Recover from the Holidays – 2015

HTCAnother 31 mile ultra in the books!

At the end of each year the Recover from the Holidays ultra is held on December 31 – New Years Eve.

It’s somewhat of  a misnomer to even have the word “recover” as part of this race name.  Not much “recovering” takes place in a 31 mile endurance race!

Here’s the skinny on this one, at least as I experienced it.

For me, it starts the day before.  It’s all in nutrition the day before.  Get this part wrong, and months of training are out the window on race day.  I decided on Chic-fil-A for lunch.  Original chicken sandwich and a side salad – with buttermilk Ranch.  Perfect choice and will go with this in the future.  But here is where things get dicey – dinner.  I like to eat early around 4 pm.  For this one I decide on a breakfast burrito that I’ll create myself.  I should have stopped there.  Two eggs and shredded cheddar cheese on a tortilla. But then I decided to make a side of grits – love grits!  Good there.  But then I decided a little fat would be nice.  So I decided on some bacon.  Not 1 slice, not 2 slices, not 3 slices, but 4 slices.  Seemed like a pretty good choice.  In retrospect too much bacon fat – can’t believe I just said that!

Race starts at 8 am. at the Huntsville Cross Country Course on Airport rd.  This is when it gets really interesting as  I have never run this course For whatever reason I was under the impression that  it was a pretty flat course.  Note to self – go run the course in advance when possible.  The race starts with a loop to spread everyone out then you run the same 3 mile loop 9 times.  Course was not flat!  Had one killer hill.  Not killer like you might have on Monte Sano, but it was tough since you had to go down it and back up it 9 times or so.  Now, if you’re not a runner, going downhill just thrashes your quads and knees. There were several long grinding uphills that weren’t necessarily steep but taxing nonetheless. Overall it’s a fantastic course.  Just enough flat parts to get your breath for the next uphill.  Then there was the really flat field run to the aid station which you passed on every lap.  GREAT aid station, coke, Mt. Dew, Poweraid, soup, candy and so much more.

When all was said and done I finished, which is always my first goal.  No real mishaps on this run.  Just had a great time and I’m really sore.

Following the race I was extremely hungry!  Problem, I was muddy and pretty sure I had a not so pleasant aroma!  But I was only a few miles from my favorite Mexican restaurant – Little Rosie’s.  You’ve already guessed what I did!  I went to Little Rosie’s in all my running gear.  Muddy legs, shorts, compression socks, and that lovely aroma!  It  was one of the best chicken burritos I’ve eaten.

This will be one that I will probably do again in 2016, including Rosie’s!

2015 Rocket City, Altercation and Huntsville PD

Rocket city

Here’s the skinny on my attempt at another Rocket City Marathon (26.2 miles).

From the start…

If you read my snafu from the 2015 Dizzy Ultra 31 miler then you know I got sick mid race.

So, for this one, my last meal was at 4pm on Friday..

Clock is set for 4:10am.  I get up at 4 pm., figures when I’m getting up mega early I’d get up even earlier than I needed.

Laid out all my gear the night before.  Car packed night before.  Like getting to a race one hour before.  Normally takes me about 40 to 45 minutes to drive to the VBCC in Huntsville.  WRONG!  Get there way to early!  At first can’t find where I need to park.   The deck I thought was to be open was blocked off.  Finally find a top secret entrance to the parking deck. No one else is parking there.  I start to wonder if my car will get towed.  Then, the super power of common sense kicks in – I don’t even care, I’ve got a great parking spot – for now!

Because I’m too early I decide to recline my seat in my awesome 1999 Ford Explorer with over 300,000 miles – more on that later as it comes into play before I get back home!  With my Ford it can start with a drive and end with a hike!

With about 45 minutes before the start I go into the VBCC.  Wouldn’t ya know it, all the skinny people have shown up – again.  While all the superstars are stretching and jogging, I find a seat and try to get some sleep!  I never stretch before a long race anyway.  I just usually get out of my car and go run 26 – 35 miles – HARDCORE!  Today I’ve decided to look like a marathon superstar and race without a handheld water bottle or my usual hydration backpack – in retrospect I can sum this up for you…  Didn’t take long for my thirst to remind me I’m no superstar!  They did have aid stations fairly close to each other so it wasn’t so bad!

