Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Work" a runners necessary EVIL!

Tomorrow 2/28 is the beginning of a tough long shutdown at the oil refinery I work at.  Every few years oil refineries need to shutdown to clean out equipment, replace worn out or old equipment and perform normal maintenance on their equipment.  When these shutdown's occur the Operators like myself end up working a lot of hours to take equipment out of service, clean out equipment, and guide maintenance personal in their work, etc....  

How does an ultrarunner like myself train to compete in the Grand Slam when they are working 70+ hours a week for 2 months?  It is gonna be tough!!!

Here's my plan:

1) Run to/from work 4 days a week (8 miles each way) 64 miles a week
2) Run every Thursday night with my group (6 miles) 70 miles a week
3) Run a 12 hour race in March
4) Run 2-50 mile races in April
5) Run a 100 mile event on the 1st of June
6) Pray that it all comes together for my 1st important race of the year, Western States at the end of June

I know quit complaining and think of all the money you'll make working those long hours.  Well money isn't everything, sure it's nice, but I would rather have the time off to spend with my family and friends and of course to train like a mad man.  I'll keep you posted, hopefully I can stick to my training program.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Grand Slam

2013 Grand Slam 

I am attempting the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning this year.  This has been a dream of mine for quite a few years.  The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning consists of running 4 of the oldest 100 mile races in 3 1/2 months.  

"The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning award is recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the U.S. The "Slam" consists of officially finishing the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same year."

In 2007 I was almost finished running a marathon in every state, only 3 states and 3 weeks to go (my first marathon was in 2003) when a was (self) afflicted by a stress fracture in my left tibia.  I had been nursing the stress fracture for about a month before it stopped me dead in my tracks during the 2007 Steamtown Marathon.  The pain was so horrible I had to start walking at mile 5, I would walk until the pain subsided then run a 1/2 mile then walk, then run, then walk, and on and on, to finish in 5:09, my marathon personal worst.  Three weeks prior to this race I ran a 3:04, so this was really a slow time with a lot of walking.  I must have been "noticeably" dragging my left leg for most of the race because I received a lot of looks, and one of the road crossing guards told me he was going to call an ambulance and pull me from the course, I said a few choice words to him and continued on my way.  There was no way after flying all the way to PA I was going to drop even if my leg snapped during the run, kind of crazy now looking back.  Because the race took me 2 hours longer to run than I had anticipated when I made my travel plans, I had to rush back to Pittsburgh PA and almost missed my flight home.  When I got to the airport as soon as I opened the car door I realized I could not walk.  I hobbled, using my suitcase, to the ticket counter, checked in, dropped off my bags, and asked for a wheel chair.  It was a good thing I was in a wheel chair or I would have been late, the line through security was super long, there is no way I would have made it through that line in time.  Four days after I got home I came down with Bell's Palsy, so now I have a stress fracture in my left tibia, and a paralyzed face, GREAT!  To top it all off I was on pain med's for the fracture, Prednisone to help reduce the inflammation around the nerve bundle, and a antiviral drug to lessen the effect of the virus that causes Bell's Palsy.  Looking back I remember thinking I would never run again, my face was paralyzed and would stay that way (UGH) and the Prednisone made me feel crazy (it's bad shit), not a good combination.  

To make a long story short; I was planning on signing up for Western States  in 2007 for the 2008 race, because of all this I really thought my running had come to an end, Western States would have been my 1st 100 and I was not so certain I could compete, so I didn't apply, darn it, this was the last year of the " third time and you're in".  In 2008 I applied for the 2009 race, this was my 1st time applying and of course, wouldn't you know it, they dropped the 3 times and your in clause.  So this year was my 4th time in the lottery and I made it in!!!

In 2010, since I didn't get into Western States, I added my name to a list of people wanting to pace Western States runners.  I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to pace Chris Roman.  We became fast friends and have ran Badwater the last 2 years together.  Running Western States with Chris from Forest Hill to the finish was an amazing experience, trying to push him, trying to watch out for him, and just becoming good friends made for an amazing experience.  I am so grateful to be able to experience the entire race in 2013.

I have had many goals in running.  My 1st was to finish the New York City Marathon for my dad who never got the chance.  My 2nd was to finish a marathon in every state, I finished in 2008!  My 3rd was to finish Badwater, I did so in 2011 and again in 2012.  This goal to complete the Grand Slam is a big goal and will be tough.  I hope All of you will follow along with me on this quest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2012 in review!

2012 in review!

First of all I would like to apologize for being lax on updating my blog.  As always I am burning the candle at both ends. I need to make time to keep this blog updated.  This year I will be trying my best to do so.

