Saturday, February 22, 2014

Number 46 - 2014 Thrill in the Hills 21K

This morning, for number 46, I walked the Thrill in the Hills 21K (half marathon) trail race.  Fourth year in a row doing this race - it doesn't get easier - if anything it gets harder, or at least seems that way.  The good news though, knee still holding up fine since switching to walking exclusively - no pain at all.  I was a bit concerned about this as the knee was stiff all week - not sure why.

The venue for the race is Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, GA.  This year they capped the race (21K & 42K) at 575.  With parking close by at a premium and with the amount of cars required to get 575 people there, thought it would be best to get there early so I was out the door just before 6:00 AM.

Once again I was treated to some nice sunrise views/reflections upon arrival:

Sunrise at Fort Yargo
This was just behind where race check-in took place so after taking this headed over to pick my race bib & shirt.  Was pleased to receive a long sleeve technical shirt this year - have way too many short sleeve from doing these races.  Looks like they came up with a new slogan on the shirt:

"More chills, spills, thrills, hills.  I live for this!"  I'm not so sure I live for this but I suspect some who do these type races do - I'm just happy to have another long sleeve technical shirt  : )

The 42Kers started at 8:00 and the 21Kers at 8:30.  This did make sense as getting 575 people into the woods on a single track at the same exact time would be a real mess. So just prior to 8:30 made my way to the back of the pack of the 21Kers and waited for the start.  Temperature was in the low 40s.

They thinned us out on the road prior to hitting the woods so by the time I got to the woods, not many others around.  As far as trail races go, this one is not too bad, in regards to rocks, roots, and such.  Don't get me wrong , those elements did exist but relative to other trail races I've done, this one is not too bad.  This next picture is probably pretty typical for the rock/root sections:

 However, there was a lot of pine straw (pine straw can = slippery for footing) on the trail.  I lost my footing once but luckily arms went out quick enough prior to doing a face plant.

I am pretty sore right now from the race in general, suspect even more so tomorrow morning.  It's to be expected though - a little stretching and in a few days it'll be fine.  I think trail races are tougher on the body because unlike a road race where for the most part you are go in a straight line on (mostly) even terrain on trails almost every step has to be somewhat calculated.  The rocks, roots, gullies, pine straw, puddles, leaves all have to be considered before you put your next step down.  The by-product of this, you are hardly ever going in a straight line on an even surface.  So you do find your body contorting almost constantly - using muscles maybe not used so much.  But, this is actually part of the allure of doing trail races.  It is fun.

The one thing that stood out more than anything on the trail was the size of this burl around mile 5:

Now I have gotten away from turning wood on my lathe, but if I could get some of this burl wood...  I'm sure it must have incredible wood grain patterns.  Maybe someday...

It was a good race I'm glad I got to do it again.