Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ride the High Horse - Thrill in the Hills 21K race report

So, you know how I hate it when people drop trash outside of designated trash receptacles?  Today, I am going to get on my soapbox/high horse and vent about it.  If you are a litterer or think that you are too good for trash can usage, stop reading now. 

But first, the race!  
About a month ago, Natalie, Karen, and I decided to do the Thrill in the Hills Marathon at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, GA.  Sure, Natalie was scheduled for a marathon 3 weeks prior to the race, Karen was coming back from Hawaii, and I was undertrained.  Our friend James was running, it is a lovely trail race, and what a grand adventure it would be! 

Then, life intervened.  I have been sick for two weeks, Karen was exhausted from her trip, and the weather was cold and rainy.  So, it ended up that only Natalie was tough enough for the full, I ran the half with James, and Karen got some much-needed rest. 

It was a beautiful race, though, even with the muddy conditions, and I had a grand time running through the woods.  I sang songs ("Gilligan's Island," when the dude in front of me turned up the bottom of his white hat which reminded me of Gilligan's hat; "Bootylicious" after I slipped off of the trail and landed on my well-padded posterior; and the "Rocky" theme after another runner requested it), chatted with other runners and generally had a glorious time.  I challenged some young dudes to a swim across the freezing lake (I totally could have taken them on the swim, not so much on the run).  And, I only fell three times!  The first time, I face-planted and James picked me up.  The second time I slid out of a turn, which led to the Bootylicious discussion with my fellow runners.  The last time was 1/2 mile from the finish where I thought I could leap over the puddle like the dude in front of me.  Alas, no.  My feet slipped out from under me and I landed IN the puddle.

So, my shoes look very clean here because I had hosed them off before this photo.  You would have thought that trail shoes would have been necessary for this race, but my Ghost 5s performed admirably and shucked each layer of mud and dousing of water within about 4-5 steps.

NOW, on to the horsing around:

Our race instructions were very specific about waste disposal: 

Aid Stations: 3.95 (water), 6.95 (water / gatorade / gel packets), 10.3 (water), 13.25 (water / drop station for 42K runners)... please note at each of these stations we will have trash cans located just beyond the station... please help us keep the trails clean by putting the "gel packets" and "cups" in the trash cans.

Note that last part.  The "putting the gel packets and cups in the trash cans" part.  Is that ambiguous?  Does it not mean "put your trash in the can"?  Well?

Apparently, my fellow runners (people consuming jet blackberry GU, blueberry pomegranate ROCTANE, and Powerbar gel, I am especially talking to you), interpreted this sentence differently because they dropped trash everywhere.  They left stuff at road crossings, at the directional signs, after each aid staion, in the middle of the trail.  Seriously.  I picked up at least three gel containers, plus tear tabs, cups, and other trash between each aid station.  Consider that (a) I only did the half, (b) I did not get every piece of trash, and (c) there were a lot of people behind me, and you start to realize that those runners are a bunch of pigs.

Now, it was good for me to look for the trash because it kept my eyes sweeping the trail, which helped me maintain my footing, but really?  How about a brief tutorial in proper gel management? 

Dagny and Annika will demonstrate:
 First, tear the top off of your gel:
 Next, mash the gel out of the sachet, squeezing from the bottom up:
After you have eaten most of the gel, tuck the opening tab against the bottom of the sachet as you roll it up to squeeze the rest of the gel out:
Continue squeezing the sachet from the bottom and rolling the sachet up until you have eaten all of the delicious GU.  Notice that the tear tab is securely stowed in the center of the roll and the squeeze/roll process has extracted all GU from the sachet.
Completely rolled GU sachets are empty (no sticky leakage!), small, and easily stowed in your pocket, jog-bra, handbottle pocket, etc.
Until you find a proper trash receptable.
Please keep the trails (and roads) clean, people.  No one wants to pick up (or even touch) your saliva-covered, half-empty gel containers.  ICK.

Please note that I am a GU Ambassador and a Brooks Fanatic, so I receive reduced-price products (and sometimes free stuff!) from them.  However, regardless of these relationships, GU is my fueling method and Brooks are my shoes of choice, neither company commissioned this post (littering really is my pet peeve), and I paid to enter myself in the Thrill in the Hills marathon.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Red Top Cadillac - Red Top Rumble Race report

Bear with me. . .

Throughout the Red Top Rumble 11.5 mile trail race  today, I kept singing the refrain from Pink Cadillac because that song was playing as we ran through the first aid station.  Bruce Springsteen does a masterful job with this song.

