Monday, August 27, 2007

Wolf River Trails

I finally made it out to the WRT yesterday! My initial intention was to run the Tour de Wolf, but wanted a more "woodsy" run. I wasn't even sure that I was in the right place for WRT, but I saw some other people parked so I was hoping I wasn't about to look like a fool! Anyway...

Once parked, I met another runner named Johnny. I followed him onto the yellow trail and after about 10 minutes, I stopped to let him get ahead. I didn't want to crowd him and also wanted to experience the trail in solitude. First impression of the yellow trail: is this the jungle?! The trail was overgrown with vines and face-slappers. There were a lot of areas of "beach", where the sand would slow you down and get into your shoes if you weren't careful. A few logs that had to be jumped/climbed made the run even more enjoyable. My calculations were 4 miles out to Walnut Grove where you could continue on pavement back through the camping area, then to the start. I chose to turn around and retrace. It was too hot (only 94 degrees!) and my camelbak was almost empty.

WRT (yellow) was not as technical as Stanky, but a nice change of pace. There were a few ups and downs, but mainly just light rolls that you could open up your pace on.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back in the Saddle

After taking two days off to let my PF heal, it managed four miles. I went to Stanky Creek, but there is a time-trial for the bikers going on (race tomorrow). Begrudgingly, I headed for the gym. I smoked the first two miles with a 8 minute per mile pace and felt great! My right heel was somewhat stiff, but not enough pain to stop me. What did stop me was a blister on my right ankle where my trail shoe had worn (I should have put my street shoes on!). The front desk people gave me a band aid to cover it, but it still burned like the dickens! I did not want to stop, but it my shoe kept digging into the blister. Wait a minute! This would be a great time to run barefoot...well, at least sockfoot!

I ran two miles at a 10 minute per mile pace in my socks and it felt very liberating! It took some getting used to, but it was great! Unfortunately, another damn blister...this time on the ball of my left foot which is where my foot would first contact the treadmill. Blisters be damned. Next time, I will wrap my feet regardless of shoe choice or surface choice. I am pondering on purchasing a pair of Vibram Fivefingers, which would make it much easier for me to run "barefooted".

To find out more about barefoot running, please give Barefoot Ted's site a look!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Good News...Bad News

Good news: Since changing from a base-building, slow run to a faster 5k pace run, I have seen much improvement since May. My 5k time has improved by 4 minutes and my 8 mile time has improved by 20 minutes! This is all wonderful news for me! Running slow and keeping my HR down during my Maffetone work-outs for 2 months was soooo boring. I am really excited to be running faster...and without pegging my HR out to max!

Bad news: I seem to have developed a case of plantar fasciitis. It started nagging me when I increased my pace this past Sunday. Halfway into a 10k run last night, I had a lot of trouble walking. I actually had less pain when I was running, so I finished the mileage. This morning, I could not bear any weight on my right heel. It became less painful as the day progresses, but still very tender. I guess I will need to lay off the running for a bit. The recumbent bike and elliptical will have to suffice for now (yuck!).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stumpjump 50k

I just noticed that the Stumpjump 50k registration is closed! I knew that I should have registered this past weekend!

My alternative for that weekend is actually better than Stumpjump! I plan on joining Kevin Ponds who will be crewing for Jeff and Sherpa John at the Arkansas Traveler 100. This is a race that I want to run, but there is no way that I am ready for it. So...why not crew for some people that are ready? There is a lot I can learn from Jeff and Sherpa John! Maybe I can pace one of them, too!

Now, if I can just convince the wife to let me go play for that weekend!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stanky Creek

The weather finally cooled down enough to run the trails! It was 97 degrees, but very humid. Even if it were over 100, I don't think I could have hit the treadmill. I needed to run the trails...and run the trails I did.

I've decided that I am tired of running slow. I need more speed. Today's run was to be considered a speed run....eight miles of speed. I hit the trail head at a blistering pace and held it constant except for uphills. After the first four miles, I was dog tired. I took a short walk break and then took off at a steady 11 minute pace. I had my watch set for a 3:1 interval, but usually just kept running. Another short walk break at mile six. My body and mind were telling me to slow down, but I wanted to push it as much as possible. I finished the loop in 92 minutes, which is shy of my PR by a few minutes. It was exhausting, but I felt good about my performance. I know an eleven minute pace is not fast for a lot of you, but it is on the trail for me. Of course, I doubt I could have kept that same pace for much longer!

