Friday, October 12, 2018

Private Murphy Gets In the Way Again

  In the military, Murphy’s Law is something we always think about when making plans.  If you weren’t familiar with this adage, it’s “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”  In the Army, some of us have taken to calling Murphy’s Law “Private Murphy,” because it would usually be a private or someone low ranking who doesn’t pay attention to the details of the mission and messes up the scenario.  Well, Private Murphy decided to come along for a trail running race with my wife and I, and it cost us more than being able to cross the finish line. 

  Several months ago, I received an invitation to run in a brand new half-marathon race due to my video recording abilities.  This past April, I ran in the initial True to the Brew Trail Run/Hike, a 6.5 mile trek through a part of the Palmetto Trail.  In usual fashion, I ran with my GoPro Hero 6 to record the course as I ran and augmented it with the Karma Grip to keep the camera stable while recording.  The highlight video I created from that race impressed the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, the organization responsible for the promotion, care taking, and maintenance of the Palmetto Trail and Grit Endurance who organized the race.  I felt very ecstatic about all this and wanted to provide the same type of video with the half marathon.

  But I haven’t run a half-marathon in almost three years from the start date of the True to the Brew Half Marathon.  I don’t count the Bad Rock Ultra, even though I complete 13.1 miles because I had 12 hours to complete at least three laps totaling the half marathon distance and I had (almost) all the time in the world to rest between laps. 

  So in typical military leadership fashion, I decided to do use the “backwards planning” technique to figure out what all I needed to do and prepare for some kind of success with recording and running in this race. 

When I initially got the race invitation, I looked up Croft State Park, the location for the True to the Brew half marathon and saw some steep hills in this section of the Palmetto Trail.  This made me think that I would be going a lot slower than I would want.  It would require me to get new running gear, expand my electronics capabilities, and keep myself going the whole time.

  I knew my time has significantly slowed down since the year before I retired from the Army, but that I was also going a little slower than normal on the two half marathons I participated in back in 2015.  My average times back then for a half marathon were about an 8:40 mile with an overall run time of 1 hour and 55 minutes.  I wanted to run the True to the Brew in about a 9:30 mile to even a 10 minute mile pace pitting me in the range of around 2 hours and 10 minutes.  Considering I am normally comfortable running between a five and 10 kilometer distance, I didn’t need to work on short, fast distances but focus on a slower long distance pace.  I commenced on running my training runs at a 9:30 pace while just running whatever time I could on a regular race before the True to the Brew happened.  I built a plan to implement longer distances as race day and race week got closer with the help of backwards planning.

  When it came to recording the footage, I knew my GoPro Hero 6 would need an upgrade in SD cards.  I run with a 32 Gigabyte card.  With most GoPro settings such as Pro Tune turned off, I get 1:50:00 to record.  Looking my best time for a half-marathon, I would be short at least five minutes if I just ran with my equipment as is.  So, I had to shop around for a 64 Gig SD card that could handle the taxing requirements of a Hero 6.  There’s a big difference the SD cards that work in the GoPro Hero 5 and older iterations and the GoPro Hero 6.  Anyway, besides the race itself, I try to record the before and after scenes of the race.  That meant I definitely need to get the bigger card, so after searching Amazon, Best Buy, and Target, I got one on Ebay for about ten dollars cheaper than anything in stores.  And a 64 Gigabyte SD card brought my recording time to three hours and forty minutes. 

  But I had another problem and one I couldn’t simply upgrade with an SD card.  The GoPro Karma Grip has a battery life of one hour and 45 minutes.  I figured I need to do one of two things: either select times to turn on the GoPro for recording or come up with a plan to charge the Karma Grip during the race.  Since I hadn’t run that trail before, the first option didn’t seem reasonable to me, so I went with the latter.  To do that though, I research if it was possible and it was with a portable battery charger, but I couldn’t find anyone showing how long using a battery charger would prolong the GoPro Karma Grip’s power usage.  I ran my own tests and came up with two hours and 30 minutes.  That worked for me, but I would need to have a means to carry a battery charger during the race. 

  I determined that I would have to wear a trail running vest for this race.  I have never worn one for a run before so I reached out to several YouTubers who were very familiar with running vests and went with a very inexpensive but usable trail running vest sold on Amazon.  I tested it out a couple of times and would adjust its fitting periodically.

  I also determined that while I usually don’t carry additional water or supplements during any runs or races, I figured I should have a couple of my Science In Sport gel packs, especially since this was a trail race with hills and water stations would be placed three to four miles apart.  I could carry them in my new trail vest, too.

  I also had to get new running shoes for this race.  When I ran the 6.5 mile race back in April I skipped on wearing my favorite running shoes, my On Cloudflyer and used a normal looking New Balance Vazee because On’s shoes are notorious for picking up rocks, acorns, and anything small that would get wedged between the cloud pockets.  Fortunately, a local outdoors store had a great sale on shoes and I spotted a pair of Altra trail shoes for about sixty US dollars.  However, Altra shoes are known for their “zero drop” style shoes.  “Zero drop” means that your toes and heels are on the same level in the shoes as opposed to most shoes where the heel is slightly higher due to increased cushioning built into the shoes.  My Altra Lone Peak 3.5 shoes had great grips for trails but I would need to wear them for the better part of six weeks to get used to how they felt and how to run in them without injuring myself.

  After I went through and did a PCI, or Pre Combat Inspection, of all my new gear and checked my training, I felt more prepared to do this race.  We drove up on Saturday morning to do the race and got there in plenty of time for packet pickup.  A little after 7:30 AM, the True to the Brew Half Marathon officially started and I was feeling good.  150 of us went running down the street and into the entrance for the Palmetto Trail within Croft State Park.  I had a nice pace of 10:30 a mile due to the bunching of several runners resulting in a lengthy single file line of runners for over a mile. 

  I hit the first water station, located about 4.5 miles into the race at about the 50 minute mark.  Not my best time and definitely slower than I anticipated from all my training and studying of the race course, but if I kept that pace, I would finish at the 2:15 mark and be good with recording everything before I lost power.  But as I started to head out, I got a text from my wife that she fell along the course and heard a loud crack.  A fellow runner saw her and told her that she was near the four mile mark.  When she relayed all that information to me, I took off in a dead sprint back to the four mile mark.  I got there but saw no sign of my wife so I range walked (fast walking, that’s all that is) for a bit before picking up a jog and continuing on.  I kept checking my phone to see how far back I had gone and finally saw her sitting on the side of a hill at roughly the five kilometer mark.  Her ankle was incredibly swollen, almost the size of a grapefruit.  I sent out a message to the race organizer, Erin, and let her know I needed help with my wife.  A little later, a first aid person showed up and triaged her and a little later that, another came by with an ATV to move her back to the starting line.  The first aid guy, Brendan, and I trekked back to a collection point and eventually made it back to the start line.  Once there, I drove my wife to an urgent care facility and that pretty much ended our race.  We got home, elevated her foot, grabbed pain medications, and scheduled a follow up appointment with her doctor.

   So while I had prepared everything I would carry and implemented a training plan for myself, Private Murphy still showed up and managed to FUBAR what should have been a good race for my wife and myself. 

  I did manage to put together a video onthe first leg of the race, though.   

(Disclaimer: the links in this blog that go back to Amazon through an affiliate program)

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