Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pinhoti 100 Heflin to Sylacauga November 6-7 2010

My first 100! This race has been in my thoughts everyday for almost a year. Ever since I joined the running club GUTS, Georgia Ultrarunning Trailrunning Society, I have had the goal of running a 100 mile race. I volunteered at an ultra, and worked an aid station with a 2 time Pinhoti finisher, Mike S. I had lots of questions. I told Mike that I may make Pinhoti my first 100 in 2011. That will give me plenty of time to get ready for it. I cannot remember Mike's exact quote, but it went something like this, "why wait, you never know what the Maker has planned for you". I am a cancer survivor, and that statement really hit home. The Goal was now set, and I laid out some benchmarks for me to hit along the way. Complete Mount Cheaha 50k, (the middle third of Pinhoti 100), run over 30 miles in Hot to Trot, and run 50 miles a week without injury. Check, Check, and Check. On my 2nd anniversary of finishing my last chemotherapy treatment I signed  up.

Elevation Profile from

100 mile plan. Goal number one finish. Stay in the moment. Set short term goals. I am going to get sick. Accept it and know that it will pass. I am going to hit a wall. Don't give up, and find the door. Anything faster than 17min/mile is making good time. Try to always make good time. Get out of the aid stations fast. It is a long race. Anything can happen be flexible.

Bad news before the race. My pacer Greg has caught the flu bug. I have been running with Greg through most of the summer, and this is a big hit cause I knew that he could get me through the tough parts of the course, (miles 40-80). My cousin Bobby was going to help my wife and daughters crew me through the day, and pace me from mile 85 to the finish. I ask Bobby to pace me from aid station 13 about mile 68 to the finish. I knew it would be tough on him, but I also knew that he was there for me.

Race morning, I got a few hours sleep at the hotel. Jo Lena and Bobby picked me up around 4:45am allowing  my crew to sleep in. Much appreciated. We started just after 6am in the dark. Sunrise would be 40 minutes away. I started dead last with plans of only passing people if they stepped off the trail or walked slowly for the first several miles. After sunrise I am chugging along the trail thinking about what lies ahead on this adventure when I hear a voice, "how do you like the flames?", I look up and there is Shannon Farar-Griefer standing on the side of the trail. I tell her that I love my Moeben flames. I got them last year for Christmas from my mother in law. She could not find them in stock anywhere, so she called Moeben, and talked to Shannon who then sent her the sleeves. I thank Shannon for those and the ones I got the night before at the carbo dinner. Very cool, here I am in my first 100 running along with Shannon. I soon went back into my head thinking about this race until aid station 1. In and out in less that a minute.

I caught up with a group of my friends. Wayne, Jason, Dan, and there is Mike leading the train. There were also some new friends Greg and Nathan. I pointed up to Mike and told them, "we keep him in site, we will finish this race". We were moving at a nice easy pace telling jokes and having a good time. At some point I had completely forgotten that we were even running in a race.

Aid station 2 I come in and to my surprise there is Bobby ready to help me fill up my hydration pack. I was not expecting any crew util aid station 5.

Aid Station 2
Photo by Bobby York

Our little train hooks back up and we are rolling down the trail at a nice even pace. The first third of the Pinhoti 100 is just beautiful rolling single track. We spread out, and group back up through the next several miles. Aid station 4 is the first GUTS station in this race. It was nice to see some friends and get that little boost from their encouragement. I also got my first soup of the day. As they send us off, I hear "see you in 50 miles". It hits me, 50 miles to Pinnacle, then 25 miles to the finish. I feel great I am not tired, but man that is a long ways to go. OK, I can do this. Keep Mike in site.

Aid station 5, there is my family/crew. I get a restock on all of my gels and grab a Boost Protein drink to go. I spend a little more time than planed in this aid station just because I am happy to see the "crew". They send me on my way, but I have spent too much time. The train has left without me. I soon catch up to Wayne who is now running with Christian. They step off of the trail, and Wayne assures me that everything is OK, so I continue on. I am still feeling strong, so I start to make up for some lost time in the aid station. For the first time since about mile 3 I am running alone. Not a soul in sight.

