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

Medoc Trail Marathon – the awesomeness continues

I love technology, and anyone who knows me will know that I can be a bit of a geek -- so, this sentence is just to let you know that this post is being written at 35,000' somewhere between Las Vegas and Orlando as I return home from a work trip. How cool is that?

Anyway, the Medoc Trail Marathon

This is another race where the participants are put first. I like that. It is also another race that has the feel of a family reunion.

How much fun is it running through the woods for a few hours with friends? A lot!

The run is three laps, pretty much all single track, lots of rocks and roots to skip over, some nice climbs and plenty of schwag. Including a long sleeve tech shirt, a finisher’s hat, a medal so heavy it could be used as a weapon, socks, jelly beans. I know, I know, it shouldn’t be about “stuff”, it should be about the experience blah blah. But “stuff” does contribute to the experience, no?

As well as a few normal faces, fellow Mangumites/Raleigh area runners, fellow Hampton 24 hr Team Awesome member, Alanna came back to NC from NJ for the second time in just a few weeks to hang out and run with the Carolina Crew. That’s pretty cool – it’s a long way to travel for a race. In return, I have promised tht I will run at least one race in NJ this coming year)

For the second week in a row, I was treated to absolutely glorious weather (I had spent the previous few days at the beach fishing, if only the weather had been half as nice). Just a perfect day for a trail run. Alanna and I ran the whole race together, joined later by Lauren, and I don’t think any of us really had set sights on any particular goal, certainly there was no talk of finish times etc., it just became about enjoying the day. It was another day where I regretted failing to sneak in a beer or two for afterwards. I fell once, rolled my ankle once, and stopped myself from falling another time (which is probably more painful than actually falling). We did meet up with one lady who took a pretty nasty fall and had a cut on her nose – I suspect (and hope) that it was one of those injuries that look much worse than it actually is though. Alanna tripped up a couple of times too, the second time practically in sight of the finish line.

I actually kept clean for 26.19 miles -- it was a nice touch of the race directors to position a mud puddle right ahead of the finish line. Oh, how we laughed.

Finish time was 5:35 or so. That’ll do. This will never be a race about times… well, it is about good times, not finish times.

All smiles. A gentle stroll through the woods with friends -- Jimbo, Alanna  and Lauren (Photo, I think Charles took it - not sure whether it was with Alanna's or Lauren's camera though)

The finishing kick! (Photo by Todd, Alanna's husband)

Congrats to the Rocky Mount Endurance Club, especially my buddy “peg-Leg-Frank” (, they put on a great run and should be very proud of the event they have created, a very special thanks to the volunteers and congrats to everyone who finished. (Laura's awesomeness continued -- first female second week running.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New River Trail 50K – Jimbo’s day of awesomeness

I enjoyed this race last year, but for some reason didn’t end up registering until a few days before – so late that there was a distinct risk of not getting a t-shirt, and as you are probably aware, the only reason to do these things is to get a t-shirt to prove I actually did do the thing…..

Each race I do in this part of the world, I am guaranteed to know at least a handful of people – this was no exception. From Tammy volunteering at the registration desk (who would also run as sweep), Laura, Lauren, Daniel, Bill, probably someone who I forgot (but you get the point). And I really like this aspect of our sport – and even if I didn’t know anyone at the beginning of the race, I am pretty much guaranteed to know someone by the time the day is done.

So, how did my day go? Pretty well actually – thanks for asking. I did go into the race with somewhat high expectations of what I would achieve; I have been running well, slogging through the heat and humidity of the NC summer, this was going to be my first cool run, and an opportunity to see how well my endurance levels had improved through the summer. So, yeah, I definitely thought there would be some pressure on my 50K PR (5:35 from Derby last November). I told one friend that my “WTF?? LOL dream-time” would be sub 5:30.

As the race got underway, I just felt on top of the world, and each mile was going by at quite a few seconds under 10 mins per mile – even after a pit stop 5 miles in, I was managing to remain below that average.
As the journey continued, my pace kept creeping up, mile after mile went by quicker than the mile before it, and before long, the first 13.1 mile split came up – just under 2:04. That’s good; I think I have only done one or two actual half-marathons with that kind of time.

It was at this point I made a decision to just keep hammering away until I fell apart – sooner or later it would happen, I wanted to find out when. So I pushed the pace. I hit the halfway point at 2:23 or so, and felt incredible. I started to believe that today I was going to see a performance that would be special. It was around about then that I saw Laura coming the other way after the turnaround – I estimated that she was probably about 1.5-2 miles ahead of me – she was second place female at that point, and was looking strong – in all honesty, to be that close to someone of Laura’s caliber at that point in a race was yet another sign that I was having a good day.
About a mile or so from the turnaround

After the turnaround, I ran with Stephen for a while. Stephen is another Raleigh area runner, and even though we have ran many of the same races, we had not actually met before. Even at this stage, the average pace was increasing.

