November 21, 2009
October 14, 2009
Pacing Potts at Gstone ranks in my Top 3 all-time trail experiences. Right up there with when me, Quatro and Mike Bur did that Double Rivanna. And when me and YOU did that Promise Land in the thunder and lightning and downpours and mud in 7:55 a mere five days after you did that Boston Marathon. Those are def my Top 3.
Potts was simply amazing at Gstone, M. I got him at the Wild Oak parking lot at 66 miles at 10:15 a.m. I'm thinking RUH-ROH, my boy is waaaaay too fast because Wild Oak parking lot at 10:15 a.m. is 24-hour pace. Oh dear. This is gonna get butt-ugly. I'm thinking, oh boy, my job status just ramped skyward from Pacifier Holder to Honest-To-God Pacer.
So off we go. We climb Lookout Mountain and Potts is struggling. We get to the Mile 72 aid station and he rallies a little. Cute, happy girls there. They bring out the best in Potts. About a mile farther along, he is in a bad way. Sleep-deprived. A little overheated. I'm just about to call a 10-minute TV timeout and suggest a catnap when Potts says, "OK. You see that meadow up there? When we get to that meadow, I'm out for 10 minutes under that tree. Set your countdown timer." I do. He plops down, pulls him Nathan pack off for a pillow. Out. 7 mins. later, just as I'm standing to do a bit of yoga, I hear, "Damn. That was GREAT! OK. Let's move out!" And off we go. Climb another mile or so, then rocket down this incredible Dowell's Draft Trail that's probably the most beautiful single-track I've been on. Not technical at all and just a gradual downhill. It's so sweet that Potts had to rein us in with my countdown timer (run 6, walk 2) out of fear that he would run so much that he would blow a gasket. So we blitzed that stretch into the 80-Mile aid station at 1:20 p.m. That means we just did a huge all-up-or-down 14-mile stretch from Mile 66 to Mile 80 in 3:05 INCLUDING THE 10-MINUTE NAP. Holy cow!
Maybe 10-minute stop at Mile 80, then off we go. Next up is the dreaded Chimney Top climb that took us 1:00 on Day 3 of our ridiculous 3-day summer training camp, so we knew what lay in store. This time it was more like 1:20 or so, with me on the point and in full-on storytelling mode. I had THE biggest smile on my face the whole way up that monster. Once to the top, we took a 2-min. timeout to get the heart rates down and cool off a bit. It was low-70s, so not killer hot, but you know Potts and the heat, so we were being extra careful. From there, it was across the ridge and then about 2 miles of cascading downhills into the Mile 88 aid station. Man, was this a day for the ages!
Mile 88 aid station is a freakin' smorgasbord, thanks to folks Potts and his buddy Robert Gillanders have as crew/fans. A cup of mashed potatoes with butter and pepper. YUMM! Only 5 mins. here, then it's off for one more windy, twisty, technical climb, then a push across the last real ridge top and, poof, hellooooo the Road Straight Down 4000-foot-high Elliott's Knob. Then same single-track to the final aid stop at Mile 95. This time? Mac and cheese. HOMEMADE mac n cheese. I told them I was gonna gain 8.6 pounds while running 34. Sweet!
From 95, it's a relatively flat push home. Me, Potts, Bobby G. and his pacer Bill Young, who doubles as Potts' cousin. Onward we roll, getting ever more giddy by the step. Potts is still amazing. G's feet are, in his words, "just a pair of meat hooks now," but onward he presses.
The final 45 mins. we need flashlights. At the 1-Mile-To-Go sign, I look over Potts' right shoulder and see THE most picturesque full moon. The scene
-- Potts with his head held high still running strong, the moon casting its countenance over us -- actually made me cry. How completely awesome is THAT?!
Potts: Dude, you OK?
Me: Oh yeah. I dunno if I've ever been better.
