Sunday, February 27, 2011


Today, I looked up the word 'stupid' in the dictionary.

Okay . . . I KNOW I'm not 'the sharpest knife in the drawer!'  But what the heck?? 

After my initial reaction of total denial and now that I've had some time to think about it some, the answer is becoming just a little more clear.  I still don't know how the dictionary people figured it out.  But I believe they are probably right.  But how did they figure it out?  How could they possibly know?

I'm guessing that they used the ample public domain information out there about me to just make an educated guess!  Here are some facts I bet they considered . . .
  • I'm a runner - Running without cause, in and of itself, suggests mental issues and lack of clear, focused thinking . . . isn't that a symptom of stupidity?  Most runners try to 'sell' their stupidity as them just being 'crazy.'  And that may be true to an extent.  But there is definitely 'stupidity' in the mix!  Let's just be honest folks . . . runners are stupid.
  • I've run marathons -  Just running one marathon probably doesn't make someone appear much more stupid then just being a runner.  I mean, there is something to be said for trying something new and different.  But running a second marathon is highly suspect.  Any more  . . . and that is just plain stupid.  If you had any sense at all you would realize a marathon hurts.  Don't do it again!  So continuing to run them clearly starts to cluster one into the 'stupid' group.  And I've definitely run more than two marathons!
  • I've run further than a marathon - Okay folks.  Why would anyone run even one step past 26.2 miles?  If a marathon is stupid, any further is . . . just . . .  well . . . really STUPID!
  • I've tried and failed to run 100 miles - Come on . . . who wants to run 100 miles?  "Who was chasing you dude, and what were they driving!!"  Reasonable people get tired just driving 100 miles.  There is a perfectly good reason why I failed.  It was too far.  Simple.
  • So, after failing miserably at my first attempt to run 100 miles, I've decided to try it again . . . AND I actually PAID $150 for the opportunity to run the Umstead 100 starting April 2nd! Why would anyone PAY  MONEY to be publicly humiliated?  You got it . . . its just plain STUPID!  And it's no real surprise that the race day is the closest Saturday to April 1st . . . that's right . . . April Fool's Day!
  • About four weeks ago I tried to run the Uwharrie 40 mile trail race.  You guessed it!  I couldn't finish a 40 miler.  So what makes me think for even a minute I just might be able to finish a 100?  Stupid.
  • And what is the 'prize' if you successfully complete the full 100 miles? - A frickin' belt buckle.  No . . . the belt isn't even included!  And would I ever actually wear the buckle?  What do you think?  It would just look stupid!  (So . . . maybe I would actually wear it?  Hummmm?)
  • And can you imagine how much pain is associated with this effort?  Why would anyone CHOOSE to do this? To make a conscious decision to pay hard earned money for pain like this . . . stupid! 
  • Some of the better runners (I said 'better.'  Not 'smarter' . . . just 'better!') will run 100 miles in less then 24 hours!  Then, their pain stops.  But for me, if (and that is a humongous 'IF') I am physically able to tolerate both the pain and the sleep deprivation for the full 30 hours before the race cutoff . . .  I just MIGHT be able to get as far as 75 miles!  That is a stretch goal.  There is no way possible that I could cover the full distance in 30 hours, short of some sort of miraculous, heavenly intervention!  Or maybe it time stopped and I could keep going for a few hours!  So, let's face it, its totally stupid to start when you KNOW you can't finish.  It's like skydiving without a parachute.  You know full well what the outcome will be, so why do it? Just stupid!
  • To continue the stupidity, I'm even going so far as to make a detailed plan of how I'm going to try to accomplish this 100 mile run (a plan doomed to failure before the ink is dry!).  I went to the site to start my planning.  Thought I would see what my pace would need to be.  Here is what said . . .

Even thinks you shouldn't run more then 10 hours!

