Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Upcoming runs

Here's what we have on the calendar so far:

May 23 -
Mangum Track Club 15 mile "shirt run" - Ellerbe NC
June 13 -
The Boogie Marathon, also in Ellerbe NC, 26.2 miles
June 27-28 -
24 Hours of Laramie. I only have one target, finish alive 24 hours after I started!

All confirmed - I'm looking at all three of those as training runs for an attempt at a 100 miler sometime later in the year.

Exercise so far this week:

Monday: Stairmaster: 2.49 miles in 22 minutes (I hate that machine), plus some weights.
Tuesday lunch: 30 minute weight circuit, legs only
Tuesday eveining: 5k easy run (30:16)
Wednesday lunch: Treadmill, 33 minutes, level 15, 2.52 miles - A new record for level 15.

So, really, more of the same, focusing on conditioning, and getting a base level of strength and fitness. It is probably time to start getting some long runs in to get some endurance work going and ramping up the miles.

OK, I have a good "tune of the day" for you - a tune so fast that it makes you want to sprint. We saw this band support The Damned a few years ago, man, they are fast. The tune came to the top of the playlist during the 5K run.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sumer is icumen in

Sumer is icumen in is "middle English" for .. "Summer is a-coming in", originally written around 1260, and the manuscript is regarded as one of the oldest pieces of music written. It was written at Reading Abbey, which is my home town, and is commemorated with a plaque on one of the few remaining walls of the Abbey (which was destroyed by Henry VIII).

Why am I writing this? Well, I thought of "Sumer icumen in" when I was out on the trails today - because summer has arrived with a bang, both Saturday and Sunday got to about 90, and the humidity is seems to be getting up there. I had better get used to it, because it is only going to get worse.

So today's run was a walk/run/walk/run affair, the pace was very comfortable. It is the furthest I have run since Umstead, and I'm thinking that it is probably time to start ramping up the miles again.

Garmin Data

Time: 1:40:05
Distance: 8.17 Miles
Pace: 12:17 Min/mile

Today's tune - another blast from the past. It came on early in the run, and it's a great running song, and given the weather, it is appropriate for "tune of the day"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A cheap vacation

It's looking very likely that Jess and I will be heading to Laramie WY for the 24 Hours of Laramie. The start of the race is at the Pole Creek Campground. We will be camping the night before the race (presumably Jess will be 'camping' while I am running, so we thought that we should check out our tent - it's been a few years since we have been camping. It all looks in good condition.

The ultimate proof will be however when the pups and I (maybe Jess), will camp out in the back yard tonight. :)

Summer has arrived with a bang, it's in the 90's today, so a perfect day for a trail run right? I met up with Connie and Allan from Raleigh Trail Runners, and we went for about 6 miles around Jordan Lake. We mixed up the wide trails and the single track trails.

Here's an excellent tune to run to - Atomic by Blondie - and I just think the live version is fantastic. This particular song always brings back memories of my first half marathon - I was listening to it for the last half mile, and it was playing when I crossed the finish line.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Running again

Just a quick update, I went for a 5K run this evening - the ankle felt much better, so I think I am over that little issue. Also, I managed a 33 minute treadmill jog at lunch time.

Rest tommorrow, then a run on Saturday.

Garmin Data:

Distance: 3.09
Time: 31:02
Pace: 10:01 Min/Mile

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not so random randomness

I'm still not running, although my ankle feels quite a bit better. I have learnt (the hard way) to add a day or two of additional rest after I *think* everything is mended when I have a minor injury. I may try a little treadmill jog tomorrow.

At the gym at lunch time today I did strength work, focusing on my quads again.

Lets talk about music. On my "Running" playlist, I have somewhere around 170 songs. I always set my music player to "Random Play" mode, so I imagine the odds of having the same song play 3 times in a 30 minute work out are fairly slim.

It's not a bad thing, as it is one of my favorites - a good work out song as it gets faster and louder as it goes along, and I LOVE that.

Anyway, here it is, "Soundtrack of our Lives", with "Second Life Replay".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Shirt Run

During my 4th lap at Umstead, a fella by the name of Jimmy introduced me to the Mangum Track Club. Having looked them up, they have a whole bunch of races, a marathon, a 50 miler, (probably going to do the marathon) a 100k, a 24 hr race, a 50k, and I also noticed today, the have a 100 miler.

They also have "The Shirt Run" - here's what it says about that on their website:

Back during the late 80's five guys would meet in the hills of Ellerbe, NC for training runs for marathons. One Christmas during that time, one of the guys purchased 5 shirts. One for each training partner. The shirt was a navy blue shirt with "Mangum Track Club" on the front of it. As the story goes, one of the wives of one of the guys wanted one of the shirts. Well being guys, they told her, you will have to earn it. The "Shirt Run" was born. The shirt run is a 15-mile point-to-point run/walk from Mangum, N.C. to Ellerbe, N.C. Once you finish the shirt run you will receive your Mangum Track Club shirt and you are a member for life. The Mangum Track Club is a fun run crowd consisting of walkers to ultra runners. We do not have dues or meetings and you may be asked to purchase your Mangum Track Club shirt depending on the number of runners that show up for the shirt run. Normally members pitch in to buy the shirts.

