Saturday, May 5, 2012

Trail Nut Half

Be sure to read last year's more detailed report HERE.

I remember saying "I'll be glad when this one is over"
I ran much harder than usual.

I've honestly never tried to race a 13 mile run before. I've run them, but not raced them... trying to see how hard I can push it. I have tried to race a 10 miler once last summer. That was the longest I've really tried pushing it for. You can read about that event HERE. It earned me a 2nd place in my age group. I was quite excited. That was October 22nd, and 10 races later, I finally place again. I've always said that it all depends on who shows up with how well you place in your AG.

Event details.
Date: May 5, 2012.  
Location: Falling Creek park / complex in Bedford, VA
Event: 13.1m and 10k distances offered.
Presented by: Mountain Junkies LLC
Event Website: HERE
Cost: Only $30
Swag: Nice moisture wicking T-shirt. 
Other race reports on this event:  Cardioholics Anonymous

The shirt for this event appropriately reads "Peace Love Trail Run" pictures of it are in the blog listed above, which you should take a moment to read anyway.

I've run this event for 2 years previoulsy. in 2010 it was incredibly HOT and I ran it horribly. In 2011 I ran a 2:01:14 and my goal this year was to make it under 2 hours. I think I had a good chance at that.

I was being told constantly in the week leading up and the day of by my friend Eddie Mann that I had a good chance to place in my AG at this one. I'd never placed in my AG before at a MJ event, but I was excited at the opportunity. I was even told by Sarah Holbrook that she thought I could do it in 1:51. but I knew that was a long shot. under 2 was my goal. with 1:55 being something I'd be super excited to do, but I really didn't know what I could do.


Excited to again be sharing the event with Lydia, as she was running the half as well. Ruth and 2 other friends came along, Laura and Kate. It was nice to all ride in one car and share the excitement to and from the event.

Arriving. packet pickup. bathrooms. sharing handshakes and smiles and recent race stories with others. It was that common "extended family" feeling you get at a Mountain Junkie event!

All lined up
Ready to go, I'm eye balling those I should try and keep up with vs those I know will either soon  fall behind or soon pull far ahead.
About a half a mile in I notice I'm running with others that I only see at the finish. Slowly they pull ahead and I settle in along Joe, another runner I only see when collecting his age group results winning medals from time to time... I was thinking that if I could only keep up with him! I started fast again and help my pace with the starter group for longer than I have previously. Once we got to the trail I think it ensured my place in line and kept me running fast.

A few miles in
I was happy to remain behind Joe and being able to keep up with his pace, I knew I was pushing it hard for it to still be early in a 13 mile run, but I was willing to see if I could hold on. My goal was to not let anyone else pass... That goal turned into not wanting anyone else in my AG to pass. Which was the better option.

The "half" point seemed longer than it should have been. I cross the half point at 1:01:XX and realize it isn't my 10k time, as it was longer than 10k having been run all ready, but I recall the second half was shorter. Still behind Joe and enjoying it. I'd walking up some of the hills now and then because I realize they slow me down quite a bit. There aren't any significant climbs on this course. It doesn't appear that there is any one climb being over 100 vertical feet according to the elevation profile.but the course surely rolls up and down. MUDS and PUDS I call them. multiple ups and downs / pointless ups and downs.

I felt comfortable that the gap between me and the next person behind me was a big one. Many times I looked after switchbacks and long straight portions for the people being me, and saw none. After the half mark, I began to see the trailing group. 2 girls leading 2 guys. I didn't see them long enough to estimate the guys ages. but the distance still let me feel comfortable to slow down a bit.

Pass and be passed
I slowly approached 2 guys who were slowing and passed them, but it took some effort. The 2 girls trailing me caught up and passed. I knew Courtney was way ahead and I think she was the only female ahead of me, so I tell them I believe that they are second and 3rd female. They seemed surprised and excited to hear that. I knew Courtney had secured first female and I was pretty sure there was no other ladies between she and I.

Don't miss it!
After a short distance of them and Joe ahead of me, they almost missed a turn. It allowed me to pass them but that just made me run faster for a short while until I stepped asked and allowed them to pass even though they weren't ready, I knew they soon would and didn't want to hinder the race they had going on for 2nd vs 3rd female. I was imagining them 2 battling it out in the final stretch and got excited.

The struggle
joe and I were struggling to keep the paces we had been holding. I just didn't want to be passed again. I caught up with Randy Blevins. Another runner that I shouldn't have been running with, as he is always much faster than I. Then I see Bill Vickery... I'm gaining on him. I jokingly yell ahead asking if he's waiting up for me. He explains how his past week at the beach and a recent 5k PR just a couple days ago have given him some rubber legs. I was excited to be doing so well even if I was passing respected runners on a not-so-good day of their own.

The final moments
I keep thinking about who is behind me. All I want is to hold my place. I know I can't possibly pass another runner ahead of me, I've not enough energy for that. In the final moments of the trail I see Jim Mullens in very reachable distance to me. He pressed me on to run harder when I thought I couldn't. I reminded myself that in an hour I'd be telling myself "I think I could have ran harder" but I felt myself pushing it a little too much... I walked a few steps up a final climb. saying out loud "I can't let him pass me" eventually out on the grass for the final stretch I pushed it hard as I could... I finished 6 seconds ahead of him. I don't know if he felt he was racing that part or not, but I surely was! Immediately after I thanked him and told him he was really pushing me. I thanked joe also for just being there and giving me someone to keep up with.

Post race
Social time. food. smiles. My face was hurting from smiling more than my legs were hurting from running... That is always a good sign. James Decker asked f I've checked the results and sure enough... preliminary results said I earned 3rd place, with Jim Mullens in 4th only 6 seconds behind me!!!
WOW! Sharing the top of my age group with David Tingler and James Decker was pretty cool for me. I say it all depends on who shows up. Had I run that time last year, I still would have only earned 5th place. but I was glad that today was today. Others in my age group took overall winnings. Shows how fast and competitive my AG is.

Thanks to the Mountain Junkies and all the volunteers for making it happen.

During this race I was excited to be wearing my Patagonia shorts I earned from finishing Promise Land 50k last weekend!.  I carried my hand held filled with ViSalus PRO. I took 2 GU gels, I'm estimating at about mile 6 and mile 10. I took 2 salt caps when I felt some calf cramping around mile 9 or 10. I'm considering that my Montrail Masochist shoes may be needing replacement, but not fully sure. I felt some "burn" and some flattening of my soles during this race, but I'm not sure they are "done" yet. I'm still liking my Smart Wool PhD socks, the thicker ones. Not sure how they will do over the summer, but we'll see.
weather was a drizzle and humid. I diddnt do much different this time except racing it rather than just running it. Pretty excited about my time of 1:58:XX and 3rd in my AG. I look forward to beating that time next year, but I've also considered doing the 10k, we'll see.

