Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spinx Run Fest 2012

Spinx, not Sphinx.
I have long been a fan of both corporate gasoline conglomerates and run festing, so this weekend's Spinx Run Fest 2012 was a real no-brainer for me. Spinx is a small southern chain of gas stations that makes a petrol that tastes slightly better than their turkey sandwiches. If you too have been obsessing over my ankle surgery saga, you are no doubt aware that this race weekend followed my brevis repair by exactly 6 months on the Gregorian calendar.
That translates roughly to 8 new moon, "oh craps", on the Mayan calendar. I resumed running 11 weeks ago and was in no way ready for this race. The Big Punkin 5k run/walk was probably a better fit for me, and that only because I was prohibited by blatant ageism from entering the L'il Punkin kid's run.

Speedy Gonzales and friend in skirt.

Guess who got back from the restroom line 2 minutes before
the starting gun? Hint: not pictured here.
Not too long ago, my mother and I established a tradition of running a half-marathon together each year. We had previously run this event together in 2010. If you understand together to mean, drive 350 miles to your parent's house, wake up at 5:30 AM, drive back toward Durham to Greenville, SC and then run entirely separate from one another because you had some vague arbitrary time goal. My rehabbing back toward the mid-packers has allowed me a bit more perspective. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to run step by step with my mother again. Unfortunately, she has not been blessed with the benefit of my new perspective and was in this event to race down everyone and anyone she knew. My mom commonly places in her age group and scrutinizes race results like a hypochondriact analyzes webMD. Her long time running partner Christie G, Christie's husband William, and myself were all fair game. I have not been over 10 miles since Uhwarrie in February. I was hoping to pace my speedy matriarch to a PR pace until mile 11 or so and then limp in myself.

If you squint, you can just see her invisible jet.
I believe my mom is a pretty well rounded runner (she was running 5Ks before the training wheels came off my Schwinn). Her major weakness is her under estimation of her reserves. She usually comes out conservative and finishes strong with a bit left in the tank. This time we were looking to come out a little quicker and to finish just mostly alive. This HM has an ugly profile. It lulls you in with 6.5 miles of downhill and then the second half of the half (I guess that would make it a 1/4?) is all uphill. Interspersed throughout the route, a spongy track like material parallels the paved paths that make up a large part of the course. It feels great, but I think it saps a bit off your pace. Think Buick Regal ride rather than Porche performance. Its also pretty narrow and very crowded. Personally, I chose to run with my healing foot on the squishy material and my good foot on the asphalt. Think drunk pirate. This approach allowed me to equally annoy those on both sides.

If not for those meddling kids!
I felt that Spinx adopted the Paul Ryan austerity approach toward race management for 2012. By slashing the pork out of aid stations and the post race table, we almost balanced the SC deficit with savings realized from the Gatorade and water only stops. The 2010 race offered warm grits (which we originally thought were mashed potatoes) at the finish. Its funny what you crave in a race. It was the thought of that hot hominy that propelled me through the later miles. Had I known it was only dry Folsom State sandwiches we approached, I might have despaired  In the spirit of bipartisanship, I do freely admit that the pre-race coffee policy remained unchanged from 2010 for those over the age of 55. Fortunately for me, I appear to be in my early 70s before 7:30 AM and SC does not yet require ID to caffeinate. 

Before Roy Hobbes arrived.
I wore my kilt again for this race. Mainly for ventilation and to shame my mother. This led to a rather urgent chafing injury that resulted in a mid-race visit to the medical tent. I asked for Vaseline. Here again, budget cuts were evident. The volunteers cracked open a beer cooler emblazoned with a red cross. The ice chest was lacking petroleum jelly, but after some brief fondling they came up with a generic KY in a squeeze tube. Hesitant, but desperate I experimented. It worked, but I left in 50 shades of red. My tortured thighs were moving again. If only it had been Astroglide I am sure we could have dropped another 30 seconds per mile. Although creature comforts were scarce, vital medical care was available. We witnessed a down runner receiving an IV administered by medical personnel and the police did a great job protecting the course.
The races proximity to All Hallows Eve scarred up some costumes. The runners and spectators did a fair job of Halloweening. We shared the pavement briefly with some of the Superfriends from the Justice League, a lederhausen clad German fellow, a couple ballerinas  and a few thousand Clemson fans in a subtle orange.

