Sunday, April 06, 2014

Umstead 100 2014 AKA the Big PR !

21:58:10 !

My previous pr was 23:15 set way back in 2007 At Rocky Raccoon. Some setbacks and injury in 2008  along with burnout from racing too much and it would be 2011 before I would run and finish another 100 but the races and courses were very tough and not conducive to pr attempts ! By 2011 my training was better than it had been for years and actually the highest mileage averaged consistently of my running life. I began to believe that even in my mid 50's, a time when improving is not suppose to happen that I had a 100 mile pr in me. I just had to find the right day on the right course under the right conditions.

  I chose to make that attempt here at Umstead in 2012 and was running quite well and on pace through 50 miles but the weather was too warm and humid and on lap 5 I really began to suffer.   I would have dropped but for the first time I was going to use a couple of my Angels, Lisa and Karla as pacers and I didn't want to miss out on sharing it with them. Those last 2 laps were a sufferfest and I am so glad I had them with me and that put up with me when I was at my worst.

 A year later in 2013 it was time for another attempt at a race to remain nameless. I was well under pace and feeling great physically but it was a very screwed up situation and I dropped at 50 miles in what was a 50 mile pr at the time.  Two weeks later I attempted at FA style 100 with some friends to run with  me but freakishly untimely heat and humidity de-railed that attempt so I set my sights once again on giving it a shot  at The Beast of Burden 100. Another injury just two weeks before forced a dnf at mile 37.5 It was just not looking good for another pr as father time was ticking away.

 But the training was still going great after the injury finally healed and it was time for one more shot at Umstead this year. I knew I was fit and ready and was just praying for good weather so I could have a legitimate shot at it.

  Race morning was actually warmer than expected but the humidity wasn't bad and the forecast was for just some slight warming during the day and really nice night time running so it was on. My mantra for the day would be " This is my Day !  Of course my goal was a pr but I had a fantasy goal of running 21hours and had a pacing plan that would get me there. Once again I was looking forward to sharing the day with some of my training partners, the Angels.

 I began the race in a singlet due to the warmer upper 60's start but brimming with confidence. I've done literally dozens of practice laps over the years and know every spot along the course and how long I will cover it at different efforts and walking strategies so I felt sure I could hit my planned lap times at least for the early laps.

 By 2 miles I was warmed up and in the groove enjoying the morning. The pace was dialed in and the plan was a go.  I had a few nice conversations in the first lap and met a couple of new people. On Turkey creek I crossed Amy's "smelly bridge and with the damp cool morning air it was nice and smelly and with it some good memories of many miles shared in the park. The remainder of the lap was uneventful, I was feeling great and I nailed the pace I had planned which was a 2:10 start.

 I slammed a kellogs protein drink, took off the shirt, grabbed my sunglasses and then went through the aid station in about 1 minute and back out for lap 2. It was already warming as the sun was rising in the morning sky. I was feeling great and having a blast and continuing to run strong. It was wonderful to see so many friends running  and volunteering all around the course and the support was  amazing with so many kind words of encouragement. My plan was to run lap 2 in 2:20 and hit 25 miles in 4:30. Well, my 25 mile time was 4:30:02 ! I don't think it gets any better than that !



 Once again I slammed protein shake and back in and out of the main aid station very quickly. Just some cheez-its for sodium and a little chocolate and I was on my way. The nutrition strategy was to just keep it simple and not over eat. I just don't handle "real" food in long ultra's unless I am going very slow and very hard like a mountain 100 that's going to take 30+ hours. I would repeat the same thing at the end of each lap and supplement with one or two gels each lap and just drink water and gatorade.

 Out on lap three and it was beginning to feel pretty warm for this un-acclimated runner. My main concern with the warmth was staying hydrated which can be an issue for me and also the stomach can go bad and not want to process calories when it gets too hot so I didn't want to push it but I wanted to still try and hit my splits. Some shade and a nice breeze in places kept it reasonably comfortable and I was able to maintain my strong running. My plan was for a 2:30 lap and I hit it once again  dead on pace in 2:29:37  for a 6:59 37.5 mile time.

 In nearly every ultra of the 80 + over the past 12 years there has usually been a downtime somewhere around 30ish miles when things started to get a bit hard and I began to have doubts but today there was nothing like that. Just the normal little aches and soreness that come with pounding and pushing all the miles. I still felt great and was running strong but there were some spots out on the course that felt powerful warm in the sun. Just as I was coming down the final hill to the aid station I saw my friend Laura Frey. I would have loved to have her pace me a lap but as hard as she has trained for Boston it would not have made sense for her.
 I had hopes of repeating another 2:30 lap but I missed it. Yeah by a whole 2 minutes ! Mile 50 in 9:31 right where I wanted to be for the fantasy goal and feeling strong.



  I had hoped that the Trail Angel, Laura MacLean was going to be able to join the pacing team this year. I have hardly seen her the past two years as she has been in school and very busy. I contacted her a couple of weeks ago and asked if she might be able to find the time to run  lap 5 with me. She said she would try and would confirm later. Well as of race morning I didn't hear from her so I assumed she wasn't coming so you can imagine when I came into the aid station that I was elated to see her ready to run. Shared a big hug and as always I was quickly back out to began lap 5.

 I told her I had allowed myself the luxury of slowing down another 15 minutes for this lap so we were able to relax and enjoy the beautiful afternoon  as we ran and got caught up on whats going on in our lives. I was still feeling just amazingly awesome, running strong and no problems at all. This was certainly one of the most enjoyable laps I've had in this race and was sad for it to end in a way but I had another 3 to go !  Plan was for 2:45 and we were a little quick in 2:42 giving me a pr for a slightly long 100k of 12:13:38.

 I had been looking forward all year to having Karen Martin pace me on lap 6. We ran 11 miles last year during the race in between volunteering duties  but a foot injury and practically no running all winter was going to make that impossible for her so I was on my own for lap 6. I put on a shirt and grabbed my light since the sun would be setting soon. I was still feeling better than I could have hoped  for. I wanted to run another 2:45 lap and everything seemed to be working as I still ran strong. But it just seems that the pace slows down in the dark and although I was moving well, it was hard to push myself now out there alone and the pace fell below what I needed. I finished up in 3:01:50. It was a bit disappointing as the fantasy goal was now pretty much impossible but I was still feeling great and 100 % confident that a big pr was still in  the bag.

 My dear friend and training partner Lisa Howell was waiting for me to head out on lap 7. She had done the same in 2012 during my sufferfest so I assured her it would be a different experience this time around. The plan for this one was 3 hours and I was just hoping I wouldn't lose anymore time. Once we got the airport spur she began pushing and I was just hanging on ! I was going to tell her to slow down but I was doing ok and I thought just maybe we could get some time back. Things were going great and we were slightly ahead of pace for the first 4 miles but then it got slower. I didn't even check any splits until we got to mile 10 of that lap and was quite a bit disappointed at how slow we were. I really felt like the effort should have produced a better result. A potty break cost me some more time and although we ran strong the last couple of miles we lost more time overall with a 3:12 lap.

  Karla THE Marathon Princess was waiting to bring me in the last lap once again. By now I was getting tired and the legs were feeling the effects of 87.5 miles of pounding on the hills but compared ot 2012 I felt like a million bucks. Karla saw me at my worst that year as I struggled through a most miserable 4:50 lap ! Lots of sitting, gasping moaning, groaning, whining and staggering that year and yet here she was ready to go out again this year. What real friends are made of !

 Karla and I have shared thousands of miles together since we began training together over 9 years ago now and still every run is  a wonderful time shared with great conversation. Things got pretty slow but she kept me going. I did take the luxury of sitting for about 3 minutes at aid station 2 while I waited for my drop bag and to drink one last protein shake. Other than that I had not spent more than 2 minutes in an aid station all day which can really save a lot of time.

  NorthTurkey Creek  was a real time drain. It is amazing how slow your overall pace can be late in these things even when you keep moving and still run strong on the downhills. Karla gave me our split for mile 10 and I was hoping maybe I could squeak under 22 but at mile 11 it seemed it would be about 22:05. I just wasn't going to be content to let that happen with out a fight so we started pushing once we crested cemetary hill. There was no reason to hold back and save energy by now with just one mile to go and I was very happy that the body responded and I was able to crush that last mile and get the 21:58 and a new pr.

 Once you reach 58 years old and after running for so many years, things like that aren't suppose to happen. But it shows once again what a bit of passion for running, a strong desire to succeed and the will to put in the hard work along wiht a little luck and the support of some great friends can do.

 Dream Big my friends !

 ( thanks to John Price for the pics ! )

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tobacco Road Half Marathon. Success !

Yes, I must say I am very very happy with the way this turned out !

  Leading up to this race my training had been going well but as I mentoned in the preview, I didn't taper other than 3 fairly easy days before the race and I had just completed a hard BQ attempt at Myrtle Beach 4 weeks ago and a pesonal best course run at Umstead Trail marathon 2 weeks ago. With these things on my mind I was reasonably confident I could at least have a shot at a sub 1:40 but also aware that it would not be easy no matter what happened and there was always the possibility that some lingering fatigue would de-rail my attempt in the latter stages of the race.

