Thursday, October 29, 2009
1. I have a good base. I've slowly worked up to a 40+ mile run in October and still had a little energy left in the tank after the run. It went slow, but it felt right.
2. Weight loss is a top priority. Since dropping from Weight Watchers several months ago my weight has been yo-yoing around 245 (give or take 10 lbs. any given week). So I am back into good ol' WW on Monday. Hey, stepping on the scale and weighing in front of strangers works for me! This time I am getting to my lifetime goal weight! My goal - arrive at the Iron Horse 100 at a lean 225 lbs. ready to tear it up!
3. After a month I have realized that cross training does not seem improve my ultra running. That is, when I replace my short to mid distance runs during the week with other aerobic activities/weight lifting. I have missed my middle of the week runs and I'm excited to have them back. However, I am still sneaking in a little cycling & crossfit at the gym ;]
4. I revised my 15 week training schedule. If you are interested you can view it HERE. I have three ultra races scheduled between now and the hundo' in February to keep me rolling with the long runs.
For now, I am focusing on training for the Pine Mountain 40 mile run in December. I'm keeping my eye on one day at a time and enjoying the fall running...
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I loosened the Velcro strap that spans the top of the shoe and runs down the outside of it.
Once they were on I wiggled my toes around to fit them into the five grooves at the end. This felt weird, but in a good way. Once the piggies were in their caves I tightened the Velcro strap. Snug, but not tight....
Then I put my foot flat on the ground and made some minor adjustments. I noticed that pulling the fabric up toward your ankle on top of the shoe helped to seat your toes perfectly.
They felt like a good fit so I headed right into some rocks. I could feel the rocks through the shoe, but my feet felt protected.
Time to break out into a run. It was a beautiful fall day and the trail was somewhat rooty & rocky. I was a little concerned about the leaves hiding both of them underneath the cover. As soon as I started running I noticed that heel striking was not an option. At first I was cautiously landing on the balls of my forefoot, but relaxed and worked into some nice mid-striking. The few times I struck my heel first it jarred my entire body - WOW!
I was surprised how comfortable they were. It was a nice sensation to feel the cool ground under my feet. I occasionally landed on a rock or root without much trouble. I definitely felt it, but it did not hurt at all.
To be fair this trail is fairly flat without a lot of debris and rocks on it. I will have to take the Vibrams out on a gnarly trail for another review after I get some easy miles on them. It was a beautiful day for a run! I wanted to just keep going, but had to get back to the office.
I was only planning on running a mile, but ended up running two. Wanted to run 10 :]
I headed back to the car to inspect my feet:
Everything looked & felt great!
I enjoyed running in the Vibrams! They were comfortable and gave my feet just enough protection while still letting me "feel" the terrain underneath. My plan is to slowly build up some miles on them with gentle terrain and see what happens. I think they are great aids in helping you mid strike & stay off of those heels.
Monday, October 5, 2009
The trail system is located in North Augusta, S.C. which is about 2 hours from my home in Spartanburg. I opted to get up at 4:30 AM and drive down early Sunday morning so I could sleep in my own bed. The trail head was easy to find and I met up with some GUTS friends - Erica, Tom, Kena & David Ray. We quickly checked in and pinned on our numbers. Terri gave her pre-race speech and we were off & running at 7:30 AM.
This ultra was a different course design than the others that I have ran. There were a total of six loops. You could run five loops for the 50k distance and six for the 40 miler. It was fun to run each section because their names gave you some indication of what the trail would be like.
I will admit that my nerves were shot before the run started. All that I could keep thinking is "don't go out too fast, don't go out too fast....".
1. Deep Step Trail
Everyone started out fresh on this trail from the registration table. It seems like it was nearly all downhill with lots of little "V"s in the terrain. I'm sure the mountain bikers have a name for these, but I will assume that is why it is called Deep Step.?
The entire field seemed to be running together for the first mile so I decided to take a bio break and let the mob roar past me down the trail. I enjoyed feeding off the energy at the start line. It is fun to jockey for position with some of the super fast people. It seemed that the entire pack ran together like a big snake for about a mile.
When I got back on the trail I met up with a fellow runner from Charleston and we ran together for about an hour. It was cool and cloudy during Deep Step and it went by quickly. Two mountain bikers stopped and asked me if I was doing OK. I thought this was kind of weird because I felt great. I figured they were just looking out for the runners.
1a. Connector Trail
2 & 3. Big Rock & Tower
This was about a six mile section that obviously passed some big boulders and a fire tower. This section of trail was already showing signs of fall with leaves & pine needles covering the path. As in the other ultras, the first 14.5 miles seemed to fly by, but according to my watch I was moving at about 12 min/mile pace. I saw the lead pack finishing the loop and they were already about 5 miles ahead of me. I laughed and thought they better hope I don't turn on my rocket boosters!
I felt that I was moving faster than that, but I was being cautious of going out too fast and taking a lot of walk breaks. Looking back I feel like I should have just ran faster when I felt like it, but I was enjoying the trails at the same time. This day was turning into a classic cool fall day in the south. Awesome! And of course - another biker slammed on brakes and checked to see if I was doing OK. At this point I was starting to freak out a bit.
Connector trail/road back to the other side of the trail system.
After strolling in from the connector road I was greeted by the GUTS aid station dream team! Kim, Tom, Kena, and others were there smiling and cheering me in. They were taking care of runners left and right. Bottles were getting filled, food was being dished up left and right, and directions to the next trail were available. It was terrific to have such seasoned runners helping out! Kim asked why my shirt had blood all over the back of it?
This kind of freaked me out since I had not felt any pain or stinging. After further review we decided it was just a little pimple that my shirt had rubbed the skin off of. This also made sense why all the bikers were asking if I was OK. I suppose seeing someone running through the woods listening to music with a bloody shirt may be cause for alarm.
I was feeling good with some minor toe cramps heading out of the aid station back to the trail. So here is the "skinny" on the Skinny trail. This section of trail was by far the easiest of the day. Mainly flat & downhill sections with some narrow trails. I came 6 inches from taking a biker out on one of the tight turns. It was probably a missed opportunity because he smelled of food as he whiffed by. I dreamed of having a pinata type collision where cheeseburgers and milkshakes came flying from the bike. That was fun to think about while I listened to some Willie Nelson. I started to feel the run near the end of skinny at about 22 miles. I felt a "bonk" was coming soon as I was out of water and food.
5. Brown Wave
6. Great Wall
As I turned away from the aid station back onto the trail my buddy Mike Riggins yelled that there was a water drop about 4 miles into the loop. I'm glad he did because that gave me a shorter goal to aim for instead of the full 8 mile loop. As I hobbled down the trail I passed team Beth (two runners) coming in from their 40 miler with big smiles. Their high energy spilled out & it gave me an instant jump start. (The pizza & brownies didn't hurt either!). About 1/2 mile into this section my shorts were so heavy with food they fell to my knees and I nearly crashed into a tree! After making sure no one saw me - I had to stop and laugh at myself! It would be some sight to see my lying with my shorts down in the forest with bags of pizza & brownies around me!!! Maybe the "ultra version of The Blair Witch"? I decided it would be wise to scarf down some more food to avoid scaring small children & forest animals with another exposure.
To make this section even more interesting, I met up with two coon dogs! One of them was doing that funny bark and the other one was just walking around wagging his tail. I was feeling restless so I started doing my own version of the coon dog bark too! I was buzzing from all of the sugar and had a blast playing with the dogs for a few minutes. After I realized that they just were not that interested in hearing me bark I continued on the journey. I was hurting at this point and the funk was trying to set in.
This is the point in the run when I realized that I was going to be well over 40 miles after this last loop. My Garmin GPS watch loses it's distance under tree cover and I was nearly at 40 miles with four miles to go. Of course, just as I realize that I will probably end up doing about 45 miles a mountain biker shows up and asks if I know that my back if covered in blood? By this point the sweat has turned the entire back of my white shirt red. It looks much worse than it is, but it makes me feel tough. GRRRRRRRR!!!! At this point it was just one foot in front of the other.
This biker was sweeping the loop for Terri and he let me know that I had about four miles to go. He also added that I was the last runner out on the course. It was starting to get dark in the forest so I felt a little more motivated to run and wrap this madness up. The bike sweeper made a 2nd pass when I was about 1 mile from the finish and he let me know that I was very close. After 40+ miles "very close" better mean you can see your car!
At this point I had the most amazing feeling that I have ever had during a run. I was filled with energy. My foot cramps vanished & my posture straightened up. I suddenly felt like a new man and was overwhelmed with emotions. I felt like crying, laughing & singing all at the same time. I thanked God for my life, family, friends, running, brownies, pizza, coon dogs and lots of other things. It is very difficult to put the feelings into words, but the final mile was excellent.
As I make the final turn I see David Ray (who also finished his first 40 miler!) lounging in his camp chair with a huge grin on his face cheering me in with Terri. It was great to see them and they offered me lots of great food and congratulations to wrap the run up.
After I was able to rest for a minute Terri pulls out a bag with a big smile and hands me my FATS 40 finisher's award and this special award for finishing all four of her races this season: