Monday, August 27, 2012

Quick update . . .

Last Wednesday I had my hip injected with something similar to cortisone.  Unfortunately, it appears the injection did more harm than good.  Even with ultrasound, injection placement can't be perfect every time.  The Bloody 11w 100 miler starts this Saturday morning.  Doctor says no running, walking or biking until then.

This is frickin' awesome!!

  • Another reason / excuse to NOT finish this "bad boy"
  • Another reason that when I DO finish it may be the most incredible athletic performance in this century! I'll probably be ask to be on a Wheaties box.
Okay . . . that is so far from true it's not even funny!  But all this adversity is definitely giving me added fire!
I will start.  And I promise I will give this a 100% effort.  But I won't do something that will cause me harm.  But can you imagine the feeling when I finish this???

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is the fourth time is the charm??

The Situation

It's no big surprise that my running has been on a downhill spiral for well over 18 months.

It started with a pain in my hip . . . especially in the mornings.  I thought it was just an age thing.  But it kept getting worse.  And worse.  And worse.

Finally in October 2011 I had arthroscopic surgery.  Recovery has not been as fast as I had hoped.  And now recovery seems to have peaked and maybe even has regressed.  Don't get me wrong, my hip is WAY better then before surgery.  Way, way better!  But it's also far from normal . . . and doesn't appear to be getting any better.  As a result of all this, my fitness has suffered hugely.  Both endurance and strength seem to be stagnant and improvement appears to be less and less likely.  If I run more than 3 miles or so my hip almost always starts complaining.  But I've been able to walk (mixing in some running).

My Goal

All my running friends know that my running goal is (and has been for several years now!) to finish a 100 mile event.  I've tried three times and failed each time.  My last try was in May of 2011 at the Cure for the Colors Run where I dropped at 75 miles with some pretty nasty blisters.  At that point, my fitness was good.  But given the decline in my fitness and my hip recovery seems to has plateaued . . . maybe forever . . . I'm really worried that this crazy goal of mine may not ever be accomplished.  Certainly in a 'normal' 100 mile run - my chances of success are virtually nill.

Where there is a will . . . there's a way!

So I've been looking for some event where I have a chance.  Just a chance.  That's all I want!  (Okay . . . that's not ALL I want!  I want to FINISH the frickin' race too!)  I had been thinking about "3 Days in the Fair" as a great venue for me.  But that is next spring and my fitness continues to spiral downhill.  Realistically there is a significant chance that my current poor fitness level MAY only decline further.  So I really needed to find something sooner.

And I have . . .

The Bloody 11w 100 mile Run

Here is a link to the 2012 website.

This race was created by Lazarus Lake or "Laz" (aka Gary Cantrell) the perverted brain behind The Barkley Marathon . . . the toughest race in the world if you judge toughness by number of finishers!  But the Bloody 11w wasn't designed to be hard!  Just the opposite:

"This is a fatass style event. The runners take care of themselves. However, with a 72 hour limit for 100 miles, this is a chance for the old, slow, or disabled folks to log a legitimate 100 miler and with probably a dozen or less runners, someone will get a chance to win a race."

Sounds PERFECT!!

When I grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, Highway 11w was the only road to Knoxville.  2 lanes the whole way.  And full of trucks!  Passing was risky but staying behind the slow cars and trucks would try the patience of the Lord!  The result was one of the most dangerous roads in Tennessee and many, many people died in car wrecks. As a result there are many stories of ghosts walking the highway and ghost cars / ghost trucks approaching and then simply vanishing!

11w was also the scene of one of the worst accidents in Tennessee history when an 18-wheeler crashed with a bus full of people! 14 people died in that one accident.

The Bloody 11w race starts at 5:00 am on September 1st in Knoxville, TN where Highway 11e and Highway 11w meet.  The course then follows 11w northeast to it's intersection with Highway 11e at the Virginia state line in Bristol, TN-VA . . . a total of ~111 miles.  There is a 72 hour cutoff at the 100 mile point.

Last year a buckle was created . . . but I don't believe there will be any buckles for this year.  Still . . . that's a PRETTY COOL BUCKLE!!!

Here is Psyche Wimberly's race report from last year's event.  This is a great read and will sort of tell you what the event may be like.  (Incidentally . . . Psyche just FINISHED the Volunteer State 500 K race.  500 K . . . that right . . . ~ 310 miles!!!)

My Plan

The first and most important part of my plan is to respect my hip.  Believe me . . . if I don't keep my hip happy, I have 0% chance of finishing.  So I will be very gentle with it.  I'll only run downhills . . . and if my hip starts fussin' at me . . . I walk . . . all of it if necessary!  Walking really isn't the way I had hoped to do my 100 miles.  But if that's what it takes . . . that's what I'll do!

And forget my hip for a minute . . . my fitness level really sucks.  Honestly.  This will largely be a 100 mile hike with some running thrown in.  But likely a long, slow, hot, painful hike!

Since this is a "Fat Ass" style race, there are no aid stations or support of any kind available.  As a result, you have to carry what you think you'll need and stop at stores along the way to re-supply.

