Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Fret the Weather

I have this tendency to worry about things over which I have little or no control. The weather is a perfect example. Especially during the extreme seasons of cold and heat, I routinely check the next day's weather forecast to determine how I should dress (layer)for my training run. Last Saturday evening, I looked at the forecast and was rewarded with a prediction of single digits with wind rising into the mid 30's, with snow accumulations during the night. Well, that was more than enough to fuel my "worry genes." If I dressed for single digit temps I would surely be overheated as the temperature began to rise. Then too, I started to fret about the depth of the snow. I was going to be running a long run on a nearby Forest Service road that is not plowed. Typically a few brave souls have driven in or out and packed a track in the deep snow. Nevertheless, I worried about getting too deep into the "forest" at my turn around and becoming fatigued before finishing my workout. Long runs fatigue us anyway, but slogging through deep snow really saps the spring from our legs and creates the possibility for a serious bonk. I awakened Sunday morning and decided to delay the start of my run until mid morning. I nuked a bowl of oatmeal and garnished it with cinnamon and buckwheat honey; ate a banana and chased it with a cup of coffee and set of for whatever the morning had in store for me. The temperatures had begun climbing before I left home, so I layered lightly, knowing I would be cold for the first 2 or 3 miles. I arrived at my pullout and cranked up the GPS and set off at an easy pace. Thankfully there wasn't a lot of wind, and even though the snow was fairly deep, there were some truck tracks I was able to run in. I was a little chilled for a couple of miles, but then (as almost always happens)I began to warm up. I was actually comfortable and feeling good. I started to wonder, "Why do you always fret about the weather?" Turns out, I had a great run. Temps were good and the snow was pretty nicley packed, save for the final mile before my turnaround. I slogged through 2 miles of untrammeled snow, but then was back into the packed stuff. Legs felt no worse for the wear and I just really enjoyed the rest of the morning, watching the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River as it was freezing over, and just being into the solitude of a pretty nice winterscape. I guess the moral of this blog must be pretty obvious. Don't Fret the Weather! Easy for me to say, but I'm sure I'll find some weather forecast over which to worry. Tomorrow for example is predicted to have negative 25 to negative 35 wind chills. How will I dress. How far should I risk running in the extreme cold. And on and on...... Stay warm & dry Happy Trails, jim

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Wonderland

For the last two days, the weather prognosticators have been warning of another winter storm for the Appalachians. Before bed last night, I thought I should take our Golden (Lola) out to one of my favorite Forest Service roads. I figured with it being the middle of the week, there wouldn't be any 4-wheelers or snowmobilers out running the roads. I got up and had a cup of "Joe" and a banana, grabed a couple of cookies to eat on the way to the trail head (well, not really a trail head but a parking area adjacent to the FS road), loaded my furry 4 legged friend and off we went. Lola gets so excited when she knows were going for a run. I really should take her more often, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. We pulled into the parking area and I stowed my keys and got out of the car, and immediately stepped into snow well over my ankles. I mean, it was drop dead beautiful. I let Lola out and off we went. She was going crazy, running wind sprints as hard as she could go. Ah, to have just a little of her energy. My plan was to run 4 miles and then turn around and head back. Lola is often the limiting factor. She does well at 8 miles, but 10 is about her max. Turns out today, I was the limiting factor for Lola. About 75 or 80% of that section of FS road is up hill. I've run it many times with no snow cover, but the deep snow made it another story. At 2 miles I'm thinking, "is there any way I'll make 4 miles in this?" There were some frozen ruts from 4 WD's that had been through over the weekend. The fresh snow covered the ruts, and I came close to "nicking" an ankle a couple of times. I finally found some even footing and managed to stay out of the ruts. That helped tremendously, but the climbing was a real challenge in the (fairly) heavy snow. I stopped and took a few pictures, or was it to catch my breath? We topped the first serious climb and hit a section of rolling road, for which I was grateful. Then my GPS buzzed the 3 mile split and I decided to call it a day. Lola was slowing down and having trouble with snowballs on her feet to boot. I took a couple more pictures and then headed back down. I was a little nervous about stepping into a rut or pot hole on the down hill run, so I really didn't just turn it loose. Nevertheless, the run back to the car was a blast. Snow blanked forest, no cars, hell not even any other warm bodies which suited me just fine. As much as I love the beauty of winter, I'm at the point where I'm beginning to long for Spring. Only two months away, as of today. No major layering up. Shorts & a light windbreaker. Yeah, that's it. I invite you to follow me on Twitter (I put up some nice pictures) Happy Trails & Stay Warm jim

