Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leadville 100 report from 60.5 - finished see September 1st post.

Ok so it only took me a month but it is now completed, bar some minor typos etc.
The Leadville 100 report from 60.5 is ready for your reading pleasure, see September 1st post for the full story.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leadville 100 report from 60.5

August 21st 2010 Leadville, CO.
Well it's kick off time after nine months of training time to put everything to the test.
Dry with a temperature a nice comfortable 40 F, could not ask for better conditions, forecast is good for the next 30 hours also so weather should not be a factor.
Amanda, Noreen, Angie and Heather are doing a good job getting a few photos of the kick off and keeping me entertained. Over the all the scene is rather peaceful with over six hundred runners and supports getting ready to head down the road. There is an air of anticipation but as more that two thirds of the runners have at least attempted this before generally people know what they are getting in to. Or so at least I thought. A best of luck kiss from Amanda and that's the end of my preparation. End of the road from signing up on January 3rd, does not seem that long ago.

Ready for action.

4:00 am
And off I go, a little nervous but feeling ready. A very short stretch of asphalt and then it's in to the dirt roads and trails of Colorado. The next 13 miles were a hell of an introduction to this race. Some nice cruising down a few forest roads and jeep paths followed up by some single tracks running along next to the beautiful Turquoise Lake. Of course the fact there was a kayak rescue crew waiting at a few dodgy points on the trail was a pretty good indication of what could happen. The water temperature of probably 40 to 45 F of course would make the kayak a rather necessary item. Lots of chat over the first few miles between friends and strangers hushed up as the more technical stretches of the trail were reached. A good test for my new headlamp while I was fresh and I was very happy to find that it did a great job. Big relief.
6:38 am 13 miles 2 hours 38 min
Into May Queen aid station right on schedule. Heather ready with her camera at the outlet from the aid station. Pity I went around the outside and surprised her, yes the picture on Facebook was staged. Amanda, Noreen and Angie load me up with water and GU then on down the road I head. A few yards on pavement and then into the woods. Pretty quickly it's clear that things are now getting serious. The trail has a very reasonable grade, even a little down hill - quickly learn not to be fooled by that. The fact that I had to pass a mountain biker because he was finding the trail a little too technical was a good indication of how rough things were at this point. This was the kick off to one of  the this race will kick your ass portions.
Some technical uphill to a forest road and then on to a jeep road for the climb up to the power line stretch. A very testing climb over the Sugarloaf pass which tops out at 11,071 ft. The term  jeep road is misleading, road would suggest a degree of engineering and maybe leveling - not so. It was a serious pull up to the pass along an extremely rugged trail. Of course getting over the top allowed me to open up a small bit and make time on the down hill. The downhill follows the before mention jeep road and then switches to running along under some power lines. As one of my fellow racers referred to it this section was like getting through a skate park. A steep grade supplemented by heavy water erosion made for a high speed trip down in pin ball machine style. A few rolls of each ankle were mandatory on this stretch. During one particularity painful roll I had the very amazing sensation of the pain shooting out my right hand via the finger trips, freaky but hey the ankle still works. As a reward for making it down the pinball machine the next few miles are actually on real road, yes such a thing does exist in the wilds of Colorado and I head down to the road to the Fish Hatchery aid station,
9:15 am 23.5 miles 5 hours 15 min
Into Fish Hatchery aid station meeting Angie to drop off my camel back before a quick pop into the porta john, yes such things are necessary when busy undertaking an event like this. Check in with race officials and off again thanks to the rapid reload by Noreen and Angie. Heather was off capturing the moment in pixels. Right on schedule and feeling good. Actually at this stage I'm very happy with how I feel, there is still a good pep in my step and spirits are high. That is good thing because it is a long drag from Fish Hatchery out to the Halfmoon II Aid Station. No big hills or great drama, initially just a long drag along the road and then cruising along some nice forest service roads, uphill all the way. As this is the most exposed section of the course it was great to actually have some cloud cover for these few miles. Mental motivation gets tougher heading for the aid station because I did not have an accurate distance. That data had not been finalized when the maps were planned. So other than a brief meeting with Noreen to swap out Garmins at mile 3  I  was not sure how far to the next break. Ah well, everyone else is going this way so it has to be here somewhere.
11:12 am 31.5 miles 7 hours 12 min
First aid station without having my crew to give me a pick up as Halfmoon II was deep in the wood, at least a 3 mile hike in, driving not allowed during the event. A little much to expect someone to drag a pack of stuff in. Quite the excellent spread of sugar charged refreshments were provided and of course some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Neglected to have my camel back reloaded which turned out to be an error. So four minutes after pulling in, off I go again heading for Twin Lakes. There was a lot of uphill to get to Halfmoon II and as I was now head for the lowest point on the course I had a reasonable expectation of some good favorable grades. Well that was a mistake, eight miles to the lowest point some how became pretty much seven miles of uphill. This was the next step in the ass kicking, I worked hard to maintain the schedule and pace as planned out last night.
Despite over nine months of training and almost two years of planning to do this event it was literally eight hours before hand that I took the time to put on paper what I thought I would have to do to finish on time. This was necessary so my support crew would have an idea when I would get to each aid station. The hesitation in doing so was that deep down I was afraid it would be too intimidating, better to be ignorant. Happily after doing it I was pleasantly surprised to find myself looking at a plan with pace settings that seemed reasonable and doable. Even after some adjustments considering the grade and difficulty of some sections to the best of my limited knowledge there was still a good bit of wiggle room and slack time overall, especially in the second half of the race. So there go the best laid plans of men and mice.
Along the miles to Twin Lakes was where I first started to encounter people that really looked like they were laboring with the time and miles starting to take their toll. At this point the prospect of the 2 pm cutoff to be out of Twin Lakes was foremost in my mind. According to my plan I would be there by 1:25 pm but there seemed no end to the hills so I was somewhat concerned. Finally I got to the stretch of trail that Amanda and I had hiked on Thursday, a big relief as I knew I should only be 2 miles or so from Twin Lakes and that there could not be any more serious climbs left. So I pushed myself to make up time lost on all the climbs, which worked pretty well even along the couple hundred yards that was basically a line scratched across the side of a cliff. Even the 500 runners before me could not beat it into a real trail. This will be fun coming back across in the dark tonight was the thought in my head. Just for the icing on the cake most of the drop to the lowest point on the course occurs in the last half mile before the aid station at a breakneck rate, going to be fun tonight getting out of here.

