Sunday, June 6, 2010

Black Mountain Monster 12 Hour = quality WS training run

 Photo of Anne Lundblad and I at around hour 10...

Sunday, 6/6, 9am…Part I

As I sit down to write this post, I am surrounded by a pile of grassy running shoes, salt crusted clothes, dirty water bottles, a charging Garmin 305 and an open map. My legs are bright red from a recent 2nd ice bath in less than 8 hours.

After deciding to do WS 100 on June 26th, less than a month ago, I planned this training weekend: 12 hours running  3 mile trail laps at the Black Mountain Monster 12/24, and the next day some 10-15 miles of mountain running in the Black Mountain area.

The purpose of yesterday was to practice hydration, nutrition and pacing (staying in control-and practicing switching from running to power walking/hiking). I would also get a chance to run for an hour in the dark, and this would be a good chance to review my light system.

The event started at 10am, and leaving Jefferson, NC at 5:50am put me in Black Mountain by 8:00, plenty of time to unload my things, tape feet, socialize and get ready. In contrast to this year, though there were a similar number of runners, most runners were solo, rather than teams as was true last year.

 Feelin' good on the feet!

The course too was different, a slightly shorter loop with more little ups and downs on single track, and many hairpin turns. This course design was much fun: wide grass trail, wood chipped trails, greenway pavement, ivy and root laden trails, and running along the edge of fields in mowed grass.  I think the course was a bit slower than last years route due to the turns and little rooty “ups”.
 Fine, mellow trail...
Down hill on the Greenway...

Just before the start, I glimpsed and waved to many wonderful friends and running acquaintances I haven’t’ seen all year: Brian Beduah running the 24-hour, Anne Lundblad, 9 weeks out of back surgery and still looking happy and fit, readying to walk for 12 hours. Former Montrail teammate and Sara Lowell was running, like me, practicing for Western States 100, coming up in 3 weeks.

Drew Shelfer, his wife Michelle and 15 month old daughter were setting out for a grand adventure: All three would do the 12 hour, with Drew pushing the ATV like baby jogger as much as little girl would allow. My back and arms ached with the thought!

Paul Carrasco was there too and he and I were running companions for much of the 1st 3 hours. Paul was there to run at least 40 miles to celebrate turning 40 in a couple of days

To “practice” for WS, I wore the attire I expect to wear in 3 weeks, though I am still not sure if I’ll wear the Mountain Masochist or Sabino Trails. Yesterday I wore the MM as I knew the course would have few rocks. I discovered I will NOT wear the knee high compression hose I have worn since after VT 100 last year. I wound up with crusty salt and a scary looking red heat rash due to the compressive nylon. There is still time to seek an alternative!

My game plan w/calories and fluid was to weigh every 3 hours. I would take 2 electrolyte caps and at least 300 calories every 90 minutes. Since the GU 2O I ordered (this is what will be provided at WS) didn’t come to me in time, I used my favorite Clif Shot cran raspberry drink mix. I alternated between water and drink with additional calories coming from gels, Shot Blocks, almond butter and jelly squares, little cans of V-8 juice. During the hottest hours of the race, I was drinking almost 50 ounces per hour switching to Gatorade when I ran out of my own mix.

The reported high temp for the day was 86 with humidity ranging from 78-100%. Not HOT by WS 100 standards, yet the temps and humidity certainly got my attention!

After 6 hours, my weight was maintaining, and I was feeling good. I had run 13 laps or 39 miles.
Refueling stops were taking longer, fishing ice out of the cooler, pouring drinks, sweaty slippery fingers trying to open gel packs are almost as frustrating as cold ones!

By 9 hours ( 7pm) I was over being really hot and my weight was up 2#. I’d slowed down and happily hiked 2 parts of the course consistently.  I was getting bored. The reason for the boredom is that this was a loop and I’d already met my goal of a solid 50+-mile heat-training run…I was in a not-so-good attitude state. I was sick of sweet stuff and really wanted to eat the pizza they had just brought out. So I did!

 A quiet looking transition area at around 7pm (more tents and stuff out of photo range)

From hour 9-10 I took it easy, backed off the fluids, took more salt, had a slice of pizza. I had hoped that by fueling myself with a slice I wouldn’t have to eat more sweet stuff for the rest of the night. During this hour I walked with Brian and then with Anne, pausing with Anne at the transition area to run and fetch my camera so as to get a photo of us together. I also grabbed another small slice of pizza. Pizza is never a go to food for me and eating it was a risk-yet, this was a training run, so why not?

