Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 in Review

As 2006 draws to an end, I look back at my year in running with amazement at the things I have accomplished. Compared to the times of many others and some of their grand successes what I did is not too special but on a personal level this was a year of achieving things I would never have thought possible, especially having turned 50 years old last December. I would never have dreamed that my most successful running would come as I began my second half-century. I tell my friends, if I had known I would run so well at 50 I would have turned 50 a long time ago.
I would have have to say that qualifying for Boston at this past February's Myrtle Beach Marathon was the hardest thing and in many ways the most rewarding. The photo above shows me just as I crossed the finish line. Most of you reading this are familiar with the story but if you aren't then read the post "Dreams Can Come True" and you will understand why this meant so much to me and why I was in tears as I crossed the line ( I'm in the white hat). You can see the time on the clock shows I just squeaked in by less than a minute for the time I needed so that I could go to Boston and run with Karla in what would be the most rewarding running experience of my life.
The other biggest highlight would have to be finishing the Leadville 100. I never expected to run this race because I knew I would never have the time to go out to Colorado to acclimate properly to the high altitude. The finishing rate for the race is barely 50% each year and nearly all of those either live and train at altitude or go out weeks before to prepare. But after an invitation from the Trail Princess I decided to go give it a try. If nothing else, I would have some fun participating in a great race and see some beautiful scenery along the way. Turns out my body handled the altitude and terrain quite well. As with all my races I had a plan and stuck to it. As I crossed over Hope Pass the 2nd time with the lovely Beth Simpson I knew I would finish even though I had a tough 45 miles to go. As I made the last turn and could see the finish I was totally exhausted and couldn't muster the will to run the last 1/4 mile. From the sidewalk, Hannah Lugiano, Joe's wife and a non-runner, ran out into the street and encouraged me on and starting running beside me. The crowd was cheering and soon I had 3 or 4 other ladies come out of the crowd to escort me to the carpeted finish line. What a relief it was to make it and have that finishers medal put around my neck.
There were many more great runs for me over the year, but the best memories are the people with which I shared the roads and trails. Many hours racing and training with old friends. Getting to know many aquaintences better and meeting new friends is what really makes this such a special sport. Here is a quick overview of the rest of the year in chronological order.
Ran the Ocean Isle Beach Half-marathon while preparing for MB. Had a great weekend with Jerry and the Werners. Ran my fastest Half (1:38) in over 20 years and won my age-group.
Qualified for Boston in 3:35:15, a pr by 12 minutes and an improvement of 25 minutes since MB the year before. Got to run some of it with Fred and Laura, two of my favorite people. Had a good but bittersweet weekend with Jerry and the Werner's again as Karla was facing impending surgery and chemo-therapy.
With Boston qualifying out of the way it was back to ultratraining as I had some big plans on the horizon. Ran my 2nd slowest marathon ever at Umstead on a freaky hot 81F day after running in the 30's in the week prior. Ran the last few miles with Tony and lots of other friends were there. Two weeks later had a great time at the Ellerbe Springs Marathon. Ran most of it with Anita Finkle and then Tony finally caught up to me with about 10 miles to go. With his encouragement we squeaked in under 4 hours on a tough, hilly course.
Started off the month volunteering at the Umtsead 100 miler. Highlights of the weekend were watching a couple of special ladies running their 1st 50 miles.
Laura is pretty fast as well as just very pretty and has run quite few shorter ultra's. As expected she did great and ran under 10 hours. The dark-haired lovely Jenn Ennis was in only her 2nd ultra and ran a great 10:15. I was so proud. I would have loved to have run with her if my schedule had allowed it. But my main mission for the weekend was pacing the Trail Princess Anita Fromm again. It was a joy to meet and run with her last year so I was eagerly awaiting her return. She ran a PR sub 24 hour and we had a lot of fun again.
Boston. What can I say? It's the greatest tradition in marathoning and I was finally there and sharing it with the usual suspects, Jerry and the Werners. Very rewarding emotional weekend. Never so proud to run my slowest marathon ever.
Back to being ultraman as the month ended at Promise Land 50K plus. Started off in the darkness and the thunderstorm hit in the first mile turning much of the trails into quagmire and the rest into flowing streams of rushing, cold, ankle deep water. Still set a course Pr by 35 minutes. Best part was running with Fred and Tony nearly the whole way. Tony and I crossed the line together once again.
Went to Capon Valley 50K for the first time and glad I did. Had a good run up until the last 6 miles or so when dehydration was getting the best of me. Forgot to carry a water bottle and it was a warm day. Well organized race in a beautiful location.
I needed a qualifier for Western States so I planned to run the original Old Dominion 100 miler. We had a great weekend for it. I began the first climb with Fred Dummar, Jay Finkle, Bob Calabria and a new aqauintence, Dmitry Rozinsky from Texas. After a couple of hours Bob dropped back. Around 20 miles Jay ran ahead. Just past 50 miles Dmitry fell back and Fred pulled ahead as I went through a bad spell. Struggled through the night with sleep deprivation problems but came back strong at dawn for another tough 100 mile finish.