 With that, I was very happy that the weather forecast was looking to be ideal for running hard. I did a one mile warmup and then worked my way to the start and  lined up right behind the 1:40 pace group led by Jeremy Hong and Matt and Meghan Craver. I don't usually pay much attention to pace groups and will run faster or slower depending on how I feel but today I thought I would at least try ad keep them in sight for awhile. Well as soon as the race started I fell behind them in the large crowd of runners and as always there seem to be too many people that like to line up near the front that really have no business being anywhere near the front.

 After the first half mile things spread out enough that I could get into a rhythm and settle into what felt like a comfortable pace. I hit one mile in 8:00 , about 23 seconds too slow but I wasn;t worried and thought with the congested start that I was currently running closer to goal pace. The pace group was still a pretty good ways ahead of me an I just relaxed and didn't worry about it. Sure enough mile 2 was dead on 7:37. I had plenty of time to chip way at the deficit in the first mile.

 We turned off of the road and onto the trail around the 2.5 mile point and by now I was getting comfortable with the pace and put it on cruise control. I was very happy to hit mile 3 in 7:17. It felt easy and with that one mile I was close to making up the deficit. I still had not made up any ground on the pace group but shortly after that I noticed the gap was beginning to close as Jeremy must have backed off the pace a little. That first mile or two on the trail is pretty quick in the direction we were going and I hit mile 4 in 7:24. This was awesome. I felt great and was now moving ahead of goal pace.


  I clicked off another good one hitting mile 5 in 7:27 and by now had closed the gap and was right behind Jeremy. Matt and Meghan had moved on ahead a ways at that point. Shortly after that I moved ahead of Jeremy and just decided to go for it. However the next mile is on a slight upgrade and I backed off the effort just a little. Maybe a little too much because mile 6 was 7:46 but when I made the turn at the halfway point I was still ahead of pace and moving well.

 Things suddenly got very crowded with the two way traffic and the bulk of the 2,500 runners coming towards us now. I had caught up to Matt and was running right behind him but it was shoulder to shoulder and large groups coming towards us 3 and 4 abreast made it very tight and nearly bumping runners squeezing by. This is an awesome event but it is just a bit too crowded to have that many runners on such a narrow course.

 Mile 7 was a quick 7:22, enough to make up for the slow mile 6 and keep me with a cushion. I felt strong  through mile 8  in 7:25 and was now beginning to believe I  may have a shot at not just the sub 1:40 but maybe even cracking 1:39 !

 Mile 9 was slightly upgrade again but I passed it in 7:35 and was finally beginning to feel the effort but I still was sure I was not going to fall apart.. But mile 10 was getting tough and I was beginning to feel a stitch coming on and had to back off the effort a little. It was a disappointing 7:48 but then things leveled out and I was able to pick it up again. We turned back onto the road at 10.5 and the push was on now. Mile 11 was 7:38. I was digging deep now and focusing on trying to reel in a couple of guys up ahead that looked like they could possibly be in my age group.The time I was aiming for would have gotten me close or onto the podium for an age group award in just about all the previous races so I was trying to go for every second.

 Mile 12 was even better with a 7:23. Oh yeah, one more to go. Sub 1:40 well in the bag but how close to 1:39 ?  One more hill and then a turn back into the park with about 1/2 mile to go. I caught up to Meghan again and we ran together the rest of the way. Passed mile 13 in 7:23. I was thinking I would be closer to 1:39:30ish so when I saw I actually was going to finish in1:39:03 I was of course wishing I had been able to find just a little more speed somewhere. Ha ! Actually I am super satisfied and happy with the result ! 

  During and after the race I had quite  few people, some that I know and others that were strangers running in  close proximity comment on how smooth and relaxed I looked and how I made it look easy. That makes me feel good of course and the fact is I felt great nearly the whole race.

 I ended up 5th out of 56 in my age group so I am pretty happy with that being an old ultra runner that has been focused on the Umstead 100 since finishing Myrtle Beach.  Stay tuned for more exciting adventures !

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tobacco Road Half Marathon Preview

 Well, I'm sneaking another race onto the schedule this weekend. It's not that I hadn't thought about it but it really didn't fit into my other plans for this year. Last year the full marathon was the target race for me and Amy as we had trained really hard to get a Boston qualifier but things didn't turn out quite like we had planned. So this time around it was decided to go for it a month earlier in Myrtle Beach. Well that didn't turn out so well either due to an  injury  that caused me  to be a  bit behind on the training and then race day turned out to have really nasty windy weather. Now it's looking like an extra month of training and some better weather would have been better but it is what it is.

  So anyway,  training for Boston is on the back burner for awhile as I am now focused on three big ultra's in the next 3 months. But then I was thinking that I would really like to take advantage of the great training I have been doing to put some speed to the test. There is no way I could give a quality effort at another BQ right now but a half is another story. I think I can put in a solid effort and still be able to recover and train for the Umstead 100 coming up in 3 weeks.

 So, I remembered  that last year at the expo, Steve Hite, owner of the title sponsor for the half, BAYSIX had offered me a complementary entry if I wanted it so I contacted him last week and I was happy to find that he was still willing to get me into the race! Thanks Steve !

 The course is a fast one, the weather is looking pretty good temperature wise for good running and my training is going well. Despite running hard at MB last month and then again at the Umstead Trail Marathon I'm feeling pretty good and feel confident I can run well. Last September at the Half at Seymour Johnson AFB I was on pace to crack 1:40 for the first time since 2006 but my hamstring injury that I had been battling since early August flared up during the race and caused me to slow down to a 1:42 finish. I actually feel I am in better shape now so I am going ahead and saying it up front that  I am going for the sub 1:40. wish me luck !

 here is a link to the race website

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Umstead Trail Marathon 2014

  This is a great race put on by the Carolina Godiva Track Club and today was the 11th edition. I ran the first one back in 2004 as a training run for my 1st 100 miler in Umstead and had a very enjoyable day. I returned each of the next 3 years but since that time it just hasn't seemed to fit into my schedule. This year I am once again running the 100 and that combined with the fact that  I would be able to run with a comp entry thanks to sponsor Great Outdoor Provision and the CGTC  ,I was excited to have another chance to participate.

  My original plan was to just use it as a training run and with it just being two weeks after a hard effort in the Myrtle Beach Marathon I wasn't expecting to run all that well anyway. Just get in the miles and have some fun. As expected there were quite a few of my friends running as well as volunteering and I was enjoying the pre-race socializing. The weather was looking great with the chance of rain now at nearly zero and the temps in a good range for running long.

 Just before the start I spotted one of my dear friends and Angels, Margherita Scott so we lined up together and began the race together. She has not missed a single one of these ! The pace began easy enough and we were enjoying some good conversation. The trail was a bit crowded and after a mile or see we had to work our way around some folks so we could run our normal stride. Soon we came to the first section of single track and slowed down a bit. I used to run on these trails a lot but the past two years with my focus more on road running I've spent most of my time on the green ways and bridle paths. After mile 3 I moved on ahead of Margo and was feeling pretty good so I decided that maybe I would go for a course pr. Well as close as possible. The course has changed slightly since I ran in 2007 and includes another section of single track making it a little tougher.

 Ok, I know I said it was a training run but it is really hard for me not to run my best unless I am pacing someone else. I just can't help it !  We came off of Company Mill trail and onto Reedy Creek before turning onto Graylin, running down the hill and then onto Sycamore Trail. By now the instincts had kicked in and it felt like home once again on the single track and I was dancing over and around the rocks and roots like I had never been away. The next aid station and the first one I stopped for some water was in the B&B lot just past 5 miles. My average pace was close to what I would needed for the record but I wasn't too concerned with just another 1.5 miles of single track to go and it was a bit flatter than the previous 2 sections had been.




 Soon I was back on that section of the Sycamore trail and really enjoying myself. A young lady behind me commented on my hot pink dirtygirl gaitors so I proceeded to tell her the short version of how they came to be with the Karla story which she really enjoyed hearing. She then complemented me on how well I seem to float over the single track so then I had to tell her how I ran my first time on these trails back in 1979. Soon after that the trail came back to Graylin and we would be on the B&B trails for the remainder of the race. Up and down over every hill and some of them twice.



 Made the turn at the "T" and then a quick mile down corkscrew before making the long 1 mile climb up to the gate. The next aid station was there and I was glad to see Pauline there to fill my refillable cup they had supplied us with while taking a gel. This was around mile 10 and I felt ok. Not great but no problems. I started of down South Turkey Creek and soon found myself alongside Jim Wei. It was nice to talk to him and the next 1.5 were the fastest of the race for both of us. Now my overall average was right about where I wanted it. I just had to maintain !

 I've run this park so many thousands of miles now over the years so I knew the next 2.4 up N Turkey Creek were going to be some of the slowest so I just settled in and didn't try to push it and soon enough I was back at the B&B lot for another gel around mile 14 and still feeling pretty good. The next miles were pretty uneventful as I just tried to remain steady and only walking short periods up the steepest of the hills. I was actually a bit surprised at how well I was still running the ups.