A little more walking to help the pizza start to settle and at 8:15pmish I was feeling emotionally better from some good conversation with Anne and Brain and the pizza was doing its’ magic. I thought to finish out another 3 loops.

After running 1 lap by flashlight I finished my last loop in 11:28 minutes. In theory, I could have pushed for another, yet practice, not race, was the theme of the day, and truth be told, that was a relief! Total loops: 23, total miles: 69.

I lugged my things up the hill shortly after finishing, not hanging around in my usual social way as I wanted to check into the nearby Super 8 and shower and then get the ice bath out of the way before my anticipated frozen ravioli meal.

I don’t know the results from the race. As I was leaving a nighttime 12 hour was just beginning. Race director, Richard Hamby expected to post the results on Monday.

A fair, fun event. I wish more teams could come out-this event has the potential of a truly run and competitive running festival. I hope us ultra runners aren't scaring teams away!

Part II: Sunday’s “run”

As it turned out, I did not run 10 or 20 miles today. When I arrived at Mt Mitchell State Park for the planned 15ish mile loop on road, horse trail and steep single track it was sideways raining hard with thunder approaching. Visibility was at around 25’. I wussied out and left, knowing the storm could last 25 minutes or three hours. Stopping to look at the map, I figured to try a couple trails in the Curtis Creek area. After locating my target trail and 20 minutes of scrambling over deadfall, knowing this would hardly be a run, and I drove on to Woodlawn Work Station on 221.

I planned to run 1 hour out and 1 hour back heading west on the Mountains to Sea Trail and reassess if I wanted more. After 10 minutes of easy running, my intestines squawked and my carefully attended blisters squawked. Okay. Hiking for 3 hours is valuable too, I thought and adjusted my plans.

The trail felt remote. Though well traveled on Fridays and Saturdays mid summer and in hunting season, the trail was not populated as I broke through several trail covering spider webs. After hiking for a good hour contouring and working my way down to Tom’s Creek I rounded a corner to see a large black bear 30’ ahead of me in the trail. I think we were both startled. I reached for the buckle of my Nathan waist pack and went to twirl and holler when baby bear came behind Mama.
 Self photo after bear sighting..

Now what? I making a raucous appropriate with baby bears-or do I back away? I didn’t have time to ponder as Mama and baby trounced off the trail through the mountain laurel. Although this was indeed not the 1st time I have come across black bear alone on a trail-it is the first time I encountered mama and baby so close. So I got sorta shaken up and turned around and went back to the car. My blistered feet, squeaky intestines, and generally sore body applauded.

Sooo…I didn’t get the full effect of longish miles today after yesterday-yet I think the less time on feet will help my tired body get back at it sooner…and it was nice to be home in time this evening to clean the bathrooms, lay out recycling, wash dishes and unpack and do laundry… I think my blisters will heal enough to give me 10 miles of non-steep running after work tomorrow with the thought of “making up” for today!



jenn said...


You got in some GREAT training this weekend! I would of loved to run that! beth and I actually looked at the 12/24 at black mtn a couple of months ago, but I was afraid of the loops. i just didn't know if I could run the same loop over and over and be happy by the end of it:o) I just need to TRY it instead of being afraid of something new and different.

I can't believe you saw a mama bear and baby bear that up close and personal!, running alone,no less! SCARY!!! glad it all worked out to the good there! it would of had me a little nervous the remainder of the run as well.

take care! hope to see you soon! ((HUG))


Ken said...

Very impressive run Saturday! It was a pleasure to be lapped by you, over and over and over.

Lynne said...

I too ran the 12 hour option on Saturday. Like Ken, I had the pleasure of being lapped over and over again by you :-) I thought the race was very well run and did not mind the loop aspect as it was the first time I have gone over 35 miles. Good luck at WS, I'm sure you will turn in a great performance as always.

BF said...

Well, I always get a hard time from friends and family for going off and doing things alone. But I've never stumbled upon a bear alone! (Or not alone, actually.)
I'm so glad you got out of there to tell about it.
You've got too many races ahead of you, and too many of us to continue to lap over and over and over...

Jill Perry said...

Annette, you ROCK. Smart chic and well prepared for the race to come! I love the Black bear suprise just makes me laugh to see you with a serious face! Now was that a poser pic? I know how good we are at those! Looking forward to seeing amazing you in just a few days! You are the BEST!!!

Sabrina Moran said...

Annette! I love your blog! You're a great story-teller; I feel like I was there! Good luck at WS, and safe travels. I'm sure you'll do awesome! :)