Saturday, April 28, 2007

Water Crossings at Mohican

Gabe, Regis, and I arrived at 8am at the Covered Bridge. We were going to run the "Blue Loop", a 4 mile loop on the 100 Mile Course. Gabe was a newcomer to Mohican, who is running it in 6 weeks!! with the rest of us, but has never been on the course. We had fun introducing Gabe to this pretty little section, complete with a climb UP, over roots to the top of one waterfall, 2 miles in between, then a climb DOWN the next waterfall!
We finished right in time, at 9 am, to join the two others running with us today, Dave and Kyle. We started up the "red section" and the four guys quickly pulled away from me. I was having problems breathing on this hard uphill section; I don't know whether it was because I tried to use my inhaler without getting my breathing settled. I hit the top of the hill and had to make two bathroom breaks. After this, the last guy was completely out of sight and I knew I was on my own!!
No worries. I knew exactly where I was going, and while I do love having folks to chat with, I was also fine being by myself. That's what is going to happen on race day.
The red section at Mohican has three water crossings. After the flash flood storm of last July, the stream beds have become cut much deeper. It has rained in the area all the past week, so I was confronted with this at water crossing #1:

Hmm. I waded in cautiously. The current was swift. I got midstream and got stuck. I lifted my leg to step onto a flat rock--and the current started to carry my foot downstream. I stopped completely. Now what? I finally summoned the courage to quickly plant both feet on the slick flat rock--since I carry so much natural ballast around, I didn't get swept away. Whew!!
Water crossing #2 comes just 4/10 of a mile further on. (I know, because my Garmin was actually working today.)
The second crossing was not so bad, the water was just up to my thighs.

Water Crossing # 3 was a different story. The stream bed has become much deeper after the July storms. I was actually worried here. There was no way I was crossing right here. So I headed downstream. I walked and walked, trying to find a spot to cross!! I was actually considering heading back uptrail, when I found a spot I could actually see the bottom in. I made my way across, the water again up to my thighs. The guys got a kick out of this crossing, because the water actually came up to their groin area--so they knew it would be about waist high on me. I told them if I hadn't had my camera with me I would have just swam across.
After this, I was walking uphill, eating (of course!!) and I run into a female runner headed downhill. This was Karen or Kathy (in my running brain depleted state I can't remember) who has run Mo before; knew who I was; might sign up this year despite her bout with pneaumonia! I must have spent ten minutes or so chatting with her, then I was getting cold and had to move on. Now I knew for sure the guys would be done WAY ahead of me!!
The red section ends at the Rock Point Aid Station. This is where the green section begins, which will take us back to the Covered Bridge. There is another water crossing here, 1.4 miles into this section:

This one I scan carefully, and wade through. Again water to my thighs. Have I mentioned I am 5'2"??

The water crossings get all the attention on this run. I wore my Injinji socks, with my "Dollar Store" thin socks over them. No blisters!!! Good deal. My feet were wet and muddy throughout the run, yet came through.
I wore my Atalanta Running Skirt and have to give them high marks. The shorts never rode up; totally comfortable; and the two pockets rocked!!! They stashed my inhaler, camera, cookies, and later, my empty Adrenalin shot. I will look to buy a new pair if they happen to be at the Flying Pig Expo; OR I will just buy online.

This was not my best run. I had the breathing issues at the start of the red loop; then I didn't have my normal running pattern on the downhills. My knees felt funny. I have no idea why. I just couldn't flow as well as I normally do on the downhills. I will chalk the run itself as "average" but my usual Mohican experience was awesome, as always!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The running gods smiled

And must have taken pity on me. It was 515pm, I had just gotten back with my dinner, and the computer folks tell me..well, it's going to take a little longer than expected. A little hiccup. It might be 7 or 8 before they release the product.
Cool!! I'm going running. Always have the running clothes with you, people, you never know when a run will happen! I went to my little trail next to the park. It had greened up in my absence. It was a good run. I felt muscles work, I felt tension lessen, I smelled sweat. Ahhhhh! It was nice to have that unexpected run happen.

Of course, I am now back at work. It's going on toward 9pm and I am still waiting for my computer install to I can validate and then enter all the drug orders received all day long.

