Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Be True": Black Mountain Marathon 2/25/2012

Top 3 women: fastest from R to L!
“To Thy Own Self Be True” was my intent and mantra for the duration of the 2012 Black Mountain Marathon in Black Mountain, NC on 2/25/2012.

I’d run this event in the past and it’s big sister version The Mt Mitchell Challenge (same day, same course plus more to equal 40ish miles to the top of the highest point east of the Mississippi) several times, this day I was testing out my ability to run strong, yet not RACE. Racing, this year, thus far is defined for me is either for the last 5 miles of an event, or  as a Team USA member for the whole of World Championship 100km (WC100km) to be run in Seregano, Italy on 4/22.

Though I have recently been blessed with a couple strong running buddies (as mentioned in previous posts), most of my runs in preparation for a long road run are done alone and on pavement). Ten days ago I looked at my schedule and did not want to run another 3:30 alone on a cold windy morning in Ashe County, NC going back and forth on a flat -ish smooth road. I stepped out on a limb and took Jay Curwin, race director for the Black Mountain Marathon and Mt Mitchell Challenge at his word,
"past champions are always welcome.”


I told Jay, I wasn’t up to racing the 26.2 miles, yet was really up for a strong training run on trail before concentrating solely on pavement in prep of April’s run. I would not sandbag-I intended to run the flats strong, “plod” the ups and cautiously “let ‘er rip” on the downs. Yet I did not intend to lay all on the line on 2/25....

In my mind I predicted running with or near the leaders during the flattish 3+ mile run to Montreat and falling back and getting passed as pavement got steep and transitioned to uphill dirt for many miles as we gained the toll road.  I also guessed, that unless bad stuff happened, I would not be passed by male or female during the descent and flat return.

Mostly, the predictions came true! I met Keelin Schneider and Karen Ostergaard, both strong petite women and 34 years old and we shared most of the first 3+ miles easily together. Once hitting the steeps, I held back and youth bounded forward…I would later see them both on the top of the course as they turned back and I finished my “out” portion of the out ‘n back.

I greatly enjoyed running on dirt, rocks, mud and ice up, up, and up…getting warm-then when moving into the shadows with wind gusts, feeling chilled. Up, slowly, “to thy own self be true”, not racing…steady. Chilly, cold, is that sweat?

Chilly, windy, frozen water bottles can’t use my hands to open gel packets or even retrieve Clif blocks from previously opened packs…a little tang and a couple graham crackers. Not my race plan. (Yet not unexpected because I have Raynaud's Syndrome and have to wear hand warmers and double gloves (which I did-yet isn’t always enough!)

Then the Blue Ridge Parkway turnaround…  and I rejoiced and bounding the down hills-navigating rocks and ice and people as they were ascending for the Marathon or the 40-mile Challenge. So fun it was to cheer everyone on and receive encouragement in return…(Though truth be told, there were moments I was 100% focused on icy, rocky terrain and had no idea of what was happening around me!)

Then with 8ish miles left to go I smashed myself into a rock. Dugh! (OUCH!)I was not paying attention, rather considering the new Greenway Route that would present itself in several miles. 

Annette, Dork!: you know better than to daydream on technical –especially fast fun technical stuff like the descent of the Toll Road!
Knee damage, photo taken post race. (No bruises, only a flesh wound!)
Limp and whine out load I did as I slowed for a few moments assessing my blood, yet lack of leg damage. Okay? What was up? Maybe because I was having a hard time fueling to plan I got dorky? So I slowed just a bit to pay attention! Two men passed me. I passed one back…

I stressed for a moment , even though I knew I wasn’t racing…

Okay, I thought, as the weather warmed and the course descended, “I’ll drink up and eat M&M’s at Sourwood Gap, remove my jacket and hopefully with help of volunteers –since my hands were unable still to move, tie it around my waist and continue forward…Only 5ish miles left!

Then suddenly it was warm and I was in a Montrail uniform tank top, sleeves, hat stuffed in the top, mittens shoved into my unusable (due to freeze) waist belt, bounding forward with an intent to go sub 4:00. No one to race except the clock and I was thrilled to have finished  26.2  with 3:55:59 in 3rd place female (1st “old girl” ) and 18th overall out of 168! Full results for the MMC and BMM here.http://www.blackmountainmarathon.com/

After my rattling fall, my mantra simplified to “BE TRUE”, as I was getting tired and tired of ideals and would abbreviate what worked! I did behave truly: The dorsal fin nipped at me, yet did not emerge! Yay Annette! The focus now is on 4/22/2012 in Italy.

I had a few high points to this day, that had little to do with my run. I got cheer Rory Bosio from CA in as she ran a serious sub 6 hour for a clean win on the Mount Mitchell Challenge (MMC). She and I first met in 2010 when we were both in top 10 at Western States 100. She is a stellar runner and seems like a great woman-wish I'd been fortunate enough to spend more time with her!
Speedy Roryo and I after her amazing finish!
Scott and I reside in the same town...yet he is soon to move to Asheville for a cooler job!
 I was equally happy to celebrate the men's MMC 2012 champion Scott Williams. He and I reside in the same town and in gatherings, much to the dismay of our common company, frequently get lost in "running talk". Congrats Scott for your win and for recently signing with La Sportiva!

Diane and I taking a break eating and hydrating post run!
I also really enjoyed spending time with Diane Wilson who was less than 5 minutes behind me for a 4th place finish.  Diane is 49 years old and seems to be a tough, avid athlete who rides horses, runs and swims. I wish I lived near Asheville as it'd be great to train with her if she were willing!

Over 48 hours later, I am still a bit sore, having done a little running, biking, elliptical, swimming and pool running… Sometimes I think the timing of the driving taxes me as much as the running! I hope to be back on running moderately on land and in the pool tomorrow.

This coming weekend I am headed to NY to visit my awesome mom Mary Lou Bednosky and to run Camsett Park 50km on Sunday in Lloyd Harbor, NY! I know with my recent training I am not at my prime to run a PR…yet I will say I am wanting a 3:45 or less. Not out of the question-I am border-lined trained for that pace….yet will depend on race day conditions and my own mental space on race day!
Clothing and gear: Montrail Rogue Racers, DryMax lightweight crew trail socks, Zensah calf sleeves, Patagonia Capri tights, Mountain Hardwear Malina Tank, Mountain Hardwear Effusion Power Jacket,
MH Momentum Running Glove, homemade overmitts, chemical handwarmers, MH running sleeves and running beanie, Amber Silencer Native Sunglasses (to head off crying eyes due to wind!), Nathan water bottle pack, I carried Clif fuel (blocks and gels-yet my hands were non-functional and I couldn't access the zipper pocket!


Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Another amazing race! Always inspiring to read about your race adventures.

(Mary) Shannon Johnstone said...

Well done Annette! I learn so much from you. Thank you for being an inspiration.