Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007, the year in review

2007 was an interesting year with a few highs and lows but overall another very rewarding time. The Spring was an especially successful time with many personal records. The 2nd half of the year saw a few disappointments but even then there were several highlights. I had focused so much energy on training for Western States and after my DNF there, I seemed to be tired for a much longer than normal amount of time. The recording setting heat of the summer and early Fall probably contributed a lot to that too. So here is how it went.
The year started off slowly as I was recovering from the knee injury that caused me to miss running the last 2.5 weeks of December. I was very happy that after a few test runs I was able to run the Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50K on the 6th with my friend and frequent training partner, the beautiful young Jenn Ennis. I had wanted to run it last year which was her ultra debut but training for my Boston Qualifier didn't allow it. We had a great time and she improved her time despite running with considerable shin pain the last half.
On the 20th I traveled to Virginia and the Swinging Bridge Trail run held on the beautiful Willis River Trail. Had a lot of fun running most of the 35 K with my trail buddy Graham.

My first main goal for the year was to attempt a 100 mile Pr at Rocky Raccoon in Huntsville State Park, Texas. I wasn't quite as fast a I hoped but accomplished the goal with a 23:15 and I got to run a little with the Trail Princess.
Two weeks later and with a quick recovery, I ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon with Karla, The Marathon Princess. As always it was joy to run beside her. It was a tough, slow run for her as she was just beginning to recover after completing her cancer treatments just two months earlier.
A week later I found myself at the Mt. Mitchell Challenge 40 miler. I was feeling good but after a 100 just three weeks before and the marathon last week I expected to be tired. Ended up having a great run and achieved my goal of breaking 8 hours. Most enjoyable was the perfect weather conditions and running with Tony Rouse for about 35 of the miles.

On the 10th I ran the Umstead Trail Marathon again. Although not nearly as bad as last year, I still had a long slow run. At least I had good company with Tony again and many of my friends were running and volunteering in my home training area.
I was happy to see the return of the Gator Trail 50K on the 24th. I had not had the chance to run it in the past and was planning to go for a 50K pr. The weather was unseasonably hot and I had a disappointing meltdown and a warning of the hot weather yet to come.

In April I returned to the Bull Run Run 50 miler. With perfect weather and trail conditions, and some great company from Fred Dummar in the first half of the race, I improved my time by over 1:40:00 from two years ago.
Two weeks later I returned to one of my favorite races, the Promise Land 50K and again Blessed with great conditions, I ran a course PR by 40 minutes and probably felt better from start to finish of any ultra I've ever run.

I returned to Capon Valley 50K with hopes of a new course PR and with the way I had been running I felt that would be easily done. Warm weather and some lingering fatigue from a hard year of racing and training however caused it to be a slow day. At least I got to run in a gorgeous setting with many friends and especially nice to run the early miles with the Trail Angel Laura.
A week later a group of us ran the 26.7 mile length of the Falls Lake Trail for fun with the great roving aid support of Mike Waldvogel and Rhonda Hampton.

Started the month running the 5k Race for the Cure with Karla and Jerry. Her first time in this race as a survivor. A wonderful day and she showed much improvement as she continued to grow stronger.
Then it was off to Western States. A fantastic vacation but a heartbreaking DNF. Lessons learned and someday I hope to return and claim my finishers buckle.

Was hot but a welcome cool front moved into the southeast just in time for Catherine's FA 50K at Massanutten Va. I think the weather was the major factor in my shattering my course PR there. As always a great day and post race picnic with my VHTRC friends.

I decided not to try any racing in August. It was a miserably hot month and I wanted to concentrate on training for better things in the Fall.

The hot weather continued and I had a miserable half-marathon in Danville Va. It was easy to ignore the pain and suffering though sharing the ride and day with the Trail Angel.
I had high hopes of improving my distance run at the Hisnon Lake 24 hour run this year but it was not to be my weekend and I was coming down with a bug that bothered me for most of the week afterwards.


October saw more training and my first 10 mile race in a very long time at the American Tobacco Trail. The NCRC and R.D. Aaron Quick did a great job with this first time event. I ran well but a bit slower than hoped for.


The Marathon Double month. I was afraid that my time at the ATT 10 miler in Oct. was an indicator that I was not ready to qualify for Boston and I was right. Looking back I should have not run Hinson Lake. Just not enough recovery time to run a quality marathon. I still ended up with my 3rd fasted marathon ever. Sunday was even better as I got to run OBX with Karla and had Jerry along for over half the race. It was a great day and I was so happy and surprised that Karla had improved so much in the past year. Another few months of training and she will be back as strong as ever. Finished up the month with another 50K pr at Mark Long's wonderful little road ultra, the Derby 50K and sharing the trip with the Lovely Jenn.

After a hard year of training and racing, I have cut back on my training a little and stayed away from racing to let myself recover. I look forward to another great year which I will kick off in another week at the Frosty 50K. Hope all of you had a good year too. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the new year ahead and possibly meet some more of you that stumble upon my blog.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Ultra Race on the Calender

Ultrarunner extraordinaire, Annette Bednosky has step into the world of race directing and has planned the New River Trail 50K coming up on Oct. 11th 2008.

Here is the race website

I have run several training runs on this converted rail-trail over the years as well as kayak on the river along the mid-point of the course at Foster Falls State Park. It is a very flat fast course with only an ever so slight grade as the river gradually works it's way downhill. It is a beautiful course with the river, the old railroad bridges and tunnels. A lot of history along this route. There are still milepost from the railroad every mile so you can check your splits very accurately. The surface is soft dirt, very similar to Umstead's bridle trails.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crewing at Hellgate

I had no plans to be at Hellgate this year. I guess sooner or later I'll probably run it again but I'm not sure why I would even consider it. Too bad I didn't this year. Turned out to be the best weather in the race's short history, almost making me wish I was entered. Probably a good thing I wasn't because I have been tired and banged up from a hard year and December is suppose to be an easy recovery month for me.
So why was I at Hellgate? Because one of Ultraman's Angels ask me to. Dorothy is a very experienced Ultra runner for almost 8 years now and a strong-willed young lady, but she has never raced further than at Mt. Masochist. Hellgate is a true beast of a race and she was a little bit intimidated and although she could have done it on her own easily in my opinion, she wanted the reassurance of having a familiar face looking out for her. Husband Todd would not be able to make the trip so I was honored when Dorothy asked me to go. Having no prior commitment that weekend, I immediately said yes.
We had an uneventful ride Friday afternoon up to Virginia enjoying the conversation and making plans for the race. We arrived about 5 and spent the evening visiting with many friends while we awaited the 12:01am start. Some last minute preparations and we were off to the start, a long caravan in the night. Any locals that may have been awake had to be wondering where all the traffic was coming from.
As with all Horton races, there was a prayer and the National Anthem and then go!! I returned to my car to head over to AS #2 which comes about 7.5 miles into the race. The first two sections are the shortest in the race. I began following the stream of other support vehicles but soon realized either they didn't know where they were going or not all were headed where I was. I turned around and had no problems getting to the AS.
I waited and took photos of several friends as they emerged from the darkness. Soon Dorothy came into view with a big smile on her face. The weather was great and she was running with Amy Albu (formerly Bath). They were planning to stay together as much as possible. I had them quickly on their way and then I had to try to figure out how and when I would see them again. I knew there was no crew access at AS #3 and Horton announced while I was #2 that the Parkway was closed in the higher elevations due to the snow and ice earlier in the week so there would be no access at 4. There was hope it would be open later so I decided to go ahead and try to find my way over.
You have to drive around your elbow to get to your thumb to reach some of the aid stations, so I was very disappointed after going almost to Bedford and then up to the Peaks of Otter that the Parkway was indeed still closed. I pulled over to try and figure out from the directions how to get to AS 5. I had heard it was going to also be a problem due to the conditions. Thats when one of the radio guys came over to my car and showed me his map. He was trying to be helpful but unfortunately he gave me bad advice. According to him, AS #5 was not accessible and they had in fact moved it to another location and he couldn't tell me how to get there. I was quite disturbed by this news because now I had no way of finding Dorothy. I could only pray for the best for her and hope she would not be too disappointed when she didn't see me the rest of the night with the things she was expecting. ( I would find out in the morning that in fact AS 5 was in it's normal place and accessible)
I decided the only thing to do was to go get some sleep and meet her at AS #7. I knew where it was located and was accessible near the valley. I was able to get some sleep for about 4 hours and was up just after sunrise to get some breakfast and head over to Bear Wallow Gap. I passed the time there talking to Andrew Wilds, the race photographer and then taking pictures of friends as they came through. I was very happy and relieved to see Dorothy and Amy still together and still smiling. I was sure she would be but I was glad that I would be able to perform the function I came for the rest of the day.
By the time I headed over to AS 8 the day had warmed into the 50's and was beautiful. The AS is located under a bridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway, another good spot for some photos. The ladies came in right on schedule and still in good spirits. The next section is one of the longest and hardest. Well, they are all long and hard but after being out on the trail so long it is mentally demanding so I tried to make sure they were prepared for what lay ahead. The toughest thing is that when you come down off the mountain again and think you should be at the AS you still have about 2 more miles to go.
I drove on to the 9th and final AS and quickly changed into my running clothes. By now it was near 60 degrees and I wanted to get in a little workout. I headed up the trail taking it easy and stepping of the trail to let the racers pass. Almost all wanted to know how much further so I tried to be as honest as possible based on my time running. It was almost 45 minutes before I finally saw them. They seemed happy to see me and to know how much longer to go. As we neared the AS, I ran ahead to have things ready for Dorothy. She was fired up and ready to get it finished so after a Nascaresque pit stop she hurried on her way.
I made my way back to the finish to wait and greet other friends that had already finished. I was expecting them about 5:30 but checked outside frequently. I'm glad I did or I would have missed seeing them finish. I didn't even have time to get my camera out. They totally blistered the pace the last 6 miles and cam in about 5:13.
Dorothy did an awesome job and I never doubted she would.