I bet I am working short hours tomorrow!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Trail Run Mohican

It was a good trail running day at Mohican. I awoke at 1130pm to the sounds of heavy rain, I yawned and turned over. I was going to run at Mohican regardless.
Since it was a few miles north, that area had snow instead of rain. It was 31 degrees at start, 36 at the finish. 4 other runners came out, Mike, Ken, Rita, Regis Jr and myself. The orange loop is staged quite a bit on the mountain bike trail, and it's in very good condition. Trail was wet and muddy, but nothing like shoe-sucking mud. The 'fasties' headed out in front of me, and I had to yell at them a few times for wrong turns-I was the tour guide of the group.
The mountain bike group has done some work on the trail, cut a few new sections in order to let old sections rest; I have been very impressed with their work out on the trails. There were also some other new trails being cut too.
We stopped for water and some PB wafer cracker cookies that I had enterprisng, hungry chipmunk or squirrel had chewed through the middle of the box and started in on them before we had our share! We ate the ones the critters had not touched and left the rest of the them. There must have been some sugared out squirrels at Mo this afternoon!
The North Rim Trail Section is only 1 mile long but it has three big climbs in it. We then hit the Hemlock Gorge Trail, 2 miles long, which leads to the campground where the CB is. Ken points out a higher trail around some of the low spots at the river level..doh. I never even saw that. Last time I ran the loop, I went right into the river, since the river was up!!! Not needed now!
Ken was doing great until he rolled his ankle with about one mile to go. We got back to the CB and wonder where Regis and Mike were-especially me, since Reg had my car key!
Ken Reg and I go back out on the "blue loop". The Blue is a lovely 4 mile portion, which showcases two waterfalls. I have been trouble finding the trail for Little Lyons Fall since the bad storms and blown down trees of last summer. Between both Reg and I, we found Little Lyons Fall and remembered how that section of loop went. Ken enjoyed the hand over hand root climb to the top of the waterfall. That's always such fun! We didn't run the whole blue section, just cut over the second waterfall, Big Lyons Fall. Big Lyons Fall has a much better trail to it, so it gets lots of tourist traffic in good weather. Not so today, the trails were all to ourselves. Nice that way!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Misc thoughts from Umstead

1. Practice eating things you wouldn't normally eat. The normal foodstuffs you have ingested...might not be so interesting 24+ in. I can eat PB&Ritz; crackers usually; I love them! But I wasn't so interested in them at 8am (26 hours into race).
2. Practice eating different things. practice practice practice! I found the "Pocky Sticks" that I love (eating them now) I did not like eating while out on the 100. Consequently, it was all I had to eat between aid stations on loop 4, so I really didn't eat.
3. Note: I did NOT try eating hamburgers or hot dogs during training runs. However, it sounded good at the aid station, and since I have a pretty good stomach, I thought it was worth it to get the calories into me. I did recognize early on I need calories into my body. And I didn't have any problems with the hamburger, hot dog, pizza, soups, that I ingested along the way. So should I have eaten that hamburger and/or hot dog? Those are questions you will have to answer for yourself on the run. I felt they would not affect me adversely; and I needed the calories. It turned out to be the right decision for me, but that is just an experiment of one!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Flying Pig Marathon

I'm in. I just signed up this morning. I was waffling whether I should spend the time over on Mohican, or the weekend away in Cincinnati, and I decided to go for it. I would like to improve my marathon PR a bit. I've been wanting to run the Pig since I began running, and it always seemed like I wasn't 'trained enough' for it. Well, I am pretty much trained up for it, and it will be a good training run for me. It sounds like Mike and I can drive down together, and hopefully I can crash at Josh's place too.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Thinking abou the Future

Okay, first post after Umstead about races:

April 14 or 15th-run the Orange Loop on the Mohican Course;

April 20-mebbe: 20K run in WV, the The Big Bear 20K

April 28: 10K Trail Race at
The Wilds where I discovered trail racing. The start of all my passion. I may not actually do this, I may go over and run at Mohican, but I have to give a shout out to where this whole nonsense passion of mine started at.

May 6? The Flying Pig Marathon in Cinti? Talk to me people. Who is running this? Can we crash at Josh's place? Can I ride with someone? This might be a good training run. And I've been wanting to run the Pig for the last few years.

