Tuesday, December 18, 2012

at Otter Creek Park

The Otter Creek Marathon, south of Louisville near Brandenburg, is a flatter course than the Tecumseh Marathon with only one hill (repeated 3 times) of any consequence.  Several years ago Otter Creek followed Tecumseh by one week & I did both for 5 years (2004-2008).  I didn't have much recovery time, but since the Otter Creek course was easier, I was pretty much able to run both with very similar times the last 3 years.  Although a 2 week gap this year, it would still be a good check to see if my fast early pace at Tecumseh really did do me in that race.

With early pace a priority, I made it a point to take it easy from the very start.  About 240 runners, mostly 8m & 16m runners, would enter the single track only a quarter mile from the starting line.  I started near the back & runners got cued up several times the 1st 4 to 5 miles, which I expected.  Temps were in the 40's & 50's - OK.  It started to rain soon after the start & that made some runners really slow down (in slick areas) and I passed more people than I was planning on the 1st 8.5 mile loop.  The rain would continue & the course would steadily deteriorate as the day went on.  Places where the Forest Service had removed leaves for safety actually made it more dangerous.  I slipped down twice, but no "falls" this day.   

The view at the overlook along the Ohio River is always fantastic!  Years ago there WAS an overlook along the creek too, but the Forest Service removed that challenging rocky climb & descent & replaced it with a somewhat boring, back & forth trail away from the scenic creek and in a flat area.  Unfortunately, that same trail manager packed his bags a few years ago & moved to the Jefferson Memorial Forest & is now doing the same deal here with the Louisville's Lovin' The Hills (LLTH) course -- and that is removing challenging trails & replacing them with multi-purpose, family friendly trails -- how sad.

Besides being a fun race, one of the things I enjoy most about Otter Creek is that I can stay local & see friends & meet other trail runners from the Louisville area.  Long distance trail races & runners are fairly rare in Kentucky in comparison to other surrounding states.  It was great to see so many familiar faces & see such a good turnout for this event.

I was able to keep an even pace for about 17 miles (1st 2 laps).  I was feeling I could easily finish in between 5 hours & 5 1/2 hours, but my legs were beginning to give in.  Although the rain had stopped, the course conditions were by far the worst on that final lap.  Those who were done early (8 milers, 16 milers & the winner who lapped me) didn't get to enjoy the best of the mud!  Not all the course was muddy & I've encountered much, much more difficult conditions . . . still it felt like I was carrying leg weights with the caked on mud & it took its toll near the end.

I was able to better my time from Tecumseh, so I can say now that too fast of an early pace was a big negative there as I had thought.  Had the Otter Creek course not been so sloppy, it's possible I could have taken 10 more minutes off.

As to my gut, well it cooperated & was not a big factor, and for reasons why, I don't know.  The night before each race was terrible, as usual, but each race day was completely different.  Maybe it was the slower early pace, maybe because I didn't have to drive far, maybe it's all in my head (as the Drs. think) or maybe . . . 


 next up:

I was thinking about running my 1st HUFF 50k next week, but right now I believe I will run the new LLTH 50k course on my own about that time.  I have laid out a new course for the event since the Forest Service removed the hilliest portion of this challenging course -- several miles of narrow single track (including 7 hills and probably 1000 feet of elevation gain) have been replaced with a smooth, multi-purpose, ATV wide, handicap accessible (flat) dirt trail.  Overall, it's still a hilly course & it should be a long, fun run.

Friday, December 7, 2012

3 race reports in one

First of all, on the health front: 

Still battling the abdominal pain, mostly at nights at the present time.  In the last couple months it's felt more like a musculoskeletal issue (the connective tendons underneath the xiphoid process) than a gastric one.  That was until I ran the Tecumseh Marathon just this last weekend when it felt like pancreatitus.  At night, I've found that lying on my left side during an attack helps relieve the severe pain.  Ibuprofen also helps but does not stop the attacks.  Going to see a "Rehab" Dr. (the closest thing to a musculoskeletal specialist around here) next month.

Been negligent in posting race reports over the last month or so . . . got so beat up at Pinhoti that I just wasn't into it.  These are the 3 events I entered since my last post:

Nov 3 Pinhoti 100m -- a rough day

Coming into this race, I was feeling pretty confident on improving on my previous 2 DNFs here at around 100k.  However,  I couldn't even match the mileage of either of those efforts.  In fact, my race was essentially over at 28 miles.  There were 3 major factors (my excuses!) entering into this DNF:

First, my belly was hurting more than usual before the race & was made worse by the very rough bus ride to the start.  I've never started a race hurting this much before.  My belly was protesting, but it was tolerable while running (for the most part).  At the end of the day, I would be heaving up everything.