Now . . . some of you 'Pollyannas' out there will try to say some stupid, encouraging and supportive things (I know they will be stupid because the only people that would want to encourage me in something like this just HAVE to be a runners . . . and we know 'Runners are Stupid!'  (We've already determined that.)  You'll say things like:
  • "You can do it!" or "You've got this!" -  (These are normal 'calls of support' used by good runners on out-and-back sections when passing someone well behind them that they are pretty sure is in serious trouble and likely won't be able to finish.)
  • "Any 'DNF' (Did Not Finish) is better then a 'DNS' (Did Not Start)."  or, 
  • "At least you gave it your best effort! . . . you tried!" or,
  • "You just had a bad day . . . " or,
  • "Just go out slow and pace yourself . . . all you have to average is 3.3 miles each hour . . . that's only an 18 minute per mile pace.  That's easy!"  or,
  • "The secret is to just keep relentlessly moving forward!" or,
  • Other so called 'positive' comments.

    But likely no one will be totally honest and say things that I really need to hear like:
    • "What the heck were you thinking?"
    • "Did you even think you stood a chance?"
    • "You're so frickin' slow you're lucky to have finished 3 laps in the 30 hour time limit!"
    • "You need to find something you can actually DO!"
    • "Just walk away from the $150 . . . it's a sunk cost anyway."
    • "Save 'face' and just say you're injured."
    • "Claim some mysterious illness and say your doctor won't allow you to even start!"
    Well readers . . . (or reader) . . . if you are stupid enough to actually return to this blog, you are likely to be reading more and more about the Umstead 100 over the next several weeks.   It's consuming almost all of my idle thoughts and I'm actually trying to convince myself I have a small chance to actually finish within the 30 hour time limit!


      Monday, February 21, 2011

      The Great Medoc Re-Run Re-Run ( or just another long run)

      Is the glass half full or half empty?  Two ways to look at today . . .

      Option #1  (and my personal favorite!)

      Today was the running of the 2010 Great Medoc Marathon Re-Run, Re-Run.

      The race began at the crack of 9 am and the field was totally out of site within 4 minutes.  The weather started out perfect but as the day wore on temperatures climbed into the . . . well . . . I'm not sure but it felt warm.  During the first lap, the field stayed within a comfortable pace, saving the effort for the later laps.

      Beginning with lap 2, the pace quickened and the leader emerged from the pack with a strong pace.  While the hills tended to have a detrimental effect on the leader, he more then made up the time with his blazing downhills.  By the end of lap 2 he had a comfortable lead.

      During Lap 3 you could tell the pace was taking its toll and the leader backed off, knowing his lead was sufficient to assure victory.  In the last two miles, the leader clearly wanted to demonstrate his dominance over the field by again pressing the pace to an amazing level and crossed the finish line with no competitor in sight!

      What a finish!!

      Option #2

      Well, I'm supposed to be getting ready for Umstead.  And I never really earned my Medoc Marathon medal since I fell during the Medoc Re-Run and quite at ~18.  So today was a holiday . . . 

      Started running at about 9 am.  Man, were my legs ever heavy and sore.  Took it easy for sure.  I ran the normal Medoc Marathon track.  By the end of Lap 1 my soreness went away and I felt amazingly good considering.  Ran all downhills and probably 2/3 of the flats.  Uphill . . . well, I just walked!  But I carried my saw and ended up cutting probably 12 trees that were blocking the trail.  Made for a slow loop but that really what I needed!  By the time I finished Lap 1 the trail was 100% clear!!   (You are welcome Ron!  I got that nasty downed tree just before the climb to the summit!)

      Lap 2 was pretty much a duplicate of Lap 1 but just no soreness and no trees to saw!.  But I decided to run this lap backward . . . well . . . not really BACKWARDS . . . I just reversed direction.  And surprisingly I felt pretty good, all things considered!

      I was loving the day!  Awesome weather and it just felt great to be out in the woods.  No drama so far and I was surprised I had seen no one on the trails.  But as I finished the lap there were several people at the picnic shelter.

      Lap 3 started off slow . . . okay . . . slower the usual!  Starting to feel it.  Continued running the backward direction - I actually think it is a tad easier this way!!  After the short Bluff loop, I continued on and soon started seeing people!!  Wow!

