Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Godiva Presidential Inauguration

Just a handful of the past Godiva presidents,
with the current president Doug Hensel left holding the baton.
The Carolina Godiva Track Club annual members party was held last night in Durham.
As is tradition, the club treats attending members to pizza and beverages, and the ceremonial "passing of the baton" is performed.

The outgoing 2012 president Halle Amick gave a brief but rousing speech in which she encouraged members to volunteer, and then publicly shamed me for quitting the newsletter editor position after just 4 months.

Kevin Nickodem was goaded into staying on as treasurer for another year, and then Doug Hensel was then formally promoted from Vice President to President for 2013. Past presidents in attendance lined up, passing the baton down the line ending up with Doug.

New VP Brandy Burns.

The shocker of the evening was the nomination of Brandy Burns into the Vice President position, which left many speculating exactly how drunk she was when she had agreed to it.

We all then refilled our beers and sat down to talk about our various running injuries, and upcoming races.

New president Doug (left),  posing with ultra lunatic Mike Dacar.
Doug was already drunk with the power of the presidency last night,
and spent a good 5 minutes fondling me.

Many of the members in attendance were in training for the upcoming Uwharrie Mountain Run on February 2nd. Shannon went around to a few of them and got a shot of their "Uwharrie Face", as they contemplated the always challenging run:

Shauna is clearly frightened by the 20 miler.

Erin is slightly bewildered thinking of the 8 miler.

Karen is apparently expecting to be attacked
by Big Foot during the 40 miler.
Chris can't believe he signed the 20 again.
Ronnie is confident he can get to mile 22 pretty fast... 

...but mile 32 is not looking so good.
Heiko and Doug don't seem worried at all

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2012 Godiva Misery Run Photos

Shannon took a few hundred photos at the Carolina Godiva Misery Run today.
They are on facebook, but you do not need an account to view.

There are 2 albums:
Photo Album #1

Photo Album #2

Below are a few of my favorites.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Twenty Six Point Dead at Umstead

First, there was The Ream at The Scream where I schooled Josh in the ways of crashing down a mountain.

Next was The Brawl in Benson, where Josh got his revenge by out-kicking and outwitting me with the help of duct tape

Now the stage is set for the rubber match. The final battle. A balls-to-the-trail, winner-take-all, marathon to the deathTwenty Six Point Dead at Umstead

Our third and possibly terminal showdown will take place at the 2013 Umstead Marathon (Tenth anniversary edition!).

Recent training runs revealed that we are both a bit out of shape, though evenly matched.
We both will dedicate the next 4 months training solely for this race.

On March 2, 2013 we will find out:

  • Who trained harder and most importantly smarter
  • Who is the biggest shirtless douchebag
  • And who will emerge alive from the bottom of Cedar Ridge...

(Assuming, of course, we can actually register in time)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 Ridge To Bridge Marathon Photos

Shannon had to DNF at the Ridge to Bridge Marathon on Saturday, due to a mysterious bout of food poisoning the night before.
If I was barfing my guts out at 2am, I doubt I would have left the hotel at 5am to go run a mountain marathon. But she is made of hardier stuff than me, which is why I was off traipsing my way through a nice flat 5k instead.

Anyway, her dropping out resulted in 500 photos of the race. She whittled them down to 200.

The public photo album is here.

If you really like one and want a higher rez photo, she would be happy to provide, so drop her a note.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I've Been Lanced!

So there I was this morning, lined up against my arch rival: the de facto North Carolina champion of speedy barefooting, Barefoot Josh.

We were at the Benson Healthy Harvest 5K which awards the top 3 barefoot runners, and would therefore  serve as our NC barefoot 5K championship. Out of the 116 people lined up, we appeared to be the only 2 missing shoes.

A lady told us the roads were rough, and they were going to tear up our feet.
"You might be right", I said anxiously.
Josh tried to placate her by rattling off his stats: 17:38 5K, 4:57 road mile, several marathons, all barefoot.
She was unimpressed, "I love my flip flops".


Mile 1 -  6:18
Out of the gate I hung a few steps behind him as a stiff headwind from Hurricane Sandy made the early pace feel hard. As usual in a 5K, there was a fairly large group running in front that thinned out quickly.
Three shod runners took off ahead, and it was quickly apparent we had no chance of placing overall.
No matter, I was only there to beat one guy.

We turned down a short side street that featured some very rough asphalt, like gravel tarred together.
I had been very worried about this, because I had zero chance against Josh on a rough course.
I reflexively revved up my turnover to a crazy rate in an attempt to avoid the pain. The result was that I sprinted out ahead.

