Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 . . . the year that was!

Another year almost done . . . seems like the years are going by like pickets on a picket fence as you run by . . . and I'm pickin' up speed!  As a kid I remember a year just took forever it seemed!  Guess I'm not a kid anymore!

Well, 2009 is just about done and overall it was a good year . . . everyone is healthy and happy and we have many blessings.  You really can't ask for more then that.  And I finally moved to a new age bracket . . . the 60s!  Luckily my friends were there to help me "ease" into it!

From many perspectives, 2009 was very, very tough.  I have many friends that have lost their jobs. And good, new jobs are just really hard to find.  Got to admit I am not very optimistic about the economy for 2010 and 2011.  To stimulate jobs, seems to me we need to provide incentives to the companies that provide those jobs.  Current Obama/Congress stimulus efforts are just very expensive and not properly focused for long-term economic growth.

But this blog is about running . . .

For me and my running, 2009 was both successful and troubling.

First, I had one major goal for 2009 and one minor one.  My major goal was to complete a 50 mile run. This I completed on March 21 and raised money for the American Cancer Society.  The 50 mile run took me 13 hours and 44 minutes.  Not a very good pace, but I certainly didn't try to hurry!  Got to admit this was a huge accomplishment for me and I am so glad I did it.  Also, my minor running goal was to complete 12 runs of 26.2 miles or longer . . . and I got 13 in during the year:
  • Frosty 50k                                       January 10     50k
  • Rocky Mount 50k                           January 31     50k
  • Washington’s Birthday Marathon   February 16   Marathon
  • Umstead Trail Marathon                 March 8         Marathon
  • Lilley 50 miler                                 March 21       50m
  • Bay’s Mountain Marathon               April 10         Marathon
  • Flying Pig Marathon                        May 3            Marathon
  • God’s Country Marathon                 June 6            Marathon
  • Boogie Marathon                             June 13          Marathon
  • Marine Corp Marathon                    October 24     Marathon
  • OBX Marathon                                November 8   Marathon
  • Medoc Marathon Re-run                  November 28 Marathon
  • Charlotte Marathon                          December 12  Marathon
     Other notable runs:
  • Relay for Life                                   April 25          24 miles
  • Sweaty Butt 50k                               July 4              ~21 miles

But 2009 also brought several running disappointments.

For several years I've really enjoyed running . . . not worring about time, but focusing on the experience . . . having a really good time.  But time is becoming more important to me!  Yes . . . I said it!  Throughout 2009 my times got slower and slower.  To the point that now I'm having to worry about cut-off times!

In the Umstead Trail Marathon I was the last official finisher.  And now a 6 hour limit could be a problem if the marathon course is hard.

Additionally, I've had several marathons that proved to be very hard just to complete:

  • the Boogie Marathon almost did me in.  Have never come so close to a DNF as I did at Boogie.  Not because of any injury, sickness or other problem.  At the 10 mile point I was honestly ready to call it quits.  I have always had trouble with hot weather and this one was hot and humid.  This race just kicked my butt bad!  No "if's," "and's" or "but's" about it!

  • I really struggled through the OBX Marathon.  Nothing hard about this race or the weather on race day.  But I had trouble just finishing.  I hit the wall at 18 . . . got it back at 20 and ran well.  Then I died a slow, painful death beginning at 23 1/2.  Had to sit down for 30 minutes after it was over.
I've got to changes things up or I'm afraid I'm just going to get slower (if that's even possible!)

    But lots of good memories from 2009 runs . . . here are a few pictures.

    I've never been a fast runner, but usually I've been a mid-pack runner.  In my 40s my 5k runs were in the 20s or sometimes 21s.  My PR was 20:01.  Far from the "lead dogs" but respectable.  Usually I was about midway in my age group.  But now I'm near the end!