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Vermont or Bust

Monday January 6 dawned bitterly cold with snow squalls. The weather folks were calling it a Polar Vortex, a term not familiar to many, if any lay people. Online registration for the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run was opening at 10:00 a.m. I had tried to register for the 2013 version, but got wait listed. I was determined to hit the registration page precisely at 10:00. Each time I refreshed the page, the website's clock was providing a countdown. Finally the registration site opened and I began filling out the online form. I had visions of the server getting overloaded or my internet connection getting hit up by the storm. Low and behold, I was able to complete the entire app, provide payment information & hit the submit button. Now I was holding my breath to see if I had everything in, in time to beat the cut off. In a few minutes I got my emailed confirmation number and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I did NOT want to be wait listed again. I just cannot motivate myself if I'm not "in." I learned later in the day, the race closed after 1 1/2 hours. By 4:00 p.m. there were over 50 runners wait listed. Unbelievable! So Tuesday night with zero temperatures under a waxing moon, I'm sitting at Adam Casseday's kitchen table discussing the pros and cons of long back to backs, total weekly mileage and many of the other strategies that come into play when preparing for an Ultra Marathon. Even though I've run several Ultras, I still consider myself a newbie. I have never tackled a 100 miler, and I plan on soliciting as much sage advice as I can. We're fortunate here in the mountains of North Central WV, because there are several seasoned Ultra runners. Hell, Adam ran the entire Applachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. He knows something about distance running. Anyway, I left Adam and Kadra's new home with a plan, and after all, isn't that the first step? I feel good about the plan, and all we need now is to begin implentation. Oh btw, I'm not one for New Years resolutions, but I made one this year. Several followers of my humble blog have asked me why I quit blogging, and the answer to that is....I really don't know. I just stopped, but my promise to myself is to make every attempt to keep my blog current and share the many emotions, both high and low, I will encounter in the coming months. July 19, 0400. Toe the line. Happy trails & Stay Warm, Jim

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Winter Doldrums or Where is Santa When You Really Need Him?

I just got back from Physical Therapy and like much of life, there was good news and bad news.  More on that later.

Following Tussey Mountain, we along with most of the mid Atlantic and Northeast suffered through Sandy.  My heart still aches for those folks in New Jersey and New York.  I just cannot imagine how they're coping.  We were without power for 12 days, and because I had no way to shower, I skipped on the running.  It turns out that was probably a good thing, because after our power was restored I set out for an easy 4 mile run just to loosen things up after the 50.  I knew immediately something wasn't right.  I was experiencing some major soreness (pain) in my right knee.  I forced my way through the entire workout and made it home, but it was not fun.  I rested a couple of days and tried it again with the same results.  (isn't insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?) 

One of the benefits of working at a hospital is the ability to sometimes get a doctor's appointment without waiting.  I called one of our Orthopedic Surgeons who specializes in sports medicine and he agreed to see me that afternoon.  Following x-rays and a comprehensive exam by Dr. Pavlovich and his athletic trainer they determined it was just a Pateller Tendinitis.  Dr. P explained it was caused by repetitive motion and overuse, as are most non traumatic running injuries.  He showed me on a model how micro tears occur and assured me they will heal.  The good news was he said I could continue to run and not hurt it further.  I tried to do some short runs followed by icing and stretching, but the pain (or more accurately, soreness) persisted.  I'm thinking to myself, we need to get a little more aggressive about rehabbing this baby, so I called Dr. P and asked him for a PT referral.  This was two, maybe three weeks ago. 

My therapist is an athlete and fully understands my need and desire to get rehabbed and back on the road/trails.  She quickly identified a fairly significant difference in the strength of my right hip/leg from that of my left.  She told me all problems begin in the hip.  Ditto with the flexibility, even though I regularly stretch both pre and post run.  Vanessa gave me a series of exercises to do at home along with some new passive stretching and told me to see her in five days.  I rigorously followed her program which even allowed for an easy 3 mile run each day, followed by the ever present ice.  After my next visit, she saw some improved strength and flexibility and gave me some more aggressive exercises and told me I could mix in some 4 mile runs.  Even with a little 4 miler, it really seemed like progress.  After my next appointment she told me I could do a couple of 6 milers with shorter ones in between.

