Sunday, May 6, 2012

Philosopher's Way 15k Trail Run "Race" Report - May 5, 2012

Well, apologies if you took me with a 45 second advantage over 2010 Shannon.  He kicked my ass today.  What follows is a (hopefully) brief "race" report.

I planned to leave the house with plenty of time to spare before the start, but realized as I was leaving that I left my shoes at work.  Oops.  This unplanned detour meant that I arrived about 3 minutes before the start.  Perfect timing! 

The race started fine - I started nearer the front of the pack than I did two years ago, and avoided much of the slowdown where the gravel road transitions to the footpath, creating a bottleneck of runners.  I did get stuck behind a group of 6 or 7 runners who seemed to slow down as they went downhill.  This can be seen as a smart move, ensuring good footing early in the race to avoid falling.  I am not encumbered by that sort of intellect and like to use gravity to my advantage and gain speed on the downhills.  I should note that this strategy has paid off in the form of many faceplants at Umstead Park, but I learn slowly.

After about a mile and a half, I passed this group and was by myself on the trail for a bit.  I soon reached the first aid station (at 18 minutes, which I think was a bit further than the advertised 1.7 miles). 

Ten minutes later, I was gripped by a sudden wave of nausea, and instantly felt like I had to throw up.  I didn't think this was due to increased effort - it didn't "feel" like that - but it did subside with a bout of walking.  To make a long story short, the rest of the race for me was dictated by the nausea.  Running to the brink of vomiting, then walking.  Energy gels and water seemed to make it worse.

This was the first time something like this happened to me, and I can only think of two explanations.

#1 - "The internal organ as a puppy" hypothesis. 
I had only one beer in the previous 4 days.  This left my liver with a lot of free time.  In the context of this hypothesis, a bored liver (like a bored puppy) is bad and will get itself into trouble.  It follows that my bored liver released a creative cocktail of hormones to the rest of my body, which did not react well.  I rate this hypothesis as slighly unlikely.

My liver, metaphorically. 

#2 - "The how the hell are we hitting the 90s in early May?!?" hypothesis. 
I simply haven't had time to acclimate to the combination of high humidity and race time temperatures in the high 70s.  Of course, this doesn't explain why none of the other 500 runners seemed to have this problem.  I suppose being in pretty crappy shape may have also played some role.  A good lesson for me.

I finished the 15k in 1:40:39 (by my watch), which is incredibly disappointing against what I was expecting - I lost by about 8 minutes to 2010 Shannon.  Regardless, it was good to participate in my first race in over a year.  It is both inspiring and motivating to be around a group of such good runners.  And the Trailheads put on a great race.  I'll be back next year.

Photo of me during the race.  Face blurred for your viewing pleasure.  I poached this from Michael Kelley's dropbox gallery - thanks Michael!


  1. Damn, I had my money on "old".
    I am not buying the "puppy" theory, because my liver is a tired old dog and I was slower too.
    Gotta be the heat. Needing an excuse, I looked up the temperature last year. At 9am last year it was 60, this year it was 77. So am subtracting 60 minutes from this years time.

    1. Well, you finished second overall, so I seriously doubt you need an excuse (congratulations, by the way!) I expect you to finish first next year once you're fully accustomed to your Vibrams.

      Don't worry about losing your money on OLD. His performance was so awful that Vegas is investigating whether or not he threw the race. Really the only explanation.