Conquer The Cove Marathon will be next, in about a month from now. 2 weeks after that is the Eastern Divide 50k. Conquer the Cove will mark the end of the RNUTS (Roanoke Non Ultra Trail Series). Then as for the other series I'm running the Lynchburg Ultra Series. I've still got one event in November, the Mountain Masochist 50 miler... I'm scared (but equally excited) of what that day may bring!

Much to look forward to!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Promise Land 50k

Event info
Date: 4/28/12
Location: North of Bedford, VA
Event Distance: 50k 
Hosted by: Extreme Ultra Running
SeriesLynchburg Ultra Series - event 3 of 4
Event Website: HERE

Other race reports on this event: currently 15 reports listed HERE

The Plan
You should know all ready if I titled a section "the plan" that it didn't work out. Of course it didn't. I PLANNED to have a friend run with me a part of the way, but the layout of the course, and when "crew" could be present and when they couldn't sort of hindered the plan. not knowing the exact details of the course did as well. Ultimately I asked the RD and he suggested my friend could run the last 5 or so miles from Sunset Fields to the end. whereas I was hoping he could trail the last 15 or so, but the course didn't allow. So then I considered him running along with me from the first Sunset Fields visit. This was greatly discouraged, so I just chalked it up as a rookie mistake and jumping the gun on the excitement of having Eddie run with me. Thankfully he understood, but I know he was disappointed.

The reason I wanted such a plan was because Terrapin's 50k was such an emotional experience. I liked the idea of either having someone to unload emotions on, or (maybe better yet) help buffer them away.

A first for many
Countless times I heard that this was someone's first ultra. I wouldn't have suggested this for anyone's first, but It hunk I may be wrong. elevation profiles can be so intimidating, but they only tell a small part of the story, until you really get out there and experience it.
For example check out this pic of the Promise Land 50k elevation profile as compared to the Boston Marathon elevation profile that circulated on Facebook in the days after Promise Land.

Of course, I love to irony of the photo, but really these are 2 separate challenges. 2 very different races.

As for this being someone's first ultra. in hindsight I'm not sure if it actually may be a GOOD first ultra. As daunting as that elevation profile to the left looks! My first consideration of running PL50k was one year ago at Terrapin when I finished the half. Dr. Horton said to me "Are you running Promise Land?" for which I said "I've not even run a full marathon, man!" and his reply "YOU DONT HAVE TO! - PEOPLE DONT GET THAT"... and I learn that he is right.

So PL as a first - here's my thoughts. the course is tough enough that you just can't run for much more than 6 miles at a time. then you hike up some big 'ol climb, and then yoga re back to running again. give it a half mile to find your running legs again and settle into a stride, drop a couple miles. then uh-oh, hiking agin up the next big climb. The pattern of this course is a lot of stop and go. Climbs that most mortals wont even consider running up. but hey you are traversing mountains. A first timer still needs to know what they are getting into and should prepare to be on their feet for 7 or 8 hours, maybe more.

What a crew!
Countless Mountain Junkies were present! I really liked the local-Roanoke community support we had with each other there. Many familiar faces. I think that was in part what made Terrapin so difficult of me (one of the many reasons). I enjoy sharing new moments with others. Dragging a friend through something they've never done. It is exciting to me to share it. I like being the encourager. My friend Ed McKeown was taking the challenge! I was excited for him and encouraged by his determination, motivation and courage to do it. With so much of the unknown before me as well, we shared many moments together.

Taking it in sections
I've started to plan my approach to ultras in 3 sections. 10 miles or more for each section. This held me divide up the elevation profile in my head, so I can anticipate - though I usually end up totally forgetting the elevation profile and just take it as it comes. today's approach was to take the first 10 much slower than previously. At Terrapin I dove in too fast, and I knew this. I hoped to stay with Ed for at least the first, and hopefully the first 10 miles. Not only was I with Ed, but Sean Cooper, also doing his first ultra was with us for much of that time as well. I enjoyed the conversation with those around us, the encouragement that was given and received from Ed and Sean. I think after that first 10, Ed seemed positive and hopeful for the remainder of the day. Slowly I began to pull away and I knew it was time for me to increase my overall pace.

Watch this!
This was my first event wearing my Garmin Forerunner 110. Lydia had bought it for me for my birthday and we both know I'd been wanting one for a long time now. I considered all the models, but settled on the 110, cause it was a watch I could wear normally, and it would do all the fancy running stuff I wanted it to do. Sure there was other features that I would have liked it to have, but I knew I was capable of just getting all way too geeked out on it, so I settled for the simple and stayed with the 110. It does all the necessary things to help with my training and I'm very happy with it. Ed was my coach for how to use and operate the watch, as he too uses the 110.

It all blurs together when you go 30+ miles
I dont recall much about the middle section, but I do recall really enjoying the first downhill sometime after mile 10. beautiful single track, fairly steep but I could finally open up and RUN! I was passing a few here and there. Always thinking that they would pass me again sometime. interestingly this race was much different. The second and third sections after mile 10 to the end, I was consistently passing others. The closer I got to the end and was still passing others, I knew I had prepared with taking my first 10 miles carefully - I finally did something right!

Weather or not???
The most difficult climb was up Apple Orchard Falls. It happens to you (and I mean it HAPPENS TO YOU) between miles 27 and 30 or so and then you are in for a nice long downhill - the same hill that was the first climb. Coming up AO Falls was tough. I wasn't expecting any rain. Not that I would have done anything differently, but it began to rain just as I hit the aid station at the bottom of the mountain. Rain was one thing but cold rain is another. But again... not that I would have done anything differently. Maybe I would have carried gloves but they would have done little good. and I don't have a super cool thin running jacket, but I hope to get one someday.

What came from the sky at that moment has been described as freezing rain (it indeed was freezing cold!) sleet and hail. I don't know what a weatherman would say it was, but I was super cold! The only solution was to move and not stop. I was unable to run due to the steep hike that was before me and I felt for those behind me that had to endure it for longer. The climb which was around 2 miles, but I'm sure it was less than 3, yet it seemed to never end. Fingers immovable. My exposed forearms would sting and radiate over my whole arm when a rain drop hit it just right. I was unable to squeeze my water bottle but I knew I still needed to drink and remain hydrated. I still had a lot of miles left. About 5 miles AFTER I finished this climb... if I finished this climb, but I HAD to. There was only one way out and that was within what lay before me, and so onward I pressed. At the top I needed to refill my bottle, but only stretched out my hand to the AS volunteers who removed my bottle for me and refilled it. I struggled to get it back on my hand. It was the same at the next and last AS as well. Just frozen.

