Sunday, March 27, 2011

Running and sponsorship

Dear Sponsors and people who make stuff for runners

I write this as someone who cares about sales and marketing. Really -- not because I want free stuff. Much.

During my run today, I got thinking about sponsorships and runners, and sponsored runners. I started thinking, why do they sponsor the fast dudes? Who is going to see who they are sponsored by? The only people who will see their sponsors are other fast dudes - and they won't care, because they are sponsored by someone else.

The people who buy stuff, cos they like what they see, are the kool kidz at the back. So, wouldn't it make sense to sponsor someone who is down amongst the kool kidz?

There is also more exposure - the fast dudes maybe out on the course half of the time of the kool kid. Also, imagine if you were a sports drink manufacturer, say "Super Dooper Sports Drink" - the skinny fast dude, all you can fit on his shirt is "SD Drink", he will be so fast that that anyone watching will only see the word "Drink" - how effective is that?

Now, contrast that to the larger than life kool kid at the back - you could fit on  his shirt, "Super Dooper Sports Drink. If this dude can run, anyone can -- look what Super Dooper Sports Drink can do. Go to for more information or call 1-800-555-1234, and ask for Pete" Not only would a spectator be able to read that because our sponsored athlete is slow, they would have time to get out their smart phone and go to the website and order the stuff because they are so in awe of our runner, and so impressed with a supplier that cares about the folks at the back.

Lets look at advertising cost - our kool kid would do anything for a beer and a t-shirt. No contracts required.

Word of mouth - you know without a shadow of a doubt that if one of the people at the back were sponsored, they would tell everyone they meet that they have a sponsorship deal, and who it is who is sponsoring them, and how freakin' awesome their stuff is.

So, to sum up..... considerably more exposure, a better billboard, cheaper and more word of mouth advertising. What's not to like?

OK, so maybe I do want free stuff. Drymax, 2 Toms, RaceReady, nuun, Nathan,  New Balance, Yuengling, Fat Tire, Balvenie, bacon producers, I love your products. Feel free to contact me, and we'll talk. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Umstead 2011. The first preview

I'm looking forward to Umstead.

Not too long to go now, about 11 days.

And I am terrified. You would think that after 3 successful 100 mile runs including a successful Umstead, I would be ok with the gargantuan effort that will be undertaken.

So why? I have been thinking about it, I believe it is because this is the first 100 where I have a time goal. Well several time goals actually. Every other 100 has been run with a view to nothing but beating the cut-offs.

Last time I ran with a time goal, it didn’t end up well. Can anyone say “Jimbo, you bolloxed The Boogie”? I went out too fast, had stomach issues, overheated, and generally messed it up. So I’m thinking this is the reason I have some trepidation.

So, here are the goals:

Goal 1: Finish alive and with a smile.
Goal 2: Beat last year’s time - 27:49
Goal 3: Distance PR – 26:24
Goal 4: 50 mile split less than 11 hours
Goal 5: And this is the “secret dream goal” – the goal I won’t say in public (unless bribed with beer). Sub 24:00. There, I have said it (and y'all owe me a beer)

My training has gone really well – I have run considerably more miles than this time last year (248 since 2/1/2010 vs 365 since 2/1/2011). My pace on short runs has dramatically increased, at a guess, on average about 60-90 seconds per mile. In recent months, I have PRs for 50k and marathon, plus 30 minutes faster for Weymouth Woods, not to forget fastest lunchtime loops - long and short. But despite all of that, I can not see any way to trim 3:49 off of last year’s time. That is a lot.

Here is what I do know for a fact, Umstead is one of the best - I love this race, its organization, the course and the fact that I will know so many people who will be running.

My life changed on this course 2 years ago. Regardless of what happens out there in 11 days, I can't and won't be disappointed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ellerbe Marathon

The Ellerbe Marathon is a wonderful low key event put on by the Mangum Track Club. Like all MTC events, for me, I get a sense of homecoming; can there really be any better running clubs? Always so good to see so many people that I have got to know over the last couple of years.

Definitely not a PR course

So, I didn’t have a plan really – other than to get a nice solid last long run in ahead of Umstead, plus I was using it as a guide to see where I am at compared to last year. Last year’s time was 4:58, and it was also three weeks out of Umstead – so yeah, I did think that beating last years time was a suitable target.