Here are the photos I took.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Spirit of Champions

This past Friday, The Oncology Patient and Family Resource Center at The UNC Cancer Hospital's Lineberger Comprehensive Care Center held an Open House for it's patients and donors. I was invited to join my most wonderful training partner Karla and her husband Frank because of the fundraising runs that I did in her honor in 2006.
I had made some donations after the Relay for Life to the American Cancer Society and to the Susan G. Komen Foundation after the Race for the Cure. When I did the 24 hour run at Hinson Lake, I asked Karla where she would prefer for the funds to go and it was her choice to make the donation to UNC where she received her chemo-therapy. On Friday the results of that effort made it's public debut. The proceeds I received from many of you, my family and friends was used to purchase a library collection which they have named " The Spirit of Champions" A Library Collection in Honor of Karla Werner.
Karla certainly displayed that Spirit, refusing to give up and continue to pursue her dreams while going through her surgery, chemo and radiation. Running the Boston Marathon with her three weeks after starting her chemo started and just 6 weeks after surgery will always be among the most special days of my life. And then to follow that up with the OBX Marathon in the midst of radiation treatment. I can only wish I had that kind of toughness and determination.
I'm not sure if you can read the plaque, but there is a business card just like it in the front cover of each book. It is hoped that the collection will inspire others going through cancer treatment to start or maintain a healthy lifestyle and outlook during and after their recovery.
It has been almost exactly a year now since Karla finished her radiation treatments and she gets stronger every time we run together. It is just a short matter of time before she is setting new PR's.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Derby 50k 2007

Well, one out of three is not too bad. In fact in baseball that would earn you a big contract.
But whatever the outcome you can't miss having a great time at this little gem of a race that Mark Long has given us down in rural NC. The race is low key but certainly not low quality with ample aid, friendly volunteers and a good course for a fair test of your endurance and ability.

This would be the fifth edition and my fourth time running. In 2003 I was still new at this ultramarathon stuff and having just run a marathon a couple of weeks before , I didn't feel I was ready to race. But being a recent member of the MTC, I wanted to come join in the fun so I volunteered. After riding around with Mark most of the day, I ran the last loop with Jay and Anita Finkle. Ever since then I have returned to race and have set a PR for the distance each time.
This year I had three goals. One was to set a PR. Two was to run the whole race other than stopping for aid. And three was to run 9 minute pace. I was joined in the drive down from Wake County by my good friend and frequent training partner, the dark-haired lovely Jenn Ennis. We arrived at the Derby Community Bldg at about 7am and went inside to warm up and visit with friends. Ben Dillon and Mark Davis had also come down from Raleigh representing the NCRC. Soon enough it was time to head up to the start finish area so we hopped in the car with Tony along for the short ride to Derby Road.
It was a chilly morning, near 22F with a bit of a breeze but the sun was shining and the forecast was for near perfect conditions, around 50F. Mark said go and off we went. I made sure to start easy since I hadn't warmed up but was soon on pace and moving through the field. By the first mile the pack had already spread out with about 15 fast runners already pulling out of sight and just a few others around me. One guy passed me and quickly moved away and I settled in to a comfortable pace.
Suddenly out of nowhere at about the two mile point, I had a sharp pain in my right hip that made me skip a step. It repeated a couple of times and I was worried that if it continued that my race would be over early. I had been running on the soft shoulder of the road so I stepped back onto the pavement hoping the even surface might help. The pain did go away and soon I was pulling into the first aid station at about 3.3 miles. Already the lead runners were well out of sight and the one guy was 1/4 mile away. Two other guys passed me there and David McKay was coming in just as I was leaving. Just some water and I was out quickly in pursuit.
The rolling hills began as you leave this first stop and I soon repassed the two guys and ran strong up the hills until the 2nd aid station. We leapfrogged again with David just behind shadowing us as I left. The next section is my favorite of the course, mostly downhill and then turning on the dirt road. I was running well but took a pit stop along the way and allowed the two guys to catch me once again. I repassed them on the hill on the way to aid station three and that would be the last time I would see them.
As I left aid station three and began my second loop, I couldn't believe how great I was feeling. This was awesome. I had been so sore and feeling beat up since my back to back marathons two weeks ago but at this moment I was feeling strong and confident. I couldn't remember my time from last year but I felt I was a little slower. Even so, I was on pace for a Pr and feeling good so I began to pick up the pace a little.
I had only gone a little further when suddenly the hitch in my giddy-up returned. This was not good. I'm feeling great and on pace but my hip is giving out on me. I prayed that God would just let me get through this race andI promised I would rest and not race again until January. I guess God liked the deal because it would not give me any more problems the rest of the day.
Even with the record number of entrants this year, it is still a small race but I was a bit surprised how spread out we were by now. You can see for about a half mile at least while on Derby Road and I could only see the one guy that had passed me in the first mile way ahead. No one was behind me now except my shadow David about 5o yards back. I continued to run strong and things were pretty uneventful for awhile. I felt I was slowly closing the gap on the runner ahead but as I came into the first aid station again he was disappearing over the hill and as I left, David came in right behind me.
Once again I was strong on the hills. I had been running by myself the whole run so I was focusing on the runner ahead and using the chase to occupy my mind. I felt I was still closing in although he was at least1/4 mile ahead still. I came into the second aid station again and he had stopped and was meeting with his crew. He started out before me but he was toast. He began to walk and I ran by and that was the last I saw of him. I would not see another runner in front of me for the next 3 miles. Just as I was about half way up the hill to the third aid station. I spotted a figure ahead of me walking and running slowly up the hill. I caught him just before the top and saw that it was the legendary Ray Krolewicz. Ray was very encouraging to me and said I was now the first grandmaster in the race. Ray and I are within a couple of months of the same age.
My time for the second loop was almost identical to my first loop. I was running very consistent pace and still feeling good. Now all I had to do was hold it together for another lap. A quick look back and there was no one behind me but David still shadowing me and up ahead nothing but miles of road still to go. I was in and out of the first aid station again and facing the hills one last time. They were certainly tougher this third time but once again I was able to run all of them.
I soon came to the marathon point which Mark has painted in the road. My time of 3:58 :14 was the first time I could compare to last year when I had passed through in 3:54:56. I was over three minutes behind last year but I still felt a PR was mine as long as I didn't blow up. Last year at about 27 miles I had hamstring cramps and had to slow and do a lot of walking those last miles. As I entered the second aid station for the last time, I was tiring but still confident.
I was doing OK but as I hit the dirt road I could really feel my energy waning. David finally passed me looking strong and I had no intentions of trying to keep up with him. My goal was to keep moving and get that PR. As I nearly reached the end of the dirt road I spotted a figure ahead walking. It turned out to be Scot Haywood, which surprised me. I expected he would have been finished already. He asked me how far we had left and when I told him only about 1.5 miles, it seemed to inspire him and he took off running. I was now just shuffling along and as I turned onto the pavement and up the last hill my 2nd goal was gone. First had been 9 minute pace and now I had to walk. Oh well, I still had that PR if I could just keep moving. Matt Greene had run a smart race and went powering by me up the hill. I began alternating about 15 seconds of walking with a minute of running until I finally reached the top of the hill and I then knew I had it. Running strong back on the flat, I crossed the line a very happy guy in4:46:58, a pr by about 1.5 minutes. Although there are no age-group awards, I was the first runner over 50 years old for the second year in a row.Looking back at last years splits, I was behind pace all day so it was only in the last 5 miles that got the PR.
I quickly changed into some warm dry clothes and waited for friends at the finish. I was hoping Jenn would have a good day and I didn't have to wait long to see her. She had also run a smart race and set a new PR of 5:22:08, about 19 minutes improvement for her over Frosty 50K back in January. We waited around about another 30 minutes and then headed back to the community building for the delicious spaghetti lunch provided by the ladies from the local United Methodist Church.

It's a great little run and I had a lot of fun as usual. Just don't tell anybody. We like to keep it small and there is a limit.

Here are the photos

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Tale of Two Marathons

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times. Well, actually it was a great weekend no matter what the times.