      Got to the Summit road and near the end came up on three kids (okay . . . not really 'kid' . . . they were in their 20s!) who wanted to know the quickest way back to the picnic shelter!  Thank God!  A solid reason to just walk until I could show them the short trail back to the bridge!

      A little further I passed a mother and daughter coming up the trail to the summit.  Another good reason to walk!!

      I hate the hill on the Dam Site trail!  Those rock are just killers.  Each lap I tried to kick off or throw off the larger loose rocks . . . but when I returned there were new ones to take their place.  Where on earth do they come from??

      Pretty much survival pace until I finally left the creek for the final gentle climb back to the picnic shelter for the finish.  Decided to run this uphill section.  Almost made running it all . . . but not quite!!

      Luckily, just after I finished a group of motorcycle riders drove up and one took a picture of me at the end!
      Tired . . . but glad I did it!

      Sunday, February 20, 2011

      2011 Pilot Mountain

      Got to admit I just don't get the name of this race.  I mean, Pilot Mountain had never done anything to me before.  I had no reason to 'pay it back' for anything.  But now I do.

      I've driven by Pilot Mountain literally hundreds of times on my way to Tennessee and totally LOVE this mountain.  It must always cold on top . . .

      But I've never run or hiked on it.

      So I was definitely looking forward to this adventure.  I chose this race on the advice of my friend (now ex-friend) Jim Plant.  Jim ran the race last year and had rave reviews . . . such comments as "It's a keeper for sure!" and "Frank, you'll love this one!"  And perhaps my favorite: "It's got that one climb up to the top, but it's not bad at all."

      So I decided to add it to my 2011 list.  There were two races going on Saturday - the marathon (just less then 80 runners) and what they called a heavy Half marathon (about 14.5 miles) (about 150 runners).

      This race was no joke.  So . . . not a lot funny to talk about when remembering my day.  Sorry to the ten's of reader out there!!

      Decided to get up early and drive to the race and save a few bucks.  Ended up getting there early and had time to see a bunch of folks. Weather was perfect!  Almost needed gloves . . . but not quite! 
      Jade and Jim Wei with their dog Canyon
      Mark and Jim before the start.
      Aren't Lynne and Ken 'Stylin'??

      The race really turned out to be three races for me.

      One of 10-12 creek crossings.  The cool water was nice coming back!
      After an immediate creek crossing and a steep 1/4 climb off the bat, things settled in.  The first 8 miles were sweet.  Nothing too hard at all.  Just rolling hills and a few shallow creek crossings.  I especially enjoyed these miles, running (and walking) with Jim Plant, Connie Howe and Lynne Evans.  Had a blast with these folks!  Loved how the returning half marathoners kept telling us the turnaround is just ahead!!

      But after the 3rd aid station where the half marathoners turned around, things started to change!  The trail started to climb . . . at first not terrible but with an increasing amount of rocks.  And soon it just got bad.  Really steep with very tricky footing and TONs of rocks!  It wasn't long before Connie, Jim and Lynne were out of sight and I was all alone.

       I had decided that for this marathon I would try using my hiking poles.  GOOD CALL!!  Ever since my fall at the Medoc Re-Run where I broke my wrist, I'm just freaking out about falls.   And these poles definitely saved me several times!  But I've got to get a new pair because where the bear had chewed one of the pole grips was so rough it ended up really hurting my hands.

      After the initial hard, steep climb the trail headed steeply down!  Crap!  After gaining all that elevation, I sure didn't want to lose it, just to have to gain it again.  These steep downhills proved to be every bit as hard as the uphills.  Again, so glad I had the poles.

      Eventually, the trail headed back up . . . straight up!  Eventually the rough single track joined a nicely graded trail where the grade was not so ridiculous.  I heard voices behind me and surprise, surprise it was some marathoners catching me!  Huh?  I was pretty sure I was in last place.  Turns out these folks were finishing the loop around the summit and were soon to head down the mountain.

      Me . . . well I had a ton more climbing to do!  The trail got steeper.  And the the steps started.  Hundreds of frickin' steps!  My legs were totally shot!  After what seemed like a mile of this torture, I FINALLY got to the aid station!  Chilly and windy so I didn't linger, but followed the trail around the base of the 'nipple' . . . seems like I was either going up rock steps or going down them.  Did I mention that my legs were totally shot?

