Author Archives: Steven

2014 Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra Classic

Hinson 3This past weekend I went back to the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra. It was another great experience overall. The course is a well maintained 1.503 mile loop around Hinson Lake. The trail surface is mostly clay with some sandy spots but overall, an enjoyably runnable course which is good since you are continually running the same trail as many times as you can during the 24 hour period.

Kami and Gavin returned to Hinson with me for our second trip. Kami maintained my personal aid area (not a fun job, I hear) and Gavin helped set up the main aid station before the race and continued to work the aid station until 11:00pm. 16 hours supporting runners and two or three clothing changes for him as he had soda spilled on him several times. I think he is working on aid station volunteer of the year award.

We arrived at Hinson Lake around 4:00 pm Friday. Luckily one of my friends, Sondra was able to hold a spot for me as runners had started setting up before 9:00am. We set up and checked in. We spent some time chatting with some other runners. After the pasta dinner last year, we opted to go out for dinner and ended up at Highway 55 as there is nothing like an Andy’s size bacon cheeseburger and fries to make you run your best. After Highway 55, we went back to the lake, Kami and I walked a lap at dusk to see (feel) what I was up against the next morning. We slept in the car and Gavin and I ended up arguing over who snored more at least once or twice.

One thing I didn’t do this year was run numbers or set goals. When I signed up my goal was 85 miles but after being sidelined for most of the summer, I just wanted to go out and see where I would end up. Now that was a bad idea as without a solid goal, I didn’t set a nutrition plan and figured I could wing it. (I was wrong, at least on the hydration side)

Woke around 6am and stumbled out of the car to get ready. Ate a couple of muffins, drank some coffee. After that, I took the last of my gear to the canopy. I jokingly talked goals and paces and the normal running related stuff. Kept saying I was only going for 10 miles. I started off at a 10:30 – 11:00 minute per mile pace. But I did that for a little over 2 hours and then dropped to around 13 minutes per mile before finally settling in on 15. Lower back pain settled in around 10:30am, so the ibuprofen started earlier than normal.

I ran pretty well until 2:00pm or so when the pizza came out. I grabbed a couple of slices and walked the lap while eating them. The following lap I went back to trying to run and the pizza decided to come back up half-way through the lap. So there I was leaned over the side of the long bridge “feeding the fishes” before walking back to the start. It took a while for my stomach to settle while I tried to keep moving, bringing on moderate dehydration. I found out here that once you let yourself get dehydrated, it is difficult to resolve during a race.

Major splits (times approximate) 50km 8 hours, 42 minutes (my slowest ever 50k), 50 miles 17 hours 45 minutes (Slowest EVER 50 miler). My Marathon time was around 7 hours, 10 minutes which is slower than my normal 50k.

I got Gavin to walk a lap with me after he stopped working the aid station and Kami went out for

Space Mantis

What I morphed into overnight?

a couple after dark with her wings that light up. She got a few comments about them again this year. Bringing Gavin back through the aid station was nice because after he made sure my lap was properly recorded, several people had great things to say about how much he had helped out during the race. At some point, I may have morphed into a space mantis. Not sure about that part.

I think I may have walked most if not all of my loops after the 50k and probably quite a few before. I ended up sleeping much more than I wanted, but at the end of the day I think that is OK too.

hinson

Too many races coming up – Rock ‘n Rebellion Half Marathon, Medoc Trail Marathon, ATT 10 miler, City of Oaks Marathon, Old Glory Trail Trot 50 Miler, and what I am really working toward, Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run.

 

You never know what you can do until you try so get out there!

 

First Half Recap

2014 started off pretty well. Started 12 races, completed 11. 2 more 50 mile completions. Just July pic 2over 1500 miles run in 6 months. On the bad side, there is some knee pain that started in March and during my last race my Achilles Tendonitis flared up. Hopefully taking the first two weeks of June off and then getting back to some limited mileage in the second half. Hopefully I can pour the mileage back on through August.

My big race on the horizon is Hinson Lake 24 hour. Old Glory Trail Trot 50 Miler will hopefully allow me to redeem myself after a rough time at Dusk to Dawn 50 Miler. 2 marathons, City of Oaks Marathon with a 3:40 goal time and Medoc Trail Marathon with a goal time of sub 4 hours. I also look forward to another run at RunRaleigh Half Marathon.

