Monday, December 31, 2012

Week 31: Ending the calendar year

Mon 12/24  4 miles on Cottonwood

Tue 12/25  4 miles on Cottonwood
Wed 12/26  4 miles on Cottonwood. Overnight 3 inches of rain fell. The Cottonwood Trail runs through the floodplain of the Lawson’s Fork Creek, and I love going there after so much rain because you can really see how the floodplain works. In the dark, I could hear the creek flowing hard and deep, and the trail itself was under water in the usual places—out by the wetlands in particular. The full moon was out, and Venus and Mars floated around it. A nicer camera would have gotten better photos.

Thu 12/27 4 miles around the neighborhood

Sat 12/29 18 miles at Croft.  I set off to run longer, but, and you’d think I’d learn after 30 years of running, I bonked from not eating enough breakfast. Generally I get up, eat, and am out to run within an hour. Today, not meeting anyone else, I dawdled at home. I should have eaten twice before I ran.  I also ran one of the hardest loops out here, with endless ups and downs, some of them steep. From what I’ve read about the Ice Age course, Croft will be good training grounds.  By the end of this one I was doing some walking, energy-less despite hitting a few gels in a row. Even though it was chilly, I didn’t drink enough water, either. Eating and drinking remain my difficulties, especially during training without aid stations to use as cues.

from Southside: Centerline to Lizard to Southside Loop over the bridge to Fairforest to Jerry Perry to New Edition to the Lake Trail to the riding ring and back across the bridge to Southside Loop to Centerline.

I love a full creek.

The floodplain in action.

Flood plain functions.

What qualifies as a peak at Croft.
I love these areas of moss, found throughout the park.

As always, Bristol the Enduro-Dog amazes me.

Required lake shot.

 Sun 12/30  8 ½ miles at Croft. I went out this afternoon in clear sunshine and chilly temperatures. I wasn’t sure how I’d respond to yesterday’s long run, especially with bonking at the end, which often leaves me feeling pretty sore. I felt good, though, and ran one of my favorite trails, with longer climbs than most out here. I have to say that it always feels good to drop mountain bikers, even when they’re just other old guys (do y’all read this blog, Ralph and Steve?), and the technical drops and climbs are my strengths.

from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to the Chapters to Palmetto
Total  42 ½ miles in six runs

This was my first week with six runs since June, and my first over 40 miles since May. I’m starting to get that fitness feeling, and Sunday’s run was the best example: despite a long run on Saturday, I felt smooth and easy through a hard loop. The weekday runs were fun, all in the dark with a bright moon rising. Even the sloppy parts were satisfying. I could have done a longer run, but with the kids home, and my gorgeous off, taking 35 minutes or so to run from home fit well. Eventually I’ll add that longer run midweek.

As for planning, I will run a 50K once a month, and an over-20 once a month. This was a good start, with the Last Chance 50K; I’ll take the 26 ½ mile weekend. I had registered for the Uwharrie 40 mile run, but will have to drop out: travel with L for her auditions takes precedence, and with the joy of seeing my child grow and expand, I will miss it.

Just discovered this stuff this week. I find the first song remarkably moving, and all of it fun.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Week 30: Much thanks to the Pisgah Nation

Sat  12/22 10 miles at Croft. I took a very easy week after the Last Chance 50K. My quads were pretty well wrecked on Sunday, and Monday wasn’t a whole lot better. But Tuesday I felt pretty good, and settled for my usual bike ride to work. I could have run other days, but clearly my 50K run was harder on me than I thought. 

Today I got out with Carroll--always a treat in itself--to run a trail I’ve only run a couple of times before. We decided to cut off a chunk of what was certain to be a mud bath and ran down the road to pick up the bottom half of the new trail. The lake was especially beautiful, though the water was pretty muddy.

from the riding ring: Fairforest Connector to Jerry Perry to the camp road to Jerry Perry

Sun 12/23 5 miles on Cottonwood.

