Monday, December 5, 2011

Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run

I wanted to start writing this report while it was still fresh in my mind. So many awesome moments, this will go down as one of the best runs I've ever had.

In preparing for this race, I read so many PM40 race reports that I had a very humble respect for the distance and the terrain. I've never run a 40 miler, my previous distance PR was 35+ miles this summer at the Hot2Trot 8 hour. Every report I read mentioned the thick carpet of leaves that covered rocks and roots. So, two brand new twists in my running journey.

Saturday evening, I met up with my buddy Tom and we drove the 30 minutes from La Grange to the FDR State Park to pick up our packets. Getting a chance to look around and see the trail conditions, this race was going to be fun. Can you say rocky?!?!?

(Yes, there is a trail in there somewhere!)

We had dinner at Longhorn, watched a little college football and tried to get some shut eye-4:45am always comes too quickly!

Arriving back at the park in the pre-dawn hours, we participated in the best pre-race ritual, saying hello to all of the "GUTS family" runners that we hadn't seen in a while. Eventually, Sarah used her bullhorn to wrangle us up and force us out of the warm group shelter, up to the top of the dam, so we could get started. The race started and we ran down a 1/4 mile stretch of road, giving the runners a chance to fall into line before we slipped into the woods and hit the trail.

I love the hush that falls over the group as we head onto the trail. There is always a moment of quiet trepidation as the runners contemplate the day ahead. It usually doesn't last long, nervous energy breaks the silence and old friends cut up and swap tall tales, allowing for the first few miles to pass effortlessly. Tom and I had a simple strategy this day, start comfortable & easy and run from aid station to aid station. We made no major attempt to pass anyone in the early going, only slipping past runners when it was really warranted. We were going to stay together for as long as possible and were in no hurry to get there.

I was able to turn my headlamp off in the 2nd mile and a quick 400' climb found us at Buzzards Roost enjoying a beautiful sunrise, overlooking the surrounding county.

About 80 minutes into our day, we arrived at the first aid station; Fox Den Cove. A short stop here, I grabbed a few chocolate chip cookies and topped off my water. In and out in less than a minute. Those. cookies. were. so. good! This would be the theme of the day. Roll into the aid station, grab some food, thank the wonderful AS workers, exclaim out loud how awesome the food tasted and roll on!

Somewhere along this point Tom reminded me of his favorite poem,
"Melinda Mae", by Shel Silverstein.

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the

And everyone said,"You're much too small,"
But that didn't
bother Melinda at all,
She took little bites and she shewed very slow,
Just like a little girl should...

...and eighty-nine years later
she ate that whale
Because she said she would!!!

That would be our plan, we "ate our whale" one aid station at a time, trimming our 40 mile trail run into a much more manageable race of 4-5 miles. It didn't take long, 10 miles in, we arrived at the next aid station, Mollyhugger Hill. The running was going smoothly, it was early enough that we still had enough strength in our legs to pick our feet up and avoid the hidden roots and roots. You could never drift too far of the task at hand, a hidden root or rock would always grab your attention if you were sleeping. I commented to Tom that I had forgotten to leave an offering to the trail gnomes, so I dropped a portion of my chocolate chip cookie on the trail, hoping that would be enough for them to leave me upright.

Eleven or so miles in, we came around a bend and I saw something I'd never seen before-widespread trail destruction. On the evening of April 28th, a powerful tornado ripped through F.D.R. State Park and the surrounding area. I had heard about it on the news and had seen pictures, but did not fully understand the strength of Mother Nature until we reached Hines Gap. Unbelievable. I cannot find the words to describe what we saw and ran through. Giant trees snapped in half like toothpicks. It was as if we were running through a scene from Apocalypse Now. Photo's cannot do justice. A very surreal experience.

Just a little after the 3 hour mark, we found ourselves approaching the Dowdell Knob Aid Station. We had drop bags here, but did not need them with only 14 miles in(we would be coming through this AS again at mile 28 probably wanting them) Kim Pike and her wonderful crew got us in and out, like lightening. Heading back out onto the trail we met "Peachtree City" a nice lady named Kim, from, yep, you guessed it - Peachtree City. She hung with us for a while but then zoomed ahead. Probably scared off from our antics.

Tom and I were having a blast. Singing, quoting stupid movie quotes, making fun of each other. I was having a fantastic time and the miles were passing effortlessly. Easy peasy, 12-13 minute pace.

We were motoring along and expecting to reach the Rocky Point AS(mile 17) when all of a sudden, I heard folks yelling my name. WTH, how do all of these people know who I am? AHA! It was Jason Rogers, Jenn Coker & Jaydene Reardon! To be fair to the others, there were many more awesome aid station workers here (and at ALL of the other aid stations), I just happen to know these kind folks by name. What an uplift to pull into an aid station and have people cheer for you and wait on you hand and foot! I need an aid station set up in my living room. (um, sweet boo?) In and out, 1,2,6. Back on trail.

This next section was a 7 mile loop passing through the TV Tower AS at the 5 mile mark. A lot of really runnable trails in this section, extended periods of trail that had little or no major obstacles (i.e., rocks & roots) There were also a collection of creeks and waterfalls that we crossed and ran alongside. Quite possibly the funniest moment of the day (for me at least) was when I had Tom laughing his ass of at some random reference to us being like the guys from "Dumb & Dumber". He was laughing so hard that he tripped and fell; almost falling head first into a waterfall! It was also in this section that we caught back up to "Peachtree City". She told us she wanted to run with us because we were "having so much fun".

Even though I had been taking in a lot of calories at each aid station, I was really getting hungry around mile 21. Tom mention hearing about awesome grilled cheese sammy's, but I was sure he was thinking of the fried egg sammys at the Pinnacle aid station at the Pinhoti 100 miler. The next thing you know, we roll into the TV Tower aid station and guess what? Yup, there stood Frank, cooking GRILLED CHEESE SAMMYS!!!!
Once it hit your lips, it was so good!

Reenergized, we moved out, knowing that next stop was only 2 miles away. Our trail running trio was now moving at a good clip and having a blast. Peachtree was having a little trouble hanging on with us on the downhills, but she was certainly paying her fare by dragging our butts up the climbs! Rocky Point arrived quickly and we didn't linger long. I think this is where Tom discovered how wonderful Red Vine Twizzlers taste! Before we knew it our 7 mile loop was over and we were back at Rocky Point.

In and out quickly, the trio moved on, knowing that we had 4 miles to our drop bags. I really wanted to change my socks and check on a few hot spots on my feet. Without trying to jinx it, Tom and I could not believe how good we felt. Typically by this point in a race, you are running out there by yourself. The fact that the three of us had been running together for so long, the miles were just flying by. Soon enough we arrived at Downdell knob and I sat down for the first time. (After the fact)Looking at my Garmin, this was the slowest mile of the day(22:40) but we stopped to change our socks. Kim Pike did have to yell at me to "Get out of here", to which I replied, "You're not the boss of me!" Thank you KPP for pushing us back out there and not letting us dilly-dally any further!

Back through the sun-exposed, tornado cut. it finally hit us and it hit collectively. A major low point. Seemingly endless climbs. Painful rocks. Stupid roots. 3.5 miles never seemed so far. I lead my fair share of the day, but did not want any part of the front during this stretch. Head down, eyes on the ground in front, we quietly worked through this section. I believe Peachtree quietly pulled us through this section. Just when I thought I didn't want to go any further, the aid station appeared. Our spirits were lifted and I then knew that we would all finish together.

It's funny, we didn't realize we were in that low spot until after it was over. Our silence must have been a huge clue, as we had been bouncing off the walls the majority of the day! The mood was much more jovial in this next section and eventually we pulled into Fox Den, the last manned aid station. Joel told us we had 3 mile to Buzzard Roost for a water stop and then 3 miles downhill to the finish. Two words. Stinger. Waffles. If you know, then you know, if you don't go find out. Now! They are so good, Tom ordered a case as soon as he got home. Peachtree tried them with peanut butter and she said that was amazing. Mmmm, new ultra fuel.

The climb out to Buzzard Roost was hard, we got rolled up a few times, I think 2 or 3 runners passed us. We just didn't have it in us to hold on to our pace. When we finally saw the water coolers, we knew we had done it. Funny, either Tom or Peachtree asked, "Are you sure there is no hidden climbs in the last 3 miles?" Nope. All runnable downhills from here on out. We left Buzzards Roost with 9:10 on the clock. As we were winding down the miles, I was calling out the trail markers. There were wooden stakes in the ground painted red, with letters on them. I think we started at M and worked our way down. Every marker we saw, we yelled out a word or phrase that started with that letter and pertained to the trail, the day, or just plain finishing. (M="Man, this is a long way to run", L="Last Frickin Mile", K= ah, I forget, but you get the picture)

"I hear voices!" - me

"You mean besides the ones in your head?" - Tom & Peachtree

"Well, yes. I think" - me

"I hear them, too!" - Tom/Peachtree (You hear the voices in my head?!?!)-me, in my head

"I see the clock!" - one of us

(Sarah Tynes, most awesome RD, over the bullhorn)
"Get out of the woods!"

Peachtree lead us in and we finished together. 9:41 after we started, our day was over.

Hugs and high-fives all around. Bring me the finest meats and cheeses for a clubhouse feast!(anyone?)

After writing and rereading this report several times it appears a key portion is missing.

The part about the running.

That's what was so awesome about Pine Mountain. I don't really remember it. I know we ran 40 miles. Sure there were roots and rocks. 5000' of climbs & descents. Tom & Peachtree feel a few times. (I didn't...but I did bang the $h!t out of my head on a blow down) I remember the fun. The jokes, the laughter, the awesome volunteers at the aid stations. The smiles, I remember the smiles. This is just what I needed after RnR Savannah. I love being a part of GUTS and the ultra community. I can't wait to get back out there again!

Huge props to RD, Sarah Tynes, & the awesome volunteer captain, Kirsten. Also, thanks to Joel, Kim, Jaydene, Jenn, Jason, Frank, Rachel, Sally, Marty, Janice, Woolery and every other volunteer I can't remember by name! Oh, thanks to Jim "Picklehopper" for marking the course, but no thanks to Joel, who marked it with him, but according to Jim decided to leave branches on the course because they were "part of the obstacles". Finally to JoJa Jogger for stopping by to say hello before the day started!

Photo Credits - Susan Donnelly, Ultra Runner Bad Ass

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

R&R Savannah Race Report

When I last left you, we were discussing my race plan and my vision for the race. Quick recap. Run the tangents, visualize whirled peas & run a 3:29:56.

Let's play "The price is right". 4 of those 5 numbers are correct and in the proper slot. Which number is wrong?

We'll come back to that one.

Drove into town on Friday and headed to the hotel, which happens to be right next door to the Trade Center where the expo was taking place. I had heard that only 3,000 of the 23k runners had picked up their packet on Thursday. Can you say traffic jam trying to get to Hutchison Island?

Luckily, I knew a couple of "short cuts" and it only took us about 20 minutes to get onto the island and to the hotel.

We got settled in and headed over to the expo. I've only been to a couple of "big race" expo's, I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan. Don't get me wrong, looking at every single type of running accessory is cool, I just don't like being herded around like cattle.

My sweetest boo and I meet some friends, had a light dinner, and I sacked out at about 10pm. I slept for sh!t. Anxiety & nerves. Boo!

Waking up and grabbing a quick shower, I headed to the lobby to meet up with my buddy Tom and his wife Trang. With them were several other University of Tampa classmates of ours, Yung & Bea. Pause for photo ops! For some reason, I decided to turn on my Garmin & check it - as soon as I did, it flashed "Battery Low" WTH?!?!? I fully charged it right before I left Smyrna. I ran back to my room and got my charger and plugged it into the wall in the lobby so it could get some juice while we were hanging out. Would it be enough?

(See, we are spelling "Tampa" because that is where we went to school...never mind)

Short water ferry ride over to the start. Holy crap there are a lot of runners here. The pre-race energy was awesome. After a short mile warm up with Tom, we headed into our corral. It was really cool to be that close to the start. For me, it gave me the familiar feeling of being in a small race. I was only 25 yards from the starting line; I could see the stage with the race officials.

The temps were perfect. However, Tom & I noticed the flag on top of city hall was blowing out at a 90 degree angle. Winds of up to 20mph, this could be bad.
I waited until the last minute to turn on my Garmin. Within moments of the official start, our corral was moved to the starting line and we were off. Really cool running straight down Bay St. with 20,000 other runners.

As we left downtown and headed into Garden City, everything was perfect. I felt fresh, my breathing was good, it was as if I were out for an early morning jog. Hit the 5k mark in 26 minutes and started dialing down the miles. The crowd support in the early miles was awesome. These folks were lining the streets, welcoming us to their neighborhood, and wishing us well. There was a lot of debate amongst the local runners as to the course route; the decision to run through the "seedy" part of town. Honestly, the crowd support in this section of the course was one of the highlights of the day.

Passing through the 10k mark at 52 minutes, I was right on pace. I was looking forward to entering back into downtown and was hoping to see a few familiar faces along the way. I popped my 2nd gel and grabbed a water, checking to see my Garmin was still running and my HR was sitting around 152. A little high, but manageable.

