Friday, February 20, 2009

Uncle Arthur - Enduranceman

For some reason, I've been thinking about my uncle on my mom's side. Maybe its because today is my mother's birthday. Happy birthday Ma!

His name is Arthur Winston and lived to be 100 years old (3/26/1906-4/13/2006). Uncle Arthur worked for the bus company for 76 years. Now that's what I call endurance. My mother told me he only took one day off of work and that was to go to his wife's funeral.

Uncle Arthur has the MTA bus terminal on Van Ness named after him back in Los Angeles, "The Arthur Winston Terminal". Even President Clinton gave him an award for Employee of the Century.

Here's some verbal footage of him on NPR's, Storybook Griot. I chuckled at his derision mobile phones. He lived a good life and must of enjoyed his work to work that long.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Last Saturday I ran the Holiday Lake 50K++ race. You might be asking, why is there a '++' in the title of the post. The race director is Dr. David Horton and after talking to some friends and reading other blog reports for the Holiday Lake race, it seems that Dr. Horton is of some renown in ultramarathon circles, especially in the southeast. One of the unique features of a Dr. Horton race is that they are measured in "Horton Miles", which means that this race was a tad bit longer than a 50K, being it was 33.26 miles. He is an absolute blast in person. He's one highly energetic cat that seems to be in perpetual motion all the time. You can tell he is seriously passionate about his race directing.

The few days leading up to the race I was getting worried since the forecast was calling for a chance of freezing race/light snow. Then to add some more worry, I was planning to tent camp at the race site. But usually these things work themselves out and the weather turned out to be as good as you could get for a trail run. I think the starting temps were in the low 30's and at the finish, it was probably in the low 50's and clear skies. So it was great weather for running. The only thing though, it was right chilly in that tent overnight.

I had been doing some tempo runs in the last couple of weeks leading up to the race. My Tuesday night running group probably thought I was acting a fool or something, but I put in some good hard efforts for those last Tuesday night group runs. So at the start of the race I made the classic mistake and took off too hard. The course started out on roads for a little over a 1/2 mile and then you were funneled into a single-track section. Reading reports from previous races, I heard that this early section can leave you walking if you get stuck in the back, so I figured I had to be in the front half of the field so I won't get stuck in a single-track conga line.

So I'm going way too fast and I know this isn't sustainable, but I kept up the pace and rolled on. We ran into the first aid station and it was a blast, folks were cheering us on and I was feeling good. Remember I told you about Dr. Horton and his exuberance, well I'm coming through the aid station and since I was feeling alright I picked it up a little, feeling that energy from the aid station folks when all of a sudden, Dr. Horton comes up to me and yells, "you're the 2nd black man, 2nd black man". I got a laugh out of it and high-fived him as I ran past him.

The course is a circuitous out and back that was listed on the race flyer at 16.63 miles for the loop. I came into the turn-around at around 2:30 and I knew this was way too hard for me and shortly thereafter starting having a bit of a meltdown and lost some of the snap in my legs.

One thing I overheard another racer describing these things say was that you've got to manage the lows and highs of these races. That was true, because I was starting to fade fairly soon after the turnaround. I was getting pretty tired about 4 hours in and then to top it off, I guess I took on too much nutrition and I was getting the dreaded rock in my gut. I think around this time I started getting the chorus to Donnie McClurkin's, "We Fall Down" stuck in my head. Bro. Donnie helped me out; it helped me stop focusing so much on what was going wrong and instead got me to thinking about staying steady. Also one of my buddies told me sometimes in races he'll say "Lord, if you pick 'em up, I'll put'em down. That mantra along w/ Donnie's song helped me big time.

The last 10k of the race was me just trying to bring it in without walking too much. Early in the race, I was either running or doing a fast hike on the hills, however in those last miles, I was walking just about every incline. The good thing about this finish though is that the last third of a mile or so is downhill and I just let gravity bring me on in.

All in all I enjoyed myself in a weird endurance-high kind of way and felt real good about finishing. I ended up w/ a time of 5:31 which was almost an hour faster than the Carrboro 50K last month. I ended up at 101st place out of 248 finishers and 21st out of 50 in my age-group (M40-49).

I'm already thinking about another ultra. The main dude that got me thinking an ultra was even possible, Lloyd, did a race in Virginia called Bull Run Run that's in April. Come to think about it, trying to follow after Lloyd, I ended up signing up for my first Ironman too. He and Adrienne just had a new beautiful baby girl, and I'm sure they'll have their two daughters trail running in no time.

Then I know fellow bloggers Dr. Marc & Tanya will appreciate this, but one of the things that definitely helped me get through all of the long training runs was making regular visits to my chiro doc, Dr. Josh. I peaked at around 60 miles/week with a couple of weekends of doing long runs on Saturday and then following up another semi-long run on Sunday. All of those adjustments and gettting that treatment on the Traction Table helped me to hold up.

I'm really lucky that Lisa let's me indulge myself with some probably needless athletic purchases. Now some of y'all know I'm a gear geek. This race was no exception to that rule. I picked up a pair of these specialized trail racing shoes by La Sportiva, called Raceblades. I guess the unique thing about these shoes are that they have a low profile ride without having such a cushioned sole that is more common in trail shoes. Then I used these camo pattern gaiters. Those things worked out good and kept the trail debris out of my shoes. Then I used Inijini wool socks, coupled with Blistershield and liberal application of Bodyglide to my feet let me finish without any blisters, despite the fact we had 4 water crossings.

Well that's about all. I don't know what's next, but I kinda dig this ultra thing. One thing I'd like to do, maybe next year is Rim2Rim2Rim. That's where you start at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, run down in the canyon and up to the North Rim, turnaround and come back. I understand its around 42 miles and seems epic. Who knows maybe next year?