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

Friday, February 29, 2008 - The Endurance Sports Community

Andy Weinberg, the race director of the McNaughton Park Trail Runs, and one of his friends started a new website called - The Endurance Sports Community. Here's a description of the site from their homepage:

Welcome to Peak, the place for athletes and People Inspiring People. Join, and get connected to others through your own personal profile, your own blog, your own photo album, and share your stories, workouts, training tips, travels and experiences, while finding friends and fellow athletes to train with, create groups, or post events.

I signed up today and it's very cool; it's a beta version so there are still a few bugs they're working on regarding the blog entries and HTML coding but that's the only issue I've stumbled across. Everything else seems to be working A-OK! So please join and make sure you add me as one of your friends; my user name is CareySmith.

Hope all of you are well and enjoying this beautiful weather!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hashing and Taper Time's a Com'in!

Last weekend, during our trip to Arkansas, Gena was telling me about the St. Louis Hash House Harriers and invited me to come to one of their hashes. What is a hash, you say? Here's a brief history and definition from the June '95 issue of Hawaii RacePlace Magazine:

"Hashing . . . it's a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work, a refreshing escape from the nine-to-five dweebs you're stuck with five days a week. Hashing is an exhilaratingly fun combination of running, orienteering, and partying, where bands of harriers and harriettes chase hares on eight-to-ten kilometer-long trails through town, country, and desert, all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times.

Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a group of British colonial officials and expatriates founded a running club called the Hash House Harriers. They named the group after their meeting place, the Selangor Club, nicknamed the "Hash House." Hash House Harrier runs were patterned after the traditional British paper chase. A "hare" was given a head start to blaze a trail, marking his devious way with shreds of paper, all the while pursued by a shouting pack of "harriers." Only the hare knew where he was going . . . the harriers followed his clues to stay on trail. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and solving the clues, reaching the end was its own reward . . . for there, thirsty harriers would find a tub of iced-down beer.

Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand . . . then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, directories, and even regional and world hashing conventions.

Hashing hasn't strayed far from its Kuala Lumpur roots. A typical hash today is a loosely-organized group of 20-40 men and women who meet weekly or biweekly to chase the hare. We follow chalk, flour, or paper, and the trails are never boring . . . we run streets and back alleyways, but we also ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains, and scale cliffs. And although some of today's health-conscious hashers may shun cold beer in favor of water or diet sodas, trail's end is still a celebration and a party."

So yesterday, after my long run, I decided to check it out for myself and joined Gena, her sister Carrie and Jeremy for the fun and festivities. The hash took place in University City and wandered all over the area, across Delmar and then headed back up Maryland where it ended at CJ Mugg's in Clayton; it was about 5.5 total miles. There was a beer stop (or water, in my case) half way through the course and the trail was marked with fruit loops so you could see it in the snow. Picture a group of adults running through neighborhoods, blowing whistles and yelling "Are You On?" as passer's by wonder what the heck we are doing, oblivious to our little game. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed meeting a whole crew of new people even though I don't know their real names (they have Hash nicknames which tend to be a bit rude and crude, but funny); they also had plenty of soda and water for hashers, like myself, who don't drink alcohol. Since Sunday is my long run day I don't know that I'll participate regularly in these hashes but it's definitely a nice break from the more serious side of running where pace and mileage matter.

Taper Time's a Com'in!
One more week and then I begin tapering for the 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race which is March 14-16 in Mountain View, AR. The picture above shows you exactly what I'll be doing; not much of anything except for kicking back with my feet up! I've been averaging over 70 miles per week for the past 3 months so this rest period is definitely needed; my legs have been feeling REALLY heavy lately and I can tell my body needs some time to repair. This will be a relatively short taper; I'll still run 40-50 miles during my lowest mileage week (3/3-9) but won't run at all 3/11-13. I can't afford to do a full on taper since I still have the McNaughton 100 Miler in April and need to maintain my training for it.

Hope all of you are doing well and Happy Running,

Monday, February 18, 2008

Break Free! (Nike Ad)

Fellow SLUG, Carol King, sent this out to our running group today after reading my 2008 Sylamore Trail 50K Run Race Report:

"Hi everyone,
After reading Carey Smith's blog I felt compelled to share this video. Thanks for sharing your "questioning why you are running" portion of your race report. I do it a lot, being a new runner. It made me feel better to know that experienced, accomplished runners do it too."

As I told Carol I didn't realize they had a video camera following me on Saturday; that ad is so realistic it's scary! I think every runner has experienced this internal battle no matter how long they've been running or how many races they have under their belt. The trick is to remember all the things you love about the sport and to keep pushing on when all you want to do is quit.

Break free from those negative thoughts; let them eat your dust!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 Sylamore 50K Trail Run Race Report

This weekend I headed down to Mountain View, Arkansas with fellow SLUGs Gena Bonini, Jeremy Bolt and Sara Kniffen to run the Sylamore Trail 50K Run. I first met Jeremy while running Berryman last year, met Gena for the first time down at Arkansas Traveller and have “run” into Sara a few times at races (plus we went to Parkway South High School together, but that was ages ago). Since then, Jeremy, Gena and I have gotten together a few times for group runs out at Green-Rock and Chubb so we already knew each other pretty well and I was really looking forward to our road trip adventure down south.

The ride down was a lot of fun as we swapped stories about life, our experiences and running while Gena treated us to some of her favorite songs by the Old Crow Medicine Show. All three of them are really great people; very positive, energetic, philosophical and fun so our conversations ranged from sharp witted humor to more serious subjects, a great mix for the 10 total hours we spent together on the road. We arrived in Mountain View around 7:00 pm, picked up our race packets at Angler’s Resort and had a great dinner before checking into our motel down the road. Due to the recent tornadoes that hit the area, FEMA had taken over all of the rooms at Angler’s so our reservations had been moved to a motel about 5 miles up the road. This caused a bit of confusion for the young lady working at the motel but Jeremy helped us sort it out and we got settled into our rooms to rest up for the race. Before turning in I began reading my new book, Swimming to Antarctica, which I bought some time ago but until now had been collecting dust on the shelf. I don’t swim and didn’t really think I would enjoy it but as I got into it I was fascinated by the author’s drive, determination and mental strength. She completely dedicated herself to the sport of endurance swimming and trained to push past the limits of fatigue and exhaustion actually becoming stronger with each passing mile. I could really relate and drew inspiration from her stories of dedication to a sport most people couldn’t understand or comprehend.

Gena awoke early Saturday morning and let me sleep in until the last possible minute, “Carey, time to get up, it’s 5:45.” “OK, OK,” I replied as I slowly began preparing myself for the day ahead. Gena went to the front desk to grab coffee and as she returned along with Jeremy and Sara they filled me in on the weather, “It’s not that cold but it may get colder later in the day, plus it might rain,” to which I responded, “No way it’ll get colder and it’s not supposed to rain until long after the race is over. I’m sticking with my shorts and no jacket but you guys do what you want.” As we drove to the start the drizzle began and of course the group pointed out to me that I could cross a career in meteorology off my list. We arrived, parked in the overflow lot and gathered up all of the SLUGs we could find for a group photo, chatted a bit and started making our way towards the start line as 7:00 am approached.

My plan was to start near the front so I wouldn’t get caught in all of the traffic at the Sylamore Creek crossing and before I knew it we were off. The lead group charged up the road section as we made our way towards the start of the trail. Everyone running towards the front seemed to know each other so there was quite a bit of chatter, “Woo-hoo! Got to love this trail! This is what it’s all about, right Steve-O?” “Yo, Yo, you said it brother!” Everyone was definitely stoked to be spending the day running through the woods with many of their close friends. I wasn’t quite as excited and for some reason couldn’t get myself into it mentally; I was feeling strong, running well but just didn’t want to be out there. As many of you know I have been doing a lot of high mileage training lately and averaging about 70 miles per week for the past 3 months. This has definitely taken its toll and I’ve been teetering on the edge of being over-trained. Lately, much of the joy I first found in running has been lost and it’s started to feel more like work, this is one of the main reasons I decided not to run the McNaughton 150 miler and instead drop down to the 100 mile distance. I want to get that joy back! As we approached mile 3 Stuart Johnson came up on me, “How’s it going Carey?” “Not that good, nothing’s wrong with me physically, I feel good, but I’m just not mentally into it today,” I responded. “That’s OK, Carey, it’s a long race. You’ve got plenty of time to hit your stride,” and with that he passed me and continued on down the trail.

For the next 7 miles there was a major battle going on in my head, “You’ve got to get yourself out of this, Carey. Maybe this just isn’t your day, but nothing’s wrong so why isn’t it your day? Some days you’re the windshield and other days you’re the bug; I guess today you’re the bug! No, you’re not, you’re strong and can do this; there’s nothing wrong with you. Stop making lame excuses for yourself, you know you’re not going to quit so push yourself to achieve your 5:15 goal; you came all the way down here to run, NOW RUN!!! But I’m not having fun, or am I having fun; I don’t even know anymore. What’s wrong with me!?!” I arrived at the Gunner Pool aid station, filled my water bottles, downed two Cokes and headed off towards the turn around. I began to mellow a bit and embrace the race experience; the weather was decent with a slight drizzle and the trail was a bit muddy and wet but otherwise in good condition. I was sharing the trail with some great friends and fellow runners, there were many volunteers out there sacrificing their time to make this experience the best it could be and you know what, I really couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. “You are having fun,” I thought. Relieved to be out of my “funk” I could feel myself getting into a rhythm both physically and mentally as I glided down the trail.

