Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I got Bickelhaupted twice, chicked multiple times, and Schicked once, but it was an awesome race. :-)

The inspiration!

It started out as "You should run the Landsford Canal 50K with me in July."  As you probably already know I am a sucker for running in different locations and with different people, so like last time I was in.  The LC50K is a club run put on by Claude Sinclair in middle of nowhere South Carolina.  When I last checked there were only 51 registered runners for this event.  Holy crap!  I honestly have a chance of finishing last in this one.
For those of you that don't know, I am a big time racer...however, I am only really racing against myself, meaning I do my own thing and only care about how I do against my own personal goals.  I guess that is almost 100% true, except there is always that 1% of me that DOES NOT WANT TO FINISH LAST (or not finish at all).
Fortunately, though I fell short of my goal and finished in 6:14:50, I finished 31/48 people...not last.  The skinny is that my ankle really started getting tired around mile 20 or so.  I ended up walking a good bit and that's what really killed my time.  I guess I could have managed my walk/run times a little better but I'm not sure how much that would have saved me.  I will say that when my watch went off ant told me it was time to run, I ran every time.  So, I think it was a good thing I brought it with me otherwise I might have ended up walking the last 11 miles.

So, here are my highlights from the trip:

The Ride Up:
Candy, Jenn, and I left The ATL around 2:30 on Friday for our six hour journey to Rock Hill.  Along the way we stopped multiple times for bathrooms, boiled peanuts, and beer.  We were like three 16 year olds in the car cutting up the whole way and just having a blast.  The six hours flew by as I made random posts to FB documenting the journey.  People were jealous and it was great! 

We stopped at a local Italian joint where we feasted on wine, fried calamari, Greek salads, and stuffed shells.  Following dinner we went to a local Bi-Lo where we got some ice, breakfast, and beer.  What was I going to get?  I had PBR for Joe in my cooler already, and then I saw it...Schlitz, "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous".  Must have!  Alex remarked to me as he laughed, "I don't think I've ever seen anyone voluntarily buy that..." sober : ) 

Throwdown at the Hampton:
OK, don't get all excited.  Six of us just hung out in Joe and Andy's room for an hour or so.  When Beth walked in she saw the Schlitz and tequila and then yelled at Joe who was already half way though his can.  I felt the evil stare as she tried to make me feel least that's what I want to think anyway...but it didn't work.  Next time I am going to listen to Beth and party after the race. 

Sleepy Time:
I am beginning to figure this out.  I can sleep well two nights before a race, but the night of...hell no.  I wasn't stressed, I just didn't want to go to sleep.  What gives?  Was it because I finally had a TV with more than 6 channels? Was it the A/C in the room? Was it the ice in the cooler crunching as it melted? I don't know, but I slept like crap...much like right before Scenic City. 

Race Morning:
There is nothing spectacular about this other than the herd of ultrarunners in the lobby of the Hampton Inn at 6:00am making the other guests really angry as we scrambled to get breakfast to go.  One guy was really pissed at us, and all I could do is laugh as he grumbled when I grabbed an extra napkin from in front of him. 
Catawba just want to jump right in don't you?

Landsford Canal State Park:
Hello fellow GUTS runners!  There were a ton of us from the ATL and then some that I like to consider adjunct GUTSers.  It was really nice seeing and being recognized by other runners, a lot of whom I have a great deal of respect for.  Awesome..that really made my morning. :D 
Some of the GUTS peeps: Candy, Me, Andy, Jenn, and Jim (Photo: Jim's mom)

I was standing with Greg and Joel waiting for the race to begin.  Claude is giving the last minute instructions while readying his musket / starting pistol.  I looked over at Greg and made fun of him as he put his fingers in his ears.
"What the hell man?!" I said.
"I ran this thing last year and know how loud that thing is."
"Well I like to experience life to the max."
"Holy shit that is freakin awesome!" I yelled, and we were off. 
The starting pistol...Claude told me that he wish he had this when he coached track!
I bet I win this battle!

