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:


  1. I am rooting for you Frank! You can do it! It is mostly mental strength anyway and I know you have that. Remember relentless forward progress. Break it up mentally. Just get to the next tree, the next mile, the next shade, whatever it is to keep you moving forward. The best advice I ever got was from Diane Van Daren when she told me to "Stay in the Moment".

  2. You are one crazy dude - love it. But awesomeness will be around by the ton. With the generous cut-off, and your special brand of stubbornness, I am convinced you will get your finish! Just picture that little box of wine at the finish line :)


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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.