Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Croatan 24

Connie Gardner, former American 24-hour record holder (149 miles),
 placing 2nd in the world championships in 2012.

On Saturday, Shannon and I ran the Croatan 24 hour race in Croatan national Forest, just a few miles from the NC coast. (A few of Shannon's photos are here.)

Or I should say I attempted to run it. I could use the excuse that I wasn't fully recovered from the Detroit marathon 3 weeks ago, or that I hadn't done any ultra training. But really my failure was due to impatience, stubbornness, and not listening to experienced advice. 

I thought I could just wing it. Just run slow, and take walk breaks. Easy, right? 
I finished 116th out of 122 participants. Oh man, my UltraSignup runner rank is going to take a hit.

Frank "The Tank" Lilley powered to 57 miles on his 64th birthday.
Which is almost what Shannon and I ran combined.
The Race
The Croatan24 event benefits the MARSOC Foundation which supports Marines and their families. Before the race was a ceremony for the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and the first lap was led by active and retired military members.  

Veteran Dan "The Man" Lenz represents Army on the flag lap.
The race was organized and executed with military precision. The timing, aid stations, course markings and volunteers were all flawless, leaving nothing to be desired. The participants just had to show up and run the 1.37 mile loop all day.

The course was an almost perfectly flat, non-technical trail looping around a salt marsh and through the forest. It was a fine dirt surface, with many metal and wood walkways and bridges. It was somewhat narrow in parts, but there wasn't really a big problem with crowding or passing.

Shannon with her hero, Connie Gardner.

Elite Imposter
I vaguely remember Shannon asking me many months ago if she could sign us up for this race. I was focussed on trying to run a marathon in October, so I just shrugged and said, "Yeah, whatever."

Next thing I know I am wearing a yellow "elite" bib in a tent bumping elbows with world class athletes. 
Shannon had requested that we both be assigned to the "competitive" group. I think she mistook the word "competitive" to mean a personality type instead of actual athletic ability. 

The yellow competitive group consisted of just 9 of the almost 200 entrants. We had our own dedicated tent for drop bags, our own porta potty, and our own timing table and assigned volunteers. 

Connie was giving us strategy tips assuming we would putting in at least 120 miles. I just nodded and smiled and didn't mention that a long run for me was anything over 10. 
I didn't even belong in this race at all, let alone in the elite tent.

The aid station/ timing

It's Like, All Frickin Day
A 24 hour race is an oxymoron. A "Race" implies expeditiousness; a hasty advancement to the finish line. But there is no finish line, and hastiness is failure. 
Instead it is a contest of patience. Like the Colorado River forming the Grand Canyon kind of patience. 

Oh sure, the world class, freak of nature elites can run the whole 24 hours. But the rest of us have to move a glacial pace, slower than the line at the DMV, to make it the whole way. 

Jonathan Savage showing how to pace yourself

This concept was foreign to me. I had spent the whole summer training myself to run 7 minute miles (not successfully), so a 10 minute mile felt like it was slow enough. I had a nice "Ultra shuffle" going on, barely lifting my feet. It was almost a power walk, really. 

I wore my "Boston" shirt. Absolutely no one was impressed. 
But still, I was up running with the elites of Connie GardnerCheryl Yanek, and Jonathan Savage. It was like starting a marathon and finding yourself running past the Ethiopians and Kenyans. 
"Well this can't be good", I said to myself. 

On the other hand, I did have a yellow bib. I started dreaming. Maybe I have some untapped hidden talent for ultra running. Maybe I could run all day! 

My inevitable failure came even sooner than expected, with a pain developing in my hips after just 10 miles.
But I had the burden of the yellow bib to bear, so I ignored the pain, hoping it would go away.

Around mile 20 Shannon passed me at the aid station as I fumbled with my water bottle. I tried to catch up to her, seeing her across the salt marsh ahead of me, moving very fast. I tried to shift into all out run, but suddenly my hips gave out completely. My first attempt to keep up with my ultra-running wife had failed miserably.

I tried to walk slowly a couple laps, but the hip pain continued. Not wanting to cause any lingering damage, I called it quits.

The amazing Cheryl Yanek

The Unmotivator
I went and slept in the tent, disappointed with my conspicuously non-elite legs.
After a couple hours of laying around, I went to check on Shannon, who was still running her steady 10 minute pace after 40 miles. "Come on! Run with me", she called. 

Shannon was excited to be on the leader board,
right between "Gardner" and "Yanek"
I put my shoes and bib back on and jumped back in on her next lap. But I still could not run. So we walked a lap. Shannon was having a strange pain in her knee which worried her.
I managed to talk her into dropping out by tempting her with Korean sizzling rice soup and a nice warm bed. I might be the worst pacer ever.

The Croatan24 is great race, at least from the 16% of it that I experienced.
I am long, long way from being an ultra runner, and trying to keep up with Shannon. 
The Umstead 100 in April seems a little bit more impossible, and 5Ks a little more appealing. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Croatan 24 Hour Live Blog!

So my attempt at running under 3 hours in the Detroit Marathon was sort of a success:
I was completely done running in less than 3 hours.

Unfortunately I only made it 18 miles, and had to walk/limp/shuffle the rest of the way.
So now my last 7 marathons I have signed up for were failures: 4 of them my legs fell apart and had to walk it in, and the other 3 I hurt myself in training and didn't even start.

So clearly it is time to start running Ultras!

I haven't been running much. Instead I've been assisting my wife
 with her photography project, which involves her taking
 photos of me being assaulted by shelter dogs.

In the three weeks since the marathon, I've mostly done very short, slow runs. I run to work and back, which is 1.25 miles each way. Or I run the dogs for a mile. Still these short distances feel hard on my old, crumbling, arthritic legs.

So the Croatan24 race is a perfect introductory Ultra for me.
The course is only 1.37 miles long! And you have an entire 24 hours to finish it!
It seems really short for an ultra, but I am not complaining. I doubt I could finish a 5K right now, so 1.37 miles is a sufficient challenge for me.

I figure I should be able to finish it in not more than an hour. I can then spend the rest of the time lounging around, napping, eating grilled veggie burgers, and blogging about it.

Thats why I have created a blog to brag about my inevitably amazing achievements in real time:

At the very least I should be able to outrun that utra running wife of mine. Sure, I have no chance against her in a marathon or a 50 miler. But I bet I can beat her in 1.37 miles!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sub 3:00 in Detroit!

A Bad Omen?
After arriving in Detroit on Friday, I was striding confidently in my new running shoes down the moving walkway at the airport.
I had untied my shoelaces on the airplane and was too impatient to retie them.  As I stepped off the walk, the shoelace was sucked into the rollers and suddenly the walkway was trying to eat my foot like a hungry mechanical carnivore. The laces tightened and my foot was trapped, being drawn closer and closer to the metal teeth.
"Oh, uh"
Fortunately the lace snapped before any blood was spilled. "Hmmm. That's not a good sign..."

One More Time
This was another big attempt at a sub-3:00 marathon. Maybe my last, as I am getting older and more brittle.

My last attempt was here in Detroit back in 2010.
That time I ran the 6:52 pace required for a sub-3:00 through 24 miles, but was derailed by a cramping calf at the end, finishing in 3:02.

This time I would finally break the barrier by training a little smarter; running more miles and less races.
  • I had put in about 600 miles the 3 months
  • 200 miles of that was marathon effort tempo runs.
  • My benchmark race, 3 weeks prior, was a successful 2:05 Salem Lakes 30K.
  • I had a 3 week taper and was rested. (Well, except for a few 5Ks the weekend before, which I rationalized as "tune-ups")

Me with my two siblings: my marathoning freak-of-nature sister Monique (right),
and my brother Chris who is an older, larger, and scarier version of myself (left)

Race morning was perfect. Shannon, Monique and I drove down with my brother Chris who was doing the half. He is a detective with the Michigan State Police and a perk of his job was rock-star parking at the Michigan DOT headquarters a few hundred yards from the start. This was complete with our own private porta-potties, which I used several times to shed those last few ounces of dead weight.

Lining up at the start, I was prepared. The conditions were perfect:
  • 40 degrees, light breeze, partly cloudy.
  • I was wearing a brand new pair cushy, springy shoes. Same ones as 2010, except zero-dropped. 
  • Had my finely tuned 400 calories of of water down, caffeine enhanced Gu in my fuel belt.
After 160+ races I usually predict my finish time to within seconds, and thought I had a good chance at sub-3:00 this time. I knew it would be very close.

At the very least I would be able to keep up with Shannon and my sister Monique who have left me in the dust (or on the sidelines) our previous 6 marathons.

The first thing the Detroit Marathon does is leave Detroit and head to Canada,
where there is free healthcare and the drinking age is 19.
Here We Go Again.
Just before 7 AM, I hopped the fence to line up ahead of the 3:05 pace group and hit start on my garmin and was off. The first mile was very dark a little chaotic but the crowd thinned out quickly and I settled in behind a guy running a steady sub 7:00 pace in full banana costume.

With my experience three years ago, this all felt very familiar, and I knew what to expect.
The one thing that felt odd was the pavement. It felt very different than Umstead bridle trail I had trained on and the timing of my stride was off. Each step was a constant adjustment like I was stepping on and off a moving walkway at the airport. 

Still, the effort felt easy and doable. I resigned myself  to an intensely focussed, yet mind numbing three hours split evenly into perfect 6 minute, 50 second chunks. 

Oh! What's this??! Could it be???
We Have Had Enough Gu
The first 12 miles were uneventful. Over the bridge to Canada and back through the tunnel. I hit all the mile markers within a few seconds of the targets: 6:50, 13:50, 20:40, 27:30...

There was an Aid station every mile or two, where I took a sip of my Gu solution and chased it with a sip of water. This formula had worked pretty well in my previous 20 marathons, but not this time. Nearing the halfway point it boiled in my gut like a vinegar and baking soda volcano, threatening to erupt.

I slowed several times trying to hold it in. Crossing the first half split in 1:30:41, I had no time to spare, but the situation grew into a red alert emergency. At mile 14 I had to hit the porta john again, losing another 90 seconds. But I emerged refreshed and tried to make up the time with a faster pace.

It is! 
At the 16 mile mark, I was only 70 seconds behind but suddenly something happened.
My legs went caput. Pain shot my hips, knees, and ankles. My hamstrings and calves tightened into beef jerky. It felt like I was running on tree stumps. In the span of a mile I went from running a 6:45 pace to a 10:45. I was done.

I walked for a while, watching the pace groups pass, 3:05... 3:10... 3:15. Eventually I got cold so I tried jogging again which was horribly painful. Ug, I still had 8 freaking miles to go.

Monique cruises to a 3:18:57 at age 45
Around mile 19, Monique caught up to me. I told her I was dropping out and walking back to the start, but she talked me into trying to finish with her and we ran onto the Belle Isle loop together. She complained about being sick and just wanting to finish, but she never varied from her 7:35 pace. I simply could not stand the pain, so I let her go on. She ended up as 3rd masters, and 16th overall out of 1869 women, and won some serious cash. She is 2 years older than me.

Hashers saving the day!
Around mile 22 Shannon caught up to me. She was still on pace for her goal of a 3:23 PR, but was looking for any excuse to quit. So she joined me in my quitting. We walked and jogged the a few miles, stopping for any excuse to take pictures. 

Then we saw some white flour on the cement and got excited: "ON ON". The trail led to a hashers aid station around mile 25. We stopped for several cups of beer, but turned down the Blueberry Schnapps and whiskey. Recharged with beer, we ran in the last mile. The pain was excruciating , feeling like my hip sockets were filled with rusty nails, but I was glad to be done in 3:42:55. Shannon beat me again, with 15 second faster chip time. 

It was a good day after all
Not sure why I fell apart so abruptly. 
My training was not as smart as I had thought, and I was probably worn out from the 30K and 5Ks the past few weeks. Bottom line is I have aged a lot in the last 3 years and can't race like I used to.

So I guess it's time to move on to Ultras...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Ten Commandments of Endurance

I saw this link on facebook to "The Ten Commandments of Endurance"
You may have seen it too, or something like it.

Since we are all runners, you would think these "Ten Commandments" would apply to us.
And this would make you feel weak, inadequate, and pretty much like a total loser.

But these were not written for us.

These were written by Marshall Ulrich, four time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon, for a speech he gave to Navy Seals. I have added amendments to these commandments for the rest of  us schlubs who can only aspire to "elite" status in terms of frequent flyer miles.