So we waited at the dam that you just had to drop down below, then clamber over, until G and B. Young get there. We do the final half-mile along with a cast of maybe 10 other supporters. Ultimately, we let Potts and G do the finish line hand-in-hand.
Potts worked his *** off this summmer. Even with that, I had no clue that he would run 25:24!!! 12th overall. Male Master's winner.
So how was pacing Potts at Grindstone? Four words.
It. Was. A. Dream.
September 21, 2009
Did I set myself up for failure? Armchair quarterback answer: yep. Even with training my butt off for the past six months, the idea of 100 miles in 24 hours isn’t so realistic for me any more. Neither, probably, is my lifetime best of 90 miles. A reachable goal? Probably 80 miles – especially on this 1.52-mile loop format that allows for SO many options to call it a day if you're a little slow or need a little break.
Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic is such an interesting challenge. Soft, most shaded, nearly flat surface. Cheerful volunteers. Some 170 starters this year, so a lot of different people to pass and be passed by, at least until the 11-hour mark when it gets dark and the course gets pretty darn empty.
Want to know a way to make Hinson Lake a REAL mental bear? How about this: When you friend Bob asks if – rather than the more traditional method of pacing whereby he would start with you at, say, dark -- you think it’s a cool idea if he pays the paltry $24 entry fee and then run three loops with you, then sits one, and then repeats that the whole 24 hours … you answer, “Dude. That sounds PERFECT!”
What makes this insanely hard is when Bob decides at, oh, about 2:18 a.m. that he has had enough, that he’s got 50 miles in and that he’s calling it a night. And that he’ll get his sleeping bag out and hang until you finish.
(Enter that little voice in your head, the raspy one that is telling you to have mercy on the poor dude, who you know can’t sleep in a sleeping bag and who also cannot find his way back to the hotel without your help …so that you should just be a pal and stop now, too. That same voice, a bit more insistently, points out that you have clearly missed both your 100-mile goal and your 91-mile goal. Same voice questions what, if anything, is the value of walking the final 5 hours for, what, another measly 15 miles?)
As I said earlier … when it got hard, I pushed. When it got really hard, I quit. Fast.
Upsides: No stomach issues, even in heat that has often turned my gut to stone. Succeed Caps are a definite winner! Also was great seeing Suzanne, Doom, Laura, Ray K., meeting Christian, chatting up the vaunted Gary Cantrell and sharing an early-morning walk lap with Hinson RD Tom Gabell, a stud runner and a genuine guy.
Aftermath: It’s Monday and – thanks in part to taking this day off from work! – energy levels are soaring back in the direction of normalcy. So are legs. Did a 25-minute run/walk to keep The Streak alive at Day 942.
Hinson last year, I went out way too fast and blew up at 63 miles in 14.5 hours. This year, out much more slowly, a lot hotter, and a final tally of 70 miles in 19 hours.
Disappointed in myself? Yes. Devastated? No. A bit more wise than before? I’m a slow learner.
September 18, 2009
Format: 1.52-mile loop around a small lake in the hamlet of Rockingham, N.C. Soft, rock-free surface. Basically flat. Gun fires at 8 a.m. Saturday. Air horn blares at 8 a.m. Sunday. If it works out the way I've been dreaming it will, I will still be out on the course. Running.
Plan: Run 5 minutes. Beep. Walk 5 minutes. Repeat. Do. Not. Go. Out. Too. Fast.
Food: HammerGel at one to two hits per hour until dark. Nutri-Grain bars after that. One 8 oz. chocolate milk every two hours. Also, I'll be rockin' the Succeed Caps every hour on the hour until dark. I have ginger. I have Maalox chewables.
Prep: Crazy amounts of climbing and dropping. Lots and lots of bodyweight leg work. A 1:50 at the wicked 15-Mile Charleston Distance Run two Saturdays ago, way faster than I thought I could go. Or would.
Last year, I wasn't this uber-fit, started too fast and spent the last 2 hours getting my butt kicked by the Barf Monster before throwing in the towel at 15 hours and 63 miles.