 I made it back up S Turkey Creek and back into the aid station at about 19.7 miles and by now I was pretty confident that there would be no meltdown today but there were still 3 major hills to go and a few more minor ones. I enjoyed the long downhill past the lake and then prepared for corkscrew. I ran well and was happy to be passing people in these later miles rather than being passed. Now there was Cedar Ridge. I almost never go down this one and the uphill return really stinks since it is back  up to the 24 mile mark. I tried to run  strong down to the bottom  to make up a little time because I was expecting a slow  climb. By now I had the course pr in the bag so no worries there. I was actually still running up that nasty hill pretty strong too and once at the top I rewarded myself with a bit of Coke for the push up the final two miles.

 I continued to run strong to the finish with a nice smile, crossing the line in 4:33:57, a new race pr by nearly 5 minutes. The really cool thing about that is one, I am 7 years older and two, after just a recovery week after MB, I ran 44 miles in the 5 days leading up to this race with the workout on Friday at Marathon BQ pace ! Sweet ! All the hard work is still paying of and there will be some good performances in the months ahead.

 Stay tuned !

Monday, February 24, 2014

Myrtle Beach Marathon 2014

 Windy

 Well, there is a little more to the story than that I guess.  Training had gone very well in the  weeks leading up to the race and I was feeling confident that even if I couldn't get the pr I would at least be able get the minimum BQ needed which would be a 3:39:59. The weather forecast was looking great a couple of days out but then things changed. Rain would move into the area around 4am and with it heavy winds.

 I had arrived on late Wednesday afternoon because of the snow and ice storm and wanted to make sure I was there and not have to deal with any possible problems if I waited until Friday. It was cold and  Thursday was windy but Friday was a very pleasant afternoon.

 I slept fairly well and was up at 4:30 to prepare. It's about a 1 mile walk from the hotel and I was happy to have an emergency poncho to stay dry as  I walked to the start in the dark. I found my spot near the 3:35 pace group and luckily the rain stopped just as the race began. My target pace was 8:11 and even with the crowded start my first mile was 8:15 and it felt easy so I was pretty happy at this point.  I was on pace and in a groove but around mile 3 was when the wind began to get noticeable as the crowd thinned out. It was blowing in the teen's at this point and I just backed off the effort a little but was still able to stay within a few seconds per mile of target pace.

 Around mile 6 we went into the shopping area with several turns and got a bit of a break from the wind  and I knew that soon we would predominantly have a tailwind for awhile. Unfortunately the wind had increased and was now gusting into the 30+ mph range and swirling. With the tailwind I was cruising along a few seconds per mile faster than goal pace with an easy effort and tried to take advantage by just relaxing knowing that I would need the energy later. I went through the half in 1:46:30, a one minute cushion , still feeling good and confident.

  The next 4 miles were uneventful and I was still building the cushion by a few seconds per mile. Then the course turned and the wind was now either at our side or slightly in the face and my pace slowed slightly but still with the cushion it was no problem. No, the problem was when we turned again just before the 19 mile mark and now we were straight into the wind tunnel. I was soon feeling the effects  of the previous miles efforts and now it felt like I was being shoved backwards. Just put the head down and push on.

 At mile 20 the pr was gone but still a shot for the BQ but I was wearing down fast and by 22 I knew there was no way I would be going to Boston. I still didn't want to give up so I dug deep and pushed harder but I couldn't maintain the pace but for a short distance before slowing down again. By 23 I was just hoping I could run my 2nd fasted marathon ever and I was giving it all I had to push into the wind but by mile 24 even that goal was gone. At that point I just wanted it to be over. It was so tempting to just walk it in but I was determined to do my best despite the disappointment so I trudge on running as fast as my dead legs could turnover which was not very fast I'm afraid.


 So I ended up in 3:49:50. a respectable time for me especially I guess under the conditions. Another thing that may have played a part in slowing so much is that I was probably dehydrated. Arriving 3 days early and staying in the hotel most of that time I was out of my normal routine and probably didn't drink nearly   enough and probably started the race with a deficit. I did go through the normal routine before the start but I never had the urge to pee as  most of us usually do and at the faster race pace I was not able to drink enough since I was already behind on the hydration. But, nothing can be done about that or the conditions. Just happy I gave it my best shot.

 Now it's time to move on.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Myrtle Beach Marathon Preview

 I am looking forward to going for a pr and a BQ this weekend. I made the decision to return here shortly after failing to get the BQ last year at Tobacco Road but I had one more chance in October at the Wineglass Marathon. Injury caused another failure there so it was on for MB. The problem was I needed to begin the training  but first I had to get over the injuries that had been cramping my running plans since August. I still had a couple of events to complete, most importantly the 50 miler at Tussey Mountainback to get the Western States qualifier. Miraculously the legs held up and it seemed that the injury actually began to improve at the 40 mile mark of that race and continued to get better over the next month.

  I was still having some issues and although I could still run I could not do anything at a fast pace. I was afraid if I could just get  through Derby 50k in November without further aggravating things that I was going to  have to take off the month of December to let it heal and if so there would be no chance for a fast time here at MB.  Well, I am very happy to say that I ran Derby practically pain free, recovered quickly and within a week I was back to my normal training volume of about 50 miles per week. I tested the legs out with some tempo pace runs and had no problems so I have been able to get in some good quality training despite having to do so many in some truly atrocious weather.

  I haven't even attempted to follow any particular training schedule but in a lot of cases just made up the workouts as I was starting off depending how I felt that day. Plenty of miles at tempo pace and marathon goal pace. I was able to do this while building my mileage in January up to 60 mile per week before finally doing a two week taper.

  The main reasons for choosing MB is the fact that  it is  a very fast course and usually the weather is going to be in a range conducive to running well. Looks like we get lucky with that this year with lows in the upper 30's and high in the low 50's and sunny !

 This will be my 6th time running the full marathon here. The first time I came and paced Karla in her first. I returned the next year and ran my pr at age 50 and qualified for Boston so I could run Boston with her. The next 3 years I just ran it with her for fun. I hope this year will be fun but its all about going FAST !

 Here is the race website:  

 If anyone cares to follow along there are apps available for iphone or android. Just search for the MB marathon app.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Perfect Training Run(s)

 1. Peaceful.

 "How you feeling today? Yeah, I'm tired too. Been a tough week. Let's just take it easy."

" Much nicer out here today, loving this sun and warmer air. Couldn't ask for a better day  to be out here"

 Hmm, legs are a little stiff but at least the pain seems to be gone. Hope it gets better soon or this is going to be tougher than I wanted. Not much is said as we ease into the run. We've done this so many times before, seemingly thousands of miles over the  many years. Sometimes others tag along but today its just us two like so many times before. The conversation begins to flow freely and before we know it there are quite a few miles behind us. I notice that the legs are moving smooth and freely , the breathing is even and it's almost effortless.

 " Oh, look ,  as several deer go bounding across the path in front of us." Wow, is that a snowy egret down there in the creek? We stop to stretch and enjoy the rare sighting before easing back into the run.  Suddenly a possum scoots by, another rare daytime sighting. Cute isn't it?

 And then as if time had stood still we are in the last mile. I wish we had more time. I'm not quite ready for it to end .

2. The loner

 I"m eager to get going this afternoon as I'm hoping to get in a good quality workout. The big one is coming up in a couple of months and I've got a lot of work to do.  I wish it wasn't so cold but it is what it is. Stupid wind. What will I do, I don't know, just get started and see how you feel and take it from there.

   Not feeling too good warming up but at least the legs feel like they may have some zip in them. I don't know, should I go for tempo or not push it so hard and just see how marathon pace feels. Wait until the first mile and then I'll decide. Well, the first mile was decent pace but I'm not feeling like this is going to go well. I pick it up anyway. I'll see what the next mile is before I make a decision.

  The pace increases but the breathing is laboring a bit. I'm not sure about this, maybe I should just back off?  But then mile two is coming and  hey, that was awesome and I notice that suddenly the breathing is smooth and relaxed and the legs feel great ! Yeah, it's on !

  The quarter mile posts come quickly and I'm in the zone as the pace increases slightly faster. This is awesome. Mile 3 blazes by and any doubts that I had earlier are erased as I feel I can easily hold on to this pace for the remainder of the workout and beyond. All distractions are buried deeply as I imagine myself feeling like this approaching the last miles of the race, still months away.


One more mile and now it is getting harder to hold the pace but I stay focused and refuse to let the pace drop. And then it's over and as I look at my time and feel  a great sense of satisfaction , a smile for no one but myself  burst out and I look to the sky and say a big thank you.  I average nearly 20 seconds per mile at the same effort as I did a  month ago. The hard work is paying off.

 3. The competitor

 "Ya wanna run?" Yeah, I feel the need for speed !

 We start off chattering away as usual. (Hmm, I think, this warmup mile seems fast. I think this may hurt) What are we doing? "How about mile repeats?" OK.

