Monday, June 17, 2013

Chattanooga Stage Races-Pool Balls and Bratwurst

Disclaimer: I will make reference to some things in this report they could very well be deemed inappropriate to bratwurst and pool balls. Also, if you don't like poo poo references then stop reading now.

Here we are, 2013 Chattanooga Mtn Stage Races. Hands down my favorite race. Christy Scott, Kathy Youngren and myself drove to Lookout Mtn GA on thursday evening and enjoyed 5 star dining from Rafael's Italian restaurant. I enjoyed a healthy portion of pepperoni pizza, cheese sticks, french fries, and queso dip with chips. Believe it or not I was real good on the way up. I did not soil Christy's new suburban once. 

Lets quickly talk about Kathy. Kathy is a vegetarian and has such a huge heart for animals. On the previous day we talked about chicken trucks and how bad of a life those chickens have. I thought, "Man, I haven't seen a chicken truck in a long time. Well, on the way to Day 1 which is Raccoon Mtn, I see Kathy turn her head as in to avoid looking at something. I looked up and it was one of those chicken concentration camps on wheels. I hollered out, "Oh NO! One of their heads is caught in the cage!" Kathy was not happy with me.

Day 1-Raccoon Mtn
Now to lay out a couple of characters. To protect me from a savage beating, I will not disclose the true identity of one of them. First we have Becky Boobie Bottles. So Becky borrows a running vest that has two bottles that sit on front of the chest. Now for the average flat male this would not cause a spectacle or excessive mammry movement. Unfortunately for Becky Boobie Bottles, they sit right on the end of the Thompson Twins. Needless to say, Becky had a following that day. The other character is Bumble Bee. I am not disclosing anything about her identity for fear of internal bleeding.
Becky Boobie Bottles

The race begins...I am in a group with Kris Worton, Kathy and Christy. Kathy leaves us and eventually it's just me a Christy. For some reason this course did not seem as bad this year. We were running very consistent and what I considered somewhat fast. However, I was feeling good. Shortly after the 2nd aid station Christy begins to back off so I push on. At this point Bumble Bee and myself are switching positions. She takes me on the climbs and I pass her on the downhills. All of a sudden Rafael's began to cause a gastric disturbance within my loins. So I get maybe 20-30 feet in front of Bumble Bee and crop dust a little. Man what a relief. We pass the last aid station and I press as hard as I can. In the last 2-3 miles I began to pass many people who had passed me earlier. We enter the road to the finish and I gun it, through the finish line....2:47, 13 minutes faster than the previous year. I quickly migrate to the ice bath and my buddy David Riddle (who broke the course record) comes by to chat. As David leaves Bumble Bee comes up to me and says, "Did ya'll smell that out there? It smelled like somebody was farting on the trails"....I about lost it. I proudly confessed that it was me. 
Day 2...The previous night I had 2 veggie burgers, and oreo double stuff cookies. On the way to Lookout I begin to have severe stomach bad that I fear a breaching of the cheeks. We get to Lula Lake and the porta-pottie line is long. I scurry to the nearest bush and as my booty breaches the air I gave natural birth to a healthy Pygmie.

The race starts...I run faster than the previous year in order to get the the rope climb so as not to be standing around at the bottleneck. Up to the summit with amazing views. As we descend the Mtn we cross the river back to the start around 4.5 miles, and traverse towards Covenant College. I actually had forgotten how beautiful this section is. There are some wonderful single track with a lot of greenery along little streams. I make it to the powerline section for the loop which takes us to backtrack to Lula lake. The previous year I completed day 2 in 3:36. I figured I would finish this day around 3:25. 3:20 rolls around and there is no sign of dropping back down to Lula Lake. I begin to worry because I knew I was running strong. I finally reach the start finish area to take the bridge and backtrack the initial 4.5 miles. I began to be discouraged because I fully expected to PR day 2. Down the rope, divert to the single track and to the finish....3:38... 2 minutes over. 
Day 2-Lookout Mtn