I'll wear a backpack with a hydration bladder and room for lots of stuff.  Right now I'm planning to carry: 2 extra pairs of socks, an extra pair of shorts, an extra shirt, a blister / first aid kit, a brimmed hat, a rain jacket, a visibility vest with blinker lights, Cool-off bandanna, salt pills, TP, gels, camera, a debit card and cash.  And I may carry hiking poles . . . not sure about that yet.  Plus, I may put together a 'drop bag' with some extra stuff (like extra shoes!) and find a place to hide it on the road.  I'm planning to keep going and maybe nap on the side of the road if necessary.  If the weather is bad, I may crash at a motel if one is there when I need it.

I am seriously under-trained.  Honestly.  Even if I were to walk 100% I am still highly under-trained.
  • Since surgery I once walked 50 miles. 
  • I did run/walk one marathon.
  • My longest training run/walk has been 15 miles.  
  • My longest run without a walk has been 5 miles.
Basically I suck.  Folks . . . this will definitely NOT be easy . . . especially with this sort of training.  But realistically this may be my best chance.  I'm going to try.

There are 9 people currently in this event!  (Actually I hear there are more but the website hasn't been updated with any new names!)  Joining me will be Paul Heckert, a friend and proven ultra runner with one 100 mile run and another 150 mile run completed!  We'll start together but we may find we need to separate depending on how all this plays out.  Also Laz, the race creator, will be attempting the event too.  Laz has had health issues too, so for this event he may be back with Paul and I.  Plus, I've met a few of the other folks running this bad boy.  Should be one crazy race!

So this isn't going to be anything very impressive.  But I'm thinking this may be my best chance ever to finish 100 miles.

Race starts at 5:00 am Saturday, September 1st.   If you want to track my progress online, try:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ultrarunner / Ultrarunning

I've recently been thinking a lot about these two terms . . . plus the relationship of speed vs distance.  At some point my ponderings will make some sense to you.  But now just prepare yourself to be bored.

One Facebook post last week really got me thinking.  Basically it said something like "Anybody can run a marathon, but how may can run a 5k in sub-20?"  Interesting comments and basically true.  I worked quite hard for years but never was able to run a sub-20 5k.  My best was a 20:01 . . . close but no cigar.  I really worked hard trying . . . hill training, intervals, strong tempo runs, long runs.  But was never able to close the deal.  I'm thinking that part of the answer is genetics . . . some folks can just run faster.  And some folks can bust their ass in focused training and NEVER do it.

I agree that anyone CAN run a marathon.  It may take awhile, but anyone can finish one.  But most folks are intimidated and simply never try.  Or when they look at a training program, the long runs simply scare them off.

There is no comparison of the pain involved either.  A 5k hurts . . . bad for a few minutes.  But then it's over and recovery happens in 5 minutes.  Any marathon is significantly more painful!  The pain starts in the last third of the race and may not fully leave for a couple of weeks for some folks trying their first marathon.  In my mind finishing a marathon is a much more meaningful accomplishment . . . even if I had finally gone sub-20 I am certain I would still feel this way.

So in my mind, distance is more significant than speed.  But that's just me.  And likely I feel this way in part due to my lack of speed!  Let's face it . . . I'm not fast!  20:01 5k and a 3:58 marathon best.  Middle of the pack at best!  So maybe my infatuation with distance is understandable and if I were a faster runner I would be more interested in speed.

One other reason too I believe.  Once I finally quit focusing on my time . . . my enjoyment in running increased SIGNIFICANTLY!  I simple started have way more fun!  I started taking pictures during my marathons and ultras and I love looking back at the pictures and re-living the run!  And remembering all the people I met and things I saw.  And recovery takes only a day or two.

So I became an ultra runner.  For the uninformed, an ultramarathon is any run that exceeds the distance of a marathon . . . 26.2 miles.  So if you run 26.3 miles you have officially met the criteria of being an ultra runner.  But most ultramarathons are at least 31 miles (50 k) or longer.  Popular distances are 50k, 50 miles, 100k, and 100 miles.  I've completed all these distances in races with the exception of the 100 miler.  That one has evaded me.  Three attempts and three failures.  (How many 5k races are there where anyone fails to complete the full 5k?)

In my mind if you have completed any ultramarathon within the cut-off time allowed you are an ultrarunner . . . forever!  Even if you never do another ultra . . . you have qualifed as an ultrarunner.  Period.

But I've recently become conflicted about the speed thing.  See . . . I've had to slow down even further.  Walk way more and run way less.  Earlier this year I completed 50 miles during a 24 hour race.  And honestly I felt like a second-class citizen.  None of the other runner made me feel this way . . . my feelings were totally self-imposed.  I didn't run . . . at all.  I just walked.

Honestly, it was still hard.  Very hard.  I hurt.  Bad.  It was a painful effort, but I did it . . . and I was proud.  I know that many people would not have gone through that much pain just to finish a measly 50 miles at a 24 hour event.

But I was still bummed that I didn't run.

So here is the question.  Let's say this my only ultra event, would I be an ultra runner after completing this?  Part of me says absolutely yes.  But another part of me says no.

And if walking it all doesn't qualify me as an ultra runner in that case, how much of it would I have had to run for it to qualify?  Do you have to run 100% of the distance?  (I don't think so!)  How about 75%?  50%  How about 10%?  Folks that practice a walk / run approach in my mind are definitely ultra runners.  And how many folks that have completed a 100 mile event have run it all?  Almost none!!!  Virtually everybody walks at least some.

I guess it really only matters what I think.  But somehow other peoples opinions matter to me too.

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.