Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration, Snow, and Tapering

I made the trip up to DC to be a part of President Barack Obama's inauguration. It felt really good to be a part of the throngs of folks celebrating our new president. Even though it was cold and we were on our feet a long time, it felt like everybody was happy to be on the National Mall. I felt like I was a tiny part of history being there.

I left Durham at 2AM to attend the ceremonies and drove into a decent amount of falling snow. It got a bit scary, but I lowered my speed and drove conservatively. Fortunately I only had to spend about an hour in the snow, but believe me that was enough.

Speaking of snow, I'm always looking for good deals, so I was shopping at one of the local thrift stores - Rescued Treasures from the Durham Rescue Mission. A couple of years ago, I picked up a brand new pair of Yaktrax Pros, for something like 2 bucks. We hadn't had any decent snow since then so I was anxious to go for a run. Those things worked pretty good. They are fairly light and I felt sure-footed on the trail.

I got in a 4 hour run last Sat with some friends from our running club. My car read 11 degrees when I parked so it was really cold. Unbelievable, but there were, I think 6 of us that started and 3 did the whole 4 hours. I think this will be my longest run and now I think I'll start tapering for the Holiday Lake race. Normally I do a 3 week taper, but I feel kinda beat up, so I think I'll try out a 4 week taper. Hopefully I don't get too stale before the race.

That's about it for now. I think I'll get King and walk off some of my dinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A New Pair of Shoes

So you remember during our hike in the the Pisgah National Forest Lisa took a little spill on a slippery rock and got a nice stinger. Being that I'm kind of a bargain-priced gear geek I relished the opportunity to research and order her some hiking boots. We ended up choosing a pair of Asolo Attivas. These Asolos were on the 2008 Backpacker Magazine's Gear Guide as best fit for women or something like that.

Last Sunday we went hiking at Little River Park. I think I was more anxious to see how the boots worked than Lisa was and of course King is always pumped to head out for a ride in the car and go for a jaunt. The Asolos worked great for traction and have a cool light green color they call "foilage", even a fellow hiker gave Lisa some props about her cool looking boots. The only downside is that they rubbed the skin on her ankles. Hopefully they'll break-in and become comfortable. She going to try a different pair of socks for our next hike.

It was a nice hike, we got in about 4.5 miles and had a good time. I wanted watch the Eagles-Giants game, but I'm glad we got out of the house and went for hike. The park was beautiful w/ part of the trail following the Little River. It was just a good opportunity to appreciate nature and enjoy each others company. When we got back to the start there was a family with a lab puppy so King was happy too since he got a chance to play w/ another dog.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Those Ultras are Hard

I ran the Carrboro 50K yesterday and I've got a whole new level of respect and awe for ultra runners. That was one tough run. The Carrboro 50K is held in the spirit of Fat Ass events so there wasn't a registration, no bib number, and the aid station stuff was donations. Also the folks were super friendly.

So I pulled up to the start, thinking I'd get in a 4 hour training run and if things felt good keep going as long as I felt. The course was setup perfect for that strategy since it was a figure 8 w/ 2 big loops and the aid station at the intersection of the 8. This was also the location for the drop bags. It looked like there were about 30-40 runners milling around, there was food, coffee, and even a fire pit to keep us warm. I was nervous, but saw a couple of fellow Carolina Godiva running club members and that settle me a bit.

So off we went. I think it was about 35 degrees at the start, so it was a bit chilly but warmed up to the 50's later in the day. The course winds through Carolina Forest. The trails are basically small hills on single track with lots of roots, a bit mud and small rocks to trip you up. I saw a couple of folks around me go down, but they jumped back up quickly. I stumbled more times then I could count, but I think I was going so slow I was able to prevent falling.

I got through the first 2 loops and had around 20 miles in at 4 hours. I was taking it slow and steady, but man it was difficult to maintain even 12 min miles. I've got to lose some weight for sure, I felt it on those hills. But I digress. So after the 20 miles were up, I figure what the heck do another half of the "8" and see how I feel. The hosts at the aid stations were so cool, one lady even filled my water bottle for me. So I was topped off and decided to head back out. At this point it boiled down to just keep running, no matter how slow. We started at 9AM and it was getting close to 4PM when I was finishing. That was playing mind tricks on me, thinking I've been out running for most of the day.

I finally finished. There were 7 runners that did the whole enchilada and I came in next to last. Since I didn't see anybody else out on the trail, I was getting worried that the aid station was being left open just for me. I mean they'd been out there all day cheering for us and taking care of us, so I was feeling kinda guilty for being so slow.

According to my Garmin Forerunner 305 (thanks for the cool Christmas gift Lisa), it took me 6:21 to finish, that's 12:29 pacing. Its weird cause I actually ran the whole way, but it was slow going. I know this sounds like a little whining, but that single track, the roots and at least according to my Garmin, the total ascent of 12K feet, added up to some slow running.

All in all, it was a very cool experience. Running past 4 hours became almost trance-like. I felt like my breathing wasn't taxed much at all, and to some degree the pain in my legs and feet went to a semi-numbness. Then for maybe the last 2-3 miles a strange euphoria kicked in and I felt really good. After I finished, a nice lady served me up some Recoverite, a serving of some awesome vegetarian black bean chili at the finish, I was given a nice Nathan hand-held water bottle holder, and then to top it all off, Frankie Beverly and Maze was on the radio when I was leaving the parking lot.

My legs hurt, my feet hurt, I've got a blister on one of my toes, but I've gotta admit it feels real good that now I've completed an ultra.