Southern Belles.
Our pacing was spot on. We started losing a bit off of the pace average around mile 11 as mom tired and I ignored common sense and the objections from my left tendon. Just then, I spotted her friend Christie walking a rather nasty uphill section. She is mom's junior by more years than the legal drinking age and has finished ahead of her in every half they have entered. They both conducted themselves as proper southern ladies, curtsying and politely wishing each other their best with gleaming smiles. But I know better, I watched their eyes. Nefarious intent! Christie found new resolve and took off before we had even offered ice tea. So ginned up on the idea of passing her friend, my mom threw caution to the wind and tried to up the pace. With a Herculean effort, I managed to hold her back. We walked the rest of the hill and saved our reserves for the rare downhill ahead. Christie burned up a lot of her remaining energy on that hill and was unable to catch us after we finally passed her about a quarter mile later. A casualty of the high temperature and humidity (and my brilliant pacing), we crossed the finish 59 seconds ahead of mom's running partner. Christie's husband was rumored to have prepared for this race with a long run approaching 6 miles. He finished further back. I don't know how he found the reserves in those temperatures.

Mama's boy.
My favorite part of the Spinx race, the finish includes a quarter mile dash around the outfield of Fluor Field. The home of the AA  Greenville Drive baseball team. As you enter from right field, your image is projected onto the jumbotron. Slightly more devious than my mother, I entered on the inside loop and was announced over the loud speaker, "Ryan McCarty from Durham NC." My mom may still be vexed that I stole her thunder. She prevailed in the end. Drunk on glory and Gatorade, my mother charged through me like a base-runner trying to beat the throw to home plate, as I tried to snap a finish picture (honest). She finished in 2:27:38. One full second ahead of me. A second that I am sure will quickly morph into minutes then months over each re-telling until we meet again next year. I enjoyed every second we had together, except for the last one which I obviously ran by myself. I may have to Tonya Harding her until she gains my own enlightened Mahatma Ghandi socialistic running perspective.

Best costume made of small children.

Call it a foul tip.

Dad's post run recovery routine. 1st time my 
upper body was sore post race.

Elvis sighting.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oops! ...I Overdid It Again


"Oops! ...I Overdid It Again"

yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch 

I think I Overdid it again
I made you believe you could fully bend
Running seems like a rush
But my limb is just not serious
Losing all common senses
Establish trigger points to plague me
Oh leggy, leggy

Oops!...I Overdid it again.  Stressed my collagen, fear I am maimed,
Oh leggy, leggy
Oops!...You're repaired kind of,

Not ready for trail gloves.

Your too easily spent.

You see my problem is this
Foam rolling away
Wish piriformis, could truly stretch
Cry from nagging torment
Palpable nodules afflict in many ways

Losing all common senses
Establish trigger points to plague me

Leggy, oh

[Repeat CHORUS]

Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch
"Muscle, before you spasm, there's deactivation to have"
"Oh, it's beautiful, but wait a minute, isn't this...?"
"Yeah, yes it is"
"But I thought its a week till the Spinx half-marathon in Anderson"
"Well leggy, I bent down and stretched for you"
"Oh, you shouldn't have"

Oops!...I Overdid it again, your not smart
Got lost in Medoc, oh leggy
Oops!...You try to treat me with kid gloves
I'm not that flexible.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Medoc Trail Marathon and 10 Miler 2012 Review

Stop eye-balling me.
5 months 2 weeks post surgery, and finally, a race review. But first, a tangent. I ran the Medoc marathon option last year in peak shape, but missed two gel intakes and suffered a 29 blood sugar near mile 14. I wandered off course and ran face first into a tree. My bib  trail name "Hypo Hazard" proved more prophetic than farcical. After inhaling 150 carbohydrates in gels, I slumped on a stump for over 30 minutes fighting the urge to go toward the light. I don't remember much of the final 12 miles, but I did finish. My sub 4 hour goal unrealized, I crossed the line around 4:45. Completely exhausted, it took me over an hour to summon enough energy to drive myself home. You would think such a bonk would leave Medoc permanently on my naughty list, but despite the near death experience, I really enjoyed last year's race. It felt befitting to use the site of my biggest blow up to relaunch my running return. So, enough background, after months of cut open ankle photos, nude ellipticaling, and prologuing; a race review. 

