Going the distance

Life is like a long distance run. Most of the time you're looking forward, but occasionally you look back at what you've covered… You know there will be obstacles throughout the journey - but deep down, you know you can handle anything that comes your way. Most importantly... you keep putting one foot in front of the other and let 'NOTHING' stand in your way!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why do "Half" of anything?

I have never done a "Half" marathon because of a stupid thing I read once on why a full was better than a half. The logic was why do half of anything? Then I here people say things like, I'm "ONLY" doing the half.

So rewind back to New Years eve 2012. I set a resolution to do a official 13.1 race in honor of the 2013 year. So on New Years day 2013 I started of the year with a rainy 13.1 mile run.

Fast forward past the Sultan 50k, Columbia Marathon, Umstead 100, 12 hours of independence, Hinson lake 24 hour (100). Now October and I still have not even looked at a half marathon.

Monday October, 7th. I'm wasting time on Facebook and see a question from Greenapple Sports and Wellness. First two to answer a question win entry into the Rock-tober Fest half marathon. I won.

Race Day

Shoe decision was going to be a start line decision, settled because I only had one pair in the van. Hokas. Not exactly a speedy shoe.

I get to the race and pick up my Greenapple shirt. Then had to make my way to the Porta jon. I made it out with 3 min to the start. I pushed my way along the outside to get as close to the front as I can, and were off.

I don't put to much work into being fast. But never having done a half marathon my first would have to be a go big or go home effort. I set my sights on 1:45.

Pre said "The only pace is a suicide pace..." So I had to go for it. If I crashed and burned I would crash and burn. Everyone always says don't go out too fast. Since when do I listen to anyone?
1 7:31.3 1.00 7:31
2 7:40.9 1.00 7:41
I felt great for only being two weeks after my 100 mile finish. I started passing people and moving forward.

The first water station was not maned well. I held up 2 fingers to indicate I wanted 2 waters and had to grab for my second one. As I did I took the cup intended for the guy right behind me. I apologized and handed him the cup.

3 7:48.1 1.00 7:48
4 7:40.1 1.00 7:40
5 7:53.9 1.00 7:54
6 7:55.4 1.00 7:56
7 7:49.5 1.00 7:50
I kept pace along Josh James. He kept trying to talk but I was concerned with holding my pace. At that point I didn't know if I could hold it. And the music was keeping me moving.

Then my my hip flexor got cranky about mile 7. That is also when the hills started.
8 8:11.5 1.00 8:12
9 8:17.5 1.00 8:18

Then Josh took off past me. Then someone else passed me, and another, and another.
10 8:02.5 1.00 8:03
11 8:18.3 1.00 8:18
12 8:05.9 1.00 8:06

The finish was set up so you could see it from a long way out. With a little help from Metallica, I put the hammer back down. I pushed through the finish with everything I had left. had.
13 7:56.2 1.00 7:56
14 1:24.9 0.19 7:28

1:44:18 Just under my goal. I was ecstatic.

One lesson I learned after the finish was... Let someone else bend over and get the Gatorade for you. I held my own but definitely saw stars. I hit the free ART treatment from Greenapple. Then picked up some SWAG.

Will I do another? I don't know. But now it's done. It is a respectable distance with a dumb name. I think it is a great goal distance to train for. And will encourage people to do one.

Five weeks until I pace at Thunder Road Marathon. I better make a plan and get training.

Thanks to Scott Greenapple for setting me up with the entry.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A little less conversation...

Going into this years Hinson Lake Ultra Classic I decided it was time to focus. If I wanted 100 miles, I would need to simply shut up and run.
I camped at the Lake on Friday night. Staying in my van with no air mattress and a warm sleeping bag could have been worse, but I survived.
Pre race I mingled and got my stuff together. I packed as light as I could for a event like this. I had a box of Roctane energy GU 4 gallons of Nuun, and 3 pre filled bottles. I had a box full of medical supplies, tape, bio-freeze, sunblock, baby-wipes, ect...
Five minutes to the start I confirmed my goal of 100 miles, removed my hearing aids and started weaving my way to the bridge.
Jerry the RD was giving some pre race instructions... Wait!? Did he just say belt buckle for hundred mile finishers?

My focus just became a bit tighter.

I managed to push my way to the start line and line up with the elite runners. Savage and Bobby Cordell, Bobby asked me my plan. I told him my goal was to not think about it. I was here to run, and thinking would get in my way. And the horn went off. I went way to fast on the first lap at a 8:32 pace.

After crossing the bridge there was some initial confusion on who my lap counter was. I made sure someone documented my lap then continued on. Every lap through the day I tried to get confirmation my lap was counted. A few times I had to get the attention of some of the younger volunteers. When they changed shifts I tried to get their names and introduce who I was to them and thank them for helping count laps.

By lap 5 or so I found my grove and started sticking to a strict plan of walk the dam, walk the big bridge and up Mt. Hinson. Late in the day I decided running the bridge and walking up the hill to the turn and descending Mt. Hinson by running was better.

The day rolled on well, I stuck to my plan. Smiled for the camera, thanked the volunteers. Gave some high 5's and fist bumps. Hey wait that volunteer chatting with Jerry is Jason and his lovely wife Katie just handed me a drink. Cool they made it. But instead of stopping to chat I kept going.

But kept focus on the goal. I wanted to have 50 in before 6 pm. it was important to have 14 hours to get the back half of this done. I had watched Bobby Cordell and Jonathan Savage crash hard during the afternoon laps. I just prayed I could keep my pace up.

I have no Idea when Derrick arrived, but he was a welcome help. He was able to do a few laps here and there. His son Jake (10) was helping me keep pace but no way I still had his energy.

Side note: I have to really thank the Lashway family for their support the last 3 years at the lake. Derrick and his kids have been awesome in pacing, cheerleading and volunteering at the race. I never asked him for help this year but they took time to drive out on their own.

