December 21, 2011
Wanted to throw these numbers from Page 1 up here for NEXT year!! And in the hopes that this graphic will help me remember how inspired I was by so many of the folks who really put themselves out there day and night.
Pretty easy to stop in these short-lap deals, and never go out again. Cheers to all those who stayed out there the whole way, and also to those who took a break and came back out. I was in the latter group (as expected), and I'm 100-percent sure that I found the guts to leave that warm car and jump back in BECAUSE I heard the footfalls of Redpath, Finkle, Gabell, Kuzma, Surrette, etc. Thank you, friends. It was, once again, an honor to be in your presence.
So many stories. So much exploration. Lots and lots and lots of suffering. And triumph.
December 19, 2011
Two more work days and then JMU shuts down until Jan. 3, so things get a bit more flex for me. Christmas Day is looking kinda squirrely schedule-wise, so that means I either punch one out at 0400 or try for a pair of long ones on one of the other days.
If everything breaks just right, No. 190 ought to pop to life on New Year's Eve just in time for the second running of the Reddish Knob Road Marathon, a ridiculous two-trips-up-and-down a fairly steep mountain road that tallies something like 9,600 total feet elevation change.
Twelve days left. Twelve more runs between here and 190.
This thing is so on!
December 1, 2011
Two more sleeps until Crooked Road 24-Hour. This one's new to me, so I don't know anything more than what's on the web, which is a good bit, but def not the same as having seen it with your own two feet.
Optimism is running high. I'm feeling fresh. Have actually even done a bit of speed work for this. Even knocked out a 33:19 5-miler on a crazy hilly course Thanksgiving Day that was really more like a tempo effort except for flying down the downhills. Zero residual soreness in the days after. Very psyched about that. Seems the yoga and all the extra single-leg exercise attention may be paying dividends. Guess the running has something to do with it, too.
So, I've figured and re-figured and calculated and re-calculated to come up with The Plan. I've gone to sleep thinking about it. Dreamed all night about it. Waked up with it as my first thought (actually, second thought: First thought always goes like this: "Another day? Kewl. Thank you, Lord. Now, let's go kick some ***!)
The Plan: Start 3-Days-at-the-Fair slowly and go 3 mins. run 3 mins. walk until dark, then assess. Eat once an hour. Sip sip sip from either the Nathan 10 oz. Sprint bottle or the Nathan pack with two 10 oz. bottles. Tell as many stories as I can remember. Laugh lots, especially when The Hurt settles in.
Goal: Have fun.
If I'm having a great day once the lights go out, I'm going for it. And if I'm not, then it becomes a long walk and the chance to make some new friends.
Either way, I win.
November 1, 2011
We're doing Crooked Road 24-Hour together Dec. 3-4. It's a .94-mile mostly gravel loop down near Roanoke. And Bob has a plan.
From Bob ...
"I have a scheme that I think will work. I am using the run/walk model, and here is what I found. Walk 3, Run 2. Running pace is 10:00, walk pace is 20:00. I came up with a two-loop scheme: 3-2-3-2-3 first loop, 13 minutes; 2-3-2-4-2, 13 minutes, second loop. For a .94 mi loop that is right at 14:00 per mile, which will get us 100, plus a little. The 3s are walks, all 2s are runs, and the 4 is a walk, once every other lap. After 26 laps, we have 36 minutes to spare and still make 100 miles. That is for each 26-lap segment, we have an extra 36 minutes, for whatever. If we don't need it after each 26 laps, we are building in a good cushion in any case. 106 laps is a 100 miles. I think this scheme is guaranteed to prevent going too fast early. Walking @ 20:00 pace is leisurely, not the least bit pushing. It's a stroll, almost. Two minutes running is not going to get your heart rate up very high, ya know? Especially on a flat course. The key is inverting the usual ratio, with the walk segment a little longer than the run segment."
I don't really know what to say about this, other than that I thought I should share it. You just should not keep stuff like this to yourself. It begs to be shared.
I will come back here now and then in the coming weeks. Just to ponder this. And to wonder if I have the moxie to actually try it. I am betting no.
