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.