Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day

Took a break from running today because of the cold and snow.
Instead we went down to Lake Crabtree and took a swim:

Elevation profile: Uwharrie Mountain Run

The Uwharrie Mountain Run is next week.

Here is the 20 mile profile from the website:

Let's get a closer look:
I guess the GPS was a little off, because it shows less than 20, but the elevations are correct.
It's all under 900 feet, so it's not as impressive as the Blue Ridge Marathon, but there are some pretty steep hills. Not many people can run too far up a 15% grade. There is quite a bit of up and down, and the GPS Profiler reports 3,500 feet of cumulative elevation gain over 20 miles. This is actually more than Blue Ridge, which claims only 3,076 feet.

I have to say from personal experience that the hills at the start and mile 15 feel as steep as they look above.

Let's compare the Uwharrie 20 miler to the Umstead and Boston marathons:

After 3 training runs out in Uwharrie, I have to say you really can't compare it to a road race anyway. In road races you don't have to worry about crossing streams, tripping over rocks, and getting lost.
And if you were stupid enough to sign up for the 40 miler, you turn around and do the course again. It's going to be a long, long, day...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Elevation profile: Blue Ridge Marathon

We are not running this race, but man look at this profile for the Blue Ridge Parkway Marathon:

According to the website: "The full marathon course includes 3,076 feet of total elevation gain and 6,140 feet of total elevation change."

Hills are measured in thousands of feet instead of hundreds. Man, that looks brutal. And this guy here claims he is going to run a PR on it... barefoot!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Elevation Profile: Boston marthon

It's that time of year again, when people start obsessing about their big upcoming winter/spring races.
I know this from looking at the visitor logs, and seeing that 95% of people visiting this blog are sitting in their cubicle, biting their nails nervously while googling "marthon elevation profile".
Well, at least that's what I have been doing.

In the next 12 weeks Shannon and I have four big races, 2 marathons and 2 ultra marathons, and we have been doing a lot of nail biting. So this is the first of a four part series of elevation profiles. First up: Boston.

I am doing this one first because it is the most well known and I have heard so much about it, though this will be our first time running it.

OH MY GOD! Look at those hills! The colors indicate the gradients, some of which approach 4%! Wow.
As I have heard, the first 16 miles is a huge "Quad crushing", rolling downhill. Followed by the first three of the Newton hills which will beat you down in rapid succession. Finally, you "hit the wall" and collapse at mile 21 while attempting to scale Mount "Heartbreak Hill".

Terrifying! Let's compare the beast of Boston to a more pedestrian marathon, like the "City of Oaks" which is run here in Raleigh:

Hmmmm. That makes Boston look pretty damn easy.

This is good, because last year I vowed to run a PR in Boston after commenter said I was foolish.

So my race plan will be contrary to all Boston Marathon conventional wisdom: Go out fast the first 16 miles, taking the downhills as fast as I can. Relax and take it easy up the 4 tiny hills and then sprint in the last 5 miles for a PR. (Yes, I am trying to sound like a cocky jerk to goad people into making comments. )

Geek Note
These profiles were made using the GPS Visualizer profile tool. (The GPS Visualizer website has a bunch of high quality, FREE tools). When using the profile tool with a Forerunner track, it is important to set "Add DEM elevation data" to "best available". This is because the Forerunner elevation data is always ridiculously wrong.

Next up... Uwharrie Mountain Run

Weekly Training Report 01/18/2010

I got this "Weekly Training Report" from the DailyMile website.

One workout in a week. Consumed 1020 calories in 6 minutes.
How does the DailyMile classify this week of training? AWESOME
I wonder what it would be if I actually ran a mile?

Hey Anthony, awesome training last week!

Your Training for 01/18/2010 - 01/24/2010

View Training Log Workout
Miles: 0.00 Comments: 0
Time: 00:06 Motivations: 0
Calories: 1020 Among Friends: n/a
Workouts: 1 Overall Position: n/a

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I've sold out

I had thought that Kettle chips were just a style of potato chips.
But apparently it is a name brand, and I have unintentionally made a commercial for them in my previous post. A link to it was "tweeted" on the Kettle Chips twitter page.

Attention Kettle Foods Inc. : I am expecting 6 figure checks to be arriving soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Workout last night

Did Kettle Chip interval workout.

Ate Kettle chips for 3 minutes @ 20 chips/minute

Took 1 minute break to breathe and wash them down with light beer.

Picked up pace for 3 minutes @ 30 chips/minute

Was sweating pretty good, started to get side cramp

Pushed it hard to the red line for another 2 minutes @ 34 chips/minute until bowl was empty.
Heart rate hit 189!

