Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I am a Billy Goat!

It's funny to me to think I have run 13.1 straight miles, but still have doubts I am a runner.  I wonder how far or how fast I will have to go before I convince myself once and for all I can do it?? 

Yesterday I made significant progress toward that end.

As much as I love road races and people on the course and cheerleaders urging me toward the finish line....I love trail running.  I love the challenge of varied terrain.  I love all the sounds (squirrels running through the leaves, woodpeckers pounding on trees, my water bottle sloshing in it's carrier).  I would love to say I like the sights, but the only times I've taken a look around during a run the only sight I really remember is what the ground looks like as I nearly plant my face in it!  (That's one reason I like to hike the trails I run because that's my opportunity to take it all in.) 

In less than two weeks I'm running what I believe is one of the toughest trail races in the state, the McKay Hollow Madness 25K ....and I'm NOT ready.  I haven't put in quite enough trail miles (or any kind of miles for that matter) and I haven't seen the whole course.

So, yesterday, I decided to venture out on parts of the course I hadn't really been on before (hiked parts of it, but I've never run on them).  I had just enough time to go out two miles and come back.  It looked like it would rain any second so I left my phone in the car (something I NEVER do when I run alone-what if I fall and break my ankle?).  I figured I'd rather limp in with a broken ankle than have to replace my phone because the bottom dropped out of the sky.  The only reason I wish I had taken it (since the sun came out about a quarter mile later) was all the missed photo ops!  (However, it was the best thing that could have happened because stopping to take pictures would have broken my rhythm to pieces!)

My strategy for McKay is to run when I can, and let the times the trail is unrunable be my recovery.  There are stretches of the course that will certainly challenge this plan.  Not only are there are some long runable sections out there, the meaning I'm assigning to "runable" is changing!  A few months ago I wouldn't have tried to run on the very rocky parts but yesterday my mantra (among others) became "I AM a billy goat"!!  I realized about the time the run was over that it should have been "I am a MOUNTAIN goat...but whatever, the mantra worked.  I found myself running "top speed" across some pretty rocky path. 

At one point I was running down hill on what looks to be some kind of creek bed that is basically all rock.  I set my mantra on replay in my mind.  I could feel myself start to lose control just a bit, but I didn't want to slow down (I don't think I could have at that point, momentum had taken over) so I put a mental picture in my head of goat being chased by a mountain lion!!!  As I made it safely to the end of the descent (which was not very far at all), I just started to laugh out loud at the hilarity of it all.  I think that's another reason I like trail running so much--no one is watching me and I can go into full-on dork mode!!

When I came to the first downed tree (BIG tree, lots of branches-no way to go around it)...my first thought was to come out and take a chain saw to it in order to clear the path.   Then I thought better of that idea...plenty of the competition will not be expecting this and will lose some time navigating the obstacle.  So I devised a plan of attack to get over it as quickly as possible (this is why I want to know the course!).  I also checked my watch and made a mental note of how far this tree is from the aide station (to give myself an idea of how long it would be until I could take a breather)! 

As I got over it and continued running...I came upon another downed tree!!  In that short 2 mile strip there were no less than four downed trees!!!  Most of them were just the trunk over the path so, instead of being discouraged, I just changed my mantra to "I am a hurdler!"

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!  (More mantras to come!) 

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