Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 in review

In many ways, 2008 has been a frustrating year. For the first time in nearly a decade since I tore my knee up playing soccer, I have been dealing with pain and injury over most of the year. Prior to 2008, I have really had some great years with my running,achieving goals and taking on challenges I could have only imagine in my dreams that I would be doing at this age. Over those years I've been doing around 10 to 12 ultra's a year and 5 or 6 marathons, I have only completed two ultra's this year. I did complete 6 marathons but all of them but one were slow by my standards.

Like all years there were other ups and downs but we're not going to dwell on the downs. It's time to move on and look back on all the good things about the year. And there were some very good things because they were times shared with my friends, and that is always the best part of any year.

January got off to a good start at the Frosty 50K. I was hoping for a 50k PR, I missed it but ran my fastest race here in my 5th time running it by over 30 minutes. And afterwards I had the coolest blister ever.

February got off to a good start too with a road-trip to Tybee Island with two of my closest friends, Jerry and Karla. This one was my idea and they just went along for the fun as I attempted to qualify for Boston. I failed but we had a great trip anyway and I got to see several other MTC members there too.

Two weeks later we all went down to Myrtle Beach again for the marathon. It's a great race and a lot of fun because so many friends and aquaintences from the NCRC and MTC run it. I was just planning on running with the Marathon Princess this day which is about my most favorite thing in the world to do. She was a bit disappointed in the time but it was a pleasure sharing the miles anyway.

March was mostly training and then the Umstead Trail Marathon. I like the race and seeing a lot of good friends but in 4 races there I have never ran well. This year was again a slow miserable experience but I got to run practically all of it with my partner in pain, Tony Rouse and that is always a good day.

April and the Umstead 100. I love this race although most of the time I just volunteer. This year I had high hopes of running well and improving my 100 mile PR. I still don't exactly know what happened out there. My legs hurt all day but they weren't a factor in my dnf. But even in such a disppointing result, there was much good going on. Especially gratifying was seeing several friends run their first 100 milers, most notably Dorothy Hunter and the most lovely Jenn. I didn't get to pace the Trail Princess Anita for the first time in 3 years but passed that duty on to my friend Eric Nesbit who did a great job keeping her going and in the process covered nearly twice as many miles as he had ever done. I'll will be taking back over the Princess pacing duties in 2009.

In May I headed off to the Dakotas for the first time ever to run the Fargo Marathon with the amazing Italian running machine and close and dear friend Margherita. I knew I didn't have a qualifier in me but was hoping to run with Margo but I began fall apart before I ever reached the 9 mile mark and had a miserable race. Once again though I had wonderful companionship and got to see a part of the country I'd never seen.

A few weeks later in June, I was back on a plane to the Dakotas but this time to South Dakota with Frank and Karla. This was a great trip and so nice to visit with Karla's family and see where she grew up. We ran the Swan Lake marathon together and although it was another slow one it was a joy to run my 8th marathon with her. And afterwards I had a great vacation in the Black Hills. Cool !

A week later though and I had to drop out of the Boogie 50 at the 1o mile mark. I just couldn't stand the pain any longer and there was no way I could run another 40. I took a couple of weeks off and they got a little better.

As soon I as I got home I rejoined the YMCA to began swimming and cross-training. Margo had gotten me interested in signing up for a triathlon in Wake Forest and I had two weeks to get ready for it. All the Scotts were there as well as Frank and Karla andI thoroughly enjoyed it, my first one in 3 years. And then I got stupid and signed up for an Ironman next year.

And then in July I was back at one of my favorites, the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. I knew there would be no fast time this year. I just wanted to run it for fun and hopefully not damage myself. After the first mile I joined in with a couple of lovely young ladies from Raleigh, Camilla and Lori but after about 5 miles they were going faster than I wanted. About that time I saw my Trail Angel struggling so I dropped back to run with her. We ended up spending the rest of the race together making it my slowest but most enjoyable GMM ever.

Over the next couple of months I would do more biking and swimming than running and participated in a few more sprint tri's. In July I went with Bill and Margo to Burlington for one . Then in August I did one in Chapel Hill. Margo and the Werners were there but it was especially satisfying to see Jenn do her first Tri and do it very well. My last tri was one in Hillsborough that I shared the trip with Margo again.

Over the next several months I mostly just trained but my running mileage was half of normal and the pain wouldn't go away despite the treatments I was getting. I did a couple of more tris and a couple of 5 k's but was really hoping to be able to enjoy the Autumn running.

In October Jenn and I went to the mountains for a nice training run on the Mt Masochist course. I was surprised that my legs felt pretty good and was hopeful they may be getting better but once I was home they hurt again. We went back Nov. 1st to run Masochist. I was not confident at all but just wanted to run as much as I could with Jenn. It actually went better than expected for a while but then I couldn't hold the pace and eventually dropped out at 33 miles. But it was so nice to see Jenn's big smile as she made the finish. I was so proud of her once again.

And then there was Derby 50K. Nice and slow but thankfully my legs held up one final time with very little pain and although it was slow it was the easiest 50K I've ever run and the best job of pacing myself.

And then I quit running. Almost 5 weeks now. Things are feeling a lot better and I hope to test things out on the first.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my friends an readers in cyber-space.

All I wanted for Christmas is a new pair of hamstrings. I didn't get them so I'll have to do the best I can with the ones I have. They have finally felt a lot better the past couple of days but I'm still waiting at least another week to try running.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So how is the swimming going?

Thanks for asking. Well, mostly very boring although I seem to be able to get into a groove after about 15-20 minutes and then the time seems to pass quickly.

I'm actually very happy with the way things are going right now. My weekly yardage totals are the highest they have ever been. Back when I used to compete regularly in triathlons in 1999-2004, I never swam as far as I'm doing now in training. My usual workouts in those years were 1,000 to 1,200 yards. The only time I ever swam further was in a few of the International distance tri's I competed in and one half-Ironman swim. Since I have started back swimming over the last 6 months, my workouts now are almost always at least 2,000 yds with one long continuous swim each week of at least a mile. Last week I swam a new mile PR and today I did my longest continuous swim ever of 1.5 miles.

I would rather be running.

The legs continue to improve but I am going to hang tough and wait at least two more weeks before trying them out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

14 Days and Counting

14 days. That how many days it's been so far without running. If all goes according to plan, it will be another 3 weeks before I test things out and see if I can finally run pain-free again. I sure hope I can finally put this injury behind me and begin the new year with a fresh start. There is always some discomfort when you train and race hard but this has been the first time I have had anything like this before. It has been a very frustrating year as I've tried to cure the injured hamstring only to have it keep hurting. Compared to the problems I was having in the summer, I feel great but I finally had to accept that I will have to take time off to let it heal completely.

In the meantime, I have and will continue to spend more time in the pool to stay in shape and be prepared for the upcoming years' schedule of triathlons that I will be using to prepare for next June's Ironman. I'm also doing some weight work in the gym. I should be lookin' good by June! I am already swimming faster, longer and stronger than I was in my earlier years when I competed in triathlons from 1999 to 2004.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Derby 50K 2008

5:37:10. If you had me last year asked what I would have thought about running that time at this years Derby, I would have said, very disappointed. But as I was nearing the finish this past Saturday, I was and still am thrilled with the time and my race.

I've said it many times before that I love this race for many reasons but I almost didn't come run it this year. I have had so my set-backs with my injuries this year that I was afraid of doing further damage and I also knew I probably was not in shape to run it anyway. Things had seemed to be improving very much lately but then on Tuesday before the race I did a 10 mile run and by halfway I was hurting and by the time I made it back to my car my hamstrings were a mess. So knowing it was probably foolish to come run, I decided to do it anyway. I really wanted to be there and I also was going after my 5 Year Veterans Vest. I didn't care about the time but just had two goals this year and not 3 like last year. One was to finish and two was to not do any further damage.

I drove down to Pinehurst Friday night and then awoke Saturday morning to see a cold rain outside. Great. I would get to be slow AND miserable. Seeing the friendly faces of my MTC friends when I arrived in Derby quickly lifted my mood and the rain almost stopped completely as the time to start arrived. It was about 43F but calm and I knew I'd be warmed up soon as long as the rain held off. And then, Mark Long the RD sent us on our way.

I began at a very conservative pace, something new for me here. In the previous 4 years I had been seeking a 50K pr and was successful in that endeavor in each run. This year would be all about making it to the finish as comfortable as possible. I found myself running alongside Jimmy Ballard and we were having a nice conversation for a couple of miles but then I slowly began to pull ahead. The segment to the first aid station is the easiest of the course so I was relaxing and enjoying the easy running. Soon enough but probably 5 minutes slower than last year I came into the aid station which was being run by the Doom family. Just said Hi and grabbed some water and started back up the road.

