Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Running Year In Review

I said there would be no humor in this blog entry. If you find any, let me know and I will remove it. Thank you. (This paragraph excluded.)


The first day of the year found me participating in a low-key Charlotte Running Club 5K at McAlpine. I believe there was a contest to see who could most accurately predict their finish time. I predicted 18:50 but ran 30 seconds slower.

The following weekend, Jinnie and I got in a nice 14 mile training run at Uwharrie.

My first marathon of the year was pacing duty for the 3:30 group at the Charleston Marathon; it went well.

Two weeks later, I attempted the Sultan 50K in the South Mountains of NC. It just wasn’t my day. Jinnie turned her ankle, and we both decided to drop out after about 16 miles.

Monthly mileage: 155


This month brought my only race win of the year. I held off frequent competitor Bobby Aswell to win the Alyce Guettler Hunger Run 5K in Rock Hill.

Late in the month I raced in the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Miler. This was my longest run to date. It was an amazing race, and I would love to do it again someday. We were fortunate to have ideal NC mountain weather in February, and I didn’t fall on the ice near the summit.

Monthly mileage: 212


The second Saturday of March brought the second annual unofficial Crowders Mountain 50K. About 15 folks showed up to run with the group, though not all went the whole 50K. I bonked 3 times during the last 8 miles, but I finished only slightly slower than in 2010.

Two weeks later, I helped the Charlotte Running Club set the world record in a relay of 100 x 5K. My turn came late at night in a deluge. I was glad to hit my goal of sub-6 minute pace.

Monthly mileage: 165


For the second straight year I ran in Peter Asciutto’s April Fools Day 5K in Albemarle. I claimed 2nd place, but in the obstacle course at the finish line I’m pretty sure I sustained an abdominal injury that bothered me for about 3 months.

On April 18, I ran the Boston Marathon for the second time. My silly goal was sub-3 hours, which I was not trained for. After we got by Wellesley, my race plan went out the window, but I was pleased to bring it in with a solid 3:06:14.

I ran a decent Skyline 5K to close out the month.

Monthly mileage: 144


May 7 was the New River Marathon. Digestive troubles resulted in me quitting halfway through. This was my second DNF of the year. My plan to complete a marathon or ultramarathon in each month appeared to be in jeopardy.

Jinnie had a great day in her first road marathon, finishing in 3:47.

I ran a couple of inconsequential 5Ks, and then I decided to run the May Mountain Marathon (aka Assault on Mount Pisgah), on May 28. It was a great day with the WNC Trailrunners. My plan was back on track!

Monthly mileage: 172


The Roan Adventure Marathon (RAM) is one of my favorite events. It’s actually 29 miles, out and back on the Appalachian Trail with amazing scenery. This year, I actually thought that I might collapse. It was very hot and I didn’t have enough water. I was able to drag myself to the finish with the encouragement of my fellow runners. Still, a great day!

The other highlight of June was the Summer Track competition on Tuesdays at Myers Park High School.

Monthly mileage: 158


I always like to run The Bear, a 5 mile race straight up Grandfather Mountain. But this year I made the weekend more interesting by adding the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, two days later. I achieved my best time so far for the 5 Mile hill climb (next year I’m going under 40 minutes!); and truth be told I was worn out for the Marathon. I ran it progressively, starting slowly and finishing with a flourish. Next year I should post a better time.

The Run For Your Life 4 Miler was a good race for me in July. I also took 2nd place in a trail 5K at Anne Springs Close Greenway.

Monthly mileage: 194


This month’s marathon/ultra was the Laurel Valley 35 Miler. Finish or else! No place to bail out. I started out ridiculously slow, due to not carrying a headlamp for the first dark hour. I ended up running with a veteran of the event who showed me a lot about the course. Next year should be fun out there.

The Blue Points and Greek Festival 5Ks were a disappointment for me this month. I did get out to Kings Mountain National and State Parks in South Carolina for a training run in August, which was fun.

Monthly mileage: 171


This was a busy month. Jinnie, Megan, Bill, and I traveled to West Virginia to race the Charleston 15 Miler. None of us ran as fast as we wanted, but it was a very nice trip.

