Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blackstrap Heaven - Mud, Hills and Bacon

"I don't like bacon. I love it. Dah!" (May or may not be the actual lyrics, but everything's better with bacon.)

Today was the first annual Blackstrap Heaven - The Other Side of Hell, the sister race to Blackstrap Hell. First off, huge thanks to Jeff for conceiving this race, marking the course and putting it all together. The course, although only 5.33 miles, was a mix of mud, hills, knee-deep puddles, more mud, a couple more hills and a nasty piece of metal (more on that in a second). Eleven of us showed up to run this race, plus one aid-station volunteer, and partake of a great post-race spread that consisted of a lot of bacon. Me? I brought maple frosted donuts with bacon on them. Because, everything's better with bacon.

As for the race, Jeff gave us instructions as how to not get lost—or at least try—and we were off. I ran for a short while behind Jeff, Ian, James and Carter with Jamie just behind me, but trying to run at a less than slow pace without a warmup was not the best decision. I was really creaky and stiff, and quickly fell behind. I could see that group ahead of me for a while, then I just had to follow their footprints, which were obvious in the mud. Jamie was close behind, so I was getting pushed and pulled the whole way.

Just before turning up one of the largest hills there was apparently some type of metal wire sticking up from the ground. I say, "apparently," because I didn't see it. I just ran into it. I think I must have kicked it with my right foot because the nasty, pointy end of it rammed into my left leg. I paused, looked down and saw that not only was my leg scraped but my sock was also torn, or rather, ripped in half. Kinda messy. It did earn me "The Best Strawberry Award."

At the top of this hill Randy was manning the aid station. Why is there an aid station in a 5 mile race? Because the aid is Allen's Coffee Brandy! I downed my shot for my 30 second time bonus, heckled Jamie for not doing the same and took off. I'm not sure if it was the tasty treat or if I had just finally warmed up, but I started to feel a lot better. From that point, there was one more good size down and an up, then more mud and primarily downhill to the finish in 43:37.

Overall, the race went better than I had expected. Based on my relative tightness following my speed work this week and the quasi-mysterious tightness from yesterday, I didn't expect much. A warmup certainly would have helped, but managing 8:10 pace over that terrain is failry encouraging. Plus, it was a lot of fun. Including the post-race celebration, which consisted of us hanging out in a small field and eating a whole lot of pork products. Because everything's better with bacon! Good times. Thanks again to Jeff for putting this all together.

Here are the official results.

Can't wait to see the pics and video!

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