Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cheat Mt Moonshine Madness Race Report


I chortled and giggled out loud as I came up with this on my way to Aid Station 4 for the dreaded DNF. Yes, the DID NOTHING FAST lead right to the DID NOT FINISH.

But I digress.

I got down to the 4H Camp in Beverly around 3 pm, where we had a grand time trying to rest up under the trees. It was fun to have time to just sit around and chat, yet very hard just waiting for that 9 pm starting time! In talking to Bradley Mongold about the Allegheny Trail Speed Attempt I also met Rebecca Trittipoe, who holds the speed record on the Allegheny Trail. Rebecca did this run, solo, with no previous knowledge of the trail except the Alleghey Trail Guidebook. I was very impressed with her cojones!

The race got off to a prompty 9 pm start in the dark. The fast! pack went out down the dirt road, and I found myself alone in the back. Not a big deal, I needed to run my own pace.

The first 4 or 6 miles or so seems to go through Redneckville. Lots of barking dogs, which being the last runner through, I hoped were still caged up. A few random vehicles going up and down the dirt road also made me a bit nervous.
The climb began almost immediately. Ugh! It was a non stop gradual climb up over about 12 miles. It was on a dirt gravel road. It seemed like it would never end.
I was totally alone out there, and fine with that, except for the mile or so with the baying coon or bear dogs treeing something, and I could hear mens voices in the woods.
I need to learn how to walk uphill fast. Gombu had tasked me to do this last year about this time, and have I been practicing it? Nope.

I did get to an area where the tree cover fell away, and the sky opened up. I turned off my headlamp briefly to look up and see the black black sky and all the twinkling stars. Then I noticed I was walking into the ditch and thought I should get back to my task at hand.

What was the trail marked with? The trail was marked very well with flourescent markers about 1 foot tall. Your light would catch these and it looked like a day glow stick. There were also glow sticks that were activated out on the course.

After Aid Station 2, I was instructed to follow the Christmas lights onto the trail...TRAIL!! Finally! I started down the cushy mossy trail, gave out a WOOHOO happy to be off the climb and the dirt road.

This section of trail is very overgrown with pine trees. The trail is defined here, but around your shoulder level, the pine trees have grown into the trail. It's hard then to see down to your feet, and as this section went on, I'm sure many of us runners have a nice rash due to the repeated brushings with the pine needles!

I switched on my second light here. I was carrying a second headlamp, which I wrapped around my hand held bottle. This helped illuminate the trail better. This was still slow going. Most of my night trail runs are on the Mohican Trails that I am familiar with. With this race, an unknown trail, you have no idea what your next foot ahead of your light is going to be. I almost went into a big swampy puddle before quickly jumping to the right to circumnavigate the mosquito breeding ground.
I really enjoyed the single track. It was very still in the forest. No tree frogs here, so no chirping.

So when was I going to get to AS # 3? It was only five or 5.5 miles. I brought my watch up and was shocked to see it was 1.30 am already. Where had my time gone? If I didn't get to AS#3 soon, my 3am cutoff at AS # 4 was going to come into play.

Crikey, I didn't come into AS # 3 until 2 am! Mongold was here. He told me it was 5.5 miles until AS#4 and the 3 am cut off. He was being positive "well, if you really push it..." I laughed and said "I dont' think so!" but I was going to continue on and enjoy my journey. At AS #4 were the drop bags, where I had dry clothes, so it made sense to go on and time out there and have clothes available.

I had plenty of time to reflect on why I was so slow. Was it the big climb, that I was so slow out? Certainly a night trail run on single unknown track I was slower than normal. Could most of it revolve around the extra 25 lbs I am carrying around my waist? I think it's the last. I need to lose weight, step out of my slow comfort slog of running to get faster.

I finally reach AS#4, one hour after the cut off. I hear Joel yell "is that Kim? And I reply, yes it is I. He says I am past the cut off. I cajole them (jokingly!!) to let me go on. At my current rate of speed, I should finish the race by Tuesday or so! I hurriedly changed into my dry clothes, had some wonderful soup made by Soup Master Willie (and a cup of his nice ale!) and warmed up by the fire.

A nice crew member took me back to the finish, and I slept in my vehicle for two hours before the ride home. I'm pleasantly tired again now, after another 2 hour nap.

