Saturday, July 12, 2014

2013 Croatan 24

 Croatan 24
Veteran's Weekend November 2013

It has become evident that I must be addicted to self torture eh?  But seriously, as I am amazed by world records, Olympians etc, I can also be excited about every day people I know personally and even randomly who become better at whatever they attempt. I guess that's one reason I love doing Occupational Therapy, teaching martial arts, doing personal training, and coaching.  As they get better, I want to get better and see what I can do and achieve too. Let's face it. It would be hard to be good at my job if I was pushing 80 year olds to work out and be more independent and then go home eat and go to bed at 8pm. I surely wouldn't want to pay a karate instructor who couldn't tell me how to do a White Belt level skill or hire a personal trainer who was obese and couldn't walk around the block. How can I expect others to push through limits if I've never tried myself?  This event would be no different.  How far could I go in 24 hours? The loop would be less than 1.4 miles which would mean I wouldn't have to carry fuel etc. My goal would be to simply do a PR distance.  Since I did the GY100k 63 mile course, I would only have to do more than that. If you would like more info check this out!


The Release to torture myself and not hold anyone else responsible...

Cedar Point NC
 The Croatan Forest in eastern NC makes a great setting for this event.  One thing I love about this event is not only enjoying the social aspects of ultras but being one with nature. Brandon Wilson, an ultraman and race director, created this race not only to provide a great 24 hour ultra race but to also raise money for MARSOC.

Yep-- Each lap through nature was about 1.4 miles
The course was a beautiful mix of flat trails, bridges, and gently rolling hills with a view of marshlands, sound, and a forest. This picture is taken of the back of the hoody given in 2013.  Pretty cool swag!
 Campsite Ready!

Fueling is one of the most important if not the most important issue when doing an ultra...I typically try to take in about 300-400 calories every hour. How well do I actually count calories?  Well the truth is that I just pound in whatever is moderate a little all the time during an ultra.  The only thing I may be more specific about is fluid intake and taking either S-Caps or Hammer Endurolytes. The rest is nearly all on how I feel. Yes this can be dangerous as sometimes your body needs more early on than it will ask for.

Yep-- I like to and I do eat a lot :)
I can remember back in the 8th grade, several of my friends had a pizza eating contest at the Village Inn Pizza Parlor in Goldsboro NC.  It was a neat pizza place that showed movies on Laser Disc!  At the time this was pretty high tech and of course pizza never goes out of style.  I ended up eating 23 slices for 2nd place behind Geoff Merritt who ate about 35!! Keep in mind, I was about 100lbs soaking wet at the time. To be fair we had to save the crust for counts and they had to be at least an agreed length which I can't remember.  You could eat any pizza they had on the buffet.  Of course, thin and crispy worked to my advantage.  No we didn't have any prizes but we typically had crazy contests like that or did other stupid stuff usually something a guy named Henry Flynn talked us into doing. If we weren't walking into some mess, we'd all pile in Tom Kleinert's brother Mike's car or Jeff Garratt's older brother Jon's car and off we went. It all seems insignificant now but it were those times when we get older that we truly miss. Often times, my long runs help me recall those times.  It's like therapy in so many ways.  If you are a parent, you'll also understand, it may be your only free time you'll get in a day. Yep.. not even the bathroom is private once you become a parent.
Last words of advice from my son Landon
All joking aside... all stress aside.. Without my kids, I know my life would be in limbo with my purpose less defined for sure. I can be stressed out or whatever and a smile from one of my kids or watching them do something funny or well and I'm suddenly in a positive mood.
Note the larger facial hair growth.  This race takes place in "MOVEMBER" a month assigned to remember male health issues such as cancer and mental health.  Many like myself will grow out a mustache or in my case decide to grow out all my facial hair except my neck.  Despite the cause, I did try to maintain some level of professionalism in my grooming. To learn more go to

Clay and I hanging out before the start
Dawn and her friend ran to the Croatan 24 to give support!
Dawn is the race director for the Reindeer Dash For Cash 5k and 10 miler in memory of my friend Chris Cash a Captain and exercise physiologist who died in action serving the USA.
Money from her event goes to scholarships.  I highly recommend this December Race held every year in Greenville NC.
Register here:
The race says it is flat...well it used to be but it's not now! I love the course though.. goes through East Carolina University areas!
Nice Ceremony!