Back in my head visualizing getting through night and the finish. I am also trying to figure my pace, how far ahead of cutoffs am I. OK, it is to early to worry. I tell myself stay in the moment, and set short term goals. Hey there is Mike up ahead. I can catch him. Just a little faster. Run just a little bit up that hill. Caught him. Short term goals. They work like a charm. Aid station 6. They are out of everything. No water, No Heed. Just a few pretzels. I grab a few. Mike says something about being 45 minutes behind were we need to be. I am not sure what that means cause I pull out my index card with the aid stations and 24/30 hour pace times, and we look to inline for a 27 hour finish. Then I start thinking, oh yeah, two mountains to go over. Little over 6 miles to the next aid station on top of Mount Cheaha. I tell myself stay in the moment. This is going to be a tough climb. Run what you can power hike the rest. Make some good time. I took off up the trail.

Mackenzie, (My cheerleader),  on top of Mount Cheaha
Photo by Jennifer Tapley

The views on top of Mount Cheaha are just breath taking. That was a good climb. Somehow I zoned out and cannot remember most of it. We climbed up the stairs to the boardwalk. We take off running towards the aid station that is about .25 mile away. There are some people waling around up here. It is a state park after all. One fellow ask, "where are y'all running to?". We answer, "Sylacauga!" "An't that a long ways off?" "Yep, we hope to make it by noon tomorrow". I know most people don't buy it, but when they do, the look on their face is priceless. We reach the aid station, and I look around and my crew is nowhere to be found. Mike yells out lets take 10. OK. I send a text to the crew, "AS7 where r u?" They had just arrived, and were not expecting me for another 30 minutes. Guess I did make some good time. First sock change, and I have some blisters on the bottom of my toes. Nothing new. I give them a quick lancing, apply a good coat of lube, and fresh socks. I change into a dry top and 10min 32sec. Here comes Mike. Let go to "Blue Hell"

I love "Blue Hell". So much so that I enjoyed some of it twice. Yeah we missed a marker and found our selfs wondering around trying to find a way down that did not require a parachute. We agreed to go back up until we found a marker. We did, at the very top. Now I am looking at all of those flags and wondering how did we miss this. Oh well, we lost some time, no big deal. Nice and slow no since in getting hurt falling down. If I remember correctly we will have some pavement and a little fire road at the bottom. We will pick up a little time there.

Mike and me coming into AS8
Photo by Jennifer Tapley
The race starts to head south on me. I got a little heated on that last little stretch, and now I am standing at the aid station table unable to eat anything cause I feel like I might just throw up. I choke down some chicken broth. I look over and there is Wayne getting ready to head out. I guess he past us while we were wondering around "Blue Hell". I am glad to see him. I getting worried since I had not seen him in several hours. I am not feeling well. This is part of running a 100 miler. I will throw up, (reset button), rehydrate, eat, and be back on track. All part of the plan.

The next two sections I get to feeling worse and worse. Really bad. The only thing that was taking my mind off of being sick was the campers that we came across. I was wondering what they were thinking about all of these people running through the dark were doing. Maybe they would let me take a short nap by their fire. 15 minute power nap. That would hit the spot. No, bad idea. Keep Mike in site.

Some of the sections through the night blur together. I think this is aid station 10. What is that I am hearing. Is that Bon Jovi? Good lord, my wife is going to be dancing around the aid station embarrassing my kids. As long as that song is playing I will not get any attention from her. I still cannot eat. I still have the same Gels from AS7.  I am feeling really bad. Doubts are starting to take over my thoughts. There is a chair. I need to take 5. Bobby is back on the crew from his nap at the hotel, and he moves to keep me from sitting down, but he is too late. I will get up in just 5 min. I try to eat some crackers, but I can barely swallow them. I am moving slower, so I need a heaver jacket. Bobby helps me change out my the stuff in my pockets and helps me zip the jacket. This freaks Jennifer out for just a second. She grabs me with I little shake, "are you OK?" Apparently I look strange standing there staring up at the sky. "Yes, I just don't want to blind Bobby."

