Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Nothing too exciting to report from the week of running on my end, but I do want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!  This completes the third year for me posting to this blog, and regardless of my successes and failures in races, I'm always so grateful and thankful for everyone who follows along and sends in words of encouragement and advice. I've learned so many great things and met so many wonderful friends in the running world through this site, and without question all of this has made me a better ultra runner. Thank you!!

I just remembered one quick story from my long run yesterday, so I'll pass it along:

About half-way through a 30-something mile run on the icy/snowy Mt. Vernon trail, I passed another runner coming toward me. I did my usual 'nod & smile', and since the wintry conditions had kept 90% of the usual running/biking crowd home on this Sunday morning, I added a little "good morning!" to my greeting as we passed; Sort of an implicit sign of solidarity to someone also willing to tough-out the cold and wind along the Potomac. ...Of course that effort to be nice caused the guy to look up at me instead of focusing on the snow and ice below, and his feet immediately slid out from under him causing him to land hard on his back-side! I'm such an idiot.

I felt horrible since it was obviously my fault he fell, but as I apologized profusely and helped him up, I looked at his feet and saw he was wearing Vibram 5-fingers with completely smooth bottoms!  I know everyone has their opinions and preferences for the barefoot running craze, but wearing them on an icy/snowy trail? No wonder he fell! Forget just wearing shoes with more tread, this was most definitely a YakTrax or Screw Shoes kind of day.  Having seen the unnecessary pain suffered by this fellow runner, here's a special holiday message to everyone who runs in Vibrams:

Dear Minimalist Runner,

I promise the Tarahumara indians won't be upset if you leave the 5-fingers at home when things are icy this winter. Otherwise, you'll need five fingers of whiskey after every run to dull the pain of your many bruises. If you promise to wear shoes w/ better traction, I promise to keep my mouth shut when we pass so I don't break your concentration!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

MGM 50K Race Report!

This past Saturday marked the 19th year the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club has held its annual holiday-themed 50k run along the Bull Run trails. Seeing as how this is a Fat Ass race, its name has evolved over the years by translating "Fat Ass" into various languages. A few years back they settled on the Latin name: Magnus Gluteus Maximus, or MGM for short. Regardless of the name, the point of the race is always the same: Give the opportunity for VHTRCers to gather one more time before Christmas and have some fun on the trails.  This year had a special bonus in it for me as I had the privilege of pacing my friend Andy through his first-ever ultra. Considering he just ran his first marathon a couple weeks back in Philly, and the MGM was a breeze for him as well, I'd say the sky is the limit for this guy!

Like an idiot, I forgot to bring my camera, but thanks to the VHTRC website (you're the man, Anstr!), I can share some of the sights here:
RD Joe Clapper would look a little strange in his green tights anywhere but the MGM (or maybe in a Green Giant commercial). Either way, "Ho Ho Ho" applies!

While Joe instructs the crowd, I sneak in late and sign-up on the roster. I know, the ring around my hat isn't really "green", but it was the best I could do!

A total of 188 VHTRCers signed up to brave the cold for this run. Bonus points if you can spot me and Andy (green shirt) in the back!

The colorful pack stretches out along the banks of the river early on...

Most people fear the "Do Loop" on the Bull Run course. Not for any imposing climbs that you can see, but for what secrets (all bad!) it hides under its year-round blanket of leaves.

The best part about the MGM is the "Hanging Bourbon" tradition at the Aid Station just after the Do Loop. No better way to forget the horrors you just survived!

Mark Z. sums up the fun of the MGM run in one shot here. Also, he looks like Santa, which is pretty darn awesome for this race!

I've had a ton of fun over the past few weeks while starting to run again and taking advantage of the opportunities to pace a few friends in various races. Now that the race schedule is clear for the next few weeks, I'll start ramping up the training to prepare my legs for a year of more mountain running than ever before. With a couple races still TBD for me next year (most notably Hardrock..and whatever 100 I replace it with if I don't get in), I'm just going to prepare the best I can with focused speed and climbing workouts multiple times each week to have me ready for whatever races I find myself lining up for in 2011. The weekly long runs will be back in full-order starting this week, and with my body and mind both feeling great, I'm excited to see what kind of shape I can hammer myself into over the next couple months!

