Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Long, Strange Trip - Owl's Roost Rumble Trail Half Marathon

Something is terribly wrong with me. I'm swilling strong coffee in my car at 70mph, heading West, before sunrise. It's 5:30AM and my head cold says I should be still be in bed. I smile anyway. Get in line cold virus. You are behind my sprained ankle, my crap left knee (but surgery number 5 went well!), and my aching right hip. You are the least of my ailments. Learn your place!

Having an hour drive to a race gives me time to think about my life. And that's not always a good thing. I'm brutal when it comes to self analysis. Why am I signing up for every trail race I can find? Do I have a problem? Yes, I think I do. Am I addicted? Only an addict would continue to abuse himself for such small jolts of pleasure.

My name is Scott, and I am a trail running addict. Never again will I pound pavement, unless it is to run to a trail. Never.

Luckily, I bore easily, so the self doubt session recedes as the sun rises behind me. On to the point of this post - the race report.

About The Race
I knew nothing about this race. Just that it was single track (mostly), half marathon distance, and had an odd name - Owl's Roost Rumble. After running the race, I've decided that the odd name is a secret anagram describing the actual nature of the race.

Owl's - Slow
Roost - Roots
Rumble - Lumber

The true name of this race should be:
Slow, Roots! Lumber!

This name perfectly describes the race for me. 
Run slow, there are lots of roots! Look out, there's a fallen tree over the trail!

Pre Race
I arrive early, check in and get my shirt and race bib, and then head back to the warmth of my car for some pre-race fueling. Nothing like strong coffee and a banana for breakfast!

30 minutes later, my colon says otherwise, so I dance in the port-o-potty line for 5 minutes before yet again, creating a passable miniature model of Mount Doom.

By the time I finish, the elite men were starting. I wandered over to cheer them off.

The Stats
I really wanted to finish in under 2 hours. I'm more than capable of this in road races, but it wouldn't happen in this race. Here are the glorious stats:

  • Pre-race coffee consumed - 1 travel mug. Wanted more, but me and coffee are now friendly adversaries on race day...
  • Pre-race existential thoughts - 2. Another post for another day perhaps...
  • Number of trips during the race - I stopped counting after 5.
  • Number of falls during the race - ZERO. Yeah, baby! Stayed on my feet the entire race. New falling PR for me!
  • Gun time - 2:11:34, 10:03 pace per mile.
The Race
I thought I had chosen a sensible position in the starting corral for my wave start. Unfortunately, what I think is sensible, just isn't accurate when it comes to my abilities. 

Once again, I burn through the first 4 miles or so in a ridiculous (for me!) sub-8 minute/mile pace. I crash hard at mile 5. This is one area (among many!) that I definitely need to improve upon. I just can't seem to pace properly on trails. Too much adrenaline? Too many distractions (trail traffic, race banter, etc.)? Stupidity? Yes, on all counts I think.

Slow, Roots! Lumber!
I've never had to actually hurdle over a fallen tree on a trail run. Maybe it's just my inexperience with trails, but I wasn't expecting the two or three trees I had to scramble over during this race. Of course, I attempted to truly hurdle the highest tree, and suffered the consequences of a tweaked hip flexor for the remainder of the race. That's about a 9 on my stupid scale.

There was an insane amount of roots on this trail. Not many rocks, but the roots more than made up for the lack of rocks. I don't know exactly how many times I tripped, but it was a lot! On the bright side, I did get a lot of "Great save!" comments from the runners behind me. I'll take my compliments where I can get them...

I was even tripped by the ghosts of roots. I nearly wiped out when I tripped on a raised board on the new foot bridge around mile 10. I'm pretty sure that this was about the time when the woman behind me decided that it was in her best interests to pass me, so she wouldn't have to hurdle over my sprawled body later. I'm sure she she was thinking that eventually I just wouldn't be able to save myself from taking a dirt break. 

But the joke is on her! I saved myself on every one of the dozens of exhaustion and root induced trips during the last 3 miles of the race. Ha!

I claim victory in my rumble with the roots!

Post Race
Although I didn't make my time goal, I do consider this one of my better races. No stomach issues. No injuries (other than one blister). No real drama. Just a very fun run on a beautiful Spring morning. It doesn't get much better than that... 

I'll be back next year for another slow rumble with the roots and lumber.