Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking ahead to a big year in 2012

2011 was a very good year for my running and I look forward to many good times and miles with smiles with my friends. I enjoy training for the events probably more than the actual racing but as always I have quite a few fun things on the calender for the coming year.


Things get started early with the Weymouth Woods 100k in Southern Pines on the 14th. I'm looking forward to finally running this fairly new (3rd year) MTC event. It is a WS qualifier so my main goal is to run in under 14 hours but I'm in great shape and plan to go as fast as I can.


I'll be heading to the Central Piedmont of NC for The Pilot Mountain Payback Trail Marathon at Pilot Mountain State Park on Feb. 18th. This will be another first time event for me and I'm mainly looking for a fun day on the trails in a beautiful location.


Nothing planned but training after Pilot Mt. until the BIG EVENT of the year on the 31st. I'm going for the 100 mile PR at Umstead 100. Although I've been doing some other things, my eye has been on this one with practice loops nearly every week since May.


I will probably return to Promise Land 50K++ simply because I love the race. It's on the 28th so at least I'll have 4 weeks to recover from Umstead.


Nothing for sure yet. but I'll either be doing Doug's Wild Card 50k or possibly returning to WV for the Capon Valley 50k. It is a nice little race and very pretty. The picture above was taken there in 2007, my last visit to the race.


I didn't get into WS so I'll be back at the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 miler again to challenge the heat, hills and humidity.


As much as I'd love to go back to Tahoe Rim, there will be no travel out West this year so I'm looking forward to returning to one of my favorite marathons at Grandfather Mountain. And no, no double this year.


No plans at this time other than suffering through another NC sweltering summer.


One thing that I've wanted to do ever since I heard about ultra's 34 years ago was to do a 24 hour run on the track. Well hopefully this will be the year. On Sept 1st I plan to do the Badgerland Striders 24 hour in Germantown Wisconsin.


I'm hoping to make a trip up to Northwestern Pennsylvania in late Oct for the Oil Creek 100 mile. About 10 years ago I rode a train with my son Jeremy right through the middle of the course for this one. A very pretty area and a race with a good reputation. They have to wait until the area HS football schedule is set in Feb because they use the local school to stage the event.


No Mt Masochist since I'll be doing the 100 just a week or two before so I'll probably go back to OBX or maybe something else. Or maybe nothing else until the Derby 50k after Thanksgiving. Plenty of time to think about it.


I usually don't race in December but if something interesting comes up I may and it depends on when we sing the Cantata.

Well, that's it. You may have noticed I'm not racing quite as frequently as I was a few years ago and I'll probably keep it that way and keep spending more time running as much as I can with the Angels. And it doesn't get better than that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011-Year in Review

Just a few more days before we move into a new year so it's time to take a look back on what has been a great year in so many ways for me. I've been able to stay healthy again with no injuries, just the usual aches and pains to be expected for a middle age man out pushing the boundaries around on occasion.

This running life has brought me so many friends and experiences that I would have missed out on if I had never taken those first steps so many years ago. I have been fortunate to have met quite a few new people this year and strengthened many other friendships. The best part is that I continue to be able to train quite often with several of the amazing ladies that I call my Angels and I look forward to many more miles in the coming year with them.

My main focus for the first part of the year was my training for the Boston Marathon. Part of my plan was to run several half-marathons in my buildup and the first one was very early in the year on 1-08 at Ocean Isle Beach. Met up with one of my training partners, Lisa and another Raleigh friend Laura who introduced us to John Williamson. I ran this one before in 2006 and like the course and the small race atmosphere but mother nature didn't cooperate. Despite near gale force winds, I felt good and ran a strong time but a few minutes off what I had hoped for. Considering the conditions I was pleased with the effort. 1:46:19


Another half marathon, this time a new one in Goldsboro and once again mother nature put a damper on the festivities. A cold wet damper with a hard cold rain for about half the race. I felt good but was disappointed with my 1:47:53 time on a suspect course. Splits were all over the place. The only redeeming factor was I did win my age group. Laura and John were there again so it was nice to have some familiar faces.


I decided to run a rare 5k for a change. Every now and the I like to run one just to see how the leg speed and training are going. This one was in Cary so there were several friends running including Lisa. This is a little hilly course so I was pretty happy with my 22:29 and once again I was 1st in my age group.

Two weeks later was the Tobacco Road Half-Marathon in Cary. I had run a Boston qualifier in the marathon here last year and was looking forward to a fast course. The weather finally cooperated with perfect conditions. I felt really good and finally ran below 1:45 with a 1:43:03. This was a big race so there were lots and lots of friends running and volunteering making this a very good day all around. Best of all were having several of my Angels in attendance.


Boston. If only I could have felt as good here as I did in March at Tobacco Road. I still have no idea why I had such a bad race other than some days you just don't have it. And I didn't right from the start. A very disappointing and uncomfortable 4:33:43 on a beautiful day that I should have easily run under 3:45. Oh well, it was still a wonderful trip having Karla, Frank, Lisa and Mike along. It was so special having Karla there after the way things turned out 5 years ago.Pretty amazing that we both qualified in the same race along with Lisa so that we could be here together. An emotional day but wonderful having her here healthy. A big part of me wanted to run it with her again. Wish now I had.

Five days later I made the trip up to the Blue Ridge of Virgina for the Promise land 50k++. This was awesome. My first time back in several years and it was like a reunion seeing so many of my ultra friends I've known since I began running them in 2002. Quite a few first timers from Raleigh area too. This was the official kick-off of my ultra training as I began my return to doing 100 milers again. Not much chance of a fast time with beat up legs from Boston so my plan was to just run with Jenn the Ultra Angel for as long as I could keep up with her. Fortunately we were able to stay together for the entire race and had a wonderful time although my slowest ever in 8:44.


Began the month with a new race, The New River Marathon north of Boone. My legs were pretty beat up after Boston/Promise Land two weeks earlier so I didn't know what to expect and my plan was really just to have fun and use it for a training run. I started out that way but felt really good so I decided to go hard and did great until the last few miles when the lingering fatigue caught up to me. I ended up very happy with a 4:18 on a tough but beautiful course.


Boogie !!!

Yes it was nice to return to one of my favorite events and in good condition. So once again I go shooting for a 50 mile pr with a slightly different strategy. Failed once again but at least I got a new course pr and had a wonderful time. Seems I knew half the people there which is awesome because they are a wonderful bunch. Got to run quite a few miles with Jenn. Lisa ran a great marathon and Ultramom Amy proved I was right by running an awesome first 50 miler finishing just 2 minutes or so behind me.


The real highlight of the year was the trip to Nevada for the Tahoe Rim 100. This would be my first 100 in 4 years and I picked a tough one but I love Lake Tahoe so I was so happy to be able to make the trip. It was so nice having Jenn along for company and meeting up with Karla and Frank. ( I had talked Karla into going to run the 50k). We were blessed with great weather at least for me and I had an amazing race experience. I had hoped to share most of the race with Jenn but it wasn't to be and I had to leave her behind at the 1st aid station. Jim Plant had his best performance ever and finished claiming his buckle. Overall, this was probably the hardest course I've run but I've never felt better in a 100 miler so I was very pleased with my 33:26:33 finish.


There were no races for me this year in August but I once again headed up the NCRC Umstead Series. Had a pretty good turn out for each of the runs as folks came out for the annual heat hills and humidity.Once again I held the Ultraman Joey awards for the runner that came closest to my time which I would run a couple of hours before everyone else. They were tough as usual but I was running them much better than last year.


In September I was finally able to fit the Iron Mountain 50 miler in Damascus VA into my schedule. A beautiful area and a great event but I made two mistakes. I underestimated the toughness of the course and I should have carried two bottles, especially with the brutal heat and humidity we had this year. DNF at 32 miles was the result. Still enjoyed the trip and visiting with some friends.

The last weekend of the month I was able to return to Hinson Lake 24 hour with plans for going after my 2006 total. Another hot sticky stifling day and I just didn't have it so I called it a day at 50 miles. Dozens of friends and a good weekend anyway.


Yay, finally some cooler weather ! On the 15th I made the short trip to Medoc Mountain State Park with Angels Jenn and Amy for the marathon. A gorgeous day and after an easy start the first three miles I was feeling good so I put it into race mode and had a very good day. Meltdown the last 2.5 miles but I was pleased with my 4:32 and 3rd place in my age group. The Original Trail Angel Laura Mac won the womens overall !


Started the month with another great reunion race at Mountain Masochist, the scene of my 1st 50 miler back in 2003. Made the trip up with Jenn and had a wonderful evening before the race seeing so many friends in my first trip back here in 3 years. I was feeling prepared and aiming for a course pr. Just missed by 6 minutes but it was a perfect day and I have never run stronger in the last part of an ultra before. Beyond happy with that.