The announcer then told all runners to find their way to the starting line.  A TV station had their drone flying above for the start.  I have already found my Pacer.  I decided on a pacer as I was hoping to finish in under 5 hours.  The pacer would assure me that I would finish in 4:55 or less! If I can keep an 11 minute pace for 26.2 miles and 5 hours.

Started off well but let’s cut through the chase.  I held on to the pacer for over 13 miles stopping only long enough at each aid station to drink a cup of water.  Now what’s awesome for the Rocket City is that they have a spirit trophy for teams alongside the road that show the most spirit.  There were HS drum lines.  HS cheerleaders…  Full classic rock bands, etc…  Somewhere around 13 miles I started to slow a little.  Just enough that I started to see my pacer start to pull away.

Over time I started to realize that with the heat I was not going to make my goal of under 5 hours.  It was at that point I started to really enjoy the race – using that term liberally.  Once you reach a certain point in the race you realize that just running a slow and steady pace will not be far behind the time accomplished going all out.  So I now set another time goal and start trying to make that time.  That was 5:30.  Not too far behind my original goal.

The course takes you all throughout Huntsville. Old historic downtown, little five points and out to and through the Space and Rocket Center.  You actually get to run under the Rockets that you see from the street.  Best part is the Huntsville Police Department stops ALL traffic for the race.  So you never have to stop for traffic!  WoooooHOOOOO!  It’s awesome.

Awesome except for the pain!  Seriously, running on pavement for long periods of time just beats you down.  Your legs just ache.  Since I’m a running hack, my legs begin to hurt early in races then It becomes a head game of how much suffering I can stand and for how long.

As with the majority of Ultra and Marathon runners there comes a time where you will start a walk/run strategy.  Since I ran the majority of the first 13 miles I needed to start a walk run to maximize my potential for a good finish.  Now, when employing this strategy your walking portion has to be a power walk, not a mall walk pace!  Toward the end I was starting to just pick a point to run to hoping I could trick my mind into running more than my body wanted to.  The superstars don’t have to do this but again, I’m no superstar!

When I reached the 25.2 mile marker something interesting happened.  Part of the race takes you through a rough part of Huntsville.  In the morning when we past the government assisted housing there was a man just sick at his stomach throwing up everywhere. Lovely.  But this time, in the same area, something more was taking place.  I run by there two men… Standing nose to nose while one screams at the other.  Apparently the smaller of the two had the “f bomb” as one of his spelling list flash cards as a child, as he kept using it in as many sentences as he could.  He really knew that word and wanted to let others now too! It did not take much to realize this wasn’t going to end well as they were about to fight.  Luckily there were police nearby and I told them about the altercation that was taking place and they sent a car to take care of the issue.

Now I’m running in a group.  I now decide that I want to race with just over a mile to go.  I pick out a few people that I decide will not beat me!  So the race begins for 1000th place and a mile to go!  I begin to actually pass quite a few people then get on the shoulder of another man who has no clue I’m about to blow past him.  But I decide to do it strategically to beat him down and break his will.  Cause I’m racin’.  So the finish line is inside the VBCC and it’s awesome as you come from outside to inside with people cheering and clapping and you get your finish line picture.  So I get on his shoulder and he’s not even aware – stealthy I am.  Not fast but stealthy – I’ll take stealthy over speed any day – Ninja like!  So, as we make the last turn from outside to inside, finish line in sight, the crowd is roaring as I begin to pass with incredible speed to beat him at the line!  Awesome!

Time?  5:26.  Accomplished my plan B goal!

After the race, I get my hat and my metal and drink 3 cartons of chocolate milk!  It was the greatest!  But all I was really craving were the 4 Mountain Dews (Real Men drink the Dew and not Sundrop, which is only a Mountain Dew wanna be).

