would began to tighten up later during the run.

After giving the half-marathon runners a 10 minute head start, the 10k runners were sent on our way. Even though I live fairly close to the park, I had not run on the trails there since last year’s Trail Nut race. Somehow, the course was still pretty familiar in my head. I had decided to push my pace early to get in front of some of the slower runners before we got into the wooded single track portion of the race. So I had about 200 yards to make a move. Once we ducked into the woods, I joined a group of runners moving at a pretty good pace. I wanted to average sub 8:30 minute miles for the entire run and after glancing at my watch, I realized I was going much faster than I had planned. The first 3 miles went by quickly while I was running in a group averaging around 8:00 minute miles (mistake #3).

"don't puke, don't puke, don't puke..."
After mile 3, I began to get very nauseous and my thighs started to get really tight. This is about the time I realized I had made mistake #1 and #2! I had to back off the pace I had set in the first few miles to try and make my stomach and legs feel a little better. This did improve my legs, but my stomach would never improve. It was the sickest feeling I have ever had running a race. At one point, I started looking for large trees to hide behind while I puked. I tried to concentrate on the trail and the next turn, in order to get my mind greasy fish sloshing around in my belly! I told myself that if I stopped, I probably would still feel awful. So there was no use in stopping at this point. The damage had already been done.

During the two miles of my worst issues, I clocked 10:00 minute miles. This would really hurt my goal to average sub 8:30 miles. Although at that point, I was just happy to not see my dinner again! Before I knew it, I was passing the 6 mile marker and I knew the last 0.25 mile was going to be a climb out of the woods. So I pushed myself to the finish in order to shave a little time off my time. Once I popped out of the woods, there was a nice 50 yard trot downhill on a grassy surface. I spotted Anna and the boys up on the hill cheering (that always makes it easier to finish strong). I came across the finish line with a time of 56:20.48. Since the course was actually 6.5 miles, that made my average pace 8:40 minutes/mile. So, I didn’t make my goal, but I did beat my last years’ time of 58:59.43 (9:26 minutes/mile).

After eating some food and drinking some fluids, my stomach and legs started to improve. This race turned out to be one of the more mentally challenging races I have run, due to my stomach and legs. I am definitely lying off the fried foods for pre-race dinners and warming up better next time. As I mentioned before, I am not running in the last Mountain Junkies RNUTS race this year and I do not have any scheduled races in the near future. I think I am going to run in the Lynchburg 10 Miler in September and I would like to run another half-marathon in the fall sometime. I guess I will figure out those races after I enjoy the summer with my family.

This coming weekend, my beautiful wife will be running in her first 5k ever! I can’t wait to stand on the sidelines and cheer her on for a change. I am so proud of her for putting in the difficult treadmill runs late at night, in preparation for this race. I will be writing another post that will cover Anna’s race, so stay tuned.

2013 Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k

This is an another post for a recent race. This one took place at the beginning of April at Mill Mountain. I really need to get better about writing these race follow-up posts sooner. I guess late is better than never...
The idea of running to the star on Mill Mountain and back down made me nervous. That is the basic layout for the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k race (6.35 actual miles) that the Mountain Junkies put on every year. Since I do not live too close to the Mill Mountain trail system, I had never run any of these trails. So I was definitely going into this race blind.

Anna and the boys were going to the race with me that Saturday morning, so that always adds to the stress of getting to the race. I love having them at the finish line for races. There is no one else I would rather see than their smiling faces after a long run. But in order for that to happen, we have to get the boys up, dressed, and in the car by 7:30 a.m. Since Anna stays home with the boys now, we do not have a lot of practice in these exiting procedures.

On this morning though, everything went pretty smoothly. After we got on the road and making the 40 minute drive to the trails, I continued to stress about what shoes I would wear in the race. For the past few months, I had been taking all my trail runs in my New Balance MT10 minimalist shoes. But not having run on these trails before, I wasn’t sure how many rocks would be out there. I had some thicker shoed road running shoes in the car too. But by the time we had made it to the race meeting area, I had decided to just stick with what I had been doing and use the New Balance.

Since the boys hadn’t eaten breakfast, Anna just dropped me off at the starting area and took the boys to get something to eat. I didn’t have a lot of time to warm up. But after the pre-race talk, the runners had to hike up a ½ mile trail to get to the starting line. So, this walk was enough warm up for me. This course had over 1,300 feet of elevation gain and I was going to need all the energy I could keep. The first mile was up a paved section of road. There nothing like starting your first mile with a hill climb. This paved section had me concerned with my choice of shoes, since I had not run with these shoes off the trails at all. I was surprised how comfortable they were during this part of the race though.

After the first mile, the path turned into the woods and onto a single track trail. Just a little while into the trails, I realized that I had made the wrong shoe choice. The trails were littered with thousands of rocks, ranging in size from gravels to basketballs. This would not have been such a big deal if I wasn’t trying to go as fast as possible. I had to carefully pick my foot placement to avoid sharp corners of rocks and having to concentrate on every step definitely slowed me down. I really believe my New Balance have strengthened my legs during my non-race running. Maybe I will get more used to racing in them, but now they seem to slow me down a lot.

So after a grueling 4.5 mile climb, back and forth up Mill Mountain, I finally reached the star. The views of Roanoke from a top the mountain were very impressive. I had a great sense of accomplishment when I made it to the top of the mountain. At this point, I knew that the remainder of the race was going to be most downhill (although I didn’t realize how downhill it was going to be). It took me 46 minutes and 39 seconds to climb the 4.85 miles to the top of the mountain, but only 14 minutes and 20 seconds to cover the 1.5 miles to the bottom. The 1.5 mile track to the bottom was through some of the rockiest terrain on the course. There was a constant struggle between my feet, rocks, and the laws of gravity (the rocks won!). My jarred body finally pasted the finish line with a time of 1:00:59.

I don’t know if it was because of being on a new trail or the uniqueness of the elevation gain, this was my favorite Mountain Junkies race of the year. I am definitely going to run this race again next year and I can’t wait to try and better my time. I have already been searching for some better “rock” shoes, so I will be ready for next year!