Last year was full of highs and lows.  My major goal of the year was running Badwater under 30 hours and a top 10 finish.  In order to improve on my time from last year I needed to do actual heat training somewhere where it is hot like Phoenix, work on walking faster, and run a couple of road 100 milers as training runs.  My training came together perfectly and I achieved my goals.

Last year I received help from sponsors like Race Ready and Brooks they will continue to sponsor me again this year.  Race Ready makes very high quality running apparel shorts and shirts in America, one of the last few American Made apparel companies.  Brooks shoes are my favorite brand of shoes, I wore a barely used pair in Badwater and was amazed how well they performed only a couple of blisters.

One of the problems I find in ultra's is having enough pockets to carry GU, GU Chomps, S-Caps, hat, gloves, thin wind breaker, arm sleeves, a place to put trash, etc.  I use to wear a bottle waist pack, but they weigh a lot, bounce around on your hips, and tend to slow me down.  This last year I decided to carry Nathan water bottles, wear my Race Ready shorts, and at night carry a Nathan Hydration Vest (minus the bladder) to carry my extra light, extra batteries, and cold weather gear, etc.

The races I ran as training runs for Badwater turned out to be a perfect fit.  The 1st 100 was called Labor of Love in the canyons outside of Las Vegas.  The race went really well until about mile 50 when the heat and road really started to get to me.  I also took off too fast.  At mile 50 I was winning the race but knew I was falling apart.  The best thing about running an early season 100 is it is OK to fail a little, if you fail in one that is not a goal race then no harm no foul, at least you didn't fail in an important race "like Badwater".  I ended up finishing in 3rd place, but best of all I learned a lot.  The 2nd race I did was Keys 100.  I felt good the entire time except for getting so sleepy I had to take a nap around mile 55.  My daughter crewed me from Key Largo to Key West, having her there made it really easy to throw a towel on the ground near the car and sleep for 15 minutes.  The nap made a world of a difference, I woke up and was able to finish strong in 10th place. The 3rd 100 I did prior to Badwater was one of my favorites San Diego 100 (this was my 3rd finish).  San Diego 100 is a great trail race put on by an amazing ultrarunner Scott Mills.  He thinks of everything and puts on a great race.  The trail is not terribly difficult but not really easy either just a great mix. I ran a conservative race just wanting to be under 24 hours and be able to walk away unscathed!

Like I said previously Badwater was my big goal.  Badwater was amazing as always.  I love the heat, I love the team atmosphere, I love the night running through the passes.  There really isn't anything I don't love about Badwater, well maybe the road, I am really a trail guy at heart.  This race is so spectacular, I thought once I had ran the race I would want to stay on trails from then on, but I just can't get this race out of my mind.  It is a magical place, running at night through the passes without a headlamp with the moon shinning bright, watching shooting stars, no city lights to disturb the bright stars and moon. it truly is amazing!  I will be back pacing in 2013!!!

Kevin Douglas and I won a free trip to TransRockies last August on Facebook from Fitful, they provided the meals for runners as soon as they finish.  Having a balanced meal early following a tough run is key to recovery, after all TransRockies is a 6 day stage race and we can use all the help we can get. I met a ton of great people and had a great time running.  I had not recovered from Badwater so it was all about just finishing every stage and staying healthy the entire time.  I finally got to meet Trey Bailey and Eric Sach from Renton Washington, two of my fellow Washington runners.  I knew them both from Facebook, but as you well know it just isn't the same.  Lots of good times joking back and forth, competing in the stages, and during meals.  Great times that will always be remembered.

In 2012 I paced many marathons in the following times 3:20, 3:25, 3:30, 3:35, 3:40, and 3:45.  All of my pacing jobs were successful (even the 2-3:20 marathons I was worried about).

A few weeks prior to Badwater, on my way to Phoenix I went to Lone Pine and Death Valley and trained with Brad Lombardi.  We managed to get permits to climb Mount Whitney the highest point in the continental United States.  
 Brad and I working our way up the mountain from Whitney Portals
 A view to the East overlooking Lone Pine and Death Valley at the Summit
Proof I was there!
Right above a cool waterfall on my trek with the Seattle Mountain Runners around Mount Ranier.
 Rob and I in Red Rock Canyon a few days before Badwater
Our whole group in Red Rock Canyon before Badwater
 The girls on my crew at Zabriskie Point
 The guys at Badwater Basin (lowest point in the United States)
 Mike Miller, Kimberly Miller and Mark Hellenthal in Furnace Creek CA
Our whole crew at Zabriskie Point
 Me, Dr. Ben Jones & Brad
2012 running in Death Valley 1st 17 miles
135.4 miles in 29:40, that's a long way! Good for 10th Overall BABY!!!!!!!!!
Swollen hands, swollen sore feet, Amazing Race!