Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 Uhwarrie Mountain Run Review

The Uhwarrie Mountain Run promises all the post marathon leg soreness you love, but without unfairly discriminating against your upper body.  I am sore from the nose down, with the possible exception of my right elbow which is numb.  And its concentrated and deep; a soft tissue Little Bighorn.  Spinal Tap turned the pain volume up to 11 on this one.  Bundled in compression sleeves, bathed in Epsom salts, flushed with a 1.7 mph treadmill hobble, and gently foam rolled, I am confident that I will hobble to work Monday.

All of the flat parts are runnable.  
Two weeks ago, I gracefully rocketed through parts of this trail at a blistering 13:12 pace.  Uhwarrie (American Indian for You Weary? citation needed) is easily the most difficult terrain I have ever attempted.  That run left me with a lot of respect for this gauntlet, but I departed with a measure of confidence.  I ran the middle 8.5 miles twice.  I had armed myself with course knowledge.  I had surveyed and recorded the trail's worse.

A mere fortnight had passed.  Sponsor Bull City Running, somehow manged to insert two mountains into the course.  The 20 mile trail was liberally coated  in thousands of fresh rocks and one harminist.  The latter half of the race delivered rain and mud.  Taking into account UMR was to serve as an early in the season long run, I tried to throttle down to about 80%.  According to the UMR Life Insurance Mortality tables, running at this effort will result in a full recovery by June of 2016, or maybe death tomorrow.  They are kind of hard to read and I am still lightly hallucinating.  This race deserves respect.

My alarm clock welcomed race day at 3:30 am.  To avoid undue morning thinking, I prepared my equipment from HR monitor to the Flash Underoos the previous night.  Der Scott picked me up at an obscene 4:30 and we made big tracks to El Segundo Uhwarrie.  Its a two hour drive with a McD's coffee and pie stop so we rolled into the designated parking area for the 8 and 20 milers with plenty of time for registration.  The shuttles picked us up as twilight began its surrender to morning and we arrived at the start and bag drop with time to socialize for a few minutes.  Scott introduced me to Andrew of Fat Silly Yak, another Uhwarrie virgin and attempting this distance for the first time.  He looked otherwise quite sane.

The 20 mile race started on time at 8 am and the three of us staked out some prime real estate immediately behind all of the runners.  I had a chance to say hello to Linda Banks of the NC Galloway Banks.  It was popularly rumored that the climbs at the start of the race and mile 16 were best met at a brisk walk.  We intended to start slow, but our position in the rear turned out to be a little too conservative.  The first mile bottle-necked to several complete stops.  First mile spit was 17:40! We did not really clear traffic until about the 5 mile aid station.

Attempted highlander.
  Achieved Japanese school girl.
Uhwarrie is Godzilla.

Mile 5 through 10 went by pretty smoothly.  Scott pulled away from me in some traffic on an uphill and I never quite caught him again.  The mile 8 aid station marked the end of the shorter race.  I was pleased that the first of the 8's were still expected rather than arrived.  I got to smile for the cameras on the entrance.  Potato chips, 1/4 pb&j sandwiches, cookies, coke and heed rounded out the forest smorgasbord.  To keep the stop peppy, just two cokes and a water for me.  I was bombing down the hills and then crawling the ups. I did not want to get passed standing still at the trough.  The constant leap frogging with the power uphill, nordic track, climber runners had a negative impact on all of us.  Passing required a lot of extra energy and a small amount of courage.  Cookies just were not worth it.  Yet.

All natural Uhwarrie face cream 
provides the highest levels of spf 
The half way point added chilly sprinkles to the equation.  It continued on and off for the rest of the race.  The 40 milers, (I have mad respect for all of you lunatics), started under a slight delay due to some kind of parking issue.  I did not want to see the leaders racing back at me before mile 12.  The fleetest were running a 40 mile pace faster than I can hack out 20.   Encouragingly, the first passed me around the 15 mile mark.  The tick mob was well represented.  I saw Dan Bedard and Bart Bechard in the lead pack.  Bart looked like he was going to the mailbox for pizza coupons while I was already making false promises to my quads.  Anthony Corriveau, Heiko Rath, were soon passing by.  Mary Johnstone had enough spare time to take my picture.  I had lost the shirt by then.  Kilt, tattoo themed arm sleeves, and the braids Penny gave me the night before, resulted in some colorful fashion critiques from my Facebook obsessed co-workers.  Brandy Burns slipped by quickly on a blind corner.