Then we reach the one mile mark and I say let's go and suddenly the pace kicks up dramatically. It feels too fast but by now I now exactly what to expect. I don't dare move ahead because I know that will just cause you to push harder and yet I still feel the slightest bit of a surge and I have to pick it up a step to stay even. The body is revolting a bit but the mind tells it to relax, as it makes the adjustment to the faster pace and soon enough the first one is over. Yep, too fast but it felt pretty good.

 All too soon it seems, it's time for the next one but as I've learned from doing so many of these the next one is much more relaxed as by now the body is prepared for  the "punishment" it now knows is coming. The pace is now more even and nearly dead on what we planned. You gain a step or two but I gradually reel you in. I'm feeling very relaxed at the pace now, the legs are strong and the breathing hard but even. As I settle in I glance over and listen to your breathing, as I  monitor your effort. Your working hard but no problems. Yep, I think I picked a good workout today.

 The third repeat begins like the 2nd, smooth and relaxed but as we reach the last qtr it is becoming harder to hold the pace. The legs are beginning to burn a bit and the breathing becomes more labored. You are working hard and began to fall a few steps back.  I ease off just a hair on the pace but I know you will push as hard as you can no matter what and sure enough at the end you are right there. We are both pretty much gasping now as we walk and then slowly began slowly running again.  " You wanna do one more?" I get that look , but I know you are ready to go.

 We take off already feeling the effects of the previous three repeats  but we both want to finish strong. Everything is focused inward now as we push each other. Nothing is said. Breathing is much too hard now as every fiber in our bodies is telling us to slow down. But there is no quitting in either of us. I  speak out loud when we reach 1 qtr mile to go and we push with everything that's left. Why ? Because that's how pr 's are made and there is no denying we both want to do our best. YES! We nailed that last one. For a moment all we can do is gasp and walk slowly as we began to recover. Seems the first words are along the line of , that was hard and that sucked. But then, we do a cool down mile and it is at a decent pace and by the time we're done it's all about, that was a great workout !  What are we doing next time? 800's? 2 mile repeats at half marathon pace? 3 mile repeats at marathon pace? tempo run?  Yes, all of the above !


 4. Ok, thats enough. There are of course many other perfect workouts. Long runs alone, trail runs, runs with small groups, runs with large groups and many others. But every workout is perfect if I can run and especially run pain free no matter where or what the weather

Monday, February 03, 2014

weekly training report. 1-20 thru 2-2-2014

This is the week I ease into my taper.

 Mon:

morning situps challenge. 370 situps total including 100 with 5lb weight and 100 with 10 lb weight. 5 minutes of back and side bends to loosen up afterwards.

afternoon run. 10 miles in 1:20:58.  Plan was 1 mile warmup, 3 at 8:20 (minimal BQ pace), 3 at 8:10 )marathon pr pace) and 3 at 8:00. FAIL ! After warmup mile I ran 7:57. oooops. Tried to slow but still too fast so I just decided to maintain the same effort the rest of the way. Taking away the warmup I averaged 8:00. What a gorgeous day !

 Tues:

morning body weight.  60 pullups, 45 dips, 350 alternate pushups.

afternoon run. 6 miles i n 53:03,  Nice and relaxed on a cold breezy afternoon. not another soul in sight.

 wed:

morning core.  35 minute core routine. Decided to try something a little different today. I did 4 rounds of this Abs of Steel workout, http://neilarey.com/workouts/abs-of-steel-workout.html and then finished up with the stability ball and a couple of other things.

 afternoon run. 6.3 miles in 58:58.  Cold run in the snow. Shared the 1st lap with Ultramom Amy , and then 2 more by myself.

Thurs:

 morning body weight + weights.  30 pullups, 30 dips, 250 pushups + weights with bench, incline and overhead press, shoulder raises and kettlebell press, curls, ext and rows.

afternoon run. 10 miles in 1:35:21.  What a great day for a snow run in the woods. 36F, sunny, calm and about 2 inches of snow. nearly had the place to myself too which is nice. But the company of some Angels would have been great too.

 Fri:4

morning situps challenge.  400 total situps including 185 with 5 lb weight and 90 with 10 lb weight.

afternoon run. 6 miles in 53:04.  Slow and easy. finally warming up a bit. the greenway was about half clear and half snow and slush. feet are cold and soaked !

Sat:

 morning core.  20 minute core. Tried a different workout this morning. and yes my abs are on fire.http://neilarey.com/workouts/abs-on-fire-workout.

morning run. 14 miles in 2:08:30.  This was like a fartlek long run. Run strong on the clear areas then slow over the crunchy, jagged re-frozen snow and tiptoe through the minefields of black ice. With the conditions I must say I am very happy with the pace.

 Sun:

morning body weight +  free weights 30 pullups, 30 dips, 300 pushups plus weights with overhead, incline and bench press. shoulder raises, kettlebell press,curl ext and rows. I did 3 sets of 10 instead of the normal 2 sets because I wanted to get in one big workout before tapering the cross-training.

morning run: 6 miles in 52:24.  easy miles on a beautiful morning. enjoy it while I can.

 So, I ended up with 58.3  miles. Hmm suppose to be tapering and not quite sure what happened . Also 7 quality cross training wokouts.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

weekly training report. week of 1-13 thru 1- 19- 2014

 Another strong week with 59.5 miles and 6 cross training workouts. Very happy with the way I'm feeling and the quality if the hard runs.

 Mon:

morning situps challenge. 400 situps including 190 with 7.5 lb weight. 5 minutes of back and sidebends to loosen up.

 afternoon run. 10 miles in 1:25:20. Caught up with Ultramom Amy and shared the last 5 miles of her workout and then did another 5 at bq pace (8:12). beautiful afternoon.

Tues:

 morning body weight day,60 pullups, 45 dips, 450 alternate pushups.

afternoon run. 12.5 miles in 2:14:03 ,Decided to do another easy run/walk practice lap on the 100 miler course. rained the first two miles but then the sun began to break through and it was wonderful. Felt really good.

 Wed:

morning core .  30 minute core routine w/ leg raises, stability ball, crunches, planks and other stuff

afternoon run. 7 miles in 55:50. Came up with this variation of self-inflicted pain on the fly. 3x mile repeats with the recoveries at marathon pr pace. What fun ! Easy warmup mile in 8:55, then 7:38, 8:02, 7:22, 8:11, 7:33 and 8:05 Another beautiful 55F afternoon.

Thurs:

 morning. body weight and fee weights day.  36 pullups, 30 dips, 250 pushups, + weights with overhead, incline and bench press, kettlebell press, curl, ext and rows.

afternoon run. 5 miles in 39:56. Met Awesome Angel Amy for some afternoon miles. I had a feeling she was gonna make it hurt and I was right. Killer workout on this course. Effort was tempo plus and just about sprinting uphill the last qtr mile.

 Fri:

 morning situps challenge. 400 situps total including 275 with 5 lb weight. 5 minutes of back and side bends to loosen up.

afternoon run. 5 miles in 44:50.  Nice and relaxed. The run that almost wasn't. I had to work an extra store today and was getting late. Decided to take a rest day. But the closer I got to the greenway driving home the more I wanted to go. Halfway there and I start changing on the way ! Couldn't resist!

 Sat:

 No cross training today.'

 morning run. 15 miles in 2:09:57.   Plan was to run the 1st 5 easy, then go sub 8 for the next 5 and then pick it up the last 5. Well, after mile one I was already at sub 9 (44:47) So I just held steady the next 5 in 44:36. Decided to try a progression run the last 5. 8:32, 8:25, 8:11, 7:41, 7:44 (40:33). Oh yeah ! Cold and breezy but I was smokin.

 Sun. began with body weight day,  60 pullups, 45 dips, 350 alternate pushups

 morning run. 5 miles in 44:36 .easy relaxed miles on a lovely morning.

Monday, January 06, 2014

weekly training report, 1-6-14 to 1-12-14

Mon:

 Morning 30 minute core routine

afternoon 6 mile run in 50:05  (8:20 pace)
This was suppose to be an easy run and if judged by effort and not the pace it was easy. I guess I started a little quick because it was cold and I wanted to get moving. 1st mile in 8:49 and then the next 5 were right at BQ pace and I had to force myself to slow down the 2nd half. Loving it !

 Tues:
 body weight + weights.

 34 pullups, 40 dips, 300 pushups, + weights with overhead, incline and bench press, bent rows, kettlebell press, curl, ext and rows.

 afternoon run, 6 miles in 53:50. nice and easy.

evening yoga routine. 35 minutes focusing on backbends. first time in a couple of weeks for yoga.

 Wed:

 Morning situps challenge. 450 total with 170 using 5lb weight.

afternoon run. 6 miles in 47:24,  Warm up mile then 4 miles at tempo pace. target 7:44, actual 7:39. Woohooo ! Last "recovery" mile at marathon pr pace 8:12.

 Thurs: 

 morning body weight day with 36 pullups, 30 dips and 350 alternate pushups

 late morning run, Met Amy for some morning miles. Wasn't really expecting it to go quite like this. I was hoping she could handle 5 or 6 at her BQ pace. Well, the warmup was 8:14, faster than her BQ pace and it felt ridiculously easy to me. Next 4 miles went by in 31:01 making it another tempo run. Very happy to see her run so well and happy too that I am in shape to hang with her. Awesome training partner !