Day 1. The Battle of Richmond 11/10/07

I was very relieved that the rain had stopped by the time I awoke in my motel room. With overnight lows in the 30's, rain would mean miserable conditions and possible hypothermia. Had it once and once is enough for a lifetime.
I found my usual parking space and headed over to the Omni where I saw a few NCRC people, Bob, Steve and Paul. As I was walking to the start I saw VHTRC friend Martha Wright. She would be running with one of the four men that had run all 29 previous editions of the race.
John Price, a long time ultrarunner from Va Beach was at the start next to me after having run Mt. Masochist last weekend. He would go on to get a Boston qualifier today.
We were soon away and I was surprised as I passed mile one, how easy it felt even though I was to fast. I had was expected my time to be at least a minute slower the first mile so I tried to slow down, but the next mile was even faster. That's when I stopped to take a picture and force myself to slow down after turning off of Broad Street and onto the lovely Monument Ave. We had been running into a little headwind but it would hardly be noticeable now for a long time. The temperature was great and I was feeling good and confident.
The next several miles passed quickly and I had settled into a good pace and was right on track for my goal. I resisted the urge to push too much going down the reverse Lee's Revenge Hill. The next section from about 7 to 10 miles is my favorite on the course. After passing through one of the party zones we cross the James River on the old Huegenot Bridge and then a run a couple of miles along the river. It is very scenic and flat making for most enjoyable running.
As the course turns away from the river at mile 10, we enter into a series of hills for the next few miles. The last time I was here I hardly noticed them but today I was not feeling too strong.
But as I approached the half I was right where I wanted to be in 1:46:27. The only problem though was the last two miles I had slowed and I wasn't feeling like picking up the pace. Mile 14 was again too slow but the 15th mile is almost flat and I was relieved to find I was right back on pace in 8:06.
But then we turned onto the Lee Bridge headed back into downtown and directly into a strong headwind. I could feel my strength being blown away and that mile took over 9 minutes. The next mile is a long slight upgrade mostly into the wind and it too was over 9 minutes. At this point I knew it was about over for the qualifying attempt but I wasn't ready to give up just yet. Mile 18 was flat and out of the wind so I pushed the pace hoping to find I could still run 8:10's the rest of the way . But it was not to be today. I didn't feel bad, but just didn't have the strength to run the pace I needed. Even with pushing effort I was only able to muster an 8:59 mile. At that point I grabbed a cup of gatorade and stepped off the course. My race was over and now it would just be was a fun run to the end.
I stretched my legs for a minute while drinking and eating a gel and then began the final 8 mile journey to the finish. My goal now was to just have an easy run and save as much energy as I could for the next days run with Karla. It took a a couple of miles but I soon was running well and the miles passed fairly quickly. I was very happy to reach the end and the downhill finish without cramping and feeling ok. Quatro Hubbard passed me with a half mile to go and urged me to push to the end with him. I declined the offer telling him to go ahead, I was saving myself for OBX now. Even with the slowing down, I ended up running my 3rd fastest marathon ever in 3:55, so it wasn't really a bad day. However I would not advise anyone to run 3:55 the way I did today.
As usual, they did a great job putting on the event. I made my way to the food tent to try and quickly replenish some of the calories I had expended. I talked to Jeff Branin while scarfing down some pizza. I also had some chocolate milk, the perfect recovery drink in my drop bag. It would have been great to have had a little time to visit with a few friends at the finish but I had to hurry away and make the 3 hour drive to Manteo.

Day 2- Run with the wind at OBX 11-11-07

The drive down to the Outer Banks from Virginia was uneventful. I stopped a couple of times to stretch my legs and try to stay as loose as possible. I talked to Karla on the phone and she told me the weather had been yucky with rain but the forecast was looking good for Sunday. A quick stop at the expo to pick up my race packet and then I checked in to my motel. I took a quick shower and then headed over to Manteo for a nice dinner with the Werners and Jerry and Linda. I was tired of course and with another early morning wakeup call ahead we all retired early.
On race morning the shuttles to the start were right on time and very efficient in getting the runners to the starting line. I quickly found Karla and Jerry as well as Margaret Cooper and Lisa Howell from Raleigh. After the disappointment with yesterdays time I was looking forward to just having some fun running with two of my best friends. This would be an especially great day running with Karla again. Last year was special, but with her undergoing the cancer treatments it was a difficult slow run for her. She has been growing stronger in her recovery at an amazing pace lately and I was hoping she would have a good run. Her goal was 4:30 and if things went well, maybe 4:22, a 10 minute pace. I was also hoping that I would feel good enough to stay with her the whole day after running so hard on Saturday. Jerry lined up with us with his own goal of trying to get to the finish in as good a shape as possible after not training nearly enough over the past year.
We lined up near the back planning to start off very relaxed and gradually pick up the pace. As we began, my legs were a little stiff and sore but not nearly as bad as I expected and within a half mile I was loosened up and feeling pretty good. The first mile came too quickly though in 9:35 and the second mile even quicker in 9:25. At that point I told her I would take over the pacing. She was feeling great but we had a long way to go and now was not the time to be pushing. Over the next few miles our pace varied a little but we had settled in to about averaging 10 mp.
It was a gorgeous, sunny morning with the temperatures in the mid-40's, near perfect for racing.There was a steady wind about 10mph with gust up to 18 but unlike last year the wind would be at our backs most of the day giving us a gentle boost. The three of us remained side by side enjoying ourselves, the great conversation and the beautiful scenery for the next several miles. We passed by the waterfront on a greenway, then through nice residential areas. We approached the Wright Brothers Memorial and this year due to some minor course alterations we circled the entire monument still feeling good and having fun.
Around 10 miles,the course enters Nags Head Woods, a very pretty natural area of wooded dunes. It is a dirt surface through here with several gently rolling hills. Nothing too steep or too long but enough to effect the pace a bit. Jerry had pulled slightly ahead of of us for some reason but Karla and I continued enjoying our time together doing what we love most, running and talking. After about 2.5 miles the course turns off the dirt road and climbs a single track trail over a sand dune for about a half mile. The surface is soft dirt and pine needles. I told Karla that I think they should re-surface the trails on Massanutten Mt just like this. The trail comes out of the woods at the 13 mile mark and Jerry slowed and waited for us. Our time at this point was still slightly faster than Karla's fantasy goal of 4:22, even with the slowest mile of the race just behind us on the trail.
That 13th mile on the trail over the dunes was our slowest of the day in about 10:50 and I expected that we would not be running any more sub-10 minute miles. Boy was I wrong. Karla was feeling great and after a 10:02 14th mile the pace began to pick up again. She was working me a lot harder than I expected and I was thinking to myself that I hoped we could both hold the pace. Jerry was still hanging with us but as the pace picked up we could tell he was began to feel the effects of little training. We ran a 9:47 and a 9:44 before turning off the highway again. At that point Jerry sent us on our way with best wishes and backed off the pace. We turned into the wind for about a half-mile and it took us 10:02, the last time we would be over 10 minute pace.
We were both surprised the next two miles were a couple of the fastest of the day. Karla was still looking great (as always) and I was feeling better than I had a few miles back. Now we only had a 10K to go with one big hill, the Baum Bridge between us and downtown Manteo. We continued to run well the next couple of miles, and as we approached the bridge I was afraid I would have to walk part of it and then try to catch Karla on the downhill side. It was a pleasant surprise to me that I felt fine and we powered up to the 23 mile mark atop the bridge in 9:55.
Still going strong we finally made the turn towards Manteo with just over a mile to go. This was directly into the wind and for the first time Karla told me she was feeling tired. One more right turn and the finish line was just ahead. We were all smiles as we crossed in an amazing 4:18:57 surpassing even her fantasy goal for the day. Not only had we run a negative split but averaged almost 15 seconds a mile faster the last 10K than we had the first ten miles.
Frank was there with the camera to greet us and after a few minutes we started to make our way around to watch for Jerry. We didn't make it as Jerry had continued to run well after backing off our pace and finished under 4:30 and we found he and Lynda walking towards us.
What a wonderful day spent with wonderful friends. I am so happy to see that Karla is improving so fast and I know she will be back better than ever by next Spring and get her Boston qualifier. The OBX people did a great job with the race this year. All of the minor problems from last year's inaugarul race were corrected and improved upon. The minor course adjustments and the new finish line in the historic downtown Manteo waterfront area were appreciated by everyone.
I took some photos while running in both races although it was hard to take too many while running faster in Richmond. Frank added a few from the finish. You can view the photo web album here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Big Weekend Ahead

As usual, I plan the events I would like to run about a year in advance. This helps in scheduling since so many events are getting hard to get in to and also aids in preparing to achieve the goals I set for myself. So about a year ago while looking at my list of want to do's, I decided I need to get another Boston Qualifier. I had originally planned to only run Boston one time but since Karla had cancer last time and we had to run slowly just to finish, we have decided we must go back and race it now that she is cancer-free. So I decided with my full ultra schedule planned for 2008 that I should go ahead and try to get a qualifier this Fall so I could concentrate on ultra training.
I have run in Richmond 3 times before and it is a fairly fast course and comes at a good time of year for weather and my training so I chose it. Two years ago, the usual suspects Karla, Jerry and Margo made the trip with me as I tried to qualify. I was not quite ready, but despite cramping up in the last 4 miles, I set a PR and we all had a great weekend. I was hoping to have the whole group run return with me, but Margo was running in Raleigh and Karla and Jerry wanted to return to OBX . I could have tried for my qualifier there but being a runner of little brain, Ultraman decided it was a good idea to do both! So this Saturday I will be running fast at Richmond ( I hope! ) and then run with the Marathon Princess like last year at OBX. Jerry may try running with us this time.
My training has been going pretty well despite having plantar fasciitis since August. I have been treating it aggressively since I figured out what it was and it is improving greatly even while maintaining my mileage and adding speedwork back into my routine. My biggest concern was whether I would have enough recovery time after running at Hinson Lake 6 weeks ago. I had been a bit sluggish and had a sub-par run at the ATT 10 miler but in the past 10-12 days the life has returned to my legs and I'm feeling confident of a good run.
Anyone who wishes can track my progress in Richmond Saturday morning. The race is having live updates at the half marathon and 20 mile marks . I hope to hit the half in about 1:47 and 20 in about 2:43 .
You can find the race website here
I am bib number 788

Monday, November 05, 2007

City of Oaks Marathon

Here are the photos I took at the marathon yesterday.
It was great to see a marathon return to Raleigh and it couldn't have been a better day for it. The general consensus is that the RD and all the folks from Raleigh Running Outfitters and their volunteers did an excellent job with the race.

