Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Uwharrie Mountain 40 Miler Preview

"Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley." - Theodore Roethke

    I ran the Uwharrie Mountain 40 mile run last year, for the first time. I was fortunate to have the company of my friend Mo with me for the entire race. Our goal was just to finish, which we did, in just under 12 hours. At that point, it was the hardest event I had done. With an additional year of experience and some foolish race choices behind me, this run still ranks in the top three of races you hate to love.
 So I am back for more.

  I am hoping to improve on last year's time somewhat. I will be without the company of Mo, who is focusing her training on the Ironman this year. There are many other friends running, who I will no doubt come face to face with when they reach the turn around ahead of me. This is because the 40 mile runners get to run 20 miles out, turn around and run 20 miles back. The 20 mile race is point to point, along the exact same course. So, when you get to the turnaround at mile 20, you will see happy, relieved people, huddled by a bonfire, celebrating their finish. You, on the other hand, grab some fresh gear, contemplate dropping at 20 miles, then mindlessly head back out to traverse in reverse, as it were.

This, only twice!

 I am feeling a little more confident this year, knowing what I am up against. I have run a little bit since the Weymouth Wooods 100K two weeks ago, and the legs feel good. Now it it time to assemble gear, review logistics and go.

  "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." - Edmund Hillary

Uwharrie 2012

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Product Review: YakTrax Run

 I was very excited back at the end of November when the folks at Yaktrax contacted me about testing some of their products. I was also was concerned. Living in Central North Carolina, we are not known for our harsh winters. We rarely get any significant snowfall here, which is a good thing because a quarter inch of snow can shut down Raleigh, the capital of our fine state.

 Early in December the package arrived from Yaktrax. It was 70 degrees that day.

  So I waited. There were several chances in the month of December for snow, none of which came to fruition. I even thought about a road trip to the mountains of NC to seek out some snow and ice!

Finally, today, January 26th 2013, my patience was rewarded. We had a winter "Weather event". Now my friends to the North and out West would laugh at this measly amount of frozen precipitation, but I was very excited to wake up and find a 3/4 inch sheet of ice covering the road we live on!

I quickly found the Yaktrax box and tore it open like a kid on Christmas morning. I grabbed my Altra Torin and strapped on the YakTrax. They were a little tight and initially hard to get on, but I pass this off on being excited and trying to hurry out the door. I grabbed the dog, bolted out the door, and off we went!
My dog Culliver has not yet mastered the art of running in a straight line, and is prone to changing direction quicker than an NFL running back. He would be the ultimate test of the YakTrax stability on ice We crunched our way down the driveway and onto the road. It was very quiet and there was not a car to be seen.
The Test Course

I was immediately impressed with the grip the Yaktrax provided. very stable footing, even with the dog zig zagging and occasionally tugging me along. I was also surprised how comfortable they were on my feet. Virtually unnoticeable! We cruised past the final subdivision entrance and headed downhill towards the small airport at the end of the road. Even running fairly hard on the downhill, the grip was excellent, and they fear of slipping and landing on my butt soon vanished.
The "Run" version of Yaktrax have removable carbide steel spikes, which are located on the forefoot area, and Abrasion-resistant steel coils on the heel area. 
The spikes

Spikes and Coils!

We ran on, enjoying the eerie quiet of the carless morning, with Culliver making the occasional stop to sniff some deer tracks. We got down to the abandoned private  airport and turned around to head back towards the house. We had a nice little hill to climb on the way back, and I zipped right up. I was running on the forefoot uphill and the spikes really dug in nicely! They may looks small, but they provide excellent traction.
Going back up the hill towards home!

I would highly recommend Yaktrax for winter training and running on ice or snow. They are lightweight, comfortable and provide outstanding 360 degree traction.

For more information, check out

I would also like to thank my training buddy Culliver for keeping me company on the test run!

Here is a brief video clip of our run!



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weymouth Woods 100K 2013: The roots of all Evil

My first race of 2013 brought me back to Southern Pines, NC for the Weymouth Woods 100K. Nestled in the Sandhills of NC, this is a challenging little course with roots galore. I ran this last year, at a nice casual pace and was looking to improve on my time while getting a good solid training run in for the Umstead 100 in April. Unlike others, I was not getting caught up in the hysteria of this being a Western States qualifier.

  I got to the park early, picked up my packet and chatted with RD Marie Lewis and caught up with friends as we waited for the pre race briefing at 7:30am. At 8am we were outside, shivering at the chilly start line and then we were off!  Fourteen 4.5 mile laps ahead of us!

  The course was in great shape, although the wooden foot bridges were a little slick the first several laps. I settled in quickly, and knocked out the first lap in 50:59. I stayed under an hour for each of the first three loops, a little quicker than I probably should have run them, but I was feeling good. I was trying a new fueling strategy, using "Generation UCAN", along with some homemade hummus wraps for a little solid food along the way. I was having a UCAN shake every 3 hours or so for my main source of fuel, along with some electrolytes that I would grab at both of the Aid stations. I opted not to use my hand held, as I never remember to switch hands, and wind up with my left shoulder aching after about 20 miles.
Finishing lap 3!   Photo by M. Lewis

  Lap four I slowed it down a little bit, and was starting to pay the price for a quick start. I stayed pretty consistent for laps 5 through 9, although I did hit a little low spot around mile 20, but I ran my way through it. I would run this race pretty much by myself, with the occasional company of friends as we caught up to one another along the course. I had broken code and went to the Sony Walkman W early, and was enjoying the Megadeth and Motorhead now pulsing in my ears as I stomped along the roots. I got a nice surprise towards the end of lap seven when I spotted my training buddy and Momma to be Lauren walking the trail in the opposite direction and taking pictures. She had come down to the race to cheer us on. I kept on truckin', knowing I would see her again at the start of lap 8.
Rollin'!       Photo by L. Wilkins

  I ran back into Lauren around mile two of lap 8, stopped to chat a minute and got a quick hug, then soldiered on. The sun was starting to sit low in the sky and we would be running in the dark before we knew it.

