Monday, April 22

Earth, Wind, and Furnace: Roaring Run Earth Day 15k

Note the people running uphill. They are far
above where I am standing... Far, far above.
Saturday's 15k at Roaring Run in Apollo, PA started off great. The initial section of trail--where the 5k runners would be racing after us--was relatively flat and friendly.

The bad part about the race was the wind. Oh, the wind. It was fierce, cold, and, by all accounts, made you feel like you were running with an open parachute behind you. (Important note: no one actually had any parachutes on the course.) The cool morning wouldn't have been so bad if the wind had let up. But, no, it didn't. Pennsylvania has endured a long winter and a strange springtime. On Thursday, April 18th it was 83º. Saturday April 20th? It was 38º. Mother Nature decided to invite herself to this Earth Day celebration, I suppose.

The course remained flat until about 4 miles in. Then we ran down into what's called The Furnace. I haven't got a clue why it's called that, but the hills--involving switchbacks!--that greet you are enough to make your legs burst into flames, so perhaps that's the cause for the name.

I stopped to take a few photos because I was incredulous at how steep the hills truly were. See the photo with my notations at the right. You can see the switchbacks as well as the vertical distance.
More hills, of the less ridiculous variety, but
still a steady grade... up, up, up!

These were the steepest hills I've seen in a race. (Even steeper than this one.)

Nevertheless, when I reached the top of the hill, I smiled and accepted a cup of very strong Gatorade from a boy scout and ran on.

I had trouble catching my breath because it seemed that the wind was worse on the return. I felt like air was being plumbed down my throat. I stopped to take my asthma inhaler, which I hadn't needed in weeks during a run. I didn't bring my facemask with me, unfortunately, so I had to improvise. I took one of my gloves and held it over my mouth and nose so that I could breathe in warmed air at my own pace--not the pace of the brutal wind.

After getting along to the seven mile mark, I noticed that the course was incorrectly measured. I know my iPod nano isn't completely accurate either, but I calibrate it regularly so I get the most accurate record of my runs... And when I reached the seven mile mark, my iPod told me I had just a little more than a mile to go in order to reach my 15k.
Finished! (Dad caught me with my eyes shut.)

I kept a faster pace than for any other long run near or over double digits. I was delighted to know that, as part of my 15k, I beat my 10k time (old time 1:08:57; new time 57:15).

And, since the course was longer than 15k or 9.3 miles, I beat my 10 mile time too (old time 2:08:29; new time 1:55:27).

So as I neared the finish line, a few things about my race preparation became evident:

  • I probably didn't eat well enough the day before
  • I drank too much during the race (to get rid of phlegm, but I have to stop doing that)
  • My lower abdomen and hip flexor muscles need to be strengthened to sustain the faster pace I kept for this race
I know my legs are still recovering from wearing shoes that were just not for me... That's been tough too. My left achilles is beginning to worry me a bit because it hurt all day Sunday and hurts this morning too... I've never had a problem with that, so I am just hoping that I can be well enough to get through my first half marathon in two weeks. Then I'll figure out what the heck is happening. :-/ Till then, it's RICE for me.

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