Saturday, December 13, 2014

Flowers Festive 5k

 Short Version. I won !!!

 I returned this morning for the final 5k of the year in Flowers Plantation. The course was altered from the one we ran at the Turkey Trot three weeks ago to make it easier to understand and avoid the confusion that caused quite a few folks to go off course but by doing so it added a few more hills to an already hilly course.

  The weather was a bit warmer in the low 40's making it about perfect for running fast. I'm not sure how many entrants there were today but there were fewer and the cross country boys didn't seem to be here as I sized up the competition.

 As we started I was immediatly in the lead but I could hear footsteps close behind. This first mile was identical to the one before other than the start hard been moved about 200yds up the road on a slight hill. Since I don't race  the short stuff too often and haven't done any speedwork in several months I can't judge my pace at these faster speeds too well these days. As we began up the first hill I was already feeling the effort and in my mind I was thinking there is no way I am going to run 7:09 like I did three weeks ago for the first mile.

  I could hear the footsteps a little closer but I never looked back.   Finally hit mile one going down a hill and I have to admit I was shocked but pumped to see it was a 6:51 !! Oh yeah !

  But then of course we headed uphill and I was already making my death groans and gasp and I could tell the guy behind me was gaining on the hill. The course leveled out and then down another short hill and I opened the gap a bit but then back uphill and the footsteps were getting louder again. He didn't catch me and as the course got easier again I just put the hammer down and pushed. In a couple of minutes I could no longer hear the footsteps and was hoping I had broken him because I was really hurting but I didn't want too back off. I knew I had a shot at a big improvement and I wanted every second.

 We made a right turn onto the new section of the course which was an out and back spur. Down a hill and then up a hill and then I hit mile 2 in 7:25.  A big slowdown  but that was a very tough mile and it was still 20 seconds faster than 3 weeks ago. Just downhill from there was a u-turn and I was not happy to see that my gap on 2nd place was not as big as I had hoped. I tried pushing up the hill but it was hurting so much and I was about to get nauseous.

  I tried to gather myself on the down for the next hill but I could hear him gaining. We turned and had a short steep down hill and then the mountain loomed ahead. A very steep tough hill with half a mile to go . I  could hear him getting closer but he was hurting too. I was bracing myself for the inevitable pass. I thought I was going to throw up and I wanted to back off so bad. 2nd place to a guy 20 years younger than me would not be bad and I was still ahead of pace. But I'm just not wired that way. As the gradient of the hill finally eased off some I begin to channel my inner Honey Badger. I could hear Laura's voice in my head saying to surge now and break him. And it worked. I kept him from closing the gap anymore and as soon as we made the final turn and a nice easy downhill I put the hammer down one more time and the footsteps behind quickly faded away.

   A slight 200 yard uphill finish and I sneaked a peak over my shoulder and no one was there. Woohooo !

  22:26 which is a 40 second improvement over 3 weeks a go on a tougher course ! Something is working in this comeback !

 Stay tuned. Big things coming !

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Some thoughts on getting in the Western States 100 for 2015

 I just wanted to share a few thoughts on my luck in the lottery and finally getting into Western States and after this I won't be talking about it again until the Spring. I have other important stuff to focus on for awhile with the training before I can even start to plan on WS training.

   I know a lot of you share my excitement but a lot  of others don't. The race certainly has it's detractors and there is a lot of criticism of the race for various reasons. Yes, the entry fee is very high and a lot more than than any other ultra I have every done. Yes,  I have done  many races a lot cheaper that offer a great value  and even some FA events are fun and  have great organization.

  And yes there are more scenic races but WS is still a beautiful place. It's certainly not thetoughest course  but it is a very difficult challenge. And yes getting in is difficult but with so many people wanting to get in and the restrictions on the number of runners it is the best way to insure that as long as you qualify that eventually you will get your chance. It is what it is.

   So why is it so important to me and why the excitement to get in ?


  I began to run in June 1977. In September of that year I found a copy of Runner's world magazine and it had a short report of the race. Keep in mind that at this time my longest run had been 3 miles and I had never known that average guys like me could run in road races. I was almost in dis-beleif that anyone could run that far but I was intrigued with the idea of ultra marathons. A few years later and after  a lot of miles and my first marathon I was reading more about ultra's.  The old Racing South magazine would cover some Southern Ultras including Strolling Jim and several others and I learned of the now legendary Ray Krolwiecz. And in 81 or 82 a new magazine called Ultrarunning started and I subscribed to it for a year. And I even sent a SASE to David Horton for an entry into the first Mountain Masochist 50 miler ! Good thing I didn't enter because I would have had no clue what I was doing.

  But after that first marathon I decided to stick to the shorter distance stuff, 5k to 10 milers but I still loved to read about the marathons and ultra's. I remember that ABC's Wide World of Sports actually did a special for two or three years covering Western States.

 Well many years passed and then I found myself with an ACL tear playing soccer in 1998. I had not been doing a whole lot of running in the decade of the 90's and had lost my comptitive fire a long time before. But after the injury I realized how much  I missed running and all I wanted was to be able to run again. Fast forward a few years and the knee was doing great. On a whim I entered the 2002 Holiday Lake 50k thinking that I had always wanted to run an ultra so why not now. I caught the ultra bug an did my 1st 100 in 2004 and put my name in the lottery hat.

 I finally got in for the 2007 race and as you that know me are aware I blew it. There was no reason I should not have finished that year other than I made stupid mistakes. I didn't run another 100 for another 4 years as I felt I needed a break from the longer ones until I entered and finished at Tahoe Rim in 2011. I was now ready and eager to gain my redemption at WS. 4 years in the hat and now i will finally get my chance to get the buckle that I have been thinking about for 37 years.

 Stay Tuned.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Training update thru Dec.7th 2014

 It's been a month since the last update. My focus over this past month has just to slowly build my mileage back to pre-injury levels and have some fun doing it. I was already commited to running the OBX marathon and Derby 50k races long ago so I have just used those as long training runs.

 It hasn't all been easy running though. I have continued to throw in a few hard workouts along the way. The best ones have been a couple of Fridays where I was finally able to run with long time friend Laura Frey. She is way too fast for me for my normal paces but on her easy recovery day I can get in a good tempo pace ! So we have gotten together for a couple of those and hopefully we can continue to share these workouts whenever it fits our schedules. It was nice to have Pauline join us this past Friday for the fun.

  I also ran the 5k before Thanksgiving for fun and as a test to see where my speed is at right now. That went better than expected. The crosstraining is going great and I am still doing lots of core, body weight and free weight stuff at last 6 days a week.

  Now that Derby is behind me and I have had a week to recover it is time to  go into the final training for my Boston qualifying attempt at Wrightsville Beach on March 22nd. I have a 5k this coming weekend again and then The Ocean Isle Beach Half marathon in January but other than that it is all focused training for the marathon for the next 14 weeks. After the 5k this weekend it is time to get some speedwork done !

 Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Derby 50k 2014 or the streak continues

It's been going on long enough now to call it tradition. If it's Thanksgiving weekend it is time to head South for the Derby 50k. This year I would be going for my 11th consecutive running of this little gem of a race in the tiny Richmond County Community. ( The race crosses into Montgomery County each of the 3 loops).

   Over the years I have set pr's, run with friends and sometimes suffered but always enjoy the great atmosphere of this low-key Mangum Track Club Event hosted by Mark Long and some awesome volunteers. It's a 3 lap course in a very rural area with rolling hills so although it is a bit challenging it can provide an opportunity for some fast times as well as be an event for first time ultra newbies and each year there is a good mix of first timers and veterans. I arrived around 7:15 and spent the time before visiting with many friends that always seem to be there.

  Coming into this years event I knew going in that a pr was way out of the question  since I am not back to 100% from the injury and it would take that at this point for me to have a shot at it. So my plan this year was to have fun, get in a good long endurance workout and hopefully not crash and burn. But I am a bit of a dreamer and miracles do sometimes occur so I was ready for anything.





  The weather this year was looking perfect. Start in the mid 30's and warming up to about 50 with only slight wind.  I lined up with the idea of just running how I felt, no pushing the pace but no walking either for the first lap and then re-assess the situation. I started off easy over the first hill just past the start and then settled in to my comfortable normal easy run pace on the gentle down hill to the mile mark. I was a bit surprised it was about 8:40 since it felt a lot easier than that.



