Monday, February 21, 2011

Time to Put a Ring on it!

My chance to run the Reverse Ring again is finally here this weekend. Some of you may recall last year's failed attempt by all of the RR entrants to run this 71 mile mountain loop in knee-deep snow. It did not end well. No one came remotely close to finishing. DC hasn't been dumped on with 65 feet of snow as we were last year, so we should be in much better shape this weekend. I'm predicting at least someone will finish this year...hopefully all of us.

For those of you who don't know about the Reverse Ring: It's essentially all the MMT100 single-track fun without any of the road sections (or the southern Bird Knob loop) mixed in. Having previously run the 71 mile, orange-blazed "Massanutten Trail" in clock-wise fashion to qualify for this run (the regular 'Ring' is run on Labor Day weekend), now we get to run the thing backwards in the cold. Lucky us!  If you're not familiar with the terrain in the Massanuttens, I think I can sum it up by saying this race is a 71-miler that runs like a 100-miler. Always nice for an early season tune-up!

In other news, I know everyone was watching the Westminster Dog Show in New York last week, right? Well, I bring it up because one of my all-time running inspirations won the whole thing! Some of you may list Olympians like Ryan Hall or legends like Steve Prefontaine as your running role models, but I get all the inspiration and 'coaching' I need from none other than the Scottish Deerhound. Seriously!
Sure, at fist glance they look like a raggedy old man in need of a good shave, but man-oh-man are they fluid and graceful when they move! I've kept the image of a Deerhound gliding weightlessly over the ground fresh in my mind ever since I first saw one live a couple years ago. We all have tricks we use to get our exhausted legs moving again after 75 or 100 miles of running, and what usually works for me is envisioning that smooth effortless motion of the Deerhound's long legs as I move down the trail. It usually doesn't take long before I've convinced my weary legs to "keep up" with the fluid stride of the imaginary dog next to me. I think it helps that the Deerhound's scraggly appearance pretty much captures how I feel after 20 hours of running too, so when I can see one gliding so effortlessly over the ground in my head, I think "Shoot, if that old dog can move so well, I can too!".

I'm sure all of you have your own secret mental tricks you play to keep moving when your body is sputtering like an old Yugo, but if you haven't run with a ghost-dog pacer late in a race yet, I highly recommend. I guarantee my early-season exhaustion will have me conjuring up a pack of them to run with this weekend during the final (un-aided!) 26 miles of the Reverse Ring course!


Kim said...

See you Saturday Dan! Hopefully less snow-maybe none, I am hoping?

Amelia said...

Obviously we were following the dog show very closely here, as it was taking place just down the street. And by "obviously" I mean the local news showed lots of pictures of cute dogs plus the winner, who does indeed look scraggly to me. Apparently he started misbehaving at the "Best in Show" award ceremony. Ha! He knows when he no longer has to lay on the charm.

Dan Rose said...

Hey Kim!
We did get a couple inches today, but it'll creep into the 40s/50s the next couple days it should be a mostly snow-free day for us. Possible rain on Friday could mean lots of ice when we start out, but it'll warm to the 40s on race day so we'll be in great shape compared to last year!