Monday, May 11, 2009

Old, Fat and Beaten Up

Well, I have not posted since Umstead. I have been sidetracked by other interest and have in a word been very lazy. My lack of attention to training has manifested itself in greatly reduced endurance and an expanded waist line. I am back over 180 pounds (183.6 lbs!) and can’t run 3 miles non stop. Needless to say that the Columbia Triathlon this weekend is out of the picture. My little diversion has F## up a hell of a lot of hard training over the winter and I am extremely pissed with my current condition. There is no one else to blame—I screwed up!

I gotta kick my ass back into shape. I will do the Cascade Lake Triathlon even if it kills me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Long Time - Still Alive

Well it has been a long time since I blogged. Lots have happen, but the big ones are:
· I have had a few minor injuries
· I am in love – God help the poor girl!

I took a hard fall during a morning run that resulted in a broken finger and bashed knee. This put me out of commission for about a week. During this time I had some minor dermatological surgery so I really was not in the mood to blog.

I won’t say too much on the relationship front but let’s say it is a hell of a lot more fun than blogging or running .

Oh I forget – the Umstead 100 is only 37 hours away. Oh crap! This came up fast and bit me in the ass.

We just checked into our hotel for the annual attempt at the Umstead 100. Three Snails are registered for the race which begins on Saturday at 6 a.m.

I am strongly thinking about only attempting 50 miles or maybe 62 at the most. I just don’t have the will to go the full distance. Things may change but I see myself taking a long nap while the others finish the full 100 miles.

Nap time.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Iron Horse 100K Report

In a word … Superior!!!

Race Director Chris Rodatz should run a boot camp for aspiring Ultra RDs. He puts on a well organized event that fully captures the spirit of ultramarathoning. Here is the course… We will support you … Go run.

Packet pickup was a breeze. It was held in the lobby of the race hotel which allow for some pre race bonding with some of the other 80 or so sick minded individuals that I was about to spend the next day with. For some reason our discussions centered around running and triathlons. "Didn't I see you at Rocky?" "Are you doing Umstead?" was a common theme. The true sickness of this little band was evident when someone said that they were only running a marathon next week and received heartfelt condolences from the group.

Chris had great news for me. The hard cutoffs were only for the 100 miler. The 100K runners could stay on the course for the full 24 hours if needed. The 100K became doable. As part of his race instruction Chris asked everybody to program his number into their cell phones with the instructions that this was the best way to get help to an injured runner.

The race was held on a 12.5 mile unimproved section of a Rail to Trail path about an hour from the race hotel. There were a few areas that required sharp attention to your footing but overall the course was relatively easy. Aid stations were set about 5.5 miles apart and were stocked with the necessary ultra running needs, water, Gatorade, PBJ sandwiches, coke and mountain dew. In the evening there was hot soup and a hot chocolate that was the greatest pick me up I could ask for at mile 58!

The volunteers were excellent. They went the extra mile to make sure the runners had a good day. Special kudos to Ultramarathoner and Blogger Dan Rose. Dan intended to run the 100 miler but was injured. In the truest exhibition of what makes our sport so special he stepped in and started to work an aid station. Dan served me water and Gatorade a few times with words of encouragement and reminders to keep up my electrolytes. Words of a master to a receptive student. I was also very impressed by the Striders that manned the last aid station on the 100K course. Being experience runners they did a good job in getting you fueled and fed while making idle chit chat in effort to assess your overall condition.

In true snail fashion, I was one of the slower runners on the course, finishing in 16:40+. The finish line crew treated me like a champion. I received a hearty applause and the congratulation of the RD as he handed me one of the best looking belt buckles I have ever seen. All in all it was a very good day. I will be back next year.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Little Iron Horse that Could

It has been a rough week. I am having trouble focusing on this
weekend’s Iron Horse 100K. I haven’t packed or event
thought of what to take and the car service will be at my door in
less that 12 hours. Something is not right. I am usually very
casual about my runs but I am very apprehensive about this event. I
don’t know why. I came thought both the Angel and Rocky
feeling great.

Maybe it is the 15 hour cutoff, or it could be the extra 12 miles …
There is something that has me in knots over this race. Or is the
Umstead Curse visiting me early this year

Gotta change my mind set … Time to break our the self help books

I think I Can, I think I Can, I think I Can…I know I Can!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stand Behind Me Satan and Don’t Push!

