Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Belmonte 25k: The Dorsal Fin Makes an Appearance!

From Left to Right: Me,  Laren Rusin, Alison  Bryant, Jason Bryant, Ryan Woods ( top 5 of top 6 of Bel Monte 25km, missing; Chad Motz)
As an ultra –runner, historically  I have not given much thought to short distance trail races, previous to this year categorizing them in the “young and fast" or, “take a break from roadie running”…Yet this year, my perspective is thankfully broadening!

I started in with some “short” (ie: 25k/20 mi) earlier this year as I thought it’d be very interesting and a challenge to pursue this distances as I work on re-gaining my endurance post a 2+ month injury-dictated layoff from running. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series-10 races all around the USA and a person can compete by participating in 5 races. Cool! A series sounded fun…and since I was hurt during most of the great Montrail Cup Races, I couldn't participate in that series, I thought to add several of these shorter and faster runs to my personal calendar and diversify a little. Changing things up would be an adventure!

Sooo... this is how I wound up at the  Bel Monte 25k Endurance Run  on March 26, 2011!

Bel Monte features a 50 Mile, 50k and 25k, with this the first year of the 25k being part of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. I must admit, ½ hour before toeing the 25k start line, I watched the 50k and 50M start with hundreds of headlamps in pseudo envy: they yelled and cheered and erupted with enthusiasm and thrill and (likely nerves) as they ventured into the cold, early Spring of the mid-Appalachian Mountains! I say pseudo because I was excited to be near the start of my own “new” race, yet am more skilled at pacing 50k and 50M and very aware of the opportunities longer races offer…I am still a 25k racing newbie, yet will admit this year I feel better trained for the distance! Yet my dorsal fin was sick of being dormant, and made a welcome appearance despite the relatively small women's field!

I drove up to the course area on Friday afternoon after “flexing” a couple hours from work. I was able to get a short run in at Sherando Lake from the course start before locating the Super 8 in Waynesboro where I would stay. In the lobby during check-in, I met Joe the race photographer…friendly person and I was happy to remember his name as we saw each other several times the next day!

I arrived at course start by 5:50am, got parked, porta-pottied, socialized and warmed up. It wasn’t long before my watch read “6:50am” and I made final clothing adjustments. With a current temp of 35 degrees, known elevation that would drop it further, no wind and impending rain, I opted for shorts, short sleeve 2011 Montrail uniform t-shirt on top and Mtn Hardwear arm warmers. I wore beanie and gloves and homemade mittens and carried a Nathan Quickdraw Plus…

Carrying fluid in these cool conditions on a 15.5 mile run wasn’t necessary, yet I anticipated hitting a very crowed aid station #1 with the 50k and 50M folks and didn’t want to fight the crowd…great choice as this place was packed with longer distance runners vying for aid as I ran around, content with my partially consumed water bottle of Clif Shot drink!

The Bel Monte runs are not strolls in the mountains, yet generously challenging 90% trail events on rocky (sometimes VERY rocky) trails and through creeks and on bits of dirt roads. The terrain is an adventure and I found myself tickled at being back in the thick of rock navigation!

All in all, I was pleased to make good clothing and nutrition choices and to wind up under my anticipated window of 2:30, with a 1st place finish time of 2:26: 06. Alison Bryant, 35, NC, who has been recovering from injury, (otherwise would have scalped me and set a new CR), was second at 2:2:50, Laren Rusin, 33, MD, was 3rd at 2:52: 03. 

On the guys side Ryan Woods, 32 of Boone, NC CR’d at 1: 56:04, with Jason Bryant, 38, just minutes behind at 1:59:33. Chad Motz, 33, NC rounded out top 3 at 2:12:07 (this may have been a winning time in years past!) Full results here.
Weather: 35 degrees w/ mist 7am EST course start. Variable though elevation changes and ending 44sih as I finished via 9:30am!

Shoes: Montrail men’s size 9 Rouge Racers 
Socks: Dry Max Trail Heavy socks, size Medium (NO Blisters…joy-oh-joy!)
Clothing and Gear: Mtn Hardwear Pacer Advance Shorts 2010, Mtn Hardwear wicking shirt 2011, Mtn Hardwear gloves, homemade over mitts, Mtn Hardwear beanie hat, carried Nathan Quickdraw Plus water bottle, Zeneh Calf Compression Sleeves. 
Fuel: 20oz Clif Shot drink mix, 3 margarita shot blocks, 2 Oreo cookies, 8 peanut M&Ms, 5oz water!