I saw Lauren coming the other way –– Lauren is just coming back from an injury, and it looked as though everything was going well for her, and when I stopped to take a picture, Stephen went on his way and I couldn’t catch up to him again.

Lauren approaching the turnaround
And here s the picture Lauren took of me taking a picture of her.....

As the miles went by, three things started to emerge as possibilities, 1) Not only a PR, but a sub 5-hr 50k (WTF?? LOL!) 2) A PR for a marathon (WTF?? LOL!) 3) and a sub 2-hr split for my second 13.1 – (another PR).

By 25 miles, 1) and 2) were now a given (subject to not having a catastrophic failure), 3) was borderline. So I pushed the pace up a notch to see if I could do it. I did – barely, I think it was 1:59:40. Marathon split 4:03:xx. Hindsight being 20:20, I wouldn’t have done that almost sprint (LOL), because it was a stretch and it did take me out of my comfort zone. The result of that being I really felt the after effects of that extra push for the rest of the race, and I couldn’t quite get back up to the pace I was holing so well up to about mile 25. I started to walk a few yards every half mile – even doing that though I was still maintaining a reasonable pace, but I was barely hanging on.

By miles 28/29 or so, I was very tired, I had been up since 4am, and that combined with the overall effort for the day was taking its toll. Time to get the thing done, I was fading fast. It looked like my time was going to end up between 4:50 and 4:55, which delighted me.

I came across the finish line in 4:52:12 – Laura took this picture. Lots of smiles. More smiles later when I learned that Laura had finished as first place female. Congratulations.

Yay.... Awesomeness!
(Picture by Laura)

OK, I can be a little superstitious, sometimes strangely so. When I looked at the official results, the perso who finished immediately before me – his name began with a “J”, and so did the three people immediately behind me. That’s just weird, 5 J’s in a row out of just 100 or so finishers? What makes it especially spooky is that my big race this fall is Javelina Jundred – often shortened to JJ. I am taking this as a sign from the UltraGods. So yay for the ‘J’s’!

Annette Bednosky, the RD asks a good question on her blog. Basically it would appear that this is a first time ultra for many of the participants, and apparently some people were questioning the lack of age group awards, finishers medals etc. I know that Annette would welcome feedback; so, here is my opinion for what it is worth…… I think in general, races are way more enjoyable when an RD puts on a race that he or she would like to run, their own dream race so to speak – and as a runner, that ultimately means that I get a race that puts the runners first (as opposed to profits, sponsors, expo exhibitors, the park/city  etc.,). The New River Trail 50k is I am sure a race that Annette would like to run – fast, environmentally friendly, homemade goodies, using local suppliers, beautiful scenery etcetera.  I like the idea of random drawings for a ‘door prize’ (despite not winning AGAIN!) instead of age group awards  (I wouldn't win those either :)), I like the Patagonia shirt. I regret that I didn’t enter early enough to get the pottery instead of the Nathan bottle (not that there is anything wrong with the Nathan bottle), that’s my fault though, but I do like the fact that there would have been a choice.

When I finished, I received a handshake, a hug, and a ‘congratulations’ from the RD, who was genuinely pleased for my PR’s – who also happens to be an ultrarunner whose achievements I admire greatly. Don’t me wrong, I love bling and would never turn it down, but that meant a lot more than a medal. I was greeted at the finish line by the smiling faces of friends and volunteers and race director, and I celebrated my personal triumph with an awesome homemade chili, with fresh baked sourdough bread. Annette, I am pretty sure this is the kind of race you would like, after all, it has your hallmark all over it – keep it your way, keep it as a race that you would like to run, because if you do that, people like me will continue to flock to your race – and I hope you think that’s a good thing.

Laura and I with bananas -- kinda like Hinson :)
Picture by Lauren

Three happy finisher, Lauren, Jimbo and Laura
(Picture by Chad)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Guest writer Amy describes her day at Hinson Lake

Hinson Lake 24 hour – September 24, 2011  - by Amy Surrette

This was my first 24 hour event. I heard it said “it’s like a tailgate party with some running involved”. Guess it was time to figure out if that was true…

My kids and I headed out to Rockingham with the camper mid-day Friday. Just like with the Bethel Hill Midnight Boogie, we were one of the first people to arrive. We soon found the camping area at the lodge and set up camp. It was not long before many other runners began to arrive. Andy showed up later on that evening. He had plenty of time to meet some new friends and we chilled out for a while.

