Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Product Review: Pro Compression Athletic Performance Socks

    Upon returning home from the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra, I was delighted to see a package from Pro Compression sitting on the kitchen counter. Inside were two pair of their Athletic Performance socks. After running for almost 20 hours straight, amassing 68 miles in the process, I was damn sure ready for some compression and recovery!

   I am sure it was comical watching me put them on. Not being the most flexible of people to begin with, then adding in the abuse of the race, I struggled mightily with them. They are tight, and more difficult to put on then other socks. There is a reason for this..... Compression! Once they were on, they felt extremely comfortable. It is worth the effort, believe me!  In true ultra running style, I got comfortable and fell into a deep sleep. Wore the socks all night. In the morning the legs and feet felt great! Especially the calves. My right foot had some soreness the night before, but was feeling much better in the morning!

  The next test was a nice 14 mile run along the Bridle trails and single track at Umstead State Park. With it's rather hilly terrain, it was a perfect spot for a test ride (run)!

Ready to hit the trails!

  The socks were great! The best part was that I didn't FEEL like I was wearing compression socks. Once again, very comfortable, but with the right amount of tight! My training partner Hannah and I hit the hills pretty hard, and my calves felt good the whole way. The feet held up well also! No issues with hot spots or discomfort, even pounding down the single track trail.
Going up!

Pro Compression Socks Rock! I would recommend them  not just to runners but all endurance athletes. They "Keep it Tight" and let you go with the (vascular) flow! They come in a variety of styles and colors too!
For more info, visit them at : http://www.procompression.com/ 
  As a special offer for my readers, Pro Compression has provided a code, for 40% off and free shipping. Code is: FIT 40. It is good thru 12/15! They make a perfect gift for that runner or endurance athlete in your life!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crooked Road 24 Hour Race Report

So, you may ask, how does one recover from a DNF and a cold? Why they run in a circle for 24 hours in the cold, dry Virginia air, that's how!

  Our latest running adventure put us in Rocky Mount, Va. for the 2nd annual  running of the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra. As usual, I was joined by my partners in crime, the "5 am" crew of Lauren and Mo. We arrived in town Friday evening, with my Suzuki packed with enough food and clothing to survive a nuclear shock wave.

  With the race start scheduled at a sleeper friendly 8am, we left the hotel a little past 7am. The sun was up, there was frost on the ground and temps were slightly below the freezing mark. We got to the park, and after a brief but intense debate about where to park and set up, we started to unpack and set up camp.
Lauren and her beloved hand warmers!  Photo by M. Percy
This would be Mo's first 24 hour run. Lauren and I had done Hinson Lake before. We did not have a canopy nor a tent, and only one chair. If you make your surroundings too comfortable, you are more likely to stop running and start sitting. Or laying down. Or sleeping. BEWARE THE CHAIR! as we say in ultra land.
Frosty!                                     Photo courtesy of  M. Percy

We made our way to the start line, milled around a few minutes greeting friends, the horn sounded and we were off!
   The course was a loop, measuring .950423 of a mile. Not being a nice even mile made for some difficult ultra math later on in the day, when all the blood had left the brain and was busy keeping the legs moving. 
  The thing I love about the 24 hour loop format is you get to run with a lot of folks throughout the course of the day. The 5am crew was separated early in the race. Then I was running with Lauren for a bit. Lauren had been fighting a cold all week and was taking it easy. She being the social butterfly of the group, I left her knowing that she would be chatting and singing her way along the course and making friends. I went ahead to see how Mo was doing. It took me a while to track Mo down, but I finally ran up on her and we settled in and started ticking off some laps.
  The day wore on and the laps and miles piled up. Slowly it seemed! Mo and I stuck together and were grinding away.We finally got past marathon distance. Then we hit the 50K mark. Mo had not gone longer than 50 miles or 12 hours, so she was about to enter new territory! We ran through the 40 mile mark, remembering how long it took us to run the Uwharrie Mountain 40 miler last year, and what fools we are for signing up again for 2013!
  As Darkness fell, Lauren decided to take a break and head back to the Hotel and rest for a bit. She is a tough girl, and had ground out 50K so far, all the while feeling under the weather. Mo and I put our headlamps on and soldiered into the night.  We passed the 12 hour mark, another PR for Mo! Then came the 50 mile mark. It was starting to get cold, but we were still doing well and had our sights set on the 100K mark.
  Details and events start to get foggy here. We came through the 100K mark and suddenly realized Mo had made it onto the women's leader board! We were still sticking to our method of running half the course and walking the other half. We would crest the big hill, enter the "abyss" the flat, cold and lonely section of the loop where we would run until we passed the overlook.
 Ah, sweet delirium! We would come through the aid station, the volunteers would yell out our lap number, and within 200 feet of passing them we could not remember what number they told us! I was hearing birds chirping off in the woods. Mo heard them as well. We stopped to listen, but when we stopped, they stopped chirping! " Those damn birds are f***ing with us Mo!" This went on for many laps until I discovered the "chirping" sound was actually my nylon wind jacket sleeve rubbing against the side of the jacket!

