Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Running With the Something-a-loes.

After last weekend, I now have a trail marathon on the horizon. And i want to "sharpen up."

like a blade? no, more like a Dixon Ticonderoga (think back, now. think hard.)

I want to plan my workouts starting next monday. It should be a welcome change. New temps. New sun. New season. New plans, right? right.

Except I've never planned a workout in my life. If this week doesn't go completely off the tracks, i should be able to post a 4 week training plan that won't make any sense or be at all reasonable.

because what the fuck else am i gonna do?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bel Monte 50

Do let the video/song play in the background while you read the race report.

Arrived in Charlottesville after a 9.5 hour drive. The route took us through about 3 hours of country roads that whipped around the Appalachians. I played a fun game that involved setting the cruise control at 60mph and then seeing how long i could go without either A) hitting the brakes or B) hitting the rumble strips on either side of the road. It was sort of like playing "Operation" but with higher stakes.

Night before I dipped into a number of Yuenglings, as I can't buy it up in Michigan and i love it very much, especially for high-volume nights of drinking, yesh.

The race started at the top of a dam between two beautiful mountains (i'll try to not to gush about how great everything looked, but this was the first time I had run mountain trails, so i was prone to gawking).

We entered the trail system almost immediately and, right on time, my head lamp fucked up. So i ran in the dark for a while, trying to closely follow a few guys so i could leech off of their light. Sunrise came soon enough and I was tempted to throw my headlamp into a ditch...but that would littering...so I opted to eat it, instead. Fucking garbage. Don't buy PTEC headlamps no matter how light and cheap they are.

The aid stations came fast and furious for the first 13 miles, which lulled me into complacency that I would pay for dearly. First, though, we hit a glorious 6 mile decent at about 6:30/mile, HR 140, chasing some guy, dodging rocks and runners and loving life. I should note, here, that the trail system around Sherando Lake has many sections that are extremely rocky. Not like loose stones, but like sharp, jagged rocks jutting out deceptively from the pine needles. Other sections are composed entirely of bread-loaf sized stone without dirt or sturdy place to foot plant. It was an ankle-snapping good time.

Onwards: We hit the half-marathon mark and headed out on 4 miles of gravel roads where i put some time on a few people. Upon turning back to the trails, I came to a section with an aid station that marks the trail heads for two spurs. The 50 milers do both out and backs.

Each spur involved a climb up and a decent. The first spur was a quick up-and-over a ridge and I hole-punched my bib at the bottom and ran back. As I passed the aid station on my way towards the second spur, I didn't realize how long it'd take to summit the second climb. I was running a fairly large calorie deficit and didn't refill my water bottle. What threw me off was 4 miles of flat trail leading to the summit itself, which involved a series of about 8 switch backs, some of which were around 20% or more grade. I started to bonk very hard here, tunnel vision and drunken weaving, limply swinging my empty water bottle. I watched the guy I had been chasing earlier power hike away into the distance. This part was pure suffering of the mental variety, but I stared at my feet and hiked for about 1,000 years until I got to the top. I ate as much as I thought I could handle before turning around and hitting the downhill. I felt better instantly and ran the switches back down as hard as I could.

In the back on my mind, I was also a little nervous about my effort in the race thus far. I was pushing it, I felt good, but like I was really working and I was still under the half-way mark. This was new territory for me.

After returning to the two-spur's aid station, the guy I had chased down that initial 6 mile decent and who had hiked away from me on that shitty summit was sitting down in a chair. I was a little surprised to hear that he, too, was dealing with some bonking issues. I felt rough still, but ate some more and started a slow shuffle away from the aid station, expecting the dude to catch me eventually. I actually walked a bit here on the flat jeep road. I needed to let all that food I had eaten settle. I had overdone it a bit. I also, um, called my girlfriend here. She had enjoyed her 10 mile race that morning and wished me luck. I considered texting her a photo of my johnson. Standard mid-race maneuver.

Back to running: I hit the gravel roads and tried to pick up the pace again. Now it was uphill and things were feeling rough. I kept thinking about that guy, sitting in the chair, gathering his strength and plowing past me in no time. I got to an aid station, refilled and lo and behold, here comes dude charging up the road, looking daisy-fresh. Fuck.

Not that I'm super competitive. It's more that I appreciate the added motivation that other runners provide during moments of difficulty. Or something.

