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.