Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 Mountain Masochist 50+ Race Report

This was race number two on my redemption list, which came about from my poor performance on last year's race (UROC being the other on the redemption list), and I was very excited about this race.  Emily, who assumed the Team Peake crew duties, and I made our way down to Lynchburg, VA Friday afternoon.  We arrived just in time to meet up with our friends Christian, Tom, and Nica, all from the Annapolis area and looking to run a few miles in the Blue Ridge Mountains, for some dinner before we made our way to pick up our bib numbers.  After dinner we arrived at the Kirkley Hotel just in time to hear Jennifer Pharr Davis give an account of the speed record she set this summer on the Appalachian Trail.  I was really excited for the opportunity to hear her stories from the trail and everything she had to overcome to achieve the speed record.  Truly an inspiring story to hear the night before a big 50+ mile race.

Emily and I woke up early, left our hotel 5am and drove to the James River Visitor Center (we also gave a ride to runner that didn't have a bus ticket to the start line).  Crew cars weren't allowed around the Visitor Center so I jumped out of the car about a mile up the road and made my way to the starting line.  Temps were in the low 30's at the start of the race and eventually made it up to the low 50's. 
Christian (L) and Tom (R) before 50+ miles with 9200' of climbing
The race started at 6:30, which was nice as I was starting to get a little chilly waiting at the start line.  The first 5.7 miles (more like seven miles, just keep in mind that these are Horton miles) were all on pavement.  I knew this is where I had to try to start off at a faster pace than usual to ensure that I could put a couple of minutes in the bank because I knew I was going to need every spare minute.
dam right before AS 1
I made it to Cashew Creek aid station (AS) in 1:09, which was a few minutes slower then I was hoping but still better than last year.  I made my way off the roads and onto the trail where I came across my first real climb of the day.  It was a three and a half mile incline with approximately 1300' of climb.  I was feeling good during the first climb and made it halfway up the climb to the Peavine Mountain AS in 1:45.  I progressed up the rest of the climb and then I had to implement strategy of running the downhills hard!  I cruised down to the Parkway Gate AS in 3:16.
cool shot of a runner passing under BRPW
Up to this point in the race I hadn't even asked, nor did I care, how many minutes above or behind the twelve hour cutoff I was.  This was the first aid station that I saw Emily, so I grabbed some coconut water, EFS, and Vespa from her.  I took some extra time at this aid station and made sure to grab everything I needed because I wouldn't see Emily again for another eight miles.  The next few miles went by really quickly and I was just enjoying the scenery and some nice downhill running.  I came into the Reservoir aid station in 4:42, that was when I learned that I was nineteen minutes ahead of the twelve hour cut off time.  This made me feel good, considering the effort I had put into the race thus far, but I knew it was just getting started.  Now the climb up to Buck Mountain begins!  I knew I was going to loose time on this section so I came up with a plan of walking one minute and running three minutes.  Last year I missed the cut off at Long Mountain AS by seven minutes, so I guess you could say I had a little motivation coming into this part of the race.  The strategy paid off and I came into Long Mountain AS at 5:58 (seven minutes ahead of the cut off).  My legs were starting to feel a bit sluggish and I wasn't too excited about that, considering I was a little more then half way up the tough climb (eight miles with ~ 2300').  As I made my way up the next 2.6 miles, I heard the famous Rocky theme song - music to my ears both literally and figuratively because I knew I had arrived at the Buck Mountain aid station.
Buck Mountain aid station
After running a few miles I came across Mary.  She was a sight for sore eyes because I was really hurting at this point and it was nice to chat with her and keep my mind off the pain I was going through.  We were chatting about future race plans, she and I are running Vermont 100 next July, and I was really enjoying her company.  We separated shortly before the Loop In aid station.  This could not have come at worse time as I was walking the flat easy sections of the loop.  This four and a half mile section took me 1:10 which brought my total time to 9:03.  I was still thirteen minutes ahead of the cut off time.  At the next AS Emily gave me some more EFS, Vespa, and coconut water.  I had a few downhill miles before my last climb of the day which was a 1000' climb over three miles.  This is where the wheels fell off the wagon.

I went from being thirteen minutes ahead of the cut off to barely making the cut off.  I saw Emily one last time at the Salt Log Gap aid station and she was urging me to hurry because I was in danger of missing the cut off after running forty one miles.  I was running/walking fourteen to seventeen minute miles during the last climb.  Beating the cutoff was probably not going to happen, I was starting to get negative and questioning my training and my manhood.  I had about five to eight people pass me and I sunk even lower.  I began to accept that I wasn't going to make it.  I ran straight through the Forest Vally aid station because time was tight and shortly after the aid station I began weaving all over the trail.  I made it to the final aid station and decided I needed some EFS to help my energy level.  I had four miles to the finish and forty seven minutes to do it in.  That sounds easy, twelve minute miles on a downhill trail to the finish, but I had been averaging 15:30 pace the previous four miles and that pace would have me finishing the last section in 63 minutes.  I became very upset with myself that I was going to run all day and miss the cutoff by only a few minutes (if I were to keep the 15:30 pace I would finish in 12:20 but the cutoff is 12:00 so basically I would miss the cut off by ~2.5%).  My EFS started to kick in and my energy level rose and next thing I knew I ran a 12:30 mile.  The next mile was 13:14.  I had two miles left and twenty two minutes to make the cutoff.  With confidence gained from the last two miles I became a man possessed and started hauling ass!  I ran my second to last mile in 9:30, which meant I had thirteen minutes to go 8/10 of a mile.  Was I really coming back from the dead to finish the race in under twelve hours?  I was feeling it and decided to really push the pace and I was overcome with emotion as I closed in on the finish line and saw everyone yelling and cheering me on.  I ran the last 8/10 of a mile at a 9:00 pace to cross the finish line in 11:55:03.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I shook RD Clark Zealand's hand and started hooting and hollering as I hugged Emily.  Both Clark and Dave Horton looked over at me and smiled as I was carrying on, I proceeded to shake Clark (for a second time) and Dr. Horton's hands and thank them for putting their hearts and souls into the race.  I exclaimed how much fun this race is and Dr. Horton yelled to me "that's the way it suppose to be".  Talk about an emotional race.