Anyway, I refilled my bottle and got the fuck out of dodge. This began the worst part of the race. That fun 6 mile decent early on? Now we had to hike back up it. In general, it was 75% un-runnable for me. I was smoked. So tired. I learned quickly to not look up the trail, as it only continued to climb straight up the hill. Dude did not catch up.

After my 90th birthday, I finished most of the climb, ate some oreos at an aid station and then finished the last mile-ish of the climb. Now it was rolling and very very rocky again. Some parts were so rocky and my legs were so sloppy that I ended up picking my way through the stones rather than try to maintain a true run. I thought for sure that I was going to be passed here. I was just in survival mode, walking at times, shuffling when I could, etc.

Ultimately, I came to the final 2 mile decent off the mountain. This was the steepest and most technical section of the race. My quads felt like they had been worked over with a ball-peen hammer and I was really not looking forward to this part. The first few steps were excruciatingly painful, but I kept running and picking my way over the giant rocks and roots until all of a sudden, nothing hurt any more. I ran those final two miles as hard as I've ever run a downhill and it was by far the most challenging trail running I have enjoyed up to this point in my life. Transcendental. Epiphanic. Spiritual. All of the above.

Hit the bottom, passed an aid station and headed down the final 1.5 miles of mostly paved roads back to the finish. I kicked surprisingly hard with about a quarter mile to go and passed a guy with about less than 100 ft. to the finish...turns out my 10 hour day of running was good for 10th place out of 80-ish finishers. Balloons and cake.

This may be my most straight forward race report ever. I wrote it very early on Sunday morning...early enough that i hadn't started drinking, so that might have something to do with it.

I would post photos and video but my drop bag (with the camera) is supposedly being mailed back to me (or is sitting on the floor of some guy's apartment while he tries to craigslist the contents. if you see a purple dildo with "PDT4EVR" engraved on it, please let me know).

With the race included, I ran 76 miles this week. two 10-milers, a 5 miler the day before the race and 1 mile around the block in some new shoes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of Barns and Hay...

The Bel Monte 50 is Saturday. I've been running a bit this week, just cruising around, biding my time. I have no expectations for the race other than to really enjoy running some excellent trails. I hope to capture much of it on camera and a little of it in my brain. Weather report is iffy, but after this winter, I can't imagine any conditions that will be of actual consequence.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week ending 3/20

This is music is the kind of thing that had me geeked as a youngster.

A little less remains than a week before the Bel Monte 50 in Lyndhurst, VA, west of Charllotttssville.

I really can't wait to run on some hilly trails and see some new land. Months of running flat, unbelievably pot-holed roads, often in the dirt and snow along the shoulder, leaping over beer cans, bags of trash, discarded mattresses and suitcases full of roller blades (yeah)...well, combine that with months of uninterrupted cold and literally weeks without sun...i was days away from climbing up a tall pole and allowing myself to starve to death in protest. of everything.

But now.

the weather has more or less begun to Spring on us. There is hope beneath the black debris previously suspended within piles of snow and ice. The potholes down the street (more than one of which was large enough to lie down in completely, your body beneath street level, looking uncomfortably similar to a shallow grave) have now finally been filled with shovelfuls of asphalt. Things are looking up...where the sun now occasionally shines.

70 miles this week. a nice night run on friday for 11, then 16 with rob in the wee hours of morning and then 14 on sunday with gabbo riding her bike/trail running. my left foot is feeling weird. i'm ready to run a little less this week, although not really taper per se. i don't mind hurting or being sore, but when some new pain begins to gestate, i get a little irritated, especially before a race.

final note: a clown car full of high school kids pulled up across the street from me, on the grass. they were walking down the way to a house party, but didn't want to park there so as to avoid suspicion (standard move, good call kids).

however, i really value my sleep and i'm a really big asshole and my car was broken into not so long ago, so...

i walked out to the street, watched them head down to the house party for a minute, thought about leaving a note on the windshield and instead opted to yell:


i punctuated this with one last, existential, "FUCK!"

i'm 80 years old.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Corktown 5k

Well, i ran a nice 5k up in the d today to cap off a nice week of running. Nice adjectives, yesh?

