Sunday, July 31, 2011

1st Annual 2011 Red Top Roaster 10K Trail Race

On July 30, 2011, I ran the 1st Annual Red Top Roaster 10K race.  The race was a trail race at the Red Top Mountain State Park in Cartersville, GA.  The race started at 8:30 AM sharp and is organized by Dirty Spokes Productions.

This was my first trail run.  I did not know how to prepare for it except to continue my street running.  The race was to be my weekly long run and I didn't think it would be any problem at all.  My usual training run pace is approximately 10:00 per mile over 14-15 miles.  I am fairly new to running and had nothing to compare the trail race to.

I noticed on the way to the race start line, I noticed the beauty of the state park.  Allatoona Lake surrounds most of the park.  I arrived early and purchased my parking pass.  I have noticed on previous visits to my local public library that I can check out a parking pass for state parks.  I will do that in the future.   The parking was only $5, but $5 is $5!  There was a fleet of porta-potties at the parking lot, as well.  When I put my Garmin 310XT on, I noticed it was dead.  I plugged it in and recharged it while I stretched.  I noticed that the crowd was a fairly small crowd racing.  That pleased me, as my last race was the Peachtree Road Race and had 60,000 runners.  This race was capped at 325.  It was really nice.  I picked up my packet from the start line and went back to my car to finish stretching and retrieve my hopefully-recharged Garmin.  I utilized the porta-pottie  on my way to the start line.  I checked the weather and it was hot- 81F, heat index of 91F, humidity of 77%.  It appeared that the Red Top Roaster was going to live up to its name.  The organizers used a bull horn to keep us informed of important times and moved us to the starting line when the time came.  As I waited for the start signal, I reviewed my strategy.  I wanted to stay in a high zone three or low zone four during the race.

The start signal sounded and I started my watch as I passed over the chip timer.  We got very clogged up on a path that was probably meant for one person to travel simultaneously each way.  As the crowd surged forward, the pace increased and then we got onto the trail.  I hoped that the sun would be blocked by the trees of the forest and it was.  It was still stifling hot, though.  I was very surprised at how ill prepared I was at running up the side of the mountain.  I was disappointed when I saw the signs on the trail.  It appeared that I would repeat the course in reverse!  I kept my average pace during the beginning, but faded rapidly.  My final couple miles were in the high 12's or low 13's as the mountain slayed me.  I had a really hard time keeping with my heart rate strategy as the ascents became longer and steeper throughout the course.  I also realized that the three hydration opportunities the course coordinator arranged were not enough.  It was so hot that had the trail been a little closer to the lake, I would have jumped in.  The heat index climbed relentlessly as I ran.  I had expected to complete the course in 1:30 hours, but I completed it in 1:50.  It was a dismal time.  There were bananas, Powerade, and water available after the race.  I ate a banana and drank my weight in Powerade before leaving.  I was very tired, sore, and knew the mountain had beaten me this first time.  I told myself it would not happen again.  I checked the weather at the end of the race and it was much hotter- 92F, heat index of 111F, and humidity of 60%.

Kudos to the Dirty Spokes Productions crew who organized this race.  It was a beautiful scenic course that will be long remembered by me.  All of the people I met, runners, sponsors, organizers, and spectators, were very friendly to me.  The wildlife was wonderful and I found the trail to be very forgiving in most places for a first time trail runner like me.   This race location has kindled a fire in me for trail running and makes me want to run every other long weekend run on an off-road course.

I will be very glad to run this race again next year.  Hopefully I will be a little more prepared!

Later that day, after I returned to my hometown of Athens, I stopped by the local running store.  I purchased another pair of Zensah Shin and Calf Compression Sleeves so I will have a pair to run in and a pair to recover in.  I think they may have helped the burning in my calf as I ran the inclines.  I also purchased a North Face Enduro BOA Hydration Pack for my next long run so I don't have to rely on water stations for my hydration.

For future training, I plan on incorporating trail runs into my routine.  I work on a 1000 acre facility and have no excuse not to!

Change my running form or keep buying shoes?

So, I am relatively new to running.  I started running on November 1, 2010 as an attempt to lose weight.  I ran/walked my first mile in 16 minutes or so.  I thought I was going to die.  I have drastically improved since, suffering no persistent pain, discomfort, or injury.  I have had a little muscle pain at times due to over exertion, but that has been relatively rare for me.  I started running in a pair of Adidas I bought on sale at Kohl's department store.  They were on sale, so I made the purchase.  Soon after, I educated myself on shoes and went to a real running store and purchased a pair of Newtons.  Subsequent shoes have been an additional pair of Newtons, Saucony, and Montrail.  I cannot seem to get decent mileage out of any of my shoes.  The running store advised me my running form is wrong.  That comment leads me to my question.

If I have been running for nine months, with no pain, discomfort, or injury due to running form, can it be bad?!  I got almost 300 miles from my first pair of Newtons, which were the Motus.  I got almost 200 miles out if my Newton Sir Isaacs.  My Saucony Kinvara 2's are still holding up, but I don't think they are going to last very long because they are very soft.  I have been running trails in Montrail Mountain Masochists and have high hopes for better mileage out of them.  They are a little heavy, but seem to take the mileage better than the other shoes I have tried.  I often run them on the streets, as well as the trails.

I have lost over 50 pounds running.  I am still a fairly heavy guy at 186 pounds.  I have often wondered if my weight, combined with an uneducated choice in soft, light running shoes, is the reason for the short lifespan of my shoes.  I have a hard time believing that my form is wrong if I've been running this way with no problems at all.  I am considering accepting the fact that I will just have to spend money often on shoes that will not last very long.  As I am averaging 40 miles or so per week, that will be a new pair every two months based on the lifespans of my previous shoes.  I have started trying different styles and brands to figure out which work best for me and hope to find a shoe that gives me a great run and has a longer lifespan.

So, after all this ranting, my questions remain unanswered.  Hopefully, the answer will come in time.