Second, I had a brutal fall before the aid station at mile 28.  Although the trails were pretty much clear of leaves, in contrast to previous years, my foot found a 2" tree stub leaning in from the sloped side of a trail where I thought I had smooth downhill sailing.  It caught me totally off guard.  Catching the side of my shoe (it felt like I ripped open the entire side), I went down awkwardly as I attempted to go into a roll, but didn't make it.  I landed heavily on my right side, with my arm, shoulder & ribs taking a hard blow.  Initially, it felt like I hurt my arm the worst, but as the day wore on, it would feel like I had cracked a rib. (It would take 5 weeks for full recovery from this.)

Third, after enduring below normal temps in the 30's and 40's in Louisville all week, not including the steady winds from Hurricane Sandy adding a below freezing windchill, the afternoon temps at the race would reach the low EIGHTIES!!   The temps were even above normal for that part of Alabama.  It wasn't like the dog days of summer, but it was hot nonetheless -- I'm already heat intolerant in the first place.  Before noon I was showing symptoms of heat exhaustion.   Feeling faint even after they sat me down in the shade at the aid station, I was literally cooked.  I didn't do anymore running after that.  I conceded that I would not finish the race & focused on trying to enjoy myself until I couldn't make the cutoffs.  I did manage to walk and slog into the wee hours of the next morning when everything caught up to me & it was no longer fun whatsoever.

A couple other notes:

Due to the hot weather, several aid stations were unprepared to handle the onslaught of thirsty runners.  I was waiting several minutes (felt longer) at each, but got in a good rest though.  I would recommend having filled pitchers as they work well especially when many runners come into the aid station at once & also help when there's someone wanting to fill their hydration pack.

Coming off Mt. Cheaha, it's a hand climb down "Blue Hell" thru the boulder sized rocks.  I happened to jam a splinter up my nail on my index finger (ouch!).  Bright red blood dripped off the end of my finger like a leaky water faucet.  Besides hurting, it made it very inconvenient as I use my right index finger for everything.  The pain lasted several more days as I tried to dig out all of the splinter from the infected fingernail with my left hand.

Nov 17 Duncan Ridge 50k -- a good day

When I was at the Cumberland Trail race in October, I heard about this event which was billed as Georgia's toughest 50k.  It promised lots of hills & single track -- which I love.  It also fell in a convenient time slot as I wanted to get Pinhoti off my mind.  One rib on my right side was still hurting from the fall at Pinhoti, but I could tolerate it (only hurt bad if I took a real deep breath).  Temps (30's to 50's) were going to be a positive factor, so I eagerly awaited this new venue.

The Not Yo Momma's course that I ran earlier this year was the hilliest (270 feet of elevation gain per mile) I had ever encountered until this one (310 feet/mile).  The hills were not as steep (except one) and were much longer.  I was able to get in a rhythm with a regular run/walk cycle and I felt real good (gut included) for almost all of the race.

Trails were in great condition ---hardly any leaves & dry (mostly ridgetop running).  Of all the runs I've had in the Appalachians, this was the least technical trail, which was surprising considering the major elevation changes.  There was one section of ridgetop running where you could see at least 40 miles even thru the haze.  This view wasn't just at an overlook and was visible for quite a while -- very impressive & the highlight of the run.

After enduring the oppressive heat at Pinhoti, the temps were a joy!  Starting near 30 degrees, the temps reached the mid fifties.  I guess being in Georgia, I got more stares than usual (especially in the park) going shirtless, but I felt great & energized with the cool air.  My time was not impressive, yet I won my age group (55+) and I had alot of fun -- this will probably be on my list next year.

Dec 1 Tecumseh Trail Marathon -- a disappointment

Of my last 3 races, this ended up being a big disappointment & I can put most of the blame on myself.  The last half of this race was a real struggle & not fun.

Taking on a marathon after running ultras has always been a challenge to me pace-wise.  I never seem to get the early pace right.  With hundreds of runners, it's very easy to get caught up into the fast early pace, especially when the 1st 3 miles of the course are flat, as it is with Tecumseh.  My best times on this course have been when I forced myself to make it feel like I could hardly go any slower, then nearly match my time for the 2nd half of the race.  I guess I was overconfident that I was in better shape than I was & didn't hold back this year.  Also my gut had not hurt this bad since I ran this race last year -- last year I pretty much had to walk the last half & that pain ended my running for a couple months afterwards.