Finished up the month with a return to one of my favorites, The Derby 50K. Another trip with Jenn and was happy to have Margherita along with us. Another near perfect day and I was of course going for the pr. Margo shared the 1st two of three laps with me and I was dead on pace for my goal but another meltdown and I had to coast it in nearly 20 minutes slower than last year. More great times visiting friends. Sound familiar?


No racing in the final month of the year. My plan was to just get in some good training, easy miles and easy pace. I stuck to the plan and got in some really great mileage. In fact with one more day to go I have 248.6 miles for the month and if all goes to plan I'll run 13 on the 31st which will give me 261.6 topping my best year ever in 34+ years of running.(previous best was 2006 back in 2006) As the week began I didn't think I'd be close and wasn't going to try and I even took Tuesday off from running but then on Wednesday with me needing 47 miles in the last 4 days I decided to go for it. I was feeling good and had the time so why not? And to make it even cooler,I have already topped my best year ever. I'm at 2488.3 and tomorrow's planned 13 will give me 2501.3 ( previous best was 2434 in 2010)
How cool is THAT ?!
Set all time best for month and yearly totals on the last day of the year at age 56!!

Thanks to all of you that take the time to read my stuff on here. As I said , it's been a wonderful year in so many ways. I am so Thankful to have the good health to pursue my running passion and have the support of wonderful family and friends.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My top 10 albums/cd's whatever

We interrupt your regularly scheduled running blog post with a little music talk. I was thinking the other day, if I could only have 5 cd's which ones would hey be? so I started making a list and the first two were easy but after that I was really having a hard time leaving out some so I made it a top 10. Well even that was really difficult so I finally did a list of 30. I know , the title says top 10. So I made a top ten and then a 20 runners up. Many of these artist put out a whole lot of great music and a large catalog of albums but for this list I limited myself to just one from each band or artist. Although I like a lot of different types of music, I'm a rock n roller from the time I was pre-kindergarten listening to Buddy Holly, Elvis and Chuck Berry. All of these albums are from my teens and were a major influence on me.

# 1
Captain Beyond

This was their first album and really the only one of their 3 studio albums that is any good. but this one is FANTASTIC ! I'll never forget the first time I heard it. I was in high school and at a party when someone put this on the stereo. When it got to the amazing guitar riff on "Myopic Void", I ran into the room asking who is that !?!. I was standing over the record player moving my head around in circles trying to read it on the turntable. Went and bought it the next day and have never been without it since.

Spirit- The 12 Dreams of Dr.Sardonicus

An old friend Wesley introduced me to this album when I was 14. No two songs song alike on the whole album. One of the first "concept albums" but I don't think anyone knows what the concept was. Nobody cares. It's just some great music.

Alice Cooper- Killer

I was already a huge AC fan with the release of the "Love it to Death" album and it was a hard choice between the two but when I finally was able to see them in concert the first time it was a life changing experience for me. I've seen him 9 times now but this was still the greatest live show he ever did and that's why I chose this album. Tough to leave off "School's Out" too.

Deep Purple-In Rock

Another tough choice. this band put out some great albums. There most famous one of course was "Machine Head" and some of my favorites songs like "Highway Star" and "Lazy" are on it but the first time I saw them in concert was before that was released. the reason this one gets the nod is because of one song, "Child in Time". to this day every time I hear the guitar solo I get a chill down my spine. Richie Blackmore is still one of my all time favorites. Lots of other great albums including "Burn"

Uriah Heep- Look at Yourself

Funny thing is I saw these guys the first time at the same show as Deep Purple. their first 5 albums were all fantastic but this one, their 3rd is my favorite. It had just been released before the concert. The title song is just amazing like a thundering stampede of sound with the big Hammond Organ and great percussion. And Mick box's wahwah drenched solo is just wicked.

Cream- Wheels of Fire

I wasn't even a teenager (11) and still in elementary school when I heard "Sunshine of your Love" in 1967 off the "Disraeli Gears" Album but it was 1968's double album that is the top choice from this short lived super-group. The first disc was in the studio and has some great music but the second disc was from Live at the Fillmore and it was live and jamming that this band was at their best. Featuring just 4 songs but they remain some of the best jamming ever recorded. "Crossroads is the only short one and remains a staple of oldies rock stations but it's the long jam on "Spoonful" that puts this one over the top. Throw in "Toad" featuring Ginger Bakers amazing drum solo which influenced just about every rock drummer since and "Traintime" featuring some great harmonica playing by the multi-talented Jack Bruce and I can still enjoy this album 43 years later

Johnny Winter-And

The first thing I heard by Johnny was "Highway 61 Revisited" from the "Second Winter" album and it is my favorite song so it was very hard to leave that album off but his next released where he teamed up with Rick Derringer is my favorite. Some great rockers, blues and a couple for just for fun tunes. Two great guitarist with distinct but complimentary styles. Close call with "Still Alive and Well" which many consider his best.

Rush- Fly By Night

Saw these guys on their first American tour as the opening act for REO and Blue Oyster Cult. They stole the show and played mostly off this album. Incredible catalog of music over the past 40 years but this will always be my favorite. "2112" a close 2nd.

Neil Young- After The Goldrush

Neil is probably the one artist I would choose if I had to choose just one. So many incredible albums over the years and I have about 20 of them and they are all great. Such diversity with easy listening, hard rockers, country and folk and he makes it all sounds great. So many good ones to leave off. I really like "Ragged Glory" a lot too but I had to take this one as my first choice. I'd heard a little bit of him from my cousin Theresa and I liked it but preferred the harder rock stuff like most of the above choices but then I saw him on a TV show, may have been Johnny Cash. He played "After the Goldrush", just him and the piano and it was so beautiful and I became a huge fan after that and bought the album for myself.

Ted Nugent- Tooth, Fang and Claw

Uncle Ted. First heard of him with the hit "Journey to the Center of the Mind" when he was with the Amboy Dukes when I was 11 years old and had the 45rpm. Didn't hear anything from him for several years until was about 16 when I read an interview in Cream magazine. Loved his attitude so I bought his album "Call of the Wild" Total awesomeness. TF&C was the next release and it was freakin amazing. I used to have a deafening stereo in my little green Pinto and I would sit in the backseat with the speakers blaring "No Holds Barred" before heading into work in the afternoons after school. Lots of great music over the years and he puts on a great live show. Got to see him in Detroit back in 1997 on New Years Eve in his home court. Awesome !

Hate to leave off so much great music off the list but the good thing is I really don't have to limit myself to just these 10. I own them all !!!!!

here is the lst of runners up in no particular order

Joe Cocker- Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Saw the movie and it became an instant favorite. Introduced me to another great one Leon Russell

AC/DC- Let There Be Rock

First heard them in a commercial advertising them in concert at Dorton Arena. sounded good so I went. It was their first time in the USA. Paid $3.oo and only about 300 people were there. Amazing show. Bought the album and although they put out a lot of great stuff this is still my favorite. Love all of them with Bon Scott.

Rory Gallagher-Live in Europe

Never heard of him before I saw him. He was a substitute at an outdoor rock festival in 1971 and played after the headliner Alice Cooper. Most people had left before he played. Boy Howdy did they miss an amazing show. My brother brought back this album from England later that year and it is about the same set list as the show we saw.

Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffitti

Wow, it was hard to leave these guys off the top 10 list and just as hard to pick a favorite. Everyone one of their studio albums with the exception of their last could have been the one but this has got it all. "In My time of Dying" puts it over the top.

Tool-Undertow ( the only one not from the 60's or 70's on the list)

I was introduced to this band by Beavis and Butthead. Yep they were watching the video of "Sober" and I loved what I was hearing. Best stuff I'd heard in over decade from a new band at the time. I had to wait until the end of the video to see who they were and then found the cd.

Black Sabbath- Black Sabbath

Another band my friend Wesley turned me onto. Loved all of their Ozzy albums but this first one remains #1 but a tough choice leaving out "Paranoid" and " Master of Reality"

Savoy Brown- A Step Further

Yet another one I owe to Wesley. First time I heard it was at his house when I was 14. One side is a 22 minute live version of "The Savoy Brown Boogie" Love it ! A hard choice not to take "Hellbound Train"

Jimi Hendrix- Band of Gypsy's

His first ,"Are You Experienced" was his best studio album but Jimi was at his best live and this is my favorite performance. "Machine Gun" is probably the greatest guitar song ever and Joe Satriani agrees with me on that.

Blue Oyster Cult- Tyranny's and Mutations

The first time I heard these guys was at NCSU. they were a substitute for some one and me and my friends had never heard of them in 1971. Well they put on a great show and I had the pleasure of seeing them 7 times before they went pop rock with , those two hits I won't mention here. This album rocks !

Allman Brothers- The Fillmore Concerts.

Another band that's best heard live and this is the best from the days when Duane Allman was alive.

Judas Priest- Screaming For Vengeance

Ok, another one not from the 60's and 70's. Loved "British Steel" but The Hellion/Electric Eye put this one over the top.

J. Geils Band- Full House

Just a fun live album that rocks from start to finish. Wish I had been at the show this recorded at. Hate what they did in the MTV era.