Around mile 8, we turned right onto Liberty St and all I could see was spectators. IT. WAS. AMAZING!!! The crowd was 4 and 5 deep - spilling onto the road. There were little kids hold out their hands for "high fives". I must have low 5'd about 30 kids. The emotion and adrenaline was overwhelming. I am not going to lie, I got a little choked up. I turned to the runner next to me and said, "This is effin awesome, I feel like I am running NYC" By far the best mile and section of the race. This turned out to be my fastest mile of the day.

I cruised through mile 10 feeling good, hitting my goal of 1:22. We were heading out of downtown and into Gordonston. The neighborhood did a great job of welcoming us, I learned later that the neighborhood association had gotten together the day before and planted flowers in the median, along the course. Everyone was out cheering and having a great day. I must say, Savannah made me proud!

We soon split from the half marathoners and entered the Truman Parkway for a short section, going towards the baseball stadium. Miles were ticking away and my times were running great.

Mile 15 found us headed towards Savannah State University and we were once again blown away from the support. For about a 1/4 of a mile, lined on both sides of the streets, were students and athletes for the university. Amazing energy! I felt like such a rock star! I was initially envious of the half marathoners when we split off; they were getting to head to the finish. In hindsight, we were the lucky ones, as we were able to experience the crowd support at SSU.

I started to struggle with my HR at mile 17-18. I was running in the high 160's and knew this would be recipe for disaster if I couldn't bring it back down a little. I knew my 3:30 was gone but had a good distance on the 3:40 pace group. I was just going to HTFU and work through the next 8 miles.

Mile 20 found us heading back towards downtown and working our way over to the Truman Parkway. I knew this was going to be a tough section - just not this tough. Then it hit. Cramps. left calf, right calf. How can I cramp in both legs? Walk it out, stretch. HTFU & run. Beep! The Garmin dies. I can hear the bells and whistles sounding, this jet is going down in a blaze of glory! Enter onto the parkway and we are now running straight into a 20 mph headwind. DOH! This sucks!!!! How do I get out of this? Fake an injury? Marathons are stupid. I hate my coach. Why can't I just be happy running 5k's & 10k's? I ran a great half marathon today, cruised through to a 1:47. That is what I should be doing. How am I going to run a 40 mile trail race next month?

I had to regroup and stop with the negative thinking. Shit, there goes the 3:40 group. Mile 23, just a 5k left. Focus on 5 minutes of running and then take a 30 second walk break.

I am too familiar with the "death march", it's never fun. I just kept moving forward. I was looking over my shoulder, waiting for Tom to roll up on me. Lol, I didn't want him to catch me, but was hoping maybe he would and he could carry me in to the finish.

Finally off of the blasted Truman and out of the wind. 2 miles to the finish. We have rejoined with the halfer's. I was struggling, still cramping. Still no Tom. Keep moving forward.

I was less than half a mile away and could hear and see the finish crowd. I started running faster and my calves were screaming. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the back of the legs. I was cussing out loud. Poor kids. "Do as I say, not as I do" Apparently my wife, her mom, and our friend Kate cheered for me as I ran by - I didn't see them. Too focused on keeping my legs from seizing up.

I hit the finish line at 3:59:56. Exactly 30 minutes over the goal. New PR. I had a thousand yard stare. I was a little shell shocked. It took me a little while to wade through the finishers chute. Finally, I found my sweetest boo and was overcome with emotion. (Yes, even teh Snail can shed a tear)

The highlight of this race was the crowd support. With the exception of the 3 mile stretch on the Truman, It was amazing. If I never have to even drive on that road again, I'll be a happy man. running has high's and low's- the Truman was the low. It's funny, I was talking to a friend afterwards and I told him, "I just kept thinking, 'this will change, the next mile will be better' but it never changed" Only a day or two after did I realize that it did indeed change, the change just didn't take place until after I crossed the finish line. I needed to broaden my scope a little.

I had a blast seeing old friends and making new ones. I PR's by about 30 minutes. I put countless miles of hard work into getting ready for this race and although I missed my A goal, I feel like this race was a success. Now just to figure out this stupid cramping issue.

Oh, here is a finish line photo...a little pain is good, right????

Monday, October 24, 2011

Race Plan

The Crackhead has asked those of us running R&R to write a race plan and submit it to him. I thought I'd like to put mine up in my blog so I'll have it to review down the road. I'll share it.

“Our mindset in the moment creates our experience.”
A Race Plan, by Thomas Armbruster

The week of the race coincides with “Month End”, which is a labor intensive, stressful period of time at my job. In order to offset this process and not allow it to overly affect my race week, I will devote a large amount of time on the 1st & 2nd of November to finishing as much as possible before leaving on Thursday the 3rd. When I leave the office to head to Savannah, I will completely check out and leave all of my work at work. I will also use the previous weekend to relax and catch up on any lost sleep. I have been getting 8+ hours as of late and do not feel that lack of sleep will be a factor.

While on taper, my nutritional focus will remain on the healthy side. Good carbs, lean proteins & minimal fats. I am keeping in mind that now that I am tapering, I will not require as many calories. I don’t want to continue eating like I am running 40+ mile weeks when I am NOT running 40+ mile weeks. The week of the race, I intend on “topping off” the carb levels, but not gorging. A little extra good carbs each day, whole wheat pastas, brown rice & quinoa.

I have had my race splits printed out and posted on my cube wall so I see the times and am very familiar with the timing breakdown. I also plan on either making a “timing bracelet” or writing certain splits on my hand for race day.

We will arrive in Savannah on Thursday, we will be staying with my mother in law for the night. 8 hours of sleep.

Friday, before checking into the Westin, I will review the race map and try to drive as much of the course as possible, running the tangents in my mind. I will eat small healthy meals throughout the day, knowing that anything I consume up to 12 hours before the race will be of no use to me. I will get my packet at the expo and lay low for the remainder of the day. I’ve already told my wife I would like to eat dinner early & turn in 9pm at the latest. She may spend some time with friends…I’ll be going to bed.

I plan on getting up between 4:30 & 5 am. 16oz of water immediately.
I’ll either get coffee from the lobby or make it in my room, depending on hotel service. ( I will know the answer to this by Friday) This is a pre run ritual. 8-12 oz of coffee with breakfast to “get things moving” Breakfast will be a whole wheat & egg Sammy. Quiet time in the morning to center my thoughts. Review the race map and timing splits. Visualize the course. Run the tangents. Stay centered and “in” each mile.

Shower & prepare to get to the ferry, I will have my race gear laid out the night before. Shorts & short sleeve shirt. Visor. Sunglasses(?) BIB. Do not forget bib. Garmin & HR monitor. Gu’s (2 reg, 2 Rocktane) & a water bottle to drink pre-race.

I would like to leave the island by 6am, I’ll be close enough to the water ferry that I can monitor the lines and decide if I need to cue up early or not. Depending on the weather I may have throw away clothes to wear before the run.

Getting to the staging areas, I will find my corral but not enter. I don’t want to be penned in too early, knowing once I enter I may not be able to leave. Finding out this info will be helpful. This early time is when I will meet up with others and chat. Ideally, I will run a warm up mile with Tom around 7:00am. Follow it up with a few striders to feel the effort, but not too hard. Finish w/u by 7:15 and move into the corral. This is when the focus begins. Visualize the race. Run the tangents. Know there will be times when it hurts and I will want to quit. Make the decision ahead of time that when it happens, I will NOT give in to the pain. Run each mile, one at a time. Remember that “everything changes, the next mile may be different” “Relax & Move” When it gets hard, focus on form. “Relentless Forward Progress.”

Grab a water at every stop. No need to drink entire cup, drink when thirsty.

Just before the race I will say the Serenity prayer and ask for guidance & strength and for everyone to run a safe race within their ability.

Go Time.

Easy, comfortable. Don’t get caught up in the moment and try to jockey for too much position. I can’t win the race in the first mile, but I can blow my race. Remember I have a slow start built into my pacing. 8:19 for the 1st mile, 8:17 & then 8:16. By the time I get to mile 3 I should have plenty of room to run.

Grab a water at every stop. No need to drink entire cup, drink when thirsty.

25 minute 5k. Relax.

Mile 5 – 41:20. Take a GU

Mile 7, 57:42, heading into downtown, enjoy the crowds, smile. Feel the positive energy. Use it to my advantage.

Mile 10 – 1:22:04. Take 2nd GU

Mile 11 1:30:08…full splits from ½’s. I shouldn’t be hurting at this point but will be jealous that all of those people get to go that way and I have to get on the Truman and run all the way the fu@k to Pearl’s Elegant Pelican. It will get lonely. Stay in each mile. Get off the Truman & enjoy running through Daffin Park. Enjoy the crowd. Smile. Positive energy.

Mile 15 2:02:10. Take 1st Roctane. This is the 1st sub 8 mile. We are working now. Relax

Run past SSU. Stay focused. Remember the countless speed sessions you ran with the Hammer at the track. Cuss him out for not being there.(j/k) Stay positive.

Mile 18 2:25:57. Say goodbye to the Marsh. We get to go back into town now. We are still holding in the 7:50’s. Relax and move.

Mile 20 2:41:41 Last Gu. Time to HTFU. This is what we’ve worked for all summer. 40+ mile weeks. Double speed sessions. 160 miles in September. You are ready. Let’s work. One mile at a time.

2:49:30 5 miles left. We will get to see Jim & Stewart’s band. Hopefully this will give a adrenaline push. 40 minutes left.

Remember Hal Higdon’s quote “Concentrate! You can't reach your potential if you drift through your races”

2:57:18 4 miles left - This is going to hurt. We are going under 7:50. HTFU. Fast is sexy.

3:05:05 Less that 30 minutes left.

3:12:50. We get to get off the Truman. 2 miles

3:20:34. Last chance for glory. Leave it all on the course. Feed off the crowd. Pass 5 runners before the turn to the park.

Make a right and leave it out there.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's not you, it's me....

I'm going to have to talk with my "other lady" this evening. I need a little space, some time away. A break.

It's not her fault, she is always there for me. Never judging me for what I wear, how I smell, or how much I may sweat on her during our time together. Even though she is constantly causing me pain, I always come out the other side stronger.

I do love her.

However, we've been seeing each other a lot lately. A LOT! Twice a week. More than an hour at a time, sometimes close to two hours. I need a little time to recover.

So, today I make my last trip to the track. Yasso's. 10 x 800 @ 3:28.

Then I break the news. I'm torn. Should I tell her before or after? One last go around for old times sake? Or just tell her and leave, a clean break?

Rock & Roll in 15 days. Bib # 2081; corral # 2!

Let's do this!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Odds & Ends

R&R Savannah is less than a month away! Training is starting to wind down, or maybe I should say it's in full swing??? I still have several key workouts left on the schedule. This weekend I will be running back to back half marathons. Saturday I will run the pacing for the 2nd half of the marathon (goal time 1:42:53) and Sunday I will run the 1st half pacing (goal time 1:47:06). It is still a little wierd to see it on paper. Let's consider a few things: My half marathon PR is 1:48:xx, which I set in March of this year. Soooo, my 2 half mary tests this weekend will be faster than my existing PR. Granted, I know I am currently in better shape, lighter & faster than I was in March, but still! The crackhead has some interesting training ideas.

We will follow up this weekends half mary's with another 3 hour LSR next weekend. The following weekend I will run an 18 mile pace run, following the pacing for the marathon. Then TAPER! At this point we will assess all of the data and decide what my chances are of running a 3:29:59 in Savannah. I'm a little nervous. This is becoming very real. Crunching the data, looking at pacing & HR info - I am real comfortable at a 8:20-8:40 pace. My HR stays real constant in a high Z1, low Z2. An 8:20 doesnt get me sub 3:30. My fitness at 8:00 m/m is rapidly improving, two weeks ago, I ran my last 8:00 min pace run of 10 miles. Avg HR was 146, low to mid Z2. So, it's getting there, the question is will it get there in time?

I had my first running dream last night. Well the first one I can remember in a long time. Seems I was running the Pinhoti 100 miler, which I actually do intend on running in 2012. Well I got to the top of Bald Rock, about 40 miles into the race. At the aid station, we had a cooking challenge! Turns out you had to prepare a dish and present it to the celebrity guest judge before you could continue on. Gordon Ramsey was the guest judge. I prepared a delishious oven roasted Chilean Seabass with a sweet potato puree. I think I also sauteed some squash or cauliflower. It's a little fuzzy. Anyways, Gordon seemed pleased with my offering and gave me 3.5 out of 5?!?! Enough to allow me to continue on with the race. To tie it all together for you, dear reader, I think the key to staying ahead of the sweepers at Pinhoti is to get through Bald Rock before the sun goes down. Going through "Blue Hell" in the dark is incredibly slow. So I think this is why I dreamt about that. Several of my friends will be toeing the line at Pinhoti the same morning I will be toeing the line at R&R. I guess we know where my thoughts are these days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rock & Roll Savannah

...a huge road mary & a return to Savannah is on the horizon.