The inaugural race was nicely planned, the markings were excellent, the Aid Stations Rocked!! It was a good time out in the woods of West Virginia!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Asphalt: My Kryptonite

Or "My Parkerburg 1/2 Marathon Race Report"

Whew, I don't know what is wrong with me today! Post race, I feel like crap!! I feel like I've run a hard ultra rather than a 1/2 marathon1!

This was about the nicest weather I've run the Parkersburg 1/2 marathon in. It was quite cool at the start at 8am. About ten steps into the race, I could feel the big rock that is still nestled in my right quad. Left quad was fine, no strain or pain there! The pain continued as I ran. I haven't run the P1/2M in the last two years, so I was amusing myself as I ran, trying to remember what was up ahead on the course. My quad felt quite painful on the downhills, and I actually felt better running on the uphills-yeah go figure!

I think I was favoring my leg a bit, since then my hamstring on the same leg began to hurt. The asphalt was not being kind to me. Eventually both my hip flexors started to hurt also. I stopped at a water stop to fill my hand held, and walked a few steps-and WOW, that hurt more to walk than to run! So I kept running!

Parkersburg puts on a real nice race. There is a bunch of people who camp out at the end of their driveways and cheer on the runners. Water stops are plentiful and full of enthusiatic volunteers.

In the last 1/2 mile, I passed quite a few women who were now walking. I chicked one guy but he doesn't count, since he was trying to coax two female friends into running to the finish.

Once I got home, I did the ice bath thing. Then I took a two hour nap. Then I got up and ate a tomato and cheese sandwich. And I still feel like crap! My quad feels okay, but the hamstring is still sore. We're invited to our friend's house down the road, so I may walk/stumble down there and see if I can work out some kinks.

I've been invited to run on Gabe's trail loop Sunday. I may go and just walk a loop of it. I've got a race Friday night to rest up for!

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Back! The Race Nightmare!

I haven't had one of these in two, my race was not a diaster, it hasn't even happened yet. It was my dream last night. I usued to have these hilarious race-gone-wrong dreams. And now, another..

I was down in Parkersburg to run a marathon. There were only about 20 or so runners around the starting line. I had to use the bathroom, but knew the race would start any second. (Like an ultra start, just a casual go.) So I kept eying the official and looking for a luck.

Finally he says go! And we're off. The area we are running in is the old downtown, with many little streets. But there is also trouble on the race course, some markers are missing. Volunteers are yelling, "take the fourth street! The fourth street! No, not that 4th Street!" It's hard, for someone running, to distinguish an alley from the street. I finally make the turn, and them immediately am directed, four steps later, to a hard left turn. Then more volunteers yelling for a hard right. WTF? The markers are on the corners of the street. They are giant (3 foot tall) green glow sticks. Except that it is daylight, and hard to see. As I cross an intersection, I almost collide with the lead runners. Then I can see what they have done to the the course. In able to keep it mainly in the downtown, we're literally running a maze, full of sharp lefts and rights.

The hell with it. I decide to DNF right there. I still have to pee, and I don't feel like twisting an ankle with all these sharp turns. I go in search of a bathroom. Somehow I end up in a really dirty Burger King resturant, full of really dirty people. It turns out this is also the bus stop for cross country travel. And the bathroom has toilets, but there are no cubes. I decide not to use the toilets and go back outside. I run into a friend who also dropped, because she got lost on the course.

Now, for some reason, the entire town comes out to cheer on the 25 marathon runners. There are literally a few hundred volunteers. But the course just sucked. I'm really crabby when we find our way to the finish, to get our chips taken off. I tell a few people along the way how much their course stinks (really I was being such a bitch!).
There are about ten people at the finishing tent, and I again complain about the race. I say, you know, you have all these volunteers, and people cheering on the race. Maybe you shoud consider a 1/2 marathon.
Some vapid woman looks at me, and asks "What's a half marathon?"
I stare at her, trying to figure out how she can be so stupid and still sucking air. I say "it's a half marathon. A half marathon". Doesn't that tell you exactly what it is? She still does not comprehend. I say, really slowly "It's half a marathon. Half the distance. 13.1 miles.." I wonder how she can be so stupid. I leave the tent before I kill her for her stupidity, still in search of a port-o-potty. Finally! Three of them! I open the first. Yes, it's a potty, but there's no toilet. It's just like a room. The second potty is free, but the toilet seat is on the floor. WTF? I kind of just squat and finally pee. The door has a big crack in it and people can see in but I just don't care.

We finally drive away from the race, and I'm still crabby in the car about the race.

