Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mohammed's South Mountain Birthday Run: 50k+, 1/24/09

Starting together as a "pack" during the 1st half Mile. Mohammed has the orange crown!

To view lots more photos, go here.

Mohammed just turned 30 last weekend. His daughter was also born on that day. To celebrate, he invited 15 running friends on a 32+ mile traverse of the South Mountain Gamelands and South Mountain State Park near Morganton, NC.

We had a fabulous day! Mohammed surprised us with custom made crowns by a fellow named Lonnie who makes hats as a way to raise awareness of cerebral palsy, which Lonnie’s son has. (

We just had a great time! The group started running the first few miles up the steep approach to the Old CCC gravel and dirt road together before we spread ourselves out over 1-2 miles by days end. The Old CCC road switched to dirt and mud after about 7 miles and continued lightly technical into the trails of the State Park. More relatively easy up and down running. David Kirk put up with me for almost 17 miles of trail and I am grateful for his companionship. At our turn around point-Mo had arranged for birthday cake, soda, and munchies to be stashed-yet we were happy to find some of the generous partners of runners hanging out “partying” with us in the parking lot. Thank you Lily and Patti!

I ran back most of the rest of the way alone. My running companions way out hiked me on the uphills and I felt better “jogging” slowly up the hills than hiking. So after crossing paths a couple of times and admiring each others hats, I expect many of us journeyed much of the last half alone.

A brilliantly warm day for January. It must have been in the low 50’s for several hours. Round trip it took me 6:03 including hanging out at the turn around for about 25 minutes…I wore my Mountain Masochist Montrails along with a pair of Smartwool PhD socks. Great combo for this run. The Masochists gave excellent traction in the mud-and seemed to work well for my fussy bio mechanics at this distance. I did put blue Superfeet in them to help with stability as I am accustomed to a more rigid shoe. No blisters or concerns, though I did take a preventative ice bath upon arrival home.

I must run more hills! This was a very fun day-yet I was “feelin’ it” during the last couple of miles! Thank you Friends for a great day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some days are just great!

14 miles round trip from our house in Jefferson...up 221, onto Mt Jefferson State Park Road, into the state park...through the gate...onto the trails and down! A great way to celebrate inauguration!

Monday, January 19, 2009

New River Trail 50k Race Director Dilemma (How much will the entry fee be?)

Photo taken 9/08 looking north towards Fries Junction on the NRT 50k course.

I have been working on the ’09 version of The New River Trail 50k on and off for the past couple of months. My goal is to open online registration by February 1, 2009.

Registration can’t open yet as I am still waiting on details from event sponsors and I need to sort out my priorities. My 1st priority as an RD is to deliver a quality and safe race that is environmentally responsible. The 2nd is to give a generous amount of proceeds to The National Committee for the New River.

For it’s inaugural year in 2008, I was pleased at how things went. My biggest disappointment is that as hard as we tried we didn’t get the distance quite right, From differing gps units and other measuring devices out there I think the ’08 version was somewhere between 1/10th and 4/10th a mile too long. I want to have the course USATF certified as a 50k. I think it is an excellent course to record PRs and perhaps even American records-age group records at the very least…and one day would like the venue to be a Regional or National Championship Event.

Yet, already due to increased expenses with our post-race lunch, and cost of finishers shirts and pottery mugs the price will climb by $7.00 a person-from $50.00 in ’08 to 57.00 in ’09-not unreasonable considering last year we didn’t quite know how much everything would cost or come together.

Today I received the cost to certify the course. $1750.00. That would include timing (possibly chip timing depending...)

The certification would be good for 10 years.

This is what I am in a dilemma about. Our race cap this year is 225. I think we can well handle and attract that number, especially with a certified course-yet I am going to be very conservative and base my expenses on 150 entrants. That would mean base fee of 57.00 + more to cover the cost of certification. The difference is 11.66 per person. That means almost 70.00 per person-or over 2.00 per mile! And I am not willing to go there-sure Horton charges 65.00 for HL and Promise Land and Gill and Frannie 85.00 for BelMonte…and they fill up-but hey it’s Horton and Bad to the Bone-and I just don’t want to ask runners to pay that much!

Perhaps I can find a generous sponsor to make a $1000.00 donation to NCNR to cover part of the certification fee and then we’d just have to divide $750.00 between 150 folks = 5.00 per person more?

It’s a bunch of $$$ to lay out-yet the returns could be substantial. And these are tough economic times for all of us-I want to be in the position of providing opportunities for experiences-not making it harder to participate…
I expect I will still roll with a “swag opt out option” that would keep the registration to a bare minimum for folks who do not want stuff to take home…

Oh, what to do?

Please share your thoughts!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good news! Great Eastern 100k offers 1/2 price registration= $1.00 a mile!