The next section is where a few hills start and I was thinking this year I'd be walking almost all the hills but I was feeling good and fresh and decided to go ahead and run them this first lap. I'm glad I made that choice because I felt great and was soon arriving at aid staion 2. A cup of ginger ale and I was quickly out again. I spotted my buddy Tony Rouse walking up ahead so I took off to catch up to him. I was thinking he was going to miss his first Derby because I didn't see him before the race but when I caught up to him and Eric Fogelman, I found out that they had started early and were on their 2nd loop. I walked with them for a coupe of minutes and then we began to run together. Eric dropped back to talk to someone as we arrived at the dirt road so Tony and I ran on. It was great to run with him since I haven't seen him since the Boogie in June where we were running together until I dropped out in pain at 10 miles.

The next couple of miles passed quickly and we cruised up the hill to aid station 3. Just before we arrived it began to rain steadily. I left just ahead of Tony and assumed he would catch me but that would be the last I would see of him. For the remainder of the race I would be alone except for a couple of minutes later on when I would pass someone. Only two people would be passing me today which kind of surprised me as slow as I was going but it is normal in the race for things to spread out quickly.

My left hamstring was beginning to hurt but I found myself running in a good rhythm so I was just going with the flow. As I arrived at aid station 1 again, my leg was in quite a bit of pain and I was beginning to worry. Susan D. offered me some ibuprofen but I declined since I had taken some before the start and took off running again. Despite the pain I was still running well and feeling strong so I once again decided to run the hills. By now the rain was a little harder and a breeze had picked up and now I was getting cold. The only thing that was really bothering me were my hands . I hadn't worn gloves and wouldn't have needed them if not for the rain. I just pulled my hands inside my sleeves, but by now they were soaked and not offering any warmth as I ran directly into the wind.

The next several miles were pretty miserable but amazingly as I ran up the hills to the end of loop #2 my legs had quit hurting and my energy level was great. I was very happy that the rain was stopping just as I finished the 2nd loop. I continued to run easily toward aid station 1 for the last time but expecting at anytime for the crash to come. I just couldn't believe how good I still felt. As I left and headed up the hills for the last time, I was expecting to have to walk some of them but once again I had no problem, although I was beginning to slow down a bit. I was drying out and warming up a bit now although there would still be an occasional sprinkle, so I was much more comfortable this last lap.

I passed the marathon point in 4:40, about 42 inutes slower than last year but I didn't care because I was doing much better than expected. Surely I would start to suffer soon I was thinking to myself but the miles continue to fall behind me and as I hit the dirt road with roughly 5k to go I knew that today there would be no crash. I thanked God for giving me the strength to run so well today and enjoy a great race.

In all my years and many 50k's I have never been able to run all of one without walking. Even in my past two fast pr years, I had to walk a little up the last hills. So now I had a new goal. Run up those last hills for the first time. When I got to the end of the dirt road and began the climb I was again amazed that I didn't even feel the need to walk. Not walking was easy. I didn't have to dig deep or anything. I just ran like I was out on a regular training run and when I made the turn for the last 2 /10ths to the finish I was so happy. I had truly expected at the start to be well over 6 hours and exhausted but instead I felt great and thought I could easily have gone on and run a good 50 mile time. Awesome !

Thanks to Mark and the wonderful volunteers. It was a cold raw day out there for them sitting and standing around for hours and they stayed upbeat and friendly all day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Riverwood Elementary 5k

I guess it's about time I got used to running in cold weather again, but I was sure glad the wind had died down when I woke up early this morning. It was bad enough on Friday with the temperatures in the low 40's facing the wind but with it only about 25 this morning, the calm was welcome.
As you know I don't run many 5k's anymore but I do enjoy testing myself every now and then. The only reason I chose this one is because my friend Maureen was the race director for this first time event and it was held in the neighborhood where she and her husband Todd live as well as my other friends Bill and Margherita Scott, The race is a fundraiser for the school PTA. A lot better way to raise money than having the kids sell over-priced junk to their friends and family I think and also a way to encourage participation by the children and their parents.

I arrived just 30 minutes before the start and was happy to see the school was open with packet pick-up inside where I found Margo and the Werners. Frank just had thyroid surgery this week so he would not be running but Karla was going to give it a shot too. I quickly got my number and then went back out to do a warm-up. I finished my routine with just about 3 minutes to go and took my place near the front. there were 196 entrants but many were kids and casual runners there to support the school and I wanted to get out quickly.

I got off too a good start, not too fast and settled into a good pace. Since I don't race at these quicker paces too often I 'm not quite as good as judging my pace but when I passed the first mile in 6:52, I was feeling good because I was hoping for about 7:00. The course was a bit hilly but with the low point being at the turn-around I knew that the second half would be predominately uphill. As we ran downhill to the turn, I was trying to gain as much time as I could without crossing over the redline.

I made the turn and then dug in for the climb. It's funny but apparently power walking up the mountains in an ultra don't do much for preparing you to run fast uphill in a 5 k. I slowed considerably and was moaning and gasping my way to the top. I recovered quickly but I also knew I would not be running uder 7mp anymore today. I hit 2 miles in 14:41, a 7:49 mile. I hoped to maintain that pace at least but another hill with half mile to go and I was slowing even more.

My legs have at least gotten better to the point that I can usually run pain-free now but I was feeling the left hamstring the last half-mile. It didn't affect my pace or form so I kept pushing and finished in 23:28. That was good enough for 2nd in my age-group but then there were only two of us in my age-group.

Margo would take 1st in her age-group ( thats her getting her medal from Maureen) and Karla would take 3rd in hers so we all brought home some hardware today. Maureen and her volunteers did a great job putting on a first class event.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mountain Masochist 2008

" We could be in a Marching Band" Jenn said as we made yet another the long climb about 16 miles into the race. The only sound we could hear was the scuffing of our footfalls on the gravel Forest Service road in perfect lock-step. Amazing really when you consider my legs are somewhat longer than hers, but she is a strong woman and can walk a quick pace. We were both feeling pretty good at this point and satisfied that we were slightly ahead of the cut-offs.

What a wonderful weekend for an ultra-race over the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The leaves were as pretty as anyone could remember and the weather was near perfect. One improvement this year was the buses would be picking us up at the host hotel instead of having to drive over to the high school. It was about 45F with a near perfect forecast for the day as we boarded the buses for the 45 minute drive to the James River on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There was much excitement in the air even at this early hour of the day as we made our way to the back of the pack at the start. My two goals for this day would be to stay under the cut-offs, and do whatever I could to see that Jenn made it to the finish line in her first attempt. I was very confident in the latter, but not so much the former.

We started in the darkness at an easy pace, running all of the first section and passing the first aid station in about an average time for me. It was beginning to get light as we turned onto Highway 501 headed toward a.s 2. We were quickly in and out and then hit the trail for the first real climb of the day, the first of many on this tough, mountainous course. I was surprised to see Sylvana and Dean, MTC friends ahead of us here. We shared the trail for awhile but soon we passed them and moved on. Once you make the top of the climb there is some nice running before arriving at a.s. 3. When we arrived the sun was peeking over the mountains tops , brilliantly illuminating the bright yellows and reds of the surrounding trees making a pleasant distraction from the long climbs to come.

The miles passed quickly and mostly uneventfully as we enjoyed the trail and companionship over the next several miles. We both felt good and I was very happy that so far I was not experiencing any pain in my hamstrings.

So back to the Marching Band. We finally made it to the top of the climb, refueled at the aid station and were glad to finally be able to run again as we started down . The next section is 90% downhill and we were soon running the fastest we would all day, passing quite a few other runners on the way down, still matching stride for stride. We came into a.s 8 and had built a little more cushion on the cut-off which was a relief. Now we could just maintain effort and relax for awhile. After all we still had 30 miles to go.

After we left a.s 9, I was finally beginning to feel a little fatigue. I wasn't too worried as this is normal for me when I approach the 25 mile mark to have a bad spell. I had forgotten that there was an awful lot of climbing in this next section and I was beginning to feel some pain and weariness in my climbing muscles that have not been used much over the past 6 months. I was glad to finally have the course flatten out a little as we came into view of Buck Mountain. Jenn was also slowing some too and as I checked my watch I was not liking what I saw. I couldn't remember exactly what the cut-off was at Long Mountain Wayside at 26.9 miles, but I knew it was getting close. We finally made it in but our cushion was now down to about 6 minutes. Annette Bednosky and Sue Norwood were there giving us encouragement and smiles but we had to hurry on our way.

