Monday, June 28, 2010

Leadville . . .

Next race . . . Leadville Trail Marathon on July 3rd.

Now, Leadville will be quite different in a number of ways, but for this race I've had to promise my doctor I will only walk!  No running!

Now back off some of those "smart ass" comments you were just thinking!  Things like "So . . . how is this different from a normal 'TripleF' race?"  Or perhaps, "Hey . . . this 'all walking' may just improve your time!"  Or maybe "Will anybody be able to actually see the difference?"  I may be slow, but I usually do "get it done."  So cut me a break here!

Leadville is going to be quite a challenge for me . . . walking or running!  Actually, since the race never drops below 10,000 feet elevation, I would probably be walking most of it anyway!  Altitude really "kicks my ass" bad.  In February I was visiting my daughter in Vail (~8,000) and just walking was a chore that would leave me winded, dizzy and a little nauseous.  I was there about four days and it did start to get a little better by the end.  But I never went for a run my whole trip. 

This time I will be getting to Vail on Thursday night late and the "race" is Saturday morning . . . one days to adjust.  A new friend of mine, Sharon Scott, has suggested I take Ginkgo bilaba for 5 days before the race to help with altitude adjustment.  Sharon and her husband Ricky are both very experienced ultra runners and have experience running at altitude (Pikes Peak twice and Ricky did a Pikes Peak double . . . up, down, back up and back down in one race!!)  So I'm giving Ginkgo a try.  Can't hurt!

But I'm fine with "having" to walk!  This "bad knee thing" just gives me a good excuse!  I understand that the trail as you near Mosquito Pass is totally big, loose rocks that cause a bunch of falls each year.  Unstable ground would just kill my knee if I was running . . . hope it will not be so bad if I'm walking.  Going up I would be walking for sure anyway, but normally I'm a good down-hill runner and can make up some lost time.  So I'm giving that up.

Leadville has an 8 1/2 hour cut-off.  Super easy if we were in NC.  We'll see how it all works out above 10,000 feet.

But as my friend Jim Plant told me, 'Any DNF is better then a DNS.'  So I'm going to start and see what happens.  No matter what . . . I promise I'll have fun!

I'm also looking forward to seeing my e-friend, Jennifer Nichols.  Jenn has been running really strong plus has run Leadville before so she knows what to expect.  Also, she lives and trains in the mountains of VA/TN.  I'm betting she will 'hammer' Leadville!  I sure hope so!

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's only a marathon. How hard can it be?

How many times must I be dropped on my head before I realize it hurts . . . every time . . . it will hurt.  And the higher up you go, the further the fall . . . and the further the fall the more it hurts!  It's really not very complicated at all.

Looks like at the end of this month, Connie and I will need to drive to Vail, CO to deliver something to my daughter, Laurie.  Long trip. Mapquest say 1,825 miles taking 28.5 driving hours . . . each way.   I do love Colorado! Almost everything about it!  Great trout fishing, great mountains, very scenic and a nice, laid-back life-style.  There is just one thing that I really don't like . . . and that is the elevation effects!

When I get to Vail (8,100 ft elevation), even the shortest walk leaves me very light-headed and gasping for breath like I've been a "couch potato" for years!  And it doesn't get better for several day at least.  I guess at this altitude there is just less oxygen in the air.  But whatever it is, it REALLY affects me!  A short walk feels more like running a 5k . . . hard!  Basically . . . it sucks!

But when I realized we would be in Colorado around July 4th I remembered there is a race not to far away from Vail that I've always wanted to do . . . the Leadville Marathon.

Now, here is where the falling on my head part comes in . . .

Leadville sits at 10,152 ft elevation . . . and is the highest incorporated municipality in the US.  The race starts in Leadville proper and climbs to 12,200 in the first 6 miles.  Then, you descend to 11,200 ft by mile 10 before you climb the big "Mama Jama" peaking at about 13,200 ft at the 13.1 mile point.  Then, turn around and run back.  The good news (at least for me) is they have an 8 1/2 hour cut-off.

