No real common theme to the news this week, just a bunch of random stuff - Enjoy!
First off, thanks to the volunteer work of Aaron Schwartzbard, I can share a couple of his photos from the Bull Run race. This one gives you an idea of the sea of bluebells we all ran through in the "upstream" section of the race.
...and here's another of me later on in the day as I lick my lips in anticipation of yet another tasty gel...mmm.
Speaking of gels, that brings me to my next point. This past Friday I put on my chef's hat just before a 20 miler and mixed up my first batch of homemade gel. This will be a work-in-progress over the next few weeks as I iron out what mixture works best for me, but with gels being so expensive (when you eat as many as I do, anyway), and the essential ingredient (maltodextrin) being so cheap when purchased in bulk (20 pound bag for $20 - that can make about 500 gels), I decided it was time to come up with my own special recipe tailored to my preferences. Since the gels that work best for me are the ones w/out any stuff like fructose or added flavoring (Hammer Gels work the best with their avoidance of excess sugars, etc - they're just expensive), I'm starting from the ground up as I make my gels with just malto and water for my training runs. The taste of that mixture is mildly sweet, and it worked great on my first run in terms of keeping my energy level at a constant as I nursed the mixture through my hydration pack. For 100 milers I'll need to add in some Perpetuem as I usually do (for the protein and fat), but I should have the malto mix just right in a few weeks so I can just add in the usual Perp dosage by time I get to the Mohican in June. I'll update my recipe once complete and post about it for others who would like to compete in an episode of "Iron Chef: Ultrarunning" with me.
In other news, Team USA is on their way out to Italy this week to compete in the World 24 Hour Championships on May 2-3. This is the event I hoped to qualify for back in November at Ultracentric in Texas (we all know how well that turned out). As a matter of fact, only 1 male runner actually ran the necessary 135 miles last year to qualify for the US team, so a good portion of the guys on the 6-man team made the squad based on 2007 results. The ladies, on the other hand, had some great performances in 2008, and their squad should seriously contend for a Top 3 spot this weekend in Italy. My super-fast friend Jamie Donaldson led the US ladies last year in Korea with 137 miles (5th in the world), and with the weather and course hopefully cooperating a bit more in Italy this weekend, she could very well top 140 miles and lead the team to their first podium spot in the history of this race. My friend Jen Van Allen (fresh off a 3:08 tune-up at the Boston Marathon last week!) should also make a nice splash on the world level in her debut on the US Team. I wish all the runners the best of luck out there this weekend...Go Team USA!! The race begins at 4am EST on Saturday, and progress can be tracked on-line throughout the day here (hope you've brushed up on your Italian!).
Finally, with April wrapping up, I'm happy to say the injuries are behind me (although I did tweak my back lifting a gallon of milk the other day....seriously...a gallon of milk...how old am I??), and I was able to rebound with a 300 mile month. May should mark a return to the 400 mile level as I ramp up for Mohican. I've got 7 solid weeks of training lined up before that race - It's probably too early for me to be as excited as I am about this race, but by time the gun goes off on June 20 it will have been seven months since my last 100+ mile race. I'm probably this excited because I've forgotten how much these things hurt!