Another Rocket City is in the books and now there’s nothing left but the drive home.  I walk up to the deck.  I notice that it’s now half full (half because the all finished before me!).  I open my door, go to sit down and all but get a hernia as I forgot that when I arrived I had reclined the seat and I fell backwards.  Wonder I hadn’t pulled something.  That would be my luck, run a 26.2 mile race and pull something getting into the car.

That’s my story of the 2015 Rocket City, Altercation and Huntsville PD, and I’m sticking to it!

Next race?  Probably the Recover – 31 mile ultra in a few weeks.

I don’t have time to write anymore on this a I need to go running!

Agony of Defeat – Dizzy 50 2015

running feet 2The Dizzy 50k, that’s 31 miles, ultra has come and gone for 2015!  It wasn’t pretty and I failed 50% of my goals!

Goal 1 – Finish the race!  Always my number one goal.

Goal 2 – Beat my time from last year.

So here’s the short of it all.  It all ended in the agony of defeat as the old Wide World of Sports once said.

My demise began on the Friday before the race.  I usually watch what I eat that close to a race (I use the word race liberally).  Not this time.  I was hungry alright!  So Julie and I usually have a lunch date on Friday and Saturday. So, since I had to drive to Fleet Feet in Jones Valley, I decided to eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant – Little Rosie’s Cantina at Whitesberg and Airport road.  Ordered a chicken burrito smothered in cheese – awesome!

After eating that wonderful meal we headed to Fleet Feet, picked up my race bib and headed back home.  Then dinner time rolled around. Got a hankering for Village Pizza.  You know, they say to carb up before race day!

Went to bed feeling like a million bucks!  Had one of the best nights of sleep ever, before a race (again using this term liberally.)  Woke up at 4 am. as the race starts a little after 6:30 am. or so.  Packed the car – you’d be surprised what you need to carry for all the “what ifs”.  Left on time and arrived on time.

Once again, all the skinny people have shown up!  When I run ultra’s apparently you weed out all those not really interested in running and mostly suffering.  I’m really just an ultra hack because I don’t appear to be as serious as some that show up.

Today I will be running with Jonathan, a guy that is part of my church.  I enjoy running with him and I have convinced him to enter this race.  I have given him all my running secrets and he is ready to go.

The starting gun mis-fires at the start but we start anyway – little did I know this was a sign of things to come.

Jonathan, who is 20 years my junior, choses to run at my pace despite my protest.  He usually has a faster pace than I do.  But he insists!  So off we go running in the woods for what we know will be over 7 hours.  That’s right 7 hours.

The first several miles I couldn’t feel any better.  I’m sucking down my GU gels (provides calories and caffeine) and chasing it down with Gatorade.  Then it happens around mile 15, keep in mind that’s just he halfway point.  I hear a rumbly in my tummy!  I’m getting nauseated.  I can now hear the Gatorade sloshing in my stomach.  It’s important to stay hydrated when you run long distances and I seem to have overdone it.  Now I’m in 2 races, one against trying to actually finish and the other against my stomach.  Eventually the inevitable happened.  Without getting too graphic, the volcano spewed. I was no longer carrying the bulk of the Gatorade inside me.  But you still have to stay hydrated so I had to replenish what I lost with more Gatorade, water, and gels, if I had any hope of completing my goal of finishing.  I had already written off the second goal.  It just wasn’t going to be my day.

Ever tried to run 15 miles with an upset stomach.  If you haven’t let me tell you it isn’t pretty. The volcano erupted no less than 6 times that day.  But I eventually FINISHED, and let me tell you I was finished!

While Jonathan finished with a great first ultra time (I eventually convinced him to leave me as I was sometimes having to walk to settle my stomach) I finished about 25 minutes slower than I had hoped.

Oh well, maybe next year.

But for now, that’s behind me and this weekend I’ll be running the Rocket City Marathon!

Woohooo,  it’s only 26.2 miles and I get to run throughout downtown Huntsville while all the cars have to stop!  🙂

2015 Georgia Jewel Race Report

PinhotiMy 35 mile ultra marathon on the Pinhoti Trail in the North Georgia mountains is in the books!