39.5 miles 1:18 pm 9 hours 18 min
Right on schedule into Twin Lakes. Check in with the officials and a reload of the camel back. I had ran out of water about three miles back. Had to bum some water from another runner at one stage. Yep should have reloaded at Halfmoon II, well now I know. Out of the aid station and across the road to a great reception by Rick and Nicole Roland with Nicole's parents. They had journeyed up from Denver for the day, complete with Gatorade and the best peanut butter sandwich ever. Great to have a few minutes of familiar faces again. Having them here also allowed the rest of the gang time to make the lovely drive up to Winfield along 11 miles of dusty and very bumpy forest road. A quick photo with Rick and Nicole, then off across the marsh heading for Hope Pass. Right on schedule but no idea what I was about to get into.
Just as I was making my way across the marsh, racing toward me came the lead runner, skin, bone and Jesus beard, no shirt required. His pacer was working hard to keep up with him. At this point he was on track to break the course record of around 16 hours, unfortunately he collapsed due to dehydration at the 80 mile mark. A reminder to always to continue with fluid replenishment. Said by the guy that allowed himself to run out of water.

Continuing across the marsh I came to surprise number one of five. In the back of my mind I had wondered if there were bridges or what across the river, that would be no. And it's not one but five rivers/streams of various depths. The final one being mid thigh and flowing so fast that the use of the safety rope in place was an absolute requirement. Oh well at least now my feet are cool and refreshed.
My one saving grace being that I had previously learned the lesson of gortex shoes which keep water out and in. So my current mesh shoes let the water out and the air into dry my socks. Wet feet was about to be a minor issue.
Two miles across the marsh I reached the bottom of the climb to Hope Pass. 3 1/2 miles 3300 feet to go. This is a major ass kicking. Wow this is a lot more than I had expected and a lot steeper and longer. Maintaining pace was no longer an issue, keeping walking started to become a challenge. In my mind I had never conceived that the climb would be this tough. Very steep, very rough, very constant. Focusing on the time did not help as it became clear that I just had to keep moving best I could and then try to make up time on the downhill, after all my pace goals were an average. A few runners came down on the way back, all skinny and bouncing along - bastards. A brief conversation with a guy that had turned around at the Hope Pass aid station did nothing for my state of mind. His claim that it was another mile and a half to the aid station sounded ridiculous to me, he was right - bastard.
Getting to the Hope Aid station I looked up at the remaining trail to the pass, snaking it's way up through a collection of switchbacks. That does not look too bad. Officials tell me it's a half mile to the top, hmm does not look to be that far. So off I headed, damn this is a bitch. Steeper that previous sections, like I needed that, complete with slippy gravel and now lots of runners coming down after making it to the turn around.
Reach the top, no way that is only half a mile. On cresting the pass I almost lose my breath, the view is stunning. There is a ring of mountain peaks surrounding a valley which is just phenomenal to behold. Worth the price of admission. A quick five seconds to take it in and then I plunge into the downhill run, I have an average pace to correct and a deadline to make at Winfield. At this point I am now more than an hour behind schedule, cut off is now a serious concern. It's five miles to Winfield, 2.7 of which is downhill, the drop is 2700 feet. The trail is nothing but rocks. My Garmin is now useless as the battery is dead, should have made sure I had a backup, like Charles had advised me. Well if I was one to take advice I probably would not even be here. Not that it really matters now the goal is clear get down the hill and make it to Winfield before the 6 pm cut off. Looking back I'm now amazed that I made it down the hill in one piece, I think I just bounced from rock to rock all the way down. No time for views or scenery. Bursting out of the forest at the bottom onto the forest road is like entering an alien world. There are cars going both ways with the air laden with dust as this is the only way in and out of Winfield Aid station. Of course it is also uphill to the aid station. My legs are shot now all the bouncing and jumping has wiped them out. Well still 3.3 miles to go and a little over an hour to the cut off. The lack my Garmin was now praying on my mind as I started to get very worried about the cut off time and had no confidence in how far the volunteers along the road were telling me I had to go. I was also painfully aware of how slowly I was progressing. Such a gentle hill relative to what I had just come over but there was no go in my legs. People in the cars heading out kept offering shouts of encouragement and support but mentally I could not appreciate them and I do believe that the best I managed was a few grunts back with a pathetic attempt at a wave. Not willing to expend the energy on a decent response or acknowledgment. There was some physically  rougher stretches to come but this was certainly my low point emotionally and mentally  for the race, the lack of information and my snails pace were just beating me down.
Finally I can see the aid station, cursing the fact that I could see it for 10 minutes before I got there, seemed to take forever.

50 miles 5:45 pm 13 hours 45 min
Angie and Heather  were out ahead of the station to guide me in, good job as things were a little chaotic here as the reality of the cutoff time was setting up panic in the racers and the support crews.
The panic and pressure were somewhat contagious especially in the check in tent where the dead legs and stretched emotions were plenty full. This is the first point where I was weighted to check that I was not at risk of dehydration, happily not a problem at this stage. Quick reload of the camel back and stuff down some snacks and chocolate. At this point pacers are allowed so Amanda was jumping in for the  ten miles back to Twin Lakes. Alan was lined up there to drag my ass on to Fish Hatchery, good to have plan. Knowing that I would have company and support from this stage on was a big motivation in getting this far. My hope being that the support would be the lift to get a second wind and have the speed to get back before the time cutoffs kicked in.
5:50 pm back out the road again heading for the hills once more. Having Amanda was a great boost, not that I was able to speed up a whole hell of a lot. At least this time I was heading down hill for awhile. As it was now late in the evening with the 6 pm cut off fast approaching a lot the traffic had gone and the road was much quieter and less dusty on the way back down to the trail.Chatting to a few of the other runners heading back the cut off at Twin Lakes was looming as a concern, especially as there were no illusions about what was ahead. The three miles back to the trail head were anxious but at least downhill and then left turn and back into the heavy uphill climb. Pretty quickly it became apparent that I was not going to have an easy time getting back up to Hope Pass. A pattern of push with a quick walk for a few minutes follow by a breather resting on my knees became the slow crawl back up. As time when on the "few minutes" started to get shorter and the breathers longer. The tank was empty and not reloading. Amanda talked things up and despite some miserable whining by me kept pushing me on. Her patience and tolerance was amazing, I was not particularly pleasant to be around at this time. She took my back pack and kept making sure I took water and GU to keep me rolling. Slowly we edged up along, passing one or two but being passed by more. Everyone was on a deadline and had their own race to run, no hanging around to support someone else, thus the huge benefit of a pacer. The last half mile to the top was torturous, no matter how I tried I just had no push left in me. My legs were dead and at over twelve thousand feet there was not a lot of recovery. Looking at the clock and knowing the mileage left as well as how fast I would be able to move on the other side I had to face the fact that I would not make the deadline. A rather overwhelming moment for me, it was hard after working for the one hundred for the last  twelve months always being confident that I would be able to do it this a dreaded moment. A few tears coupled with a minor rush of feeling I had let down everyone that encouraged me and wished me luck and that was it, no more I can do about it. I'm still a quarter mile from the top and over 5 miles more to Twin Lakes, there is no bus to wait for when you pull out. Taking a few minutes extra to pull myself together Amanda and I pushed for the top, taking the pressure of the cutoff off of me did help but certainly did not speed me up. Top of Hope Pass for the second time was just as inspiring, darkness had set in fully in the last few minutes and the sky was clear and huge, Twin Lakes looked a long ways away and  long ways down the hill.  Oh well not going to get there looking at it. On with our head lamps and down the trail we snaked. The half mile to the check in station is a lot easier going down hill but still rather taxing.
At Hope Station the place was in full party mode as the volunteers were relaxing now that most of the runners had passed through with only the stragglers like me wandering in. Some hot soup and snacks and off we headed for Twin Lakes. Even not pushing the pace as there was no hope of making the cutoff it was still a very arduous trek back down. Getting back to the treeline the darkness of the deep woods closed around us, moving quickly on the trail even with good head lamps was not an easy task. Down the trail we met a few other runners that were in the same predicament, cutoff missed, legs dead but still got to get back to Twin Lakes. The joy of trail running. As we headed across the marsh at the bottom back out of the trees it was head lights off and take in the amazing sky. Crossing the "freezing oceans" was just what Amanda needed to round out her Leadville experience. Thankfully she survived, at this point the cold and wet meant nothing to me. No feeling of any note in my legs at this point anyway so no matter if they were now wet and cold.
Finally there were the lights of Twin Lakes and into the parking lot to head for the check in station. Nice to let them know I was alive and going home for the night. Noreen and Angie were the reception committee with the others after heading into Leadville courthouse, center of operations, to see if they could get any information on my location because Hope Pass information was not available at Twin Lakes.
Checked in, weighted in and that was it I was done. Time to go home and recover.
60.5 miles 10:45 pm 18 hours 45 min