About 2 miles before the turnaround I spotted a very slippery rock and thought to myself, “I bet that would be really easy to fall and bust your knee on,” so what do I do? I step right on it and sure enough slipped driving my knee with the force of all of my body weight right into the rock. “Wow, that hurt. I wonder if I broke my kneecap?” It began to swell and went numb but my knee was still working so I continued. In the fall I also broke the top off my water bottle so much of my water was sloshing out with each swing of my right arm; for the rest of the race I could only fill my bottle half way up. I reached the turn at 2:37, downed some Coke and headed back towards the finish.

The way back is my favorite part of this race because you get to pass all of the other runner's still heading out to the turnaround. Some people may not like the fact that you have to negotiate your way around each other but I really enjoy seeing everyone and exchanging encouraging words. I had been running about 15 minutes and saw Gena, Jerry, Jeremy and Sara coming towards me. "Yea, Carey! Looking good!" Sara yelled and I smiled back, "You guys are doing great!" I replied, as I hammered down the trail. I continued on, seeing Brian Kuhn, Deb Johnson, Carol Izadi and Lee Hess and seemed to get stronger with each friend I saw. The miles flew by, "You're doing great! Looking strong," I said as I smiled at each runner. As I arrived at the Gunner Pool aid station I knew that I would need to give it everything I had if I was going to break 5:15. A quick half filling of my water bottle, two cups of Coke and I was off making my way up the hill. At this point I was running practically everything and began passing runners who had been ahead of me the entire race; this made me run even faster. "This is why you are down here, no holding back, just continue giving it all you've got, you can rest at the finish," I repeated to myself as I charged past two more runners. "Way to go, Man! You're fly'in; finish strong!" they cried as they stepped aside for me to pass. I don't know of many other sports where competitors cheer you on as you pass them; ultrarunners truly are an amazing group of people.

With about 2 miles left to go I saw another runner up ahead and caught up to him as we were crossing a stream. There was a Y in the trail, he darted right and I followed. About a quarter mile down we ran into a dead end at Sylamore Creek; we had gone the wrong way and I knew that I didn't have any time to spare if I was going to break 5:15. "This is wrong," I said and he replied, "You're right, the trail is up along that ridge." "Man, this is no good. I was trying to break 5:15. Let's just climb up the ridge and catch the trail." So we headed straight left charging through the thorns and rocks Barkley style (check out my leg in the picture above) and as we reached the top of the ridge found the trail again. We had gone an extra 1/4 mile and lost a few minutes but it could have been much worse. I pressed on running everything but also being careful not to fall in the mud and rocks; the trail was quite a mess by now. As I made my way down to the creek my watch read 5:12 and I knew that my goal of going under 5:15 was no longer possible. "That's OK, just give it all you've got," I thought to myself and charged across the stream making my way to the last mile of road. As I came out on to the highway I noticed that I was running a 7:00 minute mile pace gliding down the hill; I could "feel" the finish line drawing me to it. A woman was sitting in her mini-van and rolled down her window, "Way to go runner! You look great, good job!" I smile back and thanked her as the finish line at Angler's appeared in the distance. My legs were a bit heavy but I continued my sprint as I crossed Arkansas Highway 5 and the finish line in 5:23 beating my time from last year by 24 minutes. I'll take that!

I grabbed my finisher's shirt, chatted a bit with Marla Luckey and hurried back to the motel for a shower before Gena, Jeremy and Sara finished. When I returned Gena and Jeremy were there waiting and said Sara would be along soon. We stood inside watching out for her and Jerry and after a few minutes they appeared off in the distance. Everyone was all smiles (Gena set a new 50K PR) and said they had the time of their lives! We went back to the motel so they could take showers and then all met back at Anglers for a group lunch. Ten of us sat around at Angler's eating great food, talking about the race, upcoming events and life; 3 Days of Syllamo Race Director, Steve Kirk, made his way over to fill us in on the new courses he has designed for this year's race. He was excited about having 32 water crossings in the 50K along with one section where you are literally running down the middle of the creek; I'll make sure I pack my water wings! To view the results for the 2008 Sylamore Trail 50K run click HERE.

