Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Morning 10 Miler

This week's 10 miler was a good one. Lanier has been battling some IT band issues and has been taking some time off. So, you know what he did? He rode his bike with us! AWESOME! This run has become as much about camaraderie as it is about improving fitness. I'm glad that we're able to accomplish both. Lanier told us that the bicycle was for rent, but the rate went up with each mile!

Lance Perry also joined us for the second time this week. It's good to witness his progress. Matt joined to make it an even four. Again, this run is something I look forward to every week.

I ran to the start/finish and back to add about 4 miles this morning to get near 14 for the day.

Also, this morning we saw Jeff and Jon starting their weekly long run. Those guys are just getting it done! They're a couple of "no excuses" guys. I see Jeff most every day that I make it to the track before 5:30. He's on an earlier schedule than mine. His progress over the past few months is also remarkable! He's a guy who just gets it done, and he makes a few people join him, too. No excuses, just miles. I admire that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Low Mileage Week

I just didn't have "it" this week. Whatever "it" is, I had none. Maybe it was Saturday's race. Maybe it was the chest cold I've had this week. Maybe it was the business travel with late nights. Or maybe all those are just excuses and I should have done better. This is a recovery week, but 45 miles is a bit low, even for a recovery week. I couldn't hold tempo pace on Tuesday, and I didn't do any mid-week medium-long runs. I'm going to take an optimistic approach and say that one easy week won't sabotage my training. Maybe it will even help because I'll be fresher and ready to attack in the coming weeks. Optimism or wishful thinking?

This morning, I rode over to Carl's house and met with him and Shane O'Neill for a long-ish run. Carl knows the area and he led the way to show us a good route. We tackled some decent hills along Eastview and through some neighborhoods north of Eastview. Then there were more gradual hills coming back on Old Madison Pike. After that, Shane and I peeled off to tackle Thomas Drive and Stoneway Trail up to the top of Rainbow mountain. That's the hill that Madelyn Patton calls "the dragon". It is a nasty hill. We ended up running almost 16.5 miles total. I appreciate Shane's patience on what must have been an excruciatingly slow run for him. I certainly enjoyed the company this morning.

I need to incorporate hills into my long and medium long runs more often to get ready for Nashville. Now, I know a good route.

I still feel generally behind on my marathon training this time around. I'm confused about marathon pace. I want to aim for 3 hours and then if I blow up, I blow up. But deep down, I know that 3 hours isn't possible for me yet, so blowing up is no longer "if". So, should my marathon pace be a more reasonable 7:05 or 7:00? I need to figure this out soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Warrior 50k Results

The results for the Black Warrior 50k races are in!

You can view them on the Shoals Trac website or at the Black Warrior 50k website.

I can't imagine how difficult it was to get 4 different races that finish at the same place scored correctly. I know I passed some 25k runners (about 5 or so) in the last 6 miles. So for a while, folks were coming in at the same time for three different races (50k, 25k, and 50k Relay). I appreciate the work those guys do in scoring the races. They are working on getting more accurate results posted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The results for Black Warrior 50k and Black Warrior 25k still haven't been posted. I'm looking forward to browsing through those. I'll link on my blog as soon as they're available.

Every time I come to Denver, I think I'll be able to just train as normal, forgetting that it takes me a day or so to acclimate. Where's my oxygen? Why can't I get enough to drink?!

One of the things I hate about business travel is that it messes up my training schedule. I was not able to run yesterday. Ugh.

This morning, when I woke up, the temperature was 5F. Um. I didn't want to run in that. So, I went to the fitness center at the hotel. It's a pretty lame fitness center, but at least it has a treadmill. I hoped the treadmill would be free! If not, I had made up my mind that I was going to bundle up and tough it out. Whew! Not another soul was in there! I didn't have to prove my toughness today.

I toyed with the idea of doing a recovery run today. Since I didn't run yesterday and did a recovery run Sunday, I decided that I should go ahead and knock out the tempo workout this week. It called for 10 total and 5 at tempo pace. I was only able to run 4 at tempo pace. I did 2 miles at 6:40 and 2 miles at 6:35. I just couldn't get enough air! I probably could have gutted out another mile, but I don't know if it would have done more harm than good given Saturday's effort and the lack of oxygen. I should have run 5 @ 6:32, but the past weekend and the altitude are my excuses today.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Black Warrior 50k

Ronnie Nelson came over to my house and we rode over to Bankhead National forest today for the Black Warrior 50k. I hadn't spent much time with Ronnie before, but I absolutely enjoyed the company today. He's encouraged me a bit along the way, and it was good to visit. We'll have to do that again sometime!

