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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rod Jetton- 1 Insane Trail Race Outcome

Camp Galilee

When I first saw the name of this race I wondered why they called it 1 Insane race, but after running it I totally understand.  First of all who starts any kind of race in July at 5:00pm?  I don’t know what I was thinking when I registered or why I thought it would be cool by 5pm, but I was wrong.  In July the sun is not even close to going down at 5pm, as a matter of fact it was still quite high in the sky and I am slightly sunburned from the “late” afternoon race. 

I made a wise decision before this race and stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom.  Turns out there were no bathrooms at the race so I avoided the problem I had at the July 4th half marathon.  For the record it was 102 degrees when we started this painful session at 5pm.  As soon as I got out of the car to go check in at the registration table I started sweating.  I checked in at 4:43, changed into my running shoes and put on my camelback.  Unfortunately, I didn’t double tie my shoes and when the race started they came untied and I had to stop about 50 yards into the race to retie them.  

I really didn’t worry about that much because I wasn’t running for time, but I thought how that would have driven me crazy back in my college days.  Needless to say I was in last place at that point.  
So can you tell what language this is?
Soon after the start, another aspect that drove many of us insane were the course markings and turns.  I have no idea what language they were written in but it was not English.  This race took place at Camp Galilee so I assume it was Hebrew, or maybe Greek, but I had no idea what they met. While it seemed like most of us were nice Christian runners, I don’t think we had many Hebrew Bible scholars in the crowd because we all got lost (except for me- Marines are never lost just occasionally disorientated).  I knew things were not going as planned when I met the fast runners coming towards me about a mile into the race.

The reason I thought this was strange was because the race director had told me it was a loop course.  Now, I have run a lot of races and I have run hundreds of loops.  The one thing I know about as loop is, you don’t meet people coming the other direction than you.  They call that an out and back course.  But I just ignored them and jogged along trying to tell myself to slow down and not start to fast with all the 5k runners like I did in the 1/2  marathon.

About this time we came around to the same trail we had been on which again seemed odd on a loop course.  We all stopped looked at each other and asked questions and tried to stay calm, relaxed and not freak out.  Racers hate not knowing which way to run even when we are just “jogging.”  A girl and an old guy who were behind me ran by and headed up a steep hill and said she thought that was the way.  So I took off and followed them.  She had a fancy Garmen watch on and some of those compression socks so I thought she seemed like a trail veteran and probably knew this course.

After catching up with her and taking several minutes to catch my breath enough to ask a question I inquired if she had run this course before?  About that time we hit a turn and she stopped and I could tell she had no idea where she was going.  Fortunately, there was a cooler with water there and I noticed an empty bottle trail to our right and said this must be the way.  

Just around that turn the lead fast runners who I had met earlier were coming down a separate trail and rejoining the race.  They were not too happy and I have no idea where they had wondered to, but I’m betting they ran a long way off course, so it all seemed fair.  They quickly passed me as they mumbled about having no idea where to run.  When you’re a fast runner competing for a place, things like that bother you more.
The course continued on and crossed over itself two more times and I kept jogging around the “loop” meeting several runners all wondering which way to go.  I took some satisfaction in thinking at least I would know the course on the second lap.  I walked the uphill sections to save my legs, but kept a steady pace over the rest of the first “loop.”  The girl and the old guy who had gray hair were just in front of me, but I couldn’t catch them until the last part of the first loop.  

By this time I was thinking if I slowed down the sun would sink lower and it would be cooler for the last lap. Then I came to the turn around and ran all the way back to the starting line, which is what the race director told us to do at the beginning, but as I turned around I noticed the girl turning around at the water table 50 yards away.  As I jogged back up to the water table he said, “You could have turned around here.”   I muttered, “That’s not what you said at the start.” He replied, “My bad.”  It took me 32:00 minutes  to run the first lap.  

I was thinking bad things right at that point because the sun was beating down on my head after taking the wrong path and wondering around and now this “girl” was in front of me.  I quickly caught her and the old guy and passed them but the effort tired me out and I had to walk.  When they passed me back he exclaimed, “Were half way done.”  I added, “That I, was only a 1/3rd done.” 

