Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Good, The Bad, at least I'm Not Ugly

Jungfrau in Switzerland
Sorry folks, I was lost in the woods for a couple of months and was finally led out by a box turtle. Or I wish that was the case maybe. What follows are my false truths and I’m standing by them. Rob Livengood requested more of my foolishness this past weekend, so blame him. I expect a comment Rob.

Sage, me, Josh, & Galen with silver medals

In September I went to Switzerland to run the Jungfrau Marathon which was the 2012 World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge. I was part of the US Team with Sage Canaday, Galen Burrell, Zac Freudenburg, and Josh Ferenc; our team won a silver medal. It was a highlight running experience and great honor. Unfortunately, a couple of chupacabras attacked me around 18 miles and I struggled to the finish. For those that don’t know, a chupacabra is a mythical creature known for sucking the life out of goats. Personally, I can attest to their existence. Jungfrau was a great experience because of my teammates. You can go to my report on the La Sportiva website if you’re interested in more on Switzerland.

Early October, I had another bad race locally in Boone, The Knob, a 2 mile hill climb. Then some strange object fell from the sky and knocked me straight. Mid-October to December 8th seem like some magical dream. In mid-October, I ran North Face Atlanta 50 mile. I was second behind Hal Koerner, finishing only a couple of minutes behind him. He did miss a turn late in the race, so would have run faster. Still my time was less than 5 minutes off his course record time and Geoff Roes’s best time there. That’s not even the best part of the race. My back was quite good during the race. It had been rather bothersome from before Jungfrau up to North Face. My back seemed even better the day after the race, my legs were never sore. I had never felt this good after any ultra and seldom feel this good after anything over a 5K. I did strain my illiopsoas muscle at North Face, but I’d take that any day over a mild back issue.

So three weeks later, I went out to Moab, Utah for the USA Trail Marathon Championships. It should be fairly easy to guess how I did. I broke the previous course record and finished third. For those that don’t know that is my 9th third place finish at a USATF trail or ultra championship and 5th third while also breaking the previous course record. The competition was stout, fast stout, but at least it was a somewhat challenging course. Guys all around me had 2:15 to 2:22 marathon PRs. Mine is over 20 minutes slower as you can see in my Personal Best list to the right. Some felt the course was overly technical, it was not! I would consider it legit trail running. A few sections were highly technical, but I point to several races I’ve done that are harder technically. Rothrock 30K in Pennsylvania is much, much more technical throughout. I love Rothrock. It is on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup again by the way, yeah! Back to Moab, the course just did not allow you to set a smooth rhythm in very many places. I know most fast guys don’t like that. With that, I finished ahead of Ryan Bak and Kalib Wilkerson, a good day for me. Again, the back was great. For about 2 months it was as good as it has been anytime in 10 years, maybe more. Running was just fun.

My mental state of mind with running was enthusiastic and just fired up. On the drive to Virginia for Hellgate 100K, I was talking with Alison about much I was looking forward to the race and enjoying running in general lately. Hellgate 100K starts at 12:01 am and a lot can change in a matter of hours. I was feeling fine and running well, comfortably. Things started to feel a little off around 2 hours in. At 2:37, a huge pack of chupacabra leapt from the woods and pulled me to my knees. I suggest you avoid the chupacabra. I turned around and barely made it back to aid station 3. By the time we were driving home while the leaders were still moving to the finish, I was ready to quit running entirely. What had happened to the guy from 12 hours earlier? Since then my back has just been a wreck. It’s not that my actual back really hurts all that bad this time. I’m getting absurd phantom pains and muscle spasms all over. They are rather sharp at times. These pains appear and disappear randomly in either leg and down my right arm. I can’t find any pattern of what brings these back issues on or how to make it go away. It just seems to be my burden. I can just assume there is some lesson for me to learn from it. Or lots of lessons maybe. This seems a better attitude than surrendering to frustration and resignation. Alison and I were talking today about our perseverance in running. Alison has been getting going again after another suspected stress fracture for herself. That word, perseverance, seems to best describe the lesson that our running and racing teaches us. Both of us agreed that we wouldn’t mind learning how to deal with success gracefully. That would be a fun lesson to learn… I think.

How to use my Pilot Mtn. Challenge award post race,
 fill with chili.
We did both run and win a local trail 5K, the Pilot Mountain Challenge this past Saturday. Unfortunately, it did not feel great, physically. Oh well. Life is good otherwise so I won’t complain too much. I have good friends and family. I think that I do fairly decent job of enjoying life. I have a great wife, we have fun together, and she laughs with my foolishness. Plus running has been exceptionally good to me. My back just isn’t the most kind to me or my running. So no need to shed any tears for me, especially not if you read what’s below which comes with my usual warning. If I tend to say too much for you, you should stop reading. Do read on if you share my warped sense of humor.

Alison rides a turtle
Me, Zac, Galen, & Josh at Jungfrau Marathon

Now for your bonus - Does anyone ever heed my warnings?

Conversations taken out of context (though I’ll give some context so it doesn’t sound too absurd this time):

I said, “I wouldn’t put my penis on it.”
Alison replied, “I told you you wouldn’t want to put your penis on my radio.”
Alison’s radio was quite hot, literally.

From a conversation about 8 hours into our drive to Michigan for Christmas.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

TransRockies Delayed Reaction and Getting Old with a Masters Title

Back by pouplar demand. Well not really, just Leon was missing me after only a week or so. Thanks for the love, Leon. My postings on TranRockies actually ended because of no wifi or even cell service for about 3 days. Then I wasn’t sure what to report, plus I’ve been really busy since returning home. TranRockies became more of a good training week and a chance to rediscover the place running holds in my life. One, running provides enjoyment. A large part of that is the social side of trail running. Trail runners are my people, they are messed up. I had a blast hanging out and a being my stupid self. One day, my friend, Jan, convinced me to try to pee on my goat beard, because that’s what real mountain goats do according to Jan. An hour later I was talking life and faith with Leon and his running partner, Sean. That’s me. Some would say something is wrong with me, those people would be right. I’m an odd mix of stupid and serious, or maybe I’m normal for trail runners.

The other thing I confirmed at TransRockies is that I run to be competitive. I’ve struggled some with the grind of training and punishment of racing in the last couple of years. It was hard to not be racing at TransRockies. I wanted to go at it and mix it up with other men’s teams. I’m not ready to be an entirely social or easy going runner. My competitive fire hasn’t gone out yet. I’ll keep experimenting with the right balance of hard training and just running in the woods. Equally important is planning the appropriate number of A+ racing efforts. Racing takes so much out of me, mentally and especially physically.

So with that, my last race was our own 10K Trail Championship that we put on here in NC. I’ve found it quit hard to race direct and race in the past 3 years. Pre-race, my focus and motivation fluctuated once again. I’d start to be focus on racing, but then be distracted by all the RD duties. Race morning was all RD and when someone asked about me about racing, I said, I’ll be on the line if I have everything done. I made it to the start line. Fortunately, in the first half mile I found my racing motivation and some focus. I had just turned 40 earlier in August so this was my first race as a master. I saw Chad Newton, as well as Todd Callaghan and Dave Dunham, early on and just lock on to them. No thinking. They were the masters that I expected to contend for the top masters spot. My back was a little out, probably from all the RD work, so I held back on the climbing through most of the race. Chad and I passed one another a couple of times in the first ¾ mile as it would roll or turn steeply down. Chad and Todd went by me on the first climb. I got back by them on the first trip into the technical singletrack section. Chad went back by me on first big climb of the singletrack. The battle was on. After the race, I counted that we traded places 21 times. I’ve never had a race experience like that before, a one on one battle. It was awesome. Chad and I both know each other. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We are able to acknowledge our own strengths and weakness. I knew Chad would not surrender. I think both of us knew no foolish surges or anything would work on the other. I hated that either of us had to lose. I would go by on the technical parts and steep downs. Chad just has more speed and in general was climbing better. I knew that I had to keep in close over the fast parts of the last half. Chad knew that he needed to get a lead.

