Monday, October 25, 2010

Buckle #2

Yes it is possible to have a 100 mile long 30 hour Halloween Party. Full report is in progress, but you can see that I was successful in obtaining my second buckle and it was a PR in a time of 29:11:43.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Javelina Jundred Jopes

It has finally hit me. This morning I got a Final Update email from the race director. I am really going to get on a plane on Friday, fly to Arizona, and attempt my second hundred miler (101.4, actually). I am really looking forward to this one because I know several runners who will be running, plus I hope to meet a few I have been stalking online for quite some time now. The best thing I'm looking forward to is meeting my pacers. You may remember that for my last hundred miler I had several of you as virtual pacers. Well this time, two cyber friends that I have never met in person will be pacing me! The first is Jess. She used to blog and that is how I "met" her, she offered to pace me way back when I was first thinking of running one hundred miles. She will pace me from mile 60-75. The second is Laur, you may know her as RunningLaur and she will be pacing me from miles 75-90. A lot of runners drop out after 62 miles at this race because a "wimp-out" option is offered. In other words if you complete 100K miles, instead of a DNF, you get credit for completing a 100K. The good thing about me having pacers starting at the 60 mile point is that I won't be tempted to quit after four laps, I wouldn't want to disappoint my pacers and have them drive all the way out to the course only to see me quit.

What are my goals this time? Of course the primary goal is to finish under the time limit of 30 hours. My secondary goal is to set a PR, in this case I hope to finish under 29 hours. The weather looks like it will cooperate with highs only in the mid 80's. I just hope my feet hold up past 70 miles this time.

Just in case anyone out there wants to stalk me, my number is 181 and I think that they will have live tracking at the website. (At least they did last year.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

FATS 50K Race Report

South Carolina has a five race ultra series organized and put on by Terri Hayes. Terri is an experienced ultra runner with a couple of hundred ultras under her belt and she knows what ultra runners need in a race. We don't want frills, we want incredible runnable single track, great volunteers, and a chance to test ourselves with other kindred spirits. Terri delivers all this and more in races with no cutoff times. Oh, did I mention that there is no entry fee? No wonder every one of her five races "sells out".

Race morning arrived with perfect fall weather. Temperature was about 50 with clear skies. After checking in and writing the order of the loops on my hand with magic marker, (we were told in an earlier email to memorize the order of the loops, yea we know how well brains work after 5 hours of ultra running) Terri gave us final directions and we were off.

The course is on the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) just across the border from Augusta, Georgia. These trails are used a lot by mountain bikers and are very well maintained and runnable. The course immediately started with single track and we sorted ourselves out pretty quickly. I started at the very back right in front of Terri. Oh yea, Terri also runs her own races as the sweeper. All intersections were well marked, but having the loop order written on my hand helped out a bit, too.

It was a great day for a run in the woods. Since this was a "training" run for me, I started at an easy pace and enjoyed the day. The aid stations were well stocked with water, HEED, powerade, pretzels, cookies, chips, boiled potatoes and salt, bananas, pb&j sandwiches, and a special treat of home made banana bread. Along the way I slowly picked off other runners, by my count I ended up passing a total of eleven runners. One of these was Leopold who was running his very first ultra. Did I mention that Leopold was 10 years old? He was running with his mom and ended up dropping but not until after he completed well over 20 miles. Way to go Leopold!

After finishing there was plenty of pizza and chocolate brownies. Thanks Terri for a great experience, I'll be back to run some of your other races next year.

Looks kind of like a plate of worms, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Day At Kennesaw Mountain

I would have preferred to do this training run at a 50K event, but since my weekends are during the week this month, I had to do this 30 mile training run by myself. I packed my car with cold drinks and snacks and drove up to Kennesaw Mountain yesterday for a long training run. My plan was to run 30 miles or 8 hours whichever came first. I parked at the Visitor's Center and got started around 8:30 AM. It was going to be a hot one with temperatures peaking in the mid 90's but the dew point was in the 60s. So it was humid, but not as bad as it has been this summer. The plan was to run outbound for an hour and then run back to my car/aid station to restock and use the Visitor Center restroom.

On my return on the first out-and-back, I saw a high school cross-country team out for a six mile trail run. They were zipping by me, but about two miles from the Visitor Center I caught up with a kid who had obviously gone out too fast. I power-walked past him on an uphill and didn't see him again. Didn't see him again until about a quarter mile from the Visitor Center. I could see and hear his teammates at the end of their run. About this time I heard footsteps behind me. I could also hear cheering for Brandon. I looked over my shoulder, and there was the kid I had passed. Did I maintain my pace and let him pass me for his cheering teammates? Heck no! I picked up my pace and maintained about a 10 yard lead.

An hour or so later in my run I got to thinking maybe I should have let him pass me. Then an hour or so after that I came to my senses. If Brandon doesn't want to be beat by a 51 year old lady he needs to do more training.

Even though it got hot (like it will at the Javelina Jundred), I was able to maintain a pretty good pace, finishing the 30 miles in 7:37. I did get one blister on the ball of my right foot. I really need to solve this blister problem. My next long long run is in two weeks, but this time it'll be at the FATS 50k in South Carolina so I'll have some company.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day 26.2 Fun Run

The running cult I belong to has three free marathons each year, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, and Labor day. Today I showed up for the ultra runners' version of a fun run. The race started at 7 AM and the sun hadn't quite come up yet, but there were some folks that had started an hour or two or even three hours earlier because they had things to do later in the day. This race was run on the honor system, you had to do five marked loops and then write down your time on the clipboard when you finished. Since most of us were ultra runners, there was an ultra type aid station with water, Gatorade, cookies, granola bars, potato chips, etc for us at the end of each lap. It was kind of fun showing up as a 100 mile finisher because I now felt like I had all kinds of street cred! The loops were uneventful until the third loop when I took a detour to K-Mart to use their restroom. I did my business, then was on my way. About 1.5 miles later I realized that my fuel belt (with my phone inside) was still hanging on a hook in one of the stalls. I turned around and fortunately it was still right where I had left it. Now I had the problem of my laps being messed up, so I just made the decision that on my last lap I would turn around when my Garmin said that running back would give me a 26.2 mile run. After I finished I wrote my time of 5:15:35 on the clipboard, got my medal out of the tupperware box, and sat around with some of the other finishers to swap stories and wait for the remaining runners to finish. All in all, a pleasant way to spend a holiday morning.

Aid station before the start

Relaxing after finishing

Finisher's Medal

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Recovery has been going very well. To tell you the truth, I have felt worse after some 50Ks than I did after Burning River. My weekly mileages post 100 miler were: 30.6, 13.6 (going to Vegas for three days probably had something to do with the low mileage that week), 41.1, and 50.3 miles last week. On Labor Day I'm going to do a marathon "fun run" with the running cult I belong to. This event is so low key that it is negative key, just a bunch of crazy ultra runners getting together to run 26.2 miles just because. I'm planning on getting my mileage back to 60-70 miles per week in September in preparation for the Javelina Jundred in October.

I am also trying to acquire a taste for HEED. I have found that a lot of ultra events serve this beverage instead of Gatorade so I figure I should get used to it. It is definitely an acquired taste. During my run today I finally came up with a description of the lemon-lime flavor. Find an extremely dusty shelf, spray it with lemon Pledge, dust with a rag, put the rag in a bottle of water, shake, then drink.

I think something that tastes that bad should improve my times by at least a minute per mile.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Burning River 100 Race Report - A Study In Stubbornness

You would think that after making you guys wait three weeks for this race report, I would have a well polished piece of prose. Alas, that is not the case. The reason for its lateness is that I finally got around to writing it. My thoughts and feelings about this epic feat are still in a jumble and as a result this race report is also a jumble and a long one at that. Thank you for reading it and sharing in my accomplishment.

Race Overview

This was one of the best organized, well-run races I’ve ever participated in. It began with the event website that not only had course maps and descriptions, it even had videos of each section, so you knew exactly what to expect. It continued with great communication. Joe was quick to answer all questions and there was an online community both on Facebook and Yahoo that were wonderful sources of information. There were also maps for crew and pacers, so everyone involved knew exactly what to expect. The course itself was a good mixture of roads, bike paths, towpath, horse trails, and of course single track trails. Whoever marked the course deserves a gold medal because it was the best marked course I have ever run. I saw one guy take a wrong turn, but that was only because he had zoned out and didn’t see the arrow right in front of him. The aid stations were also wonderful. Even though I finished second to last, I was treated like a rock star every time, with workers filling my bottles, asking if I had a drop bag, and answering questions. Also, the stations were well stocked even for us back of the packers, I never felt like I was picking through leftovers, everything was still out and in adequate supply. Finally, I was surprised at the number of ordinary people out on the paths and trails getting in their Saturday or Sunday exercise that seemed to know what the heck us crazy people were doing. I had lots of words of encouragement from random folks along the course.

