Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Running Goals

Just read a blog with a similar title (and stole some of her goals, too).  Besides, what's a goal if you don't put something out there and hold yourself accountable?

Twenty11 Goals:

1 - Stay Healthy
2 - Keep working on chi running
3 - Complete at least one 100 mile.non-race training week
4 - Complete at least one all night training run (last years' Burning River all-nighter was awesome!)
5 - Run at least 5 Ultra's
6 - Core work at least 2x/week
7 - Average 150-200 miles/month
8 - Complete a 100 miler...targeting Hallucination 100

If I stay focused on 1-7, #8 will happen.

Happy Trails!

Friday, October 22, 2010

OC100K - The Race to the Elks Loge

This past weekend I had the most fun run of my life.  I set out to run my first 100K and fifth Ultra of 2010.

Titusville, PA is a small town on the western edge of the Allegheny National Forest.  It's an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from Cleveland, but as you get closer to this old oil town, it's clear that you're not in Kansas anymore.  The biggest hills and the overall terrain that we have in the CVNP are very tame compared to what you encounter here.

I took the day off of work and headed out east around noon on Friday.  I stopped at the Wal-Mart in Erie on the way, to pick up a Bear Bell for my fearless pacer, PJ.  Bear Bell in hand, I was back on the road and arrived in Titusville around 3:00.  I checked in at the Comfort Inn,dropped my bags off and then headed off to Titusville Middle School (which also serves as Race HQ for Oil Creek).  I grabbed my bib, shirt, enjoyed the pasta dinner and then sat through pre-race meeting.

That night, as I was trying to fall asleep my nerves started to get a hold of me.  Laying in bed my mind was racing.  I was going to be running 62+ miles on Saturday...on some huge "hills".

I woke up 3 minutes before my wake up call on Saturday, took a shower, grabbed a banana, some pita bread and peanut butter and I was out the door.  At race HQ, I ran into Mark Anson and Kathleen Dickson and chatted for a few minutes before the 6AM pre-race/last minute briefing and race start.  At about 5:57, we were out the door into the cool morning air for the start.

Mark and I before 100K
Just a minute before the start!
The first few miles were along a paved biked path.  I tried hard to run easy and limit my pace to 9 minute miles.  I chatted with a few other runners and watched headlamps make their way up the path and disappear behind me.  We entered the trails and I quickly learned that I would have to earn my buckle.  For the next 5 trail miles, there was a fair amount of climbing and elevation gain, but quite a bit of unexpected rocky, rooty, leaf covered terrain, too.  About 8 miles in, I came to AS#1.  This was a fun Aid Station with a Christmas theme (music, lights, etc).  It was still dark outside, but the sun was just beginning to enter the sky above the PA mountains.  I grabbed some trail mix, part of a banana, a potato, refilled my bottle and was on my way.

Leaving this Aid Station was the first really wicked climb.  The switchback trail went up the side of a mountain.  I was feeling good here and was chatting with a woman from Virginia that was running her first OC100K, too.  Once at the top, the view was awesome!  From here you could see the morning fog in the valley, the sun up in the eastern sky and the changing leaves.  From here to AS#2, I was able to turn my headlamp off and settle into a pace as light hit the trails.  I was trying hard to remind myself that this was my first run over 43 miles and to stay hydrated and keep my heart rate in check.  For the next few miles I did just that.  The miles were flying by, and I felt great.

At mile 14, I made my way to AS#2.  Here I was able to grab some more food, drink some HEED and refill my bottle.  I checked my phone here, and I finally had reception.  I sent PJ a text to let him know where I was and began walking out across the field to the trail.  He quickly texted back and let me know that he met a new friend over breakfast at a local diner and was in a good conversation about his disability claim and bottle collection.  I tried to text Heather, but I was already in another hill county dead zone!  I was finally able to take a walk break up a hill around mile 17 to let Heather know where I was.

Rocks+Roots+Leaves=Sore Toes!
I had the hardest time in my race from AS#2 and AS#3 later in the day, but on the first loop I felt strong.  I had 8.5 miles of trail to cover and the terrain was pretty gnarly;  the hills, rocks, roots, trees, etc were getting tough to navigate here, but I was feeling good.  I was still paying close attention to my fluids...everything was nice and clear going in and coming out.  So far, this was shaping up to be the smartest Ultra I had ever run.  In 4 50K's this year, I've always looked back on things I would have done differently with my diet/nutrition.  I was determined to finish and finish healthy at OC.

I was running with an empty bottle for about 10 minutes, so AS#3 was a welcome site.  I was running with a guy Brian from Pepper Pike (funny how you drive hours to meet someone from your backyard) and the miles weren't easy, but they were clicking right off on my Garmin.   Here, Brian and I fueled up and hit the trail again.   I ran another 4-5 miles with him, but then stayed back for a trail nature break.  From here on in, I was running alone for the first time all day.  I just noticed at this point how quiet and remote it was in these hills.  I stopped at one point and it was absolutely dead quiet.  What a beautiful place on this earth.   Soon after taking all of this in, my friend Lee FLEW past me...on her way to a strong over 3rd place in the 50K.  I shouted some encouragement her way and watched her disappear down a muddy descent.

Now, only a few miles from AS#4 (the Middle School) I was energized to get in and see Heather and pick up my pacer for my final loop.  My water bottle was empty for quite a while and I knew I needed to focus on hydrating.  Before I knew it, I was back on the bike path and "city" streets and my Garmin read 31sh miles.  I said hello to Heather and her mom, ate some food, drank a lot, changed my socks and hat and was feeling great!  PJ was ready to run the last loop with me, and had one goal in mind; finish the race with enough time to hit the Titusville Elks Lodge.  As it turns out, PJ  is the only person less than 70 that is an Elks member.  Shaun came over...I learned that he was not feeling well and had to drop from the 100 mile race.  He gave me a quick update on Rachel (looking strong out front) and then promptly kicked me out (thanks, Shaun!) and back onto the trail.