 Checking out how they track our laps and a sneak peek at the Race Director Brandon Wilson

The Official Start of the 2013 Croatan 24
To honor the military and all veterans, there was a ceremony as well as a start with patriotic flags and such. As everyone should remember, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.  Special thanks to all who have and continue to serve the US Military.

#1 Valmir starting the Croatan 24
 You're going to figure out that I'm a big fan of this guy.  Sure he's done some amazing runs like 100k races in 6 hours and a Badwater World Record but he's actually a great guy.  Despite the language barrier, he is always nice, takes time to take a picture, and engages with others.

My Start of the Croatan 24!
Let's Do this!
On my left is Liz Lord from the Rocky Mt NC area.  We had communicated via facebook and the GORUN group as well as through our mutual friend Patti Miller but until this day, we had never actually met in person.  Liz had never paced this sort of distance and had many concerns despite being a great runner.  We decided to help each other push through. I think it was even harder for her than it was for me to run slowly as I often had to remind her to relax and keep pace easy.  I know this all too well.  Your body is pumped and ready to fly but it takes your mind to think it through remembering that the miles are many and they keep coming.

Nice Course... loving the nature factor


Clay Vick ahead of me finishing a lap
Originally, I had planned to run with Clay my GORUN teammate but honestly, he took off way faster than I planned to.  He was on a mission!
Finishing up a lap... behind me is Jimmy... in front Liz
Still in my layered gear from the colder start.  This would soon change.

About an hour into the run, Liz and I have already started the walk/run ratio and have already been passed for the first time by Valmir Nunes
Getting hot so off with the early morning extra layer
 I'm obviously not aware of how many miles I've done and how many are left!!

Marathon Distance Completed in about 5:22

It's always an honor to be passed by the legend Valmir Nunes!
 This legend once ran a 100k in about 6 hours. Yep.. try that big boys!

What I love about Ultras...
non challenging
One of the things I've been drawn to Ultras is not only the sense of adventure but the time you can take out to simply enjoy the moment with friends.  In a long race, unless you are really trying to do something crazy, a few minutes won't matter.  Your body may even do better down the trail because you did.
We got to celebrate Frank Lilley's Birthday too!
27 miles done
Great Therapist, Race Director, and friend Amy Albritton on the trails...
 USA Olympian Connie Gardner!
Gina, Landon, Kamryn along with Stephanie Slayton
Giving Support
 Liz and I getting passed by Valmir again... Amy Albritton Checking in too
There is one "hill" that we made the executive decision to walk each lap.  Now as you look at it you will probably say huh? What hill? But the small inclines as you approach your max distance PR's can feel like mountains!
Valmir passes us again as Liz gets a PR 50k distance
Mile 32 as we meet Clay on the trail
as well as some support from Gina, Kamryn, Landon along with Stephanie Slayton
32 officially completed
Dry Erase Board has current ranks
Clay Vick
only GORUN's Co-Founder Jeff Dufour has done more than this beast!
 Clay did awesome but unfortunately the blister demon came after him and in the best interest of continued progress in running overall, he made the smart decision to call it a day.  It is hard to believe this man of men was in a couch to 5k program within the last couple of years.
57.5 miles for 56th overall


Later in the day.....Sun going down

Beautiful Views as the Sun goes down... both Garmins have died....and Liz has taken some time to slow down and pace some with her family-- mentally planning out the final miles

Thinking about my night gear now.... the crowd has thinned out

Night gear!
Strangely, as night falls so do the competitors.  Some stop to break while others quit completely.  Sometimes this can make you want to quit too but many times for some weird reason I seem to catch a 2nd or 3rd wind sort of speak.  It's almost like as someone stops, I get their energy added to me.  I know it sounds a little sci-fi like maybe that movie "ONE" but it's true.  The mind is a strange and amazing thing.  Of course, the mind can tell you to quit for protective reasons but in reality we can do so much more.  Within reason of course, I want to know what I can do.