I was not feeling too bad as we began the climb but it was becoming evident to me that I was not as strong as I had been earlier. We had gotten maybe halfway up when I noticed I kept dropping behind Jenn and she had to wait a couple of times for me. That's when I reluctantly told her to go ahead and not wait for me. I told her I'd try to catch up if I started feeling better and then watched as she slowly disappeared ahead. I tried to keep up the pace but I could only push for a few strides before I would slow down again. This was the toughest part of the day for me as I realized I would not be able to cross the finish line with Jenn today. I was almost shocked when I finally reached the top and still was under the cut-off. In years past I have been able to run all of the next section, which is mostly downhill with just a few short easy uphills, but today I was spent. I assumed I was the last one on the course by now but as I came into a.s 12, I was passed by the last one.

The next section is short, only 1.5 miles but is uphill all but the last few hundred yards. It is on a rough dirt road and there is a little traffic on this section from runner's crews as well as other users of the National Forest. I was most tempted to hitch a ride up to the loop since I knew I would be going no further once I reached the loop, but I resisted the temptation and finally dragged into the Mt Pleasant loop aid stations. I missed the cut-off by two minutes. The volunteers offered to let me go ahead but I declined the offer knowing there was no way I would make up anytime on the loop and I didn't want to make the volunteers wait for me to drag myself out of the woods. I found a shady spot to lie down and watch as friends and aquaintances ran out of the loop and continue on their journey to the finish.

Although I was disappointed I did enjoy watching friends come out of the loop. One I especially looked forward to seeing was Dorothy Hunter, who I had crewed for at Hellgate last year. She is always sweet and smiling her way through these things. When I saw her come down the hill , I got up and walked over to the aid station to talk to her. I noticed the blood running down her leg from her knee so the first thing I said was "Dorothy, I think you may win Best Blood this year". She seemed quite proud of her boo boo and sure enough at the awards dinner she was the winner this year. Finally Jenn came running down the hill looking strong and had built her cushion back up to about 15 minutes. She seemed in great spirits as I walked with her out of the aid station. I handed her my last two Gu's from my pocket thinking they may come in handy later on. After she ran off I was able to quickly catch a ride with another runners crew back to the finish line.

Once I arrived in Montebello, I quickly changed clothes and then went to hang around with friends that had already finished and others that were coming in. It is an exciting place to be but I really wished I was out there on the trail looking forward to my own finish. It is tough to have to explain over and over why I couldn't make it this year. As the final cut-off neared I stood by the road looking and hoping to soon see Jenn come around the curve for the final quarter mile. I was relieved when she finally came into view know that she would make it. I was so proud and happy to see her finish making the cut-off by about 7 minutes.

Overall and despite not finishing myself, it was a wonderful weekend. The atmosphere of the race is so special and makes it one of my favorite events of the year. New race director, Clark Zealand did a great job, but it was nice to have Horton still around. Hopefully I can convince Jenn to write an account of the run from her perspective and if so I 'll post it here.

These are the few photos I took. Unfortunately, I unknowingly had the camera set-up for video at the finish line. If I'd known I would have tried to do a better job of it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Return to Masochist

I'm looking forward to my return to one of my favorite races, the Mountain Masochist 50 miler this weekend. I wish I could say I was looking forward to running a great time but with my injuries and the least amount of running mileage in 5 years, I will be very happy if I can just make the cut-offs.

This is a view of Buck Mountain from about the 25 mile mark. The 29 mile mark is on the top of Buck Mountain

Although I am not very confident , I'm sure that I will be having a good time. This is the first time I have planned to run this race with someone. With only a few exceptions I have always preferred to run my ultra's alone. I usually do end up sharing many miles with friends along the way, most notably Tony Rouse, who I'm sure I've shared more ultra race miles than anyone. Tony won't be there this year but I will be running with the Lovely Jenn, my friend and frequent training partner. This will be her first mountain and trail ultra and I look forward to sharing the experience with her. That is if I can keep up. Jenn has proven herself to be a strong and natural ultrarunner the past couple of years so I expect her to do well, so if I feel I'm holding her back I will send her on her way.

You can check our progress here on Saturday with a webcast update I'm #259, Jenn is #118

Look for some photos and a report soon

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Autism 5k 10-11-08

I really needed to do a long training run more than I needed to racing a 5k but sometimes you just have to do something a little different. Well actually I have run this race the past 4 years now but it was still a bit different. This was the first year I wouldn't be running with Karla. Our first time was in 2005 as we were training to get me into Boston qualifying shape. We ran several 5k's that Fall trying to get a 5k pr for her while I ran along getting in a good tempo workout. In the process we had a lot of fun and afterwards would go run some extra miles. Then in 2006 she was undergoing her cancer treatments so I just ran with her because of our friendship and then again in 2007 we just went for the fun. Which brings us to this years race. Neither one of us has been running well the past several months so there wouldn't be any pr attempts by either of us. Frank's son Eric was in town visiting so the Werners decided to run the race rather than doing the long run. I decided it would be a good time to test to see just how much I have slowed down since the injuries cut into my training and also see how the legs would hold up to a faster pace.
It was a beautiful morning for a race and I arrived an hour early to register and visit with friends from the NCRC. I would be racing in the Team Jersey today which is sponsored by my part-time employer, The Athlete's Foot in CameronVillage. AFter finding the Werners and visting a few minutes, it was time for me to go warm-up. I was encouraged that my legs felt good as I ran an easy mile and then did a few strides to loosen up and get ready for the faster pace to come.

Then I made my way over to the starting line. With over 1800 runners I didn't want to get caught behind a bunch of slow starters so I lined up near the front , just behind fast ladies Laura Frey and Katie Eger. At the gun, I took off at a hard but reasonable pace, or at least I hoped it would be reasonable. I had run just over 22:00 back in May but have only been averaging about 15 miles a week since then and no speedwork.

I knew by the half mile that the pace was probably too fast but I was committed so I pushed on. Charles West pulled up beside me and we tried running together for a while. He has really been improving and as we passed the first mile in about 6:55, he began to pull away. Well, they had changed the course this year so instead of a double loop, it would be out , over and back so it was predominatly downhill the first half and uphill coming back. I began slowing as soon as we hit the hills so I just tried to maintain the effort. Eric Werner passed me just before the two mile mark. Eric doesn't run much but is in great shape from biking, including a cross-country trip ove r the summer.

Once I made it over the final hill and the course started to flatten out, I tried to pick up the pace several times but there wasn't another gear left. I was slightly disappointed in my time of 23:32, but happy that my effort was consistent and my legs held up to the stress.

On to the next one.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Masochist Training Run

Last year my good friend, the lovely Ms. Jenn Ennis, told me she was hoping to be able to run Mountain Masochist this year so we made plans that we would run the race together. As you should know , Jenn has proven to be a natural at the ultra races but so far has never done one in the mountains or with any single-track trail.

So we planned on taking a day to head up to the course in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for a training run and let her get an idea of what she has gotten herself into. With my injury issues and lack of running recently I was also in need of a good workout and hopefully a confidence booster with the race less than 4 weeks away now.

We picked a great day for the trip on Monday, with blue skies and temperatures in the low 70's. After the long drive we arrived at the Mt. Pleasant trailhead which is the location of the "infamous loop" on the course. From here we could use the car as a re-fueling station, as we ran the loop and then we would do a couple of out-and- back spurs on the course.

The trip around the loop went very well. It was a nice change to be able run it while I was fresh and to take the time to look around a little bit. I'm always very tired by the time I get there on race day and also in a hurry. Jenn did great but was a little timid going down the steep, rocky descent but I know she will improve with more experience. We stopped briefly for some pictures and then headed on down to the car.

After a few minutes to refill and snack we headed out onto the dirt and gravel roads that lead to mile 43 on the course. I quickly learned that Jenn has the uphill power-walk down pat and I found myself having to really hoof it too stay with her. She was also running faster and with more confidence on the downhills along this section too.

After heading back to the car for another refuel stop, we started going in reverse on the course back to the Buck Mountain aid station location. I'm not sure we ever got there or if we went past it but I know we got close at least. Things look a lot different than on race day and I'm usually not looking back where I came from.
By the time we made the last climb back to the parking area we were both getting tired and ready to rest. It was a most enjoyable day and we both got in a great workout making the trip a big success for both of us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another "Miles stone" quietly passed

Here I am in 1978 doing my best "PRE" imitation. I think I weighed about 132 lbs here. Anyway, as you may know from reading this blog, I started running 31 years ago. Well a couple of weeks ago, almost exactly 30 years after this photo was taken , I ran my 30,000th mile. Although I got hooked on the racing bug in 1978 I was never really a high mileage runner. A combination of factors kept the mileage down including long hours at work, my first son was born about 3 months after this picture and a few beginner injuries kept my average weekly miles around 35 a week for most of the late 70's and early 80's. During the mid 90's I was hardly running and only recorded about 2 to 300 miles a year until after my torn acl in 1998 and I began my comeback. Amazingly over a 3rd of my mileage has come after I began ultrarunning in 2002 . At the beginning of 2003 I had only run about 19,500 miles.
How long will it take to get the next 30,000?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Duke Liver Center Half-Ironman

What have I gotten myself into? You idiot! Why in the world did you sign up for a stupid Ironman? I wonder if I can get a refund? If I ever get off this stupid bike I'll never do another triathlon.

