Monday, February 7, 2011

Uwharrie Trail Runs 2011

One of the water crossings...Photos in this post by Shannon Johnstone (2011 40 mile champ!)
Saturday, February 5, 2011 was the 20th running of the Uwharrie Trail Races. Each race course is 100% trail, (except for a few hundred yards on paved road to let the field jockey for position) and are on the Uwharrie Trail in Uwharrie National Forest near Troy, NC. The Uwharrie Races are 40 mile  (out’n back) 20 mile (point to point) and 8 mile.

As I understand, all races filled within 24 hours of registration in November of 2010. By good timing and acquaintance, I was able to get in through a back door with an entry from La Sportiva, one of the race sponsors. La Sportiva offers a non-ultra USA series, and this link shows a feature of this first race of the series. I hope to complete 5 of the 10 races. The 20-mile run was part of the cup. I am transparent that my recovery from last October's injury is going great, yet am getting stronger slowly and am not in good race or ultra shape, yet the entry appeared and I was happy to accept.

I planned on running Uwharrie 20 mile with the attitude of going out for a strong training run and that is exactly what unfolded. I didn't research about other women running, course records, or winner finishing times.

Mid winter weather in February also has reason to give pause. This weekend, especially. It rained all day Friday (mid 30’s). The normal 2.5-hour drive to Asheboro, NC, home of packet pick up wound up being 3.5 hours due to slow traffic and difficult dark and wet driving conditions.

Bib pickup was at The Exchange in Asheboro and it was great to reunion with several fine, wonderful running friends and new acquaintances: Sean Andrish, Scott Williams, Ryan Woods, to name a few! I must admit, while picking up a bib for the 20 miler, at first I felt kinda lame, just running the 20, compared to my love of ultra distance. Yet, it didn’t take long for reality to kick in. I am not trained right now for ultras and although I am moving in that direction, running the 40 would be a set back and a clear demonstration of impatience on my part.

Race start was 36ish degrees and drizzling. Driving to race start was slow with driving rain, yet by 8am, the weather had mellowed to mist and spitty rain.

I always have such a tough time deciding what to wear in cold rain…Yet I settled on Montrail Sabino Trail shoes, Dry Max socks, Zensah compression calf sleeves, Mountain Hardwear short pacer shorts, Patagonia sports bra, Mountain Hardwear Team jersey tank with LS Mountain Hardwear shirt of the same weight underneath. I had warm gloves and homemade water resistant over mitts on  my hands with chemical hand warmers and a Mtn Hardwear beanie that wound up stuffed in my sports bra when I warmed up a few miles in. I carried no calories or liquid and relied on the evenly spaced aid stations. Perfect choices and at mile 16ish, I slithered out of the long sleeve shirt and kept it tied around my waist.
Rollicking along at mile 17ish

I had a great time out there! I really like the format of being able to cheer on the 40-mile runners when we either passed them from behind or greeted the speedier ones head on as they returned from the 20-mile turn around. It was wonderful seeing so happy faces: Michael Mason, Brandon Thrower, Rick Gray, Shannon Johnstone, Angela White, Brian Beduhn, Brad Smythe, and so many other familiar kindred spirits. All you 40 milers influenced me with your endurance and tenacity! Thank you for your kind words too!

The weather turned out fine. Yes there was rain and mud and slick leaves and most of us mortals probably chose to slow a bit for the muddy creek crossing with invisible depths or bottoms.

typical Uwharrie trail
I got my challenging training run in-running/slogging the up hills instead of hiking, as I would have if running the ultra. Fueling was Heed and water from the aid stations and  bits of PB&J squares to equal about ¾ a sandwich. Perfect! If it were hot, this would have been a bad calorie choice, yet the cool temps allowed me to fuel less conservatively using “food” instead of gel. (Don’t get me wrong-I love my Clif Shots, yet did not carry them due to my projected lack of finger coordination in the cold to tear off the tops!) Good decision!

About ¾ a mile from the end, runners received a gift:
Uwharrie treat!
I’d been running alone in the southerly direction for a couple miles (though sharing trail with several returning 40-milers) and sitting under a tree on a log was a guy I can only describe as a magic man. Guy sitting on log in rain gear,  with a banjo, wearing a hat and working his mouth over a harmonica. How beautiful was his simple music! Not long after that was traffic sounds and the end. I entered into the finish line area and asked where the line was? A patient volunteer informed me that I had just crossed it!