I was feeling "pretty" good and wasn't experiencing any symptoms until 2 or 3 miles and then the soreness would return, but was fairly minor.  I was feeling pretty good about things and decided to do 6 that Sunday.  There was some more soreness, but it wasn't too bad.  I did two 4's the next couple of days and then another 6 and was feeling "OK."  At my next PT appointment, Vanessa said I had improved objectively and told me I need not come back unless things got worse.  She gave me some more aggressive exercises and said to call if I had any problems.  I told her I was going to attempt 8 that Sunday and she said OK, with no negative body language.  I think that must have been too much too soon.  I muscled my way through the 8 with a good bit of soreness the last three miles.  I iced it and stretched and had no residual soreness that day.  I did an easy day on Monday and then tried 6 on Tuesday.  That's when it really began to bother me again.  I did an easy 4 miles on Wednesday and began hurting in the first 100 yards, but was determined to finish the workout.  Thursday was to be another 4 and I did fine for the first 2 or 2 1/2, but then it really began to hurt.  I thought I was going to have to walk home, but managed to finish the workout.

I decided then and there I had to go back to PT.  I called this morning and Vanessa had a cancellation and was able to see me.  I gave her a detailed report of how I felt with the exercises and what had happened  during my runs.  She performed some transverse massage and icing and gave me "the pep talk."  She explained that forcing myself through these painful runs only increases the inflammation and slows down the healing process.  She gave me some revised exercises to do, plus a new running recipe of 3 miles every other day with massage and ice on the off days.  I'm going to see her twice next week.

I'm resolved to not having a quick fix to this thing.  That doesn't mean I'm happy about it, but I fully understand that this type of injury often takes time to heal.  I'm promising myself I won't get down (ask me about that in a few days) and I'll continue with Vanessa's program.  Fingers crossed and promising myself not to do anything "too" stupid.

                                                               Happy Holidays To All,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Catching up on Life or Whine Whine

It has been absolutely crazy around here since Highlands Sky way back in June.  It seems like forever since that event.  Speaking of Highlands Sky, I visited Dolly Sods last Friday, just to see what it was like following hurricane Sandy and the devastating snowfall and power outages we experienced here in the West Virginia Highlands.  I just knew I would have to back down the mountain, but the Forest Service guys from the Mon had the road cleared.  Actually I was surprised at the lack of downed trees compared to other sections of the state.  My theory is that due to the elevation, the snow was drier and therefore didn't break down trees like it did at lower elevations.  I may be (probably am) totally wrong on that.

Anyway, following Highlands Sky and my mangled knee, I got back into a training routine for the Wineglass Marathon.  Danielle and I were running that together, and I was really looking forward to being with her during that race.  Training was going well, but most of my running was on roads and forest service roads, so no falling. 

In August, Dan and I crewed for Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 Mile Trail Run.  We had a blast.  The race began at 9:00p.m. and AS workers were up all night helping runners hydrate, refuel, change headlamp batteries and just offering moral support.  Chris Reed (an accomplished ultra runner) and his delightful family helped, or rather we helped them, set up and staff AS5. 

At this point in the summer, I was pretty much just focused on getting ready for Wineglass.  A couple more long weeks and then I would taper.  Then one morning I get this email from Danielle saying she is going to volunteer for the Tussey mOUntaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon.  Tussey is held just outside of State College, PA.  It is run mostly on forest service roads and only has 5,000 + feet of elevation gain, so I started thinking, "why not?"  It was going to kind of be off the couch.  I had been maintaining 60 to 65 mile weeks, but no long runs (nothing longer than 20).  I mentally began trying to figure how to get a couple of long runs worked in around the marathon.  I would use Wineglass as a trainer and decided to run a 50K two weeks before Wineglass.  I know that's insane, but I actually felt good during the 50K and only walked about 100 yards during a 6 mile climb.  My recovery was fast (the taper helped), and then I was off to pick up Dan and be on our way to Corning, NY.  Wineglass race day was about perfect (unlike 2011).  It was cold waiting for the start, but very comfortable running, with mostly overcast skies.  Dan set the pace and we went out pretty fast and ran a sub 2 first half.  That kind of scared me and we backed it off a little.  Danielle's knee from the previous year hadn't been bothering her too much, but it began to flare up a little and started causing her some discomfort.  She kept telling me to go ahead without her, but I told her the "deal was we were going to run it together."  I didn't have anything to prove to anyone and we made it through the final 7 miles together.  Dan picked it up in the last mile or mile and a half and finished strong.  I was so incredibly proud of her to tough it out like she did.  We showered and drove back to State College that afternoon.  I was planning on dinner at Otto's, which serves up some awesome vegan fare, not to mention many craft beers brewed on site.  Did I mention their beer is to die for?  So we're driving into Otto's parking lot, which looks extremely crowded for a Sunday night.  As we walked up to the door, there is a sign saying "closed for private party."  What a bummer that was.  So we head downtown to another cool establishment, and believe it or not, it was closed for a private event too.  I was pretty bummed out by then, but we walked back down to College Avenue and the Corner Room was open.  We got some amazing grub and they had Pumpkin Ale on tap.  Not bad at all for a third try.

Between Wineglass and Tussey Mountain (Oct 12 -- 14), the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners put on their annual (hopefully) West Virginia Trilogy on Spruce Mountain.  I volunteered to help crew an AS for day 1 (50K).  Dennis Stottlemyer and the rest of the crew rode mountain bikes into Judy Springs of Seneca Creek.  I chose to hike the 3+ miles and hit the trail before daylight.  It is such an amazing time of day, watching and listening to the world come alive.  I spooked some coyotes who started yipping at me but soon faded into the coming dawn.  I loved that time alone (are we runners all loners?).  It was a perfect fall morning.  Dennis and the gang showed up a little after daylight and we got things set up and ready for the first runners.  Dennis fixed cheese quesadillas which were a huge hit.  I was really sad I wasn't going to be able to help on Saturday and Sunday, but Tussey was coming up the following week and I had to get another training run in on Saturday.

Danielle emailed the Tussey race folks volunteering to help out, but never heard back from them.  I'm glad she didn't, because she crewed for me.  Due to the nature of the course (roads) Dan was able to be at every AS for me after AS2.  The logistics of the race were great and the AS's were spaced so that runners really didn't have to carry much food or water (unlike trail races).  Pre-dawn race morning was  very chilly, but I was dressed fairly comfortably.  My biggest worry was getting overheated and not being able to shed layers.  AS3 at 11 miles was the first AS where crew could meet their runners.  Dan and I planned on me getting rid of a first layer at this AS and then we would play it by ear. 

The Ultra runners were to start at 7:00a.m. and the relay runners started in waves beginning at 8:00a.m.  A little before 7:00, the usual pre-race announcements were made and one of the runners sang "The Star Spangled Banner."  Then we were off into the near morning dawn.  It was still dark, but light enough that we didn't need headlamps.  Since I wasn't as "trained up" as I would have liked, I started slower than I usually do.  I had no idea how fast to run, and just wanted to beat the cut times; that and I had some wild idea of wanting to finish under 11.  After a mile or so of a slight downhill we hit the first uphill.  I had passed one or two runners on the downhill, but as we began to climb, I was passing quite a few runners who were walking already.  I'm thinking, "what do they know that I don't know?"  I made it to the first AS and jammed some chips and pretzels and took a long drink of water and was off.  Here the course turned back downhill, and some of the runners I had passed began passing me.  This would be a pattern through much of the race.  My training in the West Virginia mountains was clearly paying off.  The downhill began leveling off and I settled in with a lady who was a faculty member at some university in Massachusetts.  She actually had been at Penn State for a few years, before going down East.  We chatted about our dogs and children and a young lady caught up to us.  She had been one of the ones I passed on the climb.  We talked for a few minutes and she picked up her pace and was soon out of sight.  She was clearly a good runner.  On the next climb, I passed her again, and on the following downhill, she passed me.  When I caught her on the third climb, I told her she was a helluva runner, but needed to do more hill work.  She laughed and told me she was from Florida and had no hills available.    We ran together for a mile or so and when she picked up her pace that time, I didn't see her again.  She was good, and I regret not getting her name so I could see her time. 

I have a "26.2" tattooed on the back of my left calf, and while I was chowing down at AS3, a photographer was down on his knee shooting pictures of my tattoo.  I thought that was pretty cool and have wondered if they were ever published anywhere.  Just past the AS Danielle was waiting for me.  I got all choked up when I saw here, and that proved to hold true through most of the race.  It meant so much to me having her there for support.  I shed my windbreaker, gave her a hug and told her I loved her and was off.  One of the things I found interesting were the mile markers at every mile.  At first I thought that was going to be a real problem emotionally.  I mean at 1, you knew there were going to be 49 more of the suckers, and at 2, 48, and like that!  After 15 or 20 miles, I kind of lost track of the markers.  I would see a 28 and think, "hey, that's great, I thought it was only 25."  Then they seemed to come quickly.  I actually thought the course measurements were wrong a couple of times.  I wasn't running that fast, but was pretty zoned out.

I waited far too long to try and write this race report, because I forget many of the details and which AS's were which.  I was beginning to overheat and was looking forward to the next AS so I could  dump my long sleeve mid weight shirt and my "hot pink" skull cap.  After coming into an AS (maybe 7) I ate some cookies and a potato and thanked the awesome volunteers (they were great throughout the race) and saw Dan.  None too soon because I had started to sweat a lot.  She helped me peel out of my mid weight and handed me a short sleeve Patagonia  techie tee and my light weight mesh ball cap.  That was much better, and I was able to maintain a comfortable temperature range throughout the rest of the race.  I was feeling reasonably strong and was making the cuts with plenty of time to spare.  I forced myself to eat and drink every 30 minutes in addition to the AS's.  During Highlands Sky, I got all whacked out on my feeding schedule, and even though I was eating at each AS, I basically stopped eating in between.  I pretty much bonked about 3/4 of the way through and made myself a promise that I wouldn't let that happen again. 