May 11 12 13-Mohican Training Weekend. As far as I know right now, run the road portion out and back from Rock Point Friday night; then the other sections the rest of the weekend. I'm sure Roy and I will talk and get things planned out. Roy and I somehow seem to be in charge of this.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Umstead Endurance Run-Just a Run in the Park

Umstead Endurance Run is a loop course, 8 loops each 12.5 miles long. I have heard this makes it a race with a good attrition rate, since it is so easy to make it back to HQ and drop. I never really thought about it in those terms. I just focused on the loops. I really didn’t think of each ‘loop’ per se, for the first 4. It was just a matter of getting them done.

Loop One 2.47 6am to 847am
Loop Two 2.56 847 am to 11.43am
Loop Three 3.30 1143am to 1314
Loop Four 3.43 1314 to 1858
Loop Five 3.50 1858 to 22.49
Loop Six 4.17 22.49 to 306 am
Loop Seven 4.27 306 am to 733am
Loop Eight 3.46 733am to 11:20 am

It was a great day for running, fairly cold (and especially for NC’ians) somewhere in the 40’s-perfect for Buckeyes who had barely had any warm temps! The race starts with a ½ mile somewhat rocky dirt road from the campground (Camp Lampihio) and then turns onto this wonderful wide white bike path. The path is at least ten feet wide, made of white granite or limestone. It’s a softer surface, no rocks, just beautiful. I knew about the surface ahead of time, so I made sure I had my Dirty Girl gaiters on, and had Velcro on each pair of shoes I had brought.