I am happy to have run 13.5 miles today and working towards a smart day at Bull Run 50 Miler on 4/9!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ron Bednosky becomes a Trail Runner!!!

Ron, far right during the early parts of Seminole Trail Run earlier this month.

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law Michele

Ron and Michele in more "mainstream" venues this past year!

sent an email which simply stated, “Check out Ron from the Page of Today’s Sport Section and this link: 
The above photo appeared marking the article and all I could think was:

"How cool is that?" (Yay Ron!) Ron just won the Master's division of his first trail race!
My brother, Ron Bednosky lives with Michele and their two kitties in Sebring, Florida.

Kitties: Oldie Felix to the left and crazier Lucy on the right!
He has been running on and off for awhile and enters short races when convenient-yet I think his Master’s win at this trail run was wonderful…and if you look carefully at the photo, you can see his is wearing Montrail’s Fairhavens!

This inaugural trail run took place at nearby Sun ‘N Lake Preserve and attracted around 40 runners. When I heard of Ron’s participation I emailed and he agreed to be “interviewed” for this blog:

A: How long have you been running?
R: I have been running half heartedly for a number of years but started running 5k’s 2 years ago.
A: How much do you run?
R: I try to run 2 times a week, usually 3 miles each.
A: How much have you ever run at one time?
R: 3.2 miles!
A: What made you choose to run this new trail race?
      R: I got a flyer from a 5k that I ran  2 weeks before this one, sounded like fun and thought of my Sister
      A: What were you pleased about?
      R: I was pleased that it was a small field and I had a chance to do ok
      A: What would you do over if you could?
R: Run faster!
Closing in to the finish line at Seminole Trail 5k.

A: You won the Master's category! (Congratulations!!!) What did it feel like to be a Champion?
      R: Well, it was the first time I've been referred to as a "Master" but it felt good to place 
      A: What do you eat before a race?
R: I usually just have a banana and a cereal bar before a race
A: Do you prefer road or trail?
R: I think I like the road races better, I guess that's what I'm used to...
A: What sort of outdoor activities do you like to do?
       R: I enjoy canoe and kayak tripping, cycling, fishing, hiking, working outside.
Ron paddling a canoe he made in his garage!

George took this photo of Ron last year on a trip they took together...And YES, Ron made this kayak!
Ron doesn't let pouring rain stop his cool adventures!
A: What is your "real" job?
R: I drive an Engineering transporter for Honda in the IndyCar series, it keeps me on the road alot, but I enjoy it.
Evidence of his real job: Ron drives this truck across the country several times a year!
A: What is on your "ipod" play list?
R: Well, I have a total of 13633 songs on my Ipod( thanks to DJ brother in law) so alot of stuff I'm not sure of, but every Rush song recorded is on there!
A: Wine or beer?
R: Beer, then wine
A: Hammock or "doing stuff"
R: Doing stuff, but of course not neglecting the hammock too.
A: What shoes did you wear to race?
R: Montrail Fairhaven
A: Please share 5 parts of a perfect day!
R: Canoeing, no wind, hungry fish, campfire, nice sunset
A: Wow! Thanks Bro for talking with me! You are always having cool, new adventures…and I wish you many perfect days!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Montrail Rogue Racer and Super Cool New Website!

My weekend running "wheels": Montrail Rogue Racer
This weekend I did 2 training runs wearing the new 2011 Rogue Racer by Montrail. This is Montrail’s lightest shoe to date and I’ve worn them on and off since receiving them in December, adapting slowly to the more minimal shoe, as I am accustomed to stability shoes like the Sabino Trail and Mountain Masochist, or for road a variety of Saucony models.

I wear a men’s size 9 in the Rogue Racer (and most other Montrails except Sabino Trail (W10) and Rockridge (M8.5). The Rouge Racer weighs in at 8.8 oz each. I use blue Superfeet instead of the original insole which increase the weight of each shoe by about an ounce. The shoes are streamlined and fit just a tiny bit more snugly than Mountain Masochist in size 9, yet this could be perception too, due to really being able to feel the running surface underneath. I certainly would not go up in size.