I was feeling pretty good about breaking 4 hours, even with the jammed up first mile.  I was just starting to feel leg heaviness when I was introduced to the monster near mile 16.  That hill NC K2 politely informed me that I need a lot more climbing power before Umstead.  I only suspected it was bad until I hit the cross road and realized there is another hill at the top.  Then I knew it.  Hill squared.  At least, I suffered in good company.  I passed 9 people while walking stumbling up the Uhwarrie rock slide.  My long run deficit emerged, nothing but dead legs from 17 on.  I caught up to Scott for the last time at the last aid station.  I was too tired to latch on to him.  He finished strong, just over 4 hours.  I felt late marathon tired by now and was having trouble staying in the race mentally.  My mind served tempting excuses for walking the flats.  Or maybe a nice rest.  Happily all the chairs were cold, wet and granite.  I was still passing a few tattered souls.  I passed a pair of 2XU compression sleeves driven by a guy who's fatigue appeared similar to my own.  He passed me back and we repeated the cycle a few times.  We had a chance to talk for awhile.  Steve Rogers from SC.  He had more will left than me and started to pull away.  I attached my invisible rope to him and he dragged me to the end.  I finished right behind him.  Within sight anyway.  Thanks Steve, I was loosing the mental game.  You have stacks of will power.

Scott Lynch fuels his most 
important runs with apple
 crisp.  Shouldn't you?
The finish flags were glorious.  I am so glad I did not try the 40 on my first attempt.  Lord, please continue to protect me from me.  Blood sugars were a non-factor.  I can't ask for more than that.  Finished with a 121 BS.  Took 150g in Hammer Perpetuem, maybe 45g in coke classic shots, 54g in Hammer Apple gels, and 15g in potato chips.  Around 65 carbohydrates per hour. Cut my insulin in 1/2 two hours before the race and left it there until the end. .3 units per hour for 6 hours.  This formula is starting to firm up.  30 carbs every half hour, and half insulin.  I took 5 units of Rapid from a flex pen as soon as I changed clothes and then strapped on a feed bag.  Thank you Edge at the finish food tent.  That apple crumb dessert was a testament to the dutch oven.  Two hot chocolates full strength, an orange and more chips.  Scott and I ran into Kim from Bull City Running.  THANK YOU for an excellent show BCR.  Support your local running store.  They support us.

Finish time around 4:12.  I had predicted 4:20 in the last post, and suspected under 4:00 as soon as I forgot the experience.  The night before the race my pre-jiter insomnia prognosticated a 4:30.  I am pretty happy with the time.  I am confident I could have broken 4.  I am also confident that I could have broken a leg.  I had 2 minor falls and 2 UFC style full out sprawls.  I fell so hard near mile 12 that I had to urinate 200 yards later.  Uhwarrie, literally knocked the pee out of me!  All in all a great long run.  I am uninjured, excluding all of my soft tissue and ego.  Time and ice will take care of the tendons.  Time, beer and narcisim will patch my Freud box.

Still friends.  See you next year.



  1. Excellent report, Ryan! I'll have nightmares about bearded, Japanese school girls now..

    You were only about 4 minutes behind me, so you didn't fade terribly in those last 3 miles. Steve Rogers and I ran together on and off for a good portion of the race. That dude is an absolute horse! I only lost him at Dennis Mountain because I used the secret power walk technique that some trail running ninja taught me...

    And my post race brain haze completely wiped out the memories of the aid station goodies, except for the apple crisp. I would have sold my soul for a bowl of that stuff. Luckily, Edge just gave us some instead.

    Oh, and if you mention the 40 miler to me anytime in the next month (before my post race glow has faded) I'll punch you square in the mouth! And then I'll probably agree that we should sign up. Dammit!

  2. Excellent job, Ryan. Despite all the pictures and reports I've seen, I can only imagine how challenging and demanding the Uwharrie course is to a trail runner. Kudos on finishing ahead of your predicted time. Fantastic report, man!

  3. Wow, excellent report and great photos! It was really nice to meet you. I see you were the lucky recipient of a Shannon mid-race fashion shoot. I'm pretty sure you will make the cut for her Men of Uwharrie calendar this year. OK, serious mode on, I saw you ran with the hrm strap, do you have any target range depending on race distance etc? Wish I could join you guys for Umstead (although it would only be for the first mile)!