  Everything was feeling good and around the 1.5 mile mark I fell into pace with Mark Johnson, Justin McLamb and Walt Robinson. We were having a great time chatting as the miles passed quickly. I had no need for anything from the aid stations so I just kept cruising on by and feeling good. Just past aid station two, Justin and Mark began to pull away and I had no desire to chase them and wear myself down so Walt and I continued on sharing the beautiful morning. I was still feeling pretty good  and the pace was a bit faster than my pr pace. We ran the mile long hll from 8 to 9 in a decent time but by mile 10 I could tell I was going to be in trouble if I kept up that pace. 



  As we came into the first lap I stopped at my car just long enough to grab my water belt and a protein drink and walked through the aid station while I drank it. Walt had gone on ahead so I was going to be spending the remainder of the day alone as things were very spread out by now. I am not always the smartest in these ultra's but I headed out on lap two planning to run/walk the hills and hopefully not blow up. I was getting a bit tired and had another 21 miles to go. I had about a minue cushion over pr pace but that would be gone quickly !



  A mile later I was getting a low battery message on my garmin which surrprised me since I had just charged it two days before and not used it. Oh well. I continued on doing the run/walk as planned. Nothing was hurting but I was a bit tired. Passed by aid station  one and stayed only long enough to take a gel and moved on. Same thing at aid station two. Going up the mile long hill was a lot harder this time around and slower with the run/walk but I go it done.  I finished up the lap same as before with a quick stop for another protein drink and drank it while Mark re-filled my water bottle.



  As I headed out on lap 3 I was a bit surprised to have a bit of a resurgence of energy and a little zip in the legs. this was a good feeling so I just went with it. My pace over the next couple of miles was close to what I ran the first lap but then of course I was still doing some walking on the hills so I was going to be a lot slower overall. Stopped at aid station one again just long enough to take a gel and thank them for being there and then took off  on Sycamore Lane, may favorite section of the course.

  I tried to run as fast as I could on the slight downhill and passed the marathon point in about 4:23. I was quite happy with that because that was 25 minutes faster than my time at the OBX Marathon just 3 weeks earlier and I was still feeling pretty good. But I was slowing down by the time I hit the dirt road. As I came into aid station two for the last time I took a gel , thanked them and headed out saying I only had 5k to go and anyone can run a 5k right ?

  But there was that mile long hill into a slight wind to contend with once again. It was slow but I got to the top and it was mostly easy cruisng from there. I ran strong to the finish in 5:22:48 which was good for 19th out of 69 finishers and 16 minutes faster than my time last year. My last lap was actually 3 minutes faster than lap two so that made me happy too.

 As always, afterwards I went inside to enjoy a delicious sphagetti dinner provided by the local church ladies and  visit with friends that had finished.

 Once  again a wonderful way to spend the Saurday after Thanksgiving. Thanks to Mark and the volunteers and if nothing happens I will be back next year for # 12 !

 Thanks to Kevin Spradlin for all the pics.

 Stay Tuned !

Monday, December 01, 2014

Flowers Plantation Turkey Trot 5k

 Since Frank and Karla moved into Flowers Plantation, I have participated in several 5k races in the neighborhood put on by the club at FP. Well actually the first one we ran before they had actually moved into the house last year. They are pretty small low key events. I think the first one had around 20 people and I won  and Karla was first woman ! But they have been making an effort to get more people out and do a better job of organizing the runs. I like coming to them and use them for workouts and visit with the Werners for awhile.

  They have changed the course  a bit each time I have run it but all are within the neighboorhood and no matter which way there are going to be some hills !

 This year for the Turkey Trot they had 79 runners and walkers entered on a cold 25F  but beautiful morning. I checked in and then did my usual 1 mile warmup about 30 minutes before the start. Then about 10 minutes before I do a little jog and a few pickups to race pace. I must say I was not feeling too spiffy and having done no speedwork since the early summer prior to the injury I was not expecting too much. I did have a goal of at least running 7:30 pace but I knew even that was going to be tough with the hills.

  We lined up for the start and a brief course description and we were off. The is a slight downhill for about 100 yards and then a bit of a climb. Not steep but enough at 5k pace to slow things down and I didn't want to go anaerobic this early so I didn't push too hard. Experience pays off here because quite a few folks took off very fast. As we crested the small hill and hit the flats I counted 11 in front of me but it was obvious that some of them were already  hurting. I slowly moved past a few of them and by the half mile I had moved into 5th place with just 4 high school xc boys in front of me.

  I settled in and could hear someone close behind but just focused on my on pace. I must say I was a bit shocked to pass the mile in 7:09. I haven't run that fast since Spring mile repeats and it felt a lot easier than I expected. Shortly afterwards I could tell the runner behind had lost contact. The 4 boys were well in front but in sight so I figured I was going to end up 5th unless my legs starting bothering me causing me to have to shut it down.

  Still feeling good and pushing the pace we turned and went down a steep hill which I knew was just as steep and longer going up having run it a few times in the past including a couple of training runs with the Werners. It was hard going up but I tried to push as hard as I could and as soon as I topped out I tried to pick up the pace again.

  I hit mile 2 in 7:41, not too bad with the climb but I had hoped for a little better. this is where it got a little confusing. One this portion of the course it the road is divided by a meian with some tall shrubs. We passed through the start finish area and continued up a bit of a hill towards the gate house. In the past a couple of the races have made a right turn here but I saw no sign. Problem was I hadn't noticed any of the guys in front of me going back the other way and I tried to peer own the hill at the turn but didn;t see anyone so I went on and made the turn at the gate house. I still couldn't see anone in front so I crossed back over the median to make sure no one behind me was turning. It looked like they weren't so  I continued   on straight and as i passed through the S?F area once again i slowed and asked to make sure where to go. I think all the hesitation and crssing the median cost me 10-15 seconds but I took off on a mission to run the last mile as fast as possible. It was  a race after all.

  Well I was still running strong but then things got weird. It is a half mile to the other gate and turnaround and as I made the turn I saw no one behind me. There were several ruuners within 100 to 200 yards when I made the previous turn so where were they?   I kept  looking but didn't see any for awhile and then noticed a  couple about to turn and go the wrong way back where we had turned after the first half mile. Then as I passed through the  traffic circle I saw a woman coming from the other direction going all the way around it again ! I just kept going, ran mile 3 in 7:30 despite the confusion and finished in 23:06 a bit faster than I had hoped for.

 I then went straight to the guy with the clipboard recording bibs and asked what place I was. He had me in 10th ! Good thing was that they all knew I was clearly way ahead in 5th and the runners knew they had shorted the course by turning before going all the way to the gate. And it didn't affect my age group win. Actually I technically won every age group but the 19 and under !

 Other than the course mix up it was a fun race for me. I and several others that did the full course measured it at exactly 5k. They are going to have chip timing and a slightly altered course for the Christmas 5k and hopefully more volunteers to help keep everyone on the proper course. I will be there hoping to improve a little and use it for the kick-off of my marathon training.

 Stay tuned for more action !

Sunday, November 30, 2014

OBX Marathon # 7

 Things have been going well with the comeback from the injury since last months marathon in Verona and although I am still a long ways from being back in shape to racing a marathon I was at least hoping for a faster time and a lot less suffering !

 I made the drive down on Friday afternoon as always and made it before dark and enjoyed a quiet evening and checking out the sunset on the beach.

  Saturday was another peaceful quiet day with a little sight seeing and a trip to the expo. I did get up early enough to head over to the start of the 10k to met a new facebook friend and see if any other of my local friends were around. Saw Rebecca there volunteering and talked to Greg for awhile.After the start I headed out for breakfast.

 I was up early on Sunday morning and had a waffle while talking to some other runners. My kilt was already a big hit with several comments before I even left the hotel for the shuttle. Wearing the kilt here has been a tradition the last few times and is always good for getting dozens of comments over the course.

 I rode the short shuttle to the race start where I met up with Karla and saw several other friends. The plan was to run with her once again in what would be our 15th marathon together. She had met a woman on her shuttle named MaryAnn.Tthey were discussing pace for the race and we decided to all run together. She was going to do a run 7minute walk 1  minute strategy. This would be very close to what we used running to each kilometer mark in Verona  and so we hoped it would work again to get us to the finish and maybe without me suffering this time !



 Things started off as planned and we were having a great time talking and the pacing was working well. MaryAnn was keeping up with the timing of the intervals so we didn;t have to worry with that part.

  After about 5 miles and feeling ok we were joined by Dave Blanchard, a man I had met at a few ultra's before and he is a guest at the same hotel the Werners stay each year so he joined in with our group. Around mile 7  I noticed Karla was dropping behind a little on the run segments, She had only run about 9 miles since Verona so this was going to be a tough day for her. I ran along with Mary Ann for a while but then dropped back to stay by Karla. I was feeling ok but oddly enough I think I felt better in the early miles in Verona than I was today although the pace was nearly identical.