Miles 50-70 got a bit shaky and slow. I took a time out to get a 15 min massage before I needed it. My Garmin died so I had to set up a charger for it. I took a break to eat some solid food. Sent a few text. Chatted a bit and put on a shirt.

Around 10 PM I had slowed to 2 laps per hour and my right quad was getting tight. I took some Tylenol and bio-feezed the muscle. Derrick came out with me and we walked a lap. He tried to get me running again, but it was short burst. I started to do some math if I could finish in time with this pace. Then we did a second lap. At the first bridge I put my music back in and told him run the wood. We ran each wooden bridge until the the Hill, Then at the down hill I kept going. We made it back around and after I checked in on my lap Derrick was sucking wind and said GO! I can't keep up with that.

I picked up my now charged Garmin and cleared the first part of the run. Reset it to zero and I was off. I had to stay in the 12 min mile range to make this happen. 3 laps per hour. I really trained well for this part of the run doing numerous solo dark runs to prepare. I started lapping people overnight. I was wondering if they got tired of seeing me pass.

From that point on I only stopped to check in and get some cheers as I walked the dam. Charles, Jerry, Kelly and Derrick were there every lap. Cheering me on. The clear view of the night sky was perfect, it would be easy to sit and hang out for a while.

By the time I made 56 laps I started counting backwards on how many to go. After checking in on each lap my phrase was, "And there were 10, 9 , 8, 7,..."

As I came past the table around 5 am I finally made it on the leader board. I yelled out a loud YES! I didn't care if I woke anyone up.

With four laps to go I told Derrick I wanted him to come with me on my final lap. As I reached the end of the dam it happened. My I pod died. I remembered there was someone charging theirs on the porch. So I walked past back to the lodge and hijacked their plug. I put in my ears and slowly made my way back for a lap with out music.

As I passed people I heard some great jobs and words of encouragement. It made me wonder how many of those I missed through the day by being plugged in.

Now with 3 laps to go i picked up my I-pod hoping I had enough charge to finish. I found my 5k speed play list and blasted "Stone cold crazy" to push me through. My last mile was at a 12:19 pace. 22:05 on the clock as I crossed the bridge. 100. miles

I could have added some more miles to my total but was happy with my "HUNDO"

I hung out at the finish watching the sunrise and catching up with friends I had missed over the day. It was fun to watch the energy level pic up of those who had slept and wanted to get in just one more lap. I walked my banana to the end of the dam and walked back.

My Elvis Plan of , A little less conversation, certainly brought me plenty of satisfaction.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Umstead 100 Endurance Run

First before I start the story I have to thank those who helped make it happen.

God, because He makes all things possible happen. Giving me the drive, desire and determination to attempt and complete this event.

Viki, my wife: For putting up with me being gone long hours on runs, for getting up in the middle of the night to run, for putting up with all my emotions, and crazy dreams. For cheering me on and reassuring me whenever I let doubt set in.

Paisley, my daughter: For being my biggest cheerleader. Always knowing I could do it. For putting up with me being gone long hours on runs, for getting up in the middle of the night to run, for putting up with all my emotions, and crazy dreams. For putting cards in my drop bag to read every lap. ( More on this later.)

Vince Smith, for having the courage to say I’m signing up and giving me a training partner to go through this with. For listening to my life ramblings on our long runs. For listening to my corny jokes. For sharing details and information he learned. For Driving to Umstead in December and learning the course, and for signing up for a 50k in January with a bunch of crazy trail runners. Having someone to share this experience with as a rookie was priceless.

Jonathan Savage, for slowing down on his long runs to teach and give advice. For sharing all the information he gathers on his wiki. For taking us on a tour of the course and teaching us what to expect. Responding to every question I had. And for reassuring me I could do this. On race weekend for making sure my drop bags were organized, checking with me every time we passed. Making sure I slowed down, and reassuring me I had plenty of time. For working on my ugly feet at mile 87.5 and getting me blankets to warm up before I went back out. For being at the finish line when I came in and ushering me into the lodge in front of the fire and getting me anything I needed. And for driving Vince and I back to Charlotte.

Jason Rose, who committed to pace me months ago when his wife was planning to pace another runner. And even after Katie had to drop out he still made the 2 hour drive to pace me for 25 miles of hell. Keeping me on track while I marched along at a 19 min mile pace. Making sure I was drinking and ate food. Being right with me up to the final push into the finish line.

Denise Martin, For being a saint of massage therapy. Spending long hours giving massages to stinky dirty ultra runners and keeping us going.

Charles West, and Charles Akers for answering my stupid questions on Fb and for telling me how I would rock this. For getting me what I needed at the aid stations and pointing me back on the course. For treating me like a rock star every time they saw me.

Rebecca Sitton, who also made sure I didn’t go without anything and for communicating with my family on how I was doing. For posting awesome FB pics. For cheering me on every time she saw me.

For my crazy inspiration Ultra running friends. Who have shared their experiences and give inspiration every day Chad Randolph, John Gordon,Kelly Wells, Mark Connolly, Mike Morton, (Julius) Sung Ho Choi, Bobby Cordell, Amy Surrette. The Sutcliffe family, The MTC, Jamie McDonald, Bill Weimer, Frank Lilly , The Sultan, Vladimir Dropa, and many more.

Charlie Engle for these words of encouragement : It's gonna be a great day for you. It's not everyday that you get to cram so much living into one relatively short period of time. It's a gift you give to yourself.

Matt and Jeff for starting the Fathers House Ghana. Rescuing children from the Fisherman on Lake Volta and raising them as discipleship of Christ.

For Blake Norwood and Rhonda Hampton and their army of volunteers that put this event on and make every runner feel like a rock star.

Now for the details of the event.

