Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pinhoti 100M. 4 weeks away. Oh boy...

Oh boy....

Well, that's just about all I can say at this time regarding Pinhoti. I find myself thinking about this race constantly. Whether it be while driving, at the office, at 3 in the morning when my old friend, Mr. Insomnia wants to have a chat, or the most ferocious time, when I'm at home at night realizing that I didn't get in a run that day. Those times are quite brutal. The conversation in my head typically goes something along these lines:

"Son of a...."
"We didn't get in a run today."
"I know. It's ok. We had a long day. There was no time."
"I don't think it's ok. We have Pinhoti a few weeks from now."
"Son of a...."
"Yea, that's what I said."
"I don't think we're ready."
"We sure as hell won't be ready if we don't get on the trails enough."
"Maybe our tenacity and dogged determination will get us through?!?!?"
"What? Have you lost your mind? We're not talking about some 50K or 50M. It's 100. ONE HUNDO. MILES. Twice as far as we've ever gone."
"I know, I know. But we REALLY are stubborn."
"Yea, I don't think hard headedness will get us through this one, you nitwit."
"Is it too late to back out?"
"Uhhh, NO! EVERYONE, and I do mean EVERYONE knows about this race. We are SOOOO not backing out.  The utter embarrassment.  Geez.  No. Not at all!"
"Yea, crap is right."
"Ok, we just have to make time."
"You're an idiot. Why haven't we just 'MADE TIME' so far?"
"No need to be mean. Ok, so here's the deal. Tomorrow morning, we're waking our arses up at 2:00 a.m.   That way, we'll train for night time running, plus we'll get in the mileage."
"Hey genius, we said that yesterday too."
"Oh boy."
"Oh boy."

It's generally a bit more animated than that and I'm sure a few more expletives are thrown back and forth but nonetheless, I think you get the gist.

One might ponder why I signed up for this race if I didn't think I would be ready. Seems like a logical question. Recently, I took a personality test (corporate life) that might give insight into why.  It's a test that helps people identify their strengths instead of isolating and trying to improve weaknesses. The premise is, we should simply focus on our strengths and utilize them to their maximum? My results were this:

Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.

The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, "What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?" This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: "What if?" Select. Strike.

"Where am I headed?" you ask yourself. You ask this question every day. Guided by this theme of Focus, you need a clear destination. Lacking one, your life and your work can quickly become frustrating. And so each year, each month, and even each week you set goals. These goals then serve as your compass, helping you determine priorities and make the necessary corrections to get back on course. Your Focus is powerful because it forces you to filter; you instinctively evaluate whether or not a particular action will help you move toward your goal. Those that don’t are ignored. In the end, then, your Focus forces you to be efficient. Naturally, the flip side of this is that it causes you to become impatient with delays, obstacles, and even tangents, no matter how intriguing they appear to be. This makes you an extremely valuable team member. When others start to wander down other avenues, you bring them back to the main road. Your Focus reminds everyone that if something is not helping you move toward your destination, then it is not important. And if it is not important, then it is not worth your time. You keep everyone on point.

"When can we start?" This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that "there are still some things we don’t know," but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.

Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps—all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counterintuitively, it is more demanding.

So, the way I read this is, I'm an impatient, competative narcassist who clearly must be in control of everything. This, my singular reader of this blog, is why I signed up for Pinhoti.

I will not wait the two or three years I should wait and train to do my 1st 100. I clearly believe like I can control the outcome of this race with simply the power of my mind, regardless of overall physical ability.

And as far as the Competative Narcassist part? Well, maybe that's what drives a lot of us, the long distance and ultra runners out there, to try these things that most wouldn't even dare to try. Maybe that's what makes us get that little giddy feeling inside when someone says, "You're absolutely crazy to try that", when we know deep down inside, they're really saying, "Crap, I wish I could do that."


So, in finality.  Hopefully, I can get the miles in by Nov 3 and be ready for this thing.  If not, I'll still toe the line and I'll give it all I've got. 

Maybe, just maybe, with my Hokas, my headphones blaring  DMB - #41, the people I care about in my head and heart pushing me on, and that Competative Narcassist thing, I just might.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

White River 50 Race Report. Moments of Thoughts..

This report is quite long so if you have 10 or so minutes you’d like to waste with my ramblings, feel free. I hope you enjoy…

Before I begin, let me start by stating very clearly and simply, I had ABSOLUTELY no business whatsoever thinking about and eventually signing up for this race.  Maybe my thoughts will change as the pain subsides but as I sit here today, I feel confident in stating that with a clear conscience.

Let's begin. 

