Saturday, June 26, 2010

Still here.

Have some family that have been in town all week - so little computer time.
To catch you up - I started up running again last weekend (after a week off with a slight foot issue) and have gotten in 4 runs in 5 days (Sun - Thur) between 5-7 miles each. Other than the last one, where I felt pretty good for the first 3 miles, it really hasn't been that great. No pains really (my foot thing is still there, but barely and getting better daily). Seems the strength in my legs has disappeared. I blame the constant heat that this early summer has brought us.
My 7 miler at the trails on Paris Mountain was tough, even at a slightly slower than normal pace. After 5 miles, I did start feeling better though.I am re-thinking the 40 mile trail run in October. Being three weeks out from Chattooga leaves little confidence I'd be ready to run the Marine Corps Marathon 3 weeks after that. Maybe next year, with a marathon ~6 weeks later? We'll see.
Tomorrow - would like to run 12 miles - not overly enthusiastic about it, but I'll get out there early and see how it goes.
Western States 100 is going on as I write this. I have the live blog up and am following a handful of runners I don't know personally, but "know" thru the blog-world: Annette (and her friend Jill), of luck to everyone out there today (& tomorrow!).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Am I an Ultrarunner?

I'm taking at least this week off from running after the foot pain increased, and may possibly stretch it into next week, but I am really hoping it feels good enough sooner than that. It's hard being patient with this, but I know I have to. My training plan is flexible the next week or two. Even three if needed. I'm already thinking about doing some real back-to-back long runs on Friday/Sat mornings once I get going. I want that 40miler!
So, I've hit the stationary bike the last two mornings, 45 minutes each, and felt like I've gotten a decent workout. Not like running, but something. I wish my rear was used to it though (ouch) - it's been ~6 months since I was on a stationary bike. My two bikes are still out of commission - but I will take care of that. This year even! Hesitant to use the elliptical or even rowing machine, so I'll hit the bike again Friday and Sunday. Happy Father's Day to me! Am I the only one that gets an extra dose of happiness working out on "special" days: Christmas, New Year's, birthdays, etc?
So as I am on this break - a few other ultramarathoners from the Chattooga 50k are already running Mountain Marathons and 30 mile night runs. Makes me feel like I don't quite deserve the moniker even after my wonderful run 10 days ago. I want to be able to turn it around and be ready to run another 20 miler, go off and run all night or just go spend 10 hours off on a trail running. Aside from my "injury" - which is the main reason I am not up to the tasks - I do not have the time and can't make the time. Even if I was healthy enough to run 30 miles on the trails every weekend, I need to be at home. It's not fair to my wife and 18 month old. I feel I balance it all pretty well and I hope they would say the same. The next two months are pretty bare - I just registered for the River Bound 15k for July 17th, but I may skip the Paris Mountain 7k in August. September/October may be pretty busy with races, so I am hoping the current break will make it easier for me to splurge a little later on.
Back to my question - Am I an Ultrarunner?
I am an Ultramarathon finisher, but that doesn't quite make me an Ultramarathoner in my head right now, and I'm ok with that. My goal is to heal, get back to training, and run long. If I get to the point where I can recover better, I may just call myself that one day.
I do silently think that if I had just ran a normal road marathon in ~4 hours that I would have recovered well enough to do another 20+ the following week or two.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Post race hard-headedness

I know better but I can't help it. Call it denial and you'd be right. I have a slight issue (I'm not ready to call it an injury) with my left foot. Must be from the 50k, even though it showed up the next evening after a 2 mile lunchtime walk. There is some decent bruising - a couple of spots on my big toe, but the bruises aren't the issue, it's the joint that hurts to the touch. I think it's supposed to be a good thing when there is no swelling. Running earlier in the week was ok, hurt more Not running. I wanted to get my run in this weekend, so this morning ran a nice slow 7 miles (in the ridiculously Hot & Humid weather, so Glad the race was last weekend) and actually felt my toe while I ran. Had to cut the grass this morning as well, so that didn't help. This evening - it is feeling a little better, but I am thinking I should just hit the stationary bike this week and let it heal properly. Still have a full week before I would technically start my Triple Lakes 40miler training (with a 16 week program).

On a similar note - still have some other lingering effects from the race. My 2nd toenail on my right foot is pretty purple from the root I kicked and my left hip/thigh still has a pretty bruise from my fall on the bridge. Oh yes, did get a bit of poison oak/ivy whatever on my shin. Almost more annoying than the toe thing. These really aren't bad, more just pleasant reminders what a wonderful time I had!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chattooga Trail 50k Elevation Chart

This was taken from someone's Garmin at the race Sunday:

My soreness has slowly increased - feet, right calf, both quads, and a nice purplish bruise finally appeared on my left thigh/hip. The worst of it is still my knee, but nothing that some rest won't cure.