 We continued on like this with Mary Ann calling back to us when to walk and she would wait for us to close the gap before running again. Once we made it to Nags Head Woods I was beginning to feel a little better. Karla and I decided to modify the run walk timing and use gravity as our choice as to when to walk but by the time we got to the steep single track turn we were still  all four right together. We reached the half at almost the same time as Verona, just a couple of minutes slower due to the hills in the woods for 3 miles but now we had flat for the next 10 miles ahead.

  We resumed the timed intervals again but Dave and MaryAnn continued to pull ahead of us so we just let then go but Mary ann would still turn around and tell us when to run and when to walk as they were not too far ahead. Karla and I just continued to try and enjoy the day. She was tired and just wanting to get it done. I was feeling a lot better but no way I was going to leave her behind today.

 We finally came close to the bridge and just past mile 22 when it was time to walk I asked her if she just wanted to keep running until we got to the bridge and walk then. She agreed so we ran on and passed the others. Surprisingly we ran about 90% of the way up the bridge and then with just a short walk break continued running down the other side. MaryAnn and Dave both went by us and from that point on pulled ahead of us a good distance to the end.

  Karla and I were still running and I was feeling pretty good so I told her to just let me know if she needed a walk break and otherwise we would keep going. She agreed and we only took one more short break all the way to the finish.  Our time of 4:48 was 18 minutes faster than at Verona and instead of suffering and cramping like I did the last 10k there, here I was feeling good, finishing strong and could have easily kept up the pace for awhile. YAY  for getting back in shape!



 Very happy with the way things went and the progress being made. And very happy to share the race once again with Karla !

 Stay tuned, more good things to come !

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Training update thru 11-2-2014

 It's nice to finally be able to post a training report and actually have  some  run training to talk about again. After the Marathon in Verona Oct. 5th I took off a couple of days and just did the tourist thing until I did a 3.4 mile run the morning of my flight home for one more look around beautiful Peschiera Del Garda. Things were pretty hectic the next few days and I was very tired from jet lag but  I finally got back on track on Sat. the 11th when I met up with Lisa for  some miles . A very slow 8.6 but you got to start somewhere.

  From that day things have gone very well. I only missed one day of running over the next 3 weeks. Mostly easy runs and not too long as I want to be smart about getting back to normal again. I did get in a few faster paced workouts just to test things out. A short session of mile repeats went much better than expected and I was a bit surprised I could reach that speed already. Another run at half and marathon race pace this past week also went very well. I got on the hills a few times too and felt strong. This past weekend I finally got in a longer run returning to Umstead for a loop and had a good amount of zip even going up steep B. My mileage is back to the mid to low 30's per week so far.

 I didn't get in much cross training in Italy although I did get some  of my single leg squats and bridges done. Gotta keep working those to keep my glutes strong ! Since returning I have been doing them 6 days a week and I got right back to the normal routine alternating days of core and body weight and free weight stuff, sometimes twice a day and I'm as strong as ever there.

 I also have been back to Stiner Massage a couple of times since the return. The injured hamstring is 99% now and he worked some magic on a painful psoas and some stuff in my other leg from the cramping at Verona. His work and the exercises combined have me back on track and confident I will be racing for that marathon pr and BQ in the early Spring as planned.

 Stay Tuned ! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Verona Marathon 2014

 So, How did I end up running a marathon in Italy? I have to thank my friend Margherita Bonfante Scott for that. She was going to be running her 100th marathon and wanted that special milestone to be done in her hometown with family and friends. When she asked if anyone wanted to go I was ready to jump at this chance of a lifetme to travel overseas for the first time with her as our interpreter and tour guide. I will have another post about the trip soon but for now lets concentrate on the race.

 Well back up a little. When this came up I was in the best shape I have been in years but as I mentioned in the previous post I had been injured since mid July and as the trip was approaching I was not even running at all and it was looking like I would just be a tourist and spectator instead of a participant. In desperation and thanks to John Stiner massage as I mentioned before, just three weeks before the race I was able to run for 3 miles. One more visit a week later and things had greatly improved but with a total of 24 miles in the three weeks leading up to the race and a "long run" of 7 slow miles the week before I was woefully under prepared to run a marathon .

   Even before the injury I had planned on running the race as a fun run and enjoy the scenery and share the miles with my regular trainng partner Karla. THE Marathon Princess who was also along for the trip with her  husband Frank. Now it was going to be a survival run. Just try to get to the end and not damage anything along the way. As it turned out Karla had been having some foot issues and was way behind in her training also which as sorry as I was that she was not in shape at least now we could still try and run together.

  We arrived at the start in plenty of time on a morning that turned out to be much warmer than we had hoped for and with the 9am start it was already in the upper 60's. The three of us lined up together. Margo was hoping to run well and if things went well break 4 hours. Karla and I were looking more at 5 hours plus so we wished her well and didn't even try to stay with her as the gun sounded .

 Ok, back up a little. Verona like most of Italy has a very long and ancient history and the race started in the shadow of the 2nd largest and best preserved Roman coliseum in the country, just one of the many sights along the way.



 Now back to the start. Since we were both out of shape we came up with a plan to run/walk from the beginning, something we really don't like to do in marathons but a neccesity in this case. With the course marked in kilometers we decided to run to each marker and then walk for one minute and then run to the next kilometer and repeat as long as we could.

  Did I mention I was dehydrated? Yes, being a tourist I really wasn't keeping up with my normal hydration in the days leading up to the race and like a dummy I didn't even think to take a water bottle with me on the drive over and while waiting for the race to begin. This would play a part in the final outcome.

 Back to the race  !

 Ok, we started running through the city on an out and back spur to one of the old doors to the city, a structure built during the middle ages as part of the walls surrounding and protecting  the city.    It took a few minutes to get warmed up but we made it to the 1st kilo marker and sticking to the plan begin to walk. It was still a bit crowded and we tried to stay out of the way and soon enough it was time to run again. We ran back to the coliseum where we could see Frank and Tony taking pictures and then the course turned away from the square. A bit of cobblestones now for the next couple of miles as we ran by the Castelvecchio.   We ran over the Victory Bridge where just before as we were kidding about watching our step, Karla nearly went down when she stubbed a toe on a cobblestone ! Glad she stayed up !




 We turned behind the castle and it got a bit confusing. It looked like runners were going over the fortress bridge and into the castle but when we got there we figured out it was just the 10k runners and we were suppose to continue straight. We hoped we were right ! Apparent;y some people did get confused because over the course of the day we saw at least 20 people going in the wrong direction, some walking and some running with bibs from all 3 races.




 We got to the first water stop at about 5k and being thirsty already we were disappointed to see they we not prepared for us ! We decided to keep going and hoped things were ready at the next one. We were already very warm and working up a sweat. The next 5 miles or so were alongside the the river Adige.  Things were going well, we both felt pretty good, my hamstring was holding up well and our pace was better than expected even with the walk breaks.

  The kilometers were pasing by and we were having a wonderful time as always when we run together. No better way to share the experience than with your  #1 long time running partner. This was our 14th marathon together since the time I paced her in her first back in 2005 at Myrtle Beach ! Some nice views of the river and outskirts of town along this section. It was mostly a gradual downhill along the river and I was already thinking that meant at some point we were going to have some up hill. Nothing steep but  more like a 1 to 2 % grade.

    Yes, the next water stops were well prepared with lots of volunteers and good size cups. Around mile 8 my hamstring begin to remind me it was not yet completely healed but not hurting enough to cause much concern. The run/walk strategy was helping with that. Soon we made a right turn away from the river and soon found ourselves running along the vineyards.  After about a mile we made another right turn heading back to the city with gorgeoous views of  Vineyards and Villa's  of which the pictures I took do not do justice.



   We were both feeling great and way ahead of the pace we had expected. We crossed over the river and the course we had run earlier as we headed back to the center of the city and could then tell that the course was mainly a double figure 8 with a couple of out and back spurs at the start and finish. Before we ever got to the split for the half and full marathons we were passed by the lead Kenyan at what for him was the 37 k mark. I estimated that at the pace he was running that his finish time would be upper 2:13. lower 2:14    and I was right. There was no one with 2 miles of him !!

 We hit the split and headed back out for our 2nd trip around the course. We had noticed that there were no port a potties on the course and both of us needed to take a pee break so we were paying close attention to find a spot. Nothing for quite awhile so we moved on. The hamstring was still doing ok. Every now and then it would scare me for a minute or two but then the pain would go away again. The run walk pattern was still working and we passed the half mararthon in about 2:20, a good 10 minutes faster than we had expected. Our pace while running  was still decent and consistent and I was now thinking if things continued to go well we could finished in 4:45 to 4:50 instead of the 5:30 ish we had feared we would do.

 Finally around mile 16 we found a patch of woods. We had to climb up a short steep embankment to get up to it and after finishing our business we ran for  a couple of hundred yards on a single track trail back down to the road.

 Soon we were making the right turn again away from the river. I had noticed the first time around that we didn't see some of the kilometer markers for the marathon and I was thinking maybe they had to add some distance to make up for the 1st loop not going all the way back to the start. It was Karla that soon noticed that we were going up a long fairly steep hill that we didn't on the previous loop. We were getting tired so we decided to walk  it.

  Once we topped out  it was a turn back toward town but this time on a long gradual downhill with breath taking views of the surrounding countryside. We took advantage of this and ran all the way to the bottom instead of walking at the next kilometer mark. I was getting tired though and it was right after that the wheels started coming off around the 20  mile mark.  I told Karla  that we should cut back to 2 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking now but I was soon struggling to do that so we walked for a full minute.

  The kilometers were slowly clicking off and if we could hold that pace we still had a shot at about 4:50. Karla was definitely feeling better than  I was and at one point I said  in my pitiful exhausted voice, "sweetie I need you back back off the pace just a little". At this point I just wanted to hang on and get it over but with about 4 miles to go  both calves and my right hamstring begin to feel like cramping before I could finish the 2 minute run portions and now was doing as much walking as we were running. Things were getting pretty miserable for me and I was feeling about as bad as I ever have in a marathon. I really appeciated Karla staying with me. She could have easily pulled ahead  but she wouldn't leave me.

 With 2 miles to go my legs were a mess and I saw a bench so I asked her to stop and let me stretch for a minute. That just made it worse so we shuffled on ahead. Soon we were back on the cobblestones and I was worried about falling now. I could barely run 30 seconds at a time now without wheezing, gasping and cramping. I knew it would probably be bad but not like this.
  What a relief it was to finally cross that finish line. All I wanted was a place to lay down and die. Many of Margo's friends and family were there to celebrate her 100th but I was in no condition to celebrate or be socialable.


 But we got it done. Margo had a great race finishing in 3:58. Karla and I were 5:06 but she could have probably gotten in around 4:50. We have been through some tough ones  together over the years and it was far from our slowest at least and considering how under trained we were I guess we didn't do too bad afterall.

 A very good race with a nice course which I would recommend to any of my friends looking for an international marathon.

 Here is a link to  the few pictures I took in the race

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Training update thru 10-1-2014

    Yes it has been awhile since the last update and that is mainly because there was really no training going on. Just a few days after the last post in late July I had a lot of pain  in the sitbone-upper hamstring attachment area. It had been bugging me for awhile but had gotten a lot worse. When I began my first speedwork to start off the final phase  for the BQ attempt I had to shut it down due to pain and tightness which prevented me from a full stride.

  I went for a massage the next day which didn't help and really hurt a lot. Then on  Thursday  at the NCRC social run  I was in a lot of pain. I  I took off a few days and then had another massage on Tuesday. The next day I met Amy for some easy afternoon miles. Things went well for a couple of miles and then suddenly I had some sharp pain in the  left hamstring. A couple of walks and stretch breaks but it got worse and I was limping. Finally had to let her go on as I walked /limped back the last half mile. I was now really screwed up.

 The next few weeks were just frustrating. Every few days I would go for a test run and would usually have to shut things down within half a mile as I could tell the hamstring was not healing and about to get worse again. Finally by Labor Day I was able to run 3 miles with Karla at the Flowers Plantation 5k but I shouldn't have and I was right back to where I was before, in pain and not able to  run more than half mile after taking off a week at a time between test.

  I of course had to skip flying to Erie for the marathon and later that week in desperation I went to see John Stiner at Stiner massage. He has worked on my friend Laura Frey and he had an idea what the root cause of my problem was before I met him.

  The first session lasted 2.5 hours , mostly testing out nearly every muscle in my body. I won't go into all the details but he said the main source of the root cause of my injury was that my glutes were not firing and he prescribed some exercises to fix things. I was feeling much better the next day and went out for a test run. I was amazed at how much range of motion I had with the butt attachemnt more relaxed and I did a fairly quick 3 miles with minimal pain and the hamstring although it still hurt some never felt like it was going to seize up or tear.

    As you may know I had my trip to Italy and the Verona Marathon coming up on Oct 5th  and I was very frustrated thinking that I would not be able to run at all, never mind trying to do a marathon.  I went back to Stiner Massage  again the week before my trip. In the meantime i had gotten in a few runs with minimal pain including a 7 miler with Karla the Saturday before leaving for Italy. Slow but we got it done.

  I need to mention that although I wasn't able to run for most of August and Sept, I was desperate to do something so I joined Planet Fitness so I could at least do something cardio. The elliptical was tolerable and didn't seem to hurt the hamstring so I did it a couple of times a week. I tried the exercycles but they hurt the butt. My favorite turned out to be the stairmill. Started a love hate relationship with it. It didn't hurt my hamstring at all and I soon found myself in a friendly competition with Laura which we dubbed Stair Wars ! 30 minutes to see who could climb the most floors. Those workouts were like tempos at first but as we reached higher and higher they were more like all out 5k races leaving puddles of sweat and gasping. The people in the gym thought we were some kid of freaks ! I have been doing core and body weight stuff as well as some free weights for nearly 2 years now but as I found myself with more time and access to the gym I started adding more weight sessions and using some of the stuff at the gym to add to my core routines. I have gotten much stronger over the last two months now.



  And so, with some rest, some cross-traing and thanks to John Stiner's magic and knowledge of how the human body works I am about 95% pain free and able to run again. I was able to run  if you can call it that in Verona but that is another story coming up shortly. Stay tuned !

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Training update 7-20-14 and whats coming !

Well, in a way there wasn't all that much training the past two weeks since two weeks ago was mostly a mini taper for Grandfather Mountain Marathon and this past week was a recovery week.

 I did have  a nice 4 mile tempo run the week before and some nice miles with Karla. But overall  I cut back on the mileage and no doubles. And of course I guess you could say all running is training for something and I believe the marathon and then the hill climb to Fire Tower will both make me stronger for whats coming.

 This past week I took two days rest on Monday and Tuesday although I did do short versions of my cross-training. Wednesday was in one way the very best run I have had in 6 months. Yes, it was a strong 6 miler on a hilly course on what should have been an easy day but this one was more for the heart and soul than the body. It was totally unexpected but I am so thankful for it :)

 Finished up the week with a few more easy runs and had a wonderful 12 miler on Saturday with Karla and Laura.

 And now with Grandfather behind me it is time to get serious about the next big thing which will be my Boston qualifying attempt at The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle on Sept. 14th. I have 8 weeks to go so I just have to hope that all the miles this Spring and Summer so far have me with a strong enough base. More details to come but for now it's a week to ease into the speedwork and a 5 k next weekend, then  5 weeks of speedwork and marathon pace running and a two week taper.

 Stay tuned

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grandfather Mountain Marathon 2014 .And a little extra !

 I had another nice trip to the mountains in July for a fun race and a little escape from the heat of the flatlands. Arrived in town about 4 pm Friday and took a little drive as far as I could go on the "fire tower" run that Bobby Cordell runs frequently. More on that later.
 I came back down the mountain and went for packet pick-up where I saw several friends and then headed to the Meigs cabin for a wonderful dinner with their family and a lot of the Zap Fitness staff and athletes.

  Arrived at the stadium on race morning about 30 minutes from the start and spent the time visiting with friends before lining up on the track. It was comfortable in my singlet which meant it was a bit too warm but nothing I can do about that.

  I thought I was holding back the first mile but it is all flat or downhill and I passed that first mile in 8:12. Too fast but it felt like a jog so I didn't worry and just relaxed and slowed down a little for mile two. Shortly after that is the first climb as we turn onto Winklers Creek Road and I would get an idea if the 4 hour attempt was going to happen. Mile 3 was 9:10 so I  felt good and decided to go with it. Only problem is the first one is the easiest.

