Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Results of Dumb Ass Fat Ass Boxing Day Madness 6 Hour Ultra



  Sex Age Mileage
C.H. Christopher M 37 37.6
John Adamof M 43 35.45
Trever Schick M 37 34.45
Charles Akers M 32 32.6
Darryl Banks M 45 31.6
Chris Knodel M 38 31
Tim Weiss M 53 31
Jeff Sackaroff M 38 31
Stephen Pieroni M 40 31
Bill Parquet M 40 30
Bryant Dukes M 38 30
Charles West M 43 30
Gene Meade M 48 26.9
Tim Preble M 38 26.6
Linda Banks F 48 26.6
Blanca Akers F 32 26.6
Bob Sites M 58 26
Amy Surrette F 38 24.9
Dan Pieroni M 71 24
George Wannop M   23
Michael Holt M 23 23
Norbert Miller M 55 22
Ben Dillon M 62 20
Jimmy Ballard M 48 20
Amy Schimmel F 35 18
Jeff Kimrey M   12
Nelson McDonald M   12
Robyn Smith F 59 12
Deanna Lovell F   10
Jim Elliot M 45 10
Donald Dees M 49 8
James Plant M 47 7.15
Fred M 58 7
Chris Elliot M   6
Mary Flood F 41 6
Jody Stouffer M 40 6
Melissa Stouffer F 39 5
Kirby Ballard F 9 5
Eagan     5
Jenn Elliot F 11 5
Randal Ware M 29 4
Hannah Dees F   3
Johnnie Dickens M   3
Jeremy M   2
Maurice M   1

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Awesomeness of 2011 and looking forward to 2012

Like most runners – I tend to use this time of year for some reflection on the year that is rapidly approaching the end.

2011 started with me running. At midnight, December 31 2010, I was running. And winning. Yep, I was first place male at the Freedom Park 12 hour run. No, really, I was winning. W-I-N-N-I-N-G. Shit, you don’t believe me. Of course, never having been in that position, I learned that it creates a whole new set of problems that I didn’t know existed. For example, I didn’t fuel and hydrate properly, and as a result ended up falling apart with 3 or 4 hours to go. I couldn’t hang on to it. So, the year started with second place male, (third overall). Good start.

Over the course of the year, I have ran 1017 miles in races/organized runs. I have failed in two races, Umstead 100 where a cold prevented from going any further than 50 miles, and also I had a DNF at Javelina where I kicked a rock and twisted my knee.

I have run around 2200 (with a couple of weeks left, I will see if I can get that to 2300) miles total for the year – above my target of 2111.

The highlight was of course finishing Tahoe Rim Trail 100. The most unbelievably difficult thing I have ever done. This 33 hours, 59 minutes and 20 seconds was one of my life’s greatest achievements.
2011 has also been the year I got faster. I have PR’s in 5K, 13.1, 26.2, 50k, 12 hour, 50 mile and 100k. The ones I wanted though, 100 mile and 24 hour have alluded me.

Here is my 2011 race list

1 Freedom Park 24 Hour (43.38m)
2 NC Fat Ass (9m)
3 Frosty 50k
4 Weymouth Woods 100k
5 Geezer Pleezer 4-Miler
6 Pilot Mountain Marathon
7 Umstead Trail Marathon
8 Ellerbe Marathon
9 Umstead 50
10 Hampton VA 24 Hour(57.25M)
11 Panther Prowl 5k
12 Inside Out Sports 1/2 Marathon
13 Conquer the Cove Marathon
14 Boogie 50-Miler
15 Chatooga 50k
16 Lake Tahoe 100-Miler
17 Laurel Valley 35-Miler
18 Two Bridges 50-Miler
19 CARA 5k
20 Hinson Lake 24 Hour(68.11)
21 Oct 1 Shirt Run
22 New River 50k
23 Medoc Trail Marathon
24 Ridge to Bridge Marathon
25 Seaboard 5k
26 City of Oaks Marathon
27 Javelina 100k
28 Pinehurst Turkey Trot 1/2 Marathon
29 Derby 50k
30 Crooked Rd 24 hour
31 Pittsboro 5k

To save you from counting, that is 31 events, 22 were 26.2 or above, and includes 15 ultras. Not bad.
It means I will finish second or third in the Mangum Track Club “What’s the point” race. I would have won most other years.

As always – it is the people I come across that make this sport so special. I have met many and made many new friends. The “Team Awesome” experience was fantastic – and somehow, figuring out a way to bring that whole concept forward to 2012 is going to be my generic goal – what do I mean by that? Well, I don’t mean that every race has to have a dozen members of a team like we did in April – no, I think it means that I have to bring awesomeness to every run I do. It doesn’t necessarily mean maximum effort – it means maximum enjoyment, along with a sprinkling of maximum effort.

As for more specific goals - and I consider these targets, targets that I can move if I want to –  first on the list is getting a Western States qualifier. Also sub 24 hour Umstead would have to be a consideration – but just finishing Umstead is a secondary goal (and will also provide me with the qualifier). I think based on the way I started there last year, I probably have a reasonable shot at it. I still see a 100 miles at Hinson lake as perfectly manageable, so would like to get that done in September. (WTF? LOL)

I’m thinking I would like to see if I can manage at least four 100 milers. Umstead, Tahoe RIm, Javelina and one or two others.

I have already mentioned on another post (here) about the 2012 5k challenge. That is a 5k every week under 24 minutes (60 seconds grace in January). I’m also thinking I would like to shave a minute off of my 5k time – let’s set a target of 22.5 minutes. If they do the panther prowl in May, that would be a good as any place to go for it again – the location of my current 5k PR.

100 pushups – There is a good website that outlines a training plan to get to do one pushups (surprisingly hundredpushups.com) I think that will be a fun challenge.

I would like to log 2412 total miles. 201 miles per month. Not sure I can race as much – but heck, let’s make 1000 miles of racing a target.

I would like to get my name picked out of the hat for Western States Lottery (yeah – good luck with that. WTF? LOL)

Finally – 2012 – (I’m hoping people say “twenty-twelve” instead of “two-thousand and twelve” by the way), I just want it to be filled with awesomeness, and I want to stay happy and healthy.

Have a great Christmas – may it be filled with too much booze, too much food and great presents. Oh, and if you happen to be near Sanford on Boxing Day – (December 26) feel free to come along to Jimbo’s Boxing Day Dumb Ass, Bad Ass, Mad Ass, Fat Ass Fun Run at Kiwanis Park

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reflections on the Western States Lottery