Though it has taken me a little while to get used to, and trust my body in a light shoe (especially when so recently returning from injury) I am very excited to have Rogue Racer as part of my collection of trail runners and expect to wear them in my next race, Bel Monte 25k on 3/26 (Part of the La Sportiva Cup).

Yesterday I met Dennis Norris, his partner Lou and Martha Cutler in Damascus, VA for some trail bonding. Dennis and I ran together while Lou and Martha did runs of their own. Den and I put down some good, steady miles, 15.25 in a little under 2 hours. Both of us raced last Saturday (Den-Mt Mitchell Challenge, me Mt Cheaha 50k) and though spirits were enthused, our legs weren’t quite rested enough to really turn it on. The Rogue Racers did great and helped me run with more of a midfoot strike, than heel strike-a running style I am working towards.
Martha, Lou, Dennis and myself on Saturday, post run in the soon-to-be rainy parking lot.
 Today, my run was solo in 35 degree driving wind and moderate rain turning to snow by the end of the 97 minute run. These shoes are not designed for road running, yet I wanted to see how they’d do when going from paved to dirt roads and back. Rogue Racers did fine on the roads-and I was especially happy for the traction as snow started to accumulate on the pavement shoulders.

I also have just opened a box on the 2011, Montrail Fairhaven’s which are designed as a road/dirt crossover shoe and will look forward to wearing them on multi surfaces. I have them on now-just to wear around for several hours before running in them. The color I have is black and it has a minimal grey scaly pattern which makes me think Darth Vader. I can’t wait to run in them!

I have learned from some question/answer sessions with the fine folks at Montrail a few things about pronation control in the new line:

I quote an email from Montrail’s Jesse Malman:

Our new FluidPost technology is designed for neutral to mild pronators and provides customized pronation control and a more fluid motion control from lateral to medial side.  For severe pronators we have the Sabino Trail. We don’t have any supination shoes in the line, but the Badrock would be best for those runners because it has an overall stiffer midsole.

 Montrail’s new website is super cool because it has an interactive shoe finder that lets you type in your body type, foot strike and other information and suggests an a “good fit” model shoe. Runners can also purchase directly from the website or locate other vendors.

I spoke to the “next up” race for me being at the end of the month…next weekend will be filled with 18 hours of re-certifying my Wilderness First Responder at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, southwest of Bryson City, NC. Though there won’t be much training time, the Appalachian Trail goes right through the property and there is a dirt road across the street to get in some good running (likely by headlamp!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mt. Cheaha 50k 2011= Attitude, Patience and Embracing Current Reality!

The drive towards the Alabama mountains began after work on Thursday. Although the 8ish hour drive could be made in one day, I find the cost of a room at a budget motel worth the price of more rest and less stress. Wanting to avoid Friday morning traffic in Atlanta, I took the northern route, I-81, to I-75, stopping for the night in Chattanooga, TN.

The last time I was in this city was in 1997, days after Cheryl died. As I drove along, I recognized highway exits and locations where I’d been during previous trips when she and I spent time together. I thought of Cheryl and her running and kitty Rudy. If it wasn’t 9:30 at night when I arrived, I might have driven to her old neighborhood or gone for a run across the bridge she and I shared runs upon. I miss Cheryl and I was reminded, as I often am, that my late twin continues to help me grow into the person I am and am becoming. (Please see this previous post for more about Cheryl).

I used a highway motel coupon to get a room at an Economy Inn: relatively clean, quiet, coffee maker and microwave. Just what I wanted for an 11-hour stop over.

All the time alone on the drive and night alone left much time for pondering-about Cheryl, life and Mt Cheaha 50k. This would be the longest distance I will run since October 2010 when I was injured preparing for World 100k. I felt strong and well prepared for re-entry back into the ultra world and would strive to better my 2010 time of 5:09:?? Although competing wasn’t in the front of my mind, I definitely was hoping to run well enough for a top finish.

Friday morning’s drive to Mt Cheaha State Park was easy and fast. While driving I made a 6th phone call in 2 days to the lodge office to see if there were any cancellations. (Generally you must stay 2 nights on a weekend, unless there is an opening the day before or day of your stay). Luck! A non-smoking room was available for Friday night! Minutes prior there was a cancellation and while on the phone, I was put on hold for another line to be answered and was told it was another party looking for a cancellation.

