Monday, December 31, 2012

100 Pushups. The challenge begins

 A couple of years ago I came across this program  to get you to the point where you can do 100 pushups. About  a year and a half ago I started the program and I got up to 84 before I lost interest and got away from doing anything but running. I noticed a couple of months ago that I was slouching a lot and I knew that it was time to get back to doing some of my core workouts. I got started on that in November and shortly after that , Amy put out a 30 day plank challenge. I took it on and it was a big help in keeping me motivated to get back into doing more core stuff on a regular basis.  I didn't miss a day for about 40 days and I did get back to doing at least some of more core routine 3 or 4 days a week. I can already feel and see some results.

  So a few days ago I decided it was time to get back onto the strength phase and so I am going to start at the beginning with the 100 push-up program and this time I am determined I won't quit until I get to  at least 100 consecutive pushups. And hopefully after I reach that goal I can stick with the maintenance program. I know it is not going to happen in 6 weeks but I will keep repeating the last 2 weeks of the program until i achieve success. 

here is a link to the program.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking ahead to 2013

I don't ever make New Year's Resolutions but I do like to set goals and make plans. At this point there are still a lot of holes and maybe's in the schedule so here is what I have already entered and some of what I plan to do if possible.

 To begin with I really hope I can run as many or more miles with The Angels this year.

 In January I will be heading out to Nevada once again, this time to Vegas where I will be running the Running From an Angel 50 miler and hopefully set a 50 mile Pr. After that it's back to marathon training.

 In February I will be heading to Myrtle Beach to run the half-marathon with Amy as a test run and workout as we prepare for her hopeful Boston Marathon Qualifier at the Tobacco Road Marathon in March .

 After Tobacco Road, I quickly convert back to ultra's with a PR attempt at The C&O Canal 100 miler the last weekend of April. Since I will have been concentrating on marathon type training for most of the past several months leading up to this I am hoping that it will be like 2006. That was one of my best years ever and after training for and running Boston I set many distance and course pr's for the next year in ultra's.

 Right now I have nothing planned for may and June as I wait on a couple of things.

 In July I do plan to return to one of my favorites, the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. Hoping to run it with Amy and /or some of the other Angels.

 Nothing for August or September at this point.

 October 6th I am heading up to Corning NY to run the Wineglass Marathon. Lisa, Karla and Frank are also making the trip and hopefully another Angel or two(hint hint).  This is a fast course and should be good weather so I hope to continue with the mostly marathon type training over the summer and go for a fast time here.

 The only thing I am sure of after that is that I will be returning to the Derby 50k for my 10th finish.

 That's it for now. Stay tuned as other things will be added to the calender soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 A Look Back

The year is nearly over now with no major events planned so I guess it's time to take a look back and see how things went with the running.

  The year got off to a great start with the Weymouth Woods 100k. A cold day but very comfortable for running and I was able to finish in a time (13:53)  that gave me a qualifier for Western States. The best part of it was that I felt strong and was able to actually pick the pace back up over the last lap. Beats doing a death march finish anytime! I finished up the month with some fun at the NCFA 50K on the All American Trail at Fort Bragg. Just used it as a long training run and some time for socializing with a bunch of MTC friends.

  In February I made the trip to Pilot Mountain State park with Margo and Tony for the Pilot Mt Payback Trail Marathon. It was a gorgeous day and I ran strong and met my goal of feeling good and going sub 5 hours. Great day with several MTC friends.

 After that I just spent the rest of the month and most of March training for the Umstead 100 until March 24th when I ran  a 5k cross country race. Not the smartest thing to do a week before a 100 miler. I wasn't going to run hard but ended up going just about all out on a rainy muddy slick course. Lots of fun anyway.

 A week later I attempted a 100 mile pr at Umstead. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. After raining most of the first 35 miles, it got very warm and muggy which are the worst conditions for me. I went on to post my 50 mile pr in route but things went downhill from there and the 2nd half was pretty miserable. I don't use pacers but since this is the home course I was happy to have my friend Jerry run lap 5 with me and then Angels Lisa and Karla ran the last two so at least I had company in my misery. Still finished in a respectable time of 25:52.

  Recovery went well and by the end of April I was ready to go for a fast time at Promise Land 50k, one of my favorites. I had the unexpected pleasure of running the entire race with a college girl from VT that was running in her first ultra. Beautiful day until around mile 20 when thunderstorms came and turned the course into a mudslide and the temps dropped and we almost went hypothermic. Although no way near my pr, I felt great and ran well despite the tough conditions over the last 3rd of the race.

  After once gain recovering quickly and getting back to training, I went down to The May Madness 50k, Boogieman Doug's Wild Card run of the year. Ten 5k's , one every hour in sand and heat and humidity. Had a lot of fun there but those last couple of 5k's hurt !

  In June, I was ready to spring my surprise and  waited until  the day of the race to announce my intentions of doing a Double at the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie. Doug and a few of my Angels were the only ones in on the plan. Amy came to run the first 26.2 with me and things went great until the 1.5 mile mark. That's when we were attacked by the dogs. Oh well, only another 98.5 to go right? I gave it my best shot but the loss of blood and pain caught up to me and I finally had to drop at mile 62 and head to the hosptial for treatment.

 It took another week before I was able to resume running and still had a lot of pain for a couple of more weeks. I was also very worn down from the effort and ordeal and the antibiotics so when another of my favorites, the Grandfather Mountain Marathon rolled around 4 weeks later in mid July I was almost tempted to not run it knowing I was not anywhere near condition to run it well. despite miserably warm and muggy conditions, I felt better for longer than I expected but then reality set in and I suffered mightily to finish. Fortunately I didn't have any more racing planned until September so I was able to recover and train

 Sept and Labor Day weekend I flew to Milwaukee for The Badgerland 24 hour run on the track at Germantown high school. I was hoping  for a new distance pr but my dumb race strategy combined with a blustery warm day prevented that from happening. I did bring home a new 50 mile pr though as I passed 50.22 miles in 9:57.

  I once again recovered quickly and although there was no more racing until mid October, Amy and I begin the start of training for her to get a Boston qualifier next Spring which at this point was mostly trying to get her more consistent with her mileage and  Max effort hill repeats once a week.

 On October 13th I attempted the Oil Creek 100 miler in Titusville PA. Although I felt great, I was not prepared for the mostly single track, steep hills and once the cold rain hit in the dark of night, near hypothermic and in the ensuing mud, I just couldn't move fast enough and missed a cutoff at 84.5 miles.

   Although I felt pretty good within a week of that effort,4 weeks  was obviously not enough time to recover and run a fast marathon as I found out at OBX on Nov 11th. I was running with Karla and Amy and things were going well and according to plan but inevitably the wheels came off around mile 22 and I didn;t get to finish with either of them.

  I finished up my competitive year with a very non-competitive effort at The Derby 50K. I just wanted to get my ninth finish, get in a good training run and have fun doing it which I accomplished. The remainder of the year has been focused on getting Amy and myself in the best shape I can for the BQ attempt. We have been doing speedwork for the past 3 weeks now and it is going much better than I expected.

 So despite a couple of dnf's and less than hoped for results, it was still a pretty good year.  I can't complain when I get a 100k pr,  lower my 50 mile pr twice in one year and earn another buckle in a 100 miler.

Friday, December 14, 2012

La Grande Experience Deux. December update

Things seem to be progressing well with the Grand Experiment 2 at this point. Although I was not quite where I wanted to be at OBX due to being worn down from Oil creek and no speedwork, I recovered well and was able to get in a great long training run at the  Derby 50k. I had practically no soreness or fatigue after that so with an easy recovery week I was ready to move on with the training. Amy was a little slower recovering from OBX but we were able to get in some good mileage for her over the next couple of weeks and I was right back to  my normal 50ish per week

 We waited until the first week of this month to start with some speedwork, easing into it the first time with a fartlek type running at various paces over distances from 1/4 to 1 mile with a stride and hill sprint thrown in just to get some dormant muscle fibers warmed up  for what is coming. We followed that up this week with some quarter mile repeats at tempo pace. That went very well and she was feeling strong as we acually ran a little faster than I had planned but still in the correct range so it was all good. The pace on the long runs is getting a little faster now as we prepare for the faster near race pace long runs to come in Jan and Feb.

  One thing that is going to help her a lot is getting in a mid week mid -long run of 10 -12 miles which is something that has been lacking in her training. I usually get in one or two of those when things are going well. We had a really nice 12.12 miler this week on 12-12. We have a long ways to go and a lot of work to do but at least things are on track now. We have the next four weeks with no races to do so we can really stay focused on the training,

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Diet and Nutrition

 Disclaimer : the following is not to be construed as advice on nutrition or diet. I am not a nutritionist and in fact would  likely be a nutritionist or dieticians worst nightmare. Anyone trying to emulate my dietary habits or take this post as advice would have to be completely stupid and I will bear no responsibility for any harm that befalls anyone with no better sense than to try and eat like me.

  In my lifetime I have actually followed two diets, both which I have had great success with. The first diet, I call the " Eat whatever my mother made me or allowed me to eat diet"  Although the diet did seem to work quite well I did not care to much for the things I really liked being rationed and the things I hated being forced upon me. However the majority of the time the diet was quite good actually as my mother is an excellent cook and did make me some very wonderful cakes and pies and other yummy treats and continues to do so when I visit.

  About the time that I got my driver's license I begin with the diet that I am currently on. I call it the   "Eat whatever I feel like eating whenever and in whatever quantities that I would like to eat it diet"

 So, exactly what is included in this diet you may wonder ?

 Salads: Are you kidding me? Salads are for rabbits and other rodents. Well, I have been known to eat one or two a year but only if I can have it with oil and vinegar. No dressing. yuk !

 Vegetables: Yes, I do occasionally eat vegetables. French Fries are one of my favorites of course but I like potatoes cooked many ways. And there are quite a few others, mostly peas, beans and other legumes, corn and whatever other things Mom sends home with me every now and then. Must be cooked Southern style.