I love it! This sounds a blast - in fact, the whole set up sounds a lot of fun. So sent an email asking to be in the next Shirt Run - I am in, and can't wait. It will be on May 23.

Since Sunday's run, I have avoided running to give my ankle a bit of a rest. Yesterday at lunch time, I hit the Stairmaster at the gym. What a brutal, evil piece of machinery those things are. I certainly feel as though it is effective, so I will try to use it once or twice per week. I also did a couple of minutes on the Leg Lift weight machine to work the quads.

Today, I used the treadmill, walking at elevation level 15 for 33 mintes, and set a new record of 2.46 miles.

Here's the tune of the day from my "Running Tunes" playlist. Unfortunately, Youtube won't let me 'embed' the video, so click the link to hear "The Stairs", by INXS - - I thought of this track when I was on the Stairmaster on Monday.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Simple things

I like it when a plan comes together. Today's simple thing that made me happy was the lawntractor starting [almost] first time after the winter [almost] totally exposed to the elements. Which meant I got [most of] the grass cut for the first time this season. I'm thinking of strapping my garmin on next time I cut the grass to find out how much of a workout I am missing out on by not using my push mower (which also started first time).

Anyway, to today's run. I decided to run half of the half for the Duke Half - that is the first lap of the half marathon of the
Duke Liver half-iron man triathlon - which is held in September on my favourite trails around Jordan Lake. I treated it as an easy run, with plenty of walking, jogging and what I think is called "the ultra-shuffle" (it is I suppose a kind of run, but using minimal effort - short strides and the feet barely leave the ground). This combination seemed to serve me well at Umstead.

On the whole, I felt pretty good, although towards the end I did notice a slight twinge in my ankle from where I rolled it last weekend

Garmin Data:

Time: 1:20:37
Distance: 6.56 miles
Pace: 12:17 min/mile

I have a fairly long playlist on my music player, called "Running Tunes", which I use [oddly enough] when I am running. It's a fairly mixed bag of tunes, some old, some obscure, some "how-in-the-hell-can-anyone-run-to-that-crap". If a particular song, seems to give me a lift on a run, I'm going to try to find it on YouTube and post it here.

Today's song is Heartbeat, by The Psychedelic Furs. Check out Richard Butler's hair! I'm glad mine was already falling out by the mid 80's, otherwise, I am fairly sure that there would be some fairly embarassing "Jimbo-mullet-pictures" floating around.

Enjoy it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Snakes, flies and a new record

The pups and I went for a 5 mi walk today as part of my ongoing campaign to improve my walking.

We went on the ankle breaker trail at Jordan Lake. It is an absolutely gorgeous morning, (70 ish, and not a cloud in the sky), so that plus the specific workouts I did in the gym during the week meant that I felt like I had a real spring in my step. To put a bottom line on it, I shaved about a minute per mile off of my previous "best effort". I'm pleased with that.

One other aspect that may have helped is the additional protein I ate - not one, but two bugs or flies of some description. Yummy.

I also saw a nice long black snake, and even though I am getting better, snakes really get me close to a panic attack. Now, I know black snakes are not poisonous, and I also know that they are supposed to be good at keeping the poisonous copperheads at bay - but I really don't enjoy seeing them. Thankfully this one was about 10' off of the trail sunning himself on a fallen tree. If he was across the trail, I wonder if I would have U-turned.......

Garmin Data:

Time: 1:12:11
Distance: 4.91 miles
Pace: 14:42 mins/mile

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More thievery....

Confirmed that both doggy bowls have been lost in the "Great Doggy Bowl Heist of 2009". Ran up to the B campground this evening, and the other one has gone too.

Ahhh well, I will have to get one of those collapsible ones. It was a nice idea.

Today's Exercise

Lunch time - did the 30 minute strength training circuit at the gym. Plus I did bonus leg lifts to help with the thing.

This evening, a Jordan Lake run to the former site of Doggy Bowl B and back.

Garmin Data:

Time: 32:37
Distance: 3.11 miles
Pace: 10:29 mins/mile

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Wilbur, Sarah and I went for a run this evening at Jordan Lake - I thought we would check on the doggy bowl in the A campground. Can't believe someone took it! Unbelievable. Could the rangers have removed it for being non-bio-degradeable? Or perhaps someone thought it was a brilliant invention, and decided to make several million cutting up milk cartons and tying some string to them, and getting Billy Mays to pitch THE "Doggy Bowl" on late night cable TV for $9.99.

I'll check the one in Camp B in the next day or so.

Today's Exercise

3.42 miles on the treadmill at lunch time. In my continued effort to be smarter with my use of the treadmill, I did "hill/speed intervals" for 33 minutes. Up to 8 on the incline (at 5-5.5 mph), and up to 7.5 mph on the flat.

As for the run this evening - walked on the ups, ran the rest.

Garmin Data:

Distance: 2.65 miles
Time: 29.03 min
Pace: 10:58 min/mile

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No headphones, no Jimbo

I heard an ad on the radio today, for a marathon in High Point NC - fairly close. Because they are advertising on a Raleigh radion station, I am guessing they are hurting for numbers. I was seriously thinking of signing up - the timing was right, and it would have been a good training run.

