Thursday, April 26, 2012

Virginia 24 Hour

Guess I need to do a race report on the Virginia 24 Hour run in Hampton, VA last weekend.

For the second year in a row, I was part of a 12-person ultra team, Team Awesome.  Team competition in a 24 hour race is amazing.  It adds a terrific new dimension an already fun format.  Essentially each team member goes as far as they can and you simply add all the distances together for a team distance.
Team Awesome 2012 LtoR John Price, Kati Craig, Frank Lilley, Ladonna Kapustensky, Tony Mollica, Shannon McGinn, Jim Plant, Alana Garrison-Kast, Matt Smythe, Tom Gabell, Cheryl Lager (missing Mike Senko)

I already knew about half of my teammates from last year's team but the other half I was just getting to know through this run.  Leading up to the race our team captain, Shannon McGinn, set up a Facebook group as a way to start to get to know everyone and a great way to make team plans.

I was a substitute this year.  Originally I had told Shannon I wouldn't compete due to my hip surgery.  I knew I would not be able to really excel.  But about a month before the race, Ray Krolewicz had a change of plans and said he shouldn't run, so Shannon asked me again.  I told her if she couldn't get anyone else I would come.  No promises about distances though.  But how cool is it to be Ray K's replacement!!  (I'm sure when someone thinks of Ray, I'm usually the next person that comes to mind!!  :-)  )

My hip seems to have good days and bad days. My longest 'run' had only been 11 miles and I limped back the last 2 miles on that outing.  Don't get me wrong . . . averaging my runs out I definitely am getting better . . . but I still have a few really bad days.

So my plan was to not run . . . but only walk.  I felt like this was my best chance for getting a fairly long distance.  But I've got to admit that walking every step makes one feel like a second class citizen.  Something about walking in a running race.  I almost always do a combination of running and walking, but this time . . . no running at all.

That's Chad in the middle (Steve Durr on Rt and Elizabeth Montgomery on Lt)
I rode over to Hampton, VA with Chad Wollenburg, a friend who had also decided to do the 24 hour run.  We had a ball!  Great pre-race dinner and maybe a drink or two!

Cheryl seems happy to be getting started!
Got to Sandy Bottoms Park at 6 am and setup our team 'camp' right on the race course.  Perfect spot just before the start/finish line and right near the bathroom!  Finally got to meet all the new team members, and just after 7 am we were off.

I ran . . . okay . . . only about 20 yards . . . but I ran!  But then I start my walk.  For the first lap I did it in reverse so I could get pictures of everyone running.   Then I returned to the 'normal' course for all other laps.  One of my teammates, Matt Smythe, was concerned that maybe my reverse lap would count as a negative lap against us!!  :-)

The Sandy Bottoms course is both really nice and really bad.  Nice, in that you have about a mile where it's an out-and-back and you can see everyone plus you run both through the woods and by some beautiful salt marshes.  Bad, in that parts of the road/trail have large gravel (especially nasty at night when you can't see very well) and about 1.5 miles of the course is within 100 yards or less from I-64 (very heavily traveled!). 

Kati Craig & Matt Smythe
At all ultra events, the participants are just awesome folks.  But adding the team concept even makes the day more fun.  Everyone is so supportive!  I wish every 24-hour race added a team competition component.

Saturday started out mild but the temperatures quickly rose.  Not sure how warm it got but it was pretty warm . . . maybe into the 80°.  Not terrible at all . . . but few were used to dealing with the heat and by late afternoon folks were suffering.  Lots of stomach issues out there!

But for me I actually LIKED that it got hot!  It made more runners walk more . . . thus I had more company!  Really nice to walk some with some of my teammates that normally I wouldn't get to talk much with since I'm so slow and they are so fast!  Tom Gabell, Shannon McGinn, Matt Smythe, Alana Garrison-Kast, and Ladonna Kapustensky are some that come to mind that would join me for a little walk each lap.  Made my day a lot more fun!

For some crazy reason Jim Plant, Kati Craig, Mike Senko, John Price, Tony Mollica and Cheryl Lager either never walked or just never ended up walking near me!  I hated that but that's just how the laps turned out.  We still got to cheer each other on when we passed.

I maintained a pretty steady the whole time.  I took a pretty long break after only 3 laps to tape up my feet . . . I felt some 'hot spots' developing and wanted to stay ahead of a problem.  But by 20 miles I had blisters anyway.  So the question was: 1) do I stop and try to address the blisters (remove the tincture of benzion, tape, drain the ones I could see and then re-tape) or 2) just suck it up and continue one.  I chose #2  so I pretty much suffered all through the rest of the race.  Pain wasn't terrible.  I took ibuprofen which I usually don't do and I believe it helped "take the edge off" the pain.

