Harbison 50K, Columbia, South Carolina 3,4

Elelvation:  354'         Elevation Gain:  4186'         Results
January 4, 2014 - January is a month where I back off running to recover from
the previous year's grind.  Still, I like to toe the line to keep some degree of
mental sharpness through the winter and not forget about the suffering that
goes along with extreme endeavors.  Harbison is but a three-hour drive from
our new home, so a good opportunity to chase over trails without having to 
contend with icy rocks.  Nonetheless, winter always has a bite - whether living in 
the north or the south - and the start greeted us with frigid 23 degree temps.
I dressed in layers and wore spandex to cover my legs, so it didn't seem too bad.

The start on a dirt road seemed easy enough, but my legs were heavy from
the get go and I was laboring despite having an adequate training base in
December.  My right hamstring attachment was talking to me once again, so I
was obliged to lollygag for as long as it took to be able to raise my right leg in
full stride and actually race.  It seemed to take forever to find my rhythm and
shake of the lethargy in my legs, but they finally caught up with my head by
ten miles as I found my stride and began to move on the field that I so 
generously let pass by me up to this point.

For about three miles I was rolling at a comfortable tempo, pulling back runner
after runner and feeling smooth.  Then I caught a tip and took a hard fall, but
managed to roll to a safe stop without injury.  As jarring as it was it was a pretty
good fall - maybe an 8 overall on a ten scale.  While it scored high on my
ability to prevent injury, it could have used some improvement on artisitic
style.  I have been more deliberate in my foot placement of late and have had less
opportunity to practice style during falls, so I'm a bit out of practice.  Guess that's good.

From that point forward I backed off a bit as a good fall always tends to humble
one's stride out of trepidation of falling hard again.  I was joined by another
runner of the same age and about the same ability, Paul Posl from Marietta, GA,
and we had a most enjoyable conversational run for the balance of the event,
without any urgency to chase the time on the clock at the finish.  Our run was
entirely social, interspersed with a few walking sessions, but no more falls.
It was a comfortable five-mile-per-hour tempo, much like I would do in training,
that made the effort comfortable, yet honest for a January outing.  We finished
together in 6:17, well in the upper half of the field.  I wasn't sore, except a bit
in the shoulders from the fall, and felt I could have continued if I needed to.

The trail at Harbison is through typical south-eastern forest, winding back and
forth upon itself through a relatively small tract of preserve.  It still amazes me
how they got that many miles out of such a small amount of real estate - call it
really creative trail design.  I'll work the flats this winter through next month
before heading back to vertical challenges in March.  Rolling hills are okay for
practice, but I am anxious to climb, climb, climb.  This year looks good for that.