Wednesday, January 2, 2013

GORUN Ultra Plus: 44 miles on my 44th Birthday

As one may imagine, there is a fine line between insanity and determination. I try to think in order to reach new goals regardless of what they may be, you have to have both.  I'm just lucky enough to have a few insane and determined friends along the way who are willing to help in this sort of vision quest for new adventures and discovery of human potential.  I guess that is why I love the olympics so much.  Watching a new world record is always an amazing demonstration of how we are not limited. Let's face it. Once upon a time, it was thought that no one would break the 4 minute mile.  Once Roger Bannister completed this feat in 3:59.4ish, the record didn't last long and many after that have done it.  Now I'm looking forward to the marathon going sub 2 hours! Sure it sounds insane right? Maybe not so.
About 3 years ago, I decided to do an annual Birthday Run. GORUN(Greenville Organization of Runners) had been started and we have been proud to have had various free events. I decided to start an annual group run on my birthday which was December 31st.  Afterall, do we really need to fork out a Benjamin to travel and do a race? I think NOT.  The first year, I was the only one to complete the marathon distance.  My daughter Morgan actually ran the last 5k or so with me as I finished in about 4:49.  Of course, in 2011, I decided why not complete 31 miles on the 31st? So again, another event on new year's eve day was created and we jumped from 10 participants to around 30!! The result was a nice 2nd place 50K finish in 5:15:33 behind Amy Kearns in 5:11:30.  Brandon Wilson won the first Ultra Plus division with a 38 mile run in 6:54:59. We had 7 finish with a 50K or more! Talk about Ultras would not be complete without the props for Jeff Dufour who was one of the founders of GORUN.  Jeff, a supreme educator, beast Marine and UltraMarathoner, somehow talked me into doing the Falls Lake 50K in January of 2009. Let's remember that at that time, I had never ran a half marathon or marathon.  Out of the 10 who did manage to finish that 50K, I was a happy last place finisher in a time of 8:29 and near 15 minute pace but again I did finish.

So this was the year I was going to attempt to do my birth years in miles... yep.. 44 miles on my 44th birthday.  I love challenges.  I don't fear failure.  I'm good at that *smiles* but I have found throughout my life that the more you do despite the fact you have more failures you also have more success as well. So just do it! GO!! GORUN! Like Wayne Gretsky once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"  So take it! Life is too short! We are not promised the next moment so why not make the best of it. Live life! Don't make your life a series of routines surrounding work, sleep, pay bills, go back to work...  Whatever... you can do that when you are 100!

3rd Annual GORUN New Year's Events were under way....We had over 30 registered this year and I was pumped.  Kip Sloan, local Race Director and Endurance Beast, continued to support GORUN with allowing us to use one of his official race clocks. As you can imagine, this always gives a nice spice to a low key race event! Of course that was the least of my concerns.  Hydration and electrolytes were a concern as usual due to my history of cramps in big races.  I was having none of that! Straight Carb loading in the past didn't work either so I was going to try different things.  The night before I went for 16ounces of sirloin steak, 2 serving of green beans, 6 servings white rice, 20 ounces of orange juice, 20 ounces of Gatorade with packet of Gatorlytes(thanks to Gatorade sponsored and future GoRun Hall of Famer Tyler Pake). Before I went to bed I drank another 20 ounces of Gatorade with 1 S-Cap(I learned about this awesome capsule from Jeff Dufour).  Before attempting to settle in for the night, I prepared my fuel belt with my favorite Gatorade--ORANGE!  Then loaded with fav GU!  Pep talk and Birthday wishes from my wife and greatest supporter were given and needed as I became more anxious. Finally crashed about 0030.  Night Weight=152lbs