My Care and Feeding

I carried one handheld water bottle filled with water and wore a fuel belt with two 10 oz bottles that I kept filled with Gatorade. I had my Garmin set to buzz me every 10 minutes and I alternated taking a sip of Gatorade with taking a sip of water. If I was thirstier, I would take a drink or a gulp depending on thirst. I was able to tolerate the Gatorade for about 14 hours, and then switched to just water, and drank a cup or two of Coke at the aid stations to keep taking in calories. I was able to eat something at all of the aid stations, taking in a variety of cookies, chips, grapes, watermelon, turkey sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, whatever looked appetizing at the time. During previous ultras, pizza had hit the spot, but for some reason, pizza did not look good to me at this race. The one food I did bring as backup in case nothing at the aid station looked good was Clif Shot Blocks. I ate about three packages of those.

At FANS, I developed blisters at about the 65-70 mile point that really slowed me down. In an attempt to prevent that from happening again, I changed socks every 15-20 miles and shoes every 30-40 miles. I also did a complete clothes change as night fell because I was pretty much sweat-soaked and didn’t want to take the chance of getting chilled during the night when I would be walking. In hindsight, I could have done away with that and saved about 15 minutes.

People I Met Along the Way

One of the best things I like about ultras is the people I meet on the trail. I was able to meet a bunch of fun and interesting people during the 30 hours, unfortunately I am terrible with names ordinarily, and with ultra brain, forget about it!

The first dude I ran with a bit had done an Ironman the weekend before with his girlfriend. She was a much faster runner than either of us and he mentioned that she was on the Clif Pace Team. I later found out that she was the pacer I ran with a bit during my meltdown at Grandma’s marathon last year.

I also ran a bit with a couple of gals from Canada, there were about 6 Canadians running this race.

The most memorable guy I ran with was Fred. We matched paces at about the 40 mile point for a bit, and he passed me, I passed him, and we ran together several times in the next 60 miles. Fred was 62 years old and 12 years ago he had run his 50th 50-mile race in 50 states finishing up on his 50th birthday in the 50th state (Hawaii, where he was born) wearing bib #50. I think there was another 50 in there somewhere, but I can’t remember for sure.

Another memorable runner was a gal who had quit mentally. She was still moving well, but her mind quit when she realized it had taken an hour to go a little over two miles. (Which was the pace I was moving at.) She reached the next aid station only two minutes after me with plenty of time ahead of cutoff, but she had already quit mentally. That drove home the point to me that 100 miles is much more than a physical effort.

My Race

I had a plan all worked out and written down ahead of time. I made cards for each section with planned pace and time and my virtual pacer's name. I had written down my planned sock and shoe changes as well as where to put on my headlamp, change Garmin, etc for my brother. I knew that things would probably change after the first hour and throw everything off, but my OCDness needed a plan. I wanted to be about 2 hours ahead of cutoff at the 50 mile point because I knew I would be walking most of the night.

Amazingly enough, things went according to plan throughout the day. The first 10 miles or so were on the road and it was cool, so I was able to bank some time. Then the course started on trails and I was still able to run according to plan. The scenery was great, and at one point a group of six deer bounded across the trail. I and the guy behind me actually stopped for a few seconds in envy of their effortless movement through the woods.

One amenity at this race that you don’t find in too many other trail races was the availability of bathrooms. There were facilities at all but about two of the aid stations. Also, most of the stops had crew access, so my brother could meet me and have my water and Gatorade bottles filled and ready to go.

At about the 40 mile point, I reached the two sections I had run several weeks ago. It was nice to be on familiar trail and it wasn’t as muddy as it had been earlier in the year so I made better time. The “piano” stairs (named that because there are 88 of them) looked steeper than they had before, though. After the piano stairs it was about a mile to the Boston Store aid station and where my brother would start pacing me.

After Boston Store, the course had a 5.4 mile loop back to Boston Store where we could pick up our pacer. My brother had done a lot of research and saw that he could drive to Covered Bridge which was 30 miles worth of the course, but was only 5.5 miles away by road. So, while I was running the 5.4 mile loop, he drove to Covered Bridge, then ran back to Boston Store in time to pace me! We didn’t need headlamps yet, and the trail wasn’t too technical, so I was still able to do some “running”. The reason I have quotation marks around running is that at this point, my brother’s fast walking pace was the same as my “running” pace.

When it got dark, we also came to some more difficult single-track trail sections, so I walked 99% of the time through the night. There were a couple of times where I could see that the trail was smooth for a dozen yards or so, so I shouted, “I’m running on trails in the dark!” Then silly ultra brain kicked in and it became, “I’m running with scissors!” whenever I broke out into a trot. Ok, it doesn't seem funny now, but it was hilarious at 3 AM.

I wish I could have run some of these sections during the day because you could catch glimpses of incredible rock formations and coming into one aid station, there was a massive field of wildflowers. I’ve read others describe it as the “Sound of Music” hill, but it reminded both of us of the poppy field in the “Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy, Toto, and the rest of the gang lay down to sleep (it was about 2:00 AM after all).

I was losing time to cutoff, which I had planned for, but there was a difficult section after the first time through Covered Bridge and despite my best efforts at blister prevention, I was developing blisters on the balls of my feet. A podiatry college supplied students for foot care at the Pine Hollow aid station, so I stopped to let them treat my blisters. This ate another 15-20 minutes of my cushion and both my brother and I started to worry about cutoff times. Coming into Covered Bridge I was about 40 minutes ahead of cutoff and we were informed that I had two hours to complete the 4.8 mile loop back to Covered Bridge. However, I didn’t want to be right at cutoff. We figured I would need at least 20 minutes ahead of cutoff because there were still 16 miles left to the finish line after reaching Covered Bridge.

We started out optimistically. My brother determined that I would need a 20:30 pace on this next section. This section was used by horses and had a lot of deep mud, steep climbs and descents, and also technical sections with roots and rocks. My brother led the way and told me the best path to avoid the deepest mud and kept a few paces ahead in order to light the way and encourage me to keep a good pace. Unfortunately my blisters were really started to bother me, especially on the steep downhill sections. Instead of the required 20:30 pace, I was doing 21, 22, even 23 minute miles. I was never thinking of quitting, but we were realistic and discussed options of where to pick me up if I made the cutoff at Covered Bridge (which is where the car was) but didn’t make the next cutoff time at Oneill Woods which didn’t have crew access. We eventually came up with the plan of my brother asking if he could drive to Oneill Woods since we were near last place and there wouldn’t be a lot of runners and pacers there. If that didn’t work, he would drive to the aid station after that and run back.

Here is where the stubbornness gave me the added boost. It was the wee hours of the morning, and everything I had read about this time of the race was correct. My body wanted to slow down, my brain was slowing down, my blisters were hurting, I was losing time to cutoff, I didn’t know how long this rough (but beautiful) terrain would continue, and it would have been very easy to just give up. Then I remembered that I had trained for this event for almost a year. Every race I had done prior to this was either a test or a training run for this main event. More than training, more than ability, more than determination, by brother accurately figured out that it was plain old stubbornness that kept me on my feet during this difficult section.

Finally, we returned to Covered Bridge, and my cushion had dwindled to about 20 minutes. Oh boy, this next section will make or break my race with less than 13 miles left to go. My brother wished me luck and drove to the next aid station and I was on my own. Not knowing if there was more trail, I started on my way. There was road! Gloriously smooth, relatively level road! The sun was also rising as I broke into a slow run, once again optimistic that I could do this thing. Before I knew it, I saw my brother running back from the next aid station and I was able to report to him that I had busted out some 15 minute miles and was actually gaining a bit on the cutoff time.

For the next few sections, my brother continued to leap-frog pace me, driving to the next aid station, then running back and pacing me to the car. I think he ended up with close to 70 miles. I could not have done this race without him, especially during the night. He kept my mind occupied and my body moving, kept track of where I was vs. the cutoff, and made sure I was eating and drinking. I know with 98 and ¾ percent certainty that my completion of this race was due in a large part to his pacing.

Finally, we were on the last section. I knew there was a bit of trail left and also stairs. After 98 miles Joe the evil RD decides that the runners need stairs. And oh there were stairs. First a long group of stairs, then some more stairs, and then yet some more stairs. Did I mention there were stairs on the last section? We eventually made the last turn for the last mile to the finish line. Two bicycle riders came out to escort us in, just like I was leading the pack. I felt like a rock star. Since there was an award ceremony following the race, there were a lot of people at the finish line cheering me in. I didn’t cry, but I did remark to my brother that I was definitely feeling verklempt. As I crossed the finish line with my brother, Joe announced my name and my finishing time, then presented me with my buckle. I am a 100 mile finisher.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Have Buckle!

Now I have to buy a belt so I can wear it. Yes, I did finish the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run (actually its 101.1 miles). I finished in 29:39:16, good enough for 2nd to last place, but hey, I also beat the 90 or so runners that didn't finish. The course, volunteers, weather, race director, all you virtual pacers, and most importantly my brother who was my awesome real life pacer, were all incredible. I promise a full race report, but it will be several days because once again, work is interfering with life and there is ice cream I must eat.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shoes Full Of Feet

I am tapering and making final preparations for my first hundred miler and about a week or so ago I ran across the Dr Seuss story "Oh! The Places You'll Go". As I was reading it I couldn't help but think that just maybe he was writing about someone running one hundred miles. He talks about the endorphin rush, bonking and recovering, getting lost on the trail and finding your way back, resting too long at an aid station, being on sections of trail all by your lonesome, faceplants, and finally succeeding (ninety eight and three quarters percent guaranteed). Some people may disagree with the head full of brains part signing up for and running an ultra, but I do have my shoes full of feet!

Just in case anyone wants to stalk me this weekend, my number is 119 and you should be able to track me here.

I leave you with the Dr Seuss story that has been my inspiration the last week:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Desperately Seeking Pacers

Less than two weeks until my 100 mile attempt at Burning River. What I am asking you followers, readers and lurkers to do is run with me. I plan on writing your names on the back of my pacing cards for each leg (yes I am getting way OCD with charts and spreadsheets and I know everything will change after the first hour or so) so that you can "run" with me. My brother is going to be doing actual pacing for about 20 miles so that means I have another 80 miles to have you guys run with me. If you are planning on running or walking anywhere from 1 to 30 miles on July 31st or August 1st, please leave a comment with how much you are going to do that weekend and I'll be sure to take you with me. Just so you know, my 80 something parents are each going to do 2 miles.

I haven't been posting my training updates, but I did 75 miles two weeks ago, 68 miles last week, and 55 miles this week. This training included 92 miles on trails. Most of the time I feel like I've got this, but once in awhile I ask myself "what are you thinking?" The next two weeks will be tough because I am a lousy taperer, but I am going to force myself.

Thanks ahead of time for virtually running with me in two weeks!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big Foot Had A Prior Commitment

Saturday I ran the Rattlesnake 50K near Charleston, WV as a training run for my 100 miler that is now less than three weeks away (gulp!). I learned first-hand that they don't call people from West Virginia mountaineers for nothing. The only level terrain in this state is man-made, everything else is either up or down. The race website promised 5000' of climbs, but the race director said during the pre-race briefing that is was closer to 10,000' and my Garmin agreed.

I got there the night before and drove out to Kanawha State Forest to get my race number and shirt, eat some pizza, and talk to ultra runners I've run into at other races and introduce myself to runners I'd just met. This is a very low-key race run by friendly and experienced people who want everyone who shows up to have a great time. I've read elsewhere that there was a 10 hour cutoff, but I was assured by other race veterans that Dennis would not pull anyone who was still having fun after the cutoff, that the aid stations might be unmanned, but you could continue running.

I showed up around 6:00 AM Saturday morning, checked in, filled my water bottles, and used the flush toilet facilities. Much better than a mega marathon where you have to spend 20 minutes waiting in line to use a stinky porta-potti. Right at 6:30, Dennis sent us on our way. We started with maybe a quarter mile on the park road, then we were on our way up the first of ten climbs. This was single track uphill and soon everyone was hiking their way up. Since I'm a back of the packer, I stayed in the back and it was kind of fun looking at the long line ahead of me. About half way up the hill, Dan from Kentucky settled into the same pace and we chatted a bit. Then, on the downhill, Rob from Tennessee caught up to us and we ran together until the second aid station. Rob is a very accomplished ultra runner with well over 500 (yes you read that right five HUNDRED) ultra finishes. I got a chance to get some great advice for Burning River since he and Susan ran it a couple of years ago. These guys even made me take the lead up the second climb. I was reluctant, thinking I would slow them down, but I didn't. At the seven mile point the course passed near the start/finish area, so I stopped and used the flush toilets and my companions kept on going.

I completed the last 24 miles on my own. I didn't get passed by anyone and the only person I passed was a gal who was taking a break at the second to last aid station. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the woods with spectacular scenery. I did see a deer on one of the climbs. She was on the trail ahead of me, ran ahead a bit, looked back as if to say "what's taking you so long" and then scampered up and out of sight. There were also a lot of black and blue butterflies that were pretty and too many pesky flies. Fortunately all the aid stations had bug spray. I never did see Big Foot or any rattlesnakes, but I did see some bear poop.

This course is very difficult. There were ten climbs and I found myself counting down the climbs. Every time I came to an aid station, it meant that a climb was next. Also, for some reason, trail builders here don't seem to believe in switchbacks. Although there were a few, most climbs were straight up and then straight down. Some of the downhill sections were so treacherous, I found myself grabbing and hanging on to trees on the descents. Oh, and there were quite a few downed trees across the trail that we had to climb over. One tree was so large that as I was straddling it, each of my feet was at least a foot off the trail. The absolute "best" part of the trail though, was a section that required rock climbing skills. I saw where the next course marker was and actually said out loud "you have GOT to be s#$*ing me!" All in all, this race is laid back, challenging and lots of fun.

I managed to finish under the official unofficial cutoff time of 10 hours and finished in 9:42:48. I met my goals of having fun, getting in a long "training" run, finishing under 10 hours, and not finishing DFL.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Totals

After I finished my run today, my monthly total for June was 301.6 miles. That is by far the most I've run in a month. It does help when you run 85 miles in one chunk!

In other news, I signed up for a 50K "training run" on the 10th of June. It is the Rattlesnake 50K near Charleston, WV. According to the website, the race includes "10 climbs totaling 5,000', 9 heavily stocked aid stations, gravel, dirt (mud if wet), sticks, bugs, snakes, deer, bear and Big Foot (if available)."

Yes, I have gone off the deep end, there is no saving me now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trail Training

Yesterday (Monday) was a "Saturday" for me and on the schedule was an extra long run for my 100 miler coming up in less than five weeks. I decided I needed to do 7.5 hours and I chose to do it on the trails up and around Kennesaw Mountain. It's about a one hour drive up there, so I didn't actually hit the trail until 7:30 AM. The temperature was already 80 degrees with humidity to match, so I knew right away it would be a long day. I was wearing my Nathan hydration vest filled with water and carried a handheld bottle filled with Gatorade. The plan was to do 2-3 hour loops or out-and-backs with "aid station" stops back at the Visitor Center and my car for restroom breaks, refilling my water and Gatorade, and grabbing something to eat. The first loop took me up and over the summit of Kennesaw Mountain. I was able to maintain a good pace on this loop, 13-14 minute miles on the trails around the mountain and 21 minute miles on the actual rocky climb to the summit. The rest of the time I stayed on the trails around the mountain. These trails are a good approximation of the terrain on the most difficult sections of the Burning River course. Some climbs and descents, a little bit of technical terrain, but no mud. I was able to manufacture my own mud though. I was sweating so much that the sweat in my shoes combined with the dust of the trails to make a nice muddy paste.

This also turned out to be a heat acclimation run. By the end of the 7.5 hours the temperature was up to 92 degrees and the heat index was a sweltering 102. I did slow down a lot but still managed to keep my pace below the average that I'll need to maintain to complete the 100 miles in 30 hours. (Actually the course is 101.1 miles so the pace required is 17:48 minute miles)

As far as other training this week, here is what I did:

Sunday - 4.99 miles in one hour - 12:02 pace

Monday - 4.98 miles in one hour - 12:03 pace

Tuesday - 10.16 miles in two hours - 11:49 pace

Wednesday - 4.9 miles in one hour - 12:15 pace

Thursday - 15 miles in 3:22 - 13:28 pace. 10 miles running, followed by 5 miles of power walking. I realized that my blisters formed after I started walking a lot during my 24 hour event. So, I'm going to add a 5 mile power walk to the end of a medium run at least once a week to get my feet used to walking long distances.

Friday - 3 miles in 36:15 - 12:05 pace.

Saturday - 8.32 miles in two hours - 14:26 pace. "Hill" workout on hotel treadmill. Alternated half mile runs with half mile walks up an incline.

Sunday - 5.57 miles in one hour - 10:47 pace. Tempo run.

Monday - 27.14 miles in 7:30 - 16:35 pace.

I plan to do one more very long training run at Kennesaw Mountain in two weeks. I was looking for a trail 50K to do as a training run and I found The Skyline Challenge in Virginia. I'm still looking at the logistics and it doesn't look feasible right now, but there's still a chance I might do it. (I can't believe I'm considering a 50K as a training run, this ultra running thing does strange but fun things to you!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Burning River Practice

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my work schedule had me in the Akron area all day on a Saturday. I thought to myself, hey, that's real close to the Burning River 100 course. So, I left a message on the race message board asking where I should run to get a feel for the course. I found out that ultra runners are awesome. Kurt responded with some recommendations, then said he would set up a group run with water drops for when I would be in town! There wasn't a big turnout since the Mohican 100 was that same weekend, but John (who will also be running BR as his first 100 miler) joined us for a 20 mile run on the Burning River course.

Kurt has run this race all three years, so he was a great tour guide. As I requested, we ran two of the most difficult sections of the course. The course is slightly technical, but not too bad, and there were some good climbs and descents, but nothing too rigorous. The worst part of the sections we ran was the mud. It was shoe sucking off mud. There were detours around the worst sections, and both Kurt and John assured me that the course should be drier by race day. Also of note were the stairs, there were at least three long stair climbs, the worst was called the piano stairs, because there were 88 of them.

This run also turned out to be a heat acclimation run. Temperature was about 85 and it was humid. I actually sucked my Nathan hydration vest dry in a 10 mile section. One thing I was happy about is that I am getting less tentative on the downhills. I know this because I did three full-on face plants. Fortunately the ground was fairly soft and not rocky so there was no blood, just a couple of bruises and lots of mud and dirt. Hey, you can't call yourself a trail runner if you look like you ran on a treadmill when you are finished.

Just in case anyone is interested, here is what I have done in the two weeks since my 24 hour race.

Monday after the race - 3 miles in 56:37 - 18:53 pace. This was mostly walking with short one minute shuffles mixed in.

Tuesday - 3.21 miles in 40 minutes - 12:28 pace

Wednesday - 3.87 miles in 45 minutes - 11:39 pace

Thursday - 7.37 miles in 1:30 - 12:13 pace

Friday - 3.79 miles in 50 minutes - 13:12 pace. Heat index was 105!

Saturday - 8.13 miles in 1:40 - 12:19 pace

Sunday - 3.15 miles in 50 minutes - hill workout

Monday - 15 miles in 3:10:16 - 12:42 pace

Tuesday - 4.48 miles in 55 minutes - 12:17 pace

Wednesday - 9.08 miles in 1:50 - 12:07 pace

Thursday - 4.58 miles in 55 minutes - 12:01 pace

Friday - 3.8 miles in 55 minutes - hill workout

Saturday - 18.53 miles in 5:23:26 on the Burning River course - 17:28 pace

Finally here are a couple of pictures from my weekend.

Kurt and John, my Burning River tour guides

Just one of the sets of stairs

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FANS 24 Hour Race Report

Sorry this is so late, but sometimes work and other stuff gets in the way.

I flew up to Minnesota on Wednesday the 2nd to spend some time with my folks and celebrate my brother's 49th birthday. I also managed some carbo loading and ran around the lake every day I was there. My folks, both in their 80s, are still very active and walk a couple of miles almost every day on the path that goes around the lake.

On race morning, my alarm went off at 3 AM, I got myself ready and drove to my brother's place and he drove the 2 hour drive to Minneapolis. I relaxed in the back seat, sort of dozing, but mostly just keeping my legs up. We got to Lake Nokomis a little after 6 AM, time enough to get a good spot to set up the tent, get our supplies out, and get signed in and weighed in. I had a chance to see Andy from the Darkside Running Club and we had our picture taken. My sister-in-law, Mary, was going to crew both my brother and me. I've never had a crew before, and let me tell you, it is great! Kind of like the difference between staying at a Motel 6 and staying at a 5 star resort.

We started out with a 1.6 mile out and back and then started the 2.4 mile loops. The temperature wasn't too hot, but it was a little humid, and I was already sweating after the first couple of miles. I kept an eye on my heart rate, and it got up to about 145 the first hour or so, but then settled down to an average of about 140. It didn't take long for the drizzle and rain to start and that was pretty steady until the end of the 12 hour race. The rain didn't really bother me too much, in fact it seemed to keep things cool and also kept the bugs away.

I really enjoyed this race especially during the day. As I've said before, my brother was running the 12 hour race and doing very well. He lapped my about every 1.5 to 2 laps and we exchanged a couple of words of encouragement and a high five each time. It was also great having Mary, my nephew Travis, and my brother's friend Ryan crew for me. I didn't have to stop to refill water and Gatorade bottles, they had full ones waiting for me after each lap. They were also ready with special requests such as food choices, dry socks, etc. My 50 mile split was 12 minutes faster than my 50 mile finish at Umstead in March, and that time difference is 100% attributable to having a crew.

I also enjoyed chatting off and on with people and offering words of encouragement to the front runners as they lapped me. I was impressed with a couple from Belgium and a guy from The Netherlands who had entered the 24 hour walk. I would pass them when I was running, but when I slowed to take a walk break, they walked by me like I was standing still. All three of them ended up with over 100 miles! Another guy I exchanged words with now and then was Tom. Apparently he has done this event several times, but had recently injured himself. Not to be deterred, he was completing the event on crutches! His initial goal was to complete a marathon, but when he reached that, he changed his goal to a 50K. He ended up with 32.59 miles.

Just prior to 12 hours the rain stopped, so I took that opportunity to go up to the community center to dry off and do a complete change of clothes. I got back down to the course just as the 12 hour runners were finishing up. My brother did an outstanding job and finished in second place with an amazing 83.69 miles. When I had originally set my goal of beating my brother, I was thinking he would beat his previous best of 71 miles, perhaps even do 78 miles. But the overachiever had to set the bar high, I had my work cut out for me.

A couple of hours later my stomach started acting wonky. I could still eat and drink but just didn't feel 100%. About this time the sun was setting, so I made the decision to walk through the night. I had already sort of planned on doing that, but now it was certain. I walked off and on with several people and that passed the time and made the laps go by faster. It was taking me about 50 minutes to do 2.4 miles and that included aid station and porta-potti stops.

My brother came back out to the course later that evening to relieve Mary and to finish out the night crewing for me. He did set the bar high, but now he was going to help me beat him. Things were continuing to go well, but at around 2 AM and 70 miles or so, I had to make a stop at the Med Tent. I had a blister forming on the ball of my left foot. When I first noticed it, I tried to drain it myself and change socks, but it seemed to get worse on the next lap. The doctors took care of me and sent me on my way. One of the doctors, Dr Dave, had run 66.62 miles during the 12 hour run, and then stayed up all night keeping his fellow runners on their feet.

There was another volunteer at the aid station that I have to mention. Mike Henze worked the entire 24 hours. In case you don't know, he was on the United States 24 Hour Team that competed at the World Championship last month and took third place. At around 3 AM I had the #12 dude in THE WORLD make me a custom peanut butter sandwich. I don't think there is another sport out there where back of the packers like me can mingle and share experiences with world class athletes in their sport.

Around sunrise, I caught up to Kelly, another Darkside runner. We ended up walking the last two laps together, and on the last lap we were joined by my brother and her husband. During the last couple of laps, blisters had been forming on the ball of my right foot. So I stopped at the Med Tent again to have Dr Dave work on my feet.

By this time we were in the last hour and they opened up the 220 yard out and back section. Now we could see everyone who was competing. I exchanged fist bumps with Zach Gingerich (he ran an unbelievable 13:23 100 miler at Umstead in March) who was hobbling almost as badly as I was. He had the race won with a 10+ mile lead over his nearest competitor, yet he was out there with everyone else sharing smiles and grimaces.

