Thursday, February 26, 2009

Workouts this week

Oh yeah, I did some running this week. I was too busy blogging about Black Warrior last week and Mount Cheaha this week that I forgot to mention my workouts!

Sunday, I did the usual 10 miler in Athens at 5:45 AM. We had 13 runners! That tied our previous record attendance. That has turned out to be a pretty good group run.

Monday, off. I was too busy with work Monday and Tuesday to think about running. But Tuesday, I just had to get out. The weather was just too nice to stay in all day, so I did an easy 7 miler at lunch. I almost regretted it because it put me behind a bit. Staying up late caught me back up, though.

Wednesday morning, Matt and I did about 5.5 easy miles.

Today, I went to the gym for the first time in 2 weeks. I knew it would be my only opportunity, so I did both a push and a pull workout. It took about an hour and 15 minutes. By the end, I was really tired, so I know I didn't do near as much good as I would have with two separate workouts. I will do better in the gym from now on!

And... It looks like rain on Saturday. There's nothing like a rainy, muddy, slippery, wet, uphill 50k. Nice.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting Ready

Here I sit just over 3 days away from the start of another big race that I've been training for. I'm as excited about Mount Cheaha as I have been about any other.

I'm not concerned about my finish time in this race. Last week I was too concerned about it. I ended up running a very good (for me) race and being disappointed. So, this weekend, I'm just going to have fun.

I'm looking forward to the ride down with my good friend and training partner, Matt. I'm looking forward to racing with him. I'm looking forward to running new trails. I'm looking forward to running a distance that I've never run before. I'm looking forward to hitting the most brutal climb I've ever done at mile 27, after running farther than I've ever run before. I'm looking forward to crossing a creek that I have to hold on to a rope to cross.

Yeah, I'm excited.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Black Warrior 50k and 25k Results Are In!

The results for the 2009 Black Warrior 50k and Black Warrior 25k have been posted! They are at the Tennessee River Athletic Club website.

It turns out that I did look at the clock correctly! My time was 2:06:43 officially, which was good enough for 11th of 85. That just seems faster than it felt. It says 12th place, but really, I came in 11th. I don't believe anyone really ran a 25k in 39 minutes. That must be a typo in the top slot.

Black Warrior 50k 2009 results.

Black Warrior 25k 2009 results.

Okay, both of those are the same link, but I'm giving google an equal opportunity.

Black Warrior 25k Course Description

Just a few more words about the Black Warrior races yesterday. I barely mentioned the course and conditions in yesterday's post, so I thought I'd ramble about it a little. I haven't seen any official results yet, but when they're posted, I'll put a link here. Part of me really wonders if the 2:06 for me is accurate! My Garmin was so messed up that I don't have another source other than my memory of the clock. 2:06 seems a little fast for my capabilities and how I felt. I felt like I could have and should have run harder. If the official results show something like 2:20, I'll just wipe the egg off my face and move on. I'll blame my failing memory on aging.

It was just a little colder than ideal to start the race. It was probably just below freezing. The start is on a bridge over Brushy Lake (Pond), and it's a little cooler and windier there by the water. Once we got on the trails, it felt much warmer and there was no wind. After the race, it felt cold and windy at race headquarters. It was probably in the mid 40's by 11:00.

The course starts on a bridge with about a 2.5 miles of gravel road leading to the trails. According to my Garmin, you gain about 280 feet in the first 1.1 miles. Then, the road is rolling for about another mile, losing maybe 20 of those 280 feet. Then, it drops about 100 feet over the next half mile before the turn to the trail. For some reason, you forget that 100 feet of drop by the time you make it back to the road from the trail, and the gravel road seems uphill both ways!

The conditions of the trails were MUDDY! It was not as muddy as two weeks ago, but by all accounts, the course was muddier than last year's race. The trails are really runnable for the most part, though. The first 4 miles of trail are curvy, rolling, and relatively easy. There are a few muddy sections and a few streams (less than ankle deep) to cross. It is not rocky at all, though. It's mostly leaves, pine straw, dirt, mud, and a few tree roots. If you're racing, you really need to speed through this section of the trails. (Note to self for next year.)

