Monday, February 6, 2012

Uwharrie from 12/29/11 to 2/4/12


I wrote the following poem on the date in the title.


I wish I had run at Uwharrie
between Christmas and the 31st
but I will
in the 2nd month
on the 4th day
and it will be swift
less than an hour

I have tried twice before
in 64 and 61

It is easier said than done
the minutes pass so quickly
Over the first hill
not as much trouble
as all the fuss
critical not to be overdressed
when you summit
and the sun is at your left
that's when you know who is fit
you are
or you are not

Then start dodging trees
and planting feet on tops of leaves
hopping and hoping
for good and powerful ground
much unseen
just trusted

It's breakneck for a while

I'm sure it is the uphills
for me
which must be faster
if I hope to achieve

Perhaps I will run Uwharrie
early in the first month
it is worth the trouble
to prepare and get set
to go


On the 4th of February I ran the race and on the 5th I wrote this:

Uwharrie was kind of expected and kind of shocking.  I've never felt anything in this special eight mile race except blow-up-red-line-city from mid-way up the first mountain goat hill.  This year was different.

Weather was perfect. Creeks were low. 

I started out hard, but kind of reserved.  I really didn't know if my legs would be there after a lot of hard efforts in the last few weeks, so while I knew I had to keep the pace honest to have a shot at my one and only goal for the race (break an hour), I also remembered all too well how I have almost fallen backwards on the hills in the second half of the race.  I wanted to hold it together better than other years.  When I ran 61 minutes in 2008 I was so discouraged.  I just didn't think I could go any faster or try any harder.

I pulled up to Brendan about three minutes into the race and from there on we played out the perfect team strategy.  I'd lead for about 10 minutes, then Brendan, back and forth, back and forth.  I made sure not to red-line, and when I did, I eased back and recovered.  I can't speak for Brendan, but I sensed the same sort of measured effort.  My breathing wasn't out of control until about a mile to go.  My footing was sure rather than the sort of delirious "hope I get lucky and hit the ground rather than all the rocks because I'm in total oxygen debt."

As we got past the aid station and well into the second half of the race, I felt more confident about sub-60 rather than less.  You could feel it, we both wanted to win, but we both wanted to break an hour even more.  I didn't let the thought of winning force me into any bad decisions.  If I had made a move at five miles I think my finishing time would have been slower and I bet I would have finished in a different place.  I knew we would be formally racing one another somewhere up the trail, but we held out trying to break each other until well up the last hill.  Brendan was a little stronger on the ascents and when he got about 10 meters on me with another hundred meters of climbing, I thought:
That's it. I don't think I'm going to be able to cover that last move. I think I'm done. Good race, I hope we both break an hour.

Then we got to the top of the hill, and I could feel my feet get underneath me just a bit more and I was able to lean forward powerfully.  I was just a bit more on the ball of my foot.  The mile on the track and the indoor 3K in the last few weeks seemed like they were paying off.  I sprinted as hard as I could and hoped I didn't die before we landed in the parking lot.

Brendan and I thundered into the parking lot in a flurry.  It was hard to slow down before hitting HWY 108.

I like winning for sure and I'm glad I did.  I don't win much.  Probably a community 5K last spring and I've raced about 15 times since.  Still, it was weird.  After all that work together, one of us was going to win and one of us was not.  I knew Brendan would try to beat me and he's done it before and will likely do it again.  I don't have what it takes to finish right together or to let someone finish in front of me that I might just beat.  To be honest, I don't really admire such traits in others.  Races demand our best effort and nothing less.

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