 Over the next couple of miles I was feeling good and running well on the downhills and on the less steep parts of the climbs but when it got steep I just didn't feel I had the power to climb as strong as I hoped and needed.  I was losing too much time on the climbs and although I  made up some time going down it is a losing battle . You just can't make up as much going down as you lose going up and with a lot more up than down on this course you can't afford to lose much cushion. By mile 8 I was pretty sure unless I had a miracle surge of energy on the next 2 mile climb that the attempt was over.

 Well I felt ok but just too slow. I passed by the 10 mile mark where I have stopped for a photo every year since 2008 when I ran with Laura MacLean but just kept going. Too bad I had no Angel to run with and get a photo because for the first time in years there was a clear view of Grandfather Mt. And I was already about 4 minutes over goal pace.

  From mile 2 to 10 is about the hardest part of the course and it is possible to make up a little time so I was still hoping I could at least get close to 4 hours. Maybe run a time to match what I ran on the long course. But when I got to the little climb to the Parkway just before mile 11 I had to take a walk break and just wasn't feeling too good. I did see Tim Meigs there and he had a camera so I had to run for the picture before walking the last little bit to the aid station for water and a gel.

approaching Parkway aid station near mile 11



 I felt better once I began the 2 mile downhill portion of the Parkway. I was running strong but not bombing down it and had a good mile 12 split. No mark at 13.1 but best guess was I went through the half in about 2:02:30. Not bad but as I began the 2 mile climb up the Parkway I was not feeling too good and the sun was bearing down on us. By mile 15 , a very slow one that had turned to a shuffle as I exited the Parkway, I was feeling pretty bad and started walking the steeper hill to the Hollowell Road Aid station and the beginning of the gravel section. Margo passed me looking strong and I knew she was going to have a great day for her.

Halfway


  Thanks Sharon and Ricky Scott for the pic halfway.

 I was really struggling the next two miles having to take a lot of walk breaks, running slowly and I walked all of the steep hill up to Hwy 221. That's when I posted on FB that I was in for a death march. I was very disappointed of course and really didn't want to suffer for another 9 miles and watch very slow miles destroy any chance for a decent time.

 The first 1/2 mile of 221 continues at a fairly steep grade so I kept walking until it leveled out a little bit and began to run again. And surprisingly I felt pretty good.  A resurgence of energy came from somewhere and I was actually running pretty well. From that point on I only walked a little bit on a couple of sections of the mostly uphill 8 miles to the finish when the grade would kick up a bit steeper for awhile. I was relieved and my attitude improved greatly as I felt so much better and knew that at least I would easily get my 2nd best finish time in 9 attempts here and could enjoy the end a little bit instead of wallowing in pain and self pity !

  It was definitely a relief to finally reach MacRae Meadows and the sounds of bagpipes and drums. I ran strong up the last steep hill to the track past quite a few friends and then as usual when I circle the track in the kilt I get what seems to be a lot of extra cheers from the crowds attending the Highland Games. Number 9 finish in 4:24:40. I'll happily take that.

 It felt good to go back down to the marathon tent, change out of my sweaty clothes and hang around with lots of friends and meet a few more sharing our stories.  Margo had done great as expected and was 3rd in her age group in 4:12. Lisa was out of shape and knew she was in for a long day so after awhile I walked back up a ways so I could see her coming. It was a relief to see her finally come into view and getting it done. Soon after she changed we were able to ride back to Boone with Dale And Alan and not have to wait on the double shuttle. Much more comfortable and great company visiting with old friends !

 Which brings me back to the beginning of the post and Fire Tower.   Bobby runs this course just about everyday, sometimes more than once and has gotten so strong on climbing It is 3.3 miles to the top and gains about 1590 feet ! Amy had been up there and run it a couple of times and I had hoped at some point to go do a training run on it with fresh legs, preferably  with her but alone if necessary. Well, I never made it up there so I decided a couple of days before the race that I would run up it on Sunday am afterwards. Probably not the smartest thing to do on dead beat up legs but who knows when I would get back up there. And besides, I'm Ultraman ;)

  So I contacted Bobby  to clarify the route for me and I was very happy that he was excited and willing to run it with me. So  we met at 7:30 at the Earthfare lot and headed up. I was very pleasantly surprised that I was feeling no real soreness from the marathon and as we began to run I just had the normal stiffness I have for every run. Only problem was the climbing starts after just the first tenth of a mile so no time to loosen up or get the blood and breathing settled in !

  We had only been a short distance when I was already breathing like I was racing a 5k  and things were only going to get steeper. What had I gotten myself into? Bobby was telling me about all the people he knows that have tried and many bailed before the first mile , others have suffered and turned before 2 miles and all that have finished have resorted to a run/walk at some point.  I had expected I would have to walk a lot but now I was determined that wasn't going to happen and I was feeling a lot better than I expected.

 But then the road got just ridiculously steep and for at least a mile my heels never touched the ground, just up on the toes digging and climbing as I tried to keep my breathing under control.  Bobby was chatting away the whole time but I just kept focused on the ground in front of me, not looking at the never ending hill in front of me and would answer him occasionally with a word or two that I could muster between gasp. The first mile was 11:59. The next half mile was just ridiculously steep but I kept digging. We finally made a turn and the grade eased off. It was weird because it was still about a 6% grade but after what I had been doing it seemed flat and I was able to run strong. Mile 2 was 12:27.

  Then at mile 2.2 ish it just got horrible. A turn up a steep gravel drive and I thought I would have to walk but sucked it up and pushed . After a short distance we had to bushwhack for a couple of hundred yards before hitting another steep gravel road. When will it ease off ! I'm dying here ! It finally did slack off the grade a little just before I was going to keel over but now we got onto a rough rocky 4 wheeler path. Soon I could see a tower but it was a false hope as the trail got steeper once again and we still had half a mile to get to the rock and the big cluster of towers still out of view.

 We made that steep climb and then had a little bit of an easier section and I picked up the pace determined to do the best time that I could. Passed mile 3 in 13:17 and then one final push,  a steep climb and then a bushwhack through the weeds and woods to the rock. Bobby let me lead the way there to be first to arrive and run the whole thing. I reached the top of the rock in 41:01. !



 Rested a little bit and took some pictures before the  quad crushing descent back to Boone. Awesome ness ! Thanks for the tour, the company and the encouragement Bobby !

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grandfather Mountain Marathon Preview Part 2. The plan

I'm feeling pretty excited for this years race. OK, I still get excited for most races so that's nothing new. I always look forward to a good time and making memories even when I'm not in shape and fortunately this year I am in good shape and hope to put that to the test this weekend.

  This was not originally planned to be a fast attempt although I had hoped that someday I might have one shot at finally getting that sub 4 hour on the course with no detours and it looks like things have come together this year to make it happen. I have had a pretty heavy training load all Spring and got right back into the training just a week after Boogie and I have had some really good quality runs so it was easy to make the decision to go for it even though my training has been geared toward Sept.

 So with that, I plan to go out at an easy pace and hit the first climb just past the 2 mile mark and see how I feel and if I do  and I expect I will feel good then it is on !



 So wish me luck. See you at MacRae Meadows in less than 4 hours or bust !

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Grandfather Mountain Marathon Preview Part one , my history.

 A little hard to believe but I will returning for my 9th trip for the GMM this weekend. I made my first run there in 2003 and it was my 2nd marathon since I began  to get into the long distance races. I had been aware of it and looked at the results going back to the late 70's when I first began running and I have to admit I was  little intimidated by it. This will be the 45th year of the race making it the oldest marathon in NC and there are not too many that have been held that many years in the country.

  I was a little disappointed to find that first year that due to a bridge being out that we would have to take a detour and I would not be running on the historic course for most of the first 10 miles. Instead we stayed on the highway all the way to the Parkway at about mile 8 and then joined onto the regular course just past the 10 mile point. It was a bit warm and humid and I ran under the circumstances a pretty good race for me in 4:41:52  , just 8 minutes slower than I had run in Richmond the previous November. That included a lot of walk breaks and hamstring cramps in the last 4 miles.

  I returned in 2004 and they still had to re-route us on the highway.  I was slower that year in 4:47:20 with the usual cramps and bonking toward the end.

 I skipped 2005 because of a trip to the Vermont 100.

 By 2006 I was in a whole lot better shape after training so hard to get my Boston qualifier and running my marathon pr in February. I was brimming with confidence, the weather was better and I had a goal of breaking 4 hours. We were finally able to return to the original course for the first 10 miles but then had to take another detour because of a bridge replacement on the Parkway ! I was actually able to run the first 11 miles with Laura Mac The Trail Angel but she was picking up the pace way too much for me so I had to let her go to keep from blowing up.  My race went great until I realized  that all the mile markers on HWY 221 had been replaced and I could still see the old ones about .6 miles later. Well sure enough I got to mile 26 in 3:56 and  was no where near the stadium ! Turned out with the detour the race was about 26.8 miles and I would have been 3:58 but instead have an official time of 4:04:08. Grrrr.