Montrail teamates Russell Gill and Francesca Conte co direct one of the few 100k trail races in the country. This afternoon I received a press release from Gill-the GEER 100k registration will open Feb 2, 2009 and offer the 1st 100 folks to register online 1/2 price entry of $62.50 will all the swag and amenities of full price...that works out to about $1.00 per mile! See the event website and scroll down to new to find the pdf with complete information. The 2009 race will be 9/26/09. There is also a 50k and 1/2 marathon option.(discount does not apply to these races.)

I have run the GEER 50k in 2004 and 100k in 2005 before the course was changed a couple of years I can not provide a current description from personal experience. I have also worked at an aid station on this event for 16+ hours in 2006 and will say firsthand that Frannie and Gill will offer a quality and challenging event...AND the mountains and trails of this area are diverse-smooth and rocky and wet and up and down and fabulously fun and challenging and beautiful! Personally I am considering running this year-yet am torn between this and Tussey Mountainback -a 50 miler which I have never done...yet there is time to consider all that!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I am a runner again!: Lost toenail and smart Frosty 50k slog

Photo is Nick, me, Rick and Beth 1 minute before the start of Frosty 50k '09.
I put Mama Grey's photo in too-because she is cool!

I am a runner again. Tonight after arriving home from my "double out and back" slog around Salem Lake I soaked in Epsom Salts and lost a toenail! Yipppee! After starting ultrarunning in 2002 I have rarely had 10 toenails. Yet since 4/08 and being smitten with injuries, my toenails grew back and my feet looked normal. The combined effort of New Years Eve run and wet feet from the creek crossings today have me celebrating!

Today was NO race for me. A training run. Time on feet with friends. And I felt a special kinship to Sarah, Rick, Byron, Scott, another pig-tailed woman an Richard as I ran...they were all there too-running/plodding all of us with a unique combination of movements that spoke to our 24 hour efforts 9 days ago. My goal was to spend at least 4.5 hours out there. I got my money's worth with a time of near 4:50 (wasn't watching the clock). Today's run took just under 1 hour over my fastest time there 2 years ago.
No worries. I ran slow and did not race and therefore did "good". (Many thanks to Rick for the encouragement to be "slow" and to Richard for companionship during the final miles! Full results will be at the race website soon.I think Nick was a top finisher, Rick finished 4:11ish, Beth near 4:30. These 3 are folks I join for "adventure runs in our nearby Mt Rogers National Recreation Area several times a year. (And they are awesome humans too!)

I wore my trusty Continental Divides as I have arthritis in my L 1st metatarsal from an old injury and it was aggravated New Year's eve-so I sought my most stable and least flexible shoe: The Montrail CD w/ green superfeet. "Overkill" for this event. In most situations, yes, in my situation: PERFECT!

I love having 9 toenails!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Freedom Park New Year’s Ultra 24 Hour: An Impulsive Adventure!

First 2 photos taken 1 hour after finishing up 24 hours of running:
1)Partial Group Shot, 2)Matt and Annette, 3)the initial preparations for an icebath.
This event was held yesterday(12/31) and today (1/1) on a USATF approximately 1 mile certified loop in a city park in the town of Morganton, NC.

Originally I’d signed up for the 6 hour…yet after much silent deliberation and a couple sleepless nights –switched to the 24 hour 14 hours before it’s start.
Was I trained to the 24? No.
Logistically prepared? No.
Have a stragedy? No.
Have a passion for doing something extravagant to honor the transition of the years? YES!
Was I willing to step back and pull out if I was over my head? (With reluctance-but yes).

My thinking-logical and otherwise is this:
Running 6 hours would already cause me to be up all night…if I ran during the day, I could watch and learn. I felt like a wimp for starting to run in the darkness and cold at 8pm. I didn’t want to be “left out” and I wanted a sensible risk to welcome the 365 days ahead. I also figured I would run much slower for 24 than 6 hours, lessening the possibility of tweaking my calf.

After talking it over with George on Tuesday afternoon and deciding I’d switch, I did some internet research on 24-hour events. I was going into this very green and wanted to learn whatever I could. I became distracted upon arriving at the American UltraRunning website and quickly learned the qualifying time for the National team is a minimum of 120 miles on a certified course and the qualifying window is July 2007-January 1, 2009. So I did the math: I would have to have an average of 12-minute miles-or 5 miles per hour. Doable-run/walking if I was smart and had a good day? Even with my longest run being 22 miles since July-I thought so.

