Monday, February 21, 2011

Rattle My Heart 50k Report

You know that little voice in your head that says, "Hey, your knee hasn't felt good all week.  You shouldn't run a 50k this weekend."  Well, apparently I don't like to listen to that little voice.  This is the story of that run (and the week leading up to it).

My last post was on my Linville Gorge run and that is where the knee began to start bothering me.  I took a hike instead of a run that following Sunday, took Monday off, and then ran a nice run with Dennis on Tuesday down in the Wilson Creek Area.  After that run, I knew that my knee would need some rest if I was planning on running the Rattle My Heart 50k the following weekend.  I promptly started taking ibuprofen and icing at lest three times a day.  I also did zero running for the rest of the week.  Friday night, I could still feel some slight discomfort in my knee, but I wasn't going to miss this run.

Hannah and I got to the start in Montreat a bit early and I was ready to get moving.  Hannah was planning to run over to Rattlesnake with us and then go off on here own to piece together some more miles on the trails around Montreat.  Slowly everyone else started showing up and we snapped a few pictures and then took off probably somewhere around 9:15.  We ran some paths through Montreat over to the first trail of the day and everyone was reduced to a power hike.  It seemed like everyone was in the mood to take it easy during the early part of the run and that was fine with me.  I was going to take it as easy as possible in hopes of the knee surviving 30 miles.  We soon made it to Rattlesnake Mt. and everyone was still together to take a few more pics from this scenic summit.  It was starting to get a bit toasty at this point and I decided to shed the shirt.

The crew on top of Rattlesnake Mt

View from Rattlesnake Mt

Youngs Ridge (Kitsuma Peak far right)

We soon were headed over to hit up the Kitsuma Trail and get our first aid of the day.  Everyone began to break up during the Kitsuma portion of the run and I began to run with Rob and Andrew.  We all stayed together down the roller coaster that is Youngs Ridge and the 2 - 3 miles of road to the beginning of the Heartbreak Ridge Trail, the highlight of the days run.  The exposed road section was really hot and the sun was blaring down on my back (have a nice tan to show for it now).  We soon hit Heartbreak Ridge and the last bit of aid for the run.  This trail is about 6 miles long and gains approximately 3000 ft in that time.  I stuck with Rob for about a mile on the trail and then decided to go ahead and push the pace a little.  But about as quickly as I decided to speed up, the grade got a bit steeper and I was reduced to a power hike for most of the climb.   The trail was beautiful and really wasn't that steep, but after already running 14 miles to get to there, it was steep enough to walk.  I would love to do an out and back run on that trail.  I also started to suffer through a bonk session about half-way up the climb and began consuming a few more calories than I had planned.  Subsequently, I was soon caught by Andrew and Rob once more for the final mile over to the junction with the Mt Mitchell Toll Rd.

View from Heartbreak Ridge Trail

Mitchell Toll Road
Upon arriving to the Toll Rd., Rick Gray was there waiting on us to give us a bit of encouragement.  He and his wife were out running 2 hours on the toll rd in preparation for next weeks Mt Mitchell Challenge.  It was great running into him after that brutal climb, but I couldn't hang around too long because Andrew had decided to take off.  I was going to follow him down the toll rd because Adam said there were some tricky turns that a lot of people miss and I had previously never been on that trail.  The toll rd was quite gnarly at times and I personally couldn't wait to get off of it.  Even though that grade was perfect for flying, the rocks kind of kept you from getting into a smooth rhythm.  Andrew soon disappeared (still in bonk mode) and I just decided to stay on the path of least resistance (which was a good choice) and hopefully see some flagging at some point.   There were quite a few people on the trail though, so I would just ask them if they had seen any other runners heading the same way to make sure I was still on course.

At the last tricky intersection, my knee finally decided that it had enough and promptly sent me into walk/stagger mode.  My energy levels were fine, but my IT Band was screaming.  I was worried about a runner's knee flare up before the run because that was what was hurting me this whole week.  Weird how the pain migrated over to a different region.  At least I was about 2 miles from the finish and I was able to slowly stagger on into Montreat.  I finished in 6:11.  I was pretty proud of that effort.  If I would have been healthy, I know I could shave at least 30 minutes off of that time and maybe even more. 