Side note: There were lot of bikers on the trail today. As I passed a family of said bikers, the wife called out to her husband: "Here comes a jogger, Ed!". A jogger?! How insulting! I am a runner, by damn it! I am a ultradistance runner! I am the best ultradistance runner known to man to my wife!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Salt Burns

I ran my first long run since last week's race. I am rebuilding my base with slow, long runs that get very boring. It took me 5 hours to run 21 miles today. I started well before the sun came up...but once it came up, it got hot real quick. I packed GU, Clif Bars, PBJ's, and plenty of S!Caps into my camelbak and hit the road by 0515. I wore my usual attire (bike shorts under running shorts) and all was fine the first couple of hours. I took S!Caps more often that I did during the race, hoping that would help my gut not bloat (which it did help).

By the beginning of the third hour, I noticed white foam on my thighs. I assumed it was salty sweat and thought nothing else of it. I continued running, eating, drinking, and taking even more S!Caps. In hind site, I guess that I was taking way too many S!Caps and this was overloading me with salt.

When I got home and in the shower, I nearly screamed in pain! I had what looked like whelps or burns on my inner thighs, buttocks, and testicles. My guess is that I perspired a high concentration of salt and because I was wearing compression shorts, my skin was overly irritated. Needless to say, I am still in pain.

NOTE TO SELF: don't take so many damn S!Caps!!!!!

SIDE NOTE: S!Caps are worth their weight in gold...when taken properly!!!!

I hope all is better before tomorrow's trail run!!

Friday, August 17, 2007


The weather is finally supposed to cool down this weekend! Tomorrow's high is expected to top out at 95, which may seem hot...but it sure beats the daily average of 104 this week! With the cooler temps, I will finally get back to running outdoors and running longer distances. My plan for tomorrow's long run in to get up at 4am and hit the streets until 9am. I prefer the trails, but it's a bitch being the first one out there and hitting all the spider webs! Trails will have to wait until Sunday's 16 miler.

On a side note, I am now a proud member of Team Sherpa!

"Team Sherpa Ultra-Running is a nation-wide group of runners passionate about simply going the distance and camaraderie. There are no dues, there is no budget, there are no waivers to be signed. You are not guaranteed a number to run Boston or any other over-crowded race. What you are guaranteed is support, friendship and a good time. We are not a non-profit organization or really an organization at all. We are group of runners feeling good about inclusion." - Sherpa John

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Post Race

I always thought I would loose weight from running 40 miles, but I have actually gained 6 pounds! Everyone responding to my post on the ultra-list say it's only water weight and I hope they are right!

I took Sunday off from running. Monday was a treadmill day. Tuesday I ran outside in the 102 degree temps. Today...back to the treadmill where there is air conditioning!! So far, I have not had any extra pains attributed to the race. I am keeping the daily mileage low in order to build back up slowly. This weekend will be back to running the the shade!

Monday, August 13, 2007

One Down...Many More to Go!

I survived my first (and definitely not last) ultra. I am disappointed that I did not make the cut-off for the fifty miles, but I am more than pleased that I did not stop after fifty kilometers! The temp was 102, so a lot of runners were smart and went home after 50k. Call me glutton for punishment...but 50k was not enough to satisfy me. Missing the time limit cut-off to go 50 miles, I settled for the next best thing...40 miles.

I made the most prevalent mistake made in ultras: I started too fast! I was mid-pack the first 8 miles, moving at a pace that I knew I could never keep after the first loop. I even ran up all the pace never slowing. But, damn it...I felt good! By the end of the first loop, I had beat my PR by three minutes (1:30/8miles). My stamina seemed OK, but I knew that I had just blown it for the long haul. Chalk it up as stupid and keep moving. I promised myself that the next four loops would have to be at my pace.

