Friday, November 29, 2013

Derby 50k Preview

 Wow, 10 years already ? Well actually 11. Time seems to fly so fast. It doesn't seem that long ago in many ways that I was a novice when it comes to this long distance stuff and now I guess I have to admit to being a veteran with 130 +  marathons and ultras on my resume. But lets get back to Derby. I didn't run in the  first year it was held. It was my first full year getting into ultra's and I had run my first 50 miler at Masochist the month before and had another 50k trail race in Virginia planned two weeks later so I thought it would be too much for me at that point. Although I was not in the race I did attend and was a roving volunteer with RD  Mark Long for several hours and then ran the last 10.5 miles with my friends Jay and Anita Finkle.  I enjoyed the experience quite a bit and was determined I would return the next year as an entrant. But I have to say I had no idea that it would become a tradition !

 I did return to run the next year of 2004 and ran a pr of 5:42:09. Looking back that was a slow time but then I was quite happy with it. By then I had   run 14 ultras but all of the 50k's had been tough trail races . 

 2005 was a big year for me as I ramped up my training and racing and my confidence had grown. I had improved my pr at Frosty 50 in Jan to 5:34:40 so near the end of the year after 12 ultra and several marathons I was really happy to get a huge pr at Derby with a 4:55. By this point I was no longer happy to just finish races but had become more competitive with myself looking to always run harder and faster.

 2006 was another big year with 3x 100 milers and I still improved on my pr with a 4 :48. I was 50 that year and although their are no age-group awards I was the first grandmaster !

2007 was yet another big year and I pushed myself to yet another pr in 4:46:58 and another grandmaster win.

2008 was a bit of a tougher year for me as I was battling a nagging injury. Only finished two ultras and had 3 dnf's.  I wanted to keep the streak alive so I ran Derby but this year I took it easy.  My time was my slowest since the first in 5:37:10 but besides the leg pain I ran very relaxed and felt great. After that I did not run another step until January as I took the time off to finally let the legs heal

 I did not run any ultra's in 2009 as I used it as a re-building year. I did a lot of swimming and biking and several triathlons including my 1st and only Ironman in June. After that I refocused on the running and was soon getting my mileage back up and running great. My training partner and dear friend Karla the Marathon Princess was ready to go for her first ultra so I went with her with the plan of just running together as we had for many marathons. She did great and we ran a 5:25:40.

In 2010 I was running great. I had improved my pr at Frosty 50 to 4:44:11 which is still my pr. I had by now cut back on the number of events I ran and concentrated more on going for quality over quantity. I was going hard for the pr at Derby and was on pace through the marathon but I began to slow too much. never really blew up but still ran a decent time of 4:55:18.

2011 was a pretty good year with a few great runs and a few slow ones. I was going for the pr but I think a hard but very good race at Mountain Masochist 3 weeks earlier still had me worn down a bit. I was close to pr pace through the marathon but I did pretty much blow up this time and struggled in with a 5:14:11.

 2012 was another decent year with a lot of miles and some good races. Amy and I had began training together more than ever working towards getting Boston Qualifiers but I was still sqeezing in some ultra's My lack of trail running and cold rain got to me in my 100 attempt at Oil Creek causing a dnf at 84.5 miles. That beat me up pretty bad and wore me down. By the time Derby came along I was feeling pretty good but just never was able to quite get up to pr pace like I wanted and I crashed hard with a 5:27:38.

 Which brings me to 2013 and going for my 10th finish. I had high hopes of going for a pr as I had been running very strong in the first part of the year with great training,  some pr's and fast finishes and Amy and I had been really killing it with the speedwork. I had even run my fasted 5k in over 25 years back in June, but then the injuries hit in August  and just when I thought it was getting better it took a turn for the worse in mid September.  So I guess I will have to pass on the pr attempt and just enjoy the day and get my 10 mile finishers chair !

Saturday, November 16, 2013


 Well, I never got around to writing a preview but if I had I would have told about how this was going to be my 6th time running it. I hadn't planned on running the first one in 2006 but Karla was real excited about doing it and after she found out she had cancer and was still planning to run  it I decided to be there to share it with her.  We got through that one slowly but had a lot of fun and then I returned to run it with her a year later after completion of her therapy.

 I returned again in 2009 and 2010 attempting to race it hard but blew up both years. Skipped 2011 and returned in 2012 just planning to run with Karla again and this time we had Amy along with us going for a pr. Amy did pull ahead around mile 20 and got that pr. I stayed with Karla until mile 22 and blew up again. Just can't run well on this course !

