Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ruffner Mountain Conversations

"You're never really beat until you believe it" - Joe Perrella

Well, as a follow-up to my last RWA post the other day, I thought I would wrap-up my trail marathon at Ruffner Mountain - the Crusher Ridge 42k. This was my 132nd marathon or ultra and I can honestly say I don't ever remember one as tough as this. I've been in trail runs where I have stopped at the top of God-awful hills, with my hands on my knees saying "I have never been this tired", but at Ruffner, this was repeated several times. 26 miles, about 5000' of elevation gain, and nature galore in the form of roots, deep ruts, and rocks made and broken at the foot of the Appalachian Mountain chain.

But, it was a pleasant day, as all runs are when they're over. I ran into a fellow named Jim, who used to train with us when I first started training marathon runners back in 1984! He dropped out of running, gained weight, then decided to get back in shape. He was ready to do this race last year, when life got in the way and he had to have by-pass cardiac surgery. He said he asked his cardiologist if he could get back to his usual activities, and his Doc said sure, so here he was. I really don't think he told his Doc what those "usual activities" were.

Ran into another guy, Wayne, who said "I'm blaming this all on you. I read your blog last week and decided to come out and do it". I apologized and questioned the power I have!

Meanwhile, I ran the whole way, as usual, with my lost brother, Mohammed. He is about as good a friend anybody could ever want. We call each other "lost brothers" because a few years ago, we were doing a trail run and leap-frogged these two girls on the trail a couple of times. After about the third time, one of the girls said "Are you two brothers?" and Moha says "Yes. I lost him in the woods years ago and today I found him. I am so happy". The girl thought we were nuts, but we had a good laugh, and now we're lost brothers. I don't like to particularly read (or write) race reports, so I thought I'd try to remember some of the spontaneous quips that went between me & Moha along the 8 hours we were out there defending our "last-finisher" titles". And by the way, I did finish before my Nike+ GPS watch battery bit the dust.

Mo: Seriously...this is ridiculous (halfway up a 1/4 mile 20% grade)

Al: Damn it! I'm sick & tired of these frickin' constant ups and downs...come to think of it, I don't like the flats either!

Al: You didn't see her? She was buck naked (convincing Moha there was a girl sun-bathing on the rocks when we went down deep in the quarry)

Mo: Yey! Chips (rubbing hands together) upon hearing the list of things at the aid-stations
Al: What language are you speaking?(Sometimes he gets hard to understand when we both get tired)

Al: What do you mean "we" white man? (When Moha starts talking about when "we" run this race next year)
Mo: This is not a trail, this is a damn road - going up a quarter mile service road

Al: There's a 100 mile race next year at Lake Martin (brought up at mile 21)
Mo: Why are you telling me?
Al: Well, 50 miles is twice as much fun as this...can you imagine what a ball we'd have doing 100 miles?
Mo: Shut you mouth!

Mo: Too many banana peels - what we call roots, rocks and anything else that grabs your feet when running
Al: "Crap" as Al does a slam dunk on one of those banana peels

Al: Is it cloudy or is the sun going down?

Mo: It's not Ruffner, it's ROUGH-ner

Al: Is it still Saturday?

Al: My "up" muscles are fried - when I just couldn't lift them to get over a fallen tree

Mo: No, I want a 16oz T-bone (when I asked him if he wants a mint)
Al: A taxi (when asked by an aid-station worker if he can get me anything)

Mo: If you run in the back of the pack, you don't have to worry about spider webs

Al: Why don't they make lasagna flavored Gu?
Mo: (No response...just a stare)

Mo: (after hearing a strange noise) - What was that, an ambulance? 
Al: Yeah Moha, an ambulance in the middle of the damn woods

Mo: Was that here before? (looking at an old rusted-out child's metal rocking horse in the middle of the woods)
Al: No Moha, somebody put it there since we came by 4 hours ago!

Al: Thanks for staying with me, brother
Mo: No, thanks for staying with me, brother

Mo: See you next week
Al: Yep, see you next week

My races (runs, events, whatever you call them now) used to be based solely on how I compared to my previous efforts or the efforts of those around me. Now, the effort is to complete the challenge, but my goals are a little different...beat my watch battery, get over the next hill, don't slip on banana peels, but most of all spend my running day huffing, puffing, laughing, falling, and thanking God along the way that I can still enjoy doing something I love just plain doing.

I'll see you on the roads - AL  

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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