Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Massanutten Rocks! - 2010 Report

YES! Redemption is a sweet, sweet thing. I successfully finished the Massanutten 100 last weekend for the third time - avenging the DNF from last year. After the DNF last year, I have focused my training toward getting to write this report. While the result was what I hoped, I DID take longer and hurt more than I expected. Here's the story.

The race moved to a new venue this year, which was good for a variety if reasons including easier logistics for crews since the start/finish would now be in the "middle" of the course rather than on the north end. This cut the driving almost in half and no runner was ever more than a 30 or 40 minute drive from the start finish. This necessitated running the course in a different order and adding a new section. The majority of the course was the same but seemed very different. My friend Rich (of 2009 AT thru hiking fame) agreed to go along and crew me during the race. He has been having some knee pain so would not be able to pace so I got Jim Nagle from Maryland who was interested in running part of the MMT course.

The race started at 5:00 AM on Saturday and off we went up the 3 mile road section before tackling Short Mountain. I was looking forward to running Short Mountain in daytime. It was humid and the forecast called for temps in the upper 70s. I made great progress over Short Mountain and was having a ball running it. After checking in with Rich at Edinburgh Gap and switching to my two bottle belt, I was off to cover the section to Woodstock Tower - another section I had yet to run in the daytime. I cranked up the iPod and was making really good progress running along with Mark Radan. We ran some together back in 2008 and it was good to share the trail with him. He dropped me when I took a pit stop. I made a quick stop to refill at Woodstock Tower and then took off for Powells Fort - one of my favorite sections. I ran this section well and was feeling good, although I realized I might be pushing a little hard. When I got to Powells Fort, I really fueled up (the next section to Elizabeth Furnace is over 7 miles) and then walked most of the road to take it easy and enjoy the lyrics of Johnny Cash.

I made really good time on the climb up the trail and was ready to jam when the downhill came. I took a gel, popped an S-Cap and then let it rip. It felt good to stretch out the legs and was enjoying the run immensely. Then, disaster struck! Boom! Out of nowhere, I hit a rock and rolled my left ankle severely. A water bottle flew down the trail along with my sunglasses and half my dignity. I got up, spit a mouthful of dirt out of mouth and and pieced myself back together. Ouch! I walked a bit and the ankle felt a little better so I started to run. Abut 15 minutes later, BAM!, I rolled it again and this time did a really nice "Petey" slide. I started limping along and several runners asked if I was okay. I said I would be fine, just had to gather myself. I was a little worried because here I am at mile 30 and my ankle is already killing me and this is Massanutten - the rocks will be harder later. I made it into Elizabeth Furnace and surveyed things. Ankle hurt but not so bad that I couldn't continue. I ate some pretzels and grabbed two new bottles and took off. The climb is a doozy and I used to hate it because in prior MMT's you were only 5 miles from the finish and in much worse shape. I made it up okay and was able to run to Shawl Gap. The ankle was swelling up in my shoe but this was actually making it feel better.

I rested a bit at Shawl and drank and Ensure. I wouldn't see Rich again until Habron Gap (mile 53). Ed C. was here and reminded me to take it easy on the road that climbs to Veach Gap (about 3 miles away) since it kicked us in the rear last year. I did just that and was really feeling good when I got to Veach Gap (mile 40). I ate some fruit and drank some ginger ale. The next section was 9 miles without aid so I really fueled up well and drank a lot. It was definitely warm at this point. I really did not like this next section to the Indian Grave Trail head. It just went on and on and I was getting a little antsy. I couldn't really run the really technical downhill sections because I was worried about my ankle. Oh well, I made decent time and covered the section in about 3 hours. I fueled up again at Indian Grave and then headed out for the 4 mile road section to Habron Gap (mile 53). I despised this section on the road. Normally it hasn't bothered me but it really did this year. I ran in the sun and then walked the shady sections. This helped pass the time and soon I was there.

It was a little after 6:00 PM and I was over halfway done (at least in mileage) but the real work was ahead. The next section to Camp Roosevelt was 9.5 miles without aid and was my undoing last year. I really wanted to run this well. I drank and Ensure and ate some food and hydrated well before leaving around 6:15. I left the iPod with Rich because the battery was dead. I really wanted it for this section but just put my head down and got to work on the climb. I made great time and caught Mario who was puking his guts out and having a tough day. He would normally be hours ahead of me but was feeling rough. He told me to keep going so I just motored on. When I topped out on the climb, all the calories kicked in and I felt the best I had in the whole race (except for the ankle). I tried to push, not too hard but wanted to take advantage of the good feeling and get as far along before nightfall. Eventually I caught up to Mark Radan who was having some serious cramping issues. We went the rest of the way to Camp Roosevelt and arrived around 9:00 PM! I ran this section faster than the Veach to Indian Grave section.

I felt good but my ankle was not very happy. I fueled up well, grabbed my "bigger" headlamp and picked up Jim as my pacer. We were off to Gap Creek and the first section really was awful. I had a hard time getting a rhythm with my ankle and the crappy footing I a trend that unfortunately would continue). Also, I noticed lots of rocks and grit in my shoe (particularly the left one) and would have to look at that when we got to Gap Creek (mile ~68). We lumbered along and finally got to the aid station. When I looked at my show, my ankle was HUGE! There was no way I could take off that shoe - I would never get it back on. So, blisters were surely in my future. I ate some soup and tater tots, and drank some Coke. Then we jetted out. I wanted to get Kerns Mountain over with.

We made good time up Jawbone but I was wiped so I sat on a log at the top and ate two gels. The leader and eventual winner came up shortly thereafter. He was on his way to the finish and was about 30 miles ahead of me! It was a little before midnight and we started over Kerns. This was waaaay worse than going over Short Mountain. First off, the footing is a lot worse and the flat sections are even hard to run. I got a little mental here and was frustrated because it was taking so long. I also knew that any time goals I had were gone. But, I was determined to finish this thing even if it was after the cutoff. Pretty soon the trail made that big sweeping left turn and I knew we were done with Kerns. Thanks goodness. We got some water at the unmanned water stop and started down the 2.5 mile road section to the Visitors Center aid station. I already had a big blister forming on my left foot. The trip over Kerns had trashed my feet. It would get worse.