Whew! End of dream. It must have been the BLT for dinner. I'm usually not crabby at all about a race. I wonder where that came from!

Monday, August 11, 2008

North Fork Mountain Run Report

This is the third year I have travelled down to WV and ran with the club at North Fork Mountain. North Fork Mountain is in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. Seneca Rocks is the famous hunk o' rock in the picture:

The rock is composed of fine grains of sand that were laid down approximately 440 million years ago, in an extensive sheet at the edge of ancient ocean. Years of geologic activity followed, as the ocean was slowly destroyed and the underlying rock uplifted and folded. Millions of years of erosion stripped away the overlaying rock and left remnants of the arching folds in formations such as Seneca Rocks.

I got to the campground early, and set up camp, changed clothes, and ran over to Seneca Rocks. There is a trail, pretty technical, that leads up to the top. I ran part of it-well, maybe more of the flats on the switchbacks. There is a spectacular view from the top.

Yes, I was up at the very pointy top of the rock!

The club members were all pulling in as I returned to camp. It was good to see everyone, although many of us had run at Big Bear Lake two weekends ago, so we had just been together!

The next morning, the caravan got off to a prompt start. We start at one end of the trail, and run the entire length. Instead of climbing up to the trail head, it's a nice civilized drive to the start:

After a bunch of pics are snapped, it's time to go! We take off down the trail. I'm in the lead of the pack for about three minutes, then just about everyone passes me. I'm okay with that. This first half of the trail was my first trail run in WV-I just was not used to the rocks!
It took about a 1/2 hour or so for my muscles to wake up. My shins were really tight, and then the pain shifted down into my ankles-no doubt to the rocks that we just do not have here in Ohio.
Tony and Juli ran by as I was taking a bathroom break off the trail, and I caught back up with them and had a short chat before I got ahead of them down the trail.
Before long, I came upon the trail intersection where I had my breakdown two years earlier, and I smiled fondly, remembering my hissy fit. Just past this intersection is the hang gliding platform, that's what the wood is in this picture:

And no, I did not clamber up on the platform-no way!

I hit the half-way point (about 12+ miles) in three hours. This is the only place on the trail where there is access, via a scary old fire road. The WVTR Van was there, with snacks and plenty of water. I drank a bunch of water, refilled my two bottles, and started on the long descent down the fire road to the trail. We've said it's a mile, but it must be longer than that-it's a long downhill! I'm already feeling my quads protesting the downhill, so I know they will be screaming later (you descend about 2000 feet at the end of the trail).

Now I am on the 2nd part, that I ran last year with Sioban. She didn't come this year, which was too bad, because we had fun out on the trail. You get a bunch of various footing, views, and flora on this part. There were also two big uphills that I didn't remember from last year!

I kept waiting for the big rocky section. I thought I was farther along than I was. Given that it was now the early afternoon, I went through my water too quickly. I was out of water for at least 1.5 hours. Next year I will make sure to have three bottles with me. Despite being thirsty, I was having a wonderful time. The weather was PERFECT! Low humidity, a little breeze, lots of sun, not that hot! Not like it usually is!
I did have to stop and take some pics of the scenic views along the way.

I finally hit the rocky section that signifies the beginning of the end. At this point, Amy and Mike, from VHTC, come bounding by. They have completed the 24 miles, ran up the dirt road, took a side trail, and are now running the section again! I thought I was a good downhill runner, until they went by! By the time I looked up from my feet, they were gone!

The long downhill seemed like it would never end. I just wanted it to be over with, not because it was a bad day, or run, but I really wanted a drink of water!! I finally get to the bottom and get my own jug of water to drink!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cobweb Trail Run

I had a very good run today. A trail run, in 86 degrees F, with cobwebs everywhere. This also seemed to wipe the cobwebs off my running spirit. I've been in such a funk. No energy, no motivation. Being struggling with the motivation. I love to run, but when it's time to run...agh.

Then I read Luc's post today, about being happy. And it really struck a chord with me. His post, was " My "big picture" goal is to be happy; isn't that everybody's goal? I know that in order to be happy, I need to focus on the things that make me happy". Go see his post. It made me think, alot, at 630am.

Then, around 830 am, my phone rings, and I suspiciously pick it up (work line, private number..) it's an old friend. That I haven't heard from in about 2 years. He's started running, and wants some input. Wants to know if I am still running marathons. I start laughing, and mention ultra marathons. And then get the conversation back to my friend. He's tweaking things that make him happy. His career is good, and now he is 'tweaking' his life, for things he knows make him happy.

