Saturday, September 7, 2013

2013 Woodstock Mellow Marathon Results (Or: A Crappy Trail Race)

2/114 Overall
1st Masters

 2 years ago I ran the marathon at this ‘festival’ in 3:42. Yup, that race was horrible with it raining most of the 24 hours before the race. I won it, so that took some of the this-course-is-really-crappy sting out of the experience. This time, the course was dry, but in some ways, it was worse. I am not planning on running it again, just so ya know...

 Woodstock is a actually a weekend long party with music and people camping out and trying to get the whole woodstock feel. While people are chillin’ and listening to 1960’s music, there are races going on. Lots of them. The following race distances happened during the course of the 3 days:  1 mile, 5K, 5 mile, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon, full marathon, 50K, 50 mile, 100K, and 100 mile. All had different start times and were run on two different loops with some parts of the loops overlapping. That meant you were never alone for too long. You would think that would be good, well it wasn’t if you were trying to run it fast. 

 About 60% of the course was on single track with lots of rocks, roots, stumps. So not only was the trail crappy (some people like such a challenge, I do not) there were 100K and 100 mile runners on the trail who had been running for hours, so they were going slower than me so I had to keep slowing and asking for permission to go around them. That was more than frustrating, not because I thought the were in my way, it was just frustrating that I had to be rude saying ‘On your left’ about 3126 times during the race. I felt like I was being rude, trying to pass them to get a good finish time. 

 After the first loop I was in the lead by at least 300 m, which was the farthest could 'look back' at any point. My lack of serious marathon training did catch up to me as I was passed by two people at mile 15 and 17 respectively, though I did not slow THAT much. Well, until I fell down.... As with my last race, someone in front of me who should have finished before me took a wrong turn on the course and was disqualified. I learned my lesson to study the race course well before a race. Other still need to do that I guess. You never know when you will be the lead dog (or nobody near by) and if you don't know where you are going, you just might get DQ'd (or run long) because you took a wrong turn. 

A few days before the race I had been running on the road in my VFF’s and came down wrong, jamming my big toe pretty bad, a condition I later found out was turf toe. Such an ailment has been know to keep NFL football players out of games. Yeah, it hurts, but it wasn’t stopping me, of course. About a week before the race I had smashed my other big toe and it was still not 100% either. You don’t know how important your big toe is to your running form until you injure them. So as I was running this rocky/rooty course I was paying more attention than I wanted to on the ground in front of me. This task removes the enjoyment of running trails, being able to look at the trees and such. In the first 21 miles, I only stumbled (slightly) 3 times, never actually falling. At mile 21 I hit a rock and went down hard jamming my big toe on a mostly hidden rock. Again. I actually did cry out in agony and the next 40 steps were very very tender.

 It was the kind of injury that knew would be ‘ok’ in a few minutes, but it slowed me down because now I would spend the last 5 miles looking exactly 3 feet in front of me trying to not trip yet again. It is amazing how un-fun such a run is. I knew my place was pretty much set and I just wanted to finish without getting seriously injured, so I was not that upset with the resultant pace, but the reason for the slowing was frustrating. 

2nd and 1st place finishers
 After I crossed the finish line with my handstand, I chatted with Matt, the 31 year old winner who came in 4 minutes before me and was actually a really nice dude. We chatted afterwards for a good 10 minutes talking about running ultras, the course, etc. That was cool. It was completely different than my last race a few weeks ago (where I also finished second) where the winner had no intention of talking to me or any other racer that day. 

 As a big local race, I had many many friends who were running the races offered or helping out others as crew. I tried to chat with as many as I could throughout the day, but due to the varying start times, I only got to chat with ~10 of them. I only hung out for a little while afterwards, having some food and listening to the tunage, watching people occasionally cross the finish line to cheers from audience listening to the band. 

I will never race here again. I hate the course because of the constant tripping hazards and crowded trails, and am not a huge fan of the entire setup (so many races on top of each other) but I might come back as a crew member or pacer. I could handle that. There are plenty of races within a reasonable drive, so it is not like I am going to miss it. 

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