I’m not sure that I will publish this, I don’t want to sound all whiney – I guess if you see it, then I will have already published. This is supposed to be a happy website – you know, the musings and departures from normal of a bald-fat-middle-aged-ultrarunner – somewhat light hearted. But you see, I’m sad.Crying face Not life or death sad but just sad.
The first thing I want to say, is that I accept the rules of the Western States board, I absolutely accept that they can choose the entrants on whatever criteria they deem appropriate and by using whatever method they choose. I absolutely unequivocally accept the lottery results, and I have no question as to the integrity or fairness of the lottery, and totally understand that it is a random process  and that any random selection of names, may not include mine. I am not in slightest bit angry, I am just slowly getting heart broken, (too strong? Probably). <sigh>
In the incredibly slim chance that someone ever reads this who has any authority with the run, I want to let you know, that to run the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run is the highest thing on my bucket list – way higher than anything else. When I first started this ultrarunning madness, it was always with a goal to eventually getting to run the wonderful Western States run. There are no ‘ifs’ ‘and’ or ‘buts’ about it, it is my dream –  so, I hope you accept that this is not meant to be disparaging, and I would like to hope that you can take this blog as constructive.
I have been told – “don’t worry about Western States, there are plenty of other 100’s out there” (often by people who have already done WSER). Yeah, I know that. I have even done some of them. And TRT 2012 is looking good for my annual fix of running in the Sierras. But as wonderful as those other 100’s are, and as challenging and as well supported etc etc, they just are simply not Western States. That’s the one that is my dream, and I can dream what I want right?
So, Saturday December 10th 2011. Noon EST – myself along with about 2000 other people with a dream had their names in an “electronic" hat (an SQL database whatever that is). A button was pressed 267 times, and 267 lucky souls were selected to run Western States in June. The odds are stacked against everyone – that is clear.
To sweeten the pot for people who lose the lottery – the following year, you are given an extra ticket in the hat. At first glance it sounds a great system, be patient, keep qualifying and the lottery will stack in your favor. So, this year – me as a previous “two-time-loser”, I had three tickets in the hat, along with 257 other people. There were 460 people with two tickets and 1222 people with just the one ticket.
Now, I am just your average excel user and certainly no statistician, but I figured my 3 tickets gave me about a 1 in 4 chance of being selected. And the actual lottery reflected that number – a very rough count and and it looks like about 57 of the original 258 two time losers got in. So….. there will be no more than 201 three-time-losers in the draw next year. The final number will probably be between 150 and 180.  So, if I run the numbers again with my 4 tickets for next year, it looks like I get about a 1 in 4 chance again (just a hair better). I run the numbers again with 5 tickets in the draw for the lottery in 2013 – still somewhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4. Hmmm yes, I appreciate that, the extra tickets give me an advantage over someone with just one ticket in the hat, but my chances of getting selected year on year do not dramatically improve.
Now then, there is a whole load of assumptions that I am making with regard to the number of people who enter the lottery and return for a following year, so nothing is anywhere near certain (especially my calculations) – but here is what my average use of excel told me – if nothing changes, in the 2019 lottery, there will be maybe a dozen or so people  with 10 tickets in the hat, and only a 50% chance of being selected! I just hope that I can keep qualifying for that long.
Is it fair to say that the current system is a little flawed? I won’t say unfair – it is random, so therefore fair. I would like to think that consideration can be made to changing the lottery system a little. I would like to see it weighted heavily to those who have been most patient and qualified year on year. I have some ideas, that I hope could be considered (subject to anyone actually reading this far) – instead of adding a single ticket for each losing year, how about doubling up? That would mean next year I would have 8 tickets in the drawing – with perhaps around a 50% chance of getting in – if I don’t make it, then 16 tickets for the 2013 lottery, or maybe, with just about 70-80 names remaining on the four-time-loser list, consideration maybe give to “clearing the board”, and everyone who has been on the list for five lotteries is just accepted into the race. Similar to the old “two-time-loser” system (which with numbers involved now, the ttl would be just unworkable).
Another thought is to have separate lotteries for each group of losers – for example, next year 40% of the available race slots are just for the three-time-losers, 30% for the two-timers, 20% for one-timers and then 10% for first time entries. Again, using this system, it looks like it may be feasible to “clear the board” of the biggest losers after the 5th time of qualifying for the run.
It would be nice to have finite time, a time where I know for certain, that as long as I keep qualifying, I will be in the race
Am I out of line here?
OK then – I guess it is time to work on a qualifier for the 2013 race.

Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra

Since I have been doing the blogging thing, one thing I have noticed is that the hits to each page go up dramatically if I put the name of the race as the title. I have also noticed that if write things like “Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra” in the body –  again more hits. Thank you Google – you’re doing the world  favor by spreading the word about this wonderful race.
On to the race – Roanoke is about 3 hours from home so it was a fairly easy journey for Tom, Amy and myself. We met up with Shannon, Dave and Tamra all the way from New Jersey – this became a partial Team Awesome reunion.

Over dinner, goals were discussed for the race next morning. 100. 100 miles being the target for Tom, Dave, Shannon and myself. Amy, just returning from a nasty injury had only been given clearance by her Doctor to run that day after a several month layoff; Amy just wanted to run some.

100 miles. 24 hours. WTF? LOL – not even So Far From Normal, as that is becoming a routine goal for me. A goal that I continually fail at….. but a common goal nonetheless.

They say life is full of surprises – but there were at least a couple of things that weren’t actually surprises at all.
Not-a-surprise #1 -  It’s December. It’s cold. With a risk of being very cold. It was. (Then why was I surprised by this? I was actually surprised that I was so surprised). IT’S DECEMBER NUMB NUTS. OF COURSE IT WILL BE COLD!
Not-a-surprise #2 – It never was a surprise,was never going to be a surprise, in fact, I would have been surprised had I been surprised. Nope, no surprise at all that Ricky and Sharon Scott would put on a great race. Ricky and Sharon run in the same circles as I do (quite literally in the case of Hinson Lake), they are often at MTC races, shirt runs, Umstead etc., so they know what ultrarunners like when it comes to a race. Yep, they did a great job – and I wasn’t surprised at all.

Back to the race – Shannon, Dave and Tamra had set up Team Awesome HQ, about 1/3 of the way around the course. The HQ consisted of a tent (heated), and a table full of goodies. I had a 2.5 gallon ziploc bag full of my “stuff” and another 2 full of clothes. I was still jogging to the start line, when at 8:00am sharp the race started. It was cold (SURPRISE!), even frost on the ground (WTF?).

