Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Racing the Blazer

Yesterday I did my last hard workout before Masochist.  After Superior Sawtooth, I had big plans of incorporating quality speed-work into my weekly training in hopes of making an honest effort at racing again in five weeks.   I've never been the model of consistency when it comes to speed work - I should have known it would never last.  The first few interval and fartlek sessions left me very sore, achy, and a feeling of "on the verge" of injury.  I quickly altered my training plan and replaced the shorter speed sessions with more longer tempo runs and "climbathons" as I like to call them.  Yesterday was a climbathon workout.

The workout goes like this: 1M warm-up at the bottom of Cheat Mtn (not the Cheat Mtn; click icon above), then slowly get into the tempo aspect of the run by pushing moderately hard on the first climb, solidly running the downhill, then really starting to push with the second climb - running almost all out toward the top, then running the final downhill hard.  It's essentially a progression run.  Does it work?  Can't hurt I figure and the workout seems to incorporate the key ingredients needed for Masochist - much more than doing 200m repeats on the track.

The run was going fine and at the bottom of the final sustained climb I passed an old beat-up Chevy Blazer at the first switchback of this very rugged road.  This beater had no back glass, huge dents in the sides and back, tons of rust, no rear-view mirror, and no side mirrors - to say that it wouldn't pass inspection would be an understatement.  The driver joked a little when I ran by and his girlfriend asked if I wanted a ride.  I just smiled and told them to check back at the top of the hill.  They slowly drove off, forcing me to breathe their exhaust for longer than I liked and I figured that I had seen the last of them.  Oddly enough, I kept catching glimpses of them ahead in the next turn and they were getting closer as the intensity of my effort increased. 

In the middle of one of the upcoming switchbacks, the guy had stopped to apparently relieve himself and I passed them once again.  They quickly shot past and I again hoped they were long gone.  No such luck.  At this point I was half-mile from the summit and running hard.  Right near the top, I silently crept up on them - taking full advantage of their lack of mirrors.  As I popped up at the driver's side at the top, I believe he got a pretty good scare as he let out a few expletives and told me I was like "an Injun" or maybe he meant "engine" - I don't know?  As I quickly accelerated to attack the rocky downhill, I yelled to him, "Hey man, let's race to the bottom!."  I should have chosen my words more wisely since there's not much a redneck likes more than a good race (look how popular NASCAR is).

The dude reved up his fluttering engine and it was on.  I had a short lead from the start, but he was gaining fast.  We approached the first sharp switchback with tons of loose rock.  I bombed through it, knowing I could gap him here.  I accelerated on the straight-away - nearly out of control into the next switchback.  I glanced back; a gap of 50 yards is what I see.  No letting up now.  I put my head down - legs burning from the pace and the pounding.  I continued at break-neck pace for probably another five minutes before looking back.  No sign of the Blazer.  He was broken and the race was won.

As I glided back down the mountain to my truck, there was no medal or applause waiting for me.  The simple satisfaction of racing down a beat-up Blazer was prize enough.  Another great run for the memory bank. . . I think I am officially insane.


  1. Adam,

    NICE! I've never outrun a vehicle like that, good work. This climbathon madness is just the ticket for your success at Masochist. Good luck!

  2. Thanks Matt. Hopefully there are a few Blazers on the Masochist course to chase after.

  3. "Here, hold my beer". Was that also what he said to you??
    The Blazer probably also broke down on the way down the mountain!
    Best of luck at Masochist!!

  4. You sneaky little Injun! Such a great story of racing the redneck. I have never had the pleasure of racing a vehicle in the mountains, but remembering back to my road running days when I would have some fun. Growing up on the roads it always seemed that the bulk of the yells and hollers I received seemed to come from ladies (loose term) that did not have many teeth. Occasionally I would get some yells from a car full of young guys. They always seemed to do their yelling as they were pulling out from a stop light. They were too stupid to realize that I was running and that there were other stop lights up ahead. I just loved to catch them before they left the next stop light. I have had many a good time of picking up a big handfull of leaves from the side of the road and throwing it through the window. Nice little payback. It certainly sounds like you are ready for Masochist. You are going to have many runner to chase down, so just think back to the old truck and you will have a great run. Rest up as Masochist is just about here.

  5. Nice story...sounds like you're ready for Masochist to me. I've got a couple of related tales, racing cars while on my bike, down from the Blue Ridge Parkway on some curvy roads. I could peel around corners faster than they could, so I would see just how long I could stay in front of them.

    When I run on the bridle trails over at Umstead Park, I enjoy racing the casual mountain bikers up the hills. There aren't too many sections that have enough uphill for me to stay ahead for too long, but it's fun when they pass me on the downhill, then I pull up next to them going back up. We're both working pretty hard, but when I pass, they usually can't respond.

    Good times...

  6. love it! sounds like great Masochist training, I know you will do well. you never know,you might get lucky and find some hunters to race out there. we saw several on the practice run :)

  7. I love what a sick little puppy you are, Adam! The look on the guy's face must have been priceless. Good luck at Masochist!

  8. I agree that you're officially insane.

  9. Thanks for all the comments. . . You know you're crazy when ultrarunners say so!