Could, however, make for a heckuva story. If the other runners don't beat us severely at 3 a.m. when my Timex 150-Lap Ironman -- the one with the SIXTEEN different interval settings that I can engage at the same time -- beeps for the 413th time.
October 5, 2011
Let's see: December. Kinda close by. Mostly flat. Loop that's almost a mile. $40 entry fee before Nov. 1. A new-to-me event.
May just have to pull the trigger on this one.
September 19, 2011
OK, so Hinson Lake 24-Hour is this Saturday.
This is my fourth try there. The previous three have been, well, laughable. Here's how each has gone: Go out fast. Blow to teeny bits. Barely make it to 2 a.m. Stumble back to the vehicle. Drive home with tail tucked firmly between legs.
So how about No. 4? I am gonna go out on a limb here and say that No. 4 is gonna go differently. Call it a hunch, but I think I may have come to a reality at Hinson last year – I really really REALLY do not like puking. At all. Which is what I typically do at Hinson. Because, even after 105 ultra finishes and another 44 at the marathon, I pretty much suck at the event nutrition thing. Been practicing it with fervor all summer and think I may have some semblance of an answer ... NutriFit drink from Food Lion. Think scaled-down Ensure Plus. NutriFit is 250 calories. When I drink half of a bottle every hour, good things seem to happen. Haven't tried it beyond 5.5 hours, so that will be uncharted territory. Truth is that I'll probably change my mind and be after real food by then anyway, so no sweat.
Training has been off-the-hook good this year, yet that seems to have very little bearing on my performance. When I was faster, it mattered a lot. Now? Not so much.
I am in full-on pro taper mode. Most recent 2-hr. runwalk was Friday. Will likely do one Tuesday a.m. just to help with sleep. Legs have now officially moved past that achy start-of-taper feeling and on to oh-wow-strong feeling. Forecast changes daily, but is hovering around 80/50. Not optimal, but also not 91F like last year.
So here's the rough plan: Go slowly after the first lap or two, eat, drink and take what the day gives. Steady as she goes. Leave a bunch for night, especially at Hinson with as dark as it gets on the Back Nine. This is, after all, the site of the famous Fred "Doom" Dummar quote: "The party don't start till the lights go out."
OK, so my goals. Primary Goal: Do the whole 24 hours. Reach Goal ("reach" based on how poorly I've done at 5 of the 6 24-hour formats I've tried so far): 24-hour format PR of 60 laps for 91.20 miles. Dream Goal: 66 laps for 100 miles.
Word of the Day Saturday and Sunday: Joy. I get the chance to run a long, long way with friends and snacks and dirt and peace and somebody else keeping track of the distance.
Count me lucky.
August 19, 2011
Briery Branch Dam to the top is 6.7 miles. 6.7 x 15 equals 100.5M. That is an estimated 39,000 feet of elevation change. If you start at the top, it would be 7 Reddish summits. If you start at the bottom, 8 Reddish summits.
When Mike Frazier, Jack Broaddus and I just did the Reddish Knob Marathon, the 26.8M jaunt took me 5:10. That was only two down-and-ups. And that was with running the final 2 miles without walk breaks. That was also on a thoroughly overcast day. That was also with me knowing that I was only gonna be out there about 5 hours.
Let's see ... 100 miles of Reddish road. Seven or eight summits. 39K of change. Um ... can anybody say 36 hours or so (maybe?).
Good thing I have a 24-hour coming up the end of September.
Really, really good thing.
July 21, 2011
Virginia G. Gentry, ill the past couple years, finally gets some much-deserved peace and rest.
I could say so much about my remarkable mother, but for now I'll just leave it at this poem that I wrote on the morn of her memorial service. Overheard my dad Sam tell a visitor about this pesky plant the night before.
Gardening and words were among my mom's many passions. She really, truly was something else. :)
Fully formed, forest green
Four-year-old Peace Lily
Standing guard from its gracious front-porch perch
Four years old. Never bloomed.
Until Tuesday, July 12, 2011.
Two small, creamy blooms.
One for Sam.
One for God.
July 2, 2011
I hear it calling to me in its soft, sing-song voice: "Hit me back ev. ry. day. C'mon. Lemme see what you got."