Medoc decoy.
Medoc Radio.
Medoc night-light.

Medoc Trail Races are unique in that they offer group camping as part of the festivities. This presents a real devil's bargain: Do you wake at 3 AM and drive from Raleigh (or farther) into the middle of nowhere? Or do you gain an extra hour of sleep by driving from the nearest hotel with indoor plumbing? Of course not, you camp. For those that find fold-out sofa beds sinfully luxurious, the lost art of camping may be for you.

Sage advice.

For you carbo-loaders, there is also a dinner option. As the T1 diabetic envoy, I had respectively declined this offering. The menu was too carbohydrate rich for me, consisting mostly of pasta complimented with sides of Applebees. "Eatin' good in the neighborwoods." 

Four group camp sites were offered this year without restriction. If you can find a piece of ground big enough for your tent, its all yours. A word of warning for future 
racers, campsite 3 is the social campground. I pitched my tent in prime real estate while it was still light outside and relatively rural in the community. I was close to the fire pit, the showers and my truck. Wise in the ways of Medoc camping, Jim and Jade Wei made an impromptu visit for a little fireside camaraderie, then smugly returned to their secret private campsite, rumored to have both Egyptian cotton linens and a flat screen television. By 11 PM, the ravers, hippies and hooligans had turned campsite 3 into a discotheque, complete with laser lights, tweekers, bar brawls, and I suspect, sexual malfeasance of some sort.  

No Wei. Way! Party time. Excellent.
The race organizers had stopped by with warnings of the latest MEDOC sightings. Luckily, a guitar and a budding vocalist, kept the mythical beast at bay. Obscure folklore dictates acoustic renditions of Katy Perry's compendium lull the savage Medoc. After enjoying the fire, a beverage (Thank you Tennessean Steve Stout, master of both fire and spirit), but before the youths had organized a Gangmam style flash mob, I retreated to the shelter of my truck. The flimsy membrane of my tent was no match for jacked up whipper snappers and an aerial blitzkrieg of falling tree nuts. 

With all of the seats down, the maximum 64 inch cargo hold offered by my Ford Escape fit my 68 inch frame like a hot dog in a hamburger bun. Although stuck in a fetal position, I felt secure in my Medoc resistant fortress. The falling tree nuts made a tranquil gonging as they hit the top of the metal roof, which proved an easy melody to drift off to sleep. The 40 degree temps and 5 degree tilt of the laid down seats made for an ideal shelter. If you have the chance, just do it. Running a trail marathon is a challenge to brag about. Running a trail marathon with a hideously contorted body makes you a special 
breed of idiot. 

Race morning Medoc sighting.

I hope this includes insomnia and rheumatism.

This year my surgeon gave me the green light on the 10 mile option, assuring me everything would be fine as long as I did not twist my ankle. Easy enough on a trail run. I targeted 12 minute miles. In an attempt to avoid any competitive stupidity, I started at the very back of the pack. I was still struggling with removing my sweat shirt after everyone else had cleared the start. I finished my last swig of coffee and lumbered off.

The 10 mile race starts 30 minutes after the marathoners and has about a mile of out and back on the roads to prevent trail pile ups. I had forgotten the NB MT101's I had planned on running in, and was forced to wear my new pair of Merrell Trail Gloves. I am still pretty new to zero drop shoes on the road, so I stayed on the grass shoulder. This helped govern my pace to a more doctor recommended speed. I maintained this reasonable approach for a remarkable 20 minutes, before succumbing to my inner bunny. The sensation of racing trails again felt so good, I immediately disregarded common sense. A dead Garmin 305, left me data-less and more susceptible to reckless behavior. 
Shhh! Linda hears Medoc coming.

I was fortunate to catch Linda Banks around mile 3. She was yet to warm up, as this 10 mile trail race is about 90 miles short of her usual endeavors. We seam to run a lot of the same races, and after a 6 month hiatus it was encouraging to run with a familiar face. We stayed together for a few miles until she tired of my company and faked a shoe tie. 