Mc5-Kick Out the Jams

Would you believe another intro from Wesley?
Another live rocker from a band that influenced a lot of bands in the Motor City.


Their first. they put out four great albums before the singer and guitar player both left the band. All were good but this was my favorite. Some great rock and Lee Pickens piercing guitar style make the album but it's a long mellow mysterious song that is my favorite, "Fantastic Piece of Architecture"
These guys opened up for Grand Fun Railroad at Dorton Arena after the release of their 2nd album and stole the show. Oh and guess who turned me on to this band? Yep Wesley had a big influence on my early exposure to some great stuff.

Jethro Tull- Aqualung

Another band with a large catalog spanning 40 + years but this is still the best. Saw them live in Dorton Arena playing this stuff and "Thick as a Brick".


One more from the 90's. These guys just ROCK ! Nothing fancy here. No amazing virtuoso's. Just plain simple @#% kicking rock n roll. Put "I Stand Alone" on the stereo as loud as you can and if you don't like that then you just don't like rock and roll.

King Crimson- In The court of the Crimson King

Just the opposite of Jackyl, these guys are virtuoso musicians. 21st Century Schitzoid man is amazing rock and jazz but is totally different from the remainder of the album. A real head trip. One to listen too with no distractions.

Trapeze- Medusa

This is some great stuff and I love the sound of the recording. very basic with the three instruments of this trio coming out very distinct and balanced. Almost a live recording with practically no over dubs.

Ken Hensley- Proud Words on a Dusty Shelf

Almost bending the rules here with this choice. Hensley was the keyboardist, slide guitarist and sometime vocalist with Uriah Heep and wrote most of their music. He recorded this when he left the band playing everything but the bass and drums which he used his former bandmates Gary Thain on bass and Lee Kerslake on drums. Kerslake played with Ozzy on his first solo albums and Thain died. But anyway, next to Neil Young this guy remains one of my favorite songwriters and this album was very hard to leave off the top 10. "Cold Autumn Sunday" is my favorite and would probably be in my top 10 songs. Hmm maybe another list sometime.

And last,
Pink Floyd- Meddle

Why not Darkside of the Moon? Ask me sometime in private. Love a lot of Pink Floyd with these two being my favorites but I liked Umma Gumma a lot too. The wall has a few good songs on it but overall I was never a big fan.

Ok, stay tuned for more running stuff soon.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Crooked Road 24 HourRun by Guest Poster Amy Surrette

Amy was running this event as a fundraiser for the Cake Family that live in her hometown in Michigan.

Friday morning my family and I headed up to Rocky Mount VA with the camper packed full. It was much like other running events where we camp and the whole family comes out there for support, volunteer and run a few laps as well. This was a little bit different though because my mom and sister, who live in Michigan, were going to meet us there and be my crew and support for the event. It was also different as I was running this event to raise money for a very special family. I had many people pledging so much per mile and I had 24 hours to run as many miles as I could for the Cake family and the baby ‘cupcakes’.

We reached Waid Park about 2:00 in the afternoon. We chatted with several of the people there including Ricky Scott who was one of the race directors. With some guidance we found a great spot to set up camp right along part of the course loop. We set the camper up so that it would be ready in the morning when we arrived. (no camping allowed Friday night). We drove to Roanoke where we met my mom and sister and stayed the night at a hotel. Had a big dinner, well, breakfast rather… we dined at IHOP and I feasted on an omelet and pancakes - needed some running fuel, and this hit the spot! (woman vs. food, woman won!)

Saturday morning dawned clear and cool. Great morning for the run. Seems that last hour before a race flies by when you need to get so much done… All too soon it was time to start. Saw James Plant early on but he was keeping a faster pace that I was not comfortable keeping so I dropped back. Many of the early miles I was running alone. I was good with that. Several laps I would run with my sister, or walk with Andy or my mom. I was feeling good, eating well, and keeping a good rhythm. I stopped often to get the grit out of my shoes and powder my feet. I found it annoying that even with the gaiters on, I still managed to get stones in my shoes.

I was keeping an eye on the clock and on my mileage. 26.2 done, 50K done, I was well on my way to towards the 50 mile mark. Had my iPod in, playing tunes and was singing as I was running. Many of the other runners laughed when I passed by singing away. I fell into a zone. It felt great. Had a really great run/walk going with the straight-aways and hills. I knew in order to reach 100 miles by morning I needed to be at or under 11 hours at 50 miles. At 48 miles my Garmin went out. AGHH!!!! I am sure everyone in Rocky Mount heard my scream as I ascended the ‘one big hill’ without my Garmin data. I knew it was not going to last 24 hours, but I was still sad to see it go. I stayed focused and reached the goal of 50 miles in 11 hours and in that process made it onto the leader board. Oooo waaah!!! (7:00pm)

Darkness had fallen and it was starting to get cold. It was a clear night and I feared it would fall well below freezing before morning. I kept putting on the layers to stay warm. By 9:30 I had worked my way to 100K and 2nd on the leader board. I was still feeling awesome. Uncharted waters - haven’t ever run further than 63 miles before. Another milestone at 10:30pm First place overall for the women. Unbelievable! PR for distance AND slowly worked my way to the top.

The rest of the wee hours of the morning is kinda a blur. I kept eating and drinking but did not have the same energy I had earlier. I made it to 75 miles and had a meltdown. I was so cold. I had been walking many of the last few laps and not generating as much heat. I kept drinking soup but could not warm up. I was so frustrated that I could not find that rhythm I once had. In hindsight, my symptoms were hypothermia. I didn’t realize it, neither did my mom or sister. 3:00am I decide to get in the truck and try to warm up and take a nap. It was 85 degrees in there and the seat warmers were on. That did the trick. I woke up at 4:00 grabbed the blanket and headed over to the aid station. All the cups of juice and soda were frozen. It was 21 degrees out. I sat by the fire and got a little something to eat then decided to go back out. Before walking out into the night, Wes, one of the volunteers of the race, joined me. He had heard about the fundraiser and during the next loop I told him about the Cake family. This is what I heard - many people were moved by the Cakes story, by the fundraiser, and the desire I had to keep going for them. I had lost the lead, but not my determination to keep going.

“the race is not always to the swift, but those who keep on going”

Many of the next laps I spent with Dan Kuzma who at the time was the second place male. He was telling me about some ultras he ran in sub zero temps - not something I want to do, but it sounded like an amazing experience! He kept me smiling.

I took another break at about 6am. The volunteers had made hot pancakes and my belly could not say no to that. Paul and I were at the fire enjoying our breakfasts and when we were done, we looked at each other and decided to go back out again. We covered several laps together as the glorious sun finally came up! The 8:00 finish was closing in. The “stick lap” was not far away. I looked up at the clock as I came in on my last lap with Paul and saw there was about 5 minutes left and thought - “this is it, finish strong“. I took off my blanket, threw it on the fence, and started running. Together, James Plant and I “sprinted” the last lap of the run. We got to the big hill. The same one I had walked 87 times prior and I told Jim “I am running this thing this time” so we did! We sprinted down the hill, past the parking lot, down by the river (which btw was always 5 degrees colder over there the entire race), and nearly made it to the bridge when the horn sounded. Jim and I dropped our sticks and congratulated each other with a big hug. First 24 hour - 83.2 miles.

Believe it or not, my race was not done after that. I had to then pack up the camper and drive 3 hours back to Raleigh. That was tough after running that far on 45 min sleep! I got home, took a much needed bath, took a nap, then another nap, then slept sound from 10-6. I was sore Monday, but by Wednesday I had no fear of the stairs anymore.

What an amazing experience. It was a very well organized event. Aid stations had everything you could need. Volunteers were first rate. It was a great course. Many thanks go out to folks including Ricky Scott, and Pam Rickard (who I finally got to meet). My husband Andy, my mom Marcia and sister Karen for being there through it all. I would also like to thank Brooks Running for their sponsorship of me for 2011. It is great to be able to represent such an awesome company!

A big thank you goes out to all who supported me with their prayers and to those who donated for the fundraiser for the Cake family. It was a huge success - thanks so much!

I gained a lot of knowledge through this race. I plan to take with me to U100. It is not anything that anyone could have ever taught me, I had to learn it on my own through this life experience. I had some of my highest highs, followed by such disappointment, when I knew I was not going to reach 100. 83.2 is a fantastic distance. 20 miles farther than my furthest. A great stepping stone to 100. I am happy with the result. I hope it is a blessing to the Cake family.

You can still make donations here

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Junk miles, cross-training, F.I.R.S.T, older runners

I haven't been posting too much other than race reports lately so I decided to ramble on a little bit about a few things that come up every now and then on some training ideas. There are seemingly a zillion different training plans and many different ideas out there and the fact is most of them are going to be somewhat effective for most people. Some will work better for some better than for others and the only way to find what works for you is to experiment with different approaches.

