Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": January 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yours Truly 50K at Green-Rock and Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler This Weekend

David, Jerry and I at the Yours Truly 50K

Today a group of us tackled the Green-Rock Trail near Six Flags for the Yours Truly 50K. The day began out a bit chilly with the temperature around 22 degrees as we gathered at the trail head for the 8:00 am start. The group was made up of fellow SLUGs Jerry Frost, Greg Murdick, Travis Liles, David Stores, Jeremy Bolt, Lee Hess and myself. You honestly couldn't have scripted a better day with sunny skies, temps reaching into the upper 50's and the trail probably in the best condition I've ever seen it; just an absolutely amazing day to spend running through the woods with a group of close friends! My run went pretty well although I began bonking really hard around mile 25 and never fully recovered until I was comfortably back at the car and the run was over. At one point I said to Jerry, "You know how people say they hit the wall? I'm beyond that, I'm actually in the wall!" My legs were jello and I had that all over drained feeling most of us are so familiar with and although all I wanted to do was lay down we continued to hammer on. Jerry's comment back was, "That's good, right? It'll serve you well down the road, it's all part of training. Savor it!" You've got to love Jerry! As you may remember from previous posts Green-Rock is a somewhat technical trail with many steep climbs and very rocky so there would be no speed records set today. David led the way finishing around 7:05 with Travis shortly behind him, Jerry and I finishing in 7:23 and Greg Murdick finished just a little behind us.

After the run Jerry showed us pictures from the HURT 100 trail where he ran a loop during his recent vacation to Oahu. The trail is amazingly beautiful but undescribably difficult; I've never seen roots like that and can't imagine running 100 miles there! Not wanting the day to end, we marveled at the pictures and chatted a bit more but soon went our separate ways. As I drove home from the run I couldn't help smiling the whole way back; it's days like these that remind me why I love this sport so much!

Picture of the Rocky Raccoon Course from the race website

Friday morning I'm heading down to Huntsville, TX to pace my good friend and Running4Recovery founder, Brad Holzworth, to a finish at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run. Crewing for Brad and I will be the newest member of the R4R team, Suzy Vandyck, who is traveling down from Vancouver, BC to support Brad during his journey. According to A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning by Don Allison:

"This race offers a unique opportunity to run a 100-mile race in the middle of the winter. Rocky Raccoon also provides the first time 100-mile runner a course that can't get much easier in terms of terrain or design. The course, a mixture of forest service roads and relatively flat and well-groomed trails, consists of five 20.2 mile loops with four well-stocked aid stations. Being prepared for any type of weather is a good idea, as the sun can get hot during the day; nights may be cool however, even in mild years.
The course is very well marked, and the multiple loop format means that route finding after 80 miles should not be a problem. However, people still get lost. Paying attention to the marked intersections and understanding the course map are important to running the course correctly. The trail can be muddy in spots, and many of the low-lying areas around the lake can be flooded. Most of the streams are bridged, but if the water level is high, the potential for wet feet is present."

The list of people I know running this race includes Bill Niktakis, Kevin Dorsey, "Bad Ben" Holmes, Gabe Bevan, Kyle Amos, John King, Dale Perry, Bob Marston and Matt Bickhard. Also playing supporting roles are my good friends, Rick Mayo, who will be pacing John King in his first 100 and Gabe's wife, Tiffany, who will be there cheering him on to the finish. I am really excited to see some close members of my ultrarunning "family" along with making many new friends down at the race but most of all I'm pumped to pace Brad during his first finish at the 100 mile distance (no pressure, Brad :-)

Hope all of you had a great weekend and were able to get some miles in out on the trails!
Happy Running,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yours Truly 50K, How To Be A Great Ultra Pacer and "Spirit of the Marathon"

Picture from the 2007 YT 50K in Budapest, Hungary

Next Sunday, 1/27, I will be participating in the Yours Truly 50K out at the Green Rock Trail near St. Louis with a few other SLUGs. This is an interesting concept as it is a world wide race, based on the honor system and you have 24 hours to complete the distance. Here's how the website describes the event:

"Time starts running at the same time when you start and will finish when you have run 50k. You can have breaks if you want. Your time will be the time between start and finish.
Example: You start at 05.00 AM and you run till 09.00 AM. Totally about 35k. You come home and take a shower, eat and watch TV for couple of hours. At 01.00 PM you continue your run. You run those missing 15K's and finish at 03.00 PM. You have used totally 10h to run 50k, that is your result."

Click HERE for more information and good luck!