Total: 15 miles in 2 runs

One of the bonuses of this year’s running was going up to North Carolina to run with the PIsgah Nation (including a birthday run and a puke-fest), a group that puts on a fun run a month in the mountains. These folks are awesome, running for running’s sake, for the beauty of the mountains, and for the friendships that develop on the trail. Here’s to y’all, and to more time in the woods.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm in the Ice Age Trail 50

I registered for the Ice Age Trail 50, my goal race for Team Fox and my fund-raising efforts. The race sold out pretty quickly, so I am glad to have gotten in. In the past few years there have been some real studs (non-gender specific) there, which will add a neat attraction.
While there's certainly time before my race, I'm asking you to join my efforts to raise $5000 for Team Fox whose proceeds benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Clicking on the logo to the right will get you directly to my personal page. All donations are tax deductible. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Chance 50K: You take what you get

My friend Joe, young, strong, fearless, said, “I like technical trails and long climbs.” We were standing at the start of the Last Chance 50K, a first-time race using a piece of the Palmetto Trail in the Francis Marion National Forest in southeastern South Carolina. The national forest extends through the coastal plain halfway between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. Technical trails, maybe, but certainly no long climbs.

With Joe after the race. 
          I’d looked at the topo maps, I’d read a little about the trail. “We’re not going to get that here, Joe,” I said. “You have to take what you get. We’re going to get flat and wide.”
Just saying it made it a little more real to me. I knew we were in for a flat run, “no clues about when to walk,” I’d been telling friends. Nothing around us told us any different as we sat near the junction of Alligator, Copperhead and Rattlesnake Roads, and a sandy access road disappeared into the distance away from the start area. I didn’t know what to expect from such a run.
The out-and-back race started with little fanfare, a small crowd of 50K and relay runners standing around fairly amorphously. A mess of folks went out ahead of me onto the wide single track, and the first mile was the usual jockeying and passing. The trail itself was uneven, lumpy, uncomfortable even so early in the race. I thought about how uncomfortable that could be on the way back in. At three or four miles, we hit a more even tread at the top of a dike between even lower lying swampy areas. 
Deep thick woods of cypress and pine bordered us, the trail a straight line with little variation. I hit the five mile mark--2 1/2 miles from the first (and third) aid station--in 45 minutes and some seconds. About what I figured, and though I had some nagging soreness in my right Achilles, I felt good so far. The first aid station came and went; I lingered there, saying I was running four times between aid stations today. The volunteers were in good moods, and because the aid stations were also relay exchanges, it was fairly packed. 
The second leg changed to include hardwoods, mostly beech I’d say. The trail wandered through the woods, with lots of turns but still no elevation changes. This was maybe technical, but without the difficulty of climbs and descents, I couldn’t tell. Ten miles passed in 1:34, right on the low-9-minute miles I had run so far. 
Through this part I ran with Vincent who had run a marathon or longer in all 50 states--twice. After the race he was heading to run the Jacksonville Marathon the next day, on his way to 100 races 26.2 miles or longer in the year. I was amazed at his consistency.
We crossed a few dirt roads, each section just a little different from the previous one. We ran through pine forests, down a long straight-away, through a long section with tall grasses and very few trees. At 2:26, I came to the second aid station and turn-around point. Again I lingered, longer than the first time, eating, joking with the volunteers and relay runners, making sure I drank enough water.
The way back was obviously more familiar. I was tiring, but I knew what the splits had been, and with such a flat course I knew if I hit the same splits I would finish right at 5 hours. But I was not in this one for a time. My quads were already pretty wiped out, but the flat miles just kept ticking by. At one point I saw we were approaching a small rise that I noticed on the way out as a decline. I wondered how it would feel with tired quads, but I didn’t even notice. I think this race had about zero feet of elevation gain and loss.
I was running alone now, as I had been since I left Vincent at about mile 11. I hit the last aid station with 7 1/2 miles to go in 3:46. I had spent enough time alone to know what my splits had been all along. If I stayed even and ran the last section in what I run it in at the start, I would finish in 4:55. I even left the aid station without lingering, and started off down the trail with another 50k runner. 
“Sub five, you think?” I said to her. “Yep,” she answered.
After a half mile or so I was still feeling good, and feeling like I was slowing down too much. I passed her, gradually pulling slightly ahead. We hit the straight sections, closing in on the five-miles-to-go mark. I was slowing, though, and feeling hungry and tired. 
We hit the mark right on, but I stopped to eat a gel. I started in again, and told myself I’d run ten minutes, then walk two, then run ten and so on until I finished. I knew I was giving up a sub-five-hour time. I made it in, and did indeed grumble about the last couple of miles of pitted, lumpy trail. I passed several runner, and kept up the 10-2 sequence again.                     
           Then, at eight minutes into the next cycle, I felt a cramp in my hamstring, the first of the race. I immediately slowed to walk, and decided I’d walk two minutes. I started running again, and soon finished, crossing the line in 5:01:36, so close to sub-five, but 44 minutes faster my previous PR for the distance.

Almost there. Just before this photo was taken,
I looked up to see my Gorgeous.
Not much beats that.

It’s true I can’t compare the two courses: Terrapin climbs 7500 feet in its course. And I was in much better shape for the two Terrapin races I’ve run. But what a neat experience to be able to run (almost) the whole way, keep things slow and even, a much different head game than a mountain run with lots of climbing. Because of the flat terrain, combined with the out-and-back course, I had lots of neat data to look at.
Here’s where I prove that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time; he didn’t mis-remember, or whatever he said. Runners remember these kinds of things, and here’s the resulting data.

Start  00:00

5 miles 45:00

First Aid (7.5)
in 1:07

out 1:12
     10 miles 1:34

Second Aid (15.5)
in 2:26
out 2:32
21 miles 3:23

Third Aid (23.5)
in 3:46
out 3:48
26 miles 4:11

Finish 5:01:36

           Look at all it shows. The splits were almost exactly even: 1:14 for the second and third legs--the same miles run in both directions. I ran the first leg in 1:07, and back to the finish in 1:13. There are the six minutes from my 4:55 on-course figuring. It gets closer: the 2 1/2 miles stretch between the 5 mile mark and the aid station at 7.5 miles passed in 23 minutes. On the way back, I ran the same section in 23 minutes. The 2 1/2 miles from the first aid station to the 10 miles mark I ran in 22 minutes. I ran it in 22 minutes on the way back. The 6 1/2 miles from the ten-mile mark to the turn around I ran in 52 minutes; I ran it back in 51 minutes. I ran the last five mile section in 51 minutes, 6 minutes slower than on the way out. I’m pretty thrilled with that even pacing.
I also managed to say funny things at each aid station. At the first and third, the guy tracking us and I joked about my leading the bearded-guys-with-tattoos division. I sang “The Wheels on the Bus” both times. I arrived at the turn-around to a crowd. I hoped C would be there, so I pulled in and hollered, “Who wants to be my girlfriend?” hoping she would come out of the crowd to kiss me. It was still funny without her there, just not as dramatic.
So I too prefer technical trails with lots of climbing, but I took what I got, and had a great time. Chad Haffa and Eagle Endurance did a great job organizing the event. The course was very well marked, the volunteers were enthusiastic and helpful. Assuming we do indeed make it past December 21 (the reason it’s the Last Chance 50K), I’ll try to fit it into my schedule again next year. 

Front of the very cool medallion.
Back of the medallion.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weeks 26, 27, 28, 29: Last Chance 50K

Week ending November 27

Wed 11/21  8 1/2 miles at Croft. I haven’t been on the Chapters in some time, and it was great to get back out there. I stayed very slow on purpose, knowing that getting the socks at the Turkey Day 8K was getting harder, and they’re only going 75 deep this year.

from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to the Chapters to Palmetto  

Thu 11/22  9 miles, including the Turkey Day 8k (4.78 miles this year).

Fri 11/23  2 miles

Sat 11/24 5 miles. This run left me nervous about a sore Achilles and generally sore legs.

Sun 11/25 0. 

Total 23 1/2 miles in 4 runs

Week ending December 2

Fri 11/31  4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot

November totals: 70 miles in 11 runs (missing one week, ending November 19)
Year-to-date: 1314 miles in 210 runs

Sat 12/1  4 miles on Cottonwood. Still felt sore, especially in my right Achilles.