Of course qualifying does not mean selection…or that if selected I could take the time from work and find the money to go…(even though the Championship is in Italy this coming May!) Yet I am a goal person-so I choose this as my mileage goal. I shared it with RD’s David and Rhonda and asked them to keep it a secret (I wasn’t sure how realistic/unrealistic it would be not having run long for awhile and being a “newbie” to this format)

It is an hour and 45ish minutes from Jefferson to Morganton and I left at 4:45am to give enough time to set up my tent, pick up packet and dress before the 8am start. I saw many familiar and new faces and later learned lots of names! I think there were between 30-40 24-hour starters including Byron Backer and Richard Lilly with whom I have shared many miles! I especially mention these guys because their familiarity and encouragement was very valuable!

To summarize the 1st 10 hours. Windy. 42 degrees with a wind chill of 32 degrees. Fun. Social. I met folks from all over the US and got to chat for hours with amazing humans with amazing lives!

I had no plan-yet upon the suggestion of the “Mr. RD” after a few hours, began to walk parts of the 2 tiny up hills on the course. After 8 hours or so and feeling more confidant I shared my mileage goal with runners who asked. I vowed not to look at my mileage or leader board until 12 hours. Yet somewhere mid afternoon I noticed the leader board with me being in 4th position. No worries. I knew I was at least averaging 5 mph.

At 5pm…with waning shadows, and still strong winds I changed into tights and more clothes. The challenge was to find the right combo of clothing as not to soak with sweat and hence get cold-or to be too cold. I was never warm from 5pm on. Only a few times did my teeth chatter and I get bone cold. Most of the rest of the night I felt cold and lost dexterity in my hands-even with my down mitts. The 6 and 12-hour runners joined in at 8pm. It was refreshing to have fresh legs on the course and witness people really running hard! Montrail teammate Russell Gill seemed to be tearing it up in the 6 hour…he was moving so fast and me comparatively so slow, we didn’t exchange much more than waves!

One unwelcome challenge during this event was my body being in purge mode (prob'ly from Christmas food and travel) and “stomach” cramping caused some “close calls” and no less than 15 pit stops (fortunately in a lighted heated building w/tp!-had this occurred in the woods it would have been very miserable! I don’t know if it “hurt” me by the constant breaks, or if the breaks –which were also warming-helped with not overdoing it?

I really felt good for most the day and night. Yet around 4:30ish am I started second guessing myself and fearing I’d bit off more than I deserved. I whined. Outloud a little. Inwardly, a lot! I ate grilled cheese. And things got better eventually! (I finally remembered that I tend to hit a low about 2-3 hours before dawn!)

Speaking of food-I ate almost none of my usual ultra food. Just Clif drink and 1 Clifbar, but no shots or blocks or even fig bars. Part reason is that due to the cold, my hands wouldn’t work enough to undo wrappers…and other, because I was running such a slow pace and it wasn’t hot I really didn’t deal with traditional nausea or other food issues. I consumed no less than 3 pieces of pizza (with cheese and pepperoni removed), 1 grilled cheese sandwich, 2 handfuls of peanut m&ms, 1 canned boiled and salted potato, 4 sandwich cookies, 5 hard candies, 5 cups hot cocoa, 1 cup hot cider, 2 cups chicken broth and one “champagne glass” of sparkling grape juice at midnight! I mostly drank Clif drink or bottled water-at times coke looked appealing-yet it too I couldn’t open!

The volunteers kept a hot kitchen going for nearly 18 hours! Yum, yum and thank you! The support at this event was exquisite. I felt like a rock star-they attended so well to everyone!

Anyway, as not to drag on this post-I know I am sleep deprived and babbling…I ran (unofficially) 121.97 for 2nd place overall and Matt Chaffin from near Syracuse, NY almost 126 miles. Results will be verified and posted ASAP at:
I do plan on emailing Roy Pirrung tomorrow who is in charge of the men's and women's 24 hour teams and making inquiry...and see what unfolds!

I left the race area, ate breakfast with the runners and RD and crew, and drove to a parking lot. Slept 2 hours. Drove 1.5 hours home and sat in an ice tub for 10 minutes. I am holding onto handrails as I limp downstairs. My legs are swollen and I have a painful lump on the top of my left foot… Lack of training wasn’t necessary obvious in the race-yet I fear it may be during recovery!

In summary, somewhere around 5:30am this morning another runner asked me if I still felt half human. We both said we did and wished each other well as we continued to slog along. I thought about the question as I plodded on in the predawn cold. I didn’t feel half human. I felt never MORE wholly human! Existing and living in the moment, experiencing the elements, companionship, celebrating with others, sharing stories, disappointments, self-doubts. It was a beautiful star filled night with the foothills visible in some directions. I am privileged to have had this experience. My thanks to RD’s David and Rhonda Lee, all the volunteers and all the 6, 12, and 24-hour runners for a fabulous New Years Eve celebration!