What a great weekend! I am so glad that I got to spend time getting to know Gena, Sara and Jeremy even better and am excited that I got to see so many of my friends down there and make some new ones. This was a true test for me as I was in a major funk for the first 10 miles of the race questioning what I was doing out there and why I even run. Ultra-running is a lot of hard work and requires tremendous dedication but it's all worth it. The feeling of pushing myself to the limit, accomplishing goals that I never thought possible and forging true, lasting friendships that are meaningful and deep; these are just a few of the many reasons I run. I feel like I can share anything with many of my ultra friends and know that they will not judge me or look down on me for what I've done in my past or the issues I still struggle with today. They accept me for who I am regardless of how much money I make, where I live or what clothes I wear; they are real, honest and true.

Don't ever forget why YOU run!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

2008 Rocky Raccoon 100 Pacer Report and Sylamore 50K Next Weekend

Brad and I at the finish

I arrived in Huntsville at around 2:00 pm Friday afternoon and my phone rang practically the minute I landed, it was Brad. "How was your trip?" he asked. "Relatively uneventful; where should I meet you guys?" I responded. "We're just outside of baggage claim in a Hummer," to which I replied, "Of course you are!" Brad's got a thing for renting unique cars so I wasn't suprised by his choice. I exited the concourse and sure enough there he was sitting in a black Hummer H3. A few moments later Suzy came up and introduced herself; she had been inside looking for me but wasn't having much luck; we'd never met in person and she mostly knows me by my signature SLUG jersey and hat from the blog. We jumped into the H3 and were on our way to Huntsville chatting about life and the upcoming race.

Huntsville, Texas... Not only is it home to the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run but it also has the world's tallest statue of an American hero (Sam Houston) and the Texas State Penitentiary. First, we headed out to Huntsville State Park to get Brad's packet before checking into our hotel. At the lodge I ran into "Bad Ben" Holmes and chatted with him a bit before seeing Gabe, Tiff, John and Stacey; John said he was a bit nervous as he would be toeing the line for his first 100 miler. "Don't worry, John, you'll do fine," I assured him (and he did). I introduced Suzy and Brad to everyone and then we headed off to the Super 8.

Brad and Suzy settled in to relax while I headed out for a 9 mile run; whenever I go to a new city I never miss an opportunity to explore it with a run. I headed out and had no idea where I was going, ran through some sketchy areas, then stumbled upon Sam Houston University and as I continued past the campus the area got very desolate and run down. There were no people or houses around just old, crumbling buildings except for a structure with massive brick walls up ahead on my right. As I got nearer I saw the guard towers on each corner and realized I had found the infamous Huntsville Texas State Penitentiary. I continued to run around the enormous structure and saw that one of the guards in the tower had noticed me; I kept waiting to hear "You are in an unauthorized area, please vacate the premises immediately," but I guess I looked harmless so they let me continue my lap. I ran back through campus and around the football stadium before heading down Montgomery Street to the Super 8; another city to check off the list. Brad and Suzy were both hungry so we went to Chili's for takeout and made a last minute Wal-Mart trip; being from Canada, Suzy was blown away by the Wal-Mart Super Center because apparently they don't make them that big up North. Back at the hotel we ate our dinner, chatted and went to bed.

Suzy took Brad to the race in the morning while I slept in since I would be pacing all night long. She came back to the motel around 11:00 am to get some shut-eye and I headed to the race to provide Brad with some moral support throughout the day. I sat with Stacey Amos and Matt Holmes for most of the time as the runners passed through, the weather was around 70 and humid; a bit hot to run in but perfect to sit and watch. Brad came through mid-afternoon and headed out on his third lap; he was looking and feeling good and was pumped up because he knew I'd be joining him after this lap. An hour or two passed and I headed back into town to get Suzy, grab a sandwich from Subway and some Starbuck's before my pacing duties commenced. At around 6:45 pm Brad finished his third lap and we were off into the night to begin the last 40 miles and get him to the finish. Brad was in great spirits as we headed out and brought me up to speed on how everything was going; he had been taking S-Caps regularly, staying hydrated and keeping his energy up by eating at each aid station. We ran most of the time before hitting a rough patch between miles 67 and 73 where he began bonking very badly; of course he didn't want to eat anything but I told him he had to figure out something that would work since we still had quite a ways to go. From then on he would grab Coke or Sprite, down a Hammer gel and gummy bears or sugary candy at each station which ended up getting him to the finish. The miles melted away and we were on our last loop making great time on the way to a sub-24 hour finish. At around mile 93 Brad realized he was going to finish this thing and really dug deep running the entire last 7 miles; we didn't walk once! He pushed himself to the limit finishing in 23 hours and 26 minutes; not only did he finish but he posted an amazing time for a first 100!