Sun 12/2  18 miles at Croft. Phew! The last opportunity I’d have to run long before the Last Chance 50K. Ran 1 lap early enough to meet Ben at the parking lot for another lap. I probably ran too hard showing Ben the trails, which he didn’t know well. I thought I’d run 20, but felt good about cutting it a little short. This one gave me a little burst of confidence.

from Southside: First loop: Southside Loop Trail; 2nd loop: Fern Gully to Southside Loop to Rock Creek to Centerline

Total 22 miles in 2 runs

Week ending December 9 

Wed 12/5 4 miles on Cottonwood.

Thu 12/6 4 miles on Cottonwood.

I didn’t run at all on the weekend, which is the traditional Nutcracker weekend. With Q in his 7th performance, this time as the Nutcracker himself, and my mom and nephew coming into town, there was now way I was going to go running more than a few miles around the neighborhood. I didn’t run a step.

Not actually Quinn's part, but an amazing
dress rehearsal photo.
credit: Spartanburg Herald Journal

Total 8 miles in two runs.

Week ending December 16

Wed 12/12  3 miles at Myrtle Beach. I felt like crap. Dead legged, sore, cold, wet--just not a good run. Shook it off.

Thu 12/13  5 miles at Myrtle Beach. A fun run from Black Dog Running Shop in downtown Myrtle Beach. We ran from the store down to Ocean Boulevard, past the location of the old Pavilion (the “no-villion,” C called it) and up past the Gay Dolphin, a ferris wheel, lots of lights and kitsch. Good shakeout and a little confidence builder.

Sat 12/15  31 miles (Last Chance 50K): 5:01:36 (PR). Report coming soon.

Total 39 miles in three runs

Another version of this song that I sang through the Last Chance 50K.

"He shook it like a holy roller, baby, with his soul at stake."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The 8th Annual Turkey Day 8K

One of my favorite events in Spartanburg starts early Thanksgiving morning when I roll out of my neighborhood toward downtown for the Turkey Day 8K. Usually Seth and Carroll join me, but this year I was all alone. Arriving in Morgan Square to hundreds of folks waiting to run is a really fun sight.

One year Carroll and I ran over in the pouring rain. Thinking very few would brave the horrible conditions, we were surprised to see several hundred people waiting in the parking garage near the start. The race went off that year without rain, which held off until Carroll and I started home.  Though the weather was miserable, the morning was, as it has been all these years, true community.

The numbers have increased each of the eight years it’s been run. After starting as a bet, attended by 40 people who brought canned goods as the entry fee, the race is now over 700, and we fill a box truck with food. I see a few people I only see at the race, and there are tons of people I don’t know. 

It's all about the socks.
The race has gotten more competitive as it has grown. There are no awards except for socks for the first 75 men and the first 75 women, no race results, just a clock and a course, but the winners generally run around 25 minutes these days. I ran about 30 seconds slower this year than last, and I dropped 14 places. Last year I ran the fastest I ever had, but dropped in place from previous years.

The start. Thanks, Facebook person, for the photo.
I think of this run as a tempo run, for sure, and end up running pretty fast out of excitement and joy. Yesterday the word was shouted, and off we went at a gentle downhill slope. I had totally forgotten what this type of start is like. I hadn’t warmed up a whole lot after I ran to the start, and had cooled off in the chill since then. I felt lumbering and a little out of sorts. 

The race starts through a series of rolling hills . My friend Harold pulled up and asked if I could maintain “6:19 pace” through the race. Not a chance. “That’s what you’re doing.” I haven’t run this pace since last year’s Turkey Day 8K, but it felt reasonably easy. I continued to pull through the crowd, a few folks passing me, as we settled into what was pretty much the line for the rest of the morning.

My friend Marguerite did roll past at about 2 1/2 miles or so. She’s a great runner, so I asked why she was back here with me. I don’t see Marguerite often, and she’s about my age. “I think you have to train fast to run fast,” she said. Sixty years of running experience between us--and both of us running way faster than we should have been.

The rolling hills on the course are fairly relentless. As we started up the last steep one, I said the the tall fellow running beside me that this one was going to hurt. To my surprise, it didn’t. Though my quads were pretty hammered, the uphill felt great and smooth. 

Socks in action.
Photo by Curt McPhail,
other leg by Laura Ringo
I was running with 8 or 10 others in a pretty tight group at this point, and I started to get nervous that the magic number 75 would end up being one of us. Not wanting to have a sprint finish of any sort (because I knew I would either throw up or get dropped in a second) I decided to string out that crowd a little. It’s my only hope, I thought, and surged a few times in the last 1/2 mile. 