       Lots of people up at the top of the mountain enjoying the beautiful day and the fantastic scenery.  But they all drove up here!! 

      After making the circle around, the course designer had one final, ugly climb in store for us just when I had convinced myself it would all be down hill from here!  To call him sadistic is an understatement!

      Some of the 'backside' cliffs
      After that short killer climb on my totally shot leg (did I mention how shot my legs were?) we followed the base of the cliffs on the mountain's back side where there were literally hundreds of rock climbers out enjoying the day.  I would have liked to watch them climb.

      As I was passing one group, a young guy (20s) called out to me, "Hey old man, aren't you too old to be doing stuff like this?"  I stopped, turned around and called back to him, "Aren't you too young NOT to be doing it with me?"  His friends enjoyed that!  But as I continued on, I started thinking that maybe he had a point.

      This backside trail continued to be challenging . . . steps up and steps down.  Tricky footing.  Just a joy!!

      But at about mile 13, the trail started to get easier as I started heading down the mountain.  No more single track!  But my this time my legs were totally shot (I believe I mentioned this!).  I was able to run the down hills (with just a few walk breaks) but I had to walk the flats and uphills.

      For the last several miles I had been looking at my GPS and was some kind of disappointed to see how much further I had to go.  Coming in the the 5th aid station my GPS said I was at like 14.  But the guy manning the aid station told me that really I was at about 17.5 or so!  Finally something that picked up my spirits!

      For the rest of the day I ran the downs, tried to run most of the flats (unsuccessfully I might add!) and I never even THOUGHT about running an uphill!  But I did enjoy looking back at what we had just finished!

      So I finished.  DFL  (Dead F***in' Last).  Just over 7 hours . . . missing the cutoff by about two minutes.  Living up to my blog's name . . . believe it or not . . . I really was hurrying!  That's just sad.

      This was a HARD marathon.  Very hard!  For the marathon distance, In my memory it was second only to the Leadville Trail Marathon (which I DNFed).  Glad it's done!  Oh . . . and Jimbo . . . thanks sooo much for talking me into this day of torture!  :-)

      And I'm still thinking about what that guy said . . .

      PS - February 22 - The race posted results today and I see that a was the last finisher . . . but 4 people got disqualified due to running an alternate course and three DNFed.  So I guess I BEAT seven people!!!

      Thursday, February 17, 2011

      Oh My GOD!

      This weekend is the 'Pilot Mountain Payback Marathon' . . . a neat trail marathon through Pilot Mountain State Park.

      The race organizers have been great so far and I was just reviewing some of the last minute instructions and a list of participants along with each participant's race number.  Numbers started with #300.  And I found mine . . . #339.  Not great but not bad either.  Pretty much average . . . okay . . . just a tad below average.

      But I digress . . .

      Looking down the list I just had to see who had the dreaded #357 . . . essentially my number at Uwharrie!.  Got to admit I was so relieved it wasn't me I almost didn't look.  But I did . . .

      My buddy Jim Plant has #357!!!

      Jim . . . All I can suggest is just DNS this race.  Stay home.  You have virtually NO CHANCE of having a good day. 

      The worst numbers for this race are:
      • #355  -  Dan Pieroni
      • #357  -  Jim Plant  (essentially my Uwharrie number!)
      • #375  -  Bill Weimer
      • #377  -  Mark Warner
      So sorry folks . . .  All I can say is I'm glad I'm not you!!!!   :-)

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Sasquatch at Uwharrie?

      No . . . that's not me!
      Is there really such a thing as Sasquatch - aka  Bigfoot, Yeti?  So much talk . . . so few facts.  And no really solid sightings that you can say 'This proves that Sasquatch is out there!'  I always thought all the fuss was in the Pacific Northwest.  But the Uwharrie National Forest has recently become one of the key areas of focus in trying to either prove or disprove the existence of the illusive creature (assuming he / she exists at all!)  Even Animal Planet is on the bandwagon!  Check this out!

