Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Megatransect (The Final One) Race Report

One of the things I like about trail racing is that it is small time and isn't usually the follow the crowd type of thing that you find in road racing.  Like, it isn't the everyone is doing the Broad Street Run, so I have to do it type of things.  Despite that I decided to sign up for the Megatransect near Lock Haven, PA.  It is a big race by trail running standards (900 people) and it sells out in hours, if not minutes.  At most trail races, you can sign up a week or two before if you chose.

It turns out this race or maybe more appropriately "event", has a good mix of the big time and small time feel to it.  You can camp at the start/finish line and I chose to do that along with a lot of other runners.  I pitched my tent next to my friends Ryan and Russ.  We had a great view of the mountain behind us, including the infamous boulder field.  We picked up our packets on Friday evening and prepared for the race.

As usual, I got next to no sleep.  My tent was comfortable, but I simply couldn't rest.  I never can before a race and it is weird because I'm not nervous.  I got up earlier than planned, since I couldn't sleep.  I grabbed some of the free breakfast, including eggs.  It was more than I usually eat.

This definitely still had some of the small time race feel to it.  I didn't even bother to get changed until about 15 minutes before the race.  We were camped right by the starting area.  I'm not even sure where the starting line actually was.  The race director said a bunch of things as we huddled around and then yelled "GO."

I was actually quite disappointed heading into this.  I was planning to take it easy and have fun running with my friend Destrie and just enjoy the last Mega.  She's hurt though and trying to heal up, so that she can hopefully do her first 100 miler in a couple weeks.  That meant I was now on my own to race.

I HATE road running.  I mean really HATE it.  To thin the field out and get to the trail, guess what we had to do.  That's right, run on the road for 3+ miles.  I know that road running is my strength, so I went out faster than I would've liked.  I was running sub 8 minute pace on the road, mainly so that I could get off the road faster.

This part seemed to take long.  I saw a few friends up ahead, Jes, Jess and Aaron.  I wouldn't say I was pushing, but I definitely wasn't taking it easy.  I simply wanted to get off the dreaded pavement and on to some trail.  At one point, it turns into stone road.  Then, there was an aid station before heading on the trail.  This aid station just had some basics, like water.  I had one cup and then went on.

We began climbing right away.  Not surprisingly, I was struggling.  I wore myself out a little on the road.  My pack was loaded too and that made my back sore.  The climb was tough.  Luckily, I've learned by now that the first climb is usually the only one that bothers my back.

Another friend Erman passed me on the climb.  He ran a strong race.  I was very impressed.  More and more people passed me there too.  After climbing, we had some flat and downhill stuff, but there were a lot of loose rocks.  Many people were flying on these.  I still can't believe how some people run technical terrain.  It's like there aren't even rocks in their path.  I'll never figure it out.

We seemed to do a lot of short ups and downs over technical terrain.  It was a mix of running and hiking for everyone.  It was weird, as I was drenched from the humidity and yet freezing cold whenever I ran.  The temperate was probably still only in the low 60s at that point.

I kept waiting to get to the boulder field.  Then, finally I could see the white rocks off to the side.  I joined everyone else along the climb.  I guess I was expecting this to be smaller rocks.  They were quite large and you had to pick your way up different lines, as there was no true trail.  This worked every muscle too.  I was glad it was still early.

The bottom of the boulder field was foggy, but up near the top it got sunny again.  The view was spectacular above the fog.  Friends David and Ashley were on the boulder field taking photos.  Their cheering was a big help.  There were a ton of students up on the rocks cheering too.  I found some of this annoying, as there are a few false summits.  I thought I was at the top a couple times, but I wasn't.

A guy was flying a drone near the top.  When I looked back to take a photo in that area, I saw Ryan.  I wasn't at all surprised to see him cruising on up the hill.  I followed him the rest of the way.  We were thinking there would be an aid stations somewhere here.

I wasn't feeling too bad, so I actually flew down the technical stuff and passed Ryan right back.  A short time later, he ran by me again on a slight uphill.  He tried to encourage me to go with him, but I was trying to be conservative.

At this point, I realized that we probably didn't have any aid until mile 11 and that was still 3 miles off.  I was nearly out of water, so I had to run very cautiously until then.  There were parts that I wanted to run more of, but I was careful.  At one point, I thought I might have to go to the bathroom, but was relieved that I never did.

We had this downhill section and I figured that the aid station must be at the bottom of the hill (they usually are).  I was fooled and we had another up before that aid station.  I had been out of water for 2 miles.

The aid station was a giant oasis.  I didn't pay attention to the course at all before the race.  Usually, I know the details, but today I was trying wing it and run what the course gave me.  It had been 8 miles and about 3 hours until the last aid station.  That might've worked well in the fall when they used to hold this race, but in the summer it was brutal.

I must've spent forever at this aid station.  I think I drank 4 or 5 cups of Gatorade.  I fully filled my bottles and mixed some Tailwind.  I grabbed a few snacks too.

I saw a facebook friend, Kathy, and introduced myself.  We ran out together, with her leading the way.  She's been coming back from injury and taking it easy.  I didn't want to go too fast, so I stayed with her for a mile or so and chatted.

This section was great, as it was a nice and wide woods road.  I was reenergized and ran a lot here.  I knew I had to take advantage of a runnable section, so I took off ahead of Kathy after some time.  I flew on the smooth parts and passed people and even ran well down a rocky hollow.  I had been wondering if any of the course was runnable, so I was glad to find that it indeed was.

The climbs in this race weren't super long, like I'm used to.  However, they were still plenty steep and there seem to be more of them than usual.  One of the worst climbs, was named K2.  That was so treacherous at the bottom that a rope was installed to help climb up it.  I struggled a little with the climb and seemed like my muscles were tightening up, but a few others in front of me appeared to be in worse shape.

Again, it seemed like a long time until the aid station.  We came to a volunteer after a descent, where I thought the aid station would be.  He told us it was another mile yet.  This had some runnable stuff along the ridge, after going up, but I was too frustrated to run much of it.  I needed to refuel too.

Getting to the aid station at mile 17 (mile 18 on my watch) was another huge relief.  I seemed to take forever there, making sure I got all my Tailwind and I grabbed some Swedish Fish for on the go.  Russ came in and spent less time there and I guess Dave came in not too far behind us.

Russ and I left together.  There was another good ascent after the aid station.  Russ and I hiked behind a woman.  Then, she let us pass.  We were now in a nice flat section called Fernwood.  I began running and started to cramp.  I had to stop to try to work it out, so I walked for a bit.  I also took some S-Caps as Russ pulled away.  I had plenty of S-Caps with me, but for some reason I only took them when I had cramping issues starting to pop up.

I was surprised at how many people around were walking this relatively flat section.  If not for the cramps, I would've been running.  That said, the woman and a few others passed me.  There were so many little downed trees everywhere here.  I was afraid that I might cramp while jumping over them.

I did try to run some parts of this trail, but it also seemed like whenever I did, it would be too rocky.  The woman and I came out to the next section together.  It was great because it was a woods road.  It had some rocks, but was pretty runnable.  It was a gradual uphill.  We knew we had to take advantage and run though.

We plugged along for awhile.  Then, she couldn't handle it any more and began walking.  I just kept going.  A lot of people were walking the gradual ascent.  I ran a good chunk of it, as my cramping issue had gone away.  I've learned as long as I'm not in total shit shape, I need to run the runnable sections.  You never know how long they'll last or when the next one will be.

Lucky for me, this one lasted a long time.  Much to my surprise, we came to an aid station.  This one was much closer than the last one.  I topped off my water and then ate a little and was ready to go.  This time, I decided to look briefly at a course map.  It seemed like only one more climb left.

Coming out of the mile 21 aid station was great.  It was more woods road, but this time it was downhill.  I basically ran this entire 2 mile stretch.  Some people were hiking.  Others were going slower.  I ran with one guy for a bit and he was faster and kept running ahead.  I also got a boost when I saw that I was closing back in on Russ.

There was another aid station around mile 23.  It was nice that these were so close together.  I caught Russ there.  I made sure to have everything topped off, as I thought this would be the last aid station.  Russ and I left together.

It wasn't long and we were then on to the infamous "Raw Trail."  This was the last bad climb and bad it was.  Russ and I were both struggling with it, as were some other people.  Still, I felt like I was doing a little better with it than them.  This seems to be one area where I'm good.  I'm not an outstanding climber, but I've done so much elevation that I can continue to climb solidly toward the end of the race.  Others usually fall off.

I passed one guy as we got to boulders.  These boulders were just brutal, but I just kept moving forward.  I was happy to not cramp.  I was gaining on some others too.  I noticed Russ was falling back.  I really wanted to finish ahead of him, as he's a good runner but inexperienced on this type of course.  If he sticks with it, he'll be beating me soon at events like this.

The other boulder section was worse, but the placement of this one at the end of the race was just bad.  After that, I was hoping to have some runnable downhill.  However, the top of the descent was too rocky.  One guy followed me hiking and then passed me.  A couple more were behind me.  I was afraid I'd cramp on this stuff.

It seemed to take forever to get down.  Finally, toward the bottom, I was able to run again as the trail got smoother.  However, I nearly cramped on the runnable stuff.  I took some more S-Caps.  It was good to get to the bottom.

At the bottom, we were on a stone road.  I had to run where I could.  It was a nice, gradual descent.  I then realized we were on the road we came in on.  I cruised on down it and was back on pavement.

When we were at dinner the night before, I commented how if the beginning had a lot of road, the end must have a lot too.  They told me it had "The Green Mile" with grass, so not as much road.  Still, there was plenty of road and it was frustrating me.

The only good thing with road is that I'm good on it.  I passed the guy that had passed me earlier.  I then passed a woman and a guy that was walking too.  The pavement seemed to go on and on, as I waited for "The Green Mile."  It was hot, but I didn't let it bother me, as I was almost done.

I was so happy to finally get to "The Green Mile."  I didn't mind the idea of running on grass.  This did still suck, but it was easy running.  Being in the sun wasn't much fun.  However, I made it my goal to keep running.  That is what I did.  Many people were hiking and I made up quite a few spots.

I thought "The Green Mile" was right before the finish.  As I got near the end, I wasn't even sure where the finish line was.  It was hidden by a banked wall.  After we got off "The Green Mile" I continued to run.  I had used most of my energy though.