74 miles on the week. mostly 12-14 mile runs.

of note: two of those runs i pulled out a 5:50ish mile after running about 10 miles at 7:15/mile. which felt shitty but fun. i also ran with a dude who i met through the bike shop. he's in the midst of a marathon peak and it was the first time that i have ever done a training run with someone who runs at about my pace (he was a little slower, but i was really hungover, so it worked out beautifully). hopefully we'll run again next weekend.

active people in this part of the country are like members of some secret cult. once you recognize each other, it's best to stay in touch lest the smokey fatties suddenly try an Egypt style uprising. fucking fatties. ain't my job.

i'm durnk.

i ran 18:13 for the 5K which lowers my PR by a little less than a minute.


I ran in a green dress shirt with a green polka-dot tie and a green, straight-from-ireland cap with a little dark blue ball on top. i also had on periwinkle gloves. for shoes, i opted to wear my nike lunar racer 2's that have a bit over 1,000 miles on them. i love those shoes. while i was waiting to piss, i got into a conversation with a dude sporting a fresh-from-the-box pair of NB road minimus. they look nice. but they aren't green (as in the color, not the respect for mama nature) and i'm positive that they don't fit my foot like a 1,000 mile pair of shoes do. so...

race report!

i ran and ran. for 3.1 miles. i liked that story about matt carpenter breathing all ninja-like behind that dude who was fronting on his race. so that's what i did. i mean, i say this like i was in this race to win it...which is fucking ridiculous. but still. i never once was passed and i mostly just ran up to people, let out a few super chilled out darth vader breaths and then passed them. i don't think i got chicked. i shucked and jived around 2nd and 3rd place ladies at the turn-around and then i passed something blonde with about 0.75 to go...so i think i'm safe there.

if you are young and you want to do something cool with your youth, there is no greater city in the USA to live than detroit. it's a fact. just decide that you, yourself want to do something and not just that you want to pose for photographs somewhere other than Iowa (does this make sense to anyone that didn't grow up in the midwest?) ...the point is: Detroit is the new L.E.S. in the 1960's-1970's. So c'mon all you faggy dancers and splattery painters! the rent is cheap and the bars don't care if you do drugs in the booths!

race report attempt: failed.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Girl Talk concert and running

Gabbo and I attended a Girl Talk concert in town last Thursday. We polished off a plastic bottle of whiskey like high schoolers before prom and proceeded to "freak" like two people who had just been released for good behavior. I can't say I remember every second of it, suffice to say that Mr. Gillis did play "Juicy" but over the top of Iron Maiden or something like that. Who cares? It was some fine dancing, to be sure.

60 miles on the week in 6 runs, with 2.5 hours of strength training. Another long lap around the hilly rich people neighborhood in toledo. More weird, quasi-shit talking from the old people who walk around there.

As I check my watch for HR after a climb:

Old Guy: "Whoa whoa there! You're in no hurry! You got all day! What's the rush?"

Me: (Laughs, slightly out of breath) "oh ya know, things to see, people to do"

OG: (in a serious tone) "It's not all about time, remember" (NOTE: fair enough, dude)

Me: "I was just checking my heart rate. No big deal."

I sped away. Old people are weird. About 10 minutes later, a lady goes "isn't it a little cold for shorts?" (it was in the 40F's) and i said "well not when you've been running outside everyday all winter long!" and under her old ass breath she goes "well if it's cold it's cold." or something like that.

Why do people try to have a conversation with me while I run? Isn't it cool enough to just go "Hey." or "G'morning" or "Lovely weather" or something like that. I'm all for acknowledging my fellow human being, but I don't really feel like playing 20 questions while bombing down a hill covered in ice. LET'S KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET, OLD PEOPLE!

In an unrelated note:

Additional inspiration for being awesome:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What to do after May

So after May, my race schedule is wide open. Racing though? Really? I mean, it's not why I started running and it won't be why I continue running for the rest of my life, so...

Here's a thought for a fundraiser for the Hostel Detroit.

It's about 115 miles. Doable in 24 hours I think, but I'd rather do it in two days. Camp over night somewhere in Canada along the lake, enjoy the scenery and the welcome escape from civilization. I dunno. This is just one of several ideas I'm thinking about. As far as I know, no one has circumnavigated Lake St. Clair on foot.

Albums I impatiently await...

Hooves on the Turf: tUne-YaRds // FIYA from Ray Concepcion on Vimeo.