Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Need your good thoughts! And prayers!

Since . . .
  • I didn't get in the Umstead 100 this last weekend
  • I'm in fairly good physical condition right now
  • running 100 miles is on my "bucket list"
  • I'm not getting any younger
  • there are no other 100 milers close by happening soon
  • I probably wouldn't make any official race cut-off anyway
  • temperatures are getting warmer every day
I decided my first 100 mile run would be this coming weekend . . . on my own.  On the roads in Rocky Mount.  No shirt, no buckle.  Just one old, stubborn old fool, trying . . . wish me luck.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Who is the boss!

Running is all about learning to deal with pain. Pushing through mental barriers.  Not listening to your body when it tries to tell you it's tired and wants to quit.  Usually the pain is associated with tired legs, muscle cramps, blisters, the wall, etc.  But sometimes pain comes in other forms.

The story for this race really starts Friday evening, when I felt the start of another fun evening with my friend, "Diverticulosis."  Whenever "Di" drops by, its always a fun several days until the symptoms pass.    This time "Di" didn't hang around quite as long as usual, but I was still concerned.  Friday night was tough.  And Saturday was no picnic either.  After entertaining her I just didn't know how I would do running the Tobacco Road Marathon Sunday . . . or even if I would be able to.  Let's just say that after two days of "Di's" visit, I was bloated . . . and it wasn't just the feeling of being bloated!

But no worries . . . by Sunday morning I felt at least 90% normal.  No real pain at least.  But I was still full!

But by about the fifth mile the pressures started building! And folks, when the intestines decide that it's time . . . well . . . it's time.  They don't listen to all that psychological mumbo-jumbo.  They refuse your tricks about "mind over matter."  They don't care about your goals, what you have planned.  Quite frankly, the bowels are the "boss of the body" and if you ever doubt that, just test them!

By mile 6, the boss started insisting I listen to him!  I wanted to hurry . . . but hurrying just made it worse.  But I HAD to hurry! . . . and luckily . . . there in the distance I saw porta-potties!  Yyyyyeeeeeesssssss!  When I got there, just to keep the fun going I was #3 in line!  My blood pressure climbed to alarming levels, and it felt like I had  quickly developed a fever of 102 at least.  But thank God, the line moved fairly fast! I made it just in time!

And coming out . . . I was a force to be reckoned with!  Don't know when I ever felt so good . . . and light!

Soon after, I saw Ashley Bass fly by running his first marathon I believe (He finished sub 3 hours and finished 16th or 17th!

I really liked the Tobacco Road course . . . flat as any!  Plus there were several chances to see runners ahead with two out-and-back sections.  I love that!  Makes for a FUN race!

Saw Brian Langford, Dave Lavely, Michael Forrester, Tyler Peek, Scott Wingfield, Gerry Felton, Kevin Boudreau, Joey Anderson, Tracy Proctor to name a few!  I love that!  Got pictures of some . . . hate I didn't get everyone's!  Also saw Jonathon Savage leading a pace group of runners.  He had quite a following!

Hit the first turn-around feeling strong and light . . . and no more intestinal issues!  One thing about this Tobacco Road trail . . . it all looks the same!  That's not bad!  It was pretty!  But I really couldn't figure out where I was, and how far to the next key point!  Didn't seem too long until I came to the second out-and back section, and quickly saw Dave Lavely screaming by!  All the others followed . . . except I didn't see Brian Langford and Michael Forrester.  (Turns out they had already made the turn!).

Especially enjoy seeing Scott savora beer provided by the local Hash House Harriers!  Yes . . . I got mine on the way back!  Thanks Hash!

I refused to look at my watch during the race and I purposefully didn't bring my Garmin.  But I knew I was running good and still felt strong at 16.  It was around here where I looked ahead and saw my friend Laura MacLean . . . out in the trail taking pictures!!  Odd not to see her running, but she has the Umstead 100 next weekend . . . so she gets a hall pass.  Laura ran with me for a short way and promised the be there to take my picture on my return.

By the next turn-around I was starting to feel it!  But I managed to keep my intervals fairly consistent . . . though I did walk some of the uphills (they were really just slow rises . . . but close enough for me to walk!).

I love the back-of-the-packers!  No one is moving all that fast and everyone has an encouraging word.  Runners are great!  I'm sure the front-runners are too, but they are so focused and running so fast they really don't socialize much.  But us "back-of-the-packers" just have a virtual party!

Soon I saw Laura again and she ran with me for awhile . . . really lifted my spirits!  Thanks Laura!  You're the best! Really!

Seemed like no time until I made the turn and had 3+ miles to go.  I struggled the last three, but still managed to keep my planned intervals.  I did a pretty good job of pushing through the pain.  Ended with a 5:26.  Not great by most standards, but I was thrilled!  Believe this was my "fastest" marathon in two years at least!  No way I'll ever beat my 3:58 PR . . . that was years ago. 

