Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm going to the Top of the World!

A little less than a month away, the SweetH20 50k is rapidly approaching!

Photo courtesy of DCRR website

I am really looking forward to this race, all of the training is setting me up for a great day out on the trails with a bunch of awesome, talented runners. Seldom do you get a chance to run with 250 like minded individuals; we will share the trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park and all come away stronger. Stronger in our bond as trail runners and stronger as people. This race really forces you to push into that dark, unknown place. A place we seldom see and a place most do not like to explore.

Not to be overly melodramatic but last year at this race I was forced to come face to face with the "Running Is Stupid Committee" and overcome some huge obstacles; literally & figuratively. The second loop-that second pass through the gas & power lines, really brought me to a point where I didn't know if I could continue, but I knew that somehow I must. I pushed through, finished, and came away with a new understanding of myself. It is this exact result that I have since relied upon in my everyday life. When a situation gets really difficult, I am able to push through and know that it won't last and I will survive. Far greater writers have done an amazing job of translating this feeling into words - but I get it. I know it inside and am grateful to have the ability to go out and deepen that experience.

I am putting a lot of miles in the bank, last week going over the 40 mile mark for the first time this year. This being my second year running ultras, I am beginning to feel a little more comfortable with the mileage and am now working on improving my time on trail. Having taken the time to really focus on nutrition and weight loss I am seeing great progress. LOL, who would have thought that losing 20 pounds would make me that much of a better runner!?!?! I have another 3 1/2 hour long run on the schedule this weekend and then I will begin a two week taper. (I think - gotta check with the Crackhead) Let's do this!

photo courtesy of P. Sebastian

photo coutresy of C. Ralston

photo courtesy of A. Ligon

Weight - 185.4 (down 15.6 YTD - 5.4 lbs to race day goal)

Training Schedule
Mo - Rest
Tu - 1:15 hilly run
We - 30 min easy
Th - trackwork
Fr - rest
Sa - 1:19 trail run
Su - 3:30 long run

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pernilla C.

Sometimes life deals you cards that cause a dynamic shift in your priorities, this week was one of them. My wife found out one of her oldest and dearest friends died in a house fire. This news came as a complete shock and has devistated my wife and several of their close friends. Luckily, Holly and her friends spent a weekend at a cabin in North Georgia with Pernilla at the end of January. They had a wonderful weekend full of joy & laughter; they will always have the memory of that weekend.

Rest in Peace - Pernilla C. 2/10/1978 - 3/12/2011


We were to head to Savannah early Sunday morning to organize the memorial service; I had a 3 hour long run on the schedule. I knew I would need to get up extra early in order to get my miles in - otherwise there would be no long run last weekend. I got up at 4:30am (which felt like 3:30am due to Daylight Saving Time) and headed down to the river. Cochran Shoals is a very popular place to run in Atlanta; you will see hundreds of runners and walkers while out for a regular day. I was the only person there. It was so quiet & serene, just me - running in the dim light of my head lamp. I managed to complete 2 full loops on the 3.5 mile trail before I saw another person. I had a lot of time to reflect on the important people in my world and contemplate the direction of my life. I spent a few miles thinking about the times we spent with Nilla, I felt like she was running with me a one point - although she would have certainly fallen out of her chair laughing at me if I had asked her to go for a run! I am so grateful I had the time and ability to run those 19 miles before Holly & I headed to Savannah.

My wife is such an amazing woman, she was so strong in the organization of the memorial. At one point when we were alone, I asked her how she was doing. She said she was holding up okay. I mentioned to her that I thought she was amazing and was being a rock for her friends, that her taking the lead in this was really awesome. She just looked at me and said, "I have to - this is for Pernilla. She deserves it." One of our favorite quotes is, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have!" - Unknown

Please take the time to tell those most important that you love them, you will never know when you will no longer have a chance to tell them how you feel.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


That makes a great blog title!

The inaugural Georgia Reactor Run (GRR) 100 mile trail race on Saturday had the makings of "one of those days"...Forecast calls for rain!

