Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trust in the Light

 I've written a little bit of fiction but this is a true story.


   Life was good for the runner. Each day on the roads and trails brought joy to him as he confidently moved along, bathed in the light that surrounded him like a halo. All around were hundreds of  stars, some a bit brighter than others, but there were a special few that shone with a magnificent glow, surrounding him in their warmth and brilliance. Such was the comfort that the light brought to him that even in the darkest of night the light was like a full summer moon casting shadows on every step reminding him that he was never alone.

   Then on a day that seemed like any other, without warning one of the lights suddenly  vanished and his world in an instant had become much dimmer. The runner was stunned, not able to comprehend what had just happened and then just as quickly another , then another and yet another one flickered and was gone.  He stopped dead in his tracks asking himself why? What could have caused this to happen? This can't be real ! I must be in a dream, no a nightmare. With the disappearance of the light , his world seemed to be turning to twilight. He turned to the remaining bits of light as if to ask for help in understanding but they too began to fade, then recede and in a moment they were gone. All that was left were the many tiny stars that seemed so far away with the exception of one that stood out a bit brighter.

  Barely able to see now in the near total darkness, in desperation he turned and tried to find his way back from the direction he had come.  For hours it seemed he stumbled along searching for some faint glow that may lead him back to where the light may have gone but there was not a glimmer to be seen.  Near panic came over him and several times he fell as he searched in vain until at last he collapsed in a heep as despair and the darkness crept over him. Cold , alone, confused and feeling that  all hope was lost he tried to make sense of it all. But there were no answers, just silence as  dead as the darkness around him. Inside he felt like the black pitch of the deepest cavern, a place that sadly he had been before but had trusted would never enter again. But now his thoughts had turned even darker if that was possible.

 And then, he noticed there was  a faint glow coming from behind him. He turned to face it as it came nearer and began to gain in brightness and in an instant  he recognized it as the bright star that he had always enjoyed watching from a distance as it streaked across the sky. Ever closer it came until it shone so brilliantly that he was nearly blinded and like a fire it began to warm him. A voice came seemingly from the light  directly to his heart and simply said, "I believe in you". Slowly he stood, still feeling a bit confused. He turned back once again to the direction from which  he had come and all he could see was total darkness, blacker than coal and it sent a chill down his spine.  Then turning once again to the light, it was as if the star had read his mind as it softly said "trust me".  And he looked around and there was a new  path opening up before him full of hope and promise. He had no idea where it would lead him but he began to run, slowly at first but soon with confidence he began to push the pace and joy filled his heart. He would trust inthe light.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Whats up for the 2nd half of the year?

 As I was writing the plans for 2015 in my annual early January post, for the first time in many years I had no idea what I wanted to plan for myself after Western States for the remainder of the year. Well of course I was going to plan on returning for my 12 Derby 50k but beyond that I just didn't know. So many options but nothing speaking to my heart.

   Some options were to return to Mountain Masochist. Or find another 100 miler and go for another pr. Top of the list was maybe a 24 hour and go for the 100 pr and the 24 hr pr in the same race.
 But then after Wrightsville Beach Marathon in March things changed and  a plan started coming together. So here is what I have in mind.


 Originally this was to be a recovery month and start training for a fast Fall marathon. Of course at the time I had no idea I would be injured so this is now just a month of healing.


 Hopefully I can began training normally.


 Holden Beach Half Marathon

 Even without the injury this was the only event planned up to this point. Of course at the time I signed up I was expecting to be building on the great condition I was in during the Spring. Now I face the reality that I will be just getting back to normal training by then but if everything goes well I will give it a good run.


Columbus Marathon,

 And this one was meant to be a pr attempt or at least one last shot at a 3:40 before I officially age up. I don't think that will happen now but just maybe I can get back to Wrightsville Beach shape by then.


 I would have been returning to OBX  for a special anniversay run and celebration but circumstances have changed and I can't see myself returning there again.  But what this allows me to do is actually head into Derby the last week of the month fresher than I have been for many years and if the training does go well I hope to give the 50k pr or at least the race pr a go.


 Probably nothing but easy running and recovery and prepare to go into hard training by the first of 2016 for Boston.

 So there you have it. A lot less going on than in many many years but it reflects my focus of less quantity and more quality. At least for this year ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mid-Year update

 The first half of the year is behind us now so lets take a little look back  and see what has happened so far. 

  The plan was to focus on training and quality rather than quantity of events and the year started off as planned and was going quite well. I ran the Ocean Isble Beach Half Marathon on a cold windy early January day. Despite the conditions and running slower than I had hoped, it was good enough for an age group win and a confidence boost that the training was on track.

I  continued to have  some great workouts and especially the Fun Fridays with Laura THE Honey Badger who had taken me on as sort of a project Lol ! We were having lots of fun and I was getting stronger every week.

 Then On Valentines Day I did the Sweetheart 5k in Rocky Mount to test my speed and get in a workout. It was a surprsingly hilly course but I ran strong and got 2nd in my age group.

 Then in March after suffering a setback with an injury that curtailed my training plans I was able to get my Boston qualifier at The Wrightsville Beach Marathon with Laura pushing me the last 6 miles.

 Then it was time to get back into ultra mode to prepare for Western States. I had a strong run on a hot mid April Day at The Run For the Rock 50k and some fun sharing some miles with Kara but some stumbles aggravated the already fragile hamstring and hip issues. A week later I was hobbling and have been unable to train since then.

 Of course I made the doomed attempt to run Western States but it was such a disappointment to be in such great shape only to come up lame 8 weeks before. But things happen and not always like we want or at the opportune time. Now it's time to heal.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Western States 16, or a miracle to make it that far. 2015

 Yes, not much of  race to report I'm afraid. Things went about like I expected but I had to give it a shot anyway. After 4 years of qualifying, waiting for lotteries and the expense of entering I was determined to do the best I could.