The next weekend was the Blue Ridge Relay. The Crazy Legs guys were projected to finish in about 25 hours. Well, for the first time, the Crazy Legs team went under 24 hours! It was pretty epic. We were battling the clock from the starting line; it was very rewarding to barely reach our goal time. Everyone laid it all on the line.

The following Saturday I raced a 10K in the morning and a 5K in the afternoon.

On September 24, I achieved my highest running mileage ever in a single day, running 41 miles during the Hinson Lake 24 Hour race in Rockingham. Someday I do intend to stay for the entire race and go for big mileage at a 24 hour race. This was a great event.

Monthly mileage: 163


The LungStrong 15K was intended as a test for the upcoming Ridge To Bridge Marathon. I figured if I could finish in under an hour at the 15K, I had a shot at sub-3 hours for the marathon. And so I ran 59:55.

So all I had to do now was run that marathon. Result: 2:59:15, mission accomplished. But my wife outdid me, as Jinnie took 21 minutes off her previous best, and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Great day!

Monthly mileage: 142


This was a very sad month. My father was in the hospital for several days and underwent major surgery. He appeared to come through it well, and was released the day before the Thunder Road Marathon, so I went ahead and paced the 3:30 group in my hometown.

My father then had complications from surgery and died within a week. This was the most difficult personal struggle of my life. I appreciate my friends and family who helped me through it.

Monthly mileage: 55


I won an entry into a local 5K and was pleased with my time. I realized that if I ran a couple extra races, I could participate in a total of 52 for the year (in 52 weeks). After adding a couple more 5Ks, I have one more race to run. It’s a marathon on the last day of the year. I hope to complete my 12th marathon/ultra to close out 2011.

Monthly mileage: likely to end up around 140

My total mileage for the year will fall short of 2,000 miles. Last year I ran 2,010 miles, so that’s a little downturn.

I would say that I am in basically the same running shape that I was at this time last year. Next year, I hope to be fitter.

I wish I had run more with the WNC Trailrunners in 2011; and a couple more races out Albemarle way. In 2012 I don’t plan to run as many Run For Your Life races in Charlotte; I am feeling burned out on their Grand Prix Series. It is a very good series, but I think I need to mix things up in 2012.

Several times during this year, it seemed that I was always recovering or preparing for that month’s marathon or ultra. But now I feel that I have adapted to this regimen. So far, I have marathons or ultras planned in January, February, and March of 2012. I guess I’ll keep it up….

Out of 52 races, how many am I proud of, or satisfied with? That’s a good question. I’ll say that I’m happy with all 12 marathons/ultras, assuming I finish the last one. I feel that finishing any of them is somewhat of an accomplishment. I’m glad I can say that I’m a sub-3 hour marathoner again. I’m happy with the one 5K that I won. I’m happy with the World Record 5K Relay. The Bear 5 Miler was a good effort. The Blue Ridge Relay and the 15K were races in which I feel I ran my best, on that particular day.

Countless other 5Ks and track races do not stick out as particularly good. I enjoyed racing each of them, but there were no personal bests, and no real breakthroughs.

That's all I have.

See ya next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About My Ridge To Bridge Marathon

A few weeks ago, the Crazy Legs gathered for a post Blue Ridge Relay get-together. Coach Tino tells me that I can run sub-3 hours at the upcoming Ridge To Bridge Marathon if I follow his advice.

What do I have to lose? I haven’t run under 3 hours since the Boston Marathon in 2008, when I was in really good shape. Last year at R2B, I ran 3:03:18. So I was all ears. After all, I kind of consider myself “a sub 3 hour guy”; but c’mon, it’s about time I actually went sub-3 again!

My strategy for a fast marathon has always been to get all of the fast running done early, and then have a planned slowdown at the end, as I fatigue. Tino tells me to change it up. To go nice and smooth for the first 6 miles, along the “Ridge” of Ridge To Bridge. And then, to trust that the big downhill section of the race (9 miles) will put me in position to “race” the last 11+ miles.