When it was announced last year, I had already decided that I would be returning to Richmond this year for a Boston Qualifying attempt. The course for City of Oaks, although a nice one is also a very hilly one and I knew there would be no way I could run a fast enough time so I would have to pass on it this year. I didn't even know if I would be able to see the race until this past Thursday when I found out I would not have to work Sunday. I planned then to attend the event and share the day with some of my best running friends. There would be numerous people from the NCRC and MTC running and I was looking forward to seeing as many as possible.
On Friday evening I attended a dinner with my good friends Margo and Bill, Jerry and Lynda and Frank and Karla and decided that race day I would jump into the race and run about 10 miles with Margo to get in a workout and take some photos along the way. Karla was going to run with Jerry and help him maintain a sane pace as he tries to return to form after not training much over the summer.
Sunday morning the sun arose with perfect temperatures for running. I arrived early and after visiting with several friends I made my way up the road to wait with Karla for the race to began. We didn't have to wait long before the runners started coming towards us. Two African runners had already separated themselves from the rest of the field by the first turn with a vast sea of colorfully dressed runners in pursuit, as they began the days journey. Unfortunately as the large mass of humanity swept by, I was unable to spot Margo in the crowd even with Karla's help. When we saw Jerry approaching I knew I had missed her so I began running with Karla and Jerry.
As we neared the 1 mile mark, an Amtrak train was passing by so I stopped to take a picture knowing I could easily catch back up with them. As I looked around I saw several other friends and started taking more pictures before taking off in pursuit. I was running on the outside of the course as much as possible so I would not interfere with the real racers and I carried my own water bottle, so as I approached the first water stop , I went over as far as possible to the other side of the road. I still hadn't spotted them although I had picked up the pace considerably. A mile later I realized Jerry must have gone to get water and I was way ahead of them. I considered waiting but then decided instead to pick up the pace even more and try to find Margo.
I was having a lot of fun passing through the field and spotting people I knew and stopping to take the occasional photo. I was running a lot faster than I had planned for the day but still no Margo. I thought maybe I would see Olga and run with her since she was aiming for 4 hours but as I arrived in downtown , I still hadn't seen either of them. I took a couple of shots of runners approaching the State Capitol Building as I neared the 5 mile mark. I then realized I had run the last 3 miles in 23 minutes even with the stopping several times and walking backwards looking for people. I decided then to shut it down and back off the pace and just wait to let some of my other friends catch up with me. This was suppose to be an easy workout anyway.
I stopped to speak to the Squires for a minute and then began again at a slower pace. About that time Matthew Greene from MTC caught me so we ran together for the next two miles and then at Cameron Village I sent him on his way and waited again. My overall pace was still way too fast. I took a shot of Thomas Asta and then took off again. I spotted the Dummars and Emily behind me so I joined in with them for the next two miles. I told them I was going to drop back some more and hopefully Jerry and Karla would be along soon, and when I looked back they were only about 15 seconds back with Mark Long and Pam Carpenter right behind them. What a great day!
I was surprised but happy to see that Jerry was having a good run and enjoying himself as we passed the 9 mile mark. He continued strong and began pulling away from us at a pace that Karla didn't want to try and match with her marathon coming up next weekend so from that point on it was back to a normal training run with my regular training partner, The Marathon Princess. After mile 11 we decided to run down the hill to near the 12 mile mark to visit with Jenn and call it a day with about 11.5 miles of actual running. After talking to Jenn for a few minutes we walked back up the hill to watch the finishers.

The day was a lot of fun and I got in a good workout. I would love to run the race sometime but unfortunately for me it presents a scheduling conflict that will not allow it next year. It falls on the same weekend as one of my favorite ultras, the Mountain Masochist and I will not be missing it again next year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

American Tobacco Trail 10 Mile

My legs feel like cement I said to Mike as he urged me to hang with him. "I can't hear you buddy" he replied. That's because he was pulling away as I continued my slowly declining pace.

Back in my younger running days, 10 miles was my favorite race distance. Short enough not to wear me down like a marathon but long enough not to need to hurt every step like a 5K. The ideal distance for a not too fast and not too strong runner like me. However since I have been specializing in marathons and mostly ultramarathons the past several years I have really not tested myself over this distance. Other than pacing Karla 2 years ago in Greenville, I have not raced the distance in at least 7 or 8 years.With my impending race at the Richmond Marathon coming up in November, I thought that this would be an ideal test and training run as I prepare for my Boston qualifier.

I awoke way too early on a beautiful October morning, but noticed right away that it was way too warm and muggy for this time of year, but that is just the way the weather pattern has been. Fortunately the course is shaded over 90% of it's course and I never felt that the temperature affected me, although I'm sure it had some subtle effect. I arrived at the trail parking lot early and enjoyed meeting and greeting many friends. With the limited field of runners, and being an NCRC event, I knew quite a lot of runners as well as volunteers. Lisa Howell and I ran a warm-up mile together and then I began final preparations. As I sat adjusting my shoes, I noticed the Trail Angel had arrived with Allison and Alan to volunteer. Laura would not be running as she is preparing for the Ridge to Bridge Marathon on the 27th but it was a pleasant surprise to see her there.
By now it was nearly time to start and I realized the starting line was about a quarter mile up the road so I had to hurry off. Soon all were ready and RD Aaron sent us on our way. My plan was to stay relaxed and hope to reach halfway at 7:30 pace. Then if I felt good maybe pick it up and if not just try to maintain. We were quickly onto the soft, well shaded trail and I settled into my pace. Mike Walsh soon pulled up beside me and we would be near to each other for most of the remainder of the run. He was just trying to get in a good workout but got caught into a strong pace with another guy and pulled away. As we hit the first mile which I passed in 7:16, he realized he was going too fast and dropped back to run with me for a while. It was a little too fast for me but I felt good and just relaxed, settling into a nice rhythm. It was most pleasant running through the woods on the nice flat, soft surface. Ideal for a fast run. Even so, the very slightest change in elevation seemed to affect pace ever so slightly.

Being an out and back course, I began to see the lead runners coming back to me. This was nice so I could see all the people I know out on the course and exchange encouragement. I decided to count everyone ahead of me and was in about 43rd or 44th place.. Mike and I hit 5 miles together and I although I had slowed a little bit , I was only about 12 seconds behind my planned pace and still feeling good. I passed a couple of runners but mostly just tried to stay relaxed and hold the pace. Around 7 miles, I stopped for a cup of gatorade and the runners I had passed went by. Over the next mile I was slowly reeling them in but then the legs started tightening up as we ran through the Hwy 55 underpass. That's when I had to watch as Mike and the others slowly pulled away. There would be no 75:00 today so I just hoped to finish as comfortably as possible and as I could hear no footsteps behind me , I felt my position was safe.

I guess pain is inevitable though if you are racing and sure enough with about 200 yards to go I began to hear someone behind me and then with 100yds I could tell there were at least 2 runners and they were coming on strong. This is not what I wanted but my competitive instincts took over and I began pushing harder and harder until the footsteps seemed to fade. But then I had to finally reach for the last ounce of speed left in me to keep from being nipped at the line. The next guy was given the same time with two others right behind. As I bent over, hands on my knees gasping and trying not to throw up, I said to the volunteers nearby," I really didn't want to have to do that!"

So, I didn't achieve me time goal but overall I had a great time and finished 4th out of 17 in my age-group. Not really a confidence booster for my goal at Richmond but I have three weeks to recover, train and taper. I probably shouldn't have run at Hinson Lake and concentrated my training but I had a goal there and really wanted to do it so I will accept whatever comes. Bottom line is that I have fun and do the things I enjoy with my fellow runners and friends.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ATT 10 Miler Preview

This Saturday I will be running in the 1st edition of The American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler. This is a race put on by the NCRC and the RD is Aaron Quick, a young man that has been very active in the club the past year.
The race is held on a converted rail trail in Western Wake County outside of Apex. The course is nearly flat with only a slight grade of 1% or less over most of the course on a soft dirt surface similar to the bridle trails at Umstead State Park .