  Which brings us to 2013. The only reason I signed up was because I was wanting to run another marathon with Karla which we haven't had a chance to do since last year. Karla has been running very well and I was hoping she would be going for a pr and share the run.

  So, on Friday I drove down to the OBX and was once again a guest of the Howell's for the 4th time since I began training with Lisa. Lisa had been having some issues with her training this year and opted out of racing it but would be volunteering. Amy had decided to use this race as a last shot at qualifying for Boston this year so she was along for the run also.

   Spent Saturday just chillin and saving energy for the Sunday am race. Drove to the shuttle with Amy and along the way we were talking about the race. She was nervous about whether she could get the PR and BQ. I confided  with her that I was actually nervous a bit too. I have done so many races that I usually don't but with my recent hamstring issues I was having doubts that I would be able to stay up with Karla and I really wanted so bad to be able too.

  We found Karla and met some other friends before heading over to the starting line.   I had decided I was going to run the first two or three miles with Amy just to help keep her from going out too fast in the excitement, find the pace she needed and mainly just because I wanted to :)

   So as the gun went off we headed out and  luckily we didn't have to do too much weaving around other folks to find room to run. She needed to average 8:23 and we hit mile one in 8:30. Counting the slow first 1/4 I told er we were probably right on pace now heading to mile two. The effort felt a little hard but I was ok and the good thing was I was not feeling any pain. We hit mile two in 8:15 and then I wished her well and sent her on her way. Then I just stopped running and walked backwards looking for Karla. I figured she was probably just about 2 minutes or so behind me and sure enough in no time there she was.

 I fell in beside her and it felt good to be running a bit slower. I told her I was really glad I didn't have to try and run Amy's pace today. We hit mile 3 in 27:45 and with her goal of 9 minute pace with the 1st slower mile I thought we were close to what we needed. Sure enough we were right at 9 to 9:05 pace from that point on for awhile. It was a perfect day temperature wise for the race but already we were running into about a 15 mph wind and it was going to be in our face or side for just about the whole race.

  We were having  our usual great time together but I could already tell by mile 9 that I was probably not going to have a good day. By the time we entered Nags Head Woods and the dirt road and hills we were already slowing down and commented that at the effort we were putting out it sure seemed like we should be going faster. We came out at the halfway point in about 2:03 and the goal of a sub 4 for her was pretty much out the window. We tried to pick the pace back up but it just wasn't happening. For me at least it was obvious that the lack of training from the injury along with the slow recovery from my 50 miler just 3 weeks before had me worn down.

 By mile 14 I was struggling to keep up with Karla and by 15 I should have let her go but I wanted so much to be able to run with her that I hung on and just hoped that I would perk up again and at least be able to run with her. Finally at mile 16 I just couldn't hold the pace so I told her I had to let her go. I walked for a minute to let my heart rate go down some and then began to run at a slower pace. I was pretty bummed and not really looking forward to the last 10 miles now.

  I was able to to at least hold a decent shuffle for the next 5 miles but then with 5 to go the wheels had come completely off and it turned into a death march. I was just so beaten down and wanted it to just be over. I was finding it hard to comprehend how I ran the last 10 of the 50 miler faster than I was shuffling these last 10 here.  As I was close to the 3:40 mark  my thoughts were  with Amy and hoping so much that she would have been able to pull off the long shot and finally get her BQ. And I was hoping Karla was still maintaining a good pace.

Those last few miles were some of the most miserable I have spent in a marathon and I was so relieved to finally see the finish. All day despite the suffering I was encouraged along the way with dozens and dozens of cheers for my kilt and quite a few as I was entering the chute. I tried to be happy and acknowledge the crowd but as I crossed the line I was so worn down I was holding back tears but then when Karla saw me and came over I just started boohooing all over her. We went to look for Amy and Frank and soon found them both and went to get some food. Amy had missed her BQ but had at least gotten a course pr and with all she has been through I am so proud to see how far she has progressed this year.

  I had started a tradition recently at Wineglass after Rebecca made a joke of doing pushups after my races and had done so after the 50 also. I wasn't even thinking of it when Amy commented that we should do some so we found someone to take pictures and dropped in the street to do 26.2.

 Then we found  Dave and Olga and headed over to the deck of the Tranquil house Inn to chill out for awhile on a beautiful afternoon. We rested up for awhile and then it was time to say good bye and head to the shuttles and begin the trip  home but before we left it was time for one more little tradition. Amy began adding a "polar plunge" whenever possible after an event and I had joined her at Myrtle Beach last February so after we got back to our cars we drove over to the beach. The air temperature was nice but the water was still cold enough to take our breath away ! Good times !

 Next adventure will be a return to Derby for my 10th finish there. Stay tuned.