    So . . . I'm going to change things for 2010.  Fewer marathons and those that I run I will try to run faster.  My 2010 goals are:
    1. I will be an "official finisher" of the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 mile run.
    2. No road marathon will take longer than 5:30.  
    3. And I will do one marathon in 5:15 or better.
    4. And I will run some 5k races this year.  Have no idea about a time goal, but I'm thinking less than 30 minutes.
    My #1 goal is not very consistent with the year's focus.  But Boogie has kicked my butt two years in a row and I'm going to kick back! To do this, I have to finish 40 miles in 10 hours.  This means I need to average 15 minutes per mile.  Sound easy!  A good walking pace is 20 minutes per mile (3 miles per hour).  But remember . . . Boogie starts at 6 PM June 12th in southern NC.  Temps at the start will likely be in the high 90s or low 100s (they were the last two years).  Dave Solomon, one of my running friends, said it best, "I say to register for it and give it a shot. Whether you finish or not, at least you'll know you tried."  So I registered . . . and I'll try!

    Saturday, December 12, 2009

    A cold day in Charlotte . . .

    I wonder if Charlotte always has cold weather? In 2008 the temperatures started in the 20s and never got warmer then the mid-40 (best case!) and no wind. Ditto 2009!

    Joining me were Eric Pate, Steve Cooper, Ron Fleming and Dave Lavely. Well, actually Dave was there and ran the race, but we never saw him as he and his kids were spending time with his sister and her family. Eric and Ron were fired up to run hard. Steve Cooper was coming off a nagging calf problem and really should not have run the race . . . but he wasn't going to miss it! So he decided to hang back with me and just have a good time. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the battery in my camera, so I didn't get many pictures :-(

    Steve and I did have fun! We took it very easy and just enjoyed the run.

    The first half of the Thunder Road Marathon is gorgeous! We wind through a series of beautiful old, stately neighborhood. Really beautiful! And plenty of hills! Once the half-marathoners break off, the course loses the beautiful neighborhoods! By mile 18 or so, the fun always begins!

    As we got to about mile 20 we heard someone coming up behind us fast! Real fast! As he passed up I recognized it was Jonathan Savage! Jonathan had paced the 4:00 group and had decided to run another 10 miles or so! Amazing!

    Even near the end of the day, the neighborhoods were supportive and loud! Really nice! Last year I went to Charlotte expecting very little and was VERY pleasantly surprised! The first half of the course was beautiful, loved the NASCAR theme, complete with several race cars parked along the course. Nice medal, nice shirt, great volunteers and a very welcoming city!

    In this year's Thunder Road Marathon a few things were better then last year and and two that definitely were not!

    On the positive side:
    • Most folks like the technical shirts better and Charlotte changed to a very nice tech shirt,
    • As a surprise they passed out a second technical shirt at the finish line. Very nice!
    But there were disappointments!
    • Other then the name (Thunder Road Marathon) there was NO support from NASCAR. Not a single car parked on the course. No cars at the finish! No NSACAR drivers. Nothing! Why not just call this the Charlotte Marathon? I was disappointed.
    • The finishers medal was not dated! Just a plain medal with the words "Thunder Road Marathon." No year, no date!
    But still, it was a fun day! Eric AND Ron both set a PR and this hilly course! Dave cruised to another sub-4 hour. Steve and I finished . . . still smiling!

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Okay . . . I decided!

    Dave Solomon made the deciding comment!

    Most of the folks I heard from were supportive . . . supportive of me trying to commit suicide by running the 50-miler. I told Amber Poole that I thought she would have said "go for it" if I had said I was considering running 300 miles around a 100 foot circle in Death Valley in mid-summer!

    But Dave sent me a detailed e-mail on how he thought it might be possible for me to do this. Then he said the deciding thing, "I say to register for it and give it a shot. Whether you finish or not, at least you'll know you tried. " That struck home for me.

    I do want to try it. And if I fail to make the 40 mile cutoff at 4am . . . well . . . at least I did try. And I'm not looking for a goal that is a slam dunk! So this is my 2010 goal: Be an official finisher of the Bethel Hill Midnight Boogie 50-mile race.

    So I have sent Doug my entry.

    Wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of friends there too? You bet it would! If you decide to try this (marathon or 50-miler), I can promise you it will likely be one of the hardest marathons / 50-milers you've ever done. But I also promise you this one will make you proud you did it! It's Hot! It's Hard! But it's also very, very Cool! Please come and give this one a try! I promise you'll be glad you did!

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    More thoughts about Boogie

    Boogie is tough.

    Twice now I've run the Boogie Marathon. And both times the race won. Sure, I finished both times, but it was ugly . . . really, really ugly. My experiences haunt me.

    For those of you who might not know about the Boogie Races, it is not an event for the faint of heart. There is both a marathon for the runners and a 50-miler for the crazies. The course is VERY rural and is shaped like a balloon on a string. The balloon part is a six mile loop and the string is a 2 mile out-and-back for a 10 mile course. The marathon does two loops plus the balloon. The 50-miler simply does 5 loops.

    The races start at 6pm and both years the temperatures have been in the mid to high 90s. As the sun goes down, the temperatures drop . . . BUT as the temperatures drop the humidity increases!

    Then, there are the hills! The balloon has a lot of smaller ups and downs that seem to get steeper and longer with every loop. The "out" part of string portion is down Bethel Hill and the "and back" part is up this sucker! Believe me, this is tough.

    The race waiver says it all:
    I realize June in North Carolina is hot and humid. Most people and doctors advise against running in heat and humidity. Also, running at night presents special problems such as seeing where you are stepping and watching out for cars. I understand that this area has specific hazards such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, polecats, wildcats, and rednecks who like to drink and drive and throw things. I know that 26 miles can be tough under any conditions but with the possible conditions in this event 26 miles could turn out to be much more of a challenge than I expected. Nevertheless, I like to struggle and really, really want to participate regardless of the expected pain or risk. Therefore, I want everyone to know that I am not being forced to do this event and that I agree for myself and any survivors or possible claimants that I may leave behind, to save, release, and keep harmless the Mangum Track Club, its members, the Runners From Hell and any volunteers or sponsors or any other helpers that may be involved with this event from all liability, claims, or demands for damages incurred by participation in this event or any of its parts. I assume all responsibility for my participation and certify that I am properly trained, mentally fit, and medically able to participate in this hot, hilly, and possibly night marathon. I agree to use a light after dark. I will not litter. I will not kill snakes. I am aware that this event is limited to the no more than 75 entrants and that registration may close abruptly at the race director's discretion. I realize that the race director's {or his delegate} authority is all encompassing and will abide by anything he tells me. Knowing everything in this waiver has not deterred me from entering this event and my signature below indicates that I have read and agree to all this stuff and still intend to participate. I also promise to have fun


    So . . . for two straight years the Boogie Marathon has kicked my butt. This last year was especially humbling. I truly wanted to quit . . . after only 10 miles! That's right! One loop and I was done! I did keep going and struggled through all 26 miles, walking most of the way. After a few day recovery I pledged to myself that this next year I would beat Boogie!

    So now registration is open. Time to commit! Am I going to do all the training necessary to run Boogie and feel like I did well? Honestly, right now I'm not sure.

    But I've printed out both waivers . . . one for the marathon and the other for the 50-miler. I'm sort of thinking that since the marathon beat me twice, maybe I should just declare it the winner and sign up for the 50.

    But right now I'm not sure how I could do it! I've only run 50 miles once. And the course I ran was fairly flat. REAL flat compared to Boogie. And the temperatures were cool . . . actually cold. I wore gloves all day! A far cry from Boogie weather!

    The race director (Doug "Boogieman" Dawkins) says you must finish the first 40 miles by 4am. That would be hard for me . . . especially if the weather is "normal." But if the weather is a little more cool . . . maybe I could make the cutoff.

    I'm all about challenging myself. But is this too much? I don't know. I've got to decide.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Maybe there is something about red shoes . . .

    In Anthony Corriveau's blog, "Running-Down", he has been talking about the extra edge that his new red running shoes seem to give him. Quite frankly I was impressed. AC has really been posting some great results, race after race. All because of his new red shoes.

