Friday, August 31, 2012

Lots of Loopers!

Six names were added to the short list of crazy running-type people who have run the whole 20+ mile loop of Chicot State Park on Sunday, August 26th.  Here's the whole group:

From left: (standing) Tim and Karin Gill, Lonny Gaspard, Eric Gravish, Randy Aymond,
Me, Emma Valentine, Christina Gravish, Jason LeBlanc
(kneeling) Sandi Hernandez, Tara Greer, Kristi Mire
Three of this group had done the whole loop (20+ miles) the day before, but came out to grab a little more trail with us on Sunday - it's a sickness, folks. :)  Lonny, Randy, Emma, Jason, Colin and Sandi would all be looping for the first time.  They had all done trail runs of shorter distances in preparation, but this was the big day.  No out and backs for them, it was all or nothing.  Okay - that makes it sound a little more dramatic than it was, but it is a really big deal when folks make the whole loop for the first time.  It is NOT an easy run, and when it is hot, it is REALLY tough.  But, holding firm to looper tradition, there were no wimps or whiners in the group.  

We set out at a reasonable pace (walking the uphills from the start), knowing that it was going to be a tough day without us starting it out by making bad decisions.  Everything went as planned.  When the group would spread out a bit, we would bunch up at set points, then take off again.  We saw a huge family of hogs, but luckily they had no interest in some very smelly runners.  Everyone carried their own stuff - for me it took about 80 oz of water, and 2 gels.  For others it may have been less water and more gels - everyone is different.  But, everyone who was out there had completed long distance runs before, so they had taken the time to figure out their formula.

Even when we split up, it was easy for us to hear Emma.  Every time she saw a big mile marker, a yell could be heard throughout the forest.  It made me laugh every time.  The last mile marker on the trail is at mile 19, so it is tradition to get pictures with first time loopers there.  Some folks were ahead of me, so I missed them, but here are a few:

Yep, she yelled for this one too.  And yes, that is a
tiara on top of her hat.  This was her birthday present to herself -
her first 20 mile run EVER, and it happened to be a
very tough run.  Great job, Emma!!!

Randy at 19.  

Sandi at 19.

There were quiet spots when no one was talking when you knew there was some suffering going on, but there was no complaining, and everyone maintained a positive attitude (this is more important than you realize out there).  I have said it before folks - say what you want about other sports, but trail running only attracts the toughest and most humble people.  Those that are lacking in these qualities never last.  They may come out and crush the loop one time to say they did it, but they will never be a regular on these trails, and they will never have the discipline and smarts that these folks did to gradually work themselves up to running 20+ trail miles.  

There is no fancy equipment to buy for this.  You can't go out and spend hundreds of dollars to get the latest shoes that might be a little lighter, or made from carbon, or more aerodynamic, to help you out.  There is basic gear that everyone has that is pretty much the same stuff.  The results of your efforts are BECAUSE of your efforts.  If you run faster one loop than you did for the previous one, it can not be attributed to the gear or fancy bells and whistles.  It is because of YOU.  It is your legs that carried you forward, and your heart that kept you from quitting.  That is why it is so satisfying to me to bring people out there and watch them do something that is completely out of their comfort zone.  That is where the good stuff is, folks.

I have been glowing all week, just thinking about how proud I am of Sandi, Emma, Lonny, Randy, Colin, and Jason.  There is something very empowering about conquering something this difficult.  It makes you start to wonder what else you might be able to accomplish that you never even considered trying before.  I can't wait to see where this leads.  All good, all good.

Randy finishing.  It is so damn good to see those
cars, and know there is cold beer in your near future!!

Sandi finishing.  Sandi has brought most of her family
out with us to either run or hike the trails.
She is definitely paying it forward.

Special thanks to Lonny for the ice cold fruit at the finish.  That was such a great surprise, and much appreciated.  And special thanks to Randy for having beer iced down for when we got off of the trails.  The best tasting beers are those after a hard effort.

So if you are wondering if trail running is for you - there is only one way to find out!  Try it!!  It should be cooling off soon, and the insects should be chilling out some, so if that is what has been holding you back - EXCUSE CANCELED. :)

Have a great holiday weekend, and Happy Running!


Training Update:  Solid 50 mile week last week.  Felt strong, and no issues.  Staying on top of my stretching and cleaning up my diet.  Hurricane derailed me a bit this week, but no worries.  Got in a 13 miler today, and while it sucked, it was yet another deposit into my running account.  Cactus Rose in late October is a BIG withdrawal  so I have to build up my accounts as much as possible before then.  Hill training starting in September.  Tower of Terror runs looming!!  I'll keep you posted in case any knuckleheads out there care to jump on board.

Business Update:  Well I continue to be ignored in my requests for the same monthly reports that I sent my "partners" every week while I was working at the store. I guess they think that if they ignore me long enough, I will just give up.  :)

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