Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 Terrapin Mountain 50k

Wow, Terrapin 2012!

 I apologize in advance for the scattered-brain-mess of this report. it was written at various times in order to get it all down. I'm seriously reconsidering my approach to these reports, and thinking of a new format. yes, a shorter one. Pictures are so nice, but I've not been able to catch pics at the more recent events. anyways... on with the thoughts about Terrapin 2012!

It has been long time coming. 
One year ago I KNEW I'd be running this 50k today. Little did I know it would be my 5th run that could be counted as an ultra.

This was a very exciting event for me. This marks one full year that I've been doing this blog. One year ago I ran the Terrapin half and for the first time I was able to witness ultra running up close. I was incredibly intimidated by the course, and the elevation. Read all about that experience HERE. Today was a different day, a very different day.

This run was the most difficult I've ever run. I could say it was the elevation, because 7500+ of climbing is more than I've ever done. I could say it was due to the emotional stress from the week prior, or the lost sleep. I could say it was that horrible flavored GU energy drink they had on the course. Or the fact that I wasn't using the energy drink mix that I used on my previous ultra. Or it could have been the GI problems that I had, once again at mile 20, like I did at Holiday Lake 50k in February. It could have been the nausea that I was feeling, or the uncertainty of running with the "lump in your throat" feeling when you feel emotional. It could have been just too much time alone when I needed to be around others that understood the previous week's events. It could have been the flat feeling under me feet that made me question if my shoes would really make it through one more race, or not. I am sure it was a combination of all these things that created the day that I had.

Events leading up to the event

We had unexpectedly lost a close family member just 9 days prior. I had considered not coming to the run. But I knew I had to, for me. I tried to eat well in the days leading up to the event, but I knew I wasn't sleeping well. I didn't think this would impact things. I was most concerned with being alone out there for so long, with me and my mind being allowed to wander. I prayed I'd find good conversation.

The day

Lydia was supposed to have child care arranged with her mom or our family friend Jenny, so she and Ruth could run Montvale 10 miler hosted my the Mountain Junkies LLC. Because of the rain and I'm sure other reasons, she decided not to attend. I awoke early and drove the hour long trip to Big Island, VA. The excitement set in, as I knew the location and a little of what to expect.

The first 10

I approached the first 10 miles thinking that the first mile was runnable, but the next 3 were not. Yet I ran on and off the whole time. At that point we arrived at Camping Gap, and then for a nice downhill on a jeep road. I was off and running again. I'd like to know how long it took me to get to that aid station, but they didn't track that check point. I had run with a young guy that was in the military and I enjoyed the conversation. As he pulled ahead and I was trying to find my pace to settle into. we were approaching another individual who was singing out loud. I wasn't sure if it was a marching cadence, perhaps the military guy was chanting. or if it was the other guy. then it sounded like he was singing or chanting a hymn. but I wasn't sure, so I ran faster to approach him. As I came by his side, he began to laugh about how he was singing out loud. Turns our It was Bill Vickery whom I recognize from local Roanoke races and Mountain junkie events. I've been tracing Bill's race times for years. He used to be in my age group and I knew he'd always place in my age group. but then her turned 40 and moved up a bracket! lucky me.

Talking with Bill.

As we talked I told him I must be running too fast... WAAAY too fast to have caught up with him. He minimized the situation with excuses of how he is starting slow and whatever. nonetheless I enjoyed the conversation.

Hind sight

I did start too fast. I recall before I caught up with Bill, I was running with a marine guy and enjoying the conversation, I recall feeling like I was trying to keep up with him, until right about the time I decided to let him go on and I was going to slow down. Then I came up on Bill. I did take on the first 10 miles too fast.


I had typed most of the above soon after the event, then life caught up with me, so I'm trying to piece the rest of this together from here


What stands out

This event was huge for me.
One year ago at Terrapin 2011, I ran the 13.1m course.
Read all about it HERE that is a good detailed report with pics and more words than you would prefer, I'm sure.
So this marks my return to the event, I really wanted to run. I knew I'd be here. Now of course I'd run 30+ miles on 3 previous occasions. Hinson

My goals changed in the moment.