Choking down chicken noodle soup. Mike is ready to go.
Photo by Bobby York
We are really running close to cutoffs. I am feeling worse. Chicken broth and sipping on Boost is just not enough calories. Mike has picked up his pacer somewhere around mile 60. I am having a hard time keeping up with them. I see a headlamp ever so often turn back my way. I imagine Mike is checking on me. I nod my head as if saying I am coming don't wait on me. I will catch up. Nathan caught up with me, and together we run Mike and his pacer down,  Mike's knee is getting worse. Down hills are getting tough for him. He is moving real slow. Mike and his pacer step off of the trail. I watch Mike do a few stretches. I know we are close to cut offs, I debate with my internal voice about going on ahead or staying back with Mike. I decide to move forward since Mike has his pacer. I hope that Mike will be within a few minutes  of me by the next aid station. I need a few minutes when I get there anyway. As I keep moving with Nathan right behind me, Mike's light gets further and further away. When I get to the aid station Mike is nowhere to be seen.

Despair, verb, to lose all hope or confidence. This is real despair.  I was at my lowest low. I was cold, I could not eat, I felt bad, I am worried about Mike, and for the fist time since I set this goal I do not believe that I can finish the 100 miles. Why try? Every excuse for a DNF came racing through my mind. I look at my wife, my girls, Kristen and Mackenzie. I want to quit, but I cannot tell them. 
"Dad you got this."
"Come on dad you got this."
My girls have been bragging to their friends about me running this race for a while. Thoughts of them having to tell their friends that I quit flipped some switch in my head. "Dad you got this." I can do this. Stay in the moment and set small goals. One step at a time. How far to the next aid? 3.3 miles and Bobby will be ready to take me the rest of the way. I am not going to quit. They are going to have to pull me. Time to harden up. I headed off into the dark alone. 

I am feeling better. Not good, but better. I remember this section from the Mount Cheaha 50k. Easy rolling single track. I can see the lights from the aid station ahead. Yeah 68 down 32 to go. I have been going for 20 hours now. I am still having trouble eating, so it is soup and a few sips of Boost. Time for another lancing of blisters and sock change. I sit down in the back of Jen's SUV. I am shaking so hard that I am having trouble getting my shoes off. The girls are helping get my shoes back on when I notice that Bobby looks a little worried about the cold. He lives in Florida, and it does not get this cold down there. Jen gives him some hand warmers to put in his gloves. I know I thought it, but I don't know if I told him, once we get moving you will be plenty warm. We are ready to go. "Hey cuz, 50k in 10 hours, no problem".

Next stop "The Pinnacle". I am both worried and excited about this section. The stories about the constant climb with a ton of switchbacks had me thinking about the fact that I am very low on calories, and I could reach a point where I just would not be able to go anymore. I am also excited because Len told me that everyone that made it to Pinnacle last year finished the race. I have never had a pacer before, and Bobby has never paced anyone before, but somehow it just seemed to work. He is staying several yards in front of me which has the effect of pulling me along. I am trying to stay in the moment focusing getting to where Bobby is, but where is that aid station. I thought I would be able to see it from miles away up on top of this climb. I start to worry that we are off course. The climb does not seem to be as bad as the stories. There is a marker, so we are on course. Up ahead I see the lights. Almost there. 

The Pinnacle Aid Station
Photo by Kim Pike
The Pinnacle, (mile 75) is the second GUTS aid station. I have been looking forward to this point in the race for weeks. I get to see my running heroes one more time, get tons of encouragement, and fried egg sandwiches. I do love fried egg sandwiches, but the thought of one right now makes me want to blow chunks. I went with the chicken soup and a cup of coffee. All down hill from here right? No? Kim informs me the next 5 miles are very rocky and technical. I am wanting to hang around, but these guys are good. Before I know it I have my water bottle in my hand with Mark walking me out the aid station pointing down the road to the next marker. 

Definitely not down hill. We are still going up with leaf covered rocks. Running by braille comes to mind here. On the side of the trail there is a sizable rock formation. Bobby is looking at it pointing out something. "Did you see those eyes glowing"? No, I did see anything. Bobby said it looked bigger than a squirrel. I said, "Probably a bobcat". Bobby's worst fear is being mauled by a wild animal. I am guessing pacing me in a race where mountain lions live is out of the question. I think he is picking up the pace now. This is the point were the low mileage training for a 100 will bite you. The muscles that do most of the stabilizing in my lower legs and hips are starting to fatigue. All of my joints seem to be bending at all kinds of weird angles. My gait has changed more to a heel strike because the blisters don't bother me until I land on a rock just right. Aid station ahead. 

There is my buddy Jason calling out numbers as we come in. It was odd seeing him at this aid station. He had paced some girl with a bum ankle through the last section and waiting on a ride. I ask him how we were doing on time. "Your past cutoffs, but this is not a pull aid station. Yikes! Down some more chicken soup. Lets go cuz! Down hill Jeep road ahead. lets make up some time. We headed out with Nathan joining us. 

This Jeep road is not going down hill. Most of it seems to be uphill. I run what I can. Power hike the rest. The sun is starting to come up. It is a beautiful sunrise. Bright red band running the length of the horizon. Wish I had my camera. I have been told by several people that once the sun comes up you feel like a new man. Not true. I did feel better. Not new man better. My feet and left ankle hurt. My knees are aching. Muscles are getting sore. All expected because I am just past the 80 mile mark. Bobby is pushing me to pick up the pace reminding me that we need to be making up time. Either the sunrise makes Nathan feel like a new man or Bobby scared him about the cutoffs, cause he took off.

Hallucinations. Another one of those things I had heard and read about. They occur at night while running with a headlamp. Large rats running across the trail. Ghost. Maybe even seeing runners that are not there. Not me. The light would make it look like something moving on the trail right in front of me, but that was it. Until now. You have heard of the runners high. Well I call this the runners "acid trip". I am running along and see a go-cart on the side of the trail. No wait that is just a bush. I giant cowboy boot? Really? Nope stump. Aid station ahead. I see people. I hear a wooo-hoooo. Nope. A couple of trees blown over. There are two things that I am thankful of at this moment. One, I am sane enough to know what is happening. I think I see something, and my brain is filling in the blanks to make it real. Two, Bobby is far enough ahead of me to not hear me babbling about what I am seeing. Bobby says "aid station ahead", I am thinking it better be real. 

Coming into AS16 just after sunrise.
Photo by Jennifer Tapley

Aid station 16 mile 85. Happy to see the crew again. They tell me to hurry I am real close to cutoffs. I shed my jacket and change hats. Grab a few bites from the table. I just ate something, wow, I am feeling better. I tell the crew to give me two gels for the road. Lets go cuz! 4 miles to the next aid. We make it less than an hour we will gain some time on the cutoff. 

It is all fire road and we are making up some much needed time. It has been about 30 minutes and I decide to eat my first gel since I don't remember when. Four gulps of water. My stomach is back to normal. I just wish it could have been sooner. Why would someone leave that here.... never mind. "Runners acid trip". I am glad I won't be driving myself home today. I hear a wooo-hooo. I look at my watch, lap time 54 minutes. Yeah! There is no doubt in my mind. I will finish this race!

Kristen had ran down the road to watch for us.
Photo by Jennifer Tapley

Bobby pulling me down the fire road.
Photo by Jennifer Tapley

Ah yes potatoes dipped in salt and M&Ms. My favorite. A few more miles of fire roads then a little more trail. Lets go cuz!

Bobby and me leaving AS17
Photo Jennifer Tapley
11 miles to go. Setting my small goals. Run to that horse...I mean small broken tree. One last gel to get me to the end. My stomach is 100%. My ankle is really starting to hurt. We turn onto the old logging road/trail. Bobby yells out, "This is runnable Joel". Payback for StumpJump? Yeah, he is enjoying this way too much. "Runnable Joel"!

I am coming into the last crew access.
Photo by Jennifer Tapley
Last aid station.Where is it? My crew is here but no aid station. It is a half mile down the trail, OK. I hope so cause my bottle is empty and I want some more M&Ms. The aid station was down the trail sitting on an earth dam. Refiled my bottle got some my M&Ms. I have 1.5 hours to finish. I can walk that, but Bobby is not going to let me. "Runnable Joel"! 