These are the things I was saying to myself( censored version of course) as I approached the 45 mile mark of the bike portion last Sunday.

The day had started off well as I met my wonderful friend Margo once again to share the ride out to Jordan Lake. We were able to find a good parking spot and quickly pick up our race packets and begin preparations for the start. Looking out over the lake we saw calm water but unfortunately the forecast was for a hot humid day with highs in the 90's.

As the first wave started out I got in the lake for a little warm-up swim. The water felt perfect to me and soon enough it was time to take my position in the water at the end of the pier. I had no trouble finding room to swim and settled into a nice easy pace. Last Saturday I had done 1.2 miles in the pool and that went well so I was hoping things would go well this morning. I just had to relax and not be in a hurry. With the calm water I was able to site the bouys easily and before long I had made the first turn. A couple of hundred yards and then the final turn back towards the boat ramp. I was still feeling strong so I picked up the effort a little and with no problems and soon reached the swim finish. But as I stood up to walk out of the lake my right hamstring cramped and I had to stand still for half a minute for it to relax before continuing on. Dan Yeingst a fellow competitor from my age-group years ago when I first started doing tri's was there encouraging me as I came out of the lake and headed to transition one.

I was very happy with my effort on the swim and now I quickly prepared to head out on the bike. I was in and out quickly and soon rolling down the road. The first part of the bike course was fairly easy and the sun was still low in the sky so we were in shade for a while making it very comfortable. I was glad to have mostly flat terrain with a good road surface early so I could get my legs warmed up for the bike. Up until today I had only done two 30 mile training rides so I was worried about pedaling for 56 miles on the hills I knew were coming. At 10 miles I checked my pace and was a little surprised but pleased at the speed I was going but already the sun was beginning to bear down and it was heating up quickly.

Between miles 15 and 20 is an out and back spur and as I was coming back I saw Margo behind me and just a bit further back was my buddy Jerry who along with Margo will be doing the Iron Distance Beach to Battleship race on Nov.1st. I guessed they were maybe a mile behind me at this point. Both of them have been biking a lot more than me and Jerry has always been a stronger bike rider so I was expecting them to both pass me within the next 10 miles or so. I checked my pace at 20 miles and it was about the same as at 10. So far so good.

Over the next 10 miles I would began to come back to reality. The course was beginning to get harder and it was getting hotter. To make matters worse my neck and upper back were already tight and hurting making it very uncomfortable. I was still doing ok though but at 30 miles my pace had slowed down about 1 mph average. Now as I pedaled into new territory I was still feeling ok except the neck pain was getting more and more unbearable taking away a lot of the pleasure of riding. My pace stayed about the same over the next hilly 15 miles which brings us to the beginning of the story.

By now I felt miserable I was tired and very hot and ready for this to be over. I struggled on until finally around 52 miles in Margo finally passed me. I had expected her a long time ago, especially as much as I was struggling. And then at 54 miles Jerry came up on me. He asked if I was "toast". I just muttered something that meant yes and as he passed by, my right quadricep cramped on me. Now I was really in a foul mood. I was already going slow enough and now I could barely pedal. The last few miles seemed to take forever and as I neared the transition area I was ready to to call it quits. Dan was there again volunteering at the bike dismount but I don't think I had the energy to even acknowledge his cheering. I think a turtle could have beaten me to my bike rack from there. My legs would barely move and I was dizzy from the heat and dehydration.

I sat down to change my shoes determined that I would at least try to finish what I had started. I slowly headed out stopping at the aid station to get some cold water to pour on my head and to drink. Then I started walking. The first half-mile is flat on pavement and then turns uphill on a gravel road. I walked until I reached the top of the hill and another aid station. They had ice cold towels so I took one and began to run. By now I was feeling a little better and I hoped I could just do an easy run/walk and get through this thing. The run course had a couple of out and back spurs so I was able to see Margo and Jerry as well as Thomas Asta and Kara LaBella out on the course.

Things went OK for a few miles but it was miserably hot and humid. As I left another aid station around 4.5 miles suddenly my right hamstring felt like I had pulled the muscle. I tested it out a couple of times over the next half-mile but I knew then it was over for me. As much trouble as I've had all year with my injuries I was not going to ruin myself today just to finish in a slow crawl for 2 more hours . So I slowly made my way back down to the transition area and turned in my chip and then after grabbing some food and drink I found Kara and we made our way to the finish to watch for our friends. Kara had a great race and was happy and excited. Margo came in soon looking strong and 30 minutes later Jerry came in. Thomas had finished before I came back in and was already gone.

Yes, it was a brutal day and disappointing to have to drop out but the day wasn't a total loss. I hopefully learned a few lessons out there and I did get to spend some time with some friends. And as you can see in the photo at the top of the story I got a hug from a pretty young lady.

On to the next one

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hello Ultra Friends

It's been a strange year for me so far. Over the past several years I would have already completed 8 or 9 ultra's by this time of year but so far I have only finished one and that was the Frosty 50K way back in January. I dropped out of the only other two I started, Umstead at 69 miles and The Boogie at 10 with the leg and butt pain. I really miss the ultra's, the trails but mostly I miss seeing all of you. As you know it is a special atmosphere at an ultra and most of the people are very special.

I am enjoying the Triathlons and cross-training very much although it is different. The best part about it is several of my really closest , true friends are currently participating in in the Tris and cross-training too. Margo and Bill, Frank and Karla, Jerry and Thomas and even Jenn is getting in on the excitement. Thomas just completed his 2nd Ironman in Louisville a couple of weeks ago. Jerry and Margo are training for the Iron Distance Beach to Battleship in Wilmington this November and Jenn is now looking forward to going for an International distance race next year. And of course I will be training for the next 9 months to get ready for Ironman Cour D' Alene.

Tomorrow (9-14-08), I am doing the Duke Liver Center Half-Ironman at Jordan Lake and maybe doing one more sprint that is less than 10 miles from home on Oct. 4th. After this weekend I plan to try and increase the running mileage and get back on the trails. Although I'm still not 100% my running is improving and I ca fianlly run without pain on most days. I look forward to the cooler weather and preparing for Mountain Masochist and my return to Ultras. Of course after that I will still have to cut back on the ultras until after next June but I do hope to run a few 50K's in between.

Look for a report on the Half-Ironman soon.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

NCRC August Umstead Series 2008

What a difference a year can make. Let's face it, it's always hot in August but last year was a bit ridiculous with record highs and an average 5 degrees above normal for the month. With the heat index over 100 the 2nd week some were even suggesting canceling but the show went on and was well attended. So this year? We couldn't even have a day in the 90's. I had to apologize to those looking for extreme conditions because it was almost comfortable out there.

2008 was well attended with an average turnout of 53 making it once again the oldest and most popular of the NCRC Social runs. As always there were some people out for a hard workout, some for a slow run and everything in between. The only competition is for the prestigious Ultraman Joey Award each week. This years winners were Kevin Miles, Paul Minor, Angela Candies and Mark Davis.

We were once again sponsored by our friends at Inside Out Sports in Cary and one lucky winner each week won a $100 gift card for a pair of shoes in a random drawing.

Thanks also to my wonderful volunteers and to the staff of William B. Umstead State Park for allowing us to use the park trails again.

Here are a few photos I took.

and here are some Ben Dillon took on the course.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hurricane? What Hurricane ?

Well, I was suppose to leave this afternoon for the Patriot's Half-Ironman Triathlon in Williamsburg Va, but mother nature had different plans. When I signed up for the race I didn't feel I was really ready but my training has been going well on the bike and swim and my confidence has grown and I thought I would have a decent race. So, since I have next weekend off also , I have now signed up for the Duke Half-Ironman at Jordan Lake next Sunday. I didn't choose it originally because it is a hilly course and I am still not very strong on the hills but I'm getting stronger so I'll just have to deal with the hills and do the best I can. Hey, at least the water is flat.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sportsplex Super Sprint Triathlon

Hello friends and other readers of my blog. I've been slow about posting my reports and not very prolific in my writing these days but the next few weeks shouldn't be as busy so I hope to pay more attention to my writing now.

Last weekend, August 23, Margo and I once again traveled together for another fun day of competition and training in the Tri world. This time we would be going to Hillsborough, only an hour away. This would be another short sprint Triathlon and both of us would be using it as a fun way to train for bigger events yet to come. The race would be held at the Superplex, a very nice facility with two indoor pools and an ice rink as well as a fitness center.