I looked forward to arriving in the State Park and not leaving until the next morning. This would give time to consider what to share as I prepared to be a 5-minute “guest speaker” at the night’s pre-race meal. Todd (the race director) emailed me earlier in the week to see if I was up for it, of course I said “YES!” yet until this day, I hadn’t given it much thought.

"Blue hell"
I ran 35 minutes on some mountain bike trails and the last 1.5 miles of the course, before going for a walk down the blue blaze trail, (Mt Cheaha runners call it “Blue Hell”) to consider how not to bore this evening’s group of kindred spirits. Wow! This trail was steep! I was already looking ahead to tomorrow and anticipating what would surely be a very slow mile in the race.

As I made my way back to my room to make notes on my musings, I had to laugh out loud at blue hell and the adventures we runners venture into. Running 31.1 miles, climbing to the Top of Alabama is normal for the sub-culture of ultra runners and completely wacko for most everyone else visiting the park this weekend.

These are the notes I made to use for the evening:
  1. How many of you are wondering what to wear and to carry with you? Me too, this is most often my greatest night-before run dilemma! It gets easier to choose…

  1. Uwharrie 40 miler…my 1st ultra. It is okay to walk!(sometimes).

  1. Embrace emotions, you are real, ultra running demands realness. (Example of my crying the trails) Just try not to hyperventilate (explain)

  1. Music in my ears. I sometimes train w/ipod, yet never race w/one I use mantras. Ex: (WS100, 2007: “Annette you are having a great day and you are getting stronger” (after mile 85, “you are having a great day, and keep on being stubborn!)

  1. Do you feel intimidated or nervous? Consider dedicated miles or on some courses (I gave my Mad City 100k 2010 example) loops to people or things in your life you are grateful for…

  1. Nobody does this alone (remembering PA system from 2005 WS 100) Give thanks to those who love and support you!

  1. (Sometimes who we love and who we must support get in our way of training…soooo race day is a time to only worry about
a) not hurting yourself
b) not hurting someone else!

  1. If you are motivated by the negative, when you hit a rough patch, try, “I’d rather be here than stuck in Atlanta traffic” or “ having a root canal” or “locked out of my car in the 40 degree driving rain with no one around!”

  1. Celebrate the freedom to be all of who your truly are! Get muddy, get wet feet! And keep in mind Saturday, 2/26 only comes once in a lifetime!

Abby Meadows and I...Google her and you will know the  meaning of "tough and tenacious"!
Sally Brooking looking relaxed.
The pre-race meeting was fun and social, a good change after spending much of the past 24 hours alone. I felt privileged to share my thoughts at the meeting and don’t think too many people were bored!

Before leaving, I met up with John Dove, who would be a person of influence this day. John and I talked about race goals- I spoke to wishing to better my time from last year. He verbally poked me to run a sub 5-hour race. I appreciated this interaction and before heading for sleep, figured splits for a 5-hour finish.

The next morning, I sat with Dan, a veteran runner of varied experiences,  in the front seat of the prison bus as we rode for 45 minutes to the Porter’s Gap race start. We had conversation which converged on our race experiences and seeing the world through the eye of an ultra runner with all it’s peculiar norms and culture.

Race start was at 7:30am to the first notes of the loud speakered, “Sweet Home Alabama”. Off I went, running in a short line with Dink Taylor, John Dove and a few others. We ran together for until the first aid station at mile 3ish. I was feeling plucky and happy and thrilled to be running in the woods. Bouncing along the trail, the first hour passed. I couldn’t keep pace with these boys on the ups, so happily adjusted my pace to run within myself.

And then just about an hour into the run, the bouncing and pluckiness went away. Legs were heavy, I felt uncoordinated. It is like I bonked before starting out. I started to walk that which I usually scamper up. I was passed and passed. This could not be helped-this early in the run; I had to go with my body signals, rather than my will to go forth.

I ran through AS #2 10 minutes off my goal pace, 2nd woman and 20th overall. In this next section, again I was passed and passed and I ditched my ideas of pace and just tried to work through this funk.   For several miles, I ran between Christian Griffith, 40, and Laura Hill, 37, who was 3 paces behind me.