      Before Saturday, I would have said the chances of Sasquatch being real are . . . well, quite low.  But now  . . . I'm not so sure.  Maybe . . . just maybe Sasquatch lives in Uwharrie.

      To understand where I'm coming from you have to understand my day Saturday . . .  it's a long, boring story.  Sorry.  My suggestion is to skip this and go find another blog.

      The Uwharrie Mountain Run

      The event was the Uwharrie Mountain Run . . .  a super cool event with three separate races: an 8 miler, a 20 miler and a 40 miler.  Last year I had run the 20 miler (ended up being about 17.5 miles as they routed us around a difficult, muddy section since there had been days and days of huge rain).  So I thought it was time to step up to the 40 miler.  I mean . . . how hard can it be?

      Friday night Ron Fleming, Scott Wingfield and I picked up our race packets at the pre-race pasta party.  And we got our race numbers.  Here is where it all started going wrong!  Here is my number . . .

      Those of you that know me know that I am a master at numerology when it comes to race numbers . . . years and years of careful study and detailed data analysis.  Usually . . . just by looking at a number I can tell what kind of race your going to have. Almost infallible!  And those of you that have studied under 'The Master' know that a '57' is one of the WORST POSSIBLE two digit numbers you could EVER get!  The two slowest number possible and they are unbalanced . . . but I won't go into race numerology here!

      With this race number, I should have never started this race!  I should have volunteered to help instead of actually trying to run!

      But no.  I thought I . . . being the great, strong runner that I am . . . could overcome the numerology.  Such a fool!

      Started out the day at dawn . . . probably 34 degrees and raining cats and dogs!  Perfect!  Everyone was shivering and trying to get out of the rain.  Sloppy, muddy, cold.  (Photos compliments of Shannon Johnstone).  Finally, 7 am and we were off!

       At about the third mile I took a fall.  Didn't seem to hurt anything.  I'm relieved 'cause I 'm pretty sure I had broken my wrist on a fall at the Medoc Rerun after Thanksgiving.  The wrist still hurts most of the time and I had feared falling.  About 1/4 mile later  . . . I fell again.  Minor wrist pain.  I was lucky!  But these two falls started working on my mind!

      • (Medical Update:  As it turns out, my left knee is quite sore today . . . so maybe I did do some damage . . . not cartilage but outside the joint just below the kneecap on the outside.  Doesn't feel serious.  Also, when I'm going uphill my right knee 'clicks' loudly . . . so loud, in fact, that people around me ask what that noise is!  No pain . . . just the clicking . . . feels weird though!)
      Lots of mud, rocks, hills, water, swollen stream crossing through cold water.   (Even crossed a few that didn't have to be crossed . . .  yea . . .  screwed up!  See picture below! )  Did I mention there was a lot of mud, rocks, hills, water, and swollen stream crossings?  If you haven't run Uwharrie, you need to, just so you can understand!  Everyone needs to run a serious trail race.  Not the Umstead Marathon, New River Trail 50k or even Medoc (one of my favorites!!).  All those are great, but try a serious, hard core trail race.
      Thought I would get a picture of the ONLY bridge on the course!
      Notice that is Jim Micheels leading us all across the creek.  Unfortunately, the trail had taken a sharp left and we didn't need to cross here!  But we did have to cross BACK to return to the trail!

      Scott Wingfield just havin' some fun!

      Things continued pretty uneventful until about mile 10-11.  The rain ended and I took off my rain shell and stuffed it in my backpack.

      After my two falls, I was trying to really be careful about my footing.  I was going downhill and really feeling good!  Making good time (for me!).  Then, I find myself laying on my back . . . on the trail.  Head super woozy and seeing stars!   WHAT THE HELL??  What happened?  Where am I?  Why am I lying on the trail?  What the F***!

      So . . . what happened?  I'm not really sure!  I was running . . . and then I was waking up!  There was a tree across the trail just above me.  Had I just not seen it?  Had I run into the tree?  Or had something else happened?

      I don't run all that fast, so I'm sort of wondering how that tree could have knocked me cold!  I mean, how fast could I have been going?  What else could have happened?

