Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 Spinx Run Fest Marathon Race Report

October 27th, 2012 I ran the Spinx Run Fest Marathon. It's put on by the Greenville Track Club, of which I have been the volunteer webmaster (& Board of Directors member) for the last 10 years or so. Running this distance just 2 weeks after a 50k was a new experience for me. I had done ultras 3 weeks apart before, and those hadn't gone so well, but I couldn't pass up this hometown event.
My IT band issue that had crept up on me during the New River Trail 50k stayed with me these last 2 weeks. I took it easy the week leading up to this event - but I was still worried.
My buddy Todd was in town for the race and I met up with him in the Greenville Drive stadium where people were bustling about before the 7:30am start. Saw a few others I knew (like Merl & Team DNR member Dave who was volunteering).
Todd and Dave - Team DNR Goons

We made our way to the start line just outside the stadium and would make our way to the Swamp Rabbit Trail to Furman University, then back on and off the trail to Travelers Rest for the turnaround and 13.6. Swamp Rabbit back thru Furman, more Swamp Rabbit to Greenville before the last 1+ mile on the road, and finishing with a lap around the warning track going into home plate.

I hung with Todd at a fast pace - at least a minute faster than my plan, but it felt ok and I enjoy his company. Just like Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, etc. Was a bit downhill to start too. After an 8:02 mile, and then a bit further with Todd - I finally let him go as I got into my comfortable "pace" of 8:45 or so. No knee issue at all this early, and it would not appear at all during the race!
Had a few little hills here to remind us it wasn't all flat and I was running toward the Furman campus mostly by myself.

We went into the campus just after Mile 7 (in 59:41) and I was looking forward to this as it broke up the race some. I'd be running thru some parts of the campus I hadn't before in my 18 other races there before this one. Left the campus on the opposite side of the lake near Mile 10 and kept heading north. Took a 2nd Gu and started looking for the leaders before I split off the Swamp Rabbit towards the halfway turnaround. Sure enough, around Mile 12 - there they went! Soon after was the lead female, being led on the bike by DNR Good Kathrin!

Started running with a guy thru here doing his first marathon (from Kentucky?). Nice guy and doing well, but he was starting to feel it a bit already, and now we had a big hill to climb. I got ahead of him, took an S!cap and came up to the turnaround. A guy had a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and I grabbed one - it was very good and gave me some extra sugar. So - Mile 13.1 in ~1:54:25, so my 2nd fastest marathon half ever.
So I kept running back thru downtown Travelers Rest on the Swamp Rabbit for another loop thru Furman. About Mile 16 I began to feel it - the sensation that I was running out of steam. I pushed on for another mile and hit mile 17 at Furman and promptly started my walking breaks (after a quick pit stop). I was doing about 9:05's before this and the walk breaks took me down to 10:30's. I was still enjoying the Furman route and had picked up my pace a little bit more while getting back onto the Swamp Rabbit. I started passing and then got passed by the same couple repeatedly as we alternated walk breaks. She finally left me for good at the hill at mile 23.
Mile 20 in 3:00:10.
Around Mile 21, I saw a guy down. Sitting up at least, and being attended to by at least 4 people, one of which had a bicycle. I assumed he was being take care of, but stopped and asked if they needed anything. They asked if I had Gu. I said sure and gave them my last one, but also gave them my 2 remaining S!caps, which I'm sure would have helped more. They were a little concerned with my time but that was the least of my worries.
Turns out - I had my own issues that appeared within the next mile. My right calf started cramping. OUCH. It was constantly on the verge of seizing up and every now and then would cause me to tighten up and hope it would diminish.
After another mile (~Mile 23 and the big hill), my left calf decided join to cramping party. Double-ouch.
Miles 23 and 24 were 11 min miles and the last 2 were 12:10. Not good, but I was not too concerned, especially coming two weeks off my 50k PR.
Saw someone being put into an ambulance at Linky Stone Park - it was warm and people did go out too fast. I made it up the last uphill and went around the outside of the stadium. Saw my HS buddy for Germany who was in town and headed in to the back of the filed along the warning track for the last .2mi.
Heard my name called out and looked for my family. I was just struggling to keep moving and hoping that my calves would allow me that motion.
My little girl (almost 4) was in the arms of my friend and past-GTC President Kerri, When she tried to hand her to me, she decided she didn't want to. I got to her first though, and she hugged my next as I went thru the finish in 4:09 (1 minute faster than the marathon split at the New River 50k).

All I can say is glad it's over! Finishing 2 long events 2 weeks apart was something I was unsure of, but I made it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012 New River Trail 50k Race Report

This event's 5th running on Saturday October 13th, 2012 took me up to Fries, VA, just over the border from NC off I-77. It had sounded like a great event, all along the New River, flat (and therefore, fast), plus - 4 others I know from Greenville were supposed to be going up as well. As race day got closer, all four had to bail out due to injuries, lack of training, or scheduling conflicts. Even with that - I was excited about being out there in nature for the morning and then some.

My family came up with me Friday afternoon and once settled into the hotel in Galax, we got some dinner downtown and headed to packet pickup.