Afterward, most of the crew gathered at Ole's for some delicious mexican cuisine and brews.  Another great run with the crew and big thanks to Adam Hill for putting this amazing run on once more.  Hannah and I had a great time.  Here is the Garmin data:  Rattle My Heart 50k

Check out a vid Adam Hill (Mad A) put together of the run! Two Parts!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Linville Gorge Run with the Grand Kirk

Since I had to head down towards Hickory Saturday morning for a meeting, I decided to head down and do some recon on some of the trails in the gorge that we will be running for the Linville Gorge Madness Marathon.  Matt Kirk decided that he would like to join me  on this adventure since it was practically 10 minutes from his home in Marion.  We decided to meet up at the trail head of the Overmountain Victory Trail to start our run.  Matt would run 13 miles via the MST to the meet up, I would drive to the start instead.

I met Matt and Uwharrie around 2 pm and we headed on up the trail.  The ascent up the OVT had two open fields with excellent views of the Black Mountains to the West.  We soon hit Kistler Memorial Hwy for a mile of gravel road running to the entrance of the Pinchin Trail, which would be our route into the gorge.  I had never been on this trail until today, but have noticed it from Shortoff numerous times and couldn't wait to descend it's burnt out surface with expansive views.  This trail was everything I thought it would be and more.  It was beautiful!

We were soon at the river and it was time to take the Linville trail and a blue blazed side "trail" to the MST to ascend up to Pinnacle.  This section of trail was slow considering all the blow downs, lack of knowledge in trail construction (blue blazed trail), and super steep ascents (60% at some points)!  It was almost a relief when we got to the MST, but then we were faced with a 1100' 1 mile ascent up to Pinnacle.  The climbing of this run was starting to take its toll.  Although tough, this trail was a beauty too and the views from the top of Pinnacle were awesome.

After soaking in the landscape, Matt and I made our descent back to the car down the OVT.   We got back to the fields right as the sun was setting behind the Blacks and were able to get some good sunset shots before we ended the day a mile below.  My knee started to hurt on the descent and I had to slow down my pace just in case something bad might happen.  It seemed fine after the run, but it was a bit sore today.  Matt and Lily had me over for some dinner and good conversation afterward.  It was a great end to a great day.   Enjoy this little vid I put together of this run and see some of the beauty for yourself.  Here is the Garmin data: Linville Gorge w/ Grand Kirk

Monday, February 7, 2011

Uwharrie Mountain Run Report!

Saturday started early at 5 AM for Hannah, my mother, and I to get ready to head down to the best organized and "fun" race I have ever run.   I took a quick shower, ate some breakfast, and then got antsy waiting on my crew to get ready.  I had a good night's rest the previous night, but I still kinda woke up in a bad mood, knowing that it would be raining at Uwharrie for the second straight year.

We left the house around 5:35 and I was trying to make it to the race as quickly as possible, but the rain just got heavier and heavier, keeping my speed to a bare minimum to avoid wrecking on the curvy back roads of Randolph County.  The forecast was for light rain in the morning, not for a torrential down pour with a few claps of thunder and lightening.  My mood was getting even worse.  As soon as we got to the shuttle area, I rushed out of the car to get to the bathroom.  My stomach was not going to cooperate with me for the second straight year it seemed.  After spending too much time in the pitch black porta-john, I had missed the shuttle and needed my crew to rush me to the start before check-in closed.  It was still pouring and my mood continued to get worse and worse.  What a "crappy" morning.  Upon arriving to the start, I was telling my crew "Let's just go home, I'm so upset right now," which Hannah responded to with a masterful tone "No we are not, your getting yourself out there right now!"  Needless to say, I got out of the car, signed in, and stood in pity under the drop bag tent with at least 20 other crazy people (not sure if they were standing in pity though).  A few of them I knew and some I knew of from WNC Trail Runner (Rick Gray, Brian Bedhun, Mike Mason, David Olsen, & Jason Smith).
About to start
At 7:00, the race director called us out from the safety of our tent to toe the line for the start.  She gave us some pre-run info, one of which was that the military was doing a training exercise and not to be alarmed by camoed soldiers carrying automatic rifles.  I finally laughed and felt my mood beginning to change a little.  On the count of "GO" we were off and on to the first big climb of the day.  I walked this hill last year, but managed to run up it quite comfortably this year, except for an extremely technical and steep 100 yard section that even the eventual winner was walking through.  At the end of the 1 mile 400ft ascent I found myself in 11th place and with only one person I could see behind me.  I thought to myself, "Not bad, your heart rate never even got close to 160 on that climb."