Cooled down by finishing beer. Worked off side side cramp by slouching in chair until relieved with belch.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Uwharrie Training run #3

We went for a run...

Who gives a crap? Tens of thousands of people are dead and dying in Haiti as I write this, and it really puts everything in perspective. But reading and listening to the news is nothing but frustrating and depressing so I am taking a break from it. There's really not much we can do except donate money, so I picked CARE and UNICEF.

... back to the pointless banality of us running through the woods.

In preparation for the Uwharrie Mountain Run 40 miler, Shannon and I went for another long, long, training run in Uwharrie National Forest on Saturday. The goal was to run between 6 and 7 hours. These really long runs are not for physical training, if anything they are really bad for our health. Instead they are learning experiences:
  1. Learn the Uwharrie course
  2. Learn what, when, and how much to eat and drink
  3. Learn to pace ourselves to run for many hours
  4. Learn how stupid it was to sign up for the Uwharrie 40 miler
Despite getting up at 6am, we didn't actually get out there until just before 10am.
We parked at the south end of the 20 mile trail, which will be the half way turn-around for the 4o mile race. There, we met an ultra runner guy named Kent who regarded us with pity, but was nice and gave us some advice for the race.
We agreed to turn around at 1:15 pm, to make sure we were back by dark, and after a round of pictures (of course), we were off, heading north up the trail.

I go a little faster on the trails than Shannon, mostly because she stops a lot to take pictures, so I went on ahead. This first 5 miles felt great and easy as the sun came out and it warmed up to perfect running weather in the mid 50s. There were many people out on the trail training for the race like us. I ran into Ronnie coming south, who graciously offered the supplies in his truck up the trail.

Shannon did get some good pictures, which are here including some of the people she met out there. Here is Jerry, Ronnie and Patsy:

Some other folks, out training:

I stopped at our drop bag around mile 9 to eat a bit and refuel, still feeling good. Around mile 12, my phone beeped with a message from Shannon, who couldn't find the drop bag. As I was trying to call her back I walked head first into a tree leaning across the trail. I think the forest does not approve of cell phones.
I got to mile 16 around 1pm. Even though I felt good and it was a little early, I decided to turn around there. I soon ran into Shannon who was feeling great and running strong.

Trail "blaze"
Not a trail blaze. That's lichen

It must have been about 60 deg and I was getting pretty hot. Around mile 28 I ran out of water and thought "Oh, it's only another 4 miles"
That's when I hit the beast of a hill. It comes around mile 15 or 16 in the race, and it climbs 350 feet in about a half mile. Even walking slowly up it, I was out of breath and my last bits of energy drained out of me. After 5+ hours of Uwharrie trail I was done. Unfortunately I was still 3.5 miles from the car, and the only way to get there was to keep moving, and that was a long and painful hour.
I finally got back to the car and ate and drank ravenously. Shannon finished a few minutes later. We decided that we were not built for Ultra Marathons and we discussed dropping out of the race and finding nice flat 5K to enter.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last Uwharrie training run done

We are done, and OK.
I have no enthusiasm to write about anything when there is such a horrible catastrophe happening in Haiti. People are still without food, water or aid after 4 days. Some are still alive trapped in buildings. Bodies piled up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

If you don't hear from us by 10pm Saturday night...

Please call the authorities and have them start searching Uwharrie National Forest for us.

Description of us:

*White male. (really white. I mean like paste). 5'8". Wearing embarrassingly short shorts and goofy red shoes. Possibly missing teeth from falling face first into rocks.
*Small white female with frizzy blond hair. 5'2". Clutching empty bag of Skittles. Cursing unintelligibly.

Tomorrow we attempt our 3rd and final training run in Uwharrie. We plan to run 6-7 hours, the longest we have ever run, on the most difficult trail we have ever been on. It seems really dumb idea right now. I bet it will seem even dumber when we are done.

Only half joking about this. Read this story about a couple of runners on a long training run on trails getting lost. There's all kinds of other bad things that can happen. Fortunately, hunting season is over; hopefully the hunters know this...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today's Workout

Run: 5x intervals 10 feet @ 12 min pace, with 30 minute sitting breaks.
Core/Upper body: 4 push-ups,1 sit-up
Bike: Rode bike on the treadmill for 13 seconds, crashed into wall
Unplanned Yoga: 45 minutes in the "rotting corpse" position

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Godiva Eno Equalizer

The "Eno Equalizer" is a 4 mile race put on by the Carolina Godiva Track Club, in Eno River State Park. It is sort of a triathlon event, one which involves a unique combination of running, higher math, and fortune telling.

When I got to the race the temperature was in the mid- 20's and everyone was huddled around a fire trying to stay warm. When I signed up and got my bib, the pens were not working because it was too cold.