So, 24 hours, 4.166666667 miles each and every hour. 14.4 minutes for each mile. 100 miles in the bag. No problem. (LOL!) Each loop was a certified 0.95xxxx miles

First loop – 12 minutes. YAY, time in the bank. Second lap 11 minutes. YAY more minutes in the bank. I stuck at around a 12 minute pace for a few loops, until Shannon came around to lap me. Shannon’s spirit always motivates me, she needed to slow done some, and she told me I needed to speed up some – so that meant our pace was perfectly matched for quite some time. Our target loop time was 10:45, and it was going really well.

Early on – maybe first loop or 2. See that white frosty looking shit on the ground? Yeah – I know, it was December, I was surprised by that. (Picture Ricky)
Jimbo and Shannon sorting out the world’s running problems, and strategizing over Facebook fights. (If you look closely, you can see the shroud of awesomeness that engulfs Shannon). Picture Ricky.

10 or 11 miles in I had my first shoe change, I switched from my Merrell Trail Gloves to my Kinvaras, and kept plodding away. Some loops I was on my own, others I had company. This is what I love about short loop races – you get to see all of the other runners – if you want to chat, you can; if you want to lose yourself in your thoughts r music you can. Time went on, round and round. Plus the occasional break. Hmmm, probably too many occasional breaks. I also got to see Amy running for the first time in many months!

Talking of Amys – my other Amy friend was also running (Amy Surrette – guest writer to this blog after Hinson). Amy was running for a cause – for a family who had just had triplets and the mother was having medical issues. (Details here) She was running solidly – her whole family was there, and they were cheerleaders to everyone who was running! A special thank you to Kayla who presented me with a strip of Bacon early in the day. It is almost like I have got this reputation of being a bacon loving fiend or something. I am certain it was nothing to do with the fact that I demolished a truck load of bacon in the Shoneys after Hinson – and Kayla may have been a witness…..)

The course is made up of crushed granite surface, not quite flat, and even had a short steep climb (That One Steep Hill™ – every course has one) and an equally short steep descent. It doesn’t take long to figure out where to walk and where to run, and I like that routine of a short loop

My 25 mile split was around 5:40. Ooops. I figure 5 hours if I want to break 100 in 24. Oh well time to shift on to goal #2. See if I could beat 91 miles. Certainly doable (after all, I have done it before – that was my 24 hour split at Boulder). About 5:30pm, it was time to get ready for the night. Tights, and many layers were going to be the answer to fight the chill which was-a-coming.

About 7pm Shannon announced that she was done – happy with 50, unhappy with foot pain. I was in the low 40’s at this point, and was tempted to be done too. It was getting cold. (SURPRISE……. it’s not like it is December or anything). My left foot was hurting (very weird pain – it felt like my laces were done up too tight (they weren’t).

The amount of people still going was rapidly diminishing – and so was I. With about 50 miles done I was tired, cold, wet and in pain. And Amy’s car was warm. Time for a nap and to warm up, and probably time to call it a day. Dave and Tom were still going well. Not sure how long I slept for, but when I came around, I was so toasty. And hungry. I think I headed out to do a couple more loops – I was probably running for about an hour – at a guess, maybe 2am? I dunno, my memories are fairly fuzzy. It was cold, the moon was bright, and it was cold.  Some time later, Tom joined us in the car, he was also pretty much done. Dave was still going.  Around 4:30, Tom and I figured we would walk/jog  loop, and then defrost, walk/jog then defrost – rinse and repeat.  Tom started to get a second wind, he would walk with me for a loop, and while I thawed out, he would run a loop fairly hard, giving him time to defrost for a few minutes. This was a 30 minute cycle. It actually worked quite well – and I do wonder how I could have done had I discovered this ‘technique’ sooner. At 5am, the temperature was recorded at 21oF . Yep, it was cold (SURPRISE!!). About 6:00-6:30, with over 90 miles done, Super Dave had had enough. He ran  incredibly well through a tough night. Awesomeness.