Start/Finish (packet Pickup)

Heron on the New River (packet pickup)

Got to pick out my pottery for registering early, got my shirt, bib and put in for a few door prizes - all went smoothly. Spent a little time at the river just enjoying the views as the sun got lower and thinking about the race. I was looking forward to the course - north along the river to Aid at Fries Junction (5.3mi), a little out and back before crossing a bridge and then running beside Chestnut Creek. Another Aid station at 11.8mi (or 6.5 since AS1). Continuing on by the creek another 4.1 to Cliffview Turnaround (at the edge of Galax). A little past halfway at mile ~16, then returning: AS 4 same as AS2-Mile 20, AS5=AS1-Mile 25.8. No out and back there, just the turn towards the finish. We got our certified Marathon split soon afterwards and finished where we began at 8am.

and we're off!
Race morning was very casual - after a night tossing and turning (just something about hotels!), breakfast in the hotel, and we all got to the race at 7:15 or so. Little cool out at 41°, but ideal temps for running. Race ready shorts, GTC long sleeve, hat, two handhelds (Amphipod and Ironman), wool socks and Montrail Badrocks on my feet. Trail wasn't technical at all - but these are my trail shoes.

where did we go??
At the starting gun from Annette Bednosky (elite runner and race director!), the faster runners took off and the rest of us settled into our paces. We headed down the trail and into the misty morning. With such a flat course - it only took a mile or so for the field to spread out and I was soon running by myself.  I felt pretty good and kept a comfortable pace, trying to keep my body relaxed. The first miles went by pretty quickly even with stopping for a few pictures of the river.
early miles
sunrise over New River

I got to the 1st aid station in 46min and ran thru it as my 2 handheld water bottles were fine and I'd already taken a Gu. I was on the out-and-back and as I started seeing more people, I knew the turn-around was near. Sure enough - an orange cone and 2 volunteers marked me down and I was heading back. As there was alot of time to think out there, I wondered how they got that point to make it a 50k? They'd have to measure from the start to the 1st AS, then the far turn around to the 1st AS, then subtract those from 50k, and then go exactly half that distance. Then - did they have to measure it from start to finish to see if it was accurate?
Anyway - I was running and had a long way to go.
Bypassed the aid station again and crossed the river on a nice big bridge. I had warmed up and after putting my gloves away after a mile or two, now had my sleeves pulled up. We got into some well shaded sections as we ran by Chestnut Creek, so I put my sleeves back down. I noticed how wet my arms were from all the mist in the air. Haven't had that happen in a while. A tunnel on this section was unexpected, but pretty cool.
Thru here I was running just behind two others who looked to have a nice steady pace, and I stayed with them for a few miles. 
It was time to re-fill and re-fuel at the next aid station (1:51). A guy ran up and got a bottle as I switched one of them to gatorade. I grabbed food and stuffed my face (usual items: chips cookie, PB&J, pretzels...), grabbed another handful, and left. Running alone again.
2nd & 3rd place males
1st place female on way back

 I had plenty of time to calculate when I could expect the leaders to come by me the opposite way. I had expected by about mile 13 (which would be about 5 miles ahead of me). After 2:06, here comes the leader, followed 30 secs or so later by two more guys and not too far behind, the 1st place female.

Hit the turnaround at 15.8 miles in 2:29, grabbed some more snacks and headed back towards the finish. It's always a great feeling going thru the halfway point where you know each step is toward the finish line. I was still running fine and hit the next aid station in almost exactly the same split (38/39min for the 4.1miles). 3:08 overall after ~19.9miles.

I could feel my legs wanting to slow down soon after this aid station (refill & small snack). I was so far very happy with my time and knew I'd be around 5 hrs even if I slowed to 12min miles. I added some walk breaks, but I do walk quickly anyway, so it wasn't slowing me down too much. The next aid station (and the landmarks that told me it was getting closer, like the tunnel, bridge) seemed to take forever to come into sight. It was on the warm side now and I was wishing I'd worn a short sleeve shirt. There were a few more bikers/walkers on the trail, but the runners heading toward the turnaround we're all past.
Finally, the tunnel, bridge and the last aid station at Fries Junction (mile ~25.5). I skipped the orange gatorade again and as usual at this point in an ultra - I had no appetite for food. Stood there waiting for something to look appealing. Gave up, grabbed some chips and left to go get my marathon split.
It came up pretty fast - even with me mot moving so well. My IT band flared up which made running difficult. Wasn't concerned with the split, but I was very happy with the 4:10:36. With my previous 50k PR of 6:19 - something dreadful would have had to happen for me to Not PR. 
I ended up running with (occasionally as we repeatedly passed each other) a woman which helped push me along, but I could only "run" for a few minutes at a time. I walk fast though, so I was still doing ~11min miles or so.
Finally - I saw the road crossing (~14min from the start heading out) and I was on my own after that. Came upon another guy obviously having chafing issues. I felt bad for him, but couldn't do a thing for him. I was still alternating running and walking, until I saw the clearing ahead for the finish. I walked to the little bridge and ran in from there. My wife and daughter were at the finish waiting for me as I crossed the line in 5:07:47, a 1 hour and 12 minute PR!!
Into the finish!


Felt pretty good afterwards - no more knee issues (until I ran again 5 days later). Was Very sore the following 2 days, but the 1.5mi walk on a different section of the New River Trail was nice the next morning.

I really enjoyed the course. Volunteers were amazing, aid stations were well spaced. It's difficult using the same muscles constamtly for 5+ hours. There was not the slightest hint of a grade anywhere on the course - FLAT as possible. If that is the way to get a PR - this course is for you! Not sure I feel the need to do that again though. (That's also my typical post-ultra comment!)