I ran over some railroad tracks and suddenly realized exactly where I was.  I still probably had about another mile of running on the road before finishing.  In reality, I could've pushed and still ran the rest of the way, but mentally I was so defeated.  I had worked so hard to run "The Green Mile" because I thought it was the finish.

I just walked for a bit.  Even doing this, I caught a guy.  Once we got to the entrance of the parking and start/finish area, I decided that I would run it on in.  I had enough energy for that.  I ran the rest of the way.  There was a slight hill that I went over.

I really killed it coming in.  I knew a party awaited me.  I thought Destrie would be there to watch us finish and she was.  I basically sprinted through the line, relieved to be done.  It wasn't the hardest race I've done, but it was definitely a tough one.

I waited around for some time and hungout.  A few people, including Ryan were already done.  I waited for Russ and was surprised at how much I had pulled ahead of him over the last few miles.  Dave came in a bit later.  It was good to see most everyone finished.

My body was sore, but nothing more than usual.  The new La Sportiva Bushido shoes passed another test.  They were excellent on this terrain, with all the rocks.  My feet didn't hurt much at all.  I just might've finally found my technical trail running shoes.

I sat around for awhile.  Then, Destrie decided she was going to take her kids to hike up to the boulder field.  Although I was hurting a bit, I figured I could do that.  It seemed like the hike took forever and I was quite beat by the end.  We had quite the adventure coming back too.

All in all, I was fairly happy with this race.  I went out too fast and was very annoyed by the roads.  The distance between the early aid stations threw me off.  Some cramping issues slowed me a little during the middle of the race, but I always have low points.  I'm getting much better at bouncing back though.  I am certainly finishing these things much stronger than I was even just a few months back.  My experience is really helping me deal with everything thrown at me.  I wish I could have smoother races from start to finish and run faster, but I can see some improvements.  It may not be as much as I'd like, but I'll take it.

I do keep questioning why I keep going into these mountain races.  They are so painful, tough and long.  I was thinking after about 5 hours, that I could nearly be done on an easier course.  I was even thinking about how nice it must be to run out west, with less rocks.  However, I guess I love the challenge.

The atmosphere surrounding this one was top notch and it was a good way to finish things off for the final Mega.  It was a good experience for me and I now have my 10th official ultra under my belt.  Due to some issues, like all the pavement and the spacing of aid stations, I doubt I would've done this every year if it was still going.  It was a good enough event that I would've certainly been back at some point.  It is a shame that it is all over.

The trail running community is top notch and that is what this event is all about.  I finished the race a little after 2 PM, yet I didn't leave until after 9 PM.  Trail racing is much more than just a race.  If you drive hours to get there and then you run for hours too, there is no hurry to get home.  I love this community and all the people I've met and continue to meet at each new event.

I wasn't in too bad of shape today.  However, I just had no desire to run my planned 30 miles.  I'm not sure I could've quite made it that far.  Maybe, if I ran this race easier, I would've had more available today.  I still have next weekend free for back to back long runs.  I need at least one good weekend of those to prepare for the West Virginia Trilogy.

Tomorrow, I'll probably get back to running again.  I have no idea what I'll do.  If I feel good and the weather is nice, maybe I'll run semi long.  Next weekend will be the key weekend of my training.

 27.5 miles - 7:11:46 (15:42 pace) 5644 feet of elevation gain
106th of 752 people

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Rare Walking Purchase Park Run

I've been taking it easy this week, with Mega approaching this weekend.  After a few days off, I headed to run today.  I decided to change it up.  I headed to Walking Purchase Park, near Fountain Hill.  It isn't too far away, but I rarely run there.  I'm not sure I have been there in the last year.  I should probably go there a little more frequently.

It was a great evening.  The weather was cool and not too humid.  I wore a singlet and was comfortable, although still sweating plenty (it is still August).  Most of the time I've run there, it has been in the summer and super humid.

One of the nice things here is that I usually start at Dodson Street Park, at the top.  That means the beginning is mostly downhill, although none of this is straight up and down.  It was built by mountain bikers, so it is mostly rolling.

I started on the yellow trail and then went to the right on the loop.  I followed the orange trail to loop to the red trail.  This was fun in the beginning, but surprisingly, I twisted my ankle a few times.  It is rocky in spots, but overall I wouldn't call it too bad.  I wasn't sharp early on.  I ate not too long before that.

Some mountain bikers had taken off before me.  They are one of the reasons I don't like to run here.  There are plenty of blind spots.  I can't say I've ever had an issue.  One of them was changing a tire and I ran past them.  I was cruising along.

This trail is a little tough in that it is all runnable.  However, the ups and down can wear you out too, especially when it is hot.  I kept moving forward.  It also turns a lot, so it seems slow and like it is taking forever. 

The red trail seemed to go on and on and on.  I could tell I wasn't too far from civilization, as I could hear train cars breaking across the river.  I also heard a couple sirens.

I passed a guy walking and startled him.  Shortly after that, the three riders came behind me.  They weren't together, so I had to let all three pass at different times.  I'm glad I saw the last guy coming, as he was flying downhill.  I got out of his way with plenty of time to spare.

At 3.6 miles, I finally got to the stone road crossing.  I always forget just how long this route is.  There is a parking lot.  After that, it is some climbing up the ridge.  I saw the mountain bikers at one point, but they went on the blue trail.  I stayed on the red. 