 Tried to expand on the veggies variety a few times but nearly always a failure. I thought broccoli with cheese might be good. Broccoli always tasted like dirt to me. Broccoli and cheese taste like dirt with cheese on it. What a waste of good cheese.

 Which brings us to dairy: CHEESE ! Yes ! Lots of CHEESE and in many varieties ! Milk is good too although I don't drink much anymore except with cereal and post run I use chocolate milk as my recovery drink of choice.

 Fruits: yeah, bananas, an occasional apple  some grapes and watermelon every now and then. Don't want to overdo the healthy stuff you know.

 Meat: Ribs and BBQ. Oh yeah. Turkey, chicken, pork chops. all of the above cooked to yummy perfection.   Love steak too but don't eat it very often. Too lazy to cook it and most of the time I don't eat in restaurants that make it a specialty and can't afford the places that do.

  Bread and grains: Oh yeah, now we are talking ! Paleo my butt. Give me bread ! Biscuits, all kinds of rolls, french, italian, white, pumpernickel. Pasta ! Macaroni (and CHEESE).

  Of course the staple of my diet is PEANUT BUTTER ! Thank you George Washington Carver ! And none of that so called healthy natural stuff. Jif, Peter Pan or Skippy if it's on sale.

 Breakfast is very important so I usually start the day off with Juice and  a few vitamin supplements. This is followed by a bowl of cereal (good stuff like cocoa puffs) or oatmeal with brown sugar, or grits with butter and toast, On rare occasions I'll make pancakes on Sunday. Most days I am too lazy to make breakfast so I make a sandwich to eat while riding to work. Usually I rotate between turkey, ham and bologna. WITH CHEESE !  and then a little snack of cookies or Lil Debbie cakes. On Saturdays before long runs I usually have a brown sugar iced pop tart or a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich.

 Lunch is normally a peanut butter sandwich and a banana with more yummy cookies !

Dinner is whatever is most convenient to throw in the microwave or the toaster oven. Sometimes  I like the breakfast that I am too lazy to cook in the morning, scambled eggs and bacon ! If I am working late then whatever fast food joint is convenient or sounds yummy. Taco Bell, McDonalds, Wendys, KFC, Bojangles, Chick Fil A, Burger King. I'm not picky. I like them all.

 To supplement my meals I always have within reach a wide variety of healthy yummy snacks. There is always a box in the back seat of my car with Cheeze-its, pringles, corn chips, peanuts, cashews, oreos, moon pies, Lucky Charms etc. Used to be Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies but sad to say they are not currently available.

 Foods to avoid: If I have never heard of it or can't pronounce it. I see all these recipes in the running mags for stuff and I've never heard of half the ingredients.Has anybody else? No ! And besides it would be too much trouble to find all that stuff and take all day to prepare it and would cost a fortune. That's why Stouffers is conveniently located in the frozen section of your favorite grocery store.

 So there you have it. Yes, like I said it's not for everybody but it works for me. For those that may be concerned that this is not a healthy diet I say, rest your worried minds. I am 5'9" and weigh 144lbs. I have BP of 110/60 and the bloodwork of a healthy college student. I have been to the Dr for an illness exactly ZERO times in over 25 years and since 1977 when I was 21 years old I have been twice total. Once for the flu in 1981 and an ear infection in 85 or 86.   I've missed two days of work in that time from not feeling well. I may get a mild cold every other year that doesn't slow me down but a bit.  I sleep well 99% of the time and you already know if you are reading this blog that I can run pretty well and  pretty far , especially for a 57 year old.

 Hmm, time for some Ice Cream. Think there is Mint chocolate Chip in the freezer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Derby #9

 Running smart is not something I am  often known for but I decided to make a rare exception at Derby this year. It was a beautiful morning with temps in the low 40's and warming into the 50's with abundant sunshine which would make for great running conditions. I had a great time seeing amd greeting many friends inside the Derby Community Building until just a few minutes before start time.

  I lined up near the front with Jenn but only because no one else seemed to want to be up there. At this point I was still going with Plan A which was to run comfortably to the first aid station around the 4 mile mark and then assess the situation. If I felt good and was near pr pace, then I would go hard. If not then revert to plan B. We ran along nice and easy with Bill Keane and a few others in those early miles and I got over the hills feeling alright the first time .

  I arrived at the aid station just about 10 seconds per mile over pr pace which I knew I could easily make up if I felt great. Well, I felt ok but I knew in my heart that I could not come close to that today. The next segment is my favorite with a nice long gradual downhill along Sycamore Lane and to the dirt road so I decided to maintain pace at least until aid station two at about mile 7 and then re-assess my condition. The downhill mile went great in about 8:36 but once we turned onto the dirt road, a fairly stiif headwind greeted us and it was a lot harder to maintain pace and I quickly decided then that I would be switching to Plan B.

  Once at the aid station, I wished Jenn well and stopped briefly to speak to the "Professor", Frank Sherrill and then headed out to implement Plan B. That plan was to make today's event a training run for my upcoming 50 mile race and PR attempt coming up in January. I was going to slow down the effort, switch to a run/walk strategy while trying to maintain an average pace  faster than 11 minute per mile and get to the finish feeling like I could keep going comfortably at the end.

  Everything for the next few hours was going just as I hoped. I was making sure to keep up with the nutrition and hydration and just relax with the effort. The first lap was soon over and the 2nd lap went perfectly with my average pace about 10:15 as I headed out for the last lap.. I was able to chat with a few people occasionally even though we were really spread out by now. I made it over the hills with no problem just losing a few seconds on the pace and through the aid station 1 for the last time. I was feeling good and very happy to be confident that I would not be going into Plan C which would be doing the survival shuffle and suffering to the end. I do know for sure that if I hadn't shut it down at mile 7 that I would be in a lot of pain by now and not having much fun.

  As I headed down Sycamore the last time and onto the dirt road my pace had slowed just slightly and I was very happy to think that I had never had to resort to a shuffle. Other than the planned short walk breaks, when I was running , it was still a decent easy run pace. I came into aid station 2 and thanked them and told Frank I just had an easy 3.5 to go. Woohooo !

  Came into the finish in 5:27:38, a 10:26 average pace and although I was a bit tired , yes I could have easily maintained that pace for several more miles. Looking ahead, when I race in Nevada in January, I will not have beaten myself up with 84.5 miles of tough trail just 6 weeks before and I won't have raced  a marathon just two weeks before so I should be in better shape and a lot fresher. This was a big confidence builder for me that I am on the right track. Maybe next November I can come back to Derby for my 10th finish with fresher legs and be prepared to race it hard.

  Big thanks to Mark Long and the MTC volunteers for putting on this wonderful low key event once again.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Derby 50k 2012 Preview

 Saturday November 24th I will heading down to Derby NC for my 9th running of this wonderful little race put on by Mark Long of the Mangum Track Club. This is the only race that I have somewhat of a streak going. Bill Keane and I have both run 8 and the only person to have run all 9 previous versions is Tony Rouse. I was at that first year event but as a volunteer. I was still a novice at ultrarunning and didn't feel I was ready to run another 50k at that time. I did  at last get to run one lap with my friends Jay and Anita Finkle.

 Most years I have used this course to attempt a 50k pr. It is not an easy course with several hills on each of 3 laps but since it is a rare road ultra, at least it is faster than most other 50k's out there. I have usually run a pr here only to break it in January at Frosty 50k but last years attempt which I shared the first 20 miles with my friend Margherita ended with me blowing up halfway through the last lap. Nothing unusual there. I almost always blow up but each year I was getting a few minutes faster. A couple of other years I just ran for fun with friends including Karla's first ultra.

  I was kind of hoping to go for the pr once again this year but my previous schedule and the type of training I've been doing are not really  geared toward having a great performance here. The pace I would hope to run is about the same I was hoping to run at OBX two weeks ago and that didn't work out too well.
 So I will just go and hope to have fun. If I find myself close to that pace after a few miles and I feel good, who knows? Maybe I'll go for it until I blow up again. You never know. It could happen. But I expect I'll be no where near that pace and if so I'll hope to find someone to run with for fun. I might end up running with Jenn. IF I can stay up with her. Funny thing is that I usually run  lot faster than her at every distance up to 50 k but at 50 and 100 miles she has run faster than me. She just has one speed and doesn't slow down or blow up like I tend to do. Well, no matter how things turn out, I intend to have fun. Stay tuned !

Sunday, November 18, 2012

OBX Marathon 2012. The year of the Kilt

 Headed down to OBX late Friday afternoon and arrived just after the power outage which had the entire Island and Manteo in the dark. It was a little tricky navigating without stoplights in the darkness but I soon found my way safely to the Howell home and within minutes the power was restored.

  Enjoyed a very relaxing and beautiful day on Saturday with temps in the 60's including breakfast with the Werners, a visit to the Surrette campsite and a short run. Everything was looking perfect for a great day of racing.

 Up in time Sunday morning for the short drive to get on the shuttle and then a few minutes over to the start from there.  I met up with Karla and Amy was along in a few minutes while we visited with some other friends before making our way over to the starting corral. All three of us were wearing our kilts at Amy's suggestion which sounded like a good idea since we had planned to run together as much as possible.

  We got off to a good start , just trying to stay relaxed and not get caught up in the excitement and stick to the pacing plan. Amy got a little ahead of us in traffic but we caught up right at the mile mark which was a little faster than I had wanted but still a few seconds slower than the 4 hour pace so everything was good. Amy was having a hard time holding back and began to pull away so we just let her go and hoped she wouldn't go too fast and burn out early. By mile two we had already decided the most popular word of the day would be kilt. It was amazing how many comments and compliments and questions we heard about kilts and /or skirts. this would continue for the whole race.

   By mile 3 we were settled into about perfect pace and feeling very comfortable with it. Amy remained within sight  but every now and then we would lose her as the road would turn or curve. Just past the 7 mile point on a narrow bike path that connects to the Wright Brothers Memorial we had a little excitement as a deer sprinted at top speed just in front of us and behind the runner just ahead. It would have done some serious damage if it had bumped into anyone.

