Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Cake Walk 100 Mile Attempt

On December 1st, Lester Farmer and I set out at 5am to attempt running 100 miles from Palmetto Bible Camp to Oconee State Park.  Lester made it all the way to the other side of the Laurel Valley section by Whitewater Falls.  I only made it to the entrance to Laurel Valley which was about 35 miles. 

Garmin data for the first twenty something miles. Check out the elevation profile.

In my run I got to go across Jones Gap State Park, over Raven Cliff Falls, across Caesar's Head State Park, across the Watson Cooper Heritage Preserve, and up and back down Sassafrass Mountain.  Whew!  For the last 18 miles or so I battled cramps mostly in my quads but also in my back.  I kept pressing on the hopes that they would give up, but that never did happen.  I knew that once I entered Laurel Valley it would mean 33 miles of no turning back so that meant I really needed to assess myself on that last little 4.7 miles before getting there.

 Well, the first step I took downwards, my leg locked up.  I fell down the next few steps and landed on the leaf cushioned trail.   My quads were cramping so I would try to bend my leg, but then my quad would cramp in the way that it makes a huge dimple in the heart of the muscle.  I would try to straighten it out and the quad would speak up again.  The whole scene was pretty humorous to me so I started laughing.

Bad idea.  My little muscles around my ribs locked up.  That was even funnier, but since I didn't really have it in me to physically laugh, I just made a note of it and took in the coming sunset from the top of the tallest mountain in South Carolina.

 I knew that Meg would be driving like a bat out of hell to get to the bottom and set up the most elaborate and important aid station so far so there would be no hope of catching her in time to bail.  I considered going to the top and begging for a ride, but I thought that since I would not be finishing the whole run that I might as well do this last 4.7 miles.

Did I mention that downhills are what was killing me and that this section is all downhill climbing?  Fun stuff.

There is a road intersection about 2 miles from the bottom that I considered waiting until I could flag someone down, but then I figured I could make the last little bit.  I was worried about holding up Lester and Scott Hodukavich.  Scott had come up from Columbia to pace Lester and I through Laurel Valley.  Scott met up with me before I reached the bottom of the mountain and walked it in with me all the way to the entrance to Laurel Valley.  That was nice.  I convinced him that I was definitely not going to continue after much encouragement from him and he left to catch up with Lester who had left about 15 minutes earlier.

That is where my trail fun would end and the car cramping would begin.  Hips, quads, and stomach.  All of this suffering gave me great cause to sharpen my pencil on what I might do differently next time to be more successful.

Here's what I came up with:

I need to more consistently train.  I did long difficult runs, but doing theothers in between would have better prepared me.

Do more training bombing downhills.  Slamming down the hills seems to be theeasiest, quickest, safer, and more importantly, funnest way to get down steephills.  Unfortunately, because of my lackof sufficient training in this area, it really beat me up which became an issuewhen piled on top of huge climbs, more huge descents, and everything inbetween.
Core training. Squats, dead lifts, planks, side planks, supermans.  My back was killing me after all of thatsteep climbing, more than a little of it using all four limbs.
I had cut a v shape in the heel of my shoes because when Iran in them without socks it would rub on my Achilles and remove skin.  When running in those same shoes insemi-thick socks, my heel would all but slip out the back when climbing steepascents.  So, for big climbing runs,either wear a shoe with a more substantial heel cup or very thin or nosocks.
Weighing less would certainly help when doing that muchclimbing and descending.  I believe I amaround 185.  I would prefer more around160.  The number 1 culprit?  Beer.

Need to also focus on strengthening my hips.  Though some serious downhill running and moreconsistent training would help this.  Ithink some more focused work such as doggy peeing on the fire hydrant leg liftsand clock squats will help as well.

What worked well?
My ultraspire pack.  I usually carry a handheld as well, but I just used my pack.  With the crewing Meg Wempe did, the pack was enough.  I would have refilled out of the streams in Laurel Valley, but, other than that, I had more than enough fluid between aid.

Drymax socks.  I have never worn socks while running.  Though they created more slippage because of their cushion, I had no rubbed spots.  I never get blisters so that was unchanged.