Friday before the event I started feeling sick. Already being a germ o phobe I was getting nervous. The last thing I needed was to get a cold. So for the week I was plagued with a sore throat. I believed it was allergy related but my mind and hormones already in overdrive made everything seem worse than it was. By Thursday I was convinced I had a fever. But nothing short of broken bones was going to stop me from towing the line.

I picked up Vince and Jonathan and we drove up to Raleigh Friday afternoon. We made our way to the race headquarters and checked in, went to the pre race briefing. Did the Oath, I will drink before I am thirsty, eat before I am hungry, walk before I am tired. Then all the first timers were asked to help set up the tables and move the benches for dinner.

We ate the pasta dinner then made our way to the Hotel. As Vince checked us in the desk staff were explaining the work out facility and amenities. He was quick to let them know we wouldn’t need them and asked if the breakfast could be set up by 4am for us. Then proceed to explain why we were in town. They had never heard of such an event and were amazed.

I never sleep well the night before a race and this was even worse. I tried to go to sleep with the TV on but just kept staring at the movie. I finally turned it off just before 10. The proceeded to wake up about every hour until 3 when I finally got up. Everyone was up by 3:40 and we were out the door by 4:30.

Getting to the park and shuffling around until 6:00 was just making my nerves worse. I opened a card my daughter put in my bin it said Believe - I believe you can do it c’mon daddy run,run, run. At 5:55 we lined up with 286 other insane individuals. A roman candle went off at 6 and we were under way.

The Course: A 12.5-mile loop with spurs in Umstead Park. The course will be repeated eight times equaling 100 miles. There are two out and back spurs on the course. The Headquarters Spur is 1.85 miles long and accesses the start/finish aid station, race headquarters and parking. This spur allows you to see fellow runners up to 5.3 miles behind and in front of you, as well as providing some race camaraderie. The other is a .75-mile long spur to adjust the course to the 12.5 mile distance. The course is marked with 12 mile markers. So each lap is easy to break down. For me anyways.

The sun rose on the first lap and it felt like another Saturday morning group run. The trail is wide multi use trail. Bikes, Horses and foot traffic. I remember seeing a pile of Horse Poop telling someone to watch out. It made me think of something my Dad would say “ HORSE S#*T! Thats just horse s#*it! The mile 7 aid station took care of us quick. And we were off to finish the lap. Original plan was 2;30 for lap 1 we did it in 2:16 A bit fast but recoverable. At the end of the lap my hearing aid gave me a warning the battery was dead. So as I entered the lodge Rebecca was quick to ask if she could get me anything. When I said a hearing aid battery she was stumped. Good thing I packed one. Its was a new request she had never had and we laughed about it.

Back out the door and Vince and I were off for lap 2 by mile 3 I realized I still had my headlamp on. I felt kinda silly wearing it after sunup. I made a plan to drop it in my AS2 bag. When we hit AS2 I was offered a burger. WOW that was good. Well there goes my food plan. I wolfed it down bunless and had some salted potatoes. And caught back up to Vince before the hill. . We started making new friends and tried to slow our pace down.
It worked we finished lap 2 in 2:30. 25 miles done.

The day was starting to warm up so I ran in for some sunscreen and changed into a lighter color shirt, The black was drawing too much heat. I opened the next card from my daughter Dream - of 100 you’ll be there soon. Out the door for lap 3 Charles West filled my water and asked if I needed anything, and told me I was doing great. I was good and headed back on the trail. Vince and I caught back up and we decided that mile 2-3 had just gotten longer for some reason. Late in the lap Vince was having stomach issues and was slowing down. He told me to go and not wait for him. I put my music in for the first time and started moving along. AS2 was a quick in and out and I kept moving. The rest of the lap was fairly uneventful Lap 3 2:40 37.5 miles done, still right on target.

Not too memorable on the turn around for lap 4. Started chatting and making new friends on the way. Every time I would start my music, someone would start chatting. By the time I made it to AS2 my knee was getting sore my right IT band was not happy and began to pull on the knee. I had the doctor take a quick look and we discussed hydration. She had me add salt to my water bottle and showed me a couple stretches. She rolled my IT band with a stick and made sure to discuss hydration again , Informing me I should pee once per lap. This is when I realized I had not gone since just before the start. I made sure to finish my water bottle and refill at the next to unmanned water drops.
I finished lap 4 in 2:57 @ 10:25:25 for the front 50. The easy part is done.

I knew it would get dark on the next lap and being worried about my hydration and my knee I took some extra time in the lodge I changed out my handheld for a camel back and tried to get Denise to look at my knee. We miss-communicated and she seemed busy, so not to burn time I headed back out. I had brought hiking poles to use after dark but decided to try them out. They were light enough to run with and helped keep my hands up when walking and stabilize me when I became tired. Out of the gate I caught up with a new friend Jayson L? we decided to stick the lap out together. Just after mile 3 I needed to do the Morton stretch and Jayson wanted to graze from the unmanned aid station. As I was stretching Savage rounded the corner and stopped to discuss how I was doing, warn me to slow down. And make sure I was hydrating. His advice and guidance helped make much of this race easier. We departed into the loop and I felt the poles were getting fairly easy to use I worked into a decent rhythm when walking and was still able to carry them when running. At AS2 I picked up a LS shirt and my headlamp. Some Tylenol and we were off. Around mile 10 it was getting cool enough to put on the LS shirt. A mile 11 Vince and his new friend caught up to us. We chatted a bit about my poles and then I started to pick up the pace. I didn’t want to get too cold. As I passed the parking area Jason Rose was waiting for me. Lap 5 3:24 62.5 done. 3 more laps to go.