Day 3 begins on Signal Mtn. Still discouraged from the previous day, and knowing the hard course ahead, I figure I will just get through it. However, once they said go, I quickly had a change of heart. I wanted to crush day 3 like I did day 1. You know that sound? That sound when a runner's toe catches a root? about a mile or two in I hear it and turn around to see a dude face plant and should roll. Mushroom rock, down to Suck Creek and back we push. After some ridge running we drop down to the technical trails. These trails are extremely rhythm essence run a few steps, climb a few step, etc...However, I am feeling great. I finally make it to the dreaded steps from "Helens House" to the overlook. I am completely gassed out as I walk up the paved road to the old folks home where I holler, "Can I get a whoop-whoop". A few of them gave me a holla, I think one cheesed himself and the other mooned me. I was delirious...that may or may not have actually happened. Down the chirt path to what I called the stale area. There is this winding trail that follows a slow stream and just layers on top of itself. I was relegated to walking much of this until a group of 3 guys caught me. As the passed I was determined to stay with them. We make the climb out to the final aid station, to which we are told that the finish is 3.6 miles away. 
As I turn, I see Kris come up to the station all smiling and happy. So I ran harder that I did on any part of the course. I ran at least a 7:15 pace on the jeep roads until the climbs. I began to pass the group that I was with. A couple of miles out I see Becky Boobie Bottles husband...he turns to pace me in. I drop the hammer. All of a sudden with about a mile to go a freaking snake runs right at me. I climb the air ladder as it goes right under my feet. I continue pushing and see a guy in the distance...As I get close he hears me and just turns to the side and lets me pass. I knew I was going to crush my time. I break out of the woods through the finish and turn around to see 4:14...1 minute slower than the previous year. WHAT THE CRAP! I can only imagine I pushed too hard on day 1.

Christy beat me bad on day 3, David sets the course record each day and Kathy takes 3rd overall female, while I whine and Becky pukes.

So I'm walking to the car when I see Bumble Bee and her husband. She has a towel wrapped around her waist while she is changing shorts. Her husband is on the back of the SUV or truck with one of those towels that have velcro and wrap around your waist. I actually thought it was a kilt at first. So we are talking and all of a sudden I saw his bratwurst and hairy new potatoes peeking at me under his towel kilt. I tried not to act like I saw anything. So Barney bratwurst comes out a couple more times for air when I say goodbye and walk away. For some reason I turn back wondering if I was having a heat stroke and just imagined that... As I turned BB's husband lifted his left leg and it looked like a red pool ball fell out. Believe it or not, the night before, David Riddle told me a story about running back in Huntsville and a man came running toward him with his mountain oyster hanging out the panty liner. I know David's not gonna believe this....

Gotta give a shout out to Michael Scott and Daniel Lucas. These Tennessee guys befriended an average ultra-runner and make him feel like a superstar. I wanted a Salomon Hydration waist belt and Michael delivered. To Rob Youngren and David Riddle...there is nothing like seeing you guys at the finish line asking me if I need anything. To Christy, Kathy and Rebecca...I cannot tell you how much fun I had with you guys. Thank you Stephen and Tony for slapping me on the butt. Luke and Brandi...can I borrow 20 bucks?

Lastly, too my wife and son....Your letter was the best Father's Day present ever! Thank you Jesus for amazing family and friends.

David Riddle-1st Overall

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Music City Ultramarathon-Suck Flies, Suck Ivey, Suck Ticks, and Suck Snakes

Let me get straight to the point....Music City Ultramarathon was a huge brutal suckfest from start to finish. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that it was a bad race. I mean IT HURT! Ok, before I get too far lets start from the beginning. When I got up I made a decision that I regretted tremendously. I got out of the shower, took 2 Aleve and began to Body Glide my JimTom, the Thigh twins and my wipe alley all the way up. I thought, this will be good enough, no need to put on my spandex shorts. Rob, Chris and myself get to the race start. Rob decides to go run some of the course to check it out. What hillbilly runs miles to warm up on a 50k? Meanwhile we meet up with our other Huntsville friends and meet some new ones (Richard Thrice and James Duncan). 

Me, Ryan, Doug, Beth, and Chris
I'm looking for Joe St. Lawrence ...Rob comes running by and goes to his car. I go over and he is pulling ticks off his legs. I believe he said he counted 30+. He tells me about the 1st mile and a half...We are in trouble. We line up for the race start and some dude comes out on a horse with his face painted blue. He begins to re-enact a scene from a Mel Gibson movie. It seems the horse got tired of his bad acting and decided to take off running which made the horse riders eyes go wide open. He finally gets the horse back around and finishes the skit...I thought it was a cool thing to do. The race starts, and we hold back hoping the runners up front would get most of the ticks. Through a pasture into the woods for our first climb. 
Photo from Robbie Robbins

Eventually we come out of the woods to what looks like a grassy powerline section with out the power lines. Ok, look at the pic above. Look at the top of the far side. That is where we came out of the woods at. My first thought was, "BULL CRAP!" It was too steep to run down. People busted butt on the first descent. Now, lets take a look at the course profile.

