run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Race Report: 18 miles on Raccoon Mountain

 Friday morning I got up SUPER early and drove down to Chattanooga.

 Watch out Raccoon Mountain,
we are here to put on a fucking clinic.
Also... GO COCKS!

So, yeah. I know that I said I decided NOT to run the 3 Stages Race in Chattanooga. And I was happy with that decision. For awhile. And then last Monday morning on a whim, I decided that I'd do the first day (18 miles on Raccoon Mountain).

Best race/running decision I've made in a long time.

I am still a trail running newbie. To be honest, I've never really TRAINED on trails. Sure, I'd go out and run some on the trails. But, most of my training for any trail race or ultra I've done has been spent on the road. So, most of the things I've learned about trail running have happened in the middle of a race. Not something I recommend, by the way (unless you're into bonking, falling, exerting too much energy in the wrong places, or having slow as molasses finish times). One of these days I'll actually put on my big girl pants and train for a trail race on the trails.

Until then... for the first 16 miles of the race on Friday I was convinced that I had finally figured this "trail racing" thing out (hahahahhahahah. ha. ha.). Running trail races is definitely different than road racing. On the roads, there are water stops every couple of miles, the course is generally all runnable, you don't have to pick and choose when you pass people, etc. Road racing= just running. Trail racing there is a lot more to think about and I'm finally getting to the point where I'm learning some of those things and am able to use them to my advantage.

Everything was going perfect. I was having an absolute blast. I felt good:

A legit race photo smile.

I kinda kept to myself during this race a lot. Usually, I'm trying to chat people up along the course, but I just kinda zoned out and focused on my race strategy. I have to bitch about a couple of things though... (um. of course).

1. TOO MUCH GEAR PEOPLE. Oh my god. This day was 18 miles and it's on some of the easiest trails in Chattanooga. It is not necessary to be prepared to camp overnight. You don't need a backpack. There were 3 feeding stations along the course. If you can't survive with a handheld, and 3 feeding stations then maybe you should rethink this trail running gig. Maybe hiking is more your thing.

 Schooling bitches, etc.

2. HEADPHONE PEOPLE. I honestly don't know why they don't just ban headphones at these races altogether. There are so many reasons not to run with headphones on the trail. #1 SAFETY. What happens if I'm running behind you and I fall and twist my damn ankle? I'm screaming for help and all you can hear is "Call Me Maybe." Or, what if the person in front of you encounters a mountain lion. You're not going to hear them yell... Watch out for the motherfucking mountain lion!!!! Also, I want to be able to pass you without having to push you off the goddamn trail. Here's a story from Friday:

So, I'm at the tail end of a mini-train of 4 people. There's a girl at the front (WITH A FUCKING BACKPACK ON) wearing headphones and then two dudes who are running together and me. I see the girl taking one of her earbuds out and say to us cheerily... "If you want to pass, just tap me on the shoulder."


Seriously, she said that. TAP YOU ON THE SHOULDER? Bitch, please. If I have to touch you to pass you, it's not going to be my finger doing the touching and it sure as hell isn't going to be your shoulder that I touch.
 On my way to a HUGE PR. 
No bitches were tossed off the mountain. Despite my strong desire.

I was in such a good mood that I didn't even let this stuff bother me. I just kept true to my race strategy and coasted through the beautiful trails.

Around mile 16 I ran into a couple of problems.

#1. I had to use the bathroom. So, I hopped off the trail and negotiated thorny bushes until I found a secluded enough spot. This whole process probably took a couple of minutes (always carry toilet paper!).

#2. I was having some issues with my sock and I bent down to adjust it and I awoke the mighty CRAMP DRAGON. My left calf completely seized up on me and I immediately crumbled to the ground trying to flex and/or point my foot to get the cramp to stop. It wasn't letting up. Charley Horse City. A girl came up behind me and stopped to help, she gave me a salt tab (out of her fucking backpack. seriously!) and after a couple of minutes of writhing around, the cramp finally eased and I was able to get up and limp/hobble for a couple of minutes down the trail.

I was super afraid of waking the dragon again, so I took it easy for a few minutes, but eventually, decided that as long as I didn't make any weird leg, foot movements, that I should be okay. My calf was sore from the cramp, but I was able to speed up a little and make my way to the finish.

 Nice to see you again, Death Face.

As I crossed the finish line, I could hear my friends cheering for me and the announcer announced my name and city and then told the crowd that I had just shaved almost 30 minutes off my time from last year.

That's right. A 28 minute improvement over last year's time. My goal was to run 12:30s and I ended up with an 11:55 average pace!

It was glorious! I felt amazing... like I had actually raced and raced smart.

I met up with my friends and they had all had great days, too! Which meant one thing... time to celebrate...
Beer and chips and guacamole and tacos. 
Is there anything better?

Actually, yes, there is something better... friends!*

*Cheesiness brought to you by having an absolutely brilliant race day!


Melissa Dale said...

I can see both sides of the gear issue. I like wearing a small hydration pack instead of carrying a handheld because I want both hands free. I'm somewhat new to trail races but the races I've been in have been fairly technical with a good amount of obstacles. I don't want something in my hands should I bite it and fall down. And agreed on the headphones. Watched a runner too busy rocking out to LMFAO to give anyone the courtesy of "on your left (or right)" trip another runner. Then she pretened not to hear the tripped runner proceed to chew her out while sitting in a patch of poison ivy. Ugh.

Carina said...

Nice! I don't know jack about trail running, but I do know that beer, chips and guac are the perfect post-race food. You know, to recalibrate your sodium levels, you know.

April said...

Amen on the headphones. Remember that B*tch that had on headphones during StumpJump? Or maybe it was Scenic City? I dont remember. I was about to drop kick that girl off the mountain. Anyway, great job and you're looking awesome!

Redhead Running said...

Well freaking done girl!! Also, #2 about the headphones, seriously why the hell are they allowed on trails?!?!? That is insanity.

Anonymous said...

Some people have thyroid issues and need the backpack on the trail.

Others wear headphones because they actually don't want to know if a mountain lion is on the trail.

We all run our own race.

Melanie said...

YAY! Congrats on such a great run and awesome PR! We need to talk trail running sometime between now and me running Stump Jump. :)

Jason said...

Well done. You seriously crack me up. I trip out every time I read your blog.

Jason said...

Oh and do I rock the headphones while running? Hell to the Yes. I gotta have my hip hoppppp. Backpack no, music while running is a must-have

chacha said...

Yeah, I did very little trail training for my upcoming 50K this weekend. But I am not cool with trail running solo, so, it is what it is.

So, the backpack might be a hydration pack - I damn near lost my mind dealing with my handheld in the trail half I did. I need my extra hand on a single track to do things like retrieve shot blocks, eat them, put them back, without tripping myself or the people around me. So I got a pack. And while it has it's annoying parts, at least my hands are free.

Great job on your race! I will be pretty damn happy with anything close to 12:00 come Saturday.