Thursday, August 29, 2019

MorePro GPS Smart Watch

Recently, I became interested in monitoring my heart rate and sleep patterns at night. I wasn’t sure where this might lead me but I ended up with this MorePro GPS watch.

The watch has a decent profile to it. The watch interface is pretty straight forward. Configuring it required me to download their app. The app connects via standard Bluetooth to the watch. Syncing it is the same as any other syncing process, and it took me only a few minutes.

Once the watch is connected to Bluetooth, anytime I receive a message or phone call, the watch vibrates. Then it shows me the message or the phone number.

I get reminders to stand up, walk, or to just move if I have been setting for a while.

There are a ton of other features which I am still just figuring out. 

The display is off most of the time, and only when I roll my wrist inward does the display light up. I can also turn it on by pressing the hand side button.

The watch does do GPS tracking but I don’t recommend it. I went for a 4 mile run with it, and it burnt through nearly ½ the battery. The GPS was pretty accurate to my Garmin thou.

But to the real reasons that I bought it.

I found my sleep ranges between 7 and 8 hours per night. Nights when I go to bed by 10 PM, I tend to get a longer deep sleep. If my head doesn’t touch the pillow until midnight, I never get more than 15 minutes of a deep sleep. I have to believe that a deep sleep leaves me more rested. 

I also found while sleeping my heart dips below 60 beats per minute, and I have seen it go as low as 42 beats per minute.

As for what this all means, I am still working on this part. I am sure that I will be sharing more of findings. 

Trail dust tails,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tread Brightly Trail ½ marathon Race Recap

I pushed my Hoka blue feet back in to my Hoka Evos, and I headed toward the starting line to shake out my legs before race start.

Dark clouds and steady drizzle had settled over the area. On the other hand, the weather was much cooler than last night.

Looking around at the starting line, I only saw 3 blue bibs and lots of red bibs. Meaning, there were only 3 of us doing the double. The rest showed just to do the race this morning. I knew I was in trouble.

All of those fresh legs took off right from the start, and they gapped us by several hundred yards by the mile point.

Paul, Cody, and I settled in to a nice little group and were chatting back and forth to make the miles go by faster.

Cody picked up the pace heading in to thread, and soon just Paul and I were running together. By the time we reached the power line section the drizzle had turned to a steady down pour of rain. My legs felt heavy and slow despite the cooler weather.

Paul pulled away from me on the backside of the thread trail because I was having a bad spot during that section of the course. I grabbed some water at an aid which helped. With Paul out of sight, I was solo to the finish. . On top of the ridge of the North Main trail, I saw a couple of guys coming up behind me but neither caught me by the finish.

I finished 11th overall in 2:07:16. I am still puzzled how I ran nearly 5 minutes faster in this race when I actually felt worse. I really felt like I was running so much slower.

My 11th place finish put me first in my age but more importantly, I finished 2nd in the Treadmeister category. This is weighted category for runners competing on both days. Paul took home the first place in this division.

I really like these cool little challenges. They offer some different to the normal race routine. 

Lastly, kudos the WWC Race series crew. They dealt with some rainy and muddy conditions. Yet, they were out there with smiling faces to help each of us runners have a successful race. My hat is off to all of them.

Tail Dust Tails

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Rainy night camping at the WWC

With the Tread Nightly/Brightly races less than 10 hours apart, the WWC team makes an exception to their no camping policy and allows those running in either of the event to stay on the WWC grounds. I had enjoyed the experience so much that I did it again this year.

Check-in and my tent setup went by pretty quickly considering that I hadn’t had my tent out since last summer. New this year, I updated my camping amenities to include an air mattress. I even remembered to inflate it inside this tent when is a good thing. No way was it fitting through the opening.

Then, I headed off to get ready for the race.

That’s when the storms rolled in to the area.   

I didn’t make it back to my tent until after the race. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was worried. I didn’t know what I would find. Worse case, I could bundle up my stuff and sleep in my car.

After a nice shower to clean off what felt like 10 pounds of mud, I grabbed my dinner, and I headed back to my tent. Side note here, I was running my Hoka Eva. I have never had this happen before but my shoes so soaked that the blue Hoka colored dye went through my socks and colored my feet. Like I said, I have never had this happen before.

