Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hartwood and Picnic

I got a massage last Thursday and went to a core class at the YMCA. The massage was brutal. Core class was less so, but strange. The instructor had a lot of returners who knew what to do, and I felt like an idiot. Apparently I'm bad at following directions too. Shocking. She tried to incorporate a lot of cardio, which wasn't a challenge at all. But then we used this horse-shoe stripper pole thing to do the core work. My right shoulder hurt a lot trying to do push ups. That was the most challenging part, besides my inability to raise my legs straight up into the air while on the ground because of my hamstrings being so tight. But I was worn out afterwards. I slept poorly that night and then woke up poorly in the morning.
I bailed on the morning run with Justin and Joey to run alone around 8:30 on Lee Drive. I parked at the circle lot and went out to the end on the trail and back for an easy 7+. It felt as though my lower back were being compressed into a can the entire way. I liked being on the soft surfaces though, so I did the same thing the next day with Jack and Jeff Branscome. There were a million people there Saturday though... 2-3 high school teams plus all the other weirdos who exercise exclusively on Lee Drive during the weekends. I felt better on Saturday than I did on Friday so I thought we were making progress. But then I couldn't sleep Saturday night I was in so much pain. KC kept trying to get me to take ibuprofen and I resisted. I didn't want to mask it... as usual I should have listened to her and reduced the inflammation. I was probably awake past 11pm trying to fall asleep, and then after that it wasn't the best night of sleep anyway.

4:45am came very quickly. KC had to be at Curtis Park for VIC by 5:45am, so we were going to leave at 5:15am. That sucked. I loitered for a while once we got there and then joined Scott for a 2 mile warm-up through the new woods trail, to Hartwood Road, and back. I was in terrible pain the entire way. I started to doubt whether running this race was a good idea. My back was killing me. I couldn't even tell how much pain my hamstrings were in because my back hurt so much. I did my best to stretch it out (although now I think what I was doing may have just been inflaming it more.)

Leaving the park
Anyway, to the race. No one was on the line. I didn't even see anyone warming up or striding out that looked even remotely serious. But you can never discount the basketball shorts and do-rag guys. Someone asked Joey Hess if he was going to win. I almost felt alone on the starting line, despite the fact that Jack, Pat, Nick, Jay, Scott, etc. were all standing around me. That was as close as they'd get though for a while. The gun went off and it was all over from there. I felt alone instantly, and I was very uncomfortable. That's probably the best word to describe the first mile; uncomfortable. My back felt like a rock... so tight. I also had pain in my shins and ankles. I remember thinking that the shoes I was wearing, my yellow Brooks Racer STs, were probably on their last leg. Everything hurt. I was just so unhappy.

The cyclist was talking to me the whole time. I asked her early on how much of a lead that I had, but I think she misunderstod and told me how far we'd gone and how much time it had been. Not information that I needed. She was funny too; she'd move over to the middle of the road when a car was coming behind me so as to protect me from it (her words) and really just get in their way. But I was happy to have company. Mile 1 felt like a sprint the whole way and I was shocked that it wasn't under 5:30... 5:54. So slow! I thought about how the winning time might not be under 60 if thing's don't improve. At the end of Hartwood Road, just as the 2 mile in 5:38 (much better), there was an ambulance. I thought about stopping and calling it quits for the day. But there was a water stop there and a lot of children were cheering for "Mr. Jacoby," so I couldn't let my adoring fans down. Dave Davis was right there too on his bike. We said hello.

