Thursday, February 18, 2016

Uwharrie Mountain Run 20 Miler - A Journey of Mind, Body and Spirit 

This was the third time I tried to run Uwharrie - year one = missed the lottery, year two = Achilles acting up, year 3 = I'm in!!!

After JFK 50 Miler in November, I took a small break from running and my focus was to recover and build some time on my feet, however, after Christmas I needed to switch gears even more.  I decided I needed something different.  I was starting to lose my love of running and needed to pull back and regain that lust. It wasn't that my mileage was too high or workouts were too hard but I was not taking my easy days easy enough and perhaps was putting myself on the seesaw of overtraining.  It seems to be everywhere lately, many experienced/elites/pro runners stressing how important recovery is. So in an effort to keep my paces controlled I started wearing a heart rate monitor during my easy runs, measuring my heart rate variable, resting heart rate and tracking my motivation to run day to day.

The month prior to Uwharrie I ran some good weekly miles and limited all harder workouts to 2x/week with sufficient time between efforts, 2-3 days, to make sure I was rested, no soreness and had the fire in my belly to do it. I also slept-in a bit more rather then a 5am run.  My training for Uwharrie was more of an experiment and quest to get me back on track.  I really should write another blog just on what I have been doing and balancing life! ;)

I even started painting again and taking more continuing education courses in preparation to practice again. Why/what led to me to this...mainly listening to my intuition but also getting guidance from David Roche and other runners, reading, podcasts such as Running on Om, UltraRunnerPodcast, TrailRunnerNation to start to gain some insight and chew on some different theories and thoughts.
A few little projects keeping the right brain strong!

Uwharrie was a race to enjoy new trails, folks and see what happens. It was stunningly beautiful and cold at the start, my biggest worry was + or - layers. I was glad to see wonderful trail friends, Steph Jeffries, Scott Lynch, Ronnie Weed, Jay Spadie, Jeff Wald, Jeff. Hall...and more...sorry I forgot hard to remember and folks were covered up to stay warm.
Start line - Photo credit Bull City Running Co.

Cow bell went off  (yes cow that, hockey mom) and we immediately headed into steep, rocky singletrack.  Three of us headed out and got some separation but again, this is not a 5k...anything can happen, but hey, my focus has been on going with intuition and at that moment I needed to get my arse up that hill! After we hit the top of the mountain in that first mile, I took a quick glimpse around and noticed..."Wow, look at this sunrise and mountain range! Stunning!!" Okay, focus on footing, lots of covered rocks/roots.  I continued rolling along the undulating ups and of the guys, in our group of three, clicked on by and was whoosh...gone!  Turns out Eric, won it sailing through those trails!! So nice to meet him and share a conversation at the end!
Wow...this is one reason I love trails.  Photo credit Bull City Running Co.
So that left me and Tile exchanging second place. I could tail him on the uphills, but he whizzed on the downhills leaving me in the dust.  We started passing 40 miler runners...loved exchanging encouraging words and seeing other trail spirits!  We crossed creeks, jumped and torn through some mud pits! The white trail blazes were mostly marked but a couple spots especially at mile 8 were hard to find, (you warned me Steph and Scott), and some gracious 40 milers came along and pointed us in the right direction.

I moved into second place around mile 13.  My legs felt good, hips getting a little achy but I had remembered listening to Matt Fitzgerald on URP saying "ask yourself how you feel about how you feel?" and I was good with how I felt about how I felt :)  ... you need listen to the episode. I was enjoying this race...I was smiling and giggling on the downhills like a kid, David Roche style!  And when the hips would tickle (Pamela Ross ;) ) on the uphills, I imagined them being massaged on the downhills!

We hit a big climb at mile 16  which was faster to power hike for few seconds than run. After this point I started meeting the front runners in the 40 miler.  They all looked really good and inspired my feet to be a little lighter.  Great to see fello runner Jason Tischer running the 40 and smiling and barely breaking a sweat...he came in second!!!

My plan was to push harder in these last few miles and I actually felt good and energized, however those last 3 miles of singletrack were really twisty, rocky and narrow in some I just gave what I had.  My garmin was reading 18 ish miles and I started hearing music..."this can't be the finish already"...but as I came to a small clearing there were two musicians playing for the freezing cold!! Awesome!

I ran about another 1/2 mile and thought I heard the announcer at the finish..."no...I can't be there yet...wait, maybe I am!!" My throat started to close with excitement and the ugly face of joy appeared for a second!  It was the finish!!  Smiling, I crossed at 2:59:56!!!  YAY!!  A great race, great day!  I knew I could do it and that made me do it!

1) V-Fuels  - 1 every 30mins
2) Diluted VEGA hydrator in water bottle
2) MEC 1980's CD player waist belt....yes it is what you think
3) La Sportiva Helios - love this shoe, low and light
4) Lululemon Run with Torque - best ponytail, ear covering torque I have found

What to improve on:
1) Speeding up on the downhills
2) Trying to take in the view
3) Keeping eyes on trail markers!

What went well:
1) Mental strength - I'm am good with how I feel, embracing the "tickles"
2) Smiling and thanking volunteers, supporters and runners
3) Listening to intuition and pulling back on easy training runs

Thanks to Bull City Running Company for putting on such a wonderful trail race!  Superb!  Thank you to all the volunteers, and Uwharrie Park for letting us tear it up on the trails for the day!
Thank you to Michael and Levi Mahan for the absolutely beautiful Whiskey Jug!  
Whiskey jug made by Michael and Levi Mahan, Seagrove Potters.

Uwharrie Mountain Run:

Bull City Running Company:

David Roche:

UltraRunnerPodcast link to Matt Fitzgerald interview :

Running on Om:

Trail Runner Nation:

Michael and Levi Mahan pottery: