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.