Pink Cadillac
crushed velvet seats
riding down the track
cru-u-u-sin' down the street
wa-a-avin' to the girls
fee-e-lin' outta sight
spendin' all my money on Saturday night

Anyway, today we joined 400 or so of our buddies for the 6th running of my favorite trail race this morning.  Here are Annika, Michelle, Dagny, John, Greg, Owen, Adam and Doug pre-race.  It was chilly for the start, but as the other racers filtered in, we found more and more buddies.

Thank you Jeffrey Galinas for following photos.  First, here is the former RD, Jaydene, finally getting to run this year!
And here, with Jeffrey (who I do not actually know) is new RD and fellow Brooks Fanatic Jim Bickelhaupt.  Jim did a fabulous job this year and we all had a great time!
Here are Team Bachman and Team Dasher (minus John because he took this photo) before the start.  John brought snacks and kept the kids safe while Doug, Michelle, and I ran.  He also took lots of great photos!

The official plan for today's run included some miles and half-miles in Z4.  After my first mile came in at 8:05 (a hair above Z4) and with the knowledge that the second half of the race was very hilly, I decided that I was going to ignore the plan and just run along.  This turned out to be delightful.  I ran with (behind) some guys whose shirts said "choice, not chance, determines your destiny", with my friend Eric, with my friend James, and with a very nice lady whose name I did not think to ask.  I missed running with Natalie, though, so we will have to run together another day.  I ate a Just Plain GU somewhere around the half-way point after I decided that I would feel awful at the finish if I did not eat something, even though my heartrate was likely too high to absorb the GU very well.  I slowed down a bit to help it along and it did help me feel better.  Mmm, just plain is so good.  All the while, Pink Cadillac kept repeating in my head.  It had a nice beat and although I did not do The Boss justice, I enjoyed singing along.  We jumped several logs in the first few miles and ran around the lake as the sun rose and the sun glinted off of the water.  We came upon the loudest and happiest course monitor ever (thanks again, Jeffrey Galinas, for the photo).  Jason was yelling and cow-belling to beat the band and he kept up a constant stream of encouragement.  It made me smile.  He was still doing it on the return trip and you could hear him a full quarter of a mile away!  Thanks Jason!
At mile 4.5, we arrived at the vistors center.  Yes!  This race runs right past a real bathroom with running water, soap, and paper towels.  : ) Perfect for me!

Then, the hills began in earnest and I chugged up them (small steps!) until I got dizzy and then power-walked the rest.  I airplaned around the curves on the downhills and generally had a fabulous time.  At some point, John and the kids were out to give us all high-fives!

You can see Dags greeting Doug.  Owen is the one in the teal hat.
 Here I am!  Annika's hand is in the blue glove.
 Here comes Michelle!
Owen in his angry birds hat/mask.
I picked up trash on the course, sang to myself, encouraged the folks around me, joked around, and generally had a good time for the rest of the race.  I won't tell a lie, though, those last 4 miles were pretty hard.  Possibly, 8:05 was a bit fast for the first two miles.  The only downer was that the guy in front of me fell down on one of the downhill curves in mile 8 or so.  He twisted his ankle and it hurt a lot.  He got back up, though, and finished the race, so that is good news.  Tough guy.

Here is Michelle at the finish.  Notice that we have matching vests.  : )   I was in charge of picking the color of her vest, so we are twinsies.
 After I finished, we got to see the kids come in from the kids' race.  Each kid got a wooden medal and a bag-ful of goodies.  They LOVED it. 

After Owen beat Annika last year, she was out for blood.  She gave it all she had to keep in front this time.  Owen does not appear quite as tired, so he might have taken one for the team.
 Dagny came in on her own (quite the ham, this one) looking strong.
I made Doug take my photo before I changed into dry clothes.

In addition to GU, Montrail, and a bunch of other sponsors, the race was sponsored by the Great American Cookie Company, who gave out free cookies from their truck and made everyone's day.  Who doesn't want delicious fresh-baked cookies after a race!  And, a giant cookie running around - how cool is that?
The post-race spread was awesome, as usual:  hot chocolate, chobani yogurt, the cookies, turkey, pork, and tofu BBQ, potato salad, cole slaw, and fixins.  Dagny wanted only cole slaw.  Ha!

We stuck around until the finish and had a lovely time.  I even won a door prize from Village Naturals!  A basket of bath salts and body wash that I got to share with my buddies!  All in all, it was a fabulous day.  I love this race.  Thanks Jim for the great event!