We turned into the final mile of singletrack with Chad holding about a 30 yard lead. It starts with a steep, technical switchback descent. I was able to catch and go by Chad here. He stuck right on me. As we approached a steep gully crossing, I just kept the hammer down and took leap off the rock at the top, dropping about 6’ down. I used the momentum to pop back up the 6’ embankment on the other side. I knew this would give me a little gap. Crazy is trail skill of mine. With the small gap, I started to attack all the little ups going across to the last climb. No need to worry about the back tightening up anymore. I was committed to running most the last ¼ mile 22% grade climb. It was a rewarding “win” of sorts, I was 6th overall, but 1st Master. Battling Chad made it a memorable race. After Chad, the next two guys overall were Todd and Dave.

I am current in JFK airport headed to Switzerland for the World Long Distance Mountain Challenge at the Jungfrau Marathon. Even though it is not the best course for me, I am looking forward to racing and representing the US. The first 25K is relatively flat, then turns up for the last 17K. I’m looking forward to the test regardless of how it turns out. We should have a strong mens team as well as a strong womens team. Our mens team is Sage Canaday, Zac Freudenburg, Galen Burrell, Josh Ferenc, and myself. The womens team is Brandy Erholtz, Melody Fairchild, Kim Dobson, Gina Lucrezi, and Ashley Arnold. Hopefully I can get wifi to report on our results.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TransRockies - Day 2

Actually not the most to say about stage 2.  We started, we finished.  It was a rough day.  We dropped a lot of time on teams.  It was a big climb and descent, the views were beautiful and expansive.  I think it is mostly going to be a high mileage training week at altitude.  Which I handled the 12,500 elevation with no problems.  Hanging with the trail community from around the US and world is great.  My computer battery is dying and it's almost supper time.  I plan to carry a camera tomorrow so should have some photos to post.  Until tomorrow, tell your friend lies about me and I'll do something that everyone thinks can't be true.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TransRockies - Day 1

This will be brief as I need to go to sleep.  I thought today's stage went well for Scott and I.  It was a little tough, I think mainly just from being hot and altitude.  Altitude and/or the dry air seems to be messing with my breathing/mild asthma.  I was little tight in the chest and had a nose bleed for a half-hour or so.  I was interesting to see Scott's and mine differences.  I think that I am a stronger climber, but that is my norm.  Scott is faster, which is normal for me compared to most.  We finished in 5th place today in the open team category in 2:45.02.  The first team was 2:15.?? and as I knew those guys, I knew they were fast.  But that was smoking.  Max King smoked the 3 day individual category with 2:11.??.  I felt fairly good afterward and really fine later in the day.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow.  It was great see so many people I know to some degree and meet a few new folks.

Tomorrow is going to suck.  I haven't looked over all the day's stages, just thinking one day at a time.  I looked over stage 2 this evening.  2.6 mile climb around 20% up to 12,500 elevation, then 17% descent over 3.8 miles.  Now just 5 rolling hot miles to the finish.  It's going to be a suffering day, but with great views I'm sure.  Yea, it's just going to suck, so I'm going to sleep.

Maybe I'll find some wifi tomorrow to tell you just how bad.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is this blog about TransRockies?

I am out in Denver staying with a guy with an undiagnosed mental disorder.  That is Chris Payton says that he hasn't been diagnosed with any mental disorders.  Same thing I said right?  Or basically the same.  I think we just agreed that I use some unique wording sometimes.  Today, Scott Williams and I head over to Buena Vista for the start of TransRockies 2012.  Scott may be in for a long week as I am already well into random story telling mode.  He actually said that he was warned about that.  So I come with a warning now.  In all truth, I probably should.  So you've been warned.
TransRockies will definitely be a new experience, racing 6 days in a row.  Our plan is to take the first day under control and stay consistent over the 6 days.  We'll see how that works out.  I think I am much better mentally than two weeks ago.  I've caught up with the moth hunting and de-stressed a bit with other things.  I just turned 40 last week although this won't really count as me racing as a master. Scott and I are racing in the open category.  Though Alison congratulated me on my first masters sex last week.  It made me laugh.  There has been no drop off in performance as yet.  Hopefully, if you've read my blog before you know I like finding humor in life.
Hopefully this week will be filled with plenty of humor, testing, learning, socializing, and running.  I'll try to post everyday I can with my experiences and the days results.  I should have time unless I get to talking too much.  Thanks Chris for letting us stay with you and listening to my foolishness.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Napping at Speedgoat 50K

This is not the post I wanted to write, but it is what's real.  I have been meaning to write something about my life being overbook right now. I was taking flight anyway with passengers sitting in the aisle figuring my plane wouldn't crash.  Well I wouldn't say my life flight crashed, but I hit some major turbulence that left some of my aisle passengers injured.  Okay I'll try to make that make sense.
I've had a lot going on lately.  Let's see if I can get most things listed.  My contract gypsy moth work is going on and I have a large area to work with various deadlines in August and mid-September.  I'm have summer XC practice 2 nights a week for any interested, plus school starts Aug. 8th and I'm the head coach.  I've been working to finish getting our rental property remodeled.  Continental Divide Trail Race is coming up Aug. 25. I'm doing TransRockies in mid-August. I'm helping coordinate the US long distance mountain team and going there to race in early September.  I'll basically stop there, but throw in Speedgoat 50K that was yesterday.
I arrived at race morning dog tired, having missed a lot sleep in the last two weeks.  Plus stressed about work, since I smashed my car a couple of weeks ago and have been fixing it.  But I can deal with anything right?  Wrong.  Speedgoat was a monumental disaster.  My overall exhaustion and stress are the best explanation I can come up with for yesterday.  I may not have been in perfect fitness, but it was good.  The race started well enough, other than forgetting to actually tie my shoes.  I was climbing really well, descending was good.  But the mental struggle started early and hard.  I wasn't even feeling bad, I just didn't care that I was in a race.  I kept myself moving, figuring I'd get through it.  I was trying everything in my bag of mental tricks.  Nothing worked.  I even tried some new things.  Coming into the aid station at 15.5 miles, I was around tenth mixed in with a really good group.  I was just behind Nick Clark, right with Jason Schlarb, only 2-3 minutes behind Anton Krupicka among others.  A top five was a possibility at that point.  Being very competitive I hoped my competitive fire would kick in.  I didn't feel bad physically it was just time to push into the second half which always gets uncomfortable for everyone.  I just didn't care.  All I could think was how much I wanted to lay down.  I took a little extra time at the aid station and hoped I'd get remotivated on the climb.  Climbing is my strength and I like it.  It wasn't happening.  I sat down.  Then ran with guy for a bit.  Then went over into the woods and laid down to take a nap.  I took at least a 20 minute nap and did feel better, but was definitely out of the race.  In running up to the next aid station to drop, I caught Jeremy Duncan.  I told my sad story and that I was dropping.  He talked me into continuing with him.  He had a sprained ankle and was having a rough one.  I felt like a crappy running partner.  I was in a mad kind of funk.  I did snap out for a bit on this really tough climb that went straight up the mountain off trail.  That was the best part of the day.  Jeremy got me looking around and appreciating the views and wildflowers.  Found out we are both mildly colorblind.  But my mind was still mostly in the crapper.  At the end I bypassed the chute.  I just didn't want to be an official finisher.
One thing I really thought would keep me going, pushing through the struggle, was what would I tell friends, the kids that I coach.  Not to sound bad, but I really don't care what anyone else thinks.  It has played over and over since I decided I was done.  All I can tell is the truth.  I blew up mentally.  As strong as I may think, or want, myself to be, I also possess as much weakness as any other person.  Maybe more.  Admitting this is tough, but it is what's real.
My take home from Speedgoat is this: human connection is the real value in life.  Therefore I am blessed beyond measure. The community of trail running is one thing I love most about my sport.  Friends, both at the race and that have contacted me about how it went, have been so encouraging.  We all face struggles.  Those struggles are more easily handled with friend's support. Talking to Alison afterward was good.  One of my high school kids, Megan, texted me about the race.  She just gave more reassurance.
So most important is where do I choose to go from here. I'll share what I wrote in 2008 after my first big ultra failure.  Our failures define us just as much as our successes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

La Sportiva announces their new mountain dancing shoes!