It was a beautiful August morning, muggy but not too hot as this has been a rather mild August. The drive over passed quickly and we arrived with plenty of time to make our preparations in transition and wait for the swim to begin. I was happy that they had a 2nd pool and took advantage of that to get in a little warm-up swim a few minutes before my start time. Margo and I are swimming close to the same pace so our start times were only 40 seconds apart. I got off to a great start and was feeling good passing the swimmer in front of me after the 1st 100 meters and gaining on the next one. A 100 meters later she let me pass her and I picked up the pace to get clear but soon found myself in oxygen debt and struggling. I had to back off the pace and relax and then let her pass me back and then another young swimmer caught up and I let him go by too. I finally got my breathing back under control and finished ok. I was disappointed when I checked my time in the pool of 8:18, especially considering that I swam so hard. It was only when I remembered that it was 400 meters and not 400 yds that I realized it was the fastest pace I've done in the pool since returning to swimming in June. Oh yeah.

My transition was a little slow but I was soon on the bike and feeling good. I was making pretty good time but I could see that it wasn't going to be easy. The course seemed to be predominately downhill and since we'd be coming back the same way I'd be climbing back up those hills on the return.The course was a lollypop shape with about a 5 mile out-and- back with a two mile loop in the middle. As I came out of the loop I checked my average pace and was very happy to be quite a bit faster than any race so far this year and I felt great. But as expected the ride back was quite a bit harder and I watched my average steadily dropping as my energy faded. I've still got a lot of work to do with my biking, especially developing power on the hills, so I was happy to finally reach the downhill to the finish back into transition.

The 2nd transition went much better and I was out on the run quickly. I was soon running a decent pace on the mostly flat course but there was a steep hill on a side spur we would have to run up just pass the half mile and again around the two mile mark on the double out and back course. I was was barely moving faster than a walk the first time up that hill. That is so frustrating to me knowing that a few months ago I could have charged up that hill with no problem after years of training on the hills of Umstead but hopefully I'll get back to my normal running strength and endurance before long. After turning back down the hill I began to run better and got into a good rhythm and by the time I was going up the hill the 2nd time I felt much better. I finished strong with my best run in a tri so far this year.

Overall it was a good day for me. I wasn't last in my age-group in any of the three disciplines this time. Woohoo! Ironically I have always felt the swim was my weakest link in the tri chain but so far since my return to the sport I have ranked higher in my age-group in the swim than in the bike or run. I guess that's good in a way but shows I've got a lot of work to do on the bike and I need to get my running back to normal.

It was another good day for Margo too and she once again won an age-group award finishing 3rd in the women's 45-49. She is also now 3rd in her age-group in the Trysports Endurance Seires Points standings. Way to go Margo!

Sorry but no pictures from this day.

Here is the link to the race website.

You can scroll down the page to the results links

Sunday, August 17, 2008

UNC Wellness Sprint Triathlon

I guess I should have checked the weather report but it probably wouldn't have made any difference. I was going to show up anyway but perhaps I could have prepared a little better. Like maybe put windshield wipers on my glasses for the bike ride.

My treatment for the running injuries continues to improve slowly and steadily but with my commitment to doing an Ironman Tri next year I need to spend more time in triathlon training and what better way than to have some fun and do another race. I was really looking forward to this one since several of my most special friends would also be participating. Jenn would be making her Triathlon debut today. She bought a bike a couple of years ago but had hardly ridden it although she does do spinning classes in the gym. The swim was another area she hasn't worked on too much but with just a 250yd pool swim she felt this would be a good one in which to get her feet wet so to speak. She was a bit nervous about it so a week before we met for a 15 mile bike ride and then a session in the pool so I could give her a few tips and answer all her questions and hopefully boost her confidence a bit. What a great way to spend a day for me!

Margherita was competing too despite having done a 100 mile bike ride the day before as she continues to train for her Ironman distance tri in Wilminton on Nov 1st. She had our friend Maureen along for support. Frank and Karla were there too and Teri Saylor from the NCRC had ridden along with Jenn.

Since it was a pool swim we were seeded by our predicted lap times so I was the first of our group to begin at 7:44. It was a cloudy morning but I didn't even think about rain until about 15 minutes before my time to start when I thought I heard thunder rumbling off in the distance. I headed into the building to line up for my swim and a short time later we saw that it had begun to rain fairly hard outside. Well, I guess that meant all my dry stuff was now all my wet stuff.

I was able to do my swim and felt very good and I nailed my predicted time to within a couple of seconds. I could see Karla and Jenn standing outside the window as I came out of the pool so I gave them a big grin and ran out into the rain to transition. I was in and out quickly and soon out on the bike course. After a flat start for a couple of hundred yards , the course had a couple of fairly steep hills. I was having to be careful going around the turns on the slick roads losing a little time but I noticed right away on the first hill that I was feeling stronger than I have felt so far since returning to cycling.

I had only gone a couple of miles when the bottom fell out of the sky with a deluge along with lightning and thunder. I thought about my friends that had yet to enter the pool and knew that the race for them would have to be delayed. I was just hoping that it wasn't canceled. By now the course had leveled out a lot and just had easy climbs so I was making good time despite hardly being able to see where I was going in the heavy rain. Margo had started in the pool just a few minutes behind me so I thought she was probably out on the bike course too but if she had passed me I don't think I could have seen her. Only two people passed me on the bike and I passed a lot but mainly I was very happy after the 15K ride to have felt good and my average speed was the best for me so far since my comeback in the sport. The rain was finally stopping as I came back into town the last mile.

As I ran out of transition I heard several friends cheer for me so I thought I had been right about the race being delayed. The course began with a hill so I was taking it easy to let my legs come to me and settle my heart rate. By the time I made it up and started down the hill I could tell my legs were feeling better than the two weeks ago in Burlington and I thought I was running a decent pace. There is a short section where the runners share the road with the bikes and I saw none so I now knew they had stopped or delayed the race. It began to rain again but not as hard now and it actually felt good while running. I hit the first mile in 8:40 and was very happy with that. I expected it to be closer to 9. The middle portion of the course was pretty flat so I was pushing right along and feeling good and having fun. I made the turn at the half and just as I approached the 2 mile mark, I saw Margo coming towards me. She was running strong but I could tell from the fact that she was a mile behind me that she had lost time to me on the bike. I also knew that the only reason that was possible was her 100 miler the day before. Otherwise she would have probably caught me.

I ended the run strong in 26:55 and was very happy with my race. The swim had been delayed for 30 minutes and so I walked over to talk to Jenn's parents who had come to watch her race. Jenn was in line with about two minutes before her start when lightning flashed again and once again they made them leave the pool area for another delay. I 'm sure it had to be nerve wracking to have to keep getting delayed before the start of her 1st Tri. I quickly ran back over to the finish to wait with Maureen for Margo to finish the run. She came in very strong but I wasn't surprised. She is an amazing athlete ands very competitive so I knew she would give it all she had even with the tough workout the day before.

Soon it was time to try once again to get the rest of the competitors in the race so I made my way over to watch the swim. Jenn did well , a little faster than she expected. Karla was in the pool just a couple of minutes later so I was watching and timing them both and then cheering them on into transition. It would still be awhile before Frank's swim so I went to change into some dry clothes. Then I grabbed the camera and headed over to the transition to watch them all come in on the bike. Jenn came in looking strong and running quickly into transition followed a few minutes later by Karla. I think the long rides at RAGBRAI had her in great cycling shape. I was watching the time and about to head over to the finish line to make sure I didn't miss Jenn when finally Frank came riding in.

I only had a couple of minutes to wait until Jenn came flying downhill to the finish in a great time of 25:05. Like the ultra's, I think the lady is a natural triathlete. Karla had a good run and then we waited for Frank, who would be the only award winner of our group taking 3rd in his age-group. We could have done without the delay and the heavy rain but it was still a great time and I think overall everyone was happy with their day.

You can see the photos I took here

The Race Website is here If you scroll down to the bottom of the event page you can find the results links.

They made a mistake in restarting the time after the delay so everyone that started the swim after the storm is shown with a swim time about 1:30 faster than there actual time. Otherwise the splits all seem to be correct.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Buckner Mission Man Sprint Triathlon

I was suppose to be running Catherines FA 50K in Massanutten last weekend but with my lack of running and poor condition along with the injuries I made the decision to drop my name from the race and let someone else have my spot. I still had the weekend free so I decided to accompany my friends Bill and Margherita over to Burlington Saturday for a little Tri fun.