With only 110 feet/mile elevation gain, this course has very long flat stretches compared to the other races I had been recently running.  I wasn't use to running nearly non-stop -- I did not get into a run/walk rhythm.  Once squeezed down to the single track with hundreds of other runners, I was pretty much stuck into the same pace as everyone else early in the race.  Seems like after 9 years of running this race I would learn where to place myself entering the single track -- apparently not.

Trail conditions were excellent.  There were several trail improvements & recent trail work was evident all along the course.  Temps were warmer than usual -- runners were peeling off clothes all thruout the race.

The bus ride to the start always seems eventful here & this year it wasn't any different.  I watched as a bus driver cut a turn & clipped a car in the parking lot.  2 buses broke down before reaching the runners.  I took the last bus & since it arrived at the pickup over an hour late, took a shortcut using the backroads to the start.  I got motion sickness on the windy roads, but it disappeared 5 minutes after we stopped & was not a factor in my race.

Next up is the Otter Creek Marathon, a trail race a short drive from my house put on by HeadFirst Performance, who also direct Louisville's Lovin' The Hills.  The first time I missed this race was last year as I was still hurting from Tecumseh.  3 loops of 8+ miles -- I hope the gut cooperates & I can pace myself better . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TT 50k

 After gaining some confidence in my last race at the Cumberland Trail 50k, I decided to switch from one of my favorite races, Stone Steps 50k in Cincinnati on Oct 28, to the Pinhoti 100m on Nov 3 in Alabama.  In my previous 2 attempts at Pinhoti (in 2008 & 2009), my back shut me down & I only finished 60-65 miles each try.  I haven't had much trouble with my back since (knock on wood), so my biggest concern now is my gut.  With this change in plans, I also opted to run the Turbo Turtle 50k (TT 50k) this past weekend since that would give me 2 weeks rest afterwards, as opposed to 6 days rest with Stone Steps, before Pinhoti.

TT 50k was organized by Ben Lauer and Lil' J and I found out about this FA event thru the Indiana Trail Running website.  The course would be an out'n back on a section of the Tecumseh Trail, a loop of the Low Gap Trail and a loop of the Three Lakes Trail -- all in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest near Martinsville, IN.  The RD's did a great job with this event. 


Bypassing the short road section, the course starts with the same 1st 7 1/2 miles of the Tecumseh Marathon held in December each year.   This course was a major change from my last 2 events -- smooth footing with very little technical trail here.  There were a few leaves on the trails, but they weren't hiding ankle-turning rocks.  So I was able to "open it up" and ran just about as fast as I could (for about half the 50k, that is).  It was quite different from having 5 or 6 hundred other runners (Tecumseh Marathon) jostling for position, bottlenecked at the single track entrance or cued 5 minutes at the 1st stream crossing. 

Starting much quicker than my usual pace, I figured this would be my "speed work" (1st of the year!).  I also planned that when my legs gave out (& they did so badly about halfway), I would practice my "survival" pace -- a pace I'm sure I'll use again at Pinhoti.   It was the 1st time my legs have been pushed like that in over 2 years, so this was a good workout for me.  I was pretty tired at the end of this run as finishing 2 50k's in 2 weeks was a big step up in my training.

a few other notes:

There were 2 work crews on the trails during the race:  volunteers were building a new bridge on the Tecumseh Trail (I noticed 2 other new structures in the 1st 7 miles) and volunteers were correcting drainage on the Low Gap Trail.   There was also an ultra-hike group (w/bibs) on Tecumseh and lots & lots of hikers enjoying the beautiful scenery thruout.

photo courtesy of Charles Moman:

There were flags or ribbons at most junctions and the only other markings were the trail blazes.  Several runners (including myself) ended up getting off course.  3 runners even ran the sections in a different order.  I turned the wrong way at one junction & got in some extra running before finding a dead end (could have been a very long day).

There was 1 aid station at mile 15 & everyone would pass their car at mile 21.   Even though I did experience some gut discomfort starting midway thru the race, I couldn't resist the egg/cheese croissants & brownies (both a first for me).  I somehow survived that digression & even slept better than usual the night after -- I think only because I was so exhausted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Still experimenting with everything I do (mostly with the diet) and my gut has been feeling better -- most noticeably during the day.   A big improvement? - yes, I'll take it even though it may only be temporary.  Nights are still 1 or 2 hour segments of sleep before being abruptly awakened by pain.  By the time I need to get up, I'm more than ready to get out of bed.                     


