Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thoughts on where I am as a runner...

This blog entry will discuss where I'm at regarding ultra running.  Both mentally & physically.  I'm going to take some time to sort out what is working and not working for me as well.  I have a lot of stuff in my head and need to get it out.

I'm looking forward to running Terri Hayes' FATS (Fork Area Trail System) 50K this weekend near North Augusta Georgia.  If I add up all of my ultra marathon races & organized fun runs this will be my 22nd ultra event since I began with Buncombe on May 3rd, 2009.   That's 22 in about seventeen months.  If you know me, I rarely push myself to run fast at these, but just set out to finish strong.  I will push myself to finish though!

By no means am I boasting when I talk about completing those 22 events.  I personally know lots of ultra runners who have ran a lot more races in a shorter period of time.  I'm only making a mental "bookmark" of my running for now, while briefly looking back at my couch potato life of 300+ lbs lying in front of the TV before 2009.  That's me pictured to the right with my sister in June 2009.  I was at 310 lbs.

By the way, how did I get here?  I was motivated while watching the 2008 women's summer Olympics marathon on the couch and decided to go for a run that evening.  I walked 100 yards and nearly passed out.  Ran a road half marathon, then full marathon, finished and thought I would like running on the trails better.  Googled trail running and found Christian Griffith's Chattooga 50K race report.   Then I met Race Director Terri Hayes and signed up for her 2009 Chattooga 50K event.  I was so anxious to run it that I decided to run her Buncombe 34 Mile Race one month before.  That was my first ultra.

My past three ultra events have seen me fall short of my goal for each of them.  First, The Foothills Trail Run in July 2010 was extremely hot and I did not finish it.  Next, I ran The Long Cane 50 mile race in Greenwood, SC and went off course which caused me to cut the mileage short for the day.  I did receive credit for a 40 mile official finish, but it was tough to stomach another mishap.  Finally, just last weekend I came up short on the Foothills Trail again making it 60 out of the 77 miles. 

I feel frustrated about coming up short three times.  I am a very analytical and obsessive person and that makes it even tougher to deal with not finishing.  On the other hand, these were very difficult and demanding events that required patience, strategy, thinking on the go, and endurance.  It always does me good to get "slapped down".  It humbles me, breaks me down, and then I can build myself back up stronger than before.

Today I'm feeling that it is vital for me to finish the FATS ultra this weekend.  There is no such thing as an easy 50K, but compared to many this one is on much more forgiving terrain.  I plan on showing up rested and ready to have a fun day running in the woods.  It will be nice to run without a watch again.

The weekend after FATS I'm excited to be running with my wife Beth.  It will be her first official race - The Spartanburg IRecycle Half Marathon!  I'm really looking forward to sharing this experience with her and she is going to do great because she has trained so hard for it.

The Pinhoti 100 mile trail run is then right around the corner in November.  I've never felt more prepared for a race than I am for this one.  My personal battles with the Foothills Trail over the summer have provided the perfect training ground and I'm glad that I had the chance to lay down the ground work for another 100 miler.

More than anything, I'm thankful to God for my health and the ability to get out on the trails and do this!  It's been tough not meeting my goals recently, but looking back at all of the beauty that I've seen & experienced makes me so content.  I'm very thankful for all of the incredible people that I've met and had the pleasure of spending time getting to know.

Ok, here is some stuff that I have learned this summer.
  1. I don't need salt caps (S!Caps) unless it is near 100 degrees or extremely hot & humid.  I get enough salt & electrolytes through the food I eat.
  2. That leads to another finding.  I have been drinking way too much water.  I can safely take in 30 ounces of water / hour in extreme heat.  20 oz. / hour if more ideal for me.   I noticed several problems that developed when I was drinking more than that over the summer.
  3. I DO need to eat a little something every 45-60 minutes during an ultra.  I will bonk after 2-3 hours with no food.
  4. My body handles distance much better by going slow & steady for the entire event.  When I try to run hard & stop and rest more I suffer.  As a matter of fact, I do better by not stopping unless I absolutely have to.
Photo courtesy of Psyche Wimberly - 2 Mile Above Whitewater Falls Foothills Trail


  1. 60 miles on the Foothills is completely bad ass. You will come to terms with it soon enough. For now, you have a goal to reach for and races to experience in the meantime. Congrats on taking on the challenges and risks of a healthy lifestyle! That alone is worth you time!

  2. You've come a long way. As a former 385+ pound guy, I definitely relate to the feeling of deciding for yourself to pursue better fitness and going for that goal. You've achieved that in flying colors and I'm looking forward to accompanying you on the final miles of your Pinhoti adventure.

  3. You're a winner in my book Jason! Good insights into your own needs as a's interesting how different and unique we all are in terms of our own physiologies. See ya at FATS!


  4. I remember first meeting you on the trails when you were training for Chattooga and I was training for Buncombe. I think it's amazing what you've accomplished with running in such a short time. You should be very proud of that. I'm actually envious of you and some of the others who run as many ultras as you do. I can't do it; my body just won't let me. This year, I started focusing on quantity instead of quality and it's bitten me hard the last couple of months with injury. That being said, next year will be about quality again and not about quantity. Don't let the little setbacks get you down. Learn from them and keep running. See you Sunday at FATS!

  5. Well, first, I need to self-assess because I sure was little in that picture!Second, you are to be commended for ever getting up off the couch in the first place. Most people who weigh 300 lbs never make a life change. Its just easier to stay on the couch. I am proud of you for your accomplishments. You mention falling short of your goals. You havent fallen short at all. Instead, look at what all you have accomplished! Its all in how you look at things! God says it best in Philippians 3:12-14. Not that I have already obtained all this or have been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.One thing I will do, forget what is behind me, and strain to what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward.
    Press on, little brother!!!!!!

  6. Huge accomplishments in just 2 years Jason! See you tomorrow at FATS.