Saturday, May 24, 2014

3 Days at the Fair. Day 3

 After eating I headed back around to my car. I didn't really want to stop now  at the beginning of another day but I felt like I really needed another nap so I set my alarm for 30 minutes and snoozed in the cool morning air. As I headed out there were more runners on the course than at any other point in the weekend with the 24 hour runners now on the course as well as another bunch of marathoners.

  Once again after a 1/4 mile walk it was time to test the running legs again and once again they surprised me and responded well and I was soon clicking off some good miles. I say surprised because to be honest I was expecting probably the 2nd half of the race to be a painfully slow death march but here I was into the third day and still running well and the legs were still feeling good. My feet were not feeling too good but amazingly I had not gotten anymore blisters since the 1st day and even after running in the rain for most of the 2nd.

  The air was still cool as I moved around in the morning and a breeze was still blowing so I kept on my long sleeve shirt. The sun was now high in the morning sky and a welcome sight.    I sent a text to the Angels at 51:53 that I had passed mile 160. I said I had a little over 20 hours to run another 50 miles to get my goal. It sounded easy but I'm sure it won't be ! By now the brain was not functioning too well. I was trying to figure out what I needed to get my goal and somehow the numbers just didn't add up.  I badly needed a 5th grader to help me with some simple math like figuring out how I kept coming up with 21 hours in a day but somehow I knew there had to be 24. Finally gave up on that one and just decided to keep moving,

 I took a quick break to eat some more and headed back out. By now it was still feeling cool on one half of the course with the breeze but on the other side the breeze could not be felt and with the sun bearing down it felt very hot. I had put on my straw wide brim hat to shade my head and face and was getting a lot of compliments with folks saying I had the coolest lid on the course. Bill said I reminded him of David Carradine and he was expecting me to throw down some Kung Fu any minute !

 Moving steady and I hit 170 in 54:37. I texted the Angels that it was sunny and hot but after the miserable day before in the cold rain I was finding it hard to complain ! Sat down long enough to eat an amazing cheeseburger !

 As I said the 24 hour runners were out with fresh legs so I was being passed frequently. About mid afternoon I had a funny experience. There was one young pretty petite lady that seemed to be passing me nearly every lap. And then once she came up to me and slowed down and asked, " Are you Joey Anderson ?" That caught me by surprise and I said why yes I am. She said her name was Melissa and she was from Raleigh. She said every time she mentions that she runs ultra's  to someone then they ask if she knows Joey Anderson so she figured I must be some kind of local legend ! How cool is that !

After hitting mile 180 at 58:30 I was ready to eat some more and get in hopefully one last nap. I had only taken the two so far for about 1:45  and was a bit surprised I hadn't struggled more with sleep deprivation. Unfortunately I just couldn't get comfortable and with so many more runners and crews around now it was still noisy at 8pm so I probably just dozed for about 15 minutes and then got on up and went back out.

 With the sun going down it was cooling off quickly so I soon had my jacket and gloves on. It was still a bit breezy but not nearly as much as the night before. Once again the legs responded and I was soon adding on the miles and as best as my feeble mind could calculate I was still on pace with a little cushion. I was not happy with my feet though and I got really frustrated when  I felt I was getting a blister on the right forefoot. I stopped and added a double layer of socks and hoped that would reduce the friction and keep it from getting worse. And it did seem to help.

  It seemed now that time had stood still and the miles were passing so slowly  but I just couldn't think about it. One mile and one lap at a time and repeat and slowly add up the mileage. I passed 186 just before 11pm and texted the Angels good night. I told then them it was getting colder and I was adding another layer and putting the ear warmers back on. One of them was so excited that she asked me to let her know when I hit 200 no matter what time it was. I told them it was time to get this thing finished now with about 10 hours and 24 more miles to hit the goal. I had no doubt in my mind now that I was going to  do it.

  I don't know, maybe it was just because I was brain dead and probably sleep running half the time but during the darkest hours of the night it seemed the miles were getting shorter. That was cool. It made it a little easier  to face heading out for each lap.