But in the FAQ's:

Am I allowed to use my IPod or MP3 player during the

No, for the safety of all runners, electronic music devices
are not permitted on the course.

Give me a break. Safety. How about banning fast people, because they could bump into slow people? That's not very safe is it?

Oh well, I will skip the High Point marathon.

Today's exercise:

Lunch time at the gym: 15 minutes on the Stairmaster (that machine is brutal), 15 minutes on the stationary bike and a few minutes doing leg lifts, which apparently helps with the fried quads.

Also, did a 5k run when I got home. Goal of the run was to shake out some cobwebs, get some cardio in, and run back faster than I ran out - went to Lee County airport for a run out and back down Ammons Farm Rd. Mission accomplished.

Garmin Data:

Distance: 3.12 mi
Time: 31.02
Pace: 9.57 min/mile

Monday, April 13, 2009

Smarter use of the treadmill

I am lucky that I work just a couple of minutes away from a very reasonably priced gym ($10/month). So when I am in the office, I take advantage of that during lunch times.

Prior to Umstead, I mainly used the treadmill for just running – it was good cardio, and helped the running muscles, and it was good to just log miles. Every now and then, I would do speed work, and some hill work, but that was it.

As part of my campaign to improve my walking. I put the treadmill at an incline of 15, and walked for the whole 33 minute workout, gradually increasing speed from 4 mph to 5 mph. I am planning to do this workout once or twice per week, and track the mileage, so I can try to beat my own record. That was a tough walk, and I really felt like I had a workout, but hopefully it will help me in upcoming races - I now know that there is always going to be plenty of walking involved.

I always do 33 minutes on the treadmill for a couple of reasons - 1) with a 2 minute warm-up, a 2 minute cool down, shower and getting changed is just about the length of a lunch break I can get away with, and 2) When I first became a member of this gym (a little less than 4 years ago), 33 minutes was my dream time for a 5k run........ (my current personal best these days in 33 minutes is 4.5 miles - that's treadmill miles though, which as everyone knows are way shorter than real miles, but it does indicate how far I have come in that time).

The geek in me forces me to make note of the fact that in the 33 minutes, I did 2.36 miles. A new record (yeah, I know it was my first time, but I can claim it, because I'm in charge of my own personal record book.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Crab fishing, red wine, ice and ibuprofen

There is a reason women call men idiots. A good reason. It is because we are. Well I am anyway,

What have crab fishing, red wine, ice and ibuprofen got in common? They are the evidence that proves that I am an idiot.

Proof #1 - I fancied a glass of red before I went to bed last night. Nothing wrong with that in itself, besides, it's good for you. But read on

Proof #2 - The crab fishermen of Alaska - The Deadliest Catch. Now then, they have a new series coming up (Tuesday 9 pm, Discovery, I can't wait). I am a sucker for that show, and it is very strangely addictive. Let's hope Captain Phil of the Cornelia Marie makes a good recovery, and is allowed to go fishing. Anyway, I digress. So, knowing they have a new series coming up, and therefore knowing that the Discovery Channel will run a Deadliest Catch marathon, with show after show after show, and knowing the addictive nature of the show - why in the hell did I start watching it then? With a glass of wine. What an idiot.

Proof #3 - Deadliest Catch, wine, Deadliest Catch, wine, Deadliest Catch, wine, Deadliest Catch, wine etc etc etc. It's a good job that after three hours or so, they start repeating the shows that they showed three hours earlier, or otherwise, I could still be watching. Actually, I probably wouldn't be, because I ran out of wine. It was well past 2am when I went to bed

Proof #4 - I wake up feeling a little under the weather and tired of course. So I wonder how that effected me when I went for a walk early this afternoon. Could my concentration not have been what it should have been? Could I have lost some focus? Maybe my eye to foot coordination was a little off kilter. You see, four miles in, I manged to flip my ankle on a tree root. Boy oh boy did that hurt. Even Sarah and Wilbur had concerened looks on their faces. This wasn't one of those twists that a couple of minutes of walking and it goes away. This was a limp for the last mile back to the car. Ouch. Hence the ice and ibuprofen.

Jimbo is an idiot? Guilty on all charges.

Onto the walk. It is beautiful here today, low 70's, low humidity, so the conditions were perfect. Went to the same ankle breaker trail by Jordan Lake. I bought a 'season pass' for $40, so I don't have to pay $5 every time I go there through the summer.

I was definitely walking stronger than my last time out, and up till my fall, I was probably averaging about 15:09/mile. Last mile was a lot slower.

Time: 1:17:21
Distance: 4.91 miles
Pace: 15:45 min/mile

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Operation "Doggy Bowl"

I am very fortunate to have Jordan Lake just a few miles from home, and I do most of my running at New Hope Overlook, one of the state parks at the lake.

North Carolina can (will) get very hot and humid, from about now until about November. There are water stops in the camp grounds (and bathrooms, but only open April thru November). The water stays on year round, which is great to fill up my water bottle(s), but nothing for the pups to drink out of.

And so Operation Doggy Bowl was planned.

Step 1.

