Sunday, April 3, 2016

A tale of two races

The first weekend of March I ran the Pandora's Box 'O Rox half marathon. Last year I ran the Marathon here and after that vowed never to run long again. For the umpteenth time. I have yet to learn how to run this course. Revielle Ranch, where the race is located is in the Central Texas Hill Country. The terrain is littered with granite rock and there are not too many even surfaces here. Those darn little hops over and around rocks and rock domes are killer. I admire those who run a 50 miler here. Of course running a half marathon makes one run a little harder. Only because in our mind it is a "short " race.  I started Ok but after 5 miles those little hops took their toll. Then at about mile 8 I twisted my ankle. It was painful to pivot or turn on my left foot. One good thing about this is I had my good friend Tom in my sight and soon caught up with him and was able to trot with him for about three miles. Tom's commitment to run by heart rate has paid great dividends. Tom completed the Texas 250 today at the Hells Hills race. The Texas 250 award is presented to anyone who completes 5 Fifty milers of Tejas Trail races in 5 months. Congratulations to Tom!
I finished the half marathon back in March but beaten once again By Pandora.

Yesterday at the Hells Hills race it was a different story. My training has not been what I would like but is it ever? It has to improve though. I have registered for The Never Summer 100K in Colorado on July 23rd. Does it ever end? I don't know. I have been wanting a new adventure and should go for it while I can. So  it will continue. For Now.

Back to Hells Hills;
Race morning was a chilly 43 degrees. What to wear was a worry as I hung around with fellow Rockhoppers huddled around a butane heater provided by Rich and Jeanie at our hangout near the start line.
I decided on a short sleeve cotton T over a sleeveless tech shirt and shorts of course. Shorts which kept slipping off.  My original plan was to take it easy and try to run by my max aerobic heart rate of 128 while listening to music. My earbuds kept slipping off too! Not my usual ones. I discarded the earbuds but kept my shorts on.
The HR running went out the window too when the race started. My buddy Rick, John MC.Allen and a host of others raced up the hill at the start and I tried to hang. Only for a little bit I thought. Then I'd back off and cruise. yeah right.
We drew a few others and soon had about 8 to 12 runners in a pace line. I don't know what the pace was as I have quit tracking mileage pace and all that other stuff that made it seem like work. I work 5 days a week in IT monitoring software, tracking and troubleshooting data! I don't want to do it while I'm trying to have FUN!
Anyway, a runner drops off unable to keep up the pace. A quick look at my new heart rate monitor (ok, I've started to look at that only because I see Tom's success) and I am at 156 bpm.
I try to relax without slowing too much but soon find myself dropping off the pace line with two others. Seeing the lead pack led by Rick pulling away I speed up and pass runners racing to catch Rick and John and three other runners. One of the guys then trips and falls. We stopped, made sure he was OK and continue as he gets up. This guy dropped off the back later.
No one stops at the first unmanned aid station. At the next aid station Chris Russell is walking up and with a grin says "Man you guys sure are moving slow."  He also says we shouldn't bromance it and walk across the finish line holding hands. Gotta love the big guy.
After leaving the aid station a tall guy in our pace line wearing a long sleeve red shirt decides to pull off the front and takes off. No one follows. Until a few minutes later when the youngster with spandex under his shorts takes off leaving John, Rick and I.
The pace remained even with John now leading, I was right behind and Rick not too far behind me. John keeps asking where Rick is. Not far behind me I say. Soon John starts to pick it up and I find myself  trying to hang and not willing to let up.
The Thrill of it all! Makes me feel like a kid again!
With about 3 miles to the finish we catch and pass Long sleeve and soon after overtake the spandex kid. John kicks it up and drops a guy who tried to cling on to his heels a bit earlier. Rick is right behind me. In an attempt to catch John I recall words from a book I am reading. Actually the Title of the book, "How bad do you want it?" A glance at my HR monitor and I'm still at 156 but it doesn't matter anymore. Rick is right behind me and the thought of waiting for him crosses my mind but the thrill of the chase keeps me going. I love Rick! He has helped me become a better runner. We've trained and  run races together.
I turn it on and pass a couple of runners heading for the finish but can't catch John.
Still good enough to take third place Masters, Thanks to John and Rick.

1 comment:

Julie Koepke said...

Nice job, Tony! Love reading your write-ups!