Colyer Lake was the setting for AS9.  My stomach had begun to get a little funky by then and I was trying to eat Tums and cookies at the same time.  I don't recommend that, but I didn't want to linger in the AS and knew I needed nourishment, but also needed to calm my stomach down.  I had started eating Vitamin I by then, but was still beginning to experience some major quad pain.  After a high 5 and a hug with Danielle, I started off again.  I had run close to 37 miles without walking, but this next leg proved my undoing.  The climb started gradually but got progressively steeper, and on top of that, it seemed as if I could see that stupid road for miles ahead.  That did it!  As much as I did not want to give in to walking, I said screw it.  None of the Ultra runners were running this section and the relay guys seemed to be having a "little" bit of a hard time with it.  After walking a couple of hundred yards, I was able to mix in some running, but mostly walked to the crest of the hill.  The downhill was a welcome sight, and my quads weren't giving me too much trouble.  As I cruised in to AS10, it was very congested with vehicles in support of relay teams parked everywhere, crew members wandering about and just a general sense of confusion.  This AS was set up off a "T" intersection and the road was very crowded.  I met Dan and she ran with me into the AS.  At this point the course went out 2 miles and turned back on the same route going through AS10 again (but was AS11 this time).  AS10/11 was very busy with lots of spectators, relay runners and support crews.  I remember trying to eat a potato at AS11, but they were out of salt and it was a little hard to get down.  With just a little over 4 miles remaining, I wasn't too focused on eating, but I remembered Highlands Sky and forced down some chips and pretzels.  The salt was really hitting the spot.  I felt like I was living on "E" caps and Ibuprofen by then and my stomach was becoming a problem.  I left AS11 and headed for the finish line, but I was really struggling by then.  The course was mostly an easy downhill the rest of the way, but I just felt like the wheels were coming off.  My quads were totally blown and I felt like I was gonna puke, but nothing came up.  I caught up with a couple of runners who were walking, and passed them.  I was not going to walk at this point.  One foot in front of the other;  "Relentless Forward Progress!"  Within a mile or so of the finish, there was an intersection in the road and a couple of guys were starting up the wrong way.  They asked me which way to go and I took a guess at the correct way.  We ran together to the finish line and crossed within seconds of each other. 

I looked at the clock as I crossed and it said 10:18.  I thought I had mis-read it.  Was I hallucinating?  I had hoped for a sub 11:00, but was 10:18 actually possible?  Danielle was waiting there, just like she had been throughout this marvelous day.  We hugged and she took some pictures.  My stomach started to bother me again.  I didn't puke during the race, but it was going to happen now.  Well actually it didn't, but I got the major dry heaves (that always happens to me) and scattered a bunch of spectators, which I thought was really funny.  Dan got a cold Coke (with fizz) for me, and that really did the trick.  I felt much better after drinking some of it.  We kind of wandered around for a little while till I began to get cold and then it was time for a hot shower.  I gently eased myself into Danielle's car and she took me to my motel.  After getting cleaned up, it was off to Otto's.  They were open this time (YES!).  I ordered a killer IPA and sipped on it.  I just picked at my food and tried to eat as much as I could, but it wasn't much because my stomach was still a wreck.  I did make up for that at breakfast the next morning though.

Tussey RD, Mike Casper and all of his crew did a great job.  The logistics of an event like this are difficult at best and I only hope everyone who participates recognizes that.  The volunteers at the AS's were absolutely amazing.  They were so helpful in filling water bottles, getting food, offering wonderful moral support, and just being part of an awesome day.

I cannot say enough about my daughter Danielle.  She was an amazing crew of 1; a Goldilocks of sorts, not too much support, not too little, just the right amount.  You nailed it Dan.  I love you!

As we enter the Holiday Season I want to thank everyone who makes these endurance events possible, especially the race directors and their committees, and the volunteers who give tirelessly of their time.  Thanks too to all the runners.  Ultra runners are a very special breed, offering advice when requested, moral support when needed, and encouragement always.  Be safe during the coming holidays and short daylight hours of winter.

                                                                      Happy trails,

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Did Not DNF

16 days shy of my 66th birthday, I completed the Highlands Sky 40M Trail Run.  I can unequivocally say it was the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. 

                                                                  I wondered if I would
                                                                                        ever see the finish line.

Those of you who have followed my blog from late winter through race day, know I was terribly worried over cut times through the aid stations.  During the first trainer, I hit the FS Road after 10 Bridges in 5:50.  Even though we didn't push it during the trainer, that time planted just the seed of doubt I needed to worry.  I knew I had left minutes out on the trail, while trying to clear small limbs and such from the trail, but I really was concerned about making Aid Station 4 in the allotted time.  I was really hung up on AS4.

June 16 dawned clear and cool at the Lanesville ranger cabin.  Typical pre-race scene:  lots of energy, runners making last minute checks of fluids/nutrition, lathering on Glide, all the usual.  Dan Lehman was working his butt off trying to get everyone checked in.  Then, without a lot of fanfare, the entire race field was off.  I purposely lurked at the back of the pack, 'cause I was gonna run my race and not someone else's.  I thought the pace was a little fast going up the Red Creek Road, but didn't try to keep up with the main group.  There were 5 or 6 of us running together when we hit AS1 and the pace seemed OK.  (Hollis Lipscom, one of my ER nurses was working as a medic.  His wife Jen is a runner and I believe this was Jen's 4th HS.  Anyway, Hollis and I gave each other a high five and I went through the AS).

After leaving the road, the course began a gentle climb through some grassy, transitioning into forest areas.  As we approached the steeper (that's a relative term) part of Flatrock Trail, it seemed to me as if I was part of an Everest Expedition.  As far as you could see, there was this long line of runners walking the trail.  It seriously reminded me of the lines waiting to navigate the notch going to the summit of Everest.  The walking part was fine, but I felt they were walking too slowly and there wasn't any place to pass.  I began fretting cut times again, and wanted to hit AS2 with a significant cushion.  Remembering Dan's admonition about the Stinging Nettles, I stepped off the trail and speed walked through 100 yards or so of the little boogers, but did manage to pass some of the slower folks in front of me.  When I was a kid, I used to get into the Nettles all the time, but I had forgotten what they were like.  I just figured it's mind over matter and kept going.  Sure enough, the steep part of Flatrock Trail took my mind off the burning, and by the first creek crossing, the burning was gone, to be replaced by burning in my quads.

I hit AS2 with about 35 minutes to spare.  I was really pleased, and thought for the first time, I can really do this.  I jammed a couple of PBJ wedges, refilled my water bottle (the amazing volunteers did this for me), grabbed a handful of pretzels and trucked on down the road towards Boar's Nest.  I was feeling strong and was running more than walking, thinking life's great. Due to Dan's flagging, I saw the Boar's Nest junction and turned left.  I began recalling from the Trainer, the brutal downhill section that was coming up.  I hated that part then and hated it again Saturday.  The only positive thing about it was it was much drier and was mostly cleared of downed branches (thank you Dan).  I managed to make it down in one piece and enjoyed some relatively flat running for a while.  Soon enough we began the climb up the South Fork of Red Creek (does it really have a name?).  I kept thinking someone must have moved the creek crossing.  I kept telling my group that it was just up the trail.  After finally crossing the creek, we began the climb to AS3.  Within 200 yards of the AS I pointed out the skyline (indicating the road), and as soon as I looked up, I took my first fall.  Wasn't bad, just a superficial scrape above my right wrist.  We rolled into AS3 and Hollis was there.  I brushed off all the "what happened to you?" questions, filled my water bottle (by the amazing volunteers), jammed some cookies into my mouth, grabbed another handful of pretzels and set out for AS4.  The splits were still good; we were still about 30 or 35 minutes under the cut time.  I'm thinking, this is good.  Our little group made it up the climb from AS3 onto the flatter portion of the South Prong Trail.  We had a great group of runners in our "pod."  A Navy doc (thank you for your service) from Walter Reed.  She was recently back from Afghanistan, and commented that Afghanistan was easier than HS.  I said, "yeah, but for the IEDs."  There was a nurse and a couple of other folks in our group.  Somewhere around mile 18 or so, I took a seriously hard fall.  Who knows what happened?  I was just on the ground wondering how I got there (I'm such a klutz).  Following a quick self assessment that nothing was broken, I began getting back up.  My knee was flat ugly.  I could look into the wound and see my kneecap.
                                                    At the finish line, some 6 plus hours post fall.
                                                                      Three hours later following much debridement,
                                                                      this baby took 10 stitches.  (Davis Memorial
                                                                      Hospital ER docs ROCK)