My AT100 Pacer, Andrew Karandjeff and I at the Finish

On Saturday, Februrary 2nd, I will be pacing my friend and founder of Running4Recovery, Brad Holzworth, during the last 40 miles of his attempt at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run in Huntsville, TX. In the February issue of Trail Runner Magazine there is an article on how to be an effective ultra pacer. Below is a brief recap of the main points in the article along with some of my own thoughts:

Know the Course: It is always best to run the course beforehand but is rarely possible so the next best thing is to study the trail map and know the information on the race website like the back of your hand. Know where the aid stations are, the difficulty of the different sections so you know when to push hard and when to pull back and most of all KNOW THE RULES.

Know Your Runner: Do they like to talk while they run or prefer silence? Should you be stern in your motivation or gentle? Do they like to run in front or behind? There are many physical and emotional highs and lows in a race. Your runner could be feeling great and jovial one minute then suddenly become nauseous and cranky the next; learn how to read your runner and modify your approach according to their mood.

Plan Aid Station Stops: About 10 minutes before you reach the aid station discuss what your runner needs and what you will take care of. Andrew did a great job of this at Arkansas Traveller this year and we had a plan going into each aid station so we could get what we needed and get out as soon as possible.

Know When To Be Bossy: Late in a 100 mile race your runner will not be thinking clearly due to fatigue and low blood sugar, may be nauseous, dehydrated and just plain tired. It's at this point that you need to take over and become the decision maker ensuring that they eat, stay hydrated, keep their electolytes in balance and keep moving forward. They may want to rest or just sit for a while but this is usually what causes a DNF. Remind them that the pain is only temporary and will end when they are finished but that the memories and sense of accomplishment will last a lifetime.

You're There For Them: It's not about you so you need to cast your ego aside and take care of their needs but make sure you are also taking care of yourself so they can count on you when the going gets really tough. They know how important you were in helping them achieve a finish and will remember the help and sacrifices you made for a lifetime.

I have been fortunate to have wonderful pacers (Chris McMahon, pictured above right, at Kettle and Andrew Karandjeff at Arkansas Traveller) for both of my 100 mile finishes and this is my opportunity to return the favor in helping Brad achieve his goal. At the end of the day though it is the runner's job to get himself across the finish line. You are there to provide emotional support, fill their water bottles, help light the way and motivate them to keep moving but they are the ones who need to put in the training, planning and preparation required to cover the distance.

This Thursday, 1/24, the movie, Spirit of the Marathon, will be showing in select theaters across the country. This is a one day engagement with an encore presentation on February 21st so if you have a chance check it out at a theater near you. Below is a brief description from the film's website:

"Four years in the making, Spirit of the Marathon is the collaborative effort of three-time Academy Award winner Mark Jonathan Harris, Telly Award winner and marathon runner Jon Dunham and producer/marathoner Gwendolen Twist. Spirit of the Marathon is the first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, the movie brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries.

As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike.

Filmed on four continents and in five countries, the film stars legends such as Dick Beardsley, Paula Radcliffe, Bill Rodgers, Toshihiko Seko and Grete Waitz."

Hope all of you are doing well and Happy Running,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

McNaughton Park 150 Mile Trail Run - It's Official!!!

Saturday sunset at McNaughton (both photo's from MPTR site)

So I caved into peer pressure from Sherpa John and officially signed up for the McNaughton Park 150 Mile Trail Run just minutes ago! The race begins at noon on Friday, April 11th and has a 52 hour time limit meaning that it officially ends at 4:00 pm on Sunday, April 13th. REALLY!!! 52 HOURS!?! WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!?!?!

It's the only 150 mile trail race in the US and consists of fifteen 10 mile loops with 1,600 feet of elevation change per loop. One of the 2005 participants described the course as follows:

“It’s one of the most scenic courses I know: Mostly singletrack, forest with some meadows, hills with beautiful valleys in between. Lots of flowers and wildlife. At dawn, when I came to the 3rd creek crossing, thousands of birds were singing, frogs were ‘talking’ everywhere, wild geese above me were chatting, and several Whitetail Deer crossing the trail.”

As far as difficulty the following is on the race website:
- Easier than Barkley.
- Cooler than Badwater.
- Lower altitude than Leadville.
- Warmer than Yukon Artic Ultras.

What does that mean? Doesn't seem to really help much since I've never run any of those races! To view the list of all the other crazy people registered for the MPTR 150 Miler click HERE.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu
In this case it's "only" 150 miles but did he have a time limit???