It was uneventful going down the road section and soon we saw Rich at the Visitors Center aid station (mile ~77). I took a longish stop here and ate a grilled cheese, some soup and drank a Red Bull. I was getting sleepy which normally isn't a problem for me in races. It was starting to rain a bit so I grabbed some gloves and a jacket. I knew it would be chilly on Bird Knob especially if it was windy. We maintained a brisk 40 minute mile pace up to Bird Knob. I had to stop and rest a lot due to my foot and until the Red Bull kicked in some. We walked a lot, more than I should have but finally got to Bird Knob (mile 80). It was a little before 6:00 AM and I put the head lamp away, ate some corn chowder and took off for the next section. We ran every step to the purple trail turn and then made good time on the ~1/2 mile climb to the top. We ran pretty well down the purple trail but walked some too. The blister on my foot just wouldn't let me run for very long. I did my best to just put it out of my mind. We got to the pink trail turn and kept on motoring. I had to stop a couple of times to rest my foot. My ankle was really hurting now. I ran a good bit of the pink trail but had to mix in a lot of walking. I knew I would finish and well under the cutoff now. I was never really worried, but it is a nice feeling when you realize that your race won't be a total disaster. The last mile or so to the Picnic Area aid station (mile ~86) took forever. We finally made it in and I sat down to eat - I was starving. I ate about 7 pieces of bacon, no joke. Soon, we left and had about 1.5 miles to meet Rich at the crew access point at 211 East. Here I shed my night clothes, dropped my headlamp and took tow final Aleeve for my ankle. It was about 8:30 AM and I told Rich to head to the finish and get some sleep. I expected to be there by 1:00. Ha! That certainly didn't happen.

Jim and I headed for Gap Creek (mile ~95) and I was excited to be done with this race. We made good time at first and then slowed to crawl in the really rocky sections. I did the best I could but every foot strike was excruciating. Several folks passed us including Larry Hall, a fellow WSGMRT teammate. Also, Rob Apple caught me right as we got to the junction of the Scothorn Gap Trail. We moved along ever so slowly. Once we got to the gravel road section it was still hard for me to run. I did my best and soon we were at Gap Creek. I told Jim that I was going to grab the gels and S!-Caps from my drop bag, refill bottles and then go. He stayed back to fuel up some but eventually caught up on the climb up Jawbone. It was weird, I could climb okay with the blister and ankle but descending was really tough. The section down to Moreland Gap was purely hellish. After the first couple of switchbacks it is hard to make any decent time on fresh feet. I must have looked ridiculous in my state. It took over an hour to get to the road! Pretty weak but it was all I had. At this point, I was totally spent.

We were now about 3.5 miles from the finish on mostly downhill road and then a short section on trail. We ran and walked some and were passed by lots of folks including Beth Hall (Larry's wife), also a fellow WSGMRT teammate. I didn't care. The running pace I could maintain was not much faster than walking. Soon we saw Rich at the trail turn and I felt good because the end was near. The trail was mostly a climb and I made decent time. Soon I crested the last rise and trotted in to the finish in 34:16. I was elated and in agony at the same time. The volunteers got me some ice for my ankle and I was amazed at how swollen it was.

This was the most rewarding MMT finish I have to date. The first one was a death march the entire second half of the race. The second was much faster and I felt good most of the race. This one though, tested me in a different way. I had to deal with the ankle and later blister issues and getting rid of them was not an option. I could only deal with it the best way I could. Battling through that gives me a different level of confidence. I love this race for the challenge, the beauty and the organization. Will I be back again? Absolutely. As long as I am able and have the opportunity, mid May means Massanutten to me.

Below are pictures of the damage:

And me getting it done, ever so slowly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

MMT Preview!

Well, IT is finally here - Massanutten. With out a date my favorite 100 mile race (actually it is the only one I have done). Still, it is a great race and one I have been looking forward to since last year's pathetic "effort". Anyways, I am in good shape physically and feel very confident. I have been running well and have been hitting the gym regularly this year. I have done lots of quality runs, tons of strength training, lots of core work and shed a few layers of padding. Also, getting humbled last year was probably a good thing for me. It was certainly a motivator during training this year. on my last long run with my buddy Mike, he remarked that my issues are not physical this year but watch out for the mental doldrums. I think I will be good here because of last year. The course will be run in a different direction this year which introduces an unknown element to the race. I "know" the course but not in this year's "order". Just will focus and keep one foot in front of the other. Run when I can and take it easy when I have to. Sounds so simple here but at 2:00 AM, it seems a bit harder!

I feel really good and have never been so excited to run. Heading up tomorrow with my friend Rich who is going to crew for me. Also, a VHTRC member named Jim is going to pace me. I am ready to go and hope to run a PR for the course but a finish will also be just fine. If all goes well, it should be a special day/night. Then again, if all doesn't go well it will still be a special time. I can't lose, right? There will be updates on the VHTRC website and I am bib number 16 if anyone wants to follow along. Wish me luck and hopefully I will have a joyous report to write next week. Good luck to everyone else who is racing this weekend.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Honestly...I hate tapering. On the one hand, it IS nice to be able to "kick back" (at least relatively speaking) but I am also one that likes to be doing something (i.e., training, etc.). In the last month I have logged several back-to-back efforts as part of my training for Massanutten. I did a rugged 16-mile run on the AT and then about 40 miles on rugged trails where the Bel Monte races are run the next day. I have done an 18 mile run on trails (in 85 degree heat) followed up by 20 miles on roads the next day. I have also done a 12 mile run on greenway trails and then 27 the next day (a 14 mile road run followed by a 1:45 half marathon). The final piece of this was a rugged 42 mile run on trails (took about 8 hours with close to 6K of climb), then 12 miles on roads the next day, then 4 miles in heat the following day. This was capped by a beastly 16 mile run with about 5K of climb on TOUGH trails. Yeah, 75 miles in 4 days is a good volume for me. In fact, I only have done one run over 3 hours the last month that was not part of a back-to-back - a 20 mile trail run done mid-week.

I have done the hill repeats, the speed work and the tempo/recovery runs. I AM READY! I have done a lot more weight lifting this time so my weight is not as low as I would like. However, I have lost about 25 pounds of fat and put on 10 pounds of muscle. With my big frame, I think a stronger me is a better running me - at least for a mountain 100 mile. So, I am shutting it down and will do no runs longer than 8 miles from now until Massanutten - in 17 days! I feel good, in fact I would say I have never been stronger or fitter physically. A complete 180 degrees from a year ago. Mentally, I just need to stay confident and remember that I have done pretty much everything I could to prepare. Well, its time for one of those 6-8 mile runs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bel Monte 50 Mile Preview

The Bel Monte 50 Mile is this weekend - a big test of "where I am at" for Massanutten in May. I feel pretty good although Bel Monte can be tough if you are feeling great! Gill and Frannie do a great job with this and all the races they put on. Bel Monte fits perfectly into the training regimen for Massanutten so there is a lot of similarity between the entrants lists. I plan to use the run as a dress rehearsal for the second half of Massanutten so I am going into the race on tired legs. Frankly, I am a little bit beat up but that is okay because I will certainly be "a little bit beat up" halfway through Massanutten. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies with a high in the upper 50s - perfect! Also, reports from the trail indicate that the course is in great shape and all the snow and a good bit of the water has dissipated.