In the lodge I was able to change into warmer clothes and I had Denise give my IT band a massage. Discussed strategy with Savage and got some encouragement from some others. I opened the next card from my daughter Splash- yourself with water you’re halfway there. ( 50 mile ooops) BTW Text me. By now I had spent way too much time in the lodge. I made a quick food graze and headed out to find Jason. Get it done cheers to runners

I told Jason what to expect as far as my plan to walk run at this point. My IT and knee were pretty much toast. He took a quick look at my knee and taped some acupressure points. But at this point the only things I would quit from would be broken limbs or passing out. I saw too many in the lodge who had quit for various reasons. With this much time left why would anyone quit?

Having Jason out there was AWESOME he had his phone and was giving me updates of the games and texting back and forth with Katie. He had some fresh jokes. I told him I was disappointed he wouldn't get the real feel for the hills without seeing them. After what was forever we made AS2. I wanted to get my tights out of my bag, and Emily Hanson was there to help me get food, put away my bag, whatever. I I needed more salt and the poured some in my soup. Wow that sucked but prolly needed it. What I thought to be my tights turned out to be another shirt. So no warm help from my bag. I did manage to get some warm soup. And off we went to march out the rest of the lap. Going down the powerline hill the woods are open and the wind cut through my thin layers. By the time we made it back to AS1 I was getting the mumbles. Lap 6 , 3:40 75 miles done. Now I was felling sore and felt I was off track for the 24 hour finish.

I changed into my tights with a pair of insulated pants and 2 LS shirts. While my shoes were off I had Jonathan look at my feet. He sat me down in his chair and could see I was shivering so he covered me with blankets and had the red cross volunteer get me a warm water bottle to put on my chest. Jason wanted to rest and retired to my van so he could pace my last lap with me.

I picked up a pacer and had some more soup. A handful of candy. Now double layered and a fresh pacer we were off. I let him know I expected to walk a lot he was good with this. I let him know he may need to remind me to drink and eat. I don’t remember much about the lap other than it was slow, cold and dark. We discussed motivation and the single track trails in the park. I found out he was a Shackleton fan. We discussed his leadership and the Endurance expedition. He kept me moving. We noticed many people moving like zombies. Shuffling along. Pacers supporting their runners, holding hands. Doing anything to motivate their runner. I joked that I may be slow but my mental status was good and I was still focused. We discussed my joy of night running. Only focusing on the 10 feet in our lights made it easy to break down the thought of 20+ more miles to go. At AS2 I asked him to get my pre mixed Nuun from my bag. He would have to mule it for me for the next hour. He did good kept me talking and moving forward. We finished the lap in 4:54 87.5 miles done, Farther than I had ever gone in 24 hours. This also included warm up time and Jonathan patching up my feet.

It was now 4:25 am and I had 22:25 hours on my feet.

At The turn around I saw Charles Akers. And remember him telling me if I needed anything he would do it or get it for me. I called him over and told him here is what I need. I need you to put on this bib number and the timing chip and finish my lap. He said no. I told him NEVER tell someone you will do ANYTHING for them. It was all a fun joke. There was nothing that was stopping me from finishing this on my own. After some food and refilling my camel back. I turned to head out the door. Just as Vince was walking in with his shiny new buckle. He did it. I gave out a big howl and congratulated him. He told me get going, go get yours.

I woke up Jason and he shared some food he had packed for me. Some mango and a energy bar Katie made. Thank you Katie. It was now 4:40 ish am and the sun would rise on my next lap. I was hoping it would give me some energy for the push to finish.

I settled into a rhythmic pace and we started passing people. Focusing on the 10' in front of me. We made it to the unmanned aid station and I needed to use the bathroom. I noticed one of the port o pots was locked. This seemed weird because there was no one around. I knocked on the door and there was no response I had a fear someone passed out in there. Jason and I were able to pry the door open and lucky to find it empty. Someone must have bumped the latch. It would have drove me mad the next lap not knowing.

The death march was back on. Getting into a rhythm we pressed on at a 19 min pace. I don’t remember much of AS2 I just wanted this to be done. The sunrise came and gave me a bit of a boost. Jason kept me entertained with searching twitter and checking race updates. Every hill we did I made it a point to say that's the last time for that one. Before I knew it we were at mile 11. (98.5) ONLY 1.5 more to go and this thing is in the bag. Morning runners were out and they were telling us great job. We passed many that were just heading out for lap 8. There is one last climb before the gate. I did not remember it being that long and steep. At this point i wanted to be done. I started to focus on the last quarter mile. I tried to run but my knee was locking up my feet hurt. my IT band was twisted.

Then we reached the parking area. I stabbed my poles in the grass and started to run. Digging deep inside past everything I no longer thought I had had in me. All the cheering crowds were asleep or gone home. All but one woman sitting in her chair waiting. She jumped up and alerted the scoring table I was coming in she was cheering for me. And there it was the finish line 100 miles done 26:46:15.

I was handed my buckle and Jonathan hugged me and congratulated me. Then he immediately shuttled me into the lodge and set me in front of the fire. Asking what I wanted and if I needed anything. I asked for my bag and a coke. I had my buckle in hand. It was all I needed. I opened the last card from my daughter it read SMILE I love you no matter how you did I know you did awesome CONGRATULATIONS!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Half so nice, I did it twice.

So what to say about the Columbia Marathon?

I had no intention of doing it but when a Theoden Presented a Face Book contest to win I had to try for it. I solicited enough friends to like my comment and I won.

It was timed perfect in my Umstead training. I figured I could run in and use it as a long training run. No pressure and just have fun. I also knew it would be a chance to have a decent PR. Since my first Marathon in 2009 was my only official 26.2 race. 4:20 shouldn't be too hard to beat. I have paced a few 4:30 and a 4:45 since then and had tackled the distance many times in training runs.

So as race day approached I kept telling myself, just take it easy don't push it. DNS do nothing stupid. Then a few days before the race someone posted this quote:

"Spinal Tap once observed that it’s “such a fine line between clever and stupid"

Now armed with my new motto I started How many marathoning rules am I about to break?
First, nothing new race day.
At the beginning of February I decided to try a new shoe. The Pure Flow, 4 miles in it went back. Then the Pure Connect 2, 60 miles in and still not making me run happy. So 7 days before the race I get Brooks to work out an exchange. It would be tight but the new shoes were to arrive before race day. Of course they came late Thursday no time to break them in.
Second, taper.
Because I was only using this as a long run I continued with my normal training week plan of 60 miles. From Monday to Thursday i had put in 40. So no taper.
Third, hydration.
I have been training with Nuun. Race day probably should have carried my own hydration but decided to go with what was on the course.
Fourth, nutrition.
I knew the race would have GU every other water stop, so I decided to not pack my own and take a chance on mystery flavors. I was right about mystery flavors. They had Chomps in watermelon, or fruit punch and gels in Lime, espresso and chocolate. I decided to go with chomps. I also like it when races offer this much GU. It feels like trick or treat and gives me a chance to pick up some extra training fuel.
Finally, sleep.
I never sleep well the night before a race and this race was not in the budget right now. I figured a two hour drive before the race would be fine. I went to bed at 10 with having everything ready to go in the am. I woke up at 3:45 and was out the door by 4. So now I was going to run on less than 6 hours of sleep.

I stopped for coffee at Mc Ds and was on the road by 4:15. I learned a few things about driving at 4 am. 1st is Classic rock really does ROCK. Thanks to WRFX In two hours there was NO bad music played an only one commercial break.
Next I learned or began to question if we are securing the borders to the north of our great country. I have never seen so many Canadian licence plates. I began to wonder if the only drive at night?

Enough rambling. Back to race details.

Just outside Columbia I have to stop for the bathroom, to my surprise McDs was only open for the drive through. However the Comfort Inn looked inviting. I found a spot and snuck in to use the lobby rest room. Too bad I had already ate breakfast, they were getting ready to open the continental breakfast area. On my way out I met a runner from Ohio who was just heading to the race. We chatted for a minute then we both got back on the road.

My GPS navigated me into the parking garage where I was set to meet Jason and Katie Rose. they had my shirt and bib. While I waited I set my Garmin my original plan was to go with 4:00 and see how things felt. Then I decided why not go for 3:45. So I decided to set Virtual training Partner to 3:45:00 Why not?

I met up with the Rose family and we made our way to the start, or what I thought was the start. I was standing at the finish and was wondering where everyone was 15 min before the start and It barely any one around. I decided to walk over to the bag check and realized the start was on the other side of the Capitol building. SMH

As we went to line up I looked for the 3:45 pace group. It was strange because all the pacers were only spaced about 20 feet apart? I lined up just behind the two 3:45 pacers and made some small talk. I wasn't impressed that they were not getting the group around them organized. I like to know who is going to be using me to pace and what there story is. It makes a connection before go time. I also let them know what to expect of me and my pace experience.

And were moving. I decided I would keep with this group for the race. That worked well until about mile 8. I had to use the bathroom and made a quick stop. As I exited I could still see them. I decided I would just run my own race and not worry about them Going into the mile 8 we had 2 min in the bank according to my VTP. I decided to just run my own race and not worry about the pacers. It felt strange for a while. After pacing so many races and being conscious of others. This time it was all for me.

I have no idea what mile the photographers were set up on but I decided to do a heel click. I barely stuck the landing. I hope the shot was worth it.

I continued to load up on GU chomps. I would grab 2 packs every time they offered them. I ate one pack around mile 10, As we came into down town I started to remove my arm sleeves, I was going to toss them in the bushes and pick them up after the race. As I tied them together I decided to stuff the extra GU and Chomps I had picked up in them an tie them closed. By the time I got things together we were already nearing the half split/ finish line. As I rounded the corner I saw Jason picking up his drop bag just off the course. I made a quick detour and asked him to drop my make shift bag at my car. Katie turned and saw me heading back out and gave me the "whatareyoudoin" look.

Great Job to the Rose Family on their outstanding Half Marathon PRs.

My half split was 1:52:57 so I was still good on time. As I crossed the start line again I could clearly see the field had been more half runners than full. Where was everybody. It looked more like our Saturday group run than a Marathon. At least with the lack of a crowded street I could take a look around and enjoy the second half. I really enjoyed the course being a double loop of the city.

I began talking to a runner that had been leapfrogging with me. He was from Milwaukee. He was exited to be running in the sun and away from the snow. We made casual observations that the hills were not so bad the first round but may suck the second time. I kinda felt bad telling him I was hoping just that. Being most of my Umstead training was focused on training for the suck.

My VTP had me ahead of the 3:45 pace by 3 min so I decided to pull a Galloway on the second half and walk through the water stops. Anything under 4:20 is a PR and your not out here for that anyway, this is just a training run... right?

I was happy to see they had banana half as an option instead of GU. All the tables had Chomps but the only gel flavors were espresso love, and chocolate outrage. I grabbed a few more went for the chomps and had one more pack at mile 16. I did not like the fact that other runners who had taken the banana option felt OK with dropping the peel in the road. Have they never seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon?

The walking water stops was working well but I could feel my hips getting tight around mile 18. "OK now the suck is going to begin." But in never really did. In the back of my head I expected the wheels to fall off. I put my VTP on the countdown screen to watch my pace and to see how much more I had to go. I gave up working out any math on a finish time. I came into mile 20 and said to myself only a 10k from here.

Mile 20 -23 is for the most part all uphill. I put my head down and focused on the 10 feet under my hat and kept moving forward. Mile 21 was the first time I let myself slow to over a 9 min pace. my worst mile of the day was mile 23 I slowed to a 9:24. From here I knew it was only a Saturday morning 5 k to finish. Mile 24 and 25 were still tough. Once but with the finish line in sight I picked up my last mile and found the 8's again.