  As we came into the open just before entering the Memorial I could see Amy about a minute ahead but then we lost sight of her. We saw her family cheering for us as we ran around the Memorial and then we headed out and towards Nags Head Woods at the 10 mile point. We passed it in about 1:30:30 which was just about perfect and was what I had hoped for minus the 30 seconds or so that it took for Karla to refill her water bottle a mile or so back.

  I was feeling good on the gentle rolling hills in this section and was thinking they felt easier than the past couple of times I ran here but Karla was falling back a little. I tried to keep the pace up just enough and hoped she would catch up to me. Around mile 11 I caught up to Amy. We were a little behind pace so I tried again to pick it up a bit and hope they would stay up but by 12 they were still behind a little so I stopped at a tree to take a whizz and then slowly caught back up to them.  When we began the short steep climb up the single track section I took it real easy but then tried to get back up to pace but the ladies were still hanging back so I eased off the pace and let them catch back up and as we exited the Woods at mile 13 we were about 30 seconds over 4 hour pace.

  We were now back onto the flat roads which was a good thing except it was getting a little warm and there is zero shade on the 2nd half of the course. The single track mile had been about 10:15 where we lost all of our cushion and then the next mile was a too slow 9:40 as we were now onto the highway. My legs were beginning to feel a bit tired but I decided to give it one more shot at getting the pace back up. I begin to push it a bit and I didn't look back hoping that the ladies would be hanging on but when I reached mile 15, I looked back and they were way behind. I had gone too fast in 8:44, hoping for 9  so I stopped and waited until Karla caught up to me. She went through it in about 9:20 and Amy was another 10 seconds back. We just plugged along around 9:20-9:30 pace for the next few miles. Amy would catch up and then fall back a bit and I was worried each time that she was going to struggle but she again showed  the toughness I had admired when she first started running with us just before her first marathon several years ago.

  Just around the 20 mile point Amy asked if I thought she could still get a pr (sub 4:06 for her) and I figured in my head we were on about 4:05 pace so I  just told her, yes, but she couldn't slow down. At that she slowly begin to pull ahead of us. Karla and I continued on slowling few seconds each mile but still moving well. Around mile 22 I stopped for a gel and  ran to catch back up to Karla but just after I pulled up beside her , my stomach felt a little sick and I felt as if all the energy drained from me. I told her I was going to have to let her go and I begin to walk.

 It was very frustrating to see her pull away. I had really hoped to finish with her and just a mile back I felt confident that I would. I ran again until halfway up the bridge and then walked to the top. Running down the other side I felt a resurgence and was moving at a decent pace and for a moment I thought I may actually catch back up to her but as soon as I hit level ground again the pace once again slowed  and from that point on I just did a run/walk to the finish. At this point there was no need to make it any harder than necessary.

  I finally made it to the finish in 4:14:23. Karla had slowed a little but still made it in around 4:09 which is her fastest time in her 7 years on this course. Amy not only didn't slow down but ran a strong finish and got the pr in sub 4:05.

 Although my time and especially not finishing with Karla was disappointing , I still enjoyed a wonderful weekend of friends and running. I can't say the result was unexpected. I imagine my body was still tired from the 84.5 mile beating I inflicted on it at Oil Creek 4 weeks ago and I had put in some pretty big miles in training since then. This one was for fun anyway but now the speedwork phase of training for the BQ attempt next March begins after some recovery time this week. Oh, and in the meantime along with the speedwork, I still have a 50k after Thanksgiving and a 50 mile PR attempt in January. Stay tuned. It may be interesting.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

OBX Marathon 2012 Preview

    I'm looking forward to returning to the OBX Marathon for the 5th time this coming Sunday Nov 11th. Back in it's first year, 2006 I had not planned on running it but my training partner ,Karla The Marathon Princess had signed up right away. Of course at the time she signed up she didn't know that she would be battling cancer for nearly the entire year. After we ran Boston, she had hardly ran at all over the summer but she still wanted to run OBX despite the fact it came just after completing chemo and she was now into radiation therapy. I decided I would go and run and support her and have some fun.

  The weather was nasty with high winds and heavy rain for about half the run but we had a good time and she actually ran faster than she had at Boston. Here is my report for 2006.

   In 2007, I did a double running the Richmond Marathon for a BQ attempt on Saturday and then drove to OBX to run with Karla on Sunday. By now she was back to training well and getting close to her pre cancer condition. We were both surprised how well she ran that day and I was having to work to stay with her on my tired and worn out legs. Here is that report.

  I didn't run in 2008 but returned in 2009 and 2010. In both of those years I ran on my own to attempt Boston qualifiers but blew up and failed miserably both years. This year, I am not nearly in shape to go for the BQ and the only reason I signed up for the race so that I could once again run it with Karla. This will be our 12th time running a marathon together but it has been two years since the last time we've been able to  schedule one. Karla has not raced since OBX last year due to a foot injury that kept her from running most of last Winter and she only begin to get back to normal training last Spring. I would like to say I can easily keep up with her but she has been running very well lately and I will be very happy just to keep up.

 And as you should know , Ultramom Amy  and I are training together now to get her in shape for a BQ next Spring. She will be running with us Sunday for fun and as a test to see where we are in the training. The goal is to go for 4 hours. wish us Luck !

Monday, November 05, 2012

Another "Miles stone" 40,000 and counting

 Yes, during my first long run after Oil Creek while running in Umstead with 3 of the Angels, Amy, Jenn and Karla I passed my 40,000 lifetime mile.  Seems like a pretty big number but I have been at it for 35 years now. Funny thing is that over half of those have come in the past 10 years. During my first decade of running I only hit 1,000 for a year on a few occasions and my best was about 1600 in the early 80's. The miles really dropped off in the 90's and it wasn't until after the knee injury from soccer in 1998 that  I re-dedicated my self to running.  From then until 2002 I was still fairly low mileage, about 20 a week and concentrating on triathlon but after jumping in on my first ultra on a whim, things begin to get serious .

  The really cool and amazing thing now is that I am not only running more but enjoying it more than ever, especially having the privilege of sharing a lot of the miles the past 7 years with the most wonderful training partners that I call my Angels and Princess.

 The picture above was taken finishing my first 10k at The Natural Run in Winston-Salem in March 1978 in 48:59. If you look closely at my left hand I have just grabbed my finishing place popsicle stick from the man on my left. After that day I was hooked for life.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Det Store Eksperimentet 2 update

 As we move now into November, the training is going to get a little tougher and a bit more specific to the ultimate goal but the harder part is to do the training while still running a marathon and a 50k this month.

  The 100 miler is now behind me and the recovery has gone remarkably well. As trashed as my legs were after that I thought I had really screwed myself up and it would be weeks before normal training could commence but within 4 days I was out for a test run with Amy and I was able to easily run my normal easy pace with just minor soreness.By the weekend I was on the hills of Umstead for a 13.6 miler with Amy, Karla and Jenn and then I followed that up the next week with a 56 mile week including another max effort hill workout with Amy. She is starting to show improvement now and getting her mileage up a bit also and just a week after Hinson Lake she ran a great 5k showing that a lot of the speed she'll need is still there. At that hill workout last week she had stepped up to a whole new level from the previous workouts.

 We are now in somewhat of a slight taper with the OBX marathon coming up on Nov.11th but we are still putting in some good miles at a good pace his week including a 6 mile progression run that finished at tempo pace.  Karla is looking to be in great shape with strong long runs and mid distance runs at  or faster than marathon goal pace for OBX and we have a couple of more runs scheduled this week in preparation. After a little recovery from OBX we'll start doing some speedwork  to prepare ourselves to handle the long runs at marathon pace later on.

 So , a few more quality runs this week and then we'll take it pretty easy next week. Stay tuned for more on OBX and the continuing Det Store Eksperimentet 2 ! (that's Norwegian in honor of Karla's family heritage)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oil Creek 100- the long DNF

 Everything I stated about the upcoming race in my preview turned out to be right. Beautiful area, great trail, wonderful aid stations and volunteers and flawless directing. The weather was just as predicted although there was more rain than I had hoped for (more on that later) but unfortunately I didn't quite make it to the finish line.

  We started in the cold and darkness at 5am. It was about 27 to 28F but calm and it didn't feel bad. I knew I would be warming up quickly so I was just wearing shorts and a jacket. The first 1.5 miles of each loop was on pavement along streets and a bike path so we were able to get in a little smooth running to warm up before making a sharp turn and up the hill onto the single track Gerard hiking trail.

  It was slow going for those first miles in the dark but I was in no hurry so I wasn't trying to pass anyone for awhile but after about three miles I was stuck behind a very slow group so I finally made my way around. I was already noticing that the trail was very narrow in a lot of places so there was no going around the rocks or roots. you just had to go over all of them. Tripping and falling would not be recommended on a big part of this trail so I was still taking my time and only running in the safest spots.

  The first aid station has a long descent that begins as a sweet runnable downhill but then hits a pretty treacherously steep   and rocky section. I eased my way through that part and then the trail flattens out along Wolfkiel Run, past some spooks and into the aid station. I was in and out quickly and once leaving, the course begins the steepest, nastiest climb, Switchback Mountain. It's so steep that I was on my toes nearly the whole climb but the good thing is that it is not very long taking only about 10 minutes to climb. It's just as steep going down the backside making it a little tricky and rough on the quads.

  The next several miles had a lot of runnable sections and the sun was beginning to rise revealing some lovely views of Oil Creek down in the valley. It was nice to be able to turn out the light and enjoy the beautiful trail. Even in the daytime I had to be careful because there were a  lot of leaves covering the ground.  This section of the course was one of the more interesting with a neat rocky area to go through and a lot of evidence of the historic oil industry. Lots of pipes still running along the ground as well as old pumps and falling down buildings and other structures. About a mile from aid station two at Petroleum Center we ran by and under the replica derricks at the Benninghoff Farm and then had a sweet downhill to a road into the aid station. Everything was still covered in frost as we ran through the valley but I was feeling nice and warm and running well.

