Sunday, April 8, 2012

Latest Stop on my La Sportiva Mountain Cup Merry-Go-Round: Hells Hills

How to prepare for a fast race: Number one, pick your parents well. Secure yourself some good genetics for speed, or not. Then blah, blah; other stuff like train hard, train smart, eat well, sleep, blah, blah. Skip to the week before the race, do masonry work laying rock around the foundation of a house most of the week. Since I had gotten a good report from my doctor on the broken arm two weeks ago, he upped my left arm carrying capacity to 20 lbs. So I laid rock this week leading up the race. A task I was supposed to do this past November. Staying bent over or kneeling constantly while working a trowel and holding somewhat heavy rocks will leave you perfectly refresh. Better yet, take 5 months off any real manual labor, then lay rock like you never missed a beat. You are probably getting the idea. I was so busy trying to get the job done that running just didn’t happen. I decided to call it a hard taper. In all truth, I actually enjoyed doing some real manual work again. I worked the skin off my fingers in places on my now wimpy, soft hands. My abs were sore, my back was sore, my arms were sore, and my hands were not only sore, but the right hand was swollen from returning to real work. Again, this actually felt good to be sore from tough physical work. Maybe that’s a genetic gift I got, or it was pounded into me throughout my childhood. I’m sure some of you understand. Plus it was nice to step back and see something accomplished. Oh yea, several of my personal bests or best races have come after a week of hard physical work. So I did go into Hells Hills feeling pretty good about my race potential. One other prerace preparation, a 6 mile run inside the Atlanta airport. I ran down by the “plane train” for the various concourses. Yea, I got a few looks and comments, but not too many. I thought it was a good use of a long layover and a chance to add to my list of unique run locations.

I did miss out a very important detail of my prerace preparation, that whole genetics thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much true endurance speed from my parents. And yes, I understand speed is all relative, but relatively I am not fast. Yet I did end up leading the race early on for about a mile. Ryan and Jared were at the front laying down a very pedestrian pace. I moved by them, giving them a hard time about the slow pace. I commented that I don’t do tactical. Tactical generally doesn’t work for me, unless you consider an even, steady pace tactical. Ryan, Jared, Rob Krar, and Chris McWatters settled right in behind me and joked about waiting for a final sprint finish. That'd probably be more enjoyable, right up to point were a whole train of folks fly by me in that last mile. Maybe I do have a tactic, wear guys out and don't slow down. Some mile PRs were tossed about. These guys are lowish 4 minutes, at least 4:10-20. I commented that my 4:55 PR speed would not fare well in that race. Soon Ryan’s GPS watch beeped, somehow that seemed to be the signal for Jared to start the race. So by me he went, then Ryan, then Rob. Later I found out that Jared pushed the pace for a couple of miles, then backed off and those three were together through about 10 miles. Around 3 miles I broke away from Chris a little, learning after the race that he tweaked a groin muscle a bit. So I spent most of the race alone chasing ghosts. As I passed 50K runners, I kept hearing the group was a couple of minutes up or a few hundred yards. Piecing things together afterwards, I think I was staying relatively close through 10 miles. At this point the winding, up and down, trail course changed to an open access road. The three began their race in earnest and my ghosts disappeared. Ryan said his GPS watch reported some 5:20 miles here. Again my genetic shortcomings, as that is my 5K PR pace. I won’t ever be running that pace 10 miles into a race, unless I’m falling off a cliff. Yet in that case, I could actually go faster than that since objects fall at roughly 10 meters/second or something under 3 minute pace. Your science lesson for the day, but I digress. Those three stayed fairly close with Ryan breaking away once back on the tight, twisting trails for last 1.5 miles.

It was a rather enjoyable Mountain Cup weekend again. This was a 25K personal best, so I guess hard work just before a race still works for me. I feel pretty good about my race performance. I’d consider the course a fast one for the most part. The main thing to slow it down was all the twists and turns of the trail with some sharp up and down dips. I had chosen this La Sportiva Mountain Cup race mainly because of friends in this part of Texas to visit. Plus RDs Joe and Joyce Prusaitis are good friends and put on a great event. Also this race fit into my schedule. It was a good race for Alison as she won the women’s race, passing Christina Bauer at about 11 miles. I believe Christina was sick and another competitive woman slept through the start of the race in her car a hundred yards or so from the start line. But I thought it was a good showing for Alison since she had just started back after her most recent winter stress fracture. As I say, just get on the starting line and you never know what might happen. That has never been more true than in the Mountain Cup as examples of points altering insanity include sickness, overcome with sleep, wrong turns, missed flights, moose attacks, trails blocked by closed signage, lost shoes, car trouble, missing aid stations, an overabundance of rocks, poor tactics, genetic shortcomings, old age. Maybe that’s a whole different blog. I think I’ve taken a crack at everyone with that list, I'll let you guess who's associated with each.

My next few races should start shift toward my genetic abilities; tough, suffering, delusions? Matt Byrne described me as a “mutter.” Is that a compliment? Another friend once described me as a grinder. I like either. But my mom has found my blog now, so she may take offense to your comment Matt. See you at RothRock, Matt, and let the trash talk begin.

Top Men:

1. Ryan Woods 1:35.22

2. Jared Scott 1:35.42

3. Rob Krar 1: 35.53

4. Jason Bryant 1:43.31

5. Chris McWatters 1:46.39


1. Alison Bryant 2:02.16

2. Christina Bauer 2:08.45

This is after my run in the airport. If I get some other photos from someone, I'll add them later. I tend to socialize too much and forget to take photos at the races.


  1. OMG, you have a blog. Thanks to Bryon Powell, I found it:) Sorry I wasn't around at Hells Hills and missed your battles, but my congratulations to you and Alison on great running!

    1. Yes, me having a blog is kind of dangerous. Every once in a while I write something very off the wall, but I generally give a warning. I can point you to a hilarious one, I think, if you're up for a crazy story from my teenage years. It does come with a warning and some friends chose not to read it.

  2. Wait- your run in the Atl airport was Shirtless? That's classic.

    Enjoyed the ramblings. Congrats to you and Alison on good showing- her win in esp. impressive with her recent injury, like you said.

    Congrats and thanks again.

    1. The last 1-2 miles of the run was shirtless. I know I should have been shirtless the whole time, sorry Jon.

      Really enjoyed pacing you and your race report.

  3. The airport run is a new one and very few would attempt it, but you are definately on that list. Next time wear bun huggers or a thong but please no pictures. Did you carry a hand held?

    1. I knew the shirtlessness was pushing it, I just couldn't resist. You know me. The hand held would have been a nice touch, but I didn't. Maybe next time.

      I'm wait for a wild Mark story? Hopefully I can get up with you for a run sometime.

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