I started to feel a little bit better, and it was nice to be in the shade. Approaching mile 3, I heard a car and turned around to see a cyclist too. I thought for a moment that it was someone leading 2nd place up to me. I asked the cyclist with me and she said there weren't any runners. It was just Dave. I told him that I was going to need him to fix me after the race, as though he does that stuff... I have no idea. Mile 3 and 4 were better than 1 again, and had me thinking a little bit more positively. I didn't feel good still, but at least I wasn't running terribly anymore. I rounded the turn onto Poplar Road and thought of the toilet that someone pulled out of the woods one year and sat on at the corner. Probably Jim Thull. Emma Dolby was at that corner this year and I took water from her. I started coughing at some point and Dave noticed and came back to check on me. I told him I was just very tight from getting the massage, and the tone of his voice echoed my own thoughts about how stupid it was to get the massage 3 days before a race. To be fair though, I thought Hartwood was a week later when I scheduled it. He also thought the race was next weekend and even had it on his calendar for next weekend. He assured me that I didn't look as terrible as I thought. That helped.

It helped me so much that when he rode off and a red Prius started driving down the road towards me in the wrong lane, I had enough adrenaline to challenge the car. The cyclist moved over and started waving at the driver, but I just kept going. She was probably 20 feet away from me before she finally put it in reverse and drove away backwards. I figured she would have just switched lanes, but she wasn't interested in that. She yelled something when I passed her at the next intersection that she'd backed into, and she and the cyclist exchanged words before she sped past me in the other lane. The cyclist told me "I think her glass is half-empty!" I thought she was talking about her being drunk, but then realized she was talking about pessimism. So that mile was fast. It had a lot of downhill too, 5:33.

It was all uphill from there. I don't really have a lot to say except that I was just counting down those miles, trying to take them one at a time. When we got to the other side of the lake, I thought about how nice it would be just to cut left and go behind the lake and come up the back. If only the woods loop connected, I could have done it and just come out of the trail and no one would have known. I'm sure they would have all known... it's not like they wouldn't have noticed me not entering the park from the front. Along the way to a 5:55 and 5:53, a volunteer sherrif car came up behind me and turned his siren on. Scared me to death! I think I jumped out of my skin a little bit; it was rediculous. Mile 8 was the worst split of the day, a whopping 6:11. At that point I was getting scared, because if I was slowing down like that and I hadn't even hit the worst hill (in my mind) going back up to the park, the chase pack could easily gain another 45 seconds on me or something in the next mile alone. But Dave assured me that no one was behind me, and I powered on up the hill on Hartwood Road. It was like winning the lottery when I got to the top of that thing. Mile 9 was the sweetest sight of the day, just because I knew it was almost over. Nevermind the mind-blowing 5:32 split I ran to get up the hill! I couldn't believe it!

I entered the woods with conviction to finish this race face... conviction that faded quickly when I got to the uphill immediately inside the tree line. Then on my way down the other side, I was actually going so fast that I almost lost control and fell into the woods. I managed to stay on my feet, but slowed down my efforts a lot. I was happy to see the end of the woods, and even the uphill to the finish, but decided I was done. I phoned it in the last 400 meters to the finish. I saw the clock ticking away through the 57's and didn't even care. What did I have to gain by sprinting home in a race that I was about to win by over a minute and I was in terrible pain? Nothing.

Well I gained a Capital Ale House pint glass, which I gave to Scott's daughter, and $75 cash for first prize. Amazingly the first prize for Braswell is twice that. Too bad I'll be in Philadelphia. I cooled down another 2 miles with Pat and Scott (David and Jack for some of it.) We got yelled at by the volunteer Sherrif and went into the woods loop to run behind who I think was Holly's boyfriend. We passed a bunch of people but I'm fairly sure we didn't interfere with anyone's progress. The cool down was the best I felt all day. I was pretty bummed about the time being so slow, but I knew why it was. I had no competition and I was hurting. If I'd lined up feeling great and really pressed it and run 58:00, that'd be another matter. But this was just feeling bad about feeling bad. KC had to work for a long time afterwards, so I went to the awards ceremony and then the picnic, had a couple beers and some BBQ and tried to enjoy myself. They didn't have any buns for some reason, so we used bagels. My sandwich was pretty spicy, but my Coors Light was ice cold.

Afterwards I went home, ate some lunch, and took a nice nap. A nice little Sunday morning.

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