After about 4 miles, the trail crosses the same gravel road. There is an aid station there. The trail stays easy for another 3/4 mile or so, then it gets a little trickier. There is much MUD and a few rocky sections as it rolls, ultimately descending into what is the prettiest portion of the 25k race. There is a nice waterfall coming down from a bluff on the left. The trail crosses over the stream and begins a rocky, slightly ascending portion of the trail. Then, the 50k and the 25k split. I have no idea what the 50k portion looks like. I plan to go run the back portion of the 50k soon.

Shortly after the split, there was a huge, fresh, green pine tree across the trail! I wasn't sure how to get around it! I thought about going over, but it was too big. I ended up running around the top of the tree and back to the trail. That looked like it happened only a couple of days ago!

After the split, there are more rolling hills and much MUD. This goes on for about 2.5 miles, then the trail begins to ascend on the way back to the gravel road. The trail gains about 200 feet over this last 1.5 miles. This is the section of the trail that cost me positioning in the race. 10th place passed me here. I was struggling, low on water, not sure where I was, and somewhat discouraged. I was thinking that I was much nearer to 2:30 than to 2:00. I knew there was no one else in sight or sound behind me, so I yielded to the temptation to take it easy up the hill. I decided too late to keep 10th place close enough to take over him in the last 2.7 on the road.

Where the trail meets the road, there is an aid station, and you have to remember the 100 feet you lost on the way to the trail. It really seems uphill both ways. When you get over the 100 feet in a half mile, it rolls for another mile or so. Then it is significantly downhill to the finish. POUR IT ON!!! Mile 15 of a 15.5 mile race was by far my fastest! And the last half was an even faster average pace than mile 15, though it does turn slightly uphill for the last 400 yards or so.

All in all, it is a VERY nice trail race. I happen to enjoy the mud and I really like the course. I don't know if I'll do the 25k or the 50k next year, but this is definitely a race I want to keep on my calendar.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Black Warrior 25k

Sorry, no pics. I was the only Limestone County runner I knew of in the race, so I had no photographer.

First, let me say that Keith Hallmark puts on an absolutely fine event here. Thanks, Keith, and thanks volunteers. This race was an absolute pleasure to run and to hang out at before the start and after the finish. I'm planning on running this race again next year. It's very well worth the fee and the travel. The food and hospitality were beyond excellent.

The race was just a little late getting started, like 7:05 or so which was fine with me. Read on to see why. After the last minute instructions, there was a prayer. I very much appreciate that. We all need to be reminded of the Creator and to take time to be thankful to Him for the blessings He has given us.

The weather was perfect for the race! I went into this race with a goal of 2:05. Well, I had the typical 3 goals, the ideal goal, the realistic goal, and the "won't consider the race a disaster" goal. Those were 2:05, 2:10, and 2:30. I'm honestly a little disappointed with the 2:06. 2:05 was too high of an ideal goal. I believe that I can break 2 hours on this course. I definitely left too much on the trails. I have to learn to race harder. I know I had more than I gave today, and that's why I'm disappointed with my performance.

The starting hill is the worst hill on the course. I've been thinking all week about how to attack this hill. Do I take it slow and make up the time with the reserved energy? Or do I burst out and stay with the top 10 or 15 and just try to hang on after that? Well, I didn't commit to either strategy and it cost me. I started with the top 10 or 15, but my heart rate was through the roof, so I slowed down. Also, I was having some pain in my left shin. I've never had pain there before. Then, I let some slower runners pass me while trying to bring my HR down. You don't want slower runners in front of you on single track trails. Because my HR was still through the roof, I didn't aggressively try to pass. I just couldn't bring the HR down. I tried stopping, walking, deep breathing, nothing would bring it down from the 165 range. The odd thing is that I didn't feel like my effort was that hard. It must have been the excitement of race day or something. So I quit worrying about it between miles 5 and 6.

