Sunday, September 14, 2008

Doing What You Can With What You've Got

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. Time flies when you spend all of your waking moments running, working, and knitting. I can't even remember what's transpired in the last month.

Let's see...oh, yeah...the Ravelympics. Results? I failed miserably, not even completing one sock of a pair. If I participate in this type of event again, I'm going for half a pair of something. Given the time that I don't have for knitting, I think that's fair.

That said, one Gumdrop sock is complete and I've only got one or two more pattern repeats before I finish the leg on the second one. And you know what? Garter stitch short row heels and toes are very cool. Why? No pesky wraps to pick up! I'm really enjoying knitting with Socks that Rock (yes, this is my first time) and I love the one finished sock. I need to hurry up and finish the second sock because GEER is only two weeks away. Yikes!

Sometime this year, and actually rather accidently, I started running fast. Well, I'm not that fast, but I sped up quite a bit on shorter runs (5-9 miles) and on good days consistently run a sub-9 minute per mile pace. So I was very interested in seeing what I could do at the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Trail Half Marathon. It was my first trail race as well as my first race since the spring. The race started at 8:30 and by then, the temperature was well into the 70s with about 80 bazillion percent humidity (I exaggerate, but not by much). Those two factors did not bode well for running fast.

After a rousing rendition of "Happy Trails" by the men of the VHTRC, we were off. The first seven miles or so of trail has some nice downhills with some gradual uphills and then it gets interesting because the trail winds its way through some very steep (but thankfully short) ravines. We then head back towards the start area and off into the woods again, where the trail is a bit wider and the hills not so steep. They are, however, more sustained.

I let my enthusiasm get the better of me and I ran the first part of the race a little too fast. I slowed down a little bit on the second half, mostly due to the siren call of potato chips at one of the aid stations. Yum! I was definitely flagging on the way to the finish (note to self: don't eat so many potato chips) but finished well, at 2:25:09. I didn't set a personal record, but I wasn't that far off, only by about three minutes on a more difficult course on a hot, humid day. I placed 7th in my age group and 60th overall, which is pretty exiting (I'm usually closer to the bottom). I'm pleased.

GEER, though, has me worried. It's 32.5 miles and it's very hilly and very rocky and probably not the best choice for a first ultra marathon. I have to keep reminding myself that I'll do the best I can that day, no matter how long it takes me. There's an article in the current issue of Ultra Running magazine written by a runner who did not finish running the Hardrock 100. He said "I had done what I could with what I had to work with..." He completed 85 miles before dropping (out of the race, that is; not literally dropping).

And that certainly puts things in perspective...with running, with work, with knitting, with life. You do what you can with what you've got and you learn from the experience. GEER is going to be a preview of sorts for the JFK 50 Mile race, although in some ways it will be harder (especially if it's hot and humid). It's going to test the limits of my endurance (can I really navigate 8800 feet of elevation gain without dying?) and will let me know if I've trained enough. It will show me how well I'm fueling and hydrating (or not) for very long runs. And at the end, I'll have had a very long day in the woods with my friends. And you know, it doesn't get much better than that.

Well, now, this post certainly took a rather introspect turn. And speaking of turning, it's about that time when I turn into a pumpkin.

Happy trails to you!