Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Clinton Lake 30m

I came into the Clinton Lake race hoping it would prepare me for the 100 miler at McNaughton Park (Potawatomi Trail) in 2 weeks as I had done the last 3 years. I think it went well, all things considered.

One thing which bothered me the week leading up to the race was the return of some symptoms of SOD (sphincter of oddi dysfunction) which I had corrective surgery for last summer. I guess if it's not one thing, it's another -- just add it to the list. I have an appointment with yet another Gastroenterologist to see what's going on. It was a very big concern as I arrived at the race start -- ready to call it off if I needed to, but fortunately felt well enough to run and it did not present a problem all day.

Race morning was cold (27 degrees) & blustery (20 mph winds with gusts) and in the open parking lot, it felt alot colder. I believe it's the first time I've worn 3 layers to keep from shivering at the start of a race. Going over the lake for the 1st time, the wind blew straight down the lake (caps on the waves) -- the gusts were strong enough that I kept on the upwind side of the bridge so I wouldn't get blown off!

I didn't know how I would feel on race day, so I had not decided on an opening pace or race goal. Being so cold the 1st mile, I started alot quicker than I usually do, but felt I wasn't overdoing it. It was not till a couple miles later that I started peeling off the layers -- I had broke out into a good sweat & everything was sticking to me. As cold as it was, that meant I was probably going out too fast, but still, I felt comfortable with the "quick" early pace. Continuing past the 1st aid station, I thought, I sure am feeling good -- what a nice day to be out on the trails -- wish I felt like this every race & for an entire day!

I finished up the 1st 10 mile loop in about 1:50, an 11 mpm average. I was on pace to match my PR of a sub 6 hour finish and felt everything was going great. Of course, the good feelings would not last and for me it was quite abrupt at mile 19. Not sure if it was something I consumed at the last aid station or I had flat exhausted all I had. The last 10 mile loop was as difficult as the 1st loop was easy. Finish time (6:15:58) was a little slower than last year, but was not my worst time for the course. I guess I could have paced myself better, but still I'm happy with my run.

Didn't do too much socializing this day due to the weather conditions, but still got a few words in with Mike Ward, Jennifer Leslie, Ellen Erhardt (Congrats again!), Bill Dey & Kathy Siculan. Some notable faces not present this year: Jeff, Chris & Gregg!

At the moment, I'm still hoping to attempt the Potawatomi Trail race in a couple weeks. I'm going to have to take this day by day as to how it will actually unfold.

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Land Between the Lakes 50m

My goal for LBL was to make the cutoff at the end of the 3rd loop and then hang on to finish. I was just able to do that. You know you're pretty slow when you get lapped 1 1/2 laps into a 4 lap race. Zach Gingerich (winner of 2010 Umstead 100 in a record 13:23:02) and Troy Shellhamer (winner of 2011 LLTH) cruised past me as though I was standing still. Congrats Troy! I was DFL on the last lap until the gal in front of me took a bathroom break - time 11:15:13, 48th of 49. Still, based on my training (or lack thereof), I'm happy with the effort & feel I'm on track for my goal of finishing Massanutten 100 in May -- still a long ways to go though.

About the race itself:

It was a nice day weather & trail wise. I got my first tanning of the year with the bright sun on my head & back. Although I would have preferred it 20 degrees or more cooler, there was a nice breeze off the lakes. Trails were in good shape despite recent rain in the area.

Lots of familiar faces this day -- got a word or two in with: Steve D., John D., Mike H., Mike M., Mike W., Bob E., Alvin E., Dave B., Brad A., Logan S., Eric S., Rich S., Brian K.,Troy S., and Juli & Val A. Also, Naresh introduced himself -- he had run on the pointed rocks of Mountain Mist 50k with minimalist shoes in January & had remembered me for some reason (probably because I was shirtless).

As always, LBL is a very organized event & enjoyable to run every year (7 in a row now). Multiple distances, traffic, chip timing & numerous other things RDs must manage here -- THANKS Steve & John! Also, many THANKS to super volunteer Mike Howard, who helped motivate me each lap & many THANKS to Jeff Riddle -- my own "cheerleader" on the course -- these guys mean alot when the going gets tough!