More to come in the months ahead...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

HURT 100, Dan Baglione's Thoughts on Risks & Mom's Hearty Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2007 HURT photo by Arturs Pridanovs

HURT 100
This Saturday runners from across the globe will toe the line at the HURT 100 Mile Endurance Run near Honolulu, Hawaii. Here is how A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning describes the race:

"Held in a nature center in tropical Hawaii while the contintental U.S. is experiencing the worst of winter, how tough can the HURT 100 Mile be? Pretty tough, actually. Muddy, rooted, rocky, single-track trails make up this multiple-loop course, set in a mountainous tropical rainforest. In addition, according to the race brochure, you can expect precipitous and dangerous drop-offs in several locations. All that and 23,750 feet of climb combines to make this one of the toughest 100 milers out there. As the race suggests, this 100-miler is for the adventurous (and experienced) ultrarunner. The 36-hour time limit attests as to its difficulty level."

Two "Blog Friends" will be participating in this event; Kelly, as a pacer for the 2007 Angeles Crest 100 female winner and AC course record holder, Suzanna Bon, and Sam (Jeffery Rogers) as a runner competing in the event. For live runner updates during the race click HERE. Also tune into Sam's Blog all this week as he discusses his training, race strategy and last minute prepartions and then again on Saturday as he and his team attempt to live blog throughout the race. Very cool, Sam!

Dan Baglione's Thoughts on Risks
Last week I talked about risking more this year and pushing myself to the limit by actually racing more and running less. Dan emailed me his thoughts on risks and I wanted to share them with all of you:

"It's a risk every time we toe the line. No matter how well you know the course, no matter how well you may have done in a given race in the past, you never know for certain what lies ahead on the day you stand at the starting line waiting to test yourself once again. If you did know, it would not be a test, and there would be no reason for being there. The satisfaction is in knowing that on that given day, we have done our best, physically and mentally."

Very well put, Dan. I agree with you completely!

Mom's Hearty Oatmeal Cookies
There are a few staples in my diet and one of my favorite are my Mom's delicious and healthy oatmeal cookies. I usually have two of them as a mid-morning snack and thought it would be good to share the recipe with all of you.

- Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
- In a very large bowl mix:
* 1 Jar of Unsweetened Apple Sauce (20 - 25 oz.)
* 1 Cup of Brown Sugar
* 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
* 1/2 Cup of Canola Oil

- In a different large bowl mix:
* 6 Cups of Old Fashioned Quaker Oats (or brand of your choice)
* 2 Cups of Flour
* 2 Teaspoons of Salt
* 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
* 2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
* 2 Cups of Raisins
* 2 Cups of Walnuts or Pecans

- Gradually add dry ingredients to liquid and mix by hand. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray and spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Of course you can substitute organic ingredients if you prefer. We have tried whole wheat flour but found that it just doesn't work and we haven't tried raw sugar yet but may experiment with that sometime in the near future. Seriously, make up a batch; you won't be disappointed!

The Traveler and The Shepherd
A friend of mine, Jeremy Bolt, shared this parable and quote with me:

Traveler - What kind of weather are we going to have today?
Shepherd - The kind of weather I like.
Traveler - How do you know it will be the kind of weather you like?
Shepherd - Having found out, sir, that I cannot always get what I like, I have learnt always to like what I get. So I am quite sure we will have the kind of weather I like.

"Happiness and unhappiness are in the way we meet events, not in the nature of those events themselves." - Anthony De Mello

Food for thought...

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interview on Endurance Planet

Ultra "Family" Member, Dave Wakefield, and I at the Rock Creek 50K (cute skirt, Dave!)

This morning I had an interview with Kevin Patrick, the owner of Endurance Planet. We discussed how I got into the sport, how running a 100 miler parallels the ups and downs we experience in life (or vice versa), the life-long friendships I've made along the way and the Running4Recovery program. You can listen to the full interview by visiting Endurance Planet or click below for the respective files:


Unlike my somewhat long Trails and Tribulations Interview about Arkansas Traveller, it is less than 10 minutes. Kevin kept me on track and to the point :-)

Hope you all enjoy!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pride Cometh Before a Turned Ankle, Racing vs. Running and What Do I Do With All of these Experiences?