My plan for Bel Monte is pretty simple. Go out easy, eat, drink, run when I feel good , walk when I don't. Hopefully that will translate to a decent time or at least a fun time. The good news is that anything that is "broken" can be fixed in time for Massanutten. I am really looking forward to the run. With the Myrtle Beach marathon getting cancelled last month and the trail conditions in the NC mountains, I am a bit starved for both a hard effort and quality time in the mountains. Bel Monte will absolutely deliver on both. A number of friends are headed to the race also. From Charlotte, Mike Mason and Mo Idlibi are heading up. Don't tell Mason but I have him picked to win the sucker for the second time. Also, fellow Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing teammates Steve and Deb Pero are trekking down from NH for the run. Talk about folks that will love the weather forecast.

Well, that's about it. Look for a report as well as reviews of Greenlayer (make our team uniforms) and Drymax socks in the next week or so.

Monday, March 22, 2010

LaSportiva Wildcat Review

LaSportiva has become one of the most dynamic running-related company's out there in recent years. They provide tremendous support to the trail running community through their Mountain Running site, sponsoring the LaSportiva Mountain Cup as well as providing support to a number of trail races throughout the United States. The company has done a lot in terms of product development to create some of the better trail running shoes out there. I started wearing LaSportiva two years ago with the discontinued "Raceblade", which was a great shoe for me on shorter (>50 mile), less rugged trail runs. Last year I began wearing the Fireblade , which quickly became my "go to" shoe. I liked the mix of good stability for rocky terrain combined with the lighter construction for better draining and less weight. I still really like the Fireblade a lot and continue to wear it. However, one of LaSportiva's newest shoes - the Wildcat has impressed me as well.

The Wildcat is similar to the Fireblade in terms of stability - in fact I think it may be a bit more stable. It also has a very grippy sole, which is great for wet and/or muddy surfaces. One big bonus is the additional cushion that the Wildcat boasts. It is one of the most cushioned trail shoes I have worn. Yet, it actually weighs less (about 1/2 oz. less) than the Fireblade. When comparing the two shoes, the Wildcat has more mesh construction which not only reduces weight but also promotes draining. I have worn the Wildcats in a variety of conditions: from a muddy trail half-marathon (actually wore them out of the box and set a PR!) to very rocky mountainous trails. I even took them for a spin on a 5 mile stretch of asphalt. In the mud, the shoe really gripped well and provided lots of stability on slick descents when others around me were "slip slidin' away". The shoe proves to be very versatile and performs well on all of these surfaces. I have yet to get a blister or even a hot spot in the Wildcats. My longest run to date in them is about 35 miles. However, I will be using them in a rugged 50 mile trail race this weekend. Like all LaSportiva's I have had, they are very well made and have held up very nicely after about 250 miles or so.

The only downside I can find is the sizing. I ordered the same size I usually get with Fireblades (corresponds to a US Men's 12.5) and they are a little snug. I wouldn't use the current pair for a 100 miler since there is less "give" in the toe box. I usually size up 1/2 a size for trail shoes but maybe size up a full size for the Wildcats. Pretty simple solution. Give the Wildcats a try. They are a great shoe from a terrific company. You can buy them at Backcountry at this link.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YES, I am Alive!!

Just been incredibly busy. Training has been going really well. Have had several nice runs out at Crowder's the last couple of months. The Myrtle Beach Marathon got cancelled due to snow (4 inches at the beach was actually really cool). The amount of snow up near Asheville has made running up there pretty treacherous so Crowder's Mountain has been my playground. Got lots of awesome new gear through the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team that I can't wait to test out. Have a beast of a weekend coming up with a 4 hour training run followed by the Bel Monte Endurance Run (50 Mile) the next day. Weather is getting nicer and Massanutten is only two months away. I have several posts coming on various gear I have been using. More to come in the next week.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Well, training in 2010 is going great so far! I have been running mostly roads (yuck) since I have a road marathon coming up in a few weeks. This past Saturday, I ran the Charlotte Running Company Trail Run (13 miles). I hoped to run roughly 9:00 per mile pace on the trails and have fun. I ended up running much faster and finished in 1:38. Pretty fast for me and good enough for 15th place overall. The race was at the National Whitewater Training Center outside of Charlotte and was a great event, especially for a first time event. I have been taking it pretty easy this week and will do one more big week before Myrtle Beach on Feb 13. Work is going well and the travel is starting to crank back up. Good news, I will get to run in some interesting places. Bad news, harder to get your butt in gear when you are out on the road. Speaking of which, I gotta motor to go catch a flight.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


My buddy Mike Mason sent this picture to me as motivation for my 2010 running plans. The picture is of yours truly as I remove my number during Massanutten when I decided to drop out last year at mile 38. It will definitely be motivating to me. Whether I get the urge to slack off of training or want to grab the ice cream after dinner, a quick glance of this photo and I will get refocused on the task at hand. Everything training wise during the next five months will be geared towards Massanutten so this picture is very appropriate. It amazes me how a photo, quote or simple memory can get ones frame of mind in the right place. This photo will definitely serve me well over the coming months. I might even hang a copy on the bathroom mirror like Rocky Balboa did with the Drago picture in Rocky IV. Cheesy I know, but hey, whatever works.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010!

I took a bit of time off around the holidays and to get refocused for this year. 2009 was a terrible year for me running wise, including my first DNF at Massanutten and several other races that I should have not run. However, it was a good learning experience and the new job has settled down to a more manageable schedule for me (or maybe I have just gotten used to it). Last year I only finished two ultras: Laurel Valley and Mountain Masochist. I did make it to 38 miles at Massanutten and got three marathon finishes (Black Mountain, Grandfather Mountain and Thunder Road). With the lack of training (my TOTAL mileage for 2009 was less than 800!), this is actually not too bad.