Was  I able  to finish or did I DNF (did not finish)?  Here  is a detailed description of the toughest race I’ve run to date.

Arrived at the host hotel at about 3 pm. the  day before the adventure was to begin.  All went well and we checked in without any hitches.  Race briefing was to take place at 5 pm.  Asked if I really needed to attend since i was only running the 35 miles and not the 50 or 100 mile option.  I had already set up a time to eat with my daughter and son in law at 4:30pm.  I like to eat early on race day to let everything settle.  At the last minute I decided it would be best to attend the meeting considering I would be in the middle of a trail I had never run before for 35 miles.

I won’t miss another race briefing!  Key piece of information – forestry commission marks their trails with markers that looked very similar to the ones marking the Georgia Jewel course.  Only difference is that the Georgia Jewel markers had a piece of reflective tape so you could see them in the dark.  Something you might want to know.

Another point of interest was the trail director was not at the meeting because his truck was stuck in the mud while delivering water to an aid station.  Water was rising at some crossings, etc…  Things that made everything more interesting.  And did I mention it had been raining all day and would be on race day?

After the meeting we had a wonderful dinner with my daughter and son in law then we all hung out in our spacious room.  Seriously, it was huge.

Eventually it was time for bed.  Alarms were set.  That’s right alarms, as in 4,  2 cell phones, a room clock and a wake up call.  Miss the bus at 5:30 am. and the race is over before it starts.  So what time was the alarm set for?  4:30 am. Georgia time – 3:30 am. my time!  Ended up getting up at 3 am. my time to start  the day.  My hydration pack was filled with water and other needed items to be running in the wilderness.  At  the last minute I removed my flashlight as the race start would be at 7 am.  This would prove to be a mistake.

Arrived at the Dalton Convention center at 5:15.  Checked in so they would know I was there and they could  track me throughout the race for safety reasons.  Two school buses arrive on time and we boarded the bus that would transport us to the 35 mile ultra starting line. These school buses were not made for tall people!  I felt like I had to do a split just to get into my seat! I had wondered why we needed to board a bus at 5:30 am. to get to a 7 am. start.  Didn’t take long for that to be answered.  We started to go up and down steep hills and declines.  An omen for what the race would become.  We eventually reach our destination, the starting line in the rain.  For whatever reason running makes you go to the bathroom!  So in good race  fashion everyone begins to  line up at the bathrooms.

After everyone finishes, most board the bus again just to stay out of the rain, as if that was going to make a difference in the big picture.  It’s still pitch dark, which gets me wondering, what time is sunrise?  As I ask around cell phones reveal that sunrise is at 7:30 am.  Well that means I had good news and bad news.  Good news is I have a  flashlight.  Bad news is it’s in my room.  Someone recommends to run with someone that  has a headlamp until sunrise.  Makes sense and I don’t have any other reasonable options.  Hey, I’m a plan “B” guy anyway.

At 6:50 am. we gather for a pre-race meeting, have a prayer then wait on the countdown and off we go.

My strategy was start slow and not get  caught up in those wanting to start fast due to race adrenaline. Then, try to run a mile then walk one minute where possible.  I would power walk serious climbs.  If you’ve never run an ultra, this is pretty standard strategy.  For most ultra running it’s all about strategy.  You are forced to run a lot to make any cutoff times but  if you wait to walk until you just have to, it’s too late.  It’s an endurance race that will last all day so strategy is key.  My goal was first to just finish, as this was the longest race I’ve had to date, secondly to finish under 10 hours.

Did not take long for the climbing to start.  When I spoke to Eric who gives me coaching advice, his first  words when I told  him I was running this was, “That’s a hilly course.”  Now Eric is a local ultra running superstar, so I did not take his comment lightly.

Here’s my overall description of the race….

  • Yes it was hilly!  More accurately, it seemed like we climbed for half  a day then descended the other half!  Any strategy of running for a mile then walking for a minute was pretty much out the window for the majority of  the race.
  • Rained for much of the day.
  • Started to develop a heal blister about midway.  Never developed a blister where it happened – due to the steep inclines.
  • Ran much of the race solo.  Hours at a time without seeing anyone until I reached an aid station.
  • Very woodsy trail.  Something hitting you in either your face, calves or arms for a good portion of the race.  i once was dodging something with my feet only to look up and have a branch in my mouth!  🙂
  • I think the last people to travel that trail were Louis and Clark 🙂
  • It was one climb after another.  Then the decent.  Quad buster running at its best!