I was wrecked but happy. My intention had been to make the one hundred with no doubt and in my soul I knew that I had put in everything, both on the day and during training. I had done everything I could to prepare as best I knew and put all I had into on the day. There were no logistical or weather problems, I just had no concept of how big the hills are or what that they would do to me. Next time I'll be ready.

This has been an amazing journey for me and my limits and horizons have been expanded more than I could every have imagined. A million thanks to everyone that encouraged me and wished me luck, even if you though I was crazy and told me so, all that goodwill does push you on when having doubts. Those doubts occur more often in the training than on the big day, no choice then. 

A very special thanks to my Colorado crew Amanda, Noreen, Angie, Heather, Carol, Alan & Nicole. I would never have even made it half way without you. Love you guys.

Best support crew at Leadville 100 Run in 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quick note - made it to 60.5 and survivied.

Well I made the 60.5 mile mark but missed the time cut off. Getting over Hope pass (12,600 ft) twice was more than I was ready for. I certainly would never have made it over the second time without Amanda's encouragement, support and listening to my whining.
Thanks to all the crew that supported me on the day  - Amanda, Noreen, Carol, Alan, Nicole, Angie, Heather, Rick & Nicole (makers of the best PB&J ever) . I could never have done it without you, really appreciate all the effort & running around and sorry for being a bit snappy.
The body is recovering quickly now that I'm back in the ATL, there does not appear to be any permanent damage, maybe mental.
Thanks to everyone for all the encouragement and only occasionally telling me I was crazy for trying the LT100.
Brings to mind one of my favorite quotes,
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters...compared to what lies within us".- Emerson
Over all an amazing experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
During the week I shall try to finally get the blog up to date and record my state of mind, such as it is/was.
Of course that was the plan last week also but apparently not having to train has not magically give me any more time.
Not sure what's next.....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Catching up for the end of May

Well apparently I'm now successfully maintaining a blog free life style. More a reflection of how my time is getting eaten up over the last month and a half than any aversion to blogging.
An increase in mileage, trip back to Cork and the addition of a house guest has managed to remove all of the slack from my awake time.
Days are now typically kicking off at 4 am with the goal of completing my mid week runs before the heat of the day kicks in, thus bedtime is now a standard 9 pm.
Here is a general round up of activities and progress over the last 6 weeks,
May 22nd & 23rd was a proper return to the double digit weekends, hitting the trails in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area over by Powers Ferry for a twenty miler. Making use of the main bike trail as a connector to the side trails added a lot of up and down the hills. Pace is not the major focus, just getting the mileage complete being a win. Nice to get back to the local trails again. Sunday was a steady 15 in the city, my late start at 11 am being punished by the 90 F temperature. That sun and heat make hard work out of what should have been a recovery run.

Kept up the regular runs for the week and headed to north Georgia for the Memorial Day weekend. My plan was to camp near the Appalachian Trail and use it for my long run on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday night I ended up camping at Moccasin Creek State Park on the shores of Lake Burton west of Clayton in north Georgia. Kicked off the weekend with a run up beautiful FSR 26 Wildcat Rd alongside Moccason creek, an absolutely beautiful area to run in (or drive if you have to ). The splendor of the area was a great distraction from the fact that I was heading up hill for oh, 11 miles. Got to Addis Gap and then reached my turn around point a few miles north on the Appalachian Trail just passed Kellys Knob. Now for the 11 miles back home downhill, thinking this should be easy. The relative feeling of speed heading back downhill was a huge mental lift, of course also a lot less physical pressure. Of course on the way "down" I realized that the trip "up" had not all been quite all up as there certainly appeared to be a lot of uphill on the way back.  By the time I got back to the regular road section two miles from the camp site my legs were not quite sure what to do any more, frankly sitting down was number one priority. Now I had just to move my camp site and relax for the afternoon.
One of the joys of running up FSR 26 was that I got to scope out campsites for Saturday night.

A relaxing evening hanging at the tent and enjoying the camp fire was followed by a great run on Sunday mainly along the Appalachian trail this time heading south from Addis Gap to the top of Tray mountain for a nice even 16.26 miles. Amazingly my legs were not as trashed as I had feared from the day before. It was a mild day in the mid 60's with some heavy down pours and great fog and hazy hanging on the hillside. It was extremely relaxing and peaceful along the trail, leading to a feeling of satisfaction with my choice to be there for the weekend. This was a level of pleasure that one just generally does not get running in the city. There were some hikers out, solo and groups, running by them was another great boost as was the amazement on some of the faces that a person would actually be out running on the trail and in such weather. Have to say that I would have had the same look myself if  I came across a runner while I was hiking until recently.
General body condition felt pretty good but my quads were dead as a dodo. Felt like one more down hill and they might never help me run again, if they had a choice in the matter that is. Oh well just have lunch, pack up the gear and head back to Atlanta. Monday is a rest day which is a schedule plan I will stick with.

Next entry will catch up on the month of June, including my trip back to Ireland for the Cork marathon and the climbing weekend mileage to build strength, mental and physical.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Recovered from Strolling Jim, intro to the real ultra world, ass kicked

Sorry for the break in reporting on progress just sort of lost the rhythm of doing this weekly. Funny how wandering off the training schedule impacted other things also. Guess I did n't feel the need to fess up to dropping training for a week after the Strolling Jim. Oh well cats out of the bag now and I'm back on training and blogging track it appears.

