Monday, May 9, 2011

Trail Nut 10k and 13.1mile

Saturday was the Trail Nut 10k and 13.1mile presented by Mountain Junkies LLC. This is the second to last race in the Roanoke Non Ultra Trail Series (RNUTS). The last race being Conquer the Cove trail 25k and Marathon.It took place at Bedford's Falling Creek Park, about one mile off of 460.

Be sure to also read some other race reports from this event:
Philip at Cardioholics Anonymous
David at

Did I miss anyone?

Last year this race was my first Mountain Junkies event. I was glad to be running again and to be back in Roanoke. I was super excited that Roanoke now had a trail running community that had been developing over the past couple years as I was living in Norfolk, VA at the time learning "life lessons" (otherwise known as attempting graduate college). I ran the 13.1 and Lydia ran the the 10k. Technically she ran better than I did, as I was walking by mile 4, and she ran her full 6.2miles. the event was one month later in the calendar, it was a VERY hot day and many runners DNF or stopped after the first loop. Some switched to the 10k, it was a rough day. I've not been a good runner in the heat, and this dented my ego. I ran a 2:43, walking about half of the distance. So the following Saturday, I signed up for and ran the Varmint Half Marathon in Burkes Garden, VA to redeem myself on that mileage. (Which BTW, is a beautiful location for a road race, check that website for a picture of why they call Burke's Garden "God's thumbprint" it is impressive. The race has a nice history behind it's name and the trophies they give out).

So I was looking forward to fully experiencing this event as I felt that last year there was much going on that limited my full enjoyment of it.

The event being placed a month earlier was a welcomed change. the temperatures that morning were 55-60 and I think the peak for the day was around 75. I arrived earlier than my "crew" (Wife, Son, Sister-In-Law and Nephew) and I was able to greet others get rid of some pre-race butterflies, and even register on-site for the Conquer the Cove 25k.

Part of Bedford's Falling Creek park. Note the beautiful weather!
 Once again Kenny Palmer who takes care of the trail systems for Bedford County Parks and Rec was present to see us off and make sure things went smoothly. He does a great job, and you can tell he enjoys seeing others out there having a good time.

8:45 meant pre-race announcements, and all the "go this way not that way" talk and "follow the things that look like this" etc. Afterwhich we took a short walk down the hill to the start. Those running the 13.1 started 10 mins sooner than those running the 10k.

The course began on grass, circling around the park until entering into the woods.
This was actually before the finish, but the grassy areas were well manicured like this.
I wouldnt call this course a very hilly course. I've not seen an elevation profile for it, but it does have rolling hills. I would describe the hills as mostly short. Yes I did find my pace slowing and even changing to a fast walk at times, especially on the second loop. The 13.1 course has a long loop, then a short loop. The Mountain Junkies use their own chip timing, where the chip is on your bib. The timing stats gave the time and pace for the first loop, second loop, as well as overall. So you can see just how much slower you were the second time around.

...and slower I was indeed. I diddnt need a clock to tell my that. my body told me.

The first loop, I found my self running strong. I diddnt feel too fast, and I think I started at a good place in the pack. I felt stuck behind a long train once into the woods. But I have learned the longer the race, that's not always a bad thing. It slows me down, instead of starting out too fast. I was nervous about passing the girl in front of me as her headphones were so loud, I was even enjoying the 2 songs I listened to until I passed her.

Which reminds me... I've not been running races with my headphones lately. I usually run with them, and I enjoy it, but I keep the volume low. I know it isnt encouraged during races, so I've been trying to enjoy the race and others out there. I learned this when on a couple longer runs on the Appalachian Trail, as well as when running the Terrapin Half back in March where I found myself having them on me but not using them.

As I was moving along the race course, I was running into others that I've seen at other Mountain Junkie events including Matt and Samantha Mitchell, Rebecca Adcock, and Henry Schaefer, whom I had a great race with at the Mill Mountain Mayhem, but apparently I really never caught up with him.

The course comes out and back into the woods in a couple places, and I remember the feeling last year at this race. It was as one runner describer (either Andy or Jim, I forget) It was like opening the oven door. The wooded covering provided nice shad and cooler temps, until you came out of the woods I felt that I was running into a wall of heat, like opening the oven door. I was so glad it wasnt like that this year.

The breaks out of the woods, provided a nice opportunity for the path to widen and let others who wanted to pass, and diddnt create an opportunity on the single-track to do so here.

Somewhere along the first loop, I was passed by the first and second runners in the 10k, and by the time I looked up from the trail again they were about out of my sight.

I eventually caught up with Jim Mullins and enjoyed staying at his pace. Eventually I pressed on a little faster, sure he would catch up later at one of the water stops, and he did. I clung on to Andy Stevens to continue the first "long" loop. I completed the first loop at about 1:02. My overall goal time was under or at 2 hours, so I felt that I was on my way.

I had stopped for about 15 seconds at each of the three aid stations (Gatorade Water and bananas, I just had Gatorade at each). At the end of the first loop, was where a few others passed me. It was also here that I was greeted with pics from my wife, and handed some Gatorade from my sister-In-Law who was volunteering. I consumed one GU gel at this point as well, my only planned mid-race intake other than Gatorade at each water stop.

Ruth and her son Nasir, being awesome volunteering and helping thirsty runners.
It was the second loop where things changed for me. I knew I would take this loop slower. I wasnt real sure just how much slower that would be. I went from an 8:42 pace to a 9:14 pace. OK not horrible at all, but I would have preferred to stay with Andy Stevens, as he ran a very solid race and steady pace on both loops, finishing at 1:55.

I felt things slowing down more and more as I progressed through the second loop. I enjoyed this loop, as I was able to anticipate the hills and changes in terrain a little bit. there is one area of the trail that you can see many others around you, but they are going different directions, and you dont know who is ahead and who is behind you. It can be a vertigo inducing experience. Of course when you see runners in that area, like Brent Williams, who is always ahead of you then you know. But it provides a nice opportunity to hoot and shout and get shouted at for encouragement. Which I never found out who called my name at one point.
Brent Williams, representing Fleet Feet and just being a cool guy. (pic from Mountain Junkies Facebook)

Eventually as the second loop progressed I settled in behind 3 young military men, I believe from Virginia Tech. These three (Sean Grindlay, Matthew Abeyounis and John Steger - According to race results) were having a nice day at the park. The conversation between them never ended and they never showed any running discomfort. I found their comfortable attitude encouraging and inspiring... so I decided to stay right behind them. At one time, one of them doubled back, jut to pick up a dropped GU gel wrapper. that was the right thing to do. When I commented on their relaxed demeanor I was responded with a comment close to "relaxed mind, relaxed body" or something close to that. The conversation was much about military related topics. I think it was Michael Villa who was right behind me and later he commented that enjoyed the pace as well.
The three military guys that "carried me" (picture from Mountain Junkies Facebook)

The last mile, I hate to admit, but I wished it were over. I should have just stopped, rested a moment, stretched and pressed on, I bet I would have garnered more energy than to keep pressing. Well, perhaps not, but a comment I read recently but where I cant place right now came to mind. "The pain of quitting is greater than the pain of pressing on" (something like that) ... and so I pressed on.

 Knowing that stopping to stretch was far from failure, but I still wasnt running a pace I had thought I would be at this moment. Soon I was reminding myself that my true goal was just to beat last year's time of 2:43, which I knew I was doing... and that secondly I wanted to beat 2:10, but I really felt capable of getting under 2hours. Had I stayed with Andy, I would have. It's that whole 20/20 hindsight thing. I really dont feel negative about my performance that day. Truly I hadent run 10 miles or more in about month. I knew I was capable of the distance, but questioned at what level I would be able to complete it.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:01:14 on the clock and a smile on my face.

Nothing beats being greeted by my excited 21 month old son running toward me with open arms.

I'd run 13.1 any day for a reward like that!

The post race festivities included subs from Subway, which was a bit different than other Mountain Junkie events. A vegetable tray, the usual Dru's cookies and Mountain Junkies signature Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, Salazon chocolate, bananas and various drinks. I even saw a cooler of Shaklee drink, which I meant to get back to read about but never did. Which by the way, if you've not had Salazon chocolate, it's a nice salty treat perfect for runners and the like.

I know that commonly given and shared race advice is to not do anything new on race day. I could probably list at the end of each race what I did differently though. I dont really run these races competitively. I dont normally use GU gel, but I have used them in the past. I carry them on long runs, and recently on a long run on the Appalachian Trail it came in handy, so I'm carrying one from now on. today I planned to use it around mile 7 or 8, and I did. I wish I had another about mile 11, but next time perhaps I will. Also I've been wanting to try NUUN drink. If you dont know much about this, follow the link and read, but as described by Andrew at Fleet Feet in Roanoke, it has more electrolytes and less sugars. It is supposed to be easier on the stomach as well. Pronounced "noon" it is a tablet that you drop into 16 ounces of water, wait, then drink. It tastes to have some mild carbonation to it. If you have seen some other companies marketing drink tablets, I believe it all started with NUUN.

After the race, I admit I felt nauseous, a result of pushing myself, I do believe. The following day I've felt "tender stomached" and when I exert a lot of physical effort in something I feel weak, but these are all expected feelings. I dont attribute them to having done something new at a race.

Super congratulations to my friend since elementary school, Jenn divers who ran her first 10k ever! and she did it on a trail, not on the road. and she placed in her age group too!!!

Next on my race calendar is the Conquer the Cove 25k. I will train for this distance better than I trained for this one. My primary goal will be to finish strong and injury free. Run as much as I can but be wise and walk/hike the steep parts. (Of course that's the plan, isnt it always?)

Soon I should also register for the Hinson Lake 24 hour ultra classic. Which has quickly become the largest 24 hour race. I just really need a couple people / familiar faces to go also and share the experience. It being an out of town races, poses it's challenges, but only $24 for 24 hours, what's to lose?

I am looking to consider other events in the region, so any suggestions are welcomed. Of course there's always this thing in October. Oh, perhaps some day. We'll see how I do at Hinson Lake. But do recommend any events, please.

Other pictures follow from the Trail Nut 10k and 13.1

Beause Salazon chocolate is good stuff!