Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My First 100 Miler - Umstead 2010

This was without question the most intense combination of physical and mental commitment I have ever experienced. The Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run was my first attempt at the 100 mile distance. I will never forget it. After a year of several wonderful life changing experiences I am quite certain this experience has yet again changed my life positively. Anything is possible:)

The Course is located at the William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. Set on rolling terrain with 8,000 feet of total elevation gain the 12.5 mile loop must be completed 8 times within the 30 hour time limit.

Tani, Isla and I arrived in Raleigh around 4pm the day before the race
for packet pickup, check-in and pre-race meeting.

The race began the following morning at 6am. It was a crisp beginning to a beautiful day with an early morning temperature in the low 30's. The 250 entrants set out in the dark under a nearly full moon. I ran the first 1/2 mile or so with my friend Tony but he was moving way to fast for me so I settled back on my own. Tony ended with a new pr of 19:24:46, an incredible run! I spent a good part of the first loop on my own although there were always people around this early in the race. It was nice to get a sense of the course myself, watch the sun rise and just begin to take it all in.

During the next 3 loops (37.5 miles) I ran with with Emmy mostly and also spent a few miles with Frank and Ira. The company was good and the day was sunny and beautiful with temperatures getting into the 50's. I completed the first 50 miles (4 loops) around 9hrs 50min. I was right on target as I had been told to expect about a 2hr difference between the 1st and 2nd half of the run. My goal was to finish in under 24 hours so this should leave me plenty of cushion.

All the runners were fairly spread out at this point over the 12.5 mile course so I spent much of the next 25 miles running alone with occasional conversation from runners I happened upon. The day remained perfect and I was feeling very good so I just put on my ear phones for a while and settled into my groove. And as always there was my greatest motivation after loop 5 when Tani and Isla were there to encourage me. Even after 62.5 miles I could not resist a kiss. Now that is one special lady kissing me back because I guaranty you I stank!

I said goodbye and goodnight to them as it was getting late and cold. By the time I came in after mile 75 it was around 10pm. My girls were back at the hotel, the temperature had dropped back into the 30s and I was not doing so hot. I still managed to keep loop number 6 under 3 hours but I was experiencing a physical and mental pain and fatigue like never before. I am not sure there is any training I could have done to prepare for what happened during the next 8 hours. Before heading out for loop 7 I requested a pacer and ran inside race hq to change my shoes and sock. I had a couple of hot spots (blisters) which was a first for me. I thought the best thing would be to put on a fresh pair of socks and change shoes. Wow did it feel good to take of those shoes but it was not easy getting on the new pair as my feet were beginning to swell significantly.

So after a few minutes inside struggling with my shoes and getting in some warm dry clothes for the night and early morning hours I got back outside to meet my pacer Melina. She was great. She really helped me stay focused on the goal of completing that loop in under 4 hours. With a great deal of encouragement and thoughtful conversation we made it around under our goal. Although I walked much of that loop we kept the walking pace steady and ran a couple of miles (I think) towards the later part of the loop. Eighty seven and one-half miles complete, 12.5 to go.

I was hoping to feel energized at this point knowing I only had one loop to go but that was not the case at all. I had no intention of quitting, but aside from the extreme physical discomfort I felt very out of it and I think my brain was telling me I was in worse shape than I actually was. I decided to go inside hq again and sit down for 2 minutes. Although not by design this was good. I saw Tony, Rick and Steve who encouraged me to get back out there. I felt like I was begging them to let me sit for just 2 minutes which they did. As I got up to leave I remember Tony telling me to just run when I could. Even if it was only 10 feet at a time. Every little bit would get me closer to my goal. After a few other encouraging words from him which I really took to heart, out the door I went to meet my new pacer for the final loop, Suzanne.