Overall the first six months were great. Started racing with a new group, Southern Pines Ultra

Running the track at Relay for Life

Running the track at Relay for Life

Running Club. Did some new things like Relay for Life, no record there but 34ish miles around a track isn’t fun. Got to go back to Boogie on Kami’s birthday and had an OK run. I ran PRs during the first half at Run the Rock 50k and Boogie (50 miles). I also ran some new distances: 25k (Merge Records 25k), 0.262 (The Point 262), and my first Downhill Mile. So 5 PR’s in 6 months isn’t bad, right?

 

Many miles to go before this year is done. Time to go after some new adventures and worry less about the things I cannot control. Let me know if you want to run some time.

You never know what you can do until you try so get out there!

Hinson Lake

Hinson Lake

Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie

Start area and HQ

Start area and HQ

So I was crazy enough to go back to Boogie again this year. Originally I wasn’t going to since Boogie was on my Kami’s birthday, but she decided I should go again. I ended up setting an overly ambitious goal and fell flat trying to complete a sub 9 hour 50 miler. I didn’t even bring home a sub 10. But I did manage to drop around 45 minutes off my time from last year. Just remember the races catch phrase and you will be fine. “Come with no expectations and you will not be disappointed.”

About Boogie. It is a 50 mile race consisting of 5 “lollypop” laps consisting of a 6 mile loop and the remainder an out and back. Based off my Garmin, there is a little over 1000 feet of elevation gain per lap mostly between miles 4 and 5.5 and 8.5 to 10. Start and primary aid station are at the Bethel Hills Baptist Church. Aid station 2 is about 3.5 miles into the loop. Aid stations had standard ultra foods and some really bad water.

We arrived in Ellerbe around 4:30pm, stepped out of the car and immediately started sweating. Picked up my number (no packets here, just a bib), chatted with some runners, and tried to relax by the car before the race brief. After the mandatory watch for rattle snakes and drunken rednecks out driving speech, we were off.

Coming in from the first lap at Boogie

Coming in from the first lap at Boogie

The first lap was uneventful and I spent much of that lap talking with other runners. The roadbed is rather beaten up and the camber on some portions is difficult to compensate for. Pay attention during the daylight lap and make mental note of the best sections of road to run (hint: most of the time it isn’t near the left white line) note where the real inclines are because once the sun goes down some of the flats feel uphill. Ran past aid station 2 with a wave. Finished out the 6 mile loop just over an hour. Stopped by the car and picked up another Tailwind, water, and a snack and rolled on. I noticed the sections at the bottom of the hill that had been marked by DOT at some point last year for repaving still weren’t repaved. Made the turnaround and went back up the hill. At the car I was feeling pretty good still, just completing the lap in 1:48:53. Slightly off pace for the 8:45, but not so far I couldn’t recover.

Lap 2 through to the aid station was good and I was able to find a pace that would get me right on the goal. Grabbed some chips and kept moving. My left knee started bothering my between mile 14 and 15. Think I subconsciously wanted Kami to make me drop the race at mile 30, but she told me to keep going. Lap 4 was 2:25:39. Saw several snakes including a rattle snake in the middle of the road. Looking off the side of the road, I saw several critters throughout the night. Plenty of stars out and it was really starting to cool down into the upper 60’s. Humidity was a beast overnight.

Realizing that I was going to miss my fallback goal during lap 4 was crushing. The knee pain was rather unbearable at this point or I had just let that thought get into my head. Kept moving forward but really wasn’t happy at that point. Going back out on the final lap, I knew I had to push harder or at least I wanted to. I finally dug in during the last 4 miles, “running” up the final hill. Lap 5 took 2:14:07. Total race time was 10:55:22. Total moving time was 10:22ish minutes. The battery on my Garmin dies around mile 47 so I don’t have a perfect record of that.
Overall, I’m happy with the improvement over last year and I realize that an 8:45 50 miler is probably a bit ambitious for a third year runner. In any case, it’s a PR since it is the second time I have ran that distance. Also, I’m pleased with the results of moving to Tailwind Endurance Fuel from Gu Brew. I like it because it isn’t as sweet and didn’t cause me GI issues like GU has been over the last few months. Tailwind was probably 80% of the fluids I took in and accounted for a good portion of my caloric intake. Even with that I ended the race somewhat dehydrated. I ate at least 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a Boogie burger overnight plus lots of smaller snacks.