Last weekend I traveled down I-75 to Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, TN to run the Cumberland Trail 50k.   A 3 1/2 hour drive, but didn't seem that long since I was really enjoying the Fall colors all the way there.  The RD is Susan Donnelly, an easy going, veteran ultra runner and sometimes participant in the Louisville's Lovin' the Hills event here in Louisville -- so I was happy to participate in her event (4th annual).  I was really looking forward to running on new trails.  The forecast was spot on (rare) and the weather would be a positive factor too:  45 degrees (nice shirtless temp) & no wind at the start.

 RD Susan Donnelly (2nd from the left):       

the details

Going from a 100k to a 50k, I was concerned pace wise that I would be stuck in a slower gear.  Well, no worry.  This course ended up dictating my pace from the word go:

Starting in the park, the first couple miles were flat & fast & I just tried to keep everyone else within sight.  The next 3.5 miles was a 1900' climb up Cross Mountain.  Had I not experienced the steep hills of the NotYoMomma's course 2 weeks earlier, I would have thought this climb was pretty steep.  It was really just slow going (19 minute miles) up a steady incline that was on a narrow, technical path.  It was single file hiking at this point & no one was passing for over an hour unless someone stepped off the trail.  I used a handheld since the first few miles of the race were in the dark, but wished I had used a headlamp so I would have a hand free to help steady myself maneuvering the slick rocky areas.

After coming down the other side of Cross Mountain, the course sort of meandered up, down and around some much smaller hills.  There would be one more long hill with a 1200' climb before the turnaround.   I found myself with 2 others (Jennifer & Chris) running the single track for the next 7 miles after Cross Mtn.  We all approached the course differently, but pretty much kept together:   Jennifer was a very determined runner who would run up the hills that I hiked, but I would catch or pass her when she slowed down (sometimes to a standstill) where there were slick rocks.  Chris kept behind us & patiently kept his distance thruout.  At one blowdown, I somehow got turned around & was running the course in the wrong direction!  Thankfully I wasn't running alone & ran into Jennifer soon afterwards.  I felt sure I was on new trail, but just then I looked & saw a flag on the "wrong" side of the trail on this out'n back course . . .


toughest part

For the 1st time in a very long time, my gut was not a factor with my effort (I can only cross my fingers now), so after a while it wasn't my biggest worry.  This time of year the colors are beautiful, but it brings new fallen leaves & they were hiding the rocks beneath.  I ended up tripping several times & turning both ankles, not seriously, making them sore.  There were times I wanted to pick up the pace, but the fear of going down kept me in check.  Keeping mentally focused on every step was pretty tough.

favorite part

If I wanted to enjoy the scenery more, I just had to stop.   My favorite place was down in a deep hollow where the morning light almost turned to darkness & the temps dropped.  There were big, tall hemlocks & a creek crossing with a narrow, 25' long walk bridge (2 extra long railroad ties) that bowed with my weight.  Nice.

gravel road

There are several miles of gravel road near the turnaround, where there was a small, but scenic plateau.  It always seems like I go into slow motion when going from trail to gravel road & it was no different this time.  Jennifer & Chris flat left me in the dust at this point.  Yet looking back at my splits, that was by far the fastest 4 mile segment of my race.

 Cove Lake & Cross Mtn:

the finish

Talking about splits, I was under 15 minutes/mile pace for the race by the time I reached the top of Cross Mountain on the return trip.  But coming back down the 3.5 miles of technical single track at that pace was not going to be possible.  Despite feeling good, the best I could do was just a little faster than the pace going up -- around 17 minutes/mile -- having a faceplant on the rocks was not an option.  Reaching flat ground near the park, I finished well & was able to keep under the 15 mpm pace for the race.  I'm pretty happy about how things turned out, especially with my gut.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

still running

I'm still having problems with my gut, yet mentally I'm hanging in there & my legs still feel like running.  If the Drs. knew how much I was running, they would say:  "There's nothing wrong with you!"  Actually, I believe everyone one of them thought I was just a hypochondriac.  They ran all their standard tests, but none ventured "outside the box" as I wish just one would have.  As much as I don't like it, it's up to me to figure out what's wrong with me.  My biggest problem with that has been that the onset of severe pain has no real pattern nor does it clearly tell me:  yes, it's my stomach, or yes, it's my pancreas, or whatever.  So I experiment mostly with my diet as it's the one thing that I can control, even though it may have nothing to do with it.