 Finally just after 4 am I passed through mile 200. I stopped at the car to wake up the Angel that there was her 200 and to go back to sleep . Then I tried posting the 200 mile FB update. Whoops. I dozed off right n the middle of it. I thought I had sent it but there I was holding my phone and some gibberish typed in. I cleared it and started again. Boom, nodded off again. Finally on the 3rd attempt I was able to post it. I had planned on going straight through to the end but that wasn't going to happen so I set my alarm for another 30 minutes and was out in seconds.

 Much too soon the alarm was going off. A quick mental calculation and I decided I could afford to rest another 20 minutes. After waking then I knew I had to get moving and it was so tough to head back into the cold. I did get moving and once again ran pretty well but my feet were really hurting. I made it another 5 miles and had to get some relief. My feet had swollen so much and with the double layer of socks that they were throbbing. I didn't want to take a break but something had to give so I stopped and took off the shoes and socks and propped my feet up and massaged them for about 15 minutes.

 Once I put back on one thin pair of socks and the shoes it did feel much better. It had worked to prevent the blister but I was just going to have to take a chance now that I could cover 5 miles without the double layer. About 2 hours and 5 miles. Can I do it? Normally that question to myself would sound ridiculous but right now I was serious in wondering if it was possible. Well it didn't take long to answer that as I was soon putting up some of the fastest mile splits in the last 30 something hours. Not only would I get the 210 but could easily get an extra mile for icing on a deliciously successful cake !

 When I came around I still had about 11 minutes on the clock but I didn't want to put in the effort to try and beat the clock for another one so I rang the bell for the pr and waited for Bill to come across. He busted out an incredible 21:30 last 3miles to finally achieve his goal of 200 with a final tally of 205. We sat down with Alanna to wait for the final tick of the clock when Bill mentioned something about pushups. I had forgotten so I immediately got up and did 72, one for each hour just before the end of the 72 hours.

 What an amazing experience ! Texted the Angels and then enjoyed a wonderful breakfast while we awaited the awards ceremony. After the awards I called The Marathon Princess to give her all the details before taking a badly needed nap before I could drive to my motel. I slept for about two hours and then got up and packed up the tent that I had emptied and left drying in the sun while I slept. Drove into town and had a chili cheese dog and the best chocolate milkshake ever ! Then on to the motel where I crashed and had a 3.5 hour nap of the dead. Got up long enough to find a Boston Market and stuffed myself with half a chicken and all the good sides and then back to sleep like a baby til the next morning.

 Look for some last words in another post coming soon

Friday, May 23, 2014

3 Days At The Fair. Day 2

 At the end of the first 24 hours and with 90 miles and a bit of a cushion , I allowed myself my first extended break having breakfast with the feet propped up on a picnic table under the shelter near the start/ finish. Sent out updates to the Angels and FB. I must say it felt good and it was oh so tempting  to just stay there but I still wanted to go for as many miles as possible. I wanted at least 60 for the day and every minute sitting was a minute lost. It's tough to balance how much rest and how many miles to push especially if you've never done anything like this before. Finally after about  30 minutes I got up and headed out to walk a complete lap before resuming the running.

 It wasn't much later that the rain started coming down harder and it was getting chillier. I hit the 100 mile mark in 27:40, or 12:40 in the afternoon and took a short break in my car to dry off and put on some dry clothes and put on a poncho. I told the Angels I was sick of rain and my left foot was a blistered mess. But as soon as possible I was back out on the loop.

   By this point it was almost like I was living in a time warp. The rest of the world was pretty much forgotten. and all that mattered was trying to move as fast and  as comfortably around that same old one mile loop,   one step at a time. I had wondered what kind of things I may think of being out there for so long. Well, I have to say there was not much deep thinking going on. It seems nearly all my thoughts were just doing mental calculations of how fast I was moving, how long could I afford to take a break and still stay on pace, when should I eat again etc. Life had become very simple for me.

