Saturday, July 28, 2012

Body Glide Prize Pack Giveaway

Hey folks, I have teamed up with the good folks at Body Glide this month and will be giving away a BodyGlide prize pack to one lucky winner. It's simple. Just leave a comment on the blog about why you would like to get your hands on some "Endurance Insurance" and you are entered! I will select a winner on Wednesday 8/1, so check back in to see if you've won!

 Another way to win is to go to the BodyGlide Facebook Page : Like their page and leave a comment referencing the blog and you will be entered to win a prize pack there too!
  You have two chances to win so good luck!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday. View from Above

Never underestimate where a trail run can lead you!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grandfather Mountain Race Report

"And springtime brought me the frightful laugh of an idiot." - Arthur Rimbaud

  It was sometime in the spring, probably in the midst of an endorphin high, when I signed up for this race. Never mind that the words "Grandfather" and "Mountain" are rarely used with the term marathon. "One of America's toughest marathons" the website proudly boasted. You finish on top of a mountain! Right in the middle of the Highland Games! Bagpipes! I had just recently purchased my Sportkilt, and even though I had no real grasp of my Scottish ancestry, it all seemed logical at the time.
  So, at 6:30am on July 14th, in godforsaken humidity and with thunder rolling off in the distance, I toed the start line at the track inside Kidd Brewer Stadium at Appalachian State University. We were to do two laps around the track, then head out on the roads through Boone, NC, and slowly wind our way up the hills to McRae Meadows, at the top of Grandfather Mountain, 26.2 miles later.
  And yes folks, my Sportkilt would be making the entire journey up the mountain with me! (No commando mode for me tho!)
 We started, and were quickly off the track and onto the streets. You had to complete the marathon in 5 hours and 30 minutes or less to finish inside the stadium at the Highland Games. After that, you got to finish at the "Marathon" tent just outside. I really wanted to finish on the track inside the stadium, but in the days prior to the race I had doubts on whether I could get there in time or not. With that in mind, I ran with a purpose through the flat miles in town, trying to deposit as many minutes in the "Time Bank" as I could before the hills began. First mile was 8:43, followed by mile 2 at 9:13.
    It was around mile two that I hooked up with local ultra legend Joey Anderson and ran with him for the next six miles or so. Normally I would not have the pleasure of Joey's company, as he is swift afoot, but he had been recovering from a rather nasty dog bite attack, and a 100K run several weeks prior. The hills began around mile three, and with the high humidity, we were already drenched! I was questioning my kilt decision already.
  We walked some of the steeper sections of the hills early, in an effort to conserve energy. This was Joey's 7th time at GMM, as opposed to my first, and his encyclopedic  knowledge of the course really helped me out those first several miles.
  At the aid station at mile 8, I stopped to refill my hand held, and Joey went on his way. I was now running by myself, as my two partners in crime, Mo and Lauren, has opted not to join in the fun this time around.
  Now my ever increasingly soggy kilt and I settled in for some hilly miles ahead. I was trying to come up with some Scottish mantra at this point to keep me focused, but all that came to my head was the intro to Steve Earle's "Copper Head Road", so I had to go with what I had!

  It was also right around this point a car slowed as it crested up to me. The driver, who I would see along the course several more times that day, noticed my kilt, rolled down his window and shouted "If it's not Scottish, it's crap!!" a reference to an old Mike Meyers sketch from Saturday Night Live. That got me back into the spirit of things quickly!

 The miles began to tick off. I now entered onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile 11, where we would run for 4 miles. I passed mile 13 and suddenly began to feel tired, even though I was on a relatively flat section. Here it was, the dreaded "low point". Having been through this several times during ultras, I knew I would run my way through it. But for now, I walked my way through it. I had hit the halfway point in around 2:25, making a track finish very possible, but that still did not lift my spirits.
  I finally exited off the Parkway, crossed underneath it, and now entered onto Clarence Newton Road, which was gravel. Whatever emotional boost I had gotten from getting off the Parkway was now drained from me as I slowed once again and scraped my way along the gravel. I ran briefly with another guy and we chatted a bit. ( HE chatted, I just kinda grunted) I then began to notice his exhales sounded like those of a horse, and he was making quite a respiratory racket. This inspired me to pick up the pace slightly, just as we were about to start the monster climb at mile 17.
 I power walked up the hill, putting some distance between myself and my equestrian friend.
  Having been spoiled by ultra marathon aid stations, and not having raced a traditional marathon in a while, I completely forgot that marathon AS's generally only carry water and electrolyte drinks and not food. I had taken the first of my two Vega Sport endurance gels back somewhere in the single digit miles, so now it was time to pop the next one. Two gels and Gatorade were gonna have to get me through this one!
  Slowly, the tide began to turn. The big hill was behind me, and I began to get in a good rhythm on the downhill sections. I started to pass a few folks as well. Around mile 19, I came up on a runner going up a hill section. It was a friend from Raleigh, Lisa, who I was really surprised to see. (another very strong runner with tons of races under her belt) I asked her if she was okay. She said she was having problems catching her breath and thought the combination of humidity and whatever funky pollen or mold was growing in the area might be causing her breathing difficulties. I walked with her a bit, gave her some encouragement, and headed on my way. She is a cagey veteran, and she accepted the fact that today was not her day. (She would go on to finish and it was great to see her post race, feeling better!)