After the end of the race, there was a breakfast up at the community center. When I say up, I mean it was on a small rise, maybe 30 feet high. I actually had my sister-in-law drive me up there because my legs were toasted. (don't know how I'm going to handle the stairs the Burning River course has in the final miles!) My brother collected his second place award, and after sitting awhile I had to put my legs up. They weren't exactly cramping up, but they felt weird and sitting wasn't doing them any good. After the awards were given out, my brother drove me to the hotel where I took a shower, then laid in bed most of the day with my feet and legs propped on about six pillows. I did manage to hobble to the phone and order a pizza, but that was about all I could handle.

I flew back the next day and was moving slowly, but when I got home I did manage a 3 mile walk with little one minute "shuffles" mixed in.

Now, after a week, I am fully recovered and back to my normal running schedule, in fact, yesterday I ran 15 miles with a heat index of 105 by the end of my run.

Finally I'd like to finish with a couple of lessons I learned. Remove your fuel belt before spraying bug spray all over yourself. Ginger chews are lifesavers for your stomach. Do not do math in your head after being on your feet for 22 hours.

Well, looks like all systems go for the Burning River 100. I'm excited because this week I get to do a 22 mile training run on the actual course.

Now last of all some pictures from the race.

Awesome Crew Chief Mary, Super Speedy John, and Me

A picture of me with Andy, this dude had done Badwater, Comrades, and numerous other bad-ass ultras.

Kelly and me at the summit of Mt Nokomis.

All smiles at the start!

Hobbling at the finish. I've just been passed by Tom the Crutches Dude.

Trying to ease the pain in my legs.

The smile of the victorious sister :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Passed

Official results aren't in yet, but I think I ran about 85 miles. If its 85.1 or higher I'll give myself an A-. Full race report to follow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FANS Grading

I'm running the FANS 24 Hour run this weekend as a final test to see if I can possibly try a 100 mile race at the end of July. In order to pass this test, I want to be able to keep running and walking for the entire 24 hours with only short pit stops. I also want to see if I can conserve energy to last that long and keep myself fueled and hydrated for an extended period of time.

Ok, that's the passing grade standard.

In order to get a C, I need to run more miles than my brother does. He is a speedy guy, and even though he is only doing the 12 Hour run, this will definitely be a challenge.

To earn a B, I need to cover at least 80 miles.

To earn the gold standard A, I need to do 90 miles.

And, to get the A+++++ (that's FIVE pluses) I will cover 100 miles which will only happen in my wildest dreams and conditions are absolutely perfect.

Looking forward to Saturday, its almost here!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

All American 5K

Yesterday, Lt Dan Berschinski returned to Peachtree City after spending almost a year recovering from losing both of his legs serving our country in Afghanistan. As part of his welcome home, the Peachtree City Running Club put on a 5K race to help raise funds to defray some of the expenses he and his family have incurred as a result of his injuries. I haven't run a 5K in over a year, but I had to run this one.

The morning was warm and humid, both the temperature and dewpoint were about 70 degrees. Since I suspected that there would be a big turnout and parking would be a mess, I parked about a mile away and ran to the start as a warm-up. There was a big turnout, normally for these 5Ks there are several dozen runners. I'd estimate the crowd this morning to be several hundred, probably even close to 500 runners and walkers, all out to support Lt Dan. (of course, while running, I couldn't help but think of the movie Forrest Gump and the Lt Dan in that movie who also lost both legs.) Lt Dan was there to start the race and also at the finish to present the awards.

It was a little crowded at the start and it took awhile to settle into my pace, but I was able to run a good race, just a little bit outside of my comfort zone. Since the course is on the same route I run frequently, I was able to run most of the tangents and my Garmin read 3.12 miles at the finish line. My splits were:

Mile 1 - 10:12
Mile 2 - 9:37
Mile 3.1 - 10:39
Total time - 30:27, a 38 second PR!

The timing and results were no-frills. You noted your time crossing the finish line, then wrote your name, age, and time on a piece of paper and put in in the appropriate sex/age basket. There were already at least a dozen slips of paper in the 50-59 basket, but only one in the 60-69 basket. Looks like I have to either get faster or older to get any age group awards.

I think that I have a sub 30 minute 5K in me. I need to have better weather conditions, also, running 9 miles the day before probably didn't help my time ;)

Here is what I did the rest of the week:

Tuesday - 4.78 miles in 50 minutes, 11:31 pace

Wednesday - 9.42 miles in 1:50, 11:41 pace

Thursday - 4.6 miles in 50 minutes, 11:58 pace

Friday - 9.19 miles in 1:50, 11:59 pace

Saturday - 5K

Today - Planning to run about 15 miles in 3 hours

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2 AM At The Gym

Quick post because it is 3:15 AM. Ran 4.78 miles in 55 minutes for a 11:31 pace. Felt better than I thought I would. There were 6 folks at the gym at 2 AM and only 3 of us at 3 AM.

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Week's Training

Less than two weeks until the FANS 24 Hour Run, my first attempt at staying awake and moving for 24 hours. Why did I think this was a good idea? My bedtime is usually 10 PM!

Here's how my training went this week:

Tuesday - Rest day.

Wednesday - 10.94 miles in 2:10:00 for an average pace of 11:54.

Thursday - 5.59 miles in 1:05:00 for an average pace of 11:39.

Friday - 5.41 miles in 1:05:00 for an average pace of 12:02

Saturday - Tempo run on the hotel treadmill, I did 1 mile at 5.1 mph as a warmup, then did a mile at 5.5 mph, and increased the speed each mile by .1 mph. I made it all the way to a mile at 6.1 mph before having to back down. Total mileage 12.13 miles in 2:10:00 for an average pace of 10:44.

Sunday - 5.6 miles in 1:05:00 for an average pace of 11:37.

Today - 23.7 miles in 5 hours for an average pace of 12:40. It was a heat acclimation run for me, temperature was about 80 degrees with a dewpoint near 70.

My plan is to try to stay up late tonight, then run for an hour at around 2 AM. I want to see if I can function on tired legs combined with sleep deprivation. If successful, I'll be back around 3 AM and let you guys know how it went.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Darkside 8 Hour Run

On Saturday I lined up with about 40 other people of questionable intelligence and started running for eight hours. It was the Darkside 8 Hour Run. This run is held at a school 400 meter track. The entry fee is only $10 and food to share with the other runners. Everyone was in excellent spirits despite the hot and humid conditions (temperature got into the upper 80s and the track is black, so I'm sure the temperature on the surface was over 90). I got to talk a bit with two runners who will also be running the FANS 24 hour run in Minnesota in three weeks. I also convinced super fast Susan (she's run a couple of sub 20 hour 100s, and is running Western States for the second time this summer) to slow down and run a few laps with me. She ran Burning River last year so I was able to get some course information and tips from her.

I planned this as a training run and was successful in staying on my feet for the full eight hours with few ill effects. I had no blisters or chafing, and my legs felt fine the whole time. I did slow down as the temperature went up, but still managed to cover 34.25 miles for an average pace of 14 minutes per mile. There was one thing that came up that has never happened before, though. After about 5 hours of running, I noticed a couple of drops of blood in my urine. I kept going of course, and noticed the same thing at about 7 hours. However, my urine was clear by the time I got home. Of course I googled this, and found there were several possible causes, most of them with an underlying cause of dehydration. I thought I had been hydrating adequately, but it looks like I will have to step it up on really hot days.