Yesterday marked 2 years to the day that I ran my first marathon, the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, Alaska. What a great race. A lot has changed in my life and in my "running career". I have since run several marathon & ultra distance events. I have moved from Savannah to Atlanta and have deepened my love for trail running. I never vowed to "never run a road mary" but didn't really see one in the future anytime soon.

That was until they announced that Competitor was going to bring it's Rock & Roll Marathon Series to little ol' Savannah, Jaw-ja. Hmmm, inagural road marathon in the town that I have grown to love and call "home"? Yeah, where do I sign up? Early estimates had 12-15,000 runners filling our city streets. I guess the powers that be grossly underestimated the Siren like power of a super flat course in a city known for it's debaucherous St' Patrick's Day parade and celebration. The race was capped at 23,000 runners and sold out 2 months before race day. I will admit that I had a hard time coughing up over a $100 to enter (this is double/triple what I usually pay to run a trail ultra) however, you only live once and my Sweet Boo wanted to make this trip to Savannah, so...

After a decent trail season, looking back through my training log, the Crackhead and I had decided that I had built a solid mileage base of close to 1000 miles this year; we were now going to tune it up with a healthy dose of speed work. "They" say it takes 1-2 years to build a solid base and 5-6 weeks to add speed. That feels like the case with me. Since running the 'nox 2 years ago, I have averaged over 100 miles a month; 120 over the last 3-4 months. Over the last 4 weeks I've been cranking out 40+ miles a week, with 5-6 days of running, including - 2 speed sessions and a tempo run. RUNNING FAST HURTS!!!!

I have settled in on a 3:29:59 goal time at Savannah and my workouts of late have been nothing but successful. I really don't want to jinx myself, but since the summer temperatures have left us, my training has been awesome. I feel really good about the progress and am seeing great results in my overall running efficiency. Avg HR @ MP is dropping week after week, even as the MP runs are getting longer. Today is a big test as I dial up Yasso's x 10 @ 3:29. If I am able to trim another 5-8 pounds over the next 4-5 weeks - all systems go! (A shout out to Wes for the push to drop those pesky pounds)

Here is the best part. I'm excited to go to Savannah and run - I really am! I want to have a great race and finsih in the top 10%...but that is not what I'm really looking forward to that weekend. It's seeing old & new friends. Sharing a city I love with 22, 999 other runners. It's meeting up with college friends & bloggers that are coming into town for the race. Having fellow GUTS runners come from Atlanta to share the course with me. Being able to toe the line with the Crackhead and other Savannah runners for the first time in a while. It's the comraderie and fellowship of like minded people that I am really looking forward to expierencing. November 5th is going to be a great day, regardless of the time I see on the finisher clock...

(but it better not show 3:3x:xx!)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hot 2 Trot

...or celebrating my 37th birthday by running around in circles for 8 hours.

I know it's been a while since I've posted a blogpost - I wouldn't be suprised if this post goes mostly unread...that wouldn't be anything new! However, I am going to recap yesterday's race, mostly as an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong & what went right and as record for me to look back upon as a training tool.

Let's get to the good stuff! First, here's a few photos Sean Oh took yesterday. He is a great photographer and also a fantastic ultra/trail runner! Thanks Sean!

The H2T course is a 1.18 mile loop at Sweetwater Creek State Park, a personal favorite of mine. It is a really enjoyable loop with a majority of the course being shaded trails, there was some nice downhill sections and two "walking hills"(Unless you are eventual winners Jim Bickelhaupt & Kate Brun, then you ran them. Every. Damn. Loop!)

Due to the fact H2T landed on my 37th birthday, it was only fitting to set my goal at 37 miles - 32 loops on the day. My pre race plan was to go out with an average pace of about 10:30 m/m and grind for the 1st 4 hours and see where I ended up. There were to be a lot of factors that would determine the type of day I had. The first being my less then stellar long runs recently. The 22 miles I ran at Chattooga 5 weeks ago was my longest run since SweetH20 50k in April. I was a little worried my legs wouldn't have the endurance to go 37m.

The second concern I had going into the day was the predicted record temps we were going to get. I don't run well in the heat & humidity and every Summer I whine and complain to my wife and tell her to not let me sign up for ultras in June, July & August. Of course after the weather passes and I run in fall, spring & winter temps, I forget how horrible I feel and sign up anyways. Plus it was on my BIRTHDAY! How could I not run H2T?

The morning was overcast and a few minutes before the race started, it began to rain. It was a light sprinkle that never really picked up or became annoying. The rain was welcome by most runners as we knew this would keep the heat & humidity down. The rain left us within the first hour, fortunately the cloud cover lasted for a majority of the day.

I ran with a bunch of different runners for the first few hours and held a comfortable pace. I hit the 11 mile mark before my 2nd hour and was feeling good. I was concerned that my HR was a little high, sitting in the low 140's, ocationally spiking to 150 on the hills. Typically my HR is in the low 130's at this pace. In hindsight, this may have been a factor in the remainder of the day as I was having trouble keeping my core temp down. (note to future H2T runners - have a plan in place for cooling core temp)

By the 4th hour, I was rolling past my 22nd mile - still feeling strong. My fueling plan was to take an Ensure replacement drink, every hour on the hour, and grab whatever looked good off the aid station table. For fluids I was alternating water & Powerade in my handheld, aiming to drain my bottle at least twice an hour. As the temps rose I was going through three bottles an hour. So to recap, I was taking in a minimum of 250 calories and 60oz. My energy was perfect, I never felt sluggish. However, midway through the 5th hour, the cramping started.

The good news about the 5th hour was my awesome Sweetest Boo showed up! It was great to see her face and she arrived just when I needed to see her. She brought Holla and my favorite ultra treat - Rice Crispy treats! I brought her up to speed and told her my concerns about managing my electrolytes. I continued my loops but was having to walk more than I wanted to walk. She joined me just after I completed my "marathon" loop. I took a second bottle out on that loop to focus on replacing fluids and spiking my electrolytes. This worked and the cramping stopped.

As soon as I started to feel better - Everything flipped while I was running downhill. My left hamstring cramped again, it felt like I was hit in the leg with a baseball bat. I was ready to end my day and hangout with the other runners. Except, the night before I told Holly that no matter what I said, "you can't let me quit" ...and she didn't. She came out for another loop and pushed me when she could.

Upon finishing what I thought was my 26th loop, the counter told me it was my 25th loop. I was mentally defeated. This changed everything. I sat down and put a towel over my head and wanted to cry. I was forced back out and decided since I couldn't give up, I wasn't going to give up. I focused on finishing one loop at a time and running when I could. In these last couple of hours I spent more time running and talking with other GUTS runners. I ran with a couple of guys I hold in great esteem; Ray K & Laz. I learn so much from the stuff they post on the ultra list, it was great to meet them in person. Fellow bloggers Brad G, Joja Jogger, C$ & Jason R were out there keeping me company and helping me forget the cramps.
I finished loop 29 with 15 minutes to spare. Too close to not try for one more. I ran as much of the beginning of the loop as I could. The legs didn't have it. I missed "officially" finishing my 30th loop by 2 minutes. On paper, I ran 34.22 miles in 7:45. I finished my day with 35.4 miles in 8:02. I now have a new distance PR!

Sarah Tynes & the volunteers were awesome! The race was top notch - under some extreme conditions. The heat index topped out at 101 degrees, humidity of 94% What a great way to spend my birthday!

Let it be officially recorded, I do not want to run H2T next year; I will volunteer!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chattooga 50k 2.0


I'm still processing yesterday's race.

It was hot.

It was humid.

I was running well, and then I wasn't.

Dropped at mile 21(4:45 in).

I could have continued but I knew it would be a death march and I wasn't that invested. I didn't have it in my legs and I didn't want to be trashed for the next 2 or 3 weeks.

I still have some lingering questions & remorse for my decision. This is my first DNF, I guess there is a lesson in here, I'm still trying to sort it out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


So.........the big bad corporate machine has added a new filter to the network...this filter is the biggest, baddest 'blog' filter I have ever seen. Hell I couldn't even look up the results from the Black Mountain Monster 12/24 hour run because the web address was "" which somehow hit the filter as sex...Any road, I can't read blogs, post blogs or even think about blogs from work.

Guess they want me working.

So, until I figure out a way around this filter, there will be less of me around, posting & commenting.

I will still write a race report from next weeks Chattooga 50k.

I'll see ya on the other side.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday = Trip to the Georgia Aquarium

As a sign of appreciation, our department is taking us to the aquarium today, that's kinda cool. Hey, we get to wear jeans & leave the office at noon, I'll take it!

Last week I finished a 40 mile training week. Last week & this week are my final big weeks before Chattooga 50k, then there will be a 20% reduction in miles as I begin a semi-taper. This past weekend I did a combined 25 miles. Saturday's workout was "Dixon" (I don't know what that means, that's just what the Crackhead called it. It must be the name of the guy who invented it - or maybe maybe that is what you say about your coach after you do it. "He's a dixon for making me run that." No?)

Anyroad - the "Dixon" is 10 minutes warm up, zone 1, then 10 minutes zone 2. For the next 60 minutes, you run Z2, with every 4th minute zone 4/5. Man, what a workout, I really started to feel the effort about an hour in, making those last 4 to 5 - 1 minutes surges difficult. In the beginning, my zone 4/5 was about a 6:45 m/m pace, the last few I was struggling to get to 6:55 m/m. At the end of the day I covered about 9 miles and got a second speed session in for the week. As we are working towards getting faster this season, I am getting two speed sessions a week.

Sunday's long run was done at "Sean's Run Like Hellathon", Sean B. is a local trail runner who hosts a hellathon usually twice a year. It's pretty straight forward, he sets up and aid station on his front porch and people come out and run a 1.1 mile loop in his neighborhood. The Hellathon lasts for 12 hours, 7am - 7pm. You can run as little or as much as you want.

I had 2.5 hours on the schedule, so I got there early to get my miles in before it got too hot. Sh!t, summer is here. It got hot & humid real fast. I managed to squeeze out 16 miles on tired legs....It was great being able to run with a bunch of GUTS runners and see some old faces. However, I plan on getting out even earlier for this weekend's 3.5 hr long run. Distance running + Summer + Me = HOT MESS!

Speaking of running in the summer heat, what type of tricks do ya'll use to beat the heat?!?!?!

Do you run pre dawn?

Cut back on the miles?

Run indoors?

Just write numbers in the log but not actually run???

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fight For Air Climb - Official Results

Sorry for the delay, there was a timing error the day of the race and it took a while for them to sort it out.

Let's get to the important stuff - Thanks to the following friends - Team Snail raised $490, contributing to the overall fundraising total of $32,328.

Alaska Snail 2.0
Mark & Kelly Erwin
Taryn & Eli Black
Jerry Blankenship
Loren Morgan
The Hurndons
Heather Brown
Amanda Tichacek
Sarah Tynes
The Freedom Runners
Julie Solomon

Due to a last minute venue change, the event took place in the Equitable building, a 35 story building in downtown Atlanta. Deciding against taking the easy way out & only doing the 32 floor climb, Team Snail performed brilliantly in the 64 floor climb. My fellow teammates, Holly & Kristi were not snails on the stairs & vow to return next year!

64 floors you ask, but you just said the building was only 35 stories tall?!?!? What gives Snail? Well, you see, you do it twice! Climb up 32 floors, the timer stops, you take the elevator down, timer starts again and you climb the 2nd set of stairs. (And now you see the timing issue)

I am happy to report that yours truly had the 6th fastest overall time of 11:27. The overall winner ascended in a blazing 8:19. The 2nd finisher was recorded at almost 2 minutes slower, 10:14.

My time was fast enough to put me atop of the Men's 30-39 AG podium, gotta love a little AG bling! (1st place, yo!)

Another interesting trivia tidbit, I took the shortest "break" between sets and recorded the fastest overall time! (13:28) Much to my surprise, after the event, they announced my name as the winner. I almost fell over and turned red with embarrasment - I looked at Holly and exclaimed, "No way! That's impossible! Really!?!?! Fu@k!" Real nice Snail, real nice! Keep it clean for teh kids....

Of course, those faster (all 5 of them) didn't believe it and demanded a recount!(J/K) After the discovery of the timing error, they promised to properly sort out the results and post them online & mail the awards.

I'm still a winner!

While looking online for the results, I googled Towerrunning & stair running and found some great clips on youtube. This is a serious underground sport with world rankings?!?!?! The youtube clips demonstrate the importance of always takign 2 steps at a time & using the handrail for effective climbing speed. Just in trying these tips out, I was amazed at how much easier it was to ascend my 4 flights of stairs at work. I only wish I had seen the clip BEFORE the climb...I think I could have taken 2nd overall...

So, here is the plan. NEXT YEAR, I will have a little more training in my pocket & Team Snail will also be recruiting other climbers.

My goals for the 2012 climb (in order of importance)
Recruit 20 climbers to Team Snail
1st Overall Team Fundraising (2010 winner - Gwinnett Fire & Rescue $6272)
1st Overall Fastest Team - top 3 climbers time combined (2010 winner - Team Lincoln 17:45)
1st Overall Climber - (2010 - Victor Serrano - 8:18 (also a GUTS runner!)

Team Snail does not discriminate! We welcome all climbers! Who is with me?