I have been to the wall and it almost won. The 25 through 29 miles were the longest hour of my life. At one point, I removed my Camelbak and just laid on the ground...wishing it was over, praying for relief. Although I ate what I though was enough, obviously it was not. Nothing tasted good. My appetite was non-existent. I was running on fumes and my body was tired of moving forward. A couple GU's and a PBJ keep me going long enough to climb that damn wall. Once over, there was no looking back. I felt tired, but great all at the same time! I had only hit the wall once before during training at mile 20, and it beat me. There was no way it could have won this time...I was damned if I was going home without at least 40 miles of trail behind me.

I have to acknowledge two things that helped me the most: Clip2 and S!Caps. I am now a believer and will not race without them! Thanks Karl King! Your products kept me moving forward and feeling good! Being the first time I used the S!Caps, I wasn't sure how many to take. I figured one every four miles should be sufficient, but in hindsight I should have taken more with the temperature being so high.

Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers!! They did an awesome job of keeping us fed, hydrated, and safe. The two RD's (Mike Samuelson & Kevin Dorsey) put on one helluva race and were always present to help in anyway possible! Thanks to all those who gave me words of encouragement throughout the race (Susan Donnelly, Jan Show, Kevin Dorsey, Mike Samuelson, and so many others)! There is no way I could have run 40 miles without all of your help!!

My biggest and most heartfelt thanks is reserved for my beautiful wife, Jennifer. Without her understanding and patience I would not have been able to finish this race, let alone start it.

So...after eleven hours and forty-seven minutes of brutal heat, blisters, chaffed skin, and trail grime...I was smiling from ear to ear! When is the next race? Where do I sign up?

Mistakes Made & Lessons Learned:
1.) Too fast out of the gate! As I have read many times: "start slow, then taper".
2.) I ran the hills at first. As I have read many times: "walk the hills, even the small ones".
3.) I did not eat enough food. Eat, eat, and eat...then repeat.
4.) My belly would swell as if it could not empty. More S!Caps solved this problem.
5.) I ignored the blisters instead of taking care of them.
6.) The wall is real. Be mentally and physically ready to climb it. Keep moving forward!
7.) Lubricate everything! This includes feet!
8.) Bring your own toilet paper! You will need it!
9.) Red Bull did not help me, but Boost!Plus and Coke certainly did.
10.) Listen to the veteren ultra runners. They have already been there...done that.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I am full of butterflies...anticipating tomorrow's race. There are many questions bouncing around in my head. Did I train enough? Were my long runs um, long enough? Will my old joints hold up to 10-12 hours of constant forward motion? Will I be able to push through the many walls that I will surely face?

Another problem that we will face is the brutal southern heat. A high of 101 with 49% humidity is expected tomorrow. Luckily, we will be in the woods! Not much improvement, but hopefully bearable!

I think I have all my supplies ready. Twelve packs of Clip2, one bottle of S! Caps, a gallon of chocolate milk, three gallons of h20, plenty of Gu!, Clif Blocks/Bars, a liter of Coke, four Red Bulls, and three full change of clothes. Luckily, the course is an eight mile loop and I can stop at my car each time to refill my Camelbak and eat my personal stash. Also, two aid stations (every 4 miles) with other goodies should keep my fuel tank full. I am probably taking too much, but that is better than not enough. I only live four miles from the course, so I can always call my wife to bring anything I may have forgotten.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bartlett Park Ultra

I am looking forward to (and hopefully prepared for...) the Bartlett Park Ultra this Saturday! My current plan is to complete the 50 mile race, but will be somewhat happy with the 50k or the 40 miler. One race distance at a time!

This will be my first ultra distance race and only my second race of any type (I ran a 5k on the 3rd of July [32:05]). After eight years of running to and fro for Uncle Sam, I quit exercising altogether and put on almost 100 pounds of blubber. I started running again last year and since have lost 50 pounds. For the past few months, my weekly mileage has increased from 15 mpw to 55 mpw (with the obligatory weekend long runs).

As I stated at the top of this post....hopefully I am prepared for the race Saturday!! If all goes well, my ultramarathon career will not end this weekend.

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