I knew this was purely a mental thing I had to overcome here. Sure the climb was a physical feat, but if I wasn't focused mentally and if I diddnt stay focused and positive - if I got negative and let MISERY sink in. I knew it would be so much more difficult. I recalled the saying on the shirt from the Willis River 50k that I ran in January "Pain is expected, Suffering is optional" I knew not to let the suffering set in. Stay positive I kept telling myself "Don't get negative (Win at this mental game), press on, you'll be bragging about this tomorrow". I appreciated that the other runners I was around said very little. Every once in a while a slight complaint of what froze or what they could no longer feel. I was thankful I could still feel my feet unlike one of the ladies around me at the time. I considered that they too were fighting that mental game and their silence affirmed that.

Tammy Gray (she doesn't know I know who she is he-he) was at the top and said "you are freezing, you've got to keep going" She's a voice of experience and I knew she was right. I spent little time at the AS and took on down the hill. I knew this was a chance to move more and warm up, and it was a welcomed change. I diddnt exhaust myself on the climb but I was excited to still be pressing on... thinking to myself "I'll be bragging about this tomorrow" I even shared that thought with another runner or two on the climb to try and encourage.

The long gravel road toward the end, as expected, felt much longer than it was on the way up the mountain. I was still pleased to be passing runners. I glanced at my watch to see what my pace was, I was logging 8-minute miles for the last couple of miles and I was excited to be feeling this good. From gravel, to paved and then the distant sounds of the finish line. The cowbells and cheering for the runners ahead of me. I turned onto the camp property and let out a victorious Woo-Hoo, and then crossed the line at 7:45 or so. Immediately I thought, "better beat that next year". Despite the discomfort experienced one hour ago on that climb, I was all ready planning a rematch of man vs. mountain.

What I did differently
The most important thing I did was a low fiber and high carb diet for 3 days leading up to the race. I diddnt have to "pit-stop" in the woods like I had for the last 2 50k events. I read about going low fiber. and I mentioned it to a GI surgeon that I work with who knows quite a bit about running. He said it sounded like a good plan. It felt good to get his approval.

Post race smiles
The familiar faces were welcomed and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Jerry and Dru and Andy and Ed and Gina and Helen and Sean and Anita and Jay after the race (I'm sure I forgot many others). Veggie burger, chips and water was on the menu for me. Phones didn't work so I was unable to call home and share the excitement. I was excited to have in hand my finisher's shorts. What a better finisher's award than just another cool shirt. I'd been needing a new pair of shorts anyway. I suggest a new pair of shorts every year!!!
I'm still wearing the Montrail Masochist shoe. I'm anticipating I'll be getting a new pair soon. I've had minimal foot and toe problems. I'm nervous what a new shoe will bring.

Looking forward
I'm curious how to progress from this solid foundation of the 50k that I've built up, to whatever it takes to go for about 12 hours and finish the Mountain Masochist 50-miler in November. I've run one ultra every month since December. I'm asking and listening to any advice from others. My calendar shows that I'm basically taking the month of May off from the really long run. June includes the Conquer The Cover trail marathon and then the Eastern Divide 50k, also. I expect I will try to do some back to back runs, say a 20 miler and then 15 or so the following day on tired legs. I've also been told just take it slow and I'll be fine. But still I signed up for the 40miler in Douthat State Park put on by Odyssey Adventure Racing - The Trail Running Rampage in September. I also know that Jerry Ballard will be doing all these listed events with me, as well as the MM50-miler. Cant wait for those days ahead.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recent runs - Blue Ridge Marathon relay

This report breaks the mold of previous reports, but I'm behind on reporting on my events, so I want to get some words and stories on here so I can catch up on the most recent events.

BRM - relay
I liked the idea of running this marathon, but it was one week prior to Promise Land 50k and I don't believe I have the endurance to double up, and I didn't know what to expect with Promise Land. I was glad when my wife and a few friends expressed a desire to run it as a team. "James, James and the Rockstar Runners" That name, The Rockstar Runners has become the title of the running group that started as my wife and her mom's club friends, but it has since branched out to include others. What an inspiring group to hang out with. good people.

I eagerly claimed the Roanoke Mountain Loop portion of the relay, as I'd been wanting to run that road because of it's climb for a year or more now. but I'm thinking that the Peakwood section may have been the hardest. who knows, that race is all tough.
America's toughest road marathon - that's what they say...and yep, right here is good 'ol Roanoke!

Early morning. parking was sure to be a disaster. but it wasn't that bad really if you were willing to walk a little. but hey what's a couple extra locks of walking when you are lining up for a marathon?
At the start I get on the bus with Lydia and her sister Ruth. We and all the others on this bus are brought to the first exchange point where the first runner's section ends and they hand off the timing chip anklet thingy to the next person in the relay team.

Funny story about being at the transition area... The story of the triple fail at the port-a-pottie. There are 2 port-a-potties which many were thankful for. Were all waiting in line. Leaving the courtesy gap between who is next in line and the doors to the john. You don't approach an occupied john until they are coming out. it is just the way it is done. So some guy... I'll call him Sum-Dum-Guy positions himself between who is next in line and the johns. Obviously missing the fact that there was a line (fail #1). who was next in line? me. but I was polite to not say anything. Well the person who had entered a john just prior to me didn't lock the door... hey she figured everyone in line knew it was occupied because the last 20 people in and out were being waited on to get out... yet, Sum-Dum-Guy approaches her john, opens the door and sheepishly closes it backing off (fail #2). With his head down he returns to his convenient location at the front of the line, which he still didn't notice all of us waiting. Sure enough he gets his turn and enters the john, quickly he is done and departs... and I get the pleasure of following into the same john to reveal that he peed on the seat!!! (fail #3) DUDE!!! do you still live at home with mom or something? OK I shouldn't judge, but by thins time Sum-Dum-Guy had ROOKIE written all over him. It was even one of the fancier johns with the urinal on the side, which he failed to notice. Had he never used a port-a-pottie? then he's surely not run many races, cause they are at almost every one I enter. I was never angered of course, but it was entertaining how one thing after another went the way it did. I wanted to keep an eye on him to see what other disasters would soon follow.

So Amanda ran the first leg. Once she got to us, I excitedly ran the second leg.. passing others and running the whole hill, it was fun passing others, but I explained to many that commented that I was in the relay not doing the full distance like all those whom I was passing were doing. Back off Roanoke Mountain, I passed the anklet to Lydia, and she ran the third leg. I ran with her, just to share in the fun, and Ruth did as well. Amanda had a time of rest while I ran Roanoke Mountain, so she ran with us as well up to the star and down the "old road" to the greenway. Rockstar Runner friend Beth and some of her relay crew(The Feisty Asburys) were running close to us as well. It was an enjoyable run. I was still pumped and excited to just be participating in this event. once on the greenway Ruth's leg of the race began. but she had just run with Lydia and everyone else on the previous leg. yet that was how we had it all planned. total fun...