Monday, May 9, 2011

HR Training

So...The Crackhead had me do a Lactate Threshold Test last week to gauge my progress. This method of determining my LT is done by running 30 minutes at an all out effort. 10 minutes into the run, I am supposed to hit the lap button, using the final 20 minutes to determine my LT heart rate & pace. My last LT test was back in January where I averaged a 168 HR and 7:53 pace. On Thursday I average a 7:37 pace with a HR of 162.

Initially I was concerned about my inability to get my HR into the high 160's, low 170's. When I ran my 5k last weekend, my avg HR was 163. I was questioning the fact that maybe I wasn't pushing hard enough, not really giving it 100%. The Crackhead said the fact that I am able to run faster at a lower HR is great. Coupled with the fact that I haven't been doing any speedwork geared towards shorter distance racing; I shouldn't really be able to go "too deep into the red." All of my training lately has been focused on the 50k, including the speedwork.

He then informed me that would soon change as we begin to focus on the Peachtree Road Race 10k. DOH!

I mean, I'm cool with the idea of getting faster. In order to run faster, you have to run faster....but, but....but running fast hurts! I'm kind of a wimp like that. Guess I need to HTFU and get my swerve on!

Actually, truth be told, I like how I feel immediately after a good track session, just not so much during. The hardest interval? The 2nd to last one. Which also happens to be my favorite interval-sort of like Thursday is my most favorite day of the week because I like to spend it thinking about "how tomorrow is Friday"...It might be sort of telling that I spend a lot of time "in the future"...need to stay a little more in the moment I guess.

Moving on.

This is the final week leading up to the Fight For Air Climb. Team Snail has has great success in the fund raising department. The American Lung Association will be the benifactor of recent generous donations by some awesome bloggers such as Wes & Muriel. also a few ultra/trail runners like Sarah T., Amanda T., Fabio, & the Black Family. Thanks to the Freedom Runners & also the Alaska Snail. If you can, please click here and help Team Snail reach our goal!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Times a Flying!

Wowzers! I have been a little absent from blogland - Sorry. Looks like GQH has moved again. Totally understand that one...

I just got back from Phoenix, Adam, RTP, and several other bloggers are lucky to have the weather they do. Of course, revisiting in August may sing a different tune.

While in Phoenix, I rose with the sun (5:15am) and got my miles in each day. Wednesday, I hit the trails on Camelback Mountain and ascended to the top. Those familiar with Kennesaw Mountain here in Atlanta, the elevation gain is about the same, with a rockier terrain. Great view - if you are ever in the area, this is a must do!

Me and Holla also spent a little time in the cactus garden located at the hotel. I believe he is still picking out a few cactus needles.

Upon my return to the Dirty South, I ran the Jonquil Jog - a local 5k in my town of Smyrna. With all of the training and weight loss over the winter, I had it on good faith that I would be able to lower my current 5k PR of 24:01. My goal was an achieveable one - without going into great detail, the day was perfect for running and I ran a 23:06. I held the pacing needed for a 22:59(my goal) but the course seemed a little long. No excuses, I am extremely happy to lower my PR. I don't run 5k's as much as I used to, so it is nice to get out and run hard - see where I am.

Lastly, Team Snail is less than two weeks away from the Fight For Air Climb and can use your support. The American Lung Association is a great cause - if you can, please donate to help us reach our fund raising goal. A few dollars will go a long way for us reaching our goal! Thank you to those who have donated! Sarah, Muriel, Alaska Snail, Julie & the Freedom Runners - you rock!

P.S. - After further review, Georgia Snail will stay Georgia Snail. Although I did consider Steve Q's suggestion.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fight For Air Climb 2011

You know....because climbing steep hills during an ultramarathon just isn't enough...

Holly & I have decided to join the Fight For Air and support the American Lung Association by participating in a 64 floor climb at the Equitable Building in downtown Atlanta on May 14th.

These events take place all over the US and it's a great way to raise awareness of lung diesases. Both of our families have been affected by lung disease in one form or another - be it cancer, asthma, or COPD. Lung cancer is the 2nd most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, however, it is still the most common cause of cancer death.

As taken directly from the American Lung Association webpage:

Your donation to the National Headquarters of the American Lung Association supports research, development of programs, directing public policy, and sharing up-to-date information on respiratory illnesses; their treatment and management.

Why support the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association supports basic and clinical research through training and "seed" grants for researchers who are at the early stage of their careers. Throughout its history, the American Lung Association has funded talented scientists who have furthered their careers in academia and lung research and have made significant contributions to the fight against lung disease.

The American Lung Association provides in-depth and timely information on lung issues including asthma, tobacco control, and environmental health. Your donation supports programs such as: Open Airways for Schools, Freedom from Smoking, Better Breathers Clubs, Not On Tobacco, and Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative.

The American Lung Association has served as the hub of a nationwide Legislative Network that enables state and local Lung Association volunteers to participate in grassroots advocacy on a variety of lung health-related public policy initiatives. Your support will enable the Lung Association to update reports such as: State of Tobacco, Big Tobacco on Campus and State of the Air.

If you can find it in your budget to donate $5 to Team Snail you can donate to either Holly or myself...and/or perhaps a little bloggy lurve and give us a repost or shout out, that would be awesome - every bit counts!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Time for a Change?

The rumblings have been growing louder.

At first it was just an occational, "You need to change your blog name." Then I lost a few pounds, got a little faster and pushed the PR bar a little lower.

A few more posts appeared in the comment section. "Pretty soon, we won't be able to call you Teh' Snail."

I still didn't feel comfortable about dropping the name.

For one thing, I've aquired all of these cool snail pics - what will I do with them if I change the blog name?

I was on trail Saturday and two different runners mentioned to me that I was no longer a trail snail...

So, I am taking it to the blogosphere!

What do you think?

Change the blog name or no?

Any name suggestions?

Monday, April 18, 2011

SweetH20 - A Score to Settle

Last year, I ran the SweetH20 50k, it was my first ultra and it was an eye opening experience. While I openly admit it kicked my A$$, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience & a new love of running was found. This year's race had the makings of a great story. I've had a great winter of training, everything was coming together nicely.

There was a lot of email banter in the week leading up to the race - folk's penning down desired finish times. From the beginning, I have not been shy about admitting my goal - 6:45, almost an hour & a half faster than last year. Whoa, that is still a bit bite buddy....