My finisher award for Boogie

My finisher award for Boogie

Boogie has a great group of volunteers and the people of the Bethel Hill Baptist Church grill food for us crazies overnight. In the end, I like Boogie because it was my first Ultra. I Probably don’t like it enough to go back for 2015 though now that I have two coffee mugs, I really need (want) four. I appreciate the ability to use a finishers award for something other than a beer opener.

Huge photo gallery and a local article about Boogie: http://peedeepost.com/latest-headlines/2014/06/peek-mcelroy-prove-theyre-born-to-boogie/

Keep running and have fun while you are doing it!

Run the Rock 50k

Wet, muddy and a little cool. The race course inside of Raven Rock State Park was very Ready to runscenic, at least in the spots where I took a moment to look around. This was my first time running at Raven Rock and also my first time running with the Southern Pines Ultra Running Club (SPUR) who put on an exceptional race. The event was free, but definitely not a fat ass. They provided a well-stocked aid station with all the typical stuff one expects to find at an ultra. They even provided hamburgers, hotdogs and veggie burgers for after the finish.

The course consisted of 3 laps of two loops each. Loop one was around 5.5 miles and relatively quick in spots. The second loop was around 5.2 miles and provided some more challenging terrain. Consequently, the second loop provided much nicer views than the first, proving that the more difficult trail yields a better view.

I think even in perfect conditions that the trails at Raven Rock would provide a challenge, but rain overnight Friday and Saturday morning amplified that. Rain during the race was off and on and I dropped my waterproof layer within two miles or so of the start.

I learned (and releMuddyarned) a few things, met some great people out on the course, and got a little late race encouragement from Ray “The K” Krolewicz, reminding me that being off goal pace isn’t the end of the world. Yesterday wasn’t the first ultra where Ray said something that pulled me out my head and back on course. There is a link to a video interview with Ray at the bottom of this page.

Finish time 6:19, actual distance a little over 32 miles. My Garmin failed after lap two loop one (half way point) so I only have data for half the race, but Lap 1 took just under 1:53. I need to spend more time running on mountain goat trails to get faster on hilly courses like this one.

 

Take a moment to watch this video if you haven’t seen it in the past:

First Quarter, a Running Review

First Quarter of 2014 has been pretty good overall, I was on target for mileage in January and February and slightly under target in March. Also, I’m another year older coming out of this quarter, but it doesn’t count since I didn’t move up age groups. I really need to find some more hills (or preferably a mountain) to work on. Did some fun races over the quarter – Prison Break, Merge Records 25k, Roanoke Canal Half Marathon and volunteered at a couple too. I ended up dropping Leatherwood off the list as I need more time on the climb.

Month Mileage Time Elevation Gain
January 200.2 miles 30 hours 20 minutes 6344 feet
February 255.9 miles 39 hours 30 minutes 5694 feet
March 257.7 miles 39 hours 41 minutes 7773 feet

 

Looking forward to second quarter, I start out with some fun races and turn it up a little. Medoc Spring Races, Rock n’ Rebellion HM, Run the Rock 50 in April, Rattler Trail 26.2, Bethel Hills Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler and Dusk to Dawn 50 Miler in June. Training wise, I need to add about 2- 3 hours per week over the next few months. It’s also time to start reeling the pace back in a little bit, as in I am not sure my legs will agree to running 50 miles at 8:30 per mile so yet.

Ultimate training goal is a 100 miler in the first half of 2015 (I’m looking at you Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run). My 2014 goal is to get in more mileage at Hinson Lake 24 to try and gauge where I am in relation to a 100 mile completion.

New gear this quarter- Saucony Ride 6- not my favorite but they will do until I get back to Brooks, Hoka Stinson Evo Tarmacs – after 120 miles I’m still pretty happy with these comfortable and not too heavy and Hoka Mafate 2. Also 2 pair of gaiters from Dirtygirlgaiters.com who makes some really nice gaiters and they will customize them for you (the beauty of dealing with a small business and not a mass merchant or internet warehouse).