7am – daylight returned, and it has been said by ultrarunner after ultrarunner, that daylight just makes the whole world seem that much better. The fatigue and pain that had plagued me through the long long night had miraculously disappeared. There was an hour left, and I had just less than 57 miles on the board. Hmmm, can I do 12 minute miles? Target 100 had returned. 100k. GO JIMBO GO. Just like at Hinson Lake, I reserved my best and fastest miles for the last hour. I actually considered myself a fraud – considering how bad I felt in the night, how come I could run so strong now?
23.5 hours or so. (Behind me, you can see much of Team Awesome, Super Dave, Shannon (matching orange fleece from last /this year’s Freedom Park), and crew-person extraordinaire, Tamra)

Pushing hard, and watching the clock, it was going to be tight, but it looked like I would hit 100k. Just before 8am – I was handed a popsicle stick with my number on it to drop when the horn sounded at exactly 24 hours. Amy Surrette caught up with me, and we even ran up ‘the one hill ™’  and we ran together for the last few minutes.

 Final distance 62.29 miles (just a hair over 100k). Happy with that. Tom didn’t quite make a 100 miles – his second wind took him to 98.x miles.

So, to summarize. This is a great race, I was well fed, well supported by wonderful volunteers and in the company of friends for most of the 24 hours. It was cold – and I certainly wouldn’t complain if it occurred sooner in the year, but whenever it is, I will almost certainly be back.

Thanks Ricky for the photos - you can find more here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 5k challenge

Sometimes I have stupid ideas, however, I can not claim full responsibility for this one. I partially have to blame my friend Brad. On his blog he posted that he wanted to run a 5k every week, under 20 minutes. One of the things he wrote was, “Ambitious, but will demand consistency that I need in order to improve my speed throughout the year.” This struck a chord with me as I read it, and for a few fleeting moments, I thought it was a great idea, and  (and this is where I got stupid) I told him as such in the comments section – now, 20 minutes is way out of the question for me, my PR is 23.34 – so maybe I will shoot for 24.

Once I posted the comment of course I immediately regretted it.  And then Brad went and saw it and commented we would be able to provide accountability for each other. Crap. I guess now then I am committed.

So, here are my self imposed rules –
    • one 5k every week. Yes, that is 52 x 5k’s
    • 24 minutes or under. (60 seconds grace for January only – I have only ever twice ran under 24 minutes)
    • It can be on the treadmill, down a hill, on the flat, a split in a longer race, it just has to be done
    • It can be a race.
    • Late spring, I will sign up for a 5k race, shoot for a PR and adjust my required weekly time target to within 30 seconds of that race time. In the fall, I will race another 5k and adjust again
Anyone with me and Brad? Feel free to make up your own rules too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

and just like that, it was over

and just like that, it was over
A quick think back a week ago – it was Thursday, and I was getting ready to head to Phoenix for the Javelina Jundred 100 mile race. It was the last day of my streak – you see, I had convinced myself that if I ran every day, it would force me to train well, to go out and run even if I didn’t want to – I had ran every day for over 10 weeks – not one day was missed – my mileage was over 500 in that time span. I had raced 3 marathons, a 5k and a 50k in the preceding 5 weeks – not mention Hinson Lake and the Really Really Really long shirt run in September. I had a marathon PR and a 50k PR. Add to that course knowledge from 4 laps last year. In short, I think I prepared well.

I even had a vague plan – take it easy the first half of each loop, lots of walking as it was mainly uphill, then open it up some on the second half of each loop. I figured about 3:15-3:30 for the first couple of loops – slowing down to 4:30+ for the night loops – even 5 hours, pick it up in daylight a small amount, and that would give me something like a 28 hour finish.

I was ready.

As soon as I arrived in Phoenix – I met my friend Dave in the running store he works at – “IRun Phoenix”. A great store, they had everything I needed for last minute supplies – it is owned by a trail/ultra runner, so the selection was great (http://www.irunshop.com/). Then off to Javelina Jeadquarters to get the schwag. Gotta love a race that gets you a 12-pack cooler. AND a t-shirt. I caught up with some friends then headed to Dave’s to get some sleep.

My plan of trying to stay on East Coast time for the week I was working on the west coast meant that the 4:00 am alarm did not feel so bad, I was ready to go in 15 minutes, armed with some fresh Cost Rican coffee and a bagel (another friend of Dave’s was crashing there – Felipe from Costa Rica). Just after 5 Felipe ad I got to the McDowell Mountain Park – the organization and shuttle service to the Jeadquarters was flawless. I met up with John from NC and his buddy Matt who graciously offered to crew for me.

