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Twisted Ankle Half Marathon (Read 868 times)


Imminent Catastrophe

    The appropriately named Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon/Half Marathon is a tough trail race mostly along the Pinhoti Trail atop Taylor Ridge in the mountains of northwest Georgia. 150 runners are accepted into each race for a total of 300, and it filled up early. This year the weather was perfect--cool and dry with a nice breeze, unlike last year when it was quite hot and humid and caused a number of DNF's. I arrived early and while waiting for the start patted several dogs, including a chocolate Laborador puppy. Is there anything in the world cuter than a Lab puppy? I don't think so. Patting a dog is my pre-race good-luck ritual, so I figured it was a sign that it would be be a good race. Well, yes and no... I had a lot of fun at this race last year and I wanted to do it again, only better. The original plan was to do the full marathon but I decided on the half since three marathons in three weeks would be a bit too much, and I wanted the race to be a tough but fun workout, not a grueling ordeal. I planned to run it hard, as a kind of substitute for a long tempo/hill run. I couldn't possibly keep up a tempo pace on this race but could keep my heart rate up in the tempo zone (upper 160's) and get a really good workout. The only problem was, I haven't done any training runs on trails lately, and it showed. Trail runs are a different animal. The race starts with a circuit around a small lake and slowly climbs up a hiking trail approaching Taylor Ridge, then in mile 3 climbs a very steep hiking trail up to the top of the ridge. Parts of this climb are so steep that it has steps cut into it. It's like starting off your trail race by climbing a 30-story staircase. This infamous section is known as "Becky's Bluff", named after the sadistic RD who designed the course. Once atop the ridge it runs along the ridgetop on the Pinhoti Trail. Half-marathoners turn north along the ridge, marathoners run an out-and-back route to the south then rejoin the half-marathon route. This middle part of the course is a challenging but enjoyable out-and-back along a partly overgrown jeep road, quite rooted and rocky in parts, with continuous climbs and descents. The last three miles or so descend back down to the lake along a steep, rocky jeep road, back around the lake and finish across a beautiful wooden footbridge. This is the best race finish ever! FULL MARATHON VIEW: I started out on the level portion around the lake at a tempo pace of about 7:30 which put me toward the front of the pack, a position that I am not accustomed to. I had a single hand-bottle with sportsdrink. Once around the lake and starting the climb I just kept my effort constant, jogging or speedwalking up the steep portions. Once I hit Becky's Bluff I hiked up. A few runners passed me here and I figured that either they were very good trailrunners who knew what they were doing, or newbies who would pay the price later. Most of them turned out to be the latter and I eventually passed them. Finally we hit the ridgetop and the first aid station, split from the full marathoners, and started the nice part of the course along the ridgeline. I soon found myself running with two other guys, one in a white shirt and one who looked like he could be in my age group in a black shirt. I decided that I would try to pass him. Try as I might, I couldn't. I ran a few yards behind, up and down, over the roots and rocks, but as soon as I gained on him he would pull away again. It was a very hard effort. This is where I wished I had done more training on trails. At one point he tripped on a root and went down, but quickly got back up and continued. Welcome to trail running! Approaching the turnaround I was still right behind him, and started to cross paths with the leaders on their return leg. Finally we hit the turnaround aid station and I quickly gulped down some water and started back, leaving him behind. Yesss! Yet he was still right behind me. I kept up a good pace until at one point I crossed paths with an outbound runner who said hi, and as I looked at her to respond, THWACK, WHUMP, "FUDGE!" (except that like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" I didn't really say "FUDGE") I caught a root and went down. Welcome to trail running! It only takes a moment's inattention... Still, my hand bottle took the brunt and other than a skinned knee, no damage was done, and more importantly, I was still ahead of blackshirt. That's another reason why trail runners carry hand bottles. Unfortunately by this point, about mile 10, Becky's Bluff and the ensuing hills were taking their toll. My legs were starting to tire and I could hear blackshirt gaining on me. Soon enough he passed me and once again I was chasing him. I wished I had done more hill training. We hit the last aid station, about mile 10? (mileage in trail races is usually a guess) then careened down a steep, rocky jeep trail, thankfully not Becky's Bluff. Still, it was quite treacherous. Halfway down the hill I again saw the chocolate Lab puppy, and was thinking what a cute...THWACK, WHUMP, "SONOFA..." once again a moment of inattention and I went down. I just love trail running! The expletive was directed at myself, not at the puppy, although it somehow fit. Again my water bottle saved me from getting my hands banged up, just a little scrape on the wrist, and I popped up and went on. Finally we were down at the lake again, with just a mile to go, blackshirt was pulling away, and I knew I couldn't catch him. Back round the lake, across the bridge and I finished with a 2:07:22. Pretty good for me on this course, 26 minutes faster than last year, and third in my age group. Last year 2:33 was good enough for second in AG, but any time I can place in my age group I am happy.

    "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

     "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

    "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.

     

    √ Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 20/21 July 2013

    Boston Marathon 21 April 2014

    Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 19/20 July 2014


    Needs more cowbell!

      Damn, you're faster than me in a challenging trail HM--NICE work! Falling aside, sounds like a really great race. And placing for your AG is quite an honor, too. Smile k

      I shoot pretty things! ~

      '14 Goals:

      • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

      va


        Perfesser, congrats on such a great improvement!!! Also, I enjoyed your report!
          Congratulations!! Wow, what a report. I would have actually said "Fudge" - I don't curse unless I'm really really angry. Big grin After reading your report I'm very anxious and now more nervous about my first trail run (which is also a HM) coming up on next Sunday.

          Michelle




          Imminent Catastrophe

            After reading your report I'm very anxious and now more nervous about my first trail run (which is also a HM) coming up on next Sunday.
            Thanks Mississippi, no reason to be anxious about it, I think you'll have a great time. Just one thing to keep in mind--keep your eye on the ground, look where you are stepping. Even if there's a cute puppy nearby, look where you're going. I think you will really enjoy it! Let us know how it turns out...

            "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

             "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

            "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.

             

            √ Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 20/21 July 2013

            Boston Marathon 21 April 2014

            Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 19/20 July 2014

              Great report Perfesser. That sounds like a challenging and fun course. And nice improvement on the time!

              When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?


              You'll ruin your knees!

                Trail runs are a different animal.
                ...yeah, they are a choc lab puppy! Great job and great time on the trail! Congrats on the improvement! Lynn B

                ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)


                I've got a fever...

                  Great run and nice report. You should do the Mountain Mist 50k 1/26/08. (Not that I'm doing it, but I've run some of the trails).

                  On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.