Besides running races very fast, Barefoot Josh
sometimes puts on Burlesque show while doing it.

Mile 2 -  6:27
We completed a short loop and were back onto a main road which was smooth. I picked up the pace a little, and heard Josh breathing hard behind me. I was surprised that he seemed to be struggling already, but it was still too early feel confident. I took some deep easy breaths, "Relax".

We turned down another street that bristled with some of the worst blacktop I have ever encountered. It felt like thumbtacks. "Oh, no! No! No!", I pleaded out loud, "COME ON!"
Fortunately the street was lined with a smooth concrete gutter and I immediately sought refuge there, ducking low tree branches.
I'm not sure why, but Josh chose to follow behind me here instead of taking advantage of my obvious weakness. We did a u-turn around some cones and took the gutter back to the main road.

The rough roads left their mark.
The base of the toe is typically a weak spot that gets chewed up.

Mile 3 -  6:02
Getting back to the smoothness allowed me to open my stride, but Josh matched the acceleration and pulled ahead a little. My boss was running the 5K too, and I crossed the street to slap his hand as he came by.

I then settled into behind Josh waiting until the last .1 miles to make my move. I had been saving a little gas for the final kick.

I heard Josh's watch beep at the 3 mile mark, with the finish line directly ahead. I moved over to sprint past him, but he kicked too.
The pace was just too much for me. My stomach turned inside out and just cratered.
Hunched over I watched Josh run away from me, crossing 8 seconds ahead of me.
Crap. I lost to him for the first time.
He retains the title of "The Fastest Barefooter in NC".
And I guess as the only other entrant, I am the slowest.
My record drops to 8-1. He won fair and square... or did he?

Damning Evidence!
This incriminating photograph of Josh's foot has emerged.
Clearly he was duct-tape doping! He wasn't barefoot at all!
This was not a level playing field. The USADA will hear about this!!
I've Been Lanced!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This Saturday: Brawl in Benson

In the history of great showdowns between rivals, a few come to mind:
The Rumble in the Jungle. 
The Thrilla in Manila. 
The Ream at the Scream.

Soon, there will be another to add to the list.

Saturday, October 27
Healthy Harvest 5k
The Brawl in Benson
Who is the fastest barefooter in NC?

As they say in Johnston County: "It's on like a pot of neckbones"
Barefoot Josh and I will once again go toe to toe in an epic battle to decide who is slightly faster than mediocre. Only this time, I will be going barefoot against the master himself.

This race recognizes and awards the "first three barefoot finishers". So I think it is perfectly legitimate for the winner to claim the title of "Fastest Barefoot Runner in NC".
Now, obviously there are faster barefoot runners in NC than us. But until they have their own obnoxious self involved blogs to brag about it, they don't count.

Tale of the Tape

Last 5K20:1420:44
5K PR17:3818:15
Shoe size6?12
Facial Hair81
OatmealSteel CutQuaker Old Fashioned

Josh has the better PRs, but he has never beaten me. Can he do it this time?
Will some unknown barefooter show up and beat both of us?
Place your bets!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012 Ales for Rail-Trails 5K

I've been to races where the finishers award is a pint glass.
And I thought that was the greatest thing ever.
Then I went to races where they served beer afterward. 
And I thought that was the greatest thing ever.

While I was happy with these races, my imagination bubbled. 
What if... what if there was a race that when you finished they handed you a pint glass... filled with beer!

A reason to finish fast was to get there before the line formed.

But people dismissed the idea as a pipe dream. "Never happen", they would say shaking their heads, "Regulations. Rules. Laws. Liability." The word "liability" is used to squash most fun ideas.
"Runners can only be trusted with a plastic water bottle and half a bagel. You give them a glass of beer and there would be drunk, dehydrated runners passed out in the street among piles of broken glass"

But despite these naysayers, my dream has come true. When I finished the Ales for Rail-Trails 5K, a full pint of beer was handed to me. Now this, this is the greatest thing ever.

Even better, there was nothing else at the finish. No crappy bagels or half green bananas. No toxic "vitamin  water" that a soda company is trying to promote. Not even plain water. Just beer. Awesome.

Shannon ran with Jeffery Jeffery and everybody loved him. "Oh! He's only got three legs!"

Bart shows of his pint belt.

My rival Bart got his revenge and kicked my ass by over 2 minutes with an 18:33. He scored another pint glass as 3rd in the gigantic 30-49 age group.

Oh, and no one passed out or dropped their glass. We just all hung out in the street, drank, talked, and ate at the food trucks. Durham is so cool. This would never happen in Cary. This race is has taken the top spot on my list.