I always get emotional towards the end of a race. I don't know why. I just do. This time though the emotions are more than I could ever put into words. Everyday I have thought about this race. I have trained as hard as I could. I would talk about it to anybody that would listen. Everybody that knows me is aware that I am running 100 miles today. I spent money on shoes, socks, lube, and other peaces of gear just for this race. Was it all worth it? Hell Yeah! Then I think what if I would have failed? How bad would that low be? Then it hits me. I am here about to finish a 100 mile race for two reasons. The people that are here for me and my preparation. Failure was never an option. My family that has supported me and is crewing for me. Friends that have seen along the way that have encouraged me. Mike, who ran most of this race with me. My cousin Bobby that has pulled me through the last 32 miles of this race. I am glad he is not looking back here at me now. "Runnable Joel!" 

We turn out onto the road. All runnable. Somehow I agree to run 4 walk 1. It sounds better than running to whole way. Stadium lights! There it is! Nope, it is the second school we come to. Dang this is the longest 2 miles ever. There it is. Yeah! I got to keep the emotions in check. It would be embarrassing to cry in front of my friends. I turn onto the track. Big crowd. Don't cry. Don't cry. 

Finish! 29:37:53 

Coming to the Finish Line 100 miles.
Photo by Kim Pike
The Buckle
Photo by Jennifer Tapley
Me and my family/best crew ever!
Photo by Kim Pike

It has been said that running a 100 miles is parallel to life. It is with all of the ups, downs, surprises, and disappointments. At mile 100 you learn the "meaning of life". It is really simple. 
Family and Friends. Humanity.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler

50 mile training run on 10/16/10. Well that is what I signed up for, and that is what I got. This was to be my practice Pinhoti. The race start was set at 5:00am, and I decided to save the money and drive down the morning of the race. The last shuttle from parking was at 4:15am, the drive was 2.25 hours, add some time for the just in case, and that equals out the door at 1:30am. Yeah this is going to hurt! I maybe slept an hour.

At the start line I found a heater and hung out there with some friends, and talked to some folks from Minnesota down for their first 50 miler. Dean Karnazes came out to give the motivational speech. Well to quote him, "how many of you are running your first 50 miler?", lots of hands went into the air, "You all are going to die!" Wow now I feel better about today.

Everybody started to line up, and I made my way to the back. I would much rather be passing, than being passed. Plus I wanted to get a slow start just like I would at Pinhoti. The first 2 hours or so were in the dark, and I kept an even pace only passing people walking slower than me on the up hills. I rolled into aid station 1 and there was a huge back up to refill bottles. I had the hydration pack on, so I went ahead grabbed a cup of heed and a snack. Keep moving.

Leaving AS 1
I found myself in a line of runners that were moving at a slightly quicker pace than I was really wanting to run. I was not pushing it, so I hung in there with them. I just did not want to step aside and loose all the time I made up going through the aid station. Much of the next several miles were the same rolling hills with lots of rocks. About mile 16 the 50k leaders came blowing by me. This is the part of running several races at once that I did not like. Now I had to get out of the way of much faster runners on a single track trail.

Somewhere around mile 23 I started to feel really bad. This was a huge wall, and I have just done a faceplant into it. I was dead tired. My feet were dragging, I was tripping over everything, and my stomach started to bubble. I do not know how I kept from falling. I have not been able to figure out if this was physical or mental. 50 miles on 1 hour of sleep. Who knows. One of my worries going into this race was if I could not finish it what affect would it have on my upcoming 100 miler. I worried that a negative performance would create a mental barrier that I would have to deal with at mile 50. Not good. Not good at all.

Note: Porta Potties at aid stations are a wonderful idea.

I had to prove to myself that I could get through this. I just told myself no DNF today. I was getting very close to the cutoffs by walking so slowly, and my stops at the aid stations. I started to push myself into running, and I don't know how, but then I started feeling better. Positive inspirational thoughts only. Any negative thought that comes into my head, I would replace immediately with a positive thought. Mental wall? Maybe we can do more than we think we can. Maybe we are stronger than we think we are. 

This is also when I started running into marathon runner coming the opposite direction. Most were not yielding the trail at all even when they were walking and I was running. There has to be a better way to have multiple races running simultaneously. 