I've certainly tried a lot of different things over the years and as my focus on different distances and events have changed over the years I have tried to use what I've learned to maximize my performances. As I approach my 56th birthday I have found that my main focus now is staying healthy and having fun but I still try to do the best I can when it comes to race day.

One thing I've been reading and hearing about for years is how Masters runners need to add more recovery time to their schedules and to add more rest days to their schedules. Usually the suggestion is to only run 4 or 5 days a week but to still maintain the intensity of the harder workouts. It is also suggested to only do one hard workout a week.

Very similar to this is the theory behind the F.I.R.S.T program developed at Furman University. The basic concept of this program is to only run 3 days a week but have all three workouts serve a specific purpose to build endurance, stamina and increase lactate threshold. This would include a long run, a tempo run and a track or interval session. The remainder of the week would include cross-training, mostly at an easy intensity. I know of a few friends that follow this program or at least try to closely follow a similar approach and have very good results.

I'm sure that the program works for a lot of people and has proven results but there is one reason why I would never use it myself and that is because I love to run. I am fortunate to have a lot of free time now and the main thing that I enjoy doing to fill that time is to run. If I feel like it and I've got 2 hours to spend running I'm going to run no matter what a schedule says I should do. I can't imagine having a perfect 55f degree afternoon free and not running if I wanted too. For that matter, I can't imagine not running if it's a miserable 95F or a freezing 17F. If I've got time and i want to go run, I'm going to run. And if I have the opportunity to run with one of my Angels, I'm going to try and make the time.

Many would refer to those extra runs as "junk" miles because they supposedly serve no training purpose. That debate will go on forever but I tend to agree with the Ray The K theory that there are no junk miles and every mile is training for something and especially for ultra running. If I've only got time for 3 or 4 miles between jobs or before some other important function, I'm going to run if I feel like it junk or not.

As far as cross-training is concerned, I find that it can be useful at times and even enjoyable but it just doesn't float my boat the way running does. Before I began running ultra's in 2002, I had been doing triathlons for several years. I had torn my ACL in 1998 playing soccer and getting in the pool and then cycling had been great for getting me into shape as I rehabilitated the knee and I certainly enjoyed competing and challenging myself in the tri's but biking and swimming as much as I enjoyed them could never replace the joy and pleasure I get from running.

I finally quit both swimming and cycling by 2005 to concentrate on ultra's and qualifying for Boston and didn't bike or swim for three years until I decided I wanted to finally enter and do an Ironman in 2009 and since Sept of that year I have not participated in either of those activities. At some point in the future I may get the urge to do some more tri's but right now I don't see that happening anytime soon.

I did find the cross training to be helpful to maintain my fitness and sanity when injured and when I took off 6 weeks at the end of 2008, swimming helped to maintain a little of my fitness but I can say without a doubt that neither biking or swimming ever made me a better runner. It was only when I stopped doing those two and focused on running more miles that my running improved.

I've also found that for me stretching, weight lifting and core work are highly over-rated. I do practically nothing in the way of stretching now and never have done a lot. When I was a younger runner I did some yoga but got really bored with it. Most of the stretching advised for runners over the years I have found to be counter-productive and served no purpose in making me a better runner or preventing injuries. In fact when I was told to stretch for the few injuries I've had over the years I found that it seemed to aggravate things more than help. All I do now is a little dynamic stretching for a few minutes to warm up.

I was actually focusing on body-building when I began running in 1977 and after awhile gave it up because I found I enjoyed running more. I dabbled in weights off and on a few times over the years and when I re-joined the Y in 2008, I began to train seriously as I was working toward my Ironman for about 1.5 years I was working out 2 to 3 days a week with weights and doing 20-45 minutes of core work 3 to 4 days week. I was feeling pretty good and I think it may have helped me some but I haven't done any for the past 1.5 years and I'm running as good or better now than I was then. I have been doing some push-ups and will try to do a little more core work a couple of times a week just because I like the way I feel doing it but I have no illusions of it making me run any better. It seems that's all you hear about now and all the PT's and running publications are pushing core work to make you a better runner but the average race times keep climbing and the average age group placement times are way slower than back in the 70's and I bet you don't see too many Kenyans worrying about their core either.

Well that's enough on that for now. If anything I've said offends anyone then, well get over it. No really, if you love to bike or swim or lift weights or only want to run 3 days a week and that makes you happy then it's all good. I'm going for a run.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Annual blow-up at Derby 50k

Well, it's not exactly an annual thing. This was my 8th finish but only my 6th blow-up. The 2008 and 2009 races were very pleasant to the end but then I was not pushing the pace for a pr those years.

It was looking like a beautiful day ahead as I rode down to Derby with Jenn, Ken and Margherita. Jenn and Ken were going to be volunteering and Margo was planning to run with me. I was looking forward to that because it is so rare that I get the opportunity to run with her and she is a very dear friend to me and has always been very supportive of my running. We arrived around 7:15 and I enjoyed spending time as always meeting and greeting friends at this small event with many regulars and the majority of runners being Mangum TC members.

We lined up in the road a few minutes before the start and then Mark promptly sent us on our way. I had planned to take it easy for the first 3 miles to get up the early hills the first time and then adjust out pace accordingly. The plan was to average 9 minute miles for as long as possible and hope to hang on for a pr. Sound familiar?

The plan was working perfectly as we passed the 3 mile mark in 27:07 and everything felt nice and easy as it should this early in the race. Another part of my plan was to avoid stopping at the aid stations to save time. I was carrying a hand-held bottle and since Jenn was working at aid station two, I had pre-filled two more bottles and put gels in the holders and given them to her so I could just drop off a bottle and grab a new one each lap. This would save me a little time so I wouldn't have to wait for refills. I was also carrying extra gels in my pockets and if necessary I could grab a cup at the other aid stations.

The plan was working to perfection and Margo and I completed the first 10.5 mile lap at about 8:55 pace with no stops. It was beginning to feel a little warm now that the sun was getting high but it never seemed to be a factor although I was sweating in a few sections and a little breeze was picking up. The second lap was almost a repeat of the first as our pace stayed steady. Once again I blew through the aid stations just swapping out another bottle as I passed through.

As we were finishing up the long hill near mile 20, Margo told me she was having some hip pain and she was going to quit when we got back around to the lodge. I had enjoyed her company but I understood why she didn't want to risk injury so I continued on alone passing the 2nd lap less than a minute slower than the first and still my overall average was 8:59. Now if I could just hold on another 10.5 miles.

I continued on a with determination, feeling good but it was still a long way to go holding that pace and the effects of those first 21 miles were there. All went well for the next 1.5 miles but when I hit the hills on Pappy Rabb Road for the 3rd time the zip had gone from my legs and I was slowing considerably and by the time I turned onto Derby Road I was reduced to a slow shuffle.

Obviously the 9 minute fantasy goal was gone but if I could somehow make a decent run for it the last 7 miles I still had a shot at the pr. I actually stopped at the aid station and let Mrs' Doom refill my bottle and I slammed a cup of coke , then headed out determined to give it one last push down Sycamore Lane. Well I pushed but the pace was still just a shuffle and by the time I hit the dirt road it was over. There would be no pr today or this year.

At that point I decided to just to get to the end as comfortably as possible and began to do a run /walk. I wasn't feeling bad but there was just no energy so I just tried to keep a good attitude, enjoy the rest of the race and get to the end and the delicious spaghetti lunch and social time that was waiting for me at the finish. I sat down at Jenn and Ken's aid station long enough to make a shoe adjustment and drink some more coke before heading up the mile long hill one more time. It wasn't too bad and I crossed the line in 5:14:11.

Once again I had a great time. As always Mark puts on a great little race for us and the volunteers and locals are wonderful. Very happy to have been able to share some great miles with Margo. Hopefully she will be running more ultra's in the future. Hope to be reporting on another Derby this time next year.

On to the next one.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another PR attempt in store for Derby 50K

The question is, how far will I hold pace this time before the wheels come off?

My readers might have another question or two. Like, is he really that stupid? I don't know , maybe I'm the eternal optimist but for some reason I still believe if I keep trying one of these days I'm going to actually be able to run 9 minute pace here for all 31 miles and not for just 26 or 27 and blow up. Is he insane? He's a week away from turning 56 and after 10 years of ultra's and his 8th attempt at Derby he actually thinks he can run faster than ever?

This will be my 8th time running Derby, the only streak race I have going. It has become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for me since it's inception 9 years ago. I didn't run that first year because at the time I didn't think I should run it so soon after my first 50 miler so I volunteered and ran one lap with the Finkles. I loved being there and regretted not running but with some luck , I have not missed one since. I almost did miss it in 2008 due to my nagging injuries that year. I was in doubt of being able to finish so I just ran slowly and got through it and then took a full year off from ultra's. A year later in 2009 it was my 1st ultra on the come back and I ran that one with The Marathon Princess, for her first ultra.

Each of the other 5 attempts were going for pr's and I was successful in 4 of those years. Last year I made it on pace through mile 27 before slowing way down and having to run/walk. The first pr was in 2004 and then I improved in 05, 06 and 07. The funny thing is that I broke all those pr's the next January each year at the Frosty 50k so I was always competing against a FF time and not a Derby time.

My first goal was to run a 10 minute pace for 50k . I finally did that the first time in 2005 at Derby and after that I set my goal for 9 minute pace. In 06, 07 and 2010 I was on pace through the marathon point but the wheels always come off or as in 2006 I got cramps and had to run/ walk the last few miles. In fact the only one of the 7 finishes so far that I ran the whole way was in 2008 when I was worried if I could even finish the distance. Although it was my slowest time since the first one in 04 I felt great.

Going into it this year I wasn't sure if I would be able to recover enough after MMTR to go for it but my training has been great and I've had quick recoveries after all 3 of my ultra's this Fall so I'm going for it once again. My course pr is 4:46:58 from 2007 but my overall pr is now 4:44:11 from the 2010 FF so it's not going to be easy. If I can just get another 3 or 4 miles before the wheels fall off.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Wonderful run Through the Blue Ridge- Mountain Masochist 50++ 2011

No, I didn't get the course pr but I'm still very pleased with the way the race turned out for me and I still ran my 2nd fasted time in 6 attempts. Considering I'm 5 years older I'm thinking at my age (55) that just coming close was a great outcome. But no I'm thinking that as good as I was feeling, with a little more training and a little luck I still might have a shot at that pr someday. Hmmmm, not sure about the schedule for next year.

It was a perfect day for the race with the start in the low to mid 30's and warming up to the low 50's during the day with brilliant blue skies once the sun rose. Despite knowing that I had a rugged 50 plus miles ahead of me and I was going to make it tougher by going for the pr rather than just trying to finish, I was very calm and relaxed. I was just so happy to be here lining up with a few minutes before the start knowing that I was in good shape after missing the race for the past several years.

Section 1-

Ok, there is no aid station there anymore. It used to just be a water stop anyway and really wasn't necessary. I began slowly near the back of the pack in the dark along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I thought I may run with Jenn at least for awhile since my plan was to take it easy for the first hour or so but she was running a little faster than I wanted to begin with so I just let her go and stuck with my plan. It's slightly uphill most of the way out and then turn around and back to the start. It was just beginning to get light as we crossed over the James River and I passed the old location in 33:19, about average for my times over the years.

Aid Station 1-

We now turned onto Hwy 501 N and in a few minutes I caught up to Jim Wei from Raleigh and a first timer here. Enjoyed talking to him and giving him a few tips on the course. We ran most of this section and just walked the steeper parts of the hills. We caught up to Jenn and I ran with her the rest of the way to the aid station at Cashaw Creek. Still feeling nice and relaxed and as the sun was rising I was looking forward to hitting the first trail of the day. Did that section in about 37:00(forgot to hit the split until after leaving) and was just about 1.5 minutes behind pr pace which didn't bother me at all at this point.

Aid Station 2-

Jenn took the lead as we began the first climb of the day on a trail that is like a 4 wheeler path to begin with. Normally she is a very strong climber but after a few minutes I could see she was not as fast as usual and as much as I would have liked to stay with her I knew I needed to get moving so I passed her and went ahead. Not long afterwards I looked back and didn't see her so I was a little worried knowing she had not been able to train much this year and had a swollen ankle up until a couple of days ago from a mis-hap with a pine cone.

I was climbing and running the less steep parts and after awhile it levels out a lot and is more like a narrow dirt jeep road. Lots of puddles but most were easy to run around so mud was not an issue. By now the sun was peeking over the mountains and the light was making the leaves shine like a golden tunnel for us to run through. I love this spot every time I run here. That section took right at 30 minutes for a total time of 1:45:11. I grabbed a mouthful of M'M's and was quickly on my way out.

Aid Station 3

The course began to climb again on a gravel road and I was feeling great now. I only had splits from my 2006 pr for a few key spots so right now I didn't know how I was on pace. I couldn't worry about that much anyway and so I was just going as fast as I felt I could do comfortably. After climbing awhile we get some nice downhill and I was surprised to come up on Anita Finkle. She is making a comeback from cancer and I was happy to see her off to a strong start. I spoke with her for a little bit and then pushed on down the rocky road eventually coming to the first and largest creek crossing. I arrived just in time to witness Jeff from the MTC that I had just met at the pre-race dinner take a slip and fall in the creek. That was pretty cool and I got it on video ! My time was 42:49 (2:28:00) and I felt very good as I grabbed some chocolate and hurried on my way.

You will notice that my fueling strategy for the day was to closely duplicate what I did in 06 which was to rely almost completely on chocolate. That year all I ate was Hersheys and I had a Twinkie at the halfway point and maybe 2 or 3 gels and a few potato chips. My energy level had never stayed more even during a race and I was hoping for the same result today.

Aid Station 4

The next section is a long one with surprise, ups and downs with the highlight being a tunnel shared with a creek underneath the Parkway. The water wasn't high this year so we just splashed along. Soon after passing through it Jeff caught up to me so we took pictures but then I ran on ahead again. That section was pretty uneventful and I came in at 49:58. The total time was 3:17:59 compared to 3:11 in 06. Now I was beginning to wonder a little bit about the pr attempt because I was feeling good and I had been running a lot on some of the hills that I normally would walk and yet I was still losing time. I know I ran well at the end that year so I didn't think I would be making up much time in the last third of the race but I was not discouraged just yet and planned to just keep doing the best I can.

Aid Station 5

Leaving the aid station is a quick downhill and and then a long seemingly endless climb on a well cared for Forest Service road. Time to do some power hiking and I tried to push the pace a bit with frequent running to try and make up a little time. I seemed to be running as well as I was 5 years ago in the ultra's but my power walking uphills is not nearly as strong now , mainly due to limited time in the mountains. I used to have the opportunity to get more training and racing in the mountains but now I work more weekends. The running did pay off and I was a faster on this climb by a little over a minute in 31:21 (3:49:21). Note that all references to 2006 splits with one or two exceptions were after I got home to check since I lost my cheat sheet before the 5th aid station and I could only remember the halfway and start of the loop

Aid Station 6 and 7

The next section is one of the fastest on the course with a long downhill giving back all that altitude from the previous climb. The key here is to make some time while not beating your quads to death because at the bottom you still have 30 miles to go. Did this one in 23:43. The next section is a little up and down some more to the bottom of the reservoir where you get some rare flat running for a few minutes. Good to see Charlie Hesse volunteering there and I did that section in 23:52. ( I didn't know it at the time but I made up about 30 seconds on those two sections.)

Aid Stations 8 and 9

Well, I actually can't remember if there was two aid stations in this part or if I just forgot to hit the split. I know there was one in 06 somewhere in there and it took me a combined time then of 1:00:14. This includes a long climb mostly on the gravel/dirt road up to the Long Mountain Wayside which they call mile 26.9 and the theoretical halfway point of the race. Horton always says you can just about double your time here to predict your finish if you can maintain your pace. I usually run a few minutes faster than that but with my total time now at 5:40:28 my pr attempt seemed to be over and now even an 11 hour finish was probably out of reach. I was feeling warm now in the middle of the day and had taken off my vest so when I saw Jade Wei there crewing for Jim, I handed it to her so I wouldn't have that to carry around the rest of the race. I was in a hurry and regretfully had forgotten to ask if she had been seeing Jenn. I was hoping that Jenn was feeling ok and not having any problems so she could at least finish this year.

Aid Station 10

Buck Mountain. You can see it for awhile before you get to the Wayside but then it's right there and you immediately begin the climb. It's about 2.5 miles of almost all climbing on a very rough, rutted rocky jeep path. I tried running a little bit of it and push the walking pace as much as I could and I was still feeling great so I was hoping to at least not lose any more time and I had not yet given up on a miracle happening in this 2nd half. I could only remember one more split from 06 and that would be much later at the loop so I could only push on and hope for the best.

After about a mile to go you can hear the Rocky theme blasting as always and it is such a welcome sound knowing that the climb will end soon. There is a little downhill before one last short push to the top and I reached the AS in 52:37 (6:33:06) It's probably a good thing I didn't know the pr split because despite feeling good I lost another 2.5 minutes and was now 10.5 minutes behind pr pace!

Aid Station 11

I do love this next section as it is mostly a gradual downhill from the top of buck Mt with just a few short uphill sections. I was feeling very good and sticking to my nutrition plan. My stomach was in perfect shape and the weather couldn't have been better for running at this point. I was able to run almost this entire section with only a minute or less of walking so i was hoping to make up some time from 06 because I remembered having a slight down period that year and walking a lot more of that section. My time down to Wiggins Spring was 26:59 which was 2.5 minutes faster !

Aid Station 12

I really think the next section is my least favorite on the course. It is short bu nearly all uphill on a gravel road with cars, mostly runner's crew driving up and down from the Loop. I caught up to Jeff McGonnell who was going for his 20th finish, an amazing feat to be so consistent on this tough course. I talked to him for a minute and then went on ahead. He was moving along ok but seemed not as strong as usual. that section took 23:50 which oddly was 1.5 slower than 06 so I lost more time

Aid Station 13

The Mt Pleasant Loop is actually one of my favorite parts of the course but I'd heard all the horror stories about it before my first year running. It seems most people think it is longer than advertised which is not surprising considering it is a Horton course but I have always found it to be probably the most accurate sections in the race. It begins easily enough with nearly a mile of flat smooth trail before beginning to ascend.

After awhile it goes through a very rocky boulder garden. Not much running done through this section but I love the scenery through here. After a couple of miles you get to a saddle between the two mountains on the trail and it looks like you are done with the climb but that is deceptive because in a short time it begins climbing even more for another mile before finally descending on a tricky, steep rocky rooty leaf covered section. I love it! And it's nice to hear the sounds from the aid station before you can see it.

I felt pretty good most of the loop but was really glad to head downhill. Unfortunately I was about three minutes slower in the loop than 06 so I came out nearly 12 minutes behind my pace from that year. ( 1:08:28 for the loop and total time 8:32:28) Now the pr was out of the question and it looked like I had lost the 11 hour goal too but I was feeling good and having a lot of fun so I was quickly in and out of the aid station.

Aid Station 14

As I began running onto the dirt road from the loop I couldn't not believe how good I was feeling. I was thinking, wow, who's legs are these ? I had more zip than ever after this much distance and on this tough terrain and picked up the pace and was hammering this section. It's mostly a gradual downhill with a few short climbs. I know I ran it well before but this year I came into Salt Log Gap nearly two minutes faster than before ! I grabbed a couple of pieces of chocolate and that would be the last calories I would take until the finish. ( 32:32 for that section)

Aid Station 15

This next short section is about my 2nd least favorite part of the course. A steep climb on a gravel road but fortunately it is one of the rare shorter than advertised sections and is over quickly if you aren't doing a death march. I climbed it fairly well only losing about 45 seconds. My time now was 9:24:31, nearly 11 minutes slower than 06. To set my pr or break 11 would be impossible because I know I ran the last part faster than ever in 06. Just to break 11 I would have to do the next part to the finish in 1:35. Impossible for me ! I grabbed a small cup of coke and that would be the last I would drink.

Aid Station 16

As I was heading out in this section which is supposedly 4 miles but closer to 5, I was having a hard time remembering much about it other than I knew a really nasty steep climb was somewhere out there before the last aid station. It was just about all single track and the leaves were thick on the ground making it hard to see the rocks and roots. It wasn't long before I came to that nasty climb. It was hard to get traction on the leaves so I found a walking stick to help with the climbing. I saw Eric Fogelman just ahead. We had been leap frogging all day and I know we must have passed each other 20 times throughout the race. He was stronger on the climbs and I would run by on the flats and downhills. I would pass him one more time but he finished strong and that's impressive considering he did the tough Grindstone 100 last month.

Once that climb is over the next couple of miles are fairly flat with some downhill and just some slight short climbs before taking a nice steep drop down to Porter's Ridge. I kicked it into another gear determined to finish as fast as I could and was passing a lot of people over the next several miles surprising myself at how strong I was feeling. This was AWESOME !

Aid Station 17

I blew right through the last aid station just yelling out my bib number as I continued to hammer the pace. According to Jim Wei's garmin it's 3.8 miles to the finish from Porter's Ridge and I remember most of it. Still just bombing as fast as I safely felt I could go and still passing people. After awhile the course turns out of the wild and onto a gravel road and signs of civilization and I knew the last mile was coming up soon. Just before the mile to go sign I passed two guys and one of them called my name. I didn't look back but just waved. In a minute one of them caught up to me and I saw it was Jeff Sacaroff, another of the Raleigh area first timers. I was surprised to see him and he took off and told me we had a shot at breaking 11 hours. I looked at my watch and although it would be close I would have to run a minute faster for the last mile than 06 and I ran it very strong in 9:10 that year.

I got another surprise when I looked ahead and saw Charles Akers. Jeff tried to get Charles to run with him but it didn't last long and Jeff flew on by. I passed Charles and made some comment about how stupid it was to be having to run so hard in the last mile of a 50 miler when I should be just cruising it in. But I was a man on a mission and still amazed at how good I felt and couldn't believe how close I came to breaking 11 hours. My last mile was 8:21 ! and that impossible 1:35 I needed to run from Forest Valley ? I did it in 1:35:23 ! I averaged 9:18 for the last 3.8 ! Just missed in official time of 11:00:20. despite missing the pr, i was nearly ecstatic with how good I felt felt all day and especially the last 12 miles.

Here is a link to my photos.

and here are a whole lot of pic that Jade Wei took while crewing for Jim.

I think she got just about everyone at least once.

I will have a video up soon and some more thoughts on the race later.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Training update and Mountain Masochist preview

Now, isn't that a lovely picture? I took that photo of Buck Mountain at around mile 25 in the 2006 race where I set my course PR. I'm very excited to finally be returning and take a shot at lowering that pr. I've only been once since then ,back in 2008. I was not in very good shape that year with the nagging injuries but I wanted to give it a try anyway. It was Jenn the Ultra Angel's first attempt and I wanted to share as much of it as I could with her. It was a perfect day for running and we stayed together until half the way up Buck Mountain, around mile 28 when I had to let her go ahead. I would drop out about 5 miles later.

I'm looking for things to be much different this year and the forecast is once again looking like near perfect running conditions. I'm feeling very confident with my training the past couple of months. After a hot muggy day and a disappointing effort at Hinson Lake, I recovered very quickly and began trying to log more mileage in the cooler Autumn weather.

I put up some good training numbers and then had a strong run at the Medoc Marathon with no taper. A couple of easy days after that and I was right back to it and feeling great. A week later I put in 52 miles and followed that up last week with 60 more with a couple of quality workouts. And the best thing is the right achilles tendon that has been bothering me since late April just stopped hurting about 2 weeks ago. I guess I ran it into submission. This week I have cut back with just some 6 milers and each day I have felt better with more zip in my legs so I'm hoping this will mean good things are in store for the race Saturday.

Here is my report from that 2006 race with a link to some pictures

Here is a link to the race website. There should be live updates here. My bib 3 is 218.

Jenn is returning and I'll have lots of other friends running to including Dorothy Hunter who is going for her 10th finish. there are several friends from the Raleigh area going for their first so I'll be wishing them good luck and offer the best info and encouragement that I can.

Stay tuned for the results !

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wondering around Weymouth Woods

In what seems like another lifetime, I used to work all over the Eastern and Southern portion of the State and when I was in the Sandhills area I would occasionally do some running on the trails of Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve. A couple of years ago Marie Lewis from the Mangum Track club started putting on a 100k trail race there. It didn't fit my schedule at the time but now with the 3rd edition planned for next January, I have entered and look forward to having some fun while getting in a long race in preparation for the Umstead 100 next Spring.

I've been wanting to go and check out the trails again and this afternoon I had the time so I made the drive down from Durham when I finished work this morning. It was a beautiful afternoon in the upper 60's with low humidity so I was in for some nice running weather. The biggest challenge was going to be figuring out the race course. I had a copy of the map but there would be no markings other than the normal trail signs. The problem is that the course uses several different trails as well as some bridle trails. To make it even more difficult, there are numerous service roads and fire breaks that aren't on the map.

I got off to a great start. After just .35 miles I was right back where I started. OK, that was easy to figure out. Went on the wrong trailhead a few yards away. So I started out again and this time I got on the right trail.
Everything was going well for a little over a mile when I took a wrong turn. It came to a dead end in less than 1/4 mile so I ran back and got back on course. Shortly after that I made another wrong turn but since it connected with the correct route a little later I didn't know it until I ran the the third lap. But back to this one. I had some confusion but thought I had it right and was cruising along thinking I should be within a 1/4 mile of the start when I came out on a trail on the wrong side of the park. Somehow I was right back around the 1.5 mile mark. I back tracked a ways and then took another couple of wrong turns that finally at least got me back to the start. That 4.4 miles turned into 6.

I decided to do the next lap in reverse and see if I could figure out where I had made the mistakes. All was going well and I thought I had it right but when I got back around to my car again I had only been 4 miles ! Crap ! I was wondering if my gps was screwing up that bad or had I taken a shortcut ? This was getting
frustrating but at least I was getting in some good running on some nice trails.

I went out for lap three in the normal direction again hoping that I would find where I could have made a mistake. By now I was confident of most of the route but I still had some questions about it and was hoping to finally get it right. Thankfully I was able to clearly see this time where I had made the shortcut at a confusing intersection that was not on the map and I had no trouble the rest of the way.
That lap measured right on 4.4. Reassuring to know my gps wasn't that far off.

So I got in a nice 14.4 mile workout and had an enjoyable afternoon. I must say the trails are a bit more difficult than I remember but then everything seemed easier when I was 20 years younger. Lots of roots in several sections. Sandy in places and it's pretty thick in a few spots. No big hills but several shorter ones and some are steep. This is not a fast course by any means. Looking forward to the challenge next year !