This particular network of trails is really runnable during dry conditions, however it stays muddy up to 5 days after a good rain. (Must have something to do with the previous owner's nuclear power facility...)

...and it rained! AND RAINED. AND RAINED!

28 of the 30 hours the course was open, you guessed it - it rained.

Between the 3 races, there were a total of 211 registered runners.

72 - 100 mile runners
72 - 50 mile runners
67 - 50k runners

6:30am came early and everyone started with high hopes!

The course was sort of a 20 mile, figure 8 loop, with the start/finish in the middle of it. The left loop was a 13 miler & the right was a 7 miler. If doing the 100, you were to complete those loops 5 times. There were three aid stations, one on each loop and one at the start/finish(pictured below)

(blogger & badass ultra runner Psyche in the white sweatshirt)

The AS's on course were awesome, great signs & great volunteers!

(To think they actually ran out of bread at one point)

As the day progressed, the war of attrition waged on! Countless runners were dropping down to the lower distances; 50 mile runners were hitting the 50k distance and dropping and 100 mile runners were hitting the 50 mile mark and dropping. The common statement I heard from the runners was, "I've had enough! The course was great and the volunteers were awesome - but this rain & mud is too much!"

I arrived at the timing table for my 4:30pm-2:30am shift and settled in for a fun night!
(that is me with the grey ball cap on)

As you can see a "DNF banner of shame" had begun to form. Other's called it the "Wall of Smart Decisions"

The GUTS crew maintained the attitude of HTFU and everyone was having a great time helping the runners as best we could. In true GUTS fashion, a pool was started to see how many of the 72 100 mile starters would finish the race hundo.

Betsy hit it on the nose with 17.

Yes, you read that correctly. 17 out of 72 earned their buckle, completing the full 100 miles. A 23% finishers rate. That is just a small description of how brutal the conditions were.


Below is a picture of the 100 miler winner, Garth Petterson, with an amazing time of 20:10...a fast time for any 100, considering the conditions - it was even more amazing. Here is a link to all of the results from all three races

(1st female finisher)

I don't have any photos from the trail, I spent my 10 hour shift at the timing table - but I understand it to have been quite a day "out there". Click on this link to Cindy Ralston's Photos from on course.

My hat is off to every runner and pacer that logged one mile on the course, truly the definition of HTFU!

To the members GUTS, what can I say? I am so lucky to be a member of such an awesome running club that puts on top notch events time after time! People will talk about this race for years and next year, everyone is going to want in on this race...it may be for redemption...or it may be just for chance to test their limits. I plan to be there!

(Denise Martin - amazingly worked all 30 hours helping massage runners)

**Photos courtesy of P. Wimberly & K. Pike

Berry College 1/2 Marathon

What a race! I will be brief with the write up - the event; the course and the organization were awesome! The weather was ideal for me, we caught a break and the rain was reduced to a drizzle for a majority of the morning. Starting temps were somewhere in the high 40's to low 50's to take a guess. Just comfortable enough for shorts, short sleeve tech shirt and gloves. Some may say the weather was less than stellar but I like running in cool, overcast conditions. The rain did make a few sections of the course a little more difficult, there were a couple of sections that covered dirt & gravel roads, this might have caused a slight slow down of pace.

I arrived on campus a little after 7am, quickly found parking and was on the shuttle to the start. I could have walked the 3/4 of a mile to the start but it was raining and the shuttle happened to be there. It didn't take long to grab my bib & race packet-I found a spot along the wall in the Ford Hall and changed into my running gear and went out to find a porta potty & get a quick warm up. The lines weren't too long and my morning coffee did it's job. (That was for Adam)

Considering there were about 700 1/2 & 400 10k runners, I managed to easily make my way towards the front of the starting line. The 10k & half marathon runners were starting together at 8am, the 5k runners started at 8:20am. After a few instructions, the race was underway, I wasn't too far back from the start it took about 11 seconds for me to cross the starting area. My goal was to hold back a little at the start, the prescribed plan was to go out at 8:37 and drop 3 seconds per mile through the first 9 miles. I hit the first mile mark at 8:15 and it felt really easy. Listening to conventional wisdom, I tried to just bank that time and drop back to the pacing. Not so much. The second mile was a little slower, 8:22. I had already banked 35 seconds, I "tried" to run closer to the plan, it was just coming too easy. My HR was settling in the low 150's so I wasn't concerned about going too hard. Mile 3 came in at 8:25.