Each race offers it's own challenges to overcome and as soon as you become comfortable or complacent is when you are doomed for failure.  Each race gives me an opportunity to stay humble because no matter how much I plan I always have to be ready to adapt to the given situation.  You can never read enough, study enough, or run enough to perfect running.  Some things are out of our control and, for me, that is tough to accept because I like to be in control, but pushing my self to the limits is a true introspection into my soul.

Congrats to Christian (10:46), Tom (11:13), Nica (11:22 & AG winner), and Mary (one tough lady who finished what she started).

my splits
My Gear: 
Shoes:  Montrail Sabino
Socks: DryMax 
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack 
Nutrition: GU, S!Caps, EFS shot, Vespa, Coconut water, XS shot,
Shorts: Zensah compressions shorts 
Sleeves: Moeben
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt  
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters
Watch:  Garmin GPS 310xt 




Extra Pictures from the race


See ya on the trails,
JP

Thursday, November 3, 2011

JFK 50

I have run JFK 50 twice and I enjoy the race very much, I particularly like the large crowds of spectators and  the rich history the race has.  I don't agree with the qualifying standards, because it creates a "Boston" atmosphere where fast flat courses are sought after so people can qualify.  That being said, Boston is an amazing race and I have the utmost respect for the history of the race and for those who qualify.  I think the standards for JFK 50 should take in to account courses such as Zane Grey 50 or MMTR 50 which have slower finishing times due to the difficultly of the race.  While I don't want this post to go off topic about the JFK 50 qualifying standards, I did want to share an article I came across concerning JFK 50.  I am not passing any judgement because I am not privy to all the facts, however, I do find the article very interesting as to where the entry fees go.  Entry fees in 2007 were $85 and this year they were $195, I know fees increase due to higher overhead but 129% increase in 4 years seems a bit excessive.  Feel free leave a comment let me know what you think.   


See ya on the trails,
JP

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 UROC 100k Race Report

Not just another ultra!  That is what I have been telling myself since I DNF this race last year, granted it was a completely different course and even named (GEER last year) something else, but at least it was the same distance.  I had been training all season for this race; I took weekend trips into the PA mountains to work on my climbing & hiking and for the past four months been taking getting on the stair master for forty minutes followed by an hour spin classes twice a week.  I guess I have been a bit obsessed on not repeating the same mistakes from last year and fixing my obvious training flaws.
detailed course description 1 of 2
detailed course description 2 of 2
My Dad, Emily, and I left Annapolis on Friday afternoon and arrived at the Wintergreen Resort just in time to hear Gill, co-RD, give the pre-race briefing.  After the briefing I got my race swag decided to skip the "meet the elite panel" and decided to grab some grub and try get to sleep somewhat early.  BTW we rented a condo on VRBO.com and found an awesome one bedroom condo that was half a mile from the start/finish and the course even went right past the condo too.  Team Peake (Emily and BillyGoat Peake) and I woke
Team Peake
up early and made our way over to the start/finish area, which was at Discovery Ridge, and that is when the nerves started to kick into overdrive.  I never get nervous because I am a back of the packer and am only running against myself, but this race was different because of the pressure I put on myself (to finish & to get the buckle).  The elite field started at 7:00am while the rest of us started at 7:15am.  It was cool to see all the elite runners at the start, many of whom I regularly follow their blogs, and at least Team Peake got to see some of them run throughout the course of the day.  We started a bit after 7:15 and finally all of my nerves went away because now it was time to trust all the training I had put in the past year.

Off we go...
The race started going off very nicely and that was because the course started by going downhill, I was just enjoying myself and the scenery when I noticed some people ahead of me yelling and hollering.  I didn't really pay any attention to it until I got closer to where the noise was coming from, all of a sudden I heard runners yelling "yellow jackets"!!!!  Next thing I know I look down on my arm and see a yellow jacket stinging me on my arm, while another stung me on my back.  Great, I put all this training and hard work into this race only to have some yellow jackets ruin my race.  After I was stung my heart rate jumped up ten beats per minute and I started having a really bad head ache.  I was curious to see how my body was going to react, I have been stung before but never while running.  It took me 45-50 minutes before all my systems came back to normal.  After running on some mountain roads, the course then moved to some paved roads around the Wintergreen community.  There were some nice climbs once we reached the Wintergreen community and I had no inclination to try to run any of these climbs, but I did run the down hills aggressively because I figured this was going to be my strength throughout the race.  If I could hike the climbs well, then fly downhill while maintaining a reasonable pace on the flatter sections I could reach my goal of running a sub sixteen hour race.

I reached the Wintergreen Summit aid station in 1:06 and I felt like my pace was a bit faster then I was anticipating considering I encountered the first of many significant climbs of the day, approximately 1100'.  I wasn't feeling any stress so I just tried to pay attention to what my body was telling me.  Team Peake helped me make quick work of the aid station by filling my water up and giving me a few GUs plus some Neosporin for my yellow jacket stings.  Once I left the aid station the course went between trails and roads for the next few miles, then the course finally came back onto the roads for a steep decent out of the Wintergreen Resort.  I decided keep running the descents fairly hard trying to not to trash my quads too early in the race.  Once we exited the resort I encountered a nice climb of about 1600' to the next aid station.