I would say one of the coolest finish straightaways I have run. A farmers market was set up on both sides of the street. The SC capitol building was the backdrop for the finish line. The people were cheering and yelling your name. Probably the most crowd support on the course. I gave it everything I had left. I pushed my way through the finish to see the clock read 3:51:XX. I was handed my medal and immediately corralled for a photo. After the photo I remembered I should stop my Garmin. It had me at 3:48:xx So I figured chip time should wash out around 3:47ish. Official results were 3:50:16 ( I forgot to turn auto pause off , bathroom , and bag drop) A 30 min PR. I'll take it. Especially for a training run.

BRYAN HOJNACKI 26193 00:42:34 01:19:47 01:52:27 02:37:57 03:16:53 03:51:21 00:08:50 03:50:16

After the race I walked around the Capitol building and debated climbing the stairs. Then the thought of up would be fine, down would suck. I decided to head for the car to get some cash. I swore I smelt BBQ in the little farmers market set up. Checking my phone I had a text from Jason telling me he felt like a drug mule dropping off the GU at my car.

I went for a walk in search of BBQ, this is never good to do when your hungry. Apparently i was wrong the Q place was on the course somewhere and knowbody could give me a name or directions. I would have to leave hungry. A I made my way back to the parking garage I cheered in other runners. I guess there were more out than I had thought. In the parking garage I watched runners take the elevator. I laughed as I took the stairs thinking I just ran 26 mile I surly can take the stairs.

I'm extremely happy with my race. Only regret was failure to bring a camera. I love this course and probably will put it on my list for next year. I would definitely recommend it. Someone told me it was hilly. But I never felt like it was more than Charlotte. Only thing I think they were missing was neighborhood and crowd support. A few residents were out cheering but very few. The Columbia Hashers were out with 2 beer stops. ( I declined) The Police were great. And the aid station volunteers were awesome. A very well organized event in every way.

Next up 27 days to Umstead.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home made energy

Due to high cost and the wasted packages, I have decide to experiment makeing my own gels. How hard can it be 100 calories, 45 mg of sodium and 35 mg of potassium.

To find the breakdowns of most of my ingredients this sight has the best data available.

While doing research I have found some good recipes from others.






Most of these are based on honey, molasses, and brown rice syrup.

My first recipe will be PB based. This will also add protein that most commercial gel don't have.

Basic are:

3" banana
1 Tbs natural PB
1/2 tsp honey

Mash all together and insert in gel flask. Because of the banana i recommend you make only a day ahead and refrigerate.

This home brew will give you 130 calories, 16 carbs, 1 protein, 7 sugars, 40 mg sodium. And its all natural

I also found the disposable apple sauce packs make a good flask. I can hold 2 servings in one container. They was easy and fit well in my water bottle pocket.

I tested this brew on a 20 mile run and it was ample fuel to get me through. In the past I have used upto 4 100 cal gels for this same run.

Time to experiment with some chocolate and mint.

100 miles! Why?

Reading a post this morning on

Brought up some question in my own mind on why. I guess I have been trying to express this for a while but this post brought out the feeling and emotions I had in my head.

Zach Adams wrote this in his Epic Ultra blog post:
"I wanted more of that elusive feeling of accomplishment that I got after crossing the finish the first time…I was like a crackhead trying to recapture the feeling of his first high."

He nailed it.

This is my story. My Why?

My first marathon in 2009 I crossed the finish line in 4:20 and change, completely spent. From mile 26 to that .2 seemed longer than the entire race I had just ran. As a 39 year old man I felt myself loosing it in the euphoria of what I had just done. Fighting back tears of joy, pain, hunger, cold, thirst. pushing it into the finish line manning it up holding it in as my daughter jumped out of the side gates and grabbed my hand to pace me through the last 50 yards.

As any first timer knows you want to feel like that forever. At that moment you think when can I do this again?

I will never get that moment back again. Trust me. I've tried.

Now I get my joy from pacing first timers into a 4:30 finish, or pushing myself to cross a mountain range and 32 miles. Or keep on my feet for 24 hours. But I have never gotten that feeling back again. I see it on the faces of first time finishers. I am jealous. Maybe by pacing I can get some of that vicariously.

To me finishing that 26.2 will never be the same again. Maybe if I push myself to a faster finish time. But PR's really don't drive me. I'm a mid packer. I have no desire to do Boston. I enjoy the grass roots aspect of running. That's just me. Probably why the Ultra community has such a draw for me.

I did however discover a new high. Last fall I had been toying in my head signing up for my first 100. I had just completed 82 miles in a 24 hour event. And was disappointed I had quit before the 24 hours ended. I let the "What If?" get me. I needed my whats next?

Umstead 100 was opening up registration. On my Saturday morning group run I discussed it with Vince, who told me he was going to do it. This was all it took for me to push me over the edge. I decided to get to work early that day and log onto the website for the race. It had been known to sell out in under 10 min the past years. At noon the registration opened. At 12:01 I had secured my spot. I had 20 min to complete the entry or it would kick me out and give it to some other runner.


I never even discussed this with my wife $150. was allot of money. As I called her to discuss it I started sweating not only from the fear of spending the money but 100 miles AM I FRICKIN NUTS! Epinephrine was pumping, sweat was dripping, my heart was racing. The clock was ticking. I convinced my wife that this was good and my training wouldn't be much more than it was for the 24 hour event. ( Yeah right) She gave me the timid, "If this is what you want to do?" It was enough for me. Credit card in hand, I finished the entry with time to spare. I walked out of my office with a new swagger. I was soaked from sweat and full of confidence. I had just registered for my first 100.