Sorry I've disappeared for a while again.  Maybe I'll get a blog up about that sometime.  So about the dancing shoes, I'll get there, but a little lead in first.  A couple of weeks ago, I did the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games track meet.  The races are just run one after another, 100, mile, 440, 880, 220, and 2 mile. I was running the last five. I won the 880, mile, and two mile, but didn't get the overall prize as a sprinter took that title, winning the sprints and a field event.  My toughest race of the day was actually the 220, maybe because I haven't run a flat out sprint in many years or trained for it.  I had a hard race pulling ahead of a guy at the end, just enough to get 2nd.  They had us as only .01 apart.  I actually had that about to die feeling.  I'm not talking literally dying, I'm talking about the dying as in falling apart running.  In that last 50 yards or so my chest seemed to stop moving oxygen into my system.  I was losing all feeling in my legs.  I started to strain, but immediately remembered what I tell the high school sprinter that I coach.  Relax, think about how to move your arms and legs, relax.  It does work and was probably the difference in getting second.  Didn't make it any easier, just faster, kind of the point right.  My legs were wasted.  I had also taken one of my high school athlete, Megan.  She was pole vaulting and running 4 events.  Which I really missed not being able to vault there myself because of the arm.  Megan did well placing 2nd or 3rd in her events.

So I mentioned going dancing to Megan and she was all up for it.  We hadn't brought any clothes other than the running clothes and some work clothes.  So we went by the local Goodwill.  Megan got a dress, Alison got a skirt and top, and I got a shirt.  All for less that $20.  The dance was in an old barn and was a contra dance, similar to square dancing.  I wore my La Sportivas for the dance.  They provided great grip on the dance floor.  I never felt any risk of slipping and falling.  I'd give the La Sportiva dancing shoes an A+.  It was a good weekend, too bad several of the other kids pulled out of going.

I guess my next chance to use the La Sportiva dancing shoes is tomorrow.  I'll be dancing down the mountains during the Speedgoat 50K.  The men's race is loaded.  I wasn't aware of hardly anyone coming until a couple of days ago, seriously. I got an email from a friend wishing me well that mentioned the competition. I generally don't spend much time looking at entry list, most of time I never look.  If you're interested you can check out  Thanks for the well wishes comment from anonymous.

My random note for this post:  I saw some copperheads mating, plus one watching, at Hebron Falls when I took Megan there the day before the track meet.  She was freaked out, I tried to get some closeups on my phone's camera.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Last Stop Rothrock on my La Sportiva Mountain Cup Tour

Friday night found me sleeping on the air mattress in the back of Alison’s Vibe with some kind of bugs eating at me. Alison doesn’t remember an bugs, but she kept smacking or rubbing her face without ever waking up. The prelude to our latest La Sportiva Mountain Cup race. I had commented on how I hadn’t slept the best, but well enough. Alison said she had slept well, what bugs was I talking about. I should have just put up the tent, but it was raining when we arrived. So the car sounded easier. I probably should have left the windows closed, but once I did that about 11:30 to keep more bugs from getting in, I was hot. It must have worked fairly well for me as I ran surprisingly well.

About the race, I'd consider this course pretty technical.  It leaves the stabilizing muscles of my lower legs a little sore afterwards.  The trail is quite rocky, or only rocks in some places.  There is a long boulder climb at about 13 miles.  Lots of steep ups and downs.  I really like the race, except for a few runnable, rolling sections.  Alison would say that there are too many rocks, but some of the rolling sections are nice.  I did my warmup run solo as I found no one to run with me. The RD announced the race would start in 5 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute. I looked at Bryon Powell and commented, “No Matt?” RothRock is in PA, so not an especially long drive for Matt. Someone counted us down and we were off. I actually led us out and up most of the first climb, which seemed rather odd. Really I am seldom the one leading races out and the past two years here I’ve been more like 10-15 at the start of the first climb about ½ mile in. No fast start today. Near the top of the climb, Jacob Loverich passed, but I stayed close. Jacob had won the race the previous two years. On the ridge, he pulled away a little, but I caught him on the first steep and rocky descent. Once we were on a more flat to rolling, non-technical section that was the last I saw of Jacob. I saw one other guy when I backtracked on the course to confirm that I’d gone the right way at an intersection just after the first aid station. Probably an overreaction to two weeks ago at Jemez. I had felt a bit flat and dull early. I was also a bit flat mentally. I wondered often whether I was running fast or not. One minute I’d think, “Yea I’m moving.” The next, “I don’t think I’m moving well.” Literally hours passed. I ran over technical rocky trails that is Rothrock, streams in the trails created from heavy rain overnight, puddles and muck in the low areas.  Which my C-Lite 2.0s were light, grippy, drained well, and provided great traction.  Time just went by with my random thoughts. I asked myself often how much am I racing?

At the bottom of a tough boulder climb I heard Jacob was a little over 5 minutes up. I hadn't looked at any splits from the previous two years. Was I running well? I hadn’t even remembered my time from last year. At the last aid station I was told Jacob wasn’t too far ahead. How far is not too far? Turns out it was too far. I finished second. I was pretty sure I was faster than last year. I knew I was closer to Jacob than either of the previous two years. Ian looked up my time from last year on his fancy phone. I was 3 minutes faster than last year. I was also only 3:31 behind Jacob. I am quite surprised by my day. The course was sloppy, but is challenging even when dry. It's always hard to say how conditions affect a course. Jacob was a couple of minutes slower than last year. For my races maybe I should blank out more often. I never felt distressed or like I was forcing anything. After the race, I did call Matt to check on him. Rothrock was just not his best choice at that point. I was glad to hear nothing was really wrong for him.

Furthermore for myself, I had a shockingly good run last Saturday out at Longbottom. I was absurdly fast up and down the super steep Bluff Mountain trail, 16% average for 2.8 miles one way. I was a couple seconds faster on the climb run/hiking easy versus my previous best run steady. I was 2 minutes faster for the descent without trying to run fast at all. I was just blanking out again. I did another, more gentle climb up and down the mountain for 16 total. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about Mt. Washington in two weeks. Time to rest and get fresh legged. Plus I’m feeling good about Speedgoat 50K in July. Maybe I should blank out on those too, or not.

Disclaimer:  No turtles were harmed in the running of this race, but a few humans were.

Men -
1. Jacob Loverich  2:39.03
2. Jason Bryant  2:42.34
3. Stephen Hennigar  2:52.48

Women - 
1. Megan Kimmel  3:01.18
2. Ashley Moyer  3:19.54
3. Gina Lucrezi  3:2?
4. Alison Bryant 3:25.32

Results courtesy of PA Runners at

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Legend Among the Turtles of Yates Creek

A few days ago my work as a gypsy moth hunter took me back into some remote woods.  It is a mountainous area with very limited access and just a few woods roads or atv trails.  So a good bit of my day was spent traversing up and down the mountain ridges and hollows cross country style.  Of course to make better time, I aim north, south, east, or west and just run through the woods.  This day I was running down a hillside and I jumped over a log.  As I cleared the log, there was a box turtle working up the mountain just where my foot was heading for landing.  In that brief moment of danger for the turtle, I looked in his face, just before he jerked his head in to hope for the best.  It seemed a shocked and fearful expression.  I was able to readjust at the last moment and just barely missed landing right on top of the box turtle.  With my high speed on this steep downhill I was suddenly gone from our brief encounter.  Considering where I was, I imagine that box turtle had never seen a human before.  I'm not sure what a box turtle would actually name me, human is our term.  I imagine that turtle saying what the hell was that.  He sees his friends and tells them how he was nearly crushed by this strange creature bounding speedily through the woods.  They all laugh and tell him that he's confused or afraid of everything.  He had probably jerked his head in so quickly that he had mistaken some deer or even bear for a strange bigfoot creature.  The box turtle reaffirms to them that this was no deer or bear, he doesn't know what it was.  But they had better be careful as they roam those woods.  And that is how I became the Legend among the Turtle of Yates Creek.