The rest of Shannon's photos are here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Run for the Donuts

Run for the Donuts is the first race in the Carolina Godiva Track Club Winter Series of events. If you are not familiar with the Winter Series, it is 7 races around Durham area, each costing only $5. Membership is not required (though it is only $20). For $5, you get a timed race, post race food, and a family atmosphere.

In these days of profit driven mega races costing $100 or more, Godiva races are a wonderful anachronism. Come out and experience them while you can.

The other great thing about the Winter Series is that many of the races are not just about who is fastest. For example, Run for the Donuts levels the playing field according to age so everyone is involved and competitive.

Here is a description of the rules:
Each team runs five loops of a cross-country course comprising grassy fields and wooded trails. All three team members run the first two loops together at the pace of the slowest teammate, with one then dropping out and the two remaining runners continuing the third loop together at the pace of the slower runner of the two, to be followed by one of those two dropping out and just the remaining runner running the fourth loop, to be replaced in turn by the teammate who dropped out after the second loop, who then runs the fifth (and final) loop alone. So each teammate runs multiple loops of the course--singly at his/her own all-out pace or perhaps at a slower teammate's speed when running in tandem. When all teams have completed their fifth loops, the director and time-keepers apply their vaunted science to work out each team's Donut Index™--the team's finish time in seconds divided by the sum of the team members' ages in years--with the lowest index determining which team gets the most prized donuts.
If you can't decipher that, don't feel bad. Apparently the rules of winter series races are inspired by Mensa brain twisting math puzzles. Most people just show up and run and hope somebody else knows what the hell is going on.

Teams #4, #9, and #8. Sticking together.

The bottom line is that you are assigned to a 3 person team and you must all run together for 2 loops ( and 2 people for the 3rd loop).
Most of the people there that morning (including me) weren't that interested in winning or running fast, and instead were really hoping to be put on a slow team.

Team #5, SDBC
Some had really good excuses, like they had run a marathon or a 50K the day before.
My excuse was that I had the Ales for Rails Trails 5K later that afternoon.

Of course, some lunatics, like Heiko, ran Medoc marathon the day before, and was running the Donut run and the 5K in the afternoon.
Anyway, I was assigned team #5.
I turned to my teammates, and saw that I had lost the lottery in the worst way. There was Monk, easily the fastest guy there, and Jeff, who must hold world records for the 60+ age group.

It was a perfect morning when the race started, and Jeff paced us through the first two loops of the 1.1 mile trail/cross country course. It was a solid 8 min pace, all that I was prepared for that morning.

I suggested that I be the guy who rests for laps 3 and 4 and runs lap 5 alone, which I secretly planned to run at a leisurely pace. But Monk and Jeff were scheming to win this thing, and it was decided I would run lap 3 with Monk. Crap.

Jeff had an astounding kick to finish the loop and then dropped off, leaving me to presumably pick up the pace further still. Which I did, running past the few teams ahead of us. But I was completely spent after a half mile.

Some slackers just showed up for the donuts.
I tried to let Monk know that I needed to slow down, but he would have none of it. "Come on! Let's pick it up!". What I had hoped to be an easy morning run turned into one long, painfully nauseating finishing kick. I crossed the finish and fell down trying to get some air in while keeping my breakfast from coming out. Some kid there pointed at me, "Look Dad! It's an overachiever!"

Loop#4 & 5
Monk and Jeff finished off the run while I ate Donuts, and we came managed 2nd place according to the Donut Index.

The real overachiever was Shannon.
After running the New River 50K on Saturday, she did the Donut run on Sunday, carrying her huge Canon 5D for the first loop. She finished off by somehow getting lost on her last loop and running a little extra.

Her photos are here

Next, Ales for Rails Trails 5K

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Genius of Kip Litton

Kip at the 10K mark of a marathon in 35:30,
dressed as a chicken
If you have never heard of Kip Litton let me fill you in.

He was ostensibly a 48 year old dentist who was trying to run a sub-3 hour marathon in all 50 states, with the stated purpose of raising money for charity.

He was well on his way to accomplishing this, completing 19 of the races when people started to notice peculiar things about Kip's performances:
  • He doesn't actually run the entire course
  • He mysteriously changes clothes midway
  • At least one of the races he claimed to run actually didn't exist. 
I won't rehash the entire story. Details of his antics can be found in the following places:

Kip photographed at the halfway mark of the same marathon in 1:24:43
Now in a different outfit
Reactions to the Kip Litton saga have been divided, and comments in forums are usually one of the following:
  • Kip is a horrible "cheater"
  • Kip is an honest family man, dentist, and runner and would never cheat. (These comments are all actually Kip himself posing under pseudonyms)
  • Who cares? Enough of this already.
These are all missing the point, which is:

  •  Kip Litton is a genius. 
This is satire. He's not a cheater anymore than Andy Kaufman was a wrestler. 
Kip Litton is a performance artist working in the medium of Kaufman and Sacha Baron Cohen. 
Hell, maybe Litton is Cohen in character filming his next movie.