On I read a few reviews of the race.  Everyone says it is spectacular.  And hard.  I wasn't too terribly worried as I read one where the lady was talking about how much the elevation affected her and her husband . . . until I saw they were from Los Vegas, NM . . . elevation 6,500 feet!!  The elevation of my house is 210 ft!!

And my right knee is still really"barking" from the Boogie Marathon last Saturday afternoon. 

So how high up the ladder am I before I take my "header" onto cement?

But It's ONLY 26.2 miles . . .How hard can it be?

So maybe I'll be paying $100 (steep!) for a t-shirt and a DNF.  I'll decide for sure this weekend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Boogie . . . without her fangs!

The annual Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50-miler and Marathon is a tough race.  Very tough.  This one has the triple H threat . . . Hills, Heat and Humidity.  Weather forecasts predicted temperatures at the start of sunny and 94°-97° depending on which report you choose to believe.  We arrived about 4:30 pm with the temperatures around the 95° mark and the sun was relentless. Looked like a bad, bad, bad Boogie! . . . real bad!

 But about 10 minutes before the race started, a high cloud cover moved in and the temperature quickly dipped to around 91 or so!  But without the direct sun, things were much better.  Boogie pulled back her fangs a tad this year.  But it was still hot . . .  when I left at 1:30 am the bank sign in Ellerbe still read 80°!  And the humidity was high!  And Boogie hills are always there.  Perfect conditions for a long run!

Several friends . . . Ron Fleming, Amber Poole, Jon Shingleton, Brian Wilcox and James Stephenson all were introduced to the Boogie experience.  And all were successful!  Believe all would agree Boogie is a real character builder.   James and Cheryl came with their friends McCrea Wallace and his wife.  McCrea had done Boogie before and knew how to prepare.  They all look like the Clampetts don't they!!

On Friday before the Saturday night race my right (good) knee started giving me some real troubles. I wasn't sure I would be able to run at all.  But, given the weather forecast of temperatures around the mid-90s, sitting around helping out at the aid station and cheering friends didn't sound bad at all.  My plan was to start.  I figured that within 1/2 mile I would know if I had a chance to finish.

No knee pain at all all night!  Wasted all that perfectly good "worrying time" for nothing!  On downhills I could feel the knee alignment being "loose" so I just took my time, with finishing as my only running goal of the night.  I kept waiting for the knee to slip out of track but it never did.

My other goal was to just enjoy the race and have fun.  And I believe I won that part!  I had a blast!  So many great people there!  Runners, especially ultra runner types are just the nicest folks ever!  Everyone supports everyone else.  A great example is the winner of the 50 miler, Jonathan Savage (see picture on right)  Every time I saw Jonathan he had something positive or encouraging to say to everyone!  It was like he was just out for a little training run!

Also, my friend Laura MacLean won the 50 miler for the women.  Laura is another person who always takes time out to encourage everyone else (plus she is a picture freak too!).  She passed me (like I was standing still!) when I was at about mile 24 and even slowed up to chat some.  So last night two of ultra's very nicest folks came home winners!  I'm so very proud of both of you!

I hung out about 15 miles with Dave Solomon and Debra Botkin both running the 50.  Dave ultimately finished his 9th Boogie 50-miler and he and Debra hung together throughout.  This year, Dave just couldn't find time to get any quality training in (job promotion, Navy promotion plus all his mission work) but he didn't want his streak of eight Boogie 50 finishes to end.  So he came to do it . . . knowing full well the pain and suffering that was sure to come.  Dave finished.  Maybe this is the most inspiring story of this year's event.

Then, met up with Amber Poole and Jon Shingleton with 6 miles to go.  Amber was have rash / chafing issues but they figured out a short-term solution and the three of us headed out for the final loop.  I was feeling great at the start of the loop but things caught up with me at about mile 23.  But the three of us trudged on to the finish where we met up with Ron who had finished earlier.

By the time Jon, Amber and I finally finished, McCrea and James had already headed back to Raleigh, but I had gotten to congratulate them on their finish before I headed out to do my last 6 miles. Also, Brian Wilcox and his crew / team had skipped out back to Durham and I didn't get to congratulate him either.