So I made a plan. Seven minutes per mile pace for 6 miles; then 6:40 per mile for 9 miles; then 7 minutes per mile again, for the last 11 miles. This would put my finish at around 3:00:30. Surely I can make up 30 seconds somewhere, right??

Fast forward to the week before the race. I drag myself out of the car to do a run I don’t want to do at McMullen. Crazy Legger Dan H. is there and we run together. The conversation turns to having tired legs, and he says that he took an Epsom salt bath and his legs were rejuvenated.

What do I have to lose? So I soaked in an Epsom salt bath. Maybe it made my legs feel fresher, I dunno. It’s worth a shot. And I tapered. I tapered a lot. I ran a total of only 99 miles in the 3 full weeks prior to the R2B week; and then I ran hardly at all during race week. I have a plan, so why worry??

And then a few days before the race, I see some chatter on the Facebook. Tino picks Justin K. to beat me to the finish at R2B. Fine. I go and prepare a second Epsom salt bath and soak for awhile. I have my motivation now.

Before I knew it, it was race morning. We drove to the start; the temperature was in the low 30’s, expected to be in the 50’s at the finish line. I chose the old TrySports short-sleeved jersey that I wore at R2B last year, and some socks to use as makeshift gloves for the first few miles. Also I wore longer than normal shorts, calf sleeves for compression, and my Brooks ST-5 racing shoes. I was somewhat on the fence about whether to wear them, or my trusty Saucony Ride daily training shoes. My longest previous run in the ST-5 was a successful Charleston 15 Miler. They turned out to serve me very well on this day, too.

Soon after the start, I found myself running with Bobby A., who runs marathons and ultra marathons seemingly every other week. Actually, he ran the Medoc trail marathon last week, so I didn’t expect him to run sub-3 on this day; but he was keeping a good pace at the start. I also was trailing a Charlotte area runner named Courtney E. who it seems has vastly improved this year. There were so many Charlotte area runners at Ridge To Bridge; the word has gotten out about this race!

The first few miles took us through several Christmas tree farms, and along a ridge with open views of nearby Grandfather Mountain and other high ridges. It was a perfect clear day for a run; absolutely stunning. We ran almost to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then executed a 180 degree turn. A couple miles later, we took a left onto the downhill portion of the race. My goal for the first 6 miles was to run 42 minutes; my actual time was about 42:05, I believe.

Nine miles downhill awaited, with a couple of significant climbs thrown in along the way. An unpaved forest service road with blind turns, but non-existent traffic. I found that my prescribed 6:40 pace for this section was more difficult than I expected. By mile 11, I was nearly a minute off my mark. I knew that it was “now or never”; get back on my plan, or resign myself to a 3-hour-plus finish time. I threw in a mile at nearly 6 minute pace; it helped that it was probably the steepest downhill of the race. I was back where I needed to be….

And then Justin and Paul G. (Gonzo) rolled up on me. My Crazy Legs buddies appeared out of nowhere. Justin asked how I felt. I answered that I didn’t know. He correctly pointed out that it would be a whole new race when we reached the bottom of the hill. And then Gonzo took off ahead of us! I decided to try to keep hitting my marks. Justin and I ran together for a few minutes. Soon I realized that I would have to stop and pee (again!) before this race was over. I picked the 14 mile mark. Justin flew by me and gave chase to Gonzo and I was on my own.

Even so, when we hit the 15 mile mark at the bottom of the mountain, my watch said 1:41:something. My goal was to be at 1:42:00. Goal achieved: “Give yourself a chance during those last 11 miles”. Now could I do it? All I had to do was run 7 minutes per mile….

I felt good. The first couple flat miles were under 7. I had a few seconds in the bank now. Only a little more than an hour to go. “You can do anything for an hour, right?”

Mile 20 came and went. I didn’t hit the wall…. yet. But my pace was slowing. The miles were clocking in at 7:05…. then 7:10….

Again, it was “now or never”. My margin for error was just about gone. My thoughts turned to last year’s Ridge To Bridge, when my legs fell apart during this part of the race, and I dragged myself to the finish a few minutes over 3 hours. “Just give yourself a chance to do something good in those last couple miles.”