Getting back to my tent, I peeled back the opening and peered inside. Water had definitely gotten inside, but my stuff had been on my air mattress. It was pretty much dry. At least dry enough, I crawled inside and ate a quick bite before heading off the sleep.

I had forgotten that the how bright the lights around the channel can be. I also remembered how much people talking wakes me up at night.  I don’t know who the two guys were that were talking but I heard all about their race at about 2 am in the morning.

This was not my best night’s sleep ever but it was good enough to get me ready for the next day. I rolled out about 5:50 AM to a steady heavy drizzle of rain.

All my stuff was soaked so I basically rolled it into a ball and took it back to my car. I would worry about it after the race.

Later Saturday afternoon, I spent about 2 hours laying it out and drying it out off. Two days later, my tent was finally dry enough that I could put it away.

Would I do it again – even after this experience, yes, I love the idea of cleaning up after the race, eating, crawling right in to bed, waking up, and going racing again. Race, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. This is every runner’s dream

Tail Dust Tails

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, August 26, 2019

Tread Nightly Race Recap

I was just heading out for a couple of shake miles before WWC Tread Nightly Trail ½ marathon. For the last hour the dark storm clouds had been gathering in the distance. I wasn’t more than ½ mile in to my warm up when the clouds opened up, and the lightening lite up the sky followed shortly by the rumble of thunder through the trees. I dragged my rain soaked body back to my car to wait out the storm.

I crossed my fingers that at best the race would be delayed and hoped that the worst didn’t happen. That it would be canceled.

The rain slowed to steady pour, and the worst of the storm moved off in to the distance. All of us were on edge as we were about get dropped in to a super dark trail with nothing more than tiny head lamp to illuminate our way.

I pulled on my Hoka Evos which have some nice lugs on the bottom. I so hoped that they gripped the trail well.

From the start to the point where we enter the trail is only about 100 yards, but it was like going in to a room with the lights out. I could only see the small piece of real estate covered by my head lamp.

We moved to North Main, to Figure 8. Here we ran a small parking lot section over to Academy. I saw one guy go down just after entered Academy. Incidentally, I met 3 runners before the race that this was their first night and first trail race. I wondered later if they will ever come back.

The weather had settled in to a steady drizzle, and the runners were starting to string out now.

With each step, I was feeling better and better about my Evos grabbing the earth rather than slipping and sending me to the ground.

We crossed over the power line section and entered the recently reopened Thread trails. Now, they have connector under bridge to the trails on the other side of the road.

This was all a new course from last year. For the first time, we were racing on the Bandit and Panda trails.

I was now about an hour into this race. Between the drizzle and the heavy humidity, I was pretty much running through a fog.

Panda was nice change as it is all flat.

Water was running through the trails in sections, and mud was sticking to my shoes.

Climbing up the hills of North Main, I was feeling the fatigue. Probably the best moment was popping out along the channel for the final quarter mile to the finish. I could finally put the worry of falling behind me for the night.

I finished in 2:11:27 for 6 overall, and first in my age group.

This was probably the one the toughest race that I have done in a while. From the rain to the darkness to the slippery trails, to the heat and humidity, all of the runners faced some real challenges.

Kudos again to the WWC race staff. The rain didn’t make things easy on them either but they still put on a great race. Even bigger Kudos to the race volunteers that were enduring the late night conditions on the weather. They made this race possible so “Thank You”

Tail Dust Trails

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Crowders Mt. Visit

For a couple of weeks now, I have been thinking about putting some climbing stressors through my legs. The kind of climbing that has my heart pumping, and my lungs and legs burning. I guess what started me thinking along these lines was my Ruckus Right 25K a few weeks ago.  

This morning as I was nearing top of King Pinnacle, I felt my ears pop. For some reason, I always find this weird. One might think that hard breathing should equalize the pressure in my ears but apparently, this is not the case.

Anyway, I had just finished a steady climb of the Turnback Trail to King Pinnacle. Today, I decided to take the time and see the view from the top. The steps were an added bonus to my overall effort of the climb, and the view from the top was spectacular.