They were very nice and we helped each other find our way around through the whole race and it helped me stay motivated trying to keep up with them.  I made my way through the second “loop” and only got turned around once.  I never caught back up to the girl and the old guy but I was dramatically slowing down and it was happening quickly.  I changed my strategy and was now only running the downhill sections.  I know it’s sad but you have no idea how hard it is to carry 214 pounds through a trail in 102 degree heat.  

You may remember when I registered for this insane race I mentioned I may run the 4th “loop” if I felt good and get a 20k in.  What a laugh that is now.  All I could think about was stopping after two loops.  I wanted to quit so bad.  I was hurting and the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I had never in all my years not finished a race.  

When I came around the corner to the starting line I saw the “girl’ at the water table but the old guy was back by the tent.  I was a bit delirious and had my uplifting Christian music on so I can’t say for sure, but I think she was trying to get him to run another “loop.”  I walked to the water table got me a cold bottle of water and gritted my way down the trail for my final “loop,” wondering if it would be my final act in life.

Then the nice “girl” with the Garmen watch and compression socks jogged by me and said something that I think was encouraging.  At this point I was hurting so bad I really didn’t care, but I have to admit that when I saw her stopped about a mile up the trail I felt a bit more macho.  She was bent over and I asked, "Are you ok."  She said, "Yes, but a few miles ago I was puking my guts up."  I responded, "Do you need anything," and she said, "No, I'm fine just resting."  So I jogged on for as long as I thought she could see me and then started walking again.
Each step was hurting at this point and I had to stop half way up the hills just to catch my breath.  The water in my camelback was hot and there is nothing worse than sucking down plain hot water in a race.  I was grabbing a cold water bottle at each cooler and drinking all I could but it wasn’t enough.

At this point the 20k runners were passing me but they were hurting too.  The first three looked strong but after that they were all suffering.  One kid passed me right at the end but he stopped and visited with me a bit.  He told me his longest previous race was only a 5k.  We walked in together and he is fortunate to be young because in that heat running a 20k for the first time should have killed him.  

This is me hurting!!
I’m proud to say I walked the whole way in and finished the race.  When I stopped I was seeing spots and felt dizzy so I fell down on the grass and drank water.  I don’t know how long I was there but they gave out all the awards and door prizes and I finally got up used the hose to cool down, wash off and slowly walked to the car.

The “old guy” and “girl” were married which probably makes the old guy not so old and helped me feel better.  Unfortunately, the “girl” was older than I thought, which makes me feel worse, but man was she in shape.  They were very nice and I talked with them and several other top runners.  It made me feel good that everyone was talking about how hot it was and some of the guys planned on doing the 20k and 15k races but stopped at the 10k.  I guess I should have too.

They also told me about the 50k trail race in October and said that course is a lot harder than this one.  They mentioned it had a 7 mile uphill section.  It’s a 25k loop that you run forward and backwards.  I wonder if when they say loop they mean a regular loop or a 1 Insane “loop?”   

Even though I have been joking a bit about the heat and the course it was a fun race.  We runners like to suffer and then brag about it.  The race director was a wonderful guy who had some great awards and each of us got a cedar medallion cut from a cedar tree from the trail proving we had completed the race.  He promised to have more signs up next year, and I would recommend some chalk, but the course was really a fun one.  There were a few hills but it wasn’t too bad and the rocks and creeks made it exciting.  The website said, "Be prepared for water in the creeks if it rains," and I would have thanked the Lord if that was the case this year, but in July I doubt next year they will be wet.     

The best part was the money they raised went for missions and everyone from racers to volunteers to spectators were helpful and friendly.  The scary thing is wondering how I will ever hope to finish a 50k race on much steeper hills by October.   I can only hope the cooler weather will help and I’ll be 20 pounds lighter!  I suffered but had a great time and can’t wait to come back next year, hopefully 20 pounds lighter and better acclimatized to the July heat.           

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