Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Muddy Puddles

This is Peppa Pig and her little brother George.  They enjoy jumping in muddy puddles.
However, the last time I checked, I am not a pig and I do not enjoy mud, although a little bit on a trail run is tolerable.  And I can't quite explain my aversion to obstacles -  I'm not afraid of heights but the general feeling is a holdover from my childhood, when everything physical was impossible and frightening.

Going into this race, I felt like my training was solid, if not spectacular.  Not having access to a gym since late March meant my strength training since then has consisted of bodyweight exercises, kettlebells (8-16 kg), TRX, and a pullup bar with a resistance band.   Unlike 99.99% of the runners I know, I strength train diligently year round.  So I was in decent, but not top shape.  Since committing to train for Mud Hero at the beginning of June, I've been doing weights sans gloves, in order to strengthen my grip.  Lastly, as you know, I've been running trails at least once a week to prepare for the terrain.  I was assured by everyone I knew that there would be people who literally roll their 300 pound asses off the couch race morning, stuff their cigarettes and chips into their back pocket of their cotton shorts at the start and complete the race/obstacles successfully and that my years of running/ST would put me well ahead of the pack.

The night before the race, Greg and I went through the course map on the website and talked through every obstacle.  The 2 that I really had issues with were the cargo nets and the Kong, mainly because I have a tendency to climb up and be too scared to get back down.

I was already a panicked mess a few days leading up, to the point where people told me if I felt so bad, I should just skip it.  But chickening out on things really isn't what the Real Patty would do, right? I have a prescription for meds to be used only at anxiety causing situations, but I was warned by my doctor that I would feel relaxed and possibly sleepy.  We never discussed the drug use should the anxiety causing situation be an athletic event.  So I skipped the drugs and fought the rising panic.  The night before, I took my regular daily antidepressant and washed them down with a few too many drinks.  Even 10 minutes before the race, I turned back towards the car several times, and at one point lay on the ground in tears, trying to summon up the nerve to walk to the start.  No one else was acting like me.  Everyone else seemed able to relax and have a good time. Why can't I do this too?!?!?!

We were signed up for the 10 am heat, and lately I've been totally addicted to PC Hawaiian Buns with globs of butter and a piece of fruit for breakfast.  It's not terribly filling but sufficient if I head straight out the door to run.  So I packed a Luna bar but Greg and I shared it in the car around 8:45 am.  

The few times Greg and I have run "together", it has meant me trailing along at least 50 m behind, even though he knows damn well that I cannot run the paces that he does.  Of course the race last week was still on my mind, where he swore we'd run together but was out of sight by the 1K mark and rubbed salt in the wound by finishing 10 minutes ahead of me and ran backwards on the course, wearing his medal, to look for me.  I'm sure you can imagine how much I appreciated that gesture. The original plan was that we'd run our own races but at the very last moment, I challenged Greg to stay with me - really stay with me - for a minimum of 1K.  Not wanting to punch my way through hordes of walkers, we lined up in the 2nd row and took off with no warm ups before, save the walk from the car.  Upon the very first hill, I was dizzy and a bit faint from the lack of food and had to walk, even though this was the easiest trail I'd ever run.  

Not going to give a play-by-play of every single obstacle, but some of the "best".

1. Cargo net climb - this was the absolute worst.  I got to the top and was too scared to put my leg over the other side.  Then I was afraid to climb down backwards, so I was basically clinging on to the net at the top for dear life and I had a total freakout.  People were trying to tell me I was doing great. Um, I'm stuck on a net and can't get down..obviously I am not doing great, stop fucking lying to me!  Somehow I got down but I think I spent 10 minutes here.  Then after getting down the anxiety got the better of me and I lay down on the ground, completely freaked out.

2. The Kong - I had visions of me with either leg stuck in a hole, dangling and no way to lever myself out.  But someone suggested butt-scooting across and I did it at the side, with one hand holding on to the frame.

3. Demolition Derby - I swear, one of the cars there was my old 2002 silver Protege.  But i checked for a telltale scuff near the gas tank door and it wasn't there.

4. Balance beam - this would have really sucked if I had fallen.  I started scooting over sideways, but my feet ended up at an angle and that actually worked even better than sideways because about 3/4 of my foot was on the beam.