Since my last update;
The Strolling Jim 40 Miler was all that I could have expected and then some. Actually an additional 1.2 miles worth of the some. This was  a nice surprise from the race director, Mike Melton, on Friday night when I was picking up my number. "Oh by the way the course for the 40 miler tomorrow is 41.2 miles" - well what else would you expect, duh! This was a good reminder that things in the ultra-marathon world are different from the marathon world of certified courses etc., an extra mile is a bonus to be enjoyed. Also of course when you are told that the course starts with a hill the acceptable responses are, "excellent", "great", "bring it on" or any variation of such. Naturally this race starts with 20 flat yards then around the corner and you guessed it up a hill, yeah baby!
Kicking off on Saturday morning there was more great advice from Mike regarding the incoming thunder storms "If it gets really bad you might want to consider taking some cover."
Well the race itself lived up to all expectations plenty of road and plenty of hills. There was a nice heavy rain shower to ensure that shoes, socks and feet were well soaked. Of course that was around mile 11 or 12 of the 41 miles. Starting to be a bit of a habit running with wet shoes, luckily my feet seem to be able to handle it so far. The views of middle Tennessee were as beautiful as one could imagine, this is serious horse country and home to the Tennessee Walkers horse breed. Plenty of perfectly run fences and evenly cropped pastures with beautiful horses trotting around. Oh and did I mention plenty of rolling hills with nice quite roads, perfect running country. For some reason I got myself fixated on the 35 mile aid station and I think it was mainly thanks to Sean McNally from Chapel Hill, NC that I covered the last few mile in any sort of respectable shape. Sean and I ran together for the last ten miles, plenty of mutual encouragement, cajoling and lying to each other, connecting up with a fellow runner with the same pace and goals really is a huge boost when  you get to such long distances. Even with a solid plan and good focus I find that my mind can still get  negative at times when the going gets tough. Sean and I met during the earlier mentioned hills called The Walls. Thirty miles in and we were both feeling the distance. Sean was not impressed when I informed him of the additional 1.2 miles, mind you when we got to the "2 miles to go" notice painted on the road just after the 39 mile mark he was happy that he was not finding out at that time.
The last two miles were a steady drag up hill back into Wartrace, all 20 buildings that it is. Mind you at that point it was a very welcome sight. So there I was done, 8 hours 16 minutes and 50 seconds worth of effort complete. Time to settle down and enjoy the barbecue, excellent. Thanks to the now steady rain all finished racers were clustered together under the tents with the barbecue, the place was filled with an air of quite self satisfaction as people chatted away and cheered each finisher. This was a group of people that had set and accomplished a goal which most people consider crazy and certainly would not even think of attempting. Yet no one was boosting, each person was just happy that they had finished and possibly met whatever was their own personal goal for the day be that to finish or to finish better. People would be sure to ask about your experience and were genuinely interested to hear what you had to say about the course, the weather, the whole experience. No one pushed there race experience on you, only when asked for.  As I chatted to people now, before the race and during I realized that there were a very large number of repeat offenders. Also found that it was an extremely pleasant crowd which was nice to be around even if just for a few hours. You know I think I can do  a little better next year.

Sunday evening I headed off to Chicago, I'm glad it was a short flight as my legs were not too happy at being cramped up. Yet considering Saturday's run and the drive home I was overall feeling pretty good.
Chicago was a work trip but no report could be complete without a thanks to Michelle and Mat for the wonderful Chicago style bruschetta pizza, now that was the biz with a few beers on Sunday night. Right Michelle. Only run of the week was a pitiful two miles on Tuesday morning. My legs were dead as a Dodo, apparently I was feeling the effects of Saturday after all, what a waste of a trip to fantastically flat city.  Oh well. Got back on the running track following a good hot yoga work out on Thursday night which seemed to clear the junk out of my mussels. No major problem getting out for the long runs over the weekend.

Last weekend was a return trip to the Twisted Ankle Marathon in Summerville fifty one people that finished in front of me were able to handle it better. Rough as this course is and challenging as I find it, this is still a great day out in the woods running and chatting with like minded people. Despite feeling so drained I do believe that I managed myself much better in this years event. No water problems, no food problems, legs shot but still able to push myself along, all good points.
Slowly learning how to maintain a sustained effort on the trails, they always seems so reasonable at the start but oh what a price later if you fall for that illusion.

Next on the list is the Cork City Marathon on June 7th, hopefully a little cooler than last year and my trip over is volcano ash free.
Getting the travel plans of Colorado locked down now, next trick a place to stay in Denver for the start of my altitude adjustment period. Priceline I hear you calling.
Thirteen weeks to go to Leadville.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gearing up for the next big step

A fun run last weekend trying to beat the thunderstorms while trying to squeeze in my eighteen miler.
Managed to do pretty well, only got caught for the last four miles at which point it was a welcome cooling off.
The renewed week of training went well, sticking to the scheduled mileage without any undue stress, the building up process is going in the right direction.

Of course this weekend did have somewhat of a break for my birthday and with the 38 year milestone passed now it's on to the 40 mile mark next Saturday. Heading off to Wartrace, TN for the Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run. Have to say that I love one of the race directors comments "One rule of Ultrarunning is this - if you want something specific while on the race course, it's best to plan for it and bring it yourself. That way you'll KNOW it's there!". Yes this race will have relatively few aid stations so bring it if you want it. Toughen up time. The good news is that this will be another good practice for Leadville with, the aid stations at Miles 13, 21, 29, and 35. A few more than will be in Leadville but leaning in the right direction.
Reading up on the website about the race it's a rather relaxed affair with a lot of repeat runners, always a sign of a well organized event with a good buzz about it. Also not too many hills but enough to make it a challenge.
Looking forward to a good run under eight hours, give or take half an hour, hopefully trouble free. Of course the chance of thunderstorms may lead to a repeat of last Saturday, ah good job that I've had practice.

Of course the much bigger event this week was my sister Juliann having her baby girl, Maria Catherine whom I now get to share my birthday with. Wonder if she'll be a runner in a few years, no doubt she'll have Ger and Juliann running around after her to start with.
Congratulations to Ger and Juliann on the arrival of Maria Catherine Hayes.

Sixteen weeks to go.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recovery week relaxation.

The milestones keep getting passed, this week was the midway point of my 36 week training schedule.
It also was a recovery week with lower mileage to take the pressure off of the body and let it rest a little.
I must say that it was nice not to be as concerned about getting up early enough to get my miles in or having my whole weekend dominated by long runs. What I had not anticipated was how much my mind to wander and with my concentration waning so quickly without a big immediate goal in front of me.  Of course it only high lighted for me how invested I am in this undertaking, bit of a shock to me really.
So a truly off week was enjoyed getting the requisite mileage done, eating off the planned diet and a relaxed mind.
Wrapped up the week with a very enjoyable run in the Granite Grinder trail half-marathon at the International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. An excellently setup race again this year but with a major difference in the weather. Last year was long sleeves and gloves, this year was sun screen and sun glasses. Which of course meant that the beer and pizza after was much more enjoyable.

