Monday, February 21, 2011

Holiday Lake 50k 2011 Race Report

Well I had a wonderful day at the Holiday Lake 50K this year on Feb 12th, a perfect setting for my return to ultras after missing 4 seasons. I arrived at the camp early as planned, moseyed around while they finished setting up for registration. The weather was wonderful, a contrast to the last time I was here for this race in 2006 when it was cold and a wintery mix of snow and rain.

The crowd seemed larger than in 2006 and most of them quite a bit younger as well, definitely enthusiastic. I turned in early in the bunkhouse right next to the start, I remembered how last time I had issues with getting to sleep so this time I came prepared with ear plugs, they worked perfect, I am an early bird so did not need to worry about an alarm clock to wake me up.  Morning came and I went out to my car to get my breakfast that I had forgotten to bring in the previous evening.  Brrrr it was colder than I had anticipated, I started to fret a bit about what to wear now, I had already decided that shorts with my compression shorts would be sufficient but now I was concerned what to wear topside. In the end I settled on a long sleeve technical tshirt and a second technical shirt on top, medium weight gloves and a thin hat.  It was going to be cold in the beginning but I knew from experience that I would eventually warm up. It is a pain though getting through that first part, I hate the cold and really have to convince myself that it will be worth not being too hot later.

The course has changed since 2006, its ran in the opposite direction to start as well, I like the change, although the hill right at the beginning is a bit of a pain, it will later be a wonderful relief at the finish when running back down. I spent the first loop running very conservative, I had not had many long runs this winter due to the seriously cold weather we have had in central PA this year, as I had said I hate the cold and so all but one of my runs since late October have been on a treadmill which is another hate of mine but when faced with sub 20 degree weather and blowing snow it was the lessor of the 2 evils. I figured there would be suffering on the back half so I was walking most of the uphills and just working on my running form and being efficient.  I made around the loop and back to the start in 3:08, which I thought was not bad, I had wanted to be in the 3hr ballpark so I considered myself right on schedule. I grabbed my mp3 player and shotbloks and set out on the return loop.

The last 3 miles of the first loop which of course is the first 3 miles of the second, is what I consider the most difficult portion of the race technically and I was glad when I made it up onto the road of the aid station just past that section, I was feeling pretty strong at this point and had my first feeling that today might just go better than I had expected, it felt like I had a pretty good bit of gas left in the tank so I decided to start to push things a good bit.  Those long more flat sections of the course seemed to go on forever, I was passing people here and there, mostly when we came to hills when they stopped to walk and I pushed on, shortening my stride but continuing to run. Someplace early on those long stretches a woman with long blond hair  wearing pink passed me going at a nice steady pace. I had thought I would catch her at some point but apparently she like me discovered she had plenty of gas left as well because with every hill I came over or corner I rounded it seemed she was further away. As planned I switched on my mp3 player and switched to caffeinated shot bloks after I crossed the last road on the course, with about 8 miles left this point is psychologically all down hill effort wise as far as I am concerned and so it was here that I felt I could push the pedal the rest of the way down and see what I could do.

This last section went by pretty quickly, I was steadily passing a person here and there as I progressed. At just past the state park picnic area I could feel my left calf wanting to cramp, this was alarming because when my calf cramps it is crazy painful, so I backed off a bit but continued with a steady pace.  With about a mile to go it seemed like it was taking forever to get to that last downhill on the road, fatigue was setting in but I was still pushing I do like to finish strong so I was pushing as much as my cramp at any moment calf would let me.

Running out onto the road there was one person out a good 50 yards ahead of me, I pushed it a little thinking I might be able to catch him, but no go he was pushing as well.  Turning that last turn down the road you could hear the cheers of the crowd, its a wonderful feeling, something I missed so much the past 4yrs and 4 months since I ran Mountain Masochist my last race. You don't really know how precious something is until its taken away.  I crossed that finish line at 6:10:40 to the handshake and congratulations of Dr. Horton with such joy and feeling of relief, I am back.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Return again.