My 'ultra running' career now is less than 10 months long and I ran my very first trail run only 14 months ago (a 10K).  My running career as a whole has been nothing more of a broken record of on and off again for the past 14 years.  On for a couple years. Off for a couple years.  But there’s something about ultras.  Something about stretching past limitations and taking your body beyond what most say you can actually do excites me.  I love it when someone says "How far did you run?"  with the look on their face that is really saying, "you actually run???"  I love the fact that even though I look NOTHING like Timmy Olsen or Karl Meltzer or 99% of the ultra runners out there, I'm still doing the same sport, albeit a helluvalot slower. 

In fact, I'm known as "The Buffalo" by my sales team.  An interesting story: A few weeks ago, one of my salesman was talking about my running and another runner at our corp. office that runs a 2:25 marathon.  He said "Dan is just not made to run that far.  Now BryanBryan is built like a cheetah.  Cheetahs are supposed to run.  Dan? No.  Dan's a Buffalo.  They are not supposed to run for 50 miles."  We’ve laughed about it ever since.

My ultra running ‘racing’ background to this point consists of a DNF at the North Face Atlanta 50 Mile (bailed at 28), a DNF at the Oak Mountain 50K at mile 22, finally a completed 50K at Oak Mountain, a 12 Hour Challenge by which I somehow managed 47 miles, and finally the 60 Mile Chattanooga 3 Day Stage Race last month, by where I missed the final cutoff on the last day by minutes.

This last paragraph was merely to reaffirm that I had ABSOLUTELY no business  signing up for a 50 mile race with almost 18K feet of elevation change in a part of the country that I've never even been.  Now, what's even more insane is the reason why I signed up for this race.  Somehow, in this lunatic's mind, I have it set that I want to run UTMB next year and I need 7 points from 3 races to qualify.  My coach, The SpeedGoat himself, recommended this race and after a few weeks of pondering (and not training correctly), I signed up.

So, a few weeks later, I shipped the two boys off to their grandmother's house in Texas for a week and a half and hopped a flight with my wife to the PNW.  We arrived on early Thursday morning and spent the next two days sight seeing and checking out the course.  With each passing minute, I was becoming ever more fearful of what lay ahead.  Thoughts such as "What does going up hill for 11 miles feel like?" and "Can I really run downhill for 8 miles?", were flowing through my mind.   Well, come 5:30 a.m. (early start time), I found out.

Now, instead of writing the normal big brush stroke race report, I have decided to bring you into the thoughts of this insanely stubborn 41 year old man who apparently is riddled with OCD as I attempted to run the White River 50.  Below, I've given you the elevation chart and mapped out each of the "moments of thoughts" in this report so you might gain a better visual picture of what I was going through.

Let’s begin:

#1  “I can do this. I can do this.”  Repeated over and over again trying to build a modicum of courage and positivity.

#2  “Wow, this is not bad at all.”  Very easy up to this point.  Just rolling terrain. 

#3  “Holy crap.  This is insane.”  With wooden stairs built in the side of the mountain that felt like it went straight vertical, I knew I was in trouble.  Legs were bursting with fire just trying to move at any speed upwards.

#4  “I’ve got this!”  A nice section of the trail in which I was actually able to run.  Such naivety…. 

#5  “Holy crap. I’m dying.”  These steep climbs are just relentless.  7 more miles to Corral Pass?  How am I going to….

#6 “Holy crap. I think I died.”  That last little bit before the drop down to Corral Pass was vicious.

#7  “I can do this!”  I don’t know about you but as for me, there’s nothing greater than having someone you love and who loves you at an aid station cheering you on and helping you out.  Hearing “Go baby!!!” at Corral Pass was like a shot of adrenaline right in the veins.  I tore out of that aid, 18 minutes ahead of my anticipated split time ready to tackle this course!

#8 “Oh no.”  Running downhill has always been a challenge for me. I wear size 14 Hokas and they just seem to catch anything and everything which makes me run very timid.  If the trail is techy, steep,  and/or narrow, I’m in trouble and that’s exactly what happened as I headed out of Ranger Creek.  Where I was hoping to run a sub 11 pace, I was pacing  much much slower.

#9  “You’ve got to go faster!”  I was moving at a snails pace with so much fear that I was going to trip and re-break my arm.  My feet just weren’t running with confidence and my time was suffering.  Tremendously.

#10  “Ok, I can do this.” Another shot of adrenaline with my wife at Buck Creek and I’m off to hit the second mountain.  

#11  “Ok, I can’t do this.”  This was one of the lowest points of the race.  The climb was relentless and after doing some bad calculations in my head, I had resolved to the fact that I was going to miss cutoff.  I had contemplated many times just turning around and heading back down the mountain.  “Why do I do these things? This is stupid.  Me trying to run 50 miles is just plain ridiculous.  No more.  I really should stop.  Stop Dan.  Turn around!”  But I didn’t. I just kept moving.

