Wednesday, November 25, 2009

11/21: Lake Leatherwood Trail Run

I was looking at postcards in a college bookstore in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I saw one that featured a picture of an Arkansas black bear, not that I’m aware of any differences between that creature and your basic black bear. The card said that the black bear population in Arkansas once numbered 50,000 but it didn’t say what the current population was. Which was just as well, actually; I had spent two hours running a trail race up in Eureka Springs and the thought that I was running through the back yard of, say, 3000 bears would still have been unsettling.

This race - the Lake Leatherwood Trail Run, I guess - was the trailiest trail race I’ve done this year, which means it contained a few unpleasant surprises. Like a near faceplant towards the end of the fifth mile; I got my hands out in front of me to avoid smashing my head against the rock that slipped me up. Which didn’t do much to prevent me from scraping up my knee. On the bright side, I did get that fall in before I came to the stream we had to ford; running twenty feet or so through water that came up to about mid-thigh did a good job of washing the blood, mud, and leaves from my knee and shin. The water was cold, which helped wake me up, too.

Half the fun of running trails is complaining about the hardships afterwards. Actually, in some races that ratio may run as high as 90%. Pain is temporary but the bitching goes on forever. This race is part of the Northwest Arkansas Fall 2009 Trail Running Series, put on by Liart (or maybe that should be liarT) Sports and apparently the previous race, October 24th at Lake Fort Smith featured a much tougher course. So after the race everybody else was acting like they had just run an easy road 5K while I was wondering who I should see about getting my Mountain Man merit badge. Nobody, as it turns put, although I did get a little plaque - actually a little whatchamacallit to put in a plaque - that said sixth place. That’s age group sixth place and, yes, there was a seventh place.

The course was ten miles long, give or take, and hilly and rocky but not outrageously so. The rocks were more trouble than the hills, although the hills were tough enough that I walked several of them. I finished in 1:48:45, or about thirty minutes longer than I’d expect to take for a ten-mile road race, but I have no reference to tell me if that’s good or bad or mediocre or indifferent. So I just don’t worry about it, grab some animal crackers and sports drink, and chill out, waiting for the awards and raffle. Because for a small race - and if I thought the Big D races were small, this event was miniscule - they gave away a lot of neat stuff. Compasses, lights, compass/lights, Frisbees, fleece jackets, duffel bags - a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t mind winning even if it did mean having to haul it back to Dallas. Which wasn’t an issue because I didn’t win anything which means I’ll probably have to do another one of these races and try, try again.

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