Monday, February 6, 2012

White Rock

Well, this entry is going to be somewhat of another race report. I am recovering after the White Rock 50K in NW Arkansas. This is a very casual bring-your-own-cooler-and-lawn-chair type of event that collects a coffee-can donation to cover costs. I love pulling up to an event and seeing the familiar brotherhood of folks who enjoy this same type of thing. I did the pre-run hugs and chatter, threw on my arm sleeves and a jacket (underestimated the temp), and took off without too much apprehension. The run is on dirt roads, so without the potential for errant roots or accidental bonus miles, there were few worries other than the usual hydration/leg cramp/upset stomach wild cards.

I hadn't run all that enthusiastically since Athens-Big Fork a month ago. I was feeling heavy and unmotivated, in part spurred by a lack of commitment to recovery, and also by a strong potential for a new job and relocation that had been looming. I had no thoughts or plans, just "go". I mixed up the run with conversation when I was near others, but I didn't stick around too long when I felt like picking it up a little. I almost never listen to music during an event, but I did this time because solitude on a dirt road is one evil twin away from insanity when the miles start to pile up. I joined up with Stuart from KC, MO for several miles and into the turnaround at the top of White Rock Mountain. It was nice to have somebody to debate about when or where the course might turn vertical to ascend the peak. And while there were hills, the course was relatively flat compared to past years (different road due to closures on the old course).

Good to see friendly faces and receive alot of encouragement (as well as teasing, and I would expect nothing less from my friends) at the top/turnaround. I caught grief for my schoolgirl-esque skirt/calf sleeve combo, capped off by Nike armwarmers. Dork city, population me. One thing that I love about ultra/trail running is that feels more pure than the over-gear, overcalculation, and overanalysis that can happen on the roads. Be a man. Just run. And yet I am still in the experimental phase of deciding whether I like calf sleeves or not, so I deserved the laughs that I got. I also enjoyed seeing the mountain bikers that were sharing our course that day, it provided some extra camaraderie and contributed to the general fun-through-insane-activity atmosphere.

A brief photo op at the lookout, and then back down. I caught Stuart again, and asked for the discipline to refrain from chasing down the front-running woman just yet. That didn't last long. I knew she was up there, because people were telling me as I passed them on the out-and-back. (I love out-and-back courses because it's fun to see everybody face to face as you pass, and you can get some good race updates.) I think my discipline lasted until what I estimated was around 15 miles to go. I was feeling fresh, so I let myself run the uphills and push a bit. That feeling lasted until about the 10-to-go mark, when I started getting tired. Tired, but not hurting beyond general muscle fatigue. Everything above the waist felt perfect, so I just pushed on tired legs and hoped for no cramps. I had passed who I knew was the leading woman, and was continuing to run like I expected her to be just around the corner from me. Around 4 to go, I started getting tired of running. I wanted a hill so that I could walk, but those last miles were flat. Run you must.

I finished in 5:14, which was an excellent run for me. The course was actually close to 34 miles (again, relatively flatter than the old course). I ran a negative split, which is a telltale sign that I was feeling good and had a great race (or that I climbed a massive hill to the turnaround). Deanna stopped and took some great action shots of me towards the end. I wished that I had brought warmer clothes, as I was very, very uncomfortable afterwards once I started to cool down and was trying in vain to hang out comfortably at the finish.  I sometimes feel guilty for scooting out early, especially if I am fortunate to be one of the earlier finishers. 

It's so much fun to have a good day. I wish I could bottle that feeling for the hard times when I can't do this kind of stuff. I enjoy all of the folks that come for these events, it's such a warm and positive group. Hugs all around, a few beers and laughs at the finish line, and a short drive home. Great day.

Another recap: