Sunday, May 27, 2012

. . . and so it was done.

Yesterday was the Ellerbe Springs Marathon Re-Run . . . quite an historic event. 

As expected . . . it was hot and tough.  The Ellerbe Springs Marathon is always tough.

But this years re-run was especially cool in two ways: 1) we ran what will probably be the new, Ellerbe Springs marathon course (the Ellerbe Springs Inn has now closed and race headquarters will move). 2) But the BEST thing was that the 20-30 folks running yesterday in Ellerbe, NC were joined by MTC military members serving our country in other locations:  5 Afghanistan sites plus Qatarand Kuwait!!  At each location they staged their own version of the Ellerbe Springs marathon . . . complete with Ellerbe Marathon medals!  I can't tell you how many times I thought about this during my day.  I really felt like I was a part of something very special.
From Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Here are more pictures from our military runners in Kuwait.

I drove to Ellerbe Friday afternoon, set up my hammock and then went to meet Charles West and Mike Day for  pre-race dinner.  Mike was running Doug "Boogieman" Dawkin's first every May Madness 50k while I was doing the marathon.  Both MTC events and both withing a couple of miles of each other!

Camped the night before at the Community Center.  Tim Preble and Will LeMieux were both there and we swapped lies for an hour or so before I headed to my hammock.  I always sleep so good in that hammock!

This may surprise some of you but I a slow runner!  And quite honestly I've recently turned more into a moderate paced walker!  So, with that in mind I started my marathon just as it started getting light (about 5:45am).  Brazenly, I lined up on the front line at the start!!

My plan for the day was to run some of the downs but walk the vast majority of the marathon.  Turns out I probably ran about 3 miles and walked everything else.

Surprisingly, I got passed by 4 runners at about mile 4-5 I believe!  Stephanie Carter, Don Dees and two folks I didn't know.  Thank God they had started early too! (Race was supposed to start at 8 am!).  No real chance to talk much.  They stopped for water so I passed them back . . . but that didn't last long!

The new course pretty much follows the old course except missing the part to and from the Inn.  To compensate they  (that is Jerry Lindstrand) added a few more and bigger hills on a new road called Green Road).  The things about this course is there are no flat areas - you are either going up or down.  And some of the hills rival Bethel Hill in my mind . . . long and steep!  Tamera Hardee suggested the race should be called HELLerbe or HILLerbe!  PERFECT!!  And after 9 am there was virtually no more shade!  Brutal on a 90° sunny day!  At Boogie it might be 95-100+° at the start but the sun goes down soon.  Here the temperatures just keep climbing all day long!  Both are hard.

As I recall, it was at about mile 5 when my hip started complaining.  By mile 9 it was toast.  The cant of the road on the turns and the heavily crowned parts just reeked havoc on my hip.  So from mile 9 to 26 I just suffered . . . it never let up.  I didn't run a step after mile 9.  The good news is that I didn't do any damage to it!  Today there are no lingering ill effects.  But this was a painful experience.

The real saviors of the day were Lee Watson, Will LeMieux and his friend.  These folks were our roving aid stations!  Fluids, snacks and encouragement all day long.  There is really something amazing about great people like these who give up a day in their life to make a day in YOUR life better!  Race volunteers are just awesome!  And these were some of the best!  Handling 40 runners for 26 miles in hot temperatures is HARD!  Thanks folks!
Will and his friend!
Lee Watson
Brian Kistner was the first runner to pass me . . . believe I was at about mile 13.5 or so.  He was absolutely FLYING.  It was actually quite awhile until runners 2 and 3 passed me at about mile 18.  #3 was Tom Gabell who slowed down and walked with me for 200 yards or so.  And then at about mile 19-20 lots of people started passed by.  Everyone was very social and seemed pleased to have an excuse to walk a short while with me!!  It was great to have a whole bunch of quick catch-ups!

By mile 10 the sun was high and no clouds!  Burning hot!  No shade to speak of.  Temps got into the low 90s by when I finished.  Everyone suffered!  It was brutal.  We just haven't had much hot weather to help us adjust.  This wouldn't have been so bad if it were July or August when we have had time to acclimated some.