You run parallel to the road for awhile, but keep going in and out.  That can get kind of frustrating.  It was a relief to finally cross the road.

I followed the red trail after that.  A short bit later, it actually started to switchback and go back to the road (the wrong direction).  I saw some smaller trails earlier and thought maybe I needed to take them.  They were a little overgrown.  It said "advanced" on them.  A short time later, I just came back to the trail that was heading the wrong way.

I followed it out and was then able to head the right direction.  This was good, but it still took awhile to get back.  It was some tough ups and downs.  It seemed like more up, even though I was near the top already.  I continued to just run.

With a couple miles left, I scared a deer.  I was surprised when I saw it.  It was a buck, which I rarely see.  There wasn't much other wildlife in the thick bushes.  I'm sure there was actually, but all I could see were birds.

I continued to push on.  I was hoping it would be about 6 miles to finish the run.  As I got to 6 miles, I realized it was likely closer to 7 miles.  I cruised along.  It was good to get to the yellow trail.

I followed this up some more.  I then started to recognize where I was.  I got out to the parking lot.  I was nearly at 7 miles.  I ran around the lot for a minute to reach that distance.

Although it was a bit more challenging than expected, I had a good run.  I ended up running the whole time and got a good workout and good distance.  The foot is a little sore.  Hopefully, it doesn't act up for Mega.

I'm going out to Lock Haven and camping at the start/finish area tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to having a fun day and taking it easy.  Normally, I plan the race out some.  I've barely looked at anything this time.  I'm going to just have fun and wing it really.  I'm hoping to run with Destrie.  On Sunday, I'd like to throw in 30 more miles here at South Mountain (Lehigh).

7 miles - 1:15:10 (10:44 pace) 935 feet of elevation gain

Monday, August 24, 2015

Surprisingly Good Tammany Double Loop

Some days it is wise to listen to your body.  Other days, it pays to just give it a go.  Today, the latter was true.  I planned to go to Tammany after taking off yesterday.  However, I was driving there and super tired and kind of light headed and feeling like crap.  I headed home and was going to try to run later in the day.  Then, I started to wake up and feel better, so I decided to give Tammany a go.

That turned out to be a good decision.  I had a very productive run.  I got there around 2:30 PM.  I was feeling better, but still not great.  I was very unsure how this run would go.  It was quite hot and humid.  I went shirtless.  I ended up going faster than expected and got a bit hot.  Of course, I was soaked by the end.  I'm glad summer is coming to a close.

I seem to struggle early on in runs.  I think it is often a lack of nutrition.  I took about 100 calories of Tailwind on the drive up.  I'm thinking that must've helped.  Early on, I felt good and pushed on up.  I was hiking pretty quick and even made my legs a little sore.

I blew past a couple young girls and a lot of others throughout the hike, especially on the descents.  It was very hot, but I moved along well.  Knowing this loop so well now is a big plus.  I moved through the boulders in no time.  Before I knew it, I had reached the summit.  I forgot to look at my time, but I think it was around my typical time of 27 or 28 minutes.  I can't wait to try to push a little more in the fall.

There were a lot of people at the summit.  A group of Indian folks were unsure where to go, so I directed them.  There were people up there with two dogs too.  I ran a little along the ridge, but since I was planning two loops, I wanted to be conservative.

I walked the very rocky section before dropping down.  Then, the fun began.  It was my first time using my La Sportiva Bushido shoes on Tammany and it was just awesome.  I'm used to feeling the rocks on the bottom of my feet if I don't land correctly.  Today, that wasn't an issue at all.  I flew over the rocks.  When I could feel them, it felt more like landing on pavement, rather than the stabbing that I'm used to.

The shoes are very grippy and stable.  If anything, they almost made me too confident.  I think the only time I've run faster there was when the snow smoothed out all the rocks.  I'd still twist my ankle every now and then, but I was cruising and so confident.  I sure could've used these shoes at the Escarpment Trail Run last month.

I blasted by a bunch of people on the descent.  Luckily, I didn't scare them.  I came past some more people at the bottom.  The only people that commented were two women as I crossed over the pedestrian bridge.

I cruised on the AT.  I arrived back at my car at around 52:30.  That's a pretty solid loop for me, especially in the heat.  The heat did take it's toll though, as I was quite beat.  I quickly toweled off and simply refilled my Tailwind and water.  I think I probably took a little over a minute rest.

I was back to climbing now.  I definitely was nowhere near as sharp or as fast hiking up this time.  I just focused on continuing to move forward.  I still passed several people, even with my struggles.

I was happy with how I got through the boulder field.  If I'm really out of it, I slip and stumble around.  I moved through there better the first time, but the second time wasn't bad.  It was good to be nearing the top.

I pushed forward past some more people.  I got to the summit for a second time.  This time, no one was there.  It was getting later in the afternoon.  I didn't take pictures either time.

I ran some of the Blue Trail along the ridge and also hiked some.  I was overheated a little and running low on water.  I figured I could still blast downhill though.  I wanted to finish up under 1:50.

I ran on the descent again.  I was still moving pretty fast.  This was much faster than my typical downhills here.  It felt a little slower than the first loop though.  I passed the young girls that I started with.  It was so much fun flying downhill here.  What I love about it is the trail is so wide and there are multiple lines to chose from.  That makes it such a blast.