It was bitterly cold at the start, winter’s death grip had returned, it was barely above freezing! I ran the first half mile or so with Amy, but we both wanted to “run our own race”, so she kicked it up a gear and was gone. The next couple of miles or so, I got into a good rhythm as the temperatures warmed up. I was feeling good. Frank Maguire kept me company to about mile 10 – if I am close to Frank, I always know that I am having a good day. Frank stopped to get rid of his long sleeve shirt, said he would catch me up. If being close to Frank means that I am having a good day, being ahead of him means I am having a fantastic day.

About 10 miles in

From that point to the half-way mark is pretty much all uphill, my original plan was to walk the ups, much like I will do at Umstead, but I managed to jog most of the way to the half-way aid station. My split at the half-way point was 2:14. It was at this point I started to think about the possibility of a PR (4:26). 10 minute miles for the second half would do that. Let’s see how it goes…. but the decision was made, I am going to give it a shot. I caught back up with Amy here, and she was also on a PR pace.

Fred who had been pacing Captain Ivan for the first half, started running with me, I told him I was shooting for a PR – he very kindly stuck with me all the way, his exceptional course knowledge helped tremendously. The key piece of information; “save some for the last two miles, it is downhill”. The miles clicked by quickly, Fred was great company and the conversation made time fly. I pushed the pace every now and then, then eased off to save my legs for late on. I walked parts of the occasional hill.

Somewhere around 20 miles, I started thinking of what has been my long term “secret-dream-time”, which had always been 10 minute miles for a marathon, 4:22 (well, once I did dream of sub 4 hour – but, LOL). It started to look like that this was a possibility. At 23 miles, you get back into Ellerbe, and most of the rest of the course is flat or down hill (with the exception of the last ½ mile).

Let’s go for it. I just let it go and thought to hell with the consequences, the worst case scenario is that I fall apart and walk some – and STILL get a PR. – besides, any fool can run a 5K right? Mile 24 begins a long downhill stretch. I pushed the pace close to my “red-line”, Fred dropped back a little which was perfect timing, and allowed me to focus. Towards the bottom of the hill, I started to run out of steam, and my legs felt like Jello. Just the one more climb to the finish, I had to walk a little - Fred caught back up to me and passed me, again perfect timing it really helped pull me along.

The last 100 yds were painful. Finishing was awesome. I had a beer, it was awesome too. Then I had another one.

Approaching the finish with Fred who had finished a minute or so earlier
and came back out to drag me across the finish line

Jello legs. But I finished with a PR. YAY!

Amy was pleased I think with her PR and later she 
found out she won 1st in age group

Sharon and Connie - finishing with a smile. Sharon will
also be running Umstead, Connie will be pacing for me again.

Thanks to Ricky Scott for most of the pictures - the rest of them are located here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So Far From Normal

Both of my regular readers will have noticed that there is a bit of a re-branding going on here. The biggest thing you may have noticed is the fact that I am posting again.

The next biggest thing you may notice is the colors and stuff. They are all different. The background picture is the one below, proudly taken during my 50 mile excursion around the Tahoe Rim last July. I am going to continue to tweak the layout – including the picture at the top. That has been around since I started this blog, when I thought I was kinda whacky and extreme (and so far from normal) because I had two pairs of running shoes. Many more shoes have expired since then. My current crop of useable shoes is 7 pairs – 5 of which are in a regular rotation, 2 pairs are backups. If I try hard, I can justify each of the shoes, however, the truth be known, it was a Post-Thanksgiving-Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday  online shopping spree – there were so many deals to be had (including two pairs for the price of one – hence the backups)! I digress…………..

The view from about 8000' somewhere on the Tahoe Rim Trail 
late afternoon, early evening - the new background

What about the cool new name eh? My very own domain! Cool stuff – I feel exceptionally geeky. The old name should still work, but is nowhere near as cool as So bookmark it. Please. Pretty please.