There are points in a run you may actually not care if this happens but somewhere inside this spirit within calls upon you and says don't be a freakin' pansy after all the work you've done!!! You didn't sacrifice a large portion of your life training to come here and wimp out!!
Double checking distance and laps ...
As the Garmin GPS dies and the laps keep coming, you lose a sense of where you are sometimes. This race event was full of awesome staff who were positive and helpful in every way a runner needed them to be. Doing the things they had to do for us was an endurance challenge in itself and I never take that for granted. They all rocked!
My last look at the clock before I did one more lap to get a new Distance PR
At this point, I only had a little more to go to get a distance PR!  I had beaten my GY100 100k (63m course) time and was already happy about that.  I decided to simply beat my old PR distance and call it a night.  Reviewing where I was in the race, I felt it would be difficult to run 100 miles in the time I had left.  In reality, it may have been possible to simply walk it in at a strong walk pace but I just didn't feel it this night.  Looking back, I did do a lot of would of could of should of thinking which is never good in my book. I will get that belt buckle one day!
64.4 miles completed

 Time for Chocolate Milk! 
It's always great having family support.  They have seen me survive many training sessions and deserve victories at the same time I earn them.

 Gina and Kamryn
Enjoying Mother Nature
Behind every strong successful productive man is a great woman! Gina has been my rock through and through.  She knows when to give me TLC and also when to call me a pansy and push me harder.  There is no way I could have done as well without her support.

Kamryn and Landon
aka Double Trouble
Good times...
 Landon enjoying nature 

My Personal Support Crew 
I couldn't of asked for a better crew.  They are the best despite the fact sometimes I really think they think I'm a machine and expect so much from me.  Of course, I pretty much set myself up for always doing crazy stuff that they now expect me to be able to do that sort of craziness all the time.

I busted by bladder....several ultras later
This one has been with me since my first with Jeff Dufour at the Falls Lake 50k.  I really have come a long way since that day.  My generic camelpak from Target really did well but finally quit on me.  The good news is that the bladder is easy to replace.

Before the awards...

Connie awaiting awards....ZEN
She would earn 2nd overall and 1st female.
 Always super nice to me and positive as she passes... you'd never know she was such an elite athlete
The GORUN support Crew

Badwater World Record Holder Valmir Nunes
Fastest 100m split--  16:42
stopped at 105.5 miles for 8th place overall
USA Olympian Connie Gardner
2nd place overall
113.7 miles
100m split in 21:35
Mosi and Jimmy beasted the 24 hours
Got some really cool awards!!
1st and 3rd place overall
Mosi ran over 119 miles in 24 hours!
His 100m split was about 19:29
Jimmy ran about 112 miles
His 100m split was about 20:55
Carter Swamp gets his Buckle!
Carter and his wife Susie have become good friends of our family.  We first met volunteering at the GY100 ultra in the OBX.
Carter did 100m in 20:40 for 18th overall
Carter Swamp holds his BLING..the Belt Buckle you earn if you run 100 miles within the 24 hours
One day....

My BLING! ha! This bottle was designed by Valmir Nunes.
64.4 miles for 46th overall
As in many of the challenges I accept, I am already planning my next adventure! Try to set new goals and engage in new adventures in your life!  I've always felt that if you stop living then you start dying. 
Beast on my friends... beast on!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Raleigh Half Ironman 2013

Before I had even completed the GY100, I had already been coerced by beastly triathletes such as Bert Kelley, Bruce Richter, Josh Mitchell, and Kyle Varnell to sign up for this crazy new challenge in it's first year in NC called the Raleigh Half Ironman 70.3. So if I went ahead and signed up, it would "only" be $199 which would be a relative bargain when it comes to this sort of race.  I thought about it long and hard.  I had always wanted to do a full Ironman and this would be a great way to test how it would be.  I kept thinking... ok if I start with a sprint level tri event and fail, I'd feel like a wimp but heck if I fail at an Ironman then oh well it was an Ironman event right? Right.  Let's get this straight...I would have to first swim 1.2 miles in Jordan Lake before biking in the crazy hills of Wake County in the amount of 56 miles.  Just in case that wasn't enough, I would then finish with a half marathon of 13.1 miles.  Hmmmm ok it's just half of a FULL Ironman right? right. You tend to play many mind games with yourself as you contemplate such craziness but if you've read my other blogs you've already learned that it's simply my nature.