I wouldn't really encourage that for anyone. You think about the event for days and maybe weeks leading up to it. That is when your head is clear. you compare previous race times, and consider what you'd like to accomplish at this event. Yet today, I changed my plan as I was so excited to be there, I felt invincible. I decided I was going to PR for my 50k and try for under 6:15. throwing all caution to the wind, and ignoring the crazy elevation profile that I knew haunted me. The most elevation I've ever tackled on any run. Something over 7,000 feet.

Three tens

I've got it in my head that for a 50k, I divide the event up in 3 sections of 10 miles each section... ten miles maybe 12... you know. I felt great at the end of my first 10, but I knew I needed to slow down. the second ten, and 3rd ten all I did was get passed. I thought at one time, I don't want but any certain number of people to pass me... say 20, that changed quick and then I quit counting. Previous 50k races, I've felt myself slow more and more as the finish line approached, and I just felt that after doing a few more of these I'll get stronger. but Why did I think TODAY was that day??? I was really fooling myself.

Life sets in

Wow... You may hear runners talk about what goes through their mind when running. You can hear about how big events can be emotional experiences. This race really did a job on me emotionally. It had only been a few weeks since my brother-in-law's death. I feared that those feelings would permeate the day, and they sure did. There were many feelings I had in this race that slowed me down. I had similar GI problems that I had at Holiday Lake 50k. One trip into the woods. I began to have some mild nausea and some abdominal cramping. my running slowed. the slower I ran, the more I thought of David. I felt guilty for being out there. I wanted to be there running Terrapin so bad, but I equally wanted to be home with my family so bad too. I kept telling myself that David would want me to be pursuing my goals, and here I am. but I felt like I was carrying him with me. not physically but there was a weight, indeed. Hard to put into words. I felt the need for tears on numerous occasions during the run.

The Walker

Many of the last miles, I was not running. I was not hiking. I was walking. I even walked the downhills. It was what I needed to do. I questioned everything. Thinking thoughts that maybe I shouldn't have thought, but who is there to tell you what is right and wrong in those situations? I knew I'd finish the race. but all goals were put aside. I tried to fight off any feeling of self-disappointment. I knew this latter part of the course as I had wished I ran more of it when I did the half in 2011. Here I was walking. Still fighting off the disappointment.

The end

What bothered me in the last mile was the question of what I was going to do when it all ended? As long as the race went on, I had something to do... to press on. it was holding back the emotions I was trying not to express. As I approached the finish, I wanted nothing more than to have my wife Lydia there with me. on the final straight road back to Sedalia Center, I made myself run through the permeating nausea that never went away...then I saw that there was a woman waving my direction. I couldn't see who it was but I considered that it might be Lydia and the tears began. For a moment I was filled with something different than what I had felt for the last few hours. Someone who would understand. Soon I realized it wasn't her, and the emotions went on a full retreat.

I finally made it. the time was 7:24. I didn't care what it said. I was done. first matter of business was to release all that was pent up inside me from the thoughts over the last many hours. I walked behind the stage area of the shelter, sat down and just let it out. It felt good to let it go. At that moment I felt like something was healed. I didn't like that I had to go through that moment alone, but I felt stronger because I had.

few friends

A couple of voices talked to me after the race. I cant recall any of their faces. some asked about my nausea I had mumbled something about as the ran past me. Others asked if I had been hurt. the words they all offered was encouraging and kind. Each one lifted my spirits just a little bit. I appreciated the actual conversation I had with Helen MacDermott after the race. I was able to tell someone what had been on my mind the past many hours. It didn't take long, but she listened like an old friend would have. I appreciated that.

I wanted nothing more than to get on the phone with family. I felt refreshed once I did.
This was the most emotional run I'd ever done and I feared that each one would feel this way.


Looking back - as it has been 2 months now as I finish this report. I'm so glad I had that experience. I'd glad that I felt that I was carrying David with me. It was like spending time with him in some odd way. I think I needed that. I feel like I was able to communicate (to him?) that I'm going to miss him.That he played an important role in my life and I wanted to thank him for it.

When I got home, I removed my bib number and wrote on the back what I wanted to write on there from the beginning
"For David"

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