Tights and a tight shirt.  No chaffage!

Meg Wempe-great crew person and someone that you can depend on to both be there and be there in good spirits.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Some "Epic" Stuff

Yesterday I set out with some other locals to tackle the The Foothills Trail Heartbreak Bench Marathon. You start out near the foot of the tallest mountain in South Carolina and weave the Foothills Trail through creeks and streams, passing some gorgeous waterfalls. When I run with my friend Meg I often will say in a sort of surfer dude voice "EPIIIIC!"

So, as I ran on in the woods seeing pretty things I would say it in my head in the surfer/stoner voice.

People dragging their feet never seem to sneak by me because it bothers me so much, but the whole calling every little thing that some person sees epic sits me right on the edge. If I could imagine someone justifiably going postal, I could see a High School english teacher being pushed over the edge by this.

From dictionary.com:


adjective Also, ep·i·cal.
1.noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer's Iliad is an epic poem.

For some reason, this definition rings true. However, someone making a slam dunk, running naked down a hall, or going to a concert, to me, does not constitute an epic event.

When you look at epic journeys, someone sets out to do something, the stuff hits the fan at least once or several times, usually in resulting in everyone thinking that the goal is now unachievable. Then, the hero overcomes the seemingly impossible odds and continues on until he achieves his end or is killed in some grand fashion. Stories that come to mind are the Alamo, Joan of Arc, and Odysseus.

For instance, read this excerpt from wikipedia on Moses:

"Moses' Hebrew mother, Jochebed, hides him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed, and the child is adopted as a foundling by the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slave-master, Moses flees across the Red Sea to Midian where he has his encounter with the God of Israel in the form of the "burning bush". God sends Moses to request the release of the Israelites. After the Ten Plagues, Moses leads the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they base themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses receives the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses dies aged 120, within sight of the Promised Land."

He murdered, talked to a burning bush, freed the Israelites, and got a book right out of God's hands. They don't even mention that he parted the Red Sea, got water out of a stone by hitting it with his stick, and won a stick/snake-off. The pharaoh had a couple of magicians that could turn sticks into snakes so they did. Moses took his stick, turned it into a snake and his snake ATE those other two snakes.

Now that is some epic shit.

Going to some trail race and doing exactly the thing that you had planned to do. That is far and away not epic at all.

The Geico commercial is a good example. The Gecko says that he is embarking on a journey of epic proportions. He is, but he is also 5 inches tall and is going to walk all over America and talk to every single person in it.

Remember, the dictionary is your friend, and fail is a verb, failure is the noun.

Here is a non-epic picture of numero uno.

Thank you to Brian Guzik for letting me use his pictures.

Have an epic week everybody!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fort Yargo State Park Thrill in the Hills 42K

The day before yesterday I ran my first marathon. It was the Thrill in the Hills trail marathon put on by Dirty Spokes at Fort Yargo State Park.

I was somewhat untrained in that I had ran about 4 or 5 runs in the preceding month, and, as a result, wasn't sure what to expect.

And that is exactly what I got.

The course is made of two 13.1 mile loops. I made my way around the first one in about 2 hours flat. I started to get the twinge of calf cramps and so would be the rest of my race. A little crampy, a little nauseous, and a little slow. I ended up finishing in 5:11. But, because there were so few racers at the full marathon distance and only three in my age group, I got the bronze medal for my age group.

When the guy called me up to get my age group award, I told him "I already got my finisher's award." He replied, "This is for coming in 3rd." I told him thank you, shrugged my shoulders, and put it on. Hardly worth a booming "BOOYA!" but I certainly wasn't going to hide my medal.

The one big thing I took away from this race is this: I have issues in races. Mostly with cramps or nutrition. I never have these issues in training. To me that means that I am not training hard enough in order to iron these things out so that I can perform better in racing. So, now, I have a fever, and the only prescription is more demanding and consistent training.

I'm off to train for the Foothills Trail 77 mile challenge on St Patty's Day. Take care everybody and if you want some, GET SOME!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Post workout roller for trail runners

This therapeutic roller will help smooth out those post-workout knots and is available in cedar for those odor challenged athletes.