(I thought to myself.) HELL YEAH! I AM A BAD ASS!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sultan 50k The EVENT


A winter storm blew through North Carolina on Friday evening. This left roads iced over and caused many accidents. The question was asked, "Is it even a good idea to still attempt this?"

Vince offered to drive Jonathan Savage, Joshua James and myself so we met him at Caribou. After getting our coffee and watching Josh demonstrate how to fall on the ice.We picked up Savage and drove to Morganton. The roads were fairly clear. However we observed several vehicle casualties from the icy roads.

We gathered at the rendezvous and waited for the Sultan to arrive and caravan us to the start area.

The race/run is held on mostly fire roads across the South Mountains and into South Mountain State Park.

At the parking area I found shotgun shells and noticed no hunting sign that had been used for target practice. Then about 10 min before the horn went off A big 4 wheel drive truck rumbles past us and up the road we are getting ready to run. I was beginning to worry. What did I get myself into. Maybe the point of the bright yellow headgear was more than mere amusement. Safety yellow could save our lives out there.

A group photo was taken and the horn went off. We were on our way.

I wore my Pure Gritts that are worn down and have little traction on wet surface.I had watched some people adding screws to the bottoms of their shoes. Since I did not think of this option I had to find a way to gain traction. The road leading up the trail was like a ice rink. I found the only way to get grip was to stay on the side or in the center of the trail where it was more jagged. This worked well until the center of the road became grassy. Then the grass was making my shoes wet.

My initial fear on this was the elevation and getting dropped and running alone. I did not want to roll in DLF. So with that in mind I chugged upward and onward. I was alone for a while. I tried to keep up with Phyllis, but apparently she is part mountain goat and disappeared in the distance. This put me about 6 back and I knew there were many behind me. I could hear The Sultan and a few others talking. Looking back Mo was gaining on me. Looking out to the right we had a clear view of of the Blue Ridge range. This was just one of many extraordinary views. We stopped and had a quick photo op moment.

Knowing the race has bonus points and boner points I decided to pick up some points by picking up trash on the trail. I picked up a Sun drop bottle that I ended up hauling all the way to the turn. Originally I was going to get more but once I saw the amount of litter I decided to just make the difference with my one. The crushed beer cans and plastic bottles made me wonder what happened to the monster truck that was ahead of us. Where did they go? I kept waiting for them to come around a corner and forcing us off the trail.

Sultan,Crystal Beth and the other Beth were now all with me.We leap froged back and forth the rest of the way to the turn around. We enjoyed the many scenic views of the blue ridge. Up and down the saw tooth course. I more than once cursed the next uphill. I also made the statement of this is the last hill. Beth started asking me, "So is this the last uphill?" I gave up trying to guess how much further we had. You would think the downs would be welcome but the trail was often so lose and rut filled it made it difficult to open up and let it go. This is truly where the statement of running down hill is harder than running up.

This trail offers some incredible views and challenging sections. Yet was hard to look up and see my surroundings. Given the difficulty of the trail/road. We passed through one long section covered with rhododendrons that I would love to see in bloom. One thing did surprise me was the lack of wildlife. I know it's winter but I only saw a few birds and never saw any squirrels.

The last down drop into the parking area was a wicked, stone and wood staircase cut into the mountain side designed more for the casual hiker, not suited for running. This prevented a full out down hill sprint. I nearly did the splits on one wood step. I was lucky not to bite it, the ice had thawed from the morning and everything was wet. As I descended there was a photographer getting picks of everyone. I decided now was a good time for a stunt and did a jumping heel click on the stairs. Thanks to www.pinkcrowphoto.com

There were some hikers that had moved to the side to let us pass. They looked on with amazement of how fast we were navigating the steps.

When we reached the bottom the trail turned into paved walkways and parking lots. It became a sprint to the shelter. My legs were toast and did not know how to react to solid footing and a level surface. I ran in with David and the two Beth's.

Once in the shelter and around the food and warm fire it was time for some bonus points. The tribal council put on a huge spread with cake, chips, dips, and many other snacks. The tribal council delegates we judging tricks and giving out points. After my heel clicks, I broke out my hot water and hot coco mix for some bonus points with the delegates. The council was satisfied. I made a small plate and refilled my camel back. Here I had to make the decision of pulling out at the half or to continue on to the full. Of course my mind won with the thought why do things half way. I drank some coke and waited for the word to depart. I made arrangements for my drop bag and firewood I brought to be returned to the car. Then we were off.

The way out takes us on a stair climb along the waterfall. The falls were half frozen and we made a few stops to observe and get in some photo ops. Then it was time to climb. Up and Up, I was thinking when does this end? Why an i doing this second half? We finally made it back to solid ground.(or trail) I soon realized I had made a mistake drinking the coke. ( Note to self: Shake and let the fizz out before drinking coke in a race) I opened a couple ginger chews hoping this would help settle my issue.

I knew there were 2 guys and a girl just ahead of me. And The Sultan just behind me. I kept chugging onward and what seemed forever to be upward. At one point I decided I'm tired of being alone. So at a trail junction I sat and waited. A few min later Mo caught up and we continued on. He was not moving fast and seemed to want some solitude. So I decided to keep just ahead of him. I few miles later we were caught by Richard. He chatted and ran with Mo for a bit. Then Mo slowed down and we carried on. At every turn I dreaded the next accent I was able to put in some decent runs on the downs and flats but only some steady walking on the ups. Rich told me a couple times this is not steep enough to walk. So I went off his lead and ran until it became too steep to run or my energy fell out. At one point I lost my footing and nearly went off the edge. I was able to grab a tree to keep from sliding down the hillside.

We knew we would be racing the sunset.My goal was to beat it but had no idea how fast it was setting. I was glad I had decided to pack my headlight.