Here are a few more pictures

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Going for a New Record

This Sunday, I'm going for a CPR at Tobacco Road Marathon and I've got to admit, I'm feeling very good about my chances!  This course is set up for me and my racing skills.  And with a little luck, I have a CYPR too.  And who knows maybe even a APR as well, though that will be a stretch!  Just hope I have a pacer who can keep me on task!

Thinking I may need to get a haircut Saturday to minimize wind resistance.

But I believe I need to borrow a pair of red shoes with orange shoe laces . . .  I hear they are "fast" . . .

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Triumph at Umstead!

"I need every advantage possible today if I'm going to succeed . . .

Ahhhhh . . . I know!  If I start the at the back of the pack I'm giving up 30-45 seconds.  And why?  Just to be NICE to all the FASTER runners here today?  Heck . . . they didn't have my race day challenges . . . to hell with them!  Let THEM be nice to ME!  I'm starting from the FRONT!"

So I started heading up through the crowd to start on the first row!  30-40 seconds in the bank!  NICE!

But some plans just fail.  On my move to the front I run into Mark Long, Tom Herbst, Tyler Peak and Darrell Elliott.  Had to say hello to these guys!  And then the unthinkable . . . I was boxed in.  But still I was maybe 1/2 way to the front . . . 15-20 seconds banked.  That would just have to do.

Another advantage of starting in the front is you get to run with folks you normally don't get to.  Heading out from Camp Lapihio I got to catch up a bit with Frank Maguire until my first walk break came.  Another advantage was for awhile I was ahead of Eric Pate, Ron Fleming AND Scott Wingfield!  YES!

One of the really nice parts of the Umstead course is there are a lot of sections that you run out-and-backs so you get to see those ahead of you.  Running out by the airport overlook, I see the leaders fly by and then eventually everyone else!  It's shaping up to be a great day!

Coming back from the turnaround I run awhile with Lee Cox.  I've seen Lee at several races but we never really met.  Lee was running in sandals and was really using this race as training for the Umstead 100 coming up soon.  Turns out Lee and I both love fishing and I enjoyed spending some time with him.

At about the 3 1/2 mile point we head into the single track portion of the race . . . my specialty!  Just ahead of me was Stephen Lilly . . . a friend from a lot of races.  We had plenty of time to catch up since we last talked.  As we were heading down one of the hills we saw a kid on a mountain bike ahead!  Pretty rough trail for such a young kid and quite frankly we were a little concern both for him and for our safety passing him!  Hope he got by the "Tree of Death" okay!

Soon we caught up with Kerrie Anne Loyd, a first-time marathoner from Atlanta . . . a very neat young lady who is about to get her PhD.  Eventually Stephen pulled ahead and Kerrie Anne and I got to sort of get to know each other.  One thing about Kerrie Anne is she wouldn't walk.  Never!  She might go slow up a hill, but she wouldn't walk!

Near the end of the single track porting, Kerrie Annie and I picked up another first time marathoner, Mark Swan from near Raleigh.  After passing the Cedar Ridge Trail intersection and going down Corkscrew Hill, Kerrie Anne and Mark pulled ahead and I was by myself.

At the Reedy Creek Aid Station, I grabbed some Oreo cookies . . . not something that usually sounds good to me while running  but hit the spot today.  At this point I was cruising along pretty.  But soon the lead runner passes me!  Honestly he looked like he was just having an easy run.  Very relaxed and didn't appear to be pressing at all!  The second runner passed and he was definitely working hard . . . much harder then the leader if looks are not decieving!

Passing the straight section beside Ebenezer Church Road, I knew the fun was about to begin!  The hills coming up happen at exactly the wrong time!

The first big one is the worst!  I just try to walk up it as fast as I can, and then take advantage of gravity on the back side!  To me, this section going out is way harder then coming back after the turnaround at the Graylyn Aid Station turnaround.  I just keep pressing my pace all I can . . . but I'm tiring.

One great thing about this section is you get to see everyone!  Anthony Corriveau passed me before I even knew it was him!   He was flying down the trail!  Laura McLean passes.  And then here comes Shannon Johnstone, in 4th place but still snapping pictures!!

Mark Long passes me.  He's really moving well in spite of his recent injury layoff.  I have to kid him about his "poor conditioning!!"  I believe he was ahead of his last year's pace (relative to me!).  Right behind Mark was Scott Wingfield.  Then, Eric Pate and Ron Fleming quickly appeared.  All seemed to be running strong (though later Ron said he was struggling badly!).

Making the turn to Graylyn I see the sisters again . . . still laughing!

Nearing the Graylyn Aid Station / turnaround, I saw Amber Poole and Jon Shingleton.  Due to life's interruptions, their training was way short of what they wanted, but I was "blown away" to see how strong they were running!  Well ahead of me!

