Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Preparing for The Iron Mountain Trail Run-50 mile

During the late 80's and early 90's I had to make frequent trips into Western Virginia for work and one of my favorite places to visit while I was out there was Damascus VA. At the time I had never heard of the Virginia Creeper or the Iron Mountain Trail but I was very happy to find them as well as the Appalachian trail which I already knew about.

I did some running on all three trails and really love the area so when I heard Eric Grossman was starting a 50 miler there a few years ago I was excited and hoping to run it sometime when I could squeeze it into my schedule. Well, sometime has come as I will be heading out there this Friday afternoon for the race on Saturday. Eric moved but some others wanted the race to continue so Kevin Townsend stepped up to be the new race director.I met Kevin at Holliday Lake several years ago and many other of Horton's races since then so it will be nice to see him and run his race.

It will be a tough one,with about 8,000ft of climbing over a mix of single track and jeep roads. It also has a 12 hour cut-off making it even more difficult for getting an official finish. Even Horton has said it is harder than MMTR. We shall see. I know that one thing that will make it harder for me is the warmer weather. The high is going to be in the mid 80's and will probably be humid. MMTR is usually cold with really nice mid day temps.

Unfortunately none of the Angels or Princesses will be making this trip but I will have several friends there that will be running. My goal is really just to finish and have fun. There will be no online updates. This is a low key event with aid at a bargain price, much like the MTC events.

Here is the race website. Check out the race video. I will have some pics and a report for you soon afterwards.
Stay tuned

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August training update

Recovery from Tahoe Rim has been a little slower than I had hoped for but I finally feel like I can began to train normally again. I had taken off 4 days from running and then slowly worked my way back into it. By the end of the 2nd week I thought I was ok but after one or two good runs I would have a bad day. Attempts at moderate distance longer runs (12-13) the past two Saturdays were failures. I quit at 10 and felt wasted the first time and this past weekend was worse , quitting at just 8.2.

It has now been four weeks and it seems that this is about the way it was after Leadville in 2006 so I guess it is normal for me after running one of these tough mountain 100's at altitude. My recovery after my other 100's has been a lot quicker. After OD in 2006 I ran the Boogie 50 just two weeks later and even after my first one at Umstead I did the tough Promise Land 50K++ just three weeks later.

The good thing is that I had and have had no pain or injury issues. Just the normal soreness for the first week and the blistered areas were fine within a few days.

So I rested again on Sunday and then went out for an easy 6 on Monday. Nothing great but I got through it feeling ok. Today was the real test. I went back out to Umstead to once again attempt a 12.5 miler this afternoon. Success ! I felt good the whole run and after I was done I felt like I could have easily kept going. The lower humidity helped I'm sure.

Now I think I can finally resume my training. I have several more ultra's on the schedule for the year and I plan to do as well as I can in each of them with at least some specific training geared to each one but the main focus is to build toward a PR attempt at the Umstead 100 next March.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A few more thoughts on the Tahoe Rim

The slogan for the race is " A Glimpse of Heaven, A Taste of Hell" and you will find it inscribed on the finisher's belt buckle. For me the race turned out to be a lot more than a glimpse of heaven and the only taste of hell if I could call it that would be the climb up the ski slope. Even that offered a heavenly view every time I took a look back.

It seems odd to me that although this was definitely one of the toughest things I've ever done, I can truly say I have never felt better from start to finish than I did in this race. As I chronicled in the long winded race report, I did encounter a few challenges along the way. Falling down is never a good thing but in both cases I escaped with minor damage and was able to continue with no problems resulting from them. I did have a few blisters and a couple of them were very painful but the pain faded quickly and the worst one at least waited until just two miles to go.

I am still amazed at how good I felt throughout the race. Not once did I ever regret being out there or have to fight off the urge to quit. There was never any doubt I was going to continue. Usually at least for a while I reach a point where all I can think is how stupid it is to run 100 miles and if I ever do finish I'll never do another one. There were no "oh God I'm tired, this sucks" moments. My energy level was good and my stomach was completely happy the entire race. I could eat or drink as much as I wanted at anytime with out worrying about nausea or lack of desire. Although I could feel the altitude up above 8,000 ft it didn't affect me other than cause me to slow down more than I normally would at sea level.

I had averaged a little more mileage leading up to the race but not a lot more than in 2006 and 2007 when I did most of my other 100's and I had not done nearly as many ultra or marathons in the past couple of years so I don't know how any of that explains it. The weather was certainly perfect for me at least. It was just the type that I perform my best in so I know that it not only helped me physically but mentally. And speaking of mental I think that my race preparation, attitude and strategy going into to it were the biggest factors in my success.

It was so nice to have Jenn and Karla and Frank along for part of the trip. It's especially nice to know I have two of my special Angels and Princess Team there to wait for me to finish. We sure have put in many miles on the trails and roads together over the past several years and they are such a Blessing to my life. They each have their story to tell of this amazing weekend experience. Despite some problems with the altitude early on , Jenn was able to complete 50 miles before making the wise decision to drop. The next day she didn't look like she had just run 16 of the hardest hours of her life and was moving along so well.

Karla had completed the 50k, certainly her hardest race to date on much less than ideal preparation and was looking fresh as well. I am so proud of both of them.

This is a fantastic event. The directors and their staff of volunteers do an outstanding job facilitating the race for our enjoyment. I can recommend this to anyone looking for a great race and a gorgeous course. But if you do decide to give it a try, you need to make sure you bring your "A" game. This is a tough one and it wouldn't have taken too much to go wrong and my great race could have been a dnf.

Frank was able to get some pictures of Karla at the start and finish and then came back and got a few of me at my finish. Karla also ran with a camera and took some nice shots along the way. I have added several from them both to my album so if you desire , here is the link again with the added photos .