Mark had put out fluids for folks but I was using my Nathan with a 2 liters capacity so I didn't need to re-fill until mile 20.  I was almost out so I filled up to a little more than 1 liter, trying to leave plenty for runners coming up.  The water was super hot by being in a clear plastic container in the direct sun!  But water is water!  Heck . . . once I swallowed it, my body would cool it off!!  Seriously!!  I thought this would be plenty to get me to the end . . . wrong! 

Besides the water, I needed three more bottles of Gatoraide from Will and Lee.  Without those I don't know what I would have done . . . just walked up to a house and beg water I guess!  I started taking Salt Sticks at 7 am and took one every hour.  Only once did I start cramping up so I took one extra when that happened.  Post race I had another Gatoraide and then 2 Buds!  Two huge fountain drinks driving home and then 97 oz of water before I returned to a normal colored piss!

At about mile 21-22 Jerry Lindstrand pulled up beside me and started walking.  I have heard so much about Jerry, but I had never had the opportunity to actually meet him!  Jerry announced the he was DONE running and ask if he could walk in with me!  Hell yea!  Just an awesome time getting to know Jerry.  I found out that he was the one that made the course changes for the new start / finish.  I cussed him awhile for that!  What a great guy!  The folks around Rockingham / Ellerbe all have nicknames.  Jerry is "Godfather" plus a new one I gave him at about mile 24 when we were talking about what a nice course this was!! After 200 stories by each of us, we finally finished!

I found Mark Long inside the Community Center (air conditioned!) and got my medal.  It's frickin' huge!  Look at the picture of the Kuwait finishers to see the medal . . . they got exactly what we got!  So many fun folks to spend some time with were hanging around:  Charles and Blanca Akers, Rosemary Baxley, Jerry Lindstrand, Will LeMieux, Lee Watson, Mark Long, Mike Walsh and others! 

Plus there was a "friend" of Charles' who ran this as his very first marathon!  Can't believe he listened to Charles . . . bet he won't make that mistake ever again!!  And there was a cute puppy that just sort of adopted everyone!  So cute!  He was Donnie Richardson's dog (Donnie lives right on the corner and must be the president of the community center we were using as headquarters.)  If that pup hadn't been Donnie's dog I'm SURE he would have gone home with someone!  Maybe even me!

I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had a 3 1/2 hour drive and dogs waiting on me.

I'm thinking that maybe my hip needs more time.  Then, I need to re-start running.  Build up slowly.  And lose some of this excess weight.  We'll just have to see how it all goes.  But I'm glad this one is DONE!  Now to decide about Boogie in two weeks.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bright Night 5k

Not sure exactly why I signed up for this race.  A 2 hour drive each way and the race started at 7pm.  Ugh!  But several friends were going so I knew it would be fun.  Still . . . that's a long way to drive for a 5k!  But, on the positive side, Greenville, NC is pretty flat . . . maybe a relative good time was possible.

Hip acted up during the week but everything felt fine Saturday, so I was in.

Got to Greenville early so I could go by Overton's for a little shopping!  Connie wanted a big island float and I wanted to see what they had.  Plus, I planned to eat early and be ready to run at 7!

Lots of RMEC folks were there and we all had a chance to catch up before the start.  Weather was awesome!  Not too hot . . . no wind . . . really couldn't have been better.

I decided to hang right behind Amber Shingleton and Margaret Bentley for the start.  Initially they went out a little too strong for me, but oddly I caught them pretty soon!  (Not that they were slowing but I ran the tangents while they were being more social!)  Maybe at the 1/2 mile point I passed them but was thinking this was a huge mistake.

Lot's of turns on this course, but not bothersome really.  I intentionally wasn't looking at my watch, so I had no idea what my first mile split was.  But soon after the first aid station, my hip started tightening up some.  I just eased off some and soon the tightness eased off and things returned to normal. 

At about the 1 1/2 mile point I saw Caroline Forrester just up ahead.  I slowly gained on her and soon passed.  But that didn't last long.  Soon she eased back in front of me and I never was able to pass her back.  By the end of the race she had pulled maybe 30 seconds ahead!  She was running really smart . . . cutting the tangents and all.  Very relaxed.  Great job Caroline! 