Well I've done a number of 6 milers on the trail around Canoe Creek State Park this spring and I am hesitantly optimistic that this year I may finally be able to run without annoying pain. Since tearing my achilles tendon at the end of 2006 it has been a long road to recovery. Each spring I have ran a bit only to find out that the pain is back. This year seems to be different, I still have stiffness and some soreness, but its been confined to after my runs, not during.

It is wonderful to be back out on the trails, the mud has decreased, the wildflowers have started to bloom, the future looks bright :)

Monday, March 24, 2008


Well spring is here and the urge to run is once again stirring. I have been going to a spin class at least 3 days and mostly 4 days a week since Thanksgiving. This has provided a good base for my return to running after my injury at the end of 2006. I am still having issues with pain in my left Achilles tendon and heel, so don't feel that I am out of the woods yet. I am hopeful that whatever lingering pain will not become an issue because it was awfully depressing to not be able to run all last year after having such a good year in 2006.
Did an 8 mile road run yesterday (Easter), snow out on the trails so I decided to suffer through a road run. I pushed the pace on the way home, which felt pretty good but I do have some pain this morning in my heel which concerns me. At this point I am shooting for running 3 days a week (Tue/Thurs/Sun) with spinning on the others (Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat) we'll see how that goes.
I have thoughts of adding weight training sometime late spring once the new addition the the Hollidaysburg YMCA opens with new equipment. First Ultra? most likely Rattlesnake 50k if I can keep the demons biting at my heel at bay.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mountain Masochist
Here is my report on my recent run of the Mountain Masochist 50 mile trail run:

5:30am Dark, about 22 degrees WTF am I doing out in the mountains of Virginia? Paying some equally crazy race director to let me have the privilege of running an advertised 50 miles but measured by many at closer to 54 miles with a little bit of elevation gain 11,692 feet up 9,762 feet down over the distance.

The 40 min or so ride on the bus to the start went by quickly, probably because I was wanting it to go by slowly. I was not enthused about the cold temp that we would be starting in. As soon as the bus stopped I bee lined for the porto johns to make one last pit stop. There would be lots of chances in the woods but it would be dark for the first 45min or so and also the clock would be ticking at that point. We had a good half hour plus till the start, this was kinda good, kinda bad. On one hand it was too cold to stand around outside the bus (they thankfully stayed and had the heat on) on the other hand it gave me time to decide if I had enough clothes for the start.

I decided on the thick gloves because I really hate cold hands, I would rather hot wet hands than cold dry ones. I wore a thin long sleeve technical top and a thin short sleeve technical shirt over it. Bottoms were compression shorts and trail shorts. A thin techincal stocking cap on my head. With about 10 min till the start I left the bus and headed to the start. Stood around for a while shivering, then made a dash back to the bus and grabbed a Short sleeve (use to be long sleeve, made them short with sissors that morning) mock turtle neck technical shirt made of thermax and threw it on over the other 2 layers. I was glad I did this, I was just the right temp the whole day with these 3 layers, any less and I would have been cold.

Since no one volunteered to sing the national anthem we all sung it together (wow runners don't sing worth a hoot as a group!). Then we were off in the cold dark morning.

As I said I had a plan, I worked the plan. I am an engineer, we plan things, it takes the risk out of the task. It worked very well for me. I hit the aid stations pretty close to on time on the front half, and actually started to arrive early on the back half.

I skipped every other aid station except on the 2 sections where the distance is over 5 miles, one artifact of this was that there were a few runners that had a faster pace than me that I played leap frog with as they passed me between aidstations and I passed them while they were getting aid.

My goal was 11hrs, I am happy to say that I beat that time and finished in 10:47:02. I was 111th out of 232 people that "finished" the course, unfortunately 12 people finished but did not make the 12hr cutoff to get the finisher award ( A very nice Nathan bottle pak with the year and race embroidered on it).

