Wednesday, September 30, 2009


So as Grindstone nears... 50 hours and 44 minutes to be exact... I'm curious about my toenails. After the 12 hour event, two of them were looking iffy. Black to be exact. I'm looking for people's opinions (preferably runners) about what I should do.

I've got two options that I can see. I can leave them there and risk needing to stop to fish them out of my socks at Grindstone, or I can take them off myself right now.

Also, GEER left me a bit more tattered than the previous week. (i.e. I'm still feeling it on my runs) I've decided to take tomorrow off, and of course Friday until around 6 pm. Then we start.

Adam Tremper will be coming out with me and I'll probably pick him up at around mile 70 or so. He just came back from his bike ride across America and he is stronger than ever. You want to see a pair of legs? That dude has tree trunks for legs. Just huge solid slabs of muscle. And as big as he is, he's fast. Really fast. I'll be stoked to pick him up.

It should be a good time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not quite what I was expecting

Yesterday was the 2nd race in my three week race schedule. The Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k. (GEER) The plan was to go out Friday night, meet my dad at the start of the race, camp out, wake up, run, finish, end. I had a couple internal goals, nothing I advertised but mainly I wanted to finish. I ran a 12 hour event last week where I did 71.5 miles, and I have the Grindstone 100 next week, so I wasn't going to go hard charging this week. I did want to break Dave's time of 15 hours, and I did want to finish in the top half of the finishers, but if I didn't I wouldn't be too disappointed.

Camping was camping, no crazy stories from that. We ate, hung out by the fire, and slept. The morning of the race I woke at 5 o'clock and could already hear the infamous Marty from Charlottesville running store yelling for drop bags. As I got ready, I could hear the rain on the tent and could tell it was going to be a chilly start. Everyone gathered under the pavilion and the race brief was given as planned. At 5:57 we walked to the start, and at 6:00 am someone said go. We all made our way to the trail head and started up the mountain. The first climb is brutal. Just straight up with no switchbacks, in the dark, and in some mud. I was left in the dust by the front pack, and I had no problem with this. I kept going forward and before long, someone caught me, passed me, and then I was on my own again. Stumbling over rocks and scrambling up the mountain. Reaching the top would've been a relief if it weren't so rocky. Actually running was borderline impossible. It was more of a bouncing, jumping thing from one slippery rock to another just hoping to stay right side up.

Before too long, a guy caught up to me and stayed to chat for awhile. His name was Steve and he was really friendly. He told me all about what races he's done, and even gave me the scoop on Grindstone, which was very helpful. Being that we were running I told him about my cross country trip. He asked if my coach knew I was out there. A bit confused I told him I don't have a coach and am not on the cross country team, I'm running across THE country. He told me I should contact the Virginia Happy Trail Runners Club and should talk to them about it. They might know some people.

I ran with him for a lot of the morning until about mile 20. The temperature was all over the place. The temperature at the top of the mountain was about 10 or 15 degrees colder than the bottom, and fog rolled in and out. It was very hard to tell how I was doing as far as place was concerned because the 50k, 100k, and half marathon were all on the same trail for a little while. I just kept trucking along the best I could. I climbed mountains, and ran down mountains. Some of them just wouldn't end. It felt like there was no top, or no bottom. The worst part about running down for so long is that you know when you get to the bottom you will have to get back over the mountain you just hurled yourself down. At about mile 40 something, (I didn't pay very close attention to the mileage) I found out I was in second place. I couldn't believe it. On the climb up to that aid station I had passed three people, and one guy needed to drop because of medical reasons, and another guy dropped to the 50k also because of medical reasons, but there was no way I was in second.

I decided from there to push it. Why not? I only had 20 miles to go, I was feeling fine, and I might as well try to finish that way. The next two sections, I didn't walk at all. I just never stopped. I knew there wasn't much of a chance that I would feel that way for long, so I figured as long as I feel good, I might as well bank some time, and hope that the 3rd place guy was not running the sections I was. At the bottom of the last mountain climb, I grabbed my jacket. It had been raining for about an hour and I was really getting cold. And I knew that it was only going to be colder at the top of the mountain.

That climb took forever. I hiked a lot of it, and then got tired of hiking, and started running. Slowly, but I was running. That section was split up of hiking, running, hiking running, until I got to the top. I was freezing. I was afraid to stop too long because I needed to keep moving to keep my body heat up. Leaving that aid station I was assured that I still looked strong, and I was still moving fast. I doubted that, but I appreciated the comments.

From the aid at the top of the mountain, I had 4.5 miles or so. Mostly downhill. I booked it. For some reason, I thought the guy behind me was really close, so I never stopped running. I didn't stop at the final aid station to fill up my bottle, or eat. I just kept going. Part of that was due to fear of the guy behind me, and part of it was due to the fact that I was freezing, and the other part was due to me wanting to finish. I was mentally done for the day. I didn't come here to be competitive today, I came to finish, and was tossed into the competition unwillingly and due to other people's medical issues. I ended up finishing in 11 hours, and 17 minutes, second place. Afterward, I was stoked. Two plates of lasagna and mac n cheese later, I was showered and already thinking of next week.