#12  “A little climb, a false bottom, then a 1000 ft climb to Sun Top.”  Those were the last words told to me as I headed out from Fawn Ridge and I just kept repeating them over and over again. 

#13 “Ok, here’s the climb. Let’s get to Sun Top.”  I had mistakenly thought that this climb was the last climb to Sun Top so I plowed through.  After cresting, I thought I had a small drop down to the aid and I knew I needed to make up time so I charged down the hill.  I kept saying out loud “Trust your legs. Trust your feet. Don’t think about the obstacles. Just choose your path and go!”  (Thanks Nick!).  That great piece of advice just kept coming out of my mouth as I ran faster and faster down the hill.  If anyone were around me, they would have thought I had lost my mind. I was almost yelling it.  “TRUST YOUR LEGS. TRUST YOUR FEET. DON’T THINK ABOUT THE OBSTACLES.  JUST CHOOSE YOUR PATH AND GO!”  Over and over and over again. 

#14  “Oh crap.”  I had just realized that what I had just completed wasn’t the drop to Sun Top. That was the false bottom they referred to and now I had the climb to Sun Top. Wow, did I just use everything I had in that descent???

#15  “WELL F YES I WANT TO GO!”  Those words came in my thoughts and shot out of my mouth when they told me, “You’re just right at cut off. Do you want to keep going?”  I said, “I have 5 miles of downhill. I can make up time. I’m gone!”  I shot out like a bat out of hell.

#16  “Wow, this hurts.”  I was trying to make up time running down the gravel road as fast as I could but I was now understanding what running downhill fast does to your quads and knees.  I was making up time but what I wasn’t doing was hydrating.  Fact is, I had stopped about an hour prior because I was so concentrated on time. Yea, not good.

#17  “I’m not going to make it”.  This was the lowest point in the race.  I again did some false calculations in my head and had convinced myself that I didn’t have enough time to get to Skookum Flats and get back to the finish in the time. I was sure I had like 9  miles to go and just minutes over 2 hours from where I was to get there.  I knew my legs weren’t going to give me the pace I needed. I was cramping viciously at this point and I knew that once I finished the downhill run, I couldn’t sustain more than a hobble/small jog.  I had already ran through in my head the concession speech to my wife.  I had even teared up a bit thinking about how devastating it was going to be to tell her I didn’t make it and to drop at 42.  But I kept running regardless.

#18 “I only have 6.6?”  I had convinced myself that I had 8+ to the finish and 1.50 to get there.  I knew it was impossible.  I was expecting to see my wife at Skookum Flats with that “You gave it your all” look on her face.  I was prepared.  As I ran up, it’s not what I saw but what I heard that surprised me.  “Go Baby!!!”  What?  Why is she not saying, “You did good.  42 is good enough.”  Why is she still encouraging me?”  “Baby, I’m done. I can’t do 8+ in 1:50. I’m so sorry”, I said.  She replied nervously, “What are you talking about?? You only have 6.6!!! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!  NOW GO!!!”  She pushed me out of that aid faster than any previous aid.  I didn’t have any time to discuss.  And I definitely didn’t have time to think or get water.

#19  “NOOOOO!!! NOT NOW!!! DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!!!”  At this point, I was in desperation mode.  The Garmin had died and I had no idea how fast I was going but I was pushing and I was pushing hard. Until I started to make a small climb and the cramps that I had been dealing with for 3+ hours due to severe dehydration turned into paralyzing cramps in my quads. My legs seized up completely from my hip flexors down to my knees and through my calves on both legs. I stopped and screamed, “NOOOOO!!!! NOT NOW!!! DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!!!”  I couldn’t believe that I was going to miss the cutoff because of these damn cramps.  Every step was so painful but I remembered hearing somewhere that if you just keep moving, they might work themselves out.  So that’s what I did. I just kept moving.  Through the pain.  Severe pain.  Those cramps came and went over the course of the next hour about ever 10 minutes.  They would hit, I would scream and run for about 3 minutes and then they would subside.  Over and over again.
As I made it up onto the road from the river path, I had no idea the time lapse or how much time I had left.  Several cars passed, all screaming “great job! Keep going!”  What????  Did I still have time?  As I made the final turn, a guy with a camera said “You made it.  There’s the finish and you still have a few minutes left!”  I looked at him like he had just told me I won the lottery.  I started running faster.  Without cramps.  Without pain. 

#20  “Wow, that was hard”.  As I rolled across the finish line, “Great job baby!  You did it!!!” was the scream that filled the air.  Again, she was right there! Jonathan from Scott Sports was also there and said “You did it!  How do you feel?” I replied, “Wow, that was hard”.  I think I said it like 10 times actually.

I finished at either 13:48 or 13:52.  The first time is the official time per the website but I was told as I crossed the line that I had just 8 minutes to spare.
I’ll take either one. 