My purpose in running this event besides just having fun is to use it as a test to see how my training is going. I have the Richmond Marathon coming up in 3 weeks where I hope to attempt a Boston qualifying time. When I qualified at Myrtle Beach in 2006, I had run a half-marathon at Ocean Isle Beach 3 weeks before and that seemed to be a good predictor of my performance at MB. My goal is to run it in 75:00, a time I feel is necessary if I am to run 3:35 at Richmond. Look for a report soon. In the meantime you can check out the links below for more info on the race and the trail.

Here is a link to the race website

for more info on the trail go here

Monday, October 15, 2007

Autism Ribbon Run 5K 2007

Saturday October 13th I decided to go run this 5K with my regular training partner Karla. This was a very important date as a year ago I went with Karla and Frank and Jerry to UNC Hospital for Karla's last chemotherapy session. Amazingly, the day afterwards I ran with her in this race as she bravely ran a 33:04. Since that time, she had completed her radiation treatments and being declared cancer free last December, began looking to return to her pre-cancer condition. Now a year later it is with great joy that we are able to run together regularly again and I see her steadily growing stronger. Over the past several weeks we have done several long runs up to 18 miles in preparation for a return to the OBX Marathon in November.
I arrived in downtown Raleigh early to get in some running before the race and after a 2 mile warm-up, I ran the course at tempo pace. The course was not yet closed to traffic so I had to slow or stop at several intersections and was nearly impaled by a giant fork-lift as I ran through a construction zone. I then began looking for Frank and Karla. She was surprised to see me since I had not told her I was coming. I needed to be at work at 10am but I decided I could run with her and it would only be a 10 minute drive to work and I would have plenty of time. It was 8:30 when I found them so after chatting briefly with Frank and Mike Walsh, Karla and I went for a warm-up before heading to the start. It was a beautiful morning, in the 50's and warming quickly into the 60's.
A couple of weeks ago we ran a 5K fun run on the greenway with the NCRC during the club's Thursday night Sept Series and she had run about 28:34, her fastest time in nearly two years so I told her we should shoot for a sub-28 time today. She expressed doubts about it, but was ready to give it a shot. After the gun, we started out strong but reserved. As usual I was chatting away, happy to be running easily alongside the Marathon Princess. Karla was talking too, a good sign she was feeling good and the pace was not too fast. We hit mile one in 8:35, probably her fastest mile in a very long time and a big boost to her confidence. The next half mile is a slight downgrade and we passed the halfway mark in 13:30. Having a severe case of long-term ultrabrain, I was having a hard time thinking mathematicly, but I soon realized that she was not just on pace to break 28 but was headed for a possible sub-27.
As we past the two mile mark, she was still looking good but feeling the strain of the pace but she is obviously one tough lady and wasn't backing down at all. Then with the finish in sight and knowing she had a sub 27 in the bag she kicked hard and crossed the line in 26:30 !!! Woohoo!! I was so proud of her. A brief celebration and a visit with friends Bill and Sally Squier and I had to hurry off to work.
Next up is the ATT 10 miler next Saturday as a test for my marathon preparation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hinson Lake 2007

Some things you just can't explain. You just have to accept it and move on. I went into the weekend at HL confident that my training would allow me to improve on my 103.3 miles from last year, but a lot can happen in 24 hours and not all of them good. Short and to the point, I just didn't have a good day.
I felt very good early in the run but after reviewing last years splits, I was a little behind pace all day. As usual, I had a bad spell around 36 miles in but soon I was able to turn things around and at 12 hours I was within a half mile of last years pace and running well, putting in some good lap times. A couple of hours later I was struggling but eating and electrolytes weren't helping. Finally after almost 16 hours and 69.9 miles I decided I wasn't having fun anymore, turned around and quit to save it for a better day.
Other than disappointment at not meeting my expectations, I had a great time. Tom Gabell and his family and volunteers did a great job with the event. The race was full of so many friends and members of the MTC. I set up my stuff alongside Ben Dillon and Joe Lugiano, friends from the NCRC( Ben is a recent member of the MTC). Their wives Linda and Hannah are great supporters of these guys and were very helpful in looking after me too.

Here is a link to some photos taken by Sue Norwood.

Congratulations to Brad Smythe and Anita Finkle for winning

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Preview

It's finally time to return to Hinson Lake for another 24 hours of running around and around and around the Lake. Last years race was a big success with RD Tom Gabell and his volunteers doing a great job. The weather also cooperated with near perfect conditions for late September.
Last year was a special event for me. On one hand, I was having a great time running with such a great group of people. On the other hand, I was running with thoughts of my training partner Karla as she was fighting her battle with cancer. I ran in her honor and raised money in her name for cancer research. Many of the participants as well as other friends and family made generous donations to the cause. I was promised some bonuses for exceeding 100 miles and I had my own goal to run over 100. During the night my pace had slowed and I was not going to make it if I didn't speed up. Somehow with prayer and thoughts of Karla and all my supporters, I was able to find the strength and actually picked up the pace the last several hours and finished with 103.3 miles.

You can check out my report and photos from last year here.

I look forward to this years race, confident in my training and I hope to improve over last years distance. It will be great if Karla can come run some more this year, especially now that she is cancer-free and not have that worry on my mind.
Last year an amzing 14 runners went over a hundred miles and this years race looks to be even more competitive than last years. If possible , come out and join in the fun. I'm sure Tom would welcome some volunteers, especially in the deepest hours of night. And if you can't help come run a few laps with me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Autumn 2007

Well the calender says it's Autumn anyway, but with the high humidity and 90 degree temps, yesterday didn't feel like the Fall. Not too much going on since the half-marathon. My training has been going well. The best thing is that I have been able to run several long runs on Saturday with Karla. She is getting stronger all the time now and it's so wonderful to be able to train together again. After running alone for so many years I had gotten used to having her along for company. I also have a pretty regular run on Thursday's or Friday's with the lovely Jenn. What a lucky guy I am!
The NCRC has been having a series of runs on Thursdays along the Greenway in Raleigh behind the Carolina Ale House on Creekside Dr in Raleigh. I'm not in charge of those but Olga and Josh are doing a fine job of hosting the runs. It is a pretty section of the Greenway along Crabtree Creek.
I started working 10-12 hours a week at The Athlete's Foot store in Cameron Village two weeks ago to fill some idle hours. Even Ultraman can't run all the time. I'm enjoying working with the customers, talking running and shoes, and the young NC State students that I work with are a nice group and a credit to their generation.
Training overall is going well but I've been dealing with some PF since early August. I'm treating it more aggressively now that I know what it is and hopefully it will be better soon. I've been tapering for Hinson Lake since an 18 miler last weekend with Karla. Frank joined us for 12 miles and a friend of theirs, Eric ran 16 with us.
Well, enough rambling for now. Check in a few days for a Hinson preview

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Danville Half Marathon

This race was to be a test of my fitness for a Boston Qualifying attempt at Richmond in Nov.
I scored a big fat F minus.
I really wasn't feeling too confident about running strong here and with the forecast for another hot day above normal, I had no illusions of running a fast time. I was just hoping to run a good steady marathon pace and use it as a building block. None of the usual suspects would be running with me today but I was very happy to have the Trail Angel as my traveling companion. I picked Laura up in Garner at 5:30 am and we had a most pleasant drive up to the Virginia border. The trip passed quickly and despite a minor navigational error that caused us to take a tour of the north side of Danville, We arrived safely about an hour before the 8:30 am start. Katie Markley was there waiting for us and we also saw new MTC member Lisa Howell and met her husband Mike. There were also several others from the Triangle area. I was a little surprised to see a few other ultra friends, Brian Clark and family as well as Roanoke residents Jay and Anita Finkle and Neal Jamison.
We headed over for packet pick-up and then went for about a 3/4 mile warmup before making our way to the start. The beginning was on a short ,and not steep hill next to the old Southern Railway Depot. We lined up behind the 5K runners and I made sure I didn't get caught up with them so as not to start too fast. The sun was already beginning to bear down and it was humid.
The half-marathon shared the same course with the 5k on two out and back spurs along city streets and back to the park at the depot. It was a fairly flat and fast first 3 miles with the only hill being a couple of 100 yds long just past the 2 mile point. I was very close to my planned overall pace and feeling good and relaxed as we crossed over a nice abandoned railroad truss bridge to the other side of the Dan River. The rest of the course would be another two out and back spurs on a paved greenway along the river.
My energy seemed to ebb and flow over the next few miles. I felt ok but it was getting hot. I was enjoying the views of the old dams and mill sites along the river and also seeing the other runners as they came back from the turn-around. By the time I hit 6 miles I was already slowing down and I knew it was going to be a tough second half. Fortunatly there was some shade over a good part of the next few miles and although it offered a little relief , my pace continued to deteriorate. We came out of the woods near 9 miles and had to do a loop and back around a big field on a construction site in the sun. By now my race was done and I just hoped to be able to finish at my training pace.
I stopped at the 10 mile aid station and ate a gel and drank two cups of gatorade but even that couldn't help and my pace slowed as I began a rapid meltdown. The last 5k got pretty ugly and I had to take a few short walk breaks in the last two miles . I was glad to get this one over. Everyone seemed to struggle with the heat and humidity but there were still some successes. Laura and Lisa both won their age groups and Katie finished second in hers. The awards ceremony was held in the shade in an ampitheatre so we enjoyed some of the post race pizza and some cold Pepsi Max. Another Pepsi Max for the road assured that Laura and I would be alert and loquacious on the ride back to NC.
Despite the tough conditions, it was a very nice event and I would certainly return in the future if it fits my schedule. I didn't get any photos although I wish I had. If I had known I'd be so slow I would have run with my camera and gotten some nice shots along the river and some of the old railroad buildings. Laura did take a few and you can link to her photo album here.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I've always looked forward to September since I began running. Of course as a child, September was always dreaded because it meant returning to school, but as an adult runner, I quickly learned to appreciate the coming of cooler weather. Already the mornings are feeling better and my run this afternoon was only in the low 80's. August 2007 was officially the hottest month in the Triangle area since records have been kept. The average daily temp was over 84F and there were 30 days out of 31 that went over 90 with several over 100. No wonder my running was such a struggle lately.