Oh . . . and a Boogie first for me!  After two years of nothing, I saw two snakes on the road during the night.  One was a copperhead that was just "chillin" on the road (if anything could actually "chill" last night)!  The other snake we saw soon  after . . . he just quickly slithered off into the grass and I never got to see what kind he was.  Got to admit these made me give a second thought to one of my favorite Boogie pastimes . . . running completely in the dark with no light on.  I so love that!

I also finally got to meet Rick and Tammy Grey.  Now I know why everyone has such nice things to say about each of them.

You never beat Boogie . . . you simply survive!  Hopefully with some dignity remaining!  Boogie is a challenge like few others.  A real running accomplishment.

Here are a few pictures I took during the day/night.

Here are some more pictures taken by Ben Dillion I believe.

Fred Dummar's pictures

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hill repeats really, really work . . .

I've got to admit I was skeptical about the benefits of hill repeats.   I started weekly sessions about four or five weeks ago and expected it would likely be months before I started seeing a real positive difference.  And to be truthful, I really don't feel any of the benefits quite yet.  But they must be there!  Proof is in the pudding!  Read on.

Today, I traveled to Wilson, NC to run in the first ever "Run for the One" half marathon.  Not the best time of the year to have a half marathon.  And we knew the weather was going to be hot and humid Saturday.  90s or so probably.  But good training for Boogie next weekend.  My plan was to just run this one and enjoy the race.  The Rocky Mount Endurance Club showed up in force!  Probably 15 club members there!

It turns out, I didn't think I was having a good day at all.  In fact I felt like I was having a BAD day.  I never do well in heat and humidity, but I felt like I was struggling from mile 4 on.  Just no zip in my legs (like I EVER have any zip in my legs!).  In my mind this was just a day to finish and go home to "jump in the lake!"

But . . . well . . . I must have been flying!  I didn't feel like it.  But I must have been.  This has never happened to me before.  It went down something like this . . .

It was about mile 8 or so and I was just minding my own business and wishing the finish line was much closer than it was.  But out of the corner of my eye I saw him.  Hiding behind a parked car next to the race course was Sgt T. W. Doughtie, one of "Wilson's Finest," And he was armed . . . with a radar gun.  Before I knew it, the blue light came on!  Got to admit I was quite confused.  I couldn't figure out who he was pulling as I didn't see any cars around!"

"Okay Old Man!  Pull it over . . . RIGHT NOW!"


"Yea . . . YOU!  Pull it over to the side!!"

"But officer . . . what did I do?  What's this all about?"

"Sir . . . do you realize how fast you were going?" 

"Officer. . . I really don't think . . ."

"That's the problem sir!  You DIDN'T think!!  Don't you realize there are other runners out today, trying to enjoy themselves.  And here you are . . . SPEEDING!   There could even have been kids crossing the street!  Or perhaps a mother pushing a baby stroller.  What would you have done then . . . HUH??"

"Well, officer . . .I guess I would have . . ."

"You probably would have run them over.  THAT'S what you would have done!"

"Officer . . . I'm sorry.  I guess I just didn't realize."

"Well Sir . . . you just need to be MUCH more careful and SLOW DOWN!"

"Officer, I promise I will.  I'll back off the pace and be much more careful the rest of the way."

"Okay sir.  I believe you.  You seem like a nice man.  I'm going to cut you a break and let you off with just a warning ticket this time!  But if I EVER catch you speeding through the town of Wilson again, you'll be very sorry!"

And so . . . I, race # 1530, got a Warning Ticket for speeding with the added note "Careless speeding and endangering public citizens."

But even though this is only a "Warning Ticket". . . I'm thinking I may "fight it."  I mean . . . I MUST have been going faster then 2 mph!  Either the radar gun wasn't calibrated correctly, or the Sargent made a mistake.  Either way they'll have to throw ticket out won't they??

But you can bet I won't be missing any hill repeat sessions anytime soon!

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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.