I arrived at Reeds Gap aid station in 2:14 and my legs were definitely feeling a bit sluggish after that steep climb, but I will say that climbing on pavement is incredibly easier then on trails.  At the aid station my crew had everything ready for me including a refill of GUs, Vespa and water.  I was taking on my usual two GUs every hour and S!Caps every forty five minutes.  At the aid station I bumped into a guy I ran with for about ten miles during last year's GEER 100k, Chris Cox.  It was nice to catch up with him and trade some war stories about last year's race as well as give a brief over view of each others 2011 season.  Chris is a beast and finished last year's race and ran another solid race again this year and finished in 15:41, this is one tough dude, congrats Chris!!  We ran on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) down to the next aid station. 
nice views
I made my way to the White Rock Gap aid station and because it was mostly downhill on the BRP so I made great time and came into the aid station at 3:08.  After being on the BRP for a few miles it was nice to get on some single track trails and  and it especially nice because I was still running downhill so I was feeling really good.  The weather was staying nice and cool and there was a nice cloud cover up to this point in the race.  I picked up some water and looked forward to meeting up with Team Peake at the next aid station.
Sweet single track trails

After making short work of the trails down to Sherando Lake aid station, I arrived in 3:50.  I wasn't feeling too hot at this point and started to cramp up, which is weird because I had been drinking plenty of water and taking S!Caps on a regular basis and it was early in the race.  What gives!!!  I then decided to stop taking GUs and start taking my EFS shots which has calories and electrolytes, my thought was that the GUs were causing me to become dehydrated.  At the aid station my crew brought along my secret weapon, coconut water.  I had been experimenting with this during my training runs and was interested in its electrolyte properties.  This turned out to be a huge difference in me fighting off my craps.  After I drank half, I went around Sherando Lake, which was a little over a mile, and by the time I came back to the aid station I felt much better and my cramping had gone away.  After I made out of the aid station I knew this would be the most challenging part of the course because I had a 1800' over the next the next seven miles which isn't too challenging but I knew the true test would be managing my fluids during this section.  I started the arduous climb toward Bald Mountain and not feeling bad at all, but that changed after about five miles when I ran out of water.  I made it to the top of Bald Mountain and started the short decent down the other side to the aid station and I got a chance to see Michael Wardian running the opposite direction.  It was so cool to see the top guys & girls run, they are truly amazing athletes.

When I made it to the Bald Mountain aid station I was feeling horrible, I had wobbly legs and could feel the dehydration side effects (disorientation, sweat rate was slowing down).  The aid station workers were asking me if I was OK and decided to take a few minutes and drink plenty of Gatorade and try to regain my composure.  I was still doing well time wise (6:15) and didn't felt like extra time at the aid station would be wasted because I would make up by running stronger on the next section of the race.  I exited the aid station and started running on the BRP then took a side road and then reconnect to the BRP again.  This section I was holding on and not running well but not running poorly either.  This is where the fog started to roll in and made for some interesting running.  It was kind of creepy running as I could only see twenty feet ahead of me, but it certainly made this race that much more memorable. 

Little bit of fog
I was looking forward to seeing Team Peake at the Whetstone aid station, but when I arrived my Dad looked at me and said you need to drink more.  Hahaha, guess I was not looking good.  I drank some more coconut water and restocked on EFS shots and S!Caps.  I was starting to think about the 17 hour finish time that was needed to obtain the belt buckle and I wasn't sure if I could muster another thirty miles feeling like I was.  Once again the coconut water really did the trick and I felt like a new man.  I started to pass people along the Dragon's Back trail and got to the turn around and started to make my way back (password was Quadzilla).  This was probably my favorite section of trail as everything was runnable and didn't have any technical sections so I was able to make good time.

I made it back to the Whetstone aid station in 10:16 and my spirits were lifted because I had BillyGoat Peake to take me to the finish line.  We made sure to stock up water, grabbed a delicious turkey & avocado sandwich that Emily made and grabbed our head lamps and we were out of there.  We made our way back up the BRP and then took a gravel road detour before getting back onto the BRP (same part I ran coming out of Bald Mountain to Whetstone).  When we made it to the BRP heading towards the Bald Mountain aid station I was starting to slow down, it was a matter of running and trying to only walk when I absolutely had to.

We eventually made our way to the Bald Mountain aid station and it was completely dark by this time.  My Dad and I refueled and got out.  I started to feel my hip pointer bother me so I would stretch it when we came across a good section of trail in which to do so.   As we made our way up Bald Mountain the fog was making it increasing difficult to see rocks on the trail because our head lamps were reflecting against the fog (think how difficult it is to drive in the fog, then turn on your high beams and it becomes even more difficult).
section of trail that looks technical during the day, trying running at night in the fog!
Above is a great picture of a section of the trail that we had to run in the fog with our head lamps and this was my Dad's first time running on trails at night!!!  Trail by fire I suppose, hahaha (I know it's suppose to be trial but I was trying to be funny).  We eventually made our way unscathed, for the most part, to the White Rock Gap aid station and we definitely didn't break any speed records.  We really just wanted to come out of there uninjured  and knew that we could make up time on the roads.

Once we reached the White Rock Gap aid station the rest of the course was on roads to the finish.  Emily was there to meet my Dad and I.  I promptly finished the rest of my coconut water, one last Vespa (I had been taking these every 3 hours during the race) and even took in an energy drink just to give a me a little pick me up because I desperately needed it as I was starting to run out of steam.  After all we reached the aid station in 14:22.  Now I am starting to do math in my head for the pace my Dad and I would have to keep in order to finish in under 17 hours.  As we made our way to Reeds Gap aid station I was starting to doubt if we were going to make it and I was becoming pessimistic to put it nicely, but the old man was keeping me in check and helping not dwell on something that hadn't happened yet.  This is where my Dad really helped me out, he helped me focus on only running from aid station to aid station.  My mind was starting to play tricks on me and I just wanted to slow down and not push, but then I thought about running all day and missing the 17 hour cut off by a few minutes.  Had I really battled all day just to come up short by a few minutes, hell no!!