Suzanne and I made our way out in the cool early morning air for the final loop at 1:47am. The moon again was nearly in full bloom. I had over 4 hours to get around and Suzanne was great as she also encouraged me as Melina did and began to understand rather quickly I think when I needed conversation and when I did not (I recall Suzanne saying she would like to be a coach; She would be a good one). I think I was a bit disoriented at this point and recall constantly asking what time it was and often literally falling off track as I was constantly losing my balance when walking. We ran in little chunks and walked big ones. I am not certain but I think we began to run in larger spurts the further into the loop we got. Although we made it around with plenty of time to spare somewhere in the 3 hr and 45 min range I was never certain where I stood until I crossed the finish line and was handed a sub 24hr finisher buckle from a friendly bearded man who I grabbed in an emotional hug. While this journey is individual in so many ways I know I could not have completed it without the support of many before and during the run. Thanks to all the volunteers for being so helpful the entire weekend, really awesome support. Melina and Suzanne for showing up in the middle of the night to help a stranger. Tony for helping me with my training and being so encouraging. And of course Tani for always being there and believing in me.

This unforgettable race was inspired by all those who have and continue to battle cancer and in support of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. You can click the MMRF donation logo at the top of this home page to donate to this great cause.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Unsure But Determined

When I decided to run my first 100 mile race many months ago it seemed so far away. Even with our baby on the way and a busy work schedule I felt I had plenty of time to train and there was no doubt in my mind I would be ready. I was confident if I put in the same effort I did for my first 50 miler, with a few longer runs it would all be good.

Well here we are just a week prior to the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run and I am anxious as usual. But this time I am feeling somewhat unprepared. As I wrote about in several posts, a nagging condition called hallux rigidus which was significantly aggravated during the Stone Cat Trail Marathon brought me to the decision to have surgery back in December. With no serious exercise or running until late January 2010 I have had the feeling there is no way I will be ready. Typically when I decide to run a race I plan all of my training for several months (16 weeks) leading up to the race. Not that I don't deviate from my plans on occasion as life may dictate, but this time, the time off put a serious dent in my conditioning and confidence.

Below is a comparison of my training for my 1st 50 miler and 100 miler. I tried to make it up in intensity without injuring myself but as you can see there is a difference in time and totals.

I have begun to manage my expectations while still focusing on my goal of finishing in under 24 hours. I hope that my determination, support from Tani who will be there as always (baby Isla in tow), and of course the thought of all those with cancer and the MMRF for which I run.

If it is not yet obvious I get a little wacky before a new intense experience. I can't wait to be in the middle of it:)


Saturday, March 13, 2010

"You're !@#$%^&* Crazy"

I have heard these words many times in my life. As I have been working my way towards my first 100 mile race 2 weeks from today at Umstead I have been hearing it more and more and I was wondering what exactly is "crazy"?

I love the following things and at some point someone has referred to me as crazy in association with each.

I love adventure, so I bought my first motorcycle back in 2003 and rode all over the United States and Canada with my girlfriend.

I love my girlfriend, so I married her. Apparently she is "crazy" about me too.

I love my children, so I spend as much time with them as I can. We also decided to have another:)

I love running, so I do it often. See all those shoes, it must mean I run a lot right? Or does it mean I'm crazy.

I love doing my part to find a cure for multiple myeloma, so all of my runs are to raise money for MMRF.

I love pushing myself to see whats possible. I am amazed every time!

I recall an interview many years ago during which Howard Cosell called Muhammad Ali truculent. Ali's response was "I don't know what that means, but if it's good, I'm it".

Well if crazy means passionate, then I'm it.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

MMRF Training Run

This morning approximately 25 running fundraisers (including my good friend Gary) participated in a group training run in Central Park for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. They were joined by Jane Hoffmann (MMRF Marathon Program), Tom Holland and Susan Riskin for one trip around the park, just over 6 miles. I have not met Tom or Susan yet but have heard their selfless efforts working with the Marathon Program are extraordinary. Jane and her colleague Alicia who run the program at MMRF are incredible. They have gone above and beyond to make my fundraising experiences more than I could have expected.

The group is in the home stretch of their training for the upcoming NYC Half Marathon on March 21st. I wish I could have attended this event but I was thinking of them and I hear it was a blast. Good luck to all of you on the 21st. You are all amazing for working so hard for such a great cause. You are ready for the big day.

By the way if anyone is interested in running in this SOLD OUT event, there are still spots available for entry through MMRF (click program link for more details).

As many of you know MMRF is my charity of choice. It is a pleasure to run for MMRF, the world's number-one funder of multiple myeloma research. I am thankful for all the support I have received over the years helping the MMRF in its relentless pursuit of innovative means that accelerate the development of next generation treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure.


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