I must give credit for the Legend title to Cory since he came up with it on our run the other day as I told about my encounter.  Other side notes, Alison said the snapping turtle that lives in our pond is Bob.  I also drove on dirt roads for about 8 hours straight while working the last week.  There was a Highway 90 I was on, a one lane dirt road.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I got thrown off this Mountain Cup ride; Jemez Half Marathon

Driving through southern Colorado

Rio Grande Gorge
For being overall tired from working like a manic lately, Jemez Half-Marathon was going fairly well.  The top three guys had gone out fast and left me on the section over to the climb up the mountain.  Once on the climb, it looked like I was gaining on all three.  As I neared the top, I could see that Ryan Woods was pretty close.  I tried to throw myself forward and let gravity yank me down the mountain.  A few minutes after starting the descent I caught Ryan and passed him.  I could tell he was having a rough one and told him to hang in there.  But I was glad to have the opportunity to beat him and get one of the pottery prizes.  Then I got thrown of the Jemez ride.  I missed a turn as I bombed down the mountain.  Since there had been few marking on many sections, I didn’t realize that I was off course until I was probably a mile down the mountain in the wrong direction.  I knew my race was screwed and decided I was not interested in a climb back up the mountain.  I just kept going down until I found a guy loading some post on his truck and caught a ride.  I won’t pretend that I just took an “oh well” attitude.  I was a bit pissed at the situation.  Sorry, I’m not the “it’s a beautiful day to be lost on the trails” kind of guy.  To sound like that wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of myself.  I like being out on trails, but I travel to races to compete at whatever level I’m capable of, not to roam around off course.  I don't want to pretend I some super nice, love everything type of guy.  Some things stink, get over it, and move on.  Gina Lucrezi stayed on the same fireroad and realized it at the same place I did.  She also went from racing in 3rd to out for a run in New Mexico.  Alison actually missed the same turn, but fortunately a guy was close enough behind her and noticed the turn.  I thought Ryan was pretty cool as he told me that I had beaten him today.  He knows I’m competitive.  He knows as well as I do that I don’t get a chance to beat those top guys unless they are having an off day.  I told Ryan that I did not beat him.  Ryan said I did, but it just wouldn’t be in the results.  I just thought that was kind of Ryan to encourage and support me when he was having a rough day himself.

Me, Jason Taylor, Nate Bosey
So enough with that, here are the salvaging parts of my weekend.  I got to visit with Nate Bosey and some of his friends.  I meet Nate in 2007 when I went to Albuquerque to run the La Luz trail race.  I found Nate on MySpace (does MySpace still exist?) and that he was a local guy running La Luz.  I contacted him to see if I could camp in his backyard.  He agreed and I slept in a playhouse in Nate’s backyard before La Luz.  I've since learned there's always some random place to camp, no need for planning.  Nate and I have stayed in touch some and I had met one of his friends, Jason Taylor, at a race in Taos a couple of years ago.  Another friend of theirs, David, was with them and was running the Half.  Nate ran the 50K which was his 2nd ultra.  Jason ran the 50 Mile and finished 2nd, less than 2 minutes out of first.  It was cool to visit with Nate and Jason again, plus be around to see them finish their races.  Another friend Jeremy Duncan was also running the 50 Mile and finished 3rd.  Jason Schlarb won the 50K with a new course record and I got hear what is going on with him some afterwards.  Yea, races are definitely a somewhat social thing for me.  In fact it's get hard to have time to see everyone when I travel to these races.

I was glad for Alison to run well, finishing 2nd for the women in the Half.  We flew into Denver and drove down so we got to see a different part of Colorado.  We always seem to enjoy traveling together, she's still laughing at my stupidity.  Maybe I’ll keep her around for now.  Speaking of stupidity, on the drive back to Denver we saw the La Sportiva van at a gas station.  I got Alison to stop so I could show Ian my glutes as he came out of the store.  For some reason he said that he didn’t need to see that.  I thought the team manager was supposed help the athletes in any way.  I just wanted to see if Ian might know what was causing my glute pain.  Anyway, his reaction really cracked Alison up.  Finally, we stopped by Manitou Springs to visit with Peter and Nora that evening after the race.  It sounds like they’re popular people who get a lot of visitors.  In some ways, I wish we lived somewhere that friends, runners, or people in general had reason to travel to.  But if any of you friends or temporary strangers have reason to be in northwest NC, you’ve got an open invite to stay with us as long as you’re willing to feed the chipmunk.

Jemez Half Marathon:
We'll give free hugs if you stay with us as well.
1.  Rob Krar 1:32:??  Course Record
2.  Chris H.
3.  Ryan Woods

1.  Megan Kimmel
2.  Alison Bryant
3.  Petra McDowell
4.  Christina Bauer

Jemez 50K
1.  Jason Schlarb  -  Course Record
Nate Bosey

Jemez 50 Mile:
2.  Jason Taylor
3.  Jeremy Duncan

Friday, May 18, 2012

Random Thoughts

I wrote most of this two days ago, but my car was suddenly ready so I was back to work.  I figured that I'd better get it posted or it'd never happen.  So there may be some typos that Alison can correct tomorrow or sometime or never.  I'll try to post a Jemez race report tomorrow evening or Sunday.

Where to begin? I’ve had several ideas for blogs, but no time to write a blog up. That problem was solved today as my car began to die repeatedly on me while out working. I made it to a dealership who had openings to check it out and then fix it. So I was left with about 4 hours to kill; write up a blog for La Sportiva that I’ve been meaning to get to, do a run I wasn’t sure I’d get in today, do some emails I’ve been putting off, and now write this.

So I’ll rewind to a few random thoughts from several weeks ago. I was out working over the weekend, meaning I was working until dark, running, sleeping in the car, and up to work again the next day. As darkness fell that Saturday, I found myself hanging a trap at large golf course in the Greensboro area. A great place for a night run in the rain without a headlamp. I cruised along the golf course, drifting around, wondering if I’d be able to find my way back to the car within the distance I had planned on running. I began to think about the last time I was at that golf course. That was with the previous girlfriend before Alison. We were playing golf with her parents. She was crazy, like bad crazy. She had liked the stories of my foolishness and adventures when we were first getting to know one another. But that soon became “time for me to act more mature.” I believe she was confused about who she was talking to. The final straw as they say was when we got into an argument over what I wore to a wedding rehearsal for a friend of mine. It wasn’t overly outrageous, but a little loud. I was just having some fun; my friends there appreciated it. This girlfriend said I was seeking attention. I argued that what difference did it make to her, she wasn’t even there. She said that it made her look bad for dating a psycho like me.  The tie from that evening is the same tie that I wore to my and Alison’s wedding. I roamed the course thinking how good Alison is for me. She rolls with my foolishness and still sees the humor. It just fun to do things together and laugh.  Alison said early on in our dating, "I like dorks."  Some people point out that she was calling me a dork.  I point out to them that that was and is accurate.  I like that she saw who I was, not who she could make me into.  Plus Alison isn’t too concerned with what everyone else thinks might be wrong with her for being married to crazy, goat bearded Jason.

Then I thought about the previous time I was at this golf course. It was when cross country nationals were there. Adam Goucher won. I was there with Coach Mitchell and Amiean who ran at the high school. I helped Amiean procure a souvenir later in the day. Something I seem to be good at.  The best memory from that day was while we were roaming the course between races. We walked by a guy and after we passed, I looked at Coach and said, “That’s Billy Mills.” I'm not even sure how I knew that it was Mr. Mills as I had only seen photos from his running days.  I had read about Billy Mills in high school and seen a movie about him. Billy Mills is the only American to win the 10,000 at the Olympics, in 1964. In high school I had decided to be 10,000 runner and try to make the Olympics in the event. Oh well, just another failure from my delusional mind. I had to go speak to Mr. Mills. He was friendly and kept trying to introduce me to his author friend, Nicholas Sparks. I was not interested as I was talking with Billy Mills. As a young person there was only two athletes that I thought would be neat to meet someday, Billy Mills and Terry Bradshaw.  That was a fun day.  Though Terry Bradshaw was not there and I haven't met him.