For my 100k attempt in Chillicothe, OH, after the 100k DNF at Woodstock, I experimented with several new ideas.  I'm not sure which was a factor, if at all, since I tried so many different things.   I'm also going to try most, but not all of the same things in my next race:  Cumberland Trail 50k in Tennessee this weekend.  A 100k & 50k are really 2 different animals, so not sure I'm going to learn exactly what I'm looking for.

A little late, but here's my Not Yo Momma's 100k (Sep 29-30) race report:


If you love hills & single track, this event is for you.  Many hills & almost all of the course is nice single track -- no gravel roads, 3% asphalt and maybe a few hundred feet of old forest roads.  Four loops of 16 miles for 100k.  The hundred milers ran a tough 4 mile loop at the start, then 6 loops of 16 miles.  A 75k, 50k & 25k were also offered.

For the 1st 4 miles my pace averaged 18:40/mile!  The 1st word that comes to my mind for this race is "STEEP" (my 1st word for some other races:  Mohican - HOT, McNaughton - MUD, Owen-Putman - HORSES, Tecumseh - CROWDED, Grindstone - SLEEP).   Since this was the inaugural running, I think most everyone (myself included) was surprised at the steepness of the hills.   I've been on steeper hills (hand climbs), but never this steep for such extended periods.

There were straight up hills, but there were also gradual hills.  I like to call a "smokin'" hill one that's just steep enough that you could easily run at full speed downhill and not fall on your face.  There's one on this course where the downhill is at least a mile long, not technical and the only places that you need to slow down are at the sharp switchbacks.  Even if your legs are shot, this type hill sort of "pulls you down" & makes you at least start into a trot.  Well, on the 2nd loop of 16 miles, at around 29 miles, I came down this particular hill and halfway down I caught a second wind!  It's a rare thing for me, but when it does happen, it's like magic -- legs feel fresh & it feels like I could fly.  Those next 12 miles were perhaps my most enjoyable in several years in a race.  That made my day, whether I finished or not.  In fact, I felt so good I thought:  why didn't I sign up for the 100 miler (offered at the same price)? 

the short cut guy:

My second wind came to an abrupt end around mile 41. It was initiated by a runner who I thought I was "competitively" keeping ahead of, but later realized he had planned to cut the course when there was some separation between us.  I had widened the gap between us to about 2 minutes (after he had caught me at an aid station).  I was feeling great & getting into my 2nd wind & I wasn't planning on anyone passing me when I felt that way (surprisingly, only 6 runners passed me after the 2nd mile of this race despite how slowly I was running -- 5 were 100 milers who had made up the 4 mile extra loop at the start).

Anyway, cruising down the trail floating on air, I caught a glimpse of red way out in front coming from the right.  If this guy wasn't wearing bright red, I would have never noticed him one way or the other (I wish I had not seen him). When I got to where he cut in, I realized what had happened.  I blame myself then for trying to catch up to him (why? to look him in the eye? duh!).  Anyway, after a short chase (stupid!), I gave up realizing there was no way he was going to let me catch him & I found myself totally exhausted from the effort.  The next couple miles were the toughest of the day.  I didn't get back "into" the run until I finished the 3rd lap & told the RD what had happened.  I felt a little better after that & was able to trudge thru the last 16 miles.


gut feeling:

My gut pain was tolerable, for the most part, the entire race.  Maybe it was the very regular run/walk cycles with the hills.  Maybe it was the special pre-race diet.  Maybe it was the new acid reducing pills I took.   More likely though, I just had a good day -- this pain is so irregular & unpredictable day to day.

I took in gels only (w/water, Gatorade & Heed) the entire race -- that was another experiment I tried.  Just as I thought, I got sick of the gels after a while.  One volunteer saved my race by letting me have some Gas-X.  She said it was good for queasiness regardless if I had gas or not & it sure helped.  Gas-X will now be a standard drop bag item.

other notes:

I found a campsite that bordered the trail & only 200' from the start/finish.  Unless you stayed at a campsite, you were supposed to park a half mile away at the public parking area.  Having access to my car each lap was nice.  Also, it saved me from walking that half mile at the end of the race.

Since the race started at 5:30 a.m., I ended up running 6 or 7 hours in the dark -- and under a full moon.  There sure were some neat, but sometimes eerie shadows!

The forecast 12 hours before race start said a low of 45 degrees.  I was prepared for that in my tent,  and also brought a long sleeve shirt & gloves for the race just in case, but it was only 55 at the start (how can a last minute forecast be so off?).  However, temps thruout the day were great.  I wasn't going fast enough to generate much heat, but what I did sweat quickly evaporated with the cool breeze.  All but the 1/2 mile of road each lap was under a thick canopy of trees.

