Monday, April 30, 2007

TC trail 1/2M: 1st win of '07

since the TC half-marathon traces trails i run all the time, i have a terribly unfair advantage because i know how exactly long and steep the hills are, and i’m intimate with the fast stretches where you can make up serious time. fortunately for my competitors coming from jersey, PA and georgia (rilly), i still get lost on the very-same course i help mark, and i’m not above running an extra mile or two if a clewless bluehaired volunteer directs me the wrong way.

last year, i didn’t get lost or misdirected and no super-fast women showed, so i won. this year was the same deal: i rolled in 1st F, with a time 20sec slower than last year largely due, i believe, to the mental wobbler i had in the middle of the 2nd creek crossing. i’d just come off a crazy downhill –- and if you know me you know i can’t run downhill if crazed, starving bears are chasing me. you skiers out there, YOU can run downhills well, but i, bereft of any sense of line, fast-twitch muscle or eye-foot coordination, am absolutely shit at them.

so i’d just come off this downhill, and a dude who was nowhere near me at the top of the hill was now chewing at my heels.
- i wish i could have seen you do that – i said, referring to his incredible descent.
- oh it’s nothing, really. i just go straight. unspoken is the observation that i bounce around like a pinball seeking the best foothold and have probably run an extra 800m just in the time we ran down to the creek.
- do you like those shoes? - he inquires - because i’m thinking about buying some off the net. that is the problem with Inov-8; few bricks & mortar retailers carry them.
- i LOVE them. they’re so comfortable, and you feel the trail so well.

at this point we plunged into the icy creek, brown and swollen with friday’s rains and though the first time through i was okay now i cannot see for shit and am slipping all over the place. dude is definitely not going to buy these shoes, i think as i slip on a slimy rock and topple ass over tits into the cold water.

but what the fuck are you going to do, really. you can’t get mad; you’re in the middle of a creek for fuck’s sake, and some motherfucker is taking pix to preserve this for posterity so you might as well accept this experience as just another humbling example of how small you are in the universe.

by the time i clamber out on the opposite bank, i suspect it may be 2008.

- i do this race EVERY YEAR – i lament to the chick accompanying the shutter bug – and this creek crossing never gets any easier.

then i run the wrong way down the trail and have to be redirected. Descender Boy is 100yds down the trail already, and my legs are verrrrrryyyyyy heavvvvvvyyyy, and that’s not just because my shoes are sopping wet. i am tired and wishing i didn’t have that 4th jameson last night.

what saves me is Black Light Burnsthe mark which has been spinning in my head since the first jameson, and the earwormy line “sometimes you’re gonna have to get lost if you’re ever gonna find your way back to where you came from” seems very appropriate right now. the beat of the mark settles me back into a semblance of flow.

- i don’t want to be sexist or anything – assays one of the road marshals at the Chambers Rock crossing – but you’re the first female.

this is no great unveiling to me, because the last chick i saw was back at mile 0.5, but it’s still really nice to hear.

when i catch the Descender we have a lovely conversation: he is a soccer player (o bestillmyheart) taken to running for cross-training (mrrrroooow) who ran with his brother (awwwww) until mile 7 when slowbro sent him on ahead, to catch me, on the MF downhill (asshole fuck shit cunt). now he’s paying for his mile-7 hubris however and there are no more hairy downhills to save him. we run together until the shoe-sucking mudpools drain down his health meter and i’m left alone again, stuck in the no-mans-land between the mercurys and the mortals.

i am headily grateful for the finish line. i am shamelessly gobbling orange slices and hamburger patties with slabs of fake cheese when AJ finds me. he finished 5th overall and is now preparing for the 10K because he’s so manly he’s doing the full Triple Crown (1/2marathon + 10K + 5K).

- dude, i totally mistook someone else for you out there - i tell him through a mouthful of burger.
- yeah?
- yeah. i was convinced it was you: white hat, red race belt and toight little ass and everything. it took me a while to catch up to him but when i was right on his shoulder i said "so did you poo"? (AJ is notorious for submitting to the Call of Poo during a race.)
- you didn’t.
- i did. and he said "what" and i said "did you poo" but it occurred to me it didn’t sound like you, because it WASN’T you. "no," he said to me, "but now you’ve put the idea in my head."
- poor guy.
- yeah. he dropped way off pace then and i didn’t see him after that.

then Descender Boy caught me before the creek and i dropped into my own Poo world yadda yadda.

aisling i wonder if your ultras are like this??


fatmammycat said...