Today, I received an email about the Harrisburg Triathlon. Well, it is kind of close to home, and my brother lives in Harrisburg. The race does not looks too bad, short swim with the current, 14 mile bike and a 5K. Sounds like a nice way to spend some time before breakfast on a Sunday morning. What the hell – I am in. Let's hope that there are no more race applications in the mail. I am running out of weekends.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cure for Burnout

Just after my last post, I had a pipe blow out under my kitchen sink. A plumbing emergency and a quick trip to Home Depot is a certain cure for running burnout. I need a run!

Burnout ??

Yesterday, I got dressed and drove the NCR Trail to meet the Snails. After parking my car, I just could not sum up the will to get out and run. I decided to just go home and spent the rest of the day in bed. I am not sick or hurt but I just did not have the will to get moving. This is a real change from the post Rocky Raccoon race high, I was feeling earlier this week.

Plans for today are to line up a training plan for next week. I hope to focus on swimming and flexibility with 2 sessions with the trainer. I need to get my head straight for next Saturday's 100K or it will be painfully long day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Need to Find a New Hobby or a New Limo Service

I placed a call this morning to the Limo Company to make my reservation for airport transportation for next week's Iron Horse

Me – Hi this is Jim Howard…I need to make a reservation…

Receptionist – Hello Mr. Howard… How was your race last week in Texas? Where will you be running next week?

Nothing like being marked as a running nut!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Race Report for Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler

First things first – g ## dam, SOB MFing roots! The only good tree is a desk! Let's give the park some of the Obama economic stimulus money and get this course paved.

OK this is a bit of an overreaction. This course is beautiful and the roots were not all that bad. But, why was there the constant battle between my toe and the roots over occupying the same space at the same time. Needless to say the roots won.

Now that I got off my chest -- the Rocky Raccoon 50 was a perfect race. For once in my life the planets aligned in my favor.

Here are some highlights

I arrived in Houston and went to pick up my rental car. Unfortunately, the plane was early and they did not have my sub economy POS compact available. "Would you mind taking this brand new Mustang instead?" Not wanting to make a fuss, I agreed to their request.

When I arrived at the Holiday Inn, I was upgraded to a suite. This room was huge. The walk from the bed to the bathroom was further than some of the pit stops at the race. A rookery ;) of Snails could have occupied the room and we still would have room for more.

Race packet pick up was a breeze; in and out in less than 10 minutes. This was slowed by being recognized as a Snail and engaging in the usual pre race banter. There is a saying that "you are known by the company you keep", the Snails have a strong identity in the ultra running community.

Saturday morning came quickly. Prior to the start, I met Misty Pilgrim AKA Geekgrl. I have been following her blog for about a year and it was a pleasure to finally meet her in person.

The weather was perfect. There was no second thinking about wearing shorts and a tri top. At 7 am we were started on our way. Everything was going perfect until around mile 6, I got something in my eye (the women's 100 mile leader I think) and fell. It must have been a good on since she stopped to see that I was ok. Everything seemed to be still in place and there were no bones showing so I brushed off and continued on my way. Lesson learned… keep your eyes on the trail. A difficult task given that I was surrounded with the prettiest trail runners west of York Road. Yes, this is a haphazard attempt to cover my ass. It must have been a good fall because I had a group of Texas Trail Runners at pit 2 wanting to see if I was ok. I was a little bloody but they refused to shoot me!

Speaking of the Texas Trail Runners … they rock! Great pit crew that had anything you needed. They quickly got you watered and fed and back on the trail. The other pits were great too, but there was something special about the service at the Texas Trail Runners stop.

The pits were very well stocked. This enabled me to accomplish one of my goals for the race – eat only real food. I had a feast. Breakfast Burritos PBJs, quesadillas, Peanut butter and Banana sandwiches, hot dogs, soup… everything went down easy and better yet stayed down. Heed was the drink of choice, with a shot of Coke every pit. While it was hot, I limited my electrolyte intake to 1 tabulate every hour. This helped prevent the kidney problems I had at Umstead.

I finished lap 1 in about 3.5 hours feeling real good. The second lap was a bit hotter and I walked quite a bit but still came in around 5 hours. I don't know my split time for lap 3 but my overall time was a few seconds over 13 hours. Lap 3 was comfortable, had a slight stomach issue at the first aid station where I downed a cold coke too fast and had instant cramps. Darkness fell with about 8 miles left. I walked most of the last miles and still managed to do a second face plant. Stupid roots!

I felt great at the finish. The only thing that hurt was my shoulder from two falls in lap 1 and 3. Otherwise I was in very good shape. In reflection, 50 miles were enjoyable, but I am thankful that I did not have to go out in the dark for another 50.

I was able to get back to the hotel in time for a scotch, shower and shave and then walk a mile into Huntsville to do some celebrating at the local college bars. I staggered back to the hotel to meet some of the early 100 mile finishers also staggering. I guarantee I was feeling much better that they were. Life is good!

Things that worked:

  • Eating real food

  • Gel free diet

  • Bag Balm feet

  • Foot taping

  • New Under Armor shoes that I am test piloting

  • Walking before I needed to

  • Sauna training

  • Accepting that this was going to take a long time

Things that need work

  • Drive / desire to run through the pain

  • Forgetting my Garmin

  • Practice on harder trails

  • Times GPS – never could lock on signal

Next stop – Iron Horse 100K

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heading to Texas

I am packed and ready for whatever Rocky Raccoon has in store for me this weekend. I am fairly comfortable with doing 50 milers and barring injury should have a fairly good run on Saturday. While I will miss my Snails, I am looking forward to tripping over some root with some of my fellow Bloggers. I am # 514 and will be easy to spot - Just look for the course sweepers and I will be directly in front of them. I spent some time today thinking of a strategy and the best one appears to be just finish sometime before last call on Saturday night.

I have a car picking me up at 5 for my 7 a.m. flight to Houston. I arrive around 10:30 and should be at the Hotel by noon for a short nap before going to packet pick up and the race dinner. Early to bed on Friday, then the big event! Saturday looks like a hot one with a day time high of 76! I may need to up the electrolytes.

I can't wait to eat some of the best aid station food anywhere! Let's get it done.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2 Days to Rocky

Today, I did my final workout before the Rocky Raccoon. I did a short 5 miler and a spin class in the morning and had a session with the trainer in the evening. She showed me a bit of mercy and put me through a light upper body workout and a very intense stretch.

This evening I started packing for my trip to Huntsville. As always, I am taking too much stuff. I just can't get over the fear of needing something that I left at home hence the need to carry 6 types of head lamps! I really need to get a Life.

Speaking of packing, the first thing in the bag is my med kit. It is unbelievable all the pills and snake oil, I need to take to get through the race. Here is a photo of my pre race setup from the Angle 50 miler. There has to be something very wrong with this-

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Getting Ready for Rocky Raccoon

Yesterday, I ran a short 8 miler at Lock Raven with the Snails. While it was cold, it appeared as if every runner in Baltimore decided to run in the same place at the same time. Parking at our usual location was at a premium and I had to park at a remote location and catch up with the group. Among the runners at the lake were 2 or 3 "marathon training groups". While I encourage people to take up running, I always wonder why they would pay a local running store or gym for something they could get for free by joining the Snails or Road Runners. I am confident that the advice they would receive from these seasoned runners would be far superior to what they are paying to get from the gym of running store. Maybe there is a social need served by these groups that I don't understand.

January seemed to have zoomed buy. Now there are only 3 months to Umstead and 7 to IM Louisville. While training is going well, I need to kick up the intensity a bit. This is going to be challenging with my plans to do 2 ultras in February. There just does not seem to be enough hours in the day to get all the work done. I got to develop a training schedule and start using my time more wisely. Swimming needs to become more prevalent and I need to get some long bike rides on the agenda.

Speaking of biking… I really F---ed up the new Kestrel. The bike shop has had a hell of a time undoing what I did. Somehow I screwed up the shifters to a point that they will need to be replaced. Lesson learned – don't play mechanic!

Next weekend is the Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler. This should be a fun day of running through the wooded mine field of roots and ruts. I am somewhat acquainted with the course from crewing last year . My goal is to finish in less than 11:30 and no more than three face plants! Whatever happens, I am looking forward to just being in the warm weather.

I hate winter --- God, please don't let that Groundhog see his shadow!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Putting Together the Bike – I give up!

I started to assemble the bike this morning combining the components that came with the online order with some upgraded accessories that I bought separately. After about three hours of frustration, I gave up, packed everything off and headed off to the bike shop to have it assembled by an expert. Too much ventured --- nothing gained. Lesson learned when there is a job to do, give it to someone whose job is to do it.

This evening I received an email from Blake Norwood the RD at Umstead reminding runners that the withdraw deadline is fast approaching. I am depending on my performance at Rocky Raccoon and Iron Horse to gage my ability to finally get this monkey off my back. Ummie please be kind!

Speaking of Umstead, yesterday I joined two of my fellow snails on their last 10 miles of a 50 miler. They both looked very strong – I am sure that they will do very well in April.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Friends, New Toy, New Pain

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Baltimore Area Triathlon Club at the MAC. This appears be a nice group of people that I look forward to training with for the upcoming triathlon season. My only concern is that they may be a bit too intense for my laid back approach to training. I don't know if I can fully make the attitude adjustment from "hopefully finishing a race in the same day I started" to being concerned about "racing" and transition time splits.

My new Kestrel Talon Tri arrived today. It looks nice but it does not the sexy lines of its 20 year old Kestrel 4000 grandfather. I may be a bit myopic in my assessment - It is hard to fault your first real love! I feel like I am committing adultery by just having the new bike in the house. Heaven forbid the day that I have them both in the same room.

I met with the Trainer yesterday; she did some measurements and did not think we were progressing well enough. There is only one solution – She needs to kick my ass more. No more Ms. Nice – hello Madam Pain. Now it could be coincidental, but tonight the Swim Coach decided that it was time to kick up the intensity of the pool workout. I had my best workout in a long time – first time I can remember getting out of the pool and sweating! I hurt but it is a good hurt.

Time for bed I have a 15 mile run and a spin class in the morning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What’s Up

I have been a bit remiss in my posting. This is mostly due to my readjustment to being a working stiff after a long Vegas vacation.

I started back with my workout routine. I am working with the Personal Trainer twice a week and the Swim Coach once per week. The PT is working mostly on posture and flexibility while the Swim Coach is focused on building endurance over the next two months. The MAC had an informational meeting for their Triathlon training group. I really hope that they are able to get this going for the 2009 season since I need all the help I can get.

As predicted the gym is overcrowded with the New Year's resolution crowd. There is a comical collection of newbies:

  • The obese twenty something's in the front row of the spin class who ask the instructor to slow down
  • The 40 something men that dress like Olivia Newton John in the 80's Let get physical video. Headbands and wrist bands are not needed to walk on a treadmill.
  • The creepy "lounge lizards" that hangs out in the stretching area and stare
  • The I prefer cologne vs showering guy that grabs the treadmill next to me
  • The "we are in love" middle age couples that need to be close to each other – I actually had someone ask me to move to another treadmill so they could be next to their spouse!
  • An my favorite - those who sit on the equipment and talk

What abyss did all these people come from? Did a Krispy Kreem or all you can eat buffet go out of business?     

My running is going well. I signed up for another ultra the Iron Horse 100K. This looks like a low key event that will be a good follow up to the Rocky Raccoon 50. Both of these races will give me a better feel if I should go for the 100 at Umstead or back off to 50.

Swimming is going very well. I am swimming 30 minutes nonstop 4 times a week. I am planning to increase this to 40 minutes next week.

I am doing a lot of spinning but not too much outdoor biking. This needs to change soon. I just ordered a new Kestrel Talon. So once it is received I will need to get some serious road miles in.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back from Vegas

Well, I am back from my excursion to Las Vegas, all considering it was a restful week. The flight and hotel arrangements went as planned.

Last Saturday, I ran the Running from an Angel 50 miler. This is a nice low key race alongside Lake Mead which is about 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. The Race Director Joyce and her volunteers give super service to all the runners.

Given my recent injuries, I decided to take this race real slow. I hit the 25 mile turnaround around the 5 hour mark and finished in 11:37. This was a little slower than last year but I finished injury free and that was the goal.

Time to start training for Rocky Raccoon.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Going to Vegas

I decided to keep my plans and head out to Vegas for the Run from an Angle. My back feel a little better and I am going to attempt the 50 miler.

I spent the afternoon packing for the trip-- two large bags that are barely below the weight restrictions. I always pack too much crap; believing that is far better to have it and not need it rather than not having what I need.

The limo is scheduled to pick me up at 4:30 for my 6 am flight. I tried to check in on line this morning but all I got was a message that the system could not check me in and an airport check in was required. Hopefully there is nothing wrong with my tickets. I pray that I won't be bumped from first class to cattle class. I am scheduled to arrive in Vegas in the afternoon and will be staying at the Hooters Hotel. Friday will be a pretty mellow day and early to bed.

The race starts at 6 on Saturday. The temperature is in the mid 40's to 50 with high winds. That sounds like a repeat of last year and is going to suck! My stretch goal for this race is 10 hours but I will be content if I just finish the race upright and without major injuries. Following the race I will head back to the hotel and out on the town for a steak dinner and a bit of light entertainment. I don't plan on doing too much movement…just want to sit in a comfortable chair and have someone bring me drinks. Depending on the damage done to my body, I may try to get a massage on Sunday at the Hard Rock Spa.

I haven't had time to do a reflection on 2008 and a new year's kick off posting for 2009. I will try to get something up over the next few days.