Monday, April 25, 2011

Wow. I am famous

The Price of fame

I guess I am not cut out to be a “TV star” or actor. I feel very uncomfortable when being filmed, and even more uncomfortable watching the end result. “Do I really sound like that?”. “Wish I had remembered to shave”. “Really bad timing for a cold sore” and of course “I have a great face for radio” etc. etc.

Barbara Zellweger, a student at UNC used the Umstead 100 as a project for her Multimedia Story. She part of the project was to make a mini documentary in the Umstead 100. Frank Amy and I were the subject matter. I was interviewed after the Umstead trail marathon in March.

Here is a link to the finished movie, she really did a great job. (Although I feel weird and uncomfortable watching it, it is kinda cool though!) Enjoy, and also check out the rest of her project.

Meet the Runners from Barbara Zellweger on Vimeo.

The Making of.............
Photo by Aubrey (runner-of-cute-downhill-marathons) Blanda

Shirt Run

April 2009, during my first Ultra, Lap 4. I chatted to a guy by the name of Jimmy. He asked me where I was from, and then proudly showed me the shirt he was wearing; it said “Mangum Track Club”. After that 50 miler, I remembered to Google the club and found out the only way to join was by doing a shirt run, a 15 mile point to point run from Mangum NC (basically a crossroads) to another intersection (called the “Dog Pen”, because there is a dog pen there). And thus began my journey to craziness.  I love everything about MTC, and becoming a member is the single most beneficial thing I have done for my running career. (“Career”, WTF LOL).

The races they put on are fantastic, the people are wonderful – the whole thing is about promoting running, and having fun while doing it. Wilbur and Sarah are canine members, and they get their own dog tags when they complete the shirt run. I get a thrill when friends become new members. Welcome to the club Amy, Amy and Blanca.

I skipped this past weekend’s shirt run, because of my calf injury – instead though, I acted as roving aid and photographer.

Injury update

As I mentioned in the race report for the 24 Hour Run for Cancer,  I managed to strain my calf muscle – not severely by any stretch of the imagination, but enough to tell me I needed to rest and rehab for at least a week.  Lots of icing, aggressive massage with the foam roller and The Stick. Any exercise was low impact and slow, designed to “gently stretch” the muscle while working it. It all seemed to work, and it really did feel better. So I figured I would hit the trails at Jordan Lake to see how I fared. I chose the “Blue Ankle Breaker” – a short 2.75 mile loop with plenty of short hills, turns, roots etc. As the run wore on, I decided to push a little. The calf felt fine. It also happened to be my first run of the year that hit 90o, it made me realize that I really do prefer to run in the heat. So I think this week will involve some more jogging, mainly on hotel treadmills, always easy pace, gradually getting longer. If I come through this week with no reoccurrence, then I will toe the line at the Enoree Passage 40 miler on Saturday. Even a slight twinge though, and I will volunteer instead.

Mission Tahoe.

I have decided that yesterday’s trail run was the beginning of my training for TRT 100 in July. Every run I do between now and then is going to be all about gearing myself up and training for Tahoe. As I write, there is 82 days left. It is all about the Buckle. I look forward to earning it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

24 hour Run for Cancer -- Team Awesome

When Shannon McGinn approached me towards the end of last year about putting a relay team together, initially I declined; you see the race coincided with Zane Grey 50, and there is a piece of my soul on that course after my DNF a year ago. Eventually after tons of pressure, I decided that if I didn’t get my name pulled in  Western States lottery, then I would forego Zane Grey and participate in the “VA 24 hour race for cancer”.

My name wasn’t pulled out of the electronic Gu bucket, so the next task was to help put together “Team Awesome”

My plan was to ask as many people as possible, and then hope 12 people showed up on race day. Shannon’s plan was to only ask people who would fit in, and “get” the Team Awesome concept. Shannon of course was right, and we managed to find a great group of 12 people, all talented runners, all with fabulous personalities.

Team Awesome:

Shannon, Frank, Jonathan, Alanna, Sabrina, David, Jessi, Tom, Ray, Amy, Cheryl and of course me.

Jimbo Alanna and Super Dave

Charles, Sidney and Todd were our crew, along with Cheryl’s family who showed up with tons of food (honestly, I have never seen that many cheeseburgers)

The race is billed as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and it is fitting that our team had two survivors, two women who inspire me with their cancer-ass-kicking prowess and their overall Awesomeness, Shannon and Alanna. Just as a side note, like most people, I know people who have been affected by this disease – but in my case, the largest demographic that I know personally that have fought cancer, is young adult women -- not sure if that says anything about the disease or perhaps more about the people I am friends with.

Shannon and Alanna -- Ass Kicking Awesomeness

The goal:

Team win, and course record. Stretch goal of 1000 miles

Personal goal:

100 miles (WTF LOL) – Yep, I keep persisting with this.