So now it's back into things full speed ahead. My mind has focused again, ready for the task ahead.
18 weeks to go, lots more fun to come.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good weekend with no pressure

Recovery from last weekend has been surprisingly swift, managed to stick with my full running schedule for the week without any undue difficulty.
Saturday was an 18 mile day when I tried to keep the pace consistent and deliberately took as hilly a route as I could. Hills are the major thing that I have to work on. Found the joys of Emory and North Druid Hills neighborhoods, plenty of hills. Rules for the run were that each turn was to be uphill whenever possible. Tied that in with the spring weather which has stepped up the temperature a few notches the challenges are increasing. Carrying water has become a requirement now not an option. Time to start testing and get used to the various options.Guess I'm becoming a bit of a running nerd as I debate the merits of my Camel back or the Nathans water bottle belt. For the record the bottle is good in town where you can refill Camel back is the way to go if you are not sure of water sources along the route.
Well the training is officially having some serious effects on me. Sunday morning I was very nonchalant about heading off to do 15 miles, just a matter of deciding which direction to head off in and make sure that the battery in the Garmin watch is charged so I know how far I've gone. Strange thing was it was that straight forward hopefully I can get to that point for 50 or 60 miles in the next few months, well maybe. Mind you no way I'll ever be able to take sure distances so casually.
Have to note that when I started running 13 years ago I would never have believed I could build myself up to the point that I could be able to run double digit days back to back a week after having my ass kicked doing 32 miles. This was not where I ever expected I'd be. When I started running the plan was to help get back into somewhat decent shape after many years of boozing, poor eating, smoking and a generally crap lifestyle. Back then my dream was that at some point I would be able to do a marathon some day. A goal that seemed very unlikely as I struggled to do a few laps of the 1/2 mile circuit off Northside Drive where I started running.
I am still amazed by where I have gotten to so far, now I've just got to keep pushing forward. Still along ways to go but I believe that I can make it.
Doing a marathon seemed liked one of my least likely to ever happen pipe dreams. Strange now to talk and write about trying to get up to 100 miles, next pipe dream.
19 weeks to go, stuff that dreams are made of.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweet H20 50K rocks and kicks my ass

Now I can say that I have officially crossed into the world of Ultra-marathoners. The Sweet H20 50K was certainly a serious initiation. Complete with multiple river crossings and non-stop up and downs with killer climbs that sucked every bit of energy and resolve out of me and the experience of  the amazing power of a few salt caps and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The entire setup by the Douglas County Rogue Runners was very impressive complete with civil war actors and a cannon to kick the race off. Complete with warnings to hold on to your animals and don't stand in front of the cannon as it kicked us off. Then it was down the road to get let the crowd spread out before heading into the woods for first surprise, one and half miles in then across the river at the slipway complete with ropes to get down to the river and back out, it was just ankle deep but it delivered the joy of wet feet for the next 30 miles. That was just a warm up for the full on river crossing complete with guide rope at mile 17 and again at mile 20. Oh the joy of ultra trail running. This race had it all, river and stream crossing, river hugging trails which had been washed out by the winter floods, trees to climb over, rocky stretches, and sandy stretches, even a little flat piece here and there. The defining section of the race for me was on the second lap of the course working my way back to the stretch known as Top of The World, before it there are several miles of a power line section which goes up and down relentlessly with each up hill stretch being a little steeper and a little longer. First time round the pull up was tough but this time round it was a different ball game, pushing me to my limits. I got to the point where I was struggling to keep putting one step in front of another and get up the hills. My head was spinning and catching my breath was a full time job. My entire body had to put out every ounce of effort to get me up the last few hills. My resolve was seriously challenged, not quite sure I was having fun. Ah but then at the top of the final stretch there is a mini aid station with ice cold water and an oh so wonderful seat. Complete with two of the most wonderful volunteers ever that convince you that you will recover and that the next few miles are so very do able. It's quite amazing what a few minutes sitting down and ice cold water coupled with positive support can do to rejuvenate you. Following that few minutes it was over the top of the world high point of the course and onto the full aid station at mile 26, peanut butter and jelly sandwich coupled with some chocolate chip cookies and a few salt caps. Back on the trail for the last six miles to the finish line. A few more hills and then you reach aid station #3 who I must say were one beautiful bunch as they are the marked for end of the serious hills. There was the minor hiccup of finding out that it was 32 miles not 31 miles which meant two to go but no worries at this stage it made no difference I was going to finish, no question just a matter of time.
Round that last corner and up the steps (yes stairs at the end of a 50K) and the last 20 yards to the finish shut with the clock showing 8 hours 42 min 55 seconds. A little off the planned 8 hours and the hoped for 7 hours but I could not have been happier with it. Finished with my ass kicked and my pride and resolve in place.
With Angie doing the chauffeuring it was time to unwind and let the body relax. A good plate of finishers barbecue and a few bottles of water and I was right as rain. Ready to keep on pushing my boundaries.

19 weeks to go, the build up continues to Leadville. More running, more focus, more fun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Preparing for the new territory -SweetH20 50K

Getting all of the gear and water and Gu ready to hit the SweetH20 50K in the morning.
A little nervous reading the comments from previous participants has not helped.
Comments like

~"That was the best and toughest 50K I've ever run"
~"first loop through power line hard, second loop just plain ole mean, not right"
~"And the route (holy crap it was hard!!) was great -- well-thought out and well-posted"
~“Top of the World is just plain hard"
~"Please let this be it for the surprises, I prayed to the trail Gods"
~"What a GREAT race!"
~"Feeling a little frisky, the RDs decided to cut a climb, straight up, from the trail along the river"

Have feeling tomorrow is going to be quite the challenge. At least the weather has backed off a little bit, "only" going to be in mid 70's how nice. Will have to remember to enjoy the cool start. No doubt it will be nice to get warmed up by the sun when I get past the river section.
Of course I now also have the super sexy Under Amour jocks which no doubt will boost me along the trail, of course I'll be happy if they prevent friction in a few areas that have become uncomfortable in the last few long runs.