Friday night, just hours before race time, the Atlanta Metro area was pounded with severe thunderstorms, including reported tornado activity in Douglasville, just outside of the park. Luckily, the rain lifted before the race - but the damage was done. The creek was raging & the water was high. The current was so strong in fact that the RD had to make a last minute judgemnt call and change the course, removing the famed creek crossing.

we were all curious to find out the conditions of the course, luckily we didn't have to wait long. After a few instructions from Johnny Buice, the RD, we were off!
(Me and my buddy Tom, just before the start)

The race starts down a paved road, leading out of the park for a mile and a half, this gives the runners a chance to thin out before hitting the trailhead & the spillway. Tom & I went out a little faster than planned, running about 8:45 on the 1st mile, while I didn't intend on going out that quick, I didn't want to get stuck behind a large number of timid rock dancers once we hit the single track.

We quickly hit the spillway and there was already a little backlog waiting for the ropes.(Jason Rogers working up the wall)

The weather was awesome the entire day! Clear skies & temps in the low 60's at the start, warming up into the 70's by the afternoon. These temps made the early miles feel effortless, I was clipping along at a comfortable 10 minute pace, enjoying the first 6 miles of the course. We ran along the creek early on and saw the ropes where the creek crossing was located. As the day progressed, the creek continued to rise and the crossing surely would have been unsafe.

Before long, I was running through the 2nd aid station, topping off my bottle with Gatorade - wanting to stay on top of my electrolytes. My fueling plan was simple, a gel every 45 minutes & grab anything off of the table that looked inviting. With aid stations every 4-5 miles, I ran with one hand-held bottle and intended on emptying it between stations. I was making perfect time, staying right on schedule as we left the comfort of the gentle, tree covered trails and began our trek over to the gas & powerlines. After a short climb up a gravel jeep road, we quickly turned left and were greeted with an all too familiar sight of what seems like endless roller coaster gas lines.

The first few climbs are not entirely taxing - It's the mental game of not knowing when they will end that gets you. Last year my biggest mistake was bombing down the hills and stressing my quads early on. This year, I was more cautious, knowing I would need to save my legs for the 2nd loop.

We dropped down to creek level at one point and had to go up the ravine, this is a killer climb, especially the 2nd time through.

Rolling through gas lines, Sarah Tynes is waiting for us at the top of the final climb, a good 200 ft jaunt straight up! As only the truely wicked can be, she can be found yelling at us that we need to be running!

There is a short little run out to the Top of the World, a 360 panoramic view of the surrounding area - no photo truely does justice of this view.

We had a mile out & back to the 3rd aid station, this is a great chance to recover and do a quick "systems check" before hitting the powerlines. I was feeling good, keeping my HR in the low 140's, maintaining 10 minute miles on the flats and didn't have any noticable pain. Rolling into the aid station, I am all smiles knowing the hardest part of this loop is behind me. Or is it?

I think this out & back section of the course is my favorite part of this race - probably my most favorite part of trail running. It is here that you get to see the other runners either in front of you or behind you, depending on which way you are running. (Most) everyone is cheerful and offers words of encouragement. "Good job" "Nice work" etc. You also get to see your friends and whoop it up a little bit. Seldom do I ever experience this in road racing and that is really too bad. I always get motivated & run a little easier when I am able to offer encouragement & receieve the same. You should try it, running with a smile on your face does wonders to improve the way you feel.

Having my spirits lifted was surely needed as I entered the next section - the dreaded powerlines. This open section contains some serious elevation change & is usually exposed to the midday sun. The footing is usually very loose making even the decents difficult, this day was no exception. However, the cooler temps did make the trip through a little easier.

Not long after going through the powerlines, I am heading up Jack's Hill and completing my 1st loop. I spent a lot of time in this section with Todd Henderson, the RD of the Pinhoti 100 miler. Last Fall I crewed for Psyche & Charles at Pinhoti and plan on making this race my 1st 100 miler. It was really cool to run with Todd and get to know him a little better-not that knowing him will my make my hundy attempt any easier!

(me & Todd cresting Jack's Hill)

So, just under 3 hours, I finish my first loop and begin to head out on the 2nd. Grabbed my lucky Moon Pie Jersey out of my drop bag and headed out. All systems are a go and one by one, I am picking off the runners who went out too fast. Careful not to become one of those victims myself, I stay within my plan and try not to let my mind wander forward to a faster than predicted finish time. Of course, without the creek crossing, I know my time will be better than planned so I allow myself to think about how much time will be shaved off. The distance will still be the same with the added mileage, but not havign to tackle that monster hill on the yellow loop will probably give me back about 15 minutes.

I'm cruising along the creek around mile 21 without a care in the world when I feel this sting in my left calf. it was almost like someone reached out and grabbed it! Crap, cramps?!?!? I stopped and stretched it and tried to move forward, this was not a good section to have calf cramps as there are a lot of rocks to hop & steps to climb. I was a couple miles away from the next aid station, I knew it would be a minute before I could get some electrolytes. I worked through the pain for several miles, every time I thought I worked out the cramp, it would come right back.

The aid station didn't have any S-caps, so I had them pour some salt into a cup and I mixed it with some water and drank it like a shot. Horrible taste but better than the alternative. I continued to work through the issue and repeated the salt intake at the next aid station. I also had them fill my bottle with Gatorade instead of water at these stations. In hindsight, I don't really know where the cramp came from, I was fueling properly & alternating water and gatorade at each aid station leading up to the cramping issue. Nothing a dose of HTFU can't cure I guess.

I was hoping to get the cramps behind me before I enterd the gas/powerlines, otherwise it would be a long day. It was here last year that I "quit" running forever several times and decided that I would "stick to running flat 5k's in Savannah." - A very low point in the day. There were no drastic lows like that this year. The course was hard, it kicked my ass, but mentally I was sharp and stayed engaged. I worked through these sections and before I knew it I was motoring back up Jack's Hill, in hot pursuit of Todd, who had passed me while I was working on my cramps.

Seeing Cindy & her Gnome at the last aid station is bittersweet - you know the finish is near, which means the joy of this day is almost over.

Only a few miles of gentle trail seperated me from the finish, glancing at my watch, my goal was within reach. it was time to put my head down and do a little more work. A few miles later, I rounded the corner of the last hill(Really Johnny? That hill after the day you put in front of us?) and climbed four steps to the finish line - greeted by a collection of finishers, volunteers, GUTS & Rogue runners - and my best cheerleader, my Sweetest Boo!

Final Results: 6:42:23
68th out of 235 starters
9/37 AG
1.5 hours faster than last year.

THANK YOU to all of the volunteers & to Johnny, the RD.

I had a blast, I smiled the entire time and sitting here right now, I wish I was still out there. Well, except for the part where it hurts to climb the 4 flights of stairs to my office.

Thank you fellow bloggers for all of the support & encouragement. We run because we can, never take it for granted.

**Photo's taken by: N. Kumar, S. Donnelly, C. Strickland Ralston & R. Hines.**