The physical part of Kip's comedy is his amazing skill of cutting the course without getting caught in the act,  while still making it ridiculously obvious. Starting last? Changing clothes? While finishing the BAA 5K in 17 minutes? Come on people, that is funny! 

Those people yelling "cheater!" unwittingly become part of Kip's performance. He is making fools of those taking it seriously.

The satirical element of his performance is aimed directly at people like me. He is skewering those 40-something men who spend enormous amounts of time, effort, and money to achieve some arbitrary and fruitless goal like a sub 3 hour marathon. We peruse looking for an "easy" marathon to score our target time and analyze results in looking for a boost to our fragile egos. 

Kip mocks us by taking this activity to a ridiculous extreme. Not just a sub 3 marathon, or one in all 50 states. A sub 3 in 50 states! Further, he has fun with both of those mentioned websites, creating make believe races, and even profiles of those who ran them! Genius.

Is it over?
Alas, it seems that Kip's performance has taken a hiatus.
I would have liked to see him push it further into the heights of absurdity until everyone appreciated the joke.

  • Kip runs a sub 3 in Boston, while showing up in photographs dressed as a different Star Wars character at each 5K split. 
  • Kip wins the Olympic marathon trials after taking a break midway for a 30 minute television  interview.
  • Kip live streams video of himself running the London Marathon backwards while juggling, in a world record time of 1:59:58
But maybe Kip wants to keep his comedic art pure, enigmatic. Never breaking character, never pushing it too far to be obvious. Maybe the controversy and the chorus of "cheater" from the self -serious dupes was the level of success he was hoping for. 

In any case, I fear his performance will be lost to history, misunderstood and unappreciated.
But if you read this Kip Litton, I get it.
Genius. Pure genius.

Kip stops to take a long nap on the way to his 2:52 finish.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 Iron Mountain Trail Run Report

Last Saturday I was running the Iron Mountain Trail Run in Damascus VA... and I was hurting.

Some of the pains were old and not surprising: aching knees, tight calf, swollen metatarsals on the left foot. Recent additions were trashed quads that had still not recovered from the Continental Divide 10K last weekend.

But it was the sharp pain in my hip flexors that was shockingly new and getting worse quickly.
I had felt this before at the end of the Uwharrie 40 miler, and I knew that in a few miles I wouldn't be able to lift my feet up. After that, my inevitable destination was sprawled on the trail bleeding profusely.

I looked at my watch. I was only at mile 3

“Well, this isn’t good at all”, I thought. I was still on the flat, easy Virgina Creeper and hadn’t even hit the real trail yet. Severely under-trained going into this, I had dropped from the 30 miler to the 16. But even 16 miles of the mountain was way too much for me that day; I’m not sure I could have even hiked it.

So I stopped and stepped aside, much to the confusion of those running behind me.

“You OK?”
“Twist your ankle?”
“Going the wrong way?”

It was too hard to explain, so I just smiled and waved. I took off my bib, and walked/jogged/limped back to the start. I wished luck to the rest of our crew as they passed, and Heiko gave me a big sympathetic hug. I made it back and let the race director know I was dropping out.

I may have set a course record for futility as the first person to DNF the 16 miler, and the first person to not make it to the first aid station. Here is a quote from the race director’s report:
Unfortunately, the first casualty dropped in those first few miles- a 16 mile competitor realized it wasn’t his day and decided to return to the finish and avoid injuring himself on the trails.
But it actually turned into a good day. At least I got 6 miles in, which capped off my mileage for the week to a robust... 6. I walked back to the rented "Running Down Endurance Flop House" that was just a couple blocks away, showered, ate, and napped.

I woke up and found Debs downstairs.

Debs ran in college and has posted some fast times. But she normally avoids trails, especially after she wrecked her ankle, leaving it filled with bone chips.

Despite the bad ankle, she managed to finish the 16 miler. Even with several bathroom breaks and walking the most technical sections she still placed 11th overall and 4th female. I was jealous.

Jeff declines to pose for a photo

Debs and I had a beer and walked back down to the finish to find Jeff sitting at a picnic table. He had just finished the 30 miler.

Jeff is one of my rivals, and when I had signed up for the race I had secretly hoped to score a win against him. But I probably never had a chance, as he ended up crushing his first ultra, running the tough 30 miles just under 5 hours and taking 8th overall. I was bitter with envy.