(I might be able to find some pics, I'll post them if I do)

Next week's goal: Grindstone. Finish with a pulse.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

quick race report

Saturday was the 12 Hour Adventure Trail run in Prince William Forest Park. Overall, it was a great experience and a fun time had by all. It was a 6.5 mile loop that you run as many times as you can in 12 hours.

The race started at 6:15 am and headlamps were needed for the first lap. A big group of the front runners for the race all ran the first loop together just hanging out, catching up, joking around and just having a good time. The first lap we did in an hour and fifteen seconds. Dave led that loop in first place. From the aid station, Dave and I left before the rest of the small little pack and we headed out on our own. I was feeling good (and rightfully so, it had only been one lap) so I decided to go ahead at my own pace.

Unfortunately, for the stories sake, not a whole lot can be said for a constant looped course. In the late morning, my Dad left to attend my brother and sisters cross country meet, where they both did quite well. After about 3 laps, I was still in the lead and catching up to people here and there, stopping to talk every now and then. I was very relaxed and the course was very run-able. After the 4th lap, I saw my mom at the start/finish area with my grandma. It was nice to see them, but never stayed very long to chat. A couple laps later, my girlfriend Katie made a welcomed guest appearance. I wish I could have stayed a little longer than I did, but I was worried about people catching up, and needed to keep moving.

Being a loop, it's hard to tell where everyone is because you don't know what lap everyone else is on. You don't know if you've lapped them, or they passed you in the aid station. After the 8th lap, I still had four hours, and up until then, I had been running, on average,solid hour laps. I was not entirely sure if I could keep the pace for another four laps. But I did know that in order to break the course record of 10 laps (65 miles) I only had to run another 3. Three laps in four hours? I could do that. Coming back after the 9th lap, I crashed. I was very tired because I had been going at a pace that I had never tried for an ultra before. But surprisingly, everything still worked, especially if I was running. Actually running, not shuffling.

Leaving for the 10th lap was hard, I was tired, and pretty hungry. I was a bit weary about eating everything I wanted to eat because if I was to full, I might run into stomach issues. Upon reaching the halfway point, I caught up to Dave. He informed me that he was in second place, which was awesome! He also told me that he had running the entire time. Every hill, every section, everything. That was awesome too. When I got back from the 10th lap, I had an hour and a half to do one more lap to break the record. I didn't want to go though. I had sat down and was quite content with calling it a day especially because I had the 100k this weekend. My mom, grandma, sister Colleen, and friend Lara convinced me to get up and reminded me that I would have no problem recovering in time for this weekend. So I decided to go for the 11th loop. Somehow, I also decided it would be best to run the lap as fast as I could because there was no point in saving any energy. Besides, the faster I ran, the faster I was done.

In the early parts of the final lap one of the relay guys passed me which I had no problems with. When I got to the halfway point I was "moving" at best. But my family was there and my dad was playing the accordion. It pumped me up enough to just relax and cruise the lap in. I felt pretty good in the last half of the lap and ran everything. All the hills included. In the final half mile I saw the relay guy that passed me up ahead. Some kind of primal instinct kicked in and decided that I had to beat him. When we got to the parking lot we were neck in neck and it was an all out sprint to the finish. It turned out to be a bad idea because I spent the next hour and a half barfing. Oh well, small price. The final tally was 71.5 miles (11 loops) in 11:46.

Good day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Race much?

This weekend marks the first weekend of a series for me. I have three ultras in three weeks in a row. The first is the 12-hour Adventure Trail Run in Triangle, VA. It's a 6.5 mile loop course that you do as many times as you can in 12 hours. 6:15 am to 6:15 pm. This being the first, I would like to do well. For most people, myself included, finishing an ultra is doing well. Looking at my past times, and what I think I am capable of, I am going to shoot for 10 laps. 65 miles. Really pushing towards the end of the race, 11 laps might be doable. I'm not too worried about it, I'm just going to go about this race the same as I do every race. Run how I feel. If I can go faster without killing myself in the later hours, I will. If I need to slow down, I will.

Having the race so close to home is nice both for me and my "crew." They can drop in and out and check up as needed but it also helps that it's a loop. I'll come back to the same place every time.
I'll let you know how this race goes afterward.

Next weekend is the Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k (62.2 miles). This race sandwiched in between two is probably a good thing because, barring all tragedies, it will be the shortest. Yet, it has another element thrown into the mix. Mountains. Now, some people say it's only a mountain if there is a tree line. Well, then it is a race with four mile long, steep, rocky, rooty, twisty hills. Either way, that one I will also run how I feel. This race will probably take the most strategy because the very next week is the Grindstone 100 mile. I will have to run semi-conservatively and focus on not annihilating my legs. There is no point in killing myself over this race, even though there is a $500 purse to the first person to break 10 hours. I personally think that will take a Kieth Knipling or someone like that to break that one. The first place guy last year got 10:37...and he was flying. Anyway, I'll have an update for that one as well.