  We were stopping more frequently. It was getting colder too. After hours of sucking in cold air and  talking non stop, my voice was now gone. I sounded like Joe Cocker with laryngitis! Then  BANG! We hit a wall. I should say Mo hit a wall. I hit THE WALL! We staggered through a few more laps, then I told Mo "I gotta stop for a bit." Mo kept going. The Amazing Armenian! She was now near the top of the female leader board!
  I texted Lauren to let her know what was going on. She had come back earlier in the night, with a life saving cup of McDonalds coffee for me, as well as for the volunteers. She then headed back to the hotel to get more rest. It was now close to 5am. She would be coming back at 6am to try and get in a few more laps. I had an hour to kill before I could nap in the car. I was really starting to feel sick, so I changed into some dry clothes, went into the heated bathroom, sat on the toilet and took a nap!
   I vaguely remember hobbling out of the bathroom, seeing my car, mumbling something to Lauren and getting into the car. The door opened several minutes later, and just as I was about to cuss Lauren out, she put a blanket over me and tucked me in. A true ultra buddy! Nite, Nite! She was also kind enough to capture the moment on film!

  Mo was still out there, plugging away. I drifted in and out of sleep, finally hearing the horn that signified the end of the race.

  Mo crushed it! A stunning 83.5 laps for a total of 79.32 miles and second place female and 8th place overall! Lauren worked in a few more laps as well, finishing with a gutty performance totaling 41.30 miles. I finished with 68.43 miles, 10th overall for mileage  and 7th place male.(All results are "unofficial" at this point)

    We all made it through in one piece, a little banged up, sore, snotty but happy! I am happy to report my voice came back, a somewhat more soulful "Hootie and the Blowfish" type tone to it. I would like to thank my compatriots Mo and Lauren, who never cease to amaze and inspire me. I love you guys!  Thanks to all my friends, old and new, who kept me going out there. It was great seeing everyone. Last but not least, a huge thank you to RD Ricky Scott and all the all the amazing volunteers that made this such a great experience!

For more info on the race check out http://www.crookedroadrunning.com/#/24-hour-event/4552535835


Monday, November 19, 2012

Product Review: ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe

  Don't lie to me. We have all done it. Runners, gym rats, trainers, cyclists. In our increasingly fast paced world we tend to prioritize. We are more likely to skip a shower than a workout. Well there is good news: The ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe.

This refreshing 9"x8" wipe is alcohol free and contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. It has a great scent, and best of all, it does not leave any residue and dries quickly!

I used ShowerPill after teaching my 75 minute spin class last Tuesday and was impressed with how quick and easy it was to use. Best of all, it did not bother my skin at all!

  The next test was using after my 11 mile trail run on Thursday. Since there was no facilities available after the run, I wiped down with the ShowerPill and felt much better about myself, especially since I stopped in to the local Moe's for a post run refueling!

  This past weekend I ran the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra Run. I ended up running for about 20 hours straight, topping out at 68 miles. Needless to say, one can get quite "funky" during these types of events, but I  stopped and freshened up with ShowerPill around mile 40, which brought me back to life!

  I would definitely recommend ShowerPill for folks who live on the go, whether they be athletes or not. It is easy to carry and use, and provides you with refreshing, effective results when a shower is not available.

The Folks over at ShowerPill have a special "Buy two, Get one free" Black Friday sale on Amazon.com! Customers must place 3 boxes in the shopping cart and enter code: SPFRIDAY to receive the 3rd box free. Offer is valid 11/23 - 11/25

Check out the ShowerPill website!  www.showerpill.com

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mountain Massacre: Mountain Masochist Trail Race Report

 It's Friday, the day before the 30th running of the Mountain Masochist 50 + mile trail run. I am driving up highway 501 with Mo and Jenn, on our way to Lynchburg, Va. Jenn's phone rings. We hear her talking to someone, going "are you kidding me?' etc. Jenn hangs up the phone and explains to us that there is 4+ inches of snow on the "loop" section of the course and that there are also waist deep drifts of snow as well. Awesome. We had received several emails from Clark, the race director, during the week advising that there would be snow on sections of the course, but with clear weather the past several days, we had thought most of the snow would have melted. The loop section of the course was the introduction to the second half of the race, after the climb up Long Mountain to the halfway point at 26 miles or so. (Horton math). Some of us would get to see the snow, some not.