Sunday, September 30, 2012

2012 Buncombe 55k Trail Race Report

Sunday September 16th was the Buncombe 55k Trail Run, part of the series. Ultrarunner extraordinaire Terri Hayes puts these on and they are low key, but well organized events. I highly recommend any race Terri puts on!
Race started around 7:30am after the usual instructions of the course and all it's different trails, turns, and what to look out for. I had made extra-sure I knew where I was going coming into this event, and a race map (Thanks Epic!) was my safety net.
The temps started out about 65° and thankfully never got hot. The course was a 4.5mi out, a 25 mile loop, then the same 4.5 mile loop back (Mileages are approximate - I heard it may have been closer to 36 miles...). Started out at a very comfortable pace thru some single track with some deep ruts. Probably 2-3 miles in, twisted an ankle a bit, but it never felt too bad. It was pretty amazing how fast the field separated. Seemed like I was only running near 2-3 people after only 10-15 minutes. People also must have started in the right spot as there was not much passing going on. A few here and there as the day went on.
From the beeps of the Garmin behind me, I was doing 10min miles those first few miles, and I was happy with that. After running with 1 or 2 different people for a mile or so each, I came upon Chad H. I'd run near him in other races, before fading as he stayed consistent for much further than I had been able. He was faster on the downhills, and I was faster on our uphill walks and we came to the first manned aid station together calling out our numbers: 436, 437. Must be alphabetical! Got my water bottle filled by one of the many awesome volunteers, grabbed some food (the usual ultra-fare!!) and got out of there. Must keep was going to be a long day and no sense in hanging around.
Chad and I ended up spending most of the day together. He went ahead for a few miles, but with more uphills in that section, we ended up back together. The trail had some interesting sections, with some good runnable singletrack, some obscured trails completely overgrown - so overgrown that both of my shoes came untied after each starting out double-tied. I could feel where each of them had been grabbed in thick growth that it was hard to see your feet in it. There were some trails thru clearings, and just over a mile of road. Rocks, pinecones, quite a few trees down too. The horses had really chewed up some sections though, and made for very slow trudging.
Hit mile 17 aid station at 2:59 with the same routine. Refill and refuel and keep going.
Chad and I kept the conversation going the whole way and made the time go by. We'd run when we could and power hiked when we had to.
Mile ~20.5 aid station in 3:44.
Mile ~28.25 aid station in 5:33 after the stretch on the road. (A slight detour from the normal trail parallel to the road). Jason S. was one of the volunteers there and they had a huge spread of food.
My legs felt fine, but my hips and abdomen started to get pretty sore thru 25 miles, so after that - we were even walking some of the flats. My body was starting to compensate for my other issues and that caused more things to become sore. It was interesting though, heading back into the last section, I started to feel better and nothing at all hurt, no soreness, nothing - and I was running the downhills much faster and the flats more frequently.
Of course it didn't last, but it sure felt good! A few people passed us those last 10 miles - looking very strong too, but we were content with our pace and our progress. I knew my little girl would be waiting for me at the end - she'd been wanting to cross that finish line with me. It seemed to take forever to get thru those last miles though. Doing the time from the last aid station, and the mileage that I thought the course was - we were going much slower than expected. (I heard the course may have been up to 2 miles long?). anyway - we finally started to see the trail head and I called out to my little girl as we broke thru the clearing. We still had to go up the road a bit to Terri's campsite, and my girl got to go with me! That's the biggest smile I'd had all day!

Finished time of 7:18. 18th out of 50 finishers. PR (1st 55k!)

Terri's last second instructions at the trailhead.

Trail conditions in 1st mile

~4 miles in, some clearing

Gravel road ~8.5 miles in (Chad)

Aid Station #1 (9mi; 1:33)

Small bit of overgrowth around mile 10

Lush - with easily followed trail (mile ~15)

Nice runnable trail! 4:30 for ~23.5miles

Chad and I after 28+ miles & 5:33

What could make me smile this big after 34+ miles?

Finishing with my 3 year old!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Taper for Buncombe 55k

So my training has not been going as well, with the difficult beach/vacation week and post-beach letdown. Last weekend's long run was somewhat better though, with 6 on the road and another 12-13 at Paris Mountain. Seemed to feel better once I hit 10 miles...being on the trails always helps.
My weekly runs suffered this week with a head cold, that slowly moved down into my chest. Speedwork had to be skipped.
I had something similar the week before Harbison 50k in January and I paid for it dearly come race-day.
I am hopeful this being 1-2 weeks out will make a difference.
My run today, 11.5 or so at Lake Conestee was good, with my 2nd "loop" 2 minutes faster than my first.
Temps dropped significantly last night and it was still in the mid 60's at 8:30am. So refreshing after being out in the 90's. Next weekends forecast calls for a low of 64° and a high of 80°. Little warmer start, but generally similar to the Enoree 40mi I enjoyed on the same Palmetto Trail last May. (This event starts at the same place and instead of going 20mi out and back one way, goes the opposite direction: 5 miles out, 24 mi loop, and 5miles back in).
Already made my decision on hydration: 2 handhelds. I will also be marking the course map/direction on my arm. I will be responsible about knowing the course!!

Taking it easy this week as I usually do race-week. A little speedwork and a comfortable 4 miler. Hope I'm ready!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

August Recap

Hmmm, I seemed to have missed August. Yes - that means no races.
After a little recovery week after the Camp Croft Trail Marathon (25 miles), I ramped it up quickly with just over 46 the following week. The 22 mile long run was pretty good - 11 miles on the road before the park opened, then another 11 at Paris Mountain. Was a warm one, but felt pretty good.
The following week (8/13-19) was good until the weekend. 27 during the week, but then vacation started and my long run at the beach was miserable, so it ended up being only 7.5 miles. Not sure what happened, but every run at the beach was terrible - much too hot and just could not get going. Even my long run once I returned wasn't any better. My expected 22 turned into 12. Ugh.
Then this past week - not much better. Decent speedwork (but still slower than I was hoping) and I still made it thru 24 miles during the week. Finally today - a breakthough. 6 on the roads were ok. Once I got back on the trails at Paris Mountain (doing the GTC 7k course three times), things got better the more I ran. Ended with 19 this morning and still feeling good. Will boost my confidence a bit with the Buncombe 34 miler 2 weeks out.