Oh well all ready now I guess just have to get that good night's sleep and be ready for Angie when she comes by at 5:30 to grab me. Really appreciate her doing the driving as she pointed out I may not be in the shape for driving at the end of the 50 K. Ready, steady, go off to my first official Ultra-marathon.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning to walk again

The need to learn to walk is not part of the recovery from an injury but the next step in training. As many people have delighted in pointing out there is no way I will run the whole 100 miles. Knowing this it is time to start practicing the run/walk method of long distance running that helps to greatly extend the distance a person can cover in one big overall effort. The basic logic is that you recover during the minute or two that you walk to the point that you can run better for the six or seven minutes that you are running, thus continuing a productive cycle.
So Sunday morning back to Kennesaw Mountain Park to start working on the plan, will one & seven work or what is the best pattern for me. Well did not resolved that this Sunday because thanks to a very enjoyable and fast (realtively) twelve mile run on Saturday my legs were not exactly in the great of shape. You'd think that by now I could knock out ten miles without too much difficulty but not so on this day. Of course the one mile climb up to the top of Kennesaw did n't exactly get me rolling on the right foot.
A few miles in heading on  the east trail to Chetham Hill things did take on a bit more a rhythm. Not sure I should have been looking forward to the walk breaks as much as I was, no doubt that will pass with time. Another lesson I've suffered and I am now trying not to repeat is that it is not necessary to bound down hill at full speed all the time, especially when the ground is very rough. This I believe was a major contributor to my knee and ankle issues. At this point they seem to be healing up but no need to redo the damage.
The return trip showed up how much Saturday had taken out of my legs, another lesson learned, have to balance out the effort over time.

Of course now the trick is to put these things together during next Saturday's run in the 4th Annual SweetH2O 50K Trail Race. Have to take it easy from the get go, set a pace that I can maintain for the distance and take it easy where the terrain requires it and of course don't fall in to the water at the river crossings. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Georgia ING Marathon 2010, another lovely day in Atlanta

Perfect marathon weather was on tap for the 4th ING Georgia Marathon. Temperatures in the 50s with a few rain showers called for. This marathon has certainly grown up and filled up. It took 13 minutes to cross the start line from the coral where I started but unlike previous years it went much more smoothly. The aim for today was to maintain a reasonable pace to finish in around 4 1/2 hours but still feeling reasonably good. Ah the best laid plans despite using my Garmin to keep an eye on my pace I was still pulled along by the crowd and the urge to jump ahead of every walker I saw for the first few miles. Relief came after 7 miles with the split of the marathon and half marathon at North Highland Ave. It's always like starting a new race after the split with the huge change in the energy as 10 runners for every one peal off in another direction toward the finish while the marathoners keep on going heading further out into the world to have more fun. Once the marathoners have settled down again a mile or so down the road everyone becomes a much more social crew. There starts to be lots of little chats for 10 seconds to a few minutes amongst the runners, as you synchronize pace with someone for a few yards or longer. As the race moves on in to the higher mileage it's always a pick up to give and receive a few words of encouragement.
After heading through Decatur and winding around the Emory campus the ongoing ups and downs of Atlanta's topography start to wear you down. So it's into the Virginia Highlands area with some delightful hills that were an extra test of my resolve. Across North Highland for the trip down to Piedmont Park to start the final push for the finish line. A quick trip around the park, up twelfth street and though Georgia Tech to swing around to the finish line. At this stage of the race the pull up North Ave to Tech Pkwy was a bit of a challenge but now that I've been seeing the same people go back and forth for most of the last six or seven miles I found it motivational to try and stay ahead of people that I've already passed once or twice over the last few miles back. Managed to pick off most of them, a good way to keep the challenge going. There was a surprise extra push as I turned on to Marietta Street which is the final stretch. Just after I hit the turn on the other side of the street 800 kids kicked off the last mile of their personal half marathons, a series of 13 single mile races. It was great fun to watch the kids trying to kick it for the entire mile, for the record they did not all kick my ass. Of course amongst 800 10 to 13 year olds you know several hundred did kick my ass.
Now no report on this year's event would be complete with a section dedicated to Dan and his cousin Jim sign. Dan managed to make appearances at 5 various locations around the course, Moreland Ave, College Ave, Emory, Ponce,  5th street, Marietta Street by the finish line - slightly cut off by the 800 kids. Fully kitted out with his sign and Cork hurling doll (don't ask) he was quite the celibrity amongst a lot of the people that were running a similar to pace to myself. Hanging out at the end close to the food table there was a series of people that had to check in and thank him for his support. Very impressive, Dan was certainly the celebrity supporter of the day. Thanks for the great support Dan.
For the record I finished in 4 hours 31 minutes and after a good 2 hours in bed I was feeling pretty good so goals were met.
Next outing is the SweetH2O 50K Trail Race on April 3rd, a lovely romp in the park and of course lots of up and down as well as across the river hip deep in water.
Right now I'm focused on recovery from Sunday and keeping to the training schedule with a nice quite life.
Lots more fun to come just have to be sure I prepare properly so I can enjoy it all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Letting the body heal - patience is a virtue; being sensible is required

Well my exertion or rather over exertion two weeks ago resulted in my body demanding that I listen.
Now after multiple chiropractor, therapeutic massages and yoga classes I appear to be almost back in order. I had totally underestimated what the 31 miles would take out of me. It appears that I was cocky because I was able to handle the trail marathon without too much duress. That of course was the start of my downfall because I was not showing the distances involved the respect they deserve. I may have mentally started to leap ahead to the concept of very long mileage but the body will take it's own time in adjusting to the reality. The spirit is strong but the body is weak or rather many weeks behind is more like it. Time to get back to bascis and take more notice of the advice given in the sea of books and blogs by people with much more experience at this than me.
So the modified plan is,
Slowly build the mileage - stick to 10% a week increases or less
Do work on core body strenght - a least two work outs a week, focus on reps rather than weight
Keep up the yoga - helps with stretching muscles and cleansing out the junk from the muscles,plus it's very enjoyable in a challanging way and rewarding way.
Keep an eye on diet and proper hydration all the time. Will also allow my weight to decrease as necessary.
Reduce the social life as it is not necessary or good to go out 4 times a week, even if drinking diet coke.
Sleep more, see above. This is always a challenge, I like getting out early in the morning but delay going to bed every evening. Time to start getting a regular 8 hours plus. A long way from there right now.
Continue to have fun with this training.