Throughout my running on this evening, I had never checked my pace on my garmin. I was just roaming the golf course in the rain and thinking. When I looked at the end, I had been fairly quick. It was nice to just drift away on a run, unconcerned with how I was running. I found a puddle to bath in post-run, then a place to park and sleep in the back of the car.

As for my recent racing, I’ve run a few local races. I did a local 5K to work on my speed. The 5K mainly showed that I needed to work on my speed as I only ran 17.37. Most fitness was back from my break in the winter, but not all of it. I was second in the 5K as a fast guy from Texas who was in town for work and a co-worker told him about the race. The next weekend, I ran a friend's crazy trail race at Stone Mountain Park near home called the Drool Deer. I finally got my second win of the year. The following Thursday, I did the Critter Crawl 5K at Grandfather Mountain, as I was doing some work in the area. It started at MacRae Meadow and ran through the animal area on the way up Grandfather Mountain. I felt pretty good climbing on the both the more gradual sections and the steep sections. When I finished in 21.30, I assumed the course was short. But I spoke with someone who said it was wheeled and was actually closer to 3.2 miles. That would have put my average pace around 6.45. I was a little surprised, though I’d recently had a really good mountain workout at Pilot Mountain. Next I did the Shelton Vineyard Running of the Vines 10K. The race finishes 2.8 miles from my house. Most of the course is my 10 mile night time loop. I went hoping to run it at the fast end of my tempo pace, 5.45 pace. I was pretty steady around that pace, getting just a little under through 4 miles. Then there is a fairly big 1+ mile climb. I lost a little time there finishing in 35.52 with a 5.46 average pace. Plus I got another win to make it three in a row. The 10K time was actually a PR as I’ve never done a flat out 10K when fit or focused on a 10K. My previous 10K PR was on a trail course from 2009.

Now it is back to the more competitive races. Up this weekend is Jemez ½ Marathon in New Mexico. It is the sixth race on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Latest Stop on my La Sportiva Mountain Cup Merry-Go-Round: Hells Hills

How to prepare for a fast race: Number one, pick your parents well. Secure yourself some good genetics for speed, or not. Then blah, blah; other stuff like train hard, train smart, eat well, sleep, blah, blah. Skip to the week before the race, do masonry work laying rock around the foundation of a house most of the week. Since I had gotten a good report from my doctor on the broken arm two weeks ago, he upped my left arm carrying capacity to 20 lbs. So I laid rock this week leading up the race. A task I was supposed to do this past November. Staying bent over or kneeling constantly while working a trowel and holding somewhat heavy rocks will leave you perfectly refresh. Better yet, take 5 months off any real manual labor, then lay rock like you never missed a beat. You are probably getting the idea. I was so busy trying to get the job done that running just didn’t happen. I decided to call it a hard taper. In all truth, I actually enjoyed doing some real manual work again. I worked the skin off my fingers in places on my now wimpy, soft hands. My abs were sore, my back was sore, my arms were sore, and my hands were not only sore, but the right hand was swollen from returning to real work. Again, this actually felt good to be sore from tough physical work. Maybe that’s a genetic gift I got, or it was pounded into me throughout my childhood. I’m sure some of you understand. Plus it was nice to step back and see something accomplished. Oh yea, several of my personal bests or best races have come after a week of hard physical work. So I did go into Hells Hills feeling pretty good about my race potential. One other prerace preparation, a 6 mile run inside the Atlanta airport. I ran down by the “plane train” for the various concourses. Yea, I got a few looks and comments, but not too many. I thought it was a good use of a long layover and a chance to add to my list of unique run locations.

I did miss out a very important detail of my prerace preparation, that whole genetics thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much true endurance speed from my parents. And yes, I understand speed is all relative, but relatively I am not fast. Yet I did end up leading the race early on for about a mile. Ryan and Jared were at the front laying down a very pedestrian pace. I moved by them, giving them a hard time about the slow pace. I commented that I don’t do tactical. Tactical generally doesn’t work for me, unless you consider an even, steady pace tactical. Ryan, Jared, Rob Krar, and Chris McWatters settled right in behind me and joked about waiting for a final sprint finish. That'd probably be more enjoyable, right up to point were a whole train of folks fly by me in that last mile. Maybe I do have a tactic, wear guys out and don't slow down. Some mile PRs were tossed about. These guys are lowish 4 minutes, at least 4:10-20. I commented that my 4:55 PR speed would not fare well in that race. Soon Ryan’s GPS watch beeped, somehow that seemed to be the signal for Jared to start the race. So by me he went, then Ryan, then Rob. Later I found out that Jared pushed the pace for a couple of miles, then backed off and those three were together through about 10 miles. Around 3 miles I broke away from Chris a little, learning after the race that he tweaked a groin muscle a bit. So I spent most of the race alone chasing ghosts. As I passed 50K runners, I kept hearing the group was a couple of minutes up or a few hundred yards. Piecing things together afterwards, I think I was staying relatively close through 10 miles. At this point the winding, up and down, trail course changed to an open access road. The three began their race in earnest and my ghosts disappeared. Ryan said his GPS watch reported some 5:20 miles here. Again my genetic shortcomings, as that is my 5K PR pace. I won’t ever be running that pace 10 miles into a race, unless I’m falling off a cliff. Yet in that case, I could actually go faster than that since objects fall at roughly 10 meters/second or something under 3 minute pace. Your science lesson for the day, but I digress. Those three stayed fairly close with Ryan breaking away once back on the tight, twisting trails for last 1.5 miles.

It was a rather enjoyable Mountain Cup weekend again. This was a 25K personal best, so I guess hard work just before a race still works for me. I feel pretty good about my race performance. I’d consider the course a fast one for the most part. The main thing to slow it down was all the twists and turns of the trail with some sharp up and down dips. I had chosen this La Sportiva Mountain Cup race mainly because of friends in this part of Texas to visit. Plus RDs Joe and Joyce Prusaitis are good friends and put on a great event. Also this race fit into my schedule. It was a good race for Alison as she won the women’s race, passing Christina Bauer at about 11 miles. I believe Christina was sick and another competitive woman slept through the start of the race in her car a hundred yards or so from the start line. But I thought it was a good showing for Alison since she had just started back after her most recent winter stress fracture. As I say, just get on the starting line and you never know what might happen. That has never been more true than in the Mountain Cup as examples of points altering insanity include sickness, overcome with sleep, wrong turns, missed flights, moose attacks, trails blocked by closed signage, lost shoes, car trouble, missing aid stations, an overabundance of rocks, poor tactics, genetic shortcomings, old age. Maybe that’s a whole different blog. I think I’ve taken a crack at everyone with that list, I'll let you guess who's associated with each.

My next few races should start shift toward my genetic abilities; tough, suffering, delusions? Matt Byrne described me as a “mutter.” Is that a compliment? Another friend once described me as a grinder. I like either. But my mom has found my blog now, so she may take offense to your comment Matt. See you at RothRock, Matt, and let the trash talk begin.

Top Men:

1. Ryan Woods 1:35.22

2. Jared Scott 1:35.42

3. Rob Krar 1: 35.53

4. Jason Bryant 1:43.31

5. Chris McWatters 1:46.39


1. Alison Bryant 2:02.16

2. Christina Bauer 2:08.45

This is after my run in the airport. If I get some other photos from someone, I'll add them later. I tend to socialize too much and forget to take photos at the races.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

God Has a Plan for Me, It's 3rd

Nueces 50 Mile was today and was the USA 50 Trail Championship. It was my first focus race of the year and my first ultra of the year. As for my results, the blog title says it all, I was third. That is my 8th third place finish at a USA ultra or trail championship. It’s not that third is my favorite place. It’s just seems to be the place likes me. No real complaints, but I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I’m trying or that I want to win. More training, get healthier to see if there is any faster in me. Or maybe see about adding a fist fight portion to these races?