  Quickly in and out of the aids station again and like all the others the next section began with a climb out of the valley and back into the hills. After climbing for awhile the trail expanded for awhile with some nice double track that was nice and runnable for a couple for miles before narrowing down to some more single track. This was the longest section and about halfway through we passed through a Boy Scout Camp and the smell of their breakfast over open fires brought back memories of Autumn camping trips of my youth. Some nice running leaving there but further along was a tricky section. Some mud and rocks and narrow. Seems like this was one of those places that is a drainage and probably stays wet just about all the time. After a mile though is another long climb followed by a sweet downhill to aid station 3.

  Happy to see some candy corn there and once again I was out quickly and up yet another climb. The first short steep climb was followed by another longer climb, Rockefeller's Revenge. Several more miles of rolling single track and finally we dropped down to the valley once again for a one mile loop around the Drake Oil Well Museum. This was very flat on the road and then a grassy path on the backside along the creek. I was running and feeling great here and after the loop we got back on the bike path for a 1.2 mile return to the school.  I had hoped to finish the first 50k lap in 7:30 to 8:00 and I was right about 7:35 and feeling great. I sent off a quick text to some family and friends that I was on pace, feeling good and the trail was awesome. I was really enjoying myself as the race was proving to be everything I had hoped for.

  I was looking forward to seeing the next section for the first time in daylight and ran all of the greenway back to the trail. Once I got there I could see why it felt so slow in the dark. It is rocky, rooty and very narrow on the side of the hill. I was hoping to be a little faster since I could actually see where I was going but I still had to be careful and although I was feeling good I still had just completed a tough 50k and was a little bit slower. As I came down the Wolfkiel descent the second time I was trying to pick a good line through the rocky section knowing I would have to come back through one more time in the dark. It didn't look quite as hairy in the light but still not a place to let your concentration slip.

  I was out quickly again and began the 2nd ascent of Switchback Mountain and this time my quads were starting to talk to me. My energy level was fine but I was already becoming aware of the beating this course was giving my legs.  The remainder of the this second loop passed without much incidence other than a tumble along of course one of the smoothest sections. No harm but it did temporarily knock the wind out of me so I got up slowly and walked it off and was soon back to normal with only a few tiny scratches.

  My pace through aid station 2 and 3 were pretty good but as I started section 4 my quads were beginning to scream at me. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky and I knew I would be running the last half of this section in the dark. And then I heard some raindrops. It was only 8pm and the forecast I had seen said it was only suppose to start around 11 and then only a slight chance. It was in the 50's now and had been gorgeous afternoon but now the night wasn't looking so good.

  I was lucky that it just sprinkled and a little light rain off and on and I wasn't even getting wet and as I hit the valley floor for the next loop around the museum the rain had stopped. Maybe I would get lucky and that was all the rain we would get. I looked up into the early night sky hoping to see some stars but no luck and then just as I was about 1/2 mile from the school it started raining hard.  I was hoping to have made it to the school to get a jacket but now I was soaking wet so I had to go inside and change into a dry shirt. I sent out another text that I was on pace (actually dead on 17:00 for 100k which was my plan) but my quads were trashed and it was raining. Going to be a long night.

  I took a little more time before heading out into the night once again but luckily it had stopped raining as I headed out onto the streets and bike path back to the trail. My legs were very stiff and sore and the stride was not very pretty I'm sure as I plodded along.  Things were a bit trickier on the trail now with the rain making the leaves , rocks and roots very slick so I was having to be extra careful. I was now having a lot of trouble going down the hills as I had used up all the muscles I needed to absorb the shock plus having to be careful and not fall with the slickness. I found I was actually preferring going uphill now and I was truly dreading the Wolfkeil descent this last time.

   As I approached the steep rocky section I was creeping along very gingerly and just as I thought  I had made it safely through my feet slipped out from under me on a dining room table sized rock as if I was on ice. I landed hard on my upper back and let out a yelp and then lay there stunned for a moment while I tried to collect myself. Luckily my head had snapped back off the edge of the rock so I didn't bust my skull open. I very slowly got up and made my way into the aid station where I sat down for a few minutes and ate some potato soup.

  The last climb up Switchback Mountain was slow and painful as my back was now very tight and sore from the fall. Breathing was hurting it so I was trying to walk and massage it the best I could to try and loosen it up. The trip down the backside was very slick and and I was barely creeping down and my quads were screaming at me. Needless to say my mood was not quite as bright as it has been earlier in the race. And then the rain started again. And it was raining pretty hard. And it would continue for the next 2.5 hours. Fortunately the back finally loosened up  after about an  hour and would not be an issue again but now I was getting drenched and with the slower pace it was hard to stay warm.

  I tried to run as much as possible but by now my quads were so trashed I could only run for about 30 seconds which was frustrating because otherwise I was  still feeling pretty good. My energy level was ok and my stomach was happy so that I  could eat and drink as needed. Luckily the temperature was staying in the 50's or I would have really been struggling to stay warm as the rain was going down the collar of my vest and soaking me. It was a welcome sight as I passed through the Benninghoff Farm again knowing it was downhill for a mile and a warm aid station and dry clothes awaited me. More frustrating that I could not run much once I hit the road down in the valley.

  I made it to the aid station and immediately removed the wet vest and shirt and while I was getting into a dry shirt and jacket I asked the volunteer for some noodles and a trash bag. I changed batteries in my light and then sat down to eat the noodles and things begin to turn ugly. My legs were throbbing  and I begin to shake uncontrollably, hardly able to get the spoon to my mouth to eat. The EMT on hand was keeping a close eye on me and my body was trying to tell my mind that I could just stop here and that made me mad.  Although I was moving slow, I still felt I had plenty of time to finish if I just kept moving so before any more doubts could creep in, I slowly stood up, grabbed my water belt and headed back out into the darkness.

  Yay ! The rain had stopped !  Now if would just stay stopped the rest of the night would be very comfortable.  I made the next long climb and reached the usually nice runnable doubletrack section but even though I was now warm and the energy was good I just couldn't run more than 5 or 6 halting steps on the dead stumps that used to be my quads. Well not really dead because they hurt too much to be dead. So I tried to powerwalk as much and as fast as I could, run a few steps and repeat.

  I made it through the sleeping Boy Scout camp just before dawn and was thinking I was close to the sign that said it was about 2.7 miles to the next aid station. I was slow but still under the cut-off. I continued on for a long time and never saw the sign so I thought I must have missed it and I   should probably be about a mile away since I was about 2:50:00ish since leaving aid station 2. And then there it was. Another climb up Ida Tarbells Wrath  and the sign. My heart just sunk at that point. I could not believe I had actually been moving that slow. 30 minute miles since leaving the last checkpoint? I knew then my race was over but I still tried to move as quickly as my legs would go.

   Three runners went by me but I had nothing  left to try and stay with them. ( Only one of them would finish and he was the last finisher but he was running well when he went by me) About a mile to go I heard some folks coming up quickly behind me and sure enough it was the Grim Reapers, aka the trail sweeps. One stayed with me while the others went ahead and we had a nice conversation as we walked it in to aid station 3 dead on the cut-off.

  I sat down and the terrific volunteers there started tending to me, covering me in blankets, moving a gas heater nearby and bringing me pancakes and coffee while others began packing things up. I can't say enough about how wonderful the running community is in this area. Very much like our Umstead and MTC family here in NC.

  So that's how it went. Being a DNf and missing my buckle is disappointing but in this case I don't feel too bad about it. I gave it 100% effort, I didn't do anything stupid to screw up my race and there is nothing I could have done that day to change the outcome so I am satisfied with the 84.5 miles I was able to cover.

  As I look back now the only thing that might have given me a chance on finishing would have been to alter my training a bit in the 6 weeks leading up to the race. Normally before a big event I try to do more race specific training which for this would have been a lot of single track training on steep hills but I didn't do that.
 Most of my races and training this year have been for road events and most of my mileage has been on the greenways. I have put in a lot of solid miles of training and was hoping just my fitness would get me to my goal but I was wrong. And looking ahead I really don't have any trail races on the schedule until a least April so I guess I'll stick to my current training.

 This is an awesome event and trail and I would encourage anyone to give it a shot. Even if you aren't up to 100 miles, the 100k has a very generous cut-off or the 50k gives you a chance to check out the whole loop.

 here is a link to the pics
 I took along the trail

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Strike Oil or Move On ! Oil Creek 100 mile preview

  Back in 2000 or 2001, I took my younger son Jeremy with me on a vacation to Watkins Glen and Niagara Falls and on the return trip we spent a few days touring several sites in Pennsylvania to do some train-watching. Our first stop was to Titusville PA, to ride the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad.  We had a great time riding through the valley and enjoying the beautiful views of the rolling hills and the river. I noticed a few trails and a greenway and thought it would be a nice place to run. At that time I had not yet run an ultra and was doing more mountain biking, whitewater kayaking and triathlons. The thought that I would ever return to run a 100 mile trail race was about as likely that I would someday walk on the moon.

 The train stops at the Drake Oil Well Museum Park where the world's first oil well was drilled and we took the tour there and enjoyed learning the history of the beginning of the oil industry in the USA. 

 So, when I heard that they had begin holding the Oil Creel 100 back in 2009 I was hoping that I would someday be able to fit into my schedule and finally this year the time has come. Although this is not the toughest 100 I have done, this is not one to be taken lightly. The course  is 87% trail and 13% asphalt with a total elevation gain of about 17,700 ft. There are no long climbs like most of the true mountain ultras but countless ups and downs with some of the climbs about a mile long.There is a great course map on the website with the sections broken down with elevation charts.

  The course is 3 loops of 31.1 miles with a 7.7 mile coming home loop that saves a nasty 1/2 mile climb for about mile 97. The finishing rate has only been 60%, 55% and last year 50% with a 32 hour cut-off so that should give you an idea that it really is a tough course. I've have been feeling very good recently,  and seem to have recovered completely from the summer dog attack . It took about 6 weeks to get back to normal but the training has been going great since then. My #1 priority is to finish but as always I want to do my best so there will be no loly-gagging out there. I do hope to be able to come in under 30 hours. The weather looks like it is going to be very good. It is going to be really cold at the start, around 28F but by Noon it's suppose to warm up to the 50s and stay there the remainder of the weekend. There is a 20% chance of some rain late Saturday night but hopefully it won't and even if it does it isn't suppose to rain very much for very long.