The Ten Commandments of Endurance

10. Expect a journey and a battle–
“Life is not always simple. Don’t think that it’s just going to be smooth and not a rocky road. Accept that in your mind and then you can deal with things.”
For the rest of us: If you accept in advance that the guy with the baby jogger will run into the back of your legs in the local 5K, then you won't be as mad when it happens. 
9. Focus on the present and set intermediate goals—-
“Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Just stay in the present. If you’ve got some sort of problem…just deal with that. Take a deep breath and solve that one problem and then you can go on to others.”
For the rest of us: You are going to run 1 mile.... tomorrow. As long as the weather is nice. Or maybe the next day... I think there is a "Breaking Bad" marathon on AMC.
8. Don’t dwell on the negative–
“I think it helps to step outside of ourselves and not live in our own space or our own head too much. Look at what’s happening out there and focus on even problems of the world or other people. It kind of takes that focus from ourselves.”
For the rest of us: So what,  you had 4 surgeries on that knee. Hey, I know a guy who had seven!
7. Transcend the physical–
“If you’ve got an injury, say you’ve twisted an ankle and you want to keep going–providing you’re not doing damage to yourself–take that focus off that ankle. You can keep going as long as you don’t get locked into thinking about it continuously. You can transcend that physical aspect.”
For the rest of us: When you twist that ankle, drop out of the race and get a ride back in the volunteer's pick up. Then you can transcend the physical by drinking 6 beers at the finish.
6. Accept your fate—
“Just accept it for what it is and take it one step at a time.”
For the rest of us: No matter how much you resist, you are going to eat that entire bag of ginger snap cookies in one sitting. Just accept that, and enjoy them.
5. Have confidence that you will succeed—
Recall experiences, “where you’ve had success in the past. It will give you confidence to go beyond what you normally thought you could.”
For the rest of us: We should NOT recall those past experiences, they were really... really terrible (shudder)
4. Know that there will be an end—
“There will be an end and we can go on to more fertile soil.”
For the rest of us: In the end, you will be laying in that fertile soil. Unable to get up. Ah man, I think that's dog poop. 
3. Suffering is okay—
“That’s the human condition. We’re all going to suffer on one level or another.”
For the rest of us: Let those guys leading the race suffer. Suffering is NOT OK for us. Relax. Take a seat at the aid station and have some peanut M&Ms
2. Be kind to yourself—
“If you’re running and you need to walk a little bit. That’s okay. Know that you have weaknesses just like anybody else.”
For the rest of us: Be kind to yourself and just be a pacer. Then be kind to the guy you're pacing and tell him he can walk all he wants to.
1. Quitting is not an option—
“Everybody is going to think about quitting. I think about quitting. But you can’t let it overwhelm you. You can’t let it stop you from your success. And if you frame it in that way–that quitting is not an option–I think that’s the best thing to do.”
For the rest of us: Actually, quitting is a great option. You get first dibs on food at the finish, and you'll feel really good in the morning.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Goose Creek Trail Races

This is just a little heads up if you are looking for a good trail race in November.

Goose Creek Trail Races  are a 10 mile and a 8K held out east in Washington, NC.

It's put on by the Tar River Running Co., the same folks who give us the wildly popular Medoc Marathon and also have a hand in the awesome Medoc Spring Races.

Shannon and I have not done it Goose Creek yet, but it sounds like a great course. Not sure if we'll be physically able to run it this year, but we'll keep it on the calendar.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Umstead 100 Registration Recommended Change

Oh Boy
Shannon and I signed up for the Umstead 100. Yes, we got in.

I feel like I have just loaded my fragile body into a catapult that on April 5th will launch me straight into the ground. But before I bloviate on that subject, I have something to say about the race and registration process itself.

A Gift
Since 2008, Shannon and I have volunteered 3 or 4 times. We have helped crew Tom's Tavern on Saturday evening and then come back Sunday morning to help take it down.
But compared to other volunteers, we haven't done much. Those that are out there at 3:00 am in the morning and taking 12 hour shifts washing dishes, transcribing splits, and/or cleaning toilets deserve far more credit.

I only mention it because volunteering let us see the enormous amount of time and effort that goes into the Umstead 100. The race organizers spend many months preparing for the race, and are out there in the park for 4 days getting little to no sleep.

It is a very popular race for a reason. They could charge $1000 an entry and it would still fill up in 5 minutes (or a couple hours). They could then pay themselves for all the work they do. But they don't.
It's only $190, cheaper than many marathons.

Dorothy Hunter scrubs 200 potatoes a day before
pulling a 24 hour shift running Tom's Tavern
They give this GIFT to the Ultrarunning community. Unfortunately there are only 250 spots available. They could just give it all to elites or their friends, but they don't do that either.

The Registration Process
Instead of a random lottery they have an internet signup that is semi-random. Those who are persistent and click refresh enough, have a better chance of getting in. It's not perfect, and this year there was a small delay for the opening.

But in a way, this was good. Those who really wanted to get in didn't just give up. They stuck around and kept trying. Spots reopened, and if you were persistent you could have claimed a spot 2 hours after it opened.

Credit Barbara Kruger
Facebook Whiners
On the Umstead 100 Facebook site there were a number of people whining and complaining about the following things:
  • They had to keep hitting refresh and their finger was sore
  • The registration was interrupting their long run
  • It wasn't fair
  • Despite years of NOT volunteering, they didn't get in.
  • One person said the organizers "screwed them"

Recommended Change
Here is the one thing I would change about the registration process:

Anyone whining or complaining on Facebook about the race or registration process in any way, shape, or form, is permanently banned from ever running the race.

Why in the hell do you feel it is somehow your right to run this race?
The race organizers don't owe you anything. 
If you are unhappy, why don't you put on your own 100 mile race? I really hope you do.
And I hope someone complains about it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 Iron Mountain Trail Run

I want to be an Ultra Runner
I want to spend all night packing my drop bag and then get up early and carefully tape all of my toes.
I want to sit around and discuss prefered fueling strategies; Gu or Perpetuem? Do you prefer S-Caps or Endurolytes? Or maybe just watermelon dipped in salt? Will it be natural, whole foods or Skittles and Twizzlers?
Or maybe I'll be fearless like our friend Brandy who just "wakes up, tosses a couple Gus in a handheld, and goes"
I want to talk about aid stations way up on the mountain with exotic, dangerous sounding names like "Skulls Gap", and wear a belt stocked like a pharmacy.

Road Kill
But I'm not an Ultra Runner. Instead, I'm just another "Runner's World" runner. Someone who stares at the splits on their watch and tries to get to the finish line as fast as possible.
Ultra Runners don't run races, they go on adventures. They don't look for the easiest, fastest 5K around to get their PR. Instead they find the hardest trail up a mountain and see if they can run 50 miles on it.

Yes, I have tried a few Ultra distances. But I attempted them like any other race, running as fast as I possibly could. I should have saved some time and just flung myself in front of a bus, because the result would have been the same. Afterwards, I would lay in bed moaning for days.
Real Ultra Runners run the 50 miles and then stay up till 2:00 am partying, planning to run another Ultra in 2 weeks.

Remi passes Byron 

Iron Mountain
IMTR finisher awards
While I am not an Ultra Runner, my wife Shannon certainly is, as well as most of our friends. So it is hard for me to avoid ultras.Fortunately the Iron Mountain Trail Run offers a 16 mile option for the friends and family of Ultra Runners so that we can at least see what the trail is like.

Our little group of North Carolina runners headed up to Virginia and checked into our 3 little adjacent cabins. Running the 50 was Brandy, Harrold "Galoot" Hill, Shannon "Skittles" Johnstone, and Jay "Carlos Danger" Spadie. Jen "Lawst" Hill was running the 30 miler, while Jeff and I would be attempting the 16 mile kiddie race.

The night before we sat around downing platefuls of pasta while the 50 and 30 milers sat around talking about drop bags and electrolytes. Left out of the conversation, I listened in jealously, as I would be turning around at the second aid station and would only see "Skulls Gap" by car.

In the front is course record holder and living legend Eric Grossman.
Behind him, Jeff and I are sexually assaulted by Carlos Danger. 

With a short walk down the Virginia Creeper trail we lined up at the start while race director Kevin Townsend shouted instructions.
Despite having just run a tough 50K 2 weeks ago, Jeff took off like a rabbit at the start, determined to notch another victory in our rivalry. I tried to hang on, and we were the first two runners onto the Creeper Trail.

Jeff  (right) and I were running the kids race, so we sprinted off to the lead
Last year I only made it 3 miles before I turned around dropped out because my legs were wrecked, possibly the first person to ever DNF the 16 miler. I was thinking of dropping out again when Jeff disappeared from sight and I started getting passed by the 50 and 30 milers. But this year I toughed it out and made it past the first aid station to the single track.

