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.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

3 days out
Well this Saturday is my next run, the Catoctin 50k in Frederick, MD. Training since my last race has concentrated on speed, heat and some hill work. I was comparing some times from Feb and recent speed work I did, well I was a bit surprised to find I was running slower! I guess I should not be surprised, I've really dropped the ball on speed work for most of the year and have concentrated on long slow runs. I've read comments on the Ultra mailing list that long slow running makes for long slow runners. So for the past few weeks I have been doing some road runs and pushing the pace to try and up my speed. Of course there has been some serious heat lately, I've found I'm not real fond of running in it, but I've made it a point to get out and suffer through it so I'm not blindsided by the heat during my next 2 runs. My second run this month Aug 26th will be my first 50 miler, the proximity of this weeks 50k to it is of some concern so my goal for the 50k is to just treat it as a training run and take it nice and easy. I want to be as prepared as possible for the step-up to 50 miles. After the 50 miler I'm running the Army 10 miler in October with a friend of mine and then the Mountain Masochist 50 miler in November . Depending how well I recover from this months 50 miler I will have to decide on my final run of the year. I have in mind running Hellgate which although the 2006 date is not on the website I assume will be in early December. Hellgate is a 100k night start run, sounds like a lot of fun and would be a great capstone to my 2006 ultra running year.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Had a great day at the 12th annual Rattle Snake 50k this past Sat. After my flame out at Highland Sky I was in need of a soild run, and thats what I got. The day was perfect and the 10 hills passed like the wind. I ran the first about 18 miles or so with a veteran ultra runner named "Bill". My stratagy was to run a nice easy pace and Bill ran like a perfect metronome. There came a point where Bill had to make a nature call just prior to decending the next hill so I passed him and decided to pickup the pace and see how I felt. With lots of fuel in the tank I finished off the last 2 hills at a quick pace and passed about half a dozen people. I was about to pass a couple more when I twisted my ankle about 2 miles from the finish. Oh well so much for a blazing finish, I slowed my pace a bit and with less wind in may sails settled for a less dramatic finish of 6:41. This is a great course, I love the hills and the volunteers were all great. Next up is Catoctin 50k trail run in Frederick, MD August 5th.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ok my fist DNF is in the books, I've spent a lot of time working out in my head just what lead to me dropping at the 4th aid station of the Highland Sky Trail run on June 17th 2006. And it comes down to 2 main failures:
1. I ran too fast for the course with my current level of training. This was not so much that I could not go the distance, nor even the elevation gain ( All of the courses big hills (2) are in the first half which I completed). No it was the rocks that did me in. I ran at a speed that was usual for a course with some rocks roots etc, but this course was literally all rocks, I don't think (after the first couple miles) that I was off the rock more than 10% of the time. I have trained on rocks an my ankles are not too bad, but in this case the steep downhills on rocks were brutal. Fatigue set in leading to me to roll both my ankles quite of few times and taste the dirt (fall) 4 times, l should have slowed sooner but it seems once I get going its hard to switch to a lower gear and by the time I was forced to, I was so toasted it was over.
2. I had a nasty blister form under a callous on my left foot and I was feeling some nasty pain, 20 more miles of that was not looking to be fun.

Ok have I whined enough? 145 people started 125 finished so there were plenty of others that survived, I just have to face it that I was not tough enough on that day. Kudos to all that were.
I WILL be back next year for this race, much wiser and better prepared.

Rattle Snake 50k is up next on the menu July 8th in Charleston, WV, I plan on going out slower and focus on completing the distance.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The day before
Tomorrow is the Highland Sky Trail Run, I have big expectations of this run fueled by all the positive comments from the ultra mailing list. My longest long run was 2 weeks ago at 30.77 mi. on trails around Canoe Creek State park which is a mere 1/2 mile from my house.
I feel very fortunate to live so close to some nice trails in this park. One loop around the lake is a bit over 6 miles which is just right for doing multiple self sustained loops for my long runs. I park my car along my route and stop to refill my water bottle and refuel etc as needed. The lake is now open for swimming and my next long run is going to end with a dip in the lake ;) .

At this point the weather outlook is pretty good, although 79degrees is getting on the warm side I'll take it over rain and mud which I had to deal with during the first 3 ultras this year.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Endure
Found a new online training log called "We Endure" Pretty nice interface, very clean. They have a site badge available that you can post on your website, it gives a snapshot of your recent activities. I've placed the badge on the right sidebar here if you have any interest in what kind of training I'm doing. We Endure website is here

Monday, May 15, 2006

2006 Capon Valley 50k
Well Ultra run #4 is in the bag, 4 50k's in as many months it seems like I'm on a roll. With only a 2 week break from the previous 50k (Promise Land) I was probably pushing it but did surprisingly well with a 5:38 finish, 36th out of 102 finishers. Next up Highland Sky 40 mile run in June ;)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Running Again
Well I ran my second ultra run this past Sat., the Holiday Lake 50K++. Last time I ran that far was back in 2003 at KUTS in Kentucky. Had a good run this time, lots of rain/snow/mud made the finish that much sweeter, and hopefully prepared me for my first 50mile run scheduled next month (March) back at KUTS.