Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Some new to stir the stew

Where have I been?

I haven't blogged since post Hardrock in July! I usually do a jaunty race report after my ultra races, thing is, I haven't been doing any ultras lately. Porqua? Because I am bored. I am not learning much from racing the same distances, the same races and the same same same. I needed to stir the stew.

Spartan Beast, or Burpeethon 13 miler.
I took my sister to Honk Kong with me when I tried and failed to finish the Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan 100 miler over New Years. We had a blast. Upon returning stateside, she decided to sign me up to race the Spartan Beast Obstacle Race with her. She is an Elite Master's competitor and she is ripped. I can run far and lift a 50# sack of beans. I had my work cut out for me to train for the event. I started by ignoring it, then progressed to refusing to do a burpee, not one! Then, about a week before the event, I ran all over the local park and jumped on picnic benches and boulders and did 100 push ups during my 8 mile run. Voila! Trained and ready to kick some Spartan butt!

The Plan, the challenge: Meg was in the Elite start which took off 15 minutes before my group the "Competitive". The challenge was to see if I could catch her. Did I mention she is really strong and knows what she is doing?

The race:
It started with a lot of hoopla but that is what you pay for, hoopla. Heaping helpings of hoopla. The running started and I felt great! The easy obstacles came and I was killing it! The wet monkey bars appeared and I did the first burpee of my life, well, actually 30 of them. Then, more running, then, more failed obstacles and more burpees. I would catch people on the running parts only to watch them scamper away as I threw my body on the ground, pushed up, jumped and repeated. A LOT. It was tiring. Tired arms lead to more failed overhead gripping obstacles which lead to more burpees. If the burpees had been slurpees I would have DNFed really early. Eventually all things miserable must come to an end and my final set of 30 burpees was within eyeshot of the finish. I saw my sister cheering from the recovery area, flipped her off and ran to the end.

Never have I been so sore in my arms and torso as I was the following week. The upshot- though I didn't catch her, I beat her time by one minute! Never again!... but... if I really trained hard next year...

Post Spartan I kept up my milage to be fit for a fall ultra but, nothing intrigued me. Nothing scared me. I  thought of doing an epic long run but couldn't commit to the time away from work and the idea of organizing routes and travel and contingencies was overwhelming. I needed something so I pulled the trigger on an idea I'd been interested in for a while. Cross Country! No, not trans continental running, but XC the team short running on grassy knolls and fall leaves sport. You know, the sport everyone who did it in High School loved more than staying up all night partying. XC scared me.

I joined the Seattle Running Club XC team and started practicing with the group. I am not a sprinter. Practice involves sprinting most everything. I quickly learned I'm a mid packer on the team unless there is a hill involved. I really enjoyed the peer pressure of trying to keep up, trying to not be embarrassed at my lack of turnover. It was really nice to be part of something, to have a team pulling for me.

The first XC race of my life was an 8k consisting of 4 2k loops around Woodland Park by the Zoo in Seattle. Pretty much my hood. I was excited and hoped to finish in the top half of the field and the top half of my team. Shooting for solidly mediocre. The gun went off and it was a grassy sprint for 8k full of dudes young and old and all of them fast. What do you do? You run as fast as you can and hold on. I passed a few folks on the up hills but mostly held my position to the end. Of the 19 men on my team, I got 10th, oof! Of the 86 participants I got 48th, oy! My goals of being middling were almost met, almost. It was fun. I had a lot of fun even though I kinda sucked.

Race #2 PNW USA Track and Field XC Championships. Same place, same course only this time broken down into Master's and Open. I was pinning a 50-54 year old bib on as I was now 5 days into my new age group. I was feeling... optimistic. This race was to be only 3 laps of the 2k course for a whopping 6k! Not and endurance event. It was snowing and blowing. The team was cheering. The Master's Men and Women lined up and bang it was on. I ran as fast as my legs would go for 3 loops. I felt, I dunno, like an old guy. Oddly enough, I was relatively alone on the final lap and sprinted to the finish without chasing or being chased. The clock read exactly 23 minutes as I crossed. I was later to learn I finished 4th out of 11 in my age division (color returns to cheeks) and I was the 5th team SRC finisher so my time counted on our way to a 2nd place team finish (head swells to fill running hat). I was really pleased to find out I may be blah in the open division, but in a much smaller, much older pond, I can still make a ripple.

Race #3 will be USATF Regionals in Portland where I may get my ass handed to me with a side of Tempeh Fries and a small batch, bourbon barrel aged porter. Either way, I'm scared and that is exactly what I am after.

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