I knew I'd be close to 1:50.  Therefore, I had to really push on the AT.  I don't normally do that, but I wanted to today.  I was successful too, as I came in seconds under my goal.  I had not been here for awhile, but it was a good run.  The new shoes are great.  The next test will be using them for longer distances.  I'll do that at Mega this weekend.

Tomorrow, there will be hill repeats.  I'm sort of tempted to go out to Hamburg for them.  However, I have to be cautious this week, so I might not run.  I'm thinking maybe I'll run two more days before the race.  I'm looking for a big weekend next weekend.

7.41 miles - 1:49:53 (14:51 pace) 2398 feet of elevation gain
Mt. Tammany Summits 34 and 35 of 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Couple Loops at South Mountain (Lehigh)

This is a busy weekend for me, so not a lot of running.  I was hoping to do 20 miles this morning, but I didn't feel great and didn't get up early enough.  It is probably good that I didn't try that because it was a rough day.

I still wanted to do loops at South Mountain (Lehigh).  I got there and started at 11:30 in the morning.  My new plan was 10 miles.  That would be a little over 2 loops.  It was definitely cooler than it has been, but I was still pretty sweaty, particularly early.  I went shirtless and was glad that I did that.

I made sure to put on lots of bug spray since the grass is starting to get overgrown in some parts.  I headed off from the mountain top.  I ran nice and easy on the pavement and then easy again on the downhill.

I could probably run 10 straight miles here if I worked at it, but since I didn't feel great, I decided to just hike the uphills.  I hiked the first easy one near the road crossing.  I ran across the road.  Right near the trail, there was a baby deer staring at me.  It ran away, but the mother stayed on the other side of the trail.  I think they are probably the same two that I saw in this area earlier in the week.

I cruised along.  I walked the next uphill.  I then ran again for a bit.  Then, I got to another gradual ascent.  I hiked that one too.  I was feeling pretty crappy, even with the hiking.  The first two miles took some work. 

I knew I'd now be descending a lot though.  I had to move out of the way for a couple mountain bikers.  Other than them, I had the trails to myself.  I did see some disc golf people, but they weren't right on the trail.

I enjoyed the rocky descent.  I took it easy.  Before long, I was on the pavement again and heading toward the overlook.  I ran past there and back on the trail.

The rest of the trail on this loop was running and hiking.  I hiked the steeper stuff, but ran the flatter ridge parts.  I just ran yesterday evening and my upper quads were bothering me slightly.  They haven't been an issue in some time, so that is a little concerning.  I'll try to stay away from Jacobsburg, for that reason.

Before long, I was back on the pavement and headed toward my car.  I ran the flats and still hiked some of the stairs.  Two college girls were sitting at the wall above as I neared the building.  I cruised on back to my car.  This loop was about 53 minutes.

I didn't want to waste time at the car.  I toweled off, mixed in more Tailwind and ate a gel.  I'm really struggling with early energy in runs.  I don't think I start runs fueled up enough.  I thought the gel would help give me a boost, but really it didn't have much impact.

Loop #2 was more of the same.  I ran some of the same sections and hiked some of the others.  It was good to get over mile five and into the second half of the run.

I hiked the two early hills.  I knew this would be a key section to push through.  I managed to do so.  I looked forward to the rocky downhill part.

I was going through that part and noticed some dog crap on the trail.  I didn't see any on the first loop.  I thought this was odd too, because not many people are on the trails at all.  I rarely see a dog walker.  I was then hiking a short uphill and I noticed a dog staring at me.  It looked like a pitbull and it looked a little rough.  I was glad it didn't come after me.  If it looked like a nicer dog, I might've looked for a collar.  I'm also not sure what I would've done anyway, as it was halfway through my loop.  I guess I could've taken it to the Lehigh Police or something, but I don't even know where they are at.

I continued on.  I ran past the overlook again.  I started up the hill.  I heard either a guy whistling (maybe for a dog) or a loud bird.  I couldn't tell and I couldn't see either one of these things.  I ran along.

It was good to get over mile 8 and be near the top.  I knew I needed to add some distance to get to mile 10.  Rather than running straight back to the car, I took the outer loop.  It would be pavement and in the sun, but at least it would add distance.

There was still some uphill and that made it a little tough.  I kept checking my watch.  I went out the edge of the Mountaintop Campus and then came back.  I looped around to my car.  When I got there, I had less than a quarter mile to go.  I continued on past my car.

It was nice to finish up heading downhill.  I hit mile 10 near my car, but kept going a bit to get over 2 hours.  When I did that, I stopped the run.  It was a bit of a struggle, but a productive day anyway.

Tomorrow, I doubt I'll have time to run.  I'm going to the Pocono IndyCar race.  If I'm lucky, maybe I can go somewhere in the evening.  It is doubtful though.  I'll probably run on Monday.  Next weekend is my big goal weekend.  I have Mega on Saturday and hopefully another 30 miles on Sunday.  It would sure be nice if I'd feel better and particularly stronger by then.

10.09 miles - 2:00:07 (11:54 pace) 1331 feet of elevation gain

Friday, August 21, 2015

Easy J-burg Evening Run

This has been a very unproductive week.  I only ran once so far and it was short.  Most of the week, I was busy putting together the Eastern States 100 video.  Yesterday evening, it rained a lot so I stayed in.  The summer weather is finally getting to me.