      I want to state flat out that I NEVER actually saw Sasquatch.  There is no way I can honestly say that Sasquatch clubbed me as I passed that tree.  But is it reasonable to assume I just ran into a tree and 'cold cocked' myself totally out?  Could this have happened?

      I don't know.  I didn't see anything and I don't remember anything.  You be the judge!

      Guess I just sat there on the trail for 10-15 minutes . . . until my head cleared and I felt like I could stand and walk.  Eventually, the cob webs cleared and I continued on down the trail.

      About ~1/2 mile later I realized my gore-tex rain jacket I had stuffed into the webbing of my pack was gone!  So I turned around and headed back . . . across a big stream crossing . . . back to where I fell.  Where I found my jacket!

      Bonus miles!!  Got to love them!

      By this time I was just mentally 'DONE.'  I made up my mind I was going to drop at 20.  From this point on, I just struggled on.  No motivation . . . no fire . . . just a walk / run fest!

      Saw so many friends as they were heading back to the start on their way to a 40 finish.
      Shannon Johnstone  . . . just flying!  And lookin' beautiful!  I didn't bother taking a picture of Anthony earlier . .

      One of the nicest guys in ultra running . . . Rick Grey at about his 28th mile!

      By about mile 18 my head had pretty much cleared . . . and I was just a little loopy.  But I really loved the last 6 miles of this course.  Last year, they detoured us around this section due to mud and high water, so I didn't know how nice this section really was.  It had the biggest climb of the day.  Tons of mud.  Twisty trails . . . and the deepest stream crossing of the day.  I thought this was the hardest part of the 20, but I did love it!

      So I bailed at 20 miles.  I'm pretty sure they would have cut me off if I hadn't told them I was done . . . but I was done.  But still smiling!

      But if I ever get '57' again as a race number . . . I'll pass on the race!  Bet on it!

      I wonder what Sasquatch is doing today . . .

      Wednesday, February 2, 2011

      2011 Goals

      I almost decided to wait until the end of 2011 to declare my yearly running goals.  But last night I decided that Groundhog's Day would be a good day for this. 

      As this year's 'Grand Popa'  for 'The Royal Order of the Groundhog,' I spent the club's annual night of celebration for our special annual day of festivities - Groundhog's Day Eve I spend time in meditation and  self assessment. In the midst of the sacred and mysterious 'Ceremony of the Groundhog' I decided . . . it's time!  My running goals must me made public . . . the public has a right to know!

      Okay, so  . . . now on the the 2011 goals . . . a drum roll please!

      #1.  Make sure 2011 is a year of FUN in my running.

      #2.  Fastest Marathon - Over 5:30.  Any faster and I'm sure I'm trying too hard.  2011 is totally 'The Year of Fun' and I plan to do my very best to keep this goal in mind.

      #3.  Number of Marathons or Ultras - Over 14.  But I don't want to forget #1.  Sort of got a streak going and I don't want to break it!  Average at least a marathon a month.

      #4,  75 miles or more at the Umstead 100.
      • Okay . . . there is no way I can achieve both #1 and #4.  It is definitely NOT going to be fun running 75 miles or more.  So this does present a problem.  But my solution is simple . . .  I will exempt the Umstead 100 from my yearly results.  So I have to do at least 13 marathons, etc.  And it will be okay for me to not have fun during this event.  Simple.  I make all the rules.  (Plus, I reserve the right to change the rules and / or my goals at any point during the 2011 year - including 12:59 pm on December 31, 2011.)
      #5.  Finish 50 miles at Boogie.  I haven't tried the 50 yet . . . hell, I've essentially died each time I've just done the marathon at Boogie!  Not sure about #1 on this one either.  I may just choose to take my backpacking equipment with me and camp out during the night and finish the next day.  We'll see how all this works out, but I do have to remember goal #1.  But I'm not really worried . . . if I make the rules, and if I can change my goals at any time, I'm confident this will all work out!

      #6  Get at least 4 folks to try an ultra for the first time.  I've got my targets set.  They don't stand a change against me!!

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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.