The first 11 miles were pretty much uneventful other than one bathroom break and a pull off to the side of the trail to empty my shoe of sand after a creek crossing (the creek crossings were deep this year, one was up to my waist).  I felt solid the whole time and was hitting my splits dead on, despite the two breaks which may have cost me a total of 5 minutes.  I mainly ran by myself from the 5 mile point to the 8 mile point and after the bathroom break at mile 8.5, I started to run with a pretty cool guy I met named Jonathan.  We were pretty much evenly paced so it worked out running together.

At the 11 mile aid station, I got caught up and he went on ahead and I couldn't catch back up with him until mile 16 on the toughest climb of the day.  The section between 11 and 15 looks pretty easy on the map, but it always kills me and I lose significant time on it every time.  Its a constant roller coaster of short ups and downs and you can never get into a rhythm.  On the climb at 16, a caught 2 more runners and found myself in 8th place.  At the 17.5 mile aid station, I passed Jonathan and was in 7th feeling strong heading into the turn around.
Coming into the turn around

Heading back out after taking care of business
 I reached the turnaround in 3:25:30 and immediately rushed to the porta-john to get rid of some more stomach issues.  I got a clif bar and a new full bottle from my crew and headed out right at 3:30, right behind Jonathan and right were I wanted to be to try and make it back in uder 7 hours.  Jonathan and I chatted some more and ran strong together until the climb again at mile 24.  He stayed close behind until the descent when I lost him.  At the base of the descent I heard someone coming up behind me and I thought it was him, but it was Anthony and he was looking strong!  The last time I had seen him was at mile 20.5 and he was heading towards the turnaround.  After he passed me, I was in 8th place and would never relinguish that spot for the rest of the day.
Coming into the 32 mile aid station.

By the time I had made it to the 32 mile aid station, my legs were feeling really heavy and I could tell I was getting noticeably weaker.  I had already dropped 7 minutes behind schedule to break the 7 hour mark.  The first 1.5 mile after the 32 mile aid station, I tried to push it to make up the time, but I was really just staying even at 7 minutes behind schedule.  At the 33.5 mile spot, I almost caught the 7th place person, but the ensuing climb that laid before us broke me and I never saw him again.  At the base of that climb, I was 10 yards away from him!  I was just completely gassed and decided that I would just try and hang on to 8th place.  My legs had no more speedy turnover in them to push the pace on the flats and definitely not enough to help me run up the hills.  I was reduced to a walk/stagger on those remaining sections.  On the final ascent 1.5 miles away from the finish, I saw the 9th place guy about 200 yards back.  I picked up the pace as much as I could tolerate and blazed down the backside to the finish in a super fast 9 minute pace (I am being totally sarcastic about the fast part).  I crossed the the line in 7:19:41 in 8th place!  Twenty minutes behind my goal, but I still placed in the top ten for my fourth straight race!  I feel pretty satisfied, and can attribute that weakness in my legs at the end to only being able to log one 30 mile long run this winter because of all the snow we've had.
Crossing the finish!
I had a great time again this year and the finisher award this year is just awesome.  Big thanks to Micahel Mahan and his son for making all of these for everyone!  I hung around after the race for about half an hour to talk to some friends and check on how they did.  I also talked to the race director about organizing a 100 miler in Uwharrie.  They said that they were really interested and for me to send them a proposed route and they would look into getting everything else together.  That would be sweet!  Thanks to all the volunteers who make this race possible, you do an outstanding job!  Also, HUGE thanks to my mother and Hannah for crewing for me for the second straight year!  They battled logistics and muddy roads to keep my bottles full and energy replenished.
Glad to be done
In parting, I really love this race,  but I think next year I might be running the Mitchell Challenge 40 instead of this one, but I will definitely at least be running the 20 next year.  This is one race that I just love being a part of, no matter what the conditions!

Check out the garmin info here: Uwharrie Mountain Run 40M