Am I ready this Hinson? Yeah. Yeah, I am. Nervous? That too. How's that feel? Pretty darn good.
August 29, 2009
I've been keeping long-run records since 2003. This crushes my heaviest non-100-miler month by 9 hours.
After 3:15 Thur a.m. with Jack Broaddas and then 2:00 Fri a.m. with The Posse, I was gonna phone it in today w/ a streak-saving 25 mins. Instead, found some free time mid-afternoon so ... cashed it in for 2:00 of 7/3. Temp was 93F at the start. Run was muggy as heck. Focused on relaxing during the run phases. Actually felt stronger the final 4.
I've probably eaten 2,000 calories since finishing. So far.
Now, where'd I put that bowl of vanilla ice cream?
July 27, 2009
Last week I set a goal of 10 consecutive days of 2-hr. runs. Made it through four of them before I hit a bit of a roadblock because I couldn’t drag my butt outta bed this morning. Rolled back over and didn’t get up in time, so was only able to get in 1 hour. Followed it with some Pilates, yoga, extra core work, a 5-minute leg routine and several sets of push-ups.
Know why I slept in (well, if you wanna call getting outside at 4:20 a.m. “sleeping in”)? Because, when my eyes first popped open at 3:06 a.m., it felt too much like work to head out there. So I bagged it and opted for 1 hr. instead. Could I have physically handled the 2 if the fam schedule had allowed enough time? Yeah. Did I feel like a wuss for not doing the 2? For about a minute, yeah. Then, I got over it. And did what I had time for. And felt the cooling drizzle on the back of my neck. And heard birds singing. And thanked the Lord for yet another chance to move and play and do this thing that I so dearly love to do, this viewing of the world and all that is in it at 5.5 mph.
Thurs, July 23 3:12 Here, There and Everywhere run before work on H-burg roads. 10 run/5 walk. Slammed 40 ozs. fluid.
Fri, July 24 2:00 H-burg roads w/ Carp and PJ. 7/3.
Sat., July 25 2:00 up and down Madison Run (aka “a Maddy) in the early afternoon. 10/5.
Sun., July 26 2:00 out-n-back to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport. 10/5 out, 4/1 home.
Mon., July 27 1:00. 4/1.
So what now? Do I push on and keep trying to slam the 2s through Saturday? How about maybe I do that but make Thursday a 3 so that the final 10-day total equals 20 hours? Dunno yet. Depends on how much fun I’m having.
July 24, 2009
I've set this goal of at least a 2-hour run/walk for 10 straight days.
Started it Thursday with a very nice 3:12 effort on hard top around Harrisonburg before coming in to work at 10:30 a.m. Followed that with this morning's 2:00 deal (thanks Carp and P.J.). So far, so good.
Big challenges will come Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. Because of fam stuff, I expect each of these to require 0-Stupid-30 wake-ups.
Nothing like finding out how badly you want something, huh? :)
June 2, 2009
Batesville Days 10km
I finished fourth overall in the 32nd Annual Batesville Days 10km, putting up a 43:34 on a brutally hilly course on a steamy day. Had the honor of suffering like an animal for the final two miles with my brother Bill Potts, who smoked himself the week before on his way to a tie for eighth overall at the Capon Valley 50km. My efforts were good enough for a $25 Ragged Mountain Running Shop gift cert, a cool trophy that Ben has on his dresser :-). Two more major benefits: The orange tie-dye race T will be my favorite for many, many years, and then Potts introduced me to the Batesville Store, a true haven of peace and tranquility. I've been back there twice since (falafel wrap and coffee are A++!), and my new necklace made by children from the Kenyan village Batesville folks sponsor is an ongoing memento of a great, fun effort.