    But when I tried some red shoes at the Bay's Mountain Trail 15-miler, the results were dismal. I didn't win. I didn't place. Heck . . . I was damn lucky to just finish! I pretty much told Anthony that his theory was crap! Being the diplomatic person he is, AC explained that the "Red Shoe Theory" had only been tested on 5k runs, so my 15-mile trail run meant nothing. And it's not about running fast . . . this running weapon simply makes you win!

    I had pretty much written Anthony off as another running flake, with another "theory" for great performance that was bunk. But maybe I judged AC and his theory too quickly!

    Today, we held the Medoc Trail Races Re-run . . . a special Medoc Trail Race for race volunteers and any other that missed the October race. We had a pretty good crowd out for the 8am start.

    The day was perfect . . . mid 30s to start and never got out of the 50s all day! I have been nursing a bruise on the bottom of my foot and was not sure how the day would go . . . but I never felt any pain all day from my foot! I felt strong. I went out hard and took the lead right off! Very unusual for me!

    I decided to pace myself, so I let two of the marathoners pass me about a mile or so into the race. But from that point on, I hung tough! A few of the 10-milers managed to pass me at about the 6 1/2 mile point but from that point on, no one passed me! So I hung on for a third place finish in the marathon. And I was the first place finisher for males 40 and above! And I'm 60! Here is a shot of me at the awards ceremony! Very impressive!

    And the unusual thing is . . . I was wearing red shoes. That's me in front sporting the hot shoes! Okay, AC . . . maybe there is something to your theory!

    Okay . . . so there were just three folks running the marathon today. And the 10-milers that passed me started late and had to run about 1 1/2 miles more. But I'm pretty sure if any other marathoners had dared to test me, I would have smoked them!! There just weren't any.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    Rocky Mount Endurance Kids (RMEK)

    This morning, after a really nice 10-mile run, I attended the final chapter of this year's RMEK program - a 1-mile run and a 5k run. I think I learned something about running that is REALLY important! Plus, I had a great time!

    Tracy, Elaine and Misty . . . you all deserve multiple gold stars for this. I'm so glad Tracy saw the possibilities and made it happen!

    Several of these kids showed real running potential . . . really good endurance combined with efficient, fluid strides. One young girl really stood out as a potential future star. Very impressive!

    But, as usual, I was drawn to the "back of the pack" runners! The ones running because it's just fun to run! They never expected to win . . . they were just out there to have fun! And they WERE having fun!

    The 1-mile race started about 15 minutes after the 5k start and as the kids were walking out to the start with Tracy Proctor, the lead on the RMEK program, one kid was running. Running out ahead. Running back. Then, running out ahead again! He never walked! Just just ran . . . everywhere!

    My favorite was a very young black kid, just plugging along all by himself! They had put some cones up to mark the course where I was and this guy used the cones as an obstacle course, winding in and out with his arms up like he was flying! Just having fun!

    So the lesson here is to have fun. REALLY have fun! Don't just say, but really, really live it! Have fun running. Be a kid again!

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    A bad day turned good

    Sorry, but this is a serious blog entry . . . you may want to skip this one!

    Last week I had my 60th birthday. Up to this point a birthday was really just another day. But for this one, things were different. 59 years old doesn't sound all that old to me . . . but 60 . . . well . . . that is old! I guess about three weeks before my birthday I really started thinking about this and all the implications!

    So when my birthday arrived I was ready to play the game, "This birthday is nothing but another birthday." But it wasn't.

    Things started out normally . . . a fairly significant problem at work to figure out. But mid-morning they got me out of my office . . . and surprised me with a special birthday celebration, complete will all the normal embarrassments associated with a birthday with a zero! Connie and the whole office crew were in on it! Since we normally celebrate birthdays as a group, I knew this was special for me. Really made me feel good inside!

    Then, after a little while I headed to the Y for my normal noon run with my Y running buddies. When I got to my locker I realized this was NOT going to be a normal day at the Y! My locker had a big RIP marker hanging on it. I had brought all black running cloths for the day, figuring that no one would "get it" . . . but it was my attempt at a person slam!