Of course now with daylight savings in effect the evenings are getting long and so it will be easier to get in runs in the evening if necessary. It's tough to go back out the door when it's dark and dreay after a long day in the office.
Event for this weekend is the Georgia ING marathon on Sunday. Weather is going to be a little warmer than ideal but it still should be enjoyable. Name of the game plan is take it easy, this is just a training run with a few thousand other people. Should be fun as always.
So off I go again, new game plan to follow. Let the games begin anew.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Breaking barriers, 31 miles the new experience

Well I'd been contemplating it all week and decided to follow through with my 30 mile plan. Figured that last weekend was a good push on the mileage and I might as well build on it right away. Had been an ok running week without a push and the legs had a good rest so I was ready for action this morning.
I'm once again amazed by the change in mind set that now has me attempting such things as a thirty miler the weekend after a marathon. Once upon a time I'd be taking a few weeks off and probably would n't run more than 5 to 8 miles for at least a month. Amazing what happens when you change your expectations. To say the least I am now doing more than I ever expected of myself, already, and I know that there is much more to come. The most amazing thing today was that over the course of 6 hour and 9 minutes I was never bored and was constantly paying attention to how I was doing, pace etc. Of course it was easy pay attention for the last 7 miles or so as I was really feeling under pressure. But hey it was perfect day today for a nice long run, clear skies, temperature around 60 and not really much of a breeze to talk about. Took the Path from Decatur out to Stone Mountain with one lap of the park to make the mileage, ended up being 31. Great to see loads of other people out on the trail and at the mountain, it's always uplifting to see other people putting in a similar effort. Does n't matter how far or fast a person is going I've noticed that for the most part all people pretty much have a smile and content look on their face when there are out exercising. Of course this is particularly true when they are back in the parking lot and finished. No doubt that the endorphins from outdoor activity is a boost to everyone, people just don't look as happy leaving the gym. I guess the gym serves the purpose of getting the heart rate up but does n't make the same connection to the mind and soul.
Now after that spiel, I must say I am enjoy a lovely evening by my fire pit having a few beers and a lovely pizza. Have to say that it's important to reward one's self after making the big goal. I figure this evening coupled with my nap this afternoon and icing of the knees should have me in good shape to run a few very easy miles tomorrow morning and then hit the hot tub for awhile. Need to let the muscles unwind.
Hurling makes it's way back into the scene tomorrow, just a puck around warm up for next weekend's game against Madison but I know I'll be itching to play. Oh well there is always September.
Next event is the ING marathon here in Atlanta in two weeks time so an easier weekend next weekend as I let the legs get ready. The adrenaline of the crowd will pull me along in the ING and the results will be a lot harder on the body, oh well all part of the building process. On ward and upward.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Trail running good for mind, body and soul

Happy to report that yesterday was a great run at Ft Yargo. A picture perfect sunny day with temps in the high 30's at the start climbing to the low 50's by the end.
With 488 people signed up for both events, about 400 for the half and the remaining nuts in the full. This made for a rather crowded first 3 miles on the single track but I like to think that was to my advantage as I need to remember to take it easy while I'm fresh and save my energy for the later stretches. Having a big crew out for the half did also provide plenty of people to try and pass on the last few miles of the half which probably lead me to over exerting a little too early and rolling my ankle at 11.8 miles. As I predicted to one of the other runners by mile 20 it was feeling pretty good. A minor lesson at mile 16 in slowing down and allowing my heart rate to drop down to a reasonable level indicated to me that this may be a rather critical item I should pay more attention to as I ramp up my training and in future races. Trails were absolutely perfect for running, as always it's hard to beat being out in the woods on such a beautiful day. The whole atmopsohere of the race was excellent with all runners being very positive and offering words of encouragement and support to each other every step of the way. The motivational signs on the mile markers also provided a nice lift,I  especailly enjoyed at the 5/18 mile marker "Your not slow you just know how to enjoy a race course" and at 13/26 mile marker "I'm going to enjoy that pint tonight", for the record I did.
As usual many hours on the trail gives a person plenty of time to ponder, especially on the second lap when all the half traffic had disappeared, plenty of alone time. So I guess my gem of inner thought for the day which probably should have hit me sooner in life is that I need to do what makes me happy and if something is not then I need to just move on and let it go. A number of people trying to drive that message home for me in the last few months, guys apparently I have been listening subliminally and it is now popping out. Next step putting it in to action. This apparently is part of the anticipated growing expected in going through this whole experience.
A little sore this morning but keeping my ankle on ice for 2 hours yesterday seems to have nipped things in the bud. Of course my knees are screaming at me still. Apparently all the jumping over rocks etc was not what they loved, time to drop many pounds so that the load is more manageable. Of course the idea of carrying a lighter load for 100 miles is also very appealing and necessary.
Now last night as I was enjoying the aforementioned pint at Steinbecks it dawned on me that in August I will still be running NOW (now being 8 pm). Yes there will be no sitting down to have a sandwich on a nice bench, then heading home for a nap before going for a pint and some of Andy's fantastic fried chicken (almost as good as his vindaloo). Finally the enormity of what I have signed up for was hit me, no more fooling around, I guess but sure what's the fun in that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Marathon this weekend, Ft Yargo here I come

Well since my last post I've had a very enjoyable ski trip to Colorado with a little side trip to Leadville to check out the scene for August.
Skiing was a blast and a welcome change from all the running. Coupled with the major benifit of giving my ankle some rest. Not a lot of movement in a rock hard ski boot. Spending 5 days at altitude also reinforced my plan to get out to the Colorado area two weeks before the race if possible, minumim of 6 to 7 days. It took at least 4 days to really adjust and that was without trying to run, I blame the snow and my ass being worn out from skiing. Nothing to do with me being slightly lazy or hung over on Sunday when I should/could have run. I feel I was much better served saving my energy for the afternoon spent sledding, walking back up the hill was a killer.
 On Tuesday afternoon before flying back I made a quick run over to Leadville to see what the center of all the action was like.
No doubt about the altitude issue, the joy of starting at 10,152 and then dropping off to 9987, oh what a nice easy start, lets not think about the fact that it is an out and back course which means a slight uphill drag for the last 14 miles. This just gets better and better.
 As for the town itself it's a small high mountain town that no doubt will be completely dominated by the crowd for the Race Across the Sky. Should be a great buzz there for the weekend.

Well being that I managed to not do myself any injuries I would rate this as a most successful trip and look forward to my next trip to Colorado in mid August.

For now my focus is back closer to home, this weekend was absolutly perfect for running and I'm happy to say that the ankle feels like it is coming around. No major runs this weekend but it was great to get out in the sunshine and run around the neighborhood for a few miles. Even if Alan did offer some encouragement to join him for a pint at Stienbecks mid run, very tempting I must say. I may have to change my Sunday routes so I don't get side tracked by the brunch crew or just get my ass out earlier so I can participate.
Taking it easier than usual this week to be ready for the Ft Yargo trial marathon on Saturday, going to be my peek distance so far, the trick will be to also run a few miles on Sunday afterward. I'll get to find out how well my ankle has healed. Looking forward to running the first 13 on Saturday with Wayne, will be good to have company. Also appears that the weather is going to cooperate and be dry and cool, 40s at worst.
Time to wrap up with a great Chinese proverb I came across today in Runners World, very appropriate,

"A journey of 100 miles begins with a single step".

