May 29, 2006

ODM 100 Ramblings

Swiping an idea from my friend Anita, here’s my Top 10 List of stuff from this past weekend’s Old Dominion Memorial 100-Miler.

10. Stopping to give directions to two young guys looking for an ATV trail, then seeing the shock on their faces when I answered their questions about “are you in a race or something” with “yeah, about 55 miles into a 100” and “we started at 5 a.m. and will probably be done around that time Sunday.” One kid said, “Dude, we think we’re crazy. We KNOW y’all are.”

9. Managing the seeming last-minute course change with a nod, a smile and a trip out to Fort Valley to drop one of our coolers. Went in thinking two 25-mile out-and-backs with nine aid stations per segment, only to find out at the Friday afternoon race brief that it was really three 16.67-mile out-and-backs with four aid stations. So instead of two up-and-overs of Woodstock Tower, we got three. No, the race Web site course info was never updated. Yes, the entrant list was. Some people at the pre-race knew about it because they had called beforehand. Look, it’s a 100-miler. Stuff is gonna happen. You gotta adapt.

8. injinji socks RULE! I wore the tetrasocks version of these glove-like wonders for the entire 100 miles of this paved road/gravel road course and got no real blisters. One tiny one on the back of my left heel. Stopped once to clean out my shoes. First race I have worn them in. Consider them an essential piece of equipment in the future.

7. An impromptu mixture of Red Bull and Lipton Green Tea with Citrus. That stuff is pure rocket fuel, and tasted yummy all three times I mixed it, even at midnight.

6. Twinkling stars in the nighttime sky as my buddy Bob and I power-hiked through the little burg of Detrick around midnight. Just me, a good friend and the gentle sounds of our footfalls on the pavement. Pretty peaceful.

5. Ice-cold rags at the Ballpark Aid Station. A true godsend during the heat of the day, and a reminder that simple pleasures often mean the most.

4. Equate chocolate meal-replacement drink held up great as the staple of my nutrition plan. Knocked down six cold cans of it throughout the day. Supplemented with a couple cups of chicken noodle broth, some Fritos, a little Gatorade now and then and the Red Bull/green tea combo. No drop-off in energy the whole time.

3. Hearing the melodious call of a single whippoorwill around 2 a.m. on the two-mile uphill climb out of Fort Valley. Even if I would have been having a rotten time, that would have snapped me out of it.

2. Dumping my chicken noodle broth into my hand-held bottle and bolting out of the 83-mile aid station after a 10-minute stop so I could move out with my new friend California Mike after Bob had decided that it’s just not much fun for him when the inadequate combo of his flashlight and lack of moon had reduced him to just walking. I would have been OK hiking in with Bob. On the other hand, helping Mike reach a first-100-mile-finish dream was pretty cool too.

1. The smile on Mike’s face when we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand at 23:42:53. You said you never would have broken 24 hours without me, Mike. Your legs. Your big heart. Thanks for letting me share the ride.

May 26, 2006

pre-OD jitters

Will it be hot? Will it rain? How will it be at night? Will my stomach hold up OK? Will I finish? Will I suffer? Will it be fun?

Tomorrow is the Old Dominion Memorial 100-Miler. Two out-and-back treks from the town of Woodstock up and over into the Fort Valley. All road. No trail. Big, steep 2-mile road climb followed by a more gentle 3-mile drop happens twice. Rolling hills the rest of the way, basically.

For this one, I am bringing my own supplies. Typically I just eat and drink whatever the race provides. This time, I am going for it supplies-wise. Green tea, Equate meal replacement drink, pineapple juice, Fritos, gummies. Will be worth it tomorrow and Sunday, but so far it has just been a whole bunch more things to think about.

This one is definitely not Umstead 100, my fave that I have finished seven times. Umstead is comfy. OD Memorial is raw. At Umstead, there are 200-plus starters and cots if you need a nap. Saturday there will be 35 starters. Maybe.

Will this weekend be the most difficult running thing I have done? No. Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 took me 34 hours. And the 71-mile Massanutten Ring Trail took me just less than 23. So no, I don't expect ODM to be harder than those. Different, but probably not harder. Probably not. Like I said, lots of unknowns.

Am I fit? Totally. Am I nervous? A little. Am I excited? Absolutely.

May 16, 2006


This is Sherman, our 8-year-old labbeaglechow. He is equal parts master of the house, keeper of the peace and love hound.

We rescued him from an abysmal setting up in the nearby mountains less than a week after our 13-year-old red Husky Darr died. As I sat on the tailgate of my pickup in a K-Mart lot on that sunny Saturday afternoon shortly after we plucked Sherman from his birthplace, I promised him, in between plucking ticks off him, that we would give him all the love we could muster.
After two flea/tick baths this same day, we wondered if he would ever come to trust us.

Eight years later, his love is as strong as it was that first night he fell asleep in H's lap. And he is still No. 1 in our hearts.

May 14, 2006

shining stars

Originally uploaded by runningetc.
Here are two shining stars in my life.

Ben is 6, a bundle of energy and curiosity, a constant reminder to me that the future is now and that this next moment right here in front of us is to be spent in full engage mode.

Niece Meredith is fun loving, way smart, strong in her faith, a sheer joy to be around. Her angelic soprano voice moves me to tears whenever she sings (see this morning at church!). She'll be a JMU sophomore music major next year, so we have three more years to see where her sweet talent and rock-solid work ethic take her. What a fun ride it is gonna be.

May 9, 2006

Will run for beer

Found myself doing laps around the Memorial Hall track Saturday for 2 hours, 30 minutes. Run 8 minutes, beep goes the countdown timer, walk 2 minutes, beep again. Repeat.

Sounds excruciatingly boring, but really I was loving it. Nice breeze. Could feel the heat radiating off the track surface. There was enough coming-and-going activity with a few walkers, a few soccer players, the ocassional runner and then even a military helicopter landing (no, not a hallucination: JMU's military science/ROTC folks are there and, well, it WAS graduation Saturday so ... )

Anyway, I hit a terrible bad patch about 1h45m into the run. Feet hurting. Left knee talking. Breeze stopped and, although I had been sucking fluid from my Camelbak the whole run, I was getting overheated.

That's when it hit me. "OK, look, here's the deal: Make it to 2h30m and you get a quart of beer. Stop before that, and you go home a whiner." A few minutes later, I was sailing again. Those final 40 minutes were by far the best of the run.

Amazing what the body can do when the brain gets out of the way.

Wonder how Will Run 4 Beer would look as a tattoo?

May 3, 2006

hmm ... wonder where this will lead

Been thinking of doing this for awhile, so here goes. Should be an interesting little journey. Hey, that could be the tag line to my life, really.

Maybe I'll uncover the answers to some of this life's most nagging questions. How come drivers never seem to go to the far right when they pull across a median and are turning left? Would I trade in my leather-football ultra running feet for a cast-iron ultra running stomach? Why do some people ALWAYS hit "reply all" when the response only matters to one of the 15 people on the list? Or maybe not. Guess we'll just have to see.

Anyway, stop in now and then and see what's up. Maybe some of it will surprise you.