Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pictures from Hinson

This footbridge was the halway point around the lake

Sunrise over "Camp Jimbo"

Sunrise over the Lake before the start

The start/finish area of each lap - the guy sitting down next to the blue cooler was the eventual winner, Jonathan Savage who accumulated ~132 miles over the 24 hours.

The "Dam area" - right after the main aid station, people set up tents and their own base camps. There was always plent of encouragement from spectators along this part of the course

Camp Jimbo - and the chair that I needed to beware of - it was the scene of my near meltdown at about 22 hours or so.

Vol State 500 K RD Laz Cantrell, sporting a Camel cap, fitted with what he termed as a "Tennessee GPS System" :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race Report

Hinson Lake 24 hour ultra classic. I loved it, and would recommend the race to anyone. There was a good mix of seasoned ultra runners, fun runners, families, dogs and people who just came to "Run as you please" - there were about 160 registrants.

For $24 I got a great T-shirt, a travel coffee mug, and the number 28 to pin to my shorts. In addition, it bought great company, a fabulously stocked aid station, encouragement from the race volunteers, and for me, a great experience.

It seemed there were two types of runners, those who really set out to get as many miles as possible in 24 hours (at whatever pace they were comfortable at), and those who came for a good time - run a little, rest, cook out, hang with friends, and then maybe run another lap, or walk a lap, volunteer some, or just pass on encouragement to the former type of runners. I was definitely going to "get as many miles as possible in 24 hours". I had goals, a PR to break, a 100 miler to train for. Next year, I may just go to hang out with friends, run a few laps, cook out etc. Whatever fashion I choose to run the race next year, I will be there, I am absolutely certain of that.

My heartfelt thanks go out to the Race Director Tom, his wife Donna and his family and friends who were manning the aid station, and counting and recording laps.

Before signing up for this race, the thought of running small 1.52 mile loops for 24 hours was a fear of mine, surely, you would end up going nuts seeing the same sights 50+ times? That fear was unfounded, because I really enjoyed the course, every foot of it for each of the 53+ times that I went round it. It was scenic, runnable, not dead flat, but flat enough that the hills weren't an obstacle.

Once we were off, I walked probably for the first mile - I mean, what's the hurry? It's a good way for me to warm up, because I don't do the stretching thing; the last time I stretched before a race, I ended up ripping my calf muscle 18 miles later, and had a horrible time for the last 8 miles. I have not stretched since, and also not ripped any calf muscles - coincidence? I think not :-)

Round to the aid station for the first time, its never too early to eat, especially M&M's. "Number 28", I shouted for the first of 53 times. "We have you down as one lap" was the reply. And so it went. It didn't take long to get to know the course, where to jog, where to walk.

I spent some time talking to people, Joe Lugiano (Umstead assistant RD), also "Captain" Sally, who runs one of the aid stations at Umstead, Fred Dummar who I have seen at many Mangum events but not really spoke to, Christian Griffth who posts regularly on the Yahoo Ultralist - I introduced myself by mentioning that his race report on the Cascade Crest 100, and specifically his problems with "front chafe", and my actions in preventing it by applying Glide, could have had me arrested for lewd behaviour.

The early miles went by quite quickly, it wasn't too hot, it was fairly humid, but lower than it has been lately, and I was enjoying my running.

By about mile 25, I noticed a hot spot in my right foot. I've never really suffered from blisters before, and the one time I had a couple, it didn't really effect my race. I decided to make some "repairs" early. I applied some moleskin on three blisters, and carried on. One lap later, the moleskin on two of them had come off. So I applied some tape instead. I have no idea if this is the case, but it as good of a theory as any. My shoes took a real beating on the down hill sections in the Tetons a couple of weeks ago, I think it is possible that the cushioning was trashed. Also, since then, the only running I have done has been on pine needles, so I didn't notice, but on the day, it seemed as if I could feel every stone and lump in the trail through my shoes, that changed my form slightly and hence the blisters. Whether that is the case or not, it is a good excuse to get new shoes.

I put on my road shoes, and for a time they felt more comfortable, but although I was still running most of the time, I did notice that the blisters were making me limp slightly, which caused more blisters. Ho hum.