About mile 29 we started a long decent. I thought this is it, I let out a loud howl and opened up the pace. About a half mile in i looked back to see how Richard was doing and he was gone? I slowed down a bit and kept trying to see where he was. I was in a long curve to the left that had good views of the trail behind me. I stopped to make sure he was still moving. Once I knew he was good and still making forward progress I picked up the pace again. Alone again I started to question my direction. The mind plays many tricks on you when your alone. Footprints made by smaller running shoes in the mud confirmed I was going the right way. I ended up on one more climb, so while I walked I dug out my headlight. Mile 30 and I could tell it was all down from here.

I turned a bend to the right to be met by a pick up truck. As I passed the pulled to the side and backed into a turn around. My heart started racing and in my head I could hear banjo music. Thoughts of Zed from Pulp Fiction flashed before my eyes. They started down the hill.(This was one reason I didn't want to be alone out here.) I jumped into the hillside to let them pass. As they rolled by the window started to open and the passenger said "Jump in." I just waved them on and started back down behind them.

Watching the sunset over the mountains is a beautiful sight... Normally . Not too settling when Zed is in a truck just down the trail from you.

Mile 31, My quads were burning. You would think a all out down hill would be fun. But the ice had thawed and left the road muddy and slick. Just as I turned on my headlamp,I noticed lights coming from behind. At first I thought Mo and Richard were catching up. Then I realized another truck was coming. This one passed with out incident. As its tail lights disappeared I saw a light off the trail and thought YES! its the finish. Only to find out it was a porch light on a house off the trail.

Mile 32? Where is the F-N finish. My quads were now shredded and the cold was settling in. Does this thing ever end? I came around the next turn and there it was the finish. I could see the fire burning and people were howling. I heard the air horn and let out a primal howl announcing my arrival. .

6:41 32.65 miles 7,633 ft of elevation gain and loss. The Sultan 50 k was done. I had beat my fears.

After some chatting and getting thanked for bringing the fire wood. I came to the realization of how cold I was getting and I did not leave any clothes out. Vince was not back and the car was locked. I huddled around the fire to try to warm up. I drank what was left of the hot water in my thermos. Finally after about 30 min of attempting warmth I asked to borrow a coat or a blanket. Jonathan lent me his. No one of had thought of getting the key from Vince. Originally I had a jacket in my drop bag to go to the turn around. I pulled it out thinking I'll never need it there. Never realizing I would need it at the finish.

Richard finished, then The Sultan. We were waiting on 3 more. Mitchel, Kelly and Vince. We knew they were coming, but had no idea when. Mo had confirmation from some people in jeep who had seen 2 guys and a girl running behind him. We waited another 30 min. Then Mo decided to drive up the mountain to find them.

He car came back to report they were still a mile up but moving steady. Savage had jumped out to join them and run them in.

Turns out Kelly had them take a wrong turn. They found their way back but Kellys and Mitchel's phones were both dead. Kelly's Garmin died, Vince had no Garmin on. They had no way to track the miles or call for help. Good thing they had headlamps.

All in all it was a great run. I was able to conquer my fear of elevation and had a awesome day doing it. I have a newly earned respect for mountain trail running. As I write this waiting for pictures to post I wonder? How will I recover from this one? My wife asked why I'm walking like Frankenstein? But don't regret a thing. I'd do it again next weekend. Now If I can just get up and walk to the kitchen.

For anyone wondering the rules of the Sultan 50k and what the bonus and boner points are about I have included the rules and some FAQs

Sultan 50k FAQ
How can I sign up for the Sultan 50k?
You should send an email to the Sultonic tribal council at midlibi@gmail.com. If you are a new runner, meaning you don’t have a crown or have never run this course you need to do a little extra work by having an existing Sultan 50k finisher vouch for you. If you know no one how has finished the Sultan 50k, hard to believe, but anyway back to the point, you will need to submit a description of why you want to run.
How can I earn bonus points?
Bonus points are everywhere, you just have to look for them. Any volunteer, or member of the Sultonic tribal council may offer bonus points to any runner. This is how runner receive bonus points during the run. There is a multitude of ways to earn bonus points pre and post run as well. Some examples are:
-Singing happy birthday out loud = 5 points *add 10 points if you have opera skills.
-Shaving your head into a crown = 100 points
-Marking the trail with ribbons = 25 points
-Sweeping the trail and removing ribbons = 25 points
-Joining us for dinner post run = 10 points
-Funny gifts (Sultan brand coffee, lottery ticket) = 10 points
-Creative poster for the run = 15 points
-Yoga moves = 1-20 points depending on the complexity of the move and how many miles are on your legs.
-Headstands, cartwheels, funny faces to entertain volunteers = 1-5 points
-Assist with checking runners in/roll call = 10 points
-Come up with a creative trail name = 5 points
Note: if you’re a half distance runner a 50% reduction in point takes place to ensure relative value of points.
How will I earn boner points?
There is a multitude of reason for earning boner points. If you think you may be in violation of the tribal council’s rules, then more than likely you are, and thus will receive boner points.

No trace left behind event: There is no reason to leave any waste, trash, or used gel packs on the trails we have been given permission on to run.

I have also included a link to Jonathans Wiki recap of the day.

If you have questions or would be interested in joining the WNCTrailrunners

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sultan 50K

This race ( Fun Run ) has been on my bucket list for years.

Garmin Connect - Sultan 50K

This week leading up to the run has been interesting. I decided to take it easy. For some reason deep down inside, I have been letting the elevation intimidate me. I don't know why but its there. This will make this more challenging for me.

The weather has been a issue as well. Today a freezing rain fell over the region. The start temps tomorrow will be hovering in the 20's. If were lucky we will see some warmer temps in the higher elevations. I'm positive we will have snow. This should make footing interesting.

For now all I can hope for is a solid nights sleep and clear roads in the morning.