Furthermore, I could not have picked a better day for this run. At the top, the summer time temperature along with a cool gentle breeze felt awesome.

After taking in the view, I had back down to pick up the Ridgeline Trail. I would follow the Ridgeline Trail to Lake Montonia Rd.

Why just to here, well, this section has a nice set of stairs. There is no away around not using them on my climb back to the top. I turned at the road, climbed back to the stairs, and then I tackled the stairs to the top.

Let’s just say, I was well warmed up by now

Then, it was time to make the return trip back down Turnback Trail to the Crowders Visitor center. I did a quick refuel, and then I was off to run up the Pinnacle Trail back to King Pinnacle. According to the signs, Pinnacle is the longer route to the top but according to my Garmin, Pinnacle and Turnback are roughly the same length.

Runner looking to do purely running miles i.e. avoiding climbing through rocks should use the Turnback Trail. With the recent changes, while super steep in sections, the trail can be run.

Finishing my second accent to King Pinnacle, I was ready for the real climbing to begin by tackling the climbs to the top Crowders Mt.

I took the Crowders Trail which is about 3 miles over the Backside Trail. Then, I took Backside Trail to the top. Along the way, I passed more than a few people that were just figuring out the walk to the top was not as easy as it looks on the map.

The view from the top of Crowders was equally awesome, but it was also crowded. I didn’t spend too much time taking in the view here. I was getting in to the back half of my 22 mile run, so it was time focus on the business at hand.

I headed down Tower Trail at a full gallop. My quads were aching from the near constant impact. I was actually happy to find a few small climbs on this descent back to the Linwood Rd access point.

No resting in the parking, I turned right around and started my climb back to the top. Believe me, when I say, this was hard. I so wanted to walk in a few of the sections but I wouldn’t let myself. If I cannot do this in a training run, there is no way I could run something like this on race day. It felt so good to hit that last switch back before the top.

No wasting time now, I headed straight for the stairs leading to the Backside Trail. One might think that I would be fast descending these steps but they are uneven both in the width of the step and the height of the step. I had to focus hard on each step or risk taking a header on the way down. Not something that I wanted to even consider.

Once I was back on the trail, I followed Backside trail back to the Linwood Rd access again. This was be my final major climb of the day. Backside Trail is rugged and steep, but it is not nearly as long as the Tower trail. And, after climbing the Tower trail to the top, there was no way that I was going to allow myself to walk this section.

I now see why so many area runners seek out these trails. Mastering them make other hills around Charlotte look small.

My legs were tired but I focused on the thought that this was my major climb of the day. Somehow, this made it easier to accept the pain.

I touched the top and took in one last look around before heading back down. A quick turn back on the Crowders Mt. Trail, I knew that I was in my final miles now.

As one would expect, there is much climbing heading out on the Crowders Mt trail. Other than a few rollers and picking my way through a few rough sections, I had nice easy run back to the Visitor center.

All in all, I had great weather and an awesome training run. My legs may be sore for a few days but it was worth it.

Tail Dust Tails

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Always double check that course map

This weekend, I am running the WWC’s ½ marathon double header, Tread Nightly & Brightly. I enjoyed this race last year so much I decided to return again this year. The course layout was so engrained from my last year that I didn’t think to check the course map until last night. I was shocked to find that they had changed it. Other than a small section that we will do right around the pavilion, we will be running an entirely new course.

This year, we will hit Figure 8, Academy, Thread, Bandit, and Panda, back to Figure 8, to North Main until we turn off near the pavilion.

I didn’t realize yet that they had connected Thread to Bandit. This opens up a ton of possibilities for larger loops.

I excited to see what it like. Although, I am a little concerned about the footing. Fresh trails tend to be muddy. With the rain this week, I suspect that we will be hitting some slippery trails and at night.

I am already planning to use my Hoka trail shoes. I’ll be a little slower do to the weight of the shoes but I will definitely have better traction. This will be key. I suspect that I will see more than a few runners to go down tomorrow night.

Kicking up some trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Nighttime trail run

Early last week, I reached out to Justin about running this past weekend. His email response didn’t surprise me.

“What time?”

I responded with “I am running Tread Nightly next Friday night so I can love to go early but if you want to avoid the spider webs, we can go later”

He came back with “5 AM?”.