When I hit 40 miles or so, I made an error of judgement. I had visions of my PR for 50 miles (11:48). If not my PR, certainly a sub 12 hr 50. So I pushed for that. This beat up my feet even more, and increased the fatigue I was already feeling. Ultimately, I didn't get my PR, I crossed the 50 mile mark at 12:18. I promised myself a break and some more foot repair at 50 miles, so I sat for 15 minutes or so, to refuel and apply some tape.

After 50, I slowed down a fair bit, and I could feel my pace slowing each lap. "Just keep moving" was the only thought I had.

When I crossed 65 miles, I announced to the folks at the aid station that I now had a 24 hr PR - and I still had over 6 hours to go. I really appreciated the round of applause I received!

The night rolled on, and I kept moving, the blisters kept hurting. The course was much emptier in the dark hours, and I was on my own most of the time, occasionally I would pass someone, and occasionally I would be lapped too. The laps kept piling up.

It took forever to get to 75 miles once I had passed the PR. I had entered a whole new world of hurt - and I had beeen warned to expect it, but I had no idea it would be this bad. Blisters and fatigue were really taking their toll. Caffiene pills and coke had little effect by now. I finally hit 75 miles, and 50 laps, and thoughts of quitting overpowered every other thought I had. It was about 5 or 6 in the morning. I hit 50 laps, and as I was leaving the aid station on the start of lap 51, I slumped into the chair next to my tent, a beaten man. I was done. I sat there for 10-15 minutes trying to talk myself into trying one more lap. Eventually, I got up and trudged round the lap. My last, I knew it for certain, and with that decision made, I was happy. I would be in a sleeping bag within 30 minutes.

"Number 28". "We have you at lap 51". "I'm done, thanks for everything". A few minutes later I was trying to sleep in my tent, devestated that I couldn't make 80 miles, and I couldn't make 24 hours. I was upset with myself, and it would be a lie to suggest that there weren't a few tears.

I couldn't sleep, so I got up, got changed into "street clothes", and my pair of trusty immitation WalMart crocs, and started packing my tent, and loading up the car just a couple of hundred feet away. It occured to me that I was actually feeling quite mobile. At the same time, I saw Christian hobbling in, also wearing crocs. I looked at the clock, it said 23:15. I can do this, I can get one more lap. If I get one more, I can say when people ask how I did, "nearly 80 miles".

"Number 28 going out for one more", I reported to the volunteers, and so off I went. As I was moving, I started to loosen up, YES, I can do this. I WILL get another lap done. "Number 28", "we have you at 52 laps". The time was 23:35. They gave me a banana with my number on it, which I was to drop on the trail at exactly 24:00 hours, so they could measure my exact mileage.

I started to run. I have 25 minutes to make it to 53 laps, and 80.5 miles. I was running the fastest I had ran the whole race. I knew the course well enough to know where the one mile point was on the loop, and had a quiet celebration to myself when I passed 80 miles. With the clock at 23:50, I was back at the base. "Number 28", "We have you at lap 53". "I kept running, still the fastest I had ran for the whole 24 hours. When the clocked hit 8am, I dropped my banana. It was over.

Official results are yet to be published, but I believe I made a total of around 81.5 miles. I'm very happy with that.

There will be more posts in coming days about the lessons learnt and the mistakes made, and some final thoughts plus one or two photos. This will do for now though.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hinson Lake -24 hr race

More to follow - but here is a quick summary of the Hinson Lake 24 hour race.

  • Approx 81.5 miles in 24 hrs - happy with that!! Previous 24 hr PR, 64.9 miles)
  • 50 miles up in 12:18
  • Blisters after just 25 miles. Feet killing me -never had issues with blisters before, welcome to the world of hurt Jimbo
  • It is a damn long way from 65 to 75 miles, it seemed to take forever.
  • Pity party after 77.5 miles where I quit, and went to my tent, devestated that I couldn't make it to 24 hours, and get above 80 miles.
  • Decided to have another go with 45 minutes left, and ran last four miles in imitation WalMart crocs - 11 minute pace, the fastest of the 24 hours, go figure.
  • Many lessons learnt -and mistakes made
  • Awesome race.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting ready for Hinson Lake 24 hr

8 am Saturday September 19th - it look as though over 150 runners will start out on a 24 hour adventure on the Hinson Lake 24 hour classic. It has to be the best value, Race Director Tom Gabell, only charges a $1/hr! Oh - and I have checked, if I bring some bacon, Tom will fry it up (I learnt at the Grand Tetons that bacon is just about the perfect ultra food - protein, fat and salt, what more could you need? - oh, and it tastes just fine at 3 am!

