ASK THE GOAT: Texas desert, Carolina sandhills

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Goat: “How has relocation been treating you? Any differences in the San Antonio running scene and this one in Sanford? Is it easier running in Texas?” Signed “Piedmont Pamela”

Dear Pam: It has definitely been a journey. I truly miss the Carolina family I left behind although Texas has offered some benefits, particularly as a runner.

When I left North Carolina in late November, I was logging massive amounts of miles. Most of these were trail runs with a pretty hefty dose of elevation gain and loss. I had spent most of the year traveling up and down the Appalachian Chain for ultra-marathons and thought I was about at my peak running form. And then it all was gone. The mountains faded in the rear-view mirror. The Outer Banks were out of sight. The Sandhills receded from view.

I spent the first weekend in Texas running a 50-mile event outside of San Antonio called the Wild Hare. It was a rugged and respectable course, but did not compare to most of the Carolina races I had completed. Most folks (Texan locals) spoke of the course as an impossible pariah to be avoided at all cost. “Wild Hare is a killer,” was told and retold to me while running the event. I took it slow based on their assessments but never felt as challenged as I had expected to be.

Next was a marathon series put on by “I Ran Marathons.” The race was four paved marathons in four days and it was a challenge for several reasons.

First, I had never run four successive events before. Second, I hate marathons. Third, I don’t like pavement running. Fourth, I do not like multiple, repetitious out-and-backs. Or so I thought.

By the fourth day, I had cinched second place in the series, gotten a marathon personal record on the final day and found a new passion. I loved these multiple race series. I got used to the out-and-back course and actually began to dig a bit deeper on overall speed.

Since then, I have completed 19 other races. I have focused on speed for the marathon distance and have managed to eke out my first (and several successive) overall victories. I have brought home trophies for three race series and am finishing up two more this week. I am hopeful I will win those as well.

I am not sure if the weather, climate, topography, humidity or other factors have helped my performance. It could be as simple as a change in lifestyle. But I recommend that every runner “shock” their system and patterns to see what fruits can be achieved. I never would have considered myself a fast marathoner. I never thought I could run 17 marathons in 17 days. I never aspired to qualify for Boston. And I never thought I would be happy doing it in Texas. Although I often sit and reminisce about the N.C. Sandhills, it was good to temporarily relocate to see just what I could do.