Somewhere around the 50k mark. Dang it! Blisters! Really? One of the battles I have been fighting has been preventing blisters. They seem to always pop up at worst times. My feet were swelling up, and my shoes were getting tighter. I stopped to adjust my laces a few times, but it was too late. Blister were forming on the bottom of most of toes, and a spot just behind the ball of my right foot. I have come this far. I am not going to give up just yet. I am ahead of the cutoffs, but only by a few minutes. I need to stop and take care of these at the next aid station, but when I get there I do not have time. Gotta keep moving.

I have a few people here and there come up from behind, I step aside to let them pass. One guy stops and ask me if I am running the 50 miler as he looks at my bib number. Oh no the sweep, and he is not picking up markers cause there are races tomorrow. Two more aid stations and a little over 8 miles to go. No more hard cutoffs. Usually this means I can still get a finish, but no, I must get in before 14:00 or it does not count. The sweep keeps me updated that if I don't pick up the pace, I am not going to make the 14 hour finish. It is all good, I needed the push. 

Now I am running better than I have ever run, Not faster. Better. In a zone. Head up, shoulders back, light on my feet. It had to be because of my feet being more sensitive due to the blisters, the rough rocky trail, or was I just focused on the finish. I don't know, but I was aware of every foot placement. I know I will be searching for this "zone" on every future run. 

Passed John the last quarter mile when he waved us by. I got a kick out of him calling the sweeper the Grim Reaper. Finished next to last 13:52:19 less than 8 minutes to spare. Never Give Up! 

Finished next to last. 

Post race, once I got home I noticed how much salt I had caked in my eyelashes and on my face. I am thinking that I took in too much salt and that contributed to my feet swelling. I learned  a lot, and I feel much better about being able to push through the wall during a race. 

Race and Learn

Stump Jump 50k

This is a race that I have been wanting to do for over a year. Last year when I first started trail running and looking into ultras, I put this race was on my list. At one point it was going to be my first ultra, but with all of the inspiration from the GUTS crowd I decided to move up my schedule for running ultras. Instead this was my fifth ultra and 4th 50k.

Wonder twins.

I had been pushing my cuz into ultras for about 6 months. He has been doing the swim, bike, run thing for a few years, and this race became his first ultra. I was thinking that a sub 7 hour 50k would be a nice target for both of us. He is in better shape and a little faster on the short runs than me. It was a little warm but much better weather than the hot humid summer we had been having. Sub 7 doable.

We started about mid pack and I found that there were about 5 or six people in-between us for the first few miles. I matched the pace that cuz was running and slowly work my way up to him. At some point I got in front of him and tried to hold the same pace, maybe just a bit faster. This part of the course is mostly down hill as well, so fast should be OK. This was putting time in the bank for latter in the race when we would be a little tired, and the return up this same stretch would be mostly up hill.

Early down hill.

Steady as she goes. We started hitting some of the up hills. I would power hike the steeper inclines and run the lesser, flats, and down hills. We were making some good time. Opps wrong turn. I was behind cuz, when he made to comment, "the guy with the weed-eater must have run out of gas", never a good sign. No markers, and the trail just stopped. We turned around and headed back the way we came. Sure enough after looking way up on the ridge we could see several runners up on the trail.

Back on course. We may have lost 15 minutes, but that was OK. I think we are still sub 7 hour. After a few more miles we start to slow down. Cuz is having a hard time getting his feet over the rocks and roots. Thump, @#% it, Thump, @#$%. Cuz lives in Florida. Florida is pretty flat with sandy trails. Did we go out too hard? I seem to be feeling OK. I am thinking that I should be sucking wind way before him. These hills are not that bad. Then I remember, I have been training hard, and on hills. This is terrain that he is not used too at this pace and mileage. OK we will slow down.