“Yep!” I responded.

So Saturday morning, we were off at 5 AM for a bit of night time running. I was happy about getting another shake run with my new Black Diamond head lamp. I like running two head lamps: a head lamp on my head and at my waist. This gives me two perspectives which helps with my depth for the rocks and roots. This new head lamp kicks out 390 lumens but it a bit heavier since it needs a 4 batteries vs. 3 in the older model. I can live with the extra weight 

Wish me luck with Tread Nightly next weekend. It should be fun to kick up a little night time trail dust.

Kickin’ up trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, August 16, 2019

Energy Boost

Later on during my long runs, I have noticed that my ability to focus starts to waiver. This isn’t so much that my body feels like it running out gas, but rather I start to feel mentally drained. Concentrating on the roots and rocks laying ahead for hours at a time takes its toll, I guess. To combat this, I added some watermelon sports beans to my pack. Something about popping one of the beans in my mouth to chew slowly starts my mouth salivating. In turn, this triggers a response in my brain that energy is coming, and within a few minutes I start to feel better. I noticed this during the Stevest Run and later at the Rivermen 50k run. Both times, I started chewing on the Sports bean. My brain just seemed to be re-energized.

It strange how the body reacts to the stress of running over long periods of time. Even stranger the tricks we play to keep ourselves going.

Tail Dust Comments

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Summertime Interval Training

Normally, my yearly training plans only include 3 interval sessions per year. The first session goes along with my spring marathon training. About 4 weeks later, I start a second session which leads me in to my summer racing season. I then don’t start my last i.e fall session until about 8 weeks out from my fall goal race.

This year, however, I decided to add a summer interval session. With all the ultra-miles going in to my legs, I need to keep my legs turnover up. My hope is that this would do it.

The one difference with this session, I am doing shorter intervals, and I increased the number of sets. With the heat and humid of the summer, I am finding that the short, intense intervals make the session feel more lively and quicker. The recovery portion of my intervals are equal distance to the distance of the interval itself. Since my focus here is solely around getting my leg turnover up, I feel like this is okay. I will focus more utilizing my intervals for fitness during my fall session.

I am also tacking on some strides at the end of my easy day runs. I usually do between 8 and 10 strides. Each runs about 30 to 50 meters.

For those runners considering a adding a summer interval session, this doesn’t have to match up with your spring and fall sessions. It just has to be enough to remind the body how running hard should feel.

Trail Dust Talks

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Training Blocks

If you have been following my posts lately, you are probably questioning the amount of race miles that I have been piling on my legs lately, and you would be right.

In the last 14 days from the Stevest 42 miler through my Crowders Ridgeline Ruckus 25K yesterday, I have been more active on the racing scene than I have been all year.

Stevest-ish is more like 43 mile started my efforts. Seven days later, the Riverman Brewery 50k didn’t give my legs any recovery. Five days later, I was running hard and sweating even harder at the Whitewater Center River Jam 10k on Thursday night. I finished my gantlet of racing with the Ridgeline Rucket 25K which pushed my quads and lungs to their max while climbing up and down from Pinnacle Rock twice. That’s like 95+ miles of racing.

I expected it to be hard, but somehow I think it exceeded my expectations. By the time that I ran the River Jam 10k, I had no bounce in my legs. Saturday at the Ridgeline Ruckus, I needed the tough course to equalize the abilities of the other runners because I only had one speed. It was low gear.

On the other hand, this was one of my best training blocks this year. I was getting what I think were quality miles. I would likely have not run that far or that fast on a solo training run. These races pushed me to dig a little deeper, and find that strength that I will need later this year. These races also made me focus more on my recovery, hydration, and nutrition. I have often marvel at Michael Wardian’s ability race, recover, and race again. He clearly has his body figured out. I am still figuring my body even after all these years of running.  

I have two more training blocks to complete before I start my taper in to my 100 miler in November. Wow, November seems so far away at this time but in reality, it is just 3 months away. Those 3 months are going to go by so fast. Before I know it, I am going to be standing at the starting line of my 100 miler, and wondering what I was thinking when I signed up for this. This thought is going to be closely followed by, I hope my training pays off.