August was still a great month in many ways although I didn't compete in any races. I did get in some good mileage and workouts. It was especially nice to be able to do several long runs with Karla again. I had missed running with her so much during her treatment and recovery. Also have been able to do several others with Jenn and look forward to many more. And although I didn't run any of the August series, it was fun directing them and holding the special Ultraman Joey contest each week.

This weekend I will be heading up to Danville Virginia for a half-marathon. I had not planned on doing it but I will not be able to run the Blue Ridge Relay as planned earlier so I was looking for another option and this seeemed to be a good choice. It will give me a chance to see how my progress toward a Boston qualifier this Fall is going. It looks like The Trail Angel and Katie will be running also and maybe some other Raleigh area runners. Look for a report after the weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Collecting Counties

Recently a member of the Mangum Track Club, David Soloman wrote about his experience running across his home county. Now Mark Long is planning a run across his. I have no plans to duplicate their efforts (my county is a lot wider than theirs) but it reminded me of a goal I was pursuing at one time. In the early 80's I began a new job that required driving over a large territory, I would often carry my running clothes with me and before heading home, I would look for a place to run. Sometimes I would explore towns, other times a trail in a State Park . As I drove I was constantly scouting places that looked like a fun or challenging route. I soon realized I had run in a lot of different counties so I decided to began tracking them on a map. I took a NC highway map and taped it on my wall in the bedroom and after every new county, I would outline it on the map. Since NC has a perfect number of 100 counties, I made it a goal to run in all 100.
I was also occasionally traveling out of state for business and pleasure so I got a Rand McNally road atlas and started marking the States and counties all over the country I had run in. During the Dark Years, I stopped tracking these things and the atlas hadn't been opened in long time. Last night I decided to pull it out and update all the unmarked locations I've been to in the past few years. It took a lot longer than I expected! I was a bit surprised that my count now is up to 81 counties; only 19 to go. Since I'm that close I now have decided to try and complete the map. It will require some effort because all that remain are in the far outlying corners of a very long state. (Roughly 600 miles end to end)
As far as the State count, I am up to 21 now. At the time I started this, the 50 States and DC marathon group did not exist. There probably weren't marathons in more than about 20 States back then anyway. I would like to join that club but the travel and expense are not an option for me unless I hit the lottery so I will be content to run a marathon or ultra out of state once or twice a year while trying to finish my 100 county goal. Probably hundreds of people have done the 50 States and DC thing but I wonder how many can claim they've run all 100 counties of the Great State of North Carolina?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shirt Run 8-25-07

When I contacted Mark Long last month about the possibility of holding a shirt run this weekend for my friend and frequent training partner Jenn, he replied that it fit his schedule but it might be too hot. We agreed that it would probably be hot but that everyone should be used to the heat by now anyway so the run was on.
As the popularity of MTC has grown, so have the shirt runs and soon we had a full group of runners ready to assemble by the Dog Pen. Another friend, Frank Werner, husband to my Marathon Princess, Karla was also planning to join. Frank has made the commitment to run his first marathon this Fall and today's run would be his longest training run so far. We were very excited for Saturday morning to arrive so that we could run and see many other of our wonderful friends from this bunch misfits.
The forecast was not looking good and as we drove down in the pre-dawn darkness , it was obviously going to be a very humid day too. Jenn and I were the first to arrive but within moments a large group had assembled and after some greetings and hugs it was time to shuttle over to Mangum for the start. Jenn and I piled in the big SUV of Alan Hughes along with Frank and Karla, Laura and Lisa Howell. Alan was being smarter than the rest of us and not running today.
After a quick group photo and one of the newbies, we started running down the road. Jenn and I were joined by Lisa who was here for her shirt too. Her sponsor Sean was called away to work and couldn't run so Lisa ran with us. Karla and I had met Lisa while training on the track at NCSU for Boston two summers ago. We took off at an easy, steady pace knowing that we had a lot of heat and hills and many miles ahead. It was definitely warming quickly and we were soon drenched in sweat that would not evaporate but just filled our shoes. Any shade was welcome and thankfully there was a lot in the early miles. As always, Mark had put out water at several places along the road. With the extreme conditions today though everyone was happy for the assistance Alan was providing. Every few miles he would drive ahead and wait with a large cooler full of cold drinks and ice and I know it made a big difference in helping us complete the run without anyone suffering from heat stroke.
The three of us continued to run steadily toward the end with great fun and conversation until we finally reached Bethel Church Hill. About halfway up I took a walk break and the ladies pulled ahead. Boogie man Doug pulled alongside in his truck and we talked while I walked and tried to run a little. Once I reached the top I began to try to catch back up to Jenn. They were about to miss the turn on the now paved road to the Dog Pen so I yelled for them to turn. I was gaining on them but then took another walk break when I caught up to Mike. I slowed to talk to him for a few minutes and then took off in pursuit again. In a few minutes it became obvious they had picked up the pace and I was not going to catch them. I was now really feeling the effect of the heat and humidity and the sun was really bearing down. To make the effort to catch them I would probably have passed out from heat exhaustion, so I backed off and settle in to just survive the last 2 miles.
Eventually everyone made it in and survived. We all whined a little and then spent time socializing in the little bit of shade we could find beside the road. Frank told Karla and I , that he always thought we marathoners were crazy for doing this and now he knows we are. Even with the heat it was still a good time. Thanks to Mark for organizing and Sarah Jane for picking up the pizza and to all the other volunteers. And a big Thanks to Alan for the roving aid station and ride to the start.
Laura has posted some photos you can link to here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In it for the Long Run

I recently wrote of my 30th Anniversary of running which offered a good time to reflect on my life and the big part that running has played. But this week a younger member of the Mangum Track Club posted the question to me and other long time runners, what was the key to our longevity. Several members posted some good replies but I needed a little time to think it over and decided to post my thoughts here.

Maybe the picture says it all?

The reasons we all take our first steps on the road(or trail) to becoming a runner are many. Some for fitness, to lose weight or help break a bad habit such as smoking. Some are introduced through competitive programs. Others maybe from a dare from a friend. Perhaps they are just seeking a challenge and a marathon or ultra seems exciting. But whatever the reason to start, in order to stay a runner for years and for it to become a lifestyle, at some point you have to fall in love.

You must simply love the sensation of your body moving over distance. The sound of your feet striking the ground, your steady breathing and your heart beating in your chest. You must learn to love a good sweat, or the sting of a cold wind although you will always dream of those perfect Spring and Fall days.

You must learn to love the roads, the trails, the greenways, and even the track because no matter the location, it's all about the movement. Variety in all things is good. Some days you just want to enjoy the beauty of nature, the next you may want to just run as fast as you can without worrying about rocks and roots. Somedays you will want to race and others just soak in the sights and sounds.

You should learn to love the people you run with. Nothing is better than having friends that understand your passion and can relate to your experiences. Learn to love to run with people faster than you so you will be challenged. Learn to love to run with people slower than you. It will make you a better person and a better runner.

Friday, August 03, 2007

NCRC August Umstead Series 2007 weeks one, two, and three

Thursday Night at 6:30pm we had the first of this year's fun runs on the bridle and bike trails of Umstead State Park. No one knows for sure how many years ago the club started doing these social weeknight runs but it's been a long time now and they continue to grow in popularity. Not really sure who thought it was a good idea to run here in the heat, hills and humidity either, but what better way to get together with a bunch of other runners on a summer evening?
I'm also not sure how I ended up in charge of the series last year but I enjoyed doing it and this year I'm back again. The format really hasn't changed to my knowledge over the years although there have been some course variations. We are using the same course from last year for the 2007 runs. The runs are held for four Thursday evenings in August with distances in descending order each week of 12K, 10K, 8K, and 5K with a 5K option each week. The runs are non-competitive although some runners choose to run all out to test themselves. We do have some giveaways from the club and our series sponsor, which is Inside Out Sports of Cary again this year. Since I'm in charge I decided this year to add a special prize, the Ultraman Joey Award. I run the course before everyone arrives and the runner closest to my time is the winner. The time is held secret until the run is over so no one can try to aim for a particular time. And each week I will run a different type workout so the pace will vary from a run/walk ultra style one week or maybe a tempo run the next.

