Saturday, March 14, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Hoping to finally make a intelligent decision, I took the entire week off since the MS50. It was hard, but nice not to worry about getting in the mileage with the shitty weather we've been having. My body needed the break, as did my endocrine system.

I hit the roads today due to all the trails being full of water and mud. Normally, I detest running the streets because of all the jackass drivers flying by and all the car exhaust you have to endure. If I am running with Jennifer (who has yet to venture into the woods with me), then I can run the streets all day.

Today's run felt great. No aches, no pains, no problems. Ten miles in two hours, even with a lot of stopping to get Marley caught and re-leashed. She likes to run free and there was a few areas during the run that I could unleash her.

I am still debating on running the Germantown Half Marathon tomorrow. If I skip it, I will hit the streets again...hopefully with Jennifer this time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mississippi 50

They say that the third time is a charm. They were wrong. It took me four attempts to finally finish a 50 mile trail run. Thrice in 2008 I tried a came up short. First was MS50 (missed cut-off by 30 minutes); second was Ouachita 50 (missed cut-off by 15 minutes); third was Bartlett Park (planned on 50m, but stopped after 50k...the temps with heat index was 130).

Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi 50 is held each March in the DeSoto Nat'l Forrest outside of Laurel, MS. I ran it last year, but bloated like a whale on the third 12.5 mile loop and missed the cut-off. I didn't care at the time, I just wanted someone to stick me in the gut and let all the air out. I decided to run the MS50 again this year because it is a "easy" 50 miler.

This year's course was changed due to yearly forrest burns. Instead of four 12.5 mile loops, we ran three 16.7 mile loops (with two out-n-backs). The course was fairly dry, except for a couple of creek crossings and a mud bog. The course flat, save for a few small climbs. We had an eight hour cut-off to complete two loops (34m), leaving four hours for the last 16.7 miles.

I decided to forgo any hotel/motel and camp out at the start area. Approximately twenty feet from my small tent, a posse of rednecks decided to have a family reunion (actually they were horse riders there for the weekend) for what seemed like all damn night. They were loud and obnoxious...totally inconsiderate of anyone else in the camping area. They even left their damn generators running all night. Needless to say, I tossed and turned all night. I finally got up before 0430 to break camp and get ready. I thought about singing a few loud David Allen Coe songs to wake the rednecks, but they wouldn't have heard me over the generators.

We all gathered at the start, saying our hellos/good-lucks and taking pictures. At 0600 we started running. I wanted to start more conservative, but that went to the wayside for a bit. Four miles to the first aid station was were the majority of the water and mud were found. This was an out/back, so we got wet/muddy a total of six times over the 50 miles. I tried to stay somewhat dry, but it was of no use.

Aid station 2 was around the 9 mile mark. Only 5 miles from AS1, but it seemed an eternity. I knew that once the sun was up that this stretch of trail would be a bugger and needed to remember to fill up my water bottle at AS1 each time.

AS3 was about 5 miles from AS2. AS4 only 2-ish from 3; AS5 was actually AS4 after another out/back...then about 2.3 miles to the start. The biggest mind-fuck was getting from the start to AS2 (total of almost 10 miles). This section of trail was long and boring. The more I counted the miles, the worse my disposition. I tried to block it out and just run, but once the temps started to climb up to 80, it was hard to keep a good pace. Once I passed AS2 on each loop, it was all good. All the other aid stations are bunched up, so this made it easy to just run AS to AS.

At AS4, the 50k runners can skip the out/back and head to the finish on their second loop. When I got to this point, I almost dropped down to the 50k. My right hamstring was cramping and I was starting to bloat a bit. I knew that I would regret doing this, so I put on my big boy pants and kept running the 50 mile course. If I was going to fail to reach 50m, then I was going to at least fucking try...damn it.

