Red Top Rumble Race Report {sorta}

Red Top Rumble 11.5 mile trail race at Red Top MountainI was all excited about the Red Top Rumble.

The 1st annual race was to be held at some beautiful trails in and around Red Top Mountain and Lake Allatoona in the North Georgia mountains. I had participated in a training run on the race course back in January and even spent some time with the GUTS group doing a little trail maintenance as a way to support the group and the inaugural event.

Furthermore, the race was just two weeks after the Mountain Mist 50K, making it the perfect recovery run right smack-dab in the middle between finishing Mountain Mist and getting ready for the Mount Cheaha 50K at the end of the month.

I haven’t forgotten that I’m slow, but I expected to do well.

But Along Came Bronchitis and Sat Down Inside Me

Two days after the Mist, I got bronchitis. Not a little cough, bronchitis… but a nasty-hack, deep gurgle in the chest, keep-my-wife-up-all-night, sweating bronchitis.

You know it’s not good when the doctor tells you, “wow, you’ve got it really bad”, and increases your Prednisone corticosteroid dose from 20mg to 50mg and gives you not one, but two, inhalers plus a bottle of narcotic cough syrup.

In fact, anytime a doctor says, “wow” – it’s time to panic.
Running with bronchitis is no fun
Everyone told me not to run; but I don’t listen.

I even posed the question on a very active ultrarunning email group in which I participate, and everyone, far more experienced than me I might add, said some sort of flavor of, “don’t be an idiot – heal first, train later”

But who thinks they’re superman? Who thinks that somehow these known truths don’t apply to him? Who has to touch the stove to see if it’s hot? — yep, me.

I don’t even know why I ask – I won’t listen. Maybe, deep down, I am hoping someone is as screwed up in the mind as me and will say, “ahh, fuh’get about it – you can run – no worries – don’t worry about a little bit o’ bronchitis – child’s play”

Nobody did.

Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead

So this morning, it was business as usual. Up early, scarf some oatmeal, slam some coffee, throw on some running threads, a hat backwards, and grab the ratty, muddy trail shoes and head to Red Top Mountain. It’s time to race.

I’m only coughing every ten minutes now instead of five and I mean, come’on, it’s only a little less than 12 miles. I know the course. How hard can it be?

I’m such an idiot.

Within 3/4 of a mile, I knew I was in trouble.

“Why do I feel like I have an expanded balloon in my chest?”

“Oh *&^! – I can’t breath”

It was the weirdest thing. I felt strong. My legs felt strong, my core felt strong and I had energy – but the engine wouldn’t put out any steam. I couldn’t breath and I was not getting enough oxygen to my muscles. They started getting achy. Knees started to ache – and my knees never really ache.

My quads were twitching.

“Why are my freakin quads twitching ??? – man, I wish I could catch a breath”

This kept on for about six miles, and for the first time during any race, I wasn’t having fun. I was getting angry and frustrated – even a little embarrassed as people just passed me like I was standing still – and there was nothing I could do about it. I was in slow motion and breathing like Darth Vader. The angrier and more frustrated I became, the greater effect the poor breathing was having on me – both physically and mentally.

I started walking.

Finding Peace in Acceptance

I had a choice. I could drop …but, I just don’t see me ever dropping a race. Too much stupid pride.

I decided to get a grip and come to the realization that, “dude, you’re sick” – and I decided that at least I was outside, on the trails, in the mountains, and it was gorgeous. Why not find a way to enjoy myself in other ways?

So I did just that.

I spent time sitting on a rock, watching some dude in the lake struggle with his boat. I contemplated helping him – I sure wasn’t doing much else – why not? …but I didn’t. I figured part of the resolution of finishing was a commitment to keep moving forward.

After six miles of running in agony, I started walking any time that I felt winded. I came across lots of dogs and spent lots of time petting dogs. I love dogs, and these periods of loving the dogs was good for my pouty spirit. It kept my mind off the frustration and disappointment.

At one point, after the 8 mile aid station, I just plopped down in the dirt with a race volunteer’s dog and shared my cup of water with him. I spent about 10 minutes sitting there, chatting up with the owner and lovin’ on the hound. My lungs were hurting, but my heart felt good. {wink}

All the walking helped me recover better than expected and I decided to just get this “race” over with.

I crossed the finish line in 2:12:45, which considering the amount of lallygagging I did, doesn’t seem too terribly awful; but it is. It’s bad. Really bad. I wanted to do so much better.

I got dressed in warm clothes, grabbed my bag, a green tea soda and just left.

Oh yea – The Race Itself

Jaydene, the race director for the Red Top Rumble, is probably one of the most pleasant people on the planet. I’m not sure, but I think this was her first event as race director, and whether it was or not, she knocked it out of the park.

The course is great. It’s a tricky course in that you walk away from it thinking it’s not that hard, but somehow when you are running it, hills continue to present themselves in challenging ways. The hills are never very long, but they can be steep and just long enough to have you gasping by the summit. The three mile loop after the 5.7 mile aid station, is definitely the most challenging and requires the runner to dig deep to perform well.

I think one of the most forgiving elements of the course is the generous amount of downhill running. Sure, you have hills – but it goes both ways – and it’s nice to get some relief to go along with all the climbing.

The organization was top-notch and there was no shortage of anything. Tons of aid station volunteers, tons of logistic volunteers, plenty of food, water, electrolyte drinks and of course, top-notch swag.

GUTS did it again.

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Sounds like it was a good race, even being sick and all. Hopefully I can get out to that side of town and check out the trail one of these days.

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ha! …thanks. I appreciate the support. Not too sure it took a lot of GUTS to flounder along the trail – but I wasn’t about to get sick(er). Too excited for Cheaha.

You and your crew killed it! Did I read 1:35 finish for you? dude – nice work.

You should be proud of yourself for hanging in there. Even though the trails aren’t very technical the continuous up and down don’t give the body much of a break. You definitely showed some GUTS (yeah, I said it) in finishing this race.

Hi Petra

I came home, sulked a little, rested like I just ran an ultra, and then soaked in the hot tub and steam room.

I don’t think I added to my breathing problems, but I’m not too sure that I did them any good either.

Back to the gym this a.m. for a little strength training and hot tub soaking.

…i’m off to check your blog.

You know we’re all pretty bad at surrendering to the universe as one of my wackier friends calls it. But sometimes it is just the best thing you can do. How are you feeling now?

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