Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who needs a week off?

I decided to take a week off after running Rocky Hill. I just didn’t want to run a long way for a long time. But yesterday I thought, “I am feeling pretty good. My legs are not that sore.” So this morning I woke up and stretched and ran three easy miles. I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t stay away. Please don’t hate me because of my addiction.

It felt good to move after a couple of days of rest. My day is better when I run.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rocky Hill Ranch 50k

We got to Rocky Hill Ranch at 11:30 p.m. Friday night. The band was jammin at the saloon but we were prepared for that to be the case. We parked near the start/finish and Jason, Jakeb and I stretched our sleeping bags under a canopy we had set-up, put ear plugs in our ears and tried to get some sleep. The band played until about midnight and all was silent so that was good.

The moon was full and bright enough to where I woke up a couple of times wondering who had left the lights on. The temperature sank to the mid-forties and I woke up a couple of times wondering who forgot to turn on the heater. Then at 4 am I heard a loud voice screaming for people to line up. It was the race director giving last minute race instructions to the fifty-mile runners who opted for the four o-clock start time.

I was tired and sore from lying on the ground. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but around five I couldn’t lay there anymore. I got up and sat with Jason and Jakeb in the car until it was time for Jason to start.

Jason lined up for the fifty-miler at 6am and Joe, the race director, gave last minute instructions. This time I was awake enough to listen. He talked about how insane the first mile was with the up-hill climbs up Fat Chuck’s Demise. The runners took off and I started getting ready for the 50k/25k start at 7am.

Jason came back a little more than 30 minutes later from the 3.5 mile out-and-back that the 50 mile course took. He said “You’re gonna love it. It is crazy fun up and downs.” I found out later that Jason is a masochist.

I lined up with the runners that were left and listened to the pre-race instructions for the third time and Joe screamed go and we went. Slowly. Climbing and walking. Staring at my feet and climbing. After a mile things flattened out a bit and I got to the meat of the course. Rocky Hill is by far the most challenging course I have ever run. My mentality was to run slow, take walk breaks and be patient. Towards the end of the first loop I was questioning my decision to run 50k and trying to figure out how to motivate myself to keep running once I hit the start/finish.

About a half a mile from the end of the first loop I saw Jakeb on his mountain bike. He asked how I was doing and said that Jason was only 5 minutes ahead. I left Jakeb and about a quarter of a mile from the turnaround saw Jason as he started out on his next loop. There was my motivation - to catch Jason and run some with him.

Jason is a much faster runner than I will ever be. He qualified for Boston by breaking 3:10 a couple of years ago at Houston but I knew he was conserving energy to run the whole 50. It was energy I didn’t need so I picked it up a bit and really pushed myself back up Fat Chuck’s for my last loop. I would pay for it at the end of the race.

I caught Jason about four miles into my second loop. It was mile 19.5 for me, mile 24 for Jason. We ran together until the next aid station and I was scared that I would either slow him down or push him to where it would mess up his race so at the next aid station I ate some tortillas stuffed with ham and cheese and took off alone.

This section was the most difficult for me because I was alone and I walked more than I had hoped for. The last aid station came and went and all I could think of was “forward motion”. The lack of training and sleep were catching up and I felt like I was plodding, not racing.

I finally hit the finish in 6:18:09 by my watch. Rock Hill is a tough course and I only ran 15.5 miles at Hog’s Hunt for my longest training run. Normally I would have run a couple of 24 milers followed by some 10’s the next day. So I am happy to have finished.

Jason came in just a couple of minutes behind me and took off for his last loop. I was amazed to watch him come in and have the strength to take off for another loop starting with the steep pain from Fat Chuck. Jason finished in 11:35 just a couple of minutes slower than his Sunmart 50 mile finish. To me that was better than a PR.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

50k with wicked leathers

About a month ago I got an email from Jason. Jason ran 50 miles at Sunmart in 11 hours and something and his email stated that he wanted to run 50 miles in under 11 hours and Rocky Hill Ranch would be his last chance before the end of the summer.

I thought to myself, “Go Jason!”

Then in the next line he said he didn’t want to go to the race alone and me and the other guy he sent the email to were the only two people that he knew that were currently running enough mileage to finish one of the races. There is a 50k and a 25k race that same day.

I gave it a lot of thought … about 2 seconds worth and told Jason that if the family calendar was clear that weekend I was in. I checked and things fell into place nicely for me to run. Jakeb is going along for moral support and to ride his mountain bike.

The responsible thing to do would be to sign up for the 25k. I could run that one in my sleep. But as EQ has stated on his blog, you only live once so I did the irresponsible thing and signed up for the 50k. I am not trained for a 50k. I will not finish it well but I will finish.