Several times between miles 5-15, I had thoughts of dropping out and taking a nap and turning this into a pleasure outing of hiking and jogging…HA! These options were not within the embrace of my current reality: so long as I could move without hurting myself or someone else, I would proceed as though things would improve.

 I drank Heed and ate a Clif Shot just before AS 3 at mile 15ish. Maybe my problem was lack of calories?  A generous volunteer filled my water bottle and opened a gel pack for me as I scarfed a bite of a pb&j square. I took a Succeed! capsule, and ate 2 Clif Shot Margarita blocks each 30 minutes for the next while…Wheels were coming back!

 The  Christian and Laura sandwich continued…then I decided to try a Chi-Running technique on posture I’d been working on last week…I tightened my lower abs to take the stress of my legs, and “ran” the little steeps instead of hiking. Calories and posture helped and soon my confidence started to return and I lost sight of my running buddies.

After a quick stop at AS 4-again seeing and greeting Ken who was here last year,  I transformed into hunt mode (I was told 3 runners had just come through). “Hunt mode” and downhill running allowed me to pass 3 runners, including  Laura Fulton, 26.  She seemed very steady and relaxed the couple times I saw her, I think she ran well and smart!

The next person I saw was 26 year old Emily Ansick. She was coming back from an “out n’back section of the course” and looked very strong. Just going into the “out” section and needing to stop for refueling, I knew she’d be about a 3rd to a half mile ahead of me. So I refueled and ran to chase!

The next time I saw Emily was miles later during a straight road portion of the course…I estimated she was .4 mile ahead and I worked to get closer-yet this girl clearly is strong and I didn’t see her again. Seeing her goaded me into continuing my pursuit, though I felt after trying to play catch up for 12+ miles I was at the edge of abilities. I passed though the last aid station, having been informed the last person to go through was Emily. I gave what I could during “blue hell” and even saw some blinky stars in my vision from the effort as I neared the top. (This scared me and I backed off the effort: finishing strong was now the goal, not passing out with 1.5 miles left to go!)

I saw a figure in front and then beside me. Byron Backer. Damn! He was running so darn super strong when we last saw each other at mile 4…and he is tenacious and tough… and I know he is strong enough for a sub 5-hour finish…yet he is not a hot weather runner. This day is was now approaching 70 degrees and Byron was worked and still working as he slogged his way up the trail. I slogged next to him and then ahead. He told me Emily was hurting and worried about me. I said I was hurting too, wished him well, and continued my quest to catch the young woman.

Catch her, I did not. She ran with courage and/or desperation and finished in 5:21:15. I came in 5:25:11, 3rd woman and 16th overall.   Sarah Woerner, 21, won with a time of 5:01:22 , a new course record! Congrats to you, fast girl!

The men’s race was: Owen Bradley, 31: 4:35:09, Jason Hamilton, 37: 4:42:48, DeWayne Satterfield, 46: 4:54:57 (What’s this with the 3rd place overall being 1st masters on both Male and Female sides?)

Full results here.

I was pleased with my ability to rally after some unexpected tough miles early on, yet not pleased with the mistakes I clearly made to contribute to this extended low point. After finishing there was no time for self-pity, or even healthy reflection: I had a Montrail tent and shoe table to set up and hang out at!

Fifteen minutes later, I was positioned under the tent with shoe samples, give-away goodies and many interested runners! The rest of the afternoon passed fielding shoe questions, registering comments and wishes about shoes and generally listening to stories. Mt Cheaha 50k was another challenging, quality event put on  by Todd and his crowd of volunteers and supporters.

Weather: Mid 40’s to mid 70’s, sunny!
Shoes: Montrail Sabino Trail
Clothing: Dry Max mid weight trail socks, Mtn Hardwear Pacer Advance Shorts, MH arm warmers, MH wicking shirt, Patagonia glove liners, Patagonia Sports Bra
Fuel, carried:  Clif Shot gels, Clif shot blocks, Succeed caps!
Fuel, aid stations: peanut butter pretzels, sandwich quarter, gel, electrolyte drink
Photo taken evening of 2/25 from the Cheaha Lodge