So I picked up the pace, which seemed wholly illogical at that point. Soon I caught up to Gonzo. Gonzo calls me “Silent Stan”, because when I pass him in any race I never say a word. “I knew it was you! Silent Stan! Go get Justin.” I told Gonzo to come with me; he said he couldn’t today.

Past mile 23; only a 5K left to go! I thought I had a chance now. If I could just stay consistent, I would get that sub-3. As I passed mile 24, I could see that I was gaining on Justin in the distance.

I went for it. I “went to the well”, and this time there was something there. I felt like I was rolling; only the equivalent of a few laps around a track…..9,8,7,6 laps to go….

Somewhere past mile 25 I was on Justin’s shoulder; he said “come on Stan!” I pulled up and said “come on, I think we can get it”. I’m pretty sure he knew I meant sub-3. I was also pretty sure he was hurting more than me.

Brown Mountain Beach Resort came into view, on the banks of Wilson Creek. The finish! Jinnie’s parents and my dog Roxy cheered as I made a right into the resort. We were directed around a huge loop before the finish. Could the course actually be 26.3 miles?? Did I really have this in the bag?? Go, go, go! Finally I saw the mile 26 sign and knew that I was safe. I crossed in 2:59:15. Justin was just a few seconds behind. Gonzo had hung on as well, and got a huge 15 minute PR with his own sub-3 hour marathon finish.

What a day for the Crazy Legs crew. Scott K. was the best of the group, running a personal best 2:51, only 2 weeks after he ran the Chicago Marathon. Justin, Gonzo, and I worked together to get that sub-3. Soon Coach Tino soared through the finish with his own huge marathon PR. Theoden J. was sporting his Crazy Legs singlet and achieved a big personal best. Smitty was allegedly “running easy” today, but glided through with a strong 3:17. Dan H. was close behind; but where was my wife?

Jinnie had decided on Sunday that she would run Ridge To Bridge. On basically no training. Good idea! At the finish line, Tino told me that she was looking strong and smiling at mile 15. I thought that in a best-case scenario, she might come in around 3:30; I hustled up to the resort entrance to wait on her. And there she was, way ahead of schedule, smiling and almost crying happy tears as she flew toward the finish. Shocking!

She ran 3:26:19, a TWENTY-ONE minute improvement over her only previous road marathon. Incredible. She qualified for the Boston Marathon with nearly 9 minutes to spare…..

Right behind her was Crazy Legger John S.; and then Emily H. came through with her own hard-earned Boston qualifying finish and personal best. What a day!

And there was much rejoicing. And soaking in Wilson Creek. And eating. I was a little disappointed to finish 11th overall and still miss out on an award; 4th in my age group! Jinnie scored a nice pottery award for her age group victory. (It turns out that I was the 10th male finisher, and she was the 10th female finisher.)

We finally made our farewells to our friends and decided to head up to the Parkway. We did some autumn leaf observing, did a short hike, and ended up at Mellow Mushroom in Blowing Rock.

Now, that was a good day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hinson Lake and other races i ran since i last posted a blog entry, et cetera

What we runnin 4 if it ain't 4 fun?

- it was late aug and I wanted to run really well at greek festival 5k. reputedly one of the fastest races in CLT. Didn't feel so great and ran poorly. some folks I wanted to beat, beat me by a lot.
but that's alright, because my wife ran really well.

- then it was time for sept. Shaped up to be a busy month.
My friends Meg and Bill talked me and jinnie into going up to charleston, WV to run America's 15 Miler. Well it turned out to be a really cool trip.
except i ran poorly, due to illness.
i liked the northern Charleston, it is interesting to think of it in juxtaposition to the southern Charleston in South carolina.
charleston, sc was the birthplace of the civil war. Which was not civil.
But Charleston WV is the state capital of that oddly shaped coal state up there. The only state BORN of the civil war, proclaimed by honest abe, who probably wasn't any more honest than millard fillmore or ike (the president, not tina turner's husband).
WV is like kinda southern, but not really, because it was part of the North in the War Between The States. But it is appalachian, with a lot of mountains. Not the highest mountains, much shorter than most in NC. But almost the entire state up there is covered with hills or mountains, hence: "the mountain state". Oh and my dear wife is from WV. it was nice to visit - I would do this race again....
it's really hilly for the first few miles then it's really flat for the last 9 or so.
I think everyone who went on our trip would agree it was fun, though we didn't meet our goals on that day.