So of course while training for other events such as the GY100, I now had to incorporate swimming and cycling into my training too.  When? How? Running is hard enough but at least you didn't have to worry about daylight safety or going to a pool or lake etc to train.  Unlike the average person, I can do well on 6 hours of sleep but now with ultra and ironman training, there would be some 4 hour sleep days to endure. In the end, it's just a mind game.  I just had to decide to do it. Life is too short as I've said before so if I ever want to think about larger challenges, I knew I had to make this step. Family will always be my priority so I never can go too hard core relative to what I should be doing to prepare. Here is a basic week of how I train... well nearly all year round now...minus swimming

Sundays: LSD yep the endurance athletes drug of choice when not doing SPEED-- 15-22 miles of aerobic mileage; ratio for swimming is distance x4 and for bike divide by 3.  During my training for this event though I focused on running on Sundays and tried to run at least 20 every Sunday.

Mondays: Martial Arts 2 hours; bike trainer 30-60 minutes; weight training 2 hours(chest, triceps, legs emphasis)

Tuesdays: 6-11  mile run at 5am; Martial arts 2 hours

Wednesdays: 30-60min bike(some spinning classes); 1 hour martial arts

Thursdays:  2 hours weight training(Chest, triceps, legs emphasis)

Fridays: 1 hour weight training (shoulder, back, biceps emphasis); 1-2.5 mile swim

Saturdays: 30-60 min bike/spinning classes; 1-2.5 mile swim

so basically depending on week 40-55 aerobic miles which is not that much relative to what I would be doing---

As previously written, I did survive the GY100 63 mile course and after some recovery time I was back on this training schedule.  Unfortunately, on April 9th, I badly sprained my ankle playing basketball. OUCH! In my mind, I figured I'd be ok by the Cures for the Colors Goldsboro Marathon but wrong answer.  I ended up cancelling that. 

Basketball has always been my favorite ball sport.  I've played on several teams in city and church leagues. In high school, I was on the way to play JV Basketball for Goldsboro HS.  I had made the first cut and was still in tryouts.  I wasn't blind that the level of play would be very competitive.  A few of my friends, Phil Knox, Jeff Garratt and his brother Jon asked me to consider wrestling.  I was a sophomore at the time and honestly was clueless about wrestling.  In my mind I was thinking about Black Jack Mulligan with the "CLAW" Ric Flair "WOOO" and other favs of the time.  My friends said I was pretty strong for my weight and that I would probably start since they didn't think anyone was at my weight class to worry about.  So before the final cuts, I let Coach Bowman know I was going to try wrestling instead and soon I would be learning a whole other level of self induced torture called wrestling from Coach Greg King.  The Claw and the Boston Crab were non existent.  They would be replaced with shooting the half, the Peterson, Syracuse, Spraddle,  leg riding, and other new moves.  Well, there was someone in my weight class... a transfer from Oklahoma whose family was originally from Goldsboro. His name was DeCarlos Ford.  His entire family was full of beast athletes and there was no way he would give up the 105 spot to this rookie.  So up I went to the 112lb weight class.  Turned out I would start but because everyone went up or down in weight.  I would enjoy a horrific 1st year record of 3-11!  yep... I counted and knew how many light bulbs were in every HS Gym in Eastern NC.  No worries because I learned more about building character and "intestinal fortitude" from wrestling than any other activity I've ever done.  It is indeed the hardest sport. I would go on the next 2 years at the same 112lb weight class and usually dominate.  I even had some wrestling scholarship opportunities but later decided I missed food.  Soon I found myself at ECU running XC instead. 