Then, Margaret Bentley passed me just before the 3 mile mark and just kept pulling ahead!  Margaret is running well!  Look out Hinson Lake!  Margaret is going to be ready for you this year!

Soon after Caroline passed me I walked maybe 15 yards and then started back running.  Had to walk once more before the end and I was dead on my feet!  I listened to the crowd at the last turn and knew that there was nobody lurking and ready to pass me at the end.  Thank God!  Cause I had noting left to hold them off! 

My time was a blazing 31:36 . . . that's a 10:13 pace.  That's hard with I think about what I used to run a 5k in . . . but still . . . I had nothing left at the end, so I did my best that night.  One of the best things about this race is where they have the awards ceremony!  There is a huge patio at Moe's where they have live music and beer for sale!  I was right at home!

Oh . . . and my run was good enough to get 1st place in my age group . . . and no . . . there were three other guys out there.  I actually BEAT some people!  :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm not giving up . . .

I still believe that I'm going to be able to run pain-free eventually.  I'm not giving up on that goal.  But while I struggle with my hip issues, my fitness just continues to decline.  As an example I ran a 5k last Saturday . . . pain free . . . and slow!.  Took Sunday off.  Then I ran Monday - only finished 2 miles and had to limp home.  And I haven't run since as the hip wasn't happy.  Running 5 miles in seven days just doesn't get it!

So I need to cross-train.  So . . .what do I do?


Now that the weather is getting warmer, I can start to swim regularly.  But I'm guessing my hip would like me to swim.  During an earlier injury a bunch of years ago, I did swim.  I got to where I was swimming about a mile a day but I never really enjoyed it.  I never looked forward to a swim.  And there were never folks to just chat with as you swam.  Plus, I just never got the "post-exercise euphoria feeling . . .  that wonderful feeling of exhaustion that we all love! 

So I'm really starting to think about other alternatives . . . and the first one that comes to mind is biking.


So many friends simply LOVE biking!  So I know it must be a great alternative.  But I've got reservations.  Some are really just fears . . . perhaps overblown . . . perhaps not.  Some are concerns that I have.  So let's lay these out:

Safety - Road biking just seems dangerous.  If there weren't any cars it wouldn't be so bad.  Cars cause problems . . . and they always win in any "bike - car encounter."  So many biking friends have had serious crashes.  Luckily none have died.  Maybe I'm too fearful of this.  But it just seems risky.  I know how I feel as a driver coming up behind a biker or a line of bikers.  I'm not sure if they know I'm there or not . . . and when I'm passing them I worry that another car will come . . . so I slow down to a relative crawl while I wait for a straight stretch.  I worry many drivers just don't always do this!  When you're running, you're facing the traffic and you have a much better chance of getting out of the way.

Mountain biking seems much more safe.  You may crash and break a bone or get cut up, but the chances of dying seem small unless you do that really crazy riding . . . which I would never do since I'm afraid of heights!  But I've tried mountain biking.  My big problem is that to my knowledge there just aren't many good trail riding spots near me.

Cost - Road biking is EXPENSIVE!  Bikes just cost a small fortune to me . . . and a really nice bike costs 2 fortunes!!  And then all the gear you need.  Several thousand dollars!  And then what if it turns out you don't like it!  And I don't have a job right now!  Well, I guess you could either buy a "cheap" bike or perhaps a used one to try biking out.  But I hear 1) it is important to get a bike that is 'fitted' to you, and 2) you'll miss the real enjoyment of you have a poor quality bike and thus won't keep riding. 
  • Here are some cost estimates. These may not even be close . . . . I really don't know much at all about bike costs.


Cheap Quality?

Bike  1,000  2,500

Helmet  40  40

Shoes  120  120

Other clothing  200  200

Annual maintenance  200  200

GPS  150  250

 1,710  3,310


Cheap Quality

Bike  -    -  

Helmet  -    -  

Shoes  200  200

Other clothing  100  150

Annual maintenance  -    -  

GPS  -    -  

 300  350
      •   All in all this looks like a REALLY expensive gamble to me!
Repairs - I know NOTHING about bike repairs and adjustments.  And I hear there are a lot  needed.  So here come another, additional cost!!  And hassle - since there are no bike repair shops near where I live.
Pain - That's right.  Bike seats just aren't comfortable . . . AT ALL.  Bikers tell me you get use to it but when I tried mountain biking 15 years ago I NEVER got to where it didn't hurt.  NEVER!
Clothing - Okay . . . this is embarrassing and may offend some folks . . . but the biking clothes just look silly to me.  All the jerseys with bike company logos, etc. as if the rider was a sponsored rider!  Now, I do understand the need for tight-fitting clothes and I'm okay with that!  But for me, I'm afraid I'll look like a "whale on a bike!" I might get harpooned out there!
How would my hip do biking?  How do I know this won't hurt my hip as much as running? Maybe even more.