The week after that, two weeks from tomorrow (yes, it starts on a Friday), is the Grindstone 100. This is the website. This race has a big name to live up to in my mind because of the initial paragraph on the website:

"Grit, endurance, temporary loss of sanity. You might need all of these if you want to attempt Grindstone. If you want to finish, well, just keep in mind this is, without a doubt, the hardest 100 miler east of the 100th meridian."

I'm stoked.

On top of it being the hardest on this coast, I will have about 120 race miles on my legs from the previous two weeks, and that's not including the daily stuff that keeps me sane. It starts at 6 pm to level the playing field. Most 100's start early morning and the front of the pack runner's are all trying to beat daylight so they don't have to run in the dark. Most front of the pack runners still have to run in the dark for a little while, just not as long. This puts the back of the pack at a disadvantage because no one runs 100 percent as well in the dark. It just doesn't happen. Its going to be tough, and I hope it lives up to it's name.

...And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jan 14

Day 13 is dedicated to my darling sister, Bridget, simply because math is not fun. This joke was told to me by Matt Grundy, who made it up, yesterday and now I'm passing it to Bridget.

Q: If the military goes to boot camp, where do spies go?
A: Sneaker camp

Onto business. Today's total was 34 and the starting temp was 53 and hi of high 70's. Either way, it was toasty. I felt pretty good today. For some reason I decided to work in some speed work early in the day because I thought if I go the same speed every day I might forget to run fast. So I did some mile repeats, and some song pick-ups just to make things interesting.

Moat of today was very bland nothing-ness but the last 14 miles were on a dirt road that had me gasping for dust-free air. The wind was kicking up mini tornados and any car that drove by was putting me in a cloud. Luckily there were a total of 4 cars in that 14 miles.

News from Tybee Island (where I'm ending) is that they are stoked and there's going to be a party....actually a party is an understatement. But details will come later.

This was warning me of the dam. There was no water. None at all, if there was, I'd be in it. But you can see around the sign is nothing but sand, gravel and tumbleweeds. I thought it was ironic.

-- Patrick

Monday, September 14, 2009

So that's what they look like

Well it has taken me a bit longer than I would have liked to get this post up, but here it is.

On Sunday, I went back to the Preist and Three Ridges. It was a sort of last minute night before decision but I needed to get away for the day. So I awoke at 6:30 and started the drive out there. I had to stop for gas and the Sheetz that I stopped at had peanut butter coffee rolls. One of these things must have been packing about three days worth of calories, but for some reason, I couldn't resist. This proved to be a good decision later.

I got out there around 9:30 and was heading up the four mile climb probably around 9:40. The way up wa beautiful as it hadn't gotten too hot yet and it was clear so I got to see the view I missed the first time.

About twelve miles of mountainous view was
a welcomed sight. After reaching the top I turned around and started flying down the trail in an attempt to annihilate my quads. (what else do you do on a training run?)

When I got back to my car I refilled my bottle, and pack and realized that I had forgotten my salt tablets. I can't do a proper training run without forgetting something vital.

Side story: when I was crewing for Dave at the Old Dominion 100 I got talking to the race director and she told me about when she ran a 100 and didn't take in enough salt and she ended up in a coma. Today wouldn't be that big of a dea but it did make me think.

The Mau Har trail is always tough. Today was no different. About 3/4 the way up though I was feeling the effects of lack of salt. I was getting very tired and felt incredibly sluggish. When I finally got to the next overlook I took off my pack and sat down. I'm not a huge fan of stopping in general but I think it was necessary. After about ten minutes of "just taking in all in" ... And getting eaten by horseflies, I decided it was best to keep moving. I downed my second, and last, Swiss roll and started down the trail.

I surprisingly felt very good after the break and ran the final 6 miles at a clip I could be proud of. The good feeling didn't last too long but I was able to push just enough to keep the pace.

About ten minutes from the car I decided I would pick it up a bit. This proved to be a bad idea because it wasn't even a minute before I was face down in the dirt with blood coming from my elbow. All I could do was laugh and tell myself to slow down a bit. The Tye River was very chilly but it felt great after the quickened pace of the last part of the run.

When I had left the house that morning I had called Dave to see if he wanted to go but he had done the Ring (70 Miles in the Massenuttens) the day before and wasn't up for it, understadably. But I told him where I would be in case he changed his mind. He apparently had changed his mind and wanted to grab pizza because he was in the parking lot when I got back to my car. The day wrapped up nicely with a trip to Mr. Ho's pizza where we had a big Humble Pie. That's what it is actually called and it was awesome.