Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Revenge - Raleigh 8000

Why haven't I run the Raleigh 8000 before now? The 8K is the perfect Summer time race for a distance runner like myself. It's too long for the brutal, puke-tinged efforts required for the 5K, and too short to worry about fueling or hydration. After a fun experience at the Running of the Bulls 8K earlier in the Summer, I'm really starting to love the 8000 meter race.

Not that I'm particularly gifted at the 8K discipline. Or any discipline for that matter. I'm too willing to sacrifice discipline for beer. Or food. Or rest. Or a dentist appointment. Or anything less painful than the hard, sustained efforts required for middle distance training. What was I saying before? Oh yeah, I really like the 8K distance. I'll just never be any good at it.

Regardless of my own innate inabilities, after I learned that the Raleigh 8000's primary beneficiary was the Autism Society of North Carolina, I decided that the beautiful wife and I would run the race. Being the parents of an autistic child, we try to support anything that benefits autism services. Besides, our marital rivalry seems to be drifting towards a pure 8K rivalry.

So, when I woke up the day before the Raleigh 8000 and could barely hobble to the toilet due to the what felt like a broken left heel, I didn't know if I would be running or walking the race. But I was determined to make the distance. I'll save my "Achilles arrow to the heel" story for a later self-pity post. Please come back for a visit to weep with me in the comments section. Or to tell me to just suck it up. Works either way for me.

Enough useless blog banter, on to the race!

The Race

I've been running for several years now, so it's really cool to show up at a new (for me) race and see lots of familiar faces and friends. I think I parked next to the stonking fast Umstead Trail Marathon women's champion, Lorraine Young (3:03! On trails!), but I wasn't sure, so I didn't pester her with introductions (it was indeed Lorraine and she finished as the top female with a 5:55 pace. Whoosh!). Turns out I know the race director, Michael Forrester, since he also happens to be an organizer of one of my favorite trail races, the Medoc Trail Marathon. Plus I saw about a half dozen other trail running friends before the race. Too cool!

Sold out. Full of fasties.

The course itself is a beauty, and devilishly difficult. After a steep downhill followed by a short rise on Six Forks Road, the course hits the greenway trails for a beautiful, meandering run down to the Shelly Lake dam, including transit though a very dark, cool pedestrian tunnel. The race to the dam is essentially 2+ miles of gentle down hill running. Fast! After crossing the dam, you circle around the lake and then retrace your steps back up to the finish line. If you've gone out too fast, your legs will melt down and you'll find yourself walking back up the hills. Pace yourself just right and you could end up placing in the top 3 of your age group.

Downhill start. Whoosh!

Onto the beautiful greenway trails.

Through a very dark and wet tunnel.

Across the earthen dam of Shelly Lake.

Across Shelly Lake on the boardwalk.

Back through the wicked cool tunnel.

Gut busting uphill finish.
Just an awesome course! Do yourself a favor and run this race.

The Rivalry

The beautiful wife and I have our own unique ways of approaching our running rivalry. I stress about the rivalry before every race, while the wife denies the very existence of the rivalry. But that mind game doesn't work on me. I know she knows. Wait, maybe the denial is a ploy just to get me to know that she knows. But that means she knows that I know that she knows. Chicken! Egg?! <my head explodes here>

Unfortunately for the rivalry, we were both not in the best of health the weeks prior to this race. The wife slipped a disc in her lower back doing yard work. Those of you who have back problems will understand. For those of you who have never experienced the joy of a disc problem, imagine someone hammering a red hot iron plate across your lower back with dull, rusty nails. Then imagine that your legs only work at 50% capacity because most of the nerves controlling them are too busy firing nuclear pain signals into your addled brain. Now, multiply that by 10. Perfect.

My own "arrow to the heel" problems I'm reserving for a later post in the continued hope that my stupidity will help others. Or at least amuse others.

So, we both tacitly agreed to call off the rivalry for the Raleigh 8000 and just run the race together in honor of our son.

The Revenge

Little did I know that my wife's back had mostly recovered and that she was in surprisingly good form. While I spent the race scampering around taking pictures, she cranked out mile after mile of 7:45-8:30 pace. And even though I refused to let her pass me on the last big hill, she had the last laugh, placing 3rd in her age group and winning a beautiful pint glass! My prize was being unable to walk without limping for the rest of the afternoon. Oh, how I covet my wife's pint glass award.

Image blatantly stolen from my
my friend Ash's race report from
two years back.

Well, the free post-race beer courtesy of sponsor Sawmill Tap Room took away some of the pain, but I won't be fooled again.

"Oh, you'll be fooled again. Definitely."