Friday, January 13, 2012

Yesterday's Run-Jefferson Memorial Forest and the First Snow of Winter

With each step the rain fell heavier, the sky shaded grayer, and the wind cut deeper, stronger. My fingers didn’t hurt anymore; they were numb, as were my bare legs. The skin covering my quadriceps was rose colored from the sting of the icy droplets that pelted my exposed flesh each time I raised my leg to stride up the steep trail. The wind cut through my jacket. It wasn’t like I was naked though... It was as if I had no skin at all. The more-than-brisk blast would cut to my core, and push me along the trail. It coursed through me, in my lungs, pumped by my beating heart to my muscles. The wind went through me, in me, and around me. I was permeable; the rain and the environment in its entirty moved through me. It occupied the free atmosphere inbetween the atoms and molecules that together in unison make my being. My fluid corpse was like water tumbling down a swift mountain river or stream, controlled by greater forces, except gravity wasn't a factor. I moved up, and down, as the trail and fierce winter day moved me on my path through the forest.

In the begining of the run, when I could still feel the sting of the cold, It started like a war. I could find shelter from the incoming artillery, (which was the wind), when the trail would turn south, and the ridgeline protected me from the onslaught. Then I once again succumbed to my fate, succumbed to the worsening conditions and just ran. I let the fury of the weather around me fuel me. I felt nothing, I expended no energy. When I was on a slope protected from the wind, I noticed the leaves in their stillness, unaffected by the wind, silent and still. Yet somehow I was still propelled forward. The wind abated yet I continued as the front had culminated in still cooler temps which yielded snow from the rain which was my original running companion. The snow fell around me, and I became a flake, blowing down the trail horizontally.

Running in the heat of summer, one word comes to mind; oppresed. The freezing temps however cut to the innermost core of my being, and I felt free,, one with the world in which I was living in immediately. I was lighter and surpassed my organic being. Even my feet felt light. The thick and wide spaced lugs on my shoes bit the ground with precision. Each step gripping, but not clunky.

I needed no fuel, I needed no fluid. As I moved through the forest, I mentally recollected the surroundings in which I began my run that morning. It was in the 40's. It was raining. I was wet. The forest floor was brown and covered in leaves of maple. Hours later, it was in the 20's and the forest floor had changed before my eyes. From originally looking as if it had taken a slight dousing of powdered sugar, to being covered in the afternoon by over an inch of freshly fallen snow, it had transformed before my eyes. My jacket had dried out too. The heat from my body was never noticed by my conscious senses, yet it must have existed, because my jacket was dry.

Time was ephemoral and non-existant in the same time. I lived in the moment as the world around me changed drastically. It could have been 1 second or 100 years. Eventually I reached my car and my senses returned. I peeled off my wet and muddy shoes and socks, and turned on the heat as I drove home, mind renewed, spirit cleansed, and refreshed.

Troy Shellhamer 1/12/12

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hangover Classic 10 Miler, and a new summer race.

I had been excited to race in the Hangover Classic for quite a few weeks prior to the race. Over the fall, I had done more road work than usual in recovering from my broken toe.

The morning came in with a cold slap in the face, with a wind coming in from the west that felt like an icy shotgun blast. It seemed as though 70% of the race was in the headwind, although I am sure it was closer to only half of the race.

My goal was to run faster than 1 hour 02 minutes. At the halfway point, I noticed I was at 31 mintues exactly. I wondered if I could hold pace even with the advanced energy expenditure required during the opening half. I kept digging harder and harder, and pushed the pace faster with each mile, thereby enduring more pain with each mile. The runners around me were strong. I managed to drop a few and gain some placement, but other runners who had paced themselves well also showed up, for new company.

My face contored, and my lungs screamed the last two miles. When I felt I couldn't push more, I did.

I managed to cross the line in exactly one hour and I was thrilled. The exact distance was 10.1 miles.

It's always a fun event, filled with friends and great comaraderie.


551 miles of racing. 14 Days.

It's official; On June 30, I will be partaking in the first Tour De Virginia.
It is a 14 day stage race, covering the entire Virginia section of Appalachian Trail.

There is an 8 mile prologue stage as well, which brings the total to 559 miles overall.

I am excited for this challenge, as the distance is something I have never encountered/attempted before. It would definitely be advantageous to a runner with advanced age, maybe 40 years old, as the likelihood for injury would be lessened. However I have been wise in training, and the base work required to attempt this feat is just what I should be doing in summer.

For many reasons I couldn't pin down my summer race, and when the opportunity presented itself to do this race, I knew I had to make it happen.

It is going to be incredible to run with runners I look up to, who are at the pinnacle of our sport, for 2 weeks on a trail I thru-hiked 6 years ago.