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.