Make the Dog Bowls out of milk cartons and string. Note my very clever way of identifying them.
Step 2 is head to the trails, with pups and Doggy Bowls

This is the trailhead of the "Ankle Breaker" trail that I will be using for my walking practice. It is a 5 mile loop trail, with plenty of roots, rocks and hills.

Today, I just went a little under 1 mile on this trail until it bisects another trail that leads to "Campground A". Here are a few more pictures from that first mile.

It's a fun trail, and more often than not, I can get around the whole thing without bumping into another human being. Although, now that spring has sprung, there are more people using it. (I now have to pay $5 to use the park on the weekends. I can buy a season pass for $4o. Probably worth doing.)

This is a pretty steep downhill. If you don't watch it, you can slip on the pine straw.

Once out of the woods, turn right to Campground A - it's a short steep hill. I walked it.

Entering the campground - there were actually people camping - first time I have seen that since the fall. I felt conspicuous.

........and here we go. Phase 1, mission accomplished.

The facilities, now open again after the winter shut down (quite why they lock them, I have no idea - there is no plumbing, it's not like I could steal anything or vandalize them. )

This is just entering Camp B - you can just see some real humans in the background walking to the camp area

There are about 1.6 miles and some good hills between Camp A and Camp B.

Phase 2 - Mission Accomplished

........and Wilbur approves.

It will be interesting to see how long the water bowls last. Could they be confiscated by the Park Rangers? Will a camper decide that they would look good as ornaments, and take them as a souvenir?

It would of course be nice if they survive the summer, because no matter where we are in the park, the pups will never be more than 25-30 minutes away from some drinking water.

As for today's run - I took it easy, with plenty of walk breaks, and pauses to take pictures, however, I did notice some minor twinges, particularly in my ankles, and quads. Just my body's way of reminding me to take it easy for a few more days, and letting me know that I am not quite as recovered as I thought I was. Probably a reminder to have another Epsom salt bath.

Today's Garmin Data:

Distance: 4.15 miles
Time: 49:50
Pace: 12.01 min/mile

Umstead - Recovery

I know I have already written, "Umstead - Final thoughts" - well more thoughts keep coming to me, so we will just have more final thoughts, or maybe some not so final, final thoughts

Let’s talk about my recovery. I made sure I ate and drank something immediately after I had finished, and I was lucky enough that the volunteer massage lady was free a few minutes later, so I had a massage, which I am sure helped to get some blood circulating. The massage was wonderful. She recommended an ice bath, and then a couple of hours later, a hot bath with Epsom salts. I did that when I got home - except my first bath was just a cold one, I don't think I'm man enough for ice :). Let’s not forget the Advil I took.

On the Sunday, I could barely walk, but forced myself to do a few laps of the living room every 15 minutes or so. My biggest problem was my quads, which I believe is caused by the downhill running, I will have to research if there are training methods or running techniques to prevent or at least minimize this problem. Monday, was much better, and Tuesday I was back to normal.

I think I recovered quicker after 50 than I did after my last 26.2, so I reckon I did something right - I'll be running again today, because there are no lingering effects after my walk yesterday

Friday, April 10, 2009

Umstead - The Official Results

It's official, I finished in the top half of 50 mile finishers. I'm quite stunned with that. In all the 5K's, 10k's, HM's and full marathons I have done, I have never once finished in the top half.


53rd out of 109.

Official finishing time was 11:48:44. Delighted with that too.

My official splits can be found here:

The thing that has pleased me most about my split times is the pace from AS#2 on the last lap, to the end of the race. Till that point, I had been progressively getting slower (unsuprisingly), however for the last 5.65 miles, I actually sped up a bit, and was running more than 1.5 minutes/mile faster than in the previous leg. (I also hadn't run a split at that pace since the end of the second lap). I'm trying to think if that says more about me, or the wonderful potato soup that was being served on Lap 4!

The times, the final position are just the icing on the cake of a fantastic day.

Congratulations to all finishers.

Going for a walk

As mentioned earlier, one of my lessons learned was that I needed to 'walk' better.

So today, I took Wilbur and Sarah for a walk - no running allowed (the pups aren't used to this concept, it was tough to curb their enthusasm). I going to try and do this maybe once a week or so.

The course I selected was (what I call) the "5 mile Jordan Lake ankle breaker trail". I have specifically avoided this trail in the weeks leading up to Umstead - but it is a good one for walking with plenty of steep ups and downs. Roots and rocks on the trail will keep me honest, so I won't cheat in the future by running some of it.

Considering what I have put my body through in the last week, the walk felt good, with no lingering problems from Umstead. Today's effort will be a good base to see how I improve over the coming weeks.

Data from the Garmin:
  • Time: 1:15:11
  • Distance: 4.75 mi (I forgot to re-start the Garmin after the pups had a bathroom break, so that's probably 0.1 or 0.2 miles light)
  • Pace: 15:49 min/mile

Umstead 100 (50 for me) Final thoughts.