6:00 am, it was go time. No pressure, take my time and just plod the first half of the course. I took video and pictures of the marvelous sunrise and moonset. Halfway round the course starts more of a gentle descent – learning my lesson from last year, I did not pound down these hills – just nice gentle running. Loop one, was finished I about 3 hours and twenty something. Perfect
After a fairly quick turnaround at the start finish area, it was back out the way I had come, and up the hill I had just ran down. Nice and easy to the half way point then pick up the pace. The plan was working – I felt great. Second loop was uneventful. I fuelled well, hydrated well – and back to the start finish in 6 hours and fifty something. Perfect. Again.

At his point last year, I had lost 8 pounds in weight and was badly dehydrated – the cooler weather and smarter running meant that was not the case this year.

I changed socks, and was back out for lap 3. Again, another uneventful lap. Unfortunately though, I met up with John who was sitting at the aid-station 7 miles from the start/finish area – he told me he was done, with problems in his shins. I could see they were swollen. I chatted with him for a few minutes before heading back. 45 miles done in 10 hours and fifty something.

Knowing it would be getting dark this loop, I took a longer break to get ready – switching to a long sleeve shirt, preparing headlamp, switching shoes (at this point, the rocks on the course were beating my feet up – so I switched from the 101’s to the more cushioned Cascadias – all a part of the plan.)

And back out after 20 minutes or so. I was a little slower now on the power walk up the hills, my 50 mile split was 12:20 – which was really where I thought I should be – I figured that put me on course for a 28 hour finish. I felt good but I rested a while at the Jackass Junction aidstation, I took in a couple of cups of Ramen Noodles to get some calories in, and headed out. After a mile or two, the course flattened out, and the strategy of preserving energy for the second half of the course was paying off – I was walking strongly on the flats, and jogging slowly on the downs – even picking people off who had seemed to go into an early death march. The night was cool, the noodles had kicked in and I felt great. There is a aid station about two miles out from the start/finish, I needed nothing there so just sailed on through to get to the finish – it was looking like my 100k split would be about 15:45 – almost 3 hours faster than last year. I was very happy.

and just like that it was over

Just half a mile or so later I managed to kick a rock, and in the process of successfully preventing myself from falling, I managed to land awkwardly on my right leg, and I twisted something on the inside of my knee. It kind of felt like a rolled ankle, but in my knee. My normal routine when I twist my ankle is to swear loudly, but keep moving ad the pain will eventually subside. It didn’t. IT was especially painful going down hills.

Back to the Jeadquarters – my friend Adam (www.sedonarunning.com) sat me down and got some ice. John and Matt were also there to offer sympathies (and a beer). Even though the pain subsided with the icing, it was still painful to run. After 30 minutes of icing, sitting and thinking about the prospect of going out for another 15 mile loop, I pulled the plug and took the beer that was offered. In my head, that was the decision made. DNF with a sub 16 hour 100k (A PR)

and just like that it was over.

So, a few days later – here are my thoughts. Within a couple of days, my knee felt fine. That alone caused more angst, because it of course crossed my mind that I probably should have sucked it up and continued. The sensible side of my head though said that perhaps dropping was the right thing, because I did no additional damage and was able to recover. Who knows?

but it was over.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My first movie production

I pieced this together using Windows Live Movie Maker. Some movie clips I took during my 100 mile run and also some photos I took. The other name for this movie is "The 12 minutes you will never get back"

Respecting the Hell out of Javelina Jundred.