I have been continuing with all my treatments for the periformis and hamstring issues and have finally started to see some real improvement. I've been getting in several 5 mile runs in each week as well as the cross-training. Fortunately the swimming and the biking don't cause any pain or further damage so I can do it as frequently as my schedule will allow. Even with the Ironman still a long time away, I know I need to work on the other disciplines a lot and the sprint tri seemed like a fun way to do it. With only a 5 K run I wasn't worried about hurting myself.

I was up way too early and then met the Scotts at their home at 4:45. By 5 we were on the road making good time and arrived at the race site by 6:30 giving us plenty of time to check in and set up in transition. It was a beautiful morning but a bit humid. Just before the start I climbed into Lake Cammack to warm up a little. The water felt great and was a fairly clean lake. Bil and I are in the same age-group now so we lined up in the water together when it was time for our wave to get ready. At the horn we took off but Bill pulled ahead quickly and that was the last I would see of him until the finish. There was the usual jostling in the swim until the first buoy and then I was able to settle in to a comfortable stroke.

This was my longest continuous swim since I started back 6 weeks ago going to the Y so I was very happy to feel smooth and comfortable in the water. I was beginning to tire a little at the end but did ok. We think the swim was a little long but that's not unusual to have a bit of diffenrce in the swim from year to year.

The bike course was a fairly moderate course with a few hills. none were too long or steep but I still haven't spent much time on the bike and none in over two weeks so I think I had actually done 6 rides since my first one in three years last month. I do pretty good on the flats where not much power is need because of my high endurance level from years of ultrarunning but as soon as there is any incline I just don't have any power. I was pedaling my little heart out there on the course and thought I had done ok until I saw the results. I was 24th out of 24 in my age-group on the bike.

The run went a little better and also a little better than in Wake Forest last month. Still hard to run off the bike but I had a little more life in the legs. I just need to start doing some bike-run bricks in training as well as more events. the run course was two loops and 2/3'rds of it was on a double-track trail so at least it was shady. There were several short steep hills , especially at the end of each loop and again I had no power climbing.

Overall it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed spending the time with Bill and Margo.

I forgot to take the camera so no photos I'm afraid. You can go to the race website here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the results

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anita smashes Badwater Double Women's record

This is an e-mail Anita sent to one of her crew:

"Well we did it!!! Thanks to all your great support and the rest of my wonderful crew, I was able to reach the summit of Mt. Whitney from Badwater in a time of 52:17, breaking the previous best time set by a British woman of 52:45. A VERY tough climb and an even tougher descent. The descent took nme two hours longer than the climb. I told you I suck at going downhill.

I completed the double also, breaking the old women's record of 143:25, in a time of 129:44. It was great having Ben and Denise and Kari and Phil there for me. It was 131F coming back into Badwater and there was a headwind of 20-30mph.

Thanks for all your help, patience and effort.

Anita "

Congratulations to Anita the Trail Princess. You are an amazing lady and a great athlete.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sudden Sadness: A life cut short.

I can only say I was shocked when my oldest son Steven called last night to tell me his mother was dead. Before I could get any details our call was cut-off. I waited for a return call while I tried to process what was happening. Surely this wasn't real. But then a few moments later my younger son Jeremy came to my door to verify the news on his way to her home.
I met Edith while working at the Revco Drug Store in Downtown Raleigh in 1974. My boss told me when I came into work that he had hired a girl for me. A year later on 11-07-75 we were married. Steven was born a little over three years later on 2-23-79 and 8 years later on 3-01-87 Jeremy was born. Sadly Edith fought with her inner demons for many years and our marriage ended over 16 years ago. We long ago made our peace and over the past several years she had finally gotten her life turned around. She has been happily married the past several years to Wes Separk and things seemed to be going well for them.

Please pray for my sons as they deal with the loss of their Mother and for Wes and the rest of her family.

Edith Prince Separk B:12-09-56 D:7-19-08

More adventures of my friends

This is Eric Werner and his friend Andrea. They have just completed a cross-country bike ride across the USA. Immediately afterwards they traveled to Iowa.

Frank and Karla have flown there this weekend and this Sunday morning began RAGBRAI, or Register's Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa.

Seven days and 472 miles across the state from the Missouri river to the Mississippi river averaging 68 miles a day. Frank and Karla have been spending more time on the bikes training for the event and just bought new bikes a couple of days before the Smile Triathlon a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure they will have a grand time touring the state with Eric and the rolling weeklong party.

And a totally different adventure is underway for Boogieman Doug Dawkins.

Doug is a founding member of the Mangum Track Club and race director of the Boogie and the Ellerbe Springs Marathon. Doug is now recently retired and has begun a lifelong dream of running across the country. You can go to his blog for the details of his route and schedule. This will be a mostly self-supported run for Doug. He is carrying a light pack and will replenish along the way and sleep wherever he can find a place to lay his head. As he travels through NC he will have many friends to meet him and possibly crew for short periods but as he moves further west there will be some lonely days on the road. If you have friends or family that are close to the route he is following please contact them and see if they might be willing to offer some encouragement and possibly a little help. Doug would welcome some company along the road as well as an offer of a soft bed and shower occasionally as well as some home cooking. I also have a link to his blog in the sidebar so you can find it easily for further updates of his adventure.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anita returns to Badwater

Photo: Chris Kostman

Well friends an readers. My friend Anita Marie Fromm returned to Badwater again this year for another attempt at doing a double crossing from Badwater to the summit of Mt. Whitney and returning to Badwater.

The race went well for her and she got her 4th finish in 40:32. You can go to the race website for lots of info and links to photos. She was running a great pace and was in the top 15 overall for much of the race but took a long break in anticipation of going or the return trip too. Once she started back she continued on her great pace and successfully reached the summit of Mt Whitney and set a new women's record from Badwater to the Summit. I was able to reach one of her crew this evening and got an update. She is still moving well and in good spirits. She has had some blister issues but her crew have them taken care of and she seems to be managing them well. I'll let you know as soon as I here anymore news.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Grandfather Mt Marathon, or Why am I here?

Some people can live their whole lives and never discover their life's purpose. I feel very lucky that I was able to figure out why I am here several years ago. It wasn't obvious at first but a series of events starting when I tore my ACL playing soccer in 1998 and up until this past weekend make it clear. I was born to accompany wonderful, intelligent, strong but gentle hearted and yes, lovely women in long distance running events. Yes, I am quite a lucky man.

Some times it is planned in advance but other times it just seems fate has arranged it, but in either case, the best times and memories of the 75 of so ultra's and marathons I've run the past 6 years are those when I ran beside one of the many Angels and Princesses of the sport. I can only marvel at the strong will, tenacity and , perseverance these athletic ladies exhibit on the roads and trails.

Saturday morning as I arrived at Kidd Brewer Stadium on the Campus of Appalachian State University, my only hope was to finish the race without suffering or doing further damage to my banged up body. I was an early arrival and few runners had arrived but that would soon change. The first I saw was Annette Bednosky from nearby Jefferson NC who would win the title for the weekends best combined time in the Bear, the Grizzly and the Marathon. I would spend the next hour meeting and greeting many friends and acquaintances, some veterans of the race and others here to challenge themselves for the first time. Two of the latter would include Lori Schneider and Camilla Nielsen from the NCRC. More on them later.

Soon it was time to line up on the track for the start of the race. I had been planning to at least start with Laura but she was no where in sight. Had she decided at the last minute not to run because of the virus she'd had the past two weeks? No, with 5 minutes to go she made her appearance on the track and so we lined up together in the middle of the pack. The gun sounded and off we went around the track. Within 100yds Laura lost her patience with the crowd and the slow pace so she took off. I lost sight of her in the crowd and thought to myself that she must be feeling a lot better than she let on, so I settled into what felt like an easy pace, knowing that soon the easy downhill into town would turn into a series of long hard climbs.

The first easy mile was about 9 mp and comfortable and then the course turned onto Winkler's Creek Road where the climbing would began. I made a brief pitstop to release the morning's coffee and as I stepped out of the bushes, I spotted Lori and Camilla approaching so I pulled out the camera and them joined in the race with them. Camilla had told me earlier that they ran around 10mp on their long runs so I thought that seemed a reasonable pace for me to be running for now. We had much to talk about and they had questions about the course and my impending Ironman so we were enjoying the beautiful morning and the conversation. Only problem for me was we were climbing a lot of hills and their pace was faster than I expected. I keep expecting them to take a walk break on some of the steeper portions but they didn't slow down and we were running 9:30 pace. Normally that would not be a problem but with my lack of running and especially hill training, I was beginning to struggle to stay with them. Finally on one steep section just before the 5 mile mark I had to give in and walk. They continued but soon they were walking too.