Which brings me to the next problem for the day. My Garmin stopped somewhere along the way. I guess I bumped it, because I had to hit start to make it go again. I really didn't know how much distance or time I had lost. And it was clocking some miles very slowly. I ran an average of 8:07, so there just wasn't room for a couple of 10:00 miles and three 9:00 miles in there. I was thoroughly confused about distance for most of the race. I ended up with about 13.5 miles on the GPS. Two weeks ago when I ran the course, it was 15.3, so I'm surprised that I had problems with it today.

I stopped at the aid station at mile 6 to refill my water bottle. Doing that let a group of about 6-8 50k runners ahead of me. Again, that was a mistake. I was stuck behind them until the race split at mile 8 or so. I definitely could have run those two miles faster.

When the race split, I was alone until about mile 11. I noticed someone gaining on me. I got his name at the finish, but I don't remember it. He's number 10 in the results. :( The 12th mile is the second worst mile on the course. It's steadily uphill. I just walked too much of it. I took some gel while walking, and he passed and built about a 0.25 mile lead on me by the time we got back to the gravel road home stretch. He was out of sight for much of the rest of the trail. I wanted to track him down, but I apparently didn't want to badly enough.

When I got back to the road, I was out of water, and I knew I needed some for the last kick at the end. I refilled as quickly as I could, but 10th place was building the lead on me. I ran the 2.7 to the finish as quickly as I could. People who have run this course will know what I mean here. From the start to the trail head is uphill both ways!!! Really, there is a slight downill near the trail head, but you don't remember it because the first 1.3 miles or so drains you. So, when you're done with the trails, you expect an immediate downhill all the way to the finish. But it's not that way at all. You have about .75 mile or so uphill before the downhill kicks in.

I ran the last 2.7 or so in 7:27 (uphill mostly), 6:40 (seriously downhill), and 3:21 (mostly downhill, but pouring it on, too). That was all I had. 10th place finished about 10 seconds ahead of me. I was gaining on him the whole way, but I just didn't have enough to catch him. There are about a dozen places in the race that I could have gained more than that 10 seconds, so the finishing push was not the problem.

I felt too good after the race. I didn't give it all I had, and that's disappointing. I didn't hurt after the race. I need to learn to hurt more during a race.

After the race I hung out with Madelyn, Jane, and Laura waiting on the first 50k finishers. Enjoyed the company, gals! I also met a former UNA cross country runner named Josh. Great hanging out with you Josh! I hope to see you at some more races soon.

Again, BIG thanks to Keith Hallmark and all the race volunteers! Today was a GREAT race!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cycling down

I'm cycling down a bit this week. For the first time since starting 50k training, I completely missed a workout yesterday. Shame on me. I suppose that if you're going to slack, do it during a cycle down week. I did 6 on Tuesday and 9 this morning. I'll probably make up the missed miles on Friday.

I'm hoping to run strong at the Black Warrior 25k, but that will be my only hard run this week. I'm not sure how hard to push in that race, but I'm thinking I'll push pretty hard. I tend to race better if I run the day before the race, so I'm going to go with an easy 4 or 5 make-up / loosen-up miles on Friday.

I've done no resistance training this week which is really bad. And, since Valentine's Day, my house has been full of chocolate and Girl Scout cookies, so my diet has been REALLY BAD this week. I was doing so well until Valentine's Day, too. I've got to overcome this setback. I don't need to get chubby now.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

60 Mile Week!

Yesterday's 21.5 capped off my first ever 60+ mile week. I don't know if that's significant or not, but I've never broken 60 miles in a week before. I hope to be around 70 mile weeks training for Rocket City later this year.

