Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Hills Are Alive 10k 2011

Last weekend I was presented with an interesting dilemma.
A few weeks ago I got an email from Gary Hilliard the race Director for Mt. Dissapointment (a man I truly respect)

I was the defending champ of his race and he was offering me a free entry and the number one bib.  Mt Dissapointment is my very favorite Ultra!  They do amazing job at all their aid stations, have great awards and a raffle where everybody win's. It's a tough course with killer finish and I would recommend it to everyone.  It is also where I ran my very first Ultra back in 2007.

Unfortunately I had already promised a friend of mine to run in his race that very same day where I was also the defending champ. Gary being the awesome guy that he is told me that no runner would wear the #1 bid this year and that he would instead send it to me in the mail. I was touched by his decision and will do everything I can to make sure I am running his race next year. 

The Hills Are Alive 10k

Maybe I should have ironed the shirt first
(wait a second I don't know how to iron)

Last year I ran this race on whim it was my first time racing in Luna's I had almost no sleep a bit of hang over and another race the next day.  Strangely enough the stars aligned and I was able to win.
(much better than this one)

This year the week before the race I spent camping and even did a few trail runs.  If you know me you know that I almost never run on trails, sure I like doing it but I don't like driving to go running.  In my whole life outside of actual races I have probably ran on a trail less than 20 times. 
(I really need to get out more)

 During one of my runs I saw some Wild Turkey's
Found an abandoned Castle
And even discovered some petroglyphs.

I really should do this more often.  My body felt great and spirits were high heading into the weekend and my legs felt fresh and I was very optimistic about finishing faster than the year before.

The Race director Michael Hogue has been a big supporter of mine over the the last year. he helped find me some sponsors and comped my entry for both myself and my nephew  I brought him a few bottles of Stone  Arrogant Bastard to show my appreciation.

Although I love my Luna's running in a pair of Van's slip-ons looked like fun too.

Before the race a bunch of people recognized me as the winner from last year.  I got a lot of words of encouragement and people  knew that I was wearing Luna Sandals.  I had strangers rooting for me to win (very cool) I was pumped up  and ready to go.

The smile melts my heart. Good luck Thomas I'll see you at the finishline
I lined up next to my buddy Jeff Megeff
So far so good about ten steps into the race I have taken the lead.
The first third of the course goes up and down a series of bridal horse trails, before headed into a roughly paved botanical garden and then back to the trails.  It is great course to run in sandal's
 I went out fast but something was wrong?  I was gasping for for air.  Through the first mile I had a comfortable lead but my body felt like crap. (this has never happened before)

I could sense a few runners barreling down behind me.  I'm too stubborn to look back (I think it shows weakness) but I was weak my right lung was killing me and the lead would not be mine for much longer
Eventually I was passed
(this dude was in his 90's and has ran in the race for the past 30 years)

No not by that guy but by a couple local collegiate runners. During the second and third mile we were going back and forth taking the lead. While I was struggling to breathe they strolled passed chit chatting  as they ran with ease. 
They pulled away during the 3rd mile as I was wheezing (sitting next to the fire all week while camping was not a good Idea).  I think they thought they had seen the last of me but on a long downhill I noticed them dogging it a bit.  I gave it one last charge and spun my legs recklessly closing an 80 ft gap in a few seconds. My goal was not to sneak up on them, I wanted my presence known. I was running with power,  each strike of my sandal's could be heard and the two runners in front parted ways as I willed my way back into the lead.

Sadly I couldn't maintain my speed. My body felt strong, but aerobically I had nothing and was beginning to get quite frustrated.  Soon after I lost the lead for good and then moved into 4th place when my buddy Jeff passed me leaving me in dust.  He was running well and I was happy for the dude.

During the last mile my lung started feel a little better.  I found a bit of groove but it was way too late to make any thing special happen  I trotted into the finish line a dismal 2 minutes slower than last year finishing in 4th place overall.

No time for a pitty party.  Thankfully the morning would be salvaged by watching my nephew complete his first 10k.  Thomas had just turned 9 and was the  youngest competitor by 3 years.

After congratulating the dude's in front of me including my buddy Jeff.  I headed back out on the course to go find my nephew and run the final stretch with him.  About a half mile from the finish I saw him climbing up the trail and he was all smiles.  

He looked pretty tired and his t-shirt was soaked with sweat. In all his 9 years of live he had never ran over 3 miles and he was about to run twice that distance.  I was proud of the little bugger but more importantly he was proud of himself.  As we neared the finish line together I jolted out in front so that I could video him crossing the line.
Way to go dude!!!!!

Thomas gave it everything he had 
It turned out to be great morning after all.

Mr. Hogue was bit scared when he saw the shorts I changed into.  
(I thought it was a nice look)

Thomas ended up getting 2nd place in the 13 and under division and I took first as an old fart 30 something year old.
Love was in the air

Before the race this dude swooning over my sister.  He  seemed sweet,  kindhearted, and I think may have suffered from a minor metal disability. Anyhow after the race he was lurking around. My being the nice guy that I am  asked if he would mind posing for a pic.  My sister  was a good sport and boy was he excited!  He asked if I could take 2nd photo with his camera but was not thrilled when my younger nephew tried to jump.  I proceeded to take the photo of just the 2 of them and I would bet it's in his wallet right now. 

Love ya sis :)

Final words

Well it was a great day for my nephew and for my sister (lol).  As for me this race was wake up call.  I need to get my ass in gear and train harder.  No time like the present  to make myself stronger.  Sitting by the camp fire all week was stupid but I should not use that as an excuse and I can learn from that mistake.  I should have been better prepared for this race. I believe that my best days are ahead of me and it's up to me to make that a reality

Thank you to family for sharing the morning with me and once again congratulations to my nephew Thomas.
Thank you to Michael Hogue foe putting on a great race an I will see you 

Bonus Shenanigans:

My ego may been bruised a bit from the race but that didn't last long.  Latter that day I found I had become a man.
How you Ask? 

My mug showed on page 56 of the September issue of Men's Journal.
(it that doesn't sell magazines I don't know what will)

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