After finding out that I had only urinated twice on the course and hadn’t urinated in over 4 hours, Jonathan and the crew knew I was in bad shape.  The cramps had almost paralyzed my legs and I started shaking feverishly.   They laid me on the bed, wrapped me in blankets and forced 5 bottles of water in me.  It took about 40 minutes for my pulse to slow down and for me to stop shaking.  I tried to eat the post race BBQ but just couldn’t stomach it.  I finally made it to the car and back to the hotel to where I crashed and crashed hard.

So, final thoughts:

It was hard.  Very.  But I did it.  I finally hit that 50 mark. 

Will I do another 50?  A 100?  I’m working on that one…

Coming up at around mile 12-13, not sure exactly, was the first time I saw Mt. Rainier in all of its 14,400 ft splendor.  I said it at that moment with the other runners around and I’ll say it again, outside of my family, it was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen in my 41 years on this planet.  I now know what “Breathtaking” means.  If you have never seen a 14’er, go see it.  It’s truly powerful.

To Scott and the entire team, you guys did a great event. Thank you for allowing me to experience it.

To Jonathan from Scott Sports, you were super cool at the finish!  Thanks.

To the lady forcing water down me and checking my pulse at the end.  I’m sorry I don’t know your name but you were very nice. Thank you for helping my wife to take care of me.

To Karl Meltzer, my coach.  Thank you so very much for doing all you could to prepare me for this race, even though I didn’t heed as much of your tutelage as I should have.  It is my absolute honor and privilege to know you and call you my coach.  I wish everyone knew how cool and actually how nice you really are.  I still get a kick out of seeing you put :-) in all your emails.  Karl Meltzer puts smiley faces in his emails.  So cool.  :-)

To my boys, Ian and Noah.  Running these ultras are a wonderful experience but the greatest thrill in my life is being the father to you two.  Nothing melts my heart more than when you say, “Let’s run papa!!!”  I wish you could have been there to run with me at the finish like you did in Chattanooga.  Next time boys, next time for sure! 

To my wonderful wife, Ericka.  I finished this race for one reason and one reason only. You. Your support and encouragement during those aid stops was the solitary reason I completed this 50 miles.  Thank you so very much! 
 And yes, you will ABSOLUTELY be a part of my crew at Pinhoti 100….  J
Te Amo Meu Amor!

Thanks for reading.