Yesterday, I had Girl Scout cookie distribution obligations that began at 10:00 AM. I really wanted to get in a trail run since it was my last scheduled long run of the training. So, I got up at the obscene hour of 3:45 AM to drive over to Monte Sano. Leigh suspected that I was insane when I signed up for the Mount Cheaha 50k. Yesterday, I confirmed the insanity with my alarm clock.

Matt is with me in the insanity! He rode with me. We started by running the Cotton Row 10k course. I really like that course! When we got back to the trailhead, it still wasn't yet daylight enough to start running the trails so we ran an out and back up Bankhead. Then, we hit the trails for most of the 2nd half of Mt. Mist. All in all, it was a very hilly 21.5 mile road/trail run! And I made it home in plenty of time to help distribute cookies.

Today, I did the usual 10-ish mile group run in Athens. Attendance was low today because several Athens runners are running in the Winter Winds races this afternoon. A couple of others are running in the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham. There were four of us, and it was a nice run. It was much cooler this morning that the past few days. I ended up with just a shade over 11 miles. The first 7 were 8:40-ish. The last 4 were 8:15, 7:52, 7:42, and 7:06. NICE! It was a FUN, strong finish!

Good luck to all my friends racing today!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I met my good friend and Mount Cheaha training partner, Matt, this morning at 5:30 for a tempo run. He's the only one I could talk into running that crazy race with me. I think he's as excited as I am about the race! We met for a warmup jog over to the Athens High 1.5 mile track. On the way over, we complained the whole way. Neither of us wanted to get up! I'm still not 100% from this week's stomach bug. He's battling a head cold. Neither of us slept well. Oh we had some excuses! But we met up and ran anyway.

What a run!!!!!

We planned to do 6 miles tempo. I felt as invigorated after that run as I remember feeling after a run. We both went from complaining on the warmup to rejoicing over the run on the cool down. That's why I run!

Oh yeah, 7:09, 7:03, 6:56, 6:56, 6:49, and 6:33 and still had something left! If I had maintained that pace for another 0.2, that would have been close to a 10k PR for me! That helps, too! :)

Thanks for the push this morning, Matt.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not quite over it

I'm not quite over the stomach bug from Sunday. I thought I was, but I still feel a little down in the gut. Bland food is all I can think about eating. Tuesday's run started well, but got miserable at the end. Today's run never was good. I tried to get up early enough to "prepare" for the run. (Runners will know exactly what I'm talking about!) I thought I was prepared, but my stomach never was right. I had to stop once during and I was really glad when the run was over, if you know what I mean. I'm glad that the Athens Rec Center was open! I still got in about 10.4 miles.

At one point, my HR was in the 160's while I was running at a 9:00 pace. That's not good at all. My HR is usually around 145 for an 8:00 pace. After the stop, my HR settled down and I was able to keep a 8:20 pace or so and even finish the last 2 at around 7:30 at 150-155 BPM.

I'm going to keep hydrated through the day each day and hope I can get through this week. This is my peak mileage week for Mount Cheaha training. I'm trying to make this week count. I only have two more runs scheduled, and it's going to be a challenge to finish those.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

I joined the regular (does 4 or 5 weeks make it regular?) Athens group for the early Sunday 10 miler. I enjoyed the company, but the run was quite frankly miserable. I thought it was because of the 21 miles I did Saturday. Well, it turns out that I had a stomach bug. I was miserable all day Sunday and missed evening services because of it. I was gracious enough to share the bug with my wife. Ugh. I got in 11 miles, but I was ready to quit at 5. I probably should have.

Monday, I was much better. I did a "pull" workout at the gym at lunchtime, then I had to take the rest of the day off of work to take care of the kids while my ailing wife endured the misery I had shared with her. She's better today.

This morning, I did a 7 miler at about an 8:10 pace. It was a nice run. I saw Matt with about 2 miles left to go, so he joined me for a mile or so.

I'm still excited about the Black Warrior 25k (in less than 2 weeks!) and the Mount Cheaha 50k.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Black Warrior Training Run

Mark S., Glen, and I rode over to Bankhead National Forest to run the Black Warrior 25k course. There were several runners meeting there for a training run that the race director organized. Barry was the other Limestone County runner there, and there were several Madison County runners there.

