STRAVA Summary

Friday, December 28, 2012

JFK 50 Mile - 2012

After a weekend at home, next up was the JFK 50 Mile race in Boonsboro Maryland. I had done this race back in 2008 and it was my first 50 miler. I didn’t particularly care for it at all, it was boring at times (The tow path), the trail was good, but the temperatures were rather cold. I think they said it had been one of the coldest on record.
So why go back. Kevin asked and that was all it took, and the fact that it was the 50th running of it. Eventually RickyMac signed up too and both he and KevO had the goal to make it their 50th marathon or ultra, in the 50th running for their 50th birthdays and of course it was a 50 miler.
Rick and I drove separately which after Missouri was a good choice, as I didn’t want to be crammed with 3 others in a car, unless it was a limo!! We drove part way down on Thursday night, and although we had planned on meeting up with Kev and Chris we took a wrong turn and ended up going another way.
We arrived in Hagerstown, Maryland midafternoon and as it was too early for the expo we went shopping. Then it was off to the expo, which wasn’t much more exciting than last time, but I did pick up a jacket and a sweatshirt for good prices.
Back to the hotel, met up with Kev and Chris and went to the Olive Garden for dinner.
Then back to the hotel and get ready for the next day and then bed for the night.
The morning came early, as they usually do, and took off to Boonsboro for the start. This year we had the luxury of having Chris with us to drop us off at the start and pick us up at the finish, only a few miles from our hotel.
It was barely light when we headed to the start area from the warmth of the school and we were still walking up to the start when the gun went off to signal the start. I think it caught a few by surprise, but we weren’t worried about setting any course records or anything.
So off we went and started the long climb up to the top of the Appalachian trail. From the start you more or less climb 2 to 3 miles up the road to the trail head and it is a fairly steep climb near the end. Once on the trail the climbing continues. The idea is to get to the trail head before the larger crowds of runners or you will be stuck behind and not able to run your own race. We all seemed to manage that. Kevin left me behind and I left Rick behind at the beginning of the trail.
Once on the trail I remembered parts of it, but had forgotten about large chunks of it. The climbing seemed relentless, but the views were spectacular. Luckily it was a nice sunny day, cool, but sunny. For some reason a lot of runners, me included seemed to have trouble tripping on roots and rocks. I had never experienced this before and have no explanation for it, but I was catching my toes on things regularly, almost going down a couple of times. The last few miles of the trail were very gnarly, to the point where it was hard to run and in some cases very dangerous. Getting off the trail was actually a relief, I was actually looking forward to the tow path. That didn’t last long.
It seemed that once I was on the tow path I couldn’t get into a rhythm. I was trying to run and it felt awkward. I would check my watch and find I was running to fast and try to slow down, but it didn’t seem to work. Eventually I came up with a plan to run 1.5 kilometres then walk half a k. this seemed to work well and kept me spirits up. Unfortunately it is a long stretch along the tow path and even the new strategy started to fall apart, but I would fall back to it and force myself to keep it up. Although I was being passed by others early on the path, I would find myself passing those same people later. Finally after 26 miles I got off the tow path and started the climb up to the rolling hills that would take us back to Williamsport and the finish. It would 8 miles to the end. At this point I was trying to calculate what finish time I could get, but I was realizing that it would take some monumental effort to beat my previous time here. Although I had a burst of energy on the road, it wasn’t enough and I would still need numerous walk breaks. Meeting up with a few other runners and chatting about this and that (running), I came in to finish at 9 hours and 12 minutes. Kev O was already dressed and had actually been back to the hotel for a shower too. He had finished in 7:53, 83rd overall. We weren’t quite so hopeful for Rick as Chris hadn’t even seen him on the course at all. So Kev took me back to the hotel so that I could shower and change.
We got back and found Rick already done!!! He had had a great race finishing in 9:48.

A good effort by all, although I wasn’t quite happy with my time, I was happy to be done. I’m sure that will be my last JFK though. I would support someone on it but not run it again. Like most races, there so many more out there to do, why do the same ones over many times.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Missouri and the Ozark 100

After two weekends in the US racing and supporting, I was off again for another running weekend down south. This one was a biggy. Supporting and pacing Scott Garrett for his 11th 100 miler of the year in his attempt to run one a month for 2012. This was to mark his 50th birthday. What some guys will do to avoid the reality of age.
This would be the longest road trip of them all, to Missouri and back for the Ozark Trail 100 in Mark Twain National Forest. A sixteen hour drive split up in to two days of driving there and back.
Scott and Shannon picked me up just after lunch on Thursday and we loaded my Rubber made tubs on the back of his Volvo and off we went. Next stop Waterloo to pick up Jeff Ashizawa who was also helping out and who I had never met, but knew of as he is quite an accomplished Ultra Runner in his own right. We picked up Jeff and headed on our way to Detroit all tucked in to Scott’s Volvo. It was rather tight and would find this would be rather painful upon arriving back home.
A rather painless border crossing and we were headed off to make to Gas City, Indiana to stay the night. I think we arrived sometime around 10, after stopping earlier for pizza in ?????
A fairly good relaxing sleep and we were up and at ‘em. Not much of a breakfast at the Super 8, but we went over to Starbucks to get some caffeine for the next stage of the journey. We drove past Indianapolis and St. Louis before stopping for lunch at a Grocery store, which helped stock up on other needed supplies. After miles and miles of nothing but flat terrain we finally started noticing hills. We arrived at the Bass River Resort fairly early, but eventually Scott Checked in we had the pre-race meal and listened to the RD’s pre-race instructions. Then it was off to find our cabin which was nearer the start. Bass River Resort was the finish. We travelled another hour plus t get there and were lucky to spot it, actually Shannon just happened to glance at a small sign as we drove by. Again we settled in for the night and readied for our early start.

