Monday, August 10, 2009

Hangover At Its Best. . . Time Trial Edition

Today marked one the most pivotal traditions for Shawnee State Cross Country: Hangover Time Trial. This consists of, in my opinion, a 5 mile time trail on the hardest course in Ohio. The elevation changes on this run is unmatched by anything that can be found in Ohio, rising up to 1,200 feet in spots and dropping to 600 feet. It is located about 20 miles from campus in the Shawnee State Forest, on Bridle Trail #5. To give an idea of how hard this course is, there have only been 3 people in the history of Shawnee State to break 30 minutes on this. Keegan Rathkamp has the course record at 29:02, Erock has ran 29:30's, and Chris Roush ran 29:30 or under. Keegans regular 8k pr is 24:37, so this course is about 4:30 harder than a regular course. That list changed today.

The two years I have been in college, we have left the campus at 5:45 am and started our run early in the morning. This year, due to medical physicals needed by the team, we waited until late. We planned on 4 pm, but that changed to 7 pm since the temperature was nearing 85 during the day. Luckily the rains came and it was a damp 75 degrees by the time we got started.

We ran our warm-up, which is uphill for a mile and then downhill for a mile, and got ready for the time trial. The rained had stopped at this point and we all started pouring water over our heads and getting our last second sips of water. Some thought the course would be real sloppy and muddy but the course held the rain very well and it didn't affect the times at all. If anything, the rainy weather caused faster times.

The first mile was relatively moderate. It was a very slow start, no one wanted to take the lead, but our assistant coach, Blake Jones jumped up front and did a good job of getting the race rolling. Shane, Blake, and I came through the mile at 5:58, my first ever sub 6 mile at Hangover, and the rest of the pack came through behind us at 6 flat. After that the pace was picked up a little more, with Blake and Shane leading me by a step. I kept thinking I was going to fall off because I was having a hard time getting back in the lead; I didn't want to make them think I was just drafting off of them, but I really was trying to get up there. It was us three at the 2 mile, it was about 5:46, a total of 11:44. I couldn't tell where anyone else were, I did not look back much during the race but I imagine most of the pack was 15 seconds back or so. Shortly after the 2 mile mark, Blake dropped off a little and it was now only me and Shane.

Shane is probably the best hill runner I have ever ran with. It is like he doesn't have any sense of pain because he can simply push through it like no other. With that fact I thought I would have a hard time hanging because I was still feeling tired. Luckily, the tiredness went away and I was soon 'floating.' Me and Shane ran the rest of the race side by side. There were not many words said between us two. Once, he rolled his ankle and I asked if he was ok and he answered with a quick yes. Then about 30 seconds later he said 'ankle dexterity.' I laughed and not another word was said until after the finish. Ankle dexterity is something that mean and Shane credit our trail running giving us. It has been a phrase we have used when someone would roll their ankle, a simple 'ankle dexterity.'

Me and Shane continued through the 5k mark at around 18:30, a time faster than my 5k time trail times in the past. Our third and fourth mile were most likely close to 6 minutes flat, or a little above. I checked my watch but my mind was to into the run to determine the mile splits, and now I forget the times. Coming through the 4 mile mark, a mile left, I think we were both aware that we were going to break 30 minutes, and join the list, but by how much. By this point, no matter who you are, you are simply running on guts or dumb legs. The last downhill, about 800 meters left, me and Shane we flying, knowing the finish was very close. We were not trying to beat each other at all, due to a mutual respect, but we were both trying to run the fastest time we could. We were just running together, at a very high speed, and neither of us would drop off. I had the feeling of dropping of several times, and later Shane said he felt the same way, but we kept going. We finished the last downhill and a 400 meter uphill, and right hand turn separated us from the finish line.

The finish line felt like it took forever to get to after rounded the last turn. Felt like that little incline was just going to never end and we would never get to finish. But, as we kept increasing the pace, we finally made it there. Both crossing the line, side by side, at 29:33, earning us a spot on the list described earlier and having the third fastest time on the course. Out last mile was well under 6 minutes, completing a very well ran race. We gave high fives and congratulated each other and were defiantly glad to be finished.

Shane and I weren't the only ones to run good today though. Unknown to our knowledge there were other guys behind us, and gaining. Corey also joined the sub 30 list, coming in at less than 20 seconds behind us at 29:51. Hornick came in fourth with 30:06. Joe was after that, and then Eric. There were also many guys in the 31's. Running under 32 is an amazing time at Hangover, I even think a time under 35 is impressive. Linkous, Galen, and Kammler we all in the 31's. Hickey, Little Hornick, Holbrook, and others were in the 32's. So, this was the best result of any Hangover Time Trail in the past. Another great run was by Blake Wysocki. He was right with Linkous with 800 meters to go and sprained his ankle and took a hard fall. I think he would of finished under 32 as well if that would not of happened. He did finish, but with some scrapes on his back, he looked like he was in some pain.

Corey, Shane, and I talked after we all finished and took our heart rates. Mine was 30 and theirs were 33, for 15 seconds. That is a heart rate that we normally have after a regular run. So, we recovered very quickly. I might be more proud of that than finishing tied for first on the team. Having that low of a heart rate after one of the hardest runs of the year shows that running 85+ miles a week is really beneficial. Same thing to Corey and Shane.

So, we all ran really well, adding 3 new names to the sub 30 list, and many more getting closer. But now, the fun was not over. We still had 5 miles to cool down and it was dark! It was also cloudy and looked like thunder. We soon found out the hard part of the day had just begun. Most of the guys took off, but a few of us started a little farther back to run with Blake, who was hurting, plus some of the freshmen were not finished with the 5 miles or just getting their breathe back. The rain came shortly after we started back and it got really dark. With all the rain clouds, not much light was on the trail, making it hard to run very fast. There was also lightening. This lightening was so close that I couldn't see anything for about 3 seconds after it stopped. Just white! It was very scary. Word can't even describe how dark and scary the cool down was.

When it was all said and done, everyone on the team made it back safely. Coach headed back up the trail to find Warren, who had a rough time, and I was the only car that waited around. They finally got back and we headed home. A good finish to an even better run. This run produces many memories every year and this year was full of the them. The first run with the new runners could not have been any more epic. Hangover is truly a special run and I feel special to have it. It was a big part to our success last year and it will be again this year.

This was the opening run of Cross Country camp. We had our goal setting session earlier in the day. This was something Keegan did with us last year and it lead to a great finish so Corey got us all together and we did it again. Everyone had very good goals and results. Our team goals were:
*Run Hangover Every Sunday
*Finish Top 2 in the Conference, Beat Cedarville!
*Finish Top 5 at All-Ohio
*Top 10 in the Nation

Those are very good goals that we all need to keep in mind throughout the season. Doing that, will lead to great things. I am going to continue Running Free and helping the team in any way I can. Now, we have another 9 days of camp, and I am ready to have some Fun!


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  2. This is the one race in my running life that I will never forget. My greatest and most faviorte race I ever ran.
    -Shane Meyer

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