Here is a link to the park website

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Medoc Trail Marathon

It's nice to post a report on a race that went well for a change. I'm sure the near perfect weather conditions played a big factor in this being a more successful outing for me. It seems no matter how much acclimating I do to the heat and humidity, I never run well until the cooler temps of Autumn return. But I did learn many years ago that if I train hard and suffer through the miserable heat and humidity of the NC Summer I will be rewarded with days like this past Saturday.

I was able to leave early enough to the park to set up my campsite well before dark and packet pick-up. I only made the decision to go ahead of time about a week ago and the cooler drier air was a big factor in that decision. It is less than an hours drive to the park from home but I knew it would be fun to hang out with lots of my running friends. It was fun but I still needed some rest so I was in the tent by 9:30. It was a chilly night and the ground is hard so sleep didn't not come easily. I did get some sleep because I remember having one really wonderful dream but that was followed by a nightmare. It was pretty cool hearing the coyotes and the lone moowing of a cow way off in the distance.

I finally crawled out at 6 and made my coffee and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of frosted brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts. ( the breakfast of champions and secret to my success?) With only 15 minutes to the start we finally made our way over to the starting area where I found quite a few of my NCRC, MTC and and other friends. By now the sun was peaking up over the trees, it was in the low 50's and just a gorgeous morning.

I was feeling confident and I had a plan. Now was the time to see if my feelings were justified and put that plan to the test. As I mentioned in the preview post, I had originally signed up for this as a training run but now I was hoping to lay it on the line. I love racing ! My friend Charles West had suggested when I told him I planned to race it that he thought I should just run it easy and save it for MMTR but my mind was made up and I know with my current level of fitness I will have plenty of time to recover for a strong effort there.

So I lined up with my training partner Amy Surrette and explained my strategy to her. We were both hoping that she would be able to share at least some of the miles. That plan was to take it easy the first 1.5 miles to get warmed up and see if there was some zip in the legs, then get over the summit climb at about 2.5 miles into the race without pushing the pace and if everything felt good then I would open it up and see what I had.

That is exactly what we did. I felt very relaxed but after the first mile in 9:46 Amy questioned whether or not this was an easy pace. It did feel very easy and relaxed to me but she wasn't feeling quite as spiffy as I was. Once we began the ascent to the summit she began to drop behind. I turned around and took a picture of her just behind me as I neared the top but when I reached the summit it was hammer time. Now I was committed to the challenge. I was either going to have a good race or blow up trying.

It didn't take long for me to realize that it was indeed going to be a good day for me. I knocked out a couple of miles in 8:55 and 9:05 as the course was mostly gradually downhill or flat for the next several miles. It was so sweet to find myself in the zone for the next couple of hours. I was very relaxed but focused and looking back now I am amazed at how I just seemed to float over the rocks and roots. I was soon back down to the bottom land along Little Fishing Creek and some flat running for awhile. The plan the remainder of the race was to run strong and steady on the flats, bomb the downhills and then use the uphills to recover by slowing the pace and keeping the effort spread evenly. This was working perfectly as I completed the first of three laps on the course just a little faster than my fantasy goal pace.

I headed out on lap two with confidence but still aware there was a long way to go so I resisted the urge to push any harder. By now the race was spread out quite a bit and I would have no more 10 milers coming up on me. There was a group of several runners that had been around me for most of the race and for the next few miles we would continue to leap frog. I would pull away on the flats and downhills but because I was backing off the pace on the hills, they would catch or pass me. As we came into the aid station around mile 12, I stopped to have my water bottle refilled and headed out before any of that group and I took off bombing down the single track once again throwing in a 9:38 and 9:24 mile back down to the Creek.

I had not seen another runner in front of me since leaving the aid station and when I got back to the bridge I was joking with the volunteers that I must be winning the race now. All the way to the next aid station at the beginning of the Bluff Loop and still no one in sight. I continued running well but slightly slower than the first loop and by the time I finished that second loop I still had not seen another runner in front of me.

As I headed out on loop three I knew I would not get my fantasy goal but my realistic goal of 4:30 was still within reach if I could just hold it together. As I left the aid station and headed back into the woods I would run my last sub 10 mile in 9:59. Soon afterwards I was a little surprised to have a young lady pass me on the first climb of the tough Dam Site Trail. She obviously had paced herself well and I encouraged her onward. Soon after I began the last climb up the summit and was happy to still be able to run a portion of it. I caught two guys at the top and was still able to push the pace once again albeit slower than the previous two trips and quickly left them well behind. By now I was really having to dig deep to keep up the pace. I was certainly slowing down but still able to hold a decent pace.

I stopped briefly at the aid station for a gel and some water before heading off on the single track once again. Bryant Dukes passed me here which surprised me. Not that he passed me but that I was ever in front of him to begin with. I was now past the infamous "wall" but still feeling pretty good. I was sill able to push the pace down to the creek. I met Charles West coming up the trail doing volunteer duty and it was nice to see him and get some encouragement. Even with the brief stop I ran that 21st mile in 10:12.

I ran over the bridge for the last time and was hoping to continue to push a steady pace along the flat creek section but it was soon obvious that the zip was now gone. The roots I had floated over earlier had now become obstacles that took extra effort to lift the feet over and I was having to step much more carefully adding precious seconds to my pace. I made it into the last aid station with 3 miles to go knowing I would not be able to slow any more if I was going to get that 4:30. A young man passed me and I tried to keep him in sight as I made an effort to push the pace on the gently sloping trail back down to the Creek.

Well, the effort was there but the pace was not and I was getting ever slower and slower. I was very surprised again that I passed Byrant back in these last few miles but he was having some cramping issues. Despite the slow down I still had only been passed by three people since mile 12 and I just passed one of those back but my main concern was trying not to slow any more and hopefully still squeak under my goal pace. I was still holding out hope for an age group placing although I had figured that was a long shot some of the volunteers had told me I was first of the old guys but I thought there were probably a few that just didn't look as old as I do with my very thin, grey hair.

Well, mile 25 took me almost 12:30 minutes and that was the end of my chance at 4:30 and then to add to the insult, I was passed with 1.5 to go by a man that I was guessing had to be in my age group. As slow as I was I was still going as hard as my body would allow over these last couple of tough rolling miles determined to finish as fast as I could and place as high as possible. and then finally I was out of the woods and onto the meadow with the cheers and finish line in sight. I was able to cross over in 4:32:53 and although it was not quite my goal I was very very happy with it and my effort. So sweet to be able to give it a good effort all day. The time is especially satisfying considering I ran 50 miles at Hinson Lake three weeks ago and have put in a lot of solid training miles since then with no taper for this race.

I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging with my running buddies and watching the rest of them come in to finish. I was happy to take 3rd in my age group and yes, the gentleman that passed me was 2nd. He obviously ran a well paced race. The 1st place guy was from another planet and ran under 4 hours.

I was very happy that The Trail Angel Laura was able to win the women's overall title and just a week after winning the New River 50k. She is awesome !

Amy had some struggles out there but as always toughed it out and was surprised and happy to find she had won 3rd in her age group. Unfortunately my other training partner and dear friend The Ultra Angel Jenn, who was running today with her trail name Bat Girl and had the shirt to go with it was having a tough time out there. I was getting worried when it was well past her expected time but she brought it home with some company from our friend Rhonda and was all smiles so everything was good.

Lots of other friends had good and bad days but all had fun. In particular we were very happy to see Ben Dillon finish his first marathon in nearly two years after back surgery and two cataract surgeries.

This was a wonderful day and I have to say many thanks to all the race committee and their volunteers and sponsors for putting on a quality event.

Here is a link to the results. I'll try to post some pics and videos soon.


DSC_0381 by Triple F
DSC_0381, a photo by Triple F on Flickr.


DSC_0103 by Triple F
DSC_0103, a photo by Triple F on Flickr.


DSC_0104 by Triple F
DSC_0104, a photo by Triple F on Flickr.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Medoc Trail Marathon Preview

Looking forward to running this race for the first time. As you may know if you follow the blog, I have trained on the the trails at Medoc many times in the past. I don't find my way up there too often any more but beginning back in the late 80's it was a frequent stop for training runs on the way home from the Roanoke Rapids area.

I finally made it to the Medoc Meltdown this summer and now I am an entrant in the marathon race. When I originally signed up for it my plan was to use it as a long training run for Mountain Masochist. The timing was perfect with it being three weeks after Hinson lake and three weeks before MMTR. However , with my shortened run at Hinson I have recovered very quickly and have gotten in some solid training the past two weeks. Everything seems to be going well, I'm feeling good and with a forecast for great weather I have decided to give it my best effort and race the thing. That of course depends on how my legs feel after the first couple of miles which I plan to start at an easy pace.