Here's me coming to the finish line.
Immediately after I finished the race, there was a photographer who is studying for his Master's. His thesis is about fatigued faces. I volunteered to be a model - I am curious to know whether I will look more fatigued or more euphoric...........
A week ago today, a nervous Jimbo was penning his final thoughts before Umstead. Now what is going through my head?
I have to say, my first Ultra marathon was an incredible experience. We were lucky with the weather, the course itself was very manageable, but what really stood out for me, was the people I met. I talked to more people in those 12 hours than I have in every other organized run I have done combined. Simply put, ultra-people are just nice people.
As far as lessons learned, there are a few.
  • Do some walking training - walk early, walk often
  • Apply sunscreen (I always forget sunscreen at least once/year, usually in the spring. As a result of that, I ended up with some heat rash, and some mild sunburn on my neck)
  • Go with the flow
  • Lap up the encouragement you receive
  • Dish out encouragement to others

Where do I go from here? Well, I feel my ultra-career has just started. I will most definitely sign up for a 100 mile run at some point - Umstead in 12 months is a near certainty. I am also considering a 24 hour run and a 100 miler later this year..... watch this space.

I have also discovered some local events as a result of running for a few minutes with Jimmy of the Mangum Track Club. They have a marathon, a 50 miler, 100K and 24 hour run plus others. The 24 hour in September looks very appealing - all very reasonably priced, and some of the runs are quite local to me. How could I not participate in an event that has this line in the Waiver and Release?: I understand that this area has specific hazards such as rattlesnakes, copperheads,polecats, wildcats, and rednecks who like to drink and drive and throw things.

Right, I had best go out for a walk before it rains.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jimbo's Umstead gear

Here is what I wore or carried while running:

Adidas shirt: Fantastic. I think it won Runner's World best shirt last summer. It kept me cool, and there was no chafing at all. I did catch the sun a bit mire than I would have liked. I should remember sunscreen next time

Nike DriFit Shorts: Prior to Umstead, I ran several miles in these, with no probalems at all. During the race though, I did experience some chafing. Not sure why. Maybe it was the warmth causing extra perspiration. I need to experiment with underwear I think. (or wear a skirt :))

Garmin Forerunner 205: A wonderful device that I have no idea how I did without it before. I didn't expect the batteries to last the full 50 miles, but they did. I was very impressed. Here is a screen shot of the speed and distance for the full 50 miles.

Merrell Overdrive II Trail Running Shoes: Very good shoe, but definitely moreso for trail running. The surface at Umstead was a little hard, and I think it is probably more appropriate for a road running shoe. Still, I went over 30 miles in them, so no complaints. What you can't see inside the shoe are my orthotics that Dr Tomey prescibed. These have made a huge difference, and made a massive contribution to me finishing the run with no injuries, either in my calf or my achilles, both of which have plagued me in the past.

Nathan Quick Draw Waterbottle: Perfect - fits me well, I think I prefer it to the Fuel Belt hand held - it just seems to fit in my hand better. I should probably wash it now though. :)

Drymax Maximum Protection Socks: Several months ago, when I first was accepted into Umstead, I stumbled across this Youtube Video of Jamie Donaldson, who won the women's division of the race in 2008. The video is of her winning the Badwater Ultramarathon, and they used the phrase "135 miles, no blisters". I bought myself a pair of these socks from Zombie Runner. The socks lived up to their promise, and I had zero problems with my feet. Not one tiny hotspot. I am happy to say "50 miles, no blisters"

Umstead 100 (50 for me) race report - Lap Four

Lap 4

I took probably around 10-15 minutes, just taking the weight off of my feet, changing shoes (to the new Mizuno’s), and doing the usual with the water bottle. I also found my travel mug, which still had some barely warm coffee in it; a little caffeine would do no harm.

I was hurting now, and as well as the physical pain, the mental part was kicking in. Getting up and getting started was tough. I needed a boost.

At the aid station, I recognized Charles from the Raleigh Trail Runners – although we only had a 30 second conversation; that was the boost I needed. So of I went with a handful of trail mix, some M&M’s and some banana.

Just as I got going, I heard “JIMBO!!” Yay, there was Frankie just behind me. Also, Tammy was just ahead of us. Frankie asked her to take a picture of “me and my buddy Jimbo”. With arms around each other’s shoulder, the picture was taken. Less than a second later, (we were just ahead of the Jeep trail where spectator traffic comes and goes to the parking areas), Jess comes around the corner. Perfect timing, there’s me getting photographed with my arms around the 'blond chick' in full view of my wife!

Here's the photo, hope Tammy doesn't mind me grabbing it off of her website

and another one

I took a few minutes to get going. Tammy runs ahead, and Frankie and I run together for 2.5 to 3 miles or so. We were both struggling with the mental arithmetic to calculate the pace I needed in order to finish in under 12 hours. I guess the brain gets fried too. I was beat, physically and mentally. Eventually we figured a 15 minute/mile pace would get me to the finish at 11:54. Easier said than done at this point. I was boosted by passing through 40 miles - 80% done had a great ring to it, as did only having a single digit number of miles to go.

Dave James lapped us again; he was on 65 miles, 25 miles ahead of me. What an amazing athlete.
Frankie had to make a pitstop, so the next mile or so I was on my own, until she caught up with me on the long hill between mile 4 and 5. There was no way at this point I could keep up with her. I didn’t see her again other than a brief “hello” in AS#2 until after the race.

