Monday, October 24, 2011

Rugged and Raw 20K race report

Saturday morning I returned to one of my favorite places to run, after too long an absence.  The trails along the north shore of Lake Grapevine are maintained primarily by mountain bikers, but they are prime trail running trails.  Over the last year, my trail runs have been on trails within a shorter drive from my house, but Saturday's run may have convinced me that the few minutes of extra drive time may be worth it.

Saturday's inaugural Rugged and Raw 10K/20K, sponsored by Back on My Feet--Dallas, served as a nice training run for Rockledge Rumble, coming up in 3 weeks, but based on some conversations I overheard, also provided an introductory trail run for some road runners.

I lined up for the 7:30 20K start with, I'm guessing, about 20-25 other runners.  I saw some familiar faces: Phil, with whom I ran at Lake Whitney earlier this year; Fred, whom I've seen at many races and who amazes with his finishes, including a sub-34-hour finish at the Wasatch 100 last month and a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim run this spring, all at the ripe young age of 62.  I knew I shouldn't try to keep up with Phil, so I let him go on ahead and fell in with the middle of the pack.  After a short run across the parking area, we immediately jumped onto single track.  Feeling good, I cruised along with the runners in front of me for a while.  A few minutes down the trail, I glanced down at my Garmin--I was running an 8:30 pace!  That's much too fast for me, certainly faster than I could maintain on these trails for 20K.

I let off the gas a bit and eventually fell in with a couple of other runners.  I ran with Teresa for a bit.  She runs in one of the BOMY running groups.  I enjoyed hearing her first-hand account of her involvement with the organization.  About half-way through, I ended up running with Brent, which was nice.  I let him set the pace, and I know he ran faster than I probably would have on my own, but I kept up with him, finishing in 2:08:58, second in my age group (out of 3!), 12th overall (out of 21 finishers).

Besides a nice run on a beautiful day on some terrific trails, this run and the whole mission of BOMY remind me of one of the great things about running: out on the trail (or street or sidewalk), everything else is stripped away.  We are not business owners and homeless people, flight attendants, medical professionals, and stock traders, single or married, rich or poor.  We are runners.  BOMY gives people who have ended up at a low point, either by bad luck or bad choices, a chance to participate in something that will not only build up their bodies and minds, but will give them a chance to interact with runners as runners, as people with people.  Thanks for the great morning, BOMY.  Run on!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Races coming up . . .

I've been a little light on racing this year, but I plan to rectify that soon.  If you follow my Daily Mile entries, you may have noticed I'm on a streak: 54 days in a row of running every day.  I've been following a training plan pretty closely, working toward Rockledge Rumble and White Rock.  Besides those 2, I have a couple more on the calendar.

This weekend is the Rugged and Raw 20K.  It's at Lake Grapevine north shore, same trails as RLR, so it will be a good warm-up run for the Rumble.  Plus, it's benefiting a cool charity called Back On My Feet, which starts running clubs for homeless people.  Check out their site and story.

Next is the Rockledge Rumble 50K, also at Lake Grapevine.  I have wanted to run this race, sponsored by North Texas Trail Runners, but if it's on a Baylor football weekend, I skip it.  This year Baylor has a road game on that day, at Kansas, so I'm running.  It's not the easiest place to run, but it should be considerably easier than the Toughest in Texas 50K I ran in Waco's Cameron Park last year.

I figured, since I'm going to be in shape for the Rumble anyway, and since I've run it the last 3 years, I might as well run the White Rock Marathon.  Yes, it's a crowded road marathon on city streets, pavement all the way, but going for 4 in a row, and trying to improve on my time from last year will make it fun.

For these first three, I'm signed up and ready to go.  Now I have to decide whether to sign up for a new race in the area, the Isle du Bois Trail Run at Ray Roberts Lake State Park.  This one was announced right after I signed up for White Rock, or I might have skipped WR altogether.  So, will I run WR, then 6 days later run the IDB 50K?  Or run the 10 mile?  Or should I go volunteer at an aid station?  Or just sleep in?  I don't know yet. . . .

As for 2012, I don't know that, either.  Will 2012 be my year to tackle a 100 miler?  Get another couple of 50 milers under by belt?  Hit a mountain run in the summer?  There are lots and lots of miles to be run. . . .

Monday, October 17, 2011

Runner? or jogger?

The other day when I was running in River Legacy Park, a popular mountain biking trail, a mountain biker approaching me on the trail called back to his buddy, "Jogger!"  I appreciate the consideration; I certainly don't mind mountain bikers being aware of me an not running me down.

However, his calling me a jogger irked me a little. . . . I wanted to holler back at him, Hey, I'm a runner!  I may not be moving very fast, but I am a runner!  I read Runner's World and Trail Runner magazines!  I'm a member of North Texas Trail Runners.  I sometimes shop at Fort Worth Running Company.

So what is the difference between running and jogging?  Here's what I found:

Merriam-Webster has two relevant definitions of jog: "a : to run or ride at a slow trot;  b : to go at a slow, leisurely, or monotonous pace."

And it defines run thus: "to go faster than a walk; specifically : to go steadily by springing steps so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in each step."

I do go faster than a walk, and normally both feet leave the ground in each step, but there's no denying that my pace is often slow, leisurely, or monotonous.  So by definition, I jog and I run.  Jogging is running slowly.  Running is like jogging, only faster.  I guess I need to get over it and admit that I'm a jogger.  And sometimes a runner.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Running America, with Marshall Ulrich

A few weeks ago, I posted a review of Marshall Ulrich's book, Running on Empty, the bulk of which covered his record-breaking coast-to-coast run.  Running America, a documentary about his run, presents a very different perspective from the book, visually capturing the trials and logistical challenges of such an attempt.

As Ulrich discusses in the book, he started this attempt not as a solo effort but with Charlie Engle, another ultrarunner with a long and impressive running resume.  Charlie dropped after a couple weeks, but stayed with the crew, riding his bike, speaking at several stops and participating with the crew.  Ulrich pressed on, completing the run in 52 and a half days.
Since Charlie was a main impetus behind the film--he had earlier done a film about his run across the Sahara with 2 other runners, Running the Sahara--he remained a focus of the film, even though he wasn't running anymore.  In Ulrich's book, Ulrich talks about the tensions with Charlie and the crew; that's not portrayed in the movie.  It's probably best not to immortalize that on film. . . .

The movie does have a positive spin that doesn't really come through in the book.  Shot during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, the film spends a lot of time on a "one America" theme, interviewing onlookers and passers-by about being American.  This part didn't add much to the movie for me, and not only because I believe the result of the 2008 election was ultimately destructive for the U.S., but I would rather have focused on the physical demands and logistical details of Ulrich's run.

That criticism aside, Running America is a compelling story and a visual treat.  Runners will like it, and some non-runners might be inspired to get up and go.  We can't all run across the U.S., but we can all run farther than we think we can.