I have gotten some good momentum going the last several weeks and have a nice base built. For the first half of the year, I have three focus events. First is the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 13 where I want to run a PR of 3:25. I ran this event back in 2007 and it really set the year in motion. Next is the Bel Monte 50 Mile on March 27. This is a beast of a trail run and is as close to a half-Massanutten as anything. I want to go sub 11 hours here. THE race for 2010 is Massanutten once again where I want to better my 2007 time of 31:34. I have some aggressive goals but am psyched about training with a purpose again. Oh yeah, I entered the Hardrock lottery and will enter that this summer if I get in. If not, I will likely be in Leadville in August. More to come and I promise, more frequent updates.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mountain Masochist Report

What fantastic weather we had for the 27th running of this event. I, unfortunately was not in my best shape and suffered for most of the day. I still got it done and ran really well at the end - just too much damage was done the previous 10 hours. Still, with an 11:38 it was not even my worst time here. For starting basically "off the couch", I suppose that is not so bad. I got to run with a lot of good folks including Rebecca Phalen, Ed Marsh, Ashley Funderburk, John Teed, Melinda Yelton and DC Lucchesi. I wasn't with DC or Melinda long as they ran great races. DC posted a 9:37 and Melinda got 10th female! I also spent a good amount of time towards the end with Tom Green - the only person to start all 27 editions of this race.

I really did have a good time even though the ego took a hit with my performance. The road trip up with John was a blast with a stop at Lexington BBQ and lots of old school country music and southern rock blaring the whole way. The trip up is usually as much fun as the run. The trip back however, is no fun at all. Now, I have to decide if I am still game for Hellgate...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mountain Masochist Preview

Tomorrow I head up to Virginia to run the Mountain Masochist Trail Run. This will be my third start and I am really excited because the temperature looks to be near perfect. Lows in the 40s with highs in the 60s and sunny! It will be cooler at the higher elevations but looks to be a fabulous day in the mountains. Many of my running friends from all over will be there so it will no doubt be a fun time all the way around. I have no real goal for the race other than to do my best. Hopefully that will mean a PR for the course but who knows. With Hellgate looming in just over a month, this is going to be more of a training run. Sure a 50 mile one, but a training run nonetheless. I will post a report as soon as I can. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quick Post

Red Rocks was incredible. I ran about a 12 mile or so Loop inside the park and had to hustle a bit to finish up before it got too dark. It was amazing scenery and pretty cool how it is so close to "The Strip". I took it really easy and was please that the temps were pretty mild. Maybe they always are in Vegas in October. I did notice how dry the air was. Given I live in NC, where it can be pretty humid it was a nice change. Other than this, I spent the rest of the time in Vegas at a conference and caught the redeye back to Charlotte. I plan to visit Red Rocks again (hopefully for a longer trek) next time I am out that way.

After I got back to town, I hit Crowder's for a about a 3 hour run with a good bit of climbing. It was great to be out there again after a few months. There was a lot of cloud cover so I didn't even drink the two bottles I had with me. Felt really good and manage a sub-8 pace on the road back to the Linwood parking area.

Had a couple of good runs last week - sandwiching some tempo pace stuff into a couple of 10 to 15 mile runs. Felt nice to stretch the legs out but I am not where I hoped to be for Masochist. Oh well, I have run the race twice before and know what to expect. With Hellgate looming, Masochist will be an ideal training run. More to come.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I am alive!!!

Just been extremely busy so I haven't been able to update much the last several weeks. Work travel has been crazy and my running has taken a bit of a backseat. I am still getting quality miles in just not as often as I would like. I am headed to Las Vegas tomorrow for a work conference that I am speaking at. I am not a gambler so I plan to check out Red Rocks Canyon during my free time. Looks like some nice trails only 15 miles or so from "the Strip". Will be nice to hit some trails in a different locale. Mountain Masochist and Hellgate are fast approaching so I will need several quality outings to ensure I am prepared. Good news is the work travel is abating some. I will update after my trip.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Laurel Valley Report

I had another great time at Laurel Valley this year. Time, as in fun, not performance. For those unfamiliar with Laurel Valley it is a run of about 35 miles along the Foothills Trail in the South Carolina upstate. The run is self-supported as access is basically nil from Rocky Bottom where the race starts to the Upper Whitewater Falls parking area (where the race ends). While the run is very scenic, the self-supported nature does add a bit of intrigue to the run. No biggie though, just grab some of whatever you like to eat, a couple of water bottles and throw it in a pack and get going. Don't forget the iodine tablets to treat the water and a little dose of humility. If you forget the latter, the trail will provide it for you.

Two years ago, when I first ran LV, I got my a$$ handed to me. Yeah, it was over 100 degrees but I was still unprepared for what was ahead of me. I got some lovely blisters on my heels as a souvenir. Remember this lovely picture?

Last year I ran great and had an absolute blast, running much faster than 2007. Cooler temps helped as did being in really good shape. What would 2009 hold? Well, I ran slower than last year, but faster than 2007. About what I expected. I am not in as good of shape as last year, but one thing that matters at LV is experience and I had two of these under my belt.

The temperature was certainly warmer than last year but the humidity was what I really noticed. I made great time early. In fact, my buddy John and I were really cruising the first three hours or so. I knew I couldn't hold the pace and let John go ahead. He went on to post his fastest time on the course. I got to Toxaway a bit before 9:00 and was really wiped - not a good sign at LV. I took it easy on the next sections walking all the hills and running easy on the flats and downhills. When I got to the Horsepasture River (about 2/3 home), I did something I have never done in my previous two runs - got in the water. Man was it great! I spent a solid 25 minutes in the water there and it made a big difference. I left around 11:45 and figured I was about 3:30 from the finish. Last year, it took me about 3:15 from this point to finish.

As the temperature rose, my spirits tanked. I was drinking well and eating a gel about every 30 minutes. I was also taking two S! Caps every hour (about 700 mg sodium). My legs were just dead. I moved along as best I could and eventually ran out of water. Bill Keane, a grizzled veteran of this race and many throughout the southeast gave me some of his water to try and lift my spirits. Bill is 64 years young and is still cranking these things out. Awesome! I felt better running than walking which was weird given the situation. Eventually I got to Thompson River, which is about 5 or 6 miles from the finish and the last major water stop. Guess what, I got in the water again for about 20 minutes and it felt great. A couple of folks joined me and it was really hard to get out. I left just before 2:00 and decided I would walk every step in. My race was shot and it would be nice to know how long it would take walking every step. I ran really well last year and covered this in about 1:25.

It was very uneventful the rest of the way. After all, I was walking! I crossed the falls and had the final doozy of a climb between me and the finish. Last year, I did the final climb (about .8 miles) in around 18 minutes. I would need to do it in about 25 minutes this year to break 10 hours. So, I took it easy and made my way up. Then I ran the last 1/4 mile or so in to post a 9:56. Not my best but not my worst. I had a lot of fun and really took it easy so I am not sore at all as I type this. What a great event! They even had ice cream at the finish - thanks Mike Day!