Monday, June 18, 2012

A Race Report: A Father's Day Run

The Challenge:  Chattanooga Stage Race.  3 Days. 3 Mountains.  60 Miles.  Almost 7000 feet of elevation gain. 
I woke up Friday morning at 1:30 a.m. to head 2.5 hours north to Chattanooga and the first of the three races.  Raccoon Mtn.  18 miles.  1700 ft of elevation gain.  I probably hadn't trained sufficiently but I was relying on my secret weapon.  My stubbornness.  I've DNF'd once.  My first 50M.  I won't do it again by my own decision.  They will have to pull me from any course.  So, even though I hadn't packed in the miles I should have, I started out with the absolute intention of having a great race. 
The first half of the first race was fairly simple.  Not too many climbs or descents and I was running fairly good.  Hit the 8 mile mark at an amazing hour and a half, which for me, is speeding.  I even asked 3 times, "Are you sure this is 8 miles???" After their reassurance it was, I headed out for the next leg of 5 miles, which, unfortunately, was nothing more of relentless switchbacks of 30 ft climbs in 20 feet and 30 ft descents.  Up and down. Up and down.  So hard to get any sort of good pace going.  I was so focused on the terrain that I absolutely stopped hydrating.  And I paid for it.  Dearly. 
At mile 14, the cramps in the calves started.  Painful, seizing, ridiculous cramps.  I was reduced to a hobble/run/walk.  I ran with a guy named "Buddy" who helped me hobble on in.  I'm sure there's a pic of me finishing with a watermelon as a calf. 
After the race, I was wasted.  My usual post ultra fever hit with full force and I was forced to hit the bed.  I was fairly worried that I wouldn't be able to recoup for Saturday's 22 miler at Lookout Mtn.
But, I paid so therefore, I run.
Saturday morning, I woke up, strangely enough, feeling better that I did the previous morning. A bit sore but nothing like I was expecting.  So, a hot shower, good stretching, hot breakfast, and a red bull prepared me for the start.  This was my type of course.  A good trail to actually run on, even with very difficult climbs.  My Hokas were made for this trail.  Straight uphills and downs = speed.  I finished at a faster pace than the day prior even though there were 1000ft more of elevation gain and 4 more miles.  The best part was the finish.  A cold river right next to it where we all jumped in and allowed the cold water to tighten sore muscles.  It was EXTREMELY COLD but wow did it feel good after almost 5 hours of running.  I think it really helped me recoup for the last, and clearly, the most difficult stage.  Stage 3.  Signal Mtn.  20 miles.  2700 ft of elevation gain.  And a trail that really isn't a trail that they call a trail which should be called, well, just rocks.
As the gun sounded, I had no idea what lay in store for me ahead.  As we all headed down a jeep track road, I received the first indication that the day wasn't going to go as expected.  After 40 miles with no twists, I jacked my right ankle with the severe 'crack pop' twist.  10 steps later, I did it again. Someone from behind asked "Are you ok?". I responded "No, but as long as I keep running, my mind will overcome the pain."  A quarter mile later, it had no other option.
We started, which what would become the first of 6 insane drops.  By my best estimate, we dropped about 600 feet in less than a half a mile.  Straight down. This was bad  but not as bad as what lay on the other side.  A 600 ft climb in less than a half a mile.  Then again, and again, and again, and again.  We went down, up, down, up, down, and up again finally for 4.5 straight miles before 'leveling off'.  I was shot. My quads and calves screamed for mercy.  I was so happy to be done with the insanity.  Until.  Until I came upon the next leg of the race.  The leg with no trail.
Oh, they say it was a trail.  I disagree.  Wholeheartedly.  It was rocks.  Trees.  Boulders.  Rivers.  A 'path' at  best.  Now, for most, this would have  been a difficult situation but for me, it was compounded by the fact that I had already tweaked my ankle so my steps were more deliberate.  Second, my Hokas.  They aren't made for this type of terrain.  A 30% larger sole means my feet catch every single rock and crack making it extremely unstable when running.  My foot just doesn't slip into a small section.  Because of that, I twist my ankles even more which leads to hiking instead of running.  8 miles of it.  The furthest this 'path' allowed me to run in any given section wasn't more than 15 or 20 steps, which is simply brutal and takes a 12 minute pace and reduces it to a 22 min pace.  Too slow to make the 5:30 cutoff.  I 'hiked' for 6 of the 8 miles with another group of 3 runners all struggling like me.   When we finally made it to the next aid station, which was a present from God after making another 400 ft climb straight up the side of the mountain,  I knew time was close so as they sat drinking, I headed up the hill even further towards the remaining 6 miles.  The next three miles was an actual trail and I knew I had to hit it hard.  I clicked at about an 11 min pace and was running good until I noticed a girl, walking in circles, crying, in the middle of the woods. I recognized her from early. A very strong runner.  Apparently, she didn't assess the difficulty correctly and didn't hydrate sufficiently. She was out of water and dehydrated and delirious.  I walked up and gave her my water for a few minutes.  Gave some encouraging words and told her that she'd be ok.  "just run with me.   We've ran for 55 miles, we're not stopping now."  It took her about 15 minutes to get her mind back and then I gave her the ok to go ahead. No need to wait on me. Go finish this damn race and finish strong!
I knew I was close to missing the cutoff but I thought if I just ran hard, I might make it.  Until....
More vicious climbs.  Runnable, if I could run up a mountain at this time.  As the 5:30 limit passed on my watch, I knew I missed out on my medal but I also knew there was no f'ing way I was going to stop and give up.  Quite the contrary.  I picked up my pace.  I ran harder than I ever have, especially after 20 miles.  My heart pounded and I was sucking every last bit of air I could force in my lungs. 
As I rounded the last corner, there they were.  My two boys.  Screaming "go papa!!!"  They didn't know I missed the cutoff and even if they did, I don't think they would have cared.  I ran and grabbed them both by the hands and screamed "let's finish this thing together boys!  Run, run hard and run fast!!!"
They did.  Laughing the whole way.  Man, what a great Father's Day!

So that's it.  My race report just for you.  It was fun, hard, and humbling all at the same time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time to get back at it...

So, here we are. It's been about 6 weeks since the Pine Mountain 50 and I haven't posted a race recap. I haven't posted anything at all. I think it's probably due to the overwhelming sense of failure that I've lived with since the race. I wanted so bad to finish that race but didn't. It was either due to poor training or, what I've been telling everyone, a severe ankle sprain at mile 13 combined with my right knee feeling like Freddy Kruger was preforming a deep tissue massage on my knee as I was running. (Truth be told, it was probably both).

I had to bail at mile 28. It was tough but I knew I couldn't go any further. My two sons and wife were waiting there at the aid station and all of them were absolutely wonderful and encouraging. "You can continue. Sit down, eat something, and just head to the next aid. Don't think about the total distance, just make it to the next aid station." Problem was, I had quit in my mind about 4 miles prior and I was too far gone mentally to get it back. My response, "All I want is a beer." So that's what we did. We loaded in the Tahoe and headed to the nearest restaurant that had beer. I had several. I guess I was trying to drink out that voice that was whispering in my ear, "you're a quitter." I don't think I was too successful.

