Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hobby Jogging: 6/25/11 - Winston-Salem, NC - Ultimate Runner

The Ultimate Runner is a race I've been hearing about for years, but until yesterday, had never tried it. The Ultimate's an event held yearly where 108 athletes compete in the mile, 400, 800, 100 and then finish it off with a 5k cross country race. The only rest you get is the time it takes to run the other heats (there are 8), so towards the end, you aren't getting much rest, for instance, from the 100 to the 5k it's a pretty quick turnaround. It is scored by place in each event (lowest overall wins).

Off we go in the first event of the day, the mile
After the first race, I thought I was setting up for a terrible night. Lined up for the mile, got out good, ran the first 400 around 75 and started to roll by people. At around 600, I hesitated in passing someone, thinking I'd get them on the next straight. When I went to move, nothing happened. "He who hesitates is lost!" The next 800 was just slow and I jogged across the finish in 5:23, feeling like I was running on empty. After having two flights cancelled Thursday and then having to fly to NYC and back on Friday over a span of 12 hours, I thought maybe I was just exhausted. I sure as hell wasn't going to give up though! At the opening ceremonies, they dump out the ashes of burned unearned Ultimate Runner shirts, from the year before (you must complete all events to "earn" your shirt).

Party at Burke St Pub
In retrospect, I probably should have worn my trainers for the mile, but wore my lunaracers, and they felt terrible. I also was wearing compression socks. On a hot day, they just contained unwanted heat. Shin pain aside, it was time to dump the flats and socks and lace up the Zoom Rival D's for the 400. Visions of my old high school track coach were going through my head as I began to prepare for the sprint. He once made me run the first 400 of the 1600 in 61 seconds after he thought I dogged it in the 4x800. I didn't want to give any more half efforts, for fear of hearing "you can't make chicken soup outta chicken $hit" in my head after the next race!

The 400 went better. Went as hard as these 32 year old legs could go, without red-lining, and was happy with a 64.4. Decided to keep the spikes on for the 800 and immediately walked a lap around the track before doing a few short strides to stay loose for the 800. I had a plan in the 800. Solid first lap, hammer the second one. It worked. Went out maybe a tad slow in 76, but then began to reel people in. One by one, I'd pick up a little speed with each pass and moved from 10th to 3rd in a lap, finishing in 2:24. Pretty happy with that 68 closer!

Up next was "hamstring hell," the 100. This and the 400 is where the sprinters make up points on the distance runners. It was fun to watch, but not so fun to run, as I had a 51 second 400 guy in my heat (who was 37 at that)! I churned out a 14.4 and immediately went over to put the trainers on for the 5k.

Jack finishes up his 25th Ultimate
The 5k was a maze of sorts with plenty of 90 degree angle turns over two foot wide bridges and under dark overpasses, that was probably closer to 3.2 miles than a 5k, but with place being the only important thing, time didn't matter. The entire field lined up on the track and we took off. Cruised the first 600 before starting to pick people off one by one. The first mile went great in 6:02 or so. This is when the lactic acid was on full blast and holding ground was important. Passed a few more people in the backwoods of mile 2 and hit the 2 mile in around 12:30 or so. Wow, was I that slow? Maybe, but I continued to pass folks, so I was pleased. The last mile hurt and the last 500 meters on the track for the finish wasn't exactly blazing. I was happy to finish 16th in a modest 19:49.

After I finished, did a barefoot cooldown of 3/4 mile or so on the grass while I waited on 75 year old Jack Ibrahim to finish up. Jack has done all 25 Ultimate Runners and took a big spill during the mile, causing concern amongst everyone there. They don't call it "25 years of blood, sweat and beers" for nothing!

Onto the beers part... The Twin City Track Club put on an awesome party and awards ceremony on the back deck of Burke Street Pub in downtown Winston-Salem, equipped with free beer and free pizza; a runner's paradise! This was where everyone was recognized individually for completing the Ultimate Runner and was given their shirt. Lots of great camaraderie amongst the competitors too as everyone knows runners are the most interesting people!

To the victors go the spoils!
So I got my shirt and said my goodbyes and began to walk out the door, until I saw the official results sheet. Pretty surprised to see I won my age group! That's right, I'd be taking home one of the cool mugs that you get for that (or placing top 15). Mission accomplished!

Very cool event and I'll certainly be back next year! And big congrats to my friend Molly Nunn, who won the women's overall title for the fourth year in a row, after winning the Freedom Run 10k in Greensboro earlier that day!

Here is a PDF of the full results

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1 comment:

  1. That's a great write up with several good quotes form your HS coach that made me laugh. Good job on the 400, 800, and mile. I'd take those times. You're getting back at it well! That's a tough event. I gonna have to try to do it next year. The after party sounds worth it alone