Photos from Series

Week 1: 8-2-07
The first run was almost cool compared to last year with it only reaching about 90F and of course the typical humidity. I expected a good turnout but with 10 minutes to go we only had about 30. But then cars kept coming and by the time I sent them on their way, we had 62 signed in, which I believe is the 2nd highest total in the years in have been coming out. Several other stragglers showed up a little late.
I gave my usual welcome speech and trail briefing and sent them on their way. Even with the heat, most chose to go for the full 12K. A few others made a wise choice not to push too hard and turned around early. Then there were several others that wanted a hard workout and really pushed the pace posting some impressive times on the tough course. As the clocked ticked up toward my time it was looking like Nathan Ward would be the Ultraman Joey winner with no one else in sight, but then Jenn Ennis came into view and amazingly only missed my time of 1:11:40 by 1 second! I doubt anyone else will come that close over the next 3 weeks. I had just run an easy, normal pace run this time. What will my workout be next week? Come out next Thursday and find out. Maybe you can be the winner. Angela Candies was the lucky winner of the $75 gift certificate from Inside Out Sports.

Week 2: 8-9-07

Showing a total lack of good judgement and common sense, 45 runners showed up to run 10K on the 2nd hottest day ever recorded in the Triangle area. At 4 o'clock the temperature reached 104F just missing the record of 105 set in 1986. ( I ran 10K in Garner that day in the middle of the afternoon ) By the time 6:30 Pm rolled around I'm sure it had cooled off to no more than 100F. It actually didn't feel that bad to me as I sat in my chair in the shade waiting for the runners to complete the course.
A handful opted for the shorter 5K but once again the majority were brave enough to face the heat. Jarett Prady was the first finisher in 38:56, an amazing time on such a tough course in these brutal conditions. He was followed a couple of minutes later by John Royal, who was also 2nd last week. The Trail Angel, Laura MacLean was the first woman.
Frank Werner, making a rare appearance to Umstead was the winner of this weeks Ultraman Joey award. I had done an ultra style run/walk pace to set the target time. This was Frank's first time on the steep hills of North Turkey Creek and he says it will also be his last.
As we awaited the last runner, a thunderstorm was fast approaching so we scrambled to prepare for the prize giveaway and pack everything away. A couple of very close lightning strikes convinced us to just give away the Inside Out Sports $75 certificate and make a bee line to our cars. Laura was a double winner tonight and took home the award.

Week 3: 8-16

I'm sure this will always be remembered as the hottest August Series ever. Temperatures had dropped over the weekend but as Thursday neared, the mercury began to climb again. A new record for August 16th was set at RDU of 101F but by 6:30 it had dropped to "only" the low 90's. This did not deter 47 determined runners to come test themselves once again on the hills of North Turkey Creek.
Jarett Prady returned and was the fastest man in an amazing sub-30 performance. On the ladies side, young Katie Markley finished way ahead of all the other women with a big smile in about 37 minutes I think.
John Richardson was the lucky Ultraman Joey winner just missing my 45:11 time by about 15 seconds. I had gone out fast but like most everyone else, wilted in the heat and hills coming back. Charles Scharlay was the winner of this weeks Inside Out Sports gift certificate.
The final run, a 5k will be this Thursday. Afterwards we will have a brief club meeting at Fat Daddy's on Glenwood Ave. The prize drawing will be held at the meeting so everyone needs to come.

Week 4: 8-23

The final week of the series brought some cooler temperatures, only in the upper 80's but it was probably the muggiest night so far. We had 43 runners show up for the 5K finale. I was surprised that none of the top 3 men's finishers from previous weeks showed up, but that left it open for someone else to take top honors. Unfortunately I didn't get the name of the young man in first or the fastest lady. If anyone can help identify them I will be glad to acknowledge their efforts. Lena Hollman was our most enthusiastic winner of the Ultraman Joey Award. I had run pretty hard again but once again wilted on the return trip, finishing in 26:45. Lena was only about 5 seconds off that time.
After allowing everyone a little time to cool down, we headed over to Fat Daddy's for some wings and a brief NCRC meeting. The meeting was brief and after a short history of the roots of ultrarunning by the guest speaker, yours truly, the prize drawing was held. Our lucky winner of the Inside Out Sports gift certificate was Jennifer Fratello.

It was a real pleasure to host these runs again this year and I look forward to next year.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New update from Anita 7-30-07at Badwater

After updating the finish times of the runners that started in the 10am wave, Anita's finish place was 46th overall. Not bad at all considering she was planning to continue to the summit of Mt Whitney and then turnaround and run all the way back to the start. Unfortunately she was forced to abandon the attempted double due to bad weather on Whitney. She reached about 13,000 ft but a bad storm with lightning, hail, rain and 30 degree temps with windchills put an end to the journey.
I was finally able to get through on her cell phone this afternoon. She is in good spirits and taking it in stride. And of course she says she will be back and try again next year. She was also happy with the 42:53 finish which was a course pr by about 5 hours.
Here is some excerpts from an e-mail I received from Anita today:
"Yes, I am going to do it again next year, pending my acceptance into Badwater 2008
I have never been so scared in my life, up there at 13,600 feet, surrounded by thunder and lightening, and being pelted by hail feeling the temperature dropping. I could see the summit, but the trail was getting iced over, and there was a search and rescue mission later that day, I believe for three people who ignored mother nature. I felt great, too great to give up, but we decided to save ourselves for another race, and it proved to be a wise choice.
The mountain doesn't care, the mountain will win, and it is the mountain who decides if you are going to do the double
I could have tried to re-summit, and MIGHT have reached to top on Thursday. MAYBE. If the weather held out. Then I would have had a crappy Badwater double time.The BWD will test you and your crew, put you in pain, and as far as I am concerned, you might as well make all that pain and expenses worth it with a decent time."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Catherine's FA 50K 2007

I had a great trip to Massanutten for the CFA 50K this weekend. We were Blessed with near perfect weather for July making it a much more enjoyable experience. Short version: I felt great and ran almost 46 minutes faster than last year. This can be attributed to a few things. I am feeling the training effects of my 48 miles at WS 5 weeks ago. My recovery is also complete. I am in better shape than last year with another year of consistent training and racing. And most importantly the cooler drier air. You can read my full report here at ncultra.

I took some photos here.
Overall it was a great weekend spent with some of the great people from the VHTRC. Thanks to Jeff Reed, Mike Burr and Quatro Hubbard and all the other volunteers for making it possible.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Catherine's FA 50K -preview

I'll be heading up to Virginia and Massanutten this weekend for my 3rd Catherine's. The photo, I think was taken by Anstr Davidson last year and is a view looking up toward Bird Knob. This is a no frills fun run put on by Jeff Reed of the VHTRC but each year I've run there have been some great aid stations and the picnic at the the finish is worth the drive.
My first time in 2005 was part of a back to back weekend with the Catoctin 50K on Saturday and CFA on Sunday. If you haven't read that story , you can read it here. I think it got up to about 99F that day and several people had problems with the heat and needed assistance. I was going too slow to notice. Last year it only got up into the low 90's. According to the race website, a couple of years it only reached about 71F. Where was I those years? We might get lucky and only have low 80's this year. The course used to be just over 26 miles but some changes were made getting it closer to an actual 50K. It is a slow, hard hilly course in any case.
Last year I had my first bear encounter on the trail but I think I was more worried about the ants. If you were to fall on the ant road, all that the rescuers would find are your bare bleached bones. I'm looking forward to some fun with my VHTRC friends and getting some photos along the way.
Here is a link to some info on Catherine's Furnace, the runs namesake. It was named after Catherine Forrer whose family owned the furnace from 1837 to 1867. Here is a nice photo.

If you like more info on furnaces in the area, here is a link with lots of info.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Latest #1 Hit Single

Yes music fans, the latest, long awaited smash hit from the not nearly famous kitchen studio of Ultraman Joey has finally been released. Well, no it's not Hellgate. I promise I'll get around to recording it soon but the studio is temporarily closed. No, this latest hit is called "I'm an Ironman". A friend, Thomas Asta was about to compete in his first Ironman Triathlon back in April. I was inspired to write a song and entertain the guest at a dinner party to send him off at the Scott home.
The party was on a Friday and the song came to me while working on Thursday. I sat in my car and wrote the song in about 30 minutes while the idea was still fresh in my mind. I came home and started working on the music and recorded most of it. I got home early Friday and was trying to finish it but was having some technical difficulties. I ended up having to re-record nearly all of it and then when I tried to burn it to a CD to take to the party, I couldn't get the MP3 encoder to work. After an hour of frustration I gave up and took the recorder and amplifier to the party so I could at least play it for them.
The song starts out with an intro about 18 seconds that rips off the Black Sabbath song Ironman but then breaks into a straight up basic rock n roll riff. The song was intended to take a humorous look at Triathlons and some of my own experience at shorter Tri's. I did one Half-Ironman and that convinced me I didn't really want to be an Ironman. Listen to the song and I think you can figure out why.
You can download the song as well as my other 3 hits from the North Carolina Roadrunners Club Website. Just go to the main page and look down the page and you will see a picture of me and a heading, Joey Anderson's greatest hits. If you have visited the page before you may need to clear your browser's cache for the new song to show up.