Javelina Jundred is a 101.4 mile run in the Arizona desert. The scenery is absolutely spectacular – if you like deserts (I do). The ancient Saguaro towering over you as you run, the mountains in the distance. Plus the wonderful support from the volunteers. It is billed as a Jalloween party – many wearing costume.  (All the “J’s” are silent by the way).
The approach of sunrise shortly after the start
The moon getting ready to set
Mountain backdrop
The beautiful ancient saguaro
more saguaro
Female winner and second overall Jamie Donaldson. After the race, Jamie contacted me and asked if this photo could be used by Hammer Nutrition in one of their ads. It was published in Ultrarunning Magazine a month or two later
Spectacular sunset. Hope that this year I will get to see a second sunrise.
I bolloxed up at Javelina last year. The curse of most endurance runners was probably my main downfall – yep, going out too fast. Plus, I could also blame the wig – I am not used to running with hair.
The course is actually quite deceptive. Flat at the start, and then a very gradual incline for about 5 miles, then a 5 mile drop – barely noticeable. Not by any means do these climbs have any significant elevation gain. You barely notice it – and that is the problem. You see, you start slow being smart, and then somewhere around half-way through the loop you suddenly feel great, the pace picks up – but… that is gravity doing that. Meanwhile as the pace is high, sudden thoughts of potentially hitting sub 24 come at you. After 15 miles, you arrive at Javelina Jeadquarters feeling great, looking forward to the big sub-24 buckle. They run “washing machine loops” at Javelina, so you head out the way you have just come – back up the hill you just flew down – except, you try and keep the pace the same as when you were coming down, plus of course it is getting hotter.
Last year, by the time I had finished the second lap, I was pretty tired and pretty badly dehydrated. I was actually down about 8 pounds. To be honest, I never really recovered from that – even though I sat down for 30 minutes or so to get some fluids in me.
I did do two more laps – but really struggled through them both, eventually dropping at 100k. There were some of those moments where you feel like you are moving well, but soon realize it just took 25 minutes for a mile.
As I type, I am sitting on a plane, listening to music. Freebird by Lynnrd Skynnrd just came on. It brought back a memory of last year – after I had decided to drop, and I had about 2 miles to go to the S/F area, the very same song came on – I cranked the volume up and sang my heart out while playing my air guitar. Thankfully there wasn’t anybody around to hear me (and no doubt it scared the rattlesnakes and coyotes away. As I sit on the plane – I did turn the volume up, but no singing.
Reliving that memory has just given me an idea  - I am going to ask as many people as I can to recommend a song – I will make a “friend” playlist, and play through the list when I need perking up
This year, I won’t be stupid, this year no dreams of sub 24 or anything so ridiculous will enter my head. I will remember the hills are there, and I will be smart. I will not wear a wig. I will not bollox Javelina.

A tale of two marathons

After the fast 50k on the New River Trail, and the plod around the Medoc Trail Marathon the preceding two weekends, I would be lying if I wasn’t expecting a huge amount of awesomeness  -- huge swathes of awesomeness in fact, at the Ridge to Bridge Marathon.
26.2 miles with a net elevation loss of 2,700 ft, cool weather and then there is me having found a little speed through the summer. So yeah I had great expectations.
The race director warns us on the website that running downhill for practically the whole distance wouldn’t be easy – “LOL WTF?” were my thoughts; I mean look at me, gravity most certainly is my friend.
I set a goal of under 4 hours. Now, let’s go back in time a few years. For my second and third marathon, I set that as a goal – sub 4. I kept getting injured though training for that speed. These injuries coupled with the fact I just figured I would never get the sub-4 meant I ended up deciding that I may as well go further instead – yes failing at sub-4 marathons was a significant factor that steered me to ultras.
Back to Ridge to Bridge……
The first 16 miles or so – yeah, I was well on target for sub 4. I flew down the hill, putting plenty of time in the bank. Now then, a couple of things come into play – it was cold first thing at the start, close to freezing. With that kind of elevation drop it gets warm quickly – maybe total temperature change was 30-40oF – so by about 16-17 miles, the warmth was a factor.
The last few miles are either flat or very slightly downhill. Except that is not how it feels. After the steep drops earlier in the race, it very much felt like an uphill climb – I heard someone describe it as like “running through peanut butter”. An my pace was suffering. Sub 4 still looked good, but the banked time was getting spent quite quickly.
This is when David (the RD) adds his own special brand of torture.  You can see the finish line, you can hear lots of cheering, and I also started thinking “perhaps my Garmin is actually right” (it had been fairly consistently reading 0.2 miles more than the mile markers – and I am used to that knowing that the GPS technology is not perfect.). But not to be – there is a wonderful loop of the parking lot to be done. Running round this loop, I knew it was going to be tight – just to pile on the torture, there is this tiny little hill just before the finish line. That was where the energy totally ran out. When I did cross the finish line, I stopped my watch and looked down, 4:00:01. Shit. If only hadn’t walked up that tiny hill. Shit.
I saw David and he congratulated me. I asked if he could confirm the actual chip time: He looked it up on the computer, then pointed at the screen and smiled. 3:59:58.8. Yeah! 1.2 seconds to spare.