It's funny, Mark Long and I remarked as we were sitting in Thompson River, why we come back every year. The answer is actually pretty easy - we're stupid and never learn!! Seriously, LV is as pure a run as you can get. If you are looking for fancy aid stations, nice awards and to be pampered - go find a local road 10K or even a marathon. If you are looking for a scenic trail and a great group of folks to share it with and nothing more than maybe LV is for you. There actually was a shirt this year but finishing this race is the best award I get all year. Now, with three LV finishes, one that starts with a 10 (10:24 in 2007), one with a 9 (9:56 this year) and one with an 8 (8:06 last year), I need one that starts with a 7. Guess where I'll be the second weekend in August 2010?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Laurel Valley Preview

Every year, when the mercury really inches northward I know that Laurel Valley is around the corner. Hard to believe that it is already August this year! It has really been an up and down year for me both in terms of running and life in general. However, things are definitely back on track and I am very excited about running Laurel Valley for the third time. With a race in SC in August, temperature is a big factor and it looks like this will be a warmer year than last. No worry though, I am looking forward to really enjoying the scenery along the way and will just give it my best effort. If that is 8 hours or 10 hours, I am fine either way. As I have written in years past, Laurel Valley is a pure race with no fuss about shirts, awards or even aid stations. There are none of these! All you have to worry about is one foot in front of the other and treating your water so as to avoid guardia. This minimalist approach is a great mental test 9at least for me) as it helps you learn to rely on yourself more than most races. I am just psyched to be on some nice trails as it has been a while. Look for a report early next week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Grandfather Mountain Report

I ran the Grandfather Mountain Marathon back on July 11 for the first time. Have been traveling for work and on vacation since then so the report is a little overdue. What a great time! The race is very well organized yet low key so that it is a lot of fun. I saw many familiar faces including Tom O'Donnell, Leon Harmon, Mark Long, Joey Anderson, Julia Engel, Ashley Funderburk and Byron Backer. My family went along for the weekend and enjoyed Grandfather Mountain park while I ran. It was a beautiful day and finishing at the Highland Games was really cool. I took it pretty easy, keeping my heart rate under 150. I managed to run around 4:33, which I was pleased with considering I took it so easy. I will definitely be back for this one.

I have the Laurel Valley Whitewater Run next weekend so I have been attempting to acclimate to the heat. More to come on that race. It feels good to finally be getting back in decent shape once again.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

I love the Fourth of July. I am a patriotic person for sure but this holiday brings so many fond memories of my childhood. I am trying to pass many of those same memories on to my own kids. No matter what ones political and/or social views are, it is important to reflect on our independence as a country and pay homage to those who fought so hard to establish the good ol' USA. Hope everyone has a good day.

On the running front, things are going very well. I have the Grandfather Mountain Marathon next weekend. I have always wanted to do this race and am excited to finally be in it. Hopefully it will be a nice training run. More to come soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back on Track

Well, I have finished "licking my wounds" from the pathetic DNF at Massanutten and am now gearing up for training in full force. I don't want to ever be as out of shape as I clearly was going into MMT ever again. That said, the DNF is a great motivator to get myself back in gear. I am still putting together my fall schedule but I just signed up for Mountain Masochist. I have run the race twice and have always had a terrible effort there - 11:40 in 2006 and 11:15 in 2007. Both times I ran the GEER 100K about five weeks prior but so have many others. In any case, I want to run the race really well this year.

I am really excited about ramping up the training again. I really missed running on a regular basis earlier in the year when I was surrounded by the "dark clouds". I am also doing the Laurel Valley Whitewater Run again this year. I love this race as it some of the most beautiful trail around and a great group of folks show up every year for it. Not sure what else I am planning but will update as plans firm up. Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments regarding my DNF at Massanutten.

Monday, May 18, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the key to DNFing MMT...

Respect. Seven simple letters that speak volumes. I didn't have enough of it for the MMT course - going into the race under trained. If you have looked at the results from Massanutten, you know that either I was confused and thought it was a 40 mile race or the race did not go as planned. Either way, I suffered my first DNF ever this weekend at my favorite race. What happened? It is pretty simple, the heat wore my under trained body out. I had hoped to get my third MMT buckle, but that will have to wait until next year.

I went into the race under trained but felt that mentally I could get there. There is a saying in ultrarunning: "Ultrarunning is 90% mental, the other half is physical". When it came to the "second half" I was waaaay short. I still had a great time up at the race and chalk this up as a great learning experience. The first DNF was bound to happen eventually and in some ways, I am glad to have the first one over with. Here is the brief (remember I only did ~40 miles) story.

I started out running fine but noticed it was very humid. Many of us remarked before the start how much warmer it felt compared to previous years. I got up the road and up to Buzzards Rock with no issues. I was drinking often and hitting a gel every 30 minutes. I was soaked to the bone in sweat due to the humidity. I came into the first aid station feeling good and kept on truckin' after refilling my bottles. Felt good all the way to Veach Gap, where I stopped for a pancake and sausage and again refilled the bottles. I also drank two cups of water here.

The section to Milford Gap was uneventful and I tried to take it really easy since there was plenty of time. Plus there was a 4 mile road section coming up where I could make up time if I needed to. I was taking an S! Cap every 45 minutes or so and things were going well. On the way to Habron Gap, I was running good and having lots of fun. I had to stop and pee a couple of times which was a good sign in terms of hydration. I did get passed by some folks but I was still moving along at a good pace. I was very focused on running my own race.

When I got to the road section to Habron Gap, I turned on the Ipod and cruised along the road. I ran the early couple of miles a little too hard and had to back off some towards the end because I ran out of water. Still, I got into Habron Gap later than I wanted but was not concerned. I sat and rested for a few minutes and then got moving. I drank a Boost, restocked on gels and S! Caps, downed a couple of cups of water and headed to Camp Roosevelt.

I deliberately took it very easy on the climb here trying to not wear myself out. Was moving along okay when WHAM!, the heat just zapped me. I had to stop and rest a few times but still was able to keep moving. When I would run, I started to get dizzy - not lightheaded but room-spinning dizzy. When this would happen, I stopped and rested. I have had heat exhaustion before, and knew this was an early sign. I normally do okay in the heat and humidity but being under trained, I obviously was more vulnerable. Lots of folks went by and all asked how I was doing. Eventually, I came around a bit and started to move pretty well. I was able to run some downhill sections pretty well but then the dizziness came back. Also, I started to shiver some (think teeth chattering). This was a BIG concern, since it was likely close to 80 degrees. From there, I basically "death marched" to Camp Roosevelt where I hoped to recover.

The volunteers were great, stuffing my bandanna with ice and making sure I had plenty of fluids. I picked up an extra bottle at Habron Gap and drank all three on the way to Camp Roosevelt. In fact, I was empty for the last 15 minutes or so. I stayed at Camp Roosevelt for about 30 minutes, then refilled and decided I would see how I felt at Gap Creek. I was worried that if the dizziness didn't go away, my race was done. I started out to Gap Creek and soon a wonderful thunderstorm started - it felt fantastic and really cooled me off. I actually made decent time on the climb up and then started to run down at a good clip. But, the dizziness was there still. I had to stop and get it under control. I was continuing to eat and drink, and take S! Caps regularly.