Unfortunately Suzy had already headed to the airport to catch her 8:15 am flight to Vancouver but she was there in spirit. We took some pictures, grabbed our gear and excitedly jumped in the car to take showers and get some sleep at the motel. We woke up around 10:30 am; Brad was on cloud nine as we headed back to the race to grab his drop bag and then to the airport. As we went our separate ways I congratulated him again and told him what a great job he had done to push himself to finish under 24 hours. Very humbly he told me he couldn't have done it without me. I don't know about that, he was the one who ran 100 miles I was just along for the ride on the last 40. Again great job Brad and all of the other finishers last weekend at Rocky! For a list of the results click HERE.

My flight didn't leave Houston until 3:30 pm so my Uncle Kevin, Aunt Teresa and Cousin Alex picked me up at the airport and we headed to Starbucks. I hadn't seen them in 10 years and now Alex is 16; obviously she looks a bit different than I remembered her. We had a great time visiting and talking about life; I was so happy to see that Alex had grown up to be a beautiful, intelligent and mature young lady and you could tell that her parents are very proud. I promised all of them that it wouldn't be another 10 years before we saw each other again and Alex told me she'd hold me to it; I hope she does. I arrived home to St. Louis around 1:45 am after a 5 hour delay in Chicago; it could have been much worse and I was glad to be sleeping in my bed and not in O'Hare. To view all of the pictures from the weekend please click HERE.

This Friday I'm heading down to Mountain View, Arkansas for the Sylamore 50K Trail Run with Jeremy Bolt, Sara Kniffen and Gena Bonini. This is a great race and is run on the same trail system as 3 Days of Syllamo. Last year I finished in 5:47 with very little trail running experience on an icy course and a cold day so I should be able to better that time quite dramatically this year. I've been battling a tweaked left ankle along with some IT Band irritation so it will really depend on how my body performs for me Saturday; it sure would be nice to go 5:15 or less. To check out my 2007 Sylamore Trail 50K race report click HERE.

I wanted to let all of you know that I've decided not to run the McNaughton Park 150 Miler and instead have dropped down to the 100 mile distance. I just don't feel like I'm mentally prepared for the challenge of 150 miles at this time in my life and would prefer to push myself to a 24 hour 100 mile finish on a very difficult course. Personally I need to focus on getting my career back on track which is stressful enough without the added pressure of trying to prepare myself mentally and physically for a 150 mile race. I hope all of you understand and support me in this decision.

Stay tuned for a full race report next week and I hope all of you are doing well.
Happy Running,

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Endurance Planet "Tales From The Trail" Audio Magazine

Endurance Planet and Zombierunner have partnered together to produce an audio magazine for ultrarunners. Included in Volume 1 is the late Joel Zucker's 1997 Hardrock Report, along with my Arkansas Traveller Race Report and a race report from Andy Jones Wilkins. The following is a description of the monthly Tales from the Trail audio magazine:

"Finally, an audio magazine for ultrarunners! Endurance Planet, a website for runners, cyclists, triathletes, and adventure racers has partnered with ZombieRunner to offer Tales From the Trail, a monthly compilation of true ultrarunning stories. The professionally produced stories are available here each month for $3.95, while this inaugural edition is free. Enjoy! And meet us back here next month."

To Play in Windows Media Player click HERE.
To Play MP3 Stream click HERE.
For a Direct Link to the MP3 file click HERE.

You can also visit Endurance Planet or Zombierunner for more information.

Download the MP3 to your IPOD and listen to some inspiring race reports while you're hammering out the miles.
Hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rock'in the Coon!

Brad and I at the finish

I joined Brad this weekend pacing him to his first 100 mile finish at the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile Trail Run outside of Huntsville, TX. He "rocked" the course in 23:26:04 placing 63rd out of 167 finishers; WAY TO GO BRAD! For a complete list of the 2008 Rocky Raccoon results click HERE.

As most of you know I had quite a few other friends who also ran the race including:
Kevin Dorsey - 17:41:12
Kyle Amos - 18:14:42
Gabe Bevan - 19:33:41 (WOW!)
John King - 20:48:21 (1st 100 Mile Finish!)
Ben Holmes - 26:08:13
Dale Perry - 27:57:47
Matt Bickhard - 28:32:16 (1st 100 Mile Finish!)

I'll post a write-up about the weekend either later on this week or Sunday. Congratulations to all of the finishers!