December 20, 2012

Mid-November CR24 recap

Subtitle: OH YEAH!!!

90 laps. 85-plus miles. Zero nausea. One 20-minute nap at 0524. Four-plus more laps than last year. Three more miles than last year. A buncha new friends. A lotta great new stories. So, so many people to thank for their compassion, good cheer and encouragement. Wow. Just wow.

Case in point: The Amazing Scott Family. RD Ricky, wife Sharon and daughters Korre and Kara cheered for me, counted my laps, smiled their amazing smiles (!!!). Made this country boy feel like a complete rock star. No way to repay that. Ev. er. Y'all are beyond compare.

Chocolate milk only the first six hours. Dried fruit and salty chips until about dark. McDONALD'S HAMBURGER three times throughout the dark. Some other salty items on and off, too.

Spent much of the night going round and round with, at different times, new friend Rob Mitchell (100 miles!!!) and my former West Virginia Wesleyan College teammate Tom Elmore (93 miles in about his 8th or so ultra!!! How 'BOUT them Bobcats?!!!). Other folks throughout the night included Gene Meade, Mo Percy, Cyndy Barbour and my longtime running pal Bob Ring.

Oh oh, I almost forgot: Dear Lauren Wilkins, THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY RACE!!! Deets are fuzzy still but i think it was around 0100 and I was doing the weebles-wooble thing and had fairly strongly committed to finishing one more lap and then crawling in my sleeping bag for a break ... when ... I get back to the start/finish line and Lauren ... has ... McDONALD'S COFFEE!!! And she even put the cream and sugar in it for me after I whined about my hands being too frozen for my fingers to work properly. Walk, slurp, walk, slurp ... BACK IN THE GAME, DAWG!!! Thank you, Trail Angel Lauren. You can bet that I will be looking for a way to repay you somewhere down the road. :)

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I enjoyed myself all night. Really. And. Truly. Drank in the changing nighttime sky. Found comfort in the river. Even drew some power from the train that blasted past.

Slapped on the Patagonia puffy for every step of the nighttime portion, even though I ran a whole lot more than I expected to in the dark. Was having too much fun to walk the entire night. Kinda magical. 

Happy. Happy. Happy!!!

5th place overall.

November 14, 2012

Pre-CR24 Notes to Self

Be. patient.

Eat. real. food.

Be. patient.

Change. into. tights.

Be. patient.

Remember. chocolate. milk.

Be. patient.

Tell. funny. stories.

Be. patient.

Find. a. friend.

Be. patient.

Laugh. a. lot.

Be. patient.

Stay. out. there.

Surprise. yourself.

November 9, 2012

CR24 Plan(s)

Crooked Run 24-Hour is almost here. And I have a couple plans. 

Plan A
• Run 2 full laps to shed the nerves
• Run 10 mins. and walk 5 mins. until I get to 50 miles
• Hike all night
• Crush the final 2 hours

Plan B
• Run whenever I feel like it
• Walk whenever the mood strikes
• Be content to work through any bad patches by walking. And eating.
• Stay out there

My 24-Hour format PR is 90.0 miles. I did 82.5 at last year's inaugural Crooked Road, during which it got brutally cold and I took a 2-hour "nap."

This time? Eat. Drink. Run. Walk. Laugh. Repeat.

And be happy with whatever the day gives. Now that would be pretty darn cool.

October 20, 2012

When the bell rings

You know it. Happens every time you push. I mean, really press it. That time. The time of decision.

The bell.

When the bell rang at Hinson, I gave up. I went looking for excuses, and I found about eight hours' worth of them.

For 13 hours, I strung together a brilliant performance. Patient. Calculated. Measured. Monitored. Flexible. Break-free. Dude, I was killin' it.

And then, it got dark. And then it got hard. And when the bell rang, I took a break. Knew when I crawled in the cab of my truck for a nap that any shot at 100 miles had gone bye-bye. Wasn't sure how legit the shot still was for my 90-mile 24-hour PR when I crawled back out 40 minutes later, but realized quickly that I could no longer do the math. Should be no big deal because I suck at math, but at that time, it was the Entire World.

So, I walked. And ran a little. And rode the emotional night-time ultra roller coaster. And took two more little naps, calling them efforts to problem solve even though I didn't need either of them. And eat stuff after every 1.52-mile lap even though it was too late for that to matter much.