To add to the frustration, I slipped and somehow wrenched my back. Now not only did I get dizzy when I ran, but my back seized up as well. Finally I got to the aid station around 4:00 p.m.! I was almost at the next aid station at this time last year. I had an hour to get things under control and get moving. I stretched the back, lied down, sat up, did everything but just couldn't get it right. So, I dropped out when the 5:00 p.m. cutoff came. I hated to do it but it was definitely the right decision. If I had continued, maybe I would have finished or maybe I would have gotten hurt much worse. Who knows. I am actually proud that I was smart enough to pull the plug. Folks often say DNF is an acronym for "Did Nothing Foolish" and well as "Did Not Finish".

I learned that a course like Massanutten deserves much more respect than to go into it under trained. That is a lesson that I will not soon forget. Congratulations to everyone who started, especially the finishers. Massanutten is a tough race and finishing it is quite an accomplishment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Massanutten Preview

I can't believe Massanutten is already here! This is one of my favorite races and I am glad to have completed it twice. In fact, this is the only 100 mile race I have run (due to my DNS at Umstead this year). My training has been very lackluster but I am still very excited. I may not be 100% physically ready but I have plenty of mental fortitude that should help a good bit. Plus, I am a big believer in experience and having some familiarity with the course will be key to my success. The weather looks to be a little volatile - some rain, possible t-storms and warm temps during the day. I have heard that the course is already a little sloppy in places but hopefully things won't deteriorate too bad. The course drains very well and should be fairly dry as long as a ton of rain does not fall right before the race.

My plan for the race is to really take it easy early on. I am going to really try and get ahead on fluids and calories in the early stages. Easier said than done but hopefully I can pull that off. The toughest sections for me are later in the race when I tend to get really lazy during a couple of long 8 mile sections. I would like to really cover these sections better this year. Keeping myself in check early will be a key to this happening. In terms of a goal, I really don't have one as I just want to get the finish. But, I would certainly like to be closer to my time last year (31:34) rather than my 2007 time (35:02).

I feel very blessed to be able to even contemplate something as demanding as a 100-mile run. I am really looking forward to enjoying my time in the beautiful Massanutten mountains of Virginia. You can follow myself and other participants on the VHTRC's MMT page here.

Speaking of other participants, check out the entrants list as it is a very competitive field including the likes of Meltzer (my pick to win), Walker, Sproston, Kulak, Casseday, Mongold, Knipling and on and on... Look for a report from me early next week. Best of luck to everyone who is running/racing this weekend.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Wow, things have been very busy the last few weeks. The new job is going great but I have been extremely busy. I am having a lot of fun again with work, which is a nice change. Running is going reasonably well. Massanutten looms next weekend and I am very excited to run this year. Despite not being in ideal shape. I love the course and am hoping for a fun time this year. I will do a more in depth preview next week. I recently saw "Running the Sahara" and thought the movie was very well done. It had just the right balance of drama and intrigue. No matter how tough one is or how elite an athlete, you have to be impressed with 111 days of running without a day off! Add in the variety of conditions from sandstorms, searing heat and even freezing temps, and it is quite epic. Look for more on Massanutten next week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In the Loop

Well, I have left BofA altogether. I have signed on with a smaller private investment bank named Loop Capital Markets LLC. Loop started as a municipal bond shop about 12 years ago and has diversified into corporate finance so that about 50% of revenues are from the municipal side. Smaller firms like Loop are poised to capitalize on the current environment as the big banks are shedding jobs and delve further into making money at a client's expense. I like Loop because they are client focused and if telling a client that the best thing to do is nothing, that is okay. At BofA one would be chastised to no end for not "putting the firm first".

It may sound hypocritical coming from a banker (especially to some anonymous "fans") but I truly believe that clients interests should be absolutely a top priority, not lining your pockets with fees from structures that make no sense. So, I am excited about this opportunity. Loop wants to expand its presence in the southeast and I am "getting in on the ground floor". I have long sought something more entrepreneurial in nature and now I have it. I will update the blog as things progress.

Running is going very well but it was wise to bag Umstead. I could have definitely finished but it would not have been pretty. Lastly, the weather has been fabulous in NC this weekend. I always love this time of year.

Friday, March 27, 2009


So, my "explanation" post is long overdue. Here's the deal. I got whacked by BofA (or Merrill) on February 26 after 10 years. it was not a surprise but still a disruption. I got a new gig at the bank within 5 days. In this economy/job market, I feel fortunate to have it. My work life as been prety hellish since January. I worked hard in 2008 and exceeded all of my performance targets and got $0 for incentive compensation. This makes up a major portion of my total pay so a zero is a big pay cut. There has been a lot of to do lately about bonuses. Sure, there are certainly abuses at all companies, but for many jobs like mine, folks should get paid if the bring the revenues in the door. Obviously, I am biased. Then a month later, I am gone. Oh well, it is in the past and in hindsight, probably a blessing. In talking with my former co-workers, Merrill is doing a great job of blowing things up and flushing morale down the toilet.

The Mount Mitchell Challenge/Black Mountain Marathon on February 28 was a nice release after such a rough week. The weather was tough and I was ill prepared for the wet and cold conditions. I was one of many who were sent down the mountain at the marathon turn around due to the Park Service closing the summit. It was a smart choice as many folks had hypothermic conditions. I likely would have too had I continued to the top. Still, it was a fun day and I got a nice solid training run in.

My good friend Rich Daileader started his AT trek northbound on March 1. His plan is to average around 15 miles a day and finish up sometime in late July/mid August. I hope to join him for a couple of days in April or June.

Running is going pretty well and I am anxious to get cranking with the race schedule.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Up for the Challenge!

It has been a loooong time since I have posted. I have had a lot going on in my life outside of running that has been a major distraction. Training has fallen off severely. I will write a post over the weekend giving more details. Tomorrow I am running in the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Mile. Am I ready? Not hardly but I am well rested and have lots of frustrations to take out on the trail. I have always wanted to do this race and am excited to do it this year. I am not worried about time but want to have a good time and just enjoy the day in the mountains. Speaking of which, the day will start early as I am leaving at 4:00 AM for the ~2 hour drive to the start in Black Mountain. So I am off to bed. Look for a report and more details about what has been going on (hint: I work in financial services) of late over the weekend. Peace.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

GEER 2009 - Buy 50K Get 50K Free!!!

