Sunday, June 16, 2019

Summer Track WK #3

Week number 3 of summer track found us enjoying some of the best summer time temperatures in recent memory. Plus, we had a fearless leaders Tim and Tom back this week.

The events started promptly at 6 PM with the 50 meter dash. We move to the 100, and over 6 minute file, and an under 6 minute mile.

The 4 x 100 was filled with the runners from Fit 180. They also filled the 400, 800, and 200 events. We finished the evening with dual 3200 and 5k heats. We could be more important that seeing runners of all ages making circles around Myers Park Track.

In the 5k, we had two runners break 17 minutes.

Two weeks remain for the Summer track so anyone interesting in getting a fast mile time with the help of other pushing you along, be at Myers Park on one of the next two Tuesday nights.

Trails from the Track,

The Cool Down Runner  

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Vertical Mile Challenge Adventure Race

This morning, I headed for a little place just above Hiddenite, NC called Rocky Face Recreation Area. This was the location of the Vertical Mile Challenge Adventure Race. I will be the first to admit. This race is both a challenge and an adventure.

The race is a 2.2 mile loop consisting of trail meaning rocks, roots, and did I say rocks well think more of each and asphalt. I barely realized that I was on the asphalt. Oh, yeah, and a flight of stairs. The asphalt is maybe 150 yards and is the staging area for the race. In fact, we ran through start finish 8 times. Many runners and families to setup tents and their own refueling stations.  Although, this was not really necessary. The aid station at the start/finish was super well stocked. A second station at .5 miles in to the race had water and Gatorade. Perhaps my favorite, the aid station on the climb was stocked with water.

About 5 minutes before 8 am the race director called us together and went over the prerace instructions. 

However, he was so soft spoken that even just 10 yards way, I could not hear a word that he said. I could see his lips moving that was it.

About 8:05, he sounded the horn, and the race started. There was a huge crowd running, and they went out fast.

I had watched the race video and did some back ground reading on this course so I had a reasonable idea how tough it was going to be.

For the number of runners, the course didn’t string us out fast enough before we hit the single track trail. I was in a long conga line with perhaps a 100 or so runners ahead of me.

A few guys: that I knew Justin and Chris had disappeared in to the sea of runners ahead of me. In truth, I was quite happy with where I was and how fast that I was running. I didn’t know this course so I wanted to use the first lap to get familiar with it.

Sure enough, a ½ mile in to the race, we came out the trail and on to a rocky cliff face which had to be every bit of 30% to 40% grade. Everyone immediately started walking. Interestingly, the rock face seemed to get steeper with each passing lap.

This section is roughly half mile but when I looked up all, all I could see is more rocky cliff face staring back at me. It seemed to go on for ever.

We passed by the aid station. Then, we pop in to a wood for a short section before heading back out on the cliff face again. I will say that the view was spectacular. Although, I didn’t have much time to enjoy it. I was too busy filling my lungs with air.

Once we reached the apex of the climb, we started our downhill decent. Another truth here, while the climb tough. It is manageable. The downhill portion is a risk to life and limb. The trail is splintered with rocks, roots, sharp switch backs, and open descending cliff faces. Just before finish of the decent is a stair case with uneven steps. The entire second mile just encourages you to run hard. I saw several runners go down hard. One runner was evacuated by the EMT after a hard fall. I will also say that the race had EMTs stationed all over the course to provide support.

Finishing the first lap, I had a pretty good understanding of the course layout. From then, the laps seemed to fly by. Partly because I was started to catch some of those that blasted out the first lap, and 2, I was memorizing the rocks and roots along the course. Also, helping was that I was flip flopping with a few other runners. I would catch runners on the flat or hill. Then, they would come flying by me on the descent.

On the forth lap, the leader caught me. I chased him until we hit the cliff face. Then, I watched while he ran up the cliff face. I couldn’t match his efforts nor did I want to. I had my strategy, and I was sticking with it.

Laps 5 & 6 flew by. I was catching runners and lapping others. On lap 7, I caught up to Justin on the climb but he flew back by me on the descent.

Starting lap 8, I felt good. I caught Chris on the trail to the climb and Justin on the climb. Going up the climbs, I always choose the most direct route but I noticed that many of the runners were doing a zig zap pattern. Perhaps, this was easier on their quads. I don’t know but it did make it more difficult for them to stay with me.