Trail Dust Tails.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Crowders’ Ridgeline Ruckus 25K Trail Race Recap

Pulling in to the Boulder Access parking lot of Crowders’ Mt State, I had just under an hour to get ready to run the Ridgeline Ruckus 25K. Normally, I like to arrive early so I can relax and get ready. However, this race was being held in a state park which didn’t open its gates until 7 AM. Everyone was in a bit of a rush to get ready.

We started from the grassy field next to the welcoming center. We ran around the building and up the concrete walkway to the trail. I settled in to the back pack and let the other runners surge head. We followed the access trail down to the Ridgeline trail. As we were running, I was already imagining what a bear this was going to be climbing back out at the end of the race.

The runners were stringing out in front of me. This section of course is pretty much a bunch of rollers, and while it has plenty of rocks and roots, it plenty wide for passing.

I wasn’t making a huge effort to surge forward. I was focused on the letting the course bring them back to me. All I wanted to do was just maintain a nice, steady pace whether I was running uphill, downhill, or on the flat. Although, there are not too many flats on this course.

Once the climbing started, I started moving up.

The stair section was just as I remembered. I caught up to one runner as we were nearing the top of the stairs. He was a much better descender. He quickly opened up 50 yards on me on the far side.

Crowders’ maintenance crew has made some changes to the trails, and they are now bring people in to the Turn Back Trail in a different spot.  They are also cleaned up the Turn Back Trail making it like a sky slope. If I had wanted, I would literally have sprinted down it. But there was no way that I was going to this. My quads would have been wasted.

I caught one guy on the decent, and I caught a 2nd runner at turn around at the main Crowders’ Mt. Parking lot. At this point, the climbing was starting to be an effort.

Turn Back Trail is tough climb, and on the return trip, we had to run all the way to the top Pinnacle Rock. This further was up the slope, and the further that I went, the steeper it got. My quads were truly burning when I hit their check point at the top. 

From there, I knew the path back to the finish. I had to really focus hard on the trail. My legs were tiring so I knew full well that I was one misstep away from a fall.

I passed back by the mid-way aid station. The sun had for the most part remained hidden, but it was still warm and humid. I kept sipping on my Tailwind from my CamelBak.

I was disappointed to loss my new buff. I had tied it to my CamelBak shoulder strap, but somewhere in the first couple of miles, I had lost it. I looked for it on the return trip, but I am guessing that someone took home a nice prize from the race. Luckily, I never needed it.

I think that I finished 3rd overall, and 2nd male. I didn’t get the entire story but from what I gathered, she was runner from Colorado. Like I said, I didn’t get the entire story. All I know is, both she and the top male runner ran the course like they were part Mt. goats.

I was happy with my time. I ran 2:31:45. It was a solid effort on a hot and humid day.

I also want to give a shout out to the designer of their awards. They have some nice wood burn plaques. I really liked it. It will have a nice place on my wall.

That’s it for this race. Time to get some rest and recover for what’s coming up next.

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner  

Friday, August 9, 2019

River Jam 10 – August Edition – The long slow fade

Last night, I was back racing their 2nd Thursday of the month River Jam 10k Series at the Whitewater Center. The heat and humidity was on everyone’s mind, and there was precious little shade near the start finish line.

Even thou, I went out in 7 minutes for the first mile, the trail was jammed full of runners in front of me. The trail are extremely tight during portion of the opening mile so this makes passing very difficult. I worked my way up to Andrew, and we ran together for the next several miles.

My legs didn’t feel great but they didn’t feel bad. Andrew had asked me how I was feeling before the race. I replied that I feel fine but I don’t know how my legs will feel until I get a few race miles under my belt.

I led us through the next several miles until we turned on to the Lake Loop. Normally, this is a section that I thrive. The trail is fairly open and makes for some fast running.

However, this night, I turned the corner, grab a cup of water, and dumped it over my head. Then, like a light switch the wind went out of my sails. Andrew pulled up and passed me. I was making every attempt to hang on to him. In fact, I feel like I was closing some on the long gradual uphill on the backside of the Lake Loop.