Now for the detailed part….

  • At one point  in the race I said  something I never  thought I’d say, and I was excited about it…  I looked at my GPS watch and told myself  that  I only had 15 miles to go.  That’s when you know it’s a tough race for you, when you get fired up that you’ll be finished in a mere 15  trail miles!
  • Thought I was lost twice
  • Two others said  that most GPS watches were off by a little on this trail so we actually had less than 10 miles to go.
  • I eventually see a race representative, I’m thinking I must be getting close to the finish.  How much further?  3 miles.  I thought I was closer so that was not beneficial.
  • Then I had heard about  the steep downhill at  the end of the race to the finish line and thought I was on it – wrong!
  • The steep downhill was on a busy, busy street (2 lane) where cars are going over 50 miles per hour!  Very little space left to run on  the smooth asphalt which meant running in the brush on the side of the road.
  • Eventually I can see the finish at the Dalton Convention center – still on the busy road.
  • On the last part of  this downhill I look over my shoulder and see a runner making up some ground on me.  So far I have not fallen the entire day!  Awesome for me as when I go down I go down HARD.
  • Then it happened.  After seeing this runner making time I turned to make it to the finish.  Before I knew what happened  I was rolling end over end in the brush on this busy road.  My leg then cramps so hard I grab it in dire straights.  Wow did it cramp.  But this is a race and someone was about to pass me – again!  I knew I had  to roll over and try to stand up ASAP, no matter how bad it hurt.
  • I did.  They did not pass me.  I did finish the Georgia Jewel 35 mile ultra in 9:03!   I met both my goals!  Wasn’t pretty but I met them.

As I  write this two days later,  I’m still having a hard  time moving around! My quads are toast!  As I sit here in pain I sometimes wonder why I run Ultras knowing it’s going to eventually hurt during and after a race.  Then about 2 seconds of having  that thought I answer – because I love pushing myself to see what I can endure.  I still haven’t met  my limit.  But  I will  say that this race was incredibly hard due to the massive climbing –  in my opinion, and  for my level of fitness.  Your mileage will  vary.  But for me it was the hardest so far.

I would highly encourage anyone to sign up for this race next year.  It was really well run and had great volunteers.

But, the Pinhoti Trail is one to take seriously!

So what about the future?  I have the Dizzy Fifties 30 mile ultra then the Rocket City Marathon.  I also have some other  ultras in mind.  Ultimately I think I would like to try some 50 milers.

35 Miler Around The Corner!

Georgia JewelWho doesn’t enjoy a good 35 mile run somewhere in the Georgia mountains?

It’s that time of year again, time to run the ultras!  I can’t wait.

In fact I couldn’t wait, so I’ve entered a 35 mile trail race in Georgia!

The picture to the left is part of that race from what I understand. Those two dots are actually people!

The 35 mile race has a 30 hour cut off time.  That’s right 30 hours.  I  don’t think it will take me nearly that long but throw in a few of those steep hills and who knows?  My last 30 plus mile ultra took me about 7 hours.

The most interesting part of running ultras is being in the wilderness alone often not seeing other runners for over  an hour at a time.  Yes, thoughts creep into your head making you wonder if you took a wrong turn on the trail somewhere – that really happens.

I’ll let you know how it goes as it is a rain or shine event!

Ultra Quotes…

deanHaven’t updated you on any of my ultra training so I thought I’d do that!

I’m currently registered for an ultra (30 plus miles) trail run and a city marathon (26.2 miles).

My training consists of lifting weights at the gym and outdoor running. I hate running on the treadmill but if I have to I will.

This time of year means that I’m getting into the beginning of my longer runs.  Longer runs mean that you have to get accustomed to suffering.  Seriously, to run long distances you need to get comfortable with suffering.