Why the change? Well, I had been thinking about it for a while, close to an hour in fact. I guess RunBaldyRun seemed a little outdated – I mean, what would happen if I decided to get a hair transplant? I actually wanted something that describes me and my ability to run, and more importantly to describe the types of runs I do. The inspiration came from a Facebook posting by my buddy Frank I think. I can’t remember the exact conversation – but I think he described himself as not normal (or perhaps he described me as not normal, or someone else. Or something); “Oh we’re all far from normal” I replied. And BING! You know those cartoons with people with light bulbs above their heads? Yep, it was one of those moments. Unfortunately FarFromNormal was not available – SoFarFromNormal was though, and I like it even better.

100 mile runs – how normal are those? Way beyond normal. (Hmmm, I wonder if BeyondNormal is available)
The Boogie – 50 miles starting in the evening, in the heat and humidity of June in North Carolina. How normal is that? Not normal at all.
Oxygen deprived 50 mile runs in the Sierras – Normal? Nope – most normal people wouldn’t consider this normal.

You get the drift . It costs a whole $10 for my own domain. Seems like a steal. I may even get it on a t-shirt.

You have read this far? How normal are you? HA!

Monday, March 7, 2011

More 2011 stuff

As I continue the look at 2011 so far – after my solid Freedom Park 12 hr run, the following weekend it was time for the Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50k. It is hard to describe my feeling on this one – great volunteers, and a wonderfully directed race – but for me the course was a bit bleh. I think I did some messing-up-of-the knee too. For the first part of the race, the ground was frozen solid, that on its own would not have been so bad, but prior to it being frozen tundra, it was muddy bike tire tracks. That was very difficult footing to run on. Later once the big thaw had occurred; the frozen tundra became muddy tire tracks again – which was difficult to run on with my already sore knees.

One other thing that I didn’t enjoy about Frosty – there was a lot of trash, gel packs, cups etc, one or two accidental drops – sure, I could handle that, it seemed way more than that. Come on people, this is a $30 race, put on by a great group of people, pick your own shit up, it shouldn’t be left to the volunteers (or the fat bald dude running somewhere towards the back) to clean up after you. It was fun to run with Rhonda Hampton for a while, which made several miles fly by – always good to be friends with the future RD of Umstead 100!

The following weekend was Weymouth Woods 100K. And just like last year, I really did enjoy this race. Marie Lewis, the RD, described the aid station goodies as “typical ultra-fare”. If a steady supply of pizza, burgers, homemade soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, brownies, chips, M&M’s etc. etc. is “typical ultra-fare” – then I should really do more of these things J Despite the ice, the mud, the cold, and getting lost on my 12th lap (it was January – I shouldn’t have been surprised about the ice and cold), I had a blast, it really is a great event. For me now, these MTC races really feel a little like home – I even feel as though I belong, what a great bunch of people. Highlights for me was the awesome job Connie did as a pacer, 35 miles or so – those laps flew by, and then realizing just ahead of my last loop that if I finished that loop within an hour, I would beat last year’s time by 30 minutes. No mean feat considering it had been taking me about 1:10 or longer for most laps. To cut the story short, I flew round, fell twice, and finished that lap in 57 minutes – very satisfying to feel so strong that late into a race.

And that’s it. My craziest streak to date ended at the finish line of Weymouth Woods. In 5 weeks, I had completed 4 ultras. A 100 miler, a 12 hour run (43 miles), 50k and 100k.. After all of that, even though I was physically stronger and fitter than when I started, it was time for a break, and that is precisely what I did for two weeks. No running except for two small treadmill runs, it did me the world of good.

Pilot Mountain

Getting closer to being caught up.

Pilot Mountain Payback Marathon. Love this race, just love it. This was the second time I have done this race, and it was even better this time, as I was running much of the first half with friends, also because I finished much further away from death than I did last year. I really confirmed something that I have been suspecting for a while – I enjoy mountains, going up them is a slog, but a fun slog, and for a  back-of-the-packer I am very much a middle-of-the-packer when it comes to climbs. (Admittedly, close-to-the-back-of-the-middle-of-the-pack – which is probably really just the front-of-the-back-of-the-pack). As I told Frank – there is only really one hill to speak of (he hasn’t forgiven me for that one yet) J Even though I set out “just to have fun”, sometime on the descent, I decided that it would be cool to beat last year’s time. I managed to get me a course PR by about a minute. I really worked the last 5 or 6 miles to get that minute, but felt great at the end. I have been thinking about going back to Pilot Mountain for some Tahoe Training runs – the marathon had around 6000’ of climb – proportionately, this is more elevation gain per mile than the TRT. (Although, TRT is much higher in altitude and does have a distinct lack of breathable air). Time was 5:42