Congratulations! I knew you'd do it KNEW it like a fox!

finn said...

zank u verra much, FoxMammyCat.

guess what FedEx just delivered!!!!!!!!!!! OMFG it's fucking gorgeous.

i'm useless for the rest of the day.

fatmammycat said...

Enjoy, nay BASK in the wonderfulness that is Mac. I know folk say it's all a gimmick, but-to paraphrase a dear friend of mine-folk are mindnumbingly stupid cunts.

finn said...

am now installing Open Office. FUK U MICRO$OFT!!

does Inscrutable Chinese Man know yet? no. haven't quite screwed up the courage to confess. i fear his MS-Certified, standards-thumping wrath.

fatmammycat said...

I ain't tellin' 'im nuffin Newbie. That glassy wall-eye look bothers the shit out of me.

Theo said...

OK Finn. You may now proudly flaunt the one reason I have to be jealous of your 'puter gear. So. Here's some starter material for ya.

Keep me posted, eh? (And congrats on your run win!)

Mayrasmom said...

If you don't say anything, will I.C.M. notice?
I used to hear pro tennis players would doctor their equipment to match who their endorsements were from, can you put a skin on the new computer to make it less obviously a MAC?

addon said...

great work finn and a good read as always. you are my hero! well done.

you got me all nostalgic with your comment about coming downhill. read it or ignore it:

I think we all find walking or running downhill far harder than going up. Something to do with the physics of the thing the geometry of our anatomy or some such stuff.

They say the Ghurkas, that feared bunch of soldiers, lean forward when running downhill. Wow.

In my last years at school and during University days, I used to do a lot of walking in the Scottish hills. Most summers I would get a job for the six-week grouse-beating season, as a beater. Estates, especially in the lower highlands, used to employ about 15 beaters for the season. Our days started early to get out to the far end of a beat - a moor or side of a hill known by the gamekeepers to be a good place for grouse to spend the day - maybe 4 or 5 miles from the butts, where the guns would be waiting to blast the hell out of any birds we, strung out in a long line across the moorland, would drive over the heads. We got very fit this way, walking over hills for about 8 hours every day, maybe covering 20 miles a day. I have walked further in a day but a steady everyday walk of 20 miles over the Scottish hills, sometimes nearly waist deep in heather, sure toughens you up.

Other times during University holidays, I joined with friends to go walking in the hills. These were no idle strolls, we would disappear into the wilds for a couple of weeks at a time, hardly ever see any other souls, seldom come down to or cross any roads, carrying 60lb backpacks with tents, cooking gear, food, clothes ... tough work. Again, we would cover some distances, topping peaks as we went, this being the object of our excursions, to scale Munros - hills over 3,000ft.

What you go up you have to come down, this is the hard part. We all need to lean back to keep our balance and there is something so different about going down hill that it soon makes the muscles ache. A very uncomfortable thing to do.

But one summer I was so fit that I followed the leader of our pack, Philip, son of Nigel Tranter and tragically killed while still young in a car accident outside Paris while returning from a trip climbing in the Karakorams, in leaning forward as we went downhill. Gee you get up some speed doing this. You have to give yourself over to it and trust that you are going to find a place to put the next foot, you cannot just stop to consider, you've gotta keep going. The good thing about it is you get to the bottom before you can blink.

It's risky of course. If you are not agile enough to swing to the next foot-place, you can quite easily stumble, twist an ankle or worse and go splat on the rough hillside. The thing to do is: lean forward and go for it!

finn said...

oh adam i do love your stories & recollections. love the gritty pic of you in the highlands as well.

your "lean forward" advice is sound, and in fact fisch says the objective when running downhill is to remain perpendicular to the ground.

easily said but tough to do for those of us "not agile enough to swing to the next foot-place" or exhibit any manner of appropriate control over our body parts.

Brown Suga' said...

No surprise really but still W00T W00T W00T!

Brown Suga' said...

OMG Teho that Garageband 3 is a film sound mixer's wet dream! Hot damn.