    But soon it was obviously . . . everyone was wearing black! All black!

    Got outside and saw my best friend, Andy Barker, wearing a "Grim Reaper" outfit and they had a old runner / photographer (Allen Hinnant!) there to take pictures. Plus there were a bunch of my running buddies that normally don't run with us at lunch (Ron Fleming, Richard Wilson, Arthur Bennett, Ursula Forrester and Amber Poole), plus most of the "normal" Nooner (Brad Weisner, Joe Bunn, Carol Dickens, Kevin Boudreau, Michael Forrester, Scott Wingfield, Dave Lavely, Timmy Tucker, Eric Pate).

    Everyone stayed behind me . . .especially the Grim Reaper!

    We all laughed the whole run.

    Those two things totally made my day. Turned a "tough" day into one of my best ever!

    Thank you friends!

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    OBX Marathon has my number!

    Score is: OBX Marathon 2; Frank Lilley 0.

    Two years in a row, for some reason this race has beaten me. Last year I had an excuse . . . I had been sick and my training had really suffered. Believe I finished in 5:50 or so.

    This year my training has been much better . . . did MCM two weeks ago and finished in 5:28. So preparation was not my problem. But there was a problem! Think my time was somewhere around a 5:46 or so. Struggled from mile 18 to about 20, but pulled out of the funk around mile 21 and started running mostly. I actually ran up the bridge and down the other side. But when I got to the bottom of that bridge, I was DONE! Have no idea why but my legs just said NO! We Quit! But I didn't quit . . so they had to just tag along with me till the end fussing the rest of the way!

    The first half of OBX is quite nice . . . lots of neighborhoods with lots of fun loving, supportive people! And very nice scenery. Pass the Wright Brothers Memorial. The nice section ended after a 3 mile section through Nags Head Woods!

    Then, back to the main road . . . for another 13 miles of boring and ugly running (or in my case walking!). Virtually no redeeming qualities. Ton of cars driving right beside you and very little crowd support. Only nice part is the bridge and the views of Pirates Cove and surrounding marsh. (Really hate to call the climb up to the top of the bridge a "nice" section, but it was about as good as it gets. Really nothing nice about that bridge!)

    At least this time the race didn't run out of gels OR beer at the end! I believe I'll just declare OBX the winner . . . and move on!


    Saturday, October 31, 2009

    I'm a Runner and I'm a Hypochondriac!

    Hello . . . my name is Frank . . . and I'm a hypochondriac.

    I guess I've been one for a number of years, but it's just within the last year where I have come to admit this . . . even to myself. It is a wonder I am ever able to enter a race due to all my medical issues (that reside primarily in my head!).

    Luckily I almost always feel pretty good . . . I'm a pretty healthy guy. But just let anything out of the ordinary happen and I turn into "Hypochondriac Man."

    Maybe it's a little headache and God forbid I sneeze once or twice. . . within 30 minutes I'm convinced I'm coming down with a really bad case of H1N1 . . . or worse! One misstep on a trail run and I'm re-developing serious knee problems. One good thing is I'm not one to run to the doctor every time. If I did the co-pays would kill me for sure!

    Here is an example: A couple of months ago I was on a trail run in Kingsport, Tennessee. About 6 miles into the race, I made a bad step on a pretty technical downhill section and twisted my ankle as I went down. Immediately, I just knew I had broken at least two bones in my ankle. This was bad. First, I needed to crawl off the trail so others could get by (forgetting that I was probably in close to last place . . . guess the pain was really bad!).

    Sitting there on my butt in pain (the pain was real!), I started thinking about how they might be able to airlift me up through the trees and off the mountain. After about 5 minutes of sitting beside the trail, I finally realized the only way I was going to be able to get off the mountain was to walk out . . . the airlift idea just wouldn't work very well. I did happen to have some rather strong pain pills with me , so I took them and then made a critical decision . . . even with my incredibly badly "broken" ankle, I started hobbling on down the trail. After maybe 10 minutes of walking I decided to try running some (needed to quickly get to medical help to survive!). Amazingly, running hurt no more then running. So I ran.

