Thursday, July 12, 2012

McKay Hollow Madness 25K

 McKay Hollow Madness 25K - 3/24/2012

I went with my friend Dave Truitt who had got me into this race back in 2009.  The course was wet and slick as usual, but this year I had my Inov8 Roclite 295s and they have not disappointed me. We started together but I eased ahead on the roads. Larry Dickerson and Dave ran together and passed me on the first downhill descent. The descents are my undoing and the weakest part of my game. I thought I would probably not see either of them until the end of the race.

I tried to run the downhills better this year but it is not my strength.  I am better running uphill and that is what I did. I ran the downhills to survive and tried to run the uphill sections stronger then in years past.  I could pass people going uphill and yielded right of way on the downhills. The shoes dealt with the mud and rocks very well and I have no complaints with them. I ran alone a lot of the time but sometimes I would run with a group as they passed me.  After the last aid station I passed a group and got in the lead position about the time the trail left a fire road and went downhill. It was kind of awkward to yield after I had just passed them so I stayed in front and ran downhill as fast as I could. Having runners behind me really pushed my technical skills and it was exhilarating. It was a rather long rambling downhill. I did ask if they wanted to pass and they were not interested. So I was stuck in the front on this long rambling downhill.  I would run with this group for most of the rest of the race until I finished ahead of most of them.

After the trail leveled out I noticed a familiar figure ahead. It was Dave Truitt and he looked finished. He had gotten some cramps and was walking. It was several miles from the finish and as I passed him  I acknowledged him. He mentioned cramps and one of the group offered him some S-caps. So as I ran now I was thinking I had Dave beat, but did I. He looked finish and I was rolling. I kept running and one by one I lost most of the group. As I got closer to Death Trail the 600 foot ascent I heard a familiar voice behind me. I was not sure but it sounded like Dave. By the time I started up the ascent I saw him about a hundred yards back. I was not about to let him pass me. He had been finished and now he was back and had gained a lot of ground on me.

I ran that ascent like I was being chased with a gun. I passed people who had passed me on the trail and I kept pushing it up the hill. Dave was actually driving me up that hill. It was a very good thing because I would of settle for a slower pace and not gotten close to a sub 3 hour finish. The hill was my ally and Dave could not keep up his pace. I really was impressed with Dave and his comeback. It really helped motivate me on the final ascent.

I hoped to break 3 hours and missed it by 26 seconds and in 52nd place. My average pace was 11:39 and it was an improvement over 2009's 11:51 and 2010's 12:00. I will take an improvement in pace any day, but I really need to get better on the downhills.

McKay Hollow Madness 25K Garmin Connect

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Need for Speed

Since Mckay Hollow I have been concentrating on keeping my base, which consists of a tempo, hill interval, and a 16 or 20 mile run each week. My base is a little over 30 miles per week. I want to keep my base so I can do some ultras this fall and winter.  My immediate concern is to increase my short distance speed, so I can be competitive on a 5K or 10K course. I am still wanting to break 20 minutes on a 5K.

The high mileage has not been conducive to short course speed. Running shorter distances puts a little different stress on your mind and body. Over the last months I have been concentrating on lengthening my stride. I had shorten my stride for the long trail race and ultra I ran back in February and March.

With the shorter races in mind I have chosen the 8K Steeple Chase race as a good transition for me. It is shorter than I have been running, but long enough for my high mileage base to help me out some. My PR for this race is 33:48. I would like to better that PR if possible. The race is well done and I have really enjoyed running it in the past. I am big on visualization and so for tonight I will be watching Chariots of Fire for a little inspiration and tomorrow morning about 7:00 am I will be lining up for my shortest and fastest race since August. Hopefully I have been able to get my mind and body around this race.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012 Black Warrior 50K

Turned out to be a great day for a race. Rain held off and temperatures were in the 40s at race time with highs in the 50s.  I really do like this race and Keith Hallmark does a really good job putting this race on.

The day before races I usually do not drink any coffee and I drink plenty to hydrate. I believe coffee to be a diuretic and tends to dehydrates me. I had my usual large pizza the night before. It serves to load my reserves and it is salty and makes me drink. Early Saturday I went to the bathroom and showered. I knew my feet would get wet at the water crossings, so I applied Vaseline to protect them from blisters. It really seemed to work this time. I wore my Darn Tough wool socks with some thin liner socks. I ate about 10 Ritz crackers plus a couple with peanut butter on them. I am a big believer in breakfast, but when racing I have to be careful.