My yo-yo weekly mileage is almost funny, starting this week and going backwards:
35.1 (Trail ~marathon)
17.9 (Juarez/CA work trips

Not too consistent, but averaging 34.5, I'll take it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Camp Croft Trail Marathon Race Report

Camp Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC
Sat July 28, 2012
Trail Marathon and Team Relay

The 1st Camp Croft Trail Marathon & Team Relay took place in the heat and humidity of the summer. Stating temps near 80° at 8am and a high of 98° (although it was likely only ~90° by the time I finished). The course followed much of the Camp Croft Half Marathon course before completing loops on the South Side of the park.
Many people believed this course was short leading up to the event - I had never been on the south side part, so I really had no idea. It was supposed to be ~26.2miles, but on a trail - I don't think you ever know. Multiple Garmins (I don't think you can trust them entirely either!) showed ~21-22 miles. Yes it was short, mileage unknown, but it was called a marathon and I am taking it as a marathon finish!

I knew a handful of people were not running due to the heat - I ignored the fact that it was the end of July when I signed up. Oh well. I knew it was going to be unpleasant. Plan was to carry 2 handheld water bottles for the 1st half (and some Gu) before swapping one handheld for my camelbak (left at the halfway filled with ice) and grabbing some more Gu there too. 

Started off on the 1st 7.5mi section and realized I hadn't raced in a Long time to realize what pace I should be going out at. Probably a little fast, but felt ok. Foot issue I've had for the last week-plus never materialized. Ended up with 2 others (Hillary and PR**) and we ran miles 3-13 pretty much together and had some good discussions. It was a rare thing for all of us to be running with other people during a race. Hilary kept cruising up every hill, and we'd catch her on the downhills. At the half though - she was gone!
Came thru the first aid station (to the encouragement of some friends waiting for their relay partners!) in 1:20. I've done the 1/2 marathon twice and came thru 1:11 both times, so I thought this was about  right in terms of pace. But - the heat was not pleasant. Water bottles lost their ice quickly and the aid stations weren't that refreshing. With Tiana's help refilling, I got back on the trail fast and kept plodding along.

2nd section was a little easier and only 5.5mi. There was some mud in many sections and the worst of it was thru here, sometimes ankle deep and unavoidable, so that also contributed to the slower pace. Shoes weren't ever sucked off, but they tried! Still recognized parts of the course and had No trouble at all following the markers but you actually had to stop and flatten out the directional arrows on the signs as they had curled up, hiding the tips of the arrows! Still feeling decent as we came to the next relay change/aid station. Large group there as this was also close to the start/finish. Came in at 2:17 and saw Kerrie & others again. Refilled my bottles and got out of there across the bridge. The water looked refreshing (and very brown), so I went down and stepped into it. Almost lost my footing (That would have been bad!) but steadied myself and dunked down to my chest.

Was good for a moment. PR waited on me and we started down the trail a minute before I remembered my camelbak was back at the aid station. Hmmm - what to do? I told PR to keep going and went back (and am SO glad I did!). Got an odd look or two I imagine, but Tiana took care of my one handheld and I put on my iced-down water-filled 2L camelbak and went back across the bridge.
Time (after the 4min diversion) was 2:21. (At the half's - 2:02 was typical)

Now the decline. Almost immediately - lost all energy. Took an S!Cap, but the others I had brought were ruined in my river dip. Soon realized I forgot to pick up the three Gu's I wanted from the AS and I had no more on me. I was hot and not feeling particularly good. I walked alot thru here. Would shuffle for a minute before walking again. Drank out of my camelbak frequently (I would drain it before the next AS!). I knew Kerrie would be coming thru here and after 20+ minutes, here she was. She pulled me along for a while, but I had to walk more and try to cool down somehow. I really had no idea how long this section was, so I had no idea how long it should take. Hoping it was as short as I'd heard.
After 1:12 on this section (3:34 elapsed), I saw Kerrie and other DNR goons at the parking lot at the last relay change. Meant to drop off my camelbak, but carried it empty the rest of the way (and you know how it's annoyingly bouncy when it's empty?!). Refilled my amphipod and continued on feeling slightly better. Still walking more than expected, but with the heat - I really didn't care. Got passed and was desperate enough (on an empty stomach for way too long) to ask if they had an extra Gu. I was in luck! Still following the yellow caution ribbons until there was an intersection...seemed like I should just continue straight-ish. No ribbons. After 5 minutes or so, 2 guys are coming back down the trail saying it must be the wrong way - no ribbons. It seemed like a well used path and the signs still said Lizard, although I had no clue what the trail name we were supposed to be was. Really hated turning around, even when seeing a discarded energy gel package (thankful for litterers if only for a moment).
So - we backtracked until the mystery intersection. Realized in another minute or two that we were right all along. Ugh. Wasted about 10 minutes with this extra mileage (not like it was that much extra as I came down with a thigh cramp thru here - ouch! Haven't had a cramp running in a LONG time!). I knew there was a bridge/river crossing less than a  half mile from the finish. The guy in front of me at that point decided he'd go across the bridge. I saw 2 people halfway, struggling to cross, and after recalling my earlier event in the water, decided to take the bridge. I like water, don't mind it one bit - but I didn't care to attempt it if I didn't have to - not with my thigh cramping up. Looks like a rope to hold on to may have been helpful (I heard almost Everyone pretty much fell - where's the fun in that?).
Anyway - soon enough came towards the finish, where my wife and little girl were waiting for me.
Happily crossed in 4:22:40 after a 48min section.
Courtesy of PACE Magazine

I was 13th out of 45. (Could've been ~11th?)

What I'll remember for future years (if I decide to punish myself again): Ice at all aid stations - most important, Gatorade/S!Caps at aid stations, knowing the course before I start (or writing it on my arm). Taking a breath at the aid stations and remember what I am doing there!
Was great seeing/meeting people - you know who you are!