The first few "easy" miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail

Stumbling and Puking
The 1100 foot climb to the Iron Mountain Trail was as brutal as I expected, and I ended up power walking most of it. Still, I was able to catch Jeff, the 16 mile leader, before he pulled his calf muscle and had to drop. However, by mile 9 I was hunched over out of breath. Two 50 milers ran by and gave me some encouragement, "Good job! You can turn around at the aid station ahead".

This I was thankful for. I headed back to the finish, bumbling down the hill, falling once and tripping many times. The last two miles of trail were tortuous, a steep descent down a gully strewn with loose rocks. I could not imagine trying to run this after 47 miles.

The meager 16 miles was my longest, hardest run in many months, so when I hit pavement my legs were wobbly and my calves on the verge of cramping.

Just like last year, I was the first one back to the finish line. But this time I had completed a recognized distance instead of the impromptu 5k. This year it was Jeff who not only won the 5k, but set the course record. He had gotten a ride back to the finish, and we walked back to the cabins.

After scarfing a glass of milk, a handful of chips, and a pickle, I spent the next 30 minutes kneeling in front of the toilet puking my guts out. Seriously. This is how hard I had run just to keep up with the 50 milers during their warm up miles.

Shannon took this photo of the trail that only the 50 milers got to experience.
See the pink course marker in the distance?
And this was before the thunderstorm.
All Smiles
Jeff and I got cleaned up and headed out to Skulls Gap aid station at mile 37 to cheer on the adults.
I snapped some photos on the trail with Shannon's camera, and was shocked to see her come through at 1:45 pm, running strong and smiling. She was not only first female, but on pace for a ~9 hour finish.

Brandy was running her third hard ultra in 5 weeks and was understandably a little tired. She missed the cutoff by 2 minutes and had to drop after 24 miles. But she was also all smiles, happy to be able to relax and drink beer the rest of the afternoon.

We waited for Jay and Harold, but distant thunder rumbled louder and the sky grew very dark. Too dark for photos on the trail. When the thunderstorm hit and it started pouring rain, we retreated back to the finish area.

Post race recovery

Dramatic Finishes
The storm had turned the trail into ankle deep mud and rock filled streams. Despite this, Jen finished the 30 feeling great. She did, however, live up to her trail name "Lawst" by temporarily getting lost in town.

Jay "The Guy Who Wears Nipple Guards With No Shirt" Spadie had the most entertaining finish, as he attempted a forward flip. While he did not land it, we will give him the win anyway:

Harold's was the happiest finish. He kissed the ground and cried, evidence of the huge amount of physical and emotional energy he had spent preparing for and running his first 50 miler. His great race report is here.

Galoot and Lawst

Here are links to the rest of the photos we took. They are almost all just 50 milers.
I took some on the trail and the finish line, and Shannon took some while running:

I Want To Be An Ultra Runner
As for Shannon she once again showed what an amazingly tough and smart little woman she can be.
She came in first woman, in an astounding 9:20, all while carrying her camera and taking photos most of the way. (Though she is starting to run to too fast, and many came out blurry.)

She is not a super-woman, and has as many bad days as good. She isn't particularly fast on the road, but on rugged trails that leave men like me vomiting, she has a gift. I want her to pursue this to see how far it will go.
But I don't want to be left behind, so I am going to try to join her. I want to be an Ultra Runner too.

But I have a feeling I'll be seeing plenty of this...

1st place finishers awards.
Little Man
When we got back to the cabin, Shannon saw the 1st place platter I got for the 16 miler.

"Oh, I love your little plate! It's so cute!"

Friday, August 30, 2013

Iron Mountain Trail Run Elevation Profiles

Tomorrow morning Shannon, Jay "Nippes" Spaddie, Harold "Galoot", Brandy and some other friends will be running the Iron Mountain 50 Miler.

I'll be doing the 16 Miler kiddie race with my rival Jeff. Below are the elevation profiles, because Shannon likes data.
Iron Mountain Trail Run 50 Miler

Iron Mountain Trail Run 30 Miler

Iron Mountain Trail Run 16 Miler (Kiddie race)

All 3 for no good reason

Boston Marathon, Umstead Marathon, Uwharrie 40 Miler, Iron Mountain Trail 50 Miler

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2013 CARA Run for their Lives!

Jorge suffers the indignity of a leash
Dudley Dooright has been my running partner since 2005. But at 8 years old and 85 pounds, it may soon be coming to an end. 
The humidity this summer has been hard for Dooright. Even a short 1.3 mile run to the park and back leaves him panting uncontrollably on the kitchen floor.

And after he crashed and burned in the Dirty Dog 15K, I was resigned to the fact his racing days were over.
But the "CARA Run for their Lives!" 5K/10K kept popping up on facebook, which made me reconsider. CARA stands for Carolina Animal Rescue and Adoption, a great cause for us to support.

Dudley has been the poster dog for the CARA 5K since 2009
That was his first race back in 2009, when he came in top dog, and won a treasured woobie. Since then he has been the poster dog on the race website. How could we not run this again? 
We decided to sign up for the 5K, figuring he should be able to make it the 3 miles.

I wasn't worried at all about Jorge and Jeffery, as they have aged better than Dooright, and are not bothered by the heat as much.

Dooright gets his pre-race ice bath, excited to race again.
Jorge is pissed we made him get out of bed.
Jeffery just wants to know where the food is.

So we packed the pack into the car and headed down to Sanford this morning. The popularity of the race has exploded since we first did it in 2009, and cars were parked far down the road.
The temperature was nice for August in NC, maybe 67 deg and 88% humidity. Still way too hot for Dudley. So after we got our bibs and I doused Dooright down with ice water.

At the race was the second biggest dog I have ever seen.
As any runner knows, the most important part of pre-race preparation is the "unloading of dead weight".
Minutes before the race, Dooright still wouldn't go. I took him for a jog around the park, but he was just too excited to do his business. Oh well, if we had to stop mid-race, that was no big deal. I didn't expect Dudley to be competitive.

Jeffery and Jorge race to catch Dooright
But once again, I underestimated the old dog's love of races.
When the gun went off, Dudley was transformed from a big, slobbering, panting doofus into a running machine with a singular mission. He locked onto the race leaders with laser like focus and took off.

I had to sprint to keep up with him, weaving through the runners to get to the front. We crossed a couple of bridges, and briefly took the lead on a greenway. Here Dooright settled into a steady pace and let a few fast kids pass him.

Jim Wei and the fresh set of twins crushed the field to claim
the baby jogger category.
I was expecting Dudley to wilt in the heat after a mile, but he kept a steady 6:30 pace, focusing on a couple of runners ahead of us. I had a bottle of ice water and sprayed him down every few minutes, but I'm not sure he even noticed..
Hitting the streets of Sanford, we caught up to the 10K runners who had started ahead of us, and Dooright seemed pick up speed to pass other dogs.

I kept waiting for him to pull over take a big poop, or overheat and collapse, but he just kept going.
Here are the splits from my Garmin, showing his perfect pacing:

Avg Pace

At 2.5 miles I missed the turn for the 5K and cost us a couple of places and a few seconds.
The last half mile I could tell he was starting to struggle, so I talked him through it. "Quarter mile! You got this!", and he would surge ahead again. As we approached the finish, I tried to get him sprint it in, but he didn't have it in him.

Hydration on a hot morning
But he did it again! Top dog in the 5K.
Shannon wasn't far behind, with Jeffrey and Jorge.

All 3 dogs were treated to a luxurious post race bath by the CARA volunteers.

The top notch CARA race crew provide a post race recovery bath

Of course, everyone was amazed and
impressed by Jeffery the 3 legger running the 5K

All runners should get this kind of post race treatment.

At the awards ceremony Dudley was a awarded a dog toy and gift card to Omega sports. Maybe he could buy some socks. Or Body Glide.
Dudley licks his lips at the sight of a fresh woobie.

After Dudely received his award there was some confusion and controversy, as the top dog of the 10K did not receive an award, which was unfortunate.

Anyway this was Dudleys 5th race, and his 4th taking the top dog spot. Not bad for an overweight Golden Retriever breeding reject with bad hips and tendency to overheat.

4 years later and a lot more grey.
Still top dog.
Maybe we are both getting older and slowing down. But we'll keep running (and racing) together as long as we can...

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