I have written many times about how much I enjoy the Great Eastern Endurance Run. It was my first trail ultra back in 2006. I talked with Gill, the RD for the event this week and he informed me of a special for early registrants for GEER this year. The first 100 entrants in the 100K will pay only half of the entry fee! That's right - 50% of the cost. Trust me when I tell you that the event is worth every penny of its full fare, so it is an absolute steal at $62.50! I have run the race three times and think it is one of best coordinated events I have participated in. It is not for the meek as it features rugged terrain, lots of climbing and descent and unpredictable weather. This is balanced out by an excellent venue, great aid stations and enthusiastic volunteers. Gill and Francesca do a great job of planning the event complete with several training runs beginning in July. Entry opens on February 2, so there is plenty of time to get this on your 2009 race schedule. You can sign up for the event here. Feel free to post a comment with any questions about the race.

Sign up soon so you can grab one of the half priced spots - they will surely go quickly. Get signed up and then get out there and run!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Umstead Training

So, I have been thinking about my training plan for Umstead a lot the past few days. With the current state of the banking sector, this is at least a positive topic. I am not too worried about the 100 mile distance at Umstead (I know that sounds ridiculous) as I have completed the distance twice and "know" what I need to do to complete it. The terrain is not technical and the weather is usually moderate. I have had few nutrition issues in races and have a good idea of what works best for me. My biggest concern is the repetitive loops that I will run (8 to be exact) to complete the 100 miles. I paced my friend John Straub last year, running his final two loops with him. He suggested breaking the race up into "day" and "night". In his experience, the loops started to really wear on him after about the fifth loop (62.5 miles) and is just before it starts to get dark. It sounds like a good approach and worked great for him last year as he ran sub-21.

I have been base building the last month or so while battling some plantar fascitis pain but am overall pleased with my progress so far. The extra pounds from the holidays are starting to drop off and my endurance is starting to get pretty good. Two key areas for me to work on are speed/intervals and practice running loops. During training I am a big proponent of at least one speed workout per week. Not all out sprints but some 400M, 800M and even 1200M repeats at or above threshold heart rate. This worked great for me during the season last year and I will incorporate it again. Besides helping you run, well, faster it also breaks up the "monotony" of the training cycle. I don't do speed workouts during recovery weeks.

Round and Round
Other than an 1980s metal hit by Ratt, round and round is what I will be doing at Umstead and running all those loops is a big concern for me. One of the reasons I love running in the mountains is all the scenery and generally point-to-point or single loop nature of the courses. I want to get myself "mentally trained" for it so I have started doing this at least once a week. For example, today I ran 5 miles at lunch on the indoor track at the YMCA. You have to run 9 laps to cover a mile so I did 45 laps today in a little over 40 minutes. Not killing it by any stretch but it was a comfortable pace. I figure getting past the "boredom" of loops will only occur through practice. I plan to do at least one run per week that incorporates multiple loops and every other week it will be my long run.

I don't need to run technical trails for Umstead but will need the practice for Massanutten, which is about six weeks later. I am running a very hilly and technical 50K next weekend and the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Mile in late February. My final "long" run will be on the weekend of March 14 or March 21 and the plan is to do a loop 40 to 50 mile run. I will likely measure a 10 to 12 mile loop and use that as a final practice for Umstead.

Other aspects of training include the following:

Weight train twice per week
- one workout will coincide with a recovery run day and a more rigorous workout on a "rest" day.

Core (ab crunches, sit-ups, push ups, etc.) every day
- easy to do at night after dinner and will be very important for overall fitness. I slacked here a lot during the late fall.

Run 5 to 6 times per week
- these are the types of runs I will typically do:

1 long run (typically 2 to 3 hours or so) every other week as a loop run,
1 speed workout (standard repeats of 400M, 800M, etc.),
2 - 3 recovery runs (45 minutes to 1h 30m) - one of these will be the "loop" run,
1 tempo/cruise run (1 - 2 hours) - this will include a warm-up, then a segment at marathon pace and then a cool down

The running part is evolving but this is what it will mostly look like. I will follow a 4-week cycle of build, build, peak, rest. All runs will occur every week (except no speed during rest) but will vary in length and intensity. Also, in about a month, I will incorporate some hill repeats into my training schedule. For now, I want to work on getting my speed and leg turnover back up. Also, I will often include some speed intervals inside some long runs to assist with this. Say the long run is 15 miles, 2 miles warm-up, 3 miles at 10K pace, 1 mile recovery pace, 3 miles 10K, 1 mile recovery, 2 miles marathon pace, 3 miles cool down. This has worked very well in the past for me.

I feel good going into the training and am excited to get the blood flowing again. I hope to run really well at Umstead and set a solid 100-mile PR for myself. Plus a hard effort there is a great excuse for a slow run at Massanutten. Just kidding. I will continue to update as things progress. Now, I've gotta go run some more.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, 2009 is here - amazing how quickly 2008 went by. I am not a big New Year's person so my "celebration" is at best mundane and most likely boring to most. I did manage to see the "ball drop" though. Any way, now that 2009 is here, I am back into training mode big time. I actually have been for the last several weeks but now, with a little holiday trimming around the waistline, my regimen will be more consistent. I got in a nice trail run out at Crowder's Mountain yesterday of about 3 hours. After running mostly on gravel/dirt roads down in Georgia the last week, the trails were nice.

The Umstead 100 looms large the first weekend in April. So, my training will focus largely on getting ready for that. That means a lot of flatter, fast workouts and less of the rocky, rooty terrain with lots of climb. However, Massanutten is on the horizon so I will need to mix in some runs to gear up for that as well. I will put more detail to my training plan in the next few days. Hope everyone enjoyed Christmas and New Year's.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Massanutten 2009 - I am in!

Well, the Massanutten lottery was held yesterday and I was lucky to get chosen for the 2009 field. Actually, the lottery the VHTRC employs is pretty interesting. All applicants sign up online between December 1 and 8 where they are assigned a random number between 0 and 999. This number is the key to getting selected. The lottery was based on yesterday's closing value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The final three digits of the Dow close (including decimal places) are the "starting point" of the lottery and the direction of the market (up or down) determines which "direction" the lottery moves in selecting entrants. My random number was 914 and the final three digits of yesterday's close was 133. Once the selection reaches 0, it starts with 999 and continues to move down. No preference is given to anyone for the selection but there is preference given on the wait list. Regardless, I am in.