Deanna Ramse finds the finish.
Near mile 5 I made a new friend and then stalked her. Deanna Ramse, also began with a measured start, before upping the pace at the half way mark. I latched on to her and after having failed to shake me over the next mile, she acquiesced to formal introductions. We did drift apart occasionally as she keeps a pretty consistent pace and I still love to fall down hills. But for the most part we stayed together. We pushed each other, and I ended up finishing much faster than 4 out of 5 doctors agree to be reasonable. We passed quite a few runners over the last 3 miles and I would guestimate a well below 9 minute mile pace.

Beats rehabbing by a dam site.
Two miles over my longest post-surgical run, I was fading as we approached the end of the trail. I could hear the crowd at the finish near the top of the hill and slowed to a walk to gather my reserves, so as to look cool in front of the cheering spectators. I had gained a few steps on Deanna, and softie that she is, she encouraged me on with a tap on the back and a "your almost there." I promised her I would catch up. Spurred on by the siren sounds of the crowd, I let her accelerate toward her certain destruction. Little did she know that at Medoc when you exit the trail and hit the greenway, the finish is still 2 dogleg rights away. I started running again, before the people could see me, and kicked at the first right turn, leaving about 200 yards. What some call dirty pool, I call prior Medoc experience. I was able to catch Deanna, as promised, and pass 2 runners less then 25 feet from the finish, jaunting me into the 23rd place of 25 in my age group. I ended up with a 10:48 pace average, well bellow my target, and just fast enough to feel slightly recovered. 

Top 3 overall.

I finished in time to see the specter, Tim Surface, finish the trail marathon in an unholy 2:41:01. A new Medoc record. Running friend, Dan Bedard, (more like post run drinking cohort, as he runs faster than I bike) finished in 3rd and invited me back to the group campsites for refreshments. We were joined by 2 of the age group winners from the 10 miler. I took this rare opportunity to learn the secrets of the fleet of feet. They were all tired and unobservant so no one noticed that I was not an indoctrinated member of their speedy tribe. They spoke freely. Unbound by their secret by-laws and rituals, I will now reveal their 3 core tenets. 

First their recovery is fueled by pickles and hot peppers. To date, the USATF, is unable to effectively drug test for any of the major pickled products.  Their second secret is a recovery beverage dubbed PBR (my guess is Probably Beer Really), a substance I was unable to positively identify as it was shielded by a red plastic cup. The third principle, "Run faster". This mantra covers both training and racing. After this is fully understood (a process that takes many years), students of the quick, graduate to "Don't slow down". 

My blood sugar finally dropped to refueling levels, so I headed back to the pavilion to greet the finishers I knew and eat normally  forbidden foods. In addition to the usual post-race fare, the volunteers offered a great rice and beans with plenty of salt and bags of cheerios, candy corn and peanuts labeled Medoc mix. I appreciated the gallons of hot coffee too. Medoc takes pride in being a race by runners, for runners and uses the novel approach of spending entry fees on those in the race. Nice shirts, good eats, and this year's surprise finisher's swag was a Medoc branded Nathan hand held water bottle. The finisher medals looked spectacular. One of the three best races in the triangle area. The trails are moderate and the support is top notch. Thank you for another great race Medoc team.

Scott Lynch adds to my Napolean comlex with his full
sized marathon finisher's medal.
I watched a lot of my old compadres finish the full over the next few hours. All of whom are looking very fast from my perspective. I am close to being compatible for a long slow run with some of them, but I have a good ways to go to regain my former millage. I experienced a lot more of this race than I usually do. It was a privilege just to run it, and my new status, as born again newbie allowed me to just take it in. I was not caught up in shaving seconds off my mid-pack pace. I just enjoyed the gift of a beautiful day at a terrific race with some great peeps. I have never had a better pre-race stomach. I briefly considered kimchi for breakfast. Its going to be a long while before I surpass my old speeds, and I could not be happier.

Brandy Burns trail rash.

On a scale of 10, Linda 's knee  pain is 3.141592653589.

Steve, Jim, Ryan.

Brandy's Medoc impersonation.

Susan makes me glad I stopped at 10.

Its hard work staying this pretty, but hot
showers post-race  are a big help.
6 months post surgery.

Pic stolen from Facebook.