 

So for motivation this week I thought I’d leave you with some quotes from Dean Karnazes, known as the ultra marathon man.

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

“People think I’m crazy to put myself through such torture, though I would argue otherwise. Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. Dostoyevsky had it right: ‘Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.’ Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is a magic in misery. Just ask any runner.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself–expanding and learning as you go–your choosing a numb existence. Your denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

So quit reading already and go run!

Ultra Running on Vimeo

VimeoNeed a little inspiration to run faster and longer? If so, I would recommend you head over to Vimeo and watch these.  Get off the couch and watch a few!

2015 Running Season

Running1Well it’s that time of the year again.  Time to get ready for the 2105 Half Marathon, Marathon and Ultra Running racing!

Currently I’m running about 4 days per week.

2 days at 7 miles, 1 day at 90 minutes and 1 day at 45 minutes – all non-stop!  Ok maybe this schedule isn’t difficult for the ultra superstars but it gets interesting for me with the humidity and heat of a Southern summer.

My hope is to run 3 ultras (over 30 miles) this running season.

I now try to get up at 5:30 am. then either run or workout at the gym each morning that it’s scheduled.  Getting up early is not always easy but has been a blessing as I can get a lot of exercising in before work!

If you’re interested in learning more about ultra running then check out ultrarunning.com

Mountain Mist 50k Trail Run 2015

Mist1

Over the weekend I decided to run what is claimed to be the premier ultra trail run in the Southeast.  31 plus miles would need to be covered to reach the finish line racing on Monte Sano in Huntsville AL.

Here’s the way I saw it.

To set the story up it will help to understand that I barely qualify to run this.  Here is a notice from the Mountain Mist site:

Those demonstrating no previous endurance activities will be denied entry or have your entry to this race removed and no refund will be issued. If you have a question about a qualification standard, please contact eric.charette@yahoo.com

  • Any previous Mountain Mist 50km finish
  • Any ultra marathon finish in previous 2 years
  • Any marathon finish under 4:40 in previous 2 years
  • Any 70.3 Triathlon finish under 7:00 in previous 2 years
  • Any 140.6 Triathlon finish in previous 2 years
  • Other endurance running activities on case by base basis

I barely qualify, but I qualify nonetheless.

Weather:  A couple of days before the start it rains cats and dogs.  I can only imagine what the trail will look like after several hundred runners trample over it.  Night before the start, it snows – sure why not!  Guess with snow on the ground I don’t need to mention it’s cold.

Race Day:

Dress:  I decide as I usually do in really cold running to go with shorts, calf compression sleeves, long sleeve running shirt with a short sleeve running shirt over it. Visor, no boggin’ for headgear. Camelback for hydration.  Gloves.  It’s cold but hopefully I warm up after a few miles like normal.

Breakfast:Cup of Coffee.

Arrival:  Arrive at the lodge early for the start.  As I survey the other runners I’m reminded that I barely qualify to run this one.  Everyone looks like they showed up for a skinny person’s convention.  Me, I’m looking for anyone that I can hang out with that looks like a rugby player.  Just a few.  The rest appear to be serious ultra runners from all over the country.  Several men are sporting ultra beards which intimidate me.  Find some bacon, probably eat too much but I’m ready for the race.

Racing:  Racing is a relative term for me.  As with most ultra competitors it means a lot of running with periodic walks in-between – you must develop a strategy.  It’s an endurance race.  How you get to the finish line is up to you.  But there’s a catch.  This race has cut off times for the safety of volunteers and runners.  This means you must make certain aid stations by a certain time or get pulled off the course.

Aid Station One Cutoff – Start goes off without a hitch.  Run on the pavement for a little while to allow faster runners to get a head start on the trail.  I hit the trail.  It’s soooo muddy!  Several hundred runners were ahead of me and the trail was trashed from the beginning.  Then there was the first big climb – lovingly referred to as K2.  That climb just kept on giving until your legs were trashed and this takes place just a few miles in.  I was sliding in and out of mud like it was an ice patch for much of the race.  But, I make the aid station with only 5 minutes to spare.  I realize that I will probably be pulled at the second aid station due to this small margin.

