Saturday, December 13, 2008

paris mountain 20k "race" recap

for the past few weeks, i've been planning on 'just running' this race. i withheld my end of the bargain for once, with the help of my running pal kt and the unwanted help of the enormous hill. i'd say hills but really there was just one, never-ending hill. this run doesn't really warrant a true race report since i didn't race it but i'm doing one anyway.

friday night i went to the track and did 6x800 at a 6:27 avg mile pace. yes, this was somewhat regretted saturday morning. afterwards, i was showering up for dinner and banged my right knee, hard, into the shower door. this too, was regretted saturday morning. j and i then went to a delicious and super filling dinner at the melting pot, and i felt like i gained four pounds. i haven't eaten there in awhile and you know how they say "don't try anything new"... luckily however, this was not regretted saturday morning. i just had to get up extra early to start coaxing my bowels. the melting pot was super yummy and i highly recommend it. who can turn down chocolate fondue???

saturday morning i awoke and checked the weather report. 28 degrees or something, fantastic. i looked to see what it was predicted to be around 9 (the race started at 8:30) and planned my attire around that (upper 30's/low 40's). lets just say it never got that warm, but i was moving enough to keep from getting cold. i ended up wearing the same clothes i wore in atlanta (yellow shorts, long sleeve tech, yellow beanie, gloves).

i arrived at the race site and met up with my pal kt and we did our usual pre-race potty stop and tried to stay warm. with about 12 minutes until race time, a lady asked if we knew where the race started. the brochure online said in front of the pac center (furman university's gym) which is where we were, but there was definitely no start line of any kind there. so we walked over to the football stadium where pre-race registration was, and saw a sign that said "20k race start by the such and such building", aka not near by. i made a pit stop to pick up my carolina running series participant shirt since i've earned 50+ points (i actually sealed the deal on 1st place in my age division a few races ago), ditched it at my car, and headed to the start.

at this point we had maybe 3 minutes until race time, so we were running to get to the start line. we're a few 1/10ths of a mile away and we hear the gun go off. we laughed about it and said well at least we were never planning on racing it. we run by some spectators who had watched the start of the race and they brilliantly informed us that "the race already started". thanks, you are so helpful.

the race
we got in over half a mile before the race started, and as we caught up to the pack i told kt, well at least we can count how many people we pass! i tried keeping count the whole time but a lot goes through my mind in 12 miles and i probably wasn't too accurate. kt, by the way, thought this race was 9 miles, so not only did she have to learn that it was really 12.4, but then we realized we were really doing a half-marathon with our extra running to the start.

i felt like crap in the beginning of this race. my lungs were doing ok and my legs didn't hurt, but my body just didn't want to run. the first mile was alright, mostly uphill but nothing serious. then we turned onto the mountain and proceeded to run up it for the next three miles. i mean check this out:

elevation chart of the first four miles of the race

i mean straight up hill for 3 miles. no slight dip, sort of a "flat", but otherwise, up hill. it was over 1,000 ft in elevation change. this definitely opened my eyes to getting serious about doing hill workouts. i am also definitely not doing the grandfather mountain marathon in boone, nc ever. needless to say, the first few miles were miserable. my calves ached and we were moving slow. around mile 3, i think, they had painted on the road "you made it". as you can clearly see, there was still a bit more climbing to do at this point before we really "made it". i will say, there were some gorgeous views as we ran along the edge of the mountain roads. i wish i had brought a camera.

after going up the horrendous mountain, we got to go down it of course. not the wisest thing to do after your body is already tired from the climb, as it is harder to control yourself going down some rather steep slopes. now my shins ached a little, my right knee was reminding me i banged it yesterday, and my toes were making friends with the fronts of my shoes. at least my body was feeling a little better overall now that i wasn't trying to give myself a heart attack on those insane inclines.

miles 5-7 were mostly downhill with some flat and a few uphills, and after that we were back around 1,000/950 ft elevation and had a couple more regular hills until the finish. (regular = the kind you might normally encounter in a race). in between miles 10 and 11 the course turned onto the shoulder of a four-lane highway. you'd think they'd maybe shut down one lane to make it a little safer, but we just had the shoulder. a little over a mile on that road and we exited off onto furman's campus for the finish. i picked up the pace to give it a strong finish, and afterwards wasn't tired so i knew i'd at least done a good job of taking it easy.

instead of a finisher's medal they handed out ceramic ornaments which was a cool idea. i always appreciate a useful/realistic award over a medal or trophy. the ceramic pottery awards are becoming more popular it seems, and i like them because they are unique, usually cute, and don't make you appear to be full of yourself. (i'm certainly not trying to have a lindsay shrine in my house.) my medals and trophies are in a pile or tupperware somewhere, but the various bowls, cups, plates, and now ornament are acceptable to display around the house in my opinion. now i just need to actually put up a tree so i can hang my new ornament!

20k race: 1:55:57, and somehow placed 3rd in my age group.

would i run this race again?
probably not. on one hand i would like to come back out and smash my time from today because i know i could, but this race seemed poorly organized overall. the start line was not where it was advertised to be and there were limited signs to help you find it. there were numerous cars passing us on the two-lane mountain roads, and the whole running on the shoulder of the four-lane, 55mph highway is a big concern too. water stations were only available around miles 4, 8, and 10. post-race refreshments consisted of some very watered-down gatorade, water (if the cooler had any in it), a few apples, tangerines, and bagels. the online brochure also mentioned having some sort of food on the 20k course, and maybe i missed it, but all i ever heard them yelling at the water stations was "water" and "gatorade". i hate to complain, but these are some key points to organizing and holding a race and they should've all been addressed properly.

am run: 13.2 miles (incl 20k race), 1:58:26 (8:58 avg pace), avg/max hr (175/202)


  1. Great job on that hilly race! 3rd in your age group is awesome.

    I like the name of your blog too.

  2. WOW... third in ag and you started the race waay behind everyone!

    That is a cool prize in place of a medal too.

  3. Congrats! 3rd place in your age group is awesome! I think the ornament is super nice too... and very unique. ")

  4. Great job snagging 3rd in your AG especially with a 3-mile uphill AND the day after speedy trackwork. My legs would've cried uncle at mile 2.

    Love the ornament!

  5. Nice job. I would say the first few miles were up hill! I like the idea of a ceramic potter awards better than a medal. I just give mine to my daughter.

    As for the Grandfather Mountain marathon, I don't know how they do it.

  6. I know what it's like to get to the end of a race and not have much to eat, drink, it sucks. I feel for you with the hill, I had one that was about a mile long on my race on Thanksgiving. I still can't believeyou are running these distances again so close to your marathon on Thanksgiving!

  7. that is one serious hill! great job!!!