This was not your typical Trail Ultramarathon. The course consisted of Jeep trails, dirt roads, weed eater trails, streams and fire breaks. Not only that, everywhere you looked there was poison ivy. The climbs were too steep to run and the descents were to steep to run. Its one of those races that your putting the brakes on the whole time running down the hills and your toes are crushing against the end of your shoes. Shortly after leaving the big fire break we enter more Jeep trails. We were told in the beginning that the 10k'ers follow yellow, 25 blue and 50 black. A group of us get to an open field and see 10k'ers run across our path. The trail goes right, left and straight ahead. We look around wondering what to do. The sign on the right trail says "straight ahead", in blue. We decide to follow it. Eventually we come to another sign with a blue arrow saying straight ahead. To the right was red flags. We stopped again wondering what to do. I stated that someone is going to get lost there. Not far after that I find myself alone for the bulk of the race. It started getting hot, and muggy. Every stream crossing I would scoop water in my hat let it pour down my milky white supple body. It felt so good. The only issue is that you cross a stream about 20 times, which feels great, but your shoes stay wet and your shorts too. At the time I did not realize this would be a problem. All of a sudden the biting flies begin to attack. They fly around your head and ears and then them demons land and bite. They weren't to bad early in the race, oh but later. I make it to the 11 mile aid station and they tell me the next section is a 5 mile loop. I think, ehh...5 miles, I'll be back in about an hour. I begin the section and hit a nice dirt road and across the road is a 14' Black Mamba...or maybe a 5' Black Racer...not sure exactly. I am getting tired and feel myself slowing. All of a sudden the biting flies start back. They keep buzzing my ears and hitting me in the head. I start swinging my hat to no avail and all of a sudden I lost it! I uttered words no man could pronounce or understand. 
Well this 5 mile loop never ends. Later on we find out it was more like a 7-8 mile loop. I get back to the aid station at the end of the loop and they tell me that I rounded out the top 10. ME! In the top 10 at a 50k ultrafrigginmarathon! I leave out the aid station with some giddy-up in my step. I begin the climb up a jeep trail and hear someone behind me singing, "Carry on my Wayward Son". I think about how Rob and DeWayne Satterfield sing that song except they changed the words to "Cary Long my wayward son..." Great! A few minutes later the runner behind catches me. IT WAS FREAKIN ROB YOUNGREN! You know how some people have that one eye that looks straight ahead and the other kinda goes to the side. My eyes did that when I saw him. I could not believe it. Well remember that blue arrow sign I told you about earlier. Rob went left instead of straight. He had gone 3 miles out of the way. Later I find out that many people took that route and some made it all the way back to the finish line early. We talk for a while and I thank him for taking away my dreams of 10th overall. He eventually leaves me and I find myself alone again, except for coming up on another snake. Up jeep roads and around a corner I see a grouping of flags on the right and a single flag on the left. As I passed i thought that maybe I should check the trail to the left....nah. Half a mile later I see four guys running towards me. Two of the guys was James Suh and Rob. They stated how they went about 1.5 miles and did not see any flags. We back tracked and found that the trail turned off at the flags. Rob began to express his displeasure with going off course again. I learned some colorful words from him that I could use if the biting flies come back. He and James leave me. By this point the heat has reached the level of total suckfest. More hills, flies, poison ivy and ticks. A lady and a couple of guys catch me and we talk about how we all got lost. They leave me and I get to the sign that says 5 miles left. I think..."yeah right." This is the point in every race where I question "Why?" Why do I do this. I just wanted this race to be over with. I could not take another hill. I round the corner and guess what? Another friggin hill. I walk much of the last 5 feeling like a fat necked, honky, feeling sorry for myself butt gasket. Finally I reach a flat section realizing I was close to truly dropping off the mountain. A guy comes running towards me and all cheerfully says, "Your almost there." I asked him how far. He replied 3/4's of a mile. I yelled "What? 3/4's of a mile?" 
For some reason this seemed like 10 miles to me. With a half a mile to go I feel a monster blister pop on my big toe. I finally begin to drop off the mountain...exit the woods to the pasture. As I reach the finish the race director asks me how it was. All I could say was "Brutal". Rob, and Chris was at the line to greet me. Chris got lost and finished with around 26 miles. I saw 2 snakes, pulled of 6 ticks and got poison ivy on my legs. I was pretty bummed about my race and stated that I would never run this race again. I said that about Stump Jump and ran it the next year. I thought I meant it about this race but after a day or two I got my mind back. You see, we didn't trail race...we had an adventure. They should change the name to "Music City Adventure Race"
Unfortunately the poison ivy and ticks were not the worst of my problems. On the way home as the Aleve started wearing off I began to feel my thighs. They were on fire. I called my wife and said that I'm gonna take a shower and she's gonna check out every square inch of my body for ticks. When I reached home I could barely walk. I got in the shower and WHOA! My thigh twins looked like they were polished with a belt sander and my JimTom looked like it was in a motorcycle wreck. 

Lessons learned: Wear spandex

Songs that played in my head: "Beat this Summer" by Brad Paisley, "Rend" by Eddie James, and "YMCA" by the Village People.

As always, I thank Jesus for getting me through it and my wife for puttin up with me.