The temps at race time were good, so I could start in whatever clothes I would finish in. I usually try to avoid changing clothes during the race. The race starts out uphill with about 2.8 miles of road. After the gravel road the race heads into the woods and the real fun starts. My friends the Fagermans were at the turn off and again at the first aid station. I had passed my friend Stephen Brown on the road and he returned the favor several mile into the trail. Stephen runs in Five Fingers and is a true minimalist runner. I have seen him run in thong sandals. You can learn something from anybody. I may have a few years of running on Mr Brown, but he has taught me a few things.  The first thing happened this fall when he reminded me that I should alternate my intensity on long runs. He also taught me a lesson for this race. My longest runs were 20 milers on an easy trail, but Mr. Brown ran his 20 milers on the race course.  This was at least twice as hard as my runs. The rain held off and the course did not seem to muddy.

The Inov8s did great. No ankle turns or falls even though I tried to fall several times around mile 18 or 19.  After Mr. Brown passed me I ran by myself for most of the race. I made my personal cut-offs at the aid stations. I was especially keen on getting past the halfway point. Once I get past the first half it helps me get my head around the mileage of an ultra race. The middle miles were pretty tiring, but I did pass a few people. They were walking wounded with cramps and stuff. I did try to fall a couple of times but managed to stay upright. I ran into my old friend Jeff Fagerman and Wayne Heckler around mile 20 they were returning from  legs in the 50K relay. It is nice when friends are there to cheer you on. Wayne had passed me after the 1st aid station when he started his leg of the relay. I just kept looking for landmarks and plodding on. I was looking for the biggest stream crossing and then the next aid station.

Before I got to aid station 4  I did come up on a guy from Chattanooga. He appeared to be done and I was ready to pass him when a couple of women caught up to us. He picked up his pace and I dropped back. I saw him at the aid station and he was still close to them. I kept on running my pace and finally caught up with him several miles up the trail. He had not been able to keep up with them any longer.  He asked me about why I had not passed him 5 miles back and I commented that it seemed the women had motivated him to pick up his pace. We talked and he said it was his first 50K. He was pretty sore, but he was still moving forward. We exchanged the lead position several times before I finally got out in from for good. He did finish and did better than I did on my first Black Warrior 50K. He finished with a 5:44.

The last 6 miles are pretty tough on the mind.  After the 4th aid station around mile 25 a song came to mind. It was the gospel song "I wouldn't take nothing for my journey now". It seemed to fit my mood, I was tired and sore, but the bulk of the race was behind me. I finally made it to the last aid station and now just 2.8 miles of road were all I had left. I let the blade down on the gravel road and managed an 8:19 pace over the last 2.8 miles.  The odd thing is you do not remember this portion of the course has both uphill and downhill. All you remember is the steep grade at the beginning of the race. So when you return at the end of the race you start out wondering when you will get to the downhill.

The finish was extra special. As I came close to the finish line I was greeted by my family.  It made all the pain and soreness worth it. I was so happy to see my girls at the finish.

By the numbers:
22nd overall, 2nd in my age group and shaved an hour off my 2010 Black Warrior time.

Garmin under counted by .83 miles.

Mile 6 = 49.30, rest area time 1.43, 8:15 pace

Mile 12.52 (6.52) = 1:07, rest area time 1.45, 10:16 pace

Mile 17.18(4.66) = 48:59, rest area time 1.17, 10:30 pace

Mile 22.36(5.18 ) = 59:31, rest area time 1.37, 11:29 pace

Mile 28.54(6.18) = 1:19, :rest area time 36, 12:46 pace

Last (2.8)=23:18, 8:19 pace

31.34=5:35.24. overall 10:42 pace

Friday, February 17, 2012

Black Warrior 50K Training

Success on this 50K will come down to whether I have paid my dues. I am a lot better prepared for this Black Warrior 50K than 2 years ago.

My plan was to keep my mileage from Rocket City Marathon by doing three 20 milers before Black Warrior.  I tried to alternate 20 milers and 16 milers or trail runs. I have found alternating Saturday long runs worked well for the Rocket City Marathon. 

I managed three good trail runs and three 20 milers to prep for the race. The 20 milers were at a sub 8:00 minute pace and  the trail runs were fairly technical, but of coarse there could always have been more. You can never do to much trail running. I like to duplicate race conditions and lack of trail runs is the weakness in my training so far.

I feel pretty good, but I have a little sinus crud. I have upgraded my shoes to Inov8 Roclite 295s. Bankhead will be muddy and wet Saturday, but when is Bankhead NOT muddy?

