Monday, June 10, 2013

Born To Pun - Indoor Insanity Marathon Relay

Running indoors sucks, right? I mean we all , road runner and trail runner alike, run to enjoy the great outdoors. Running indoors just has to be as soul destroying as the treadmill. What if I, a die hard trail running fanatic told you that it wasn't true? That running indoors, with good friends, was one of the most satisfying and fun things I've ever stumbled through? Shocked? Me too.

Well, it's absolutely true. I ran the Indoor Insanity Marathon Relay and had more fun than I've had in years.  Not convinced? Sit back and let me tell you about it.

Iris brought everyone some extra
running in-door-fins.
Insane In The Membrane
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I've totally lost it. I'm spewing fertilizer of the bovine variety. Well, maybe. But remember, I'm drawn to unusual experiences. That's why I ran the indoor half marathon last year (and loved it!). It's why I ran the nearly-all-downhill Scream half marathon (and loved it, and am running it again this year!). In general, that's why I run trails. I love being surrounded by insane people who run and "enjoy" ridiculous trail races in places like Uwharrie just as much as I do.

That's also why I think all my trail running friends would really love this race. That friendly camaraderie that we find in our trail races was amplified by a hundred and stuffed into 500 meters of indoor track. Not only was I running on a relay team with the beautiful wife and friends Iris (of Manic Runday) and Barefoot Josh (of errr..  Barefoot Josh), there were a load of other nutcases (Hi Woo Hoo Crew!) bringing their own brand of fun to the event.

Josh was running with porpoise. Nyuck, nyuck!
Born To Pun
Originally, I had planned to run the marathon as a solo runner (yeah, I'm that dumb), but when Iris mentioned that she wanted to race as part of a relay, the lazier 90% of my brain jumped at the opportunity to run with her and Josh one last time before they abandoned the right coast for the left (NC will be a poorer state when they move to the Pacific North West). Of course we spent most of our race planning time trying to pick a team name instead of discussing any sort of real strategy. Eventually we settled on Born To Pun, but there were a load of other contenders.

  • Team Tito
  • Lap Dogs
  • Team Meaty Ogre
  • The Brute Squad
  • Team Hop Heads
  • Team Porcelain
  • Team "Hold My Beer And Watch This Shit!"
  • Team "We Started Drinking At Breakfast"
  • Breakfast. It's What's For Beer.
  • Beer. It Does A Body Good.
  • Will Beer For Run
  • Hop To It

As you can see, everything eventually devolves to beer, the common denominator of my tribe of crazy runners. Oh, did I mention that Foothills Brewing brought draft beer for during/after the race? I told you, this race is awesome!

Lap Dogs Hop To It
Just minutes before the race started, we decided  to split the race into 5K segments. Each team member would run two 5K legs, and then finish with a final, all out, puke or die sprint lap, for a team total of 84 glorious indoor circuits. In between 5K legs, you could lie gasping on the cool concrete floor while cheering on your suffering teammates.

Sherri must color match everything, always.
I haven't done any speed work lately, mostly because I despise speed work. I hate the feeling that I might puke during a run. I hate hearing my heart hammering behind my eardrums. Mostly, I just hate the pain. It hurts me.

So, of course, I decided that I would attempt to PR on my first 5K leg. I even announced it to Josh, which I regretted during the run because I couldn't just shut it down when things got unpleasant, which in my case was about 3 laps into my 10 lap 5K. Four laps into the 5K and I considering puking into one of the conveniently placed "spit" cans. Instead, I slowed down very slightly and tried to carry my cookies to the finish. I recovered towards the end of the 5K and ran my last lap in the same time as my first lap, but the near puke in the middle of the run had cost me a PR, and by a mere 24 seconds. Thank goodness I didn't train for this thing, or I might have been slightly disappointed with a 22:39 5K. NOT! I was totally excited about that time.

Iris "those lights are bright!"

Captain Punderwear
I didn't feel like I had much left in my tiny tank for the second 5K. Maybe I should have thought about that before the whole PR attempt of the first leg, but that would have been smart. Too late for intelligent decisions at this point, so I tried to force my oxygen starved brain to figure out some way to maintain some speed. All I could come up with was "reduce weight". So, I hit the restrooms.

I still didn't feel very lightweight after some quality porcelain time, so I took off my shoes. That was a bit better, but not quite good enough. Well, my shirt was sweat soaked, and must have weighed at least 8 ounces, so I engaged Shirtless Douchebag Mode and left my shirt in a growing pool of sweat by the grandstands next to the track. I still felt heavy. Only one thing to do - lose the shorts. I pinned my bib to my Calvin Kleins and ran my last 5K as Captain Punderwear. If the weight reduction didn't help, perhaps shame could propel me to a decent finish.