Ruth was left to run Peakwood all alone! apparently it was probably the toughest part of the race. I traversed across the park to where Ruth would complete her leg and met James, Amanda's husband. there we chatted and it was tons of fun to be "in" the race, but yet standing there watching so many running friends of mine pass by. Dru came by on her bike, just to share in the excitement. Frank Finch came by after having finished the half-marathon. Phyllis ran down the greenway to hang out with Ruth and be there to cheer us all on.

I was having so much fun the stand out sore muscles were my smile muscles... You know when you laugh or smile so much your face hurts... that was what I was going through - wonderful.

At the finish I soon found Lydia and we got to run across the finish line as if we had run the whole thing. Tom Rickard was announcing the runners and he recognized me, so it was nice to hear my name over the loud speaker.

I look forward to running this one next year. it was a well put together and organized event. post race food included chocolate milk which was pretty cool. We didn't stay long, as... get this. Lydia wanted to get to Lynchburg for packet pick up on a triathlon she was doing the next day!!!
Her first triathlon, pretty cool!

My only reservations about doing this next year would be if I was doing Promise Land again.

I took nothing serious about this race and it was good to do that for a change. All I wanted to do was to run Roanoke Mountain and I was glad that I did. It has been suggested that running it the opposite direction of traffic flow would make an even steeper. Maybe I will someday - I'm just usually on trails finding a climb. Another goal of mine for this race was to run with Lydia which I did. I'm glad we worked out running each other's legs with one another as it added to the fun we all had. I'd do a race like this one over and over. I've not had that much fun at a race in a long time.

We all got medals and T-shirts like as if we ran the whole thing too! lol
In case some reader is wanting the swag but doesn't want to run 26.2 of the toughest road marathon just to earn it... Good luck with that.

Recent runs - Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k

This report breaks the mold of previous reports, but I'm behind on reporting on my events, so I want to get some words and stories on here so I can catch up on the most recent events.

MMM10k -
Another fine event from the Mountain Junkies. This race is referred to as a favorite, but one that you love to hate. It sure is the most difficult 10k in town.

My goal was to beat last year's time. I was hoping to beat it by a few minutes. I know last year I ran it quite hard. you can read how exciting that was HERE.
In 2011 I ran 54:51
This year I ran 53:58
About a min faster, but I was sure I had to be stronger with the miles I was putting in, and I knew I was more capable of hills than I was last year. I expected more of a time improvement. but there is always next year. I really want to do well on this course, so I think I'll make a habit of running this loop... maybe more than I run the Chestnut Ridge Loop, we'll see... because I've been so busy I've not run much at all mid-week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 Terrapin Mountain 50k

Wow, Terrapin 2012!

 I apologize in advance for the scattered-brain-mess of this report. it was written at various times in order to get it all down. I'm seriously reconsidering my approach to these reports, and thinking of a new format. yes, a shorter one. Pictures are so nice, but I've not been able to catch pics at the more recent events. anyways... on with the thoughts about Terrapin 2012!

It has been long time coming. 
One year ago I KNEW I'd be running this 50k today. Little did I know it would be my 5th run that could be counted as an ultra.

This was a very exciting event for me. This marks one full year that I've been doing this blog. One year ago I ran the Terrapin half and for the first time I was able to witness ultra running up close. I was incredibly intimidated by the course, and the elevation. Read all about that experience HERE. Today was a different day, a very different day.

This run was the most difficult I've ever run. I could say it was the elevation, because 7500+ of climbing is more than I've ever done. I could say it was due to the emotional stress from the week prior, or the lost sleep. I could say it was that horrible flavored GU energy drink they had on the course. Or the fact that I wasn't using the energy drink mix that I used on my previous ultra. Or it could have been the GI problems that I had, once again at mile 20, like I did at Holiday Lake 50k in February. It could have been the nausea that I was feeling, or the uncertainty of running with the "lump in your throat" feeling when you feel emotional. It could have been just too much time alone when I needed to be around others that understood the previous week's events. It could have been the flat feeling under me feet that made me question if my shoes would really make it through one more race, or not. I am sure it was a combination of all these things that created the day that I had.

Events leading up to the event

We had unexpectedly lost a close family member just 9 days prior. I had considered not coming to the run. But I knew I had to, for me. I tried to eat well in the days leading up to the event, but I knew I wasn't sleeping well. I didn't think this would impact things. I was most concerned with being alone out there for so long, with me and my mind being allowed to wander. I prayed I'd find good conversation.

The day

Lydia was supposed to have child care arranged with her mom or our family friend Jenny, so she and Ruth could run Montvale 10 miler hosted my the Mountain Junkies LLC. Because of the rain and I'm sure other reasons, she decided not to attend. I awoke early and drove the hour long trip to Big Island, VA. The excitement set in, as I knew the location and a little of what to expect.

The first 10

I approached the first 10 miles thinking that the first mile was runnable, but the next 3 were not. Yet I ran on and off the whole time. At that point we arrived at Camping Gap, and then for a nice downhill on a jeep road. I was off and running again. I'd like to know how long it took me to get to that aid station, but they didn't track that check point. I had run with a young guy that was in the military and I enjoyed the conversation. As he pulled ahead and I was trying to find my pace to settle into. we were approaching another individual who was singing out loud. I wasn't sure if it was a marching cadence, perhaps the military guy was chanting. or if it was the other guy. then it sounded like he was singing or chanting a hymn. but I wasn't sure, so I ran faster to approach him. As I came by his side, he began to laugh about how he was singing out loud. Turns our It was Bill Vickery whom I recognize from local Roanoke races and Mountain junkie events. I've been tracing Bill's race times for years. He used to be in my age group and I knew he'd always place in my age group. but then her turned 40 and moved up a bracket! lucky me.

Talking with Bill.

As we talked I told him I must be running too fast... WAAAY too fast to have caught up with him. He minimized the situation with excuses of how he is starting slow and whatever. nonetheless I enjoyed the conversation.

Hind sight

I did start too fast. I recall before I caught up with Bill, I was running with a marine guy and enjoying the conversation, I recall feeling like I was trying to keep up with him, until right about the time I decided to let him go on and I was going to slow down. Then I came up on Bill. I did take on the first 10 miles too fast.