So far, I have a pair 2-hr. runs posted. Yesterday, July 1, Me and Jack knocked out the standard Tuesday/Friday 7-minute run/3-minute walk at a casual pace. Nice one. Great way to start a day, that. This afternoon, I pushed out a 4/2 on blistering roads in Harrisonburg. Shoulda gone first thing in the morning, before it got to 85F. Lesson learned? Guess we'll see.
As many of you know, i have a run streak going. July 6 will be Day 1,600. OK, you say, so don't you put an entry in your log for each day? Not exactly. Only the runs of 2 hours or longer get logged. Easier to keep track of the long stuff that way, plus this supports my assertion that the long stuff is all that really matters anyway – especially for me.
I don't always go 7/3. Sometimes it's 3/2. 4/1. 5/1. 25/5. 20/5. 12/3, or some such. That's if it's roads. The countdown-timer thing doesn't work for me on trails. At least on most trails. Don't need to force walks on trails. :)
Hello, July. Vaycay at the beach is in there. So is Catherine's 50km. And the mostly regular Tues/Thur/Fri group runs me and my bunch always do. I can usually squeeze another longish one in on one of the weekend days, and often on the other weekend day, too. So the greatest challenge will be those pesky workday Mondays and Wednesdays, that always require 0400ish wake-ups. Just from memory, I think my largest one-month total is 20 days. So far. :)
So ... here I am. Staring at July. Two boxes filled. Twenty-nine still empty. All with such promise. Sights to see. Moments to share.
Miles. to. go.
May 25, 2011
Unbelievable. Mind-bendingly, expectation-shatteringly, reality-alteringly unbelievable.
Holy cow. Now I have a PR for a freakin' 72-hour race. And I actually had gas left in the tank at the end. And it didn't really suck hardly ever.
It really, truly was not what I expected. And then it was all that I expected and more. So, so much more.
Final total: 183.5 miles. Fifth overall. Fourth boy. Day-by-day totals of 66 miles, 55 miles and 62 miles.
Had the pleasure of sharing the path with some remarkable runners. Formed some bonds that I expect will last the rest of my life. Laughed until my stomach hurt. Slept so hard that I woke myself up because of the slobber ... twice!
Ate the best McDonald's milkshake in the history of modern civilization. Burned the back of my arms and the insides of my ankles -- the two places where I failed to put sunscreen -- so badly in the first 10 hours that I'm not done peeling yet and it's 10 days later.
Basically sprinted the final two laps of the .85-mile course with the awesome Sabrina Moran, who managed to tally just nine fewer miles than me even though she was in the 48-hour!!!!
Joe Judd. Mike Potter. Fred Murolo. Pete Stringer. Charlotte from Canada, who beat us all. Mike Brooks, a retired firefighter from Maine who notched 150-plus miles walking the entire way.
RDs Rick and Jenn McNulty. Rick's sis Marie. The McNulty children. Jessi Kennedy, who ran some of the 48 but who i think was awake for the entire 72 hours helping out. Scott Brockmeier and Liz Bauer starting the 48, not having the best of days, yet still coming back out to clock some miles and offer amazing support ... especially to ME! Inspiring work, you guys. I am in your debt.
So many stories shared. Such rich laughter. A teeny bit of suffering along the way, but nothing like I expected on the way to collecting so. many. miles.
A dream come true? Yeah. Sure was.
A return trip next year? 10-4.
May 12, 2011
I know what I'm getting into. And I don't.
It's not gonna suck. And, yet, it is.
Fun. Misery. Company. Laughter. New friends. Old friends. Patience. And lack thereof.
Time to think. Time to not. Heat. Cold that's not really cold but feels like it.
Yummy food. Lots and lots of yummy food.
A 72-hour look inside myself ... over and over and over.
April 17, 2011
In other words, nine uber-studs and then me.
Tornado-like wind. Driving rain. Some gnarly trail. A lotta pristine trail, much of it built by hand by the Shenandoah Valley Bike Coalition forces who include a buncha the dudes there Saturday. A toast at the top of Kaylor's. A whole lotta laughs.