Still wondering what's next for me. Not sure I can take the time to keep the momentum up, but the Triple Lakes 40 miler (or at least full marathon) is high on my list for early October. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chattooga River 50k Race Report

The Chattooga River 50k took place Sunday June 6, 2010 as part of the Ultras on Trails race series. After a decent sleep, I woke at 4am, gathered my things, filled up with water, Gatorade and drove the hour and half down to Mountain Rest, SC and the Cherry Hill Rec Area on Hwy 107. Saw Sam from the Chattooga training run as I walked up to get my bib (577). Didn't have a lot of time to get nervous before the 7am start, which was a good thing. About 10 minutes before the scheduled start, Jason pulled up, Dan appeared, and I finally met Psyche. Terri gave out last minute instructions/directions
and I was very thankful I knew the majority of the course.
I knew Jason wanted to beat his 9hr time from 2009, and he was planning on an 8hr time today, so I said I'd stick with him. I find training runs for the most part are more difficult by yourself, but the benefit is that come race-day and you happen to run with someone (or many different people), it isn't quite as difficult. Started at 7:05am and we headed off from the campsite Terri was at and turned onto the Winding Stairs trail. Our initial 'pack' had Aaron and Jason,
as well as Wayne (Weezy), and another first-timer, Mark settled in behind me on a very comfortable pace. It was certainly an entertaining group and kept my mind from thinking about too much of anything. Was a fun group of guys to be around as we passed a waterfall and made our way down to the parking lot/turnaround. The leader came thru about 7 minutes before the turn that we hit at 36:38. The 3.5 mile trek back was obviously going to be more uphill, and more walking - but that was the plan all along as there was still a Long way to go.

This trail was more overgrown (and I hoped that I wasn't running in Poison oak or anything else I am allergic to) than any of the other trails so you really had to watch your step and pay extra attention in the spots you could barely even see the ground. Being out on the trail was very nice and I was already wishing I could do this more.
We made it out at 1:23:25 (all times are approximate!) and I finally got to experience an aid station. Sam was there helping out and we were in and out in one minute flat.
- even with the photo!
I pretty much just filled my hand held 20oz bottle with water as the next aid station was ~7.5 miles away.
Next section was the Big Bend Trail and I could never get tired of this route. Took a pit stop (only one of the race) early on and caught back up quickly. Was enjoying the company so much and the miles were just going by, that I wanted to hang on to it as long as possible. Our group was pretty much still together for this whole section, so they all got to take in my fall on bridge #1 at about the 8 mile mark. This same bridge I fell on Years ago and knew it would be slick, but my left foot still just went right out from under me - BAM! Luckily - I didn't go off the bridge and wasn't hurt any worse more than a deep bruise. I knew there were 2 more bridges, and even though I had a recommendation to do it Pete Rose style the next time, I chose to walk - and still almost slipped. I haven't mentioned yet that it was Humid. The trail is 100% shaded, but it was still going to be a warm one.
My mind is still a little hazy on when exactly I ran with certain people. When other people made their pit stops on this section, I kept moving forward (following Aaron?). I had a moment of "should I wait?", but thought 1. keep moving while you feel good, and 2. they'll catch me eventually. Hit the Foothills trail in 1:54:42. Ran much of this ~5.5 mile section with Terry. Was a pleasure to chat with him and again, kept the mind off other things, like there was still 18+ miles to go. Some people may mind conversation during a run, but I generally enjoy it and Terry was no exception. He was hoping his IT band would be calm for the duration, so as he started to take it easy, I moved ahead, passing a couple of others as well before the second aid station. (The leader came by as I was heading back up to Hwy 107, only a good 5 or 6 miles ahead of me. There were some very large gaps between runners heading the opposite direction. Anyway...)
Not getting competitive, but after going along by yourself for even just a little while and you see someone ahead, you try to catch them for the company. It just so happened that I was still feeling really good. I had been taking S-caps every 30 minutes (as I remembered) and Gu every so often as I drank out of my camelbak.
So at 3:41 into the run, I hit Aid Station #2, and Sam was there again, being super positive (Thank you!!) and taking another photo for me. I actually got food this time - potatoes, peanut M&M's, pretzel bites, potato chips, PB&J triangles; yes, all of that. There was more, but I was set for the moment. Filled up on water, stuffed more food into my mouth, and took off for the 2 mile out and 2 mile back section. Terry must have passed me while I was eating, refilling, photo taking as I came up on him soon. As I was moving faster, I went by and was solo for the rest of this section. More familiar ground and beautiful terrain
with a seemingly similar profile as the very first section, downhill before turning around and heading back up. We were looking for the first bridge with ribbons on it. 28 minutes into this section, I was there. 4hrs and 10 minutes overall time elapsed. Kept reminding myself that this was More than the halfway point of the race. 35 minutes back out (Jason and others were only 10 minutes behind me at this point) to the aid station and I was still feeling very good.

