Saturday August 11th, 2018

On a last minute whim I registered for the Two Face races at North Park. I also registered for the Hyner Half, but that story still needs to be lived to be written.

Two Face is a back to back 10km road race and 10km trail race.  Register for one or both! I opted for both. This was a race I had wanted to run for the past few years, but it never fit my schedule until this year.  I was still in recovery mode having run the Burning River 100 two weeks prior. I felt good and the opportunity to test my legs and see friendly faces had me excited. 

Two Face Road

I had arrived early and had plenty of time to chat with friends and mentally prepare.  I had a 17 ounce Salomon handheld with Hammer Melon Heed and a half serving of Endurolytes Extreme powder ready to go. My USA singlet with an American flag cape was donned and I lined up near the front.  Not in the very front, of course. I knew better. My plan was to run it hard, but save some juice in the tank for a strong trail run. The best laid plans of mice and men…..


No one had to tell my legs twice! They were rolling off with reckless abandon and enthusiasm.  I love that point when I am sprinting effortlessly riding the high of adrenaline with fresh legs.  When running too hard there is always a point where it catches up to you.  I glanced at my Garmin. 6:20 pace.  That would be ok if I was running a mile…maybe. Not for 6.24 though! I dialed back the speed and fell into a comfortably hard rhythm before hitting that “gasping for air awaiting death” feel crept in.

Mile 1 – 7:22  Okay..still a bit fast, but it feels ok so I’m rolling with it. And speaking of rolling a few of the rolling hills on the lake loop felt a lot bigger than they were! Fortunately, the largest climb was out of the way within that first mile. 

Mile 2 – 7:13  Still feeling good…really good. There would be no more chatting with other runners from here out though.  The suffer was building up so that by the time I hit mile 3 I had slowed considerably.

Mile 3 – 7:48  I’m a pro at starting too fast. Damn this really was hurting.  I let gravity pull me on downhills and used the opportunity to recover a little. I had rounded the tip of the lake and was on the return trip now.  The quicker you run the quicker you are done! I laid into what speed I still had.

Mile 4 – 7:33 Just two more miles, two more miles.  Alisa, who I would formerly meet between the road and trail races, and I were trading places throughout most of the run. I’d surge and pull ahead and tire out and she would fly up ahead. I’d stare at her heels and try my best to maintain following distance, but ouch…this fast stuff hurts.

Mile 5 – 7:49 I saw myself slipping towards the 8:00 mile range and dug in deep to maintain as much as I could.  The breathing was getting heavier and every time I took a drink from my handheld I would gasp for air. It’s balance. I needed air and water so I would have to trade off forsaking one for the other at times.  

Mile 6 – 7:41 Last mile! Oh hell yeah! I’m ready to be done and catch a break before trails sweet trails!  Alisa had taken the lead again and I motored along. I knew I had a kick left in me, but needed to time it right or burn out before the finish. I picked up pace coming down the final stretch and laid into a sprint for the final uphill 0.1 crossing the line a hair ahead of her. 

What did the pirate who needed a bathroom say?

I gotta P arrrrgh!

That made for 3 PRs in two weeks! For a year of training where I only exceeded 40 miles twice, not including the Born to Run Extravaganza, I was more than pleased. The experiment of low mileage with targeted cross training, mental training, and heat training was working better than I had ever imagined it would.

I had about 40 minutes before the start of the trail race. I felt a bit faint and grabbed some cold water and laid in the grass watching runners come in and cheering for friends. I was racing in my LUNA Mono 2.0s.  I typically don’t have chafing issues form my sandals, but this pair still needed breaking in and only had a hair over 100 miles on them. The top of my right foot had a few spots rubbed right through the skin. I stopped at the PT table and they cut me two squares of KT tape which I placed under the straps. All better for now!

Making a quick stop by my car I took a serving of Hammer Fully Charged with water and two Endurolytes caps. Ready to rock! 

Two Face Trail

At the start area race management was breaking up people into groups by anticipated pace. There would be wave starts to relieve congestion on the trail.  I lined up with the 10:00 group. We would be the second wave.  Watching the first wave climb the initial hill had me thinking if I stay conservative on the red trail climb I could lay in on the descents hard. I love running downhill on trail fast. The exhilaration and fun factor are high.

Our wave was called and off we went. It has been years since I ran up the red trail from this direction.  It is usually descent for me. I was happy to have a change from my normal route here, but the climb was much harder than I expected.  No doubt the road race was heavy on my legs. I walked short sections and let runners pass me. Near the top of the big climb I found myself on Alisa’s heels again.  I joked that it was the two of us again. She smoked me not long after.

Dropping down the back of the red trail I let my legs stretch out behind me and increased speed. Coming down a gradual descent I saw Goatman Tim who was manning the water stop at mile 2. He offered me bonus miles if I continued past him. I declined and through laughter said 10k would be enough. Climbing a steep, but short hill put me back on the ridge. I high-fived Mark Knapp at the road crossing as he said “4 more miles!”

Once across the road I was on the red-blue trail, a personal favorite in North Park. Again I was running opposite of my usual travel direction. As I let my legs unwind on a gentle downhill I kicked a small stump. Biting my tongue I tried not to yell out too many obscenities, but how many is too many?

Continuing on with a bloody toe I was in pain with each footfall, but pain is something runners can deal with. We are good at grinning in the face of adversity. We relish in overcoming our limitations, both self-imposed and externally imposed.  So I funneled that pain into running harder.

I started passing a few people again and was trading places with a guy off and on.  I caught a glimpse of Alisa once, but wouldn’t be able to catch her this time. 

I know this trail. I know this trail well and when I began the long final descent I knew it was time to burn what was left in the tank. Running it in hard feels great. It hurts like hell, but when you think you are giving it your all only to find you have something in you still is a glorious feeling. It is one of the moments in running that can be life changing.

Have you heard the Navy Seal 40% rule? When you are entirely exhausted, mentally done, and you don’t have anything more to give you are really only 40% done. There is so much more in your hidden reserve waiting to be tapped.

We are capable of far more than we believe we are. Running is one of many ways we can experience pushing past what we think we can do and into just how limitless our possibilities are.  I rode the thought and feeling to the finish with a time I was pleased with.

That bloody toe? It turns out that I flipped the nail straight up! It’ll fall off in time, but for now it is held down with a band-aid where it is less likely to cause troubles. All told I had a blast at the Two Face 10ks.  I highly recommend this run fun to everyone.

The Two Face medals
Bada bing got the bling