Oh yeah. Nine of the 10 of us wore shirt and tie.
All in all, vintage!!!
Some photos for my Me Wall ...
(From left): Phil Turk, Carp, me.
Me at my finest ...
(Thanks, MikeFraz, for setting this thing up, for shooting all this photos and, most importantly, for being a constant reminder to us about what it's really like to love someone as much as you love your brother. My life is a lot better because I have you guys in it. Same goes for most of these other knuckleheads involved in this particular affair.)
April 12, 2011
April 5, 2011
This time, I was smart.
In each of my other 10 Umstead 100 finishes, I've had to be a lot tougher than this time because I haven't ever been as close to being as smart as I was this time.
Bob Ring and I basically did 4 minutes run/2 minutes walk for the first five of the 12.5-mile loops. Yeah. FIVE of them. That's the first 62.5 miles. Patience is good, especially when you've been there/done that/own the sweet, embroidered-with-your-name 1,000-Mile Club hat (!!!), you aren't too bothered what time you run and your main goal is to finish without suffering like a dawg. So we did the first FIVE laps in 3:00 each. There was a fair amount of messing-around time in there -- clothes change here, yak session there -- but, again, we had more or less turned this Umstead into a Three Days at the Fair learning lab from the get-go, so messing-around time worked. Lap 6 was slower because Ring sprung a slow leak that eventually resulted in a general blow-out to his right ITB. I hung with him through half of Loop 6, then bolted when he said he was gonna re-assess and that he didn't want to be my anchor. (He dropped at the end of this loop).
About two minutes after he cut me loose, this really cool thing happened. Along comes my boy Bill Burns, on his final lap, with a pacer and really down in the dumps after having gone for a sub-18 and having blown to bits. Burns says, "Kevin, this is Bill Gentry. He'll be good for a few laughs. Gentry, I can't talk, so you'll have to cover for both of us." Me? Talk? Hahahahah! Stealing a line from frequent training partner and ref buddy Mike Carpenter, I tell Kevin, "Oh, dude, are you in luck. My guys at home say I'm better than AM talk radio once I get going."
So back to life I come and BAM, before I know it, Burnsie is running faster than I can keep up with. Hah! We ran a lot of what Ring and I call The Back Nine (everything after the No. 2 fully manned and stocked Aid Station), including running almost the entire final 2 miles to his finish!!! Complete awesomeness! 19:15 or something. Of course I'm thinking, "Holy sheep-dip, it's gonna be hard to explain having done this if I blow a gasket but, what the hell, why else am I on Planet Earth if not for times like these, right?"
Well, Lap 7, I kinda did turn crater into a verb a little. Exhibit A: I freakin' fell asleep while stopping to pee ... standing UP, I fell asleep. OK. Time for a nap. After a 30-min. siesta at Aid Station 2 on Lap 7, I'm ready. It's 35F and I'm shivering so badly when I get going again that I have to start running after 200 yards of hiking cuz I have a little freak-out moment when I dump the hot chocolate I'm trying to drink all over myself, but it's OK. It didn't burn (much), and I realized it in time to suck some of it off the front of the blue zip-up fleece. Hey, L.L. Bean makes good stuff. You probably couldn't suck dumped hot chocolate off some cut-rate fleece, ya know? Anyway, a few minutes go by, I get back up to shuffle speed and it's all good again.
Kick out the rest of Lap 7 right at the 24-hour mark, so that means that I have done 87.5 miles in a comfy 24 hours (with a :30 nap and probably 5 other 10- to 15-minute stops, so I'm pretty MAJORLY psyched about Three Days at the Fair now!!!) ... especially if I can push this final Lap 8. Grab the iPod, snag some chicken broth, down a hot chocolate (heckuva lot easier to hit the mouth while sitting in a chair and not shivering), wait for the sun to come up enough that I don't need the hand-held flashlight, hit ... the ... gas.