31 Miles to Go:
I am not going to bore you with details. But, I did get the chance to run with a few cool people.
Bill Keane
I met Bill at the Black Mountain Monster where we spent the evening chatting, chilling, and cheering on the other runners until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer.  At about mile 2 of this race, Bill and I started running together and would for the next 12.  He shared a lot of cool stories with me and gave me a ton of advice on ulrtarunning.  This was his 251st ultra.  After the race I asked him if this was his total for all of the races he's run, and he snapped back that he"didn't run those other chicken shit races, except for one marathon that I did with a friend."  Hell yeah!  How freakin' awesome is that?!  The miles FLEW by.
Jenn Coker:
OK, the LC50K was her idea and I had intended to run some of it with her, but it didn't happen.  I was running pretty strong for the first good bit and then she caught up with me.  My ankle really started aching and this was about the time I was walking a good bit.  I think we ran 2 miles together, but that was it.  Fortunately for me, she planted the walk/run strategy in my mind...something I haven't religiously done in a long time.  Thanks for that!  It got me through the race :D
Joel Tapley:
Joel is my Red Top Mountain / Blair Witch homey.  I think he may be the only other person around that knows that park as well as I do.  Anyway, Joel and I ran a ton of miles together in this race, and I was glad to have someone I knew to run with.  Because of his plantar fasciitis and me with my ankle we were running at about the same pace...excellent.  Running alone this far in a race can be really tough and we helped keep each other going through the end.
Secretly (and I feel kind of crappy about this) it became my goal to beat Joel.  For me it was a challenge to keep ahead of him.  I kept looking back on the straightaways and could see him about a quarter of a mile away.  At the speed I was moving it was tough to keep ahead.  As I made my way onto the trail I developed a new running technique.  I would run until I was around a curve and out of sight and then I would walk.  Why was I doing this?  Because, I didn't want him to see me walking.  If for some reason he was reading my mind and decided to partake in my personal race with him I didn't want to give him any encouragement.  Ha ha ha funny is this...that is what 29 miles of running will do to your mind!  I did beat him, but only by a few minutes.  Joel, you ran strong man! 
Jim Bicklehaupt
I didn't run more than a few steps with him, since the only chance I had was when he lapped me...twice.  You want to hate this guy, but you just can't.  He's one of the friendliest people I know and, damnit, he said hi to me very time he passed, at the beginning of the race, at the aid station after he had finished and I still had like ten laps to go, and every freakin' time he was smiling and encouraging me and was genuinely genuine about it.  Jim loves can see that and is really good at it...and you can see that too.  He finished this race in 3:36:41 at a blazing 6:59 pace...nearly three hours before me.  How the F do you do that?  There is one word for this and you know what it is: AWESOME!
Congratulations on killing this race dude!  Well done!
Me and my new bromance holding my finisher's award.
Right after my Big Sur Marathon medal, this is my next favorite finisher's award.
Each award is hand made by Claude and this year features the above Indian in honor of
the gentleman that carved the wooden one who had recently passed away.  AWESOME!

Ride Home:
We still had fun, though we were more tame because we were all pretty beat at this point.  I did get the chance to employ one of my favorite road trip mean things by buying a bag of smelly-ass beef jerky and proceeding to eat it slowly, opening the bag only as the smell from the last dose had dissipated.  Ha ha ha ha...I'm a dick.  It made me laugh and really smile inside though. 

Ice Bath & Car Accident:
Yep.  The conclusion to a perfect couple of days was met with a car accident.  I was on my way home from Publix with my 40 pounds (yes, I know this is a lot of ice Jenn, but I like my water COLD...especially if I am going to freeze my man bits off anyway) of ice when it happened.  I was driving straight through an intersection then some guy coming from the opposite direction turned left into the side of my car.  I'm alright, just sad.  I found out today that the insurance company has elected to total my car.  I will definitely miss the clam shell and all of the great memories I have with her.  Now, it's time to find a new sweet ride.  What do I have in mind?  A Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Access Cab...yep...I've been looking at these for a while and know exactly what I want.  NOW, to find the money :-(
P.S. I did get to take my ice bath, and no, the ice didn't all melt away before I got to use it.
Gotta smile.  The clam shell kept me safe...that's what matters :D

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Suuuuure I'll do the Meat Grinder

THE DATE: July 1st 2011
THE TOPIC: Post on the FB Meat Grinder Death Run invitation

Georgia Snail: Awwwww, man! MG the DAY before PRR?
LHRM:  Yep : )
Georgia Snail:  Well, y'all have fun with time I'm in!

THE DATE: July 3rd 2011
THE REASON: Because I am dumb me.

A little background.  'The Meat Grinder*' is a run from the base of Amacalola Falls to the top of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  After a run on Thursday night Amanda thought it would be fun to run something a little different this weekend.  So, being me, I was in as was Margaret, Michael, and Todd (by default).  We would be later joined by Len and Kerry who would bring their A game and kick all of our asses.
The Meat Grinder*?  Well, the traditional route runs up the gravel trail from the Visitor's Center to Springer Mountain and back.  We changed it up a bit.  We climbed the 9 billion steps, ran to Springer, down to the parking lot and back up to Springer (while I rested my ankle), over to the Hike Inn, and eventually down the gravel road to the back of the Visitor's Center.  Total mileage: me +/- 18.5, everyone else +/- 20.