It was my first time on those trails. It was well worth the drive. The trails are not nearly as technical as the trails on Monte Sano, but they are challenging in their own way, and lots of fun. MUDDY! My legs were covered with mud. I felt like a little boy playing in the mud. I was laughing out loud some during the run!

We did the 15.5 miles from the start to the finish of the 25k. I really wanted to get 20-22 miles in today, so Glen and I kept going. We ran the 2.6-ish miles back to the trailhead and then back to the finish. I ended up with just a little over 21 total. Along the way I did a couple of hill sprints with walk breaks afterward on the 16-17th mile. I dropped the pace at the end to finish strong. I did miles 20 and 21 in 7:27 and 7:21. They were significantly downhill, but I'm still pleased with those splits. I hope to beat that on those last two in two weeks.

I actually felt better after 15.5 miles than I did after 10. At the 10 mile mark, I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to go beyond the 25k! I just didn't feel well at all. I'm not sure why.

At the end of the run, I waded just above knee high in an icy lake. Ohhhhh it felt soooo good!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Foothills Trail

That's Foothills Trail that I mentioned in my previous post. It's a really nice trail that you can see meanders through southern suburban Denver. I just look over the cookie cutter houses to the beautiful mountains to the west and the horizon to the east. This picture is looking kinda southwest. I'm at the crest of one of the hills and you can see it goes down to a stream bed and then back up again. Well it goes down after it goes up and on and on.

It's a straight away trial, so I did an out and back. Where I start is at about the highest part of the trail, so the back ends with a climb. One of the cool things about the run is that on the way back, you can see the top of the hill. You see the end, but you know there's work to do to get there. It's a really nice run.

Hilly, high altitude runs

Let me catch up the week! I'm updating from Denver International Airport, which seems to be a regular thing.

I ran 4.5 miles around Athens that ended up at the Wellness Center. Then I did a "push" workout. I didn't finish my workout, but I promised Lindsey that I'd see her again before I left for the airport, so I cut it short to run home in time to see her before she left for school. 5.75 miles total.

I intended to do 10 miles, but I got a late start. I only did 7 or so miles. It was an out and back on Foothills Trail. But it was a HILLY 7 miles! And it was at a high altitude.

I got the 10 miler in this morning. I ran out and back Foothills Trail in Highlands Ranch, plus a little loop in Plum Valley. It's a beautiful, hilly run, but it's not a trail like you may think. It's a paved with crushed gravel trail like the track at Athens High. So, it was like running hilly road miles. I'm pleased that I was able to work these workouts in while traveling!

I'll upload a picture when I have a better Internet connection.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Group run and off day

My Sunday morning run has grown into a quite large group run! There were 12 runners who met at the Rec Center in Athens Sunday at 5:45 AM. We started there and did a shade over 10 miles through Athens. Thanks everyone for joining me! Without you folks there it would be easy to skip that run. Getting the run done in the morning frees up the afternoon for chores or a nap. Or both! And starting that early means that nobody there has an excuse to miss church! :)

Today, I went to the gym and did a few laps in the pool and followed that up with a "pull" workout. I need to change my routine in the weight room and I need to put more effort into my workouts.

Also, I registered for the Black Warrior 25k this morning. Woohoo! It's the week before Mount Cheaha, or I'd do the whole 50k.

And I DVR'd the Super Bowl to watch after church. (Well, actually, I didn't go to church because my daughter has chicken pox. But she and I had a Bible study and discussion while Leigh and Lindsey were at church.) That was a GREAT game! Even though I was squeezing a little for the Cardinals, I thoroughly enjoyed the last 5 minutes of the game. Larry Fitzgerald is amazing! It was the best Super Bowl since 2004 when the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29. Does anyone else remember that game?

And hands down, the best commercial was the Doritos crystal ball commercial.