The chafing was getting worse, but I had a plan. I had these little packets of “First Aid Cream, with Pain Relief”. That’ll do, I thought. Except the pain relief doesn’t kick in until after several minutes of agonizing stinging. At least it took my mind off of my quads for a while I suppose.

I needed to pee – I noticed on Tammy’s blog that she wrote, “appropriately far from the race course was inversely proportional to the time I spent on the course!” Isn’t that the truth, I found the nearest tree, and let it all hang out (actually that is not strictly true, because it would appear that running 40+ miles has a very similar effect on men as ice baths, so “all” maybe a slight exaggeration.

There’s the dog pile again. This lap’s 30 seconds were wasted thinking, “Hey, I see you’re surrounded by flies now you piece of crap you. Oh, and good riddance, I will never see you again. See ya turd!”

Into AS#2, did the usual with the water bottles, lubed up one more time. I had some potato soup which really helped pick me up, and I was off again

As I was leaving, Tammy was having a conversation with her husband, and as I was passing, she told me that I was entering, “the victory five miles”, and I should enjoy it. That was all I needed to hear. I got a huge lift. 5 miles left, just 5 lousy miles. I can run 5 miles in my sleep.

The sawtooth 79 hurt even more now, more on the downs. But that was just physical – mentally, I was strong now.

I figured at 4 miles to go, if I maintained a 15 minute pace, I would get in less than 12 hours with 10 minutes to spare, and I called Jess with my prediction, she asked how I was feeling, “on top of the world”.

Before I know it, I was at Graylin for the last time – 3 miles to go, and at least one mile of it is a nice gentle downhill slope.

Tammy caught up with me when I had a mile left, we chatted briefly as she was passing, more words of encouragement, and this time words of congratulations now. I was on an unbelievable high.

Turning right onto the Jeep trail for the last time, I started to get emotional, and I am not ashamed to admit that there were more than a few tears as people were clapping me home. Good job I was wearing sunglasses! Just before the finish line I caught sight of Jess and our friends Shelly and Duane with their cameras at the ready.

I even had enough energy to put in a little sprint to the finish.

“214 IS DONE”, I shouted as I crossed the line. The people at the finish line congratulated me, and I was on top of the world. My time (according to the Garmin) was 11:48:40. Absolutely thrilled with the time, and thrilled with the whole experience

My name is Jim, and I am an Ultramarathoner.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Umstead 100 (50 for me) race report - Lap Three

Lap 3

After sitting down for a few, calling Jess to let her know that I was half way, and refilling the water bottle, I grabbed a small ham sandwich, ¼ hot dog, M&M’s and some banana and off I go. Being beyond the halfway point it meant that I could count miles to go, instead of miles gone. A subtle difference, but it is one that gives a little psychological boost. On the way out of the HQ spur, I got to say hi to Tammy again as she was heading in.

1.2 miles into lap 3, I became an ultra marathoner (anything above 26.2 miles), and I thought of Dean Karanzes whose book “Ultramarathon Man, confessions of an all night runner”, was my main inspiration.

With the compression underwear on, I was beginning to notice that my shorts started to ride up my legs for some reason, and this was annoying me, as well as irritating the already chafed spot. Looks like I’ll be getting rid of the compression at AS#2.

Shortly after the turnaround, Frankie was coming the other way, the conversation went something like this: “JIMBO!!!”…. “LOOKING GOOD FRANKIE!!”

I ran for a while talking to someone who was running for the fallen firefighters of Fort Lauderdale FD. He was telling me about one of his colleagues who got hurt, and will be out of work for TWO YEARS. Apparently, the city doesn’t take care of these guys well enough – hence his running for this cause. Good for him and shame on the city of Fort Lauderdale. He described his current mood as “in that happy place where it hurts to walk and it hurts to run”. I knew where he was coming from, I was approaching the same place.

This is me a little before 27 miles.

I needed to pee – this time though, despite broad daylight, and a lot more park visitors, I only went a few feet in the woods. I did stand behind a big tree though.

Frankie caught up to me on after my pit stop, and the miles again started to fly by. At 28.7 miles, I entered virgin territory, in other words, every single step I take will be the furthest I have ever run.

As the miles were piling up, it wasn’t long before the dog pile was spotted again. This lap’s 30 seconds were, “It’s starting to dry out, and STILL no one has put their foot in it”

Somewhere around mile 30, Frankie, who like me was listening to music wearing just one earpiece, suddenly put in her other earpiece, and really started to pick up the pace, dancing around and waving her arms in the air – apparently the Eurythmics does that to her, I will have to remember to put one of their tracks onto my music player.

31 miles/50K – we hit that a little under 7 hours, which was something to celebrate. It was also around that time that the talk started that I could finish the 50 in under 12 hours – to be honest, talk of finishing unnerved me a bit, I didn’t want to jinx anything. Apparently though, for a first 50, that is ‘awesome’

At AS#2, I made a decision to switch shoes, from my Merrell trail shoes to an old pair of Kayanos. The cushioning is probably shot in the Kayanos from 100’s of miles of wear, but they fit like a glove, and I felt they would be a little more comfortable around my toes. Also, I had to get rid of the compression underwear, the shorts riding up my leg was really annoying. Change shorts, change shoes, M&M’s, banana, and a piece of potato dipped in salt (sounds awful – it was, but apparently, it is a good way to get salt back in to your system with some energy giving carbs, it also make you thirsty, and forces you to drink). And off we go again.