Saw numerous "tame" deer, reminding me of McNaughton Park.  Also met one whiney & disgruntled bow hunter (I was glad he was disappointed).

Race Director, Rob Carroll, should be commended for the great job, especially since he was directing his first event.   It makes my head spin to think of all the responsibilities & everything that he did in pulling off such a multi-faceted event successfully on the 1st try.


Only THREE (3) out of the 23 starters finished the 100 miles, winning time -- 24:44 (17 or so of those 20 DNFs called it quits at or just after 3.25 laps, 52 miles!).  11 finishers out of 11 starters for the 100k.  Happy to see that the 100 miler short cut guy did not even finish 4 laps.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

time to retire?

It's been a week, but I'm just now getting over my race last weekend.

I attempted the LSD 100k at Woodstock and it was like a mirror image of my DNF last year.  Once again by 25 miles (1.5 laps), the abdominal pain had gotten bad enough to call it a day.  Although I stubbornly continued this time for another lap -- at a reduced pace & with alot less fun (more pain) -- I was still short of the 3.75 laps needed to finish.  It was during this last lap that the thought of retiring from running ultras kept going thru my mind . . .  how can I continue to try to run them when I'm having so much pain day to day when I'm not running?  In fact, why am I running at all?  Well, I had my "race recovery run" yesterday & it reaffirmed my love of trail running & I'm going to continue to do so as long as I am able.  Last winter, during my prime running season, I reluctantly did not run for 6 weeks.  It was very tough mentally & the abdominal pain seemed to increase.  That experiment did not work & I'm not going to try that again unless I have no other choice.  So I'm going to continue running till it is no longer enjoyable, and this will dictate how far I run also . . .

Some notes about the course & weather:

The course description for the 100k on the website was (& is still) not correct.  The course was changed from last year and apparently I (& several other runners) missed any prerace corrections/announcements.  Although I was running on the old course (longer loops), it didn't matter in the outcome of the race for those who didn't finish.

The 1st 13 miles or so of each long loop is fairly flat & I would consider this to be one of the fastest courses I've run on, 2nd only to LBL (Land Between the Lakes).  In the last few miles of each loop, there's a couple hills.  They wouldn't be tough in any other race, but after running for a few hours on flat ground, they become a challenge.  If you're looking to do a PR, this would be a course to consider.

It was incredibly dry at the 4 pm start (where was that 100% chance of rain that was supposed to start 2 hours prior to the race??).  I started at the back of the pack & at the entrance to the trail, there was a cloud of dust billowing into the air like a cattle stampede had passed.  I came to a stop.  I did not want to breathe all that into my lungs.  Once most everyone was out of sight, I noticed there was another major change in the course from last year:  sand bars.  It was like running on a beach in many places.  I avoided them the best I could as it felt like they sapped as much energy as deep mud.

What the course needed was some rain, maybe a half inch or so to let the dust & sand bars get packed down.  Finally, about 9 pm, we got a pretty good shower.  The course became hard & fast.  It also helped cool me down somewhat as I had been sweating quite a bit since the start.  I was really waiting for the sub 60 degree temps (never made it).  Also during this 1st shower, I noticed my headlamp was not its usual brightness.  This was a headlamp that I would have highly recommended to anyone due to the intense output, lightness & the ability to last almost all night.  I also noticed that the battery pack (at the back of my head) was hot (no wonder I kept sweating!).  Had I put the batteries in wrong?  I later discovered that water apparently got into the battery chamber as there was corrosion at 2 of the battery terminals & 2 of the 3 batteries were completely dead.  Of course, I also had my backup hand held that worked all night.

The shower lasted an hour or so & I thought, is that all there is?  I was still sweating & I felt running thru rain was enjoyable & a major reason for continuing the race.  The rain did return -- and returned with force.  It rained for the next 6 hours straight.  A steady light rain with spurts of heavier rain.  A deep, to the bone saturating rain -- one that will do me for a while . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

off to Woodstock

Last year I tried RUN WOODSTOCK in Pinckney, MI, but dropped at 25 miles after abdominal problems (sound familiar?).  I'm having more problems now than last year, yet I'm determined to go back & try again.  IF I can make it to the starting line, I believe I should be able to endure the pain better (more experience) this year.  My goals are to finish & to have fun (as long as I can).

I think the biggest reason I like this race is because it's at night.  No heat to worry about, no horseflies and it's alot of fun (to me) running in the dark.  Last year it was 10 degrees above normal w/rain off & on -- the air was pretty sticky.  So far the forecast has changed almost daily and as of today is leaning heavily towards rain (70% chance).  However, the forecast has been consistent in that the temps will be close to normal this time:  start in the mid 70's & going down to the mid 50's.  I can hardly wait to run in that cool air!  If it rains, I could even get cold & have to wear a shirt . . .

