|Don't I look invincible here?|
In hindsight, this may not have been the ideal venue to test how well that coffee effect transfers to races. Now lest you think this is going to unravel into a story about GI distress and "roughing it" in the truest sense of the phrase, let me assure you it is not. Instead, it will be a story about discovering one's own mortality at inopportune times. So let me set the stage for you: for those unfamiliar with the race, Shut-in is a lovely 18-mile jaunt up Mt. Pisgah with something on the order of 6000 feet of elevation gain (and 3000 of elevation loss). Also, the aid stations only have water. Lots of people combat this by having crews to bring them goodies, take their clothes, talk nice to them, etc., but unfortunately, my most likely crew candidate tends to be about an hour ahead of me on the trail, so as a couple, we have learned to be self-sufficient on trail. This is usually not a problem, as I'm no stranger to the 20+ mile long run with nothing but Gu, water, and the occasional deer to cheer me on, but at the ~9.5 mile mark on Saturday, I sure could have used a coffee refill. But I digress.
|Still feeling bionic|
|This is what I felt like... a sad, powered off robot|
...made from cardboard boxes.
Unfortunately, one more challenge remained, and my earlier dip into energy reserves meant I didn't have much in the tank for the final 2 miles, which involve another 1000-foot gain over ~1.5 miles and then a lovely, quad-busting descent down leaf-covered rocks the size of medium-sized rottweilers. From previous hiking years, I knew going in that you could pretty much walk the entire section in 42 minutes. This was both comforting and soul-crushing as I pulled out of the last aid station, but I soldiered on with four-inch strides for the next 40-ish minutes (see?? I ran enough to finish TWO WHOLE MINUTES faster than I would have if I had just walked the whole thing!).
|Remember I *didn't* walk the whole thing...|
All in all, I'm not terribly happy with my time, and I'm definitely not happy with my strategy/pacing, but it was a lovely weekend to be out and about in Asheville, and at least I have some idea where I am fitness-wise (oh THAT's what tempo runs are all about...). Up next: Run at the Rock, where I seem to excel in years where there is ankle-deep mud (fingers crossed). Until then, happy trails, all!
|2011 Godiva Shut-in Runners|