The site of Nueces 50 Mile is at Camp Eagle along the Nueces River. It is a beautiful site and rocky challenging course. On the drive out you pass several hunting preserves with several boasting exotic game. That just left Alison looking for the exotic animal, but mostly saying those are just regular old cows, or horses, or deer, or turkey. We did see a few unique game species, plus a herd of goats. But they were regular old goats, no mountain goats. The rockiness of the course is one that wears your legs down from all the unstable running. It is a three loop course with four sections between aid stations. So roughly 5 miles to aid 1, 4 miles to aid 2, 5 miles to aid 3, and 2+ miles to complete the loop.

As for my race today, it went fairly well. Dave James was here. Which leads to a funny Jason story right away. Dave and I have become friends over the past year and I hadn’t seen him in a while. So when I saw him on the starting line, I gave him a hug. After the race Dave said that he has gotten handshakes and fist bumps on the starting line, but never a hug. He joked that the hug was the reason he took off and left us at the start. Maybe that could be my thing, hugging competitors on the starting line? Anyway, since Dave was off into the darkness on his own, that left a sizeable group of us together through the first two aid stations. It was me leading with Jordan McDougal, Paul Terranova, Dan Vega, and Steven Moore following, plus some others early on. After that second aid station 9 miles in, Jordan sped up. I was comfortable with my pace, so let him go. I basically always focus on running my pace and don’t ever try to cover anybody’s moves. The rest of us stayed together through the first loop of 16.67 miles. I was rather comfortable and glad to do that loop in 2:10.

The second loop had me leading again with Dan and Paul right with me as Steven took some extra time at the Pavillion. As we hit the biggest climb for each loop which comes about 10 miles in, I kept a running pace as Paul and Dan needed to walk. At the next aid, I had also closed on Dave and Jordan. But then I lost ground on the more runable last section of each loop. My time for that loop was 2:11. I was glad to be close to the time of the first loop and had
hoped for something close on the last loop. Unfortunately, I all too quickly found myself deep in the pain cave. The right quad that had been aching during that second loop was settling into a deeper ache. I had come in concerned really only about my right calf. Of course it didn’t hurt at all, but the left calf had developed a significant ache in that second loop as well. Now in the third loop, the calf pain became harsh. Not to mention, I felt overall dead legged, plus the heat was getting to me. It was that ultra game of just keep moving, breaking the remaining distance into smaller manageable pieces. I gained only a little on Dave through the first 9 miles of this loop and lost time on Jordan. Again on this next section with the significant climb at 10 miles, I found that as bad as I felt, I could still run up the climbs. I did feel good about that mentally. Over this section, I had cut Dave’s lead to 4 minutes which had been as much as 11, plus shaved a couple of minutes of Jordan’s lead. But the last 2+ mile section, wouldn’t help me catch Dave and would see Jordan gain those minutes back. My last loop was a 2:26 high, which I consider basically dying to slow that much. My time was 3+ minutes faster than last year. Considering the broken arm and still missing fitness from that ordeal, I’m satisfied with my results.

Of course I got to hang out with some Texas running friends, plus make some new ones. The race directors Joe and Joyce are great folks to visit with and put on a great event. It was another fun trip and social gathering for me. So on to a few more days of suffering and strained walking.

Shoes: Skylite 2.0 were very nimble on the rocky course.
Nutrition: Honey Stinger Gels and Chews, plus Clif Shot Bloks

Top Few Nueces Results 2012

1. Jordan McDougal - 6:30.47
2. Dave James - 6:43.48
3. Jason Bryant - 6:47.53
4. Paul Terranova - 7:06.05
5. Dan Vega (1st Master) - 7:13.14
6. Steven Moore (2nd Master) - 7:17.05

1. Michele Suszek - 7:25.41 CR
2. Melanie Fryar - 7:45.28
3. Lorena Devlyn - 9:54.50

Monday, February 27, 2012

La Sportiva Mountain Cup: Ugly Mudder

I tricked Ryan Woods into driving up to PA together for Ugly Mudder this weekend. That way I'd have someone to talk to on the long drive up and a back. Ryan and I have gotten together for several runs over the last couple of years, but this was our first road trip. On the drive up, we talk mostly about running, but as I do, I eventually drifted off into my story telling.Which had Ryan saying a couple of times, “I didn't know that about you.” Which tells me he obviously doesn't read my blog, at least the non-running parts. Anyway this made us realize that we've basically always talked running when we get together. The 14 hour up and back road trip, plus hotel stay, was much the same, mostly running with a few Jason stories. So on to the running.

Ugly Mudder is the third stop on the Mountain Cup train and is a burner of sorts at just 7 miles. Fast is not really my forte, but I'm willing to put my head on the chopping block. Mine grows back like a lizards tail. Warming up, I saw Matt Byrne, then Gina Lucrezi, then Maria Dalzot with her coach Tad. There were a few Rosemont Running Club guys who come to my 10km Championships in NC. This trail racing thing is beginning to become a gathering of friends no matter where I travel. I like that. And as usually I met a few new folks here.

We had about 600 meters on a road at the start, then we turned up a trail and were on trail almost exclusively the rest of the way. The course was technical rocky, turns, mud. No long climbs but steep leg burners and quick rocky descents. My Highgear watch had
the total climbing at 1500'. By a mile I'd settled into 5th with a couple of guys right behind me. Around 2 miles we hit a big climb and I could see all but Woods spread up the hill. I could see 3rd and 4th were coming back a little. Then we began a longer descent with 4th staying in sight mostlyand 3rd just coming into view periodically. Near the bottom I lost sight of the other two guysand started to go off course, but the guy just behind hollered his off course warning. I'd just lost about 50 yards. As we came out to some open straights the other two guys didn't come back into sight. I was surprised as I had been closing on them some. Could they have taken off that much? Could they have missed the same turn I had? I caught the guy who'd gotten in front me while I detoured and passed back in front of him. The last twenty minutes I tried to mount a little charge, but no one came into sight even on some very long straightaways. I finished and asked what place am I? Third. I'll take it with Ryan and Matt in the race. I was glad slip into this short Mountain Cup race and slip away with a third. My training has been ultra focused lately as well. Nueces 50 Mile next weekend.

Ryan and I did quick cooldown, drive to hotel, shower, drive back to race and time to socialize. It was good to hang with Matt a little and his friend Patrick. I got to catch up some with Gina and Maria. Tell some lies to Ian. A good, quick road trip race. So am I running the Mountain Cup just to fill my social calendar?

The results I know:Guys -

1st Ryan Woods – 47?

2nd Matt Byrne – 47?

3rd Jason Bryant – 52?

Ladies, plus Tad -

1st Maria Dalzot (Her coach Tad finish before her)

2nd Gina Lucrezi

I'll try to get pics at the next race. That way I can showoff my goat beard I'm working on. It was Alison's idea... sort of... by accident. But don't give me any ideas, I'm very prone to suggestion.

Thanks to Janice Ellis and Perry Ligon for the pics.

Other running news for those of you who are lost and found my blog:

My good friend Mark Lundblad crushed (my words, not his) the Fastest Known Time for the Foothills Trail along the NC/SC border this weekend. 14:26:18

I really just wanted to post that on my blog just so I can be associated with Mark. I'd consider that a honored association.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Trail of Regression?

For most of my life I have felt stuck at the age of 17, roughly. Before I was teenager, I often acted far more mature than my age, yet with a mix of childlike enthusiasm, optimism, and naivety. Once I passed the actual age of 17, I was still mature, maybe, but also still mixed with enthusiasm, optimism, and naivety. In my 30s I seemed to have begun to age and lose some of those qualities. I am probably more like a 23 year old just out of college. In recent years, I've found myself thinking a little too much. Especially things like: can I jump across those rocks? should I climb that? What is my point? This weekend I may have regressed a bit, thankfully. I had almost a perfect day Saturday. I won't bore you with the details of the entire day, just the most significant, my regression.