Loch Vale - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Pride Cometh Before a Turned Ankle
Last Tuesday I joined Lee Hess and a few others for a New Year's Day run out at Greensfelder Park near Six Flags. I've run through the park numerous times on the Green-Rock Trail but never explored the many side trails available; I ended up logging about 14 miles as I did two loops of the Cottonwood and Declue Trails. Although there is a portion that is on the Green-Rock Trail I found that the Cottonwood/Declue loop is much more runnable than Green-Rock; the hills are rolling and not so steep. So this morning when I awoke to temperatures in the mid-60's I scrapped my Green Rock Trail run and decided to do the same run as last Tuesday. I figured dehydration could be a big problem with the temps in the 70's and with limited water available on Green-Rock thought I'd be better off doing shorter loops with my car close by so I could refill my bottles. I've been running quite a bit lately averaging about 70 miles a week as I'm building my base for the upcoming season so by Sunday I'm usually a bit worn out. But today was different, I was feeling strong and decided to push it for the entire 14 miles. As I was flying along the trail listening to Pink Floyd I began thinking, "I'm getting pretty good at this trail running stuff; I think this could be my year. It's almost like I'm one with the trail, in fact it's been a long time since I turned my... AHHHHHHHHHHH, my freak'in ankle!!!!!!!" It hurt so bad I was immediately nauseous and began sweating profusely as I hobbled along cursing under my breath and berating myself. "That's what you get for being cocky!" I slowly finished up the loop and since the pain had subsided a bit decided to hobble out for another one. Of course once you've turned your ankle during a run it's pretty much inevitable that it will happen again and it did, 2 MORE TIMES! The moral of the story is that no matter how good you think you are at trail running you've got to stay focused when running on more technical (rocky, rooty) trails; you're always just one step away from a turned ankle or a really bad fall. Be careful out there and keep your mind on the trail..., Carey!

Racing vs. Running
In 2007 I more than surpassed any goals I had set in the beginning of the year by running over 2,750 miles, finishing 2 marathons and 11 ultramarathons. Much of this wasn't "planned" as I just continued to enter races and run them; even the 100 milers were a bit spontaneous. After 3 Days of Syllamo I had decided to push back my attempt at 100 miles until 2008 but as I was sitting in Starbuck's on Easter I saw the Kettle 100 ad in Trail Runner magazine. After Easter dinner I promptly went home and signed up, exactly the reaction Jason and Timo were hoping for. After finishing Kettle I swore to my ex-fiancee that there would be no more attempts for a while but then found myself signing up for Arkansas Traveller when our relationship abruptly ended just 7 weeks before the wedding date. After finishing one of the toughest AT100's in history I kept myself busy running the Rock Creek 50K only 3 weeks later followed by the Route 66 Marathon and the Green Rock 40 Mile Fun Run before ending the Fall season. This season I RAN a lot of races but I didn't RACE many. Of course I usually finished in the top 20% and finished as high as 3rd place at Turkey and Taturs but it always seemed like I could have pushed myself just a bit more and not left so much in the tank. I learned a tremendous amount about hydration, nutrition, electrolytes and my body in 2007 as I figured out what my limits were and stayed comfortably inside them. In 2008 I plan to push these limits focusing on quality vs. quantity and daring to red-line myself a bit; finishing races completely exhausted knowing that I gave it my all out on the course. Goals this year include running a sub-5 hour 50K (4:45 actually) and breaking 22 hours in a 100 mile race. Will I DNF? I just might but I think it's worth the risk. As T.S. Eliot said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." I know how far I can go but the real question is how fast can I get there?

What Do I Do With All of these Experiences?
Last week I touched on the fact that I've been in a hover mode since the breakup as I figure out what to do and where to go next. I've got a few irons in the fire with a couple of companies but it is early in the process and very possible that neither of them will pan out. Both are good opportunities but I wonder if I should do something different; do you know what I mean? I have had quite a life in my short 33 years fighting many battles along the way. I've been at rock bottom and on top of the world, a fat smoker, an accomplished ultra-marathoner and a lost soul; I'd like to think this was all for something. By writing this blog I can reflect on my life and also hope that others can learn from my mistakes and draw inspiration; I think people can relate to me because I've been there, done that. So what do I do with all of these experiences? Write a book, go back to school and study nutrition/fitness to help others achieve their goals, partner with someone to develop a survival retreat program for corporate executives, become a freelance writer or do I just do what I've always done (assuming an opportunity comes along)? I'd like to believe that the right door will open but I'm not really putting myself out there to make something happen. My life consists of a somewhat tedious job, running, reading, blogging, sleeping and eating as I wait to get back into the game. I needed this stress-free, non-committal, life-on-hold environment for the first few months after the breakup but now my biggest fear is that the weeks and months will continue to pass by and I'll be in this same spot 6 months from now. Now do you see why I lose focus and turn my ankle out on the trail!?! If any of you have ideas, suggestions or feedback please share. I'll beat you guys to the first one; patience, I know, patience...

Hope you all are enjoying this unseasonably warm weather and staying safe out there on the trails.
Happy Running,