Frankie left AS#2 ahead of me, and even though she was in my sights, I didn’t have the energy to put in a burst of speed to catch up, and besides, she pulled away further each walking stretch with her very fast walk.

The Sawtooth 79 section was beginning to hurt on the downs now as well as the ups, mainly in my quads. I was also starting to notice the lack of cushioning in the Kayanos, oh well, they will have to do till I get to the main HQ.

Even though I didn’t want to think of it too much, thoughts of an ‘awesome’ sub 12 hour finish were pushing me on, but it was pretty clear that fatigue was starting to kick in.

I got a bit of a second wind when I was boosted by the sight of the Graylin trail sign. I ran all the way down the gentle hill. I even caught up with my friend again, although as soon as the slope turned upwards, she surged ahead once more.

At the bottom of Graylin, there are about two miles to go to the Race HQ, and aid station. During this time there are runners coming towards you until you get there. Plenty of “You’re looking good”, and “good job” and “keep it up”, really helped to keep me going even though I was flagging.

I called Jess and left her a voicemail to let her know I was coming in soon.

And that was it for lap 3.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Umstead 100 (50 for me) race report - Lap Two

Lap Two

I am writing this up in long hand sitting on a plane on my way to the west coast for work (well, actually, I am not on the plane now, I am now typing my notes in a hotel room). I can never be bothered to get my lap top out while travelling, I’ll type this up later (like now).

Note to self: it is not wise to plan to sit in a plane so soon after an Ultra.

Right then, Lap 2. After my pit stop, it was off to race HQ to grab a gel for my water bottle. Overall rest time at the end of the lap was probably 5 or 6 minutes. Refill water bottle, grab some banana, and off I go.

Just after the turnaround at the end of the airport spur, I was lapped for the first time. It turns out I was passed by David James who was the eventual winner of the 100 with an overall time of 15:05. He was flying, at the time I thought he would never make it to the end if he keeps at that pace. It also crossed my mind that perhaps he was a fast runner who just got to the starting line late, and was trying to make up for lost time – but no, I was being lapped, as he passed he said, “Great running, keep it up” – certainly gave me a little boost. I was on my 14th mile, he was on his 27th. Incredible.

Somewhere around mile 15, I noticed a woman coming out of the woods, (one thing that was starting to stand out, was that all ultra runners, regardless of gender seem to have the same attitude when it comes to outdoor facilities.)

We were running parallel for a minute or so, at which point she started to look at her legs, and then she said, “Tick check”

I think, “Huh? Tit check? You’re not looking in the right place”. I remove my headphones and say, “Excuse me?”

“Tick check”

“Aah. Got it.”

This was my introduction to my main source of motivation for the next couple of laps, this was my new friend Frankie.

The miles started to fly by; both the conversation and pace were relaxing and comfortable. Soon we were upon the dog pile. “Surprised no one has stepped in it yet, and remarkable how fresh it looks considering I know it is at least 3 or 4 hours old” That was the 30 seconds wasted on lap 2.

At about mile 18, I did think to myself that in my last organized event, (OBX marathon), this was the point where the wheels fell off; my right calf muscle went, resulting in me limping the rest of the way.

Before I knew it, Frankie and I were approaching AS#2.

I was beginning to notice some chafing where the inside of my thigh meets my crotch. Nothing too bad, but it was the first time I had experienced anything like this with the Nike Dri-Fit shorts. No problem, just apply some lube and try not to think about it.

Refill the bottle with water and this time an “Acel Gel”. During my long training runs, I had been mixing/alternating between Acel and Hammer gels, so during the race, I was doing “Hammer, Hammer, Acel”. I grabbed some banana, M&M’s and some trail mix, and off we went.

Again the miles flew by, and Frankie and I chatted about running, everything and nothing. It didn’t seem long before the “sawtooth 79” section was done, and we were heading down Graylin.

With about a mile to go, Frankie pulled ahead, her blistering pace on the hills left me in the dust as I was starting to slow.

The chafing was still bothering me, so as I was approaching the race HQ, I made the decision to put on compression underwear. This is where I was praising myself for being incredibly smart – a) for thinking of bringing the compression underwear in the first place, and b) for bringing a towel so I could change without revealing too much!

Lap: Two
Accumulated miles: 25
Lap time: 2:46:36
Accumulated time:
Pace for lap: 13.17 min/mile
Accumulated pace:

Umstead 100 (50 for me) race report - Lap One

I was travelling across the country today, and I wrote longhand 30 pages of notes about the day. I had so much to remember, normally within a few days of the race, I forget everything, so this time, I wrote it all down. I will type these notes up lap by lap over the next few days.

Lap One.

Before the start, I had a game plan, I was thinking 11:30 min/mile, and add a minute each lap. I know that I was comfortable at 9 min/mile over short distances, and ran the first 18 miles of my last marathon at 10 min/mile, so I figured 11:30 would be a good pace to start (I did plenty of training runs at 11 min/mile), so I felt that would be a good comfortable pace that could be sustained.