 This is the race website. There is a link on the home page that will take you to a live webcast so you can track my progress if you like.  Last year they didn't start until aid station 3, around the 22.7 mile mark so don;t worry about getting up at the crack of dawn (;

  My number is 12

From all I've been able to gather the race is very well directed and gets great support from the local community and I am eager to get there and get this thing started !

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Il Grande Esperimento-October update

  Recovery from the Badgerland 24 hr seems to be complete. Over the past couple of weeks I have been able to continue putting in good mileage weeks. I ended up the month of September with 274 which is a new personal best for miles run in a month. This included a couple of 20 milers with Karla, THE Marathon Princess. The first one was a bit tough and I faded badly trying to keep up with her on a warm muggy morning. Two weeks later (last weekend) I was able to run stronger on a bit cooler but still humid morning and we averaged 30 seconds a mile faster. I followed that up with walking 4.5 miles with Jenn and Amy at Hinson Lake and then ran another 9 miles so in a roundabout way I did 33.5.

  In addition, Amy and I have been able to stay on track with a couple of 10 milers and another tough session of max effort hill repeats.  She did 41.5 miles at Hinson Lake, so with her in recovery mode and me beginning my taper for Oil Creek 100 this week there won't be much in the way of "training" going on.  But after all , that's what the Grand Experiment is all about. Trying to get fast enough for a marathon pr while maintaining my ultra schedule at least through January. I still got in some tempo intervals this week and the mileage will end up being about 70% of what I had been doing. Next week I'll cut it down to about 50% before the race. Hopefully if things go well by the time I recover Amy will be ready to go back on schedule.

 Karla's comeback race is at OBX in 6 weeks and she is running strong. We have a couple of more runs planned before I head to Pennsylvania and she still has  a few weeks before she will begin her taper. I look forward to running that one with her.

 Stay Tuned for further updates.

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 years at Capital RunWalk

 Wow, it's almost hard to believe that this month marks the 5th anniversary of part-time job working at Capital RunWalk in Cameron Village. I had been a customer going back to the 90's ( The store opened in 1994) and I knew the owner, Mike Zimmerman through his support for many events with the NCRC over the years. I had talked to Mike about 6.5 years ago about a possible full time job when my regular job was in jeopardy due to a a company bankruptcy but things worked out so that I was hired by the new company that took over my accounts. Mike told me if I ever wanted to make some hours to just let him know. So five years ago, I was looking to fill some free time since I was getting off work around 1pm on average and I couldn't run ALL the time . Some extra money to finance my trips to races would be nice too so I called Mike and asked if the offer was still good.  He said he'd talk it over with the Management Team, Jon Baker and Matt Thomas and luckily they agreed I would be a good fit for the store with my work and running background.

   I soon found that just because it is a running specialty store doesn't mean that all the customers are runners but despite the usual issues in dealing with the public in a retail environment most of the customers are very good to work with. And although my job is to sell stuff, I still get to talk a lot of running. It is especially satisfying to talk to some beginners or someone training for their first half or even full marathon and they seem to truly appreciated the tips and encouragement as I answer their questions.

  One of the best things for me is having the opportunity to work there with some real quality young people. Most of the staff are either students or recent grads from area colleges, mostly NC State bit a few others. Most have run track and cross country on at least the high school level and right now we have 3 current members of the NC State team.  I have really been impressed with  these intelligent, highly motivated young people and I know their parents are very proud of them. And I am proud to consider them friends.

 It's been really cool to be able to work with Bobby Mack over about 4.5 of those 5 years years and watch his progression to the Elite level.  Bobby was an All American XC runner at State but when he came back to work with us he was in Grad School and recovering from injuries. It's been great to watch him go from wondering if his best running years were behind him to becoming the National XC Champion, 8k National Road Champion, achieve his goal for running a sub 4 mile and compete in the Olympic Trials at 10,000 meters among his many other accomplishments. I would take credit for this but I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Bobby has the fire within and loves running and has gotten great coaching over the years, mostly from Rollie Geiger at NC State.

  So I'm not going to do a commercial for the store but if you need running stuff there is no finer place to shop for it and if I'm not there anyone on the staff can give you great advice and service. I really didn't expect to be here this long but if they'll keep putting up with me I think I'll stick around for a few more years at least.

 Thanks to Mike, Jon and Matt for the opportunity.

 Ok, here is a link to the store website.

Friday, September 21, 2012

La Grandiose Experience. Sept update

Things have been going quite well over the past month since my last update. I recovered very quickly from the race on Labor Day Weekend. I had practically no soreness and after taking a couple of days to rest I was soon up to normal speed and distance putting in 33 miles the week afterwards.  followed that up with 59 miles last week and I should end up with 54 this week.

  These weeks have included some quality workouts as well as some good long runs with some pace work, some hill repeats and some tempo intervals. I've also been able to help get Amy on track to getting her mileage back up a bit and she did the hill repeats and tempo intervals with me. Right now they are geared towards just getting us ready for the faster paced stuff to come after she does her birthday run at Hinson Lake and I get this 100 miler done in 3 weeks. I hope to get in one more good mileage week and a couple of quality workouts, some more hills and tempo stuff and then I'll have to cut back a bit for the final two weeks before Oil Creek.

 As a little side note, the hill repeats we did and will continue to do for the next couple of months are not the normal kind I've done in the past but instead are run for about 300-400 meters at maximum effort. When we reach the top it's all about gasping and trying not to throw up. We run slowly back down and then recover completely before the next repeat. Very hard but very satisfying and a great strength builder.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Badgerland 24, uh, 13 hour Run

    I guess you can look at this as both a rousing success and an epic failure rolled into one race.

 I'm not going to bore you with the details of a race that went around and around in  400 meter circles or make any excuses on why I failed to finish the event. I certainly can't blame the weather. Although it wasn't ideal  for this time of year I couldn't have asked for much better. It never did get cool and was about 70F at the start but the high was never more than around 78F with moderate humidity, 50% cloud cover and during the mid-day hours a bit windy.

  The race started a 8 am with 24 runners. We were chip timed and there was an aid station at the start/finish area that was well stocked with the usual ultra fare with more real food added as the day progressed. Every three hours we would change direction so the scenery changed a little.

 To make a long story short, I was doing a great job of keeping with my planned run/ walk schedule all day. The pace for the first few hours was a bit faster than expected and I have to say that is probably the cause of my downfall. Not that I was running too fast but because I began to have delusions of grandeur and was imagining myself racking up more miles than even my fantasy goal because I was feeling so good. That's where the problem started because  I wanted to maintain the pace and  so I began to neglect my fuel and hydration schedule.

  Around 40 miles I should have taken a short break and made sure I was caught up with the fluids and fuel but I knew I had a 50 mile pr in the bag if I maintained my current pace. Pretty dumb huh? Yes I got the pr, officially 9:57:21 but due to the  length of a lap around the track that was for 50.22. If the 50 had been marked it would have been around 9:55. Well, I knew and know better than to run a 50 mile pr and then expect to run well for another 14 hours.

  I walked a mile then rested for a few minutes and tried to get some food in me. Went back out and was having a hard time getting back into a groove. I sat down again to eat a grilled cheese sandwich and walked some more and by the time I finished that 11th hour I had only covered another 2.25 miles. I was finally beginning to feel decent again over the next hour and got in another 4 miles but then the wheels began to fall  off again. I tried in vain over the next hour to get back in control but it was no use. I decided to try and get in at least 100k and a new pr for that distance but at 59 I was toast. I walked one more slow mile to make it an even 60 and called it a day.

 I'm sure I could have taken frequent breaks and walked a lot and gotten in at least another 30 miles but it would have been a meaningless number and just a week before I had advised another  runner planning to do Hinson Lake 24 to just run until it wasn't fun anymore. I decided I would take that advice and save it for a better day. I have the Oil Creek 100 miler coming up on Oct. 13th so rather than beat myself up I did the wise thing and quit. Yes, the wise thing but I hate quitting and not completing a goal.

 So now I move on. It looks like I made a smart decision because I have had practically no soreness from the race and began running again on Tuesday with a good 5 miler with Amy. I even surprised myself how well I ran and the pace for that run and the remaining workouts this week have all been at my normal pace.

 I don't have any pictures from the race but I did take some of the Milwaukee area the next day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Badgerland 24/12/& 6 Hour Run- Preview

At the time I began running in the late 70's and first became aware of ultra running, nearly all of the events were either held on the roads or for convenience on a track. Western States 100 trail run was still in it's infancy as was all ultra trail running. I remember reading an article in 1980 about the National 50 mile Championships which were held on a track. I was always intrigued with the idea of running ultras and eventually doing a 24 hour run on the track but as you probably know if you have been a regular here that my ultra running didn't start until 2002 and with the exception of a few races like the Derby 50k and The Boogie 50 miler, nearly all of them have been on trails.

  Back in 2005 I heard about an 8 hour run in Peachtree City Georgia put on by the Darkside Running Club and decided to drive down and check it out. It was held on the local high school track and was an evening race starting at 10pm until 6am. Most people seem to think it would be very boring but I had a wonderful time and enjoyed the venue and the camaraderie. It's actually pretty cool having all the competitors within sight for the entire event. I had a pacing strategy and was able to stick with it for most of the event and hit my distance goal plus 1 mile.

  Unfortunately there are not too many 24 hour track runs these days and I never got around to running one. I have done the trail 24 hour on a 1.5 mile loop at Hinson Lake a few times which is  a wonderful event but as I was making out my calender of events for the year I decided to try and find one on a track. Luckily I was able to find one that fit my schedule. In fact this is the 30th anniversary of the event put on by the Badgerland Striders in Wisconsin. It is going to be held this Saturday Sept 1st in Germantown Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.