You see - proof that there is just the one hill

The next weekend – well, it was a great example of why I run. Frank and some friends (Sharon and Ricky) wanted to run a complete Umstead loop to get familiar with the course. No problem – I have done a few of those, I know my way around there. I was also contacted by an online friend from Colorado who was in Raleigh for work and she wanted to get a few miles in, so Chris joined us too – add my more regular running friends Connie and Amy plus Connie’s friend Barbara (more about Barbara later), and we have quite a group going. And of course Wilbur and Sarah.

Barbara is an NC State student studying journalism, and for an online project, she has decided to make a small documentary about the Umstead 100, and it would appear that Frank and I are going to end up as some kind of movie stars as a result of this. Barbara thought some footage during race would be good – I suggested that the footage to show best carnage would be during the night. And this was how I managed to recruit me a pacer. Not sure what kind of movie star I will make, or indeed what I will do with the untold millions my new career will bestow upon me.

So with perfect weather, we headed out from the parking lot at Harrison, and ran a complete loop (quite how I managed to get lost near Camp Lapahio I have no idea.) We really had fun, hanging out with friends old and new. After the Umstead Loop – Amy, Wilbur, Sarah and I carried on – I wanted to get 26.2 miles, Amy wanted 30, so we did another loop (plus Cedar Ridge twice), and headed back – Amy went on for four more, Wilbur, Sarah and I were content with the marathon distance. This was the pups’ first ever marathon, I am so proud. They both did really well – I am convinced Sarah could run further - I don’t think I would take Wilbur much further, I will always worry about him overheating (even though that wasn’t a problem here).

And ok – here we go – just about up to date…………

Umstead Marathon.

How cool is it to have such a great park just 30-40 or so minutes from home, 5 minutes from work. So any event at Umstead has to be considered “home field advantage”. My Badwater crewmate Aubrey came down from New Jersey for a little jog in the park. Again, this was a social event that had some jogging thrown in for good measure – plus of course it was a good training run for Umstead 100, being on the same course an’ all. It was also a great opportunity to see some areas of the park that I am not familiar with. The race was about 4 or 5 miles of single track, and the rest was on the bridle trails. So I think my biggest goal was to run at such a pace that I felt strong at the end – plus perhaps get a feel for how my first 25 miles at Umstead will go. And enjoy a big fat burrito at the finish. And get a new beer glass as a finisher award. And get a cool t-shirt.

So – just how string did I feel at the end? Very strong, Aubrey and I really pushed the last couple of miles, and even sprinting the last half mile or so. I think we even raced each other over the last 100 yds at the end – but finished dead even – was actually quite exhilarating.

My first 25 miles were split at 5:05, and felt very comfortable. Is this something to aim for at the “Big Umstead”? This would probably put me at a sub-11 hr 50, which has been a long term goal (subject to not falling apart) – it also too slow for a sub-24hr finish, right on the edge perhaps. I definitely feel as though there was a lot left in me, so this kind of pace could have continued for a while). Well, I guess we will find out fairly soon.

Plus I got a big fat burrito (two actually, but don’t tell anyone). A finisher’s glass with a picture of a tick on it. And a luminescent green t-shirt, also with a tick picture, appropriately bright enough so I can go run the game lands during hunting season. It also matches my luminescent green Kinvaras – which make me feel really fast (I did notice that during the race, the only people who wore shoes that brightly colored were very fast – so I do detect that there is a potential chicken and egg situation going on here – which came first – the brightness of shoes or speed? One to ponder for sure.

To sum up though, I had a blast, I really enjoyed introducing Aubrey to my home turf, and of course to see so many friends, Frank, Mark, John, ‘Pacer’ Rick from Umstead 100 last year, Jim and Jade (who took some great photos), Laura, Donna and Frank, Lynne probably more that I have forgot – oh and Barbara who filmed and interviewed me after the race for footage that will be used for the documentary she is making.  The Marathon time was 5:15

So, there you go, race wise, I am all caught up. I should probably ramble some now and provide some thought provoking commentary or something. Or not.

The sprint to the finish at Umstead Marathon

Photo: Jade Wei