It’s All About the Trails

Bring on the bloodThere’s times when the road is just more convenient.

It’s 2:00 p.m. on a Sunday and you still have to get in that four-hour long run – Chances are, you’re gonna’ be road runnin’. Running purists tend to preach that real runners run on all terrain from the track, to the roads, to the trails and everything in between.

That may be so, but for me, it’s all about the trails.

I enjoy running through that brier patch that everyone else stopped to avoid. I like hearing the thorns tear through my shorts. Bloody legs? No problem. Bring it on.

I like big, thick roots. I like natural rocks and poor footing. I like rain and wind and mud and dirt.

I don’t even mind falling down. I know how to fall. Believe me – there’s a whole elegance to falling correctly. The nastier the fall the better.

“If it ain’t rough, it ain’t me”

I seek out the races that I know will be extra tough. When I lace up the trail shoes in 2008, it’s going to be all-out war with myself. I love running ultramarathons on mountain trails because I know that during that six hours, ten hours, twelve hours, twenty-four hours – whatever the race – I will experience every possible emotion.

Happiness, sadness, fear, confidence, frustration, success, anticipation, loneliness …everything. I’ll feel strong as bull and weak as mouse. I’ll scream with excitement and cuss out of aggravation.

The journey is always about much more than covering miles of mountain dirt on two feet.

It’s about learning who you really, truly are. …what you are made of. It’s about testing your limits.

You hear that a lot, “testing your limits”, but when you’re throwing up 20 miles into a difficult race, your face dripping with sweat and caked with salt, your legs weak, tired and wobbly, your nutrition completely in the toilette, and you are coming to the realization that the next X number of miles could potentially be the proverbial crawl through Hell… yea, you’ll know yourself just a little bit better than you did before.

Enter the SweetH20 50K

The SweetH20 registration opened up last week and again, I had to jump on it. I ran this race last year as my second ultramarathon ever – and I loved every single, solitary thing about it. Even the two weeks that it took my body to recover.

The race has some crazy hills. Straight-up, quad-killa’, ham-screamin’ hills. It’s 31 miles of rugged trail, dirt, mud, roots, rocks, rope-assisted river crossings and plenty of bust-ur-butt potential; but it’s also got some of the coolest nature, wildlife and fellow runners that a trail runner could ask for…

2006 SweetH20 Race Report {written last year}

Red Top Rumble

But as you can see by my race schedule waaay up there in top right corner, I added yet another diddy to the trail running fun – the inaugural Red Top Rumble 11.5 Mile Trail Race in Cartersville, Georgia. This weekend, I was lucky enough to run these mountain trails, and their beautiful views of Lake Allatoona, with the group that is hosting the race and I think it’s safe to say that participants are in for a real treat on February 10, 2008.

It’s not an ultra race – but it is a trail race – and I’m pretty sure there won’t be too many people walking around afterwards complaining that the course was “too easy”. It’s one of those unique courses that teases you to go out fast with it’s timid, rolling and well manicured terrain, only to grab you by the gotchas about halfway through and remind you that YEP, you’re in the trails, brutha’.

But First, …The Mist

However …before all those exciting experiences above, I’ll have to contend with one of the roughest, toughest races in the Southeast – The Mountain Mist 50K – less than two weeks away, January 26th. This race is important for judging my progress in this sport. While I don’t expect to put up any stellar numbers, I expect to finish – and I’d like to finish strong.

Black Warrior 50K took me a little over seven hours. The SweetH20 took me a little over eight hours. Laurel Valley took me a whopping twelve plus hours, but was a few miles more than Mountain Mist. Taking all this into account, and understanding the known difficulty of this race, my primary goal is to simply finish; but if I had to come up with a goal finish time, I might as well make it a nice and lofty goal… I’m shooting for a sub-seven hour finish. 6:59:55.

Stop laughing.

If I can do that, I’ll know I’ve made some real progress.

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Just found out from the Douglass County Rogue Runners that SweetH20 50K has been chosen as the “Regional Championship Ultra Race”

— not sure what that means, but it should bring some additional ultrarunning talent to town. Cool.

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