 Fri:

 morning , 30 minute core routine with leg raises, crunches, stability ball and other stuff.

afternoon run, 20 miles in 3:05.  How did it go? cold wet and miserable. But I felt pretty good. Planned on five easy, then hold 9 mp for the next 10 and then if I felt good push the last 5. 1st 15 went according to plan but just jogged in the last 5. Felt ok but feeling the effects of the two previous days back to back tempo runs. also was almost hypothermic !

 Sat:

 am run, 10.6 miles in 1:41:34. Met THE Marathon Princess for some easy miles. The flat section was flooded so we went over the "hump" for some hills and exposure to the wind. 66F and 100% humidity so I'm running shirtless in January ! Whats up with that ! Funny how we have a different perspective on the run Karla apologized for being so slow while I was thanking her that it was ! After 20 tough ones yesterday and two back to back tempos I was just a bit tired, tight and sore ! Great way to spend some time. We avoided the rain other than a one minute shower and a few sprinkles.

Sun:

 Morning body weight and weight workout. 36 pullups, 30 dips, 230 pushups and wieghts with overhead, incline and bench press. bent rows and shoulder raises, ketttlebell press, curls ext and rows.

 Afternoon run, 65. miles in 1:01:28, Rare late  sunday
afternoon miles with THE Marathon Princess. Nice an relaxed with near perfect running weather and a wonderful friend to share it with.

 Another really good week of training. 60.2 miles and 7 cross training  workout. some good quality stuff and everything is feeling good.



Weekly training report: 12-30-13 to 1-5-14

Greetings sports fans. Gonna try something a little different this year for those that want to keep up with what a boring 58 year old ultra runner does to pass the time. Here is a summary of this weeks training.

 Monday:
Begin the day with morning strength work. 36 pullups, 35 dips, 220 pushups. Followed up with free weights doing assorted incline , bench and overhead press, bent rows, kettlebell press, curls, ext. and rows.

Went for a 12.5 mile run/walk on the Umstead 100 course. Not only is it good training for the 100, but it is a good way to get in some easy endurance miles with little stress. I can do one of these after a hard workout ot the day before one.

Tues:
  morning Situps workout. 460 total with 200 in the last set. 5 minutes of side and backbends to loosen up

ran 6 miles at 8:47 pace on the greenway.

 Wed:
 morning body weight workout with 62 pullups,  60 dips and 325 alternate pushups.
( by alternate pushups I mean that instead of doing all jst regular ones I do a series of variations such as incline, decline, incline and decline on a stability ball, diamond, knuckle and deep with handles.)

 afternoon I had a great run. . I did 3 x 3 at a bit faster than marathon race pace. 24:03, 24:08, and 24:09. target was 24:33 so pretty happy with it. Total of 13.1 miles in 1:49:27.

 Thur:
 morning was my 30 minute core routine. with stability ball, crunches, leg raises kettlebell swings and other stuff.

afternoon run of 5 miles in 44:30 on hilly course with Amy.

 Fri.

 Morning weights. Did 36 pullups, 30 dips, 260 pushups, + weights with bent rows, overhead, bench and incline press, kettlebell press, curls, ext and rows.

afternoon run of 6 miles in 56 minutes .  Mostly easy and relaxed. Did 10 x 15 sec strides on the last 1.5miles. A bit cold but felt fine after the first mile.

Sat.
 Morning situps challenge. 400 total and 5 minutes of back and side bends.

 morning run in the cold on the greenway. 12 miles in 1:45:50. nice and strong pace.

Sun:
 morning body weight with  60 pullups, 60 dips, 450 alternate pushups

morning 6.1 easy miles with Karla on the neuse greenway in 57:05

 So there it is. A solid week of training with 7 runs totaling 60.6 miles, my best week in awhile with some good quality stuff in there and 7 cross-training workouts.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

38,764 + pushups for 2013

 This was something I really hadn't expected but once I got into it I began to enjoy adding another challenge to my fitness goals.

 Here is a link to how it all started.

 But if you don't want to read that then here is the short version. Last Fall I had noticed that I felt weak in general and had noticed I was slouching a bit especially when I was running tired. I had neglected any core or strength training  for a long time and decided it was time to get back into it. I began with just 10 -15 minutes of core and shortly after that Amy issued a 30 day plank challenge via Arrichion. We did that for actually 37 days until the end of 2012.

  I began the 100 pushups challenge on January 1st. The first workout I did 78 total with  amax of 25 in the last set. I never imagined that after I reached that goal that it would get to this point. I did my first 100 on may 2nd. On Sept. 23rd I did my most ever in one workout  with 520 and then on Sept 25 I did 1,000 in one day. Started out with 300 in my regular workout and then did 700 more in sets of 50 through out the day.

 In addition to the pushups I added pullups and dips to my routine. when I first began I could do 1.5 pullups ! Now I regularly do 60 in a workout, usually in sets of 10 or 12.  I haven't tried to see how many I can do in a set but I took a 2minute test that Bill Gentry did and I was able to squeeze in 40 in that time.

 Then beginning in October  I began adding some free weights to the program. I typically do the body weight work every other day 3 days a week and every 4th day I add the weights. Not really looking to bulk up but just keep up some strength. And as for the whole muscle vs fat stuff. Well when i began the program at the beginning of the year i was around 147 to 148 lbs. As of today I weigh 136 and running strong as ever and feeling and looking better than I have since my late 30's !

  And lets not forget the core. I have continued with that all year too. I began a 200 situps challenge on January 29th. At that time I could do  a max of 32. Now i can easily do the 200 even at the end of a regular workout. I usually average about 400 per workout.  Right now i alternate with my other core routine which is usually 30 minutes of leg raises, crunches, stability ball work, planks and a wide mix of other stuff  including kettlebells that I switch around to make every workout a little different. And no, I am not even going to bother going back and adding up all the situps, pullups and dips for the year !

 So a typical  2 week cycle  looks like this.
Mon: pullups, dips and pushups. aka body weight day
Tues. Situps
Wed.  body weight day + free weights'
Thurs. 30 minute core
Fri:  body weight day
Sat: off if I am doing a long run
Sun: situps
Mon: body weight + free weights
Tues. 30 minute core
Wed. body weight
Thurs: situps
Fri: body weight + free weights
Sat: rest
Sun: 30 minute core.
 You get the idea.

 I also do some yoga , usually 30 minutes average but I have been slack with that the last couple of months. A lot of that was due to the hamstring injury and now with me running more and working more hours but I hope to get in at least a couple of yoga workouts each week this year

Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking ahead to 2014

 Once again I find myself very excited about the upcoming year. After  all these years I still love running and racing and training more than ever. After several years with no injuries I had to deal with one for most of the 2nd half of 2013 so I am really hoping to avoid that mistake. I was on pace for my highest mileage year ever and even with the down time I had a great year. Looking forward I have a goal of making 2014 my best.

 So what is in the plans for the new year?

 Jan:
 Absolutely nothing but training and having fun.

 Feb:
  The Myrtle Beach Marathon. This is what all the training is for right now. This is probably my last shot at going for a Boston qualifier for at least a year so it's do or die. It is not going to be easy because to guarantee a spot I need to get that 5 minute cushion which means with the newer qualifying standards I must also run a marathon pr. Sounds nearly impossible when you consider my pr was way back n 2006 at MB and now I am 8 years older. That may not mean so much in your 20's or 30's but in your 50's it is tough ! But I am committed to the training and I will give it my best shot and hope that Amy and I can achieve the goal that we have both worked so hard for the past 1.5 years.

 Mar:
  After Myrtle Beach I am returning my focus for the remainder of the year to ultra's. Of course  I have done several each of the past few years but this year it will be my main focus. So with that said my only race for March may be the Umstead Trail Marathon  which I will do for fun and training for the 100 in April. I am not decided yet but I may also do the Tobacco Road Half Marathon for fun and training also.

Apr:
 Yep, the first weekend of the month I am returning to the Umstead 100 and if the weather will cooperate I plan to give it my best shot and go for the PR. I am already mixing some practice loops into my training ! I also plan to return to one of my favorite trail races the last weekend of the month, the Promise Land 50K++

 May:
 Well, right now if nothing comes up and I don't come to my senses very soon I plan to travel to New Jersey and run The 3 Days at the Fair. Yes, a 72 hour race.  I have been wanting to try a multi day ultra ever since I began doing ultra's back in 2002 but I've never gotten around to it. This should be the year. We won't talk about goals right now ;)

 June:
 Not really sure what I'm going to do but probably a return to the Boogie 50 miler

July:
 If nothing else comes up quickly that gets my interest , I will probably be back at Grandfather Mountain Marathon.

 Aug: Nothing but fun and training. Maybe Medoc Meltdown?

 Sept:
 Pine Creek Challenge 100 miler in PA. If I go it will be for another 100 pr attempt and hope for good weather in this beautiful location.

 Oct:
 If everything goes according to plan I will take my first trip overseas to run the Lake Garda Marathon in Italy. No plans to race hard but I will run with my camera and take lots of pictures !