New stuff I want- Ultimate direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 (or similar) since I’m trying to carry more without adding a full backpack. Looking for the ability to carry a couple of water bottles, a ham sammich and other snacks (like a slice of pizza) and various other nice to haves for those really long runs. If you have any suggestions for similar vests let me know via the comment section below. Also, probably more shoes, either Brooks Ghosts or Transcends and another pair of trail shoes.

I am getting behind on race reports and hopefully I can get some of them caught up soon.

To end, I will add a gripe. I don’t typically like complaining on my blog, but I’m seeing more and more how many runners don’t want to volunteer for races and events. If you enjoy races and other running events, get out and volunteer. And I mean really volunteer- don’t expect big stuff for volunteering because if you expect a pair of shoes or something like that in return, you probably aren’t really a volunteer at that point. Give your time freely and expect NOTHING in return sometimes.  In my book, you lose running Karma points when the only time you volunteer is when you get something in return. Losing running Karma pisses off the running gods and none of us want that for ourselves. /end rant

Remember, run happy, train smart and don’t listen to the voices inside your head that tell you what you can’t do!

2014 Race Schedule

Looks like I may have lost my mind, but at least it looks fun. 2 5k, 2 half marathons, 2 marathons, 6 50k, 2 50M, 1 24 hour and 1 other distance. Some of these are tentative, but as of now, this is the plan. May need to find something for August and December.

  • NCRC Run for the Roses 5k – February 9th (23:46)
  • Reservoir Park 50k – March 8th (T)
  • Roanoke Canal Half Marathon – March 8 (1:52:50.8)
  • Merge Records 25k – March 22nd (AM) (2:07:31.8)
  • Prison Break Run – The Escape March 22nd (PM) (not timed)
  • Leatherwood 50k – March 29 
  • Medoc Spring Races – April 5th
  • Rock n’ Rebellion Half Marathon – April 12
  • Run the Rock 50k – April 19th
  • Rattler Trail 26.2 – May 24th
  • Bethel Hills Moonlight Boogie 50 M – June 7
  • Dusk to Dawn 50M – June 28
  • The March 50k – July 19th
  • Medoc Meltdown 50k – August 2
  • Weymouth Woods 50k – September 13th
  • Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra – September 27th
  • RunRaleigh Half Marathon – October 5
  • City of Oaks Marathon – November 2nd
  • Old Glory Trail trot 50M – November 15th

Now I just need to train a little bit and maybe con some friends into pacing and crewing :).

Remember, run happy, train smart and don’t listen to the voices inside your head that tell you what you can’t do!

January Update

January 2014

Not a whole lot going on, so I will keep this one short.

January has been a pretty good month. The first four weeks of my 50 miler plan went better than expected. Long runs have been under 16 miles and pretty nice (I think I get back to 20 in a couple of weeks. I have also been defining some goals and objective for myself over the next couple of years. I have been told a couple of times to pick something that scares me and go for it so depending on how things go over the next year or two, I have something really big I would like to work on and I am not ready to let that out of the bag yet.

Hoka pic

Gear wise, the only addition in January was a pair of Hoka One One Stinson Evo Tarmacs. I am still getting used to them but have put about 35 miles on them. Probably write a more formal review after a few more runs, but from what I have ran in them they feel great.

I was able to get in 200.2 miles (322.19 km) of running. Probably looking to hit between 50 and 55 miles per week in February. Race wise for February, I have Run for The Roses 5k.

Training Week 1 Recap

Training week 1 done. Over the past week, I ran 44.8 miles in about 6 hours 45 minutes. Training days were Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday with a longer morning run and faster short runs on Tuesday and Thursday for a total of 7 sessions. It has been a strange week, running in temperatures between 14 and 65 degrees. Pace is still off, but I am not in any big hurry to get back into a difficult speedwork routine which was how I messed up my Achilles in October. Overall, everything is feeling good, but I definitely need to replace my Mizunos.

T2 is similar with a total volume of 45 miles. Need to find another 50 miler around June/ July since Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie is out due to it being on Kami’s birthday.