  I was beginning to worry about my fitness with the struggle to recover after the Boogie and a weak showing at Grandfather Mountain in July but the past 4 to 5 weeks things have gone very well with my training and I am feeling like myself again. In addition to having same very solid weeks of training, over the past 4 weeks I have completed 4 race specific workouts which I called my "stupid runs". Stupid because most would not think it's too smart to go out on an asphalt track in the middle of an August afternoon to run around in circles for hours.  I'm hoping that they turn out to be smart runs ! I did 3 of them for two hours and one of them for 3 hours practicing my run/ walk pacing strategy as well as fueling and hydration. In addition I did a nice 5 hour time on feet workout in Umstead with Ultra Angel Jenn a couple of weeks ago so I feel confident that I'm as well prepared as I can be at this time.

  In 2006 at Hinson Lake I was able to cover 103.36 miles. I'm 6 years older now, but also a lot more experienced so I am hoping to exceed that distance. I'll be happy with anything over that but I'll go ahead and put it out for all to see that my fantasy goal is 110 miles. I don't think there will be any online updates although the event is chip timed but since the event is in the confines at the HS track I may be able to use my phone for some updates on FB when I take an occasional extended walk break .

 Here is the event website.

 Wish me luck !

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another solid week of training for GE2

 I'm feeling pretty excited with the way things are going with the training now. It seems I am 100% recovered from the setbacks in June although I'm not sure if I am back to where I was race wise before then. We'll find out about that next weekend but that's for another post. I've been very consistent with the mileage for the past four weeks with all 4 between 46 and 49 miles.

 This past week I got in some tempo intervals on Monday , a double on Tuesday, a good ultra pace 11 mile practice run  on Wednesday for the upcoming race, a 4 mile time trial effort at Umstead on Thursday and  a nice relaxed 10 miler on Saturday with Mountain Girl. I would have loved some more miles but I am doing a bit of a taper so I also had two planned rest days on Friday and Sunday and I will be taking it very easy this upcoming week.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beginning the Grand Experiment 2

 With a 24 hour race coming up in two weeks, it is probably not the best time to begin a  training plan for a Boston Qualifier but then that's kind of what the Grand Experiment 2 is about. I'm still working on the outline of the training program  but the details aren't that important right now. In general the idea is to get used to the faster training to come and build up the ability to hold marathon pr pace for longer periods so I started off last week with a short progression run building to MP PR pace the last two miles. Great workout but it definitely felt hard near the end. Those will get much longer as the schedule progresses.

 I got in  one nice run with Amy where we discussed the plan when she begins with it in Sept. I finished up the week with a good moderate distance long run with Karla and Lisa which was a strong negative split effort. I hope to get in one more strong week of this training in preparation for the harder work to come but then next week I guess I'll have to do a bit of a taper. all part of the Grand Experiment 2 !

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Grand Experiment Part 2

 I wrote a post back in late May about it being time to re-focus my training but soon after was the dog attack and slow recovery from the Boogie 100 dnf followed by a miserable heat wave in July. I am happy to report that my training has finally gotten back on track the past couple of weeks and I feel like I am about back to normal but not quite back in the shape I was in the Spring. So, after going over some planning this weekend I officially kicked off The Grand Experiment Part 2  today with a good progression run.

 For those newer readers and for you old ones that don't really bother to remember half of what you read here, let me give you a little refresher on the original " Grand Experiment".  In 2005 running in Boston was not even on my radar , having given up on that dream a very long time ago. My fastest marathon, not counting the only one I did as a young man was a 4:12:08 in Richmond in 2004. I met and ran with Karla for the first time on New Years Day of 2005 and also met  Margherita that day too. Karla was training with my friend Jerry for her first marathon and he had asked me to run with them. I was in full ultra mode at this point with a 50k coming up the next weekend and a full slate of ultras on the calendar for the year.

  At nearly the last minute I decided I would pace Karla and Jerry in her marathon at Myrtle beach just a week after the Uwharrie 40. She was aiming for a BQ and needed 4 hours. I knew I couldn't run that but I felt I could hold that pace for at least 15 miles and then they could bring it in from there. Well I had a miracle day, pacing them perfectly through 23 miles before I had to drop back and let them go. Karla went on to get her BQ and I came in a short time later in 4:00:40.  A month later Jerry and Margo qualified at Shamrock and at a celebration dinner the 3 of them started trying to talk me into qualifying and going with them. Yeah right. I needed a 3:35 and I had just barely run a 4:01 and besides I was committed to another 10 ultras including two tough 100 milers. No way was that going to happen. But I told them I would give it a shot after Massanutten in May. After that Karla and I begin to train together and to make a long story short I was miraculously able to qualify at MB and go to Boston.  The Grand Experiment of course was could I train to knock a full 25 minutes off my marathon and still run 10 more ultras in the meantime.

 Which brings us back to today. I've got 7 months to get myself ready to attempt a 3:34:59 marathon at Tobacco Road in March which would be my PR while still running a 24 hour race next month, a tough 100 miler in Oct. a marathon and a 50k in November and a 50 mile PR attempt in Janurary.  And right now I doubt I could even run one in 4 hours ! It will take a whole lot of hard work , hard running and another miracle for it to happen but I hope that the plan I am working on will give me the desired results. Staying healthy and injury free will be the key so I have to balance the hard work with smart recovery. due to changes in the Boston qualifying standard i have to run faster by a minute than I did  in 2006. Wow, it was hard enough then but to repeat when I'm 7 years older ?

 Of course the only reason I am even trying this is to help my training partner and Angel Amy reach her goal of qualifying for Boston. Funny thing is she is not even beginning the training until September but since she is nearly 18 years younger than I am she can catch up quickly.

 With the 24 hour run coming up in less than 3 weeks now I can't get too ambitious with the training. I did a progression run this afternoon with the last mile slightly faster than goal marathon pace. For the rest of the month I just want to mostly get in easy miles in prep for a good effort in the 24 and mix in a little bit of pace work, some strides and  maybe a little fartlek to get used to moving at a little faster pace than normal. i am going to try a different approach to the training this time around focusing more on lots of miles at marathon pace and less time on the track.

 Stay tuned !

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mid Year update. Late !

Yes, I am way behind on posting my usual mid-year report on how things have gone so far. I usually have this ready by the end of June but I forgot and then I just didn't feel like writing anything. To be honest I was pretty much in a blue funk for a good while after the dog attack. Although I was eager and able to start back running about a week afterwards,  I was very uncomfortable for several weeks and  I was getting frustrated with my slow recovery. Add to that all the record heat and humidity made for some miserable running most of July. Hugging grand-daughters and running with Angels helped a lot and I finally started getting back to normal a couple of weeks ago.  I've also been very busy at work the past 3 weeks but at least was able to get in some good runs with a few glimmers of hope that when cooler weather finally comes, I'll be ready to race.

  So here goes. The year got off to a very good start with  a successful and fun race at the Weymouth Woods 100k which I ran fast enough to get a qualifying time for the Western States lottery this December. Two weeks later I had a good run at the NCFA 50k  on the All American Trail. This one was just a good way to get in a long training run for Umstead and hang out with some cool people.

 In February I had a lot of fun at The Pilot Mountain Payback Trail Marathon. The weather was perfect and I felt strong on this beautiful course.

 There were no races during March as I prepared for a hundred mile pr attempt at Umstead. The training went very well and I was confident going into the race on March 31st. Warm daytine temperatures and stifling humidity did me in and I fell off pace for the PR after getting a mid race 50 mile PR. The last 3 laps were a struggle but I got a finish in a decent time , 25:52.

 Recovery went extremely well and I was back up to normal mileage and training a week later. That gave me confidence to go for a course PR at Promise Land 50K++ at the end of April. I did have a lot of fun but it was obvious after the first couple of aid stations that I wouldn't get the pr. I just haven't been able to train as much on the trails and the steep, long mountain climbs for too long now.

  May Madness was the only event the next month which I had planned as fun way to get in some heat training for my upcoming but still secret Boogie 100. The Madness was a great day with a lot of fun with some more cool people, mostly MTC and a few NCRC.

 Which brings us to June and the Boogie and the dogs. It was great to have Amy to run with for the first 26 and the support from many friends through out the day was wonderful but everything else was such a disappointment. I was happy to get at least 100K but I paid a high price physically.

  As I said the training was a real struggle  for the rest of June and  almost all of July. Combined with the miserable humidity at Grandfather Mountain, I struggled at one of my favorite events.

 Looking ahead I have no races planned for August. The training is going much better now and I've had a few really good runs.  The remainder of the year is set now with my next event coming up on Labor Day Weekend. I'll be heading up to Germantown Wisconsin for the Badgerland 24 hour run on the HS track.

 October brings the Oil Creek 100 miler in Northwestern PA.

  In November I'll be returning to the OBX Marathon which I hope to run for fun with Karla. We've run I think 11 marathons together but it has been two years since the last one. I'll finish up the month with my 9th Derby 50k and depending on how things go between now and then I will probably go for a pr once again.  Amy and I are suppose to be beginning to focus our training after my 24 hour run on getting her a Boston Qualifier next Spring so if things are going well with that, I should be in shape to at least consider a 50k pr.

 December will just be training and recovery again this year.

 Stay tuned !

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Leadville 2006

Oxygen? Who needs it? Well, I was afraid I would need to run with a canister as I prepared to leave for Leadville. The course would be difficult even at sea level but with altitude between 9,200 ft and 12,600 ft, this would likely be my toughest challenge to date. I did not have the luxury of time to go out to Colorado early to acclimate so I would just have to wait and see how it would affect me. I had been warned I would feel terrible and have headaches and nausea and that some people can have problems with HAPE ( high altitude pulmonary edema) above 10,000 ft without acclimation. There was only one way to find out. I was confident I would come home with a finisher's buckle despite the odds that usually less than 50% of starters make it to the finish line and most of those live at altitude. But those people that know me well, know that when I say I'm going to do something, it is wise not to bet against me.
I arrived in Leadville about 7:30 PM on Thursday before the race and drove straight to the condo I would staying in at Grand West Resort. I was a guest of my friend Anita Fromm, whom I had met while pacing at Umstead in 2005. We were joined by several other of Anita's friends that would be crewing and pacing for her. Another of her friends I had also met at Umstead, Vinny Swendson would be running and like me would go it alone without crew or pacer.

We were all off to bed early and then after a leisurely morning, we drove into town for packet pick-up and the pre-race briefing. We then returned to the condo to relax and prepare for the 4am Saturday start. I was anxious to go ahead and run. So far I had no problems with the altitude, but I did notice just going up the stairs that my heart rate would rise quickly. I spent most of the day sitting on the porch of the condo enjoying the gorgeous view right outside our door. The temperature ranged from 40F to the upper 50's , a welcome break for the muggy 80's and 90's I had left behind in NC.

Finally after a short night's sleep, I arose at 2am. A couple of cups of coffee and we were off to the start in downtown Leadville. I was able to see several of my friends while we waited. Joe and Hannah Lugiano and Bill and Sally Squires from the NCRC. Doug and Merrie Dawkins from the Mangum Track Club and Gary and Keith Knipling from the VHTRC as well as some other familiar faces. After a few pictures the time was at hand.

I had hoped to run as much as possible with Anita and we lined up together after a prayer and a hug. As the shotgun blasted to send us on our way, it soon was evident I would not be running with Anita today. She has been living at altitude and training every weekend on the course, so within a half-mile and the first uphill I had to let her go. I could not afford to go anaerobic this day. At this point I still didn't even know if I could run in this thin atmoshere so I was starting out very easy. As we reached the Blvd, a long straight downhill dirt road, I was taking it easy and soon joined by Doug. It was nice to be able to run a couple of the early miles with him, but when we hit the flat road leading to Turquoise Lake, I gradually begin to pull away. So far I was feeling good and not having any trouble breathing.

Soon I reached the trail along the North side of the lake. At least they say there is a lake. It was still pitch black and I was having to keep me eyes on where I was going. By now the pack of 388 starters had began to spread out. I was content to stay in line and not try to pass anyone at this point as the pace was very comfortable. As we reached the mid-point of the trail, it was amazing to see the the lights of so many runners snaking along the contours of the lake in front and behind me.

Finallly, just as it was becoming light enough to see without my flashlight, I emerged from the trees into MayQueen Campground at 13.5 miles. I was greeted by Dave Hardwick, who was out to crew for Doug. Dave is a former resident of NC and a MTC member as well as a finisher of this race. Doug's wife Merrie was also there and greeted me with a hug.Then Sally was there to cheer me in. As I enter the aid station tent, another friend from NC, Scott Brockmeier came over to fill my water bottle. Scott was there to crew and pace another Tarheel, Bobby Biles. My time in was exactly what I was hoping for. I was quickly on my way and as I headed up the road toward the trailhead to Hagerman Pass Rd, there was Hannah cheering me on. Wow, was I really 2,000 miles from home? It was great to have some support from friendly faces.

Soon I turned onto a section of the Colorado trail and my first challenge of the day. This would be the first significant climb of the race. The trail was beautiful and I passed several creeks flowing down into the lake below. Although I was breathing harder than normal I still felt fine and fell into a good rhythm on the climb. I soon reached Hagerman Pass Rd. Although it still is uphill, it was not so steep that I couldn't run a little and so I did to keep the pace up. Thje course then turned to climb up a jeep trail to the top of Sugar Loaf Pass. Looking down the side of the Mt. I could see MayQueen straight down below. As I turned to make the climb, I noticed a runner in front of me wearing a hat from Inside-Out Sports just like mine. As I caught up to him, I took a wild guess that he might be from NC too. It turned out to be Guido Ferrari from Durham NC. I had seen his name in some results before but we had never met. We talked for a while before I backed off the pace a little and he disappeared in the distance. He was a really nice person and I'm sure we will see each other in some local races.

Before long I finally reached the top of the pass and looked forward to some downhill running. It was here that I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Beth Simpson of Wisconsin. We ran and talked for a couple of miles but then as the descent turned steeper I lost contact with her. That woman can move down a hill. I can run fairly well on technical downhills but she was soon out of sight. The last portion of this segment is a scary ,steep rutted path straight down the powerline easement into the valley. After taking a photo, down I flew to the bottom. From there it is a short run on pavement into the Fish Hatchery aid station and the 23.5 mile mark . Once again all my friends were there cheering as they waited on their runners. and I was still on pace and making time on the cut-offs. I was still feeling great and again I was out quickly eating a handful of cookies as I walked away.

The next section was a bit strange at the time but in retrospect I guess it was about normal. The course from here begins on pavement for a couple of miles and it is flat or slightly downhil. I expected to be able to run well here and make up some time, but I had to walk nearly as much as I ran. Thinking back I seem to hit a low point around this distance in all my ultra's, but then rebound and start to feel good again around 30 miles. After a couple of miles I turned and crossed a pasture and then onto the dirt road leading to Halfmoon campground. I was feeling good as I passed through the Treeline crew point and was having fun playing the crowd. I was wearing the "Too DumbTo Quit" shirt that Anita had given me to wear at Massanutten last year and it was proving to be very popular with runners, crew and spectators alike. I heard dozens of comments about it the whole day. After passing Treeline, the course continues a long gradual climb to the Halfmoon aid station. I was still on my planned pace and after a quick refill and a few bites to eat I headed out.

The course continues on the dirt road a while longer before turning onto the trail leading to Twin Lakes. It was here I almost made my first mistake. I was taking in a wonderful view and decided it would make a nice picture. I stepped to the side of the road to take the shot. There were 3 runners just ahead of me and as I was returning the camera to my pouch and about to follow after them, a runner came up behind me and yelled to the other three that they were going the wrong way. I looked behind me and I was standing in the entrance to the trail , clearly marked with several ribbons. I guess I better pay a little more attention to where I'm going.

This next section was my favorite of the day. After a little more climbing, there is a long, sweet ,mostly downhill single-track all the way down into Twin Lakes. I was feeling great at this point and running strong. I was truly in my element. It is times like these that I wish my family and closest friends could see the world through my eyes and feel what I feel so they could share the experience and understand the joy it brings me. I do the next best thing and talk to them in my mind while I run and I can feel their spirits with me as I know they are back home thinking about me. This is also one of the main reasons I write these reports. I must have passed 20 runners along this path before finally dropping steeply into the aid station at 39.5 miles. Again I made great time coming in and was still right on pace.

I was eager to be on my way and face the challenge that lay ahead of me across the valley. Hope Pass, at 12,600 ft is the make or break point for a majority of runners. Many dreams have died on that climb. It is infamous for the quickly changing weather conditions that can go from sunny and fairly warm to rain, sleet , hail and lightning in minutes. I was mentally prepared for whatever the Mt might throw at me today. I would approach it just as I had hundreds of opponents in sparring matches in my former years in Martial Arts. You might kick my butt, but first you have to show me what you've got. I know what's inside me and I'm not going down easy. Bring it on Hope Pass, let's see what you got.

But first I had to run across the valley floor through meadow and bog. There are a couple of little creeks and one major stream, Lake Creek. Today it was flowing well and just over knee high on me. Very refreshing as it had gotten warm and the sun shines hot up here in the thinner air. I was running fairly well here and after probably 30 minutes entered the forest at the base of the climb. As I began the ascent, there was a creek rushing in torrents down the side of the Mt . I would liked to have been able to enjoy the view a little more but I had a hard task ahead of me. I knew that the climbs out here would be long and slow. Wishing I was at the top would not get me there so I just put my eyes on the trail in front of me and walked, never looking at my watch or looking ahead. I would get to the top when I got there.

The climb quiclky became steep and it was obvious this would not be easy. Although I was not having any ill effects such as headache or nausea from the altitude, I was working hard to suck in as much oxygen as possible. Every step upward I took was going to have less air pressure than the one before it and already my chest was heaving like a bellows. But I continued to climb steadily and passed a dozen people as I made my determined way up. After about an hour of steady, hard climbing I was beginning to reel from the body punches the mountain was hitting me with. I was about to take a knee and take a short break, but then the trail leveled out for a short distance and that was all I needed to recover enough to continue. It wasn't much longer before I broke through the treeline and into the Hopeless aid station.

I refilled my bottle and grabbed a cup of mashed potatos and begin to look for a place to sit to eat and take a short break. I found a spot on a log next to Gary Knipling. I was not really happy to see Gary. Normally he would be a couple of hours ahead of me in a race of this length and it was obvious Gary was not feeling good. He and his son Keith are trying to be the first Father and Son to complete the Grand Slam of ultrarunning and I was worried that he would not be finishing if he didn't start to feel better. He headed up the final climb to the summit before me, but I soon passed him again. What a feeling to finally reach the summit! I was on top of the world, still feeling great and had a nice long downhill ahead. I was hit with a cold blast of wind at the top so I quickly headed down the backside. I was soon making good time and running with a young man. The trail is very steep , narrow and rocky so we were both trying to keep it in control. It would be stupid to get this far feeling this good only to be careless and get injured.

Just as we dipped back below the treeline, the Mt decided to keep it's reputation for bad weather intact. It began to rain and hail. As I ran down it rained harder and the hail got larger and was starting to sting. The trail was already a bit wet, but now was qucikly becoming slick and muddy and with the steepness of the trail, even more treacherous. Most people around already had on jackets or were putting them on. I was still warm so I decided to leave mine around my waist and change shirts at Winfield. As the young guy stopped to put on his jacket I started running behind another man. In a few minutes I was smiling to myself. The guy was slipping every 3rd or 4th step and nearly fell 5 or 6 times. I found this amusing because while he was wearing trail shoes designed for these kind of conditions, I was wearing my regular Asics road shoes that I always wear and I never lost traction a single step of the way down to the bottom even though we were running the same pace.