I was back on the bike path, headed towards the trail.  I think PJ was trying to run 4 minute miles here...I must have said something sarcastic, because he quickly called himself out as "the worst pacer ever."  Fortunately, he took quickly to his new job and refined his pacing skills.  About a mile in, we were out on the "familiar" dirt of Titusville and climbing a hill.  We were talking quite a bit, and although we were not moving quickly, the miles were really flying by.  Soon we were into AS#5; I grabbed some pizza, HEED, trail mix, refilled my bottles and we were out onto the same big climb I hiked up in the morning.   Somewhere near the top, I heard the familiar sound of a trail runner eating rocks and dirt.  I thought the worst when I heard PJ yell, "$hi*!"...(however this was followed by)..."There's no blood!" as I looked back to see him getting back up from the forest floor and smiling.

The next 7 or so miles were uneventful and a blast.  I was running a smart race and talking with my pacer almost the entire time.  At mile 45 we made it to AS#6.  Nick Billock was here and he helped grab my drop bag and helped me fill my water bottle.  I'm not sure if he was grossed out by my feet as I was changing socks, or just being a good friend, but he did a nice job of kicking me out onto the trail.  I felt pretty good here, but this is where I made my only mistake on the day.  I didn't eat enough or take enduralytes here.  In 3 miles, I would feel it.

Mile 45
Miles 48-54 were brutal.  I ran my first marathon in 2005 and have run somewhere south of 20 marathons/50k's since then.  People have asked me, "what's it like to hit the wall?"  Before this weekend, I don't think I could fairly answer that question.  Today I can.  As darkness set around 6 PM, I walked most of these 6 miles.  I was amazingly weak and starting to shake from poor nutrition.  I had a full bottle of water and wanted to drink, but felt like I was going to vomit with every breath.  I knew that PJ had ginger candy, (dude packed like a MacGyver/Boy Scout/SurvivorMan combo) but I couldn't get my thoughts together to ask for it.  After a minute or two, I asked for it (hoping that it would help settle my stomach).  I must have been mumbling because I had to ask a second time.  Within a few minutes, I felt the chances of me vomiting on a porcupine was less likely, so I started eating Shot Blocks.  I was feeling a bit better and had some strength.  I was able to run the last 1/2 mile dirt road into AS#7.  

At AS#7 I handed my bottle off to a volunteer and sat down in a chair by a camp fire.  I didn't want to get too comfortable, but I needed to take care of myself here.  I ate 2 big cups of noodles, PJ brought me some grilled cheese, I had a cup of flat Coke (I hate real Coke except in Ultra's, by the way).  Here the switch flipped.  I felt like a new man!  PJ, myself and another guy, Paul (from WA State) hit the trail.  My Garmin soon died, but I know that my miles here were strong.   We were moving along quickly through the trails...All I could hear was bear bells, bats and trail shoes on dirt!  Close to 4 miles from the finish, we met up with 2 headlamps on the trail; Mark Anson and Kathleen Dickson! We ran a couple of miles together into Drake Well Museum (even though I was feeling good here, it was nice to see the end of the trail) and onto the paved road.  Once over the bridge, we found ourselves on the familiar bike path.  Some 100 Milers were headed back out for another loop....I was happy to be headed in though!  We ran the last 1/2 mile on pavement and I crossed the finish in 15:48.  Mark was just behind me and Dan Bellinger was waiting at the finish....It's so nice to see familiar, friendly faces at these events!  I collected my belt buckle and told the RD how impressed I was with his event and then headed back to the hotel.

I'm happy to report that we were done in time to take quick showers and have a few cold beers and popcorn at the Elks Lodge in town.

This was no doubt the toughest and most fun race I've ever ran.  I learned a ton about myself, my pre-race day prep/race day prep and got one step closer to my 100 Miler.  I finished 20th Overall...I am very happy with that and everything about the race really!

I think my runners high lasted 2 days.  My feet were nice and swollen after the race, my quads were incredibly sore through Tuesday and my right knee was huge (no idea what I did there).  Now, it seems like everything is returning to normal and I'm feeling strong again.  

Thanks to my wife, family, friends and volunteers at OC, I had an amazing day and one that I will never forget!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Run for Regis 50K

Well, it's 2010...the year of the blog. Well, at least for me...I'll try this.

This past weekend I ran my first official 50K or 53-55k depending who you ask and what Garmin you were running with!). After 7 or so Marathons, a 50K just sounded like the next logical step. I've never been very fast, and this past weekend was no exception.

We started from the Ledges Shelter in CVNP. I ran with my friend Cassie and we promised ahead of time that we would run a smart race and just finish strong. I am hoping to BQ at Pittsburgh this Spring and the last thing that I need is an injury or some other setback. After getting the first few miles under our belt, I knew it would be a slow day...OK with me!

The course consisted of a 5.5 mile loop, 8.5 mile loop and then you hit the 5.5, 8.5 and finished up with the 5.5 mile loop. I felt strong all day and my legs only started to get heavy around mile 31 or so. Anyway, I made it to the finish in 7:11 and felt strong. My recovery has been awesome...Ran a 6 mile tempo run on Wednesday night with no problem at all. Well, a couple of sore toenails, but that's all!

All in all, it was a great day for a really fun race. The volunteers were awesome and I got that first one under my belt. Next up, Fools 50K in March, with some other smaller trail races built in....just have to remember to run smart to put myself in a position for a 3:15 in Pittsburgh!