Next thing I know I hear a familiar voice yelling from behind a wall of fog, it was Emily and we were at the final aid station.  15:26 was our time as we trotted into Reed Gap aid station.  We had ninety minutes to go five miles, four of which were up a 15% incline to the finish.  This was going to be close.  At the aid station all the volunteers were great, they were telling me ice cold beers and a shiny belt buckle awaited me at the finish line.  Needless to say that put me in a great mood.  We enjoyed a nice mile and a half downhill decent in which we were clocking a 10:30 pace, I wanted this buckle so bad I could taste it.  Now for the fun part, we hit the 15% incline to the finish.  I was possessed and was hauling ass up the road and my Dad was just a few steps behind me.  I kept pushing and pushing next thing I know I couldn't see my Dad's head lamp anymore.  He had hit a bit of a wall (naturally after running 6.5 hours with me) and I had to keep pushing in order to make the cut off.  As I was climbing I passed a few people who looked tore up and that only fueled my fire.  Push, push, push that is all I kept telling myself.  This hill went on forever (look the elevation my Garmin GPS charted during these miles) and I am all by myself, just me and this never ending incline.  The fog was still very heavy and it was difficult to see, I couldn't even see ten feet in front of me, but I could feel the hill was becoming easier.  I knew I was close to the top so I started to run again and pushed it really hard (almost felt like puking a few times) and finished strong.  Funny thing is that I could have walked to the finish and made the cut off with plenty of time to spare, but that's not how I roll.  Coming down the finishing chute was emotional because I was thinking back to all the training runs, all the sacrifice, all the spin class & stair master workouts.  Suddenly everything came together and with the help of Team Peake I finished in 16:31:51.
Little redemption for last years DNF
I wanted to thank Emily and my Dad for being there and sharing this special moment with me and I wouldn't/couldn't have done this without them.  Also the volunteers were great througout the race and all the spectators seemed to cheer everyone, there were even people driving in cars along the BRP slowing down to give words of encouragement.  Gill and Francesca did an amazing job creating a course that catered to road runners, mountain runners, technical and non technical runners.  This race will get bigger I promise because they the passion and fortitude to put together an event that can host elite and non elite athletes on the same course with enough difficulty to challenge everyone.

my splits


My Gear: 
Shoes:  Montrail Sabino
Socks: DryMax 
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack 
Nutrition: GU, S!Caps, EFS shot, Vespa, Coconut water, XS shot,
Shorts: Zensah compressions shorts 
Sleeves: Moeben
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt  
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters
Watch:  Garmin GPS 310xt 



  
 Extra photos from the race

Watch the video entitled white rock junction to finish and forward 2:15 into the video


See ya on the trails,
JP




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 ATR 12-HR Race Report

I decided to run my first timed event on September 10, 2011 at the ATR 12-HR in Prince William Forest Park (PWFP).  This was last minute decision on my part because I felt that I needed one last long run before the UROC 100k.  The course was a 6.5 mile loop on trails inside the PWFP and had next to no elevation gain/loss.  I wasn't really looking for a challenging race but rather just wanted to spend a few hours on my feet and not get hurt.

After a few last minute instructions the gun went off a bit after 6:15, I turned on my head lamp got the show on the road (more like trails).  Soon after the start I found a nice pace and settle right into a good rhythm and put on my iPod and the time started to fly by.  I really enjoy running when it becomes effortless and when you start looking at your watch/GPS and only notice the hours that go by, not the miles. 
nice groomed trails with only a few rocks & roots
I came into the start finish area for my first lap in 1:27:04, I quickly filled up my Nathan hydration pack and grabbed a few GUs and was on my way.  As the race progressed the weather started to become more balmy and I knew cramping could be an issue.  To help prevent the cramping I quickly went into my usual one S!Cap every thirty minutes and to make sure I had the correct amount of energy I was taking one GU every forty five minutes (I usually take one every thirty minutes but my easy pace didn't demand such a high intake of calories).  Slow and steady was still the order of the day and I finished my second lap in 1:23:27.  Starting my third lap I was starting to miss my Montrail Badrock shoes, which had a serious tear on the outside mesh (by my pinkie toe), and I had to replace with the Montrail Sabino Trail but they didn't come in the mail in time so I had to rely on my old Asics 2160 Trail shoes.  The first two laps were a bit muddy because all of the rain from the night before and the Asics were not handling the mud well as I had to stop several times along to course to scrape the mud off the bottom of the shoes.  This was the only obstacle I had to over come all day.  I was content with watching the lead runners catch up to me and lap me as I was in my own little world.  It was difficult not to get in race mode and try running hard, but I knew I needed to practice running at a slow pace and even started walking sections of the course just to make sure I would remember to slow down.  I finished the third lap in 1:30:13 and I was feeling great.
start/finish area with drop bags
I was now 4:20 into the race, which was 19.5 miles, and started to contemplate how many more laps I wanted to run.  I decided that one more lap would be good and would not put my legs through too much stress.  During my final loop I chatted with a few runners and traded the usual ultra war stories. 
\
Suspended bridge we ran across twice on each lap
I finished my forth and final lap in 1:38:00, which gave me a total distance of 26 miles in 5:58:38.  The race was directed by the Athletic Equation group and they did such a great job.  The aid stations (only 2, one at the start/finish and another water station 3.5 miles into the loop) were properly staffed and and had plenty food/drink on hand.  I am even considering running a 24 hour race next year that is put on by the same group.