Now it's ON, baby! Both earbuds in, sound turned up high, time to crank the run-3-songs, walk-1-song routine. (Hey, I runwalk on every run, so I like variety.) Do this for the first 3 miles -- with a quick stop to yak with Pete Lefferts who goes on to record his record-tying 13th Umstead 100 finish (Pete, you're one of my faves!) -- and then I manage to find another gear. Now it's 3 songs run, 1 walk and even a bit of 100-steps-run, 100-steps-walk on the uphills, too. No that-long hills at Umstead, but after 90-couple miles, it's all relative, right?
Outcome: I split Lap 8 in 2:50, easily my fastest of the day. And that includes a 3-minute break right at the end to blab with my friend Brenda from Virginia Beach who had been pacing earlier and has come back out to cheer the weary. Hey, more important to hear about her training and how excited she is about being in the Badwater 135 field than it is to push the final half-mile and still miss cracking 27 hours.
Aftermath: I crushed a huge omelet right away, then Ring came by from the hotel to scoop me up and home we came. Monday: Very little muscle soreness. No more than after a typical Sunday long run. Tuesday: none. at. all.
So, Umstead No. 11 Finish, I was smart. Stuff happened. I fixed it. Fun was had. Stories were told. Friends were seen. Hugs were exchanged. New friends were made. I finished in one piece, and I finished laughing.
Smart. My new tough.
March 29, 2011
• My Umstead PR is 21:57. I did that in 1998.
• It's 100 miles. Stuff is gonna go sideways. The Fun Factor will take some dips. Deal. With. It.
• I'm going with a 10 oz. FuelBelt Sprint. Totally tempting to punt that with all the aid at Umstead. Not carrying always blows up in my face. Every. single. time.
• This time, I'm bringing my own aid. Frito's corn chips. Chocolate milk. Nutella crackers. Feeling fairly certain that I'll grab here and there from Umstead's awesome fare, too.
• That famous Fred "Doom" Dummar quote is plain down truth: "The party don't start till the lights go out." Leave. some. running. for. later.
• Of my 10 Umstead 100-mile finishes, I have zero in the 22s. Or the 26s, 28s or 29s.
• On the 12.5-mile Umstead loop, it's crazy easy to waste gobs of time at both of the manned aid stations. Really, really easy to add 2 hours. Something to think about.
• In the first three months of 2010, I knocked out 42 runs of 2hrs. or more for 114:10. For 2011, numbers so far are 51 for 132:34. Feeling pretty good about those.
• I have gained 5 pounds in the past month. Happens when you add two meals a day. Strength is way up. Way way up.
• I see that I'm tied for fourth on the all-time Umstead finish list. Pete Lefferts should match Tom Sprouse's all-time mark of 13 this year. Louise Mason should get to 12. Alex Morton and Mike Smith will get to 11. With some good luck, I will join them. Bob Calabria, Fred Davis and Susan Rozanski are each poised to snag 1,000-mile buckles this time. Here's hoping that their respective weekends will be a magical as last year's was for me.
Another Umstead 100. Three more sleeps.
March 8, 2011
• When I was in college, I put in a LOT of 130-mile weeks without a rest day. Now, it's more like a lot of 50s and 60s. Maybe I never learned how to train properly? Or maybe I did.
• Stubborn is good.
• "When?" and "how long?" are a lot easier to answer than "if?"
• It's a constant reminder that except for those rarest of days, "hard" lives squarely between your ears.
• My hearing's not so good any more, but I hear The Clock of Life ticking loud and true.
• Several days a week, I get somewhere between 20 minutes and as much as 6 hours ... all. to. myself.
• On about half the days of a given year, I get 23 hours, 30 minutes or so of non-running rest.
• I don't want to miss a thing, especially before the sun comes up.
• There's nothing like the flow that comes from getting inside your own head, and my best way to get there is on foot at 5-7 mph.
• When I streak, I own the quote, "There will be a day when I can no longer do this. Today is not that day."
January 20, 2011
I was 2:37:00 into what I was hoping was gonna be a 4:00:00 runwalk when I'd just dropped Vince and Jack off at their houses. They were heading to Shank's. (This is where, if my Verizon phone took photos worth anything at all, I would insert a photo of the world's most amazing blueberry muffins or chocolate cheese bread ... or make that THE WORLD'S MOST AMAZING BLUEBERRY MUFFINS OR CHOCOLATE CHEESE BREAD!)