After pacing one of my high school girls to big personal best in a 5k that morning, I got back into my “Wild Specialist” truck and headed to the mountains for a run. A quick detour on the way turned into my unexpected regression. I stopped at Rob and Stacey's house to drop some things off for Stacey. Stacey and I talked a bit which is always good, but... As I was really preparing to head off for my mountain run, their kids, Harper and Isaac, asked me to come down into the woods to see the fort they were building. Fortunately, I had learned long ago to not hastily overlook the invitations of kids just to get on with our overly important tasks. They had already gone down as I finished talking to Stacey. I could tell they were surprised that I showed up as I had told them I'd come down before I left. They had piled sticks and hunks of bark around an old fallen tree. There was a wind flag up as the 20 mph winds kept it flapping. An old tire found in the woods was hang overhead in a tree along with a piece of concrete tile. Isaac had hidden light sabers in notches along the old stump. It was quite the fort. I began helping gather sticks and adding them to the fort. I helped pack leaves in between the sticks to insulate, then adding more sticks. We worked out a piece of the stump and dug out more to increase the room inside. Isaac wanted to show me an old airplane he had found in the woods. As he showed me the pieces and described how they would have fit together, he said it probably wasn't a real airplane. I said that didn't matter, it's good to see more than what is actually there sometimes.

We returned to the house briefly and I went to my truck to add a hat and gloves. Stacey had sent her kids out to play in the woods in 30 degree weather with a howling wind. Sounds like good parenting to me. I had also gotten an old blanket with a couple of mouse chewed holes which worked perfectly to hang it as the door. We each took a turn inside, it's a one person fort, and talked of more building ideas. I had probably been fort building for an hour, an hour and a half. I don't know as I never looked at my watch. Finally, Stacey came down to inspect the fort additions and announce it was time for lunch. Stacey asked if I wanted a sandwich too. Of course my answer was yes. Somewhere in here I must have totally forgotten my age, as I asked Stacey if I could have some hot chocolate too. Soon after eating Rob returned and asked Stacey if she had fed the kids. Then looked at me, but asked her, “All of them?” I told Rob, “I consider that a compliment.” I'm glad I have friends who appreciate a 39 year old playing with their kids in the woods. All three of us turn 40 this year, at least in human time.

I soon left and ran the 6 miles through Stone Mountain Park to the top of the mountain where it was 20s and 30 mph winds with a little snow. Then the 6 mile tumble back down. It was a great day. That is one of the things I love about trail running. The opportunity to still play as an adult. Jumping rocks, logs, and stumps, then sometimes jump on and off them as well. Splashing through cold creeks, sliding through snow. Playing a game of king of the mountain, only 6 mile style. I hope the trails continue to keep me young of mind and body for many more years. In the woods, I told Harper, who is 10, “Don't ever grow up too much, so you no longer build forts in the woods.” She gave me a strange face that said what a silly comment. Which if you know Harper, you know which face I'm talking of. Then still with that bewildered look, she said, “I won't.”

As I told Alison later, “Sometimes I forget that I'm not 39.” My tendency to misspeak things was probably more accurate than if I'd said it right.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

His Hands

His Hands

she told him
not to hide his hands
but a life of work
had left their marks
so she said his hands
were tough
hands that knew
hands that knew
her skin

she said his hands
were gentle though
leaving her comfortable
an uncommon softness
to cover the tough
so she’d surrender
to the naked after
as she felt his hands

and she’d notice
the remnants left
beneath the nails
she said she didn’t mind
hands get dirty sometimes
his hands weren’t afraid
so she’d lay still
squeezing time

she felt his hands
she said too much
she couldn’t stop
so she said his hands
were strong
yielding a safeness
his hands could hold
so she left herself bare
and she left words unsaid
his hands knew
and she’d lay awhile

she said this wasn’t
like her
she said she’d miss
his hands

It's been awhile since I posted a poem so here one is. I'll leave it without explanation. Sadly, my hands are growing soft from the lack of manual labor. I do look forward to really working again and toughening my hands.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

First Stop on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, Uwharrie Mountain Run: Chasing Ghost

Today's race at Uwharrie Mountain Run went fairly well. I started out as I normally do, aiming for a steady pace. I quickly settled into 6th place with Scott Williams. Scott said he considers himself an even pace type of runner as well, so we were a good fit. He and I would end up running almost the entire race together, all but about 2 miles at about 1:36. I turn my balky right ankle again here and told Scott to go by. I'd be limp running for a bit. Scott was nearly out of sight before I got back to running and it took a while more before I was back to really running. It took about 2 miles to finally catch back up. It was nice to be running with Scott and to talk a bit. Those that know me, know I'm somewhat social.

By the the first road crossing at 16 minutes the other 5 guys were out of sight. About 45 minutes in, Tom Clifford came back into sight. He had run a 1:08 half-marathon 3 three weeks ago and came to the start with a bit of a cold. Tom ended up dropping at 8 miles. This race was more of the same for me, basically. That same being just pushing and believing someone will come back into sight. I call it “chasing a ghost.” Unlike road racing where you can typically see a long way, trail races can leave you wondering where your competitors are. I'm not good at going out fast and hanging on. So I figure on running the fastest I can and that'll beat whoever it beats. Around 17 miles, Duncan Hoge came into sight and our patient ”ghost chasing” was paying off. Then around 18, David Roche came into sight. He had led most of the race, but had gotten off course for a while. Somewhere around here I had the conversation with Scott about needing to race for the position for the Mountain Cup. I said that I was all good with any move he made. I didn't want to run with him for over 2 hours and then throw my own surprise move in the last mile. Scott said he was really training through for the Mt. Mitchell Challenge and he wasn't making any moves. Girls in high school never threw any moves on me either. I was glad of no moves this time, I'm married anyway. Which Alison won the women's race, promising to throw some moves on me. I hope that will be a good thing.

It was a good start to Mountain Cup season. Plus, it was nice to race again after the long layoff. Here's the guys top 5.

1st Ryan Woods

2nd Patrick Reaves

3rd Jason Bryant

4th Scott Williams

5th David Roche

Mike Mason won the 40 Mile race with Jonathan Allen getting 2nd.

By the way, typing with a contraption strapped to your arm is a little difficult. I started using a bone stimulator this week. I wear it for 3 hours a day for at least the next two months. Plus continuing the hour + in a twisting contraption. I'd recommend not breaking your arm. And if you do, most definitely don't do it quite so significantly as I did.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

La Sportiva Mountain Cup

The 2012 La Sportiva Mountain Cup gets rolling this weekend at the Uwharrie Mountain Run. The Mountain Cup race is the 20 mile distance. I'm looking forward to racing again. I haven't really raced since October. I did a mostly uphill 5K in December, just my 3rd run after 6 weeks off. You can guess how well that went. But the race was up my mountain, Pilot Mountain, so I wanted to take part. My only other “sort of race” was the NC Snowshoe Championship on January 7th. There was no snow and no snowshoes, but a great 10K trail race. Though it only had 4 people in it. Alison and I accounted for half the people in the race. So anyway, I'm itching to race.

Uwharrie is nearly 100% trail which I like. Personally, I would not consider it a difficult trail. The main thing that slows it down is the constant twists and turns. I consider the footing as medium technical. No significant climbs or descents, just lots of short, somewhat steep, ups and downs. For me, it's a speed race. At least it is 20 miles and not a 8K or something.

One of the best things about the Mountain Cup for me is the friends, the ones I see regularly, the ones I get to see sporadically, and the new ones. It's a good time playing in the woods with friends. Added in the new places to see, great areas to run in and it only gets better. I like revisiting some favorite races as well. Still, the people in the trail running community are the best. And I like messing with Woodsy.