- so only a few days later it was time to be on the crazy legs team and run the Blue Ridge Relay. it's one of my favorite events of the year, no doubt.
Crazy Legs had a goal of 24 hours and 30 minutes, but we went right under 24 hours (!) and we finished 5th overall.
Now the lady crazy legs put us to shame, because they won the women's category by a huge margin and set the race record.
there is much more I could say but blah blah blah

- Then in another week it was time for Hit the Brixx 10K. i did a little bit better than last year.
Later I decided i'd go try to win some cash at an afternoon race, but Megan and Bill and Mike all showed up and won a lot of it.
anyway, I didn't run great, but it was a nice double effort. and I really enjoyed seeing those people, they are nice to me

- and then it was time for the Hinson Lake 24 Hour race. my only available weekend in september to get my monthly marathon or ultra marathon done.
i figured this might be a good training run for next month's Ridge To Bridge (Fridge) Marathon. So I ran solidly past the marathon distance on the sandy course. It was a 1.5 mile loop. I brought four dozen doughnuts. that equals 48 for the mathematically challenged.
i ate one during the race and it was alright
Now after I got beyond the 26.2 distance, i started walking up Mount Hinson (LOL). it really seems like a huge hill after umpteen laps y'all.
it was nice to see a bunch of peeps i know running well. I felt like a slacker compared to them.
my wife and i were going to come home after I ran 29 miles, but a hot dog and tater tots and milkshake and peach tea turned me around and I went back to the lake and ran/walked/hobbled/jogged to the 41 mile mark.
my little dog Roxy got her best mileage day ever, it was 15+ miles, way to go, u my dawg.
Shout out to everyone I know who ran well at hinson lake, y'all inspire me, I wanna go back and do it all over (but I can't go back I know). But I will go back in 2012 hopefully.
i saw a beaver cross the course right in front of me, it was way cool, it looked like a cross between a seal (not the singer) and a dog (not roxy); it had a wide tail.

- in summary, running lately has been fun. i hope to continue running and add even more fun.

- So now I've run 12 marathons in the past 12 months. i still have to run 3 more in october, november, and december to make my goal of 12 in 12 for 2011. (guess i should have waited a year so i could say 12 in 12 in '12, oh well)
the 3 i have planned are the same 3 that i ended last year with, R2B, Thunder Road, and Art Loeb Trail Adventure Run (ALTAR)

So I will rank the 12 marathons i've run in the past 365 days for you because like most americans i like to list things. order of how hard it was for me to finish on that day:

Roan adventure marathon (29 miles)
mount mitchell challenge 40 miler
boston marathon
Ridge to Bridge marathon
Laurel valley 35 miler
Crowders mountain 50k
grandfather mountain 26.2
hinson lake 24 hour (i totaled 41 miles)
may mountain marathon aka assault on mount pisgah
charleston 26.2
thunder road 26.2

(but the list is subject to editing, you should come back and check this blog entry every day to see if i changed the order, my memory is selective)

that is all
sorry for the punctuation, it's MY blog. maybe i'll try next time

(i will try to run as fast as i can at ridge to fridge marathon, will report back)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The blog entry I wrote about Laurel Valley

As recent tradition dictates, I'll write something about the Laurel Valley race I ran this past Saturday.

- This was marathon/ultra #8 for 2011; one in each month.

- I'd heard about Laurel Valley for a few years. I was frankly scared by all the stuff on the website and release waiver form you have to send in.

- There aren't too many marathons or ultras in the area in the month of August. In fact this is the only one I know of. So I decided it was cool.

- Laurel Valley is unique among long races I have done, in that there are no aid stations. There are also no road crossings for the entire 35+ mile route. So there is really nowhere to drop out, and you have to carry everything you need for the entire race. You basically have to finish, or go back to the start. The race director sends "sweeps" runners behind the field, who are instructed to pass no one and help anyone out who runs into trouble.