  I finished lap 9, changed my base layer, shirt and gloves, got some more generation UCAN and grabbed my headlamp. As my ultra buddy Bill Gentry would say: "It aint a party 'till the lights go out." I was ready to party. I enjoy running at night. Lap 10 was my slowest, due in part to the extra time needed to change clothes. I had a strong lap 11 and was looking forward to getting done. The roots were getting larger and hungrier now, nipping at my feet as I struggled to clear them. My Garmin and Walkman had both died at this point, but a least my Fenix headlamp was still going strong and lighting the way. Finishing up lap 12, I had a brief spell of paranoia and stopped at the timer's table to make sure I only had two laps left. Once this was confirmed, I set out on my way.

2 laps left!
   I was cruising along lap 13, right around mile 56, when my foot hooked a root on a slight downhill section. Pete Rose would have been proud of the form I exhibited as violently crashed to the earth.
 I was okay, just extremely pissed off. I walked for the next quarter mile, my trail tourettes in full effect. I believe several new profanity couplets were invented along this quarter mile stretch. Even with that, I still had a solid lap, 2 minutes faster than lap 12.

  The final lap:   Coming in to the timing mat at the finish of lap 13, I was at 13 hours, 58 minutes. I had no intention of trying for a WS qualifying sub 15 hour, even though my buddy Jim W. was standing there trying to egg me on!  I was in full "DNS" (do nothing stupid) mode at this point, trying to focus on the roots and not recreate another "Charlie Hustle" trail moment. I ran a little, walked a little, making my way past all the landmarks I had come to know all too well. I came through aid station #2 for the last time, stopping to thank Doug and Jimmy for their gracious hospitality, grabbed a quick cup of Gatorade and chugged on down the trail. Soon, the lights of Race HQ were glimmering in front of me. I climbed those God Forsaken root stairs one last time and crossed the finish in 15:07:35.
Roots!    Photo by M. Long

 I was very happy with my time. I changed clothes and hung out inside the "Recovery lounge" where Denise was working her massage magic on the badly beaten bodies. I stayed there for a while, chatting with Jenn E. and my buddy Jim W. I can't recall exactly what we talked about, but I remember laughing a lot!

  I gathered up my stuff and faced the next daunting challenge, driving two hours by myself back home! Got back to the house around 2:30am.

Thanks to Marie Lewis and all the awesome volunteers that make this a special race. Congratulations to all who qualified for Western States and good luck at Lottery time! 

Equipment used: 
Shoes:    Altra Superior (3 laps)   Altra Torin (11 laps)
Socks:   Pro Compression Athletic Socks
Brooks Rouge Runner Shorts
Nike Pro Base Layer Turtle Neck
Pro Compression Tee and Beanie

Generation UCAN Lemonade Sports Nutrition Drink
Gu Octane
Home Made Hummus Wraps
Copious amount of water and Gatorade

Other Gear:
Sony Walkman W
Garmin 305
Fenix HP 11 Headlamp


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gearing up For Weyomouth Woods 100K

  So I have spent the last week hacking away with a God awful cough, accompanied by brain searing sinus headaches. An unusual approach to tapering, I must say. I am running the Weymouth Woods 100K trail run this Saturday and for the second year in a row, recovering from an illness a week before the race!

  Last year it was the dreaded stomach flu, with all it's glorious symptoms, so I guess this year's cold was an upgrade.

After 6 days of not running, (taught some spin classes tho)  I finally got in a "test run" yesterday at Umstead State Park. 8 miles along the rolling hills of the bridle trails with my friend Mo. After a wheezy start, I was able to settle in and actually felt quite good the rest of the way, which was comforting because I was slightly terrified that I would not be able to breathe!

  I had a good run last year at Weymouth. I ran with my buddy Lauren, and we basically used it as a long training run. Lauren was in training for the Umstead 100 at the time, as I am now. We took it real easy, lingered at the aid stations longer than we should have and had more outfit changes than a Beyonce show. We finished in just under 17 hours.

Lauren and I along the Trail

Alas, Lauren will not be joining me this year, as she is pregnant. (twins no less!) We ran together the whole way last year, so her company will be sorely missed! 

There are plenty of friends that will be running Weymouth this weekend however, so I will get to catch up with them and chat.

  So now I am packing up the Ultra Crash cart and getting gear, shoes and supplies ready. I have another year of ultra running experience and about 2000 more miles under my belt, and last week's hacking has trickled down to the occasional light cough. I am hoping to trim some time off of last year's result, move through the aid stations and keep on truckin' till the end!
The "Crash Cart"

Weapons of Choice!

The Course


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Recap: Blah, blah,blah!

Happy New Year everyone.

Social media has a sneaky way of making us insufferable braggarts . So, rather than bore you to death with PRs, stats and rambling highlights of the year, I would just like to thank everyone who stopped by to visit the blog this past year. I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know some incredible people over the past  12 months, and have drawn strength and inspiration from you all.

 I am looking forward to 2013 and hope everybody has a great year!