Nov:
Tough decision here. I would like to return to Mountain Masochist 50 but I also would like to do the Croatan 24 hr the same weekend. Still plenty of time to think it over and see what a couple of the Angels have planned. Most  likely finish up the month with my 11th Derby 50k

 Dec:
 Probably nothing as usual but training and recovery and dreaming of big things for the next year!

 So that's it. train hard, stay healthy and share as many mile as possible with the Angels and friends.

 Stay tuned


Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013, The Year in Review

 Only a couple of days left in this year so I guess I can go ahead and post the review. Definitely a year of highs and lows but as always I like to focus on the good and leave the negative behind and move forward.

 Here is a link to my post on the first half of the year.


  July :
 This was a good month for me. I had my highest mileage month of the year and was well on my way to my highest  yearly total. I returned once again to one of my favorite events , The Grandfather Mountain Marathon. It was special this year, not because I had a great run although I think I felt better than almost any other year I have run it other than 2006. What made it special was that there were 4 of my Angels running and I got to run at least a few miles with all of them and shared the whole race with Jenn in her first time in the race. I had  especially wanted to because she had run the reverse with me when I did the double in 2010.



 Aug:
  I started off the month with a fast 5K and 2nd place in my age group but it was the beginning of the downfall of my running for the next several months. I would have been fine because no damage was done in the race but the stupid stuff I did over the next three days all came together to injure my hamstring. I took it easy for the next couple of weeks but probably should not have run any before heading to NY and the Beast of Burden 100. The pain was bad from the first few miles and eventually the leg just gave out on me and I had to drop at mile 37.5. It was still a great trip sharing the journey with Jenn and visiting Niagara Falls.



  Sept:
 I gave the leg a lot of rest and it was getting much better as the middle of the month came and I was preparing to run The Run For The Fallen Half Marathon. The leg had felt much better in the days before and I was pain free during the warmup but within the first mile the other leg began hurting, I assume from over compensating from the other leg injury. By the time it was over I had to slow way down thanks to the pain and the leg refusing to move at the pace I wanted. I was well on the way to first time under 1:40 since 2006 so it was frustrating but the worst thing was that I was now injured worse than before.



 Oct:
 Again I had to cut way back on my running but I had a BQ attempt at The Wineglass Marathon in Corning NY in the first weekend of the month. I could only hope to get through it without making things worse. My conditioning was not nearly what I had hoped due to the lower mileage and inability to do any fast paced training   since August. The first 15 turned out better than expected. Very little pain and on BQ pace and feeling good but suddenly at mile 16 the leg just gave out on me and sharp pain followed. Once again disappointing but another great trip to a beautiful area with friends Karla and Frank and Rebecca and Ronnie.



 Two weeks later I had a very important race to run, the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler in State College PA. I needed it as my last chance to qualify for the Western States lottery . I didn't run a step in the two weeks between races and was just hoping and praying the leg would hold up to the finish and that I was still in condition to run the necessary time to qualify. Finally a success ! I was in pain pretty much the whole time but otherwise I felt very good and was able to maintain the pace I needed and the leg held up. And amazingly enough the pain actually eased off the last 10 miles and it seemed to be the beginning of the injury actually starting to improve !



 Nov:

 I mostly took it easy after the 50 miler but gradually worked my mileage up a bit   leading up to the OBX marathon. The leg was improving some but some days were better than others and I was still having some pain. My only goal was to run the race with Karla and have fun and not hurt. I ran the first two miles with Amy just for fun and to get her on pace for her BQ attempt and then dropped back to run the rest of the day with Karla. We had some fun but my conditioning was down and I had a slow recovery from the 50 miler so  had to let her go at mile 16 . At least I was able to run it with almost no pain at all and was no worse afterwards and like  after the 50 it seemed to be improving even more.   Another great trip with friends as I was once again a guest of the Howells, and was able to share much of the time with Amy, Karla and Frank.



  My last planned event was to return for my 10th consecutive Derby 50k and get my  special finishers chair. I was successful in  that I  felt good, had fun and ran pain-free !

 Dec:

 No events but I am happy just to be running nd training normally again. I was afraid that with the injury as bad as it was in Sept and Oct that if I could just make it through Derby that I would have to take off a month like I did at the end of 2008 to  let things heal up and start over again. So you can imagine how happy I am that instead I am already over 200 miles for the month for the first time since July and I am actually able to be training for a BQ attempt at Myrtle Beach in February. But that's another story !




Sunday, December 22, 2013

update on injury and training

 It's about time to post the year in review and  the outlook for  2014 but first I thought I would fill you in on whats going on with the training. If you have been a follower at all you are probably aware that I have been struggling with some hamstring  issues since doing something stupid in August which caused my dnf at Beast of Burden 100. Just when I thought I was over it  things got worse during and after the half in Sept. Repeat for Oct and Wineglass marathon, finally going well and then as bad as ever. Took two weeks off hoping to just get through the 50 miler in Pa. later that month but it was hurting just as bad after the two weeks. Then strangely about the 40 mile mark as I posted in the race report, the pain eased off and has now gotten gradually better through the OBX Marathon and then the Derby 50k. How strange is that ?



  To be honest I was worried and almost planning on taking off the month of December to rest and heal like I did at the end of 2008 when I had a similar injury.  Doing so would not only have made me miserable but my plan of going for a Boston qualifying time at the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February would have been about impossible. Instead, ever since Derby 50K things have been going remarkably well !

 I was almost shocked at how great I felt after Derby and was back to training normally almost right away with virtually no pain. I could tell my conditioning was off but it seems to be coming back quickly. In the 3 weeks since then I have been able to get in some good long runs, some strong hilly runs at marathon race pace and nailed a couple of tempo runs at the pace I need.

 You may have noticed that I have not raced any events in December for several years for a variety of reasons and I don't have any plans   to race anything between now and MB this time around. I am totally committed to   being in the best shape I can possibly be to go for that BQ. I am not following any specific training plan but just doing the type of workouts and mileage that I know I need to get me in pr shape. And to BQ it is pr or bust for me.

 At this time I have just 8 weeks until race day so it's going to be pretty intense training for the next two months so I hope and pray that the body will hold up and I can achieve the goal. It has been about a year and a half since I got into this trying to get my training partner Amy into Boston so this may be our last shot at it for awhile. After MB I am looking at a full schedule of some long ultra's again with at least 3 to 5 events of  100 miles , 24 hr or multiday events with several more shorter ultras so if I don't qualify at MB I don't see another shot for at least another year.



 So with that wish me and Amy both good luck over the next 8 weeks.!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

10th Derby 50k finish and counting ?

 10 years in a row is a long time to do anything with so many things that can come up to break the streak. The only race that I have done more times than Derby is the Virginia 10 miler in Lynchburg. I had a 15 year streak for that race from 1978 thru 1992 but with the early 90's came the dark years and very little running and the streak was broken.  Hope nothing like that ever happens again and if I ever do break the Derby streak it will be because of something good coming up. Otherwise I plan to return as many years as possible to this great little event that Mark Long has directed for our running pleasure all these years.

 I was very excited this year to be returning to run and claim my 10 year special finishers chair despite being a bit disappointed knowing that due to recent injuries I was not in shape to race it hard. I met up with my dear friend Jenn the Ultra Angel at 5:15 to share the  2 hr ride to the Derby Community building. As always it's great to meet so many familiar faces, some of which have been here from the beginning as participants or volunteers. Of note is the only one going for finish 11, Tony Rouse. I met Tony way back then and we have shared many miles in races over the years. And Bill Keane who was also going for #10. My first memory of actually talking to Bill was in the middle miles of the Beech Mountain Madness 50k in 03. Always a pleasure to hear the stories from his decades in the sport.

 More often than  not its a bit chilly at least for the start and this year it was in the upper 20's so I was dressed a bit more warmly than I would have been if I was going for the pr. My plan was just to start off easy until  aid station 1 near the 4 mile mark and then assess the situation. I stuck with that plan and ran the first couple of miles with Fred Dummar. The pace was easy but it wasn't feeling that easy so  I already knew there was not going to be anything close to a fast time. Even though I know a pr was a fantasy I was hoping to  at least run around 5 hours.

  As I came into the aid station I didn't need anything yet so I just spoke to Susan and the Professor who have been bravely standing in the cold wind here  for many years, then ran on. Things weren't feeling any better by the time I made it over to AS 2 which was staffed by my friends the Akers and Angels Amy and Jenn. Gotta love races where you are friends with just about all the volunteers ! I told them as I passed through that there would be no miracles today and moved along. Strangely enough at mile 8 I suddenly began to feel pretty good and the pace seemed quite comfortable. I actually ran strong up the mile long hill and then ran strong back to the start/finish. I grabbed a delicious cookie that Liz Crepo and daughter had cooked for us and went back out on loop two feeling confident that I just may have a shot at that 5 hour time after all.