That, actually, was super fun. I felt like I was racing, and I guess I was. The tall fellow ended up passing me at the end, but both of us were just striding and not really trying to beat each other. And of course, I got the socks--55th male in about 32:20 (I forgot to stop my watch). My friend Kam finished in 34:high something and was out of the socks. I’m telling you, I’m going to have to train for this dang thing next year.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Camp Croft Half Marathon Report

With chilly temps at the start, we warmed up through the race to “entirely comfortable.”  I felt strong throughout, except for the usual down time from the radio tower--the highest point of the race, I think, but certainly not the end of the climbing--at mile 6 or so to the next aid station at 8.1 miles. 

I managed to go out just as fast this year as last, this time talking with Mark VG, so I’m blaming him (do you read this, Mark?). And going into the single track I found myself at the head of a long line. As we headed into the steeper climb, I figured that couldn’t last. Sure enough, four guys rolled past Mark and me. For a while they were close enough that when they went off course, I saw them and hollered them back on. That, I told them, was the best move I made all day, I even passed one of them. 

I ran through the first aid station. I had a full bottle still, and a pocket full of GUs. I called out my number, chatted with the volunteers, most of whom are equestrian users of the trail. I appreciate them coming out for the race, which raises money for the Friends of Croft State Natural Area. They’re enthusiastic, and their cheers from the second aid station helped me get there without hurling. 

I didn’t mean to separate myself from anyone, but did by running through the aid station. The next mile-plus is flat and fast double track. I was still being conservative, wanting to save legs for the last four plus miles when you can really run and pick off the carnage from the tough course. 

Then came that bad spot. I felt a little nauseous, and ended up running mostly alone for a mile. I stopped at the aid station before a long downhill to the creek crossing, and filled up with gatorade to try to get some sugar in me. It didn’t help much, and I struggled through another mile or so. 

Crossing a closed, paved road gave me a boost, starting into the last part of the race as I had it. That Brian had caught up to me and even pulled ahead a bit for a while made me feel like I better get my giddy up (you reading this, Brian?). Except for a guy who came flying by--his first trail race I found out later--I led another little group through to the aid station two miles from the finish. Another enthusiastic crowd of volunteers there, including my friend Bud, but I ran straight through this aid station, too. 

Two guys latched on behind me through the last piece, the roughest trail, I’d say, mostly from overuse. Deep ruts, perpetually muddy sections, exposed roots to grab at tired feet--as I say, if you still have legs, you can take in a bunch of people through here. I’ve paid some attention to it lately, and have run it a pile of times in the last four or five years. As the guy behind me said, I seem to know the trail.

So having those guys behind me was a little disconcerting. I told them I felt hunted, and they both said they were hanging on. So was I. Then the guy right behind me told me he had completed an Ironman triathlon the week before: I thought, if I can’t drop the guy recovering from an Ironman... 

Through no real fault of my own, I did pull away. As we turned to climb the last stair-step “hill” to the finish, I decided I needed to put in some separation, and accelerated at the top of each step. I know how much that hill hurts; my friend Cate calls it a “f*** you” hill. 

I finished in 1:55:45, almost three full minutes off last year’s time. I’m not quite sure what to make of that: I’m probably not as fit, but I felt like I ran a smarter race this year, and a solid effort throughout. I always hope to say I ran as hard as I could, and I think I did. Since it’s the first time in a while I haven’t run faster than previous years on any race course, I’m not too worried about the age thing. 

As always the race was very well organized and marked. Thanks to Seth and all the volunteers who spent their morning feeding water to strangers.

My buddy Jason Sullivan, ultra-runner and inspiration.

Sporting the Team Fox jersey.

Wait, y'all are going the wrong way.

We all hit our watches to a chorus of beeps.

Even though I was a little wobbly, the show must go on.
We taunt the athletes every year at this event.

Week 24: Camp Croft Half Marathon

Wed 11/7 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. Again, I had only one of two fields. Plugged through eleven laps for about 2 miles.