That plan went out the window as soon as I was standing at the start line; I looked around and saw all these seasoned ultra runners surrounding me. My plan immediately switched to “do what they do”.

So headlight on, and we’re off. After about 100 yds or so there was a very slight incline, perfectly manageable at the pace I was going, however, many of those folks who knew what they were doing started to walk and that is what I did. And that’s how it went, jog on the flat and the downhill sections and walk the inclines – even the baby inclines. I was very happy at that pace.

Around mile 4, I needed to pee, even though it was still barely dawn, I still felt I should venture deep into the woods where I wouldn't be noticed - no idea why, it wasn't like I was the only one who uses the outdoor facilities!

The hill between mile 4 and 5 was uneventful other than the first spotting of the soon to be famous dog pile – still fresh and glistening. The thirty seconds of time wasted on this lap were, “I really wish people would pick up after their dogs”, and “the poor puppy has eaten something that disagreed with it”.

Into AS #2 (aid station 2). Refill water bottle, add a hammer gel to the water, take off long sleeved shirt, exchange regular glasses for prescription sunglasses and off I go again with a handful of M&M’s and some peanuts.

After the aid station, the “sawtooth 79” section started. So called because between miles 7 and 9, there are a lot of hills many of them beasts, mostly short hills, but for the whole two miles, there were hardly any flat spots at all.

I really enjoyed coming to the end of that section so I could get to the long trot down Graylin trail. Getting to that T-junction, and seeing that street sign really gave me a lift, because I felt that the worst was over, and knew I was facing a long downhill stretch followed by the last couple of miles of trail – but this time, you have people in the race coming towards you, and a few people saying “good job” does no harm whatsoever.

Toward the end of the lap, it became apparent that the men’s room was needed. As I got closer to the end, it became quite urgently apparent. As I crossed the line at the end of the lap, it became a sprint to the bathroom. I made it. Just. I had planned a few minutes rest at the end of each lap – I spent it this time on the john. Apparently, the one topic that all ultra runners converse about is “voiding” for some reason, hence the addition of this paragraph. :)

Lap: one
Accumulated miles: 12.5
Lap time: 2:48:09
Accumulated time: 2:48:09
Pace for lap: 13.05 min/mile
Accumulated pace: 13.05 min/mile

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Umstead 100 race report initial thoughts....

There are big things to remember – like finishing alive in less than 12 hours, the pain in my quads the following day the wonderful people you meet who encourage you and help you on your way, the fantastic volunteers, and the terrific organization of the whole event.

There are also little things, and I have no idea why this stands out, but there was a piece of dog crap at on the trail at about 5 miles. First time I saw it, I thought “that dog’s owner needs to visit the vet”, – let’s just say it was a little soft. For some strange reason, I saw that little pile every lap, and despite coming close each time, I managed to avoid it. I was also surprised that everybody else had also managed to step over it. Why did I write that? Why does this stick out in my memory? I have absolutely no idea. Perhaps it is a symbol of the kind of trivia that fills my mind to keep from thinking about the pain or the number of miles still to be travelled. So, a big thank you to the dog pile, you kept my mind occupied for at least 30 seconds per lap.

Before I get stuck into the race itself, I am going to mention the wonderful people. Just about everyone I met, from the elite front runners to those closer to the back, to those fantastic volunteers and organizers took a moment to pass the time of day, encourage you or just smile at you. It was all quite humbling really. When you are being lapped by the eventual winner of the 100 miler, and he says as he passes, “Good running, keep it up”, it is quite amazing how much of a boost it gives you.

I also need to give a shout out to Tammy, whose blog and Umstead race report from last year formed a big part of my research. Although the list of stuff she takes to the race made me panic, because I didn’t have half of it. It was very nice to meet her, and even though I have not seen any results, I am certain that she did very well in her 100 mile race.

Finally, while we are talking about people, a very special thank you to my new friend Frankie, who kept me company for the best part of laps two and three. Her conversation, encouragement, humor and enthusiasm really kept me going. I also found that I cut my pace back to match her pace, there is no doubt in my mind that easing back a bit in the mid stages of the race left me with enough energy to tackle the last few miles. As I was slowing down in the last lap, Frankie surged ahead, (she has an amazingly fast walk). The miles flew by – I know that she will have got through her first 100 with plenty of time to spare.

Watch this space; I’m working on a race report with pictures, and should get it done by the end of the week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Final thoughts prior to Umstead

About 12 hours from now, I will be 4 hours into the run. Hopefully, I should be comfortably into the second lap.

Good news, the cold has totally gone, even better news, the weather is predicted to be perfect tomorrow.

This evening, we went to the race briefing and pasta dinner. Two things stand out - the incredible organization undertaken by Blake Norwood and the people who put the race together, and the fantastic shirt that I will proudly wear when I have finished.

There is a photographer there, who is doing a master's degree in photography, and for his thesis, he is taking photos of runners' faces whne they have finished, his whole project is taking pictures of fatigued faces. An interesting concept to say the least. Needless to say I signed up, mainly because it was free, and I'm curious to learn what I will look like after 50 miles!

There is an 80 year old man, and a 74 year old woman who are running the whole 100 miles. That's quite incredible when you think about it.

Anyway, I know I will struggle to sleep, but I suppose I should try.