I got really tired out there.  Physically, I felt like I had gone 75 miles.  Just dead on my feet by the end with nothing left.

But the good news is my hip did fine!!!!  It would start hurting / tightening up some but after 1/4 to 1/2 mile it would ease off!  That sequence kept up the whole time.  Really good news.  I'm sure that walking is what allowed me to do this!  Had I tried my walk / run I'm convinced my hip would have stopped me.

My dream goal was to finish 50 miles and get a plaque.  That goal kept me going.  About 2:30 am Sunday morning I finished!  About 19 hours and 10 minutes or an average of 23 minutes per mile.  Honestly, I was as proud to finish 50 miles at this race as any other race I can think of.  Maybe I did just walk, but it still took 100% of my available energy and I had nothing left at the end.

Team Awesome Captain Shannon McGinn with our trophy!
Oh . . . and for the second year in a row, Team Awesome won the team competition and for the second year in a row, we set a new course distance record (803.5 miles or just under 67 miles per person!)  Sweet!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maybe I spoke too soon . . .

Okay . . . maybe I slammed this product too early!  If you remember, I was dogging this product for false advertising.  I had used this for maybe a month and I had noticed absolutely no improvement in my endurance after using this!  I was religious in my use of the product and followed directions to the letter.  But nothing . . .

But this weekend at the Virginia 24 hour Run . . . something very strange happened.  I did good!  Seriously.  Good.

Leading up to this event my longest run had been 11 miles . . . and the last two of those miles were a hobble back to the car after my hip shut down.

But this weekend . . . I completed 50 miles at this race and only had limited hip issues.  So not only did this product work to improve my endurance so that I could cover 50 miles . . . but I'm also thinking that MAYBE there is a medical healing property that "Old Spice" isn't capitalizing on!

As a matter of fact, I plan to bring this product up with my surgeon, Dr. David T. Jones.  Maybe he needs to start including the use of this in his post-surgery instructions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gallberry Stampede

Choices, choices, choices!  Should I run the 5k?  The 10k?  Or the 10 miler?  That was my big concern driving the hour to Scotland Neck Saturday morning.

Nothing is simple right now.

I know I should do the 10 miler but that would be equal to my longest run since surgery . . . and I have the Virginia 24 next weekend.  So it wouldn't be smart to to 10 miles I knew.  But heck . . . 10 miles isn't very far at all.  So I opted for the 5k race and once I finished I decided to go do another lap . . . so getting some time on my feet without risking hip complications too much.

I am getting better, both hip wise and endurance wise.  I ran the full 5k without walking!  Okay . . . that's not very great at all!  But it IS improvement and that's all I am looking for.  Just getting better.

I ended up finishing in 31:46 . . . that's 31 minutes and 46 seconds, not 31 hours and 46 minutes all you smart asses!  I was pretty happy with that . . . I definitely didn't run too hard and could have gone faster.

When I finished, I picked up a bottle of water and talked Amber Poole into going another easy lap . . . walking and running.  Tons of fun for me since Amber and I haven't had a chance to catch up since PNC bought RBC Bank.  Amber got a job with PNC just before the conversion, plus she had had her 1st Umstead 100 attempt . . . so we had a lot to talk about!

The Gallberry Stampede is a really small race . . . probably about 100 folks between all three distances.  With that advantage it turns out I was the only male in my age group (Older then Dirt) so . . . first place!  14th overall out of 41 . . . but a number of the entrants were walkers.  Hey . . . nothing wrong with that.  And I DID beat them!!!  :-)

So this coming weekend is the Virginia 24 Hour and I'm on a "relay" team called Team Awesome for another year.  I put the word "relay" in quotes because to me it's not really a "relay" since everyone runs the full 24 hours and you add up each team members distance.  But the RD calls it a 'relay' . . . so "relay" it is!!

My plan is simple.  No running at all.  I plan to walk as fast and as far as my hip will let me.  But I'm NOT going to do anything stupid.  When my hip says "STOP" . . . I'll stop.

But walking or running I haven't gone further than 11 miles since surgery so this will definitely be untried, untested waters.  My goal for the 24 hours . . . 50 miles.  That will be a 28:48 pace.  Seems easy enough.  Plenty of extra time in there for rest stops, bathroom breaks, etc.  Heck . . . if I take 2 hours worth of breaks I still only have to walk at a 26:24 pace!!  If I can hold a 21:00 pace for 22 hours that would mean I could cover over 62 miles!!!