**PR was a bandit. Race was sold out so he thought he'd run it anyway and drink the water, etc. He asked if that was frowned upon. As a 10 yr Greenville Track Club Board Member - I certainly told him YES and I explained why (outside the obvious). Hope he took my advice and paid the registration fee afterwards...not holding my breath though.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camp Croft Trail Marathon this weekend!

I'm a little excited for this race - looking forward to the event, but uncertain with my preparedness for 26.2 trail miles. I've had a few good weeks, but only two 20 milers before my taper. It usually works out. I also usually get some phantom "injury" and this is no exception. 10 miles at Lake Conestee Sunday afternoon (90° heat - whew) was fine until the last 2-3 miles where the underside of my right foot/toes became sore. Only have 2 more runs left before the race Saturday (my usual 6x400 speedwork tomorrow and 3.5 easy miles Thursday) so I am hoping it will be fine. Will be my first race in my Montrail Badrocks! Still undecided on camelbak vs handhelds...looks like it will be a race day decision.
Weather is typical July: low of 74° Friday night and high of 94°. Whatever I have will be full of ice.
63 people signed up for the full - and some fast runners: Jonathan Allen, Mark Lundblad, Sally Brooking, Lisa Tolley...looking forward to seeing some familiar faces too, including some of my relay goons in the marathon relay! Good Luck everyone!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Updates: Running in heat wave; lost toenail; Marathon signup

So after my "recovery" week and my 8k PR, I jumped right back to 37 miles the following week. Hit my speedwork goals and my 11 mile mid-week tempo run.
With 6 weeks before the Croft Trail Marathon, I still had two 20milers to complete. The next week (June 18th) was another successful speedwork session. I had started the last 7-weeks of a FIRST marathon training plan. January 16th - I started with a 16-week plan for 3:50. After 9 weeks, I re-started with an 11-week 3:45 plan. (Adding extra days running of course for my 12hr training). Now I am down to a 3:40 training plan, and hitting the goals (or below!) each week.
So - my long run the prior week was at Lake Conestee, but this week I met up with the GTC Trail Runners group (Look for us on Facebook) and got my 20 in there. Nice group - Viktor, Merl, Tiana, Bo, Jim, and others!
The next week saw me travel to El Paso (Juarez) and CA (outside LA), but got a wonderful 9 miles of running in at the Puente Hills trails (Hacienda Hills). Great elevation!! After the red-eye home Fri night, I did something I had not done all year - took the weekend off from running! Not bad - missing one out of 26. After almost 43 miles the previous week, I felt ok with it.
More travel the next week - to DC over the 4th holiday, but the morning on the day we left  - more speedwork: 10x400@1:39!

I love going to DC and running in Rock Creek Park. Western Ridge & Valley trails...very nice. Few trees down after the severe storm that came thru last weekend, and Very hot. DC was in the middle of 9+ straight days of temps over 90 (setting a record for that). Even at 7:30am it was miserable.
After two days of doing my typical 6mile loop, I took off a day for my high school reunion.

Two events happened that week:
1st: my toenail (middle toe, left foot) was finally removed after being deadened after the 12 hr event of June 2nd. Was tired of it, so just yanked it out. No trouble at all.
2nd: had my first bee sting of my life. I'm 41 and have been running trails for years and grew up paying all kinds of sports outside - and this was my 1st time. Running thru Rock Creek Park, about 20 mins into my loop, felt a needle-stinging something on my outer left leg (just above my ankle). OUCH!!! Man did that sting. Kept going (never saw the culprit) but did stop to look at the mark once or twice further down the trail.
Sunday comes around and it's time for my next 20 miler. I made up 3 loops for this one and along with my handheld (of Gatorade, with ice), I also had my 3L camelbak.
First loop started at about 85° - 7:30am. It felt slow, but my next loop was faster, and stayed strong (at least not exhausted) thru 17 before struggling a bit thru the last 3miles. Saw two deer. Took 4 Gu, 4 S!Caps; ice in handheld melted in under 18minutes. Thankfully, the ice in my pack lasted longer! Took a few stops along the river to cool down-bandannas are a necessity! Almost emptied the 3L in the 3:25 I was out there. Was about 90° when I finished. No muscle issues, although my right knee is a bit sore today (2 days later; drove 5 hrs yesterday, but better than my 8.5hr drive on the way to DC after speedwork and a full day of work!)

Today - another excellent speedwork session: 8x800 @3:23. Slow to start (3:29), then settled in at 3:23 before throwing in a 3:18. Almost stopped there, but toughed out two more 3:23's to keep me right on target! This has got to be the fastest splits for me doing speedwork.

Last note for today: I signed up for the Spinx Runfest Marathon, presented by the Greenville Track Club, which I have been a volunteer/Board member going on 9 yrs now. A little "push" from my buddy Todd and a great price ($50!!) outweighed the fact that it is 2 weeks after my 50k in VA (which will make 3 ultras/marathons in 8 week. At least they'll get shorter (55k, 50k, 26.2mi).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

2012 Sunrise 8k Race Report

June 9, 2012 Sunrise 8k Run - Simpsonville, SC (A Greenville Track Club Race)
The 33rd Sunrise 8k Run fell on my birthday again in my 6th time running it. My last time there was in 2009, when I had a PR in 37:50 (7:38/mi) with 618 finishers. Quite a bit different feel there with 819 runners! Plenty of room to grow even more and so excited for everyone who came out!
Only a week removed from my 52.7 mile run at the Black Mountain Monster 12hr last Saturday, I had two decent 4 mile runs on Wednesday and Friday of this week to make sure sure my legs felt all right - and my quick run yesterday told me my legs were just fine! Hmm, should I even think about a PR here? It was already pretty soft, as my 10k PR pace was 7:19/mi (from Reedy River - 2010). Why not? Shoot for 7:30 and see how it goes.
Saw lots of friends before the race (most of which are GTC members) and thought I'd stick with one of them, but they ended up taking off from the beginning and I never could catch her. Starting at 6:30am is nice, and starting less than 5 miles from the house is super!
Started at a good pace for me, and didn't quite know what pace I was running until I came up to the 1mi marker and GTC's Jim Roberts was calling out the times: 7:24 - right about on pace! It was a pace I felt I could hold, but I knew the 1st mile was a bit faster than normal with the excitement and all. The flat mile 2 down S. Main Street was about maintaining that pace and see if anyone I knew was going to slow down enough for me to catch them. Nah, not really.