Personally, I think all past champions should get automatic entry along with folks going for a 10th finish. It is ludicrous to me that past champions Todd Walker, Ian Torrence and Marti Kovener are on a waiting list, although they do have the highest priority. But then again, I think first come first served is just as fair. Last year, there was a ridiculous amount of whining from folks who did not get in when all you had to do was get in front of a computer that morning. Heck, I was literally at a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet above sea level on an airplane and I made arrangements for someone to sign me up. I find it pretty funny that several of the folks that complained didn't even sign up this year. Maybe the lottery is fairer. No matter what process is used, everyone is not going to be satisfied.

I am really excited to run MMT again in 2009 and several fellow Goats are in as well including Brennen, Steve and Amy with Deb and Mike Mason high up on the waiting list. In addition, my buddies John and DC from Charlotte are also in. The original plan back in 2007 was for the three of us to run MMT together as our first 100. However, DC injured his knee so John and I ran the entire race together. Glad these guys are giving it a go again. Look forward to kicking some rocks again come mid-May!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey Running

Whoa, two posts in one day...

On Saturday, Mike Mason and I met in Black Mountain and drove to Bent Creek for Adam Hill's Bent Creek Gobbler run. The run consists of two loops that make a figure eight. Both loops are about 16 mile and Mason and I opted for just one loop. He is running a 40 mile race this week and I just wanted a nice solid run. I got to see several old running friends including Rick Gray, Nick Whited and Annette Bednosky. I also met several new folks, many of which I felt like I already knew including Matt Kirk, Ed Marsh and Doug Blackford. In short the run was a blast! Temperatures were in the upper 30s and with overcast skies, rain was a bit of a concern but it stayed at bay. The loop started with a fire road that climbed and descended for about 7 miles. I ran most of this alone until Rick and Annette caught up to me. I ran with them for about two miles and then stopped to take a gel and water the plants. I caught back up as they were turning on to the Shut-In trail. The Shut-In trail is amazing as it undulates sharply up and down (mostly up!) but the trail is a joy to run. Annette finally left Rick and I as she got her legs back and we never saw her again until the finish. We had a good time chatting as we meandered through the woods on the trail. Jason caught Rick and I and as he passed, I followed (Rick stopped to take a pit stop). I didn't know the course very well and he was moving at a bout the pace I wanted to.

We were treated to some great trail with some wonderful rolling sections that were a joy to push hard on the ups and then blast the downs. We were on the Shut-In for about 7 miles and I hated for it to end. The final 2 miles were all downhill on a gentle dirt road. It was fun to open up the legs and hammer in to the finish. the temperature was dropping pretty quickly as we socialized afterwards and soon Mike and I headed back to Black Mountain. After a good lunch with some yummy broccoli soup, I rolled back to Charlotte. What a great run and a wonderful way to burn off some Thanksgiving calories.

2008 Year in Review

Hard to believe that another year is pretty much in the books. I always enjoy to reflect back on the years events and "remember" the lessons learned and celebrate the successes one last time before shutting the door on the year. My focus this year was simple - to improve my general trail running ability and run better at Massanutten. I am still relatively new to trail ultrarunning having started back in August 2006 but I still feel like I should be improving, and I am.

My first race of the year was a road marathon in February. I trained hard through January focusing on speed and tempo workouts. I have never run a fast marathon (and with a PR of 3:33 most would argue I still haven't) and wanted to see how much I could improve over my PR (was 3:48). I was pleased but the biggest win for me was finding how the speed/tempo workouts really helped augment my training. I now include some form of speed/tempo work in my training every week except for during recovery/rest weeks.

I ran a less than stellar 50 mile race at the Bel Monte Endurance Run in March. I tweaked my ankle pretty bad in the run but even without that, I just didn't have it. The course was rugged and I chalked up the death march to a 12:20 finish as mental training for Massanutten. Fortunately, the ankle healed completely within a couple of weeks.

Massanutten loomed large in May and I went in to the race physically and mentally ready. The course conditions were sloppy and wet but I battled through it and ended up improving my time by 3.5 hours, clocking a 31:34! I kind of imploded a little bit at the end due to some IT band issues but was thrilled with the result. I definitely can run the course faster, I just need to keep coming back and applying the previous years lessons.

I next ran the Laurel Valley Run in August. Laurel Valley is a run of about 35 miles with about 8,000 feet of gain on the very scenic Foothills Trail. LV is tough because it is unsupported and in South Carolina in August! You carry all of your calories and drink from the many streams on the course. The temperature and humidity can be brutal but we were treated to highs in the mid-80s this year so the event was much more enjoyable. I ran a solid race in 8:06, which was a significant improvement over the prior year. The temps helped but mostly it was I was able to run every downhill and had a solid climbing pace on the uphills - an area that has plagued me before.

My last race was the GEER 100K up in Virginia. I should have only run the 50K but was too stubborn to drop down. The course was very wet and I was definitely under prepared. My quads were shot at 25 miles. I lumbered on a finished about an hour slower than usual. It was a lot of fun nonetheless. I had a heel injury for all of October and most of November but have managed to heal up and have clocked in a couple of 30 to 40 mile weeks. I will close out the year as a pace group leader for the Thunder Road marathon in Charlotte. I am running the 4 hour group and am using it as a nice medium long training run.

I am excited for what 2009 brings for my running. I am psyched to be part of the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team for next year. My schedule is still taking shape with definite plans for the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Miler and the Umstead 100. I also entered the Massanutten 100 lottery this morning and will know about that in a couple of weeks. I hope to do a western race next year and have my sights set on Tahoe Rim, Leadville or Cascade Crest. Although, the "Hundred in the Hood" out in Oregon looks pretty appealing also. Any readers who have a suggestion are free to add them in the comments section. I also hope to volunteer at Hardrock. This is a race I want to do someday and it is about time I got out that way and check things out.

Overall 2008 has been a good year for me running wise. Other than the heel injury, I had no big problems and I finished every race I started. I am having tons of fun with trail ultras and hope to continue with this sport well into "old" age. I am excited for 2009 and hope that everyoine has a good December.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bedrock is a Speedgoat!!!

Today I got the official word that I am part of the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team (WSGMRT) for the 2009 season. Needless to say, I am really psyched with the news. This team was started up earlier this year by Scott Mason and Tim Barnes. The initial team included a very diverse group of trail runners from around the U.S. I knew a few of the folks such as Bryon Powell, Brennen Wysong, Steve Pero and Tim Long and they have raved about the team so far. Scott mentioned they were expanding the team in 2009 and asked if I wanted in. The team remains very diverse and I feel very honored to have been included. As I have written recently, I have had a rough couple of months running wise with the heel injury. This is just the kind of news I need to get my butt back in gear. Not only am I close to 100% injury free, I am also mentally pumped for 2009. I will post more details as they become available and will update the sidebar as sponsors are finalized. Lots and lots of scrapes for this news!!