I finished loop 2 with about ten minutes to spare. My left foot had been hurting for a few hours due to being wet, muddy, and sandy. I knew there would be multiple blisters, but was wary on removing my shoe/sock. Before the last loop, I decided to take time out to take care of the foot or I may never make the last loop. I had a bucket of ice water that I used to wash my foot and quickly donned another Injinji sock. I knocked all the sand/dirt/twig/etc out of my shoe, put it back on and hit the trail for one more damn loop. My foot felt much better! I should have taken care of it earlier...another lesson learned.

The last loop seemed like the shortest. Maybe because I knew it would be my last loop and that nothing was going to stop me from finishing. I was the last runner to start the last loop and saw only three others on the first out/back. One of the runners was Paul, whom I had been somewhat running with the first two loops. He was approximately 2 miles ahead of me when I saw him and I figured I would see him again. Before reaching AS2, I would catch a glimpse of him in the distance. I felt the need to catch him. This helped me keep my pace up and gave me motivation. Once I caught Paul, we would continue the remainder of the race together...pushing and pulling each other. We talked a lot about running and past/future races which helped take our minds of the remaining miles. We only saw one other runner and she was too far ahead to even think about catching.

After the last out/back, Paul and I knew we would never make the 12 hour time limit. We pushed it for all it was worth, hoping Dennis (RD) would allow us to at least finish. We saw Dennis in his truck on the gravel road about a mile from the finish. He was making sure we were still alive and moving. The last 200 yards is all gravel road and I decided it was well past time to put it in the highest gear I had left and finish the race on empty. I wanted to cross the finish line with Paul, but he was lagging too far behind. I felt great to have just enough energy left to run those last 200 yards in a drunken sprint! Right before crossing the finish, I turned a ran backwards. I wanted to do the Jurek roll, but I was too tired. Fuck it, I was done either way!

After getting my race mementos from Dennis and telling the few people remaining thanks and goodbye, I staggered to my car to wash up a bit before my five hour drive home. There was no band playing at the finish, no cheerleaders, no tape to break, not even a sandwich. Being the very back of the pack kind of sucks! I was proud to finish, no matter what the time.
Race nutrition:
Since I have had bloating problems in the past, I decided to stick with water for liquids and used EFS Liquid Shot for cals. Other cals came from various aid station fare, mainly PBJ's and Coke. I did have some bloating, but that was controlled with Pepsid and belching loudly. My energy level dipped a few times, but I never really hit the wall. There was a time when I had the intense desire to lay down for a nap, but I quickly snapped back into the race. I think my main need that I forgot to address was sugar. My legs were still in the race, but my mind was slipping. Sugar is a good fix for this.
I also took S!Caps throughout the race, but kept the dose low because the EFS had electrolytes as well.
More photos on Facebook and Picasa sites.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Run in the Snow

It rarely snows in Memphis. We usually get ice, which sucks ass. It started snowing yesterday afternoon and did not let up until after I went to bed. Unofficially, 8 inches of powder was reported. Of course, today's sunshine is destroying our late winter wonderland!

Marley and I hit the neighborhood streets late yesterday afternoon for our first snow run. We made it 4 miles before deciding that we had enough. I planned on getting up early this morning to run Bartlett Park before everyone else got out there and messed up my snow.

The alarm buzzed at 0600 and I promptly turned it off, checked outside, and went back to bed. So much for running the the virgin forest snow. Up and at 'em around eight and out the door after ten. Marley and I hit Bartlett Park before 10:30. At least five sets of tracks in the snow told me that we went the early birds.

The trails were snowy, wet, and muddy. Before making it to the bridge on the white trail, my feet were already soaked with the freezing water and mud. I tried my best not to run in the water, but it was difficult to run through eight inches of snow off trail. I figured my toes wouldn't fall off in the two hours I had planned on being out there, so all was well.

There were a lot of limbs and whole trees across the trails, weighed down by the snow. By the time I got up to a decent pace, I had to detour or duck under/around down foliage. It was slick in some places and I almost did the splits a few times.

I called it a day after six miles and went home to bathe Marley. She was very stinky and muddy. There are more photos on my Facebook page (link is at the top of this page).

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