I had typed most of the above soon after the event, then life caught up with me, so I'm trying to piece the rest of this together from here


What stands out

This event was huge for me.
One year ago at Terrapin 2011, I ran the 13.1m course.
Read all about it HERE that is a good detailed report with pics and more words than you would prefer, I'm sure.
So this marks my return to the event, I really wanted to run. I knew I'd be here. Now of course I'd run 30+ miles on 3 previous occasions. Hinson

My goals changed in the moment.

I wouldn't really encourage that for anyone. You think about the event for days and maybe weeks leading up to it. That is when your head is clear. you compare previous race times, and consider what you'd like to accomplish at this event. Yet today, I changed my plan as I was so excited to be there, I felt invincible. I decided I was going to PR for my 50k and try for under 6:15. throwing all caution to the wind, and ignoring the crazy elevation profile that I knew haunted me. The most elevation I've ever tackled on any run. Something over 7,000 feet.

Three tens

I've got it in my head that for a 50k, I divide the event up in 3 sections of 10 miles each section... ten miles maybe 12... you know. I felt great at the end of my first 10, but I knew I needed to slow down. the second ten, and 3rd ten all I did was get passed. I thought at one time, I don't want but any certain number of people to pass me... say 20, that changed quick and then I quit counting. Previous 50k races, I've felt myself slow more and more as the finish line approached, and I just felt that after doing a few more of these I'll get stronger. but Why did I think TODAY was that day??? I was really fooling myself.

Life sets in

Wow... You may hear runners talk about what goes through their mind when running. You can hear about how big events can be emotional experiences. This race really did a job on me emotionally. It had only been a few weeks since my brother-in-law's death. I feared that those feelings would permeate the day, and they sure did. There were many feelings I had in this race that slowed me down. I had similar GI problems that I had at Holiday Lake 50k. One trip into the woods. I began to have some mild nausea and some abdominal cramping. my running slowed. the slower I ran, the more I thought of David. I felt guilty for being out there. I wanted to be there running Terrapin so bad, but I equally wanted to be home with my family so bad too. I kept telling myself that David would want me to be pursuing my goals, and here I am. but I felt like I was carrying him with me. not physically but there was a weight, indeed. Hard to put into words. I felt the need for tears on numerous occasions during the run.

The Walker

Many of the last miles, I was not running. I was not hiking. I was walking. I even walked the downhills. It was what I needed to do. I questioned everything. Thinking thoughts that maybe I shouldn't have thought, but who is there to tell you what is right and wrong in those situations? I knew I'd finish the race. but all goals were put aside. I tried to fight off any feeling of self-disappointment. I knew this latter part of the course as I had wished I ran more of it when I did the half in 2011. Here I was walking. Still fighting off the disappointment.

The end

What bothered me in the last mile was the question of what I was going to do when it all ended? As long as the race went on, I had something to do... to press on. it was holding back the emotions I was trying not to express. As I approached the finish, I wanted nothing more than to have my wife Lydia there with me. on the final straight road back to Sedalia Center, I made myself run through the permeating nausea that never went away...then I saw that there was a woman waving my direction. I couldn't see who it was but I considered that it might be Lydia and the tears began. For a moment I was filled with something different than what I had felt for the last few hours. Someone who would understand. Soon I realized it wasn't her, and the emotions went on a full retreat.

I finally made it. the time was 7:24. I didn't care what it said. I was done. first matter of business was to release all that was pent up inside me from the thoughts over the last many hours. I walked behind the stage area of the shelter, sat down and just let it out. It felt good to let it go. At that moment I felt like something was healed. I didn't like that I had to go through that moment alone, but I felt stronger because I had.

few friends

A couple of voices talked to me after the race. I cant recall any of their faces. some asked about my nausea I had mumbled something about as the ran past me. Others asked if I had been hurt. the words they all offered was encouraging and kind. Each one lifted my spirits just a little bit. I appreciated the actual conversation I had with Helen MacDermott after the race. I was able to tell someone what had been on my mind the past many hours. It didn't take long, but she listened like an old friend would have. I appreciated that.

I wanted nothing more than to get on the phone with family. I felt refreshed once I did.
This was the most emotional run I'd ever done and I feared that each one would feel this way.


Looking back - as it has been 2 months now as I finish this report. I'm so glad I had that experience. I'd glad that I felt that I was carrying David with me. It was like spending time with him in some odd way. I think I needed that. I feel like I was able to communicate (to him?) that I'm going to miss him.That he played an important role in my life and I wanted to thank him for it.

When I got home, I removed my bib number and wrote on the back what I wanted to write on there from the beginning
"For David"

Explore Your Limits 10k

Event info
Event: Explore Your Limits 5k / 10k 
Date: Saturday March 3rd, 2012.  
Location: Explore Park in Roanoke, VA
Event Distance: 10k 
Hosted by: Mountain Junkies LLC
Series: RNUTS (Roanoke Non-Ultra Trail Series) - event 2 of 6
Event Website: HERE
Other race reports on this event: Cardioholics Anonymous

The report and the few following will be VERY different than previous reports, as I'm 2 months behind on my race reports and haven't had time. but I want to document what comes to mind.

My recent focus vs my latest accomplishments (running further, but getting faster at shorter runs)
Last year and goal time.

Wow, Time really got the best of me lately and life took over.
I never finished this race report.
It has been almost 2 months now.

I ran really hard and got 7th in my age group out of 20.
My time was 49:34 with an even 8:00 pace per mile.
Improvement from last year form 53:24, for an improved time of about 4 mins! pretty good I'd say!
You can read my detailed race report from 2011 HERE

What stood out for me for this event was trying to run a 10k on trail about as hard as I could. Some speed work for 6 miles wouldn't hurt my training schedule at this moment at all, and improving my time so well.

My pictures never turn out as well as I'd like them to.

As always at Mountain Junkie events it was good to see so many of my running friends trying to beat their own personal goals. Explore park is one neat place to run, good trails.

The race report from 2011 has all the details one would want to know if never having run this race.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Holiday Lake 50k

Event info
Date: February 11, 2012.  
Location: Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox, VA
Event Distance: 50k 
Hosted by: Extreme Ultra Running
Series: Lynchburg Ultra Series - event 1 of 4
Event Website: HERE
Other race reports on this event: 22 stories (and possibly more now)all linked from THIS page.

I am much later than usual posting this report. The real motivating factor was because I ran another race, which I  want to get to and I had to finish this one first. I had been 90% done for a long time, but never completed it. Life has been non-stop.
Even though I've covered this distance, just last month and a couple times previously, THIS was the event I was waiting for. I suppose I felt that to take part in one of Dr. David Horton's 50k's Was just something I HAD to do. Now I can check that off my list. If you don't know much about all he has accomplished, read the bio on that link and you'll be impressed to have a guy of such character and accomplishment in our region!
He and his friend Dr. Clark Zealand host the Lynchburg Ultra Series together, along with the Beast Series.
These are the region's ultimate ultra running events.