Then there was the 6hr/5hr/5hr Memorial Day Trifecta that was an amazing mix of ease, pain, suffering, triumph with just the right amount of beer thrown in to cap it all off. Saturday was 6 hours hiking with Bob Ring out at Wild Oak. Sunday was 5 hours running Rip Rap with Sophie and Q-Bob. Monday was 10 loops of my flat 2.5-mile loop out at EMU, plus an extra half-mile, plus one set of 41 tricep dips, one set of 41 incline push-ups, and a total of 41 burpees. The 41km run and the rest of the Day of 41s Monday was in honor of my dear fellow exercise freak buddy Michelle Huston's 41st b-day the following day. That was sorta in answer (although well short of it on the Studly Scale) of M's freakin' 200 burpees that she did in my honor for my also May b-day. The things we do for our friends! :)
A Solid FCR
Sunday afternoon Ring and I clipped off a 5-mile FCR -- aka Fast Continuous Run -- at 7:43/mile pace out at Montezuma as part of his return to glory plan for an August 10km. He wants to get it down to 7:00 pace before then. I dunno about that, but man did it feel like old times just running side-by-side in full stride with a buddy along a flat country road on a warm day with the breeze at our backs. At one point, I closed my eyes and it was 1982 and I was on the Airport Loop outside Buckhannon, W.Va. Pretty darn cool. So were the post-run Yuengling Lagers. Yum!
This morning during our 2-hr. run/walk, Vince Bowman introduced Paul Johnston and me to his version of what we call Touchdown Jimmys. My version has been a 40-second push up the face of a grassy hill on the JMU campus to the wide sidewalk in front of the ISAT/CS Building that features a James Madison statue I think looks a lot like Notre Dame's Touchdown Jesus; hence, Touchdown Jimmy. Vince's version is OMG-harder. Vince's version starts a lot lower on the hill and goes up to my sidewalk and then STRAIGHT up to Touchdown Jimmy himself. How up? So up that I was barely still running. We did three of them this morning. They sucked! And now I want to bag 10 of them before the summer's out.
Let's see: Thursday should be 2.5-3 hrs. on Hburg roads. Friday will be 2 with Vince and PJ. Saturday is The Priest with Sophie and a buncha others. Massive climbing and descending. About 3 hours of good, quad- and hamstring-pounding fun.
Highlands Sky 40-Miler is June 20. Expectations for great fun are high as those West Virginia hills.
June 1, 2009
April 15, 2009
April 8, 2009
27:34 for Umstead. No nausea. No bonkiness. Managed well the entire time. Final 12.5-mile lap of 2:56 was my fastest of the day by 19 minutes. Very, very fun. By FAR the most fun of my nine Umstead 100 finishes.
Did 5/5 almost the whole way. Out in a pedestrian 13:15. Home in 14:19. Not too shabby. Coulda gone faster, but didn’t really want to risk another big, fat bonk, so I just kept it in second gear the whole time. Man, was it fun to be starting that final loop full of energy and running as the second day dawned. What an incredible feeling of control that was.
First 4 loops with my pal Bob Ring until he decided to drop at 50 miles. Lap 5 alone with my iPod Shuffle (run 2 songs, hike 1 … unless it’s a Beach Boys tune, then you have to run that one too. Seriously, who can hike to “Barbara Ann” or “409?”). Lap 6 with pacer dude of trail name Ram, who turned out to be a JMU Class of ’89 physics grad. Half of Lap 7 alone before catching my pal Mike Lipton and his pacer Chris Damico. Then Lap 8 with the same Chris. By the time I was finished with the boy, he was ready to do the 50 next year. :)
Nutrition: Took EIGHTEEN freakin’ S-Caps! One every hour for the first 18 hours. Mainly made it around on roughly 15 GU gels, a couple Perfect Zone bars (Wal-Mart over-the-counter meal replacement things), one can of Kirkland chocolate meal replacement drink, two cups potato soup during the night. Fluid was Gatorade Endurance, a little water and maybe 20 ozs. total of Nuun.
