Sunday, October 13, 2013

In Defense of "Roadies"

Ultrarunners label road-running folks as "roadies." Roadies typically run shorter distances or marathons. Ultrarunners give them a negative connotation as they're a more cut-throat group of people as a whole. They're worried about pace, pace, pace, times, exact distances, and are generally not friendly while racing. So us ultra-trail folk tend to look down upon roadies. In the 50k distance races, a few roadies will show up and destroy the rest of the field, cause let's face it, they're really fast with all that literal running they do. When that happens, as it does at the Holiday Lake type races (roadies usually shy away from the mountain runs), a typical conversation between two ultra trail folks goes like this:

"He ran WHAT!? That's insanely fast."
"Yeah, he's a roadie."
"Ohhh, makes sense. Ok." (Shrug. thinks: won't be seeing him at the real ultras)
End of conversation

But I'm writing this post in defense of the what roadies do, and advocate not looking down on them. Why? Because running the same cadence and the same tempoish pace for more than two hours is tough. We ultrarunners think of toughness as "My body is super tired, but I'm still going to slog through this long run today even though I shouldn't." Or, "I didn't fuel right and my race is going to hell, but I'll deathmarch it in." Or the classic, "I'm injured but refuse to DNF because I'm tough." These views of toughness that ultrarunners have aren't very healthy as you can imagine. Sure, you have to push through hard times, but I'm saying that running how roadies run is equally if more not "hard" than what ultra folks do. It's just different. Not bad, not good, just different. And we're all runners, so there needs to be a friendlier connection between the road folks and the trail folks. Trail folks are usually elitist ("I can't even stand FIRE ROADS UGH. That race had way too much road. I haven't ran on the road since 2000. What do you mean you don't have lagunitas IPA?") and say stupid shit like that. Running's running dudes.

 Beauty. Thinking, "How many more miles at this pace?" 
I ran the New River Trail 50k yesterday which was essentially a road 50k (very finely crushed gravel, basically pavement) that defines flat. I ran the same cadence and same pace for 3:53:49. I backhalfed the race, but that steady effort level and same motion of the legs is HARD. I enjoyed the race despite not feeling awesome. It was so good to run long again after a frustrating taper that had minimal mileage. Perhaps it wasn't as enjoyable compared to a mountain 50k, but it was different and I couldn't've run much faster. It was fun to run a different kind of race and I have faith in the roadie population. I'm excited to see what Tussey Mountainback 50 miler has next week. I'm sure I'll get my butt kicked cause it's the 50 mile national championships, but I'm interested to see the roadie-ultra crossover there as it's a flat forest road 50. The social dynamics of types of running is fascinating.

Photos: Melissa Peddy

More of this next weekend :)

1 comment:

  1. Well said. "We are all runners". Of course, it is a Utopian idea that life is peaceful andwe all get along but with you your idea in the blogosphere, maybe it will catch on. Keep up the great work on the trail, in class and with the blog. You have a new follower. Runningfellow