I warmed up a little bit before the race and went down to see the trail. The course goes over a long suspension bridge:
This bridge is exactly like the ones in the movies that bounce around like crazy and people fly off and plummet to their death. OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit because I suffer from Acrophobia, and it scared the crap out me me. My palms started sweating just looking at the thing. I also thought it was interesting that a cross country race would go over a bridge that specifically forbids running.

In the Eno Equalizer, you are placed into teams of three, and the team which gets all of it's runners across the finish line first wins. This sounds simple.

However, in order to "Equalize" the slower runners with the faster, the slower runners get a head start before the race begins. This is where the higher math and fortune telling come in.

Explanation (you should skip this):

The slower the runner, the greater the head start. The amount of the head start each person gets is called the "handicap", and each team gets a "Team handicap" time to divide up among the 3 runners. If this sounds complicated, it is.
Each runner tries to predict how fast they can run the course, and the team meets before the race to determine who gets how much of a head start. If you are having trouble understanding this, that's OK, because nobody does.

So when we were allocating our "handicap", my team mates were very modest. "Oh, I'm sooo slow." I was probably too cocky and too generous, but I agreed to give all the handicap time to them, and give them the head start. By the time the race officially started there was only me and another guy at the start line. The other 31 runners got a head start, and I kind of felt left out.
In fact, Ken Becker, probably the fastest guy there, got like a 10 minute head start. We thought that he might be done before the race actually started.

When the race finally began, I ran as fast as I could, trying to catch up to people. Of course, I had to stop and carefully walk across the bridge, holding the cables tightly. After the bridge, I hit the first big hill which was a monster. It quickly defeated me and had to walk up it. The rest of the course was very hilly and hard. Next year I am getting a handicap, dammit!

I took a few picts which are here

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 Little River Trail Run

[Shannon's Pictures from the race are here]

How cold was it this morning? So cold, that we saw a guy dressed in what looked like a bear suit and thought, "Wow. What a good idea!"

It was like 15 degrees as we picked up our bibs at the Little River Trail Run. Even though I wore 2 pair of gloves my fingers were still frozen, so I was happy to see that they were giving out those magic little hand warmer packets called "hotties". Shannon and I had carpooled with Chris and Jenny, so we waited in the car for the race to start, and I stuffed a "hottie" into each of my gloves. I then made the same stupid mistake I make at every race, and drank almost an entire bottle of Gatorade.

About 15 min before, I got out and warmed up a bit, and then we headed up to the start. Despite the cold, there were 277 runners who showed up just for the 10 mile race, and another 134 for the 7K.

"Willow" from the "Trail Heads" gave the countdown with a bullhorn and then we were off in the 10 mile race. I took off as fast as I could go, because I was so cold and wanted to warm up. Also, with 277 people entering the narrow trail, my plan was to get towards the front and hold on.

Of course, everybody else had the same plan, and helped by the downhill on a wide gravel road, we were going really fast. Almost a mile into the race, I glanced at my Forerunner which said we were doing a 5:30/mile pace. This was absolutely nuts, so I slowed way down on the first hill and let a bunch of people pass me.

Entering the single track trails there were some really brutal hills that had me hunched over gasping for air. I felt like I was going slow, but fortunately I was not holding anyone up because there was no one trying to pass me. In fact, I somehow managed to pass about 8 guys who had started out way too fast like I did.

A few miles into the race, and I actually felt pretty warm. In fact, the "Hotties" in my gloves were getting a little too hot. Also, I felt the ever familiar stab of pain in my stomach, which I knew from experience was due to chugging a bottle of Gatorade 15 minutes before a race. The high fructose corn syrup slowly changes to a gas and my gut inflates like a balloon. I tried pressing on it, without any luck.

I then had a really dumb idea. I took the "Hotties" out of my gloves and stuck them in my waist band hoping the heat would somehow alleviate the cramp. They didn't. Instead, the heavy little packets of iron dust promptly fell down, and started bouncing around inside my pants. They orbited my leg like little moons, propelled with every step. I decided not to stop and try to fish them out, because I didn't want to scare anyone. Eventually they worked their way down to my ankles where I feared they would come flinging out and hit someone in the back of the head.
Fortunately that didn't happen.

Around mile 9 the Gatorade gas bubble burst, erupting with a huge belch. Ahh. I felt so good I practically sprinted the last mile. After I finished, I got back to the car and put on some more clothes and waited for everyone else to finish. Shannon had a bad race, feeling terrible because of a sinus infection. She still managed to get all these great pictures.

They had hot coffee and hot chocolate at the finish which was great, but it was still too cold to hang out for the raffle prizes so we headed home. All in all, a great race put on by the Trail Heads considering the cold.