My Gear: 
Shoes:  Asics 2160 Trail
Socks: DryMax 
Sunglasses: Native 
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack 
Nutrition: GU, S!Caps 
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts 
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt  
Watch:  Garmin GPS 310xt 

I usually would put my Garmin information link here but it ran out of batteries after my 3 loop.
Here is a link to some additional pictures

See ya on the trails,
JP

Friday, September 9, 2011

Last minute

I decided for one final training run for the UROC 100k, I entered the ATR 12 Hour run tomorrow.  I have never run a timed event, but this one is a 6.5 mile loop held in Prince William Forest Park (PWFP).  Hope the course isn't too muddy, but I guess I will know in about 18 hours or so.  I will make sure to post my race report on Sunday (unlike my last two reports which took longer due to work/family obligations). 

See ya on the trails,
JP

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Catoctin 50k Race Report


I have heard many things about the Catoctin 50k, rocky, tough, and hot all have been used to describe this late July jaunt through Gambrill State Park in Fredrick, MD.  The course is an out and back race and has approximately 5,500 feet of accent primarily on single track trail with lots of rocks!  I had stayed in a hotel in Greenbelt, MD Friday night, so I woke up early Saturday morning and began my drive to the race.  I arrived at Gambrill State Park at approximately 7am, I learned my lesson from the Rosaryville 50k, and I proceeded to check in and grab my number.  As I was checking in I didn’t notice anyone that I recognize, so instead of trading war stories with the usual suspects, I went back to my car and started to gear up for the race.  I was concerned about not carrying enough water considering the temps were suppose to get into the mid 90’s, but decided to stick with running the race with my usual 1.5L Nathan hydration pack.  Because this was a low key ultra I wasn’t sure how well the aid station would be stock with food so I packed my normal two GUs per hour pay load and brought along a new drink EFS liquid shot that I read about on Karl Meltzer’s blog.  I had been experimenting with this drink during my training runs and didn’t have any GI issues so it was time to give it a try in race conditions.  I needed to see how body and energy levels would react using this in a 50k race environment before the UROC 100k.  This drink basically has 400 kcal per 4oz serving.  I am starting to get sick of having to force down two GUs per hour, for a 50k race this is acceptable but not for >50 miles.  I then packed everything else and I was eager to hit the trail.  Approximately fifteen minutes before the race we had a pre race brief with the RD Kevin Sayers about the course markings and even had a small plane fly right over us before the start, which was cool.
RD Kevin Sayers giving some last minute instructions
The horn promptly went off at 8am and off I went.  The first couple of miles were slow moving because the course was single track and it took several miles for everyone to spread out.  I was very content with moving at a slow pace for the first few miles as I was just using this race as a tune up for the UROC 100k.   My two goals were finishing and not getting injured.  I met a bunch of really nice people and chatted which always makes the time fly by.  There were a few moderate climbs during the first few miles nothing crazy.  It wasn’t until the first aid station, approximately six miles, that the course opened up and I could run at a decent pace.  The course was littered with rocks so I knew I wouldn't be setting any PR.  Given the
Typical rocky trail
high temperature on race day, I was concerned about making sure I took my S!Caps and drank plenty of fluids.  When I arrived at the 9 mile aid station I was met with smiling faces and ice cold water.  It makes a huge difference to have ice water instead of room temperature water, I could feel myself over heating but the ice water brought me right back down.  I decided to try my EFS drink at this point as I was 2:15 into the race.  The drink has the consistency of pancake syrup but still had a good taste to it.  I descended 1200' over the next 6 miles to the turn around aid station.  Upon arriving there were several runners heading the opposite direction warning us of a rattle snake ahead of us on the trail, I looked for it but never saw it (would be have been a great picture opportunity).  I arrived at the aid station in 4:00 and quickly filled up with water and got out and started my 6 mile climb up the trail.  It was much easier to run up the rocky terrain then down, so I was feeling strong and the climbs weren't huge so I was able to run approximately 75% of the climbs.  I arrived into the 22 mile and I was starting to feel fatigued so I decided to walk a bit after the aid station and take another 4 oz of EFS.  After walking a bit I started to feel good again and began running.  I made it into the 25 mile aid station in 6:30, after coming out of the aid station I started to over heat again so I decided to walk a bunch and try to recover.  Even after walking as much as I did only 4-5 people passed me which was surprising.  Everyone at this point in the race was feeling like this I am sure of it.  The last few miles were tough and I just grinded it out to the finish line.  I ended up finishing the race in 8:40, not what I was expecting but was a tough challenge I think served me well.
This was a tough 50k and I don't recommend it to anyone whom is not experienced in running technical trail.  For those who decide to take up this challenge you will be tested in technical trail running with moderate hills, I will run this race again but probably not next year as I am going to attempt to run the Vermont 100 mile race which is only a few weeks before.  BTW congrats to Tom DeKornfeld to finishing in 7:54 and to Dave Brault for finishing in 9:00.  Anne Arundel county was represented well!!!  
  
My Gear: 
Shoes: Montrail Badrock 
Socks: DryMax 
Sunglasses: Native 
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack 
Nutrition: GU, EFS shots, S!Caps 
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts 
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt  
Watch:  Garmin GPS 310xt 
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters (make my feet sweat a little more, but no rocks in my shoes)



See ya on the trails,
 JP

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rosaryville 50k Race Report

Thought it would be a good idea to join the Rosaryville 50k this past Sunday (July 17th).  I was looking to get some heat training and this low key race seemed to fit my schedule just perfectly.  I woke up late on Sunday morning and had to rush to the race.  I got everything packed into my bag and scurried out of the house with Emily, who was competing in the 25k.