  I skipped 2007 because I didn't want to run it worn down from Western States .

 As you may have noticed I have no pictures from those first 3 races but started running with the camera after that.

 In  2008 I was struggling with hamstring issues off and on the whole year and had dnf'd the Boogie in June after just 10 miles of pain so I was not in great shape and just planned to run slow and easy and try to have fun. At least I would finally get to run the real course  !  Just before 2 miles I started running with Lori and Camilla and was having a great time with them. Then somewhere past the 5 mile mark I saw Laura walking ! I knew she had been sick a couple for weeks before so I started walking with her. She said she was having trouble breathing so I spent the rest of the day making sure she made it to the finish ok and we had a marvelous time. We were too slow and the hard cut-off was 5 hours then so we didn't get to cross the finish line but just as we entered the track we were stopped in 5:07
That was the year the tradition of getting a picture with my training partners at mile 10 begin ! Laura was the original Trail Angel and the first to have the picture taken with me there.

 Here is my report form that year.  A link to more pics in that report.

 I was back again in 2009 and this time I was finally able to get Karla to come give it a try and Lisa was along for the trip too. This would be my 10th marathon with Karla. I was in my comeback year and had just completed my 1st Ironman 3 weeks before so I was just hoping I could stay up with the girls. The track was closed so yet another alteration to the course had us running a lap around the parking lot at the start ! We did have a great time but I fell behind at mile 24 or so and couldn't catch up fighting calf cramps. finished in 4:49:15.

  And here is the 2009 report  with link to more pics

 In 2010 I was back in good shape and came up with the crazy idea of doing the first ever double Grandfather. Karla and Lisa were along for the adventure with me planning to run marathon # 11 with her. Lisa was going to do her own race but the two of them would provide support on the return trip as soon as they could get back to the car. Jenn was along too  and would take the shuttle to the top and run the 2nd half back down with me.
 I had a lot of fun running the real race with Karla and we finished together in 4:56:24.

 It was hot on the way back and tough but I got it done with the wonderful company Jenn provided.
 Here is a link to that report and some pictures and video if you have a lot of time on your hands !

 I skipped it again in 2011 to run the Tahoe Rim 100 ! That was awesome !

 I returned in 2012 but this year I knew I was in for a struggle. I was very worn down from the Boogie 100k and the dog bites and antibiotics and had been struggling the week before just to finish my normal easy runs. On top of that it was a terrible warm 100 % humid morning most of the race and I did struggle !
 Here is the report
 from that year. 

 I was finally back in good shape for 2013 and this year along with Lisa my friends Margo, Amy and Jenn were all along. My plan was to run the race with Jenn since this was her first time actually running the race after doing the reverse course with me in 2010. I was hoping we could all stay together at least until mile 10 for the traditional photo spot. We did start together but by mile 4 Amy and Lisa were falling behind and  I knew they were in for a long day. I was feeling great and having a wonderful time just cruising along with Jenn. We kind of leap frogged with Margo and luckily we were together at mile 10.
 Some where around mile 14 margo pulled ahead for good and had a great finish. Jenn and I contniued to have a lot of fun and although she slowed toward the end we had a decent time of 4:41:42.
  After getting some gatorade I headed back on the course to go find Amy. I was feeling great and thinking it would have been a good year to have done the double ! I found Amy and she was happy to see me. It had been a bit of a rough day for her but she ran strong all the way the last mile to the finish and I was able to get my 2nd picture of the day on the track !
  here is the report and pics for 2013


Well that brings me up to date. Stay tuned for the this years preview and report.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

training update 7-6-2014

It's been two weeks since the last update so I thought I would fill you in on what I have been up to.

 Quite a bit of training actually. The last week of June I had a 64 mile week which is well above average and right on my goal of getting into the 60 per week range over the summer. That included another great hill workout at the Art museum with my fastest average splits times ever on a warm muggy morning. I had 2 days with doubles including a fast run on Umstead single track, something I haven't done in awhile. Ended up the week with a solid 18 miler on hills.

 Then this past week I hit 64 miles again. Mostly easier pace stuff in hotter weather early on in  the week but I got in  a 9 mile hill run in Umstead, 3 days of doubles, a progression/tempo run and then solid back to back 10 milers on the weekend. It was a pleasure to be able to share many of the miles over that time with Karla and an added bonus was having Lisa back with us for one, some rare miles with Margo, a couple of 10's with Laura and a guest appearance with Maureen for an hour of one of the long runs. 

 Along with the running I was able to work the cross-training pretty hard with just one day off.

 The next week I will be doing a bit of a mini taper with the Grandfather Mountain Marathon coming up on the 12th.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE REMAINDER OF 2014

After the awesome 1st half of the year I am looking forward now to an awesome 2nd half but it will be a bit different. and quite a bit different than I had plan back last January when I was making the schedule for the year.

  As I mentioned in an earlier post after the disappointment at Myrtle Beach  and with the marathon training going so well I began to look at more opportunities to not only get a Boston Qualifier but a marathon pr. To do so would require some changes in the schedule so here is what the new plan looks like.

  July

 As expected  nothing else came up so I am looking forward to one of my favorite weekend getaways to Grandfather Mountain Marathon. I'm kind of hoping to take a shot at a sub 4 this year but that decision will probably be made depending on the weather and how I feel when I hit the first climb just past the 2 mile mark !

 August.

 I have no plans but training hard although I may jump into a 5k  if I can work it out.  It would be good speedwork and I haven't run one now since last August.

 September.

 This is one of the biggies. Heading to The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle for a BQ attempt. With the odd timing of this one coming in the middle of the Boston entry period I have a long shot at actually getting in to the 2015 Boston after all if I run fast enough. Back in January I thought I was going for another 100 miler pr this month but that changed with the decision to chase the marathon pr.

 October.

 This is a big one but in another way. Heading overseas for the first time ever to run The Verona Marathon in Italy with a group of friends. This one will be just for fun and I will take my time and take lot of pictures along the way.

  Then the last weekend of the month I am returning to the NCRC event, The American Tobacco Trail 10 mile. I ran it the first year it was held 8 years ago and I will tell you I will be very disappointed if I don't run much faster this year !

 November

 This is another change from earlier plans. I thought I would be going for the 24 hour pr at Croatan but decided against that and will return once again to The OBX Marathon and have some fun with my friends again. This is one  that I will probably wait to decide how I will run it. I have never had a good race here but I have had a lot of fun the years I ran with Karla. Next year I will definitely be running it with her as it will be the 10th and the anniversary of us running it together while she was still undergoing radiation treatments. So if the weather is good and training is good I might be trying one more time to "race it" this year.

  Same thing later in the month when I return to my 11th straight Derby 50k. Run it easy or go for the 50k pr while I am at it. That would give me 3.5 months to get ready for the big pr attempt next year.

 December.

 As usual nothing but recovering from Derby and training.

 Well that's the plan . Stay tuned and see what really happens !



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Training update 6-21-14

  Well, it has been two weeks since the Boogie 50 miler and I'm thinking maybe the recovery is at least complete enough that I can now begin to focus on the big goals that are coming up over the next several months. I took a few days off and then eased back into  things for the first week but I did resume the cross training a little earlier but went a little easier on those the first week too.

  This second week I eased my mileage up about to normal again and will probably finish up the week with 50 miles and those were under some tough conditions with mornings in the 70's with super yucky humidity and afternoons in the mid to  high 90's. Even under those conditions I was able to get in some quality running and the longest run was just a 12 miler..
   
   My next goal is to run well at Grandfather Mountain and it works out great that my main focus in the training is hill work for the next few weeks anyway. I made it over to my favorite place for max effort hill repeats at The NC Museum of Art which is a perfect spot with two challenging hills  opposite of each other and both near exactly 1/4 mile. I was very happy to nail the workout and had some zip doing it. The rest of the miles this week went well too.  I did a cut down run on Thursday am and then on Friday I had planned to run easy but it turned into another cut down run but itwas still easy ! I did do a double on Tuesday and hopefully if time allows I will being increasing the doubles to at least two or three days a week over the summer.  I also did some 20 second strides on two of the runs this week and plan to continue squeezing those into at least two or three runs per week or either hill sprints depending on where I run.