But once we turned the corner, he was gone. I could see the gap was growing, and it was all that I could do just to keep my legs turning over. It wasn’t that I was breathing hard. Rather, it was like all of the drive had left my legs.

For some reason, on this night the Lake Loop was jammed with other non-race runners and walkers. I ended up passing by so many people.

In fact, I didn’t even realize that another racer was catching me until we left the woods. Andrew had pulled well ahead by now. Not helping my motivation, this new guy was pulling away as well. My legs were not cooperating so there was little that I could do about it. Then, with maybe 200 yards left in the race, I got passed by yet another runner. I am afraid to look back for fear that there are a stream of runners catching me. I just focused on moving forward and hoped for the best.

I would cross the finish line in 48:35 so roughly two minutes slower than my races here over the last 3 months, and I would finish in 8th place. I felt hot, sweaty, and miserable. Even the cold water that I drank afterwards didn’t help make me feel better.

I went home, ate dinner, and crawled in to bed for a good night’s sleep. Knowing full well, the sun will come up tomorrow no matter how bad one day may be. With it is another opportunity to excel.

Tails from the Trail,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Running through the night

A few posts ago, I talked about sleep deprivation not being on my training radar for my 100 miler that is before another ultra-runner pointed in out to me. Since then, the thought of how to make this happen has been circling in the back of mind like a Disney song that I cannot get out my head.

I wondered if I should do this run from my house or should I perhaps run it on the trails. Mostly, just the thought of slugging along at 3 AM alone kept me looking for options.

This past weekend, I stumbled across a local 12 hour event. Normally, timed events are not something that I am interested in doing. For some reason, I like the idea of having a fixed distance where time is variable and not the other way around.  The time is fixed while the distance is the variable. I liken these type of races to watching a tea pot and waiting for it to boil.

However, in this case, I signed up for this one. I did it because this race goes from 8 PM to 8 AM. This was perfect for what I needed to do my sleep deprivation run.  I could pretty much be up all day, drive to the race, setup my camp, and then run through the night. Bonus, I would have some other runners to keep my company. The course is a little 4 mile loop so I have plenty of access to fluids and nutrition. This was an added bonus because I can test out some different foods to see how my tummy handles them.

Strangely for someone not normally interested in these type of events, I am kind of excited about it. It is kind of like a new adventure. Who knows where it will led.

So look for more to come on this adventure...

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Monadnock Ultra

This December, Richard is growing his Monadnock Ultra in huge ways. Last year, he put on a 50k race at Crowder’s Mt. State Park. From the stories, it was a great success. This year, he is back and expanding it in to a 25, 50, and 100 mile races.

I bring this for two reasons.

First, I definitely want to give a shout out to his races. Richard does an awesome job organizing his races. His reputation is what brought me to the Riverman Brewing Company 50k. To find more information about his Monadnock race, use the following link.  Looks like he already has 16 for the 100, 18 each for 50 and 25 mile races. The website doesn’t say anything caps but I think that he has one for each event.

To continue my story, yesterday, he was telling us about his efforts for it. Specifically, he was telling us about the buckle for the Monadnock race. The 100 miler belt buckle is going to be massive. Something like 6 inches by 4 inches. In my mind, I think about those belts worn by professional wrestlers. They are massive. A runner could well need suspenders to keep the belt up.

But to my second reason for writing this, I felt like that he was pumping me up to run either the 50 or 100 miler. Now, in full disclosure, I have run these trails several times. I know that they are tough. Leaving from the Boulder access point, going up to Pinnacle by the Ridgeline trail, descending by the Crowders' Mt. Visitor center before climbing to the top of Crowders' Mt by the Backside trail before returning over Rocktop via roughly the same route back to the Boulder Access point is hard to do just once. I cannot see anyone wanting to do it twice. Let alone someone doing it 4 times. I don’t know for sure but this has to be something like 30,000 to 40,000 ft of climbing. However, the time limit for this race is just 30 hours. Honestly, he is not going to give away many belt buckles. I don’t think it is doable.