 And it rained. And it rained. And the wind blew and swirled. And it sucked ! I was getting so miserable. And to make matters worse, as I went by my tent around 2 pm I saw that the wind had blown it half over and it had gallons of rain in it. No sleep yet and I would not be relaxing in my tent any this weekend. :(

  Mile after miserable rainy mile we trudged on. Lots of runners were taking shelter and waiting it out but those of us with big goals just kept going.  You don't know how easy it would have been to just say forget this, I'm done but I had no excuse not to go on other than I was wet , cold miserable, tired and my feet hurt !

 Finally around 6:30 pm I noticed that I felt ok running but as soon as I begin to walk I was woozy and having a hard time not staggering. My run had turned into more of a shuffle too so I knew it was time to take that first nap and get out of the rain for awhile.  The car was already crammed full of stuff but I was going to have to make some room to stretch out. This was not going to be the ideal sleeping arrangement but at least I would not be worrying about getting too comfortable. I changed into dry clothes again, texted the Angels I was at mile 115,  set the alarm for 45 minutes and was soon nodding off. I woke up at the alarm and decided to give myself another 15 minutes of rest before heading out.

 It was tough to pry myself out of the seat but I had a long ways to go. The rain had slowed to a sprinkle so I was hoping it would be over as I headed back on the loop. I walked about 1/4 mile before trying to run. I was dreading the attempt to get moving again but was pleasantly surprised that some zip had returned to my legs and I was running along at a good pace once again. I was not happy that it started raining hard again and I was soaked by the time I got back around to the car to get the poncho back on.

 After a few more hours the rain finally stopped about 11pm but I kept the poncho on for another hour just to make sure. It stayed windy all night and cold too. I put on my jacket and I was very happy that at the last minute I had packed some ear warmers ! The cold and lack of rain kept me motivated to keep moving and I was able to put in another night of good mileage.  As usual most of those were lonely miles as I watched the fast guys from the 48 hour pass me regularly and I would pass the slower runners, mostly walkers at this point in the 72. I have to say I was very pleased that I was still running well and sticking with my marks to start walking and when to run.

  I wish I could tell you the thoughts that went through my brain but I'm afraid there still wasn't much wisdom going on in there. Sometimes in long races I have designed houses, written stories and songs, planned vacations started business etc, but now I was really just counting very slowly one mile at a time and doing those same  mental pace calculations over and over.

 I was so happy when daylight began to return once again and I could see the clouds moving out and an actual sunrise ! I pushed on until I was done at the 48 hour mark and was elated to hit 153 miles, 3 over my goal pace at this point. I continued around to my car and texted the angels and updated FB and then headed back around for some more breakfast.

 To Be Continued.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3 Days At The Fair. Day One

  I had chosen to get a good nights sleep in a motel about 25 miles away from the race site knowing I was going to be dealing with sleep deprivation over the next 72 hours. I woke up refreshed and had a nice waffle for breakfast before heading over too the fairgrounds.. Unfortunately the stomach bug that had hit me Tuesday morning was still not 100% over so I was really hoping it would not be too much of an issue during the race. I had really concentrated on staying hydrated..

  I arrived at the site and saw a few familiar faces while I made my final preparations. I was feeling excited but also a bit apprehensive having never done anything of this magnitude in my years of ultra-running. 72 hours is a long time and I had a rather lofty goal in mind which even under the best of conditions would be a difficult challenge for me and would not allow for any lolly-gagging. I knew I was putting myself under pressure but I wouldn't have it any other way.

  It was a bit foggy, upper 60's and humid as we began. My plan was to go out a bit hard on this first day and go for some intermediate goals and then hope to hang on for day 2 and 3 and hope I hadn't run myself into too deep of a hole. I was also prepared to back off of that plan as soon as it begin to look like things weren't going well. Well, what I wasn't expecting was to lead the first lap. I began at what felt like an easy pace and noticed after the first 1/4 mile that I was only about 10 yards behind a group of 4 runners By the half the distance was still the same and that's when I decided it would be pretty cool to be in the lead after the 1st mile so at 3/4 I made my move And 50 yds later I missed a turn ! There was an arrow pointing straight but it was from another course apparently but the guys behind me yelled for me to come back so I had to work a bit harder to pass them all again. Crossed the line in 8:32 and immediately backed off to recover and then settled into my real pace.

  It was warm and humid and the MTC shirt came off after the 2nd mile. The course is not flat by the way. I would guess it's about 1/3 upgrade, 1/3 down grade and the other 1/3 flat with the grades varying from 1 to 2%. For most of the early miles I was running nearly the whole lap  for the first hour and then  began experimenting with and timing while taking walk breaks at different points to see how it affected the over all pace. I soon figured out what seemed to work best and settled in to that pace.

  Things were going very well for me. My legs felt good, the energy level was good and I was right on pace to get a 100 mile pr for the 1st day. I was working the nutrition and hydration strategy and everything was clicking. The only issue was it was still very humid and getting warmer into the mid 70's. Thankfully it stayed overcast the entire day other than a few moments a couple of times when the sun would peek through. The miles were sliding by and I felt good but it wasn't much longer that I could tell I would not be setting  a hundred mile  or 24 hour  so I made the decision at mile 25 in 4:32 to shut it down. I stopped to take my first break and eat some lunch and texted the Angels an update. 

 That would kind o f be my routine for the remainder of the race. Take about a 15 minute break with my feet propped up about every 10 miles or so, get some food in me and then walk all or most of a lap before resuming the running.  I was soon back out on the course and was able to share a few miles with Bill Gentry and Bob Ring. They were on a set pacing plan  but every now and then over the next days if they were starting a lap as I was getting up from a break I would join them for a couple or 3 miles. These were some of the best miles of the weekend with these guys I've known since I first began running ultra's 12 years ago.

 At some point a pretty lady pulled up beside me  that I thought looked familiar. She said we had met at Beast of Burden last summer. Turns out she had given me a ride back to the start after I had to drop with the injury. Her name is Maryka and she set Canadien age group records for the 48 and 72 hour  distances.

  I was very disappointed that before I even got to 50 mile that I was getting some blisters. I had one rather painful one on the left forefoot, one on the left outer heel and one on the right inner heel. Great ! Normally if I get blisters at least I'm over halfway done but here I am looking at another 66 hours of dealing with the pain. Oh well, suck it up and stay focused.

  Despite backing off I was still running well and went through 50 miles in 11:05. I could have probably tried to push it for a sub 24 100 but it would have been meaningless and just worn me down so I let that thought go. At mile 57, around 10 pm I texted the Angels and told them I felt I could get 90 for the 1st 24 hrs and I would update them in the morning. I took time to pop the blisters and put on some new socks. When I had taken  off the socks I discovered another blister between the pinkie and 2nd toe of my left foot that I was unaware of. I didn't need to tend to it. It had already popped and was a nice bloody little mess. Oh well, I don't have time to mess with them or worry about them. I'm a man on a mission.

 I headed out into the night ready to settle in for some relaxed miles. The course is well lit with street lights so no worries there. I was hoping it would cool off but it never got lower than the mid 60's and still very muggy. I was not planning on  sleeping any this first night unless I was struggling. I really wanted to get in as many miles as possible while staying relaxed. Everything was still going well as planned. I was still taking a short break about every 10 miles, posting a FB update, eating a little and back out on that by now very familiar loop. I did get a bit groggy around 4am but I was maintaining pace and I knew from experience that a soon as daylight would come back around that I would perk up for awhile.

  I was a bit surprised that it begin to get a bit light by 5 am. And then  at 6am I begin to perk up just as the rain started. The first few hours it was a light rain and sprinkle and it was still warm so it was not really an issue just yet. By now the 48 hour runners were assembling to begin their race. I hit mile 90 just a few minutes before 9am and the end of the first 24 hours just as i had predicted to the Angels.

 To be continued !.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

3 Days at the Fair Preview

 So how does one run for 72 hours? I have no idea. This multi-day event will be a step into uncharted territory for me but I am eager to give it a try. I guess it's taken me long enough. I first remember reading about the history of "pedestrianism:" the fore-runner to ultra-running back in the late 70's soon after I began running. It was fascinating to learn of the 6 day events and some long point to point races between cities and even across the country. But as some of you that follow along with me, I didn't enter my 1st ultra until 2002. And now it has taken this long before I finally make the step into a   multi-day event.