Thu 11/8 7 miles at Croft, at night with Bristol. A great midweek run before a race: the dark kept me pretty slow. I really like these dark-time runs.

from Dairy Ridge: New Edition to Lake Johnson Connector to Palmetto.

Sat 11/9 15 1/2, including the Camp Croft Half Marathon. Another fun day in the woods

Sun 11/11 2 miles. I decided to start a new streak, to run every day until the Last Chance 50K on December 15. I may continue to streak after that, but we’ll see. I like the streak for what it does for me physically: last spring I wasn’t sore, I didn’t hobble at all, and the everyday running really gave me a huge confidence boost. Today I wobbled around the neighborhood after yard work.

Total  28 1/2 in four runs

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Kanawha Trace Darkness Falls 7 miler

I arrived at the race site for the Kanawha Trace Darkness Falls 7 mile race (with a 3 1/2 mile option) almost an hour ahead of the start, and the parking lot was already crowded. Though only 40 or so signed up, over a hundred ended up running one of the two distances.  I was super-excited to see so many folks—and definitely not all trail runners—out for a night race on trails.

I did get a little nervous, though, when I went to warm up on the opening and closing mile of the race. Probably because it was not quite dark, the glow sticks didn’t seem to be very bright. I had a little hard time following the trail. All those worries were taken care of, though, once we started: it was darker, and the lights showed up better, and with a crowd on the trails, I just settled into following others as we made our way up the service road to the single track about a half-mile into the run.

I had decided I didn’t want to run this one by myself, and figured I’d settle into a group from the start. The leaders went out a little hotter than I wanted, but I hung on for a little bit anyway. By the time we turned uphill for the first significant climb (of two) I was in a pretty good crowd. The climb changed that right dramatically. By the time we crested the hill at about 2+ miles, I was with three others, with folks trailing behind. The leaders were gone, for the most part.

We quickly dropped down toward the finish area where the 3.5 milers would stop. The 7-milers continued on around for a counter-clockwise (and slightly different ) loop that would reconnect to the starting trail with about 1 ½ miles to go. I was with one other runner (Philip) and we seemed to be hanging well together, pushing each other enough to make it feel like a race. Again, the leaders were long gone, and I figured all of those ahead of us were running the longer distance.

I asked Philip if he wanted me to lead; I felt bad he was doing all the route-finding. He said he liked running in front unless I wanted to speed up. Then he asked me if I often found myself in the position we were in: the leaders were mostly out of sight, and there was no one pushing us. I hadn’t thought much about it, but told him, yes, I had been racing for almost 30 years, and I ran a lot of those races in between groups.

After the finish area we turned back uphill. This one seemed steeper than the other, and I used the ultra-tool of walking with hands on quads pushing myself up the hill. Philip and I stayed together, though I thought at first he was going to pull away. We hit the top, and you could tell that the rest of the course was downhill and flat. We made our way around on a gas-line right-of-way, coming back to the single track by the creek and then the service road.

Philip and I were rolling along pretty well. I did take the lead on the gas line right of way, wanting to do my share. We slowed some on the single track, but once on the service road I speeded up again, and ended up pulling away from Philip. We went around the little pond again and finished—in the dead silence. There were people there, those who had finished the shorter distance, and the 11 who had finished ahead of me in the longer one. But no one said anything. Naturally, I cheered for the spectators; they had little response.

Afterwards I hung out and chatted with a guy I had run with before, and ate some soup (served up with a slotted spoon—I know, right?). I had worked harder than I thought I would, and felt good for it. I ran 1:06:19, good for 12th place out of 67.

Week 23: Hometown Visit

Wed 10/31  4 miles on Cottonwood

October totals 83  miles in 12 runs
Year-to-date  1244 1/2 in 199 runs

Thu 11/1 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot 

Fri 11/2 9 miles, including the KT Darkness Falls trail race. This was a really fun race, and it worked great for my schedule. I drove up to see my mom, six hours of seat time. I arrived there about 4, and had a couple of hours before I drove the fifteen minutes from my mom’s place to the race.

Sat 11/3  Marshall game with my mom. Absolutely the highlight of the trip. We greeted lots of folks in the tailgating area, lots of them making sure to speak to my mother. We sat in my parents regular seats for a while, behind the chief of police sitting with his dad who was my high school baseball coach.

