Friday, September 10, 2010

A Tribute to Hangover

I was 18 years old riding with my soon to be coach Eric Putnam on a 95 degree day to a place that people called "Hangover." The name originated years before I even ran it for the first time. Some past Shawnee XC runners had found this bridle trail in the Shawnee State Forest, up service road #5. To get to the start, you have to drive up a one mile hill. True to its name, the original finders were hungover from the night before when they ran it. It wasn't anything until John Williams and Blake Jones brought coach Putnam there for the first time. Then, it become a staple in Shawnee Cross Country training, with the first day of practice every year being a 5 mile time trial on the first 5 miles of the trail. Throughout the years, different time trials and workouts were added, including 5K followed by minute runs and even a 2 mile followed by minute runs.

It is debated whether that was how Hangover actually got it's name, because it could be called Hangover because it is simply brutal to your body, making you feel like you have a "running hangover." The first mile of the course is hard. It is all uphill for over a half mile. Going from 600 ft to 1200 ft or more in small distances, then back down, then back up, then back down. There is never a flat section, and that is a fact.

So, there I was, standing in the middle of the forest with Blake Jones, Chris Roush, Paul Webb, Chuck Wentz, and Eric. We were doing the 11.5 mile loop backwards. To make a long story short, Chuck Wentz, a very good runner, finished 45 minutes behind us. We didn't think he was going to come to school after that! Now here we are, both seniors. From that day on, I wanted to run Hangover more, discover it.

A few weeks after that was the 5 mile time trial. I was one of the only freshman that had seen Hangover before. I ran decent that day, 31:37. I was in awe about how much different my body felt. I wanted to figure this course out, just how to run it. How fast is to fast on the down hills, how slow is too slow on the uphills.

Now, fast forward to today, nearly four years later, I was standing in that same spot. One mile up service road #5, with cars parked in the shade. Today was the last of 11 time trials at Hangover. This time, it was a 5k, followed by 3 x 3 min. hard and 1 x 2 min. hard. New faces, eager to get their Friday over with to start their weekends. And there I was, taking in the moment, hoping it would last forever.

I have had many great moments in these time trials. The 5 mile my junior year was spent stride for stride with Shane Meyer, being one of few to break the 30 minute mark. I often remark about the connection we had during that run without a word said. This year, the 5 mile was sweet as well. I ran it with Keegan and Eric chasing me for the last 3 miles, two of my favorite people, and tying Keegans course record with a 29:02. Today though, was special just because I knew it was my last time trial there. I ran 17:39, nine seconds slower than my best 5k time there that I set a couple weeks prior. But still, it was ever so sweet.

It is no wonder Shawnee State XC has improved so much in the past few years. I feel privileged to have Hangover to train on. No one knows what it is like until they experience it first hand. Words do it no justice. Some say I am crazy to get so excited just to run a workout, but its a part of me. My constant quest to fully understand my body in relation to the ground.

The runs at Hangover are not over. I will continue to run long runs there as often as I can. More than likely, I will even find myself standing on those hills later in my life with the future Shawnee Bears, struggling to beat the 15th runner. Maybe, someone will come by and run faster than I ever have at Hangover. But, one thing is for sure, I appreciate Hangover more than most. Disrespect Hangover and she will beat you down. Love her, and she will build you up so high.

After the minute runs, the team was gathered around, catching their breathe, telling everyone good job. With all of our hands in the middle, in the air, I chanted "Bears on 3, ready...." we all became one, "1... 2... 3... BEARS!" That phrase had never sounded so good. With the wind easily blowing through the trees, seeming like we were 100 miles from civilization, I was content. With my teammates...... we ran on.

8-21-2007: 5 mile time trial- 31:37
9-3-2007: 5k time trial- 19:11 (3 x 3:15 hard)
9-21-2007: 5k time trial- 19:10 (3 x 3:15 hard)

8-19-2008: 5 mile time trial- 31:16
9-1-2008: 5k time trial- 20:40 (4 x 3:30 min.)

8-10-2009: 5 mile time trial- 29:33
9-7-2009: 5k time trial-17:44 (3 x 4 min.)
9-25-2009: 2 mile time trial- 11:08 (5 x 3 min.)

8-9-2010: 5 mile time trial- 29:02
8-27-2010: 5k time trial- 17:30 (3 x 3 min, 1 x 2 min.)
9-10-2010 5k time trial- 17:39 (3 x 3 min, 1 x 2 min.)



  1. i'm am glad to be a part of the sub 30/18 minute club out at hangover.

  2. Well, the road
    It overtook me to the point
    where I was blind

    My body was weak
    But not as much
    as my mind
    Oh, my mind

    I just can't get
    Can't get my fill
    of those hills
    Oh, but still
    No matter where I am
    in this land
    I feel alone
    When I'm not at home

  3. Corey, you are one of few. Who else has?
    Me, you, Keegan, Erock. Is that all?

    Blake, Black Keys?

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