Not long after reaching the bottom and turning onto Winfield road, I saw Anita and her first pacer coming towards me. She was looking great and after a quick hug we went off in seperate directions to finish our runs. I was now regretting my decision to leave my jacket off. I was feeling cold and was anxious to get to Winfield and get into something dry. Finally made it in and began searching for my drop bag. It took a few minutes but I finally found it. Unfortunately I had not put a shirt in the bag after all. While I was standing there dreading going back out into the cold rain with wet clothes, I began talking to Bunny Runyon, who was waiting for Gary to come in. She said Bobby was injured so Scott was going to wait and pace Gary. About that time Scott came in. I was happy to find that Scott had an extra short-sleeve shirt in his car and he ran out to get it for me. I was beginning to question my decision to turn down an offer for a crew member before the race. I am very thankful that Scott was there and could help me. I got dressed and then went over to the food tent for some noodle soup with some potatoes floating around in it. I had spent a long time here but it worked out well because the rain stopped just as I walked out. I left at 13:02, exactly the time I had planned and was confident of a finish, although I knew it would not be easy with 50 hard miles to go.

It took a mile or so before I started to get warm again, but finally started feeling good again and I was able to run most ot the way back to the trail head. I was looking for my NC friends hoping to see them soon. I knew if they weren't in sight soon they would not make the cut-off. Right after I turned off Winfield road, Bill Squires came running down the Mt. I told him I was sorry but he only had 23 minutes to go about 2.5 miles uphill. Bill took off and gave it his best effort but missed the cut-off by about 20 minutes. Before long ,there was Doug. He was happy to finally make it over Hope Pass for the first time. Soon after that I finally saw Joe. I was really hoping he could have made it this year. I know how hard he has trained and wants to do this successfully.

The trail up the backside to Hope Pass is a little shorter and not as much elavation gain as the frontside but it is steeper and before long I was huffin' and puffin' like The Little Engine That Could. Once again, head down and get down to business. Just after emerging above treeline again , I spotted a nice rock on the side of the trail. The view was magnificent so I thought a picture would be nice. It was a good excuse to take a short break. I'm glad I did because after reviewing the photos at home, I think it turned out to be the best landscape photo I have ever taken. It was near 7 pm and the lighting was perfect for the shot. I was quickly back on the trail and ready to get the climb behind me. Just before reaching the summit I saw Beth just ahead of me again. She had changed jackets, but I recognized her black running skirt. I caught her just before we went over the top so we stopped and took pictures of each other. Once again as we headed down ,she pulled away, flying down the Mt.

I didn't waste much time at Hopeless, just refilling my bottle and snapping a picture of some of the llamas that bring the supplies for this aid station. It was great to be heading back down. I had successfully made my way over Hope Pass both directions. Woohoo!!

A little over halway down I heard Rob Saraneiro come up behind me. His was a familiar face from the VHTRC but we had never been introduced. We enjoyed the rest of the trip down to the flats. He seems to be a fine young man and kept calling me sir. It's nice to see a respectful young person but it just reminds me that I look a lot older than I feel. It was about this time that I discovered mistake #2. Rob and I had both left our lights for night running at Twin Lakes, but we had both mis-calculated how early it would get dark. It shouldn't have been a problem because I was prepared. I had my back-up light in my pocket so I pulled it out and was going to help lead Rob in. Unfortunately ,I hadn't unscrewed the flashlight a little after using it in the morning and it had accidently come on at some point during the day in my back pocket and was now very dim. We made it to the creek crossing ok, but after that it became very dark. The Moon was not out and from the lack of stars I knew it was overcast. My night vision with a flashlight is not very good and the little bit of beam coming from this one was not much help. I had to walk slowly to stay on the trail, which was very frustrating because I wanted to be running this easy part of the course. Somehow Rob was able to move on ahead. Younger eyes help I guess.

Just before crossing the road to head into Twin Lakes, it began to rain again. The aid station was crammed with people but I finally was able to find a chair and change shirts while a volunteer filled my bottle and got me some noodles and coke. I wasn't too excited about heading back out into the cold rain, but once I got started it wasn't too bad. I now had my main lights and had replaced the battery in my back-up saw I was prepared to face the night. There is a signicant climb for the first few miles but I was still moving along fine. I was amazed to have come back into Twin Lakes only 4 minutes slower than I had gone into Winfield and that included having to walk a big portion of the easy part, so my confidence level was still high.

Before long I realized I had made mistake #3 and this would prove to be the big one. The wet stream crossings and the mud had caused me to accumulate small grit into my shoes and it was imbedded into my socks now and wearing like sandpaper on the forepads of my feet. I couldn't believe I was letting this happen because I had clean shoes and socks back at Twin Lakes. 5 minutes spent back there would probably have saved me an hour or possibly two at the end.

As I walked along this climb I noticed how quiet the Mts are here. The only sound other than my breathing and footsteps were the occasional sounds of flowing water from a nearby stream. No bugs, frogs or whooperwhills here. At this time back East, you could have barely have heard yourself think for all the wildlife racket going on. I eventually made it back to Halfmoon. I had some dry , clean socks here but the damage had already been done. My energy level was finally dropping from all the heavy breathing I had been doing all day. I wasn't feeling bad but my chest muscles were tiring out on me, not being used to breathing as hard as I had been doing all day. As a result I would not be doing nearly as much running as I would like. Even the mostly downhill road back to Treeline would be hard for me. To make matters worse, walking hurt my feet more than running.

Just before reaching the Fish Hatchery, I stepped to the side of the road to pee, and Gary and Scott came running by. I was happy to see Gary was still moving and I ran into the aid station just behind them. I changed socks again and then headed out to face the final major climb, that sick , steep. scary rutted powerline and onto the top of Sugar Loaf Pass. My pace had slowed quite a bit but I wasn't concerned because I still felt I could walk it in from here and get my finish. The problem was I needed to walk fast and I wasn't. And every step my feet seemed to hurt more. I think this is probably the longest climb on the course and I began to lose my patience. Instead of climbing like I had up Hope Pass, I began to strain my eyes upwards looking for the next glow stick, only to be disappointd to see it further up. It seemed like an eternity before I finally reached the summit .

Now at last I could run some more, but no, my feet hurt so bad . The jeep road here was rocky and rutted and I had to be very careful where to place my feet. I was able to run about halfway down to Hagerman Pass road but the pace was glacial and painful. The Leadville 100 was no longer fun, but a chore to be finished and I was ready for it to be over. At least when I finally reached Hagerman Pass road, I was able to run most of it because of its easier surface. I was eager to get back on the Colorado trail back into MayQueen and the last aid station. I couldn't remember how long that section would be but it soon added to the frustration I was feeling. As I neared the bottom I could hear and see the lights just below and to my right .The trail however turned uphill and to the left. But I don't want to go this way, i want to go down there! Every step away was making me more frustrated. Finally with about two hundred yards to get to the road, I tripped over a rock and landed hard on both knees.. Just a few scratches on the left . The right was not even marked but the kneecap was bruised and throbbing. Well at least I forgot me feet for a minute. After an angry moment I setttled down and from that point on I was back to my normal good natured self again. I had just about thrown all my hard effort away by losing my patience and getting injured. God has a way of getting my attention every now and then and reminding me how good I really have it.

I wasted no time in Mayqueen as bad as I wanted to sit and stay a while. I had 4:15 to get to the finish and I knew it would be a slow 13.5 miles. I tried to run on the flat campground road but it was a pathetic looking shuffle I'm sure. I had forgotten how rocky and hilly the first few miles of the Lake Trail were. It was slowing my progress quite a bit. Gary went by me shortly and I was very happy to know he had recovered enough and was going to finish. Then I heard someone else come up behind me. It was Ray Gruenewald from Seattle. I had just met Ray here in Leadville this weekend and we had been leapfrogging each other all day at the aid stations. Ray was planning to follow me into the finish and the plan was working. We didn't do much talking In fact I hadn't done much talking this whole race. It just took too much air to talk and walk at the same time. We stayed together all the way to the campground past the Tabor Boat ramp but I heard nature's call and decided to use the facilities in the campground. I had no doubt I would make it to the finish now so I was in no hurry. The time didn't matter or who finished in front of me. I just wanted to get there with as little pain as possible. I had to wait so I filled my bottle at a spigot and adjusted my jacket and vest and pouch while I waited.

Soon I was on my way again. There was one more cruel obstacle in my way. Leaving the lake, the course crossed a road and took a short cut to another road down a very steep, rocky powerline. It was killing my poor feet as I slowly inched my way down. At last I was on the flat road heading back towards town. I ran/ walked this section as well as I could and then reached the end of the Blvd, approximately 5K to go. This would turn out to be a long slow hot climb. I don't know what the temperature was but the sun was beating down and it felt a lot hotter than it probably was. And it was all uphill to town from here so I walked and I walked and I walked. And then I walked. Finally I could spot the end ot the road and as I made the turn off of Blvd , I could hear the cheers of the crowd at the finish line. I was still walking and climbing but as the road flattened out I tried to run and felt like I was going to pass out. Now wouldn't this be great. Get within a mile of the finish and end up in the medical tent with a stupid DNF from trying to run it in. That's OK . I'm not too proud to walk across the finish line. I make the turn onto 6th street and I know the finish is just over the hill and finally there it is in sight. A little downhill and then a short uphill to the line. I tried to run down the hill but the woozy feeling instantly came back so I go back to the plan to walk it in. Just as I start up the final hill, Hannah calls out from the side of the road. "Come on Joey, you can do this. Run it in. Joe's waiting to take your picture" I just mumble something about I can't so she runs out into the road and urges me to run beside her. I slowly start running with her when seemingly out of nowhere 3 or 4 other women surround me urging me to run it in. The crowd is cheering so with my escorts I somehow find the strength to run up the carpet and through the finish tape.

Everything seemed to be a blur. My head felt like a brick and I couldn't speak in complete sentences. I remember seeing Joe and the camera and out of nowhere the RD, Merilee gives me a hug and someone puts a medal around my neck. VInny is waiting there. All I can think is that I want some coke and I want to sit down. That turns out to be exactly what they want me to do. Every finisher has to immediately go to the medical tent and let them check your lungs for fluid and check your blood oxygen levels. It only takes a minute for someone to come check me out. She says I'm fine and I smile. Yes I am. I did it. I have finished The Race Across the Sky, The Leadville Trail 100!