Immediately following the race, I stopped running for two weeks to give my knees and ankle some time to heal but unfortunately when I went out for the very next run, with each step, I endured a shooting pain so I broke down and set an appointment with Dr. Andrews, the world famous sports doc here in B-Ham. After the MRI, I was told my knee was essentially deformed, or more specifically, my knee cap didn't rotate correctly.  (I prefer to say it's deformed.  Makes it much more dramatic) 

My knee cap apparently shifts too far to the outside as my knee bends which pinches the 'fat cap' under the knee cap. The Dr. prescribed PT so that's what I've been doing since. Go in, let them zap the knee and ankle with electric, freeze it with ice, deep tissue massage the IT Band till I scream, and then wrap my kneecap with what feels like super glue tape so it doesn't shift too terribly to the outside as I run. All in all, the therapy is helping. I twisted the ankle again on a trail run about 3 weeks ago and it was worse than before but I think I'll always deal with a weak ankle from now on. Just have to be more careful. 

So, there's your catch-up. I'm sure there was a bit more that's happened since then but I'm giving you the abridged version.   You're welcome. So where am I now? I'm deciding on what the next race will be. I'm fairly convinced I'll do the Mt. Cheaha 50K at the end of Feb and then prepare for my first 100 in either May or June. There are a few out there that I've got my eyes on. I've hired a trainer and I don't think I could have hired a better one. The greatest 100 mile racer in history. Karl Meltzer. If anyone can get me ready for a 100, it's him. 32 - 100 mile wins. Yes. 32. Ridonkulous. I'm pretty super stoked to have SpeedGoat Karl as my trainer but it's not like he's my high school buddy or anything. It's similar to when Dave Matthews, in his Live at Radio City concert, discussed about going and seeing one of the oldest and most secretive tribes on the planet, the Khoisan Tribe: "I knew someone who knew someone who knew we had a big check." Lucky for me, Karl doesn't require a 'big' check, just a check.

To end this never ending blog that no one even reads, I thought that instead of making some silly New Year's Resolution about how I'm going to run more, eat better, and most importantly, work to be a better father and husband, how 'bout I just do what I know I need to do...

See you on the trails. 
I'm Ripple Running!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm officially "Over The Hill"...

I dreaded it.  I tried to hide from it.  I even attempted, without success of course, to lie about it.  But I hit it...with my foot firmly on the gas pedal at full force on Friday morning at 12:00 am.  I am now 40 years old.  As I type that out, it still is hard to accept and be ok with it.  I mean, I don't think I look 40.  I don't have any gray in my hair.  Ok, I have a hair or two in a much lighter shade on my face if I let it grow for a few days but that's it.  My forehead does not have the deep crevasses of time etched into it nor have the crows feet latched on to the side of my eyes.  I'm fairly fit for a 40 year old white American male.  Could I be fitter? Yes, of course.  But I'm sure I'm in a very low percentile of 40 year old men that can go out and run 20+ miles in the mountains on a Saturday morning in the Alabama heat.  

So how did this happen?  You often hear people say "I don't feel (insert a certain age here)." or "I still feel like I did when I was 25."  I understand that completely now.  Obviously, I'm glad I'm not 25.  At 25, I had no direction, no future career planned out, and most importantly, I didn't have my two wonderful boys.  At 40, I have Ian and Noah, I have a wonderful career and I'm a reasonably happy kinda guy.  I have a beautiful home (actually two but one's an albatross that I currently call a rental property in Dallas that I just can't seem to sell) and I have a very small select group of close friends.

So why is this bothering me so much?  I don't know.  I wish I did and I wish 'it' didn't.  But it does.  Quite frankly, I don't want to be 40.  In my 30's, I could still convince myself of my youth and vitality.  40's....not so much.    In my 30's, the future seemed so endless.  40's....not so much.  Where I used to think about working for the love of the job and moving up the corporate ladder, now I guess I work for "retirement".  

Please rest assured that I'm not going to be one of those old tool bags that goes out and buys a hideous red Corvette and drive around with the top down and the Beach Boys blaring from the radio.  (Ok.  Yes, I might get a Porsche and have DMB blaring but come on, it's a Porsche and it's DMB.)  I know that within time, I'll become adjusted to the fact that I'm on the down swing of my life.  Maybe sooner than later.  Doubtful but maybe. 

But right now, at this moment, I am wallowing in self pity and denial with a Ketel One in hand and I plan to reside here for at least a few more days....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bad people have no place on this planet...

I've decided that bad people have no place on this planet.  Ok, I realize that most everyone would say that this is about the most 'well duh' statement I've ever made but I really mean it. 