Onto the next marathon 2 weeks later. City of Oaks Marathon. The inaugural City of Oaks (in 2007) was my second ever marathon.
I didn’t want to set any high expectations being as it was a week out from Javelina. Take your time Jimbo and get a nice last long training run in.
Yeah right.Eye rolling smile
It was a perfect morning for a run, and I went way too fast at the beginning. This was the biggest race I had done since OBX in 2008, and the crowds at the start made a change. And I found myself riding on others’ coattails.
Ebeneezer Church Road, from about 12-17 miles in I think. A long stretch of mainly uphill roadway that got very old. Especially as I could see the trails in Umstead state park. When I did eventually get to Umstead at the top of Gralyn Rd, it felt like a kind of homecoming. It is so much more enjoyable running there.
With 10k to go, I was beat, yep, I paid the price for going out early. It was all about just finishing now. (And getting a beer at mile 23 Hot smile)
Approaching the finish, I high-fived everyone I could see and even broke into some spontaneous dance (so good that on my way back to the car, I was congratulated for my finish. LOL WTF?), and then crossed the line. 4:32. Overall, I am happy with that.
So, there you have it. The last 5 weeks has seen 3 marathons and a 50k. A PR 50k and a PR marathon among them. I am coming out of it all free of injuries a little leaner, a touch meaner and ready to kick some Javelina butt. Whoah there Jimbo, careful what you say lest you upset the ultragods. What I meant to say is. I am coming out of it all free of injuries, a little leaner, a touch meaner and ready to respect the hell out the Javelina course……..

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jimbo the published photographer again

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the editor of a Japanese running magazine – he wanted to use a couple of my photos from the TRT 100.
The magazine has a circulation of around 200,000.
Anyway – here is a scan of the page, my photos are the top right, and top left.
Japanese Running Magazine

Friday, October 21, 2011

So there was just this one hill.....

Goosebumps -- Jimbo's return to Tahoe

Work this week had brought me to the great state of Nevada, northern Nevada to be precise. I have been there before – most recently in July for a little jog around the Tahoe Rim Trail.

I had a little time to kill late one afternoon, so I planned on going for a run. First though, let’s go back in time a little; on Monday while doing my normal lunch time run at Umstead, I suffered a fairly sharp pain in my right calf muscle. I have had this before and the most successful way of treating this kind of muscle strain has been lots of ice, and liberal use of The Stick ™. Anyway, since then, I have been nursing the injury, only walks for about a mile and some light jogging. I hated the fact that I was in close proximity to some of the most beautiful trails in the world, and couldn’t use them.

Anyway, going back to my time to kill……. I thought “gosh-darn it, I don’t give a flying fig about my calf, I am going for a jolly old run” (well, let’s be honest, my words were a little less delicate than that). So I looked at a map, I knew I was fairly close to some of the northern reaches of the TRT races. And there it was; just 35-40 minutes’ drive away, Diamond Peak. During the race, this tough climb starts at mile 30 on the first loop, and mile 80 on the second lap. In just two miles, the climb goes up about 1800-1900 feet – 1200 feet of it in the last mile. Yep, that’s where I was going. I have mixed memories of that hill, obviously just the sheer difficulty of the gradient, then there is the altitude – I am a flat lander. I live at 200 feet above sea level. The top of the ski-slope I was about to ascend was ~8,300 feet higher, so the lack of breathable air would be noticeable. Plus, unlike in the race, I was going to run down the mountain too.

As expected, the climb up was challenging to say the least, especially once I got to the second mile. The views were gorgeous. Had I got there a little later, there would have been some wonderful sunset views across Lake Tahoe –as it was though, it was still spectacular. I took plenty of pictures on the way up, and even took a movie on the summit (which my camera seems to have lost somewhere). Then it was time to drop down. Terrifying and yet exhilarating are two words that come to mind. I certainly do not have a great deal of confidence on that type of gradient, so I was somewhat cautious. The last mile on the way up took about 27 minutes. It took about 10.5 on the way down. The total descent took 19.5 minutes, the climb up took 43 – yes, gravity is my friend. Just over an hour total – the most amazing workout with terrific views. One could describe it as “awesome” even. If you ever find yourself in Reno, take the drive, it is so worth it.

Oh, and the calf muscle survived.

Enjoy the pictures J