I have been able to push myself on training runs and in races but I have never had to push someone else. Do I push him? Motivate him? How about some of my inspirational quotes. I will go for all of the above, and see what works. I push him a little to run on the flats and downs. I keep him walking fast. Walk with a purpose cuz! This is runnable cuz! Then a Big Y shaped tree across the trail. Wish I had a video camera cause this is funny. He can't go over or under. He stands there leaning on that tree for what seems like forever not sure what he is going to do. Guess it is crawl through. Yeah! He makes it. Too funny. He tells me several times to "run on ahead he will see me at the finish". I don't want to mess up your time." No way cuz. I am with you to the end. Then he starts to question when is the next aid station. I am thinking that he wants to drop. Do I let him? No! If he ask, I will ask for one more aid station. He never asked to drop. Good. I was dreading the whole give me one more aid station talk anyway.

After a few aid stations, some Advil, and some stretches. Lots of stretches. Apparently squatting on the trail helps. We are getting close to the finish. I am getting him to run more. Runnable Cuz! Lets Go! Finally we reach the pavement with .6 miles to go. I can tell the emotion is getting him. I know cause it happens to me in every race. I have to make a joke. "Cuz, you better not start crying! You will embarrass me in front of my friends."

8:48:30 they have started taking down the finishing shoot, vendors are packing up, and most people have headed home. I don't care. I just got to be a part of his first ultra. Would I trade this for a sub 7 hour finish alone? No Way! Next year we come back and run hard for bragging rights.

Behind on post!

I am behind on updating this blog, but I have notes from my last few races, and here are the reports. Better late than never.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2 Years Cancer Free!

2 Years ago today I finished the hardest thing I have ever done, 3 rounds of BEP Chemotherapy. I had also suffered from a pulmonary embolism, and could not walk up one flight of stairs without being completely out of breath.

Today I signed up for second hardest thing I will have done,  Pinhoti 100 mile trail race.

Go for it now.  The future is promised to no one.  ~Wayne Dyer

Hot to Trot 8 Hour Race. 29 Laps 34.3 Miles

This was my first timed event, and I am convinced that the timed race on a short 1.x loop takes more mental grit than a point to point race of equal distance. These are just a few things I noticed. First, since it is a short loop, you see the same section of trail over and over again. This can get to be a little boring, but at least you learn the best approach to each section. Since I knew exactly what was coming up next, I could play little mind games with myself about running to that one tree this lap without walking. I could also get into a zone without worrying about making a wrong turn. Second, you have to push yourself to keep moving out of the Aid Station/Start Finish area. Seeing that race clock would give me that end of race feeling especially towards the end of the race. I noticed that some runners would run harder faster laps, but would take sit down breaks. My strategy from the start was to keep moving with a slow steady run with some walk breaks, and to power hike the hills. There was one good climb that I power hiked every loop, and a few sections that I would walk some laps to allow my core temp to drop plus allow my muscles to recover. I also wanted to experiment a little with hydration and nutrition without being too far from help. I consumed on average about 10oz of fluid, either water or 50/50 water sports drink. I would take a SCap about every hour, and I would eat about every 30-45 minutes. I only used Gels twice during the race, and ate small amounts of real food the rest of the time.

Over all I enjoyed the timed event. I want to try a 12 hour or 24 hour next to see how I really like this format.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Running Gear Reviews.

In the past I before I bought a trail shoe, hydration pack, or supplement, I would search the web for reviews. I always end up on a blog somewhere reading a detailed review on that gear. I would think wow, now that sounds just like me; I need that shoe to improve my running. I need that pack cause I can carry more, and it will not bounce. None of it worked. The shoes did not make me run better, they made my knees hurt because I wanted my running stride to be something it is not. The pack bounced, made my back sweat, and was heavy. Those supplements did not help my performance, they just cost me money.
I noticed in my search for reviews that there are not many negative reviews on blogs. Most of the negative reviews I found were on store sites, and were on products that did have a specific problem. For example, battery life on GPS watches, bladders that leak, and shoes of a very poor design are all things I have found on store websites. This is good information that you can use before making a purchase. With all of that said, I will not review specific products. I will try to explain solutions, and training that works for me.
My conclusion? You have to do what works for you. Those shoes are not going to improve your running. You have to work on your form, and put the miles in before you can run better, and without pain. Any pack is going to be hotter on your back. The more stuff you carry the heavier it will be. If you bounce when you run, anything you wear is going to bounce with you. You can still learn from others around you, but you have to try to see what works for the given run whether it be an ultra, training run, or 5k.