   I was also back to normal with all of the cross training although due to time restraints I skipped Thursday. I was still able to get in 6 workouts for the week so I am happy with that.

  If everything goes well and according to plan I hope to get in between 50 to 60 miles a week over the next two weeks and focus on the hills again and a little pace work.  I also hope to get in at least close to a 20 miler next weekend.

 Well, that's it for now. I'll update again in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2014 review of the 1st 6 months.

 I have nothing else planned for June so I guess it's ok to go ahead and post a review of the first half of the year and WOW, what a first half it has been.  I was a bit worried as the new year began after struggling with the upper hamstring issue for most of the last half of 2013 but despite that I was able to maintain a high level of fitness and once the injury was finally over I was quickly able to go right back into a high level of training.

 And train I did in January. No races with the focus on getting ready for Myrtle Beach and I was having a lot of fun with a lot of great workouts even though a lot of those were done in some really yucky cold and wet conditions.

 February brought me to Myrtle Beach in great shape and confident in a good attempt at the PR. I was running great and on pace for most of the race but steady winds in the upper teens and 20mph range with gust into the 30's made it tough and mostly a headwind the last 7 miles were too much for me. A good time of 3:49 under the conditions.

 March 1st , just 2 weeks after  MB and I returned to the Umstead Trail Marathon for the first time in many years mainly to use it as a training run for the upcoming 100. It was a near perfect day to run and I was surprised at how well I ran and even just using it as training I improved on my course pr by about 5 minutes boosting my confidence even more.

  Just two weeks later and I was in the Tobacco Road Half Marathon. With the way things were going I was hoping for a  1:40. Well, it was another perfect weather day and even after the two recent marathons I felt fantastic and ran 1:39:03, my fastest half in 8 years !

 April and finally it was time to go for the 100 mile pr at Umstead. The weather was about as good as could be hoped for and the support of so many friends and volunteers made it a special weekend. Everything clicked and I got the pr by an hour and seventeen minutes and never had any problems for the entire distance.  Although I normally don't use pacers I make an exception here so I can share the experience with my closest friends and had some wonderful company with Laura MacLean, Lisa Howell and Karla Werner making the pr all the more special.

 May started off with a trip to the OBX and my first running of The Flying Pirate Half Marathon. With the great races leading up to it I was hoping to run about 1:40 on this course but a combination of warm weather and lingering fatigue from Umstead and I struggled the last 5 miles slowly falling apart. Oh well, every race can't go perfect !

 And then lees than 2 weeks later was an amazing adventure as I made a venture into the unknown at 3 Days at the Fair, a 72 hour race in NJ. Having never attempted a multi day ultra before I had no idea what to expect especially after the first 24 hours and 100 miles and really no idea how many miles my body and mind could handle. I set a rather lofty goal for myself and kept focused on it the entire 3 days. Amazingly I was able to achieve my goal and added a mile for icing on top of it for a total of 211 miles.

 June and most years that means it's time to Boogie. I had a goal  of running it to set a course pr. I finally figured out that under the conditions and toughness of the course it is not a pr course so just the pr for a Boogie would make me very happy. My confidence was high that I could do it with the way the past year had gone but the only question was how much the beat down just three weeks before in the 72 hour race would be felt. Well, I did have a tough stretch in the middle miles but overall had a very good race and i was able to get that course pr by 32 minutes and finished 16th of 97 starters.

  So there you have it. One of the themes I have had for the past  couple of years is to try and amaze myself and I am certainly doing that. My love and passion for running and racing is stronger than ever and I plan to keep working hard and racing hard and have a lot of fun along the way moving forward.

 Thanks for reading and your support. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The next phase or how I plan to train for the marathon pr attempt

I have come close to a BQ a couple of times in the past year but nowhere near the pr but with good weather I think I would have been close at Myrtle Beach this year. Within a couple of days after that race  I had decided to go forward with this plan, and  I have been thinking about what I need to add or subtract from what I am currently doing to push it to another level.

 First thing of course is to drop the ultra's so I can  be doing the training on fresh legs and a body not worn down from the long races.

  Over the past several years my mileage has been fairly consistent with just shy of 50 miles per week. I am ahead of that pace already this year. I hope to build from that to at least 60 per week and if things go well I'd really like to get into the 70 per week range at least part of the time. At least during the summer I will be padding the miles with adding a couple of doubles  each week with some morning runs to supplement the normal afternoon runs.

 As far as the types of workouts I'll be doing, the stuff I did over this past Winter seemed to be working really well. The 4-5 mile tempo runs at 10k to 10 miler pace seemed to be very effective. And lots of marathon and half marathon pace runs. I really enjoyed the hybrid workouts I made up on the fly. They were tough but made me tough mixing tempo and race pace stuff into the same workout. and of course mile repeats and some 800's too.  I like to do a wide variety of stuff to keep it fresh and work on all facets of my running.

  I will also be adding a little more hill work especially in the next few weeks of June and July. I like variety here too. I do some max effort 400 hills and some longer but more relaxed pace too and as part of my speedwork will be doing some short hill sprints. I also will be doing more strides a couple of times a week on my regular runs. I do these every now and then but have been inconsistent.

  And of course the cross-training. Over the past year and a half now I have been alternating core and body weight workouts at least 6 days a week and adding some free weights about every fourth day. I plan to continue that but will be tweaking it a little bit too.  I plan to add some more lower body stuff like lunges and squats and dead lifts and I'm thinking of  adding  circuit training workout  in  place of one of the others once a week. We'll see how that goes.

 So first up after finishing up this recovery week from the Boogie I  will be getting the mileage back to normal, adding a couple of doubles and began hitting the hills and adding more strides. Next race is Grandfather Mountain Marathon so now is a good time to get strong on the hills. I will probably make a decision on the fly at GMM on just how I plan to run it. If I feel good in the early miles and the weather is a little better than the past two years I may try to go sub 4. Otherwise I'll just have some fun and use it as a long training run.

 After GMM the focus will be on the race pace workouts with the first real test coming at The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle on Sept 14th. I hope the weather will cooperate and I can attempt to get a BQ and see how close I am to the pr  The big target is at Wrightsville Beach next March 22nd but that is a long way off. I'll keep you updated of course with the training and racing in the meantime.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ultraman has left the building..... temporarily.

  Yes, I have decided it's time to change my focus, training and racing  and the new plan doesn't not include any ultra's for awhile.

 Ok, let me explain. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, after failing to get any faster at the marathon in 2010 and 2011 I had given up on ever coming close to my Pr of 3:35:15 set in 2006 when I was 50. and it made sense in a way. You are not suppose to get faster once you get my age. So I decided to quit chasing after that goal but felt like I still had a shot at a 50 mile and 100 mile pr if I could just get everything to fall into place on the right day at the right race. And that became the focus of my training leading up to the 2012 Umstead 100. As you may recall lousy warm humid weather de -railed that attempt.

 It was right after that race that Amy and I began to train her to get faster and get a Boston Qualifier. I had no plans at that time to go to Boston but our qualifying times were about the same so we could train at the same paces.  I knew from past experience in 2005 and 2006 that I ran most of my best ultra's off of marathon training so it seemed reasonable to do the hard workouts with her while focusing on my ultra's. Of course over a period of a few months  things were going great I began to feel that I actually had a legitimate shot at going for the marathon pr and added that to my list of goals.

  Well, a couple of attempts and I fell short, most recently at Myrtle Beach due to the very windy conditions. But as I shared , I do my best ultras during the marathon training and it proved to be true again. During the training I shattered my 50 mile pr last year by an hour. and then this year after MB I have knocked an hour and seventeen minutes off of my 100 mile pr. and then I have just followed that up with a dream goal of 211 miles in  3 Days at the Fair and a course pr at the Boogie 50 miler. And also during that training period I have raced my fastest 5k in over 20 years and my fastest Half marathon since 2006 !

 Ok Joey, then get to the point !

 Well, the point is after running MB I had already decided that I was going to give myself every chance to get myself one more marathon pr before I turn 60. It already seems ridiculous to think I can do it at 58 but I have the confidence in myself that I will do it. I had planned on going for a 24 hour pr in the Fall and also another 100 mile pr but those plans were change after MB and the schedule has already been changed. I have already gotten the ultra pr's I wanted and now it's time to concentrate on the marathon.

  I know it is a difficult challenge I am facing but I thrive on the challenges and training for them ! I also know that in order to do it I need to drop the ultra's for awhile. The recovery from them  just
doesn't allow  me enough time to train properly and I think that is the edge that I need to reach the next level. 6-8 weeks is just not enough time after an ultra so they are out of my life for at least the next 10 months. Ok, yes I still plan to run Derby at Thanksgiving as always but it is seriously just a  long marathon and it will be an over distance training run.

