I played the “go, no go” game I always play before a race. I always seem to choose go. Picked up the race bib and thought about just packing it in. Ran into a friend who had been doubtful about running the race. He was there and going to race and that tipped the balance for me. I had to run the race now. We had done some training runs together. Rain stopped at race time.
McKay Hollow is run on Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, AL. Mountains are a relative term for Alabama. The race traverses up and down and around the sides of the mountain. The trails, well that is also relative.
They are trails in a very broad sense. After the over night rains they were muddy rock strewn paths with large rocks to scramble over for a little change of pace. Slick and muddy ascents and descents were particularly interesting. Early on I moved up trails energetically and the down hills were controlled falls or fast joints. In the latter stages of the race I was a lot more deliberate on the descents and walked the ascents. My fatigue made me more cautious. Many places were just climbable and I could not imagine anyone running them.
Started the race at a sane pace and for the first 20 or 30 minutes ran close to some friends. They finished the race 15 full minutes ahead of me. Before the first aid station I ran through mud, rocks, puddles, and vomit. I encountered what resembled vomit several times before the first aid station. I had initially been concerned about the water crossings with all the rain, however the trail itself was a water crossings in many places.
The slower pace of the race allowed for conversations when there was somebody closed. After the second aid station I was by myself for some distance. Eventually a commercial pilot caught up with me and we ran close together for about 45 minutes. Some extreme conditions bring out camaraderie or at least a feeling that we are all in this together. The conversation on occupations and hometowns passed the time and helped me endure my waning physical reserves. He finished over 6 minute ahead of me.
The water crossings I had been so concerned about turned out to be traversable. I waded across most choosing not to balance on the slippery rocks. Immersing my ankles into the cool cold water was soothing to my ankles and feet. The water helped removed some of the caked mud from the shoe treads to improve traction on the trail. I passed the last aid station at about 2 hours and 7 minute into the race. The last and longest ascent was ahead. I tried to take it easy and be cautious. I had come to far to break something or really sprain an ankle. Before the last ascent, I was greeted by the race winner who had hiked back down and was sitting in the stream relaxing in a the cool water. He yelled encouragements and how far we were from the finish. He said we were around 12 minutes from the finish.
The last part of the trail was slow going. It would of been very hard to run even if I still had any energy left. I did manage a trot when a photographer emerged about half way up. After scrambling up the so-called trail, I trotted to the finish with a time of 2 hours 35 minutes and 18 seconds. I finished 42nd overall and 5th in my age group. I was happy to be finished and gladly accepted the coveted McKay Race Shirt.
Great race and I plan to run it next year.
Here are great recaps of the McKay Madness Half Marathon:
A good day for a race (37F to 48F degrees). . A bit chilly at the start but warmed up pretty quickly during the run. I wore a bright orange toboggan. I started out trying to establish a good pace. Just before the race I had established a goal of 70 minutes. Goals are important, but I had not given it much thought.
So much for pacing: 6:27, 6:42, 6:41, 6:41, 5:51, 6:57, 7:10, 7:12, 7:22, 7:18, total 69:26.
Overall the Rocket City 10 Miler was a good race for me. (69:26) Finished 23rd overall and 3 out of 14 in my age group.
Saturday the 28th will be the McKay Hollow Half Marathon. Forecast 57F degrees, rain and storms for race time. Unless something happens I am a go for the McKay.
Swimming yesterday and running this morning. Pretty good day running. And for the third leg of the triathlon I bought an inexpensive road bike. It has flat bars which I like, but still a road bike. Currently I ride a Schwinn Mirada hybrid. 26 X 1.5 wheels and tires. The bike will be faster.
It was a dark and rainy day. Saturday was 12 plus miles in rain and 50F. Today was an hour on the infernal stationary bike. All this in preparation for a 10-mile road race this weekend and a half marathon trail race the next. Long range plans are the complete my first triathlon this summer. Monday will be swimming at 5:30am. I started working on swimming in August. I am a real “drowner” and have always hated the water.
I guess running was my midlife crisis. I reached the point in my life where I had fewer years ahead of me then behind me. The hourglass is definitely, barring some sort of above average life expectancy, half empty. I could not afford a fancy sports car or buy a motorcycle. Personally I feel motorcycle ownership by anyone over the age of 25 constitutes a death wish and is a serious character flaw. In my case, maybe running is also a death wish. Die young and leave a good-looking corpse, as for me, a thinner corpse. Running to obsession is also a character flaw and, did I mention, I am obsessive compulsive. Once I took to running I really made it a part of my life. Not exactly a religion, but I devoutly pursue running as an activity.
Why did I choose running when I could not even run a quarter mile without throwing up? Well, mountain climbing was out because I hate heights. I guess running was in my blood. My grandfather ran the quarter mile in college. I guess he didn’t suffer from the same gastric revulsion to running that I had. Since running has enabled me to consume more calories, my digestive track just enjoys the ride.
Heart disease is pervasive on my father's side of the family; and I was 37 years old, 5’9” and pushing 200 lbs. Most of the weight was around my middle. I had to do something. I started watching my diet and eating more rationally. After several years I lost weight and attained the approval of my physician to attempt vigorous exercise. I was 42 and had always wanted to run, but had never put enough time and effort into it to get acclimated to running substantial distances. During high school, a full quarter mile jaunt at speed would end in losing my breakfast
I started by alternating running a minute then walking a minute and gradually built up my endurance (Intervals for the severely out of shape). By employing a simple kitchen timer, I was able to do this effectively. Eventually, I was running without throwing up. I still carry that kitchen timer and a cell phone when I run. The cell phone was in case of coronary. I figure I might get one call off and tell the paramedics where to find me.
I have managed to build my endurance and the obsessive part of my personality took over; this is where the term 'Run Dan Run' comes in. I have managed 5ks, 5 milers, a 10k, and half marathons. I enjoy running so much that I have to run just about everyday. These days I run trails to preserve my knees and just enjoy being close to nature.
Obsession or not, running has given me many positive benefits. At 49, running has toughened me mentally and physically. By doing something most people cannot or will not do, I have grown stronger physically and spiritually. Enduring intemperate weather, pain, sweat, and hours of solitude, I have more personal confidence to handle any situation.
The greatest benefit is a healthier lifestyle and, God willing, more years to enjoy my family.