Back on the health front:  visited my integrative Dr. last week for a followup on all the tests from the previous month's blood draw.  He explained all the results, including the ones on nutrient testing that I had not seen.  My vitamin levels were excellent with only one that was borderline low:  Pantothenate -- so now I'm taking another supplement.  I had trace amounts of lead, mercury & arsenic in my blood, but that was unsatisfactory to him (should be zero - add another supplement!).  Amino acids & metabolites were OK.  My antioxidant levels were excellent.  Overall he said the results looked "pretty good".   He also said I should try to follow his diet recommendations closer, keep on the supplements & come back NEXT YEAR.  So right now, it's up to me once again to try to figure out what's going on with my gut.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

year of the horsefly, again

Seems like I say it every year: this is the worst year for horseflies here in the Jefferson Memorial Forest. I went running this morning & despite being soaked in deet, I was bit 4 times. And they weren't the usual size horseflies of years past -- these were real small ones, 1/2" or less in size (the ones that you can hardly feel land on you & find out too late). The big ones of the previous 2 years were so thick around here that at one time they would literally cover my car & house -- I would go out & swat them till I got tired of it & saw that there was no end in sight. But not this year. Another thing different this year is that the horsefly season started late due to a cool early summer -- they really didn't come out till July this year (but made up for lost time). And, strangely, about a month ago, there was a mass die off for some reason. I must have had 200 dead horseflies on my deck in a 40 square foot area. I did put up a new clear glass fence/railing around the deck this year, but usually horseflies bounce off glass & keep going, so it makes me wonder.

This is a pic I took today of one of the big flies that will bug you here . . . it looks like a cross between a horsefly & a dragonfly, or perhaps it's just a 2 wing dragonfly. They're over an inch long & as noisy as the big horseflies. I've never been bit by one or know whether it even bites -- I just don't let it stay lit on me long enough to find out:

About my run: I had not run for a few days because of my gut, but feeling better this morning, I went out & tried to do a 4 hour run. It was not an enjoyable time as I have had recently. The 60's the last couple of weeks must have spoiled me. I started my run before sunrise, temp about 70 & dewpoint in the low to mid 60's (this would have been super last month). Anyway, I felt very hot & my shorts were soaked after 1 mile. I got thirsty as I had misjudged my fluid needs & had not carried & stashed enough drinks. The horseflies were driving me crazy. What I should have covered in 4 hrs, took about 5, all consisting of very slow running & walking. My fluids: 20 oz right at the start, 80 oz during the run/walk and 60+ oz right after I finished. Even after drinking the half gallon immediately after the run, I was still at a deficit: I weighed 5 1/2 pounds less than when I started!

I was so optimistic in my last post saying I wanted to run 2 ultras next month . . . . I'm having 2nd thoughts now. Even though I would have to stay at a motel the night before these 2 races, it would still have to be a race morning decision whether I can start or not.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

turning over a new leaf (to drink)

It's been a month since my last post, an improvement over the 6 month gap last time . . . .

my new Dr:

I had the first visit with my new Dr. specializing in integrative medicine at the end of last month. He seemed to have the belief that everything can be cured with the right herb, vitamin or other supplement! He sold all the supplements that he recommended right at the office -- the fact that he had direct financial interest made me suspicious of his true intent. However, as desperate as I am, I'm taking his supplements & attempting to wean myself off the foods he said I should avoid: wheat/gluten products, rice, sugar, dairy products & diet drinks. Keeping away from gluten is very difficult (most processed food has it in it) & I haven't found a replacement for ranch dressing & cheese on my salads yet.

I also had several vials of blood taken for food allergen testing even though I don't even know if the pain I'm having is food related. The results a few weeks later showed my blood reacted to dairy products as he suspected. What was unexpected was the very high reaction to certain NUTS. I always thought nuts were a healthy snack (almonds are my favorite). It turns out almonds were the most reactive food on the entire 200 item list. In fact, they were off the charts (a high reading is 414, mine was 2234). However, I've never experienced pain or a reaction after eating almonds so I'm having doubts with all the results. Next with high readings came cashews & pistachios, then the cheeses came in the moderate to high range.

a new leaf - tea:

Another thing which my new Dr. felt strongly about was for me to drink 1/2 gallon of green tea a day, with little or none (including any fluids) right at mealtime. However, as with everyone who I have ever met, he could not believe I did NOT like tea -- I drank a cup 40+ years ago & didn't like the taste & didn't drink any whatsoever since (except a few sips when a waiter brings the wrong drink). I told him I would be willing to try. Having never bought tea, I picked up the 1st half gallon I saw at the store & drank a quart when I got home. Although it said it was pomegranate flavored, it still tasted like tea & was really too sweet for me. I didn't realize tea had caffeine in it (duh!) till I couldn't sleep that night. Not till I went back to the store did I realize there was almost an entire aisle devoted to tea! I'm still experimenting & currently mixing it with apple juice. After 3 weeks, I do believe I'm acquiring a taste for tea now.

running, yes, this is a running blog:

The recent weather -- wow! We had the hottest July on record in Louisville, but the temps the last couple weeks have been unreal. I was finally able to get in a long run (6 hrs) when the temp dropped to 58 last week - albeit at a very slow pace, it felt great to be running long. Usually I'm limited to a couple, sometimes 3 hrs before it just gets too hot/humid for an effective workout. I really would like to do long runs more often, but the recovery time is longer & I want to squeeze in as many runs as I can when there's a cool stretch. So when the temps are reasonable I've been opting for intermediate runs (3-4 hrs) spaced closer. As of right now, I'm able to endure the pain when running, but still having big problems handling the pain at night.

I did not run in the Eagle Creek Marathon that I mentioned last time that I was wanting to run. I had my drop bag packed, but looked again at the forecast & realized I could not finish the race, even if I was in the best of health & condition. I've never finished a race when the temp reaches the mid 80's nor when the dew point has reached 70. At Eagle Creek, the actual afternoon temps reached 90 and the dew point was over 70 -- good decision, plus my gut was not feeling the best either that morning.

I'm planning on running a couple ultras next month, abdominal pains permitting. I won't say which ones as I think I jinxed my choice of Eagle Creek in my last post -- temps were very cool leading up to (and soon after) that race, but it was a scorcher the day of the race.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

back again

I said I would return to blogging when I had more to say about running than my health problems . . . well, I still have those problems but I will try to say less about them compared to running:

Since my last post, I did go back to the Mayo Clinic in February; started & ended seeing a new Gastro Dr. (my 4th); received results suggesting I had "chronic pancreatitus" and "chronic inactive gastritus"; had a nerve block (no help); had an acid meter attached to my esophagus (this was not fun); & so on & so on. I've been urged by some to pursue an alternative approach, so now I have an appointment with an "integrative medicine" Dr. next week.

Also since my last post, I did try a couple trail events -- as I felt up to it those particular days & couldn't resist -- though I did have abdominal problems during each. And, despite my ailments I have also been managing to jog twice per week & have been maintaining a minimal level of fitness. All this running has been with the help of Tylenol & Advil -- yes, I know I'm crazy.
My pain tolerance level has increased over time and that has helped too.

I usually stay indoors for training during summer (if I run at all during my off season), but I've got the itch to run trails so bad this year, I have adjusted. With this summer heat, the only time of the day I can run is very early in the morning -- as soon as it's light enough to see the trail, though it can be in the upper 70's and very humid even then. I plan my runs on the coolest (least hot) mornings of the week too and when my gut lets me.

I feel so ambitious at times when I have a good spell (like right now). I hope to continue entering races as they're my best training runs, but I have learned things can change for the worse very quickly and at any time. So, making plans is going to remain a day by day decision as it has been for some time. As it stands now (like at this very moment), I would like to run in a new venue to me: the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon next week . . .

One other note, last Sunday I had my first serious fall: on the Siltstone Trail on the LLTH race course near my house, my foot hung on a root on a steep downhill. I had always avoided a nose dive type fall in the past, but this time I was running too fast & it happened too quickly. I was able to deflect & brace some for the impact, but not enough to keep my head from hitting the ground. I won't go into the bloody details, but having the skin scraped off the low bridge of my nose gives an idea of how the rest of my face & head were affected. I am very, very lucky & thankful to be able to write about it now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mystery Diagnosis - episode #?

After 10 days at the Mayo Clinic, I'm back home being no closer to a diagnosis than before -- a major disappointment to say the least. They could only recommend various treatments for the symptoms of this unknown malady. I am feeling better now with the treatments I'm receiving, although masking pain is something I've always tried to avoid before.

I have more to write about my health than running, so I'm going to hold off posting again until I can reverse that. I plan to be at Louisville's Lovin' The Hills (LLTH) contributing in some form or fashion next month.

Later !?