I had no idea what to expect today. Black Warrior was a "B" event on my calender. It's part of training for another event. And I honestly don't feel like I'm in the best shape right now. I was probably in my best shape about 2 or 3 weeks before Rocket City, and I haven't been able to get that same mojo back since then.

I've been battling some negative thinking and some lethargy. I didn't really taper for this race except to move my longer runs to earlier in the week to have two recovery days before the race. Top those off with some stress at work, a sick wife (I almost didn't run today because I didn't want to leave her at home.), and not enough sleep, and I had some excuses for a poor performance today. I was ready to use them if necessary. :)

The Quick Results
Dewayne Satterfield, of course, won the 50k in an amazing 3:54. There aren't enough superlatives to describe what Dewayne is capable of. I don't know who won the 25k, but I heard he did it in something like 1:33. That's faster than I thought possible, and probably a course record, but I don't know for sure. I'll post a link to complete results when they're available from the Shoals TRAC website.

Oh yeah, me. I came in 3rd overall in 4:47. No excuses necessary! :) But let me say that the 25k was the most competitive event of the 3 today. 3rd overall is mainly of luck of the draw because the real fast folks were running the 25k. I was faster than all but 2 who ran the 50k today only because nobody faster showed up. I do know my place. Still, though, 3rd overall at an Ultra is something I'm a little proud of!

The Character of the Race
Let me say that Keith Hallmark really knows how to put on an Ultra. This race has a very low key feel. The hospitality is true southern hospitality at its finest. Grilled burgers!?!? Hot dogs. Red beans and rice. Brownies (and very good, gooey ones) with or without nuts. Thats EXACTLY what you want at the end of a 50k! AWESOME!

If you're the type that needs someone near you during the run and needs people cheering you on along the way, this is not the event for you. It's lonely out there. As I came in 3rd, I think there were 2 people clapping, and maybe they were finish line volunteers!

The people hanging out after the race were great. I remembered that from last year. I met so many new people today and got to visit with several friends, too. This race draws from all over the South.

The First Six Miles
Enough babbling! I normally like to talk about the people during the race, but I basically ran 26 miles completely alone today, so there's not much to talk about there! But how about that weather!?!?! PERFECT!

The 50k, 25k, 5 mile, and 50k relay all start at the same place and at the same time. The race starts up the worst hill on the course. It's on the road, so it's runnable, but it is a tough hill, especially to start on. It gains almost 300 feet in 1.25 miles, then levels off, then gives back about 100 feet before hitting the trail. I knew that lots of folks would jump out ahead of me early. I had no way to know how many of them I was competing against. I decided to just let them go.

Along this 2.6 mile stretch, I ran about 1.5 with Eric Schotz. We agreed that every one of them except Dewayne were 25k runners. At that point, though, it was just wishful thinking! I told Eric that I wanted to try to hang with him as long as I could, but that I knew he would leave me sometime. That sometime was as soon as we hit the trail!

After we hit the trail, I heard James Falcon and Kathy Youngren chatting behind me, so I chatted with them for a bit. Then, we came up on a headphone wearer who had some difficulty hearing our request to pass. Rude. After that, I didn't hear from them again. I passed 7 people on the way to the first aid station. I didn't know any of them, and I don't know if they were 25k or 50k runners.

On to Aid Station 2
I went quickly through the aid station. After leaving here, there are two miles until the 25k and 50k split. I saw a couple of folks in front of me that I wanted to reel in. I didn't know if they were 25k or 50k runners. I caught and passed the first, then ran along with the second and learned that he was a 25ker. Enjoyed chat for a mile or so until we separated.

That was the last company I would have during the race. It got long and lonely.

After crossing the creek, the course climbs up to an open field. Here, I could see Eric Schotz up ahead, but I didn't do particularly well on this climb, so I lost him. I couldn't see anyone behind me, and that didn't change for a long time.

Coming into the aid station, they told me I was in fourth place. I really couldn't believe that! That gave me a huge boost!

The Yellow Loop to Aid 3
I had heard that this portion of the course was the fastest. It was definitely the driest. This course rolls. There is almost no flat portion at all. Knowing that I was in fourth gave me a ton of energy, though. I was cruising along! But I paid a price and started to slow a bit before the next aid station.

Dink was working this one and told me that I was in fourth and only about a minute behind Eric Schotz. I knew he'd finish stronger than me at this point, though. How far back was fifth?

The "Trip" to Aid 4
After leaving, I thought I'd continue to push a bit. Could I catch Eric? I was cruising along and hurting, and I remembered a line I read in Jack Daniels' Running Formula. "If the pace you're running feels uncomfortable, try speeding up before you try slowing down." Why not try it? I did, and it was WORKING!!! I couldn't believe it!

