Sunday, January 4, 2015

Race Report - 2015 Pistol Ultra 50K

#3 finisher (on right) and me (on left) running "side by side" early on.
The Pistol Ultra offers distances of 50K solo/relay, 100K and 100M. It is the epitome of an urban ultra. The race takes place on the paved Alcoa-Maryville Greenway near Knoxville airport, a linear path that runs along Pistol Creek. Runners basically run a 5.5 mile out & back section with lollipop loops at each end of the course, totaling approx. 11 miles per loop. That means runners run anywhere from 1 loop (50K relay) to 9 loops (100 miler). The race is perfect for first timers  as the RD provides very generous cutoff times for all distances. The entire course is paved with tiny sections of concrete as well as a 10ft dirt section and the elevation gain added up to just 1500ft for the 50K distance and even that seems a bit generous. It is most definitely a fast course, which also makes it a perfect race for those of us looking to get a 50K, 100K or 100M PR. A 100 mile runner might even get away without a headlamp as the majority of the path is well lit 24 hours a day. There were a total of 3 well stocked aid stations including the start/finish area that runners pass by at least 5 times per loop and warming areas and tents were provided for runners as well.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 - My Return to Running

2014 has been an amazing year of running for me. After suffering from multiple DVTs and bilateral pulmonary emboli that were nearly fatal in late December of 2012 and spending most of 2013 recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery to fix the issue that caused the blood clots initially, I was ready to get back to running.

My return to running and racing was rather slow going in the beginning and that was painfully evident in the first two ultras of the year, my favorite local race, the Mountain Mist 50K in January and Mount Cheaha 50K in February. It would probably be more accurate to say that I covered the distance rather than actually race these events. Either way, I finished them and that gave me the confidence to get back into training and participate in races again. Now that I had been given a second chance, I had also decided to become more aware of and concerned about my overall health and fitness. That decision resulted in some serious changes in my training and diet, which produced positive results almost immediately.

As the year progressed my results started improving, resulting in my first overall wins at a couple of smaller 5K races, a local road marathon and a gnarly 35 mile ultramarathon. Along with these wins came a number of PRs over various distances throughout the year culminating in my third attempt and first finish of the Pinhoti 100 Mile Endurance Run, my first 100 miler in more than 2 years. This was my goal race and I had trained the better part of the year for it. It went nearly perfect for me as I reached my B goal finishing in under 22 hours and placing 16th overall.

This journey wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family, both in Germany and here in Huntsville as well as my awesome training buddies Jerry, James, Richard, Ed, Mike and Paul and my Pinhoti crew in particular, Cary, Jeff, Scott and Benj along with all the other cool peeps I've met, hung out and shared the trails with along the way. I ended the year completing 42 races (including 13 ultramarathons) with 6 overall wins and 9 master's wins and if everything goes according to plan, I will have run 3000 miles for the year. It has been amazing and I can't wait to continue this journey to see what adventures 2015 has in store for me.

2014 Race Results

I wish everyone a healthy, happy and adventurous New Year 2015 and I look forward to sharing the trails with all of you.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Race Report - 2014 Rocket City Marathon

Lots of anticipation 2 minutes before the race start.
This race probably would've worked out as I had originally planned, had I not decided to take care of a bucket list item three weeks before RCM. I had just completed my big 2014 goal race, the Pinhoti 100 Miler, on the first weekend of November and was still feeling giddy when the opportunity presented itself to run the JFK 50 Miler, the oldest and largest ultramarathon in the US, just 3 weeks after Pinhoti and 3 weeks prior to RCM. Adding a 50 mile race sandwiched between a 100 miler and a marathon PR attempt is probably not a good idea, but I decided that I could not turn down the chance to run JFK, even if that meant not being properly rested and prepared to PR at RCM. There were a few experienced runners who said as much before I toed the starting line at RCM. Regardless, come race day, I would still try everything I could to achieve that elusive sub 3 hour marathon time. I had fallen just 150 seconds short 9 weeks earlier, when I ran another local marathon as a training race, so I felt that I might still be able to get it done on less than perfectly rested legs. I had stuck to easy running for the 2 weeks leading into the race, hoping that it would help my legs to recover and regain some of their "spring" in time for the marathon. However, I wouldn't know if that was the case until I actually ran the race.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Race Report - 2014 JFK 50 Mile

A bucket list item for many ultrarunners.
The JFK 50 Mile Memorial Run is an ultramarathon that has been taking place annually since 1963 in Washington County, Maryland. It is the largest and oldest running ultramarathon in the United States that start in the town of Boonsboro, Maryland and leads 2.3 miles on asphalt roads towards South Mountain before entering the Appalachian Trail for 13 miles. The course then continues on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath and along the Potomac river for 26.3 miles before entering the final 8.4 mile leg of the race along rolling country roads. The race finishes in Williamsport, Maryland right in front of Springfield Middle School. The course is laid out in a point-to-point configuration that resembles a horseshoe and covers a total of 50.2 miles with +3,300ft elevation gain (according to my Garmin Fenix altimeter). This rather varied race course with its rugged Appalachian Trail section, smooth gravel and dirt towpath and rolling country roads is not only challenging to both seasoned ultrarunners and newbies alike, it is also extremely beautiful.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Race Report - 2014 Pinhoti 100 Mile Endurance Run

Following Benj Lance, who made a special guest appearance as my crew, after climbing to the top of Alabama (Mt. Cheaha).

The long way there
For me, this race began about 23 months ago, when I was released from the hospital after a suffering from multiple deep vein thrombosis (DVTs) and bilateral pulmonary emboli (PEs) due to a traumatic ankle injury. A month later, I underwent surgery to temporarily insert an Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter to prevent new blood clots from forming while undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery. Serious running was out of the question for almost a year, but I started my rehab and recovery almost immediately. Fast forward to about 9 months ago, I had just finished the Mountain Mist 50K with an agonizingly slow finishing time. My training mileage was extremely low and I was still dealing with the fear of reinjury as well as mileage that was far lower than necessary to be adequately prepared for a challenging trail 50K. However, I was lucky enough to have a couple of friends who were more than willing to trudge along with me for as long as it took to cross the finish line (Thanks again to the Trice brothers:-).