What do you get when you mix cold and rain and mountail trails? MUD!!!!
Sean Blanton, the Run Bum, puts on my very favorite races. His are no-frills, scenic, mountain goat races that will kick your ass AND be the most fun you’ve ever had running!
Yesterday was the Battle for Black Rock at North Georgia’s Black Rock Mountain State Park. You could chose the 12 mile race, the 24 mile race, or the 36 mile race. A few months ago I considered the 36 miler, but decided I’d wait until next year to start moving towards ultra distances.
Thank GOD! I forgot that 12 mountain miles in a Run Bum race are like, maybe, 18 or twenty regular running miles!
I can’t explain to you how wet and slippery the trails were. I slipped and fell eight or ten times. All my years of sliding into bases playing softball was actually a big help. Most of my falls yesterday just turned into nice hook slides.
It felt like the whole race was uphill and there were some steep hills that were so muddy and slippery that I had to just drag myself up on my hands and knees using roots. You can only imagine the footing trying to slip, slide and run DOWN the hills!
When we started, Sean said he really wasn’t sure what the distance would be – just something around 12. Thank goodness it only turned out to be 9.81. If I’d had to deal with two more miles of hills, my quads might have exploded!
I finished and I was covered in mud, and soaking wet and freezing cold. The race was tougher than my marathon. Even though it was an hour shorter, the terrain just shreds your legs. I was HURTING! But it was probably the most fun thing I’ve done all year!
That’s how you know it’s epic. When the hardest thing you do is also the most fun, you know, at least for that day, that you’ve lived your life to the fullest!
Avg. Pace: 21:37
Avg. HR: 156
Elevation Gain: 2757 feet
Race Results: I didn’t finish last!!!
- 10:19 – Elev. Gain: 258 Elev. Loss: 210
- 18:21 – Elev. Gain: 302 Elev. Loss: 188
- 22:58 – Elev. Gain: 21 Elev. Loss: 696
- 21:17 – Elev. Gain: 34 Elev. Loss: 558
- 17:51 – Elev. Gain: 67 Elev. Loss: 22
- 28:38 – Elev. Gain: 668 Elev. Loss: 36
- 16:28 – Elev. Gain: 102 Elev. Loss: 528
- 31:23 – Elev. Gain: 553 Elev. Loss: 218
- 27:41 – Elev. Gain: 460 Elev. Loss: 65
- 17:08 – Elev. Gain: 293 Elev. Loss: 120
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great!”
– Jimmy Dugan, “A League of their Own”
Nothing gets you out of your own head for a while like a little run. 2:13:45 – a good time for me on a very hilly course three weeks out from a marathon.
Age Group: 127/298
Avg Pace: 10:02
Avg HR: 168
Next Race: Battle for Black Rock 12m Trail Race – December 6
C’mon, Meat! Throw it! You know you’re not gonna hit me, cause you’ve already started to think about it, eh?! Thinkin’ about how embarrassing it would be to miss in front of all these people, how somebody might laugh?! Come on, meat, show us that million-dollar arm, ‘Cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours!”
– Crash Davis to Nuke LaLoosh, “Bull Durham”
I gave up. I’m so ashamed of myself.
When the Garmin finally beeped 20 miles and I pushed the stop button, I took off my cap, put my hands on my knees and said out loud, “Fuck! Fuck this fucking run!”
That about sums it up.
The first half of the run was fine. I turned around north of Oglethorpe at about 10.25 miles. And then I’m not sure what happened. A weak place in my brain cracked and said, “You should stop and walk.” And I did. And the run was done. Oh, I still had to make it all the way home, but I was finished.
This is the same five cent head that had me shoot at the wrong basket in my first middle school basketball game. The same five cent head that made me throw a million balls into centerfield trying to catch runners stealing second. The same five cent head that lost the league championship when a routine ground ball rolled between my feet at second base and into the outfield.
My brain doesn’t allow me to let those things go. I spent the last 9.5 miles of this run taking account of all the ways I’m a loser. My negative thoughts spiral and spiral and spiral down a dark hole of regret and self-doubt. I ruminate on all the things that are wrong with me – all my weaknesses and failures.
And I’m terrified that blowing this last 20 mile run before the race is going to keep me from reaching my goal, and all this time and suffering and all the 4:15 morning runs are going to be for nothing.
Then I will be a failure. I will be weak. I will be embarrassed.
I asked myself again after a little cry in the middle of Buckhead, why I feel like I have to run another marathon. I think I’m trying to prove that I’m strong, that I’m not a quitter, that I’m special.
If I’m strong, then I’m invulnerable. No one can hurt me. I can take care of myself. I don’t have to care what anybody thinks about me. It’s not scary to be alone.
If I’m not really a quitter, then quitting graduate school, and my marriage, and working my steps, and therapy, are all just flukes.
If I’m special, then I can be self-righteous and judgmental and self-confident and proud and cocky.
When I read back what I just wrote, I see that I’m running to be a person I’m not. Oh, I am strong and determined and special, but those words don’t mean what I’ve defined them as there. I need to see and accept the person I really am – strengths and weaknesses – and be OK with her. (Maybe even like her a little….)
So I suppose the real question is, what happens if I don’t break my 5 hour goal in Savannah? I’ve never dealt well with failure or losing or not getting my way. I was still crying after losing softball games well into my 20s, and I STILL think if I pester Boo enough I can get him to love me. Acceptance is not my forte.
It occurred to me several weeks ago that I don’t like this level of training. This probably needs to be my last marathon. I’m trying so hard now to focus on doing things in life that make me happy.
But am I stubborn enough and so driven by shame that I would train for another miserable five or six months to try again if I fail this time? Would I suffer again just for some arbitrary goal that doesn’t mean anything to anybody but me?
Could I simply accept that I didn’t reach my goal and that I don’t want to try again?
That sounds an awful lot like quitting.
Sigh. Why can I not be OK with that?
130 avg heart rate
13:09 avg pace
Total weekly miles: 40.5
Compare to Last Week
Weeks to Savannah Rock n’ Roll Marathon: 3
Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon – November 28
Battle For Black Rock 12 Miler – December 6