I got out there to Jacobsburg tonight.  It was supposed to be less humid.  However, I started in the setting sun and found it to be quite warm.  I ran shirtless.  By the end, it was much better, especially when I got into the shade of the woods.

My plan was a solid 10 miles.  I decided to start with the open field loop first and then go and do the main loop.  I ate dinner before the run and didn't feel all that great.  I started off easy.  The path along the creek was busy.

The first climb took some work.  I gradually made my way up.  I was breathing heavy.  They legs didn't feel all that great.  I sputtered along.  The open field seemed hot and it was very buggy.  At least the grass was freshly cut.  I saw a few rabbits and a groundhog.  I smelled a skunk, but luckily I never saw it.

Things got better toward the end of this loop.  The downhill was a big help.  I cruised right on in and back to my car.  Even with a minute break to refill my water bottle, my pace was still a sub 9:30.

I headed back out for the main loop.  Again, the slight climbs were taking some work.  A mountain biker passed me on the one to the road.  This was right near a funky tree that had fallen.  It was good to get back on to some flat stuff.

I wasn't feeling great or terrible, as I went over mile 5.  I was breathing a bit heavy, but cruising along.  The mountain biker stopped and I passed him.  He annoyed me a few minutes later, as he came up from behind.  I had to move over on the fun singletrack.

Although I didn't feel great, I just kept going.  I went over the three road crossings.  I was still running okay.  I entered the Sober's Run Loop.

I knew the hardest part would be the powerline climb and it was.  If I didn't know how long it was or what was after it, I might not have kept running.  There is a slight flat part as it goes into the woods.  The path then climbs again.  That was a big help.

I now looked forward to flying downhill.  I started to do that.  The issue was that I had to go to the bathroom.  Being a couple miles out with no bathroom around, I elected not to risk it.  I just started walking back after 8.32 miles.  It was a solid run anyway.

My legs were a little beat.  I think the stone they put down in spots really bothers me.  I'd like to do some long runs there in the future, but not sure I can.

I really need some long runs now.  I signed up for the West Virginia Trilogy.  It is a 50K on a Friday, a 50M on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday.  It will be a test like nothing else I've done.  I'd really like a couple good back to back weekend long runs.  That won't happen this weekend, but maybe next. 

I think I'm going to do loops at South Mountain tomorrow.  I'm hoping for 20+ miles.  That is somewhat difficult, so it should be a solid test.

8.32 miles - 1:17:24 (9:18 pace) 579 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Finally Adapted at South Mountain

Between Eastern States and making a video of Eastern States, I've been too busy to run.  Friday evening was my last one.  I had to get out this evening, even though the video isn't done.

The weather had been another reason I didn't want to get out there.  The last few days, it was in or around the 90s and super humid.  August had finally arrived.  I went shirtless and was sweating by the end of this evening run, but it wasn't terrible.

I figured that I'd just do one loop at South Mountain (Lehigh) and take it easy.  I got there a little after 6 PM.  I was cruising down the first hill and was surprised to run into two trail runners.  I never see anyone here.  I was even more surprised to see it was my friends Wayne and Todd.  They were doing repeats.  I said hello and was on my way.

I was wearing my new Bushido shoes.  They caused my ankle to twist a few times, but in general were pretty good.  I have them laced differently and may have to adjust them again.

I cruised on the downhill.  I knew the climbs could be a challenge.  As I crossed the road, a mountain biker was coming out of the trail.  After that, I saw my first deer.  I think there were 6 of them, including a baby, throughout the run.

I was interested to see how the first climb would go.  I struggled with the heat so much earlier in the summer that I had to hike these.  It wasn't easy, but I was steady and I managed it today.

Since it was still early, the second climb was a bit of a challenge.  It is a gradual one.  My breathing labored some and my lungs were burning.  Luckily, I knew how long the climb was and I made it to the top without stopping.

Some of the trail was a little overgrown in spots, but overall not too bad.  I crossed the next road and enjoyed the rocky descent.  I didn't fly over the rocks, but I was solid.  It was still hot and I wanted to be conservative.  My feet seemed to get better and better over the rocks.

The previous climb and final long gradual climb were so difficult before I was heat adapted.  After the view, I started that gradual climb.  I took my time, but it seemed rather easy today.  I'm sure all the steep elevation training is helping now too.  I never even thought about stopping.

I wanted to get under an 11 minute pace.  I realized that that would definitely happen with the road running at the end.  I ran up that and got more elevation too.  I wanted to get to 4.5 miles, so I ran a short bit in the parking lot to get there.

It was a short, but solid run.  I was thrilled that it went much better than my last run there in June.  I'm finally used to the heat.  I still can't push in it, but at least I can manage to run easy.  I couldn't even do that before.

Tomorrow, I plan to run again.  I'm not sure where at or how far.  I'd like to get to Tammany, but unsure if I'm up for driving there.  With a slight cough, I haven't been running much lately.  I'm still not over it, but should run more anyway.

4.5 miles - 48:14 (10:43 pace) 694 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Eastern States 100 Weekend Running

For the second straight year, we are camping and hanging out at the Eastern States 100 in Waterville, PA.  I have a bunch of friends running it.  I don’t think it is a race I’d ever do.

