Thursday, April 22, 2010

Medoc . . . last weekend was just not enough!

Medoc is really pretty this time of year.  Can't help but love the spring!  Wild azaleas blooming!   Tons of wild flowers.  I have no idea of their names but they sure are beautiful!  Even saw this wild ginger growing!

Last Saturday I headed to Medoc for a short run . . . just one loop.  On my way, I passed Bear Swamp and took this shot . . . so pretty!

This coming weekend I was looking for a race.  The Blue Ridge Marathon is being held but couldn't find anyone willing to make the trip.  The Promise Land 50k is also going on but same thing . . . everyone had something going on.  So I'm thinking this Saturday morning will be the "Medoc Pre-May Endurance Run."  Not sure exactly what the race distance will  officially be.  Also, not sure exactly when the gun will fire (probably around 8am),  Plus, the only way to know for sure what the course is would be to run with me,  Run ahead and I'm betting you'll miss a turn!  Two laps for sure . . .maybe more!  Come enjoy the beauty of Medoc Mountain State Park with me!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Good and the Bad

After this last weekend's failed 100 mile attempt, I've been considering what worked well and also what went . . . well . . . not so good!  I'm not being negative about my DNF.  Quite frankly, being honest, I really had a good idea that 100 miles wasn't going to happen Saturday.  Too many things weren't going right.  But this was the only weekend that I could really "give it a go."  If not this weekend, I would have had to wait until fall.  Turns out I will have to wait till fall anyway!!  But this way, I learned quite a few things!  I may have failed but I'm glad I tried.  Like Jimbo said, "Any DNF is better then a DNS!!"

So . . . what could have gone better?
  • The Weather.  Okay, I can't control this, but when temperatures spike to the 80s when they have been in the 50s-60s . . . there is going to be trouble ahead!  Realistically, there was little point in me starting, knowing what the temperatures would be.  So the lesson here is to attempt a 100 mile run when temperatures will likely be in the 60s or less.  So probably between October and March for this area. 
  • Be committed mentally.  Negative thoughts crept into my head.  mainly due to weather reports.  But realistically I really wasn't totally committed to the 100 miles. I was when I decided to do it . . . but as the weather reports got worse and worse, a mentally collapsed.
  • Aid Station Planning.  Twice I was into a loop when I realized I had forgotten something important at the last stop.  Once I forgot electrolytes (quite a serious issue when temps are in the 80s.  Another time I forgot my PB&J.  Since my loops were only 5 miles these problems weren't terrible, but they didn't HELP my odds.  I probably should pre-pack a packet for each loop which would contain stuff like gels, electrolytes, ginger, etc.  Plus, this would speed up each aid station stop.
  • Needed to de-carbonate my soft drinks more then just overnight.  Probably should test this to get it right!  Very distracting to have my Mt Dew spewing out of my bottles and down my legs!
  • Training.  I knew my training was likely at the very low end of minimum.  Thought I could just "gut it out".Not smart.  Do the real work necessary to have a quality chance of success.  Period.  Rookie mistake.
  • Run at a real race.  Since I'm usually a solo runner I was not concerned, but the support of other runners doing and going through the same things as you would help.
  • Maybe more solo running.  A strange thought given how much I appreciated the support I got from my RMEC friends while running this.  But maybe more time alone at the beginning would be helpful.  Need to keep my mind "right" and not be "social".  Paces may be more valuable on the second half.  Not sure about this point at all . . . needs more thought. 
  • Shady Routes are best.  At least if temperature get to the 60s.  My route was east-west with very little shade.  Wouldn't have mattered all that much on most days, but on the sunny day we had, it was a disaster.  But if the run is on a cold day, you would benefit from the sum!
  • Find a Rolling hill course. I'm thinking rolling hills would be a better route then a mostly flat course.  I'll walk the uphills anyway so they wouldn't really slow me up much.  But a good downhill is a mental booster, plus it certainly doesn't hurt your time!!
  • Needed more real food at my aid station (salty, boiled potatoes would have hit the spot.)  Pre-make PBandJ . . . too much trouble fixing a sandwich when I stop.
  • Find a trail.  The road hurts my feet too much on longer runs.  Got to avoid bruising my forefeet . . . a nagging problem for me recently.  May need to get some sort of different orthodics or something.
What went well Saturday . . .
  • My lap counting sign worked great!  Essentially, I had a big piece of foam/plastic posterboard nailed to a tree.  On the board I had drawn a box for the start and one for every lap, with the cumulative mileage for each lap written beside it .  When I finished a lap, I wrote the time of day in the box.  That way, people coming by could get an idea of where I was and how long ago I was last there.  I also asked all the people who came by to help to write their names on the poster somewhere!  Had I finished, I would have had an awesome momento of the day!!
  • My sunscreen worked really well!  Okay, that's a pretty weak start.  But it's true.  Out in the blazing sun all day . . . no clouds . . . and I didn't get burned at all.  At midday I took a cold, wet towel and cleaned off my face, neck and arms and re-applied the sunscreen.  Perfect.
  • The 5 mile loop itself, was a good distance . . . especially with Harris-Teeter at the 1/2 way point!  Maybe could have been a 10 or 12 1/2 mile loop.
  • My clothing and equipment were comfortable.  Nothing special here . . . since temperatures were so high I just had my favorite old running shorts and a tech shirt.  Plus I carried my Nathan fluid belt.
  • Fantastic help from running friends.  Could not have been improved on.
  • Having a cooler of hand towels in ice water was GREAT!  Draping one around my neck during mid-day heat was super.
  • My wide-brimmed Tilley hat was perfect during the mid-day sun.  Sunday, I just popped it in the washer.