Weather: Low-50s at start, mid-70s during the day, high-50s at night and probably around mid-60s by the time I finished.
Aftermath: No muscle soreness. Big blister on ball of right foot, but not big enough to keep me from running Monday and keeping The Streak intact. (As of this writing, 780 days ... and counting). :)
Middle of Lap 3, Umstead race director and longtime friend Blake Norwood tells me I’m having too much fun and to get my *** moving. I tell him, “No, no. The plan this year is to come here in sub-22-hour shape, take it nice and easy, and finish in one piece … and so far, it’s all good. Maybe I’ve finally learned something.”
As I move almost out of earshot, Blake hits me with his booming baritone: “You learning something, Gentry? That means there’s hope for us all.”
April 1, 2009
Here's hoping at least a few of these strike home for you.
Thinking of the above runner studying the [Badwater] course at home, perhaps planning pace and strategy for these climbs, I am put in mind of a statement of Malcom Campbell in the middle of a 6-day. "You know," he said, "this was so much easier at home with my #2 pencil." – as told by Marv Skagerberg on The Ultra List
“To finish Hardrock you have to look deep within yourself and find something powerful that motivates you. You need to find a true connection with the mountains, the thin air, the rushing streams, the icy cold nights with their crystal, star-lit skies. You need to touch the softness that hides in those dark cliffs and deep chasms. Leave your self images behind and surrender yourself to what is. The race clock is ticking. But, time is an illusion. All that exists is the present moment. We can experience neither the past nor future directly, only the present is real. Yet, we try to dwell in either the past, through our memories, or the future, through our hopes and dreams. By looking to the past and future we constantly reject the present, which is reality. As Ram Dass said, "Be here now." – Peter Bawkin, 2006 Double Hardrock finisher
Seriously, Armstrong has been tested so often that I bet he can urinate into a salt shaker without splashing a drop, and he has always come up clean. As he said in that old Nike promo: "Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?"
"Amy has dropped at mile 41, so now it is the four of us, wondering if it was really only today that we had gone insane, or if it happened years ago and we can only tell at moments like this." – Andrea Feucht describing her 2002 Lake City 50 Miler experience
"Still waiting for my high to occur today, or hell, I’ll settle just for a medium. Anything out of the basement would feel great." – Mike Campbell more than halfway through 2002 VT 100.
"I have heard it said that preparing for a 100 miler is like training to be hit by a truck. There is only so much that you can do. Regardless of how smart you train or how hard you race, there are no guarantees. The only sure thing is that it's going to hurt and something bad is going to happen. It is not a question of ‘Will something go wrong?’ The real question is ‘How will you respond when things get bad, really bad?’ How bad do you want it?” -- Luis Escobar
Christopher Rampacek, a personal trainer and lifestyle manager from Houston, began doing serious long-distance running after his orthopedic surgeon replaced his hip 10 years ago and told him he would never run again. That was 50 marathons ago. This is his fourth Badwater. Last year, he recalls vividly hallucinating throughout the mountain stretch. What did he see? "A swimming pool," he says. "Oh, and the animals were cheering for me." – Washington Post story on the 2006 Badwater 135
“Just means The Ring will be hanging around your neck like some nuclear-waste-deformed albatross for yet another year... Lucky you.” – Chris Scott, cajoling me into running the Massanutten Ring Trail 71-Miler, which I finished in 2005
And perhaps my personal fave, from my brother Fred “Doom” Dummar, asked why he does ultras …
“I just love kicking my own ass.”
March 21, 2009
May have to go scare up Bill Potts and his crew in a few.
Sunday should be some major fun. If what I heard during my two hours working the pacer booth this morning come true, we'll have about 20 runners, including first-timers Lauren and her best friend who will be sporting tutus.
Lots of excitement at the expo. Love the chance to tap into all of that.
Oh, my pacing partner Mark? This is only his second marathon. No sweat, though. He spent 30 years working ... as ... a ... Navy SEAL. And if two hours of hanging out is any indication, he's a first-rate guy too.