Wait! I almost forgot. Where's Heiko?

There he is!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Godiva New Year's Day 8K

[Pictures from the race are here]

New year's day started fairly typical. Shannon and I were both moving really slow from drinking too much champagne and eating one too many of Melissa's persimmon cookies the night before. By the time we got out the door it was like 12:35pm, and Godiva's New Year's Day 8K started at 1pm in Durham.

"Right or left?", I asked Shannon, who was really car sick from my driving and having trouble reading the directions.
"Left. I think I have to throw up."
"Hold on almost there...wait I think this is the wrong way", 5 minutes before the race started and we were lost.
"Really, I am going to puke", she said as I did a quick u-turn.
"Wait I think that was the school", I did another u-turn and we were there.

Shannon ran and got our bibs as I parked and we luckily made it to race with minutes to spare. I was still in "hurry up" mode from the car ride, so when the race started I bolted out sprinting like I was late for something. I ran the first mile really fast and then quickly ran out of gas. The course was fairly hilly, and I struggled up the hills. At one of the turn-arounds I slipped on something and got bit of "trail love":

Towards the end I was so tired and slow I let some really old guy named Paul pass me.
Shannon ran with her camera, and got a lot of great pictures, including this one, where Kim Donaldson almost got ran over by a couple of deer:

While looking at all the pictures from last year I noticed something. A friend of ours, Heiko Rath, is at every race. And I mean every race. I have a theory that he is some sort of supernatural being who appears at every running race anywhere and everywhere, even ones happening at the same time. So this year, I will keep a look out for him, to see if this is the case. Yup! There he is:

Afterwards we hung out and socialized, and we got to meet Godiva's newest member, Sam:

He must have been injured or something because he didn't run.

When we got home for the race, we found that the dogs had eaten the rest of Melissa's persimmon cookies, which was probably fortunate for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Best running photo from 2008

My sister Monique reminded me of the best picture from 2008, which is worth a post.
This is from the finish area of 2008 Chicago Marathon. While 08 was not as hot as 07, it did reach the low 80's and people were suffering at the end. Shannon got a shot of this guy cooling off on a stack of beer, with an ice bag on his head. While it looks like an ad for "312" beer, it is still captures the post-marathon pain and bliss.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Best Running Photos from 2009

We did a lot of running last year, and Shannon took a lot of great photos.
She carries her camera while running races, and not only gets good pictures, but runs pretty damn fast while doing it. She is also willing to lay on the ground to get a good angle, or get a start line shot and then jump back into the corral without a second to spare.
In fact, this blog would be worthless without her pictures.

So, here are my favorite running photos that Shannon took in 2009. If you have time, please leave a comment to vote for your favorite. Or let me know if I left one out. Thanks.
(All pictures by Shannon Johnstone)

#1: 10 year old Halee Enderle flying to the finish
of The Carying Place 5K
[full size][gallery]
#2: A great finish line photo from the Cary Turkey Trot. Heiko Rath shows the pain of an 8K, with two other finishers catching their breath behind him. In the distance, runners stream out of the fog.
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#3: One of the wonderful volunteers from the Umstead Marathon
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#4: From the Triple Lakes trail race.
This guy shows the spirit of a trail race.
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#5: The manure puddle in action from the Godiva Misery Run
[full size][gallery]
#6: Ultra marathoners are a little different
than your typical 5K road racer.
This is from the Umstead 100, which we were spectators only.
[full size][gallery]
#8: The eventual winner of the City of Oaks Marathon,
cruising through the rain
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#9: From Run at the Rock. This doesn't really show how muddy it really was, but I like the winding line of
runners so focused on the trail.
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#10: The ghosts of runs past. From a full moon run
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#11: From the Cary Road Race 5K. It is a split second after the gun went off, as you can see the feet just an inch off the ground.
[full size][gallery]
#12: Post race, from Triple Lakes Trail race
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#13: The marathon start, from Triple Lakes Trail race
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#14: The best finishers prize I have ever received
(I think I took this one!)
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#15: Three very intense and fast looking guys owning the start line at The Buddy Run 5K. The rest of pack, including me, was standing 5 feet behind them, afraid to even get close.
[full size][gallery]
#16: My sister Monique and I, from The Capital Tourist 20K
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#17: Magnificent Mile start
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 : Mission Accomplished!

Exactly one year ago I set an ambitious goal for 2009: Run 2000 miles!

Mission Accomplished! I did it! In fact I blew it away!

2009 Stats:

  • Ran 10,341 miles. Avg 28 miles a day!

  • Improved my 5K time from 1:40:28 to 14:12!

  • Lost 212 pounds!