Rock on !

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sweaty Butt 50K

The first (annual?) Sweaty Butt 50K will certainly go down in history as one of the toughest 50K's ever as there was only one runner up to the challenge of the whole distance. And he has to be disqualified because he started two hours before everyone else to avoid the heat. Ok, actually it wasn't that tough. The truth is most of us were just a bunch of wimps.
It was all Mike Day's fault we were out here anyway even thinking of running 50K in 90degree heat and humidity on the tough, rocky , rooty single-track trails at Umstead Park. You can read about that here at Mike's website. Fourteen special idiots I think decided to come out for some summer fun. I had thought about coming out and doing a loop or two but after dropping at WS I've been feeling OK the past week so I arrived with the intentions of running the distance for fun and training. The run was a no fee, no aid, no whiners event but Mike showed up with some nice aid at the start area and had some of his family at the turn-around. The popsicles and ice cream were especially welcome on a hot sticky day.
About 10am Mike sent us on our way and I began to lead the group down towards Crabtree Creek. The Smythes had already run a lap starting around 8am and before long they took the lead with Mike Walsh. We hit the first major climb about 1.5 miles in and I began to walk and several others passed by. We already had sweaty butts as it was already quite warm and muggy and the temperature was rising quickly. I settled in to running with Jeff Branin and Doug Andrews as we took our time enjoying the trail. We made pretty good time coming into the turnaround and I quickly refilled my bottle and was on my way. Jeff picked up the pace since he was only planning on one loop and soon Doug dropped behind. I caught up to Tom Herbst just as we came to the connector to get back on the Company Mill Trail so we ran together back to the start area.
After a delicious lime popsicle I was on my way again. Only 5 of us headed back out for two loops(Andrea had finished her second and stopped) and Brad started his 3rd and final loop. I was by myself this whole lap , feeling Ok but moving slow. I could still feel some lingering fatigue from WS so I didn't want to push the pace. I passed a family on a bridge on the Sycamore trail and 15 feet later I took a fall. I guess I needed an audience. I was surprised that I caught up to the rest of the guys as I approached the turn-around. A cold hose at the water fountain felt very good and I was quickly on my way again. Before long, Mark Long caught up to me and we began to run together. Mark was feeling the heat so we were content to move along slowly. We came to my favorite section, a nice mile long gentle downhill and after running a few minutes I got a side stitch. Mark pulled alongside and we both knew that we would not be going for 3 loops today. From that point on we walked the nearly two miles back to the finish. There was an exciting moment when I wasn't looking and nearly stepped on a snake. I see black snakes out here all the time and think nothing of it but when I looked down and didn't see black, Mark said I levitated as the snake slithered into the underbrush. At first glance it looked like a copperhead. The markings were very similar but on closer inspection we decided it was a water snake. I did an online search and it was a Brown Water Snake. I was very relieved it wasn't poisonous because I would have been bitten for sure.
We finally made it back and there were the rest of the wimps (runners) sitting around. David had taken a shortcut and never finished the 2nd loop and no one else felt like going back out for three. making Brad the only finisher. Tom probably would have gone back out if someone would have gone with him.
So, we had a fun day running in the beautiful forest of Umstead Park. It would have been nice to get a 50K finish but at least I got in a good workout and although I was tired I never felt bad.
Thanks to Mike and his family for making it possible and for the unexpected aid.

I took a few photos here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Looking ahead in 2007

I am well into my recovery now. Yesterday I ran for the first time since WS and everything felt good.
Western States had been my main focus for racing in the 1st half of 2007. Now that is behind me, it is time to move my focus to the remainder of 2007. Priority #1 is the same as ever, have as much fun as possible with as many of my friends as possible and run with as many beautiful ladies as I can. The rest of the summer will be very low-key with couple of no-fee fun run 50k's in July. August and September will all be training aimed at exceeding my mileage at the Hinson Lake 24 hour run Sept.29th.
After recovering from that I will get back into marathon training mode and try for a Boston Qualifier at the Richmond Marathon on November 10th. I don't expect to run Boston next year but this race falls into the qualifying period for 2009 and I would like to get that out of the way so I can concentrate on a full schedule of ultra's in 2008. Stay tuned for more details.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Western States- A week later

Thanks to all of you that have left comments in my support and many others that have e-mailed me. Dealing with a DNF is tough to deal with but as always I try to remain positive and look forward to many more adventures and great times ahead. I thought I might share a little more on the positive time I had at the race.
I had tried to maintain an Eastern time schedule the week I was out West and it helped to that I woke up on race morning at the time I would usually be getting up for work at home. After eating a light breakfast and a cup of coffee, I headed over to the Olympic Center to await the start. It was 37F so I waited inside with most of the others until about 15 minutes before the start. I was surprised that it was that cold but it felt more like about 55 would back home. I was reminded of last August in Leadville when I was comfortable sitting for hours with just a light jacket on the porch when it was 40F. Summer at altitude rocks. I know where I'll be spending my summers in retirement. I saw the Finkles along with John Straub and Dave Bursler at the start. I lined up with Barbara but we hadn't planned to run together. The altitude had been affecting her more and I knew she would start slower than me.
Soon the race started and as I passed under the clock and begin the climb up the ski slopes I had to choke back tears of joy at being there. After about 10 minutes I noticed I was beside Gordy Ainsleigh, the man that started it all. I was very happy that both he and Cowman would both be running the year I finally was in. I would like to have talked to him some but it is a long steady climb over 2,000ft in the 1st 3.5 miles so I concentrated on just maintaining a strong pace. I hoped we might have a chance to talk later but as soon as we hit the top he went flying down the hill like he was shot out of a cannon and I never saw him again.
After finally making the climb over the Escarpment I stood and took in the view all around. I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me. I had heard it was special and I was not disappointed. As an added bonus, due to the lack of snow this year, we were treated to an amazing display of wildflowers along the back slope of the mountain. There would be acres more in all the alpine meadows for most of the course that I saw.
The rest of the section over to Lyon Ridge was amazing with views of the Sierrra's as we passed through the Granite Chief Wilderness. I was afraid there may be a lot of mud but we only passed a couple of short sections. Actually dust was more of a problem. A large portion of the course would be very dusty and by mid-day I resembled Pig Pen from Peanuts as did most of the other runners. By the time I would drop out, my legs from the knee down were completely black and my white shirt was mostly brown.
Some of the climbs between Lyon ridge and Red Star Ridge were very impressive and steep although not too long. I was surprised to see that we climbed over Cougar Rock. I thought from the map we would pass by it but we got to scramble over it. That was very cool and I'm glad I got a couple of photos from there. A helicoptor was passing by covering the race making it seem a bit surreal, a very unusual trail ultra experience for me.
I was expecting the run through Duncan Canyon to be a lot tougher but the trail was in really good shape. Hundreds of volunteer hours have been spent the past year removing hundreds of downed trees and grooming the trail. With the lower temperatures this year the exposure was not a problem either. Seeing the vast size of some of the logs stacked up was amazing. It was sad to see the devastation of the Star fire but also inspiring to see the re-birth already taking place.
By the time I reached Last Chance, we were out of the high mountains and at a bit lower elevation but the course was still pretty and just as scenic. I was a bit surprised at the steepness of the canyon that I knew I would soon be descending and the ruggedness. At times the trail come precariously close to some very steep drop-offs. I thought about how it would be a bit uncomfortable to stub a toe and take a fall along here so I was very cautious. A person could fall off the trail there and not be found for a very long time.
After I dropped at Devil's Thumb I was quickly offered a ride to the Foresthill aid station where most crews and pacers would be waiting. We crammed 8 runners in with the driver for the drive over. I was very lucky that a local, James Harrison from San Jose was in the car. He and his wife were kind enough to give me a ride back to pick up my car from Squaw Valley. After getting my car I drove back to Auburn to check on Barbara and the Finkles. I was happy to see they were still on the course. After watching Nikki Kimball win the women's race I went back to nap in the car for a few hours.
I was back on the track before sunrise and went back to check again on there progress. Then I went to finally take a shower and got a great massage. I had breakfast and then had the pleasure of talking to Cowman for nearly an hour as we watched others finishing. He is a very friendly guy and seems genuinely interested in listening to others. He struck up a conversation with just about everyone that passed by the whole morning. You just have to love a guy named Cowman A Moo Ha.
I got to see Dave Bursler finish and a little while later, fellow NC runner and former multiple top ten finisher Joe Schlereth. Joe was in pain and leaning the last 22 miles but toughed it out in what he claims is his last WS. Finally Barbara came onto the track looking great with her pacer Cindy Goh that had joined her at Foresthill. I was so happy for her in finishing the hardest race ever for her. We were all surprised to learn later that she had won her age-group. Not far behind her were the Finkles finishing hand in hand.
The whole thing was truly an amazing experience. Obviously I was very disappointed not to finish. The hardest part was watching everyone getting their buckles and knowing I would have to wait another couple of years before getting another chance.