As for the rest of my training this week, this is what I did:

Monday - 5.3 miles in one hour - 11:20 pace

Tuesday - 10.43 miles in two hours - 11:31 pace

Wednesday - 5.16 miles in one hour - 11:38 pace

Thursday - 5 miles in 55:05 - 11:01 pace - this was an interval workout, 400, 800, 1600, 800, 400, all at 9:40 pace

Friday - 5.03 miles in one hour - 11:56 pace

Saturday - 34.25 miles in eight hours

Sunday - 5.42 miles in 1:05 - 12:00 pace

Total for the week 70.6 miles! This is my second highest weekly total, highest was the week of the Umstead 50 mile race.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm Back

Recovering from a five day break is worse than recovering from a marathon. After my birthday trail run, I flew to Vegas to continue my celebration. That, a crazy work schedule, and the soreness from my run up, down, and around Kennesaw Mountain all contributed to five days without running. I found that my legs didn't mind the break so much, but I lost a bit of cardio fitness during that time. Well, running in 85 degrees with 80 percent humidity didn't help much, either. In spite of having to recover from the break, I managed to run over 50 miles last week. Here's what I did:

Tuesday - 4.84 miles in 55 minutes - 11:22 pace

Wednesday - 9.11 miles in 1:50 - 12:05 pace (hot and humid)

Thursday - 4.49 miles in 55 minutes - 12:16 pace

Friday - 8.9 miles in 1:50 - 12:22 pace

Saturday - 4.69 miles in 55 minutes - 11:44 pace

Sunday - 19.02 miles in 3:53:45 - 12:18 pace

Next Saturday I am running around a 1/4 mile track for 8 hours with about 40 other crazy people. This will be a training run for my 24 hour run in Minnesota in less than a month. (and that run will be a training run for my first 100 mile attempt at the end of July) Forecast is for close to 90 degrees with a chance of thunderstorms. Could be interesting.

On an editorial note, did anyone watch House last night? I was excited when in the first couple of minutes Dr House announced that the patient was an extreme distance runner. I thought to myself, cool, I'll have some exotic ultra running disease to obsess about on my next long run. When they inevitably went to the patient's house, I was hoping to see some 100 mile belt buckles, or at the very least a couple of marathon medals. So what was on display? There were several.....wait for it.....10K finishers certificates! Apparently in Hollywood, 6.2 miles is an extreme distance. I just had to laugh. Oh, I did learn one interesting thing I might just have to try out. If you train for and run 10k's, your metabolism is revved up so high that you can eat two dozen donuts a day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Birthday Run

Yes, I turned 51 today. Instead of saying I'm 50, I now have to say I'm "in my fifties". That sounds a little worse for some reason. Anyways, to celebrate, I decided I would do a 5.1 hour trail run up, down, and around Kennesaw Mountain. There are some easy peasy trails, but also some hard core, up and down, technical trails. I was able to do sub-15 minute miles on the easy stuff, but the serious up and down rocky stuff was at 20+ minute miles. Overall I did 17.83 miles in 5:06 for an average pace of 17:10. A little better than my outing at Pine Mountain, but I still need to improve. Right now I'm eating pizza, drinking wine, and catching up on my DVR watching (Glee anyone?)

Here are a couple of pictures of my outing.

Easy Peasy Trail

Roots and Rocks

That's a Trail?

A Little Civil War History Along the Way

The Rewarding View At the Top

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trail Running

I really need some trail running. The Burning River 100 has about 25 miles on the road and 75 miles on trails. That's more trail running than I have in total. In an attempt to remedy that situation, I drove down to FD Roosevelt State Park to get in a little time on the trails. The trails there are well maintained and have some respectable but not too challenging ups and downs, along with good rocky technical sections. I only went for two hours and logged 6.72 miles according to Mr Garmin. That's 18 minute miles. I will need to pick that up quite a bit in the next couple of months. I'm thinking I'll need to be able to do 15 minute trail miles while I'm feeling fresh for my 100 miler. My biggest problem is that I am very tentative on technical sections. The good news is that I got my very first blood drawing trail crash out of the way. There was a very steep downhill section with large rocks leading down to a road crossing. I missed a step and went crashing down. Somehow, I ended up flat on my back, facing the way I had come down. A car went by just as I was crashing. Did he stop to see if I was all right? Of course not! Good thing I was all right, just shaken up, a couple of bruises, and a little blood. Overall a great outing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sean's Run Like Hellathon 2 Report

Ok, this is a week late, but I have the IRS and work to blame. I joined a cult called GUTS (Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society) and one of the members put on a run for the second year. Instead of doing a long boring training run on his own, he mapped out a 1.13 mile loop around his neighborhood, rented a Porta-Potti, offered his parent's front porch as an aid station, and invited everyone to come over and run as much or as little as they wanted in 12 hours. The course opened up at 7 AM. I slept in and showed up around 11 AM. My plan was to run a minimum of 4 hours if I was feeling bad and a maximum of 6 hours if I was feeling great. (Remember I had run 50 miles just two weeks before.) We were all asked to bring shareable food and drinks, so I dropped off my can of Pringles, bag of animal crackers, and bottle of Gatorade. Three runners came by about this time and I asked if they were slow enough that I could follow them for a lap so I would know where the course turns were. They assured me they would be slow since they had already been running for several hours. Kena was one of the runners, she had just run the tough SweetH2O 50k the weekend before and was taking it easy so I could keep up with her. She prefers the 24 hour and 100 mile runs. After the first lap, I was mostly on my own, but I did get to run with Matt Jenkins for a bit. He was running with a 30 pound pack and was barefoot, training for a 760 mile run across North Carolina to raise money for the Western Youth Network. Another Bad-A$$ dude was Jason. He showed up planning to run 6 laps for a 10k since he had also run the SweetH2O the weekend before. However, when new people showed up, he went out and did another couple of laps. Before he knew it, he was 4 laps short of a marathon, so he succumbed to peer pressure and did that. Then, of course a 50k was within reach, and once again the peer pressure kicked in and he ended up doing 28 laps for a total of 31.64 miles. Way to go Jason!

I stuck with my plan and at 5:59:29 I had completed 26 laps for a total of 29.38 miles. Although I only had 2 more laps to do a 50k, I did not succumb to peer pressure and had a beer instead.

In other training, I ran a total of 61.4 miles last week and 52.9 miles this week since I did a "short" long run of only 15 miles today.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Happened To Spring?

We had a week or so of perfect spring running weather, then this week summer and its higher temperatures arrived. Well, I knew I needed to start heat acclimation training, but I was hoping to start it in May.

My recovery week went very well. I took Sunday and Wednesday off, and here's what I did the rest of the week.

Monday - 3 mile shuffle on the treadmill in 35:47 for an average pace of 11:56.

Tuesday - 5.2 miles in one hour for an average pace of 11:33.

Thursday - 3.71 miles in 40 minutes for an average pace of 10:48. Temperature was in the 80s but for some reason, my legs wanted to move fast so this turned into an accidental tempo run.

Friday - 7.19 miles in 1:30 for an average pace of 12:32. I paid for my exuberance the day before during this run. Had to do a lot of walking the final 30 minutes.

Saturday - 4.43 miles in 50 minutes for an average pace of 11:18.

Sunday - 14.3 miles in 3 hours for an average pace of 12:36. Purposely ran with the temperature in the 80s. Heart rate started creeping up the last hour so I added more walking breaks.

Total mileage this week was 37.8 miles. I plan to continue running during the afternoon with the warmer temperatures to continue the heat acclimation. I'm also going to try to run on trails or run up and down Stone Mountain once a week. On Tuesday my running cult is doing a trail run with pizza after. Since I'm not working that day I'm going to try to make it. I've been assured there will be some people there as slow as me, we shall see.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Umstead "Only 50" Race Report

I'm going to do this report a little differently. Rather than the blow by blow I normally do, I've divided it into sections so if you are more interested in numbers, you can skip to that part, if you're interested in what I ate, you can skip to that part, etc.

Pre-Race Preparation

I did the typical pre-race tossing and turning the night before, but the alarm clock did wake me up at 4 AM. (I remember seeing 3:30 seemingly just minutes before) I had pretty much packed everything I needed in my drop bag the night before, so I just needed to lube myself up, get dressed, grab a bagel, and head out the door. As I was in the bathroom getting lubed up, I was channeling my inner Clark Griswold saying, "Thisiscrazythisiscrazythisiscrazy", but then I looked at myself in the mirror, saw a huge grin, and knew I was going to have fun. I dressed in two layers and it was a good thing too, because I had to scrape the frost off my windshield before I drove to the start.