I ran the first two laps too fast. I ran into Helen Malmberg, at the start, who was at Mohican last year, and is the Race Director of the Haliburton Ultra. She introduced me to Ruta Mazelis, who turns out to live in just about a neighboring county in Ohio, was the RD of the Dan Rossi Memorial Ultra, and knows some of the same runners I do. She is running the 50 miler, so she and I chat for the first five miles of the race. She tells me to go on around that time, and I run on ahead. The course is really nice. There are hills here, although I did make the mistake and say ‘what hills’ when Steve asked me about them later in the race. (ANY incline is a hill after twenty-some hours.) These hills are a little more gradual but long, kind of relaxing and casual in the early hours of the race to power hike up.
“Patience is a virtue.” I was impatient that second and third loop. I wanted to run. I wanted to log those miles in. I held back as well as I could. It’s hard when you’re a newby. But I knew I had many miles to go (somewhere I knew that, in the back of my head, I didn’t think about it so much).
I knew the fourth loop would be tough. It was predicted to be a high of 72 that day, and I had was not acclimated to that at all. It turned out that Raleigh Airport posted an official high of 79 degrees that day. I ran that faster that I should have with the heat. I was eating and drinking, but it seemed like I really wasn’t sweating too much. Or peeing much, considering I thought I was getting water in me. (I was taking Suceed caps every hour for electrolytes.) I was, however, getting sun burnt!!! I had liberally coated myself with sunblock at the start of the race, but I could feel myself turning pink like my shirt. The aid station had some lotion for me to use. (Later I did find I had tucked my sunblock bottle into my own drop bag.)
Toward the end of the 4th loop I was “thinking too much”. And everyone knows most ultrarunners don’t think too clearly after a few miles down the road. I knew I would be finishing the first 50 miles in over 12 hours. For some reason I thought I only had 24 hours for the race. What? There was no way I could do another 50 in less than 12 hours. Panic set in. Then I forgot what I was thinking about, probably got amused by some wisteria at the side of the road.. Minutes later I remembered it was a 30 hour race. Okay! I was really looking forward to meeting up with my pacer Steve Leopard.
Thank goodness for cell phones and reception in the park. Steve and I made contact as I started my fifth lap, he linked up with me after 2 miles. His brother in law, Troy, also joined us for the lap, which was very cool, because the constant talking helped. I have learned that it is good for a pacer to talk, it stimulates the runner. Steve and Troy talked to me, and also chatted with each other. Troy has just moved to NC from Ohio, and Steve was telling Troy all about the park.
Once it turned dark, I didn’t ask what time it was at all, although I knew it was around 11pm when Troy left so he could get out of the park. Of course, I then completely forgot to take my Succeed caps all night, because I was taking them every hour.
Steve was great. He talked to me, we chatted about races, running, drugs (I’m a pharmacist) health care; he made sure I was eating enough and drinking. When we had to stop at the Red Cross Station (twice) to bandage up my feet he went out to my drop bags and got whatever I needed out of them.
I would say the fifth lap was the hardest mainly because I just hadn’t been up 24 hours since college days (long long ago). I would feel bad, then I would feel good. Then I would feel bad, then I would feel ‘not so bad’ then it might even swing back to feeling good again. It was true then, about what I had read about ultras: there will be bad patches. Be patient, they will go away, to maybe become good patches. I kept having this vacillating up/down mentality going on.
Steve had to stop pacing me after this lap, because he was having knee issues, which he knew beforehand (and I knew too.) It has to be tough being a fast runner and then tone it completely down to a shuffle/walk.
I picked up my iPod for Lap 7. I also picked up Ann, as my last pacer! She caught up to me as I headed out. Ann was part of the volunteer pacer group that Umstead had set up, runners out there volunteering their time to shepherd us poor runners in. Ann actually had been a shepherd in her past career, and still had sheep on her property, along with her ten dogs. It was great to have Ann with me, she did a good job of talking to me, keeping me going, making sure I was drinking and eating.
I was wobbling on this lap, although I did have the mentality of ‘7th lap. 7th lap’ going. I had read “it is darkest before the dawn”. This is when armies attack, when you are the most vulnerable, the least with it. I had also read that you will feel better when the sun comes up. And you know what? It was true.
Ann and I hit the HQ around 730am. I finally looked at my watch at this time. I had not glanced at the time since dusk. I asked what the cutoff time was at the next aid station. I was told the cutoff was here, at 8am, they wouldn’t let anyone start the last lap if they weren’t in before 8am. So I made it, all I had to do was the last lap!
Yeah, right. Ann said she would like to go out with me again, and I was all for that. We walked the first six miles. I was so afraid of blowing up, I didn’t want to lose it for the last six miles. Now I understand how people drop out after 80 or 90 miles of a race. My leg buckled once or twice and I just kept moving. Blisters were growing on my feet, yet out of the aid station, I really didn’t see what I could do about it-just go forward.
Another volunteer pacer joined us around mile six, Rob I believe is his name. He did not end up with any runners, but was going to run ahead and see if anyone needed help. At the time I was DFL (dead fing last) which was just fine with me. You know what they call the last person across the finish line? A finisher. I asked him to see if there was any coffee left at the aid station, because I had drank all my Adrenalin energy drinks and had been caffeinating myself since about 4am on.
We got to the aid station and they yelled at us to keep going they would bring our drinks to us. I got a little scared here, because this was the first time I thought about not making the time limit. Ann and I shuffled forward, and Ann checked her watch, and asked me if it was important to just get the 100 miles, or finish in the official time. I told her I wanted to complete the race within the time cutoff. This was when she said something about “we’ve got two hours to go 3.5 miles so we’ve got to move.” So every downhill, she suggested we shuffle down it. I would say yes to about her every suggestion about the shuffle. The blisters were growing. I knew the course so well by this point I knew every little downhill. We kept going forward and forward. We hit the last good downhill, and actually saw other runners ahead of us! Huh!!
I knew after this downhill, we crossed a bridge, had another uphill, and then it was one mile to the turnoff to the campground. We caught more runners here, and passed 4 or 5 runners on the hill. Ann kept me shuffling forward.
The mile between mile 11 and 12 has to be mismarked. It was at least 4 miles long. I kept looking for the turnoff to the campground.
OHMYGOD there it was. Finally. I knew I could do it. We were well within the cutoff. We hobbled over the rocky road for the last ½ mile. The runner in front of me stopped to pee in the woods. I was amused. I was not stopping for anything at this point.
I heard my husband yelling at me from the top of the hill and I gave him a “Whoohoo”.
He said to run and as I hobbled up the hill I said I was running. About ten feet from the finish line, I sprinted it –I was done!!! 100 miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 2, 2007


" You've got two hours to do 3.5 miles so we best get moving."

-Or something similiar to those words from Pacer Ann at the remaining miles from Umstead. I found this quite hilarious..but oh so true.

I finished in 29 hours 20 minutes.

More to come soon, but first:

-it is true about the bad patches. There will be bad patches, then they will go away.To hopefully become good patches.
-it is darkest before dawn. And watching that second sunrise come up does make you feel better.
-no food really looks good after twenty some hours.
-any small uphill (despite any earlier scoffings about what hills on the Umstead course) become hills after twenty some hours of running.
-pacers are angels in running shoes. THANK you Steve and Ann!!!!