Morning came quickly as I first woke up around 5am.  As my friend from Boy Scout Troop 11 and now IRONMAN CC Wilkins once said, "Success begins in the bathroom".  One of my biggest worries is always about how I will deal with bathroom issues.  Waking up early helps get the body going but it sucks when you really want another hour of sleep.  I used the bathroom and then weighed my self at 150lbs, 2 lb loss from around midnight.  At that time, I decided to eat a banana and drink 20 ounces of Gatorade and take 1 S-Cap.  It was still early so I decided to take a short nap.  Woke up around 615am, brushed my teeth, used bathroom, took shower, and double checked to see that my Garmin 405 was fully charged.  Afterwards, finalizing what to wear as it was 22 degrees outside, I decided to layer up with my underarmour.  But first things are first. Vaseline to reinforce skin care was a must especially in runs greater than 15 miles.  Today it would hopefully be 44.  After applying to feet, ankles, groin, lips, ears, nipples, and hips, I was ready to layer up. I would run with my new Gel Nimbus 14 Asics for the first part and later change with new socks and my older Gel Pulse II's. I wore a sleeveless underarmour, long sleeve cold gear turtle neck underarmour, another long sleeve underarmour, running underarmour pants, and even underarmour socks. Looking outside I found a sheet of ice on my car. Deciding to be lazy and load up, double check gear etc, I started the car and let the heater do the work.  Said my last whispering goodbyes and out the door I went.

I arrived at Elm Street Park in G-Vegas about 7:30am.  It had now warmed up to a blistering 23 degrees... of course everyone had different measures but we all agreed it was COLD! The good news is that I knew that this kind of temperature even with the varied winds was perfect for me. I was feeling nervous yet confident at the same time. The night before I had made check in charts with everyone's name who registered via eventbrite, a Free event site as long as your event was free.  This was really a great way to do this.  It have me an idea of who was doing what.  There were many people that I didn't know.  These events have a great way of motivating others and creating a running community.  Strangely, you'll find that runners may be the some of only athletes who will actually cheer for their opponents.... well... at times after the race ;) I have always loved individual sports because the lack of politics.  Let's face it.  If you are faster, lifted more or you wrestled and pinned someone, you can't be denied.  Ball sports, despite my love for them especially basketball, are full of politics.  My oldest daughter Jeannie(now 27) played softball.  I'm a stat nerd.  She batted .600 and was on base over .700 but never got picked for an all star team.  Go figure? But Jeannie didn't care so I just laid low.  Morgan, my now 17 year old, read right through all of it without me ever saying a word and quit afer 1 year. Who knows what my youngest kids Landon and Kamryn will do?? Of course all activities teach us about team work, intestinal fortitude, and so much more as they build our character.
It was about 745am now so I decided to round everyone up to hand out maps, directions and check off anyone who was here as well as answer any questions the group may have. After reviewing the course, I asked again about questions or whatever and everyone seemed ready to go. The timing clock was now ready in my car facing everyone. A bulliten board was up at a tree with info surrounded by everyone's contributions for snacks etc.  The distances for the multi-semi race event were 7, 16.25, 21.75, 31, and Ultra Plus(anything above 31). Most were ready for 2 loops which when completed would be 7 or 16.25.  We had a few unofficial runners who would start early or late.  These folks, I decided, would get credit too but not in the race rankings.  I wanted to promote wellness for everyone but of course I had to be fair to those who were in the same race.  I remember hearing about a lady who actually had a faster marathon time than the elite women's winner but they made it clear it was not the same race and conditions. True, it isn't so fair is fair but wow... what an honor to know you had a faster time than elites!
755am arrived and final review of instructions etc were made then I had everyone line up. Some had showed up late so we held up but did get the event going by 0805.


  Dave Lovelace, a known beast of an athlete when it comes to endurance sports, would wait for me as I had to start the race and clock. We set out being very mindful to maintain an easy pace.  A long day awaited and we were preparing to conquer it!
Dave and I arrived at our 12 mile point at the town commons off the Tar River. We were feeling strong but were keeping things in check as we knew this was only a 1/4 of the way for me.  Dave had not decided how far he wanted to go but at this point possibly wanted to do 50K. We talked about lots of things on the run.  What happens on the run, stays on the run!