The Course and Conversations

The race started promptly at 6 AM. Since it was literally freezing, I was wearing two layers, with my fleece hat and gloves. I also wore a headlamp since the sun wouldn't rise for about another hour. I started at the very back and walked about a quarter to half a mile since it was congested and dark, but soon everyone spread out and I could start to run. There is an out-and-back section at the beginning and it was fun to see all the headlamps of the leaders coming back at you. At this point there was a gal running next to me at my pace and we started talking. Her name was Judy and I found out that she was getting in a morning 12.5 miles before coming back that night to be a pacer. So, I was lucky and had an unofficial official pacer for about 4 miles. Judy lives a couple of miles from the Park and runs there frequently so she was able to tell me where all the hills were (and that the nice long hill we were running down was called Cemetery Hill and that I would be going up that hill at mile 11 on each loop). The first half of the course is deceptively easy with lots of level running and a couple of descents and only one real climb. After Aid Station #2 there are more hills, including two fairly steep ones that even the front runners walked up as they lapped me. The good news is that none of the climbs are very long, I think the most elevation gain on any one hill is maybe 200 feet. There is no technical running on this course except for about a quarter mile near the Headquarters Aid Station that if you use your imagination you can call slightly technical. The only real hazards are the horse "apples". It was still dark when my headlamp illuminated a pile and I asked Judy if that was horse poop, and she assured me it was.
An interesting guy I leapfrogged with for about 10 miles was Bill. He was going for his 1000 mile buckle. In other words this was his 10th time running this 100 mile race. Since he was obviously an experienced ultra runner, when I saw him slow to a walk on a hill, I did the same thing. He was running with another experienced ultra runner and I overheard him talking about his "epic" nap. Apparently one year he took a three hour nap at Aid Station 2 and then continued on to finish.
The way the course is set up, you can see runners that are two miles ahead of you and two mile behind you (as well the the ones who have lapped you). So it was fun to see the front runners as well as the middle and back of the packers. I have been following Tammy's blog for awhile since she has run lots of ultras including this one and always has a great race report. I saw her several times on the out and back sections, and around the third or fourth lap I got a chance to talk briefly with her. She had been lowering her time by one hour each year and hoped to get under 27 hours (26:40 to be specific) this year in order to continue the trend.
Tom from Georgia was running the 100 miles and was hoping to run the first 50 around 12 hours to keep from going out too fast and ending up hurting later. We ran together briefly on my last lap, and he had to mention that even though I had signed up for the 50 mile option, no one would stop me if I kept on going. But, I stuck to my plan and only did the four loops (the blister at mile 47 certainly made that decision easier, because I was tempted.

Hydration, Nutrition, Aid Station Stops

First of all, let me say that the aid stations at this event are outstanding. They have everything you can imagine and the workers are both cheerful and helpful. I had to fill my own water bottle once, and that was only because there were three other runners at the station ahead of me. According to my Garmin, I spent 27:55 stopped. That works out to an average of 4 minutes at each aid station. I used the facilities at Aid Station #2 each time through whether I thought I needed to or not. That kept my bladder empty so I had one less thing to think about. At the Headquarters Aid Station, I went into the Lodge where I had my drop bag twice in order to shed layers, exchange my glasses for sunglasses after the first lap, and pick up my Iphone and earbuds for the last two laps. I ate something each time I came to an aid station, and ate what appealed to me. Surprisingly, protein looked good to me. I had a hot dog (minus the bun) twice, and also a turkey sandwich. That was besides the normal ultra chips and cookies. As far as hydration went, I carried a water bottle and wore a fuel belt with two small bottles I kept filled with Gatorade. I had my watch buzz me at 10 minute intervals and took alternating sips of either water or Gatorade. During the last lap, the sips became swallows and gulps. I also took S-caps to keep my electrolytes balanced. For the first three hours is was one an hour, then as the day warmed up, I took one every 40 minutes. I was pleased that I had no stomach issues, I seemed to stay hydrated the whole time, and had enough energy to keep me going.

The Numbers

My plan was to do the first loop in 2:40, second in 2:50, third in 3:00, and fourth in 3:10. Lets see how I did. These times include aid station stops, I hit the lap button as I left each aid station, the official timers recorded times as I entered the aid station.
First loop: 2:40 - right on schedule
12:42 pace to AS#2/12:55 pace to HQ
Second loop: 2:46
12:40 pace to AS#2/14:03 pace to HQ
Third loop: 2:55
13:44 pace to AS#2/14:16 pace to HQ
Fourth loop: 2:57
14:08 pace to AS#2/14:32 pace to Finish
Mr Garmin says I walked 11.65 miles at an average pace of 18:54, jogged 37.54 miles at an average pace of 11:51, and ran 1.24 miles at an average pace of 9:14.
Average heart rate was 136 and never got above 160.
I did slow down as the mileage increased, but not as much as I expected. I'm pleased that I never really hit a wall or low point where I had to talk myself into continuing. A large part of that I think was the encouragement I got from other runners I encountered along the way.

The Finish

The finish was kind of anti-climactic. Since this is a 100 mile race, there are no medals or belt buckles for 50 mile finishers, just a handshake and pat on the back and a "well done" from the race director. I grabbed a cupful of ice cream, some mountain dew, and went into the lodge to pack my stuff in my drop bag. I texted my brother my finish time, and as I was eating, I saw 100 milers gearing up for the night, since it would be getting dark during their next loop. I actually envied them and it gave me the inspiration to continue to train and try for 100 later this year.

I drove back to the hotel, grabbed a quick shower, asked at the front desk for a restaurant recommendation (the Babymoon Cafe) and headed out for a steak dinner and some wine. Of course I wore my race shirt and mentioned to both the hostess and my waiter that I had just finished running FIFTY MILES. As I was looking at the menu, I checked the website for results and saw that Zack Gingerich had already finished the 100 miles in an amazing 13:23, smashing the course record by more than an hour. To celebrate my finish, I had a wonderful steak, some delicious wine, and of course dessert. Back at the hotel I settled in, read my book, and tried to get to sleep. Although I slept better than I had the night before, I found myself waking up every couple of hours to check the race results and see how the people I met during the day had fared during the night. Bill earned his 1000 mile buckle, Tom hadn't burned himself out during the first 50 miles and finished strong, and Tammy not only ran sub 27 hours, she was under 25 hours!

The Aftermath

I'm writing this two days after the event. Sure I have some muscle soreness, but nowhere near the stiffness I've had after some marathons and shorter ultras. In fact, I'm walking down stairs normally, not even holding on to the railing. The only issue I had was blisters. I had blisters under two of my toenails on my left foot. (Note: do NOT click on that link if you are squeamish, mine weren't that bad, but were still kind of gross) I had noticed discomfort about halfway through the third loop, but nothing bad enough where I thought I wouldn't be able to continue. After about 47 miles I did develop a quarter-sized blister on the ball of my right foot. Walking and running on it was very uncomfortable, and I would have had to take care of that before continuing if my run had been longer than 50 miles. On a side-note, I took a break from writing this report and managed to shuffle three miles. I went to the gym and did it on the treadmill for two reasons. First, I didn't want to take the chance of running a half mile from home and not being able to get back. Second, I had to show off my race shirt and make sure people knew I had run FIFTY MILES two days before!

Finally Some Pictures

The race shirt, my Iphone thinks that red is orange.

Mr Garmin says I ran 50.43 miles, also I didn't stop my watch until after I got my ice cream, a girl has priorities.

The view heading up to the start/finish area and Headquarters Aid Station, yes it is uphill, I walked up that hill every loop except for the last one, I did run up for the finish!

The view coming into Aid Station #2

In the background you can see the start of one of the steeper hills.

If you click on this link you can see photos from one of the official race photographers. This link will take you to a picture of me (I think I'm being careful not to step on any horse apples)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Woo Hoo!

Full race report to follow, but I beat my pie in the sky goal and completed FIFTY MILES in an unofficial 11:17. Weather and course conditions were perfect, in fact three guys ran faster than the previous course record!

Friday, March 26, 2010

You Know You Are An Ultra Runner When....

This little exchange made my day. I was at the airport chatting with a co-worker about my big plans for the weekend. Another dude came by in the middle of the conversation and had heard "fifty miles". He then asked me, "What kind of bike do you ride?" The expression on his face was priceless when I told him I wasn't riding, but rather running that far!

I'm all checked in at the motel. I ran into two other runners (Sue Ellen and Jack) at the front desk and they just happen to be working the mile 25 aid station at Burning River this year, where I'll be attempting 100 miles for the first time. I plan to chat them up some more at the pasta dinner tonight.

So for now I'm going to just chill in my room, maybe take a nap, then head over to Umstead State Park for registration, pasta, and conversation.

