Sunday, April 13, 2014

Have you ever wondered?

From time to time I've looked for race reports as a way of deciding if I wanted to do a race or not and sometimes to just try and estimate what kind of finish time I should shoot for.  I've come across several blogs that just ended as I'm sure they all do at some point but I've always wondered what happened to the people who wrote them.  I have known one person who's blog ended because they died but I suspect most people either just get tired of blogging or they stop doing whatever it is they were blogging about but I still wonder.

As for me, I've mostly just gotten tired of blogging.   I think about it from time to time but I've actually been a lot busier at work than is usual because I've changed jobs and the startup in the new job has been pretty time consuming.

However, I have not stopped running or Olympic lifting.  In fact I've even set a new marathon PR this year and I think the extra few minutes I was able to cut off my old PR is due to the lifting.

Anyway, we wrapped up the 2013 season by doing the Hawaii marathon and initially I thought I was going to try and PR there but it soon became apparent that it was way too hot and humid to do anything but survive.  To make matters worse there wasn't a single bit of breeze and practically no shade so it was SLOW, I think I ended up with something in the 4:20 to 4:30 range.  However, we stayed in Hawaii for a week and had an awesome time.  We snorkeled, surfed, kayaked, ran trails and did a lot of general sight seeing.

This year my biggest race is going to be the Run Rabbit Run 100 miler in Steamboat Springs, CO in September in an attempt to keep my Hardrock eligibility alive another year so before that I've been working my endurance back up and doing a lot of strength work.

So far my 2014 race schedule has included:
January 1st Foothills Fatass 50K, always a good way to start the new year and the weather was perfect.  We didn't get much snow over this winter, which I know is bad in drought stricken New Mexico, but it meant that the trails were largely mud and ice free though not totally.  It just happened that this race was my 80th marathon or longer race and I took 3rd overall in a time of 5:56:36.  Coincidentally, being a fatass race on New yYear day I think that also put me somewhere near the middle of the pack but it was fun anyway.

January 18th The Duel Trail Marathon in one of my old home towns , Wichita Falls, TX, where I spent most of my high school years.  I had not idea there were even any trails in Wichita Falls but they have at least one that was built for mountain bikes and it has all kinds of triply mountain bike obstacles on it, swinging bridges, ranks, narrow raised bridges, a big metal half-pipe and lots of twists and turns.  The marathon is two loops and it is easily the craziest run I've ever done.  I ran it in a time of 3:49:20 and was second overall and, strictly speaking, first masters.  The guy who won was actually 44 but since he took top overall honors I got first masters.

February 2nd I ran Rock-n-Roll New Orleans and all I can say is that the weather was as close to perfect as I think it's possible to be.  Well, that and New Orleans does have some awesome food but there could hardly be a bigger contrast between the people there to do the marathon and the vase majority of the people who were just there to eat, drink and smoke as much as they possibly could.  Anyway, it is a flat fast race and a pretty nice course overall but I was so focused on running hard and using so much energy to run that hard that I really have very little recollection of the course as a whole, more like an impression.  I ran a new PR of 3:24:31 and promptly got sick as hell the next day and that cold hung on like grim death...which is also how I felt.   The reason I am so sure that it's the Olympic lifting that has allowed me to run a new marathon PR is because it's the only thing that is different about my training since I started running.  My old marathon PR was 3:28:13 and I ran it almost four years and just over 40 marathon or longer races ago and I was maybe five to seven pounds lighter.

February 15th was the Black Canyon Trail 100K.  It was to be my return to really long distance running after taking a year away following the Grand Slam but it was not to be.  Both my wife and I had the same thought prior to driving out to Arizona, that I should not be doing this race.  I had been too sick too recently.  The day started out well enough but somewhere around mile 26 things started going badly.  I was slower and slower and getting weaker plus it was about 90 degrees out and I wasn't warm at all.  By the time I got to the 50K aid station I was shivering and coughing and I knew it was time to stop and so that's what I did, I DNFd at 50k.  My cold had come roaring back and while I might have been able to finish it would have been horrible and taken a huge toll; stopping was the better choice.