Then, out of the blue, I fell. I have no idea how. I didn't see a root or rock, I just went completely horizontal on the ground and slid a few feet. When this happened, my hamstring cramped up, too. I wanted to get up and continue my brisk pace, but my hammy declined. So I eased into a 9:20-ish pace. Then, my fast miles were over.

At aid 4, they told me I was in third! What?!? How could that be? I was in fourth and hadn't passed anyone? The other one ahead of me was on the relay team! WOOOHOOO!!!! The problem? Ouch. I'm hurting. I'm battling cramps and fatigue. How far back is fourth? I can't let him catch me!

The Toughest Part
From Aid 4 to the road is the worst part of the race! It's the most technical, and it's hilly. Remember that hill at the beginning? Well, we have to get to the top of it somehow and the trail leads us there. And I ran out of water. I was PARCHED!

From mile 22 through mile 27, I was struggling BADLY. Where was fourth? I remember running a 10:30 mile and thinking, "I have no idea how I can run any faster." I dropped a couple of 11:00 miles, a couple of 12:30s, and a 13er, too. How has 4th not caught me?

The Road to the Finish
I was so glad to leave the trail and hit the road. With only 2.7 miles to go, I was hoping to skip the aid station. But I was DRY! I had to get some water. Still in 3rd! Eric is about 11 minutes ahead of me, they say. I don't think I can make up 11 minutes in 2.7 miles! I stayed too long here, but it didn't cost me, fortunately.

As I topped the hill, I turned around to see if fourth was behind me. I really hoped he wasn't so that I could coast in. But he was! He was back somewhere between a quarter and a half mile. And he was pushing! So, I did what I had to do. I ran the last two miles at 7:00 flat to make sure that if he caught me, he was going to have to run low 6:00s. If he can do that on the last two miles of a 50k, he deserves the win. OUCH!!!! Luckily, most of that is downhill!

The Finish
They told me at the finish 3rd overall! 4:47:35 It was real!!!! I was hurting as badly as I ever remember hurting after any race. I walked around deliriously for a few minutes and then just lay down on the ground. Some of the volunteers were worried about me, but I knew this pain would pass. Every time I tried to get up, I had to lie back down. After about a half hour, I was able to stand and sit again. OUCH!!

I know that luck of the draw is why I was in 3rd overall. This same finishing time last year would have gotten me 10th!!! But luck counts. I came in 3rd in an ultra! I'm considering that a significant accomplishment! I'm keeping that 3rd place award!

I do consider this my best performance to date. I ran hard. My goal was 5:00, and I beat that soundly. And did I mention that I got 3rd overall? My best finish in any race ever yet!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Snow

I try to blog pretty much exactly how I'm feeling during my runs here. So here goes...

The novelty of running in snow has worn off.

Today, I'm tired of the cold. I'm tired of searching through laundry every night just to be sure I have enough layers to wear. I'm tired of starting in the freezing cold. I'm tired of ice in my beard. I'm tired of frozen water in my water bottle. I'm tired of that little bit of sweat on the inside part of my elbow that gets really cold, but doesn't quite freeze. I'm tired of talking myself into getting out of bed on cold, dark mornings. I'm tired of wind from the north.

But I don't want to complain because I remember last summer. I'll be longing for cold in July and August!

So I'm convincing myself to enjoy the cold because the days are coming when a 7 minute mile is going to require the effort of a 6 minute mile because it's so HOT.

So, like today and like Sunday, I'm continuing to gut out those 12-15 milers. I need to improve my attitude!

But a post like this just reminds me that while running is fun and I enjoy it very much, it's not always easy. You'll go through rough patches and cases of the "I don't want to"s. But you've got to suck it up and get through that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Long Run Alone

I was hoping to go to Bankhead and scout out the Yellow loop on the Black Warrior 50k course this morning. But I slept until 7:30 instead. Sleep feels good! I decided to just do a long run around Athens to free up time for other things that I have to do today. The weather was surprisingly warmer than I expected. It started cold, but warmed quickly into the upper 30s.

I've been feeling pretty fatigued and yucky for the past week or so. I'm not sure exactly what's wrong, but something isn't quite right. I've been getting sleep, but I'm still tired. I think it's just a little sinus congestion causing earaches. Or maybe I'm just tired of the cold. Who knows, but I've been lethargic to say the least.

The marathon training schedule called for an 18 miler. I was quite surprised when I was feeling great at around mile 4. So I decided that I'd do some quality miles on this run. At mile 16, I was still feeling good, so I decided to stretch it out to 20 miles. At the end, I still felt good, like I could have run more! But I need to save some for this weeks workouts and next weekend's Black Warrior 50k.

