September 30, 2010

Saved by a Trash Bag

OK, so Hinson didn't go anywhere close to as well as I had hoped.

Did slightly more than 100km, 41 laps, before shutting it down at 4:20 a.m. Sunday after an 8 a.m. Saturday start.

In freakish 97F, I popped off 25 laps with my friend Suzanne in 8:00:00 -- on pace to crack my 100-mile PR by one hour!!! -- then the puke-fest ensued and I managed just 16 more laps in the remaining 12.5 hours. Well played, Goob. Well played.

I was eating. I was drinking. I was flying. And then, pretty much all at once, ka-BLAM! Stomach went South. I walked. Tried ginger ale. And kept walking. Tried candied ginger. Walked and sat. Walked and sat. Switched to really cold water. Tried cheese 'za. Even considered eating a bug that I found crawling across my lap about 3 a.m. Sunday, but it got away before I could close the deal.

I let my friend Donnie drag me back outta the chair and back out onto the course for one more lap shortly after the bug thing. I had one more lap to get to 100k. Donnie had one more lap to, as he so eloquently put it, "beat all the bozos who quit or will quit at 100k," so off we went. I had nothing left at all. Check that. I could still dry-heave great. Did that three times on that final 1.5-mile loop.

I went for it. I drew back a nub. Hinson Lake grade = Ep. ic. fail.

Solo trip home bordered on miserable. Cranky and tired from a fitful 3 hours of sleep afterward -- after practically no sleep Friday night -- and then a 6-hour drive with not close to enough stops. Proud that I kept trying and trying to find some sour belly answers before finally packing it in during the run, yet still pretty disappointed in the final outcome.

Short runs Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Lotsa non-running time to sit around and feel like an old coot and an abject failure who maybe shouldn't even try long ultras anymore.

Then came a marvelous thing this morning. That thing? A Trash Bag Run.

Woke up normal time for a Thursday, 4:01 a.m. Coffee maker was perking on auto. Wait? What's that roar? Is that rain hitting the side of the house? OK. Lemme look a sec. Whoa! That's not rain. That's SHEETS of rain! Great. Outstanding. So I'm gonna go do a solo 2-hour runwalk in the dark in THAT? On still-probably-too-tired legs four days after a 100k puke-fest? Really? OK, so now would be a good time to try out that new Mizuno jacket Craig gifted me as part of my TRC gig. Right? Um, well, maybe not the best idea to test-drive it in THIS weather. OK, maybe I'll just mess around and go 30 minutes or something once it gets daylight.

And that's when it hit me. Oh. my. GOSH! I know EXACTLY what I need. Serious time for a first-time-in-a-few-years Trash Bag Run! Lemme check over here in the garage ... and ... bingo! ... still one big, honkin' brown leaf bag left from the fall. Sweetness.

So a 20-minute drive later, I'm shoving off from JMU's Godwin Hall parking lot wearing a trash bag as a rain jacket. Learned the trick at my first Old Dominion 100-Miler when I think everybody in the field was wearing one as the sky dumped buckets on us at 4 a.m. on that steamy June morn.

Wind is cranking. Rain is blowing. Temperature is mid-50s. And then there is me, with the bag covering my torso and my Outdoor Research Gor-Tex hat-covered head poking out of a hole I tore in the bottom of the bag. And I have the biggest smile on my face. And the happiest song in my heart.

Two hours of runwalk later, I'm ready to take on the world again. And all it took was a driving rainstorm and a brown trash bag.

Lucky, lucky me.

September 23, 2010

Pre-race Thursday

(Subtitle: Even Pro Tapers Suck)