Here is the official results:

Here is the data from my gps:

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Big Schloss

I came, I saw, I schlossed. What a great course!! Rugged as all get out, I had a great run. This was thus far the most challenging course I have run, thankfully the weather was cool otherwise it would have been a killer. I'm losing faith in the weather person after this past weekend. I looked at "Weatherunderground" at 2am right before I left for the race and it said no chance of rain till 2pm then 30% chance. Well when the race started it was in a steady rain at 8am, and it was not raining at all in the afternoon! Oh well, it made for a cool day and that was appreciated. My time was 7:56 for a hair over 50k of distance, which I consider pretty good for the course. The official results are still not posted on the website so I'm not sure where I stood compared to others. Next up is the Army 10 miler this Sunday, I have a friend who was running it, and I told him I would come down and run it with him. Have not done a road race since last Decembers Nittany Valley Half Marathon, but I have been doing some road hill running lately so I should do ok.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mission Accomplished: 50 miles

I crossed off another goal on my ultrarunning list this past Saturday, 50 miles is in the books. The stats? 29 starters 21 finishers and I was 10th with a time of 11:05:13 at the Baker Trail UltraChallenge. The weather for the race was perfect at the start but got a bit warm by afternoon. I utilized the strategy of just running aid station to aid station to reduce the mental challenge of thinking about running the whole distance. This worked well for me, I set my watch (Forerunner 205) to only show the lap time, lap avg pace, and previous lap avg pace. I then would hit the lap button when exiting an aid station and just concentrate on the time I had estimated I should run to the next aid station. If I ran as estimated I should have finished in 11:15+ the time at the aid stations. So I did better than I estimated which was great as far as I am concerned. I ran pretty conservatively until the second to last aid station (about 7.8 mi to go) when I decided to pick the pace up a bit since I felt I had more than enough fuel left in the tank to finish at my current pace. I passed 4 people during my push to the finish, I feel kind of bad passing people at that point because I know how long a day its been for all of us and getting passed close to the finish can be somewhat of a bummer, so I always pulled up slow and walked for a while giving them plenty of chance to stay ahead of me if they had the energy to, some kept up with me once I passed but usually when I stopped to walk on a hill they would start to fade since I have a pretty quick walking pace that I have been cultivating all summer. The end of the race was perfect in that I was coming up the final hill before you turn down the last road that turns into the farm and was thinking about the finish and how it would be kind of anti-climactic since the road and farm lane are all about the same level so no fast downhill finish. But low and behold as I can up to within site of the lane to turn down that leads to the farm/finish there is a sign that points into the field as the route to the finish. Not only that, the route runs up to the top of a hill in the pasture, yeah!, so I run up the entire hill, and the path turns and makes a steep decent to the barn/finish of the race, so I got my fast running finish. It was sweet I must say. My thanks to the RD and volunteers of this race, I had a nice time and will be back next year to get the next piece of the 3 part finish metal on the 3rd leg of the Baker Trail.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The RD of the Catoctin 50k describes the course as "rocky, slow, difficult and demanding (but yet run-able) trail." I would agree with that statement, plus possibly painful. I was cursing this course by about 25 miles and swearing that although I was glad to have run it, I would never be back... well you know how those trail confessions go, 2 weeks later and I would have to say I may just run it again next year. It is certainly challenging, and that is the allure that I guess brings those of us who run ultra marathons back to the starting lines, that and possibly the brains apparent inability to remember the pain. I remember the pain of the rocks and downhills, but now they are somehow hollow and indistinct. I know how I felt, but I cannot "feel" it in my memory. Good thing I guess to remember while your in pain, you really won't remember it well later. So as long as you can endure it now, and push on, you will finish and the memory of the pain will fade away. I've read such things when I was thinking about getting into ultras, it is interesting to have now experienced it and now understand it. I read recently something along the lines of " all those running ultras are suffering, its not about training till you don't suffer, its about training to "endure" the suffering" this really set off a light bulb in me. There was a part of me that had thought that in time running ultras would become painless, but that is just silly, there will always be pain, you must train to endure the pain. This Saturday August 26th I will be upping the ultra ante by running my first 50miler here:
I feel good about my prep for this race, I've run some pretty tough 50k's this year, and I've be doing some easy running and resting since Caoctin so I intend to step up to the starting line rested and healthy. I will concentrate on just finishing the distance without a lot of thought for finish time, although of course I have thought about how fast I would like to finish which is sub-10hrs. we'll see how it goes.