On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Urban Environmental Challenge

Someone in the Van Cortlandt Track Club is very sadistic. Maybe all of their members are; I'm not sure. All I know is that they were also responsible for the Riverdale Ramble last year - one of the hardest races I've done in a while. And now this. They're tough, brutal folk, those VCTC people.

The course: a standard trail race. Hills, rocks, leaves, logs, streams, mud, branches, you name it. Treacherous. Scenic. Gorgeous. Challenging. Fun. They made it as hard as they could, though - steering us over fallen logs when we could have gone around them, through streams, up steep inclines. To give you some idea of the course, at registration they made a big to-do about having us write our emergency contact's name and phone number on the back of the bib, you know, "in case you fall." They weren't kidding. No, it wasn't the most technical or difficult trail I've heard of, but they did what they could to make the terrain a challenge.

I'm not sure why I like to do trail races. They're fun, sure, but they're scary for me. You see, I take blood thinners. If I have a minor fall, it will at best result in a lot of blood and at worst result in an ER trip if I happen to hit my head. Further complicating the situation at Sunday's race, I maybe kind of perhaps stayed out just a little too late the night before at a party at a bar, and I'm not entirely sure that it wasn't still alcohol coursing through my veins where you would expect to find blood. (Alcohol is a blood thinner, and I was tempting fate by having more than one drink. I don't usually do that. In fact, I'm usually in my pyjamas by 10pm on a Saturday, not on the subway headed out for the night.)

Luckily I didn't fall.

not even any real mud. just dirt. absolutely no blood.

I did twist my ankle, though, about 4.5m into the race. Nothing too bad, I just came down funny on some rocks hidden under the fallen leaves. I yelped and limped off the course, looking down at my ankle. A woman immediately behind me saw the whole thing happen and - did nothing. In fact, she averted her eyes to avoid making eye contact with me as she passed by me! DUDE. Not cool. When you're on course to finish a 10k race in 1:15, you can spare the few seconds it would take to stop and ask someone if they hurt themselves. All in all, though, the injury wasn't anything that a little RICE won't cure. I picked myself and moved on.

My look for the next few days.
The cankle look is in this season, right?
All in all, it was a nice respite from city running. If you closed your eyes (not recommended! watch the trail!), you could almost pretend the cars from the nearby highways were streams rushing past you.


  1. Um, wow, that's cold. Was she trying to medal in the olympics or something? There aren't a lot of racing circumstances I can come up with that merit completely ignoring a struggling/possibly injured runner. An "are you alright?" at the very least...

    Hope a couple days of RICE sets that ankle straight! Sounds like a fun race.

  2. You doing the Easter Marathon? I should be up for running a few loops. I wonder if the course was the same that you did. http://www.theeastermarathon.com/index.php/about/ Aron

  3. @sweatykid: I AGREE. It was conspicuous, the way she looked away.

    @aron: I'm in for two loops. I think it's a different course - looking forward to finding ou!

  4. Ow! Hope that thing heals up quick. I like getting dirty when I run; something about it appeals to the little kid in me. However, I don't like spraining things during any activity. And that lady was UBER LAME. I may run a loop on Easter. I'll probably decide the morning of.