    Could this have been some miracle? Was it the pain pills that allowed me to "tough it out" through the pain? I think we know the truth!

    Just last weekend, I ran the Marine Corp Marathon. The next day I noticed the bottom my right forefoot was sore . . . like a stone-bruise. That night it hurt more. And I "noticed" some swelling. Oh no!! Stress fracture! Had to be! Wednesday it hurt even more! Could it be something WORSE then a stress fracture? What could have happened? Maybe a cleanly broken bone with some serious ligament damage too?

    Surely I would not be able to run for at least a month! Maybe more. Heck . . probably more with all that ligament damage I could be out for MONTHS! Who knows . . . maybe this will end my running totally!

    Well . . . it's Saturday night and another miracle has occurred. The pain is going away. Quickly! I did two hours on the ellipse machine this morning and I'm thinking I'll try running either tomorrow or Monday at the latest!

    Yes . . . I'm a hypochondriac runner for sure! Luckily, there are no meeting to go to . . .

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Is bigger always better?

    Okay . . . this isn't some x-rated blog . . . this is about running you perverted fools!

    Runners . . . read on!

    Well . . . with some things the answer is definitely YES! A bigger hamburger is always better! Same with a beer.

    (You runners are with me, but you x-rated perverted fools are confused! Beer and hamburgers are key to most runners . . . even those runners who have turned away from good, greasy foods and gone "vegetarian" still understand those of us carnivores that remain! And beer is almost universal!)

    But when it comes to marathons the answer is not so simple for me.

    Just finished the Marine Corp Marathon with over 20,000 of my closest friends.
    • And it was fun!
    • And it was very cool to take a running tour of Washington, DC.
    • And I loved the opportunity to thank so many Marines . . . (but I did feel bad since they were there making OUR day better when WE runners should be making their days better . . . we owe our service men and women so much!)
    • And the crowd support was fantastic! I've never run the New York Marathon and I hear the crowd is unbelievable . . . but Washington must be a close second place! People we just about everywhere and that is neat.
    • And I loved getting my finisher metal from an Marine officer, who made it a point to ceremoniously present me with my medal. I made it a point to ceremoniously tell him what an honor it was for me to get the medal from him and all the Marines who supported this run.

    But for this country boy, it was all almost too much. I believe I like a small marathon . . .
    • where most of the time I'm either alone or with only a few people,
    • where I get to know the few people I see on the course,
    • where I can park within 500 yards of both the start and the finish,
    • where there is real food at the finish, not just pretzels, bagels, bananas and raisins.
    I do think everyone needs to do a bigger marathon . . . it's quite the experience. But I hope you also try a small race or a trail marathon. Then you decide.

    Pictures from the Marine Corp Marathon:

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Laurel Run Ascent

    What a cool run!

    The Laurel Run Ascent is an 11-mile trail race in Kingsport, Tennessee. Essentially, the race starts on the Holston River at the foot of Bay's Mountain . . . a 3,500 acre city park and follows Laurel Run creek up the mountain! Cool temperatures and a light rain . . . PERFECT weather for a trail run!

    As I registered for the event, I saw they had a beekeepers outfit available for rent! A few weeks earlier at the Bay's Mountain 15-mile Trail Run, virtually everyone got stung by a nest of yellow jackets that had built their nest on the trail! Everyone was still talking about it!! (Eric . . . no one had as many stings as you . . . you won the bee sting competition for that race!)

    The first mile up the Laurel Run trail had several boggy spots with a few of them almost sucking my shoes off! But after these mud bogs (actually quite fun!) we had a stream crossing where all the mud was washed off. The complete trail was actually runable with no really super vertical sections . . . but it was a constant uphill grind. At about the 1 mile point we passed Laurel Run Falls, a beautiful waterfall just beside the trail. This day, there had not been a lot of rain, so the falls were not at their best . . . but still beautiful!

