Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rocky Raccon Preview

This is what I'll be running for this coming Saturday February 3rd at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler. Well actually I'd be running it even if they didn't give this really cool buckle. I hope to run a 100 Pr and have a realistic goal of 22:30. Of course a lot can happen in a hundred miles but I have been training well, the knee seems to be fine and I have a plan. If I stick to my plans, I am usually successful in reaching my goals. I do have a fantasy goal also that fits in the plan. A couple of people I have run with know what that is but other than them, I'll keep it a secret until after the race.
It looks like good weather for running, with a temperature range of 32 to 53 for the weekend and only a 10% chance of rain. There is also almost a full moon to help light the way at night. As I've stated before, I love running by natural moonlight and I hope I can keep my flashlights off on the some parts of the course. It is a relatively flat course on jeep road and single-track trail in Huntsvile State Park. There are some sections that have a lot of exposed roots but I'm not too worried about that. I've run on many technical trails before.
There are currnetly 265 runners signed up and they are still going to accept entries at the race site this weekend. Last year they had a record 196 starters so it continues to grow in popularity.
You can check out the race website here for more info. They have the results from past years and one neat thing is a photo tour of the course so you can get an idea of what the trails are like. There will be no live web updates online but they should have results posted soon after the race and I will be letting a few folks know how it went.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shirt Run Jan. 27th 2007

What a glorious morning for a run with some great friends this morning. This was my 6th shirt run and a pleasure as always. I remember when I first started running ultras and trail races, I would see several Mangum Track Club shirts and wonder what it was all about. I finally met a few of the wearers of the shirts and heard about the shirt runs so I made my way down to join the group a few years ago. What I found was a great little run with some of the nicest folks with which to to be associated. Why else would I crawl out of bed at 4am to drive over 2 hours for a run?
I met my friend from the NCRC, Ben Dillon at his home and rode down so Ben could become a member in his first shirt run. It was a very chilly morning, about 28F at the start but it promised to be a much warmer, sunny day. My plan today was to take it easy and get in a nice workout since I'm tapering for a biggie next weekend. I let the folks in more of a hurry take off and then I fell in step with the Ever Lovely Mrs Doom,Susan Dummar and her friend Emily. Emily was a newbie and is training for her first marathon at Myrtle Beach in 3 weeks. Emily was a little quiet but it would be hard for her to get in a word between Susan and I when we get a chance to run together. This was the first time since last summers Boogie that we had to run together so we had a lot to talk about as usual.
I took a short break and Doug and Tony passed by so I ran with them for a little while until we all caught back up with Susan and Emily. After awhile Tony and I had pulled ahead of them and I realized I was getting a little faster than I wanted so I sent Tony on his way and dropped back and spent the rest of the run with the ladies. It warmed up nicely and by the time we finished it was near 60F, perfect for post run socializing and eating. It doesn't get much better than this.

Thanks to Mark Long for organizing the run and welcome to the new members.

ClickHere to a link to some photos I took

Here are some Photos Mike Day took on Flickr

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Swinging Bridge Report

What a gorgeous day for playing in the woods, or even running a trail race. It was a bit cold with the start in the upper 20's and the high probably only in the low 40's if that much, but it was very pleasant for running. The photo to the left shows the race's namesake bridge. The race doesn't actually go over the bridge which is a good thing considering the delapidated condition. When I was there last in 2003 I did cross the bridge but the wood is even more rotted away now. That's my ultra buddy, Mountain Man Graham Zollman. We ran pretty much the whole 35 K together today, but lets go back to the beginning.
After a brief trail briefing from Kevin we were ready to go. I intentionally started in last place on the trail. My intentions were to use this as a long workout and I thought this would help hold my competitive instincts in check. It wasn't long before I was forced to pass a few people that were moving slower than I could handle and then I settled in behind Dean and Sylvana for a few minutes. Things spread out quickly as there were only around 60 entrants for both runs. I spotted Dru Sexton up ahead and after a mile or so I decided to sprint ahead and run with her for a while. Graham had been ahead but took a short break and then he joined up with us as we hit the first big creek crossing. I took several pictures at that point. Go to Photo album here. 6 or 7 runners that had been ahead of us were trying to figure out where the trail was so I took the lead and showed where to cross, then stopped to take the pictures of my friends. Graham took a nice tumble as he hit the bank of the creek where I was standing. I told him to keep his eyes on the trail and ignore the cameraman next time. From that point on, probably the 3 mile mark, Graham and I were together and as everyone pulled ahead we soon had the trail to ourselves the rest of the day. The only time we saw anyone else after that were runners coming back as we approached the turn-around at the bridge, around the 11 mile mark.
Graham was doing the 50K but content to take it easy so we had a good ol' time getting caught up and chatting away the hours. We were both feeling good and commenting how wonderful it was to be doing what we love on such a wonderful day. The return trip was fairly uneventful. There are still a lot of fallen logs over the course. A lot half been cut through and cleared but you still have to climb over or under quite few in each direction. It was going over one of these that I took what probably was the gentlest fall I have ever taken. I was almost over a log when a small branch snagged my left shoe. It was just enough to make me lose my balance. I sat on the log and slipped off onto my back in a bed of soft leaves and sand. Graham stopped and asked if I was ok. Yes, I said, I just thought I'd lie down here for a minute and enjoy looking up at the beautiful sky.