Oh, and speaking of Hammer...

Many of you know I love using Hammer gels and perpetuem as my main fuel source during races, and I thank them quite a bit for their sponsorship during this past year. That said, I've decided to not renew my deal with them for 2011. I'll continue to use their products, but I'll also feel much less guilty about mixing fuel from other companies that I've found also works well for me (and my stomach) at various times. I like to be able to tell those of you who are interested exactly what I'm taking during my races to help you possibly find better ways to fuel yourself in your own runs. The point of this blog was never to "sell" anything, just to help share info with other runners to help everyone achieve their best in this sport. I look forward to doing that in a completely unrestricted way once again from here on out!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MMT100 = I'm In!

The Massanutten 100 miler has sort of a "unique" way they hold their lottery: Each applicant is assigned an original 3-digit number when they sign up for the lottery. My number this year is 352. On the day of the lottery (which is today), they use the last three digits of the Dow Jones closing number to establish the "starting point" of the acceptance list. If the Dow finishes "up" for that day, the MMT race accepts the first 180 runners who had numbers higher than that starting point.  With the Dow closing UP 13.32 points today, the final closing number was 11,372.48. Looking at those last 3 digits, our official starting point is 248. This is AWESOME news for me, Mr. 352!!

The wait for my return to MMT will finally be over after three years of frustration...Revenge (and lots of smiles) will be mine on May 14!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Strike One!

Ok, so the Western States 100 lottery didn't work out for me this past weekend. Once again, my name wasn't drawn, so back into the pool it goes for next year. Oh, well. Tough to be too disappointed when friends Tammy, Mike, and Ric all got in though -  I look forward to cheering for you all next June. Congrats, Everyone!!!

Despite the continued lottery losing, the weekend wasn't a total bummer for me. I joined up with crew of my in-laws out in Dallas to cheer Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game. Even though the game ended about as well for Nebraska as my WS lottery did for me, we all had a great time...Not to mention the fact that I was in complete awe of the JerryDome out there in Cowboys country. Holy Cow, that thing is HUGE!

 Blurry iPhone shot of 4 of us (Me, nephew Spencer, Paul & Jon - Jeff was taking the shot), but check out the insane size of that stadium!

 That HD scoreboard is 180-feet wide!! In fact, look out your window right now at home, you can probably see it from there!

 SO MANY Nebraska fans made the 700 mile drive from their home state...I bet the number of them in the stadium eclipsed the number of Nebraskans actually left in the state itself that night!

The casual observer might think Spencer is staring in awe at the football game, but I know the truth: He couldn't take his eyes off the Chick-Fil-A blimp (in the shape of a cow) flying around the inside of the stadium dropping free chicken sandwiches on parachutes. In his defense, it WAS pretty cool!

With the WS100 & Nebraska losses behind me now, I can rekindle some hope for Wednesday night's Massanutten lottery results. This is my best chance to get into one of my Big Three 100s for 2011 (along w/ WS and Hardrock), so I'm really hoping my luck changes in a couple days!

Since I should probably mention something about actual running in this post, I'll mention I took the day off work on Friday to enjoy a great 28-30 miler on the Bull Run course. The cold weather has its benefits when I can get that many miles in without re-filling my Camelbak. I enjoy that kind of freedom to explore out on the trails without worrying about resupply. I was happy I decided to wear my Hokas out there as well...the extra cushioning helped protect my feet from 43 million of the leaf-covered rocks/roots I stepped on. I don't think I could wear them all the time (still not 100% confident on the most technical & rocky terrain since I've rolled my ankle once or twice in them already), but I was happy to have them on Friday's run, that's for sure!