Category Archives: Races

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!

 

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:

Medoc Meltdown 50k and Fun Run (Fat Ass)

This is my first time at Medoc Meltdown though I have ran the trails at Medoc before. Medoc Meltdown takes place at Medoc Mountain State Park. I think Medoc “Mountain” is more a hill but that is an argument for another day. The 50k is comprised of 4 8.6ish mile laps on mostly singletrack and jeep trail. For singletrack, it is mostly clear of roots and rocks. Key word, MOSTLY.

Meltdown was my second Ultramarathon and I still have a lot to learn. Most of what worked for me food wise at Boogie did not work for me at the Meltdown. I forgot some of my alternate food choices at home (as well as my extra water) but had remembered the stuff that worked best last time, namely peanut butter sandwiches, Twizzlers and Mountain Dew.

The race started around 7:25 and lap 1 was decent and uneventful. 8.6 miles took right at 1:30 minutes. I didn’t even see any cool wildlife, probably because I was about 1:30 or so per mile faster than my pace plan. That brings me to the first lesson, stick to your pace plan no matter how great you feel. In my quick refuel between laps, I ate a little of everything I brought. Back out across the field and into the woods, I was still feeling pretty good. Mile one of each lap is a net downhill while mile 2 holds the longest hill climb with a gain of 170ish feet.

This was where things started to take a turn for me. All that crap I ate at the aid station was getting to me. This was a new situation since I haven’t had this problem before. Drinking some water, I kept moving forward and within a mile or so, I was back to running bringing me to lesson 2, if it’s too good to be true, don’t do it. After running for a half mile or so, the stomach pain started. It wasn’t like empty stomach grumbling but more like Medoc Man punched me in the stomach. I continued on this walk feel better, run feel worse thing until I was able to get back to the aid station at around 5.5 miles into the lap (figure 8 courses are great). I took on some electrolytes and felt like I could take on the world. Back out for the last 3ish mile portion of lap 2. Had my first wildlife delay of the day as a copperhead was crossing the trail. I snapped a crappy picture with my phone and stopped a couple of runners while waiting on it to cross the trail. After the delay, lap 2 was finished in right at 2 hours. A longer (30 minute) stay at the aid station, complete with a shirt change, and sock and she change. Pretty much out of water, I filled up with well water from the tap at the aid station.

Lap 3 was pretty much a recap of lap 2, but no wildlife delays. The well water didn’t sit very well on my already pissed stomach. Lesson 3, DO NOT FORGET WATER. Somewhere around mile 5 I had enough of the stomach problems. I said to hell with it, finished the lap and tapped out. Total moving time was around 5 hours and 15 minutes, so I managed to average out to 12 minute miles. Best of all, I learned more about how my bod reacts to a kinda longish run through the woods. All in all, not too bad for an August Saturday Morning.