The view from the boxes
We moved to the boxes after the first quarter or so. Again, I appreciated how much attention friends there paid my mother.  She is something of the matriarch now, I guess, and due deference was given. Don't doubt that it was received graciously.

Marshall did their darndest to lose the game, but the time I spent with my friend of 45 years Rob and his dad Bos, both television news anchors in my hometown, meant a lot to me. Bos is charming and avuncular, with a memory stocked with all the greatest moments of Rob’s and my childhoods (not to mention the history of television news from its beginning). Rob and I have known each other so long and done so many things together we are like brothers, and time away does not diminish our friendship.   

Sun 11/4  5 miles in Huntington. This is a route I’ve run so many times before, passing the houses that friends used to live in and enjoying the rather miraculous Ritter Park. That place is legend in our family, the site of much carousing, playing, running, carousing, carousing, and, yeah. Drove home after a really remarkable weekend. 

Total: 22 miles in 4 runs

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week 22: The Nu-Way 5K

Wed 10/24  4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. Had a pile of reasons not to do my whole barefoot routine: I got to the fields to find that darn high school football team practicing, or something ridiculous like that. That they were only using half a field still kept me to the one field. My usual 2:30 lap turned into 1:30 laps. I hate running that many circles. 

But I stayed with it, and ran 17 or so minutes. I stopped halfway through to watch a little of the practice. I think they must have been JV because they weren’t that big. But they were good and played hard. I always appreciate good coaching, and these guys were all over the place, teaching and not yelling.

Fri 10/26  7 miles at Croft. I started this run in stunning sunset light. The trees were glowing anyway, but with the changing colors were particularly shimmery. I intended to finish with my headlamp, and did. Note: get new batteries. The light was pretty dim, and I haven’t run a whole lot in the dark, and not at all since last winter. In other words, I had a great time. I really practiced picking up my feet, and rolled a few times, something my tendons must respond to really well--I rarely hurt myself.

I also wore one yellow Rogue Racer and one red Rogue Racer. I bought a couple of new pairs--thanks, Montrail--and needed to break them in for the Nu-Way 5K tomorrow. I’ve given up on 5Ks--they are either too short or too painful or both--but this one is special. My friend Cate came up with the idea a few years ago, and it’s taken off. More than a hundred will run tomorrow. Since it involves drinking on  the street, we’re a little nervous the city may shut it down, but since two council members run it (and one of them organizes it), we feel pretty safe for now. It’s a great community event, and highlights our commitment to beer drinking, doughnut eating and run/walk/crawling. 

Sat 10/27 5 miles, including Nu-Way 5K. As always, the Nu-Way 5K is among my favorite Spartanburg events. This year over a hundred folks signed up, even paying five bucks to make some dough for a local arts non-profit. Costumes are de rigeur here; I wore my usual cape. The cape, I say, changes the way I see wind in the face. Where I used to feel some letdown if I turned into the wind during a race, in this one I know it’s blowing my cape back.

I actually had a good run here, too. I felt pretty easy, running with a woopie cushion and  another caped superhero, among others. I even met the physical therapist who rehabbed me after meniscus surgery in 2002. As usual, the beer went down easy, the donut sucked. Then again, I’ve been slacking on the donut eating, but I’ve been crushing the beer workouts. 

Trying to drop the woopie cushion.

One of two Elvii. The Charlotte Hornets guy won.

Unkle Burt and Elvis at the start.

Beer and donuts.

The second half went equally smoothly, and another guy and I decided to let the woopie cushion finish ahead of us. After all, he was dressed as a woopie cushion. I finished a minute faster than last year, but deeper I think. Thing’s getting pretty competitive. I ran 25:30 including the three or four minutes at the beer stop.

Sun 10/28 13 1/2 miles at Croft. Ran the half marathon course with John G., Clark, Scott and Seth. It became clear pretty early that I didn’t have legs this morning. I trudged along; thought I might run some extra miles, but I was satisfied with what I got.