So Saturday should be fun regardless of the outcome, though I'm looking for something good. It's Mountain Cup time and game on.

Training Note:

On Tuesday, there was great rejoicing among all the clans within my head. I went back to Pilot Mountain for my run up the road workout, 2.25 miles @ ~10%. My climbing skills have been off badly since March of '10 when my back went haywire. Since then every attempt at this workout has been wretched. This was finally back to normal, plus there was very little pain in my ass. My glutes had been failing all together or felt like a knife was in my ass, especially when climbing. Hopefully, the good feeling in my ass will last for a while.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Good and the Bad

It's been a good week of training. I got 4 of my 9 runs in on trails, plus some of the other 5 runs were on trails some of the time. Tuesday was my big workout of the week. I decided, or more accurately my body decided and I just learned to listen, that I would only plan one important workout for each week. I generally plan a second workout of lower intensity or abbreviated in some way. If I'm not feeling it, I don't do a second workout. I do try to get in something longish one day a week, long for me being anything 15 miles and over in one run. This was my adjustment to getting older and my body not recovering as quickly. It has worked pretty well for the last couple of years.

So back to Tuesday, I did 10 x mile with 1 minute recovery. I hadn't done that many mile repeats since the fall of '09. I did the first 9 in 5.58 and the 10th in 5.57. (In '09, it was 1-9 in 5.56 and 10th in 5.55.) I was very encouraged by the workout to say the least. It was a good sign my fitness is coming back from my layoff. Plus, I wasn't too fatigued in the following days, just a little dullness in the legs.

Saturday, Cory and I went back out to Longbottom to do a 17 mile loop up the mountain, across the Blue Ridge Parkway, and back down. It has about 2600' of climbing, so not too tough a run. It passed quickly for both of us and had a little comedy. Cory had just recently run 15 with me out there which was his longest run. At the vehicle I recommend he carry a small bottle, plus I gave him some food to carry. He decided against the bottle since there was one creek to get water at. He also decided on just the Clif Bloks, so just 100 calories for the 2 and 1/2 hours. I said it was doable, but if he got hungry or thirsty, I may not share. It's a little of every man for himself. The final set up is that it was warm at the bottom, 50s. As we neared the top, the temp had definitely dropped more than was predicting for the top of the mountain. Add the strong winds and the wind chill was right at 30 degrees. (I checked when I got home.) I had gone gloveless and singlet, but thankfully with arm warmers. My hands are very sensitive to cold and were turning various shade of red and white by halfway across the 7 mile along the BRP. Cory ended up carrying my bottle so I could keep my hands pulled up in the arm warmers. Of course he teased me a little about the whole thing. My hard, "every man for himself" side at the bottom had turning into the beggar in the cold. I told him he was my hero for the day. It only sort of evened out as he finished off the bottle on the way down when he started to bonk a little. At the bottom again, it was warm and Cory finished the run shirtless. Cory is going to be a tough trail racer if he decides racing is worth his time at some point. It was a fun day on the mountain even with the severe weather change.

I hadn't planned on it but I went back out to that area again today. I ran up the mountain on the Mountain to Sea trail through Stone Mountain State Park just a little east of Longbottom. It is 2600' of climbing as well. (The Highgear watch I have is awesome.) I was prepared for the weather difference today. I was rolling pretty good too, which I wasn't really trying to do. (Average HR: 142) It was the fastest that I've ever run that trail. I've been getting in some good time in the mountains this month. Hopefully it'll be good for my strength and fitness, but I don't care too much. It has been good for my spirit. I'm looking forward to some racing. I have Uwharrie 20 Mile on Feb. 4, probably the Ugly Mudder in PA on Feb. 26, and the big one, Nueces 50 Mile on Mar. 3. Nueces is the USA 50 Mile Trail Championship and I'm hoping to get my 8th top 3 at a Championship. Of course, 1st would be favorite top 3 position. My 7 top 3 placings are all 3rd.

I almost forgot to write about the bad, maybe that's good. I had a x-ray on Wednesday and the ulna in my left arm is not healing. So 2 more months of not using my left arm. That will take me to 5 months. So now I start a bone stimulator. The atrophy in that arm is becoming very noticeable, kind of comical and sad. If God's yoke is well-fitted, it's not always comfortable.

Quotes out of context:
Alison, "I've already licked myself."
Jason, "Not all goats' beards grow evenly."
Cory, a 23 year old, "I've seen everything."
The original is still the best. Andrew Hinde, "I don't know why dead cows have to go so fast."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'll Take a Yoke, Please

Matthew 11:28-30:

Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This passage had come up in a book we are reading and discussing in my Sunday school class. I wanted to take a more in depth look at the passage, mainly digging into the original greek. Then also just looking up information on yoking oxen. (Side note, I stayed at the Oxen Yoke in N. Conway the first year that I ran Mt. Washington.) I found some interesting points for myself and felt like sharing. So let me say first, I'm no theologian. But then nobody probably thought that. Below is just what I found in looking at the definitions of the original greek and just what struck me about this passage. In addition, my last blog was largely a preface for this one. My blog is just me sharing my view of the world. It's a mix of all that is me. I'm a little concerned what some may think of this posting saying, “I've read some of your blog, you're not exactly religious or saintly.” You'd be right in that assessment I think. I claim neither “religiousness” or “sainthood.” I claim that God might like me and I find him intriguing. I'd say we hang out.(Mark 2:15-17) So I think I've said enough on that and on with my thoughts on the passage.

In the greek, “labor” meant work until worn out or exhausted and “heavy laden” meant overloaded or causing someone to literally be weighed down(1). The noun related to this word means a burden, or freight, which must be carried by the individual. I find it interesting that Jesus invites people who are exhausted from laboring and overloaded or weighed down to come toss on a yoke. A yoke is of course a large wooden bar used to link to animals, generally oxen, to pull a plow or trailer. So Jesus was basically saying, if you're exhausted and need a rest, come pull a plow with me? Well kind of.

I had heard sometime when I was young about how oxen are yoked together and trained. Of course now there is the internet, so I looked up yoke and training oxen. Here is some information I found. Two oxen yoked together can pull more than double the combined weight two single oxen could pull.(2) Also one method to train oxen is to put an ox that knows how to pull and work with one that doesn't.(3) The trained ox will teach the untrained ox. All common knowledge to most anyone during Jesus' time. Jesus wasn't offering to make the difficulty of life, or the work the life requires, magically disappear. He offered for us to stop straining on our own and get in his yoke to pull together. Jesus offered to teach us how to do the difficult and hard, “learn from me.” Jesus further described himself as meek and humble. The greek word for meek means a blend of gentleness and strength. It carried the idea of demonstrating power without undue harshness or gentleness without compromising.(1) The “rest” has a meaning of rest that comes after completing a task.(1) It is not a promise of unearned ease, but that of reward from doing the work, accomplishment. I kind of like that. Back to the information I found online, oxen work better when they are compatible; similar size, strength, and temperament.(3) If they're not, it is especially uncomfortable for the trained ox. On a personal note, I'm glad Jesus was meek and humble enough to be yoked with a wild, undersize, and unruly ox as myself.

Finally in the last verse, the word “for” is better translated because.(1) We find rest for our soul in being yoke to God, “because his burden is easy and light.” The greek word for easy more directly means useful or well-fitted. God's yoke is well-fitted. So back once more to my internet findings. Several papers talked about how important it was to fit a yoke correctly. That meant that a yoke really should be customized for specific oxen for the best fit. Otherwise the oxen would pull inefficiently or get sores and bruises. Jesus basically said his yoke will fit properly so the load is light. Again with the greek, the word for light carried a figurative meaning of easily managed or unburdensome.(1)

This study was on my mind as I ran out in the mountains at Longbottom on Sunday. I believe running is one of the things God has made me to do. I hope to get in his yoke and learn. I'm sure I am tough to be yoked to, but God invited so I assume he is up for the challenge. Plus I could use a better yoke than the one I've been using.