10th Grade GHS Wrestling Team (1984-85)

One might be wondering why is he going off on this tangent talking about basketball and wrestling after an ankle injury?  It's to demonstrate that despite adversity, you keep going and you just might surprise yourself.  Ok ok... so that's what I told myself after realizing that I would not be able to run until soon before the half Ironman. I had a good base I told myself.  After all, I just finished an ultra in sleet snow and rain with wind chill factors in the teens.  How could this ankle stop me now?  The truth is that despite me postponing my wish to do the Goldsboro Marathon, I was able to slowly increase endurance training again.  It was a little scary but I kept going back on the fact that my base endurance should be good enough to at least finish it.  Besides, no matter what, as long as I finished, it would be an automatic PR(Personal Record)!

During the last month before the Ironman, endurance mentors Kip Sloan and Rob Powell would help me rebuild my classic Schwinn World!!  After they laughed at the thought I was going to use my 80's model bike in a competition of this level, they offered some other options.  No I would not use one of Kip's $11,000 bikes or buy a new bike yet.  Kip was friends with two of my karate kids' mom Melanie who was nice enough to let me borrow her TREK. It would be a major sweet upgrade and I was happy to borrow the new ride!

Landon approves!
To gain Ironman support I joined the Tricredibles led by Bruce Richter
Behind him is the Trek Bike I borrowed from Melanie

Most of my support continued to come from GORUN (Greenville Organization of Runners) but the knowledge and support from the tricreds were priceless.  I wish I could of trained more with them but many of their training rides and swims were during times I taught karate or had other obligations.  Not training with them would create another challenge for me especially on the first part of the tri....

The Day Before...
It turned out that we had to check in our bikes and prepare the day before in Raleigh.  This would not be an easy day.  My niece Leslie would be getting married at the Aquarium near Emerald Isle NC completely in the opposite direction.  Josh Mitchell and I would check in our bikes using his car.  I would drop him off at his hotel.  I would then take his SUV back to his house to his wife Brook back in Winterville.  I would then drive my car home and get ready for the wedding that night keeping in mind that we would have to go back to Raleigh the same night so I could be on the shuttle buses etc after 4AM. The wedding was beautiful and after sharing pleasantries and eating we were off to Raleigh. Enduring this entire feat with all the kids were in itself a challenge!  Fortunately, Tom Kleinert and his family would let us stay at their house in Raleigh and Tom was going to drop me off in the morning in downtown Raleigh where I would get a ride on a shuttle bus to Jordan Lake.  
My official number!

Bike Check in the day before the 56 miler through Raleigh hills

Jordan Lake where the 1.2m swim would become a bit longer...

Josh checking in...
 despite my head start due to my age, he would still pass me around mile 17 on the bike
Josh at the end of what our swim would be...

After the check in procedures... I took Josh to his hotel, his SUV back to Brook, and then home before my family went to see my niece Leslie get married.... yep it was beautiful and as much as I love to eat and drink... I was a good boy and off to Raleigh we went....
My family and I arrived at the Kleinert's home without any problems.  They are like family and made us feel at home especially since they put us up in their "Pirate's Den" sort of speak.  They had remodeled their home and finished a bonus super room with tons of Pirate stuff, a bathroom, TV, bar, and plenty of sleeping space.  Of course it didn't hurt that I'm also a Star Wars Junkie and there were neat Star Wars Stuff too.

Day of the Half Ironman
June 2, 2013
This day is significant in our family.  My grandfather's birthday was June 2.  Gina's grandfather's birthday was also June 2. Gina's grandparent's anniversary was also June 2.  On a side note, one of my close friends Rickey Carrow's birthday is also on June 2nd.  It would now have another marker at least for me personally...
My lifelong friend, Tom Kleinert and I in Curacao.
Morning came quickly.  I did my typical prep work but was out of sorts having had just a few hours of sleep and having to get ready by flashlight and no noise to avoid waking up Gina and the kiddos.  Mentally, I went through my usual checklist at least 3 times since there would be new obstacles to conquer this time.  Unfortunately, I would later realize I forgot one thing...  It was time to go! Tom, a close friend since the 2nd grade, came through as usual.  By instinct living in the area he knew the quickest and easiest way to get me to my first stop. He dropped me off and wished me well.  I would catch a bus from downtown to Jordan Lake.  It was dark yet the energy from everyone's anticipation, hopes, and dreams were in the air.  I was excited and nervous at the same time. Naturally, I looked around to see if I knew anyone and tried to imagine by how strong the competition was.  Of course, like wrestling and pretty much every sport, you can't tell the beast within by the cover.