We arrived without any issues back at Elm Street Park for our 16.25 mile check in.  We socialized etc and at that time Donna Davis had caught up with us as she finished. Behind us getting some fuel was Kay Sokolovic who ran unofficially starting late but had a new PR 9.25 mile run!! It's always exciting to see someone break a plateau.  Donna who has broke multiple personal records this year just helped Kay do the same! WOW!
 Mile 18ish.... ringing the motion activated bells at Joyner Library on ECU Campus.. I remember feeling good but good gosh I was obviously winded trying to talk and run at the same time.   
Here is a great view of Kip Sloan's timing clock displayed in my car.  Those 2 fools are ok too. We just finished the loop for 21.75 miles and Dave did a little extra to get 22.5 since he decided to call it a day so he could again run tomorrow.  I decided to spend some extra time hydrating, eating, and running my mouth with my family(wife Gina, Landon, and Kamryn) as well as crew support from Stephanie Slayton, a doctorate PT specializing in wound care.  It's always nice to have someone handle those blisters! I went ahead and stretched and even did the "stick" before deciding to take off.

Soon after finally leaving the Elm Street Checkpoint, I ran into my ECU XC Coach Charlie "Choo" Justice. Choo is a well known coach and beast of an athlete who once ran on Team Tiger for Asics with other area legends.  Between Choo, Mitch Craib, and John Welborn, I had transformed from a HS Wrestler running 35 minute 8k's and 18 minute 5k's to a Division I walkon running a PR(personal record) 8k of 28:50 with 5k splits in the 17's.  As proud as I am about those times, anyone who knows the usual competitive 8k college times will know I was slow relative to the usual DI runner.  Nevertheless, I had some of the best times of my life and made lifelong friends I still keep in touch with.  Unfortunately, I had taken 15 years off from serious running before starting again in 2006.  It seems like every time I'm struggling my coach Choo would be right there to pick my sorry pansy self up. Like a running angel, today would be no different as he showed up after mile 22 and ran with me until I reached the marathon distance 26.2 miles. It is always nice to catch up with Choo and he was nice enough to go my snail pace of 9:30's.  Of course I had to slow him down a few times as we surged sub 9 but honestly the change in my gait pattern and tempo actually felt good.

Here I am at Mile 27! I love this bridge.  No it's not all that spectacular but it's a nice landmark entering the greenway/town commons and it reminds me of the Dash for Cash Finish line which is a reminder for me of my friend Captain Chris Cash who died for our freedom serving. Chris had been my personal trainer at Viquest(now Vidant Wellness Center). We had gone on a couple of trips together with our kids when we were both single parents.  I got to know him well.  He was a good man and his death was a sad one for many reasons despite the great cause.
At this point I survived over 30 miles! Since the marathon distance, I had been running solo.  It was a time for meditation in many ways as I thought about many things.  Your mind starts to wander during LSD(Long Slow Distance) but it's a good thing as long as you frequently fuel.  After Choo left me, I started a walk run pattern typically about .9 mile run .1 walk. This particular bridge had by G-vegas standards, a steep incline so I opted to save my legs and walk it.  I was near the 50k checkpoint! At the 50k checkpoint I stretched, hydrated, and ate a lot. 2peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 2 oranges, an apple, another S-cap, cake, some Grandmas Pizza from Marabellamacallit and of course refilled all my fuel bottles with Orange Gatorade.

In this pic, I was feeling confident that indeed I was actually going to do this! In this picture near the home of Tyler Pake, I had broke my distance PR with 35 miles! My previous was with Jeff Dufour at Falls Lake with 34 miles. Ok... 34 because I got lost 4 times and had to back track to search for white dots! Let's do this I said to my self!

39th mile! Wow! I'm almost done! I would only need 5 more miles and I would have all 44!! At this point, I begin to run .8 then walk .2.  I was close to the next Elm Street check point.  At that point I was pumped! It was mile 41!!  I only had to do the 3 mile ECU campus course and I was done!! Nothing could stop me now!