The course is mostly an out and back; it was easily broken up into three parts. Miles 1-4 were flattish, with a few rollers, 5-8 a couple of nice climbs and descents through the Mountain Campus and 9-13, the return to the main campus -again, some rollers, but an overall elevation loss through this section.

As we were starting to hit the hills in the middle portion of the race, I put up my slowest split of the day, 8:40 for mile 4. I was purposely trying to hold back. At about this time my buddy Weezy rolled up behind me and we started chatting about some upcoming ultras. He and I ran Sweetwater & Chattooga together and I was on hand to watch him finish his first 100 mile race at Pinhoti last November. We were hooting and hollering-having a big time out there. I think a few runners around us were put off when we starting yelling at each other and talking sh!t about the "hills". Miles 5 & 6 had a couple of 100' ft grinds but they didn't last long and didn't take a huge toll on my pace - 8:33 & 8:29 respectively. After hitting the Mill, we were on our way back.

My favorite mile had to have been mile 8, for two reasons. The first was that we were winding through this really cool section of the campus that reminded me of being back in Germany. The buildings were stone mason type buildings and the roads were narrow & winding. Mix in a couple of sharp descents and I was flying to my fastest mile of the day @ 7:46.

After another mile out & back on a gravel road, the remaining portion of the race went by without much fanfare. We were on a bike trail labeled the Viking Trail that pretty much was a 3 mile straight shot along some power lines. There were a couple of small rollers but mostly really flat & boring. This was where I did most of my work. Picking off runners one at a time, I turned in some great splits. 8:09, 8:03, 7:59.

One mile and a little extra separated me from the finish. I had selected my next victim, the runner a 1/4 mile up the road with a bright red jacket on. My final mile of 7:47 had me over take that runner and about 10 others. In the 2nd half of this race I was only passed twice and I probably overtook 30-40 runners. We rounded a couple of turns and the finish line appeared out of nowhere. In the distance I could see the clock roll over to 1:47. I knew I was well ahead of the goal pace of 1:48:59, however, I had another goal in mind - 1:47:59. I kicked it in and drove to the finish, crossing the line at 1:47:55; later finding my chip time to be 1:47:41.

NEW PR and an awesome race.

I can't say enough about the folks who put this event together. Going in I had only heard good things about this race. Every single one was true. GREAT COURSE! Perfect for running a negative split, the hills mixed in the middle really broke it up nicely. There were aid stops with water, powerade & gels every two miles...and the volunteers were amazing, very friendly & energetic! If you are looking for a great course to run a solid half in the Southeast, put this race on your list!

thanks to Weezy for pushing me through the middle portion of the course and helping me not mail it in- congrats to you for turning in a good 1:49 as well. I ran into another GUTS runner and blogger C$, who threw down out there with a blazing 1:31:33, nice job Christian, all of your hard work this winter is turning into a phenomenal 2011 season.

I could spend a whole blogpost devoted to the idea of negative splitting and the likes, all WR's have been set on neg. splits. I love the idea and execution of it. The bottom line is that I am going to run slower miles, either at the beginning or the end. i'd rather run those early miles slower and feel good at the end then bust it in the beginning and trudge it in at the end. (...and the look on the faces of the other runners who want to go with me as I pass them, but can't, remindes me of a Karate Kid quote, "Finish him!")

Now, all focus turns to SweetH20! 40 days until my first 50k of the season and all systems are a go!