This was a great experience, even if I wasn't successful.  I learn a lot that should help me if / when I try this 100 mile thing again!

Monday, April 5, 2010

My 100 mile Run Attempt: a crash & burn story

"I search inside for that inter-strength I know is there . . . somewhere!  It's mile 85 and I'm tired and hurting badly.  But its only 15 miles to my first 100 mile finish!  I keep telling myself to just keep moving forward . . . it's almost over!  I can do this!  I CAN do this! . . . I've never failed to finish a race, and I'm not going to start today! I can do this!"

"Hold it . . . something's wrong!  Very wrong!  That's not mile 85!  What's going on?  How can this be?  That's mile 35!  Maybe someone just split the "8" in half . . . must really be mile 85!  No . . . I'm at the lap counter and it clearly says I'm at mile 35!  I must be sleeping . . . just having a nightmare!  Come on Frank . . . wake up!  Wake up!"

 But I can't wake up . . . because it wasn't a dream.

I'm such a rookie at these ultra runs.  Plus, I'm just not very bright.  I got a lot of good advice from experienced 100 mile finishers.  Lot's of great tips.  Plus, one bit of fairly consistent advice . . . start out slowly, very slowly.  Slower then you think you should.  REALLY SLOW!

At the end of 5 miles I was about 20 minutes AHEAD of my goal pace.  By mile 10, I was almost 50 minutes ahead!  I knew I was going too fast.  But I just didn't force myself to slow down.
    In my defense, I knew it was going to get hot Saturday.  So, I sort of adjusted my running plans to adapt to the conditions I was being dealt.  I decided that once the temperatures climbed to the mid 70s I would start only walking . . . no running at all.  And I would keep that up until the sun began to dip and the temperatures moderated some.  Then, I would start back my run / walk intervals. (Note to self:  this plan didn't work out so good!)

    I passed the marathon point at about 5:45.  Slow, but not slow enough.  But at this point I felt great!  It was about this time I shifted to walking only as the temperatures started getting up there!  Actually, I felt good up until about 33 miles.  By mile 35 I knew I was in trouble . . . serious trouble!  Not health-wise . . . but I knew 100 miles was likely not going to happen.   My walking was no longer a strategy, it was a necessity.  At mile 40 I crashed!  Bad!  I decided to stop and take a 30 minute nap!  I wasn't really sleepy, but I was hoping for some sort of miracle.  Sleep through some of the heat and recover some.

    Actually that may have been my best move of the day.  When I woke up and got moving again, I had recovered to some degree!  The sun angle was much lower, and the temperatures had just started to moderate some.  I returned to a run / walk interval (but way more walking then running!) and even toyed with the thought that maybe I could continue on through the night.  But by the end of another 5 mile lap I knew my day would be done at 50.  And so it was.  The night before talking with Connie, I had acknowledged the next day didn't look good.  But anything less then 50 miles would be a failure.  So . . . while I don't look at this as a total failure, it was a DNF . . . the first DNF I've ever had.

     But this really isn't the story that needs to be told.  The real story are the members of the Rocky Mount Endurance Club that that were out there all day long pacing me!  In the morning it was great having these great people to run with!  I felt great and totally enjoyed the company.  This was going to be their normal Saturday long run.  But I expected that once the morning passed I would pretty much be going it alone.  After all, this was Easter weekend and everyone had family matters going on, company coming, etc.

    But folks were there all day long!  I soo appreciated all their support and concern!

    I'm afraid I may miss someone when I try to mention everyone's name.  So sorry if I do!!
    Early in the morning I saw Larry McKeel, Ron Fleming, Ralph Willey, Arthur Bennett, Russ Hensley.  Then, Charlotte Burnett and Jeff.  And then Patti Miller came.  Several times saw Eric Pate and Steve Cooper.

    Then, Patti's husband Jeff and daughter Kayla and son Brandon came.  Kayla had made a sign of support for me!!!!  That really touched me!

    Kevin Boudreau came out for quite a while, then Ron Fleming and his dog Max returned for amother lap.

    Then, Elaine Weisner joined me for my "crash and burn!"  (Sorry Elaine, I know you were ready to go a lot further!)  After my 30-minute nap, Steve and Tampa Cooper and their son Gabe came by and Steve joined me as did my buddy and Elaine's husband, Brad Weisner.  Soon Ron Fleming returned yet again.  Then, Amber Poole and Jon Shingleton joined the parade as did Eric Pate plus Jeff returned! (Jeff is just starting his running, but believe you me, he is going to be a really good runner soon!).  Scott Wingfield also came by with his truck full of kids!  Plus, several others drove by during the day, just to check up on progress.

    All these folks were totally there for me and I appreciate it so much.  Also, Brian Lankford!  Brian was resting, getting ready to join me from midnight until 6 am!  Sorry I let you down Brian!

    For the last 10 miles, this fun group of folks looked like a gang of teenagers out at night, walking the streets  We're luck the police didn't stop us!!  It was really like a moving party!  Quite funny . . . though I didn't feel like laughing at all!  Everything hurt!

    Last but certainly not least . . . thank you Connie!  For everything you did.

    So . . . with there be another 100 attempt?  Certainly not anytime soon and maybe not ever.  This one beat me down pretty hard.  Last night I told Connie this was both my first and last 100 attempt.  And maybe it was. But . . . . maybe . . . . possibly . . .

    Here are some more pictures.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010


    Just a quick update for those of you interested . . .

    Basically, I wilted like grass clipping on hot blacktop.  My first DNF in my running life.  I was done by mile 35, but finished 50 only thanks to a whole bunch of great RMEC members who came out and kept me moving forward. 

    Got really good at the "death march" . . . . more later

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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.