Thinking about it, this is also the closest Ultra to my home, just a mere hour drive.

So what are my goals. Well, given that I have my first 100 in a few weeks, I would like to be on pace at 24 hours so that I could finish the 100 in about 28 hours. I'm thinking that 85 miles would be realistic.

So, here are the goals:
  1. Finish alive after 24 hours - you can never complain if that happens
  2. "Kinda Happy with" goal - a PR, anything above my Laramie mileage of 64.9 miles
  3. "Happy with" goal - 80+ Miles
  4. "Extremely Happy with" goal - 85+ miles
  5. "Deliriously Happy with" goal - 90+ miles
  6. "Secret Dream Goal"- why not, 100 miles. Not going to happen, that's why I'm keeping it a secret.

I think I am also going to try camping out the night before. I think the extra hour in bed is going to help, plus hopefully I will get to soak up the atmosphere the night before.

Another new thing I am going to try, is turkey sliders - I watched some of the top runners at GTR eating this - basically, sliced turkey and some advacado. Fat and protein again. It didn't do too bad for Ty Draney who I saw eating this combo - he went on to win with a new course record.

I am extremely excited about this race, it really looks like a tremendous amount of fun, and a brilliant opportunity to see if I am on course for the Boulder 100.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grand Teton Races - some pictures

Ashley grabbing a bite - way before I knew that
I would end up pacing her.

Sister Mary Beth on her way to finishing the 50 miler

The Tetons

I think this was the actual "Mill Creek"

And that would be a Grand Teton

Tetons in the distance - this was part of the
3+mile uphill climb on the road

George and Frankie

Umstead 100 - 2010

April 2009 - Umstead, the place where I ran my first Ultra. The 50 miles that started this mid-life crisis of mine!

Fast forward 12 months - this time I will be doing the full 8 laps, and going for 100 miles, and my finisher's buckle. March 27th 2010 - I can't wait.

It will be my second or third 100 mile finish (depending on whether I sign up for Iron Horse or not), I have come quite a long way these last few months. Umstead, Boogie, Laramie, Medoc Meltdown, Grand Tetons so far, and between now and Umstead 2010, Lake Hinson 24 hr, Boulder 100, Derby 50K, Weymouth Woods 100K, Iron Horse 100 (maybe)

Apparently, it sold out in 4 minutes this year - I wonder if it will go to a lottery system soon. Quite amazing how popular this "Run in the Park" is.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Grand Teton Races - a mixed bag

An interesting weekend to say the least. The plan was to crew for my friend and then pace her later for the last 50 miles. Unfortunately things didn't go as planned for her and she couldn't finish. Knowing what a determined woman she is, I know she will learn from this and come back stronger than ever.

Later on, I was asked if I would like to pace Ashley Nordell for her last lap. It took a few moments to say 'yes', but I am so glad I did. I have to admit to being incredibly nervous - Ashley was running incredibly well. Surely, there would be no way I could keep up with such an amazing athlete - I suggested to her friend Sean, that he may want to make some contingency plans in case Ashley had to 'drop' me!

At this stage of the run (she was at 75 miles when I took over pacing duties from
Jamie Donaldson), she was walking the 'ups' and running the 'downs'. Well, I say ' running the downs' - 'sprinting' would be more of an appropriate term - well it seemed so to me, she is an amazing downhill runner. The run down Fred's Mountain was probably one of the most exhilirating and yet at the same time incredibly terrifying experiences of my life! I did manage to keep up, I helped her out at aid stations and kept Ashley company for 25 miles and about 6 hours 50 minutes.

It was a phenomenal experience, I was thrilled to have played a part in her amazing run. Ashley ended up second overall, first woman, and smashed the course record by over 2 hours. Wow. So I had to have a beer to go with my Southern Fried Quads.