The day before the run I decided that it was time to get a new phone.  Yes, I am now part of this century and have my own little Android.  So, because of this new piece of equipment I  ended up sleeping only 4 hours before which would turn out to be a pretty challenging run.
Highway 136 overlook.

Is it me or does the O look like it is about to fall over?
The plan was to meet at the Visitor's Center at 7:00am.  Because Fabio (me) has been consistently 4-5 minutes late for most of his recent runs, I decided that I would be early this time and arrived at 6:30 only to see Kerry and Len there already getting ready.  Shortly thereafter Michael, Margaret, Amanda and Todd (Amanda's imaginary boyfriend) rolled into the parking lot.
It was game time.  Water...check.  Food...check.  Camera...check. Pulse...check.  And then we started running.  The last time I was here I was a lot fatter and a lot out of shaper than now so it was kind of weird for me.  Last time I had a really hard time with even walking up to the first of the 7,973 stairs.  This time I cruised up the 7,498 stairs and was only moderately sweaty at the top.  This is not joke...there are 7,465 steps...I counted them.
Heading up to the 7,235 steps.

My phone has a reverse camera!  Damn I look scraggly.
Michael a.k.a. 'Mad Dog' on stair tread 5,698.

Are we there yet?  YES!  Finally after 12,285 steps we reached the summit of the falls and were awarded with an awesome view.  Then it was more running.  I have to say that the next section of trail from the Lodge to the summit of Springer Mountain was wonderful.  The environment was really diverse where some of the trails were really rocky, others grassy, and others would run through thickets of mountain laurels (my absolute favorite).  In addition to it being wonderful it was also very challenging and did not hesitate to lay a beat down on my ass.  At the top of the falls we lost Kerry and he powered up to the summit by himself only to meet us on the way back down at which point he would turn around and run back up.
Plaque at the southern terminus of the AT.
At the top of Springer I decided to let the crew run down to the parking lot and back up while I rested. ankle is nowhere near healed yet...I knew I was really pushing it and definitely needed the rest.  While they were running I was visited by a swarm of bees.  These little suckers were all over me.  OK, there were only about 10, but for me that is a swarm.  Being the smart guy I am I placed my water bottles and hydration pack about 20' away where they then went to get the water.  Speaking of water, I had gone through about 50 of 110 ounces that I was carrying when to my astonishment Todd only used 10.  WTF?  How is that possible?  I am still amazed.
Swarm of bees on my water bottle.
Time to head back.  Our plan was to run by the Hike Inn and refuel there. On the way back we saw trail signs pointing out water that continually teased me as I began to ration the remaining 60oz I had on my back.  It was getting hot.  Dehydration is no joke and can be really dangerous.  Besides, I didn't want to have to pay Todd $5 for some of his water...thanks for the offer anyway man.
Screw the shelter...
Hey, that's that on the tree over there?  It's a freakin' trap that's what.  I, being me, walked over to see what it was and this is what I read:
It's A Trap!
For real?  You're going to lure someone over to this very spot with a piece of paper only to warn them that the very spot they are standing in is surrounded by a deadly rattlesnake?  I mean, really?
After we all laughed at me for a while we returned to running and finally made it to the Hike Inn.  Just before we got there I had to literally squeeze the remaining water out of my pack.  Once there though, for a small donation, we had peach cobbler, lemonade, Arnold Palmers, and water...lots of water.  I refilled everything.  Then we chilled out for a minute.
Who wears a 10K shirt on a run like this?  I do.

Action shot of Mad Dog.
5.5 miles to go.  And wouldn't you know that I used another 110oz of water?  It got hot, and I used all of it again finally getting relief at the Visitor's Center.  I have to admit that I finished last again, but whatever...I am only testing myself against myself.  I run my own race.
One of the many overlooks / views along the way.
No, the word Zensah is not melting...that is salt...
 To finish up the run we set up near the stream from the falls, which Amanda and I also sat in for a bit.  It was cold, but nothing like the time we ran into the lake at Fort Mountain in February...that was COLD!  This is the life.  A hard beautiful day ending by a mountain stream, eating food, drinking bear, laughing, and just plain relaxing.  Couldn't have asked for more.
We look so happy, don't we?  What the hell?  At least Mad Dog is showing his pearly whites.

THE DATE: July 4th 2011
THE EVENT: Peachtree Road Race.
Something happened to me that doesn't normally happen.  Actually it's never happened.  I missed a race.  I've not participated in a few due to injuries, but never have I not woken up in the morning.  I slept from 11:30pm to 8:30am and right through three am kind of pissed.
There will be another race...oh well  :-D