Shortly after Jeff,  Heiko also finished the 30 miler, no worse for the wear.

Shannon descends into Skulls Gap aid station
at mile 37
Skulls Gap
After Jeff showered we drove up to the Skulls Gap aid station to see the 50 milers come through at mile 37.   I snapped a few photos (see here) as the runners went by. This race has a pretty tough time limit of 12 hours, and runners had to be past this point before 3:45 pm or they would be pulled from the course.
Jay Spadie, senior member of the Shirtless Douchebag Club
First we saw Spadie come flying by around 2:30pm, smiling and laughing. Despite having 4 pounds of tape around his toes, he was moving pretty well.

I wasn't sure when to expect from Shannon, as she is capable of a having a great race (winning Uwharrie) or a bad one (trying to drop out of Uwharrie). Her plan was try to take it as easy as possible for the first 37 miles, relax, and stop to take photos on the way (see them here). Then if she had anything left, run the final downhill sections hard.

Humidity and steeps climbs are two things she struggles with, so I wasn't optimistic. And if she gave into her competitive streak and tried to keep up with the leaders, it would certainly end badly.

Shannon pausing to snap a pic at mile 5.
-photo by Beth Minnick
We saw Shannon come through Skulls Gap at about 2:45 pm, an hour ahead of the cutoff. She was in good spirits after trying to drop out at mile 22. The volunteer there had told her "You are going to have to wait here a while. Why not run another 10 miles?" Now she was feeling better and ran right through the aid station on a mission.

Kelly Bruno 
Waiting for Kelly and Brandy to come through, we started to worry as the clock ticked closer to the cutoff. Finally Kelly popped out of the trail with 7 minutes to spare.

Kelly's prosthetic blade is designed for running on flat roads, not mountain trails, and she was discovering this at her first mountain ultra. The springiness of it made the steep climbs and drops even more difficult. Further complicating things was that sweat collects in it, giving her horrible chafing and blisters. She to had constantly stop and change the sock to keep it dry. Still she was all smiles coming through.

Right behind her came Brandy.
This was Brandy's 3rd attempt at a 50 miler. On her second attempt at Cheat Mountain, her feet blistered badly, she missed the cutoff , and had to call it quits at mile 49½.
Here at Skulls Gap, she was getting some bad blisters again. She took some time to lube up her feet, and was out of there at just ahead of the cutoff.

Jeff and I drove back to the Flop house, had another beer, and then lazily wandered over to the finish to see the 50 milers come in. Amazingly, Shannon beat us to there, finishing in 10:23. She had speed up the last 13 miles, passing about 15 people and ended up 20th overall, 4th female, and only 18 minutes behind the lead woman. Such a feat of endurance I can only dream of.

Shannon is escorted to the finish line by a pack of feral children
and the sound of  "Chariots of Fire" blasting from a car stereo
- photo by Heiko Rath

Shannon collapses at the finish,
still clutching her camera
-photo by Heiko Rath
Fortunately Heiko was there to get some shots of her finishing.

-photo by Heiko Rath

Next in was Spadie, getting out-kicked to the finish by the newest member to the SBD club.

Kelly was the only one of us to participate in the Iron Mountain Man/Woman competition. This requires as many push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups as you can within 5 minutes of finishing the race. Kelly ran 50 miles and then proceeded to do more push-ups and sit-ups in 5 minutes than I can do in an entire day.
My male ego has never taken such a thorough beating. I need to quit hanging out at these races and go find a chess club or a Scrabble tournament.

The minutes ticked away to 7pm and the 12 hour time limit. Later we learned Brandy was desperately trying to figure out which way to go at some of the final turns into town. Finally we saw her crossing the bridge at the far end of the park.

"One minute and thirty seconds!", the race director called out. Jeff ran down to let her know that time was running out. I didn't think she would make it, it seemed so far away.

But somehow she found the strength for an all out sprint to the wild cheers of the crowd, crossing the finish line in 11:59:15. She finally got that 50 miler, on one hell of a tough course. Behind her 22 of the 72 runners missed the cutoff or DNF'd.

Right behind Brandy was an 18 year old girl who incredibly ran the 50 miler in 12:00:56, just missing the final cutoff by 56 seconds.

Residents of the Running Down Endurance Flophouse
Brandy, Jeff, Kelly, Heiko, Shannon, Me, and Debs
(minus Spadie who drove back after the race)
- photo by Heiko Rath
Despite the somewhat humbling DNF, it was a great weekend. Many thanks to the race crew and volunteers. We may be back!

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