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Welcome to the world of ice packs

Ah the end of a lovely 50 mile week. A great wrap up this afternoon at Kennesaw mountain which once again kicked my butt but it was great to be out in the woods under the clear blue sky and shining sun. Apparently the cumulative miles of the week have left my left ankle in rather poor shape, the tendon has being flaring up on off up to now. At this point it is officially on, thus here I sit with an ice pack wrapped around it, hopefully tomorrows rest and the lighter week that's coming will give it the chance it needs. Of course it's likely that I'll spend a lot of time for the next few months sitting still with an ice pack on various parts of my body, there is not going to be a lot of opportunity for the extended rest that the body need to heal fully. Just as well that my stack of books to read is piled high. Amazing how much quicker I am to purchase them that to read them. Of course based on how the twenty miler went yesterday Friday nights will definitely be spent at home for the next few months and based on the extending Sunday distances Saturday night will probably be similar. Great round trip of the east side yesterday for my twenty, managed to hit Oakhurst, Candler Park, Little Five Points, North Highland, Virginia Highlands, Emory, Clairmont road, Decatur and back home. Running in the light rain and threatening wisps of sleet and hail with the temperature in the low 40's is actually very invigorating. Of course that high I had when I got home may also be due to the relief that the heating was working and set to 70. Ah the joys of modern living.
Oh well there goes the social life, another casualty in this very reasonable undertaking.
Training week 10 here I come.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kennesaw Mountain reality check

End of the first month of steady training and headed up to Kennesaw Mountain Park for my Sunday run. Being that the trail kicks off with a nice mile straight up it was good place to test my progress. Apparently I have quite a lot of hill work to do, not exactly a shocker. Still an amazing place to go for a run especially this morning as the trees up higher were hung with beautiful icicles after the freezing rain yesterday. A lot photographers out capturing them as they glittered and melted in the sun, very surreal. Later as they started to fall it was like running in strange glistening raining shower. A beautiful day to be out running in the woods.
Despite the need to get more hill work in I am feeling that I'm making good progress. Considering that today I was able to do 9 miles with 3 very challenging miles of climbing after completing 18 1/2 on the road yesterday my base building is going well. Looking forward to the marathon at in Ft Yargo at the end of February, this will be first of my big trail runs which will give me another great gauge of my progress. The goal is be around 6 hours or a little better in this one, going to be setting the mark for how I can handle the long distance on the trails, furthest up to now has been 13.1 in The Granite Grinder - 2 hours, 6 minutes & The Twisted Angle 1/2 - 2 hours 40 min last year. The difference in times is a fair indication in how much tougher the terrain is for the Twisted Ankle, so of course being smart I'm doing the full marathon at that one this year. More build up.

Another highlight in the last month was running out at Arabia Mountain State Park last weekend, it's a total change of scene from the regular trails of Georgia with a hugh amount of expoused granite which just pulls you along. Amazing setting and totally engulfing setting. Very easy to forget that you are just a 20 mintues from Atlanta. It is most spectacular on the far side of the road from the nature center. Even more so when it's raining and there is water running off all of the surfaces in sheets. Mind you not great for running at that time, rather slippery.

Also expanded my experiences last week with a leap into Hot Yoga thanks to a encouragement from Heather. Must say that holding poses is challenging enough then kicking in the 105 F temperature takes it up several notches. A non-slip yoga mat is a necessity and several towels. I'll be better prepared in future. It was an amazing experience and very eye opening as I strugged to get into a pose (say all of them) and there are other people in the room that very elegantly and gracefully assume the pose with no fuss. The work that they have done does seem to allow them a degree of flexibility that I at this time see as unimaginable. The entire session was as much work if not more than any run I've done, no slacking at hot yoga. The pay off the next few days was surprising and I must say that I have felt great, hot yoga will be getting fitted into the schedule. Just have to figure out how to get my arms in position for the eagle pose and all the rest. More work.
And for the record, Noreen you were correct I did enjoy it.

Heading into training week 9 now, runs are getting longer. Saturday is going to be my first 20 miler so thing are heading into the big numbers. The total running for the week will be almost 50 miles, hey now I just got to work on dong twice that in 30 hours.
Ah the joy of a challenge.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feeling the love for the trails

Getting into the swing of the training now and starting to feel some improvements, even if they are just mental. Of course there is lots of room for improvement there at any given time. No input required from the peanut gallery.

Last weekend I finally had the pleasure of running the Hog Pen Gap 17 Km race from Helen, GA. It's been on the to do list for a while and I can now check that box. A lovely 10.4 mile run in the cold and wet complete with a total climb of 2500 ft. The major prize at the top to go along with the sense of accomplishment is the best chicken soup in the world. The sauce of 2 hours running in the cold and wet really finishes off the soup nicely, highly recommend it. So look out next year because I will be rounding up a crew to participate, complete with adult beverages in Helen after once the chicken soup cure is complete.

This evening I hit Stone Mountain to get in some trail running before it got too dark. Found it quite exhilarating to be running in the woods as it started to get dark, a nice extra challenge to see all the roots and rocks as the shadows get longer. The increased concentration only adds to the pleasure of being out there. As I was running along on the trail where it parallels the road I remember times when I was on that stretch of road running along seeing people down on the trail, they always seemed to be enjoying it more. I now realize that they were, on the trail you have to be totally engaged in what you are doing which adds to the sense of escape and relaxation that naturally comes with a good run. Next trick now will be to start doing some runs with a head lamp on the trails, all part of getting ready for the main event.

Right now working on figuring out diet but at least I'm getting my training routine down and it seems to be kicking in. Training in week 6, 30 to go. Next event will be the 4th Annual Thrill In The Hills at Fort Yargo State Park which is a trail marathon on February 27th, should be fun.

No need for fish, Running grows the Brain.

I'm sure every runner will be posting this link as proof that we are on the right track, no pun intended.

Friday, January 8, 2010

At the starting gate

I've been talking it up for the last few months and on Sunday night I took the plunge.
On Sunday night I signed up for the Leadville 100 Race across the sky in August.

So 4am on August 20 I'll be kicking off a nice 100 mile run in the Colorado Rockies.
Now just a matter of a few months of training to take care of.
The good news is after sitting down to work out my training schedule on Wednesday night as I work backwards with a 36 week schedule I came to the discovery that I was already 8 weeks into my training. Well now that was n't too bad.

Taking on this 100 miler has been on my mind for quite a while now and despite my 2009 running plans not really working out I've decided to just push on with the 2010 plan to do the 100 miler.

Right now I working on building my base mileage and focusing on being ready for the 4th Annual Thrill In The Hills at Fort Yargo State Park Trail Marathon on February 27th.
At this point I am going to try and consider the build up races as supported training runs.
Hopefully this will work out and I won't over do it during them and not burn myself out.

I'm looking forward to a good year of self discovery as I push to get ready for August.
This chilly week in Atlanta has been a good test, had to put faith in my winter gear to push out the door at 5:30 am with the temperature around 20 F.
Happy to say that once the blood starts to flow everything warms up pretty quickly, I can even feel my pinkie fingers after about 1 1/2 miles. It's the little things.
So for now it's get the routine down and get used to running on a schedule and building up the mileage.
Here I go..