Friday, May 4, 2012

2012 Philosopher's Way Trail Runs 15k Preview - The Race of Two Shannons

Tomorrow is the Philosopher's Way Trail Run in the Carolina North Forest.  This is a great race put on by the Trailheads.  I don't know much about this organization, except they appear to be a subversive group of coffee drinkers that use their weather control machine to bring heat waves over central North Carolina the first weekend of every May.

This post will preview the Battle of the Two Shannons in the 15k:  Tomorrow Shannon (OLD) facing off against 2010 Shannon (slightly less old, or SLO).  This one's hard to handicap, so let's look at the factors:


SLO has put 330 miles on his legs over the past four months.  This includes a completely unrespectable time of 4:43 in the Umstead Marathon. 

OLD has slacked off, logging 260 miles over the past four months with no races.  This 260 mile figure is inflated with a recent 4 day, 50 mile hiking trip to Arizona, where little running took place - and much beer was consumed at the conference he attended afterwards.  OLD is also two years older and five pounds heavier than his opponent.

Advantage:  SLO - 3 minutes, 30 seconds


SLO will be running his first trail race, and doesn't realize that there is a short stretch of road that's meant to allow runners who think they're fast to surge ahead and avoid being stuck behind a logjam of slower runners.  Passing packs of people on a trail is more difficult than the rookie SLO realizes.

OLD doesn't realize that he IS one of the slower runners, and will probably start with about 2/3 of the field behind him.  He prefers to be embarrassed by getting passed by about half the field during the race.  He is also bad at math, as he figures this will give him a finish in the 50th percentile.

Advantage:  Worth about 2:30 to OLD

Approach to Training

Sure, both have done some running.  Both have even been above 10,000 in the Western US in the past month, so they both have undergone high intensity altitude training exposure.  Nutrition is pretty even:  neither eats meat, they both believe in carbo loading far in advance.  SLO ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge the previous February.  OLD did too, but remained dedicated to this strategy by eating sensibly throughout each day, then detouring to the sweet and salty shelves of the pantry on his way to bed each night.  Pioneering genius or moron?  The jury's still out (as long as you exclude hundreds of thousands of dieticians from the jury).

Carbo loading three months before the race

SLO has been frequenting the rock climbing gym once a week, which doesn't help trail running at all but does help him pull down his competitors by their shirts.  OLD has been building leg strength by an esoteric form of leg lifts, and has not been to the climbing gym in a month. 

50 pound leg lifts, with a nice lung workout too.

This may help OLD, balancing a weak lower body with a weak upper body.  If symmetry helps, OLD is in pretty good stead.

Advantage:  This is too close to call


SLO has no clue that he's involved in this competition.  Actually, he has no clue about a lot of things.  Given both competitors' mental frailty, it's hard to tell if this is a positive or negative.

OLD will have his family there cheering him on.  They will be bored to tears, but this favors OLD

Weather:  Highs of 90 both days, with humid mornings in the forecast.  Both competitors are complete weaklings in the heat, but OLD has had 7 years to acclimate as opposed to SLO's 5.

Both have big noses, maximizing their oxygen intake.

Advantage:  Slight positive for OLD, we'll say 15 seconds


This highly comprehensive, well-thought out analysis suggests that 2010 Shannon will beat Tomorrow Shannon by approximately 45 seconds.  Race report coming soon...


  1. Can't wait to hear how it turned out. I am going with the OLD. Turning dog-humping into a workout is genius.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, but OLD let me down.
      The workout does have one drawback - it's not really compatible with shorts.