Here I am on ECU Campus paying tribute to the PIRATES! I was at mile 42 just 2 miles shy of a personal victory!! Now the realization that I was actually able to at least mentally do the 100K Graveyard staff run in January became true but was I really ready to accept that challenge?  I thought about that a lot in those last 2 miles.


I did it! 44 miles in 8:43 (11:53pace) 52 degrees
What a great feeling it was and to finish off with the support of family, friends, and a run followed by a birthday song by Landon make my day! It had been a great accomplishment.  I went home and was so excited about a hot shower! I decided to weigh myself as the water warmed up and saw that I had lost 7lbs from 150 to 143 despite all the drinking and eating. Lots of calories were burned this day! Gina and I talked a lot about what to do about the staff GY100. I didn't want to burn another day of hers or add stress to her.  Today had been my birthday so I had decided it's ok to be a little selfish on days like that but another day just a few weeks from now may be asking too much. Gina took her supportive wife stance and simply said in the end, "Just do it".  I guess something about the way she told me gave me the support and confidence to give it a shot.  Before that I was scare of wasting her time if I failed or even so if I didn't. She would have none of it. She had already planned to have Landon visit with the grandparents and even had Stephanie Slayton pulled into it too.  Gina is not only my loving wife but my best friend and often a coach too.  Not to beat a dead horse but I guess we know behind a successful man there must be a crazy woman..haha! That night we celebrated at Japan Inn where I ate the all you can eat Sushi after clear soup. It was so good! Bedtime weight 150lbs.

Anyone who knows about hard work knows that there is a recovery stage...and it can be as much of a challenge as the actual performance was.  ECU XC Teammate Joe Corley was nice enough to point this out as he reminded me to share the pain sort of speak. Joe was always that teammate in training who helped to push me in the ways that I needed to be pushed to break plateaus.  Even today he is quick to remind me how mental running can be.  "You can do it" he would confidently state with the additional "It's all in your head". Of course I'm thinking yeah.. but it's also in your quads, gastrocs, back, etc etc....  The truth is that he is right but after reading the book Brain Training recommended by another running buddy Phil Hamrick, we also learn that despite the fact we can indeed break through mental blocks, our brain does keep us from doing some things to keep our crazy selves alive.  So I guess I have to admit I love the challenge of breaking into the next level or even trying to get back to my old levels.  I feed off and gain energy from my usual running partners like my wife of course Gina, Brad Gold, Scott Elliott, Jason Honeycutt, Philip Hamrick, Tyler Pake, Megan Thompson, Emily Zueger, Jenny Wilson and many others along the way. I once read the book Power vs Force by Dr. Hawkins.  It talks a lot about how we are connected and how life gives off vibrations.  Let's just say my friends give me the positive good vibrations that help me succeed and I never take that for granted. This positive energy also helps in recovery too. I can't explain the emotional high that I achieved from this insane accomplishment but I can tell you it's all good. Surprisingly, I have been walking fine and even able to do a fake jog here and there without issues during the days after the run.  Of course, giving my youngest children Landon and Kamryn a bath the day after was more of an olympic event that I was proud to conquer in the ole family tub. Every parent understands that your kids come first and there is never time to whine.  You will go to your grave to do what it takes to give your kids the very best.  This means that despite running 44 miles or just doing day to day training and work, you will still have to pace back and forth with a baby, wrestle with your 3 year old, and somehow in between keep a teenager and wife happy too. You put your game face on and you don't question it. You do it and at the end of the day with only 2 hours before you wake up to do it all over again, you smile because you'd have it no other way.  Of course, I've done other things besides use my life roles to motivate me and recover. I drank a lot and I did gentle stretching combining some dynamic and some static stretches. In the end, it's a great way to cap off the year as I completed 1,517.56 aerobic miles averaging 4.16 miles per day.
Next mission: GY100K January 26th OBX
Anyone want to pace me?