So, how did it go?

Less than two miles into the race, I felt a “pop” in the calf muscle that bothered me at Umstead. At Umstead, I decided to “suck it up”, and although I stopped at 50 miles, it wasn’t because of the calf. This time however, I had a different attitude – it is obviously an injury, that has reoccurred, and I am therefore not going to push it. I pretty much threw away my 100 mile goal there and then, and shifted my focus to “have fun”.

And have fun I did. I thoroughly enjoyed running with Alanna, Dave, Shannon, Frank, Cheryl and Amy, I thoroughly enjoyed getting pampered by Charles, Todd and Sidney at the aidstation. (Fried chicken. Yum) I thoroughly enjoyed watching Dave make a “pizza and kettle chip cheeseburger” (so much so that I made one myself – yep it was awesome). I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in the aidstation with the rest of the team; I thoroughly enjoyed my nap in the Explorer. It was fun. All of it, it was fun.

Dave and his "Awesome Burger"

Then the storm hit. And it hit. The weather had been talked about all day. A line of storms was coming across the southeast, and we had already learned of storms and tornadoes in my hometown. (At the time, I didn’t know how bad the storms in Sanford were, but take a look at this slide show,  -- this is not the way I wanted my town to become famous. These are the kind of pictures you see all the time, but tend to ignore. Until it is this close to home.) I do not think I have ever been in such a downpour when the storms hit talk about an absolute drenching. Lots of lightning, thunder and rain, lots and lots of rain. The trails became streams, then ankle deep rivers almost instantaneously. 
Pictures of the Lowes in Sanford were beamed across the world -- I took this 
6 days after the tornado. Having seen the devastation I am absolutely
 amazed that everyone walked out of the store alive.
I have never seen anything like it, incredible. Just incredible.

When the rains hit, I suspect that we were maybe 1.5 miles out from the start finish – with about a mile to go, Alanna and I met up with Frank and we just strolled to the finish. Frank turned around and headed out for another loop. Huh? He was having too much fun dancing in the puddles. Not me, I went to my truck, wrapped up in a snuggy and waited out the storm.

Frank. Being awesome as usual.

Once it had passed, I had one more loop to go to make it to 50 miles, so Amy and I headed out for my last loop. After I had the 50 mark, Amy needed one more to make it to 50, so I kept her company for her last loop, so clocked up a total of 56.25 miles. The sky had cleared, and it was actually a terrific night for running, but I was tired, hurting and tired. So I had another cheeseburger and had a nap for a few hours.

Amy.  Great company for my last two laps. Not sure what
she is doing in this picture though. Maybe she needs the bathroom.

Once I was awake, I found out Shannon had got first placed female! Yay, congrats to Shannon. Sabrina was second female, cool, 1 and 2!

I walked to the “cones” to get one more mile, just because, (it is actually kinda fun being on the course when a 24 hr race ends). Total mileage is 57.25.

Team Awesome total was over 800 miles, and given the injuries, storms, that wasn’t too shabby at all – we also smashed the course record by over 200 miles. Everyone made it over 50, but more importantly, everyone was simply awesome. What fun.

Jonathan Savage, proudly sporting his MTC shirt

Jessi and Dave

 Tom and Shannon

First place female, Shannon. Awesome!

Sabrina. Jessi, Jon and Tom at the start. I was at the back (of course)
(Photo: Ray K)
Cheryl -- I guess she was listening to some disco. Or something. ;-)

Ray -- flirting as usual. Apparently he has done a few races like this before.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The awesomeness of Team Awesome - 24 Hour Run For Cancer

Team Awesome Banner by Alanna - 
Survivor, Endurance Athlete and member of Team Awesome.

Before reading any further, I would like you to read Shannon’s blog post.

Read it?


So you will now know my next athletic endeavor is Virginia’s 24 hr Run for Cancer. By then I should have fully recovered from 50 miles at Umstead – and I also am thinking that I have quite a bit of unused energy, as well as a chunk of frustration left after Umstead was cut short by a cold.

Here’s an irony……… I am whining about a common cold, how about cancer? Yes, at least two of our team members have beaten the disease - I cannot fail to be inspired by that.

So, what is the plan? Well gosh darn it, I am glad you asked. I am going to have another try at 100 in 24. I have tried twice and fell short (38 miles the first time, 50 miles the second), so perhaps this is third time lucky – then again, maybe not. 

This isn’t about me though, it is about Team Awesome – we have a team course record to beat.

It is also about fund raising and of course awareness – if you do have the inclination, the link to donate is:

Team Awesome members: Shannon, Ray, Alanna, Charles, Tom, Amy, Frank, Cheryl, Jessi, David and Sabrina. Oh and me.

Just as an aside - we are also having some side bets. Carolinas vs "Rest of World" and Boys vs Girls -- probably a few more too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Umstead 2011 - the review

Jimbo early on (Thanks Jade for the pic)

Today is the second anniversary of my first Ultramarathon – I did 50 miles at Umstead, it took me 11:48 for the distance, and I was absolutely thrilled with that performance. That race started off a whole new way of life for me – I have become passionate about the sport – I have completed other 50’s. 3 x 100 mile races, 24 hour races, 100k’s 50ks etc. etc. Along the way, I have met many people and made many friends. The biggest gathering of people I know is probably at Umstead 100.

This Saturday just gone – I ran another 50 at Umstead – this time over 40 minutes faster. I should be thrilled, but I am not – this time, I set out to run a 100 miles, and I also set a target (a tough target) of completing 100 miles in 24 hours. It didn’t happen though; a plain old common cold made for an uncommon experience. I woke up feeling slightly worse for wear on Thursday (I was kinda hoping that the beer I had had on the Wednesday evening was coming back to haunt me – yes, I was actually hoping beyond hope that I had a mild hangover. No such luck.)

By Friday, I had a fully-fledged cold – but figured I would be ok – my nose was stuffed, but I didn’t feel like I had a fever, and didn’t notice chest congestion. Game on.

6am start – lap one.  9 miles into it, I felt a dull ache in my right calf. This is exactly how it felt before the OBX marathon a few years ago, an injury that put me out for a few weeks. I had to stop to massage the muscle a couple of times. For a few moments, it did cross my mind that this would end my race, right there on lap 1. But after a minute or so stretching and massaging, I felt it loosen up and I was able to jog and walk. There was no real improvement, but it didn’t get any worse, so I took it easy for the rest of the loop. Back at the aid station, I used The Stick ™ to massage the calf, and it really did feel better after that. I was probably 10 minutes behind my game plan because of that. I did manage to make up that time on Lap 2 – there was a dramatic improvement in my calf, and I felt good, so remaining in my happy space, I ended up with 25 miles in about 4:50. I had decided previously that if it took over 5 hours for 25, then I would abandon the efforts for sub-24, and shift down a goal to “distance PR”.

My 50K split was around 6:05 – very thrilled with that, it is probably my second fastest 50k time, and I was still feeling incredibly strong. Shortly after that though, on the hills of N. Turkey Creek – I started wheezing and breathing became labored, and a cough developed. Oh good, my cold is moving to my chest. My pace dropped dramatically in those last few miles of that loop. At the aid station, I met with Leila who had come to the park to help out – she was awesome, and waited on me hand and foot for 15 minutes or so, while I tried to get a recovery going – I took in plenty of calories, in the form of OJ, coconut water and Myoplex. After the little break, I did feel quite a bit better. 

As I set out for lap 4, I pretty much gave up on any thoughts of sub-24 – there was though the possibility of two PR’s – 100 mile PR and 50 mile PR (with a secret goal of sub-11). Leila walked with me for the first couple of miles or so, the company was great, and I started again to feel that that all would be good, as long as I could keep moving.

The absolute highlight of my day came when my friends Paul and Katie road past on their bikes with signs on their backs. “Go Jimbo” and “Jim you inspire us”. Wow – that was simply wonderful, and really made me feel better, and put in spring in my step. Well, at least for the next 4 miles or so. Some slow jogs and plenty of walking. Until N. Turkey creek again – the hills – hills that I have power hiked dozens of times – really took it out of me. I was taking a break half way up just to get my breath back; it honestly felt like I was at altitude. When I was struggling to go down Powerline Hill – this was when it really started to sink in that it wasn’t going to happen today. Still, I had two possible goals to aim for. A sub 11hr 50, or at the very least a 50 mile PR. With something like 2 miles to go, all  I needed was two 13 minute miles to beat 11 hours. I couldn’t even manage that. So – I will just have to be happy with a PR of 11:07. I can’t help but feel disappointed though. Other than the calf strain early or whatever it was, I felt pretty sound “mechanically”. I ended up hanging out in the aid station helping out other runners – the carnage can be quite spectacular….. is that what I look like after 75 miles? Ugh!

Thanks Paul and Katie - that meant so much!

Two days later, and the cold is clearing up – it would seem its only purpose was to screw up my 2011 Umstead.

Very special thanks to Leila for helping out, to Connie, Nicole and Barbara for being willing but sadly unused pacers.

There was a great deal of awesomeness on display. Frank did his first 100k, Linda her first 50, Charles and Dan finished their first 100 milers, Fred, Ray, Dave, Meredith and Tammy also finished – as did many more. Others put in valiant efforts, but didn't quite make it.

Performance of the day though had to be reserved for Sharon – who not only completed her first 100 mile run, but also learned how to blow snot rockets. I love ultras, where else would that come into polite conversation?