There are a few points on the trail that can be a little tricky to navigate and twice we had to yell for runners we saw ahead going in the wrong direction. Then with barely two miles to go, we found ourselves about to wander into someones backyard. Hmmm, I don't remember going by here. So we backtracked a couple of hundred yards and found we had missed a turn that was immediately after crossing a creek. You can't spend too much time looking at your feet in these things.

I finished up the day in 4:33 and feeling good. I know I made the right decision not to run the whole 50K even though I could have easily set a course PR.

Thanks to Kevin and his volunteers. I know it was cold standing around out there today. I highly recommend this run if you like some nice single-track.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Swinging Bridge Run

I'm heading up to Virginia this afternoon for tomorrow's Swinging Bridge Runs. These are low key events held in the Cumberland State Forest with the start/finish area in Bear Creek Lake State Park. They are put on by the Richmond Roadrunners and directed by Kevin O'Conner and offer a 50K and a 35 K option. There used to be a 10 miler, that was closer to 11 miles, but it has been moved to a seperate weekend.
I first experienced this race in Dec 2001 before my ultra debut in Feb of 2002. I went to run the 35K , which would be my longest trail run to date. It was a cold but beautiful day with perfect running conditions. There are several creek crossing and a wade across the Willis River. I learned that day to not worry about wet feet. I was going to try and avoid a creek crossing by walking over a fallen log. When a branch I was holding on to snapped I fell about 7 feet to the ground and had the wind knocked out of me. Fortunately I missed the water and decided from that time forward I would wade or swim or whatever it took to avoid that happening again. Had a great time and felt good all day.
I went back in Dec. 2002 and intended to make this my second ultra with a 50K finish. Mother Nature conspired against me and most of the other entrants. It had snowed 7 or 8 inches earleir in the week and after melting, and refreezing for a few days we were left with a course covered in 2 to 3 inches of solid ice. Although I was in much better shape than the year before, the slipping and sliding and trying to run over broken, jagged chunks of ice slowed me down considerably. I was a full hour slower getting to the 35k point and Kevin wouldn't let me continue. I thanked him because I didn't want to have anymore "fun"anyway. I think 8 out of about 30 runners finished the 50K that day.
I returned again in Dec. of 2003 because I like the trail and the race and I really wanted to get a 50K finish at his event. Once again Mother Nature had a surprise for us. A hurricane had passed over the area in Sept. leaving hundreds of trees fallen across the trail. Despite efforts by some locals to clear the trail we still had at least a 100 or more to climb over, under or around. But that was the least of our trouble. The creeks were also flooded and the temperature was about 30F. I was running with my friend Tom Smith when we came upon the first of several creeks. We were wading for about 100yds through ankle deep water, crunching through a layer of ice trying to follow the trail when we came to a group of 7 or 8 others stopped in their tracks. We could see the trail markers on the other side of the swollen creek but how to get there?. I picked a spot to try and taking the lead started across thinking it may be thigh deep but it came up to my chest. BRRRRR!!!!!! And to think I had to come back the same way. After a couple of miles we came to another flood plain and waded again to another crossing . It was only thigh deep but I slipped and was wet up to my neck. How did we survive before technical running clothes? Amazingly, even with the sub-freezing temperature, within minutes I felt warm and nearly dry. Tom dropped at 35 K but I was determined to get my 50K finish on this course so I continued on. Luckily the last portion of the trail only had a few downed trees and none of the creeks on this higher ground were flooded, just toe dippers and I was finally able to finish in 7:34.
The next year the runs were moved to January on the same weekend as Carrboro so I haven't been back since then but with Carrboro moving two weeks earlier this year I am freed up to return. It is a truly nice run, but I will be taking the 35K option this year. I would love to do the 50 K but one of my top goals this year is a 100 mile PR at Rocky Raccon in two weeks so I am tapering.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another Hobby

Hi Friends and family and strangers in blogland. I would like to mention one of my other hobbies. I have had a lifelong interest and love of trains, both real and models. I am now finally beginning construction of a model railroad I am calling the Smoky Mountain & Southern Railroad. A totally fictitious line, but hopefully I can evoke the feel and spirit of the Southern Railway's MurphyBranch through the Smoky Mt. region of NC in the 40' and 50's. I hope to recreate a few scenes of childhood memories of vacations to the region. I have started a new blog which you can link to here, where I will explain more and also document the construction of the SM&SRR. There is also a link in the sidebar if you want to check in periodically. The focus of Runjoey will still be running but occasionly I may post updates or other things of interest to me.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What's The Point?