(If you couldn't tell from the smile on my face after 4:45). Maybe it was More food I scarfed down. Same as before, but more. The 3 minutes I took at this stop an hour beforehand was probably more like 5 here. I did not want to leave. Aaron had been ahead of me the whole time but was having some issues. He mentioned the next person out of the aid station would be in 20th place. Huh? No way...Didn't really matter to me at that point, but it did get into my head later on.
Important note here: Hats off to ALL of the volunteers - they were all very kind and gracious and there is no way any of us would have done this without them. I thank them every chance I get and I hope everyone else does the same.

I knew the next section back to the Big Bend trail was long and tough. It didn't help that soon into this section (around mile 23 I'd guess), I kicked a root hard with my right foot. I sure could feel my second toe throb. Soon after, I guess all the time being on my feet caught up to them and the bottoms got tender, so I was working harder to avoid any root I could. I was also extra careful going over any downed trees, this being a very mild example of a trail obstacle. So the 5+ hour mark was the start of my "low" period, from about Mile 24-29. I was trying hard to run where I should and maintain a decent pace when I did resort to walking (uphills). Once I got to the river (for some reason, I kept thinking we ran by the river for a longer stretch), I saw Dave again after taking a breather in the water. He obliged me with another photo . I was Very tempted to soak a bit, but I knew I'd get as much, if not more, benefit from company, even if he was faster and I'd lose him soon. (Plus, I am not too familiar with running in soaked shoes). He did pull ahead soon enough, but just as he was out of sight, he stopped to make sure I didn't miss the trail turning off (the one we almost missed during our training run) - so more thanks to him for that.
I got my first muscle cramp in this section too - my left quad. It would tighten up and I'd breathe through it. After 5 minutes or so - it disappeared.
Another way I calmed myself down during this section (and the whole event) was repeating "slow and steady (like an ocean current)" that my friend Kristen emailed me Saturday (Thanks!). My thoughts of course drifted to my daughter Cecelia and her babbles these days, my wife and her support for my running, songs from the concert I went to Friday night...anything and everything to take my mind off running and being tired.
One last photo of the river before turning away and heading up. The last set of stairs I came to - I just didn't want to climb any more.
We vaguely knew how much time this section would take, and I got to the Big Bend junction at 6:38. I knew breaking 7 was out of reach, but 7:30 was extremely likely. It was also in my head that finishing in the top 20 sounded good and I started to feel much better. It just felt better to run than to walk.
After a mile or so, I came upon Byron Backer - one of the well-known local ultrarunners. We chatted just a little and I felt honored to be there. I've held a fascination for these runners who have been doing this for so long and their achievements (finishing!) is both amazing and motivating. The humidity was too much for him this day and I kept going. My 2 liter camelbak and 20oz water bottle were both empty soon after, but I didn't feel like I was without it. Had some strength on this last section before hitting Hwy 107 and there was Dave again. Followed him up the hill to the entrance to the Winding Stairs trail and passed him as we made the turn back to the campsite.
I was going to Finish!

And I did - in 7:23:16!!
I am an Ultramarathoner!
Got my finisher's medal and high fives from Sam and basked in it all.
Post race report to follow!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tomorrow and today

Tomorrow is the big day - my longest event ever in both distance and time. Spent the last two hours watching You Tube videos of ultramarathons (Western States 100 has a good 6-part series called a Race for the Soul). Good motivational, positive stories to raise my confidence level going into the Chattooga 50k. Have my stuff together, just need the fluids added. Someone asked me recently what my pack will weigh, so I'll have to check that out in the morning. My 3:45am alarm will be a bit early, but I will should get into bed early as well (considering I went to Charlotte, NC last night for a concert and got back at 1:30am).
Been eating pasta, baked potatoes, pretzels and lots of water & Gatorade today. Skimming through an old Go Magazine that had an article about 3 local ultramarathoners (one of which will be running Chattooga, Byron Backer) and had a side story on what one of them eats before/during/after a race. Sounded good, so I'm going that that.
Current weather forecast (hour by hour):
7:00am start - 71°
9:00am - 75°
11:00am - 80°
3:00pm - 86°

So - not too bad. That's actually good news - I was expecting much worse. No real chance of rain until after 4pm. Wouldn't mind the rain, but that's ok.

Still had tight hamstrings yesterday, but trying to take it easy today. We'll just have to wait and see how my body feels tomorrow!
Goal 1: FINISH
Goal 2: Finish and Not be injured
Time isn't really a factor/goal - more of a preconceived idea of what time I 'should' complete the course. Under 8 hours is my expectation at the moment. Could be closer to 7 if I am feeling well.
Looking forward to seeing Jason and meeting Psyche & Sean! Been nice swapping messages these last few weeks!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

National Running Day!

Went out and met up with some other GTC'ers out at Cleveland Park for a 3-5 mile run this morning at 5:30am. Just a small gathering to celebrate National Running Day! The GTC even sprung for some free t-shirts! Was very nice to change scenery for my morning run and have some excellent company as well. I should mix it up more often.