5. Every single mud pit was above Greg's waist.  Drowning in a mud puddle is not how I want to die. 

Remember how I used to be afraid that I'd step into shoulder deep mud while trail running? Please, make the obstacles midget-friendly.

So I can't say I enjoyed myself, but afterwards, I was angry at myself, a) for being irrationally scared and freaking out and b) not trying my best and having a really embarrassingly slow finish time.  I was also annoyed that this race was just mud and not much in terms of strength or athletic skill. Greg tells me Spartan is much more along those lines and I would like to do the 10K Spartan next spring, leading up to Tough Mudder next summer, because my whole self imposed cognitive behaviour therapy method of "doing it until I don't hate it any more" worked for me when I was starting to exercise, and more recently with trail running.

My "I'm not having a good day" take on Nicole's signature #runnerd double thumbs up pose.  Also: epic muffin top, ew.

I'm having such an awesome time, can you tell?

I almost didn't take a medal because I didn't feel like I deserved it, and I did, but put it in the mud at the finish.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Goodbye trail race virginity: Iroquoia Trail Test race report

A couple of weeks ago, I was suddenly aware of a strange feeling.  Did I have indigestion or perhaps a touch of fever? No, it was a crazy and sudden desire to do a trail race. This time of year has no shortage of trail races and Iroquoia Trail Test was nearby and the 7K was an affordable price.  Wait! the 18K promised more than twice as much trail fun for only $10 more, plus I wouldn't have to juggle my schedule in order to fit a long run in.  But Greg was interested in the 7K and I thought it would really suck for him to have to hang around and wait a couple hours for me, plus 18K in the woods is a really long time without any company.  And then Emma said she was LR-ing on the Sunday, so my decision was made.
I had no goals in this race except a) not die on the hills b) not fall flat on my face c) not get eaten alive by them damn skeeters and d) a teeny tiny hope that I'd finish under an hour.  On the drive up to Crawford Lake, I was quite nervous but we arrived before I got in a wholesale panic.  I found a bunch of trees to do my business only to find other runners squatting nearby, fortunately everything that should have been hidden was.  I like how trail runners make like a bear in the woods, because I had no intention of repeating my porta-potty nightmare at NFWHM.

The 7K and 18K runners started together, with the 34K people starting earlier.  Greg and I had said we would run together, but I knew from past runs that he has different ideas of what "running together" meant so when he got ahead of me right away and then 100 m ahead less than 1K in, I yelled for him to go ahead, but I was annoyed by that.

7 KM – A good test for the novice trail runner –  largely flat but with some technical bits
ha. ha. HAHAHAHAH!  I had no delusions that this would be the trail equivalent of the Chicago Marathon, but I think only about 2K of the course was actually flat.  Since I suck equally at running up and down hills on trails, all I heard constantly was "on your left! on your left!" and some bare chested speed demon would blaze by, leaving me to navigate the trails on what was not necessarily the best way through. (read: rocks. roots. very slippery. much trip. wow.)  Amazingly, I managed to stay upright the entire time, walking 99% of the hills and running as quickly as I could on the flats.

I went through 5K in 45:xx, good gawd! and was REALLY glad I didn't sign up for the 18K, as I realized something that I enjoy about my trail training runs is the feeling of being alone in the woods.  I didn't like people breathing down my neck and having to dodge the speed demons on what should have been singletrack.

Greg came running back to find me (ugh! I hate that!) and I was veeeeeeeeery glad to be done.  I felt like I chickened out a LOT on the hills, but not too bad considering I biked 36K yesterday and was at the end of my training week. Will I do another trail race? yeah probably.  It might be a LONG time, if ever, before I'll want to tackle anything like the 25Ks that seem to be a pretty common trail distance. Somehow the mosquitoes did not find me, and I was happy to accomplish 2 of my 4 goals.

The #burlingtonskirtbrigade has always told me that trail races have better food. Peameal bacon sandwich? yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah! Sure beats a stale bagel and green banana!

Greg and I will celebrate 10 years together on August 18. Next week our anniversary adventure so to speak, will be jumping through muddy puddles at Mud Hero.

Official chip time: 56:16
Pace: 8:03 / kilometer
Field Placement: 46 / 62 (74.2%)
Age group: 0 – 39
Group Placement: 18 / 21 (85.7%)
Gender Placement: 29 / 41 (70.7%)