Friday, July 20, 2012

One More Much-Delayed Race Report: Uwharrie 2012

It's boring to begin every blog post with an apology for not having many blog posts. So I won't.

But here's a quick recap: I never posted a race report about the 2012 Uwharrie Mountain Run. I was in decent shape for this race (although my legs felt the Carrboro 50k, run on December 31, for longer than I had hoped they would....Carrboro 50k photo here, courtesy of TrailHead Kerndog).

My hamstring continued to ache, but I became pretty adept at ignoring it. And Uwharrie is such a special race -- there's very little that would lead me not to run it. The ride with TrailHeads from Chapel Hill and the pre-race dinner were fun, as always. We caught a ride to the start with Gilly, who was running the 20 and therefore was able to drop us off right at the start area. The TrailHead camp, tent and fire provided a great place to hang out while waiting for the race to start (photo courtesy of Shannon Johnstone). 

After a parking-related delay, we were off. Five-plus months later, I don't remember many of the details...I do remember chasing fellow TrailHeads Rachel Bell Kelley (running her first-ever ultra) and Jeff Patterson (aka Wackus) for much of the first twenty miles, finally catching up to them at the 20 mile turnaround. And I remember some very fast twenty mile runners passing me around mile 16 or 17 (we 40 mile runners had an hour head start). And I remember feeling, around mile 15, that there was no way my body was going to allow me to run the entire 40, let alone run it decently.

On the back 20, Rachel and I ended up spending a good many miles together, and this was great. We ran as the second and third women (having been passed somewhere around mile 26 by the very talented Marie-Ange Smith), and the goal of "getting pottery" kept me moving. Being with Rachel also forced me to run more, and faster, than I would have otherwise. As always, a high point was the mile 32 aid station, run by TrailHeads. All of the aid station volunteer at Uwharrie do a fabulous job, but it's an extra treat to hit an aid station run by friends.

In the end, my legs hated the last mile of the race even more than did Rachel's legs, and she made it down the hill 12 seconds ahead of me. (Indeed, I thought the the cheers coming from the finish area as I descended were meant for her; only later did I realize that they were friendly jeers meant for Anthony Corriveau...I was happy to have another Uwharrie behind me, and to take home a piece of pottery as the third place woman. It was great to be part of Rachel's first ultra finish (with more great races to come, I'm sure -- she was so tough). And, as an "old woman" (running my first official race in the masters category), I managed a PR on the real (as opposed to the rain-diverted, 37.5 mile) Uwharrie 40 mile course -- 7:35:09 (full results here; I love that I'm still 39 on this list. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Towe of Balanced Movement/Proaxis Physical Therapy).

Gear: for me, the La Sportiva C-Lite (aka Crosslite) was made for the Uwharrie Trail, which is all single track, sometimes wet and muddy, often rocky and rooty, and with a few stream crossings thrown in. The C-Lite's aggressive tread gives me confidence on the trail -- light enough to feel like I'm racing, but substantial enough to keep me upright. It also dries quickly (I take the view that I'd rather run quickly through the water than try to pick my way across, stay dry but probably fall over). I love that La Sportiva is involved with Uwharrie (the 20 mile race is the first race in the Mountain Cup). My Lululemon running bra and shorts were great, as well -- very comfortable and no chafing after a wet 40 miles. I took in some Honey Stinger chews and a Stinger waffle, as well as a few S-Caps, some EFS electrolyte replacement drink and all sorts of "real" food from the aid stations.

Next post: tearing a hamstring, recovering from a torn hamstring, and recovery time in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My New Favorite Shoe

I'm not really supposed to be running much just now, because of a torn hamstring. Taking a break from running has been tough, in part because I'm probably addicted to the endorphins it produces, and in part because at some point in the last couple years, my "running friends" evolved into my "regular friends." So, less running means less time with friends. 

Less running has meant more helping out at home, especially in the mornings, more long walks for the dog, and more yoga. But a few weeks of lovely spring weather has had me really missing the local trails. And when this year's fabulous package of goodies from La Sportiva and the associate sponsors of the Mountain Running Team arrived, I really wanted to be back to training regularly. (I'm particularly excited about the addition of Honey Stinger nutrition products, and about my new sunglasses from Native Eyewear!)

That's not going to happen for a while; I've now come to accept that recovery and rest are important for long-run running health. But I have been able to, with the blessing of my physical therapist, sneak in a few hour-long trail runs over the last couple of weeks. These runs have given me much-need time with friends, and the opportunity to try out La Sportiva's new, lightweight shoe, the Vertical K.

And I love it! It's under 7 ounces, has the snug (especially through the midfoot) fit that I like, has a cushy sole (the same morphodynamic technology in shoes like the Electron and Quantum, but much lighter weight), and has good traction for muddy trails. I haven't had the chance to run more than 7 or 8 miles in these but, so far, they're great. Another reason to look forward to recovery. (More specs on the Vertical K are here).