So at the beginning of the pool wave for my age group, they randomly talked about competitors.  Yep! I was announced as a Black Belt and some other facts.  Ok.. it was really weird so I just pretended not to pay attention but my buddy Bert Kelly quickly noticed and pat me on my back. It was somewhat awkward since I was such a rookie in this sport. Today I would be a White Belt!!  I had never swam any real distance in open water. Heck, I had to ask Bert how to properly put on my swim cap. Yep, you guessed it.  That was the first time I had ever put on a swim cap too.  Did I mention it was also my first triathlon? yep..  What have I gotten myself into?  Fortunately, Bert was awesome as usual. He helped give some last minute advice and helped me to relax and just have fun.


Here I am coming out of the swim... yep it was suppose to be 1.2m but although the kayak guys kept you from taking a shorter route around the triangle in Jordan Lake, they didn't mind you going longer.  I was finally getting into a good rhythm and then realized that I wasn't getting hit by arms and legs.  I looked up to see that I had drifted way off course.  I had now turned my triangle into a diamond as I took the best tangent possible to get back on course.  Nice... was just one of the socially appropriate words I was saying in my head.  Oh well, I can't whine about it. It wasn't going to change anything.  It was obvious that I was going to have a longer swim than I was planning to do.  Do Work! ok did it... not sure how long but it was more than 1.2 in about 1:07
Ok I survived the swim! Now onto the bike.  You know.. just 56 miles of rolling hills in Wake County. hmmmm  I feel like I forgot something...
Actually a fun ride but it was getting hot....hmmm... did I forget something?
The bike went well overall.  I had done a sub 3 hour time on flatlands in training so to do a 3:25ish in a race on rolling hills, I was happy.  My friend Josh Mitchell passed me at about mile 17 on the bike despite my age group advantage head start.

The first part of the run lasted about a half mile before I decided that it was ok to walk! Yep my legs were spent.  Recovering from my ankle injury took a toll on my endurance.  Sure, I would have been tired anyway but the run should have been ok even if it meant slowing down.  I soon took off but after a few miles I met a guy with a pirate shirt or something on.  I decided that heck it seemed like a good excuse to slow down and talk a bit.  He soon stopped and I decided it was a good idea for me too.  He said he was feeling really blah and told me he had heart surgery in the last year or so.  Neil Rowerdink would soon become a brother of endurance. I actually caught a second wind and was feeling relatively ok but was scared to leave Neil after talking to him.  We stuck together and ran short distances and walked and repeated.  Eventually, Neil decided to walk it in.  At this time I asked him if he'd be ok and we wished each other luck.  At this point, the hard part was done and I didn't mind the slower time since it was an automatic PR.  I made another pirate friend and all was good in the world.  I continued of course at a slow and steady pace.  CC Wilkins, my childhood scouts friend, and I crossed paths on a loop path but he was several miles ahead of me.  I later met up with Kyle Varnell and ran about a half mile with him but after I stopped at the Tricredible Support Station I looked up and he was gone.  I was happy about the Tricred station.  Legends like Phil Rowan were in grass skirts goofing off and keeping everything light.  It was great to see them and I was able to see them twice as we had to do the loop with them again before leaving the area.
After leaving that area, there was plenty left of course.  I met up with Tonya Winfield.  I had heard of her but never actually officially met or talked with this great tricred.  We stayed together and helped each other fight through the last part.  She was awesome and I really appreciated it.  She was a younger cat though so she was technically about an hour ahead of me.  I think I will be known as the slowest tricred to ever do a half Ironman :)
YES!! The finish line awaits!!

What a great feeling! Sure, it was slower than planned but considering everything from a basketball ankle injury to the heat, rolling hills, and supporting a fellow pirate I was very happy! I had just finished my first triathlon!
let's face it.. even guys like some bling too ;)
Here I am celebrating with Bert Kelly!
Whoa! Now I know what I forgot!! Sunscreen!!!
My number was sun tattooed on my for about a year until the next Raleigh half IM.
Another badge of endurance right? right.
Next adventure?