  I had planned on ditching the vest but it was not getting much warmer and the wind along Pappy Rabb and Derby Road was bone chilling so I stayed wrapped up. I did run strong for the next few miles but after one more trip up the hills and then into the wind again I knew that if I tried to push it then I would probably blow up and memories of my wretched run at OBX just three weeks before were fresh in my mind so at mile 13 I backed off again. The remainder of the lap was uneventful. Everyone was spread out over the course so I didn't really have anyone to talk to but just tried to enjoy the day and put the miles behind me. My time for the 2nd loop was only a few minutes slower than the first and after 21 miles I was still running ok if just a bit slow. Another yummy cookie and it was off for the last lap and claim my chair.

  And although I was slow I still was running nearly all of the last lap with just a couple of short walk breaks on the hills and through the aid stations. When I got back around to the mile long hill with 2.5 to go I was beginning to feel tired and it was my slowest mile of the race but once I got back onto Derby Road for the last 1.5 I had a resurgence of energy and ran strong the rest of the way at a pace a bit faster than any other mile since mile 22 so I was very encouraged by that as I prepare to rest up and begin training for new challenges in 2014.

  Big smiles as I was greeted by Mark and other fiends at the finish.  Before I could claim my chair though I had one more thing to do. Yep, it's become a tradition of it's own now. I dropped down at the finish line in the road and did 41 pushups, one for each mile and one for each finish.  Guess I'll have to do 42 next year.


  Got my chair and then went inside to enjoy another delicious spaghetti dinner from the church ladies and hang out with old and new friends sharing our stories of the day. That is one of the things that makes this event so special.



 Big Thanks to Mark and all the volunteers over the years that give us the opportunity to enjoy a little run every year on Thanksgiving weekend. Hope to see you next year !

Friday, November 29, 2013

Derby 50k Preview



 Wow, 10 years already ? Well actually 11. Time seems to fly so fast. It doesn't seem that long ago in many ways that I was a novice when it comes to this long distance stuff and now I guess I have to admit to being a veteran with 130 +  marathons and ultras on my resume. But lets get back to Derby. I didn't run in the  first year it was held. It was my first full year getting into ultra's and I had run my first 50 miler at Masochist the month before and had another 50k trail race in Virginia planned two weeks later so I thought it would be too much for me at that point. Although I was not in the race I did attend and was a roving volunteer with RD  Mark Long for several hours and then ran the last 10.5 miles with my friends Jay and Anita Finkle.  I enjoyed the experience quite a bit and was determined I would return the next year as an entrant. But I have to say I had no idea that it would become a tradition !

 I did return to run the next year of 2004 and ran a pr of 5:42:09. Looking back that was a slow time but then I was quite happy with it. By then I had   run 14 ultras but all of the 50k's had been tough trail races . 

 2005 was a big year for me as I ramped up my training and racing and my confidence had grown. I had improved my pr at Frosty 50 in Jan to 5:34:40 so near the end of the year after 12 ultra and several marathons I was really happy to get a huge pr at Derby with a 4:55. By this point I was no longer happy to just finish races but had become more competitive with myself looking to always run harder and faster.

 2006 was another big year with 3x 100 milers and I still improved on my pr with a 4 :48. I was 50 that year and although their are no age-group awards I was the first grandmaster !

2007 was yet another big year and I pushed myself to yet another pr in 4:46:58 and another grandmaster win.

2008 was a bit of a tougher year for me as I was battling a nagging injury. Only finished two ultras and had 3 dnf's.  I wanted to keep the streak alive so I ran Derby but this year I took it easy.  My time was my slowest since the first in 5:37:10 but besides the leg pain I ran very relaxed and felt great. After that I did not run another step until January as I took the time off to finally let the legs heal



 I did not run any ultra's in 2009 as I used it as a re-building year. I did a lot of swimming and biking and several triathlons including my 1st and only Ironman in June. After that I refocused on the running and was soon getting my mileage back up and running great. My training partner and dear friend Karla the Marathon Princess was ready to go for her first ultra so I went with her with the plan of just running together as we had for many marathons. She did great and we ran a 5:25:40.



In 2010 I was running great. I had improved my pr at Frosty 50 to 4:44:11 which is still my pr. I had by now cut back on the number of events I ran and concentrated more on going for quality over quantity. I was going hard for the pr at Derby and was on pace through the marathon but I began to slow too much. never really blew up but still ran a decent time of 4:55:18.

2011 was a pretty good year with a few great runs and a few slow ones. I was going for the pr but I think a hard but very good race at Mountain Masochist 3 weeks earlier still had me worn down a bit. I was close to pr pace through the marathon but I did pretty much blow up this time and struggled in with a 5:14:11.

 2012 was another decent year with a lot of miles and some good races. Amy and I had began training together more than ever working towards getting Boston Qualifiers but I was still sqeezing in some ultra's My lack of trail running and cold rain got to me in my 100 attempt at Oil Creek causing a dnf at 84.5 miles. That beat me up pretty bad and wore me down. By the time Derby came along I was feeling pretty good but just never was able to quite get up to pr pace like I wanted and I crashed hard with a 5:27:38.

 Which brings me to 2013 and going for my 10th finish. I had high hopes of going for a pr as I had been running very strong in the first part of the year with great training,  some pr's and fast finishes and Amy and I had been really killing it with the speedwork. I had even run my fasted 5k in over 25 years back in June, but then the injuries hit in August  and just when I thought it was getting better it took a turn for the worse in mid September.  So I guess I will have to pass on the pr attempt and just enjoy the day and get my 10 mile finishers chair !

Saturday, November 16, 2013

OBX MARATHON 2013



 Well, I never got around to writing a preview but if I had I would have told about how this was going to be my 6th time running it. I hadn't planned on running the first one in 2006 but Karla was real excited about doing it and after she found out she had cancer and was still planning to run  it I decided to be there to share it with her.  We got through that one slowly but had a lot of fun and then I returned to run it with her a year later after completion of her therapy.

 I returned again in 2009 and 2010 attempting to race it hard but blew up both years. Skipped 2011 and returned in 2012 just planning to run with Karla again and this time we had Amy along with us going for a pr. Amy did pull ahead around mile 20 and got that pr. I stayed with Karla until mile 22 and blew up again. Just can't run well on this course !

  Which brings us to 2013. The only reason I signed up was because I was wanting to run another marathon with Karla which we haven't had a chance to do since last year. Karla has been running very well and I was hoping she would be going for a pr and share the run.

  So, on Friday I drove down to the OBX and was once again a guest of the Howell's for the 4th time since I began training with Lisa. Lisa had been having some issues with her training this year and opted out of racing it but would be volunteering. Amy had decided to use this race as a last shot at qualifying for Boston this year so she was along for the run also.

   Spent Saturday just chillin and saving energy for the Sunday am race. Drove to the shuttle with Amy and along the way we were talking about the race. She was nervous about whether she could get the PR and BQ. I confided  with her that I was actually nervous a bit too. I have done so many races that I usually don't but with my recent hamstring issues I was having doubts that I would be able to stay up with Karla and I really wanted so bad to be able too.

  We found Karla and met some other friends before heading over to the starting line.   I had decided I was going to run the first two or three miles with Amy just to help keep her from going out too fast in the excitement, find the pace she needed and mainly just because I wanted to :)

   So as the gun went off we headed out and  luckily we didn't have to do too much weaving around other folks to find room to run. She needed to average 8:23 and we hit mile one in 8:30. Counting the slow first 1/4 I told er we were probably right on pace now heading to mile two. The effort felt a little hard but I was ok and the good thing was I was not feeling any pain. We hit mile two in 8:15 and then I wished her well and sent her on her way. Then I just stopped running and walked backwards looking for Karla. I figured she was probably just about 2 minutes or so behind me and sure enough in no time there she was.

 I fell in beside her and it felt good to be running a bit slower. I told her I was really glad I didn't have to try and run Amy's pace today. We hit mile 3 in 27:45 and with her goal of 9 minute pace with the 1st slower mile I thought we were close to what we needed. Sure enough we were right at 9 to 9:05 pace from that point on for awhile. It was a perfect day temperature wise for the race but already we were running into about a 15 mph wind and it was going to be in our face or side for just about the whole race.

  We were having  our usual great time together but I could already tell by mile 9 that I was probably not going to have a good day. By the time we entered Nags Head Woods and the dirt road and hills we were already slowing down and commented that at the effort we were putting out it sure seemed like we should be going faster. We came out at the halfway point in about 2:03 and the goal of a sub 4 for her was pretty much out the window. We tried to pick the pace back up but it just wasn't happening. For me at least it was obvious that the lack of training from the injury along with the slow recovery from my 50 miler just 3 weeks before had me worn down.

 By mile 14 I was struggling to keep up with Karla and by 15 I should have let her go but I wanted so much to be able to run with her that I hung on and just hoped that I would perk up again and at least be able to run with her. Finally at mile 16 I just couldn't hold the pace so I told her I had to let her go. I walked for a minute to let my heart rate go down some and then began to run at a slower pace. I was pretty bummed and not really looking forward to the last 10 miles now.

  I was able to to at least hold a decent shuffle for the next 5 miles but then with 5 to go the wheels had come completely off and it turned into a death march. I was just so beaten down and wanted it to just be over. I was finding it hard to comprehend how I ran the last 10 of the 50 miler faster than I was shuffling these last 10 here.  As I was close to the 3:40 mark  my thoughts were  with Amy and hoping so much that she would have been able to pull off the long shot and finally get her BQ. And I was hoping Karla was still maintaining a good pace.

Those last few miles were some of the most miserable I have spent in a marathon and I was so relieved to finally see the finish. All day despite the suffering I was encouraged along the way with dozens and dozens of cheers for my kilt and quite a few as I was entering the chute. I tried to be happy and acknowledge the crowd but as I crossed the line I was so worn down I was holding back tears but then when Karla saw me and came over I just started boohooing all over her. We went to look for Amy and Frank and soon found them both and went to get some food. Amy had missed her BQ but had at least gotten a course pr and with all she has been through I am so proud to see how far she has progressed this year.

  I had started a tradition recently at Wineglass after Rebecca made a joke of doing pushups after my races and had done so after the 50 also. I wasn't even thinking of it when Amy commented that we should do some so we found someone to take pictures and dropped in the street to do 26.2.



 Then we found  Dave and Olga and headed over to the deck of the Tranquil house Inn to chill out for awhile on a beautiful afternoon. We rested up for awhile and then it was time to say good bye and head to the shuttles and begin the trip  home but before we left it was time for one more little tradition. Amy began adding a "polar plunge" whenever possible after an event and I had joined her at Myrtle Beach last February so after we got back to our cars we drove over to the beach. The air temperature was nice but the water was still cold enough to take our breath away ! Good times !



 Next adventure will be a return to Derby for my 10th finish there. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Success at Tussey Mountainback 50 !



   Right up until Thursday night before  the race I was about ready to just cancel the trip. The hamstring had finally began to show some improvement after over a week off but then would start to hurt all over again just as bad as before and I was getting very discouraged. As bad as I wanted to go and get the WS qualifier, I surely didn't want to go and have yet another dnf and make the injury worse. But the race was paid for as well as advance payment on the hotel so Friday morning I threw the stuff in the car and headed north.

  Woke up Sunday am to a perfect day for a race. At least I wouldn't have the weather conditions to worry about derailing my plans.  It was a chilly 40ish so I stayed in my car until a few minutes before the start. When it was time to get ready I headed over to the start and found Jim Plant who was in the same situation as me needing to get in one last chance to qualify.

   The sun was not yet risen as we began. I started very slow and easy to see how the leg would feel. No pain for the first few minutes and I was thinking just maybe it would be ok but no, within half a mile I could feel the pain coming on and by the 1st mile I was already hurting quite a bit. All I could do was suck it up and hope for the best. I stopped to stretch it out for minute and Jim passed by with some concern for me. I told him I was just doing some preventative maintenance before it got any worse. Well it didn't help. I was just going to have to deal with the pain.

  We finished the first climb which was about 3 miles long but not steep and was  runable the whole way although I did take a few short walk breaks. I soon passed Jim on the downhill and then settled in for the next several miles that were pretty easy with short easy ups and downs and lots of nearly flat sections. Normally I would have been pushing those downhills but today I was being careful  to save the leg for as long as possible so I just joggy jogged as Laura Frey would say !  I was moving along well and enjoying the gorgeous morning but every step was hurting. I just took pictures, took in the views and thought of my friends and family back home that I knew were supporting me to try and take my mind off of it.

 I did the first 10 miles in 1:47:22 and even with the beginning climb it was the easiest 10 mile section of the race. The next  aid station was around mile 11 at a State park and then we began another climb.  Jim caught up to me about mile 13 and after a few words of encouragement I let him go needing to stick with my own plan.  I was pretty much alone from that point on as far as other ultra runners because we were so spread out and there were only about 150 of us. The next 10 were pretty uneventful. Other than the pain I was actually feeling very good.

  I think it was around mile 18 that the first of the relay runners went flying by. They started in several waves beginning an hour after us. I normally don't like being passed but knowing they were fresh and only doing legs of 5 miles or less  made it easy to take. I did that 2nd 20 miles in 2:02, still well ahead of the pace I needed and feeling good.

  The next section had the hardest climb of the day, from about mile 20.5 to 25 was all uphill and 2.5 of that was fairly steep so I just settled in and not worrying. So far the leg had been  holding up but now it was flaring up for a few minutes every now and then. I was talking out loud to it and praying, just hang in there leg. We got this if you just hold up. It never got tight though and would soon just go back to the normal pain.

 I finally topped the hill and shortly after passed the halfway point in 5:07. My energy level was still good so I was feeling confident as long as the hammie held up. I had a pretty simple nutrition plan. I was drinking water in my bottle and Heed at the aid stations. I had taken 2 gels and eaten about 4 cookies and 4 small hand fulls of M&M's and the stomach was very happy. I normally have no problem eating or drinking whatever I want when it's cool. By now it had warmed up into the middle 50's  and the wind had kicked up a bit.

  I passed mile 30 in 6:09 slowing to a 2:19 for the last 10 and most of that slowdown attributable to that long climb from 20-25.

  The next 10 had some up and down with another long 2+ mile climb but it wasn't nearly as steep as the previous long one.  I was actually looking forward to the relay runners and their support vehicles passing me at this point. Nearly all of them were very supportive of us ultra runners, cheering and telling us how awesome and amazing we were. Just before the 40 mile mark we came out of the forest for the first time and ran on some paved road for awhile past some farms and homes with beautiful views of the Fall foliage on the mountains in peak color.  I did that 10 mile section 2:13.

 As I was passing he 40 mile I was doing some multi-tasking. Tried to take a picture of the 40 mile point with my phone to post to FB and somehow screwed up the phone address to FB. I was also taking pictures of the beautiful scenery with my regular camera and then texting Amy an update. Dropped my phone and then a few feet later dropped the camera and the battery popped out. Ok, time to get going here. Anyway the update I texted was I had passed mile 40 in 8:22. A little over 2.5 hours to do 10 more miles. One more big climb to go. I think I got this !

  There was another aid station just before the 41 mile point and  as I  begin to run again I noticed that my leg pain had actually subsided quite a bit and was now just a mere nuisance. My confidence was high now. I felt pretty sure it was going to let me get through this and once i got the last climb behind me it was nearly 4 miles of downhill to the finish.

  I settled into the climb and somewhere around mile 43 I caught up to Alana Garrison-Kast , a friend of Jim's that I had met at breakfast after Hinson Lake. Shortly after that the grade of the climb increased substantially. I really haven't trained much for climbing up long hills and I was a lot slower than usual but at this point I wasn't worried knowing if I was moving I was going to make it.

 I made it to the aid station about the 45.5 mile point and was disappointed  to find they were out of Coke. I like to wait until the last 3rd of the race to drink the soda but beginning from about mile 33, they had been out at every aid station.  As I was heading back out to do the last leg, Alana caught up to me and somehow she had snagged a bottle of Coke and offered to share it with me. Thank you ! It definitely hit the spot.


  We walked together up the next small hill and then with the downhill I took off. I was afraid it might be a quad pounder  but it turned out to be a sweet gradual downhill on pavement.  I welcomed the pavement because it was easier on my feet than a lot of the gravel had been over most of the course. I was still feeling great and was cruising along easily at a relaxed 10 minute mile pace.  With about 1/2 mile to go the course merged with the first half mile that we had started earlier. There was a woman at the intersection stopped and I could tell she was confused on which way to go. She looked back and I just waved her in the right direction. She was so happy she didn't go the wrong way. I saw her afterwards and she thanked me again for sparing her who knows how many bonus miles !

  With about 1/4 mile to go we came out of the woods and there was a slight uphill grade to the finish. As I approached I suddenly began to choke up and was fighting back tears of  relief joy. For that one brief moment I was almost happy one of my Angels wasn't there at the finish because I know I would have been boo hooing. But then I just got happy and was smiling big time as I crossed the finish to  lots of cheers and good job ultra. ( The relay folks called all of us ultra )



  As I crossed the line and got my medal , a group of young lady's handed me a water bottle and asked if I was ok and if I needed anything. I said yeah, I think I need one of you to take a picture. One of them said sure and was about to snap one when I said wait a minute and let me get ready and then I dropped down and started doing my pushups. They were all like OMG I can't believe he's doing that. After a few snapshots she said she had the shot and I could quit  but I said no got to do 50. All the other spectators were  cheering and amazed. I guess they just don't know who I am ;)

 I was so happy to have accomplished my goal, feel good and almost more so , glad that the leg held up on me so that I could do it. I fired off a text to the Angels and then found Jim. He had finished about 10 minutes before me with a pr and of course he was elated and while we were there Alana came in just squeeking under 11 hours.

  Other than running out of Coke way too early in the race everything else about the race was 1st class and I would recommend  it to anyone looking for a moderately challenging  50 miler.

  Now, I just have to take care and make sure the leg heals so I can get back into regular training and be able to race hard again.

  The lottery for Western States is on December 7th and I will have 3 tickets in the hat this year. wish me Luck !

  Here is a link to the pictures I took on this beautiful day in the Allegheney Mts of PA