- Laurel Valley is held in the mountain region of far northwest South Carolina and western North Carolina. The course starts in a place called Rocky Bottom. Numerous rivers and streams flowing down out of the mountains empty into Lake Jocassee. This race is all about descending and ascending out of all of those river gorges. And there are approximately 5,000 stairs, plus other big climbs with very few switchbacks.

- It was fun to meet fellow competitors at the dinner the night before. It was not fun to get up at 4:25 for the race.

- Race start was at 6:00 a.m. My thoughts were that I didn't want to wear a headlamp for only a few minutes, and then have to carry it all day. I figured that the sun would come up after only 20 minutes or so, and that I could steal a little light from a headlamp from someone running near me. This didn't work out so well. I started too near the back of the field. Once a couple of people passed me who had lights, I was stumbling and bumbling along a rocky trail hoping not to turn my ankle or fall off a cliff. And the sun wasn't sufficient for me to see, under the thick forest canopy, until about 45 minutes into the race. So, I went slow. Really slow.

- My pants wouldn't stay up. I do like the Race Ready brand shorts. They have lots of pockets. I had a bunch of stuff in them. I had Nuun, Endurolytes, packs of snack mix, Honey Stinger waffles, and gels. All this stuff bounced when I ran and that was the problem. So I ate a bunch of my stuff early. This helped my pants stay up better.

- I carried a camera to take photos. I hope you enjoyed them on Facebook. I did.

- After about 1.5 hours and a couple waterfall views, a somewhat large group of runners and I filled up our bottles at a small stream. (I used a special filtration bottle, along with Nuun in my water.) The legendary Bill Keane was holding court, and instructing several of us newbies about a huge ascent ahead of us. He told us there were several false summits, and then finally a hellacious descent down nearly vertical stairs on the other side; and that we should keep a distance between us in case someone fell down the stairs, potentially injuring everyone ahead of them. This guy knew what he was talking about. He's run the Laurel Valley race 15 times now, and has completed 255 ultra marathons. I appreciated his expertise.

- It was somewhat surreal to be running through a seeming wilderness, and then come upon these really well-engineered suspension bridges across wide rivers. The Foothills Trail is pretty awesome.

- Every 45 minutes or so, I seemed to catch Bill and another runner as we filled up our water bottles. I was particularly grateful when he showed me a spring which came out of the mountain just above the trail. That was amazingly cold and refreshing water. Much better than the water I had been filtering from the rivers and streams.

- At this point, Bill suggested that I stay with him and another runner named David. I was game for this. But as soon as we began to run, David promptly crumpled to the ground and tried to throw up. Then he laid down beside the trail on his back. This presented somewhat of a dilemma, as we didn't know what to do now. David insisted that Bill and I leave him and that he would feel better in 20 minutes or so. Finally we relented and left David lying on his back beside the trail.

- I was content to run with Bill and glean as much wisdom as possible from him. He had some good tips which I won't share with you, because you might beat me at the next mountain race.

- We passed a good number of runners who either hit the wall, or got an early start at 5:00 a.m.

- Laurel Valley's distance is unknown. Everyone agrees it's 35 miles or more. Some say 40. Most say that the isolation and hills and August heat make the race seem more like a 50 Miler. One year, a wheel was used to measure the course. Unbeknownst to the runners pushing the wheel, the counter fell off somewhere on the course. That is humorous.

- This race never seems to end. Really. I mean it. Really. It was even longer than this blog entry. As we neared the last 5 miles, the heat subsided and thunder rumbled. Then it rained. Really hard. A real gulley-washer. I had to keep moving to stay warm now. I even left Bill. I felt bad about that. But really, not so much. I guess I wanted to beat him. I mean, he is old.

- Then we got to the Whitewater River. I climbed up a slick boulder to get to the bridge. I was feeling pretty good about things I guess. And then Bill passed me from out of nowhere. Go Bill!

- A lot of stairs were at the end. We were at the bottom of Upper Whitewater Falls, and we had to climb all the way up. These falls are among the highest in the Eastern United States. So, we climbed what Bill calls the Stairway To Heaven.