The plan was to run as many as I could. Ultimate goal of 100 – thought I would do my best to keep pace with my running partner Joey Anderson. I realized that was a long shot with my mileage being way down this summer. If I couldn’t do that, 75 sounded reasonable. I think anything longer than my farthest distance of 50 miles I would be happy with.

Woke up Saturday morning to the sound of rain. Checked the radar. It indicated that most of the significant rain was going to stay away from Hinson Lake. When I stepped out of the camper, I was surprised to see how many tents had popped up during the night. I should have gotten a picture of the tent farm. Hindsight, right? Anyway, gathered up my gear and my family and I walked to our spot near the start.

The plan was to start slow – walk most of the first lap with my family. That is pretty much what we did, except for Drew who took off. Ashlynn and Kayla walked and ran with us the first lap, then they hung out at our aid station while Andy and I went out again. No sooner were had we started our second lap than Mike Morton lapped us on his 3rd lap. Wow, was this guy going out too fast or is he just that good? Only time will tell. Drew stayed a lap ahead of us for a long time. After 5 laps around he earned a number, a shirt and he checked in just like the other runners were doing. He was so happy! He had not trained at all for this. I had no idea he was going to run this fast or this far. I brought his fishing pole thinking he was going to be fishing all day, but he didn’t want to. Andy thought he might run a 5K with me, but one lap led to another and he had completed 15 miles before taking a break and eating breakfast for lunch. It was then that Kayla took a few laps with me, and she earned her number and shirt.

The afternoon went on with us logging mile after mile. Sometimes I was with family, other times I was with friends. It was not often I was alone. It seemed there was always someone around to share a few steps with along the way. Kayla and Drew were out running laps throughout the day some with me, with my friends. They were having a great time with it.

Despite taking changing my socks every 8-10 miles and wiping the grit off my feet with baby wipes, I began to realize I was getting hot spots on my feet. Amy Schimmel came over, taped up a couple of spots, and provided some relief.

Andy was 2 laps away from a marathon. Halfway through his first lap his knee ‘gave out’. He kept on, injury and all, he completed his first (and he says last) marathon.

I kept going. Around dusk I had some dinner - PIZZA - and Drew walked with me 2 more laps and finished his first 50K. What an amazing feat for an 8 year old with simply a desire to run, and no training. A lot of thanks goes to everyone who cheered him on throughout the day. I know that is what kept him going. What an awesome running family!

My friend Joey decided to call it a night after 50 miles. Andy, Ashlynn and Drew called it a night and went up to bed. Kayla stayed around at the aid station helping out the runners throughout the evening and into the night.

I spent the next few hours logging some slower miles with good friends. As the night wore on my run/walk was turning into more walk than run until it was just a slow walk all by myself. I realized my idea of 75 was getting more out of reach as the pain in my feet increased with every lap. When I realized 62 miles (100K) was just laps away I knew it was do-able. Painful, but not out of reach. Kayla was at the aid station each time I came around. She had already completed her half marathon and was thrilled to have done so. She wondered how many laps I had left and I told her 2, and she said I want to do those with you. Kayla walked with me the 2 hardest laps of my day. We finished in the wee hours of Sunday morning with tears and hugs from sweaty friends. We slowly walked back to the camper where we passed out for a few hours.

7:00 am the kids and I got up and I limped down to see how many people were still on their feet after 23+ hours. There were many. Mike Morton was still going just as fast as he was at lap one. He was lapping me once, sometimes twice a lap during the night. It was amazing to watch him run as strong as he did all through the day and night.

24 hours later Mike Morton won the race with a 2nd best American finish of 163.9 miles in 24 hours. What an amazing finish!

I ended up with a new PR for distance at 62.32 (100K+), Drew 31.92 (50K+), Andy at 27.36 miles (marathon +), Kayla 16.72 miles (5K over a half marathon), and Ashlynn a 5K.

I know there is a lot I need to figure out before U100 next April. The main one is how to keep blisters from forming and to keep the swelling in my feet down. I also ended up with a heat rash on my feet, but I am thinking that should be a non issue at U100.

Hinson Lake was like a tailgate party with my running family with a little bit of running involved. OK, maybe a lot of running involved - thousands of miles logged on that path by few hundred runners. I really enjoyed watching facebook the week after the run, looking at everyone’s pictures, and watching all the friendships continue that started by meeting at Hinson.

Can’t wait til 2012