    Also, the trail passes two old homesites that nature is slowly taking over. Too bad . . . by this time in the run, I would sure have liked to stop in and have a little 'shine with the owners!!

    I started running the easier uphills and walking the steep sections but as I neared the top, I ended up walking all but the easiest uphills! As I was at 59 minutes into the run (had gotten to the mountain top and was following the ridgeline up to the firetower), the leader passed me . . . flying down the trail! This guy had at least a 8 minute lead on the #2 guy!

    I love how supportive trail runners are of each other! Everyone is so encouraging! Every single person had something positive to say! And everyone had a smile on their face . . . enjoying the day! I bet half the folks told me they had not seen any of those yellow jackets!

    I got to the turn-around point in next to last place, with two folks maybe 3 minutes ahead. Had a quick cup of water and was excited to start running DOWN this friggin' mountain! While the run down is a lot easier effort-wise, it's much harder to avoid tripping or turning an ankle . . . you really have to concentrate on every step.

    Several weeks ago a bear ran out of the woods and knocked me down as I was negotiating an especially tight, twisty, steeply downhill section. (Okay, I really just twisted my ankle, but the bear story is much more entertaining!) As I passed the place where it happened, I made it a point of being extra careful! A "tricky" place for sure!

    I really enjoyed the run down . . . felt like I was flying!!! Blew by one guy one guy like he was walking. Well, I guess he was actually walking . . . just a hiker going down the trail! I continued down at "race pace" and with about 1 mile to go I actually PASSED another guy. This guy was a competitor in the race! YES!!!!

    I finished strong and felt GREAT! No bears, no bees and no falls! The award ceremony was just ending. Figures . . . guess I didn't win anything . . . AGAIN!

    Mark Skelton and the State of Franklin Track Club do their races right! A really GREAT long sleeve cotton shirt, a nice, insulated water bottle, and great food at the end! All for $20! This is the way races should be! Thanks Mark!

    Here are a few more pictures . . .

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Thank God it's Fall!

    If you're a runner you've got to love the fall! It's no surprise the word "summer" begins with an "S" . . . it's so it can rhyme with the word "sucks".

    Okay, summer isn't all bad. As a matter of fact it's one of my top four seasons. The lake becomes a fun place to live again! Lot's of swimming, kayaking, fishing, etc. But as a runner, summer is just a season to suffer through.

    Our "Nooner" group at the Y keeps going, but no one EVER has a really good run. And my weekend long runs are just demoralizing! The heat and humidity just suck the energy right out of you.

    Doug Dawkins has a race at the start of the summer called the "Boogie" . . . you choose either the marathon ("a little Boogie") or the full 50-miler. Race starts at 6 pm in mid June! And as the temperature drops with nightfall, correspondingly the humidity climbs! Doug is just sick! And so are all the crazy folks that line up to run it. Twice I run the little Boogie and twice I've come away mentally beat (as well as physically!). Great way to start the summer off with a big "SUCKS!"

    I usually back off in July, just after Mike Day's brutal "Sweaty Butt 50k" on 4th of July. This one is even worse then "Boogie". Single track through the hills of Umstead Park. July 4th GUARANTEES the temperature will be in the 90s . . . and in eastern North Carolina the humidity is always high! My first year I drank a whopping 352 ounces of gatoraide (11 32 oz bottles!) and still was somewhat dehydrated at the end! Every year I just struggle through this one, walking a ton of it.

    By the time mid August comes, it's time to start gearing up for the fall marathons. August and early September is usually still brutally hot and humid . . . but we caught a break this year . . . fall came early!

    Yesterday was my last long build up run for the Marine Corp Marathon and running is coming back to being enjoyable again! For 15 miles I totally enjoyed myself! Unfortunately I needed to run 21 miles, so the last six weren't quite so much fun, but still I had a great time.

    My speed is slowing up even more and my recovery seems to be taking longer . . . but the enjoyment is still there. While I've never been fast, in my mid years I was a "middle of the packer", but now I'm starting to have to worry about cutoff time! At the Umstead Marathon this spring, I JUST made the cut-off and ended up being the last official finisher.