Here is the race website.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hinson Lake 24 hour 2011 Preview

Getting excited and looking forward to returning to this wonderful event courtesy of Tom Gabell and family. This will be my 3rd attempt at running a 24 hour event, all here at Hinson Lake which is located in Rockingham NC.

here is the race website.

My first year I was able to go for 103.36 miles and my goal is to exceed that amount with a target of 106. Hopefully I can use what i learned from that experience and other events since then to pace myself a little better in the earlier miles and keep up better with the fluids and nutrition. I hope that if I can run that far it will place me in the top 10 overall. In 2006 there were about 69 runners and I finished 8th. this year there are 277 entrants and at least 20 have run over 100 in a 24 hour event and several others I know that have gone under 24 hours in 100 mile races so that may be a hard challenge for me.

here is the report from 2006.

I returned in 2007 but was not having a good day and quit after 69 miles in just under 16 hours. Here is that short report.

some pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Iron Mountain 50, errr, 32 Miler

It's a lot more fun to write reports for races that go well but just because things didn't go like I had hoped doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it.

I made the drive out to Damascus early Friday afternoon, alone on this trip. I took the scenic route enjoying driving over roads that I haven't been on in probably 15 years. I used to make frequent trips through the area in the late 80's into the early 90's with an old job but haven't been this way since then. I found my way to the town gazebo for packet pick-up and talked to Kevin and Anne for awhile before heading to Abingdon for the night.

I was not too happy with the forecast for the race this year. I never perform well in heat, even with a whole summer to acclimate and it was already near 70f and the high was heading to about 90F and humid. Yuck ! This was going to be tough enough without having to deal with that. I lined up with the camera going just a few seconds before the start and then Kevin yelled go and off we ran across the grassy field and onto the old railroad bridge of the Virginia Creeper trail. As soon as I crossed the bridge I stopped to let most of the faster runners go by. This was going to be a long hard day and I didn't won't to get sucked into starting too fast mixed in with the 16 milers.

After about 1.5 miles I caught up with one of my good friends in the sport, Anita Finkle. We would run together for the next several miles on the flat Creeper, enjoying the scenery and catching up on things. By two miles I was already drenched from the humidity and we could all tell it was going to be a sticky , hot day.

After 5 miles we hit the first aid station, then crossed over the road and onto the first single track section. This was a really nice trail, some rocks and roots but overall in good shape as we climbed steadily up the mountain. I said later to Anita and picked up the pace a bit, feeling good and climbing strong. The climb continued for a couple of miles with a nearly level section every now and then so I could do some running. Near the summit the sun was rising over the mountain and it was a beautiful morning. The only bad thing was with the heavy foliage there were no real views to admire so I focused on the trail. It was nice to get in some nice running on the ridge line with gentle ups and downs. Pretty rocky in places but a really sweet section of trail.

The runners had already was spread out quite a bit but there was a small group of us close together. A couple of young ladies in the 16 miler and one in the 30 had been a bit stronger than me on the climbs but I would catch up on the flats and downs but now as the trail turned down toward the aid station on some really sweet , tight single track winding gently downhill we had come together. This continued for about a mile but I finally had to go around as I was running much too slow now when I needed to be making some time. It was hard to pass in this narrow section and the fast 16 milers were coming back already but I finally got a chance to pass and moved quickly ahead. Another mile later and I was into the aid station, FSR 90. Good to see Tammy Gray helping out there. I took over 1.5 hours to get there.

I was really surprised at how long that section took considering some good running over a portion of it. At that rate it was going to be hard to chase the cut-offs all day. I didn't waste anytime and headed out on another bit of climb. The rest of the day would be pretty lonely out there. I passed the one lady that was in the group earlier that was in the 30 miler and then I would not see anyone else for quite a while. The next section was a lot of up and down with some single track and some rally washed out rutted double-track. After a couple of miles I was caught by a guy named Killian with a thick Irish accent and we ran and talked for a mile or so before he pulled ahead. It was really getting warm out there now and I was sweating profusely and trying to drink as much as I could.

This section took about 1.5 hours too and I was thinking I should have carried two bottles for this race, especially on a hot humid day like today. 1.5 hours is just too long for me with just 20 oz. and I think that was the main reason that would lead to my eventual dnf. Anne was working this aid station so I talked to her while getting my bottle refilled and I drank some extra while I was there before heading out again.

The next section started with a climb of course, up a gravel road. After awhile it turned into more of a jeep road and eventually a double track. grassy, weedy undulating trail that reminded me of some of the Promise Land course. It was feeling powerful warm by now and I welcomed every little hint of a breeze but there wasn't too much of that. There had been someone behind me for a long time and a young man finally caught up as we reached a summit. I stopped to drink and let him pass but he stopped too looking just as tired as me and so after a drink I began running down and never saw him again.

I finally made my way into the Hurricane Gap aid station and grabbed some food and some coke and plopped down in a chair for a short breather because by now I was feeling the effects of the weather. I didn't feel bad but I sure didn't feel good either. That section had taken around another 1.5 hours and although I didn't know what the cut-off was I knew I was not very far ahead of that pace. They told me it was 7 miles to the next aid station which would be water only and then 3 miles back to this location so I put a little extra food in a baggie in my pocket and headed out.

The next section started out on a smooth gravel road, mostly a gradual downhill with just a little climbing so I was able to run at a decent pace. After a mile or so we made a turn onto the Barton Gap trail. It was another really nice section of single-track with gentle ups and downs which continued for a 2 miles before dumping me back onto another gravel road. This was predominately downhill and I was happy with that thinking I could make up some time. I caught up to Killian but only because he had slowed thinking maybe he missed a turn but when I assured him we hadn't he ran ahead again.

As I was walking up a short hill I saw four young teenage boys sitting by the ditch, a couple of them had guns . I spoke to them and one asked me if I had seen any squirrels. I told them no, that the squirrels were probably smarter than me and hiding in a cool spot somewhere.

Once the road turned downhill again I began to run and was moving along at a nice pace and actually caught up to and passed a guy. By now I was out of water and really looking forward to getting to the next water stop and getting out of the sun on this road. I caught up to Killian again and by the time on my watch that we had run since hurricane Gap I told him we should be seeing it soon.

And then finally after more than another 1.5 hours it came into view and I was so happy to see that it was not just a water stop but a full service aid station. Even better than that it was being serviced by a beautiful bee and a lovely fairy/butterfly? No it was not a mirage but Jennifer Nichols and Beth Minnick. Robin Grossman was there too and she took the photo of me resting on what seemed to be a very popular rock for weary runners. I really thought I had stumbled into trail heaven when Beth offered me a popsicle. Oh yeah, that hit the spot.

I was hot and tired but had been running well although the last mile I was beginning to drag before coming upon this oasis. With 3 miles to go back to Hurricane Gap I was confident that I had plenty of time to make the cut-off and would finish this thing. I talked a little to a nice young man named John that was sitting on the next rock. He seemed to be having a tough day in his first 50 miler but was training for a 100 miler in a few weeks. This one would certainly toughen him up for that.

Popsicle done and it was time to move on up the Rowlands Falls trail. It started of innocently enough but quickly began to climb and I was surprised at how hard it felt going up. I had been running so well most of the last section but the downhill pounding and dehydration had caught up to me. I was gasping as the trail turned steeper and after about a mile or so I had to find a rock and sit down to let my heart rate go down. This was really the best section of trail on the course that I had seen but it was hard to enjoy it right now. Very gnarly single track , narrow and twisting with steep drop-offs in some places. Very rocky at times and we had to cross the creek probably a dozen times. The water was low so I didn't have to get the feet wet too much but they were already soaked with my sweat anyway.

Anyway, I was feeling like crap and moving at a turtle pace, watching my time cushion tick away. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I really did want to finish this thing but unless the aid station miraculously appeared in the next few minutes I knew I would miss the cut-off. I passed by the falls and would have loved to get closer to take some pictures but I didn't have the energy to make the short climb down to them and I couldn't afford the time. Shortly after that the trail turned to double track and much easier to negotiate but still a steady climb and I was toast.

Eventually I emerged into the clearing at the top, well past the new cut-off that Kevin had just updated this week but 4 minutes under the old cut-off. Even with this 4 minutes, in the condition I was in I would never had made it to the next one and I really had no desire to punish myself by trying. John was just ahead of me and he dropped out too so I was able to hitch a ride to the finish with him and his crew, the wife of his best friend that was also in the race. It felt sooo good to get into the A/C and relax in the ride back to Damascus.

One I made it back I enjoyed the next several hours sitting in the shade eating hot dogs and cheeseburgers while hanging out with the Finkles. Also enjoyed talking to Melinda while we waited for Mike to finish. It had been a rough day out there with Mike and several of my friends finishing but way slower than usual and a lot of dnf's by some good runners. Amazingly even under these conditions, race founder Eric Grossman set a new course record !

Thanks to Kevin, Anne and all the volunteers for putting on a wonderful low key event with first class aid and post race picnic including ice cream !

here are the pictures I took

Onto the next one.