Weather forecast calls for 36F at start, mid-50s by finish and ... drum roll, please ... only 2 mph wind. Yeah. 2 as in t-w-o.
No matter what, this one ought to be a blast.
March 19, 2009
In two weeks, it's back to Umstead 100 for a 25- or 26-hour jaunt.
Two weeks after that, it's down to Hampton for a 24-hour where I hope to go farther than the 90 miles I did the last time there, and have high hopes to put up something in the triple digits.
Can I lick all three? Dunno for sure. If I did know, what would be the point? :-)
March 6, 2009
Male (13) Sprouse, Tom (entered 2009)
Male (10) Lefferts, Peter C (entered 2009)
Female (10) Mason, Louise (entered 2009)
Male (10) Morton, Alex (entered 2009)
Male (9) Fiorito, Mike
Male (8) Calabria, Robert D (entered 2009)
Male (8) Gentry, Bill (entered 2009)
Male (8) Moore, James E
Female (8) Rozanski, Susan
Male (8) Smith, Mike (entered 2009)
February 18, 2009
If I wasn't such a slug, I'd go back through the records and chronicle all the ultras. And marathons. And the long runs. And the weeks where I've done three long ones in the same week. And four. And five.
There was a time when all that stuff mattered to me. A lot. Now, it's more about the actual running than about the record-keeping. It's more about me and my thoughts on a quiet country road under last week's gorgeous full moon at 4:09 a.m. on a Tuesday. Or about the flash of brilliant beauty when I saw a bald eagle in full flight on the Trayfoot Trail back in December. Or the complete feeling of solitude that washes over me somewhere in the middle of every 2-hour run. Well, check that, every 2-hour run except for that ridiculous one Carp, PJ, TJ and I did where the wind chill of -10F.
This streak is a lot different from the half-dozen others. Maybe it's cuz I'm older. Maybe it's cuz I'm not as fast. Or as competitive.
Or maybe just maybe it's cuz I don't need any of that. Maybe it's cuz I like it easy. Did I run today? Check. Is my brain in a better place cuz of it? Check. Am I ready for the day? Check check.
Craig is right. I am in hippie-out mode. Know what? Pretty darn cool place to be.
February 9, 2009
I figured I'd lose track as the mind has a tendency to wander on a loop, so I gathered 10 rocks from beside my driveway and put them in the bed of the Millennium Falcon. After each loop, I moved a rock. Once I got to 10, I piled all the rocks up again and started over. Very cool watching the line grow each time. Amazing how that kept me so scary focused. I almost even missed the hot chica in the black top who blew my doors off. Well, missed her the first time, anyway. ;-)
Nutrition lab: I knocked down 70 ozs. of green tea and 8 ozs. of Hammer Gel. It was warmish (50F at the start, 63F at the end), but a steady breeze kept me cool. Energy was steady. Brain was strong. Legs were just slightly pounded by the 3/4s mark, but rallied by the end. All in all, ranks right up there with the best really long training runs I have done. Period.
Only nutritional holes: No electrolytes. And no salt. Fixable. Easily fixable. Why focus on the holes? Um, maybe because of the little fainting spell about an hour or so after I finished. Yeah. Bit the living room carpet big time. No, nobody was home. Yeah, I woulda gotten a total a**-kickin' if they had been. Much less so when I confessed later. :)
Today, legs were fine. A gentle 20-minute run/walk got rid of any residual. Remarkable, these bodies of ours.
Hammer. A++. Green tea? Um, nice with dinner. On the run? Not so much maybe.
Changes: Gatorade Endurance. Lots of it during the waking hours. And any long run gets at least 20 ozs. of GE, the high-sodium one. And I'm hitting CVS before the week's out to score its OTC electrolyte tab that I once swore by back before I thought I was tough and knew everything.
Seven hours. 5 mph average. 14 rocks. One to remember.