    I guess I could start to work on my speed, but for me that is WORK . . . and I'm I'm not running to add more work. I'm running so I can enjoy myself. So cut-off time are just something I'm going to have to live with. But with cooler and less humid fall weather, I'm pretty sure I can beat these pesky cut-off times another year and still run a few more marathons!

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    I Love Bay's Mountain!

    . . . and Bay's Mountain didn't disappoint!

    I was joined by four suckers . . . 'er running friends from Rocky Mount! Jon Shingleton, Amber Poole, Eric Pate, and Ron Fleming made the 5 1/2 hour drive for 15 miles of pain! No one said these folks were smart! But what a great group of folks!

    The Bay's Mountain 15 mile Trail Run is not a big race . . . probably 50-60 runners. The race starts with a gentle uphill for about a mile! That's about 3/4 further then the longest uphill in Rocky Mount. And way steeper. And the real hills were coming!

    The first excitement came just after the aid station at the fire tower at mile 5.

    Saw the guy 25 yards in front of me suddenly start jumping around, cussing and flailing his arms everywhere! He would run, stop and swat, cuss some more and run again! Luckily I figured out someone had upset a hive of yellow jackets and they were definitely pissed off! (I kind of feel bad I was laughing at him so hard . . . but he didn't know!! No harm, no foul!)

    I stopped and waited until I could see where the hornets swarming . . . then started running as fast as I could through them! Only got stung once!

    Things returned to normal until we headed down the single track on far side of the mountain towards Laurel Run. One miss-step and I turned my ankle going down with a hard thud! This one hurt. Really hurt! I honestly thought I had broken my ankle. I just sat there for maybe 5 minutes in pain. I always carry a couple of serious pain pills, so I decided this was the perfect time to take them! I got up and started limping on down the mountain. Every step hurt. But there is no choice . . . you have to walk out! No "sag wagon" here!

    After 5-10 minutes of walking, I tried running. Oddly running hurt no more then walking! So I "ran" on.

    The next bit of fun started in another 10 minutes when the pain pills started kicking it! Within another 10 minutes I was "drunk" . . . and running! Weird vision . . weird sloshy feeling in my head . . . sort of "floating" down the trail. My ankle still hurt, but I just didn't care very much! Luckily there were no juke boxes or I would have started singing!

    Then the trail turns back uphill . . . really uphill! Straight uphill! (Did I mention this was a steep uphill section!)

    Honestly, in another couple of miles the pain became manageable . . . I was just "a drunk out for a run!" If I were driving, I would have had a DUI for sure! Weaving back and forth on the trail! Had two "wrecks", going down with all the grace you would imagine. But drunks never get hurt in a wreck!

    Down the mountain to Back Hollow and then back up the hollow, past the 10 mile point and climbing on up to Feagen's Gap and the second aid station. Unfortunately they didn't have any beer (that's what us "trail drunks" like at the 10 mile point!).

    But heading down from there, I started running out of gas. By the time we left the gravel road and returned to trails, I was spent . . . walking anything that even remotely looked uphill and "running" the flats and downs. With about 2 miles to go, Amber passed me, looking strong! Yes . . . she is more then a little competitive!

    When I finally got to the damn dam, I saw Ron, Eric and Jon!

    They looked totally rested (and they probably were . . . Ron had been finished for an hour!).

    Eric ran with me the last little bit and told me about his yellow jacket experience at that same place! Seems some blond in a orange shirt pretty much save him, helping him get the swarm off his head and legs! My I'm guessing Eric got stung 40+ times! Damn that must of hurt! Ron, Amber and Jon escaped un-stung!

    Amber and Ron earned age group awards for their efforts! And we all had a blast! That's what matters most! I'll be back! And I'm betting they will be too!

    Special thanks to Sherie Spencer for opening her home to us all! Everyone felt totally at home!

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    Littleton, North Carolina
    World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.