Did I pack those extra shorts? Wonder if I should really drive I-81 and U.S. 220, or if I oughta go U.S. 29 that I know. Well, that I know except for that part around Greensboro. I gotta remember to call my boy Doc when I get around there too. Been way too long since I saw him. Can't believe they're actually moving to Charlottesville. How cool is that? Is it really gonna be 92F Saturday? Holy crap, that's gonna be something. And with 200 and whatever people in the field, there is really gonna be some carnage out there. Please please please do not let yourself be part of that. Patience, patience, PATIENCE. Dude, it's 24 hours. There is no "too slow" for the running. We're talking just-faster-than-a-crawl pace at the start. And gentle walking. Man, I hope Andy can meet with me and David today or next Tuesday to yak about that Choose JMU brochure. And I gotta tell Chris to dig out that Duke Dog coloring thing and send it to Monyette. Maybe I ought to re-do my to-do list first thing. Is it Saturday yet? Or even Friday so I can get going on this trip. On Friday, do I Little Grill first for the awesome Blue Monkeys, or do I just run short, shower quick and then get the heck outta Dodge ... and get to Rockingham by late morning ... and sit around all day freakin' myself completely out. OK. OK. Little Grill. Or maybe I run short, shower quick and then meet Jack and Vince for Shank's muffins like a normal Friday. All that's left to pack is the cooler. Did I put my Saucony Rides in there? No I am NOT unpacking this whole truck. Wonder if I can find some pumpkin beer somewhere? Doesn't that sound delicious for Friday night? Especially if it's been on ice all day. Chocolate milk? Check. Ginger wedges? Yup. S-Caps? Si. Thyroid med? In the bag on the counter by the potato bowl in the kitchen ... with the S-Caps, ginger wedges and Nathan electrolyte tabs. Oh, and the chocolate goldfish. Why does 10 p.m. always feel like what I imagine 1 or 2 a.m. should feel like when I'm doing a timed event? Maybe it's cause I always go. out. too. fast? Slower-than-everybody-else-who-is-serious does not necessarily mean slow enough. Do NOT forget to re-order that Student Information Card. This will be my third time at Hinson. Is the third time really the charm? All good things come in threes, right? And I really hope this book on CD turns out to be a good one. So glad Rinn's letting me borrow her GPS. Is it Saturday yet? Or at least Friday, so I can get this show on the road? OK, so it's Thursday. And I'm typing this from the driver's seat of my pickup. At 4:38 a.m. OK, def time for a short run.

September 14, 2010

Dear Hinson Lake 24-Hour ...

Hello, my friend.

Next weekend, I'm coming down for another visit. This will be my third trip. The last two have been, um, interesting.

You look and sound pretty lame, but you've shown me your bad side both times so far. Lemme see ... 67 miles in 15 hours the first year ... 72 miles in 19 hours last year ... a pair of not-so-impressive days that started well and ended really, really badly.

Dude, 91F next Saturday?! Seriously? Kewl! 91F. Any chance you could bump that up maybe 10 or so? Last time I went stupid long in that kind of heat was Old Dominion 2009, and it squashed me like a freakin' bug! Thing is, you are a lot different than OD. Your ground is soft the whole way. Shaded, too, for almost the whole 1.52-mile loop. Another diff: your drinks and snacks are much closer together. Don't get me wrong now. You are still hard. But it's a way diff kind of hard than OD or Massanutten or Mohican. You are sneaky hard. Especially after the lights go out.

Well, and this summer has been pretty brutal here in Virginia, so I've been baking on many, many long runs this summer.

Anyway, I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I'm coming back. And this time I'm a LOT more ready than I have been the past two times. Don't wanna bore you with a buncha numbers, but suffice it to say that I've been working my hind end off in my hippy-out kind of way all year.

This time, my mind is in a different place. The 5-minutes-here, 5-minutes-there yoga has helped a lot with that. So did that solo 6-hour 50km three-peat of Brown's Gap Road on that smokin'-hot Sunday not too long ago. And that 4-hour road run with Bob where I fought through a pretty major bonk, yet managed to actually control the pace for the final 5 miles. And, of course, the bazillion 2-hour runs that all add up to steady-as-she-goes ultra fitness. Well, and there's also a nice 25:00:00 at Umstead and a decent 125 miles at that 48-hour in New Jersey. And guess what? No sore-as-you-know-what quads and hammies from a way-too-fast Charleston Distance Run two weeks before coming to see you this year.

So, how's this one gonna play out?

I've been playing this game long enough to stop short of predicting a final outcome, yet I'm feeling safe in saying that, this time, I am up for a good fight.

Wanna know what my plan is this time? OK. I'll give you a hint. I don't have one. Yeah. That's right. No plan. How come, you ask? Well, it's like this: I've tried the meticulous plan the last two times and, as you know, you have pretty much sent me home sniveling. The trouble with me and "a plan" is that when the plan blows up, the inability to properly execute "the plan" becomes a serious catalyst for me to quit. This time, I'm rolling on instinct.

Don't worry. I haven't totally lost my mind. I'm bringing some food, chocolate milk, ginger, S-Caps. And I'm bringing my little Nathan belt with the two 10-oz. bottles. Well, and beer. My cooler's bigger now, so there's room for more than there once was.

Anyway, in the end, as we said growing up, talk ain't nothing but talk. Reality is something different. Ultra translation: Like Malcolm Campbell said once in the middle of a 6-day, "You know, this was so much easier at home with my No. 2 pencil."

This is a 24-hour run. Stuff is going to get sideways. And there's gonna come a time or two when you'll help me peel back a layer or two and see what I have deep down inside. Will I or won't I? It's a worthy question. My hope is that we don't get the final answer until 8 a.m. Sunday when the final horn blows.

Anyway, lookin' forward to raising a glass with you Friday evening. And then seeing what we have for each other the rest of the weekend.

In the meantime, stay dry and dusty.