And it worked! Sort of. I ran a decent second 5K leg, only 37 seconds slower than my first leg PR attempt, finishing in 23:16. A barefoot 5K PR by over 30 seconds! Near the end of the 5K, I passed someone on the track and they cheered me on with "Go Underwear Man!" Totally worth it.

Will Beer For Run
Josh finished off our 5K legs with a blistering 19 minute barefoot run. Then we all sprinted the last 500 meter lap before retiring to a makeshift pub for some quality beer and grub in a room just beside the track. We finished with an overall time of 3:18 for the marathon. Not too shabby! Especially considering how much fun we had.

Don't get me wrong, I love trail running. I feel more fulfilled and connected after a good hard trail run, than at almost any other time. Trail running ties me to the earth. It grounds me . It levels my perspective. But it's an inherently lonely experience. Running indoors, as a team, is the yin to trail running yang. It's not just about running. It's about running with your fellow humans. It's about the connection between us all. It's a beautiful, shared moment of humanity. A moment I think every runner should experience, if only once.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fear Factor - Running of the Bulls 8K

I've ran with rage. I've ran while very sick. I've even ran while totally drunk. But I've never ran scared. Until now. Fear is a funny thing. It can totally paralyze you at just the wrong moment, or it can send your flight instinct into overdrive. I was lucky today. I was given the fear turbo.

As I wrote previously, I was seriously worried that the Running with the Bulls 8K might be the race where my decades long racing domination against the beautiful wife might come to a sad (for me) end. She's improved so much in the past year, while I have been stuck in my slow, trail grinding gear. Don't get me wrong, that gear works for me, but fast it is not.

This is our second year for this particular race. Last year, the beautiful wife was stuck down within sight of the finish by Beelzebub himself. But she's healthier and faster this year, so I couldn't count on my mythical friends for any sort of intervention (even though they do owe me after all. I'm looking at you Krampus!).

AC knows no fear. Or shame for that matter.
These socks cost me $5 (lost a bet).

Aside from our marital rivalry, the race itself is one of my absolute favorites. It's local. It's fun. And it has free Fullsteam microbrew beer afterwards! I expect nothing less from a race organized by Bull City Running.

This is the rear half of the field.
Great turnout for this race!
Distraction Attack
Starting the race, I kept my wife within sight. She has a better hill climbing gear than me and the start is uphill, so I tried to intimidate her by sprinting up the hill past her yelling "You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" Unfortunately, the hill was a bit longer than the 100 feet I could maintain that pace and she quickly caught me as I was reduced to a stagger near the top of the hill. She just shook her head and kept her steady sub-9 minute pace. I clung to her side and regrouped while trying to think of another plan.

Attacked by Distraction
While I was attempting to reoxygenate my nursery rhyme filled brain, I was distracted by the group of runners from the sheriff's training academy. They were running in formation, led by a guy carrying a large flag. I'm a sucker for following a flag (any flag really), and I love marching cadence callouts ("I wanna be an airborne ranger! I wanna live the life of danger!"), so of course I totally got in line with them.

Follow that flag to the top of the hill!
We will storm the convention center!

But then I remembered that I was supposed to be keeping my eye on the quick blonde fox. I looked around but I couldn't see her ANYWHERE!

"She tricked me!" I thought. I shot ahead of the brute squad in a panicked search for bouncy blonde hair moving quickly away from me.

I saw her about 20 yards ahead. I spun up beside her and was about to congratulate her on the near success of her distraction attack, when I realized that the woman beside me wasn't my wife! CRAP!
Anyone seen a blonde in a blue shirt? Anyone?

Fear Factor
It was then that the bitter cold fear of defeat crept into the very heart of my beer soaked soul. And I ran like a squirrel being chased by a pit bull on crack.

I spent the next 3 miles chasing one blonde head after another. Who knew there were so many blonde women in this race? Although, my apologies to the dude with the long blond hair who I mistook for a woman (shaved legs, dude? really?!).

Around mile 4 I finally saw someone I recognized. I passed blogging friend Steph and asked her if she had seen my wife. She hadn't. Had I missed my wife somewhere along the way, or had Steph simply not seen her? Don't think about it, just run!

I rolled into the finish still not quite sure if I had beaten my wife. After recovering for a few moments, I tentatively wandered back towards the finish line to see if I could spot the beautiful wife. And there she was! She had been only a few minutes behind me the entire race.

I had won. The streak lives on.

My better half is truly that - better. There aren't very many things where I can claim superiority over the wife (beer drinking counts, right?), but so far running has been one of them. However, my days are well and truly numbered. I figure I have less than a year before the humiliating defeat. I'm not sure exactly when it will happen, or in what race, but it will definitely happen. And when it does, my ego will be obliterated. But perhaps the blow will be softened by the pride I will feel for my beautiful, wonderful wife. Nah, it's gonna suck ass.