Wait. Didn't I just read that in Luc's post? Then Rafi calls, 2 hours later? About making priorities about things that make you happy? Wow, these two friends are really empowering me to drag myself out of the current doldrums that I am in. And friends, I have been in the doldrums. No motivation. Little energy. I have just been feeling lifeless. But two friends, in about two hours, calling me out, wow this just made my day..

Rather a busy work day, I just focused on that fact that I have a great trail to run on here in town. I didn't think about being tired, or getting home in time to go visit with the neighbors. I thought about more how I am always so happy when I get out on this trail, in the winter how happy I am to be out there. I changed clothes at work, and went for a run,, 86 degrees and all.

It was a great run. Cobwebs everywhere. Especially in my face. Yuck! Raking them off my head as I ran. I tried to use a stick in front of me as I ran, but my trail is fairly technical, and I needed to watch my footing rather than the webs in front of me.

As I ran, the better I felt. I felt the cobwebs drain away from my body. I'm moving slower, but that's okay. At least I am moving. I'm sweating all these impurities and thoughts out of my body. I'm having FUN out here on the trail! This is what it's supposed to be about!

I felt better today, on this run, than I have felt in a month. I needed this run!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Burning River Happy Days Aid Station Report

Waiting for the runners to come in

Teamwork!! That's Shames, on Moose's shoulders, hooking up our electricity for the night
Cheryl is prepping cantelope while Zach checks for runners heading in

As I pulled into the parking lot at Happy Days in the C uyahoga Valley Natiolnal Park Syste, the delivery truck of supplies pulled in right behind me-perfect timing! As soon as t hey unloaded, the NEO Trail Contigency also pulled up and we began unloading and setting our our AS.
Happy Days is at Mile 70.3 of the Burning River 100. Our station is both a drop bag location and a pacer and crew access point, so we do get busy throughout the evening. We started a good system, though, last year, by cordoning off almost entirely our Aid Station to ONLY Runners. No family, crew, pacers hanging out waiting to pace, in our Aid Station. Some family and crew don't like this, and we estimated we probably pissed off about ten people (none of which were the runners.) But an aid station is for the CURRENT Runners (and pacers), not for the coming in runners. An AS is there to serve THE RUNNERS, nobody else. So it's much easier to cater to THE RUNNERS without lots of extra people milling around.
And cater to the runners we did. We had plenty of volunteers, so bottles were being taken from runners, filled with their choice of beverage. Runners were questioned on how they were feeling, drop bags fetched, food ladled out for them, cups of Coke held while they changed socks or wolfed down food.
With a local race, with your friends coming into the AS, sometimes it's hard to kick these people out. After I noticed Jerry still hanging out, I pretty much took him by the arm and led him out of the AS as he continued to talk! (Jerry, you spent 15 minutes at Happy Days!). Also, it seemed like many friends who looked well, bad last year, came through looking strong and happy-Opod, Paul, Mike George, Bruce-good to see you guys looking great! I was bummed to have missed Erie Tom somehow-I must have been in the portopotty or watching a runner on the cot-sorry Tom, but congrats on the finish!!

As the evening wore on, the runners came through and ate food! The cooler temps seemed to bring on an appetite-all good. All of us Aid Station workers kept putting on jackets, but it didn't get really chilly with us.

We had a very good group of workers. We would have 1-3 folks behind the table, ready to ladle up broth, noodles, mac & cheese, volunteers out front filling bottles, helping with drop bags. Someone would bellow out 'noodles and broth' and someone else would spring to get it ready-great teamwork gang!!

Our last five runners came through. One runner decided to end his night there. So our last runners were through our aid station-well before closing! I think they were at least 20 minutes or so before the cut off, so I didn't have to deal with any runners beyond the cut off time. Actually that idea didn't bother me, because I've been a runner whose timed out, so I could certainly understand their position. Our AS was actually dismantled and cleaned up and we were ready to leave by 2am!

Big thanks to all my Aid Station Workers-Jim, Heath, and Eric Harris, Bob & Shames Combs, Mike Keller, Elizabeth, James and Michael Sosan, Maria, Chef Bill Bailey, Moose, Brett and his wife Lesa, my parents, Jo and Jim Love, Cheryl Splain, Zach! Thanks for giving up a whole day out of your busy lives to support some crazy ultra runners-it was very appreciated!