 Total 29 1/2 in four runs

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weeks 19, 20, 21: Living in the process

Tue 10/2  4 miles on Cottonwood

Wed 10/3  3 miles

Sat 10/6 8 miles at Croft. Injury warnings, for sure: my sore left-side lower back/upper butt (‘m sure it has a name) was aggravated all morning, and never really loosened up on the run. I went to Croft expecting to run a new route, maybe 14 miles, and feel fit enough to do it. The odd thing is that I felt strong on the run--leg turnover easy uphill and down, and feet quick even with some added Achilles pain in my left leg. But my back was not happy on uphills, and even with my trying to smooth out my gait on downhills, I felt accumulated pain. I’ll do something about it.

from the riding ring: Foster Mill to the Boy Scout hut to Lake Johnson Trail to Foster Mill

I registered for three races this week. On November 2 I’ll run the KT (Kanawha Trace) Darkness Falls 7-mile night race the day before seeing a Marshall game with my mom. I finally signed up the Camp Croft Half-Marathon (November 10) where I hope to better my last year’s time (1:53:00). I also found the Last Chance 50K in the Francis Marion National Forest in December. That should be a good long run before, should I get in, the Uwharrie 40-miler in February. 

I’m excited about the races to come, even with this tinge of injury. It feels like something I can get worked out, especially because the Stick does wonders itself. Add in a little chiropractor voodoo and I’ll be fine. 

Total 15 miles in three runs

Sun 10/14 13.5 miles at Croft. Ran the Camp Croft Half-Marathon course with Cate and Bristol. I haven’t been on the entire course for quite some time. I felt good the whole way as we both were feeling a little out of shape. 

from the riding ring: Foster Mill to Rocky Ride to Foster Mill to Lake Johnson-Fairforest Connector to Fairforest to Palmetto

This was a tough week. I had evening events four days, all of which kept me from running. I do feel good about Sunday’s run and my fitness, such as it is. I had an excellent chiropractor visit, and feel some better. I’m still sore in my left lower back/upper butt, but the Stick continues to do its magic.

Total 13 1/2 miles in one run

Tue 10/16 4 miles on Cottonwood. I felt loose and easy.

Wed 10/17 3 miles. I felt tight and labored.

Fri 10/19 0 miles. I started out the door on a beautiful day as the sun was setting. Within about 8 steps I knew the IT band pain I’d been feeling, especially after sitting for a while, was not good. I kept on for a few hundred yards, but before I really started into the long downhill that drops down into the flood plain of the Lawson’s Fork, I turned around. 

I’ve had IT band issues for a while, though never with pain particularly. I have some scar tissue built up, but my voodoo doctor tells me that if it’s not bothering me at all--no pain, no gait reaction, no limitation in flexibility--that there’s no reason to worry about it. The pain I have is above that little knot. 

I came home and iced my knee, which left it stiff. Using the Stick and my hand to massage right at the pain spot helps. I hit some ibuprofen, which I don’t take often, and stretched, another thing I don’t do often. I’ll try to stay on top of it.

Sun 10/21 18 miles at Croft. What a great run. Seth, Carroll, Scott and I met down at Southside. I’d planned to do two laps, and they all wanted to run 10 miles. The pace was a little hotter than maybe it should have been--and I led for the first few miles. It was just such a beautiful morning, right around 50 degrees, probably, and we had a good group going. Scott and Carroll pulled away in the last few miles. Carroll will finally be fit for the Camp Croft Half Marathon; knowing the course the way he does, he’ll be smoking. 

Southside Loop is definitely an easier run at Croft, especially the four or so miles that wind through the flood plain. There are some climbs, though,and some rough trail that I like for how it strengthens my feet. Through the climbs I felt great, with little or no IT band pain. 

Setting off for the second lap (which I knew I would cut short) was easy. I drank a bottle of Perpetuem, which I’d not tried, and which settled easily. I did hit the hills harder than I’d expected, and ran hard the whole lap. This was a real confidence builder, a run I’ll remember for a while. Even got to trash talk with the cross country team from a local community college.

from Southside: One lap of Southside Loop, then Centerline to Fern Gully to Southside Loop to Rock Creek to Centerline.

Total: 25 miles in 3 runs

Coming up next week: the Nu-Way 5k. I may be a little behind in my running and donut-eating training schedule, but I’ve been crushing the beer drinking workouts. 

Just been listening to Lucinda Williams a lot lately.