Topping out, I had only the descent left to run. I had finished lap 7 in 2 hours and 38 minutes. In back of my mind, I wondered if I could break 3 hours. I could but it would mean taking some risks, but it also meant leveraging the experience of the last 7 laps. I ended up running my second fastest split of the race on the last lap. I finished in 2 hours 59 minutes and 22 seconds placing 12 overall.
I feel like my slow but steady strategy had paid off. I felt great the entire race and survived the grueling climb 8 times and the adventure of the descent 8 times.

These guys do an awesome job with the race and as long as you remember to pick up your feet, you will be good here.

Wrapping up this post, let me share couple of more notes. In some ways, because the descent is so steep, I think this is actually harder on my quads than the climb. Like Boston, you are running a lot more downhill than you are actually climbing.

My other note is don’t drink the lemon green colored stuff in a cup. They had cups of Gatorade setting on the table. I picked a cup thinking of the Gatorade taste. What hit my tongue was salty dill pickle juice. I couldn’t swallow and spit it back in the cup. I am not sure how anyone could drink it.

There you have it. By finishing my first Vertical Mile race, I became an honorary member of their Vertical Mile Club. An achievement, I am quite proud of to have accomplished.

Lap 1: 22:35, Lap 2: 21:38, Lap 3: 22:14, Lap 4: 22:52, Lap 5: 22:32, Lap 6: 22:49, Lap 7: 22:50, and Lap 8: 21:49

Total Running time: 2:59:22

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, June 14, 2019

River Jam 10k June Edition ‘19

With the rain coming down in gobs earlier this week, my expectations for getting some dry tails didn’t exactly work out for this race.

To start with, the Whitewater Center did landscaping over the winter, and they created this nice lush green area for events. I guess to take advantage of it, they decided to move the start/finish back yet again. I jokingly asked them when they were going to change the 10k-ish to a 7 miler.

So back to race, there was a big group jumped out quick at the start. Knowing the trails were slick, I was taking my time or so I thought.

We hit the trails, and we dropped down on the South Main trail. As it nears the river, the trial bears to the left. I knew it was slick in this section so I was hoping to hug the inner edge. No such luck. I attempted to plan my right foot, and it was like I took this long lazy slide. Down I went. Mud covered my left side from my foot to my shoulders including my arms and hands. I bounced up as several runners dashed by me.

Back running, I attempted to take stock of the situation. While I was doing this, I was also attempting to shake off the extra mud that I was carrying.

Slowly, I chased down some of the guys in front of me, but I was minding my “p”s and “q”s with every sharp corner.

No more falls happened which was a good thing.

I finished 4 overall, first in my age group, and ran 46:50.

I will take it. The running weather was awesome. Anyone not out there missed a great evening for a race.

Next up is the Vertical Mile on Saturday. I have never done it before so I am expecting this to be an adventure.

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, June 13, 2019

100 Miler

I clicked the "process" button on Ultra Signup web page, took a deep breath, waited for the screen to confirm my submit, and then, I asked myself what did I just do. 

Yes, I committed myself to running to no not running a marathon, no not running a 50 miler, but running a 100 mile race. That's like 4 marathons back to back to back to back. 

I am excited and a little scared at the same time. 

So which 100 miler did choose. That would be the Tunnel Hill 100 miler in Vienna, IL on November 9th, 2019. I wanted something where my focus could be just on finishing, and not on tripping over roots and rocks. I can only imagine how tired that I will be over the last 50 miles. For that matter, how tired I will be over the first 50. 

The race is held on a crushed gravel rails to trails coarse. They have loads of first time 100 milers so I will have company during the race.

I am sure in the coming days, weeks, and months that I will have loads of blog post detailing my training and prep for it. 

Tails from the Trails

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Summer Track WK #2

Week number 2 of summer track was a bit of a learning experience and a responsibility distribution since the top brass were out of town. Tom and Tim had other commitments so the rest of us filled in the gaps. I hope everyone that attended the meet had a good time. We did our best to keep the event flowing in an orderly process.

The FIT 180 group came out so they skewed the overall age curve. They did push us over the size bubble so we had two heats of mile. Otherwise, we pretty had the regular number of heats.

Coming up next week is the 5k on the track so anyone interested in running a flat 5k, here is your chance.

Tuesday night, Myers Park Track. The first event starts at 6pm.

Tails from the track,

The Cool Down Runner