Sunday, January 13, 2013

Uncle Uwharrie Smacks Me

Whack! Uncle Uwharrie towered over me, staring down at my broken carcass. I had deserved the smack to the back of my head, so I couldn't even complain about the pain.

"Boy, don't you EVER come out here thinkin' it's gonna be easy!" he snapped. "You gotta come out here with a mind of steel. You gotta embrace the pain this place gives you. You gotta use that pain to get through!"

Uncle Uwharrie was right of course. Cruel, but right. I had forgotten how hard and unforgiving Uwharrie could be. I had been blinded by my own hubris. Running crazy miles in Umstead had somehow fooled me into thinking, I could run equally well in Uwharrie.

Ha! Not even close!
After more than 5 hours of Uwharrie "running" in preparation for my planned attempt to complete the 40 mile Uwharrie Mountain Run, I was broken, both mentally and physically. Granted, I was still moving, crawling up the hills and shuffling along with a painful jog where I could manage, but everything was hurting. The trail had slowly beaten my body to a near standstill. The only thing that spurred any speed in my shuffle was the sight of some fresh bear scat a few miles from the trail head, and the safety of my car. But even that adrenaline rush was washed away in less than a mile by the endless stream of pain flowing up through my body from the hard, stoney ground of Uwharrie. Calling Uwharrie unforgiving would be a great kindness.

Mentally, I had totally given up. I promised myself that the first thing I would do when I got home was to email the race coordinator and request to drop back to the 20 miler. Or maybe I wouldn't even show up for the race at all! Yeah, screw this place and screw the race through it!

Luckily, having a couple of experienced 40 milers (Brandy and Heiko) along for the "fun" of a Uwharrie training run made a huge difference in my post run mental recovery. Their encouragement, plus a couple of good beers washed away the doubts later that evening. I think I can actually finish the 40 mile race! Yeah, the last 15 miles are going to hurt like Hell, but I'm more prepared to deal with that now. Not that I'm actually ready for this beast of a race, but I'm hoping Uncle Uwharrie's smack was just the medicine I needed to pull me through.


12 comments:

  1. Listen to your "Uncle!" If you had breezed through this the 40 would have been a challenge . . . but NOW you're READY!!

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  2. I'd expect five hours of running anywhere to break most people. But five hours of running on, what I've heard to be, the most treacherous single-track in the Piedmont would disintegrate the spirit. So, I'm impressed, as usual, Scott!

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    1. Thanks, Ash! But I don't deserve your admiration. Your pity, perhaps, but definitely not admiration. One of these years you are going to have to come out for Uwharrie. You'll never look at Umstead the same again.

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  3. My ankles ache just from reading this post.

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    1. Mine too, Josh. My feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck are all sore today. All of them were somehow beaten down my Uwharrie. By the way, the TG's were great in Uwharrie.

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  4. You're going to do great. Just remember to go out slower than you want. ...and the last three segments on the way back each have one BIG hill. Be mentally prepared for that and you'll be fine :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I was really working on "slow and steady" for this run. I walked all the big hills and ran where I could elsewhere. The uphills were ok in general. It was the downhills and the creek bottoms that eventually destroyed me. The downhills pounded my quads and hips to hamburger. The creek bottoms were determined to totally destroy my ankles. Uwharrie is just brutal.

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  5. Great job out there in Uwharrie, those hills, rocks and roots are definitely treacherous. You'll do great in the 40 (just try not to get eaten by Big Foot).

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    1. Thanks Heiko! You were awesome out there. Pretty good for a guy who claims to be "untrained" for Uwharrie. ;-)

      You know, I didn't think about that being Sasquatch crap on the trail. Hmmm....

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  6. Just remember, this is what you do for fun. Also, alcohol reduces pain and improves confidence. Don't forget the beer on race day. Cheers!

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    1. Ha! Yeah, fun alright! Sometimes I wonder... Well, at least I plan to have my favorite beer on hand after the race (not at the finish because the park rangers get mad about that, but definitely back at the hotel). That should be fun.

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