Next up is Clinton Lake 30m (yeah, the race right next to the nuclear plant). I was shut out back in January, but Bob O'Brien just recently moved me off the wait list. One thing about running this every year is that it helps gauge my level of fitness, plus this race has helped prepare me for the McNaughton 100 which follows 2 weeks later. I feel that repeating 10 mile loops & encountering somewhat similar type trails & hills is the best training that I can get for McNaughton.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

coping & moving forward (slowly)

When I started this blog, I wrote at the top: "I’ve set up this blog to help keep focus on training . . .". So, I've decided to keep to that line of thought and not go into details of my recent life issues here, even though one may ultimately end my running (and other things). Enough said!

I was not in the mood to write a report on Mountain Mist 50k (Jan 22) due to the circumstances at the time, so here's a short version about what I can remember now:

I came into Mountain Mist 50k in Huntsville, Alabama having not run but twice since my foot surgery in mid December. My foot did OK during the race & it was obvious that I had lost alot (as expected) since I had taken off for so long & did absolutely nothing during recovery. Although my time was poor, I enjoyed myself all day.

The first 17+ miles of this course seems flat or downhill most of the way & very fast. The rest is completely different - technical & tough hills. Fell several times (nothing serious) among the rocks thru here, mostly from not picking up the feet. Other things I will remember about this race: icy & closed roads (does Huntsville have salt trucks?), icy trails that turned muddy, lots of aid station help, no drop bags, very crowded start (300 runners) & backed up for several miles, hot & fresh pizza for late finishers too, nice finishers slate tile.

Also, here's a report, mostly about the mixup at Louisville's Lovin' The Hills (LLTH) last month:

With Cynthia's (RD) father critically ill all week leading up to the race, I tried to do whatever I could to help out. Usually I like to rest up & keep off the feet the days leading up to a race, but I ended up hiking the course -- marking & re-marking trails & putting up signs. Since we had the 1st case of someone taking down course markings, I delayed putting up signs till Friday evening & early race morning. At the end of the day Friday, I was pretty tired. I slept good, but paid for using up my legs the next day. It was a similar case a couple years ago when I volunteered to clear trails from an ice storm just before the race.

Todd Heady:

Todd took over the RD duties & everything seemed to be going smoothly race morning. The NWS & 3 weathermen had predicted a low of 26 & a high of 42 -- I figured most of the course would stay frozen, at least in the shade all day. Of course, the temperature predictions were wrong . . . I woke up to 30 degrees & the high was 49 degrees! Which meant alot of the course would thaw out & get pretty muddy by mid-afternoon & it was certainly that.

Ran into alot of familiar faces & it was great to get to talk to everyone race morning! As for my race, I knew adrenaline would carry me the 1st part, but after that, there wasn't going to be any energy reserves this day. I was upbeat on the frozen trail in the scenic snow covered forest till I came to the 50k/15m junction at mile 7. There was Todd! He said the volunteer had not showed up & that before he got there, 16 people had taken the wrong turn & skipped most of the 2nd leg (Yost) & headed out on the 3rd leg. That really flustered me.

I had helped design the course & had stressed how important this junction was -- saying this was the one spot on the entire course that needed someone to be there. I know things happen, but still I couldn't get my mind off it the entire day. I had put up the signs on the course except at this junction & Scott's Gap. Although I did get to check the signs at Scott's Gap the day before, I did not check the signs at the junction as I knew someone would be there race day . . . . Todd had taken care of these -- still I can't understand how the runners took the wrong turn if the signs were up?

Now I was mentally out of it along with my legs starting to tire badly. With the course turning very muddy late in the day, it was a tough battle, but I finished -- time wise a personal worst for the course by far.

Looking forward to improving on the race preparation next year.


Next up is the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 50 miler. With my inconsistent/nonexistent training & recent weight gain, the most difficult part of the race is going to be making the cutoff at the end of the 3rd loop. I'll have to average about 13 minutes per mile for the first 36 miles (at LLTH 50k I only managed 16 minutes/mile). The most critical factor for me at LBL has always been: getting the early pace right. With the 1st 1.7 miles on the road & several hundred runners packing the single track early, the start has been the deciding factor in all my finishes.