So we'll see how this all goes . . .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

VA 24 Hour Race . . . my 2012 comeback run.


One thing that is consistent with my recovery from my October hip surgery is that nothing is consistent!  Good days followed by bad days.  A string of good followed by a few bad.  But even with the variance it is clear to me that things are improving.

So far my longest "long run" has only been 11 miles and that hasn't gotten longer in weeks and, believe me, my overall fitness has DRAMATICALLY declined since surgery.  I can just barely run 3 miles without walking!  But that too is improving some.  I have tried running 2 minutes and walking 1 minute and only lasted 7 miles . . . 5 miles "on interval" and then 2 miles walking back to my frickin' car when my hip "shut down."  This was one week ago.


So . . . with all this what on earth makes enter a 24 hour race?  And what on earth makes me think I can go over 11 miles?

Two words . . . Shannon McGinn.

Last year I was part of a 12-person ultra team "relay" at the VA 24.  I had just gotten my butt kicked at the Umstead 100 (stopping at 62.5 miles) three weeks before.  When I heard "relay" team I assumed it would be like any other relay . . .  one person runs, then turns the baton over to the next team member who then runs.  That's a "relay" . . . right!

Wrong!  I found out that THIS relay involved every team member running and then ADDING all team members distances to get a team distance!  But I had committed to Shannon and the other team members that I would participate.  Team members like Jonathan Savage, Ray Krolewicz, Sabrina Moran, Jessi Kennedy, Tom Gabell, Cheryl Lager . . . folks who had all WON 100 mile races!  And WON 24 hour races!  Plus . . . super experienced running friends like Amy Schimmel, Jim Plant and Charles West (Jim and Charles had finished 100 milers).  Plus, a new ultra runner Alanna Garrison-Kast.  That was our team . . . Team Awesome!

Shannon took all the pressure off me and just wanted me to try.  So I did.  I didn't have a good run but I did "stay after it" and ended up with just over 50 miles completed.  And Team Awesome won the relay by a rather wide margin.

That was 2011.  Now . . . its time fore the 2012 VA 24.

With my hip surgery in October, I told Shannon I couldn't be on the team but I would try to crew for everyone.  Fine . . . until Ray K decided to run another race within a week of this one so he told Shannon he could only crew.  Huh?  Ray K, the 100 mile ultra running legend, as a 'crew' . . . how cool is that!

So Shannon asked me to come out and "give it the ol' college try" and just see what I could do.  After some back and forth I caved and told Shannon I would come . . . but she should try and get someone else.  She didn't.  Shannon is quite convincing and she doesn't take "No" for an answer very well!  But I do LOVE that she thought of me as a "replacement" for Ray K!!!!!   :-)  (I'm guessing Ray is going to be pissed at Shannon!!)

So I'm a Team Awesome team member again this year . . . the second year of being the "Team Excuse."  That's right . . . if another team beats Team Awesome, the whole team can save face by says something like "Yea . . . we lost but we really didn't have a complete team . . . since Frank Lilley was with us we really only had 11 team members!"

MY 2012 PLAN

So . . . WTF am I going to do?  I can only run 3 miles without walking.  And the longest my hip has let me run is 11 miles.  Truth is I should NOT be doing this.  I know it and Shannon knows it.  She must have it out for me for some reason . . . maybe I offended her somehow.  Prior to this I actually thought Shannon was a friend.  But now I know the truth . . . she is trying to destroy me.

Anyway . . . I doing this race.  So I need a plan.  I'm toying with two possible approaches . . .

  • Plan A - Start off walking . . . and just walk . . . for as long as I possibly can.
  • Plan B - Run 1 minute and walk 2 minutes . . . and repeat until I just have to only walk.
With Plan A I would maximize my chances of completing a lot of miles . . . slow boring miles but miles none the less.  Probably the smart option.  But it's NOT running . . . and I'm a runner. 

Plan B isn't really a runner's plan either . . . but I would be running . . . SOME!  Plan A is the plan for a good team member and Plan B is a selfish plan to "save face." 

A 24 hour race is not a race about speed . . . its about covering the maximum number of miles in the 24 hour time.  I need to remember this!


My goal IS a minimum of 50 miles over the 24 hour time.  I just hope my hip has the same goal!  I'm wondering if perhaps I should take my crutches with me - just in case!

One final off-topic word of warning . . .

All us runners search for those little things that make a difference to our speed or endurance.  Here is a product that CLAIMS to be a "High Endurance" product.  But after using this product for several months I can detect NO improvement in my endurance.  Be warned of this false advertising . . .

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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.