The return trip from Graylyn back to Reedy Creek seemed to pass quickly but I'm slowing down.  Even the trees are taunting me!  

Katherine Kemp from Wilmington caught up to me on the Ebenezer Church Road straight section.  This was Katherine's fourth Marathon (and her second Umstead!).  I enjoyed our few minutes together, but she pulled ahead and zoomed on up the trail!

My plan all along was to go as hard as I could to reach the final cut-off station at the Cedar Ridge Aid Station.  Last year, they told me I missed the cut-off at Reedy Creek by 5 seconds . . . but told me if I could pick it up and make it to Cedar Ridge before their cutoff, they would let me finish.  So, really my race this year was to the Cedar Ridge Aid Station!  After that, I just had a 3 1/3 to 4 mile "cool down!"

At Reedy Creek I asked had I made their cut-off.  They didn't know when their cut-off was, so obviously I had made that cut-off!  Just one more to go!  I tried to take advantage of the long downhill leaving Reedy Creek.  But all of a sudden my left hamstring started cramping up . . . I never cramp up!  I tried running with my left leg straight (bet that looked funny as in my mind I looked like "Chester" on Gunsmoke!)  Running straight-legged didn't work too well.  I walked for a while and stopped several times to stretch . . . that did seem to help some.  But the cramps kept coming back.  My pace had slowed significantly and I still hadn't reached the final cut-off!

Heading up Corkscrew Hill, I tried to push it . . . but that's hard to do going up that mother!  But I ran all of it I could (not really that much!)  Going uphill didn't cause as much cramping as going down.  Finally . . . the top . . . and the Cedar Ridge Aid Station,  And final cut-off!  And I had made it!!  What a relief!  I was some kind of relieved!  I would be an official finisher!

Heading down Cedar Ridge I got to see a bunch more folks!  First was Lee Cox who celebrated with me on making the cut-off!  Then, Lisa McFadden and her sister, Samantha, looked fresh as daiseys!  Samantha was running her first marathon and had had a cornea issue with her left eye, which was patched!  Even with the one-eye handicap she was doing great!  And Lisa is just one of my favorite running friends!  One of the world's nicest folks who always makes my day a little brighter!

Mark Swan passes.  He has really kept his pace and done well!  I congratulate him on his first marathon finish (just a little early!).  Then, I see Tom Herbst coming up the hill with a smile and a word of encourgament!  Next, I see Amber heading up the hill and seeming fresh and strong!  Soon I pass Jon, just a tad behind.  Then, Katherine, then Kerrie Anne!

I believe the nicest thing about trail runners and ultra runners is the sense of support and encouragement everyone passes along.  Everyone has a word of encouragement for each runner!  And it real!  Everyone means it!  Just a great sense of community out there!

Cedar Ridge is a bitch!  But I kicked it's ass . . . in a slow, plodding, walking sort of way!

Then it's back on the hard, packed stone surface of Reedy Creek Trail!  One last big hill appropriately named "Cemetery Hill."  Passing the top, I see the graves of past runners that didn't make it!  (Or maybe the graves were just early residents!).

I got to the turn back to Camp Lapihio, but I wasn't sure I had the right turn.  No one was there.  But I did see a sign with a red arrow pointing to the right, so I made the turn and soon knew I had guessed right.  Soon I see cars of runners heading home.  All stop and shout words of encouragement and congratulations!  But maybe I'm looking so bad they are stopping, thinking its a funeral!

I cross the finish line at 5:54!  10 minutes better then last year!

And surprise!!  Who is waiting there at the finish line for me but Eric Pate!  What a nice guy to sit around an hour just for me to finish!  Thanks Eric!

At the finish got to celebrate our victories with Katherine and Kerrie Anne.  Also, Frank and Donna Maguire and Stephen Lilly were still hanging around!  As was Lisa McFadden and her sister.  And another of my favorite people in running, Laura MacLean.  Laura had come in 3rd for the women!  And still hanging around to congratulate us "back-of-the-packers!"

As I came out from getting my Moe's Burrito, Kerrie Anne was sitting with her friend, Mickey Fong (AKA Bubbles!), who I had met at Uhwarrie.  I had to sit down and catch up with them.  What fun people!  Mickey finished as the 13th female!  Mickey is friends of Anthony Corriveau and Shannon Johnstone . . . both of whom won awards!   Way to go you two! 

And speaking of fun . . . I DID have fun!  And fun was something that had been lacking recently in my running.  As we were walking to our cars, Laura MacLean told me she loved seeing me smiling so much today!  And I was smiling . . . and enjoying being with so many great folks.

Just a terrific day!

Pictures I took from the day.

Pictures taken by Shannon Johnstone

PS . . . By the way, at Umstead you get a Finisher's Pint Glass rather then a medal.  Just my luck I got a defective glass.  Won't hold beer!  Strange . . . I can't see where it's leaking though . . .

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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.