The Mangum Cup points race, that's what. The photo shows 2006 Mangum Cup Champion Tony Rouse accepting the award from last years winner Jay Finkle. and the keeper of the points, Mark Long.
The first Mangum Cup was contested in 2002. Robert Crosby won that first year and it is his shoe that was bronzed and made into the Mangum Cup Trophy. Tony Rouse placed third that year with 670 points. Things begin to get more competitive in 2003. Tony scored about 1,000 more points but came in second to Scott Brockmeirer.
I became a Mangum member and entered my first points race in 2004. I knew I would not be a contender but thought it would be fun to send in my results. Tony ran even more and added about 600 more points than the previous year but was still relegated to third place. That was the year of the two-headed running machine known as Janita, or Jay and Anita Finkle. Anita edged out husband Jay by a mere half point and a record high 4092 point total. I finished 7th that year.
In 2005 Janita didn't run quite as much with Jay winning with 3072 and Anita in 2nd. Once again Tony ran more but still was 3rd. I moved up to 5th with my best ultra year so far.
As 2006 began, I had no idea I would be a competitor but would send in my results anyway. I began the year in the midst of my training and trying to qualify for my first Boston Marathon so in January and February I ran no ultra's . Normally I would have run at least 3 by then. I noticed early in the year that Jay and Anita weren't sending in their results and I asked Jay about it and encouraged him to enter. He said they were tired of looking at it and decided to let someone else win. In March I ran the Ellerbe Springs Marathon, the first MTC event of the year. As I reported, Tony and I ran the last 8 or 9 miles together and pushed each other to a sub-4hour finish. Just two weeks before Tony and I had finished the Umstead Trail Marathon together. Tony had twice as many points as I did by the end of the 1st qtr and I was well back in the pack.
On the last weekend of April I finally ran my first ultra of the year, at Promise Land. Tony and I ran together nearly all day and again finished side by side. In June I ran the Old Dominion 100 and followed that up with the 2nd MTC event, the Boogie 50 miler. Tony and I ran the first lap together but then he pulled ahead as I was just runnng for fun and the points while recovering from the 100. Now after the 2nd qtr of the year I was suddenly in contention with the 300 points for OD and the 250 for Boogie. and had edged Tony slightly overall for the lead.
Tony stayed busy during the rest of the summer but my Leadville finish and it's 300 points pushed me a little further ahead by about 135 points. It became obvious that unless someone entered the race now that one of us would be the new champ as no one else in contention was in line to get the 500 bonus points for finishing all 4 MTC events. We began the final qtr with Hinson Lake 24hour and it's double points. Tony struggled with stomach issues and I ended up with 16 more miles and extended my lead slightly. For the rest of the year Tony ran nearly every weekend , sometimes running on Saturday and Sunday but couldn't seem to gain any ground as I continued to compete regularly. I went and stayed with Tony and Lisa for the Seaboard 5miler, a required MTC event . It was only good for 15 points but necessary to get the bonus.
Coming into December it looked like I may have the race locked up if I could just finish Hellgate. We had both run Derby and had the 500 ponts in hand. After finishing Hellgate I had over a 300 point lead. After the race I was staying at the Finkle's and saw the trophy. Yes, it would be mine! Just a few more weeks and they would be handing it over. But no, Tony wouldn't settle for anything less than first this year. I was surprised to arrive home and learn that Tony had gone down to Florida and run the Ancient Oaks 100 miler. My seemingly insurmountable lead was down to around 40 points with 3 more weeks in the year. I knew if Tony were to find another race to enter it would be his. I would be unable to run anymore and there was nothing I could do about it. The final nail was when Tony went to Virginia and ran the VHTRC 50K fun run and with it took the lead by 36 points.
It was a fun and exciting year. I was really happy to see Tony win although I would have preferred he wait and win it next year. At least I made him work hard for it. He ran 14 events including Hinson Lake in the last 3 months of the year and more than double his points from the first 3 qtrs. I would encourage all MTC members to join in and send in your points. You may not be competitive but it is still fun to watch. You don't have to worry about me winning next year although I will still send in my points. With WS coming just a week after the Boogie I will miss it's 250 points and with it a shot at the 500 bonus points. I would think it would be impossible to be the champ and miss that race and the bonus unless you plan on running three or four 100 milers to make up for it and I"m afraid I want be up to that next year. The way the point system works it is definitely geared toward the ultrarunners. Here is a link to the Mangum Track Club
where you can check out everything about the points race and past results as well as a list of all the races each person ran.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Frosty 50K 2007 Report