I wanted to get a short Friday night run in.  Since the campground is on the course, that worked out great.  There are even streamers next to our camper.  This is about ¾ of a mile into the race.

It was pretty cool out.  I went with a short sleeve shirt.  It was cool by the end of the run.  I could’ve went shirtless I guess.  

I followed the course along the Mid State Trail.  I knew the first nasty climb would be around mile 2.  I decided that I would at least run part of it.  It was already 6:30 PM when I started, so I couldn’t go too far.

I thought this would be a nice and relatively flat run until the climb.  I was sure wrong about that.  I got new La Sportiva Bushido shoes and decided to try them out.  With the conditions, I’m not sure how to judge them yet.

A couple women asked me my race number.  I told them I wasn’t racing.  I headed up off from the campground.  It was a short uphill before the trail flattened out.

It wasn’t long before I hit crap.  The good thing was the trail didn’t climb all the way to the top.  The bad part was that it ran on a sloped ridge along the side of the mountain.  The top of the mountain was to my left and down to my right was Little Pine Creek.  The trail was very narrow and somewhat sloped.  To make matters worse, it went up and down around trees and it had a bunch of very loose rocks too.

I was really frustrated with this part.  Since it was relatively flat, it was runnable.  However, it was annoying.  So much for having nice ridge running.  This ledge was a bitch.

I’ve been on sections like this before.  However, never for such a long period of time.  It went on for over 2 miles.  I had even thought about just turning around at some points.  I pushed forward though, because I really wanted to climb.

My watch was showing distance and elevation and time.  I’m not sure if it ever got a signal though.  It wasn’t working in the beginning.  I don’t know why or how it was getting any distance readings, but at least it was showing something.

There was one up and down, but most of the run was along the ledge.  The unevenness continued to play with me and I cursed a lot.  Right before the road crossing and the climb, there was a nice footbridge.  It went over a neat little pool on another creek.

I crossed the road and began the long climb.  I did this part during a training run here in the winter.  It was brutal then, but it was snow covered.  The first ¼ or so was flat loose rocks.  It basically was more of a dry creek bed than a trail.  This first part of the climb was about 400 feet of elevation gain in ¼ of a mile.  It was steep.  There aren’t many sections of trail steep enough to bother my back any more, but this did just that.

It flattened out for a bit and then climbed some more.  I kept going up and up.  When I got to 750 total feet of elevation gain on my watch, I decided to head back down.  That wasn’t much better though.  With its steepness and rockiness, it was mostly not runnable.

I slowly hiked my way down.  Even that was a challenge.  My feet were pressed against the front of my shoes.  It was great to get to the bottom and back on the road.  It had been getting pretty dark deep in the hollows too.

I crossed the road and got back on the ledge.  I wasn’t sure why, but this section now seemed runnable and fun.  Maybe it was because I was going the other direction, but the slope didn’t bother me much.  It was less rocky on this end too.  I’m also sure I was happy to almost be done.

It was great to get to mile 5.  I saw another runner headed out as I was coming back.  I guess he is crewing.  I don’t think either of us actually expected to see another runner out on these remote trails.

The last mile was definitely the worst with the rocks and just the ledge in general.  I hiked a lot more of it.  I couldn’t wait to be done.  I finished up well over 6 miles.  It was nice to start and finish at the camper.

I’m going to video a lot of the race tomorrow and follow along.  I also want to get a run in.  I’d like to do 10-12 miles.  Hopefully, I can do that during the afternoon.  Now that I saw how crappy going the race’s direction is, I’m sure I’ll head the other direction tomorrow.  I’d like to say it can’t be any worse, but I’m sure it can be worse.

6.45 miles - 1:30:30 (14:02 pace)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Catfish Fire Tower Out and Back

I wanted to do something else today.  When Angie and I ran with Scott Jurek on the AT, I really enjoyed that section.  It is near Blairstown, NJ.  I wanted to explore more of it though, so I headed there this afternoon.

It was nice and cool; amazing weather for an August day.  Even exposed to the sun often, things weren't bad.  I went shirtless and at times the breeze even made it chilly.

When we were with Scott, it was a lot of hiking, especially early.  I was only heading northbound from the road today.  Early on, it was rocky and tough to run up.  I found myself soon hiking.  I had hoped to be running most of this short one.

Instead, it was a mix of running and hiking.  I only had soup for lunch, so I was low on calories.  I ran where I could and hiked the other parts.  My concentration wasn't there.

A little over a mile out, I hit the cool cliffs that we got to last time.  They have great views, but I still couldn't locate New York City.  It was pretty clear out too.

After the cliffs, it was thick bush lined singletrack.  I tried not to rub up against this too much, as I didn't put bug spray on.  I also wasn't covered on top.  I saw a guy hiking the other direction in this area.

The rocks were way worse than I recalled.  Maybe because we were mostly hiking that day.  I couldn't run often today.  I continued on past these views because I thought there were more views.  There weren't really any significant ones.

I knew there was a fire tower at some point.  Sure enough, I came out to the Catfish Fire Tower at around 2.5 miles.  I wanted to hike up it, but it said "No Trespassing."  There was a slight view in this area, but really not much of one.

I would've turned around here.  However, from the fire tower, it was a woods road for a bit.  I ran along it.  It was nice to be able to run.  The AT then turned off of that after some time.  I followed it for a little, but it started to descend.  At 2.85 miles, I turned and headed back.