Emily and I arrived at the race just in enough time to watch the start of the 50k, needless to say we were extremely tardy to the party.  We hurried up and registered for the race, packed out hydration  packs, put our bibs on and started 10 minutes behind everyone.  During our rush we forgot to pack our S!Caps, this turned out to be a huge mistake.  The start of the race was filled with wasted energy, rushing to pack everything then trying to catch the back of the packers.  After the first three miles we both started to relax and found a good pace.  Rosaryville is a flat course with only 2200 ft of elevation gain and I was anticipating running a possible PR even with it being a hot day in July.  The miles were rolling along nicely and Emily and I started to catch some of the back of the packers about 7 miles into the race, but then we were passed by some of the 25k people who started at 7:30.  There were two aid stations on the course, which was basically 3 ten mile loops, five miles into the lap and ten miles into the lap.  Coming into the five mile and ten mile aid station I basically top off my fluids and was out within one minute.  I was feeling good, but it was starting to heat up.  I came into the 15 mile aid station and I was really starting to become dehydrated and I was complete out of water (I carry a 1.5L Nathan Hydration Backpack), so I went to fill up and they had run out of water!!  I was only able to fill a quarter of my hydration backpack and it had to last me five miles till the next aid station.  It only lasted me 1.5 miles.  Needless to say the sufferfest was in full effect.  I was cramping up in my calves, quads and hamstrings.  I just decided to grind it out and wait to see how I felt at the twenty mile aid station, where Emily was going to give me my S!Caps (which I forgot to grab before the race).  I arrived at the aid station completely out of it and I was contemplating calling it quits.  I got some fluids and S!Caps in me and started to feel much better so I decided to keep going, my logic (you might be able to argue about that) was that I need to face some harsh conditions in order to mentally prepare myself for my fall races.  I decided not to worry about my time and just focus on finishing the race.  I continued to suffer the next five miles until I reached the twenty five mile aid station, where once again the aid station ran out of water!!  I was extremely upset at first, but then I thought if I would run faster this wouldn't be a problem.  I proceeded to run/walk the next six miles or so to the finish line.  I finished in 7:02:47 (I subtracted my ten minute late start).  I wasn't happy with my time, probably at least an hour slower then I expected, but it was nice to finish what I started which is not something many other people were able to do on a hot day in July.  I will end this with a quote that almost every runner has used "it was only suppose to be a training run anyways".

My Gear:
Shoes: Montrail Badrock
Socks: DryMax
Sunglasses: Native
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, Nutrilite Endurance Cubes, Nutrilite Meal Replacement Shake, S!Caps
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt 
Watch:  Garmin GPS 310xt
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters (make my feet sweat a little more, but no rocks in my shoes)


See ya on the trails,
JP






Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little Break

OK it's been a while since I have posted.  After the Capon Valley 50k I took a couple of weeks off to let my legs rest up.  I had a busy spring season with (3) 50Ks & (1) 50 miler all within a span 7 weeks.  I have ramped up my training the last couple weeks and am preparing for my the UROC 100k in September.  I have been running on the Tuscarora Trail in PA trying to get in some good mountain running.  This past weekend I ran a double, with 5 hours on Saturday followed with a 3 hour run on Sunday.  I also have adjusted my racing summer schedule to fit in some training run races to get me ready for my fall races.  I will make sure to post more now that my rest period is over.  Hope everyone's training is going well.

See ya on the trails,
JP 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The 10 Biggest Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make

Very cool article I stumbled across that I thought might be of interest to the
Ultra-holic Nation :)
 
check it out


See ya on the trails,
JP

Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 Capon Valley 50k Race Report

Another bites the dust!  The spring part of my season is done and I am feeling good about the strides I have made so far, but I still have a long way to go.  This past weekend I ran the Capon Valley 50k in Yellow Spring, WV.  This was a beautiful course with some sneaky hills, but for the most part the terrain is moderate.  I camped out the night before at the start/finish and it worked out great as there was plenty of room and it was a beautiful night to sleep under the stars (plus I get to sleep in as much as possible).  I woke and at some bagels and then I packed a drop bag for the 18 mile aid station (Vespa, GUs, and Meal Replacement shake).  After getting dressed I took my Vespa 30 minutes before the race, then I met up with my Dad, Bob, Rose, Laurie, and Kara.
L to R (Kara, Laurie, Bob, BillyGoat Peake, Rose



Everyone seemed to be excited for this race, the weather was beautiful (got into the low 70's with just a light sprinkle of rain later in the afternoon).  Before I knew it 7am came along and off everyone went.
And they're off...
We Started at the Capon Valley Ruritan Club and went up 259 (one paved road on the course) then we hit the trails.  The first few miles there were some nice rolling hills to help the legs get warmed up.  I reached the first aid station and my legs felt OK, but the still felt dead from the Promise Land 50k 2 weeks ago.  I knew it was just going to be one of those days were I just had to grind it out.  The runners spread out quickly and before I knew it I was running alone.  The course was fairly dry as the streams were at a reasonable level, but everyone should know if you run this race your feet will get wet.  That being said I plunged through all the streams knowing that wet feet were inevitable.  
lil' stream crossing
I was cruising along the course and the time was just flying by.  I was hoping to finish the race in about 6 hours, so I was running almost all the hills.  There were a few hills that were really steep that I had to power walk, which there were many more then I remember from my last run here in 2009.  I reached the next aid station and took on some water and got out ASAP.  The course was marked well, however, I still managed to make a few wrong turns but was corrected by some courteous runners.  I came across my favorite section of the race, the power line section.
top of power line section
backside of the major hill in the power line section

From my recollection this section had changed from 2009 as the jeep roads shown above were previously dirt.  These made for some fun downhill running, I was flying down the mountain trying to take advantage of gravity.  Once I reached the bottom I headed back into the woods and faced some nice little climbs to the next aid station.  At this point I was feeling fatigued and was looking forward to the 18 mile aid station where I had my meal replacement shake and Vespa waiting for me.  After the aid station I felt really good and the course was downhill for the next 4 miles.  I then came into a nice hill at the 25 mile mark and that one seem to do me in.  I couldn't really recover after the hill and drop off my pace considerably.  I was starting to cramp up really bad even though I had been taking 3 S!Caps an hour and drinking water consistently.  At the next aid station I took my time and ate a few bananas and grabbed some Gatorade.  After walking a bit after the aid station I started to few a little better, but I knew a sub 6 hour time was out of the question.  I came into the last aid station taking a drink from a Coke and went on my way, I needed a sugar boost for the last few miles.  I ended up finishing in 6:16:03, which I feel was a decent effort and I crushed my time from 2009 by an hour.  Not quite where I want to be, but definitely moving in the right direction.  