  6:30am, race day. Standing at the start, shivering, temp about 37 degrees. Race gear: Race Ready shorts, Nike base layer, cycling jersey. I opted for the cycling jersey over the hydration pack from a comfort standpoint, due to the length of the race. I had my ultimate Direction hand held and my Montrail Rouge Fly. I had the Hokas packed in my drop bag at mile 26, just in case.

  Off we went, into the darkness along a paved road. My trusty Fenix headlamp, affectionately known as "The Mothership" due to it's amazing brightness, was appearing somewhat dim. It was then I remembered not having replaced the batteries after the Hinson Lake 24 hour ultra. Thankfully, other folks lights provided me enough vision, and an hour into the race, it was beginning to get light.
  Photo by M. Percy

We ran on the road for a mile or so, then onto some double track. Mile two was marked by a creek crossing, then a watery tunnel. Since there was no way around the water, you just had to embrace it and slog through it. Despite the cold, my feet felt okay. The Rouges dried out rather quickly as well.

  I was feeling okay at this point. I was trying to keep a steady pace, being somewhat conservative but staying ahead of the cut offs. It was going to be a long day, regardless.  I went through Peavine Gap Aid stations #1&2, then on through Dancing Creek and Parkway Gate AS at Mile 15. I was staying hydrated and had taken a gel and ate a Cliff Bar up to this point. It was also around this point I noticed I was not feeling particularly strong on the hills. I was power walking them, but still was feeling somewhat tired. Not a good sign.

  I fought my way from  Parkway Gate up to Robinson Gap, then enjoyed a nice downhill into Irish Creek AS at mile 19. Two miles later, I went through The Reservoir AS, three minutes ahead of the cut off. I grabbed some food, refilled my hand held and headed out for the climb up Long Mountain.

  The climb up Long Mountain felt endless. It was 5 miles of climbing to get to the Long Mountain AS, the halfway point. I felt myself slowing down. There was no "pop" in the legs, and I found myself trudging up the mountain. I was now getting very fatigued. I was trying to do cutoff math in my head, to no avail.  My form was really suffering, and I began to feel like a marionette with all it's strings tangled up. It seemed like an eternity had passed when I finally crested the climb and hit the flat stretch that led to the Long Mountain Aid Station. Upon reaching the aid station, I was greeted by a rather sheepish young man who informed me I had just missed the cut off and was being pulled from the course.  I told him I understood, and he actually thanked me for not freaking out on him. (apparently the woman who came in right in front of me was pulled too, and was not too happy about it!)  

  It was my first DNF. I was okay with it. I was just not feeling it. I would have been pulled either going in or coming out of the loop section later in the race anyhow. My drop bag was here, and I could catch a bus to the finish line and watch everyone finish. As I walked toward the bus I heard a knocking on one of the bus windows. It was my friend Jenn, who had made the cut off but had been struggling with a cold/sinus issue all week and decided to drop, knowing that she would not have enough to finish the second half.  I asked her about our friends Tim and Mo, and she said they were both looking good and heading up Buck Mountain towards the loop.The buses then headed out, bringing us to the finish line.

   Jenn and I set up shop at the Country Store across the street from the finish. We sat on the porch, drank coffee and watched the finishers come in. Many of the folks that crossed the line looked pretty beat up, as conditions on the loop were rough. The 12 hour finish time was extended by a half an hour due to the challenges along the loop. Jenn and I waited anxiously for Mo and Tim to come in, standing in the dark at the finish line. As the last bus was about to pull out, We got on it. There was no cell service, so we had to wait about a half hour into the bus ride before we could reach Mo, only to find out she was already back at the hotel! Mo had made it to mile 41 before missing the cut off. Our friend Tim was pulled at mile 38.

Mo at Mile 41

293 people started, 236 finished. There were also 49 people that did not start. This is one that will go back on the calendar for 2013. Next year I will not run a 50K two weeks before this race. I will train more on hills. I will be back.............

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." - Edward Abbey