  Cresting the top of another hill at mile 20, I saw some kids hanging out at the side of the road. As I got closer to them, I realized they were handing out ice pops! This was too good to be true! I took one, thanked them endlessly and went to work on that puppy. Cold and sugary, just what I needed. To my knowledge, this was not an "official" rest stop, just some local folks helping runners out! I don't recall at what mile, but there was a man who was handing out cold sponges to wipe yourself off with as well!
  The ice pop, in combination with reaching the 20 mile mark, really helped to lift my spirits. 10K to go. My Scottish brogue buddy passed me one last time and shouted, "Aye Laddie, you'll be hearin' the bagpipes soon!"   A quick look at the Garmin told me unless there was some catastrophe between now and the finish, I would make it into the stadium in time! I was back into a solid pace again, and I was able to pass a few more folks. My poor kilt was now a soggy mess, slapping my rear end in perfect cadence with my pace. I didn't care.
  Of course, my exuberance was thwarted briefly as I began to ascend the final hill back up towards the Blue Ridge Parkway  and the entrance to Grandfather Mountain. Mile 24. There was the sign, big and beautiful: Grandfather Mountain - 2 miles ahead. Mile 25 seemed to take forever, then the last mile. It then seemed I would never reach the track inside the stadium where we were to run 3/4 of a lap to the finish chute!
  I saw the volunteers at the turn you took to get onto the field which lead into the arena. You had to run a little bit across a muddy field, then up a tiny hill which then lead you onto the track. The sun, which had thankfully been hidden behind clouds and fog for most of the morning, seemed to suddenly burst out around mile 24, bringing my now rather heavy feeling kilt to a state of super saturation. It mattered not. Because now I was on the track, bagpipe music filling my ears, and robust applause surrounding me. I went into my kick, passed one more person on the track, and finished in 5:07:44, well ahead of the cut off I had worried so much about.
 I had made it, and had done a lot better than I thought I would. A soggy, yet satisfying race indeed!
On the track, heading to the finish line!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chattanooga Mountain Stage Race Video

Here's a cool video from my friends at Rock Creek  Check out their site for more info on some great races!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Eastern Divide 50K Race Report

I set off on another 50K adventure June 23rd at the Eastern Divide 50K in Giles County Virginia. I was there with my "5am crew" compatriots Lauren and Mo.  This being a "Point to Point" race, we had to arrive early to catch the shuttle to take us to the start. Due to some last minute changes in hotel accommodations, I had us booked about 45 minutes from the shuttle pick up point, which resulted in me taking a rash of s**t from my trail hommies the rest of the weekend!
  After a bumpy ride in a school bus, we lined up at the start at 7:30am from the Casacades Trailhead. There were many others friends who had made the trip from the Raleigh area for this inaugural  event, so it almost felt like a hometown race.

 And then we were off! We ran for what seemed like 30 seconds, following along the side of a stream, then began the initial 2 mile ascent after passing the much touted waterfall.
  Much power walking ensued. I was trying a slightly different tactic this race, going out a little more aggressive than usual, to see if I could push the pace and hang on until the end. It was warm but not yet hot, but reaching AS #1 at the 4 mile mark I was already drenched in sweat...... Awesome!