As I had mentioned on the last post, I was planning on running 25 miles last Saturday and I was set.  New supplements.  New gaiters.  Vespa to try.  Ready to go.  I headed to the park at 5:45 a.m., made a quick stop at the gas station to pick up some bug spray (I really hate gnats), paid the $3 to get in, and drove up to the North Trail head. Funny enough, we hadn't planned it but David and I managed to arrive at the exact same time. We got out, talked for a bit as we got ready, and then headed out on the run.

We ran to the White Trail and up the White Trail hill together but David went back down to do his insane hill repeats (3/4 mile climb up an 800ft ascent x 5 times...holy cow) as I continued on the white trail.  I could tell immediately that my legs were heavy.  I ran a fairly quick 9 mile run on Thursday morning and I think I was still very sore.  The first 12.5 mile loop was ok.  Nothing too bad or too good.  As I arrived back at the car to replenish water, electrolytes, etc...., David was back as well.  We talked for a few minutes and then headed back out.  He went up the Blue Trail and I went back on the white.  About a mile in, I just mentally crashed.  My legs were hurting and the additional 10lbs of replenished water weight on my back just killed my enthusiasm for another 12.5 mile run.  That, and the heat again was unbearable.   I packed it in and headed back to the car.

As I was leaving the park, I thought about going to the store and getting some meat to grill on my Big Green Egg so I headed to our local market.  When I parked the car, I opened my center console and my wallet and $37 was missing.  After a few minutes of searching, I thought maybe it dropped out back at Oak Mountain so I headed back quickly.  Unfortunately, it wasn't there and then I realized that there was no way both the cash that was loose and the wallet 'fell out'.  I phoned the state park police and filed a report.  I then called the first of my credit cards.  Wow.  There was a $1089 charge on my MasterCard at Best Buy.  I immediately called the other cards and shut them down.  When I arrived back at the house, I called Amex to see if anyone had tried to use that card after it was closed and low and behold, someone went to Home Depot and tried to buy $1000 worth of stuff there.

Long story short, I apparently left my car unlocked somehow and there were campers there that broke in a stole it.  More specifically, a middle aged heavy set white woman. I know this because I've seen her on the surveillance tapes as she used my card.   The anger someone has inside of them watching someone else use their stolen card to purchase a Sony TV, a Sony PS3 and games is astonishing.  If I could have found that woman at that moment, I would have turned into one of those bad people myself.  To answer your question:  No.  The clerks at the stores did not ask for ID.  Amazing.  $1000 purchases and they never asked for ID.  They haven't caught her yet but they're pretty sure they know who it is.  Just building a case now.  Keep your fingers crossed.

So, I'm heading back out tomorrow morning for another attempt at the 25 mile double loop.  Keep your fingers crossed that I complete it and no decides to take what's not theirs again.  BTW, I never realized any benefit from the $6 per packet of Vespa.  Hmmm.

Bad people really have no place on this planet...

Friday, August 12, 2011


Well, obviously I haven't been keeping up with this blog thing as much as I thought I would but my training runs are definitely more consistent.  I've been getting in my long runs on the weekends and have started to up the miles for my runs during the week.  So far, so good.  Ran 9 miles yesterday early morning and at a good pace.  So, with the 22 I did on Sunday, 6 on Tuesday, 3 on Wednesday, and 9 yesterday, that puts my weekly miles so far at 40 miles and I'm planning to try and do 25 tomorrow.  65 miles in a week will, without a doubt, be my highest mileage in a week ever.  Sad thing is, I have to run almost that far in just one day.


So, about that heat thing and my 22 on Sunday.  I left out on the White Trail at Oak Mountain at 6:20 a.m and did the 11 mile White to Blue and back loop.  The first loop felt great.  Nathan 70 oz hydration pack kept me hydrated and I think I ate effectively the day prior.  However, 6 miles into the second loop, my calves started to cramp again.  I hobbled along for 10-15 minutes hoping it would work itself out but it didn't so I had to resort to some fairly deep muscle tissue massage with my knuckles (painful to say the least) to see if I could get the calves to relax.  It helped a bit but not 10 minutes later, they returned in full force..and I do mean in FULL FORCE.

The last 4 miles were absolute torture.  I was walking at a 20 min/mile pace and even that was hurting.  The constant climbs and descents of the Blue Trail were excruciating.  I tried to run the flats and the descents and was able to on the flats but the descents have just a high grade with so much rock and roots, my legs just weren't able to safely keep my footing.  There was one section of the Blue Trail that I had to sit for about 5 minutes because of the pain and the dizziness.  I think I was pretty close to heat exhaustion.  I didn't really realize it at the time because I had already consumed about 130 oz of water with electrolytes but now it's pretty evident that's what was going on.  When I finally got made it back to the car, I seriously started to worry that I had bitten off more than I could chew with this first 50 Mile Ultra.  I didn't know if it was the heat, my supplements, or just a lack of endurance. 

I reached out to my ultra 'mentor', David Tosch ( who luckily for me lives and runs with me here at Oak Mountain.  To my relief, David was sure it was the heat.  He also had a pretty tough weekend at Oak Mountain because of the heat and this is a guy who just did the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Ultra a month ago.  I think I just need to not worry so much about the time and take it a bit slower when it gets hotter.  I'm just so worried about this 14 hour time limit and with my stops at the 9 aid stations, I now will have only about 13.5 hrs to finish a Grade 4 Ultra.


Tomorrow should be another warm one, 90 plus, but hopefully with the new Vespa supplements, the Nathan Pack, new Electrolyte tabs, and my knowledge that I just need to slow down, I can complete this 25 miles and not have to be airlifted off the mountain...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Finding the time...

This seems to be the constant daily battle.  I have created a training schedule that has me running 4-5 days a week, with two long runs on Sat and Sun. However, it has been more difficult to stick with the plan.  Getting in a 10 mile run is much more difficult than finding the time to run 3. 

I have to find the balance between the boys, the wife, work, and the run.  I can't run at night simply because I haven't seen the family all day.  I can no longer run at lunch from the office because as liberal of a lunch hour as I have, I can't take two and a half hour lunches three days a week so I can change, get to Oak Mountain, run a 7 mile trail run, eat lunch, and get back to the office.  I know I have to get up earlier and do the runs in the morning but I really prefer running the trails and quite frankly, I don't run as well at 5 AM as I do at 11 AM.

Last week, I was able to get in only two of the scheduled runs and I wasn't able to do any long run yesterday and if I can get out today, I will have to attempt to run 4 hours in 100 degree temp this afternoon.  I know that's not the smartest thing to do but tomorrow is the 4th and there's no way I'll be able to get up, get to Oak Mountain, run 4 hours and be worth anything the remainder of the day.

I'm not too terribly worried just yet with the lack of training.  David Tosch ( says that he only trains a couple days a week so as long as I get in the long run on the weekend, then my week won't be a complete loss. 

Running into David at Oak Mountain is turning out to be a great twist of fate.  He's a ultra marathon runner and per his blog above, I've been able to gain quite a bit of knowledge on training for this 50 miles.  I'm sure I'll lean on him a bit more the closer I get to the race but he's training now for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 which is in just a couple of weeks so he's out of pocket for a while.

Well, I guess I need to get up and start getting ready.  The more I prepare for a run, the less likely it is that I bail on it, 100 degree temp or not...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One Week Down

Let me start by simply saying that I'm not a writer nor do I profess to be.  I've started this blog to keep me in line with my training.   More than likely, no one will even read this so no critiques.  Even from myself.....

Here we go.

Well, I'm one week into my 18 week training program for the North Face Endurance 50 Mile Challenge in Atlanta on October 15th.  As you might know, I'm running this for two reasons.  One, to run an ultra and two, to raise money for the tornado victims in Alabama.  I thought if I did that then it'd be much harder for me to not follow through with the training program.  So, here we go.
Last week was fairly good with the training.    Not much to speak of until Saturday morning.  Did 9 miles, with a slow pace.  Sunday morning, woke  up, drove down to Oak Mountain, and was planning on doing about 3 hours.
Without knowing any better, decided to run the yellow trail and then circle back around on the red trail.  Well, I learned very quickly that the first 3 miles of the yellow trail isn't really made for running, at least not consistently.  Wow.  Very up and down.  I used almost all of my energy on that first small piece of the run.
By the time I made it to the red trail to circle back, I was fairly exhausted but I plugged on.  I made it back to the car at 3:37 hrs.  Not 100% sure how far I ran but I'm estimating about 16 miles.  This is just shy of a 14 min per mile pace.  Too slow.  By the time the race gets here, I need to be able to do that in 12 or less.  I'm not too concerned though. 

The biggest focus right now is my diet.  I need to stay fueled for my runs but I can't eat so much as I gain weight.  I really need to loose another 15 pounds by mid August.  That will take so much more stress off the knees and toes.  I figure my calorie intake needs to be at around 2600-2800 per day.  That will put me on pace to loose between a pound and two pounds per week with the amount I'm running.  I've cut out the Ketel except for maybe one on Sunday and Thursday's because my off days are Monday and Friday.  Need to stay hydrated. 

This morning, I started speed work with a 6 mile run.  1 mile slow, 1 mile at 10K pace and repeat three times.  Problem is, I did my interval at more of a 3K pace.  Ran way to fast.  I really need to learn how to make subtle changes in my speed and realize that it makes a big enough difference.  I also need to work on my stride. It's too short right now so that will also be a focus on the upcoming runs.

Anyways, time to get to work.