Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Countdown Begins

Only three days to go before the race, and I'm a little nervous. I left all of my running gear at home this morning, so I can't run after work. I guess I'll have to make do with the treadmill tonight, since it's too dark to run on the roads around my house without a reflective vest (which I really need to get soon).

I read an article written about last year's race that has made me nervous about not being prepared for this run. It describes the course as a "tough 4-Mile Trail that took them through rough sand, sharp turns and over a couple tough sand hills (including Sugar Loaf)." Sand hills? I have no experience running on sand. I've tried to prepare myself for high-stepping over tree roots and running around turns, but who knows how agile I'll be after that many miles over that terrain.

I'm also concerned about the temperature. I live much farther north than the race will be, so it will be a little warmer than I'm used to, but the report keeps changing every day. Right now, it says that the low for the night before is 45 and the high for that day is 56. I'll have to bring all of my gear just in case the report changes again.

Here's a map of the park where the race is held. And here's a photo of a sand ridge from somewhere in the park. Also, here's a little more info I dug up on the web:

"Sugarloaf, a 50-foot high relict sand dune near the bank of the Cape Fear River, is part of an east–west ridge of sand dunes formed thousands of years ago during the late Pleistocene epoch. Gradually trees and grasses stabilized the dunes by holding the sands in place. The massive sand dunes reminded early settlers from Barbados of the mounds of sugar at their home port, and the name “Sugarloaf” stuck. Today, Sugarloaf is a part of Carolina Beach State Park. Sugarloaf appeared on navigational charts as early as 1738 and was an important landmark for river pilots."

Apparently, Sugarloaf dune is the only elevation on the trail, which is a relief to hear. I've looked at some other pictures and it really seems very scenic, and not to mention entirely new. Whether or not I perform well in the race, it is a new adventure for me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Eowyn Challenge

In August 2003, at the height of "Lord of the Rings" movie hype, I came across a website called the Eowyn Challenge. The challenge was to set and reach fitness goals with the support of other LOTR fans. The main event of the challenge was called the "The Walk to Rivendell", which entailed walking, running, biking, etc. for 458 miles, the equivalent of the distance from Hobbiton to Rivendell in Middle Earth. Over 5 years -- and several thousand miles -- later, I am still on the road to Rivendell, setting new goals and challenges. I began by walking, and eventually I got back into running, which I had all but abandoned in the year preceding my discovery of the Challenge. Now I've run in three 5Ks, and my current challenge is a 4-mile trail run in a few days.

I began training for this race a little over three weeks ago. At that time, I had planned for sprint workouts and long runs incorporated into my training. First the weather didn't cooperate, and then, on my first sprint workout, I hurt myself, despite a careful warm-up before the sprints. That set me back a lot. I've done a couple of 4-mile runs over the past few weeks, but my usual every-day run is only 2 miles. I'm averaging about 8-minute miles on those runs, and I hope I can hold that pace for the full 4 miles. I am going to run another 2 miles tomorrow and just walk on the next two days before the race. No matter how I do in this race, I hope to continue running consistently throughout the winter, when I usually slack off.