I wanted to run this event and this series for a couple years now. I always wanted to get my running up to this distance. I have a few people to thank for this. most importantly my wife, Lydia for allowing me to spend hours away from home and out in the woods. I'd like to thank my encouraging running friends. Especially Anita Finkle. She provided me the final step of encouragement that I needed to really get out there. I believe her encouragement to enter a 24 hour race was just what I needed to show me that I could do it! Also I'd like to thank some bloggers like Jenn at Freedom to be, for sharing her experiences of working toward and running her first ultras. I learned a lot from those stories she shared. I only hope that what I've been documenting here can help someone else get the info they need to accomplish their goals of running ultra marathons.

Events prior to the event
Why do I even call these races events, and not races? it is because they are so much more than a race to me. I think of shorter distances as races. and longer distances as events. They often take all day and there is food and friends and fun. how can you call that a race? I know it still is for many, of course it is. It can still be a race, even thought I call it an event. I think that shows it to be less intimidating and emphasizes it's just not all about gutting it out to the finish.

Trying to fit in my last long run was probably the more dramatic story in the small events leading up to this Sat. I sent out a message to running friends on FB that I'd like to do a long run. I changed the date on everyone a couple of times. and as my schedule would have it, I couldn't do it on a weekend. Which left me to run mid week in the afternoon / evening and it would take me long into the dark hours of the night. After stringing along a few friends and then changing plans a couple more times... I finally arranged with Eddie Mann that we would run the Chestnut Ridge Loop (next to Mill Mountain in Roanoke) and circle the 5.4 mile loop  times. Eventually the day came, I think it was a Thursday and it was a success. of course it got dark, which added an exciting element in the final hours. I was thankful for Eddie to have come with me and I believe it was his longest run at the time of his training... I'm looking forward to hopefully sharing with him his first ultra later this year, possibly at the Eastern Divide 50k.

The morning of
The race starts at 6:30, wow that is early. but I'm thankful for the early start. Of course that means it could be horribly cold, but thankfully today it wasn't. This also means that I wake up at 3:30 and try to leave at 4AM, so I arrive between 5:30 and 6 in just enough time to check in and get comfortable. That is exactly how it happened too. Believe it or not, the only thing I could have done differently was not take the first parking opportunity I saw which would have placed me closer to the race start, but it wasn't bad at all.

I arrived, Took a small walk to the lodge building where it was obvious that check-in would be located. grabbed my entry t-shirt, and scanned the left overs from what looked like a nice breakfast. I took a pack of chocolate covered donuts, which I knew would taste nice after the run. I saw a couple familiar faces, but didn't talk to anyone. Back to the car to make the final prep before the run.

At the start line, I looked around for familiar faces but didn't see them, I heard a couple names I knew being called out for not having checked in. Eventually Samantha Mitchell arrived to the start - Ah! finally a familiar face. Why does that help so much? I don't know. Just nervous energy. I knew others that would have been there but I didn't see them until later.

Finally we were off.

The race

Speaking of the person in front of me....
As the sun came up and I was passing a couple runners here and there, while a couple runners passed me here and there. I came upon an almost familiar figure. I approached him by the side and said "Craig Burns!" sure enough I was right. I've only met Craig once and that was at the Mountain Masochist mis-point. We had a short conversation and he drove my car for me to take it to the end of the race so it was there for me when I was done sweeping the second half of the course. When I expressed my excitement for having recognized him, he humbly replied "It's the Spirit".

Craig and I ran together for a while. I thoroughly enjoyed his company and his focus. Craig and I share the same the same faith in Christ and we were able to enjoy that element as we ran together. I could go on about how important it was to me to have that conversation with him. It was just the right timing. At times when I run, I pray and Craig entered my prayers more than once throughout that day.

A little longer down the trail I ran upon Helen MacDermott. Helen was dragged through the drama of me trying to organize a small group to run with in my final run before the big day. At last minute, I changed plans and she was unable to make that day and time. Life is hectic and schedules can sometimes be difficult to plan around. My life with a family and 2 babied, just makes it challenging. It was good to finally meet Helen. We chatted and ran together a short time as well.

As I was running along. I'm always thinking to myself... "Am I running too fast" because I've got a long way to run and if I run too fast now, I just won't have any energy later in the day. sooner or later I get behind another runner, or group of runners. usually when I find myself behind one or two runners. They may seem to be a tad slower than my desired pace to run at that omen, but I force myself to stay behind them for a little while, just to help control my pace for a moment. At times, thought I come upon a long string of runners and thought difficult to pass. I usually do. So along one long string of runners. I run into John Farmer. John and I crossed the line together at the Willis River Wilderness 50k just last month. It was nice to see him again. Just an encouraging face and name. He was surprised I remembered him. but of course I did.

After that I didn't see familiar faces until the turn around.

The course is 2 loops. Run it once one way, and then run it in the opposite direction. Before the turn around I crossed paths with Jenn from Freedom to be, and soon I was headed down a staircase to cross over a small reservoir  and then around the last part of the lake. Soon I was back to the start with another Aid Station. At this point I felt strong, but I knew I was going to slow down. It was nice to See JJ Jessee at the Aid Station.

JJ, along with Jenn are part of the Iron Mountain Trail Runner community in the Damascus, VA area. That group of trail runners really seem to have a great network of running friends with people always looking for others to run with, or someone asking for advice. I've benefitted a lot from their FB page alone and the conversations they have had there from time to time. I'd hope that we could have something like that in Roanoke, and I feel that we are getting there.

A short conversation with JJ helped estimate my finish time. I secretly wanted to finish at 6 hours. I stopped for a moment, enjoyed a short conversation and some more food and drink. I headed back down the trail.

Pit Stop!
Knowing the next aid station was 4 or miles ahead, I still decided to press on. Even before I got to the turn around Aid Station I felt that I may need to use the bathroom soon. I began to develop a theory that if my body is able to focus resources on digestion, then I'm just not running hard enough. So I kept pressing on, thinking of the 6 hour goal, which I knew I would fall short of.

The next AS was at mile 20 or so. I had no doubt that any of the ASs would have had anything I needed. and so I asked for some toilet paper. As the young volunteer went to look in the back of the vehicle, she turned to yell out to another volunteer, "Hey, where's the... never mind" She didn't want to yell the words "toilet paper" Which was the polite thing to do. Sure enough she found it and I was off into the woods in a totally different direction until I could no longer be seen.

