Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Race the Base

Those of us in the cycling community have a saying, "We don't run unless something is chasing us." I suppose I deviated from the norm by running in the LR Marathon earlier this year, but since then, I've run very little.  Okay, even less than that - how about not at all?  Sure I did Warrior Dash back in May, but that was more like a bit of jogging interrupted by some climbing and some wading. 

So what led me to get off the bike temporarily and decide to race in a trail run?  First and foremost, it was the first race that my good friends Joe and Lisa from Arkansas Outside decided to run and direct.  I told them I would be out there to fully support their endeavor and hard work!  Second, as much as I dislike running, a trail run in the woods is slightly more enjoyable than a root canal.  The race would be taking place on the Base Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, a trail that I know fairly well having trained on it many times for previous Raid the Rock Adventure Races.  If I had to run and nothing was chasing me, there are worse places to run than Pinnacle Mountain.

I had no goals for the day, other than to have fun, not injure myself, and try not to come in dead last among my friends.  Like I said, the main reason I was out there was to help out ArkansasOutside.com.  But once a cyclist, always a cyclist.  I took the opportunity of the race to make it an unofficial duathlon for myself, which I won, in my own solo division.  Instead of driving to the park where the race was being held, I ended up parking at the Two Rivers Bridge, loaded my running gear into a backpack, and then biked the 9 or so miles out to the park.  After I was finished, I rode the 9 or so miles back to my truck for the 2nd cycling leg of the duathlon.  Yeah, I'm always looking for ways to make things more challenging and/or interesting.

Anyway, the ride out to the park was a great warmup, and I arrived in plenty of time to get ready for the running portion.  Several of my other cycling friends, many of whom are mountain bike teammates from Team Spokes, also showed up to support ArkansasOutside.com.  We may not be experienced runners, but we sure know how to look good while racing and we sure brought a lot of excitement and energy to the race.  I think some of the other runners thought we were doped up by our cheering during the awards ceremony.

My cycling friends out to enjoy a run through the woods!
The run itself was no easy cookie, which showed in the fact that I hadn't run at all in 8 months.  I ran at a pretty steady pace but I admit there were a few sections/moments were I walked/hiked briefly to catch my breath.  I was the 38th overall male finisher, maybe 9th or so in my age group in 33:54, averaging a 11:18/mile pace.  Not great, but not bad either.  It was still a lot of fun and the perfect weather and fall scenery made it even better.  I unofficially nicknamed the run "The Natural Color Run" after The Color Run which was taking place in Little Rock the very same morning.

I think Lisa did a superb job as her first time as race director - with over a hundred competitors, this will shape up to be one of the areas most popular trail runs in the future!  Even though I walked away without a trophy, I was lucky enough to win a pair of Smartwool PhD socks as part of their post-race giveaway. And I was extremely proud of several of my cycling friends made the podium as well!  Who knew cyclists could run so fast?

I don't always run, but when I do, I leap off of rocks like a crazed flying squirrel.

While I didn't break any PRs or land speed records, I took pride in the fact that I was still faster than the guy on the couch.  Thanks to Joe & Lisa and all the volunteers for making this a great race!  Hope to see it return next year!