2nd Raven Rock Rumble

Date:  Saturday, November 22

Distance:  10-mile (well, not quite) trail race
Location:  Lillington, NC
Time:  1:10:30
Pace:  7:03 mpm
Place:  1st
Temperature:  High 20s

Held at Raven Rock park, the Rumble is a somewhat challenging race, with many hills, exposed roots and rocks (most covered with leaves), and steps. Yes, steps once again. Two races in a row!

As it was a chilly morning, I wore a long-sleeve technical shirt, mid-thigh high running shorts, a hat, gloves, shoes and socks (yes, goes without saying, but so does a shirt and shorts), and, for the first time, Zensah shin splint/calf compression sleeves. I’ve worn arm sleeves before, but never calf sleeves. I have somewhat overdeveloped calves, and underdeveloped hamstrings. This may be why I can run downhill with little effort and with very little need for recovery, and am not a particularly strong of uphill runner.

I wore the sleeves all morning, i.e., driving to Lillington, warming up, racing, cooling down, driving home, and while taking the dog on a two-mile walk. Most of the time, I wasn’t even aware that I was wearing them. They are designed to prevent shin splints and calf injuries as well as aide in the recovery of splints or strains/pulls to the calf muscles. They are extremely comfortable to wear, and not at all restrictive or constricting. They are made with antibacterial and hypoallergenic material, and can be worn during any kind of weather, i.e., hot, cold, and any temperature in between. I’ll most definitely continue to run and race while wearing them. I picked up a pair of Zensah arms sleeves today. I plan on wearing shin/calf and arm sleeves at the upcoming Charlotte marathon. I may even wear shorts. And a shirt. And shoes and socks.

The race started promptly at 9 am, with Scott from Off ‘N Running Sports officiating. There were three of us in the lead pack, with a young man wearing a Florida Seminoles shirt leading most of the way, and another young man breathing heavily, yet staying with us. At mile two, Florida put some distance between us, as it was (no surprise) an uphill part of the trail. I dropped the person in third place.

Mile two to four were uneventful. Mile three, however, took place on a different trail than last year’s race, and it was much more treacherous. Many, many steps, and quite a steep downhill trail, too. Last year there was a water stop at the bottom of the hill, and my friend Phil Bailey had to tell me to turn around and go back up the hill! I was expecting something similar to happen this year. I was also expecting Florida to be heading back up the hill, as he was out of eyesight by this time, and had put distance between the two of us.

Neither happened.

Instead, the trail ended, and was taped off. No water stop or anyone giving directions. No sign saying, “Paul, turn around!” And no Florida. I stopped. Literally. I looked for a trail that wasn’t there, but that I was convinced Florida had seen and taken. It then dawned on me that this was indeed the turnaround. I waited for the rest of the pack to make it to the spot, so that I could at least get my thought confirmed! We all agreed that, while not clearly marked, it was indeed the turnaround. And turn around we did! I probably lost a minute or more.

I expected the rest of the pack to stay with me, as mile four was uphill, and I’m not the strongest uphill runner. To my surprise, I quickly dropped the rest of the pack.  

As mile five was also near the finish, there were lots of spectators, and they cheered loudly. Some even yelled my name. I suspect that was Scott and Phil.

Mile five through eight were uneventful. I could neither see nor hear anyone approaching from behind, and I pretty much turned it off. I kept thinking about the upcoming marathon, and I felt no need to push the pace.

I began to pass many five-mile racers, and continued to do so through the finish.

Speaking of the finish, it came upon me much sooner than I expected, and I didn’t even give a finishing kick.

I ran to my car, and as doing so heard someone yell, “And still you’re beating me! I was following your white shirt the whole race.” I introduced myself, as did Cullen, the second place finisher. He also was nice enough to take my picture. Yes, the shirt say “Fartlek, Just Let ‘Em Rip.” My friend Jason Figge, another member of Carolina Godiva, came in third. 

A fun race, and I’ll probably run again next year. Look for pictures of me running in the sleeves, as they’ll be posted soon.

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