Sun came up, I got frisky and I finished with plenty of running left.

Numbers: 50 miles in a comfy 10:56. 55 miles in 12:07. 40 laps in the first 14 hours. 15 laps in the final 10 hours.

Final outcome: 84.76 miles for a smashing 10K Hinson Lake PR in this, my fifth running of this jewel. That's my second best 24-hour total in seven 24-hour format tries.

Looks great. Looks pretty bad-ass even, especially the rally at the end there. In some ways, I guess it was. Made some fantastic on-the-fly decisions. Experimented with the original plan, found a better plan, rode that one for a long way. Definitely did my own race. Improved the final number. A lot.

Still, from a racing perspective, the bell rang and I cratered.

So, how did I do?

Depends on how you look at it.

September 27, 2012

Here comes Hinson Lake 24 ...

Two more sleeps until one of my faves, Hinson Lake 24-Hour.

Holy cow, am I ready.

Tapered. Packed. Repacked. Cash in hand. 12-CD book checked out from the library. (Major nerd side note: If the by-far-most-frequently-used card in your wallet is your library card, you might be a nerd!!!). Visions of a tall stack of Blue Monkey pancakes from Little Grill Collective Friday morning breakfast dancing in my head, followed by about a 6-hour, couple-stops-to-do-some-yoga trip to Rockingham, N.C. Once there, it's get gas for the return trip, grab some Magic Hat No. 9, set up camp and then REALLY start to freakazoid out. That's where the Magic Hat will help. And the other campers, too.

My goal: 100.3 miles. That's 66 laps of the 1.52-mile layout.

The how: 36 laps in the first 12 hours. 30 laps in the last 12 hours.

The lap-by-lap set-up: 20 minutes a lap for the first half. And 24 minutes a lap for the second half.

The execution: I'm expecting to run most of the first two laps to shake out the nerves, and then employ the countdown timer. I'm gonna start with 4 minutes run/2 minutes walk for a lap and then see how close to 20 minutes I can get. And then adjust the ratios from there, if needed.

Weather says 79F/61F and possible thunderstorms. Sounds steamy. Good thing I've packed a bandanna to wet and tie around my neck. Aid station has everything that I need (dried fruit, Fig Newtons, Gatorade, water, Mountain Dew, ginger ale). I'm bringing along mint chocolate GU and beef jerky for backup just in case. And also the ginger chews.

I have my chair. And my lucky rain hat. And my thyroid meds. Three hats. And my patience. And as much toughness as I can muster in this, my 22nd year of ultra running. And lots of hope.

Limit the breaks, especially at night. Go slowly enough early after the 0800 start that I am still deciding when to run and when to walk once that Sunday morning sunrise happens.

If i do this right, I have a legit shot at 100.3 miles. Focus focus focus. My current PR for the 24-hour format is 90. By 0800 Sunday, I'm hoping to have a rock-solid "WAS" to put with that 90.

Two. more. sleeps.

Bring. it.

August 30, 2012

Hopes and Dreams

66 laps for 100.3 miles at Hinson Lake 24-Hour Sept. 28-29. My best there in four tries so far is last year's 51 laps for 77-and-change. My best evah for the 24-hour format is 90.0 and that was a buncha moons ago, but I'm running strong and have my head in a good place. Much depends on the weather. And on whether I can go out slowly enough that I don't throw a rod and crack the engine block before dark. Working on the mental prep more than usual. (Translation: "More than usual" equals "any at all" for any race other than 3Days@theFair). Love this course. Love Tom Gabell and all his crazy helpers. Crazy psyched about Hinson already!

• Guide Bill Potts the final 34 miles to a successful Grindstone 100-Miler Oct. 6. Potts is a total beast. And in my closest circle of friends. I joined him at the Wild Oak parking area two years ago en route to his 24:30ish G-stone finish -- dude's FIRST 100-MILER!!! -- and also the master's male crown. He was so impressive. You can't hide stud. Memories for a lifetime, that day.

Eclipse my 83.5-mile total at Crooked Road 24-Hour Nov. 17-18. Was off the course for a total of about 4 hours last year, so my desire is to fix that this time around. Trusting that, given RD Ricky and Sharon Scott's moving the run from early-December to mid-November, nighttime temps won't be in the low-20s again. Fingers crossed on this! Great people. Excellent course.