March 29th Forest Gump Challenge, MO - 4:41:59
March 30th Hogeye Marathon, AR - 4:09:46This weekend was just meant to be a state getting weekend in the quest to get 50 states and a good endurance training weekend.  The Forest Gump Challenge is a tinny little race that I'm not even sure how I found because every time I went to look for it to get more information it always took a while.  The race takes place in a very small town called Reeds Spring, which is maybe 20 miles or so from Branson.  When I registered for the race I couldn't find any information other than it was at least a marathon and possibly a 50K as well and it was in Missouri.  I registered for the 50K even though I wasn't 100% certain there was one, which I know seems weird because I registered for it but the actual registration pace was the only place that a 50K was mentioned, everything else I could find advertised their marathon and shorter distances.   The race ended up being a 3.1 mile loop on roads, a mix or state highway, "main street" in the middle of town and some residential road.  After the first loop I really thought it would be a dangerous race because about half was on the narrow to nonexistent shoulder of what was obviously the major street running through town and it crossed a state highway at two locations.  However, I actually never felt unsafe and didn't hear anyone say they felt unsafe.  The drivers were all very friendly and as far as I could tell always gave the runners right of way and a wide berth.   Also, despite the fact that it was 10 loops for the 50k I didn't find myself getting bored.  There was a fair amount of variety in the course and it was made up of about three distinct sections that made it easy to break down in your mind.  I ended up taking second overall three minutes behind a guy who was 27 years younger than me.  I was pretty happy with the result.

Day two of the weekend double was the Hogeye marathon in Fayetteville, AR.  In addition to running  the 50K the day before I had also run one additional lap of the course with Misty as she finished up her marathon so I had a little over 34 road miles in my legs at the beginning of the race.  Whenever we do these double weekends we are basically just in and out very quickly and we don't get to do much other than run and eat but it's a good way to see each location where we are running.  Most of the time this is fine with us because neither of us are very big on staying in one place and doing a lot of sightseeing.  We find that running 26.2 miles through a city gets us pretty much a lll the sightseeing we want but Fayetteville seemed like the kind of town that it would have been nice to spend an extra day in.  The course was a good one as city based marathons go.  A pretty large portion of it, maybe as much as half, was on nice paved bike paths and it included a trip around a lake set in a large city park.  I ran maybe the first half of the race pretty well, on pace for a sub-4 marathon but during the later half of the race the running from the day before really started to take it's toll and I began to fade back.  I figured that if I had only run a marathon the day before rather than 34 miles I probably would have gotten that day two sub 4 but I didn't so no big deal.  It ended up being a great training weekend and I actually still got 3rd in my age group.

April 13th Cedro Peak 45k is a reach that I had actually told myself I would never run because of how rocky I thought it was.  The race is put on by local friend of mine and the first year Misty and I ran an aid station and had a great time, the second year we were out of town as Misty and I were running a double in Washington and Oregon and this year we had it on our schedule to run the aid station again but it happened that we weren't called to do that so at the last minute I decided to sign up because I had missed several miles of training earlier in the week and felt like I really needed a good, long training run.  It turned out that the course wasn't nearly as rocky as I thought it would be.  I had just happened to run the very hardest sections of it in prior runs.  However, it is a rocky course and there are some pretty evil sections so it's nothing to be taken lightly.  Anyway, I projected that since I was training through the race and spent the evening before it doing a lot of squats at lifting that I would probably finish in about six hours.

My time ended up being 5:54:11, which was close to what I thought I'd do but the way I did it was not what I had imagined.  The first 20 miles or so wen't by better than expected and I think I was pretty far forward in the pack, maybe the leading edge of the mid-pack or somewhere thereabout.  However, right about mile 20 you start this long rocky climb that lasts maybe two and a half miles and that climb ground me down pretty badly.  By the time I got to the final aid station, which is 4.5 miles from the finish, I had recovered from the climb somewhat and was running pretty well on the mostly easy trails in that section but then the course turned upward again and I was seized by a serious cramp in my right adductor, the inner thigh.  It hurt like hell and I was in a position where I couldn't really bend my leg because when I did it would start to cramp again.  As I hobbled along the trail I was favoring my right leg so my left calf started to cramp too and it was pretty nasty, both legs cramping and the trail still climbing.  A few people asked if I was ok as they passed me and one person gave me so electrolyte capulets but the dam mange was pretty well done and I had to move really slowly on the uphill and rocky sections, basically anywhere that required I lift my legs.  If the trail sloped down or was smooth I was able to run with a gait that barely lifted my feet off the ground but that kind of trail was not particularly abundant in the last couple miles of the race.  In the last 4 miles my average pace for the entire race dropped by a minute a mile and i was passed by several people but I finished and once I started to get rehydrated and got some food I actually felt pretty good.  I had never cramped that badly or that persistently in a race before so I'm not sure if it was all the squats from the night before or the fact that this race has Heed as its electrolyte drink and I do not drink Heed because it makes me sick.  It was probably a combination of the two.  Anyway, I actually felt like I had a good race, I got what I came for and now that I've run the course i think I'd pretty happily run it again.  Not only is it always fun to run with friends but it's also nice to run a race that is actually run by friends.  Albuquerque has an awesome ultra community.

So, if you have ever wondered what happened to a certain blogger that suddenly seems to have fallen off the face of the earth it may just be that they needed a break from blogging and they are still as active as ever.