I saw Tony Rouse coming out of the woods from a pit stop so we walked and talked together for a few minutes but then there was a steep downhill. I took advantage of it to make some time and caught back up with the ladies just before the bottom and we resumed our stroll on the mountain together. These ladies were well prepared and feeling better than me and as we started the next climb I was working hard to stay with them. About that time I was surprised to see Laura ahead walking slowly and she didn't look too good. I stopped to check on her and she was ok, but having a hard time breathing and the early fast pace was too much. I decided since the pace with Lori and Camilla was too fast for me if I wanted to finish in good shape, I would stay back with Laura.

Laura and I had a great time discussing many things that friends talk about. She was still running strong on the rare downhill sections but as soon as we would start climbing she would have a hard time breathing deeply enough and would have to walk. I was fine with that because time today meant nothing to me and I was very content to spend the time running with her. We have very few opportunities to run together and she usually is too fast for me anyway. She was a bit frustrated but still in good spirits. Almost everyone that passed us or the rare person we passed, she would introduce herself to them and start a conversation. Funny but that's exactly how I met the young lady at the Carrboro 50K back in 2003.

The miles passed by and we were having a great time. We made it to the Parkway and the views opened up as we headed down the long hill down to Julian Price Park where her sister Michelle and niece were waiting. We made good time down the hill, running about 8 mp but as soon as the road began to turn uphill again she was struggling. The next two miles would be very slow but eventually we turned off the parkway and began the climb up to the 16 mile water stop and the beginning of the gravel road. The gravel road is fairly flat until the steep hill near the end and the turn onto Hwy 221 so I was expecting we would run most of it but after only a couple of 100yds she was walking and nearly gasping. I was starting to really get worried about her now. Part of the problem is she really has a problem running slow so I tried to convince her to run slower and try to keep her heart rate down so she wouldn't need as much air.

Laura simply calls the hill at the the end of the gravel road 17 because it comes at the 17 mile mark. She walks it every year even when running sub 4 and I did too in 2006 because it is just a nasty steep hill at a bad point in the race. We finally made the climb up and came into the water stop there at the intersection with Hwy 221. I took a gel and kept walking onto the highway expecting her to soon be right behind me . But when I finally looked back, she still wasn't coming. She was raised in Boone and knows some people that help out so I assumed she was talking to someone and then I noticed her crouching down. I obviously could have been running a lot faster, even with my problems but I didn't want to leave her behind struggling. I know how long these races can be when you're having a bad day so I started walking backwards up the road and waited until she finally got up and ran to catch up with me. The good thing is the backwards walking stretched my hamstrings and made them feel a little better.

At the halfway point of the race,we were still in good shape to make it onto the track and finish under 5 hours but now at 17 unless there was a miracle turnaround in the way she felt, we weren't going to make that cut-off. A little disappointing but no big deal. We would just kept plugging along enjoying the day and each others company and cheering on the other runners with smiles on our faces. Ever since I had been running with her I had been letting her set the pace and walked when she walked but now I decided to try and choose the pace. It is rare for her to struggle but shuffling and suffering are second nature to me so I would suggest when to start running and when to walk in order to maximize pace and minimize energy expenditure. That seemed to work and after a few miles she seemed to actually began to feel a little better.

Both of us were running with our cameras and were taking shots of the beautiful sites along the way and the miles gradually clicked away until we finally saw the sign that says Grandfather Mountain, 2 miles. I told her if we could run a couple of 6 minute miles we could still make it onto the track. Ha! It's been nearly 20 years since I ran one mile in 6 minutes. Earlier I could have easily pulled away but now I was having to work hard to keep up with Laura when she ran and my legs were getting so tight I had a hard time walking her pace too.

We both agreed that it was a good thing we couldn't run on the track because now we wouldn't have to run up that last stupid little steep hill up to the track . We could just stop at the aid station and call it a day. But although it was a couple of minutes after the 5 hour cut-off when we finally entered MacRae Meadows, they told us to keep going. So I struggled on up that last steep dusty, nasty, hateful little hill. Laura had found a burst of energy and pulled ahead and then as we were about to enter the track she actually had to wait for me to catch up. We ran onto the track but had not even gone around the first turn when the race officials came walking towards us telling us to stop. We were about 300 yds away from the real finish line but our race was done as they handed us finishers medals anyway.

We spent the next bit of time waiting around for the awards ceremony and visiting with friends. Camilla and Lori and Chris came and sat with us and then Camilla and Chris rode on the shuttle back down the mountain to Boone. It was nice to get to know Camilla a bit better and spend some time talking with her. She is a very sweet natured and lovely lady from Denmark.

I had a great time. Sometimes slower is better, especially when you spend the time with special people. I'm a bit disappointed that my hamstrings tightened up as much as they did and I still had some periformis pain but it is still an improvement on how things have been. I feel ok today
and don't appear to have done anymore damage which was my goal so I guess it's all good.

Here are the Photos

Here are Laura's photos

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guess where I'm at?

If you said Lenoir you would be right. Why Lenoir? Because it's cheaper than Boone and I'm here for the Grandfather Mountain Mountain Marathon.

I have finally been feeling better the past week and have been out for several short runs since last weekend. The chiro adjustments are continuing and I had another massage yesterday. Both of them have no problem with me running this weekend so I am here and hoping for the best. When I signed up for the race, my goal was to go under 4 hours on this difficult course. This will be my fourth time running I think? In 2006 when I was in my best marathon shape ever I was on that pace but due to a detour forced by construction on the Parkway, the course was long, about 26.8 miles. I went through the 26 mile mark in 3:56 but although we had detoured, the finish was still on the track and my time was 4:04 in the results.

There will be no attmept at a fast time this year. I plan to take it easy and have some fun and take somephotos along one of the most beautiful road courses in the country. There are many friends and aquaintences from the NCRC and MTC, many who come here nearly every year. It's a challenging but runnable course and usually the weather is a nice break from warmer and more humid conditions back down at sea level. The Trail Angel is running too and she has been sidelined with a virus the past couple of weeks so she plans to take it easy and have fun too. Hopefully we can run some together. Her slow is still tough for me! Neither one of us is being very smart even being here but between the two of us we've done a lot dumber things.

Look for a report and photos soon!

Friday, July 04, 2008

And now, what you've been anxiously waiting for ;

The Big Anouncement !

Rather than re-type everything, I 'll just cut a and paste some slightly edited e-mails I sent to a few close friends.

Subject: Oh my God, no he didn't!?!?!

Greetings friends of Ultraman,
Or should that be Ironman Joey?
Hold on to your hats people, I have lost my mind and made myself out a liar. Anyone want to go to Ironman Couer d' Alene with me next June? Well sign up now while there are still spots.

Click here and go to participants list

Waiting to hear the response?


Subject: re: He was kidding wasn't he?

No, boys and girls, it was not a joke:

So what happened? We know he wasn't drinking and there were no drugs involved, so explain to us how he got himself into this mess.
Well, thats what I was wondering this afternoon as I splashed my way through a 900 yd swim with weary arms that are revolting against this new demand being place upon them. So what did happen?
Well on Monday as I was swimming for the 4th time since re-joining the Y a week ago to get ready for this little sprint coming up Sunday, the Devil was sitting in the lifeguard chair at the end of my lane. I know it had to be the Devil because I kept getting these evil thoughts of actually swimming 2.4 miles even though I was struggling to swim 200 consecutive yards for the first time in 3 years. Yeah, do it Joey. Sign up for an Ironman. You know you've always wanted to do it. Nobody has to know. So what if you told everyone that you hate swimming more than 20 minutes and you'll never ride a bike more than two hours. Who cares you've only ridden your bike twice in 3 years?
I resisted as much as I could. After I got home and sat in front of the computer the evil voice, still ringing in my head was telling me to google Ironman. But I was able to control myself and went to bed but nightmares of never ending lake swims and hours upon hours of pedaling and pedaling with severe bicycle butt haunted my dreams. Finally I awoke Tuesday morning and realized it had all just been a bad dream. I did no workouts all day and just decided to rest.
So then Tuesday I'm sitting in front of the computer and it was like my hand became possessed. It typed in Ironman and the next thing I know there is Active.com on my screen waiting for me to give them my credit card info. But wait! I'm not ready for this I need more time to think! I don't like swimming that much! I hate riding a bike half that long! Noooooo! But then uncontrollably like some zombie, I arose to get my wallet and the next thing I knew I was entered! Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
Ok, maybe it wasn't exactly like that.. Yes, I have told all of you repeatedly of my decision after one half-ironman that I wanted no part of it. But after an absence of 3 years from the sport and the upcoming tri this Sunday I had been giving some thought to entering more tris. And with the injury and the need to cross-train for a while as well as having just renewed my Y membership I've been thinking maybe I need to cut back on the ultra's awhile too. But it is true that the idea to do an Ironman popped into my head while swimming Monday. I just didn't have time to do anything until Tuesday as far as looking into it.
Well it must have been destiny. I had no idea that Cour-d'Alene had just been held over the weekend and was open for registration. That is the one I really thought I would want to do anyway but as fast as most Ironman events fill up I figured I would have to pick a non branded event. In fact when I first looked at the Ironman home website it said Cour-d'alene was closed already but when I went to the race site it said click here to register and I did. Bam ! Reality suddenly set in. Here was a chance to get in and I hadn't really had time to seriously consider if I really wanted to do this. And there was my opportunity waiting for me to commit a year ahead and spend way too much money on something I wasn't sure I wanted to do. Well, I said what the Heck. Just Do it! You know you really have always wanted to do an Ironman since you first saw it on TV in 1982 and if you wait it probably will be full within hours . At first I wasn't going to tell anybody until just before the event next year and surprise everyone but then I decided that I really wanted to share the whole getting ready thing with all of you. I guess you are all surprised anyway huh?
So, I was thinking today whether I need to look up some training programs. But then I thought, how silly of me. Just do as Master JuJu Yoda (Jerry) would say. Train Not! Just Do!
So I'm going to piddle around the house until next May and then I'll have a few weeks to get ready. Ok, not really. I'll do copious amounts of swimming and ride as much as I can and kick some butt next June 21st. I've got a year to decide where to put the tattoo.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Well, I promised in a post about my injury that I would be making a big announcement soon. This isn't it! But this is another one and an update. My hamstrings are showing a lot of improvement as well as the periformis but it will still be a while before it quits being angry. I ran the 5k at the Tri without almost any discomfort ( besides being dead from biking) but there was still some stiffness and pain afterwards. I haven't run anymore yet and have been continuing with my treatments and cross-training. I hope to get out for a few miles with the NCRC social group tonight and see how it feels.