I kept reminding myself that though I'm losing time on my goal, I will be more comfortable overall. Sometime in all my reading, I recalled how to properly go about doing this.... dig a hole, down to the depth of where it is packed dirt, and then cover it all up with the dirt (and leaves and whatever) you displaced.

Of course I immediately felt better when I got on the trail, but I had lost track of all runners before and after me. I was running along a different group of people now. It was a bit of a mental challenge. I knew I wouldn't catch up to them. For some tho would not have been a concerning element at all, but out there in the middle of nowhere it was nice to feel like I kind of know who I had recently passed, and who had recently passed me. Those things give me comfort. It is like I feel that I fit in at this spot within the field of runners. That was disrupted. Once I felt comfortable that I was doing the same thing and only the faces had changed, I was back on track.

Heading home
I enjoy all that I learn from talking to other runners at such events. I spoke with another runner who was strictly sticking to her plan to run for 4 mins and walk 1 min. I tried to stay with her, but I was slowly losing the ability to run for 4 full minutes. but I was surprised how long I was able to stick to that. It is encouraging to find someone to run and chat with in those last miles. Even after pressing on and on, I still found the strength to keep pressing on.

It was nice to finish. A little less climactic than how it was at Willis River 50k when I had a group of friends awaiting, that was nice!

What was done differently
The main thing I did differently was changing some of what I was drinking throughout the race. I carried a 22 oz. Nathan handheld filled with alternating products. I switched back and forth from Pro and Neuro. I felt that I was getting my electrolytes from Salt Stick caps, so I used my drink as energy products. I felt that it worked well. 

The more amazing thing was in the few days after the run. I experienced a muscle recovery faster than I've ever had. I often take ibuprofen for about 3 days after a long run like this one. but this time it took less than a day to recover. It sure felt that way. I took ibuprofen ONCE the night of the race, and never again. I felt great. again what I did differently was that I've been drinking a Vi-Shape shake after my runs, usually 2 during the rest of the day, and often the following day as well. and I've been taking the Vi-pak of vitamins also from ViSalus Sciences.

Most people who really get into a sport or activity eventually find their product line that really works for them. and I'm really enjoying these products.

The Vi-shape shake is marketed as a post-workout recovery drink for protein and nutrients needed as well as marketed as a meal replacement for weight loss. I've seen it have amazing results in my family for weight loss, and I've read the stores of others, whom I don't personally know and seen pictured of those using it to improve fitness. I can now say I am learning it's potential for runners also.

What is next
Explore Your Limits 10k on 3/3/12, Then Terrapin Mountain 50k on 3/24/12, and on to Promise Land 50k continuing with the Lynchburg Ultra Series.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Swinging Bridge 35k / 50k AKA Willis River 35k & 50k Wilderness Trail Runs

The event used to be called Swinging Bridge, but since the race route no longer takes runners to the swinging bridge, the name was changed to Willis River.
Date: January 14, 2012.  
Location: Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland, VA
Event: 50k (35k and 50k distances offered)
Presented by: Richmond Road Runners
Event Website: HERE
Cost: Only $25Other race reports on this event: Lost In The Woods Running (Mike Bailey)

It seems like you don't have to search much to find the expensive races, but to find the events with less fuss not only do you have to search deeper, but you have to register quick too.
Not only was Willis River 50k a cheap event (same price for 35k and 50k) but it was also full many weeks before race day.

A first REAL ultra?
I ran 50k for the first time at Hinson Lake's 24 hour event. I completed the 50k in 7 hours. That was my main goal, 50k. This was in late September. My total miles for the event was 55 miles.

I ran 50k for the second time at the Crooked Road 24 hour event. The structure of the day did not allow me to keep time like I did at Hinson. My total miles for the event was 62 miles.

Believing that I could cover the distance, I did feel a little concerned that it was a measured distance and a bit less supported than a 24 hour event. (had good aid stations, but not the FOOD that you get at those 2 24 hour events). Thinking to myself that it would be different as I'd likely log in many more miles alone, rather than shared with whomever was on the loop course, that you get at those 24 hour events. Still I was confident that I could, and would.

Pre-race research
Of course I researched as much as I could for the event. I found limited info. One of the most helpful sources I found was a race report from Mike Bailey, whom I had just shared the course with at the Crooked Road 24 hour event. He wrote a report on his blog after he ran it in 2009 in blistering cold weather.

Weather omg!
The event takes place in January... in 2009 (see Mike's blog above) temps were as low as NEGATIVE 1 degrees! I'm learning that the course has some mandatory creek crossings where you WILL get wet. I'm excited and nervous both. I would much rather submit myself to such conditions at an organized event, rather than on my own training run somewhere all alone. I figured worst case is I sign up, waste $25 and not run, but either way, I was going to be there before I decided to DNS (Did Not Start).
Dead Last finish is better than Did Not Finish which is even better than Did Not Start. 

I prepared for the cold temps by buying my first pair of running pants. OK they are tights, but I researched around and decided on Patagonia Speed Work Tights. Retail $69 affordable and a simple design, no external pockets or fancy anything, just quality material.

I also bought a Smartwool neck gaiter and headband. When worn together is could simulate a balaclava, which is pretty much a ski mask. 

I had recently upgraded my gloves from simple polyester liners to a much nicer Mountain Hardwear momentum running glove.

I was concerned about what the weather would bring, and there was only one thing I could do about it, and that was to prepare. I made sure some cold training runs took me through water so I could run with wet feet and I tried not to let the cold weather hold me back in my running.

Plans - driving arrangements
After I assembled a list of those that might be attending, and learned what running friends would indeed be running this event. I began to talk with them about their past experiences there and how to prepare. We also made driving and traveling arrangements. I was excited to be invited to ride with Josh and Gina Both of them having run this race previously were able to offer a lot of important support.

The drive up and pre race prep.
Meeting early on Saturday AM in Roanoke, we were on our way. Josh, Gina, Dru, Mike and myself. I was thankful to not have to drive. Josh having made everyone some muffins, I think they were chocolate chip banana nut, pretty good stuff! Wish I had one now actually. Discussion about who ran what race, and comparing ultras and some talk about who really knows how to put on a good race. We all seemed to enjoy one another's company and conversation.

Race headquarters was in a nice heated building with restrooms (additional "john's" outside) and water fountains.

Arrival was just over an hour early. Perfect. Packet pickup and time to dress, prep the body and mind. Rid of all the pre-race heebie-jeebies, take pre-race pics and enjoy a lot of nervous chatter and reunions. 
Photo courtesy of Tom Rickard, Mike is missing from the pic.
Questions about about what items of hydration to bring. Wear a pack, or just the hand held bottle? I opted for the hand held bottle as I knew there would be an aid station every 5 miles so I could refill.