Rupa (Navy Doc) Dainer had some Bacitracin in her pack and after a feeble attempt at irrigating the gash, she lathered it up with Bacitracin.  Another guy (apologies as I don't remember your name) helped me up and "checked my nose and eyes" (that wound looked worse than it was) and we all got back on the trail.  "Time's a wastin" and in the immortal words of some famous cowboy "...we're burnin daylight..."  I settled in with Rupa and we're on cruise control for AS4 (my long imagined nemesis).  I told Rupa there would probably be a fight at AS4, as my wife and daughter, Danielle were going to be there, and I could hear an admonition to drop out.  Our little group was still in the sub 30 - 35 minute cut time, so I felt very good about that.  I actually got a little teary eyed coming into the aid station.  It was really an emotional moment for me.  I  believe Cindy was kind of in shock and didn't say anything.  I swapped stuff out of my drop bag with the help of Danielle and Cindy, got my water bottle refilled, had some cursory first aid on my knee (the first responders/first aiders really need gloves -- I preached at the young lady who was helping me, as she was glove less) and headed up the Road Across the Sky, after grabbing more cookies and chips. 
                                                     My old nemesis, Aid Station 4.  Cut off 6 
                                                                 hours, 5 minutes.

                                                   My wonderful wife, Cindy, mother of Danielle &
                                                                    Hillary, Captain of my support crew.  I am forever
                                                                    grateful for your support and understanding
                                                                     over these last several months.

                                                                                    The ever popular drop bag!

                                                             My approach to AS4.  I'm gonna make the cut!  What's
                                                             with all the traffic?  Some guy in a pickem up, nearly
                                                              bumped me as I was going into the aid station.
I felt reasonably strong at the beginning of the road, and managed to run to the first significant climb, where I took the cue from everyone else and walked it.  AS5 had watermelon that was to die for, plus more water (yummmm, water).  At some point on the road, I joined up with Abbi Crowe and her sister.  I settled in with them alternating between running the down hills and flats (there really were a couple) and walking the uphills.  Where was AS6?  I mean, it seemed to take forever to get there, but finally from the bottom of a very long hill, we saw it.  Beat the cut time!!!  Time to celebrate for a few seconds, get more fuel, more water and hit the meadows.

At some point my race plan fell apart, and I can't remember when.  During all of my training runs I worked at "eating" and drinking every half hour.  I did it, religiously for every training run between 10 miles and 50K.  Anyway, I got side tracked.  I think the food at the AS's threw me off.  I ate at every AS, but I know I wasn't getting 100 cals from the cookies and pretzels.  I ate on schedule most of the first 20 miles, but after that, I missed more of the half hour "feedings" than I made.  In retrospect, I think I was getting pretty hypo-glycemic.  Everyone told me "don't forget to eat."  I just went brain dead.  I had Hammer Gels and other easy stuff, just didn't use it.

I think the 6 miles between AS 6 & AS7 were the "longest" of the entire race.  My lacerated knee was beginning to slow me down.  I felt OK on the climbs and level areas, but I began dreading the downhills, and by the time I got to the boulder field I had to force myself to put any downhill pressure on my left knee. I finally rolled into AS7 and the cold water was amazing.  I didn't (read couldn't) eat.  One of the wonderful volunteers was opening a can of potatoes and I thought I was going to puke.  I didn't recognize the signs of hypoglycemia, so I threw down some eCaps, took another big drink of water and headed for Salamander at Timberline. 

Going out of AS7, the trail was very runnable, but my legs were so wasted I could only run a few steps and then there would be a handful of rocks on the trail prompting me to walk again.  I just did not have the confidence or energy to "dance" through them at this point in the day.  The last thing I wanted to do was fall again.  I knew if I fell and hit my injured knee again, I'd probably just crawl off the trail and let the coyotes have their way with me.  When we came out of the woods onto Salamander (a great beginner's slope that goes forever) I thought "we have to go up there?"  Actually  the climb up wasn't as bad as I expected, even though I walked most of it.  I was a little worried about missing the trail back into the woods, but Dan had done a great job of flagging the route and it matched the pre-race briefing perfectly.  Finally, out of the sun and back into the shade of the trees.  Little did I know what lay ahead.

Oh, did I mention the "butt slide" was fun too?  As we started our decent into the valley, the trail got steeper and steeper.  A couple of runners passed me and I caught up with some others, but just fell in behind them.  I was running on fumes by then and had no interest in passing anyone on the steep single track.  I'm thinking to myself, "these mountain bikers are crazier than hell."  I mean, it was bad enough trying to negotiate that section of trail on foot, let alone on a mountain bike.  There were a couple of places where our little group actually had to hang onto small trees to get down the really steep pitches.  I kept looking at my watch and at this point, I was convinced there was no way I (we) was going to make the finish line under 12.  Even after the "butt slide" we were still in the woods for what seemed like miles.  Finally we broke onto a gravel road and soon saw AS8 in the distance.  The final leg!  We were going to make it! 