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Its the Final Countdown

Just four days until I attempt to cover FIFTY MILES on foot. I've been doing pretty well with not getting nervous, mostly because I've been treating the distance as something abstract. After all this is supposed to be an initial test to see whether or not I'm ready to attempt a hundred miler later this year. However, now the reality is starting to sink in. I see something that is fifty miles away, and I think, that's a looooong way, and I'm going to try to run that far! I know I have the training, but this will still be the unknown. As the distance increases past the marathon, the potential for problems doesn't just increase mathematically, but it increases exponentially. A blister at mile 24 of a marathon is no big deal, but a blister at that point in a fifty miler means running a whole marathon with a blister. Also, hydration, nutrition, electrolytes become more and more important as the length of the race increases. I think I have a good plan, and the weather forecast promises perfect conditions, but I'm also ready to be flexible as things can and will change.

Speaking of my plan, here it is. I would like to complete the 50 miles in under 12 hours. I'm going to start with walking 1.5 minutes out of every 10 minutes. I'll be keeping an eye on my heart rate, and when it starts getting higher (for me about 160 bpm) I'll increase the amount of walking. The course consists of four 12.5 mile loops so I hope to do the first loop in 2:40, the second loop in 2:50, third in 3:00, and the fourth in 3:10. That adds up to 11:40 which gives me 20 minutes for bathroom stops, changing shoes, aid station stops, and the unexpected.

My pie in the sky goal is 11:30. If everything goes right, the weather stays perfect, I don't have to slow down too much, and I don't dawdle at the aid stations, that just might be possible.

I'm starting to make a mental packing list which I'll turn into a written one tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm still not tapering too much, in fact I ran an 8 mile interval session today. Oops!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm a Terrible Taperer

Less than two weeks until I attempt to run FIFTY MILES for the first time. I know I should be tapering, but I'm feeling great and my legs want to keep running. Here's what I've been doing so far this week after my six hour treadmill session on Friday:

Saturday - 5 miles in 58:19 running around my neighborhood.

Sunday - 4.27 miles in an hour. This was a hill workout on the hotel treadmill, I alternated 1/2 mile walking with the incline at 8, and 1/2 slow running level and 5.3 mph.

Monday - 10 mile tempo run on the hotel treadmill, 1 mile warm-up at 5.1 mph, 5 miles at 5.5 mph, 1 mile at 5.6 mph, 1 mile at 5.7 mph, 1 mile at 5.8 mph, 1 mile cool-down at 5.1 mph.

Tuesday - 5 miles in 56:47 running around the neighborhood.

Wednesday - 5 miles in 57:43 on the treadmill.

Today - 10 miles in 1:55:00 on the Peachtree City golf cart paths. I saw this guy on my last mile. He is some kind of heron or egret (my bird identification isn't very good).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Six Hours

Today I scheduled myself for a six hour time on feet long run. Since it was raining and the forecast called for thunderstorms, this was my home for six hours today.

As you can see, I basically moved in at my gym. I had two bottles of Gatorade, two bottles of water (I did refill one of them), Pringles, cookies, and S-caps. I can tell you that I did get some strange looks when I took my "aid station" breaks for either Pringles or cookies.

I had hoped to log 27-30 miles, but I pooped out after about 2 hours and had to increase my walking time. I ended up with only 26.35 miles for a pace of about 13:40. The previous two weeks have been fantastic with my long runs, tempo runs, intervals, etc. so I figure I was due for a not so great run. Besides, my last two long runs were in great weather outside, so that helped the pace, I'm sure.

Now I am officially in taper mode. In two weeks I'll be attempting 50 miles for the first time. I'm hoping to finish in under 12 hours. I think I'll need to be able to do that in order to have a realistic shot of making a 30 hour cutoff for my 100 mile attempt.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Streak Is Over

I didn't run yesterday. Not because I was injured, or overtrained, or didn't have time. I just felt, eh, lets take a day off, and I did. So, my longest running streak ended at 65 days. My current run streak is now 1 day. I had a nice little tempo run on the treadmill. After a 1 mile warm-up, I did 4 miles @ 5.5 mph, 1 mile @ 5.6 mph, and 1 mile @ 5.7 mph, followed by a 2 mile cool-down. Total distance was 9 miles in a time of 1:40:06.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Monster Week

I ran 69.3 miles this week! I think that has to be my all-time high weekly mileage. My monthly total was 223 miles which is also an all-time high and that was in only 28 days. So far I've been able to up my mileage while continuing to be injury-free.

Here's how the week added up:

Monday - 10 miles in 1:59:24, this was an interval session and I tried something different. I ran 16 200s at an 8:00 pace. The rest of the 10 miles was a warm-up, recovery between the intervals (walk at a brisk pace for 1:30) and finished up with slow running.

Tuesday - 5 miles in 58:40

Wednesday - 10 miles in 1:57:31

Thursday - 5 miles in 59:21

Friday - 4 miles on a sucky hotel treadmill, alternated power walking up an incline with slow running with no incline.

Saturday - 10.13 miles in 2:01:07

Sunday - 25.17 miles in 5:00:00

This week I plan to pull back about 15% before one last monster week and then taper time for my 50 miler!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hello Spring

I just got back from a great 15 mile run. The temperature was around 60, and the sun was shining so I could soak up lots of Vitamin D. I ran at a comfortable pace and finished in 2:53:18 for a pace of 11:34. This brings my running streak to 56 days. (They actually put a new belt on the world's suckiest treadmill so I was able to keep the streak alive!)

A quick review of my training this week:
Sunday - 3.93 miles on the treadmill, alternating half miles; an incline of 8.o and speed of 3.5 mph with slow running at 5.3 mph and zero incline
Monday - 9.23 miles in 1:50:00
Tuesday - 4.74 miles in 55:00
Wednesday - 9.7 miles in 1:50:00, this was a tempo run with 6 miles at a 10:54 pace
Thursday - 4.64 miles in 55:00
Friday - 4.88 miles in 55:00

Total mileage for the week was 52.12 miles. Next week's long run will be a 5 hour Time On Feet exercise at my ultra pace, I also plan on doing intervals one day next week. Five weeks until the 50 miles at Umstead.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Today marked my 49th day in a row of running at least 3 miles a day. I have been lucky enough to stay healthy so far and my training is going very well. Tomorrow may be a day off, I'm staying at a hotel with the world's suckiest treadmill and the forecast is for a high of 27 and a 40% chance of snow. Right now the plan is to do a "hill" workout on the sucky treadmill. It is terrible to run on, but tolerable for walking, so I'm planning on cranking the incline up to 10-12 and then power walking for 45 minutes. Or, I may be surprised and they bought a new treadmill since the last time I was there. (yea right, in this economy they are going to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a new treadmill)

This weeks mileage was a grand total of 55 miles thanks to two long runs this week. Because of my schedule I had to do last week's long run this Monday and this week's long run on Friday. I had planned on doing mile repeats on Wednesday, but failed miserably. I had scheduled myself for 4 one-mile repeats at a 10:00 pace with recovery miles at a 12:00 pace. I managed to get two before dying and finishing the run at a slow pace. However, I was able to recover nicely for my 4 hour run yesterday. I ran at my ultra pace, which is 8.5 minutes running and 1.5 minutes walking, and managed to log 18.5 miles in the 4 hours.

Six weeks until my big first test of 50 miles at Umstead, I'm starting to get excited!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Not One, But Two!

If you look to the right at my race schedule you will see that I have chosen which 100 mile race will be my first attempt...the Burning River 100. But wait, it also says Javelina Jundred. Have I lost my marbles? Probably, but indulge me while I discuss my rationalization.

After doing a lot of research, I decided to run Burning River for several reasons. It is easy for me to get there, there isn't a lot of high terrain, and previous runners have assured me it is well supported and a good fit for first-timers. My hand was actually shaking as I clicked the "submit" button for my entry, but I did it, I entered my first 100 mile race.

Then Jessica had to comment on my blog and offer to pace me. (Even though I've never met you, I think blog comments count as a written contract, so I'm counting on you for at least 30 miles) I looked at the dates and realized there were three months between the races. I should be recovered in three months, right? RIGHT?? Before I knew it, I was filling out another race entry form and clicking the "submit" button again.

Both of these races have the potential of filling up which is why I am entering so early. They also have an option of getting a partial refund if you back out by a certain deadline, so its not like I'm taking a spot from someone else.

Having these two runs on my calendar gives me several options. The best option of course is to run and complete both of them. If, however, something goes wrong on my first race, I can learn from my mistakes, have three months to recover, and still have an entry spot to the Javelina Jundred. If Burning River takes too much out of me, I can still run the JJ100 and take the "wimp out" option and run 100k.

So, how is that for rationalization? Here I am, longest run to date is only 37 miles, and I have not one, but two 100 milers on my calendar. Please tell me I'm not insane!