The course - weather, trees, mud and water

The new name of the event includes that it is s "wilderness trail" I believe that is to let others know that is may be a bit unmaintained in places, and possibly difficult to follow. The course mostly followed white blazes on the trees, and there were white streamers tied to trees every so often, especially in the difficult areas. I think the white was hard to see, I'd prefer a brighter color. It was obvious that the course had some preparation to it. There were a couple areas that made me feel like we were being used to forge a new portion of trail rather than following an established trail.

I heard it many times, and I must say it here as well (and if you hear one thing about the course other than the potentially cold temps it will be this) but there are many down trees that every runner must step over or climb over. These provided nice breaks in the running though. Well, I thought that at first, but after you get a good number of miles under your feet, your legs don't want to lift that high off the ground!

Other than temps and trees there was mud and water. At various times in the past 3 days leading up to the race it rained. I was thankful it wasn't raining today, but the rain left countless mud pits and filled up the creeks just right. Mud pits so deep that the ever present leaf covered trail became shoe sucking black dirt soupy sections that at first you try to dance over, but soon enough you tie in and just tromp right through. I still don't know how I'm going to clean those shoes.

The creeks included many countless crossings, perhaps 10 times? Not all of them required you to submerge your feet, but a couple of them did for sure. At this race and for this time (another day might be completely different) you could find some areas that would put you in as deep as mid calf. Usually there was a better option. Personally after all the mud, it was kind of cleansing to run through cleaner water. The cold temps of the water only penetrated for a very short time. I wonder if that was in part because I was wearing Smart wool socks, and I've read that wool stays warmer when wet than other fabrics? Who knows.

35k complete stop or go?
I was aware that this course didn't have a lot of elevation, but then was surprised that it has 1800 vertical. I would have considered it more flat than that. It had plenty of simple short ups and down (muds and puds - multiple ups and downs, pointless ups and downs).

After 5 miles out the first aid station. Aid stations were stocked with only water and soda for drink. food included cookies, m&ms pretzels and potato chips. Gummy items and I forget what else.

It was nice that before the turn around, I could see the lead runners as they pass. I was excited to see that Josh was in 3rd place at about that time, and not far from the guys ahead of him.

After returning to the start and completing the 35k. Many choose to call it quits, but I knew what the plan was and I was determined to stick to it. I knew I had 5 more miles out and 5 more miles back. I was feeling good having crossed the line in under 4 hours. I rested a moment and refueled at the aid station, then went back down the trail. It was good to see some friends in our group (Mike and Walker) there resting after having completed the 35k a while ago.

Once I headed back in tot eh woods for the final leg of the 50k. I noticed who came into the aid station behind me. He eventually passed me.

The final 10
I think the last 10 miles were more attractive than the first 20. Arriving at the turnaround aid station. I was pleased to be seeing some greenery and a nice river not too far away. I stopped at the aid station. the Race Director was there encouraging the runners. I thanked him for his work on putting the race together. I enjoyed some m&m's, Pringles, one Advil and I forget what else.

The first 5 of the last 10 were heavily hiked. The last 5 of the race, I felt stronger than the previous 5, and I ran more than before. Perhaps it was more downhill? I do know that I think the last 10 miles were more hilly than the first 20. That could be perception though too as my legs were quite tired by that point. There was definitely less mud water and down trees. it was easier to run without interruption. There was a section of forest road (well, there was a section on the first out and back too) which was a nice change of pace for a short time.

It was again exciting to see the oncoming runners. Constantly wondering how well Josh was running, I finally saw 2 figures emerging through the woods toward me. Josh was in the lead!!!

The runner that passed me in the final 10, never got too far ahead, as I could tell from the turn around how far ahead he was.

At the finish
As I was nearing the last mile. I came up on the runner that was behind me before I began the last 10. We enjoyed one another's company and conversation for that last mile. I really appreciated that as I had so little conversation during this run. We crossed the line together.

It was great to see familiar faces at the finish and Gina there to take my picture. It made me feel right at home like I was at a Mountain Junkie race. Pictures at moments like that are priceless, Thank you!

The clock read something short of 6:30 and I was pleased that it was below 7 hours, but soon thought that it took an extra 30 mins to cover 10 miles, when on the first half of the race I ran 10 miles every 2 hours. Despite my instant negativity, I enjoyed the moment. Soon I asked how the end of Josh's race turned out, and I was happy to hear that he won! His first ultra win!

Driving home... 
After a short cool down, food was on my mind. I knew the other in my group were waiting only on me and ready to go. I wanted to refuel. I partook in what the aid station at the finish had to offer, but knew I wanted more. Soon we were in the car and headed down the road.

Like the good husband, I make contact with my wife. Soon to learn that Lydia is at the race and looking for me! What a nice surprise! She had arrived about 15 mins behind what may have been ideal. We had the option of turning around to meet her, or just to stop at a gas station and let her meet us there. I was thankful for my friends for waiting for me, and the finish would not have been the same without them there. I was also glad to see my family happy for me and providing comfort.

Things I did differently - NEW products
Not too much to say here. I'm getting a little more consistent with what I do at long runs now. I have enjoyed the Salt Stick caps. I'm convinced that they help ward off cramps and assist in keeping me hydrated. I began taking them much less than suggested, but now I'm taking them as suggested with one an hour. I would have had some electrolyte product (Gatorade or NUUN) in my bottle on any other given day, but today this is where I did things differently. I'm trying out a line of products by Visalus Sciences. I used PRO in my bottle, which is a powder to mix in water. I did this for my first and 3rd bottle refills. It is recommended not to exceed 4 servings a day, so I felt that 2 was conservative in testing out something new. How did it work? I'm not sure. It surely did not hinder me at all. It tasted better than plain water. I know it lacks the electrolytes in other products, as it is an energy product not electrolyte replacement drink, but then again I'm taking the Salt Caps for that. I will continue to use the PRO and see how I feel about it.

PRO is only one item in a long list of products from a company which I have begun to work with. I am promoting their products to be used for a 90-day challenge after you set a goal for 90 days. Is it weight loss or athletic performance, go to my website at eliminate and learn more about these awesome life changing products. I have seen it effect the lives of others, if I had not, I would not be talking about it here. Check it out.

What is next?
Holiday Lake 50k in 4 weeks. I am confident as this trail claims about 2000 ft in elevation, just slightly and probably not even noticeably different that I just ran. I have not committed to the entire Lynchburg Ultra Series, but I do want to do it. I've even signed up for Terrapin Mountain 50k in March, the second event of 4 in the series. I ran the half-marathon distance at Terrapin in 2011. I am excited to return there in 2012 for the full experience.