Making this race even harder, the race starts 10 AM. Unless, a runner can knock out the first loop in about 6ish hours, he or she is going to need a headlamp before he finishes it. Then, let’s add in the fact that it is December. The Charlotte area gets about 14ish hours of darkness each night so runners will be covering laps 2 and 3 in the dark and the December cold. I get scared crossing Rocktop in the daylight on a warm day. I don’t even want think about doing it twice in the dark in the winter.

Bring this to closure, when I finished the “The Stevest” race, I saw Dave. I asked why that he wasn’t out running. He told me that he knew his limits. I look at this Monadnock Ultra, and I realize it is beyond any type of challenge that I want to take on it. My training doesn't line up well for this type of challenge. I am okay with it. There are tons of races that are ridiculously hard. Runners sign up for them. They spend tons of money and time on the race only to DNF. It is just something that I am not interested. I don’t mind a hard race but I at least want to feel like that I have an opportunity to finish it. This one is just not for me, and I freely admit that I don't think that I am up to this task. There is no shame in admit it. We all have limits.   

Thoughts from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Riverman Brewing Company 50K Race Recap

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Dirty Wolf Ultra running race director, Richard that the Riverman Brewing Company had closed. However, Dirty Wolf Ultras doesn’t cancel their races because of sponsor closings.

Thus, I was toeing the line for a 50k race only a week after running the “The Stevest” 43 miler. Yeah, I know. The idea seemed like a good one months ago when I signed up, and the weather was cool. This morning, the temperatures was already in the mid 70s at race time, and the humidity had us soaked before we reached the first mile. The heat would rise in to the 90s by the time that I was in my closing laps. So no; it didn’t sound nearly as good today.

Going to the race, I thought that I had a pretty good race plan but it didn’t work out that way.

This 50k took place on the trails of Rocky Branch Park in Belmont, NC. Going to the race, I had no idea what the trail was like. I planned to just follow some others through the first lap. Richard has already been pretty good with his course markings so I didn’t expect to have any major concerns with getting lost.

For a 50k in summer trail race, I thought everyone was going out a little too fast. I settled in back in the pack. The leader was soon out of sight. A group of 5 or 6 of us worked through the first 3.2 mile loop. Finishing the first loop, our little group split up. Dave, a young guy running his second ultra, and I headed out together.

We did the next couple of loops together, but I was hot and my stomach was not feeling the best. I decided to make a quick stop at my car to refuel and load up on cold fluids.

Dave and the other guy pressed on with me trailing behind. I resisted the urge to surge back to them. However, the race was quickly turning in to a race of heat survival, and speed would tank my efforts.

I worked the laps, and later caught up to Dave. He was struggling a bit with the heat. After those first 5 laps, I stopped every lap to drink cool fluid and reload with ice. I also added some Sports Beans to nutrition.

This worked for me. My stomach settled down, and I found my groove. I did take one fall today, but this happened in some soft dirt. So no scrapes which is a good thing.

By lap 7, I had moved in 2nd place.

The twist and turns, ups and downs, were like being inside of a washing machine. On the back side course was only major hill on the course. As luck would have it, when the sun rose in to the sky, all of the shade disappeared from this hill. This made a difficult hill even harder.

At 5 laps or 25k, I had been roughly 2 hours and 48 minutes in to the race.  Some runner math told me that I was looking at 6 hours or more of running.

However, the fluids and ice were working for me. I was started churning out consistent laps. I had no idea how far the leader was in front of me. I assumed that he was still running well, and I expected him catch me.

After the race, I learned that I was cutting in to his lead with every lap. He had run strong over the first 5 laps. Perhaps, he ran too hard because he was slowing in the 2nd half.

But on this day, we would run out of course before I would catch him. He finished in 5 hours and 53 minutes while I finished 2nd in 5 hours and 58 minutes. I have total respect for his efforts. His game plan was to go out fast, and he made it work. At the end of day, this is all that counts.

Personally, I am pleased with my efforts. I ran consistently strong over these two races in hot and humid conditions. My legs feel trashed, but this is to be expected.

Lots of runners emphasize learning to run on tired, hurting legs. All I can say; this is a miserable feeling, but I hope that it helps in my 100 miler.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Richard and Dirty Wolf Ultras. He is super stoked about running ultras and the races that he organizes. He has several races coming up. Check out to find his races.

Thoughts from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner