Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lake Perry Rocks - Half-Marathon Run Report

I think it's possible I'm growing obsessed with running.  It has  gotten to the point at times where I have to make a conscious effort to keep my conversations in check around people so they don't end up a) casually - but noticeably - looking for an escape from the conversation or b) giving an obligatory 'uh huh' accompanied by an agreeable head nod to get me to stop talking.  It has gotten humorous at times, but serves as a good reminder that we don't all share the same passions in life - even if I think mine has a unique ability to...say...prolong your life. 

A few weeks ago I took a trip up to Topeka with Jeremy and his son Dylan for a run in the Lake Perry Rocks half-marathon trail race. While I have a natural tendency to want to stack it up against Flatrock (humans sure do like to sort, compare, and measure things right!?!?), I've come to learn in my infantile stage of trailing running it is impossible to fairly compare any two trail races.  It's like comparing siblings; while there are obvious similarities, it's their difference that make them unique. To hold them to the same standard is to do neither justice.  That said, I'll attempt to avoid comparison and give this as independent judgment as I can.

Lake Perry's trail has a very gradual ebb and flow about it with most hills not mounting too much of a challenge for novices like myself trudging on the road toward peak physical condition.  There were a nice mixture of surfaces ranging from a traditional single dirt trail, to pea sized gravel, stony paths, and naturally plenty of tree roots reaching up to grab at your ankles.  Fortunately, I only fell once after hooking my foot on just such a tree root, but was saved from a nasty downhill spill by a thin tree that broke my fall and scuffed up my palms a bit. The grunt I let out upon loosing my footing caught the attention of the guy about 50 yards down and around the bend, and he was good enough to ask if I was "... alright back there?"  I am a believer of the 'don't waste your money running the event if you're going to whine about it' school of thought, so I dusted my hands off, let him know all was well, and continued on down the path.

For someone looking to get their feet wet with a competitive trail race longer than 5k, this would be an excellent way to put in some miles and do so without feeling like you've bitten off more than you can chew.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and being someone who doesn't find cold-weather running appealing yet, was fortunate to land a beautiful clear day for the run.  This is of course, the time of year when tree are beginning to blanket the forests with freshly fallen leaves, so the course itself was truly a sight to see.  The leaves also offered an additional obstacle of its own as highlighted by the Race Director when he reminded us "With the freshly fallen prepared because it's 'trail by braille'."  Despite the inability in places to see the rocks beneath the leaves, most appeared none the worst for wear at the end of the race. 

Ben - Jeremy - Dylan
As with the last race, the one setback that continued to plague me was cramping.  Despite bringing a healthy amount of Hammer's Endurolytes along with me, which I might note I consumed 12 of throughout the race, I was about 8 miles out when my left calf began to tighten.  This time around I made sure to stop and stretch it out rather than attempt to run through the cramping. As a result, the pain and cramping this time around was much less frequent and far less intense than my legs endured at Flatrock.  I picked up a good piece of advice a few weeks ago from our college cross country/track coach that perhaps my issue wasn't in training or electrolyte imbalance, but rather I need to reduce or restrict the amount of caffeine I take.  Given the fact I was going through a gallon of sweet tea every two days, he may very well have a point.  I've since cut my caffeine intake dramatically and have stopped drinking sweet tea at home, so we will just have to see what happens this next time around.

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