Running stats for the year:

66.2 mi / 106.5 km

2013, A Running Review

As I look back over 2013, I realize I started the year without any real goals. I think I had a goal to break 1:35 minutes at the half marathon and to run a marathon as my longest distance race ever. Somewhere along the way I got talked into Bethel Hills Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler and Hinson Lake 24 hour Ultra. I started the year unsure of what I wanted out of running and ended the year knowing where I am heading, I think.

Running the 50 miler changed how I thought of myself as a runner. I no longer felt like that kinda chubby mid packer, even though at that race I was pretty much dead in the middle. 39th out of 80 starters, but more importantly 39th out of 57 finishers. 11:41:54, and much of the last few hours of that race were disturbingly painful and I wanted to quit. I had great crew that came to help other friends at the race, but I hadn’t really thought myself worthy of asking someone else for help. Very thankful that Kate, Allison and later Brandon kept kicking me in the ass to keep me going.

Hinson was another amazing experience. 77.08 miles of fun. Only hit a couple of low spots but tried to keep things toned down since my family came along to help out. Saw lots of great runners out there that I hadn’t seen in a long time. A very encouraging environment. Also the first time I have been served pizza during a race (honestly, it was a food buffet at the aid station.) I made it further than I thought I would and figured out all it takes is any forward progress. Definitely signing up for this race again.

Also this year I ran my first Marathon. Hard headedly, I ran it injured and only made the injury worse. Not the worst experience ever and my time was around 4:26 minutes I think. Pretty much set myself up for another PR if I go out for another marathon this year.

Other than that, I ran two 50 k’s, seven half marathons, two 10 milers, and far too many 5k’s to remember.

Mileage logged in 2013:
Running: 1804.2 of my goal of 2400
Running and walking: 2500+ (don’t always track with GPS)

2014 running only goal is 2500 miles.

Race wise, I want to get 4 50 milers with the ultimate goal of backing into a time in the 9 hour range. I am going back to Hinson (if I can get the registration in before it closes) and am going to work on getting closer to 100 miles in 24 hours. Probably run a few smaller races but much less than what I raced this year. I have also committed to volunteering for the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run so I can watch some friends out there. Who knows I may even pace a few laps.
I should probably write more in this blog too in 2014.

2013 was a good year but I am definitely hoping for a better year in 2014! Have a safe and happy new year!

Remember, run happy, train smart and don’t listen to the voices inside your head that tell you what you can’t do!

October Update and quick thoughts about the City of Oaks Marathon

October was an OK month, though I managed to over stress my right Achilles and ended up putting in way less miles than I had originally anticipated. Damn speed work, too much too fast. I ran 1 race, the Medoc 10 miler. Had a great time one again at Medoc.

I ran a total of 90.3 miles in October. That puts me at 1666.8 miles for 2013.

City of Oaks Marathon
I’m keeping this one a little short at least for the time being.

After this past weekend, I can finally officially check off the 26.2 distance. On November 3rd, I ran the City of Oaks Marathon. Unfortunately, my Achilles issues that stemmed from a training run between Hinson and the Medoc 10 Miler weren’t fully resolved even though the discomfort wasn’t present when I hit the line. The pain kicked in around mile 16 and did nothing but get worse through the end. Enough complaints, lets talk about the race.

I really like the course. There were some really nice challenges hidden in there, especially on the greenway portion. From my perspective, it really is a great course as I normally like a little challenge to break things up when things get boring. The nearly 3 mile climb around mile 20 was worth a few happy thoughts. Something that I noticed- between around mile 11 and 24, when we were running the greenway, not a lot of room for spectators, no room for the stuff that peps you up on the run. That was kinda ho hum, but I guess it was a necessity to keep us off the roads for half of the race.

My pace plan was 8:40 – 8:50 and I held that well through the first 17 miles or so. My splits with rank at each: mile 6.2: 235th 54:02, mile 13.1: 238th 1:56:08, mile 20: 330th 3:05:53 Chip finish: 4:26:54 Avg Pace: 10:11 Gun time: 4:27:23 overall place 403. The best thing about having a bad day is that it sets me up to potentially crush my time next go round.

I am glad I finally got over my fear of the marathon and went out and did it.

Remember, run happy, train smart and don’t listen to the voices inside your head that tell you what you can’t do!