My goal is to run between a 5 and 6 hour race. And about those dues,  I guess for now I will have to say the the check is in the mail.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2011 in review

2011 was a really good year. I participated in 2 sprint triathlons
(Huntsville Sprint Triathlon, Soggy Seal Triathlon) , a duathlon, a  5K, 10K, 25K, and a marathon.

This year I ran 1407 miles at an average pace of 7:39 min/miles and biked 1421 miles at an average speed of  16.5 mph. It was a breakthrough year for my swimming. I swam 125.2 miles at an average mile pace of 38:32, and I finished the year with a pace of 35:27. 

 In May I passed-out at the finish of Jesse Owens 10K.  This was a first for me.  I still managed 1st place in my age group and 16th overall out of 124.  I beat the heat this year. I ran fast all summer and finished a 5K in August with a 20:16. This is faster then I believed possible for me in the heat of summer.
I was able to develop a pretty good running base this fall and had a great Rocket City Marathon. I was able to best last year, qualify for Boston, and place 5th in my age group.

I hope to maintain my momentum into the Black Warrior 50K and have a good spring of racing. I hope that God blesses me with another healthy year of running.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Inov-8 Roclite 295 - Mocosins on steriods

Shoe Review Inov-8 Roclite 295

I needed to find a replacement for my Nike Alvord 7s.which have been adequate up until now. Alvords are not the greatest on limestone rock. So I searched for a replacement and the Inov8 Roclite 295 has exceeded my requirements.  My specific requirements were to have shoes that would handle limestone rock. They also needed to be able to run distance and handle mud. 

Trust has to be earned, so I had to put the Roclite 295s through a few tests.  I test every thing I use before races, especially ultra trail races.  As Ronald Reagan stated "trust, but verify".

I tested the shoes on the following:
(a) 6 miles of sand stone and yellow clay mud at Bankhead National Forest, Lawrence County, AL
(b) 10 miles of limestone rock and mud on the Rain Bow Mountain  Trail loop, Madison, AL.
(c) 20 miles of crushed gravel trail at Point Mallard, Decatur, AL

Minimalist and neutral I found these shoes to be pretty comfortable to run in. There is no traditional stone shield, but they have a 5 finger meta-shank which seems to help protect your foot from the trail. To me they feel like moccasins on steroids. They are very flexible and feel great flexing over a trail. I found the sticky rubber made running on limestone rock pretty sure footed. The trails were muddy and wet and the rock conditions were from dry to wet/damp. I did slide a little but I was very pleased with the traction.

As for as a break-in period, they are so flexible I really needed to just get my feet adjusted to them. I walked around in them and noticed that my heel was a little sore. They are a lot lower from toe to heel, so I think the lower angle made my soles sore. After I wore them a few days the soreness subsided. Running in them has felt pretty good.

I found them pretty sure footed on limestone and sandstone rock and they seem to shred the mud pretty good.  I slid on the limestone a few times. I did fall once, but it was not the shoes as much as me because I was inattentive for a moment.  Familiarity usually breeds clumsiness in my case. It was on my sixth time through the loop and lost focus.  I have been able to run in them without my normal PowerStep inserts and my feet have felt great without the orthotics. For a minimalist shoe my feet felt great. I was a little sorer after the 20 miler, but I usually finish those runs a little achy.

Great shoe for me that will be my new "go to" for technical trails and mud.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2011 Rocket City Marathon

Here I am in my nice warm chair with a cup of coffee trying to recall the race. I have been compiling statistics and information since the race, but have just now been able to put it on this blog. This was my second time running this race. I had exceeded my expectations last year and had imposed pressure on myself to do better this year.  I qualified for Boston last year and this would be my goal this year. Boston qualifying was changed for the 2013 race, so I would need to run at least 4 minutes faster.  I decided to up the stakes and try to qualify for the next youngest age group. I would need 3:25:00 or better to attain this goal. I printed splits for both  3:30:00 (50 - 54) and  sub 3:25:00 (45 - 49)  finishing times.

The weather was similar to the 2010 race except the wind was out of the north instead of the south. It was a cold start and I did not want to wear extra clothes at the start, so I waited close to the last minute before walking down to the start line. Some people use garbage bags to break the wind. I may try this in the future. The wind was strong, but once in the crowd I was comfortable enough. I was wearing 2 layers of clothing as I had last year. I wore my Nike long-sleeve black shirt over a short sleeve performance top. I also wore my lucky orange toboggan and cycling gloves.