Two weeks later I ran the Boogie 50 miler. Probably not too smart but I wanted to get the points for the Mangum Cup and have some fun. Always a lot of friends here. Ran the first half with the"Ever Lovely Mrs. Doom", Susan. Tony and Teddy ran the first loop with us. After Susan dropped I ran the rest of the night alone and despite fatigue from OD I had a good time.
In between I went to the Race for the Cure 5K in Raleigh. Jerry and I ran with Karla in a race that held special meaning this year. It was the first time I had been able to run with Karla since Boston and she did amazingly well.
Returned to the Grandfather Mountain Marathon with hopes of breaking 4 hours on this difficult course. Lots of Mangum friends here. Highlight of the weekend was being able to run with the lovely Laura for the first half. The course turned out to be over a half mile long due to a re-route caused by bridge construction or I would have made sub four by about 2 minutes. It's great hanging around the finish with so many friends and then dinner with the MTC group.
Went back to Catherine's Fat Ass 50k in the Massanutten Mts. It was nice to run it without having to run another 50k the day before. The purple trail was still tough but at least it wasn't as hot as last year. Great to spend the day with the VHTRC and the post race picnic makes the trip worthwhile. And saw my first bear on the trail Got to run a couple of hours with Janet Vincent.
Leadville as mentioned above. Got to spend time with Anita the Trail Princess. Got to know Vinny better and met the lovely Beth from Wisconsin. NC friends Bill and Sally, Joe and Hannah, Doug the Boogieman Dawkins. Spent some time on the trail with VHTRC members Gary and Rob. Had some support from Scott along the way. What memories are made of.
Leadville really took a lot out of me but I had planned to rest a couple of weeks anyway. Ran the Stanley Cup 5K with Karla and Frank. She did great considering almost no running during chemo and we had a great morning.
The last day of the month was the start of the Hinson Lake 24 hour. Once again so many friends from the MTC and others were there. I had a very good run. Despite missing my goal of 106, I still got over 103 miles and went through 100 in PR time. Raised over $1,500 in honor of Karla for the UNC Linberger Cancer Center thanks to the support of my running friends.
Finished up Hinson Lake on the 1st. Two weeks later ran the Autism 5k with Karla on a beautiful Autumn morning. Then ran the Inside Out Sports half-marathon which is put on by the NCRC. Had a good run in the rain. The next weekend I ran the Seaboard Festival 5 mile put on by Mark Long of the MTC. I don't do many of these short road races cause they hurt if you race them. Ran a good time and got to hang out with some MTC buddies. Won 2nd in my age-group. Woohoo!
Mountain Masochist 50mile +. Probably my favorite event, mainly due to the atmosphere surrounding it. A large crowd but still small enough to meet nearly everyone. It's like an ultrarunning reunion. And a beautiful course. I was by myself most of the time but did run with Jay a shortwhile. Ran with Dean for a couple of hours in the middle before he dropped back. I got a course PR by 35 minutes. A week later was the OBX Marathon. Another great weekend in a fantastic coastal setting with once again, the usual suspects Jerry, and the Werners. Running with Karla was another wonderful inspiring experience. A week later I amazed myself running a fast for me 21:36 at the Apex Turkey Trot and getting 3rd in my age-group. The best part though was running with Laura. Another week later and it was off to Derby 50K, another favorite. Mark puts on a fine race and it's another good social situation with a lot of friends and familiar faces. Jay and Fred ran with me until Jay dropped back around 13 miles. Doom and I stuck together until with about 5 miles to go when I got a cramp. I was never able to quite catch back up and we finished 30 seconds apart. It was another 50K PR for me by about 7 minutes in spite of the cramping. got to run several miles with Byron Backer for a change. He is usually way way ahead of me so it was nice to have him for company for a while.
Hellgate 100k. Yes it is scary and it was as tough as I had heard. A very rewarding finish in a unique event. The setting is quite intimate with the limit of 100 runners fitting the size of the facilities just right. Lots of VHTRC and MTC friends around to share the horror stories with. Ran several miles with Jay and Dean but mostly a solitary run due to the length of the course and small field. Got to run a few miles with Quatro late in the race. I probably ran a bit too much the last 2 months and went into this with some knee pain that just started the week before. Being a hard-head I was determined to finish despite a lot of pain for the last 50 miles of the race. As a result I have had to take off over two weeks but the rest has done me good and the knee after testing it out on a few short runs this week seems to be doing ok. Looking forward to more miles and smiles to come.


Caren said...

What an amazing year - I didn't realize you ran Leadville. That is awesome! Plus MMTR and Hellgate, I am very impressed. At some point, I'd love to get your opinion of Promise Land as that's the spring "ultra" I'm training for. Is it really that hilly?

runjoey said...

Thanks Caren. Yes, Promise Land is not just hilly, it is mountainous! There is one mile in the middle that is flat, the rest of it is up and down with several major climbs. And it is probably closer to 35 miles than 31. But it is a wondeful event and a beautiful course.

The Mule said...

That is one helluva a year my friend! Good Luck with everything this year and I wish you the best of luck at the W$100.