- Tourists were at the observation deck to view the falls. You should have seen the looks on their faces when crazed fools emerged from 9.5 hours on the trail in August. They got out of our way.

- I snapped a final photo at the top and Bill went on ahead to beat me by a few seconds. I was glad to get to eat some potato chips and ginger snaps. And, there was lemonade. It was pretty good stuff.

- After the race, I decided that this race was too hard to ever try again. Of course, stupidity has now set in, and I would gladly line up for the race tomorrow, and I hope to run it every year if I can.

- I had thought I could finish this race in under 8 hours. I didn't come close. It took me 9:41:54. But, in my defense, I did take a lot of photos, and I started amazingly slowly. So, I think I can run faster next time.

- As I told someone else, it almost feels embarrassing to me when I'm congratulated for such a slow finish time. But, I do appreciate people's thoughts. Thank you.

- Bill gave me a ride back to my vehicle at the start. We saw a bear run across the road a few feet in front of us.

Here is a mile by mile breakdown of my performance at the Laurel Valley 35+ Mile Ultra Race.

Mile 1 – slow

Mile 2 – slow

Mile 3 – slow

Mile 4 – slow

Mile 5 – slow

Mile 6 – slow

Mile 7 – slow

Mile 8 – slow

Mile 9 – slow

Mile 10 – slow

Mile 11 – slow

Mile 12 – slow

Mile 13 – slow

Mile 14 – slow

Mile 15 – slow

Mile 16 – slow

Mile 17 – slow

Mile 18 – slow

Mile 19 – slow

Mile 20 – slow

Mile 21 – slow

Mile 22 – slow

Mile 23 – slow

Mile 24 – slow

Mile 25 – slow

Mile 26 – slow

Mile 27 – slow

Mile 28 – slow

Mile 29 – slow

Mile 30 – slow

Mile 31 – slow

Mile 32 – slow

Mile 33 – slow

Mile 34 – slow

Mile 35 – slow

If you analyze these splits, you can see that I ran slowly.

(For my readers in Europe, the following breakdown is applicable: Kilometres 1 thru 56 = slow.)

Here are some thoughts about running, from me:

I remember when I decided to run a few miles a week so that I could stay in shape.

Then I heard about a local 5K at work, and I thought I could probably run alright in one of those. I hadn’t raced since high school.

That went well, so I decided I’d race the Turkey Trot 8K at Thanksgiving. And I did this every year for about 10 years.

But a half marathon sounded like almost an accomplishment. I think I will try one. That wasn’t so bad. But I could never run a whole marathon.

But if I could just run my everyday training pace for the whole marathon, it would be about 3.5 hours. Well, that wasn’t so bad after all.

No way I can ever cut 20 minutes off of that time and qualify for the Boston Marathon.

There are half marathons on trails? In the woods? That sounds like fun! So I ran those too.

In the meantime, I also eventually qualified for Boston. I wonder if I could take just a few more minutes off and be a sub-3 hour guy??

Yeah, I finally did that too.

People run farther than 26.2 miles? Really? Well a 50K is only a marathon plus 5 miles. I bet I could at least finish…. And I did.

You know, I think I like running in the mountains. I’ll try to run a few ultra marathons there too.

They have a 40 mile race to the top of the highest mountain in the Eastern USA? In the winter? No way! That’s crazy. Hey, but it was fun!

An unsupported ultra marathon in mountain wilderness? Carrying everything I need? Sure, why not.

So that’s what has happened. What is next?

A 50 mile race? Probably.

A 100 mile race? Probably not. This doesn’t speak to me. Too boring, and probably many repeats on a loop course. I doubt I’ll ever run one of these races.

But these are what I really want to do, eventually: The Foothills Trail 77 mile ultra, end-to-end. The Pitchell 100K+, 67 miles from the summit of Mount Pisgah to the summit of Mount Mitchell on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. And SCAR, the Smokies Challenge Adventure Run: 71 miles on the Appalachian Trail through the length of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Any of these three adventures will require many hours of night running in the wilderness. And that will be a new challenge.