Some friends came and joined me for this race and they were new to ultra running, they picked an awesome course to pop their ultra cherry.  Laurie and Kara, a mother and daughter duo, wanted to test themselves and I believe they learned a lot.  They had spent the last 3 months training for this event not knowing if their training was going to be good enough or if they could hold up for the entire race.  Kara ended up finishing with a great time of  7:28 and finished strong.
Kara takin' care of business!!
Her mom Laurie on the other hand experienced the race differently and had encountered some difficulties along the way, but still managed to finish the race!  I am sure Laurie was having some interesting talks with herself about finishing what she started.  I give her all the credit in the world, because it takes guts and determination to complete an ultra.  I was so excited to see both of these girls finish and they reminded me why I love to do these races.  Congrats ladies and I am sure Bob, BillyGoat Peake, and Rose would all agree with me in saying how proud we are of you two.
video



My Gear:
Shoes: Montrail Badrock
Socks: DryMax
Sunglasses: Native
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, Nutrilite Endurance Cubes, Nutrilite Meal Replacement Shake, S!Caps
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt with Moeben sleeves


For more pictures check go here


Now it's time for a well deserved rest from racing for a bit.

See ya on the trails,
JP

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Promise Land 50k++ Race Report

This race was billed as "not your average 50k race" and they (Dr. Horton) was very accurate with this statement.  With 8,000 feet of accent and decent this was going to be tough race, but this is what I have been waiting for.  I wanted to test myself on a tough course, I didn't want flat and easy, I wanted mountain running at it's best.  Be careful what you wish for, because this is one toughest and most grueling races out there and I loved it.  Every race I have run this year has had moderate hills at best (Bull Run & Holiday Lake had none, HAT run had some good ones), but this race was going to tell me how much progress I have made this year with running on mountain terrain.  I have a big race in September that has lots of elevation change, so this was a good test to get me ready.

I arrived at the Promise Land Youth Camp at 6pm and setup my tent. After that I went to the pavilion and signed into the race where I received my tee shirt and bib number. I then scarfed down a few pieces of pizza followed by the race briefing by Dr. Horton.

When I woke up on race day morning it was overcast with some decent winds, but forecasters were calling for the sun to make its way out by late morning.  I didn't want to wear a long sleeve shirt for fear that it would get too hot on the course and I wouldn't have any where to drop it off, so I purchased some Moeben arm sleeves from The Aid Station merchandise tent the day before.  These sleeves worked great, when I got hot from running hard I simply rolled the sleeves down and put them back up when the wind picked up on the top of the mountain.  I ate some breakfast and had my usual pre race Vespa, then I packed up my nutrition (1 Vespa, 16 GUs, 15 S!Caps) in my Nathan Hydration pack.

The race started as promised at 5:30am and 326 runners and myself began our Promise Land 50k (yeah right, more like 35 miles, but I guess that means we got our moneys worth) odyssey.
Start Line
The first 4 miles of the race were straight up hill, I climbed approximately 2,100 feet.  I tried to just relax and do a run & walk combo during those first few miles.  When I reached the Overstreet Falls aid station the first time I topped off my water and got out of there ASAP.  I began my nutrition ritual of eating a GU every 30 minutes and 1 S!Cap every hour starting at the 90 minute mark.  The next 3 miles there
Making our way to the Overstreet Falls aid station
were a few down hill down hill sections, but that would short lived as miles 8-11 were uphill (approx 1,100 feet) and I finally reached the Sunset Fields aid station.  Now it was down, down, down hill from there.  I was moving along well considering it was hard to find a good rhythm up to that point because of all the walking I was doing.  Looking back I should have taken advantage of the downhills more and tried to push the pace knowing I had more climbing ahead at miles 26-30.
trying to take advantage of the down hills
The day started to warm up as promised and the sun burned the fog away too.  It turned out to be a great day for running as the temps got into the high 60's.  I felt good energy wise up to this point in the race and felt as if I would be able to finish under my goal time of 7:30:00.  The next few aid stations seems to come along so quickly, I was wearing my gps, but was only paying attention to my time so I could take my GUs and S!Caps.
why jump from rock to rock? when you can just plunge right through it
I came into the Cornelius Creek Trailhead knowing that this is where the race would begin.  From this aid station I climbed approximately 2,000 feet to the next aid station.  I felt good up to this point and then the course finally broke me.  My walking pace slowed down significantly during this period and I lost a lot of time.  But the course was incredibly beautiful during this section.
Climb, Climb, Climb

hard to enjoy beauty like this when you are suffering on the course
When I reached the top the Sunset Fields aid station awaited me.  I ran out of water 1.5 miles before the top and I was dying for some water, when I reached the top I was treated to some water and some stunning views of the valley below.  By this point in the race I knew that 7:30:00 was out of the question and I just wanted to finish in under 8 hrs.  The last 5 miles were all down hill.  My quads were doing ok so I decided to let rip and began to pass lots of people along the way.  I averaged 10:30 minute miles the last 5 miles finish in a time of 8:03:30.

This was not the time I was looking for, but this was the type of course I needed to help assess my mountain running.  I still need to work on running steep hills and would like to complete a course with no walking at all.  This was a great race as long as you don't care about setting a PR, you will enjoy it.  Another thing I kept thinking about during the race was the new JFK qualify standards which says an A standard 50k qualify time is 5:00, B time is 5:20, and C time is 5:45.  If someone is trying to qualify for JFK does that mean they will do so on easier/flatter courses and by doing that does that mean they won't run the Promise Land 50k because their time won't give them good qualifying times and make it difficult to get into JFK?  Does this mean that Ultra running will eventually turn into road marathon environment?    I hope not!!