Jason and I made our plans. Due to his son’s evening baseball game we will not leave until 8:30pm. We plan to drive to Rocky Hill Ranch, set-up a canopy and fall asleep in a field under the stars, wake up the next morning semi-rested and run a long way.

Two days ago the race director sent an email saying that in an attempt to book as many activities as possible Rocky Hill Ranch is having a Bike Night. A local motorcycle shop called Wicked Leathers is sponsoring an event at the Rocky Hill Ranch Saloon with a live band and music and free RV spots and camping.

Oh great. Bikers and loud music and drunk people trying to find where they put up their tent mixed with runners trying to get some sleep the night before one of the longest races of their life. Not that I have anything against bikers or loud music or those who are drunk mixing with runners. I just think the combination works out better for the former group rather than the latter.

We could go find a hotel but if you read my last post you find in my case that may not be any better. I really didn’t know that the TIR weekend with its lack of sleep would be training for future races. This should be interesting.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hog's Hunt 25k

Andrea and I bought a car on Friday. We got rid of our gas guzzling Durango and are now proud owners of a Toyota Camry. I’m going to miss the Hemi but I’m not going to miss the gas bill. It took forever to get the paperwork done and we didn’t get back to Lake Jackson until 10:30 Friday night. That is when mine and Jakeb’s Hog’s Hunt adventure began.

I pulled into the garage from our car shopping trip and I went into ‘let’s go’ mode. I threw the last of our stuff together and went up stairs to wake Jakeb up. We drove to a hotel on the north side of Houston and were ready to fall in bed since we had to get up early and run. There was some guy in the next room talking loudly. He never paused to stop talking. It was like he was practicing the Gettysburg Address. I thought ‘Oh great we are never going to get to sleep.’ But in about 20 minutes he stopped and the world was silent.

We woke up the next morning after what seemed to me like almost no sleep at all and drove to Huntsville State Park. We got there around 6:20 and picked up our packet and went back to the truck to warm up. It was amazingly cold for April 4th. I think it is weird that Sunmart in December at Huntsville State Park was hot and Hog’s Hunt in April was cold.

Jakeb and I wandered around before the start of the 50k and saw Karen and Katy. They took off and we went back to the truck to put on our shoes, race number water bottle and belt. We stretched for a little while and then went to the starting line where we saw Adrienne and her mom. We talked some and after some race instructions took off.

Jakeb and I were pretty evenly paced as we ran the road for a mile. My legs felt a bit dead but by the time we made it to the trails they started loosening. Jakeb ran strong the whole way. When we made it to the trails we were in single file with a group of runners and the pace slowed. Jakeb and I maneuvered past a couple of people and by the time we made it to the road in the back of the park we were running at a decent pace again. A ways down the road we started seeing the leaders coming back. Adrienne passed by us in first place in the women’s race and looked strong. She went on to win.

In the middle of the race we ended up behind a group of people who were running slower than us and we stuck behind them for a couple of miles. I think it was good to run behind them because it kept us from running too fast. I asked Jakeb how he was doing more than once and he continually said ‘I’m good.’

We made it to the boardwalks and passed the group ahead of us. I asked Jakeb if he wanted to pick it up and he said ‘Let’s go’ so we up’ed the pace into the aid station.

After downing a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and having our water bottles refilled we took off. A woman that was leaving the aid station told us that there was only about 3 miles to go so we ran a bit harder. In the last four miles I would guess we passed ten people.

In the last mile there is a hill (or two) to climb and I started walking and after a couple of steps Jakeb said ‘were not walking’ so I started running again. My kid is a slave driver.

We turned the corner and ran the power line right-of-way to the pavement at the finish. Jakeb sprinted at the end and I couldn’t possibly let him go alone so I ran with him as we laughed at each other. He finished a step in front of me. I stopped my watch at 2:30:52 - a 9:44 pace. It was a good race. I am proud of how Jakeb ran.

Jakeb just got his learners permit so he drove from Huntsville to the Woodlands. We stopped at Pei Wei on the way home and refueled. I drove the rest of the way home and had a horrible time staying awake.

You can read Jakeb's report here ... link.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tracking mileage

Katy wrote on her blog that she doesn’t track her monthly mileage. I keep up with monthly mileage, weekly mileage, yearly mileage and shoe mileage all in a spreadsheet I created myself. It is not than I am a stat geek or anything but my personality is such that I have a feeling of accomplishment by knowing I can add another mile to the week, month, year and shoe.

I am taking off today and tomorrow to rest the legs for Hog’s Hunt and it kills me not to add data to runlog2008.xls. Below is a screenshot:

I have 102.5 miles on the GTS8's and I still like them. (see earlier post)

Jakeb and I may see some of y’all this weekend … later.