  It helps being on Eastern time for these Western races. I was awake at 2:30 am but that is like 5:30 at home and about my normal time to get out of bed so I was in no rush.  I took my time getting everything ready and then hopped in the car for the 45 minute drive to Squaw Valley. I had plenty of time and with no need to warmup so I just took my time to mosey on over to the start. Under the circumstances I was very calm. Either I had a miracle coming and would finish while suffering a world of hurt from the no training of the previous 8 weeks  or I was just in for  a world of hurt. Either way I was prepared for what would  lay ahead of me.

  It was much warmer at the start than 2007, probably near 60F already and I was comfortable in just the short sleeves. The gun sounded and off we went up the ski slope service road and I immediately settled in for what I knew would be a long slow 4 miles of climbing. Despite the altitude of 6'000 plus feet I was having no problems on the climb although I think I was going slower than 2007. I didnt even bother looking at my watch. I would get there when I got there. In all that 1st 3.5 miles the course leveled out just enough to run for maybe 3 or 4 minutes total. Near the top I was begining to feel a bit fof the effects of nearing 8,000 ft.  The sunrise behind me over Lake Tahoe was a beautiful sight.

  I finally reached the escarpment trail, the last 1/2 mile to the 8,700 ft summit. I remembered it was steep but not THIS steep. The first few hundred yards are a bit ridiculous and combined with the soft dirt I was struggling a bit and my feet kept slipping out from under me as I was nearly on my hands and knees anyway. I was barely going when I fell and my water bottle spout went right into the dirt and I was picking dirt out if it the rest of the day !

 After about halfway the gradient eased off quite a bit and I made good time and finally arrived at the top in exactly the time I had predicted of 1:20:00 so that was a good sign. A quick picture and then it was time to see if I was actually going to be able to run as the trail quickly turned down the mountain.
 I was very happy that although there was some pain it was manageable and it didn't seem to get any worse after a mile or so. The question stilled remained though , would it hold up for another 95 tough trail miles? And would my out of shape body carry me even if the leg held up?

 After a mile or so the trail does a lot of up and down. On the elevation chart it shows mostly down but beleve me there is still a lot of climbing in these early miles and they are mostly very steep. And it is almost constant up and down with very little flat. I had passed several people but I was being very cautious. One runner that I was leap frogging with kept telling me to look and enjoy the view but I explained to him that I knew it was gorgeous but I had to keep my eye on the trail and as slow as I was going I didn't not have time to take in the scenery. Perhaps someday I can come and take a slow hike up here because this section through the Granite Chief Wilderness is indeed a beautiful place.

  I was still feeling good as we passed through a few sections of ankle deep mud, and a few little creeks and already my mostly white shoes were a mixture of black mud, and grey and brown dust. Suddenly I had a little stumble and right away I could feel the injury and the pain level increased. I really didn't need that and I was begining to worry. Anymore like that and it would definetely be a short day for me.

  In this area there were a couple of spots where springs were pouring down the trail and we were basically running through a creek bed. I was being so very cautious when suddenly at only the 8 mile or so point in the race when my lead foot hit a slick spot just at the bottom of of a downhill and it was like hitting ice. The sudden jolt and over extension sent a tearing sensation from the original injury site of the upper hamstring attachment and all the way down the leg to my knee. I yelled out in pain and it nearly made me throw up I was hurting so bad. I just stood there for a couple of minutes trying to gather myself. At this point I didn't even know if I could walk out of here. There is no way to get to you here but by horseback !

   I slowly begin to  move. In my heart I knew my race was over but I was finally able to walk  normally and I wasn't quite giving up yet. After a mile or so of walking the pain had eased off a bit and I was able to shuffle some. Amazingly I was able to climb practically pain free but as soon as I tried to run on the flats or downhill I had to shuffle and I couldn't go more than a minute at a time. Not looking good.

 I made it to the first aid station at mile 10.5 under the cuttoff so I was quickly in and out determined to go until I could no longer move. By now I knew I was nearly in last place  but I didn't care as long as I could move and make the cutoffs. Although it was  only 8 am it was already feeling hot and I was now in an area exposed to the sun. I was still climbing well and pain-free but the running was getting slower and more painful soon after leaving Lyon ridge.  I was looking forward to getting to cougar rock but I couldn't recall just how far it was.

 I finally arrived at the rock and  it was as I remembered it. Once I topped out I looked back and could see no one coming behind me although I figured there had to be a few more that hadn't passed me. I kept hoping to see the next aid station but I was nearing the cutoff and nothing in sight.  By now even my shuffle was a struggle and then I heard footsteps and voices coming up quickly behind me. I didn't need to look back to know it was the safety sweeps one of which was former multi year race champion Tim Twietmeyer and then I heard the 10 minute warning horn just ahead.

  I couldn't see it yet but I tried running as much as I could but I limped into the aid station with 6 minutes on the cutoff and my heart was broken. They asked me what I wanted and I told them a new leg. They were trying to be helpful but I told them I was done. They of course wanted to encourage me to keep going but when I explained my injury and told them I would have to run the next nearly 7.5 miles in the same time it just took me to cover 5.5 miles and the way the leg was going I would probably never make it anyway. They agreed then that I was being smart and then the medical people took over and wrapped my leg in ice and ace bandage while the aid station captain snipped my wristband off.

 Then they left me alone and I allowed myself about 30 seconds of tearing up and self pity. And then I was fine. I came and I gave it my best shot and thats all I could do.

 Look for anoother post soon with a bit more about the weekend experience.