Then I was congratulated and a big paper bag thrust into my hands. I protested. I was not 3rd woman! No way…wasn’t there several girls ahead of me at race start as well as me being passed by 2, even though I passed a couple?  But it turns out I was mistaken and I did wind up with a 3rd place finish of 3:26:25. Cool!

And just as cool, at the finish line, volunteering was Brian Beatty and Elizabeth Towe. Brian and Elizabeth are a stellar couple and couple of humans that work at Balanced PT/ Balanced Movement in Carrboro, NC and helped me through some tough times when I was recovering from a hamstring tear several years ago. Saturday was awesome little reunion, if only for a few minutes! Thanks to both of you for helping and everyone else!

During the van ride back to the parking area I met Rachel Cieslewicz, age 31 with the Newton Running Team from Salt Lake City. She finished 2nd in 3:15:26 and she invited me to stay with her if I run in Utah at one of the series races in August. I would gratefully accept if that race fits in my work life and potential World 100k in September.  The top speedy girl was wayyy ahead of all in 307:40, Martha Nelson, 29, of Washington, DC with the Wasatch Speed Goats. Great runs girls!

Ryan Woods of Boone, NC was 1st overall in the 20 mile. He was dealing with a sensitive ankle, high water crossings, yet still busted out a CR 2:23:16! He is a chiropractor and one of the folks helping me learn how not to get hurt again.  Congrats Dr. Ryan! After him were Scott Jared of AZ and Tom Clifford of Wilmington, NC. 

Please go to for complete results of the 40, 20 and 8-mile runs.

If you want a technical challenge and no flat running, are willing to appreciate wet feet and many leaves and roots, this well marked course and superbly managed event may be for you. Registration fills fast so keep an eye out at the above website. 

Side note. This past fall I was given the opportunity to test Dry Max Socks. Several of my ultra running teammates hold them in high regard for preventing blisters. I tried them spring of 2009 when preparing and racing 2009 World 24 Hour in Bergamo, Italy. I got blisters.
This time around, I did my homework. The socks are designed to work without taping and foot lube (both of which I used in 2009). This winter I have been wearing the socks with great comfort, only achieving blisters when I have yax trax strapped on my running shoes for several hours. The Uwharrie 20 miler was the true test. In the past during training runs and when running the 40 Mile I have limped for a couple days dealing with raw feet and loosing several toenails a week later. 

Saturday morning while dressing I did not body glide or tape my feet and ran with wet feet for almost 3.5 hours w/o hot spots or blisters! Wow! I need to wear these socks more to see if I got lucky, or if they are as special as I am told. Yet, from Saturday's surprise absence of blisters, I expect they just might be for real! Stay tuned for more reports on Dry Max Socks!

Many thanks to my fellow runners who shared the trails and shared support on our adventure on Saturday!


Rick Gray said...

Uwharrie is a wonderful set of races. I am so glad you were able to cruise along for a good tough training run and glad to know you are continuing to feel improvement. It was wonderful to see you in passing. See you soon.

Brandon Thrower said...

I wasn't expecting to see you there. Kinda caught me by surprise when I saw you were flying down that hill towards me. Congratulations on 3rd! Gotta love Uwharrie!

Brett said...

In my opinion, DryMax socks cannot be beat!

Bart said...

I enjoyed your race report. I'm sure we crossed paths, as I was running the 40 with Brad Smythe and Ronnie Weed. Congrats on your placing!

jennifer Nichols said...

YAY! wonderful race report! I love the part about the guy playing the banjo and harmonica at the end! I would of LOVED that!! :o)

SO happy to read that you are getting back in your "fighting shape"!! hope to share the trail with you soon!! miss ya!! ((HUG)) if you don't have a race, let's try to get an IMTR group run together for a St. Patty's Run!! march 12th?? we can run govt loop 24 or something fun like that! and yes, everyone has to dress tacky and in green!

(Mary) Shannon Johnstone said...

Annette!! GREAT job!! It is so inspiring to see you. Great report, and I am glad you like the photos! Hopefully Anthony and I will see you again next weekend too. (I am still limping a bit, so we will see..)

Brian Beatty said...

Annette, it was a pleasure to see you too, if only too briefly. Glad to see things are coming back together for you. The banjo man was fellow Trailhead Goofus, aka. Dr. Bruce Wilks of Carrboro Family Medicine, a great guy to have at any event.