Aid Station Two:  Many people got pulled from the course at station one.  So now I find myself running for miles without ever seeing anyone.  At one moment I thought I was off the trail and wondered how they would ever find anyone that far out in the middle of the forest.  Right when I started to seriously question it I saw a red trail marker – and it felt good to see it.

The Fall:  My last ultra on the mountain I found myself kicking rocks and falling.  Thought I had masted it (you never will) and was floating along (my fantasy) when I slipped on a downhill, no one within miles.  Did I mention mud?  Also this trial is littered the entire way with rocks as well!  Back to the fall…  On my way down I grab a sapling of decent size to stop my impending fall, it snaps like a toothpick and the inevitable happens.  I actually land on a dead tree after a few summer-salts, which crumbles and actually cushions my fall.  I get up hoping nothing is broke.  My ribs on my right side are aching – bad, I have a cut on my leg and a few scratches.  After getting back on track I decide I don’t care if I make the next cutoff time or not!  That hurt!

Aid Station Two Cutoff – As I pull up on aid station two and ask if I made it (I’m good if I didn’t as this is a brutal race) they said I made it by 25 minutes!  What? Darn! That means I’ll have to continue and so I do.  I am now thinking that I may actually finish the Mountain Mist!

Problem: To get to the next aid station I will need to climb Waterline.  The climb that this race is known for and you do it toward the end with tired legs.

Aid Station Three Cutoff – Things seem to be going fairly well.  Mud and rocks everywhere.  Thought I saw a dinosaur stuck in one of the mud pits. Then I see Waterline.  It just goes up and up and up.  No switchbacks.  Just up!  It became so demoralizing that I had to keep my head down and look at my feet – one step at a time. This happens after you’ve already run close to 24 miles. Then, here’s the kicker.  About 3/4 of the the way you have to climb a short rock face!  It seemed dangerous to me.  If you fell then you would fall a looooooong ways before anything could stop you.  Here’s a pic from runyourfirstultra which has many pics of the race.

mist22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you finish this climb you still have a steep climb to go.  But I make it.  I have now been racing over 6/12 hours as I come up on the LAST aid station.  If I make it here I will most likely finish the Mountain Mist.

The Results are In

As I run in to the aid station the wonderful volunteers are offering encouragement.  I ask if I made the cut off and in a sad voice she says no!  I scream THANK YOU, BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD TODAY!  I was trashed and felt I got my money’s worth.  Did I mention you have to pay for this experience?

After 26-27 miles running on a trial for over 6 hours I missed the last cutoff by 10 minutes!  10 minutes!  Small things matter and if you don’t want to get pulled off the course you should RUN FASTER!

So in the end I had a great time, in a weird way.  When riding back to the lodge (the ride of shame) I said I’d never do that again – with the mud, rocks, and that rock climb, it wasn’t that fun.  But on the way home I was already thinking about how I could do better next year.

But, I did accomplish a few goals:

1. I did meet the qualifications to be able to enter the Mist

2. I did climb Waterline

But when all was said and done I didn’t see this:

Mist3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I write this with hurting legs I’m already in the process of choosing my next ultra! It looks like either a 12 hour endurance race in Decatur, AL or a 50 miler in Alex City AL.  If your an ultra runner you must give the mist a try!  Maybe I’ll see you next year.  I’ll be the one that looks out of place.

Ultra Experiment

How did I get into this?

A few years ago I decided to give running a try.  Why?  I’m not sure.  I’m was in relatively good  shape, working out weekly at a nearby gym.

One  day I decided that I haven’t given running a try so I  thought I’d add it to the long list of experiments in my life. I started out with just a jog for a mile but within about 4 weeks I ran 10 miles without stopping with another minister friend of mine.

In just a year or two I started Ultra Running – Distances over 26.2 (Marathon distance).  I seem to obsess with going overboard with everything I do!If you aren’t regularly exercising then I hope you’ll consider it.  Walking or running can be a blast, especially outdoors – and yes, I will run in the winter outdoors as well.