Anyway, back to the run. Now I'm solo. Talk about a mega-serious dip in the Fun Factor. Enter the Annoying Voice. You know the one. "Dude. You've done way more than usual. You're the MAN! Stop now. What's the big?" Next, just a notch or two louder: "C'mon. 2:45:00 rules. Really. Who does that on a workday morning? Seriously. Five minutes to the truck. Call it now."
That's when it hit me. Blue Monkeys! Completely awesome pancakes filled with blueberries and bananas from Little Grill Collective, one of my favorite places on Earth.
Ultimatum time: "Look, here's the drill. If I get to 4:00:00, I hit the tall stack of Blue Monkeys. Any less, no go. Period. End of sentence."
Annoying Voice (wildly unhappy now): "Wait. No. Too much trouble driving across town for that. Plus, you have a crap-ton of work you need to get to today, all with deadlines. Now. Dude. Stop. Now!"
Just then, the biggest smile broke across my face. I had him. I really had him. And we both knew it.
Watch check says 3:32:00.
Annoying Voice (barely a whisper now): "3:32:00. You rock. Close it down now."
Me (really, really big face-breaking smile now): "Yo. Gotcha this time."
A bit later ... easing over to the Falcon ... 4:00:00.
Me (gathering my stuff and heading off to the shower): "Hey Voice ... suck it!"
January 17, 2011
If I'm reading the calendar correctly, Umstead 100-Miler is 11 weeks in the future. And the Three Days at the Fair 72-hour is another five weeks from there. So the time to bumpity-bump-bump the training up a bit seems to be now. Combine this with a flurry of activity at work and the loooooooong days thanks to before-work runs and after-work travel/refereeing and we have the perfect environment to simulate a multi-day ultra. Now, if I could only find some people to scream obscenities at me around, say, 8 p.m. at Umstead or any of the nights at Three Days, well, I think I'd feel right at home.
Great start to the year. Counting today, I have 10 long runs for a total of 27:10. Staying consistent with the supplemental stuff too -- the low-key, in-my-living room yoga and Pilates, bodyweight leg exercises, and also the back-and-forth, sometimes-really-fast hoops referee running. It's all training, and it's all good.
I'm all over the map with goals for Umstead, the 72 and Old Dominion 100. Sometimes, I feel as if I want to rip it at all three. Other times, I feel content to just do whatever I can to get to the finish line of each. In the end, I expect the latter will win out. Seems to be my way this last decade or so. And that seems to be working pretty OK.
Streak is at ... lemme see ... 1,428 days. Year 4 is Feb. 17. Still having a LOT of fun with it. Still completely motivated by it. Yet to have a day when I just flat did not feel like going out. Not really sure how to explain it. Very thankful that there is no need to. :)
Eleven weeks to Umstead. 16 weeks to Three Days. A handful more after that until OD 100. Yippee skippy!
Do I have any clue at all what I am doing here? Nope. Am I having the time of my running life these days? Yes. Yes I am.
January 10, 2011
We are happy to announce that NJ Trail Series will be offering a 72 Hour option at 3 Days at the Fair in 2011. This is in addition to the current offering of 48 and 24 hour races. The link to the website is www.njtrailseries.com/fair. The start date for the 72 Hour is Thursday May 12, 2011. The race location is Augusta, NJ at the NJ State Fairgrounds.
The race is held on a flat certified loop of .85 miles (approx 1.4km). There is a full kitchen on the loop to provide hot and cold food 24 hours a day. Bathrooms and showers are also right on the loop to allow the runners their best chance to achieve their maximum result. Plenty of space to set up tents or other items alongside the course as well.
Jennifer and Rick McNulty
(No WONDER I found the extra mo' to kick out a 2-hour runwalk before work on this Monday when I typically do 25 minutes. Somehow, I must have KNOWN that Rick and Jennifer were gonna give this idea the official nod!)
OK, so now it's official. There will be LOTS of extra fun to be had along the way to the NJ SEVENTY-TWO HOUR. I'm gonna do a 72-hour run. A 72. Me.
Oh. my. word. times. infinity. With a big, fat smile mixed in there.