Thursday, March 29, 2012

Live Blogging from the Umstead 100

I will be at Umstead Park all day Saturday watching Shannon run 100 miles.
Since it looks like all the volunteer duties are filled, I will have time to kill. So I have decided to do some "live" blogging of the event.

I will do so at a separate blog that I have created here:

Mostly to give updates on Shannon, but also to try to capture the experience of a 100 mile race.
I am thinking photos, maybe who the leaders are, etc.

If any of you fellow bloggers or readers will be there and would like to contribute to this "Live" blog, let me know.

See ya all out there!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Hard Climb Hill

Note: This report is a little late, due to the fact I have spent most of the last 6 days trying (and failing) to correctly adjust the front derailleur on my bicycle.

The last of the Godiva Winter Series races, Hard Climb hill was held on a warm and foggy morning in Duke Forest.

Scott (above) has a much better race report, so please see that for further details. Instead I'll just give a recount of how my race went.

I de-laced the forefoot and made a few cuts to convert them to extra wide width.
This was the first race I have run in the Merrell Trail Gloves, and I was very nervous.
From running the race in previous years, I remembered my feet hurting from all the gravel. And that happened while I was wearing thick cushy shoes!

My Glove running so far has been exclusively on the foot friendly Lake Crabtree Trail. So the day before the race, as I test, I ran a mile on a gravel road. It was slow and painful, and I could feel every rock.
My commitment to minimalism wavered, and I briefly thought about breaking out the cushy shoes again for the race.

But I was starting over, and "slow and painful" seemed a good place to begin. So I left the chushies at home.

I positioned myself in the middle of the pack, and started of at a moderate pace down the gravel road.
At first I tried dancing around the gravel, and then tried just taking tiny little steps. But it felt really awkward. As we descended the first hill, I was shuffling to slow myself down.

I remembered Barefoot Josh's strategy for dealing with gravel: "Just go for it".
So I did, and just let myself fly down the hill.

Weirdly, the gravel did not hurt at all.
Obviously, the faster you move your feet, the less impact is on each step.
But there is something else to it, too. Maybe by running "normally" my legs are more relaxed.

Anyway, my legs and feet felt pretty good, and I was moving at a pace I haven't achieved since... let me check the running log... the 5K on the runway 10 months ago.

Way up ahead of me, I could see Bart and Jeff who had taken off like a shot.
I decided my goal would be to catch them. I figured that it may be possible since they were doing the 10 miler and I was only doing the 3.

So I just gunned it going up the "Hard Climb Hill", slowly reeling them in. I was redlining it like it was 100 meter sprint, but I knew I didn't have to save anything for later.

We hit the 1.5 mile turn around and I was completely gassed, still 50 meters behind them. Their 10 mile pace was faster than I could go a mile, and I was about to give up.

Coming down the hill I got a high five from young-gun-running-super-star Ryan, and that lifted my spirits.
I pushed all-out the last mile, huffing, puffing, grunting, and groaning and managed to just edge Bart right at the 3 mile mark, and I was done. Bart and Jeff continued on, finishing the hilly 10 mile course in under a 7 minute pace.

It was a great confidence boost to be able to keep up with them, if only for 3 miles. And I was very happy that my legs felt good, for the first time in a while.

I waited around waiting for Shannon, who ran the 10 miler at her ultra pace. This Saturday she is running the Umstead 100 miler.

More to come on that...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Starting Over

Since I sat out the Umstead Marathon, people have been asking me, "What's injured?"
Well, surprisingly... nothing!

But if I had tried to run Umstead, I would be injured right now. I was not in any kind of shape to run a marathon. People said, "Oh, just run it slow." These are the people who are in marathon shape, and forget how far 26.2 miles is, no matter how slow you go.

After a year of stupidly pushing myself through races, getting injured, and then gazing enviously at people who are not limping, it's time to start over.

A month ago, I started by running down the street 0.3 miles. And I've been working my way slowly back up.

A Minimal Experiment
I had tried barefoot running originally because I thought it would make me faster.
But what I discovered were knees that didn't hurt when I went sans shoes. And it wasn't because I was going slower; slowing down in shoes never felt any better.

I won't get into the whole "Is barefoot better?" debate.
But there is no question that running barefoot makes you run more gently. And my knees really appreciate that.

So I took all the cushy shoes and stuck them in a box in the garage. If anyone wears size 12, and is looking for gently used Brooks Launch and Montrail Rouge Racers let me know.

Now, I love running on trails, and I can't do that barefoot just yet. (This guy can. And now, so can this guy.)

So I held on to my Trail Gloves.

The problem with the Trail Gloves is they make me want to run way too fast. My calves, feet, soleus, and Achilles are really paying the price for my impatience. My knees are OK so far though.

My goal is to run a trail half marathon in Pinckney, MI at the end of April.
Most of my runs these days are in the 1 to 2 mile range. So I have a long way to go.

I'll do my Hard Climb Hill race report tomorrow.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Umstead 2012 Year of Bat

The Opossumlypse has been delayed another year.

2012 is the Year Of the Bat, which was our expert mascotologist pick 4 weeks ago!

See y'all tomorrow!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sign of the Opossumlypse?

All week, I have been looking for a sign of what the 2012 Umstead mascot will be.

With the weather forecasts predicting biblical rain on Saturday, I thought that may be a sign of an aquatic creature. Maybe it is the crayfish? Or maybe a water snake?

But then riding my bike to work this morning I saw what had to be the sign I was waiting for.

Perched in a tree on Reedy Creek road, just outside of Umstead, was this furry little omen.

Surely this means Opossum is the mascot. We will find out tomorrow.

Curiously, he had climbed up 9 feet off the ground. Maybe this is a sign of how much rain we are going get...

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