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.