  I had left Lauren and Mo at the start and kept pressing on, reaching AS#2 along the increasingly rougher fire road heading towards Bailey Gap. After Bailey Gap the trail went downhill for a while. I saw a girl go down after catching her foot on a rock, but thankfully she got up and was okay. Right after that my friends Renee and Chris caught up to me. We ran together briefly, then Chris and I watched as Renee took off and headed out of sight down the trail. She was running strong and had a great race.
  Chris and I ran together for a while. I admired Chris's bravery for wearing his VFF's for this race, although he had to slow down on the downhills due to the large shale rock that was everywhere along the fire road.
  We reached AS #3 (13 miles), strategically placed before the next killer climb. What followed next was a seemingly endless hump straight uphill and to the summit of the mountain and AS #4.  (18 miles) It was here that you could leave a drop bag, and I happily grabbed mine and put on a dry shirt. I popped some Ibuprofen, grabbed some coke and a PB&J, and Chris and I headed back out.
  I had not seen Lauren and Mo since the start, but knowing the strength of Lauren and the tenacity of Mo, I was expecting them to catch me before the finish. The fire road now ran downhill after the summit, and not long after we left AS#4 Lauren and Mo caught me. Lauren was looking strong and was soon out ahead of us. Mo, Chris and I stayed together and chatted our way through the rollers. I started to struggle a little bit, starting to question whether I went out too hard too early. Mo was excited, because we were about to head into some single track after AS#5 at 22 miles. We rolled into AS#5, which was a cutoff point for the race. (You had to reach AS#5, 22 miles, by 2:30pm) We were well ahead of the cutoff, heading into the single track section, with 8 miles to go.

  Only one problem. I was trashed! I shuffled along the single track, feeling like a marionette with all it's strings tangled up. At one point I was walking along a flat section, barely picking up my feet. I could hear Mo behind saying "C'mon Geno", so I kept trudging along, hoping to "run" my way out of it. I "pulled the Chain" on all my Honey Stinger chews in an effort to kick start my system. It must have worked, along with the realization that we were getting close to the end. I perked up just before we came out into a baking hot meadow and hit AS#6 (25 miles). We came up on the station and  was surprised to see Lauren there. She had stopped to rest and was not feeling well.  I gave her some Ibuprofen for her headache, we ate a little, filled up on fluids and headed out. It was now Chris, Lauren and myself. The sneaky and tenacious Mo (No Mercy) Percy had slipped away up the trail.

  We headed back into single track, leaving the arid meadow behind.
 I had a minor bout of Trail Tourette's at this point, cursing as my exhausted legs would not raise up enough to allow my feet to clear the rocks and roots. I was slightly out in front of Lauren when I heard HER start cussing. She had just rolled her ankle. I turned around and went back to check on her. She was standing at the base of a log which was lying across the trail, looking down at her ankle with watery eyes. Just like Mo had done for me, I said C'mon Sparky,( one of the endless trail/nick names we give each other) it's okay, were almost there. Chris had caught back up to us by then, and once again we set off, determined to finish this f#@#$%% race!
    Chris and his VFF's tackling the trail!

  We had finally come up to AS #7 (28 miles). We desperately asked the volunteers there how far it was to the finish. We had been getting conflicting info at the last aid station and it was messing with our heads! The good folks at AS #7 promised us it was only 2 miles to the finish. Home stretch....well,sort of.
  The night before, Lauren, Mo and I scouted the finish area. It appeared to us then that We would have to run past the finish area, down a trail, hang a sharp left onto some single track before coming out into a meadow where the finish line was. I was so glad we had seen the finish beforehand, because if I had not know about that little diversion ahead of time I would have lost my shit completely. The old "Phantom Finish" trick. Priceless.
  So we rumbled past the finish area, down that damn trail, which now seemed interminably longer than the night before, and passed the "1 mile to go" sign. We hooked the left onto the single track, which immediately went uphill. Dammit! We crested the hill, and Lauren said "let's run it!". I took off, and promptly turned my ankle. Releasing a spectacular stream of profanity, I limped briefly, got a hold of myself and kept looking for the opening to the meadow and the finish. I saw daylight and took off once again, rumbling toward the finish in a time of 7:13:58, 113th out of 158.Two hundred folks had registered. There were some no shows, and I'm sure a few DNF's as well. Lauren and Chris finished right behind me. The ever steady Mo had finished well ahead of us in 7:05:48. Renee crushed the course in 6:11:33!
 My Garmin showed 6080 feet of climb for the course!
Me rumbling in to the finish!

 While not the most enjoyable race, we learned things, helped each other through the tough spots and survived another adventure!

Renee, Mo, Myself and Lauren post race!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cold Wash Wednesday Contest Winner!!

Congratulations to Stephanie Carter of Wilmington, NC ! She is our winner of the "Cold Wash Wednesday" contest. Stephanie, The Amphipod hand held is on the way!! Here is the winning shot:

Stephanie impressed our panel not only with the amount of laundry, but the use of exercise equipment (ab inverter) for a drying rack!

 Also for using multiple rooms in the house for drying purposes!

Stayed tuned for more giveaways this month!! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cold Wash Wednesday update

Knowing that most of you probably do your best work over the weekend, I have extended the contest entry deadline until Tuesday 7/3 at 11:59pm. get those pics in!