Here is my report on the Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50K on Saturday January 6th.
Go here for the report at Mike's NCUltra website. I took a few photos that you can see here. Picasa Web album

My lovely friend, The Trail Angel, Laura took a whole lot more photos than I did and she welcomes you to go here. Laura's photos

There is a good chance if you ran the race that Laura got you in at least one picture and she still ran 4:26.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Frosty 50K preview

I'll be heading over to Winston Salem in the morning for my first event of the year, The Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50K. This year promises to be the "not so frosty 50" with the high tomorrow approaching a record mid 70's . In the past it has been below freezing the whole day, low 60's one year and a couple of years have had snow and ice. The course is a double out and back around Salem Lake on a dirt road and a paved greenway.
I ran this for the first time back in 2003 as my 2nd ultra and my 4th race over 20 miles. The course is relatively flat so I went out too fast and suffered the last 7 miles. Each year afterwards I would always use this race in an attempt to improve my 50K pr and was successful the next two years in doing so.

There will be no pr this year. I may be in shape to do so but since Hellgate I've been nursing a bum knee and have been taking it very easy but I had decided not to race it well before the injury. Last year was my friend and fellow NCRC board member, Jenn's first ultra. I wanted to run it with her but was in the middle of my Boston qualifying attempt so I had to pass on running an ultra and instead raced a half-marathon. So this year I will make up for it and run with her. It will also be a good workout for my upcoming 100 at Rocky Raccon next month. That is Jenn coming down the hill by the dam onto the beginning of the paved greenway and the location of aid station #2

This year looks to be the biggest field of runners ever as ultrarunning continues to grow in the area. Looking over the entrants list I see so many friends and familar names. There are a couple of people that I met for the first time at this event in past years.

That is Dale Tiska in the red jacket running on the dirt road. I don't recognize the other two but if anyone knows who they are let me know.

Thanks to Ben Dillon for the photos from last years race.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Looking ahead to 2007

Happy New Year friends and family. I don't make News Years Resolutions. I just pray that I will continue to be come a better person and have the strength and courage to make the right decisions. And I have goals that I would like to achieve in my running. #1 priority this year is being in the best shape possible for Western States. The photo to the left, I borrowed from off the WS website shows a section of this beautiful California course. I hope to run a sub 24 hour here and all my events and training for the next 6 months are targeted toward reaching that goal. More on that as the year progresses. In the meantime here is what's planned so far.
January. I will begin with the Frosty 50K. I'm not racing this but using it as a long workout while running with my friend and fellow NCRC member Jenn. Two weeks later is the Swinging Bridge 50K, again a training run. Why? Because of February.

February. Rocky Raccoon 100 miler. I will be going all out for a 100 mile PR at this one.
Two weeks later will be the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I'm doing it for two reasons. #1, to run with Karla as she begins preparing to get back into normal training and #2, for the NCRC Party!! In between I'll volunteer at Holiday Lake again. I'll follow that up a week later with the Mt. Mitchell Challenge 40 miler. My first time there and I just hope the weather makes it runnable.

March. Umstead Trail Marathon and two weeks later I hope to run the Gator Trail 50k.

April. Start off the month volunteering at the Umstead 100 and once again pacing the Trail Princess. Two weeks later is Bull Run Run 50 mile. I hope to be fresh and in shape and have no mud! Finish up the month with Promise LAnd 50K++, one of my favorites and probably the prettiest course in the East as well as one of the toughest.

May. I hope to return to Capon Valley50K if it is held again. The rest of the month is just training for WS.

June. Training and tapering for WS.

Not too sure about the 2nd half of the year but tentatively,

July. Grandfather MT Marathon and Catherine's FA 50k

August. Laurel Valley 35mile?

Sept. I hope to run the Blue Ridge Relay if I can get on a team with Jenn.
Hinson Lake 24 hour again.

Oct. Drop the ultra's for a while and go back into marathon training mode and hope to re-qualify for Boston 2008. Would like to drop my pr down to 3:30 before then. P
robably run some 5 and 10k's for fun and speedwork.

Nov. Help at Masochist. I really hate not to run it but I'm afraid I need to skip it to make my marathon goals. Richmond Marathon and probably back to Derby 50K.

Dec. MarathonTraining