It's very interesting how many runners do Not thank the volunteers or people cheering them on. Wearing headphones certainly takes away from that (and why I don't specifically cheer for those wearing headphones - they aren't going to hear me anyway). I thank every one I pass at every race. I was near the same people the first 2-3 miles and no one else thanked them, even after hearing me say it half a dozen times...oh well.

So back to the race. Just after going thru mile 2 in 15:07 (7:43 for that mile - slowed down a little too much I guess), we started into some neighborhoods of Simpsonville. Rolling hills for the next 2.5 miles, but none that were too challenging. Ran the tangents and kept my turnover steady. I decided to wear my (trail) Brooks Cascadias as they feel Much lighter than my Asics 2160 road shoes. Maybe the difference was only in my head, but it helped nonetheless.
Mile 3: 7:39 (22:47)
Came across one friend of mine who had been so busy with work, his training had suffered. He's normally much faster than me, but I've been lucky and was able to keep going today. Another of the DNR goons passed me thru here. I kept him in my sights, but I knew there was no way to catch him. I was still running somewhat above a comfortable pace. My last 15 races going back to Sept 2010 have all been half-marathons or longer. It sure makes these shorter races seem very manageable.
Mile 4: 7:37(30:24)
I felt at this point that my PR was in jeopardy. I was a little mixed up on my exact PR coming into this event, but I also knew I have had excellent finishing miles here (last mile is always 25+ seconds faster than my mile 4). I pushed a little more and began passing people. Once we turned onto Hwy 417, I knew I had more to give. Reeled a few more in and then took the last turn and downhill into the finishing chute. Only at the turn and seeing the finish clock did I know I had my 8k (Happy Birthday)  PR!
37:31 (clock time was actually 37:36).
Wow - still amazed I was able to do this, but there's certainly room to improve. Nope - never satisfied!
Chatted with some people and cheered on a few runners before eventually heading to my car and back home. Got there before 7:30!

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Black Mountain Monster 12hr Race Report