  I could just wait until after September and slow down and still get a BQ due to aging up for the 2016 event but this is not about Boston. It's all about the pr and actually I want to go sub 3:30 so there you have it !

 Actually this is time away from ultra's is not without precedent since I began ultras in 2002. After Derby in  2008 I went an entire year without running an ultra before returning to Derby in 2009. The big difference this time around though is that in 2008 I was struggling with painful nagging injuries for the entire year and after taking 5 weeks off completely from running or biking, I began a slow re-building with biking swimming and just a little running as I returned to triathlon. After doing the Ironman Couer D'Alene in June 2009 I once again  returned my focus to running. This time around not only am I not injured but I am in my best shape probably since my mid-30's !!  And I am hoping that fact is what will allow me to push the barrier back just a little more before time does finally take it's toll on me an my speed.

 So that is my announcement for the next phase of the runner formally known as Ultraman. It will be awhile before you get to follow along on any of my crazy ultra adventures but don't worry there will be more to come. Hopefully I will get lucky in the lottery and a year from now will be in the final days of training for The Western States 100 and if not I'll be looking for a qualifier to keep my name in the hat. And there are still so many more challenges out there I want to do. They will just have to wait awhile.

 Stay tuned and I'll have an outline of how the training and racing the next 10 months will be looking like.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Boogie 2014.

 I was coming into the race this year full of confidence that my course pr from 2011 was going to fall based on how well my training and racing have been going this  first 6 months of the year. Of course I did have some  reservations about that with the lingering effects of the 72 hour race remaining as an unknown until I actually got out there and put things to the test. The weather forecast was looking like it would be about as good as can be expected for a night of Boogie.
 the start.



 I lined up near the front and while everyone was wondering exactly where the starting line was located Doug yelled go so we just took off from where we were standing. My plan was to run well within myself the first lap and not get over-heated knowing that after the first lap we would be in the shade and the temperatures would begin to slowly drop. It was about 86-87 but that is mild compared to some years. I fell into a comfortable pace and enjoyed some light conversation with the runners around me in those first few miles.  I have to say that as I approached the house where the Devil Dog attacked 2 years ago I had a bit of an adrenaline boost but no sign of him around.

 We came around the first 6 mile loop and I was pleased and a little surprised at the pace because it felt easy. I stopped at my car which I was using as my personal aid station and took a gel and refilled my water bottle . The water at the aid stations is pretty nasty here every year so I had brought my own. In fact I never stopped at the aid stations but once the entire race and I'll tell about that a little later in the report. Normal aid station fare just doesn't have much appeal to me any more and whenever its possible I provide most of my own nutrition.


mile 6


 I was quickly back out on the road and headed down the hill. This is about the only time in the race  on this out and back spur that you get to see the runners in front and behind you in the daylight to know who they are. Lots of friends and familiar faces and lots of encouragement along the way. I ran strong up the hill and finished the lap a couple of minutes faster than I had planned and feeling good while looking forward to no more sun and cooler temps.


 As I headed out for lap 2 I stopped at the car once again and slammed a Carnation breakfast shake. I found these to work better than the Kellogs that I used at Umstead because these do not have the 5 grams of fiber which lets just say adds up to way more than my body can tolerate in a 24 hour period !
Refilled the water and off I went. Still feeling good and moving well but I was having a bit of foot pain, so far the only thing I was feeling left over from 3 Days. I also noticed my ankle tendonitis which I have had since before Umstead 100 was being bothered by the camber of the roads, ,especially in those first couple of miles each lap so I was trying to find the flattest part of the road as possible.

 Lap 2 was rather uneventful. By the time I was  down to the river it was getting dark and I was having to keep my mouth shut to keep from eating so many bugs along the swampy area. I was not running with a light and as I was climbing the hill I was surprised at how many people were recognizing me and offering words of encouragement and calling my name. I could hardly recognize anyone but I did at least know most of the voices !

 BD Sechler caught up to me just as we crested the hill and we ran the next 6 mile loop together. These were some of the most enjoyable miles of the night but  I think as we got caught up in the conversation we ended up running a lot of the spots we should have been walking !  As we finished the lap I stopped at my car as he went on to the aid station. We had planned to continue on together but I was never able to catch him. I found out later he had dropped 4 miles later.

 I had been feeling very good but as I took off down the hill things began to turn on me quickly. I was feeling tired, my hip flexors were aching, the pounding was hurting my feet and the ankle was flaring up and I was forced to take several walk breaks going down. Still lots of runners speaking to me in both directions in the dark. We did have a nice moon, just over half of one that was offering some good light but still nearly pitch black along the tunnel of trees by the swamp. By now it had cooled off into the low 70's but it was slimy sticky feeling as the humidity continued to rise. A haze in the sky prevented many stars from being out at this point.

 I made it back up to finally complete mile 30 in a slow disappointing time for the lap and took time for a pitstop and then another re-fuel, refill stop at the car and hoping I would feel better now. But, I continued to struggle and things just kept getting worse. I was  breathing way to hard, having to take frequent walk breaks on the easy downhill grade that I normally run the whole way. Life was beginning to stink for me and I was doing a lot of moaning and groaning. It was not going to be much fun to have to go on in this condition. I knew I could keep going but the motivation was fading.

 With half mile to go before reaching the dog pen aid station I was telling myself, ok get it together. Think what you need to do to try and turn this around and be prepared when you get there. I finally shuffled in and immediately sat down and asked for some chips. That was one thing I knew was missing was any sodium other than the little bit in the  gels. After about 5 minutes I got up and grabbed a cookie to go to tide me over until I could get to my car.

  After finishing off the cookie I started to run again and in a few minutes was very pleased that I felt  a whole lot better, running all the sections I normally do. No more gasping, moaning and groaning. I just hoped that the feeling would last. When  I  got to my car I was ready for the rocket fuel so I downed half a bottle of pepsi in addition to the gel. As I headed back down the hill I was very pleased that the hip flexors were relaxed and not aching nearly as much and once again I was able to run all the way down and to the turn. The only real problem was that the feet were still not liking the pounding. I was able to do some decent running coming back up too and I knew now that I could make my goal of a course pr even if I walked the remainder of the evening.

 As I came through for mile 40 I could see that I had lost an awful lot of time in the those first 4 miles of the previous lap and my other goal of a sub 10 hour was going to be nearly impossible but I decided to give it my best shot and keep pushing. As I headed out on that last lap, it had cooled down into the mid to upper 60's, still slimy humid though. but the haze in the sky had cleared and more stars were visible now as the moon was getting low on the horizon.

 Crusied by the dog pen and took a gel from my pocket and thanked them for being out there all night for us and moved on. Really enjoyed the now nearly star filled sky along the former dirt road which is the best part of the course for sky-watching . Although tired I was still moving well or at least it seemed that way and I pushed on in hopes of getting that sub 10 finish. But , when I made it back around to the car and just a hair over 4 miles to go I saw my time and the reality was there that I had no chance of doing it. My pace and perceived effort in the dark just didn't match up and I was moving a lot slower than I had hoped. More pepsi and off I went to get it over with. A huge pr was mine now and I thought to myself no need to push it but it's just not my style. As long as I was able I would go for as fast a time as I could.

 Fortunately I did feel good but tired. As I ran all the way down once again I was making up stupid rhymes and making noises in rhythm to make the time pass and keep my mind from telling me to slow down or walk. And then I was at the turn and just two miles to go ! Anyone can run two miles I told myself, but then usually 2 miles don't include 1.4 of Bethel Hill  ! I did run as much as I could, more than the past few trips up and then I could tell as I reached the last little pitch before the curve when you can see the lights of the church. And just at that moment as the church came into view a meteor flashed by to my right seemingly just above the treetops burning brightly ! That brought a smile to my face and then  a minute later I crossed the finish line. I was so happy that I had been able to turn things around and feel so much better the last 16 miles or it could have been a real suffer-fest and  I probably not have attained my goal.

 I chatted with the folks there and got my mug while my heart rate dropped and then it was time for me to drop and do 50 pushups. Tada ! Time of 10:14:11 and the course pr by about 32 minutes. 97 runners started out of 120 that had signed up and  of those, 50 finished the 50 miles and I placed 16th overall . Another 32 got credit for 30  miles and I guess that leaves 15 that were dnf's before reaching at least the 30.

 Thanks to Doug and Brandon and all the volunteers  for another awesome version of the Boogie !