Ok, here is the announcement but not the other one that will come later, maybe Friday?

I have given this a whole lot of thought and it is not a decision I wanted to have to make but due to my injury situation and lack of any quality running and training for a while, I am going to have to give up my spot in the Wasatch Front 100 in Sept. It is one of the hardest 100 milers out there and certainly the most difficult I would have attempted and would have required me to be in top shape in order to complete it. With only 8 weeks to go and with me not being able to get on the trails and be climbing mountains to get ready I don't think there is any chance I would be able to finish. It is just too far and expensive for me to go and have a miserable experience.

With my inexplicable meltdown at Hinson Lake last Fall and then dropping at Umstead this Spring along with the pain, I had been contemplating taking a break from the 100 mile/24 hour stuff for a while anyway but was hoping to wait to take that break until after Wasatch but now I know I have to go ahead and give my body and mind a little rest. Hopefully I'll be able to be running decently soon and I will still be competing in other ultra's as planned, just not as often as I was doing them. I plan to be at Catherine's FA 50K in a few weeks using it as a training run and I am going to be at MMTR running with Jenn in Nov. I'll hope that maybe I can do a 50K or two in Sept and Oct. but I haven't committed to anything yet until I see how things go the rest of this month.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Smile Train Sprint Triathon 6-29-08

( More photos added to album. See link at bottom of story)

A triathlon? Yes a lot of you might not know I used to compete in Tri's but I did for 6 years starting in 1999. Actually my first one was in the summer of 1998 but I'll tell you all about that later. Right now lets get back to this one.

I had lost interest in triathlons as I got more serious about seeing how I could do focusing on my ultrarunning so after a disastrous Kure Beach Tri in June of 2005, I had quit the sport. My bicycle had sat in the same spot in a corner collecting dust for three years now, still with the race number from that day attached. I had still done a little swimming but a couple of months later I quit the Y because I just wasn't using the membership enough.
So how did I end up doing a Tri this past Sunday? Well my friends Jerry and Margo have both signed up for the Beach to Battleship Iron Distance Tri in Wilmington coming up this November, (the same day as MMTR so I can't go cheer for them ). Margo had been looking for races to do as part of her training and came across this one in Wake Forest and she copied the Werners and I on the e-mail she sent out wanting to know if we all might be interested. Frank and Karla had just done one low-key tri at SJAFB last year and had expressed an interest in doing some more. It wasn't even on my radar after 3 years but since it was only 10 miles away from home and wouldn't interfere with anything else I had on my schedule I decided to join in the fun. With just a 250yd pool swim and 12 mile bike, I knew I could fake my way through it and the 5k run would be barely a warm-up so I signed up.

I had planned to go ahead and join the Y and start some swimming and maybe ride the bike some but I kept putting it off. I wanted to get Umstead over first and then I needed more time to recover before I started. I was putting in a lot of hours at The Athlete's Foot so I didn't think I would have much time to train so I put it off longer. Then as June was approaching I decided to wait until after my vacation. So finally 2 weeks ago today I finally joined the Y and began swimming and working out as part of my injury rehab. Last Saturday I dusted off the bike and lubed it up , then headed out for a 10 mile ride. I went back out this past Saturday for another 8 to make sure everything was working OK and those two rides would be my bike training over the past 3 years.

Sunday morning I was up at 4:15 and after a little breakfast I made the short drive over to Wake Forest. Since it has been so long I was a little nervous and kept going over what I would need in transition and planning my race. I shouldn't have worried because once things got started it all seemed so natural, almost like I'd never left the sport.
So, anyway, I had plenty of time to get ready. Margo was there along with husband Bill who also was competing as well as their older daughter Stephanie. Younger daughter Gabriella was there too but she was not competing but would be cheering us on. Frank and Karla were there with brand new bikes they had just bought the day before. They had been doing all their riding on Mt Bikes but with Ragbrai coming up next month they were ready to get some road bikes. And of course Jerry was there excited as ever. Also saw Mike Walsh there with his wife Denise who would be starting her first tri ever.

The swim would be 10 laps in the pool at Heritage Swim Club so I warmed up just 100 yds before lining up for the start. We would all start in 10 second intervals making it a time-trail format. They had a glitch in the computer that seeded us because they had me seeded 23 out of 300+ and Margo was 21st. We both should have been mid-pack but we would just have to do the best we could and hope not too many would swim over us. I got off to a good start and was doing a good job staying relaxed. I actually was a little faster than I had hoped and that was even after being held up by a slower swimmer I couldn't get around.

I was a little slow in transition partly due to my number belt being messed up. I should have checked it before the race, but after fiddling with it a while I just put it on loose and hoped it would be ok. The bike course had a few short but fairly steep hills in the first mile as well as 5 or 6 speed bumps but then we would turn onto some country roads for some mostly easy peddling. Of course with no training any slight incline was a problem for me to pedal well but I settled in and by about 3 miles I was feeling ok and breathing well. I expected to average about 16 mph but would have been happy with 15 so when I hit the halfway mark going 16.4 I was very pleased. It was a bit easier pedaling back and I was able to bump that up to 17 overall by the time I finished. Along the way I actually passed a whole 2 people and one of them had a flat. I lost count of how many passed me but it was about 20. Oh well, it was all for fun today anyway. (I'm competitive sometimes. I can't help it).

Yes, I was very happy with the bike but when I stepped off and headed into transition my legs were done. The lack of bike training was showing. It's always difficult to run off the bike but with training it does become easier. I'm a long ways from being there now though so I started out with numb, rubbery stumps that felt like I was wearing lead boots. I shuffled along just trying to relax and keep my breathing and heart rate that were still elevated from the ride under control. It was a hilly run course but I was determined to run the whole way despite the way I felt. I mean its only a 5k!!

Well finally after about halfway I started to regain some life in my legs but I was still quite slow finally finishing it in 29:43. My total for the event was 1:22:27 placing 8th out of 9 in my age-group. They had that wrong too. Before the start they had me at 41 ( I wish) and then still had me wrong in the results at 53 (I'm 52 ). All of us had a lot of fun and were happy with their results. Margo won her age-group and Karla was 4th out of 10. Very good considering she is a novice swimmer and just got her road bike the day before. Jerry also won his age-group and Frank was 4th in it. And Stephanie won hers too. Bill and I have a lot of work to do to move up in our group but we were both pretty happy with the result anyway.

While I was waiting for everyone to finish I saw a familiar face but couldn't remember why. Then she recognized me. It was Kara LaBella. She and her sister Laura had come to the Umstead series runs the NCRC and I put on last year. She had just begun doing tris last year and is doing well. Today she would finish 2nd in the 30-34 age-group and 8th overall woman. Pretty impressive for a relative novice at the sport. ( pretty face too )

Here are the results

Here is the website and some photos I took. I missed Margo and Stephanie and Jerry on the course due to timing with the staggered starts. Hopefully I'll have more photos to add that Frank and Karla took so check back in a few days if your interested.