On Saturday June 2nd, the Black Mountain Monster 12hr (day) was my 1st “timed event”. I came into this event well trained, better than I ever had, and well rested, having not raced since early January. Disappointed after 2 poor ultras in 3 weeks, I was burned out and needed a break. Didn’t intend it to be that long...I was aching to race these last few months, but nothing turned up. Lucky for me I guess.
I woke up race day at 5am, packed the car, and headed up to Montreat College in Black Mountain, NC. Beautiful drive and I was enjoying the mountains on the way up. Before 8am, I was parked in the field next to the start (at the ropes course) and unloaded my gear, then went and parked my car. My friends really came thru for me in terms of gear as I was able to borrow a large cooler, a 2’x5’ table, and a 10’x10’ canopy (seemed bigger!). I had been packing for 3-4 days and brought everything I thought I could possibly need. After setting up – I put up my feet, kicked back, and relaxed while fueling up for the next hour. Just before the start, I got everything ready, said hello to Charles & Psyche (the only ones I knew there) and lined up.
At 10am – the 12hr solo, 24hr solo and all the individuals on teams got started. The 5k loop was excellent – such a variety of terrain and environments – you were not running the same type trail for more than ¾ of a mile at a time. We started off down the grassy area with a quick left turning into a straightaway/service road. Started at a comfortable pace (hoping for 10min/mi) as I chatted with C&P. Another turn and we were going up the first (of three?) major climb. I easily ran this the first 4-5 laps. A sharp right turn and we were in the open heading for a small patch of forest and single track as everyone started to spread out. Just past the Challenge Tower was a nice downhill zigzagging that allowed for wide-open strides. It didn’t last as we came out thru a groomed trail that emptied us onto grass beside the ball fields. A quick turnaround and we were on the Oak Trail – a paved section. Passing the 1 mile marker at 10min (right on pace!) on a slight downhill, this was a good place to cruise. There was one (short) super-steep section. Not up, but downhill. Had to brake the whole way before letting my momentum carry me forward. We turned back into woods on a narrow singletrack trail with a little up-and-down. Very fun, but short lived.    
Back onto a grassy path the led to the water stop/turnaround. When I did eventually use this – I accidentally filled up with Gatorade instead of water – but it worked out as I refilled it for about 10 laps. Back into the woods on a lush section (with one serious section of roots and another uphill) before kicking us out with a sharp left into an open area. This worn grass slowly climbed up toward a turnaround at a port-o-john. Passed the 2 mile marker thru here (right at 20 min). Wasn't a big fan of this section with the gentle climb and lots of sunshine (at the moment anyway). I eventually found my peace with it as I would settle into one of the dirt "lanes".
Another corner, another wide trail w/grass beside some train tracks. Was runnable up to a point, then the "hill" section had most people walking before another fun singletrack section with twists and turns and roots. Before you were ready to leave it - more fields that wound it's way back toward the start/finish. Some of this section was ok, some was not. To much sun (in the morning anyway) and a gradual uphill that shouldn't have been too difficult, but was always hard to get motivated for.
Finally - one last little downhill led into a wooded section for just a minute before crossing a little bridge and coming into tent city, going around the edge of the camping field and heading back to the start/finish straightaway (and my personal Aid Station).
This course made for a wonderful adventure - it never got boring and there were some sections to really look forward too, and you didn't have to wait that long for them to appear.
I would hit my lap time every time I came to my aid, and only twice did I spend significant time there to warrant an extra "lap" count. There were three breaks of 4-7 minutes, but only 2 ended up with their own "lap". So - 1st loop was 30 minutes. Right on target! (My full times/loop are below)
Didn't bother stopping - the only time I kept going. Water was good, so no need. I was still feeling very comfortable thru the first 4 loops. Each one under 31minutes, including grabbing some boiled potatoes, M&M's, potato chips and refilling/exchanging my water bottle every loop. I think about the 5th loop I went to refill my amphipod at the mid-way point and accidentally ended up with lemon-lime Gatorade instead of water. Why not? I stayed with that for about the next 10 loops or so, refilling it just about every time i passed it.
Loops 5-7 (miles 12.4-21.7) I was slowing down, walking some sections I hadn't before. One quick pit stop at a port-o-john included, and these three laps were 32-34 minutes each. I'd say I spent most of the time by myself...there were other runners here and there, but only 4-5 times did I spend any significant time really with someone for a mile or two at a time.
At some point - I grabbed a bandanna out of my ice chest and put it over my head, under my hat. It stayed there until the last 2 laps I think. I'd dump water over my head every loop to cool me down (it never really got uncomfortable-hot), and also served to protect my neck from the sun. I lathered up my arms, legs a few times...
So I came thru 7 loops (21.7 miles) in 3:41. I had put some lap estimates down a day or two before the race, and I was 30 seconds off at this point! 
Loop 8 I started to feel it in my abs. I always tell myself to do more core/ab work, but I never listen. I was telling myself again, and hoping I'd listen before my next ultra. I also started to feel my thighs. Not exactly bad or sore, but just 'used'. Very manageable. Spent a little time with Psyche on loop 9, a little worn but excited to be close to a 50k. I was telling myself I could take a little breather then. 8 and 9 was a bit of a down section. 37 & 39 minutes. Picked it back up to finish out a 50k with a 36min loop. 50k time: 5:34:20. I was thrilled as that was 45minutes off my PR. Whoa - was Not expecting that at all. (Sure I had down 5:30m, but it hadn't really hit me what time that actually was when I was putting it down).
I texted my wife, took a photo of the clock, refilled/snacked and set off again after a 5 minute "break". Honestly, it's fuzzy, but I am pretty sure after this next loop (#11, to 34.1miles), I changed socks & shoes and got my (new) ipod shuffle out. Or was it after the 50k? Anyway, all I know is loop 11 was run in ~35 minutes. Another 5 min break and then another 35 min loop. That must have been the shoes/ipod. My feet were a bit on the sore side, so I thought I needed a pick-me-up. Off came the Asics 2140 road shoes (size 11.5), yes I am a few models behind, and my Balega socks and on went some Smartwool socks and a brand new pair of Brooks Adrenaline ASR 8's (size 12). I has purchased them on Wednesday. Did not break them in at all. I had decided I would Not wear my orthotics in them though...just seemed that it had enough support. They did feel lighter and did give me a lift, as did my ipod. I had testing that out this week too as I hadn't run with music in a few years. Was a nice change for a bit to take my mind off of...well, everything. 
With another lull in motivation after those two quick laps, I set my sights on my distance record, 40.3 miles, or 13 loops. I had run 40 (not certified, but still, it's what I use) once before, almost exactly one year ago. Hmmm, my 1st ultra was only 2 years ago (exactly).
40.3 miles in 7:42:27 (just under a 41min loop, break included). Another proud text to my wife and brother - bested my 40mi PR by 48 minutes. Now I could relax a bit and get rested a bit. I grabbed my camera and took it out on the course to snap some pictures. Came across Psyche again, she pulled me thru some sections (again); got passed by one of the pink-tutu girls. Took my time and got thru it in 48, that included a ~7min break.
Now I had completed 14 loops. 43.4miles in 8:30. It was 6:30pm. The sun moving all day made some sections very different. The ones in the sun earlier, I later had less of a reason to dislike. But I did anyway. 3 and a half hours for 3 more loops....I could do this. I had lots of conflicting thoughts over the next hour or 2. Was I really going to stop at 52.7 miles, or try for another lap (or 2)?
Pizza arrived, so I grabbed two slices and walked out for loop 15. Took me a mile to eat it, then back to running on the Oak Trail and I eventually caught up with the "I 'heart' sweat" girl. We spent much of that lap together, walking and running. It helped me to have another "easy" 46min loop. I took another pee break at the end of the loop (had to wait, but it was worth it).
Something got me going those last two laps...I felt GOOD! I passed Charles, got lapped by Anne Lunblad again (nice to chat with such an elite runner, even if only for a few words) and was running well. Definitely ran more, even some more of the uphills. The realization of actually running 50+ miles must have hit me. I ran that loop in 40min (included a 1 min break for refills) and had one more loop to go!! Psyche was there looking for Charles and she headed back to find him. I kept cruising...I knew I had crossed the 50 mile barrier at approximately 10 hours (I'm calling it 10:00 even), but I wanted to finish strong; little did I know how strong. Once I hit that little downhill, then thru the last section of woods, to the bridge, I took off in a sprint. I knew this was my last loop, my 52.7 mile goal accomplished and I was so excited. I flew by Charles and Psyche and took that last turn up towards the finish! Completed my run in 10:38:10 (another 40 min loop - about the same as miles ~25-28). I must have had the biggest smile on my face! Sent a quick text and walked back to talk to C&P. They were so excited for me and they really did help me on and off throughout the day. Even when they were struggling with their own issues, they never failed to encourage me. I knew they'd been in my shoes before, and had persevered with their own amazing events (FHT, 100milers, Barkley loops...on and on, they amaze and inspire me).
I made the right call ending when I did, feeling as good as I did. It was getting dark quickly and I would have had to use my headlamp going back out again. The course was being set up the previous 2 laps with glow sticks, but once I realized my headlamp was mostly useless, the glowsticks would not have helped much. It was tempting to go further just to place a bit higher among the runners, but I didn't care that much. I made my goal, left room for improvement (distance-wise), and still has me thinking I might have been able to squeeze in another two 41 minute loops before the 12hour cutoff.
Once I stopped...I got a quick chill and put on a long sleeve shirt and my running jacket. Now it was clean up time...get car, pack up canopy (Thank you Natalie at Blissful Massage for letting me use this, as well as the table - it was perfect!!) and everything else. Took about an hour for all that and I was back on the road satisfied runner!
Charles, Psyche, and Guz (Before)