The 6 am start would be cool and did manage to find it in time, on a road in the middle of nowhere, in the forest! Off Scott went and we went back to the cabin for a nap. It would be at least 10 am before we would see Scott again. After our nap we went for Breakfast at Paula’s Home Cookin’ in town. That in itself was an adventure. Talk about stereotyping, these people fit the mold of south local yokels! Talking about hunting, their guns, and not much else. And of course everyone knew each other. Not that I’m complaining about them, as everyone we met down there was very friendly, but we just didn’t quite fit in, but Jeff figured he could very easily after some time.
Off to the first crew accessible aid station to wait for Scott. On our way we thought we were getting lost, but managed to find our way. Getting there with about 20 minutes to spare. Scott came in looking good on a beautiful morning, we got everything ready for him and then sent him back on his way.

No it was another 6 hours or so before we’d see him again and that’s when Jeff could start pacing. So it was time to relax for us and we went to the nearest town big enough to have a Walmart and looked for gas and lunch.
Scott expected to be at the 48 mile mark at about 4 pm and he showed up at about 4:01. This aid station was bubbling with activity and was just basically a road crossing where the trail intersected with the road. Again Scott was doing well, he’d been through a few bad patches was up now, a quick snack and a refill of supplies and off he went with Jeff leading the way.

Shannon and myself went to the finish area to get our cabin there ready and have a nap so that I would be ready to run through the night with Scott. I didn’t sleep well, but got up and had some pizza. Or was that before my nap? Anyway we were off to the 64 mile aid station to meet with Scott and Jeff. We were unsure of timing and got there what we thought was just barely enough time. As it turned out we waited for a good hour and it was cold. Luckily there was a good bonfire going and we took up a few spots there waiting. A few false alarms, but eventually they came in. Jeff was cold as was Scott. They got into some warm clothes and when Scott was ready we were off. I lead into the darkness and boy was it dark. I started with a headlamp and a hand held, but my handheld was cheap and fairly useless. I put it away eventually. We did quite a bit of walking to start as I tried to get an idea what Scott wanted from me as a pacer. I would try to get him to run as often as possible. When I took over pacing we figured Scott was in about 30th place and we spent most of the night passing and being passed by the same runners. Gradually as the night drew on, Scott was not being as responsive to my chit chatting and I was finding it harder to come up with things to talk about. Every now and again I would hear Scott start to shuffle his feet loudly in the leaves< I knew he was falling asleep. “SCOTT” I would yell, “Are you awake?” He’d grumble and we’d continue on. I would sometimes get a little too far ahead of him and have to be conscious of his weariness. We would walk a lot, but run every now and again. Sometimes out of necessity as the cold would dictate how fast we moved. In the wee hours we’d arrive at an aid station and Scott would say that he’d need 3 minutes sleep. So after 3 minutes I would wake him and we’d be on our way again. At the second last aid station after another “nap” (Scott was at his lowest before coming into this station) we headed out and Scott seemed rejuvenated. We had started passing people even while walking before we got here and now he wanted to run and we passed more. As daylight arose there was an extra jump in his step and we ran a lot more than we walked, mostly only walking on the up hills. We were moving well and came into the final aid station feeling great, knowing that we had moved up substantially in the standings and Jeff and Shannon were there to greet us. Scott’s spirits were lifted and he had a goal to get in under 28 hours. This had been a tough race, only a few weeks after another tough one at Oil Creek and he was determined to beat his time there. Looking at the time I knew there was no problem beating it, but Scott didn’t. We left and ran the best we’d run all night we started passing more individuals. It was by far the best part of the run I had been involved in. The trails were great and the surrounding country side was beautiful. I can’t imagine what it would have been like about a month earlier with the leaves changing. Now they were just on the ground. The last few miles seemed to drag on, but Scott was still pushing hard. We kept trying to figure out where we were in relation to the finish line, but each time we thought we were in one place we would find that we were completely wrong. Finally we came out into a clearing and knew we were close. Scott came in at about 27:51 in 17th place overall and 1st runner over 50. An incredible experience and I was proud to be apart of Scott’s 11th 100 miler of the year. I loved running on the course and gave me thoughts about doing this one myself at some point in the future. The only draw back from the weekend was the long drive and my left hip is still bothering me from that.