Anyways thanks to Dr. Horton for another great race and thanks to all the wonderful volunteers that help Dr. Horton's races some of the best on the east coast.

Now it's time for a little bit of tapering then in 2 weeks it will time for Capon Valley 50k.


My Gear:
Shoes: Montrail Badrock
Socks: DryMax
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, Nutrilite Endurance Cubes, XS energy shot, S!Caps
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt with Moeben sleeves


For more pictures from Promise Land 50k click here


See ya on the trails,
JP







Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Bull Run Run 50 Race Report

Alright another race in the books for the 2011 season.  I am still learning the ropes when it comes to ultra running and so far I have found out there is a huge difference between a 50 mile race and a 50k or marathon,  I still find the marathon to be more difficult then a 50k but I digress.  After a disappointing JFK last year I came into the BRR 50 this year with no time expectations/aspirations, I only promised myself to run as good as I felt.  As many of you know sometimes during a race you can feel euphoric and other times you can feel as if you are running zombie (sometimes when I feel as if I am going to bonk, my mind feels lucid and it almost feels as if I am dreaming).  A 50 mile race seems to suit me better then a marathon or 50k, maybe it because I am still lacking speed, but what I lack in speed I am hoping to make up with mental toughness.  Tenacity is what I am looking for, I know I am not going to beat many people out there but the only person I am racing against is myself.  I am racing against my preconceived notion of what I can do and how fast I can do it, if I beat others great, if not that is OK too.   For this race I wanted to have a relentless attitude where my objective was to run the majority of the race and run/walk the steep hills.  Overall I felt as if I accomplished my goal and I was rewarded with a time of 10:41:53 (still managed to set a PR for a 50 mile beating my 2009 JFK time by 3 minutes).

Eager Runners lookin' to get it done L to R (Kevin, Ron, Nica, Mary, and Dave)
The weather on Saturday was overcast and temps eventually got up to about 60 degrees, but rain the night before made the course muddy.  Before the race I took my usual Vespa pack and started to pack my bag with some nutrition goodies, next thing I know it's time to get it on.  The race started promptly at 6:30 and we did a small loop around the start/finish area before we headed north on the trail.  As soon as we got on the trail it was a little congested with other runners, but soon everyone spaced out nicely by the 3 mile mark.  I was warned that if it had rained that the northern section on the race would be muddy/slick and wow were they right (enjoy this one Dad, you were right).         
Course Map
I was cruising along and came into the Centerville Road (the first time, 7.2 miles) aid station feeling great, but due to the mud I was a bit slower then I would have like to run (maybe this was a good thing). 
Beautiful Blue Bells
Emily was there to hand me some extra GUs, I didn't need too much as I would see her again when I reached the turn around and came back to the Centerville Road aid station for a second time (11.6). 
Just a little hopping from stone to stone to get across the water
 When I came back to Centerville aid station for the second time Emily gave me a few GUs and sent me on way.  I was just enjoying the day and trying to stay relaxed, but most of all I just wanted to listen to my body.  I wasn't even paying attention to my splits or mileage until I came back to the start/finish aid station (16.6 miles).  Once I got to the aid station I took a meal replacement shake and grabbed some more GUs and Vespa and I took off.  My nutrition strategy was to take a GU every 30 minutes and a Vespa every 3 hours.  I was taking S!Caps every 45 minutes, but I started to crapped up during the latter stages of the race (seemed weird to me as it wasn't very hot outside).  The course started to dry out as I made my way south of the start/finish aid station.  This is where I started to feel strong and started to really push myself.  I was started to feel the effort at mile 27 and when I came into the Fountainhead aid station (28.1) Emily could see the effects of my pace.  I started to bonk, so I ate some boiled potatoes and bananas.  I was still struggling after I ate and then I entered the infamous Do-Loop.
Nice whip
I continued to struggle and felt crappy for the next few miles, it wasn't until after I got a B12 energy shot and a meal replacement shake at the outbound Fountainhead aid station (37.9).  Almost immediately I felt the tide start to change and I was not hanging on anymore I was passing people and again I was running with determination.  When Emily saw me at Bull Run Marina she even saw how drastically I had changed and I was trying to close the race strong and if I ran really well I could sneak in under 10:30.  I was pushing it as hard as I could till then end and finished in 10:41:45.

I am very happy with my results and will take the lessons I learned out there and put them to use in my next race coming up at the Promise Land 50k.

Congrats to my Ultra-holics teammates (that right we started a team) and everyone finished and ran well.   We finished in 8th place in the Men's division, not too shabby.  We will seek our revenge next year.

Happy finisher Kevin, nice job
Dave looks like he still could run some more miles
Also congrats to Nica and Mary for posting some nice times (11:44:29 & 10:53:31) as well and they both placed in their respected age groups.  Nice job ladies!!!!  I am going to start an Ultra-holics group to help people cope with their ultra running obsession.  The inaugural class will be Mary, Dave, Nica, Ron, and Kevin.  I have some good shirt ideas, so I will keep everyone posted when they come out.

My Gear:
Shoes: Montrail Badrock
Socks: DryMax
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, Nutrilite Endurance Cubes, XS energy shot, Nutrilite Replacement Shakes, S!Caps
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts
Shirt:  UA long sleeve Heat Gear with tech shirt over top

Here are some of my stats from the race (distance was wrong, so the splits will be wrong as well)

Here is to another week of resting before my race next weekend at the Promise Land 50K.  I am really excited about this race because it has 8k feet of accent and 8k feet decent, which means there will be plenty of hills for me.  The only thing I am not looking forward to is eating more GUs, I ate 18 of them on Saturday.


See ya on the trails,
JP