20 miles at a 7:45 average pace isn't too bad for a tired old man on a training run with nobody to push or pull him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The plan for today was 10 miles total with 4 miles at LT pace.

You know, I have a pretty good running partner. The high temperature for today was probably sometime before we started running. You just don't look forward to slogging around for an hour and a half when it's 42F and raining. Add an early wake up call, a difficult workout, and mud puddles, and it takes a certain mindset to go through with it. Some call it crazy. Some call it determined. You pick.

Matt showed up at my house at5:15 this morning. It was great to have a partner for today's workout. I would have done it alone... I think. But I'm glad I didn't have to!

We ran over to Athens High completing a 3.6 mile warm up. The walking track was one puddle after another and un-runnable at LT pace, so we opted for the 400m track to do the tempo workout. It just kept raining. Not hard, but raining. Yuck. It was good to see Jeff and Jon there today, too. Misery indeed loves company.

16 laps is almost as bad as a treadmill. Almost.
  1. 6:40
  2. 6:33
  3. 6:21
  4. 6:26
It's really hard not to run faster on the track. I do all my VO2 work there, so my legs got a little ahead of me when the effort got difficult. I worked a little harder than I intended to on those last two miles, but it was still a good workout.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Morning 10 Miler

We had another good turnout for the Sunday morning 10 miler. Lanier, David (a first timer for the runs), Matt, Carl, and I met at the Rec Center to do our usual route. Lanier and David are training for Mercedes next weekend in Birmingham. Before and after the run, we caught a few other Athens runners in the act. Jeff was planning a run in training for the CM half. Jamie and Russ were also there training for the CM Marathon. I also saw Lance after the run. There were lots of folks running in Athens this morning!

It felt colder than I expected throughout the run. It stayed 31F throughout the run with a small north breeze. The nice thing about the course is that it is mostly protected from a north wind. The stretches that are north bound are either uphill or in neighborhoods with some trees or houses to block the wind. When I stopped running, I got cold quickly!

It was a very good run. We were able to run each mile faster than the previous one, starting at 9:01 and finishing at 6:42, with a 7:42 overall average pace. I needed some marathon pace miles since yesterday called for MP miles, but I was on the trail instead.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black Warrior Training Run

Eric Fritz invited me to join him and Eric Charette for a run over in Bankhead National Forest on the Black Warrior 50k course. The race director organizes some training runs over there in the weeks leading up to the race. So, we met up with a few other runners at the Warrior Mountain Trading Post at the intersection of Hwy 33 and Hwy 36 just south of Moulton. Hanging out in the store waiting for other runners reminded me of days past in old country stores. Southern people have a charm and hospitality unmatched anywhere else! It was good to finally meet Dan Burleson and put a face with the name and the blog.

I had only ever run the 25k portion of the course, so it was good to see parts of the course that I haven't seen before. It's possible that I'll return there next week to run the remaining portion of the course that I haven't seen. We ran the blue and the orange loops today. The orange loop is on the 25k course, so it wasn't new to me. But it was good to see it again since it's been almost a year.

There were a couple of creek crossings that were mid-shin deep. I dreaded crossing those. The dread proved warranted! COLD!

I really like these trails. They're a nice change of pace from Monte Sano trails. They are not nearly as rocky, and the rocks aren't slick, even when wet. The elevation change isn't nearly as extreme. And slush mile at its worst has nothing on the constant barrage of shoe-sucking (Eric Fritz literally lost a shoe in the mud and had to look for it!) whitish brown mud on these trails. The scenery on these trails is amazing, too.

I'm pretty excited about the race and I'm hoping I can have a good day that day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yeah, I'm a Little Crazy

During the training for Rocket City Marathon, I really grew to hate the mid-week medium-long runs. They just wore me out. I kept thinking, "You mean I have to be on the road at 5:00 AM AGAIN? What, I have to run 15 miles AGAIN? I start at 5:00 and don't finish until 7:00? Ugh." Really, they beat me up.

Oh how I've missed them! Isn't that crazy?

Today's schedule called for a 12 miler. I almost had trouble sleeping because I was looking forward to the run! Yeah, I've lost my mind. I'm looking a little forward to the gruel of the training schedule! Welcome back mid-week 10+ milers! (Remind me to read this post in about 6 weeks.)

Today I ran a 12 miler, most of which was pre-dawn. Even though it was dark and I was alone, I loved it! It felt great. Bring on more! I ran into Jeff at the track as he finished his run and chatted with him for a bit. It was good to see several folks out running and walking today. I ran at a good, strong pace and my heart rate stayed in good range. The weather was actually above freezing! Good day for a run! :)