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.