Am I wrong in how I'm thinking about biking?  Weighing all this: Biking just doesn't seems to be right for me.  

I need some kind of cross-training . . . something!  Any ideas?  Remember: I live in rural NC!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Knock, knock, knock . . .

Knock, knock, knock . . .

Just a minute . . . I’ll be right there!

Knock, Knock, Knock . . .

Hold on . . . I said I'll be there is a minute!  Who is it?

It’s me.

Who is “me?”  Just a minute . . . let me get this door open.  Okay . . .  let’s start this again!  Who are you?

It’s me . . . you know . . . your body and my buddy your brain! 

Oh yea . . . I remember you two.  What on earth do you two guys want?

We’ve come by to talk with you.  Quite frankly we’re not too please with you recently.  You’ve been ignoring us.

What do you mean “I’ve been ignoring you.”   That’s just not true.  I’ve listened to every single thing you've ever told me.

Yea . . . right!

It is right.  I listen.  It’s just that I learned a long time ago that you two don’t always tell me the truth.

What the heck do you mean?  Are you calling us liars?

Well . . . I guess I am . . . YOU TWO ARE A LIAR!

We tell you the truth!

Yea . . . when have you told me the truth?

Remember when your knees started locking up and hurting a ton?  That wasn’t a lie.  Your knees needed work.  And how about your hip?  Wasn’t it us that started nagging at you telling you that you had real issues that needed addressing?

Okay . . . I’ll give you all that.  Those weren’t lies!  But you still lie to me all the time.  You both start screaming at me that you just can’t continue on in a race.  But when I do continue on . . . well . . . surprise, surprise . . . you two are fine with it!  In fact, most times you both just shut up and let me finish.  And when it’s all over . . . there are no problems.  You all just lied to me.

Okay . . . we admit that there are times we are afraid of what you might do, so we speak up too early.

So . . . you’re admitting you all are liars!

Well . . . to a degree . . . maybe so.  But the brain and I always have your best interest at heart!

I don’t buy that.  I think you two have your own best interest at heart . . . just running your own agendas.  But it doesn’t matter!  Either way I just don’t know when I can trust you and when I can’t!   So . . . obviously you’ve come to tell me something.  What is it?

Well . . . we think you need to stop running.  Or at least stop running long distances.  Your hip is definitely not totally right, both of your knees have issues . . . and let’s face it . . . you’re not getting any younger!!

Okay guys . . . now I KNOW you all are lying to me right now!  No doubt!

No we’re not.  We’re telling you the truth!

Guys . . . there are PLENTY of folks much older then me still running . . . and running well!  It’s not an age thing at all!  Okay . . . I admit I have slowed down significantly.  You two gomers should be happy with that!

Happy “hell!”  No way we’re happy with you!  You’re a frickin’ idiot!  You just keep trying to do things that we just can’t deliver on.  And you make “us” out to be the bad guys!  That’s not fair.

Well . . . I’m not listening to you guys any more!  I just don’t know when you all are telling me the truch or when it’s another of your lies!

You better listen!

Oh yea . . . so what are you going to do about it if I don’t!

You REALLY don’t want to know!  You act like this is some sort of game.  “Us” against “you!”  We’re not against you!  Honestly . . . you’ve kept us going longer than most people do!  How many folks your age finish 50 miles?  And only 6 months after hip surgery!!  All we’re saying is we just can’t continue to cash all the checks you’re writing!!

Okay . . . I promise you two that’s I’ll think about what your saying.  I’ll consider it.  But don’t expect me to just quit!  Heck . . . I’m not ready to even slow down yet!

Well . . . you better . . .or you won’t like the outcome.

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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.