  This will be the 5th year this event has been held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in NJ.. The course is nearly all asphalt on a 1 mile certified loop with chip timing. It's go as you please and try to cover as many miles in the 72 hours. I can take naps, eat, leave the area or whatever but the clock is ticking. I will be setting up a tent and canopy along the course Hinson Lake style. Pacers are not allowed and I don't have any crew but from what I have heard the care they give the runners is second to none.

 So what is my plan?  As Mike Tyson said, everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. To be honest I really don't have much of a plan and will just take what each day brings me. Ok, maybe a bit of a plan. Keep hydrated, keep the nutrition going, run when I can and walk when I have to. Stay warm, stay dry, stay cool, whatever.

 Pacing? I have no idea how one spreads their energy over three days so I will just go how I feel. I hope I feel good.

 What are my goals? Well number one is to survive and not hurt myself. Other than that I do have several goals for overall and some intermediate distances and times but I think I will keep them to myself ;)

 Ok, I didn't pay all this money and drive over 500 miles just to lollygag around the loop. You know I am too competitive with myself for that to happen so I am going o go as hard as I can and if all goes well  some personal records may fall. I even have one goal that is just too ridiculous for me to even think about but I am anyway.

 There will be no online tracking but during breaks I hope to post some updates on FB. I will also be texting some of the Angels so maybe they can help with the updates too.

 Here is the race website.

 Stay tuned. If I survive there will be a report soon !

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Flying Pirate Half Marathon

The Schwag

 This didn't go quite like I had hoped but despite blowing up I'm happy that I still gave it 100% effort. Well, I'm getting ahead of myself  so lets go to the start.  It was a beautiful morning for the race, probably 60F while we were waiting around. I went for a one mile warmup as I usually try to do about 30 minutes before and then with about 10 minutes to go I head back out for a few short strides to get ready to move fast before finding a spot in the first corral.

  My plan was to try and go out at a 7:30 pace and try to hold onto that for the first 10 miles knowing I would slow down in the dirt hills of the last 5k and that should get me about the 1:40 I had for a goal. I felt very relaxed as we began and was patient and like magic I pretty much nailed that first mile in 7:28. I felt very happy with that and settled in. Mile 2 was a 7:25 so I knew I just needed to relax and not push it for now. The sun was getting above the trees by now and  I was noticing it was really a bit warm for optimal racing but at least the humidity was low and there was a breeze which fortunately was a tailwind for most of the morning.

 Miles 3 and 4 were uneventful in 7:37 and 7:37. There was a guy leap-frogging with me since the 1st mile that looked like he could possibly be in my age group so I was happy to just stay close to him at this point. I was feeling ok but there was no way  I could push the pace anymore and was just going to have to be content with the slightly slower miles which would still get me close  to my goal.

 Mile 5 has one short hill and I felt very weak going up it, not a good sign and I was surprised at how much distance I lost on the guy I was keying off of but I was able to slowly began to reel him back in on the flat after coming down the backside. A 7:39 mile 5 so the hill didn't slow me as much as I was afraid it did, mostly thanks to running strong down the backside.

 For most of the race up to this point I could hear a loud voice behind me yelling out to the spectators and anyone else that would listen. As he got closer I heard him say to someone he was running next to that it was his first half. He obviously was pacing himself well because I could barely gasp a word between breaths !

  I thought I was moving well now so I was pretty disappointed that mile 6 was a slower 7:45. Not good ! I went through 10k in 46:57, still on pace to go 1:40 but also knowing the woods and hills were coming. I tried to push the pace back up again and was successful with a 7:36 mile 7 but it was not feeling easy. A whole lot different than how I felt back in March at TR Half.

 We finally made it to the Wright  Bros. Memorial and just past the slow 7:50  8 mile mark the loud guy passed me. He was a young guy and offered encouragement but I was hurting by now and the older guy I was trying to hang with was putting on a big gap.  I lost sight of him by mile 9 which was  a bad one in 8:03.

   At this point I knew a 1:40 was out of the question but I still wanted to run as fast as possible and try to get an age group award so I dug deep and kept pushing. By now I was into my sounds like I'm dying , gasping phase  which is usually just in the last mile when I am close to a good time. I'm sure it is disconcerting to people around me but it keeps me pushing through the pain. We entered the woods with the 10 mile just ahead near the top of the first hill and I passed in 8:13 giving me a 10 mile split of 1:17:11 or about 2 minutes slower than I had hoped for and a minute slower than the pace for a 1:40. Now the best I could hope for would be around 1:42 but at least no old guys had passed me yet !

 I pushed and moaned and groaned my way to mile 11 still slowing to 8:33, very discouraging as hard as I was working. And now the grey hairs started passing me and I was not happy at all. First one, then two and then at mile 12 a third one ! Mile 12 was an 8:44. One more mile and the single track ahead. Oh, please let this be over ! I pushed hard to try and catch back up to the old guys but it wasn't there and when we made the turn up the steep hill on the trail I was just totally spent and had to walk it.

 To add insult to injury I was being harassed by horse flies !! The last mile was a total misery with every ounce of energy gone. 10:14 ! Booooo !

 Crossed the finish in 1:45:33, way off what I wanted but I have to say that although I am disappointed in my time I am proud of the effort I gave. It would have been so easy to back off and not hurt when it was obvious the time would be way off but my competitive nature just wouldn't let me do that today.
 As it turns out I was only passed by one person in my age group. At 10k I was in 3rd and I finished up in 4th. Of course if I had run close to my target I would have been on the podium but it was not my day and congrats to the guys that were !

 So not the day i wanted but I have say that this is a very well organized race. The folks at Outer Banks Sporting Events put on some quality races.

post race dip. A little brisk !

 On to the next adventure. Stay tuned !

Friday, May 02, 2014

Flying Pirate Half Marathon -Preview

  This one wasn't even on my radar at the beginning of the year, let alone on my race schedule but things change and I'm raring to go ! I was planning on doing something between Umstead and 3 Days at the Fair but was really looking at a return to  The Promise Land 50++, one of my favorite trail ultra's.  The main reason I decided against it was because I really want to do well at 3 Days and beating myself up at Promise Land  less than 3 weeks before really just wasn't a smart thing to do. In addition I wasn't sure how recovered I would be from Umstead with just 3 weeks . Kind of sad I couldn't go and it sounds like they had a near perfect day for fun on the trails but I'm sure it was a smart decision to skip it.

 But anyway, my training partners Karla and Lisa were going to run at Flying Pirate as well as Karla's husband Frank so I decided it would be fun to go hang out for a weekend at OBX with them and get in a race. At almost a third of the distance and nearly flat for most of the time the recovery will be a lot easier !

  I was waiting to see just how well I was recovered from Umstead before making a decision on whether to race or just run it for fun. Well, the recovery has gone better than expected and I've been able to get in a few good hard workouts, hill repeats, mile repeats, tempo and race pace and felt strong in all of them so I guess I'm ready.

  The course is the same as the first half of the OBX Marathon which I have done 6 times now so I am very familiar with it. The 1st 10 miles are almost all flat except for one short hill around mile 4.  The last 3 miles are in Nags Head Woods on dirt for the next two miles with rolling hills and then the last mile is mostly on a single track trail over ancient sand dunes. I plan to try and build a bit of a cushion in the first 10 and then hold on as well as I can the last 3. I'm not sure I can duplicate the effort I had in March at Tobacco Road but I am going to try. With the slightly harder course I think a 1:40 would be about equivalent to my 1:39 I ran then. This is the 5th year for this race and in every year but one previously a 1:40 would have easily gotten 2nd place in my age group. That is my goal for this year but there are a lot more entered this year so the competition could be tougher.
 The race will have runner tracking so if you're interested you can go to the race website and sign up for alerts via text or to FB or Twitter. My bib # is 32. Race starts at 7am Sunday am.

 here is the link to the website.

 Wish me luck !