As I ran into the AS, I saw my family complete with our two Golden Retrievers on the side of the road.  I cannot tell you what a boost that was.  I refilled my water bottle (no food now--what good would it do?), with the help of volunteers, and began running  up Freeland Road.  I was actually running fairly large chunks of road.  I would run the flats and walk the hills.  That seemed to work.  As we approached the intersection with Rt. 32, the course veered left into a fairly large, grassy meadow.  There was a tread, but I was reluctant to try to run much of it.  I nearly twisted an ankle on a rut and a  clump of grass, and the last thing I wanted at that point was a debilitating injury.  I figured I could walk backwards by then and still make the cut.  Across Rt. 32 and into CVSP.  The paved road into the park was hot and totally exposed to the sun.  I ran the flats (mostly) and what downhill there was and walked the uphills.  The trail turned back into the woods and we were inside a mile.  A girl I was running (walking) with told me she had fallen several times on this section, last year.  Don't fall.  Watch your step.  Concentrate.

Bang!  Out of the woods onto manicured grass and then the final yards to the finish line.  I (we) had made it.  So much was racing through my mind at that point.  John Logar was standing at the finish line with his patented grin.  Dan Lehman was dutifully taking pictures of all the finishers.  My daughter Danielle was taking pictures and Cindy was doing a great job controlling our Goldens.  It was over.  Was it as bad as I thought it was 3 hours earlier?

                                                          I can't believe I made it...

                                                          The allusive Finish Line

                                                                     My greatest fans

                                                     A congratulatory hug.  (I know I smell bad)

                                                Danielle and dad, with the ever present dog leash

                                                             Triage by "Coach" Logar

                                                             Calling the ER.  I'm on my way.


It's post race day 6 and difficult to put into words everything I'm feeling.  Physically, I'm doing well.  The lactic acid finally metabolized on Tuesday and my quads are totally back to normal.  Had it not been for my stupid knee, my normal  routine of a post race day 1, one or two mile walk, followed PR day 2 by a two or three mile gentle jog would have sped up the recovery process.  But, I feel good.  After my first marathon, back in the late '70's, I had to walk down the stairs backwards for two days.  Following HS, even with my gimpy knee, I could go down the stairs frontwards.  The knee is looking good, although it will be forever ugly, no signs of infection and healing nicely.  Stitches out Monday.  Some gentle running next week.  It's time.

I met so many extraordinary people out on the trail.  I am just so impressed by the women athletes who participate in HS.  In an iRunFar blog last week, Bryon wrote about being "chicked."  I told Abbi Crowe she and her sister "chicked" me.  I think it's great.  I have two wonderful daughters and I will tell you, a woman can do anything a man can do.  Back in the 'bad old days' of the Boston Athletic Club (and others) women were not even allowed to run in marathons because they were the weaker sex.  Well all of you ladies out there may (on the count of 3) thumb your collective noses at them.  Great job!!!  There were so many "trail experiences" I can't begin to mention all of them.  Even though it was a competitive environment, there was a huge sense of comradery too.  When I took my spill at mile 17, everyone around me pitched in to get me back on my feet and headed up the trail.  Seconds here and minutes there all add up, but everyone (throughout the race) really showed outstanding sportsmanship.  I wish I could remember names from the trail, but alas, that is one my several (many?) weaknesses.  I dated my wife for over a week before I could remember her last name.  I know, I'm just lame.

I have rambled much too long.  Before I post this, I want to thank Dan Lehman and his amazing crew of volunteers for a first rate event.  I can tell you, it's not easy being a race director, even for a little 10K.  Way to go Dan!  Next I want to thank Adam Casseday for all of his support and coaching during my months of training.  I met Adam for the first time in Cooke City, MT.  He and my older daughter Hillary went to high school together.  Adam and Kadra are having their first child in August.  I told Adam that will change his life forever.  Adam, Danielle and I are looking forward to crewing at CMMM.  Then there's Logar.  What can I say?  He always makes me laugh and he is a wealth of information regarding the world of Ultras.  He was especially helpful with fueling suggestions, electrolyte management, and always said, "just keep moving forward."  Matt Young pulled me back from the ledge early in my training, when I didn't think I could do it.  Even though we haven't met, we exchanged a series of eMails that got me refocused.  I really regret not meeting Matt at HS. 

Thanks to everyone, athletes, volunteers and families.  /jim