• Grab a whole buncha fun and some decent training miles at the VHTRC 50km in December and hopefully the Red-Eye 50km Jan. 1 and keep the time on feet cranked up during high school basketball referee season in prep for ...

A solo shot at 100 miles on The Wild Oak Trail course. I've targeted March 22-24 for my try, so that means no Shamrock Marathon pacing or Umstead 100-Miler for 2013. Frankly needing a break from both for various reasons that don't matter much to anybody except me, so not worth elaboration here – but, for now, suffice it to say that I'm already fired up about taking on a new challenge that seems more than a little over my head. Already gotten a bunch of offers of crew/pacing support, so I feel as if I am in good hands. Dreaming of a 7 a.m. Friday start and a mid-evening Saturday finish. Emphasis on “dreaming.” Dream goal = 36 hours. Run founder and original/multi-time finisher Dennis Herr reminds me that there is no time limit, so I can take as long as I want and that I'll still get one of those rarest of rare finisher's shirts.

Let's see: Four loops. 36,000 feet of up and down. Maybe 15 people maybe have done 100 here. I think I'm the slowest one to give it a real try. We're talkin' big league here, kids. I essentially started my ultrarunning career on this loop, so it seems right that I should take a whack at this.

The smile I have on my face right now just thinking about that shirt means that this is most definitely the right time to introduce this dream to reality.

Here we go ...

July 8, 2012

Special Place

Down the pavement, I come. Wow. Seems a lot warmer than when we kicked this one off about five hours ago. Lookit. There's a mile mark on the road. Thank you crazy cyclists for those permanent lines. OK. "4." That's miles to the top. Quick math ... 2.7 miles away from done. Don't check your watch and there will be no ... need ... to ... 4:50:20 ... ack ... 19:39 final 2.7 cracks 5:10:00. What the hell. Here we go. Third gear. Fourth. And over to fifth. Nice and smooth. Hot feet. Quick steps. Relax the dots on left shoulder, right shoulder, bottom lip. There. Good. Loose arms. Soft hands. Floppy cheeks. Floppy, floppy cheeks. California Highway Patrol, baby. Chest up. Hips forward. Push off. (Wait. Whoa. Been forever since that came around. As in the college days.) Rhythm. Rhythm. Find the sound. Squish squish squish of the worn-down Vomeros. Yes. Good. Little more forward lean. Not too much. Yes. Nice. Drop the shoulders just a bit. Find the notch. Oh. Right there. Hell yeah to pullups, baby! Is that another mark? Wait. Whoa. "6." 6? I blew past 5? Holy ... Here it is. Watch check. 5:04-something a little fuzzy. Go. GO. GOGOGOGO. Now. CHP. CHP. Every step. Relaxrelaxrelax. Man, this hurts. Not even a race. Why doing this? Everything hurts. Not sure how much more I ... can ... NO! Shut it. You got this. It may have been 500 years ago since the last time, but it's still the same. YOUR choice! YOUR. CHOICE. C'mon. NOW. Go. GO. GOOOOOO. Annnnnd ... woosh ... no. more. hurt. There's Vince. "Hey Vince." I think I just scared him a little with that grunt or whatever that noise was. Slowing some now, but still no pain. Daggone. I did it. No. more. pain. Haven't been here in what seems like forever. Remember why? Yeah, I sure do. The next couple hours are gonna suck. Maybe the next day. Or two. Know what? Worth. it. My truck. The line. 5:09:48. Sweet Jesus, I'm finished.

July 2, 2012

The Long Run Game

From my log … with the definition of "long run" being at least 2 hours of Time on Feet.

2011 numbers as of 6/30/2011 were 92 long runs for 307 hours.
2012 numbers same date were 92 long runs for 309 hours.

For perspective, let's take a gander at 2003, the year I launched the Long Run Game. Here we find 100 long runs and 316 hours. For the year. Yeah. The whole year.

Lucky me.

May 27, 2012

2012 Three Days at the Fair

189.7 miles covered in 72 hours

221 laps of the .85whatever loop

7 more laps than last year

58 hours spent on my feet

12.25 hours time spent tossing, turning and sleeping

1.75 additional hours off my feet

1.5 hours, the rough estimate of how many MORE hours I was out there moving this year compared to last year, when I covered 183.5 miles.

78 reported high temp

39 reported low temp two nights. Next year, don’t pack like you’re heading to Nags Head in August!

8th overall place. This year’s total woulda been 4th last year

4 people I spent significant amounts of time with out there. Special thanks to Fred Murolo, Steve Tursi, Melissa Huggins and Bob Ring for all the laughs, convo, shared suffering.

23:00 The rough equivalent, says RD Rick McNulty, of my final 5K

0 inches of rain

1 more life-changing deal

May 4, 2012

So here's the thing ...

I have really, truly tried to do it. Be all bad. Be hard-nosed and tough. Set a goal and be serious about reaching it. Rock out and reach for the stars. Grab for the epic. Man up.

Three Days at the Fair is May 10-13. I've been saying 200 miles for awhile now. I've been writing it down. Tweeting it. Blogging it. Dreaming about it. Using it as a number during visualization.

Truth: When it comes right down to it, I got nothin'. Not really. Not like so many of my awesome, bad-ass ultrarunning friends.

I have been saying since this time last year that I really, really, REALLY want 200 miles. That I'm gonna work and toil and bust my gut and suffer like a dawg and do whatever it takes to push through the pain and misery and smack that 200-mile barrier square in the face and make it bleed red all OVER the place.

Reality check: I really don't care about 200 miles. Or even getting as far as the 183.5 miles that I did last year.

Absolute truth: I just want to have a good time. Laugh a bunch. Hear some good stories. Maybe tell a few. Push the pace every now and again. Walk sometimes when it's a bit too hot or when somebody needs a friend for awhile. Eat some yummy food. Take some great sleep breaks and then get up and walk a lap or two and then start running again. Surprise myself a time or two. Make a couple new friends.

Here's the thing: I want to totally embrace as many moments as I can stand from 9 a.m. next Thursday through 9 a.m. next Sunday. Run when I feel like it. Walk when I feel like it. Go until I'm ready to fall over with sleep, and then wake up when I wake up and do it all over again.

I'm about as fit as I can be. I'm stronger than I've been in forever. I'm running with more joy than I can remember. All systems seem to be poised on "Go."

OK, so maybe I have a goal after all — to soak in as much fun as possible.

April 8, 2012

U100 Finish Number TWELVE

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be sitting here. Twelve Umstead 100-mile finishes. Twelve.

And this 12th one was the most fun of all. No suffering. No nausea. No sleepiness. No blisters. (Note to self: Dude, keep on getting yourself sub-23-hour fit and then go at snail's pace. Wayyyyyyy more fun this way!)

Joy joy joy. This one was all about joy. Umstead at its purest. Umstead at its absolute best.

Thanks to those who ran with me. Thanks to those who volunteered. Thanks a ton to Team Gaylord, Tammy Gray (!!!), Beth Minnick (!!!), Fred "Doom" Dummar,  RD Blake Norwood, assistant RDs Joe Lugiano and Rhonda Hampton, Sally Squier and her crew at AS1 and Dorothy Hunter and all the rock stars at AS2, and everybody else who had a kind word, rang a cow bell, hollered my name, called me a baby and told me start running again. One amazing day and a bit.

Here's some of what I hope I'll remember forever ...

 • Getting longtime friend Bill Burns through much of the second half of his 8th lap when he was completely fried. Met him at AS2 while he was having some soup and looking like death warmed over. Talked him into getting out of that chair and going for a little walk. Walked and walked and talked and talked with him until I was pretty sure he couldn't stand to hear the sound of my twang any longer — and by then he only had a bit less than 2 miles left. Topics covered: NFL football. College admissions process. Hinson Lake 24-Hour tales from years gone by. The irony that we probably talked through these very same matters LAST year when I picked him at that that very same place and in about the very same shape. Burnsie is pure stud. I am proud to call him my friend.

• Seeing Jenny Nichols in cruise mode, complete with her award-winning smile, several times out there on the course as she rocked and rolled her way to a 22-hour finish. Your hugs out there were solid awesomeness. So impressed with the way you took care of business for your first 100-mile finish, rock star. Make that first of m-a-n-y!!!

• Lending a hand to my friend Linda Banks in her big ol' time of need late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, whenever that mondo thunderstorm decided to finally break bad and throw us a couple right-left combos. So I'm heading up the hill after that unmanned aid station that's at 3.5M/10.75M on the loop and is complete with port-a-johns when I see a runner up ahead in the distance looking back. Wait. Is she screaming? Pick up the pace a bit and, oh my gosh, it's Linda Banks. And she's kinda freaked out. Sorry about my headlamp in your eyes. What? Your pacers? You've gotten separated from your pacers? They think you're still in one of the port-a-johns? Oh. Tell you what. I'll double back and get 'em. So off I go. To mass commotion as I pass group after group of runner and pacer, each of whom think I've lost my freakin' mind because I'm heading in the wrong direction. And can't really hear that I'm asking, "Yo! Are you Linda Banks’ pacers?" because the wind is howling. Finally, I make contact with the pacing pair, and back we go. Was maybe a half-mile round-trip. Didn't affect my "race" at all really. And totally, completely needed to be done.

• Absolutely nailing the fueling for the first time in for. ev. er. Being so steady with a gel every 1:30, nibbling on a baggie of Chex mix with cheese cubes and dried fruit all day and night (!!!), slurping chicken broth throughout the dark, and staying with steady consumption of Gatorade, decaf sweet tea and water. And MAN did those two plain hot dogs with no buns taste awesome midway through that last lap.

• Amy Surrette doing the LAST FIFTY MILES with horrible blisters to knock out her first 100. Susan Dummar clocking a PR and then finding out several days later that she needed emergency gall bladder surgery! 

• Sprinting the final half-mile with the world-famous and completely fabulous Toni Aurilio. Crying like a baby along with Team Gaylord hard dawgs Rob Colenso and Bob Gaylord as they rushed Toni up and down and up to her 23:57 finish line. Toni clocked 24:11 last year and really, really, really wanted a sub-24. To be lucky enough to be along for that final push -- even though I still had another lap to do myself after that -- has to be among the highlights of my running career. Thank you for  letting me share in your amazing spirit, dear Toni.

• Being so full of running for my 8th and final lap. Deciding when I would run and when I would walk the whole time. Running the final 1.5 miles without stopping.

• Having a smile on my face for almost the entire 27 hours, 2 minutes and 53 seconds.

February 28, 2012

Some Umstead thoughts

from me are here.

P.S. Prediction: Jenny Nichols is gonna have Umstead begging for mercy!!! :)

February 13, 2012

Stuff I'm Chasing

Here's some of what's on my mind these days ...

65 pushups in 2 minutes. Did 60 on Saturday. Hard, this test. Fun, too.

200 Miles in 72 hours. Last year, I notched 183.5 miles at Three Days at the Fair 72-Hour. Way proud of that total, but there is a lot of room for improvement there. I slept a LOT across those four days (9 a.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Sunday), and also spent a significant chunk of early Sunday morning on my tush waiting for a cold rainstorm to pass by. The sleep breaks make sense. The sitting was wimpy. This year, my hope is more movement and less wimpy.

25 pullups in 2 minutes. My best so far is 23. Very, very hard -- this one.

• Another Umstead 100 finish. I have 11 of 'em at Umstead 100. Here's hoping that I find that much-beloved-to-me finish line sometime early morn this April 1.

• A 15-second Crow Pose. 'Nuff said here.

Keep the streak cooking. Coming up on 5 years. No plans to take a break. Plenty of time to rest in and around each day's session. Plus, superb motivator for those days when weather or a ridiculously full life schedule make you question the sanity of heading out the door.

Really Long Thursdays. Been coming in late on Thursday mornings for awhile now. Great opportunity to punch out 4-plus-hour runwalks without getting in the way of weekend family jazz. And now that high school hoops season is about gone and ref duties with obligatory late nights have diminished, these can stretch to maybe 5 hours now and again. Way psyched to keep these rolling and package them with ...

A couple marathon finish lines. Washington's Birthday Marathon this coming Sunday and Shamrock Marathon -- hello 5:00 pace group co-leader!!! -- in mid-March. Super excited for both of those as significant bricks in the wall for Umstead and 3Days72 and ...

• 100 miles of Reddish Knob Road. There. I said it. Don't know that it will happen this summer or even this year, but this one has been calling to me for some time now, and it needs my answer. From the Briery Branch Reservoir outhouse to the Reddish Knob parking lot is 6.7 miles. If I'm doing the math correctly, it seems that one would need to do seven complete up and downs and then one more up for 100.5 miles. All pavement. Not entirely sure about the elevation change, but it is in the neighborhood of 34,000 feet or something stupid. So my answer: yes.