I had a good deal of practice running alone this year.  A couple of my mainstays did ironmans this fall and their training schedules did not align with mine. I had no one to run with at all at this year's race, so I would be running alone as I did last year. Training alone got me ready for the solitude of running by myself. Running with others can really help with the mental game. I had mostly trained a lone, so I knew how to face it alone. I have become adept at playing little games with myself to keep going and staying on pace.

As for as nutrition I used the Power Bar Energy Gels this year. They are easier to consume than the GU-Gels I used last year and I think they were easier on my stomach. I used the vanilla because they were caffeine free. I consumed around 10 Ritz Crackers about 30 minutes before race time and drank some water to wash them down. I think I consumed 4 gels during the race around 6 mile intervals. The distances varied, but that was my intention to consume one every 6 miles. I had printed the aid stations on my splits, so I could get them out and consume them before the aid station then get some water to wash them down. This worked well and I will add this as a standard practice.

When the race started I aligned myself with faster pacer groups, so I could bank some miles. My first few miles were pretty good for me (7:41 and 7:24). I knew that to get a 3:30:00 I would need to be under an 8:00 minute mile. My training had been done on gravel trails and I always run faster on road surfaces, so I had some confidence that I would be able to run a pretty good pace for the first 20 miles. And for the first 20 I was able to do this. Part of the mental game I played was to tell myself every mile I ran under 8:00 it gave me some leave way for later miles at more than an 8:00 minute pace. This worked pretty good at the half way point. Every mile under 8:00 minutes after the half way point would be extra insurance for attaining my goal. This drove me past that long straightaway around the half way point of the race, It is crazy long and seems to go on forever.  The race finally starts twisting and turning back north. Running blocks with turns is just easier on the mind than miles of straight road. Each turn is a separate objective or goal. It is much easier for me to get my head around.

The wind was in my face on the later part of the race. I started the chant I used last year a little earlier this year at around mile 19. I thought it might not be a good sign that I needed to start the chant earlier. "Drive through the pain" was what I used last year to focus and to keep my pace from falling off too much. I really did not stay with any packs in this race. I ran by myself and only spoke briefly to a few people. I did have a guy who got right behind me and stayed there longer then I felt comfortable. I guess he was drafting on me. There was a stiff wind in our faces.  I moved laterally and even tried speeding up, but he stayed there. I was glad when he finally passed me, but he stopped to get some food and then I got in front of him again. After a while here he comes again, so I started the evasive actions again and he eventually passed me.  I don't mean to be unfriendly, but riding my heels makes me nervous. Run beside me if you want, just don't hang around on my 6. If he had been an acquaintance, I would not have minded. He did not even speak to me.

Toward the end of the race I passed my friend Jon Elmore. He was having some kind of issues and walking through an aid station. I told him after the race it is always a good sign when I can pass Jon Elmore. I managed it last year also. He is really a great runner and if he is on his game, he finishes close to the top. Must be a Rocket City jinx on him. I believe mile 23 was my slowest pace at 8:31. After that I start to really try to push it back down. I could smell a good finish and it motivated me to push the reserve power button. At about mile 26 I realized I had a shot at a 3:25:00 and really pushed it. I finished that last .2 at a 7:20 pace.

I finished with a 3:25:00 gun time and a 3:24:53 chip time. 121st finish and 5th place in my age group. I was happy to have met/exceeded my expectations again this year. I had worried so about failing to attain my goals that I considered not showing up. My stomach had been out of sorts for the days preceding the race and I almost let this be an excuse for not to showing up. Fear of failure is my biggest mental obstacle. I was better trained this year then last and I was going to be very disappointed if I did not exceeded last year's finish.

My splits by watch and by Garmin. The Garmin was a little generous again this year.
7:41, 7:24, 7:16, 7:29, 7:28, 7:36, 7:28, 7:46, mile 9 and 10 =15:25, 7:29, 7:44, 7:41, 7:40, 7:40, 7:51, 8:01, 7:53, 7:51, 7:54, 8:13, 8:27, 8:31, 8:22, 8:21, 8:09,

7:21, 7:18, 7:19, 7:24, 7:18, 7:29, 7:17, 7:48, 7:21, 7:39, 1:18 catchup, 7:26, 7:41, :07, 7:40, 7:38, 7:39, 7:50, 7:58, 7:44, 7:48, 7:49, 8:07, 8:19, 8:12, 8:06, 8:07, 8:04
Great race and maybe I will try to run it next year. The organizers do a great job every year.