My personal Aid Station

Start/Finish chute. My AS is white canopy, just behind elite ultrarunner Annette Bednosky

Food/Aid - but Not one Gu or borwnie during the run.

Water, Gatorade, ice and bandanna's

Finished 52.7mi in 10:38:10
Course pictures: (more to come)

Loop Miles Actual Time per lap
Loop 1 3.1 30:04:00 30:04:00
Loop 2 6.2 1:00:54 30:49:00
Loop 3 9.3 1:31:43 30:48:00
Loop 4 12.4 2:02:27 30:43:00
Loop 5 15.5 2:34:43 32:16:00
Loop 6 18.6 3:07:31 32:47:00
Loop 7 21.7 3:41:28 33:56:00
Loop 8 24.8 4:18:47 37:19:00
Loop 9 27.9 4:58:09 39:21:00
Loop 10 6hr goal=31 5:34:20 36:11:00
break 5:39:58 5:37:00
Loop 11 34.1 6:21:21 41:22:00
break 6:26:09 4:48:00
Loop 12 37.2 7:01:36 35:26:00
Loop 13 40.3 7:42:27 40:51:00
 part of loop 14 ~7:00:00
Loop 14 43.4 8:30:43 48:16:00
Loop 15 46.5 9:17:09 46:25:00
Loop 16 49.6 9:57:27 40:17:00
Loop 17 52.7 10:38:10 40:43:00

(See this link for a wonderful course recap, course video, and a race report from a 24hr runner!)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pre-Race details

So Saturday is the Black Mountain Monster 12hour (Race for Awesomeness). I have high hopes for running 52.6 miles, or 17 laps of the 3.1 mile course. Anything over 40 will be a distance record for me though. I am very excited...Lists have been made and began packing and prepping yesterday.

Psyche and Charles will be there - looking forward to some good times catching up with them - and hopefully getting some awesome advice!
Good luck to all those running Chattooga this of my 1st ultra only two years ago. Wow, only 2 years?? It seems like I've been doing ultras for much longer...wishful thinking!

Weather for the weekend looks encouraging: High Temp at Black Mountain of 71°. Mostly sunny, but a little wind too. Of course - I consider anything over 60° "hot", but I'll manage the best I can. Will seem downright comfy over 90's at some other races...
It must be obvious I have not raced since January when you see that I have just signed up for a race in Feb of 2013! The 7th El Paso Marathon is Feb 24th. I often travel to El Paso/Juarez for work, so I figured I'd take in some sights! More on this later, but it is a net downhill and has a 1000' drop in the first 5 miles.
Have I said I am also doing the full marathon at Camp Croft in July??
So right now - my future schedule is:
June 2 - Black Mountain Monster 12hr
July 28 - Camp Croft Trail Marathon
Sept 16 - Buncombe 55k
Oct 13 - New River 50k
Nov - Camp Croft Half Marathon (tentative)
Jan 5, 2013 - Harbison 50k
Feb 24 - El Paso Marathon

Pretty ambitious for me...guess these last few months of 40+ mile weeks may be giving me a false sense of security!
Wish me luck Saturday!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Run to Work Day

Monday - I ran to work. My car battery died Sunday afternoon before I was to go for a run. After taking my wife's car out to go run at Lake Conestee, it was too late to take the battery to get checked - priorities you know!
 I only live 4-5 miles from work, depending on the route, so it was very manageable. What made it a little more interesting was the fact that I had to carry my laptop and my clothes/shoes for work. My camelbak was full!
I set off at 6am and headed up the road (and a blind hill with very little shoulder) with my headlamp, flashlight and blinking light on my bag. Throw in a bright yellow shirt - and I felt everyone could see me. The pack didn't feel too bad, a bit heavy, but not uncomfortable. I sure felt like I was plodding, but then again, my legs have felt like that since I was sick, 2+ weeks ago now. I'm expecting them to rebound just in time for the 12 hour Race for Awesomeness!
So, headed past Mauldin High School, still not alot of traffic out and eventually turn from Miller Rd into Forrester Woods to bypass part of Hamby that is on the narrow side and has lots of turns. I used to ride my bike thru here on the way home from work a few years ago. I should have consulted a map, because I got turned around and went .75mi thru the subdivision before coming back out on Miller 300 yards from where I had entered.
Oh well, let's see how bad Hamby really is....turned out - it wasn't so bad. It was much lighter out now (6:30ish), so that helped.
Not too eventful from there least one co-worker passed me along Forrester (hello!).
 51 minutes for what turned out to be ~5.15 miles. Not too shabby; I'll even consider doing this when I don't 'have' to!