I ran some of the woods road.  I felt a little better on the way back now.  I forced myself to run more.  Still, it only happened in stretches.  The rocks were getting to me and I wasn't feeling great.  Any running I could do would get me done quicker though.

I had been looking for rattlesnakes on this rocks.  I was cautious.  Luckily, I never found one.  I ran along slowly where I could.  It was good to click off the miles and get back to the open ledge with the view.

The last half mile or so was mostly downhill.  I ran it, but it was quite technical, so I was cautious.  I got back to the car and finished up the run with a little over 5.5 miles.

I wish I would've run more, but it was a solid day.  I need to run this section when I'm feeling sharper.  Today wasn't the day for technical running.  Tomorrow, I'll likely run again, but not sure where, when or how far.

 5.6 miles - 1:33:17 (16:39 pace) 655 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Post Storm Merrill Creek Run

This weekend was disappointing.  Not only did I cut Saturday's run way short, but I didn't even run at all Sunday.  I felt weak and not recovered from Saturday.  What I hoped to be a big weekend turned into a dud.  I decided not to run yesterday either, as some rain came through.

I finally got back out there today.  We had wicked thunderstorms today too though.  It was cloudy, but looked like it would clear up after dinner.  I headed into Jersey to run at Merrill Creek.  I wanted an easy run and haven't been there in awhile.

It was somewhat comfortable out, when I started at 6 PM.  I went with a singlet instead of no shirt.  I was drenched by the end.  I should've just went shirtless.

Normally, I park in the main lot.  This time, I decided that I would park in the back lot between two of the dams.  I thought starting at a different spot could make the run more interesting.  I also decided to run the loop counterclockwise, rather than clockwise.

There was a mother and son fishing when I pulled into the lot, but no one else.  Not a single boat or kayak was on the water.  I mostly had the place to myself.

The run began with a short section over the dam.  Then, it was into the woods.  The rocks were slippery and it was quite muddy.  I don't know why I didn't think it would be as muddy as it was.  It did rain a lot.

The trail is pretty wide in the beginning.  After about a mile though, it narrows and becomes a little tricky.  It is still pretty nontechnical and fun.  I cruised along.  I ate not long before the run and didn't quite feel great early on.  My legs weren't strong either and I felt like I was working more than I should be.

I did enjoy the singletrack though.  I got to the second dam in no time.  I usually run on top of the dams.  This time, I decided to follow the trail down along the bottom and back up.  This was a bit of a mistake.  It was pretty narrow and steep going down.  I was slipping a little and eventually had to walk.

Then, there was the climb back up.  That seemed to take forever.  It was about 300 feet up.  I had be running a sub 10 minute per mile pace up to that point, but this hike up killed my pace.  I thought maybe I never went down this dam, but it is indeed the steepest one and I've gone to the bottom once before.

I don't like the stone path much, but it was better to be on that then the slippery singletrack around the dam.  I came across some dog walkers after popping out of the woods.  When I got to the 3rd dam, I decided to run over top of it.  This one wasn't as steep if would've taken the bottom.

I saw another person walking as I hit main parking lot.  I was over 3.5 miles now and doing okay.  It did seem like the trail kept going up for some reason.  I was just so sluggish.

I continued to follow the perimeter trail.  I was excited because I now knew that it was mostly singletrack to the finish.  At one point, I lost the trail markings, as it only showed green.  I went left and was over a rocky section that I recalled.  I knew I was on the right track.

I headed along some grass and seemed like I was still going uphill.  I then saw some deer.  It was neat, as it was a mother and two babies.  The babies ran away first.  Then, the mother watched me before taking off.

I was enjoying some downhill singletrack now.  It was quite rocky, so I had to be careful.  The rocks were quite slippery and I did slide every now and then.  I looked forward to getting to the foot bridge.  After some downhill, I was there.

Following that was a ridge section with some roots.  I had to be careful.  Roots can be even more slippery than rocks.  I slid at least once.

I was cruising through here.  I knew I'd push a bit once I got out of the technical section.  I saw the dam, but seemed like it took awhile to get there.  Finally, I was out in the clear.

There is a fourth dam and then an open field type section.  I picked up the pace over that.  I wanted to finish the loop under and hour and I knew I would.  I almost got my pace under 10 minutes per mile, as I finished up.  I was happy to be done.

I'll probably sneak in another short run tomorrow.  I'm going to Musikfest in the evening, so I can't go too far.  I have no idea where I'll go.  Maybe I'll head near there, to South Mountain (Lehigh).  I won't be running too much the rest of this week or this weekend, but I will try to get some stuff done.

5.71 miles - 57:29 (10:04 pace) 558 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Failed Long Run

I haven't been feeling great lately.  I have a cough that is a pain, although mostly at night.  Therefore, I've rested most of the week.  I wanted to put together a big weekend though.  The plan was for back to back 30 mile runs.

I was going to meet someone at Watchung, but wasn't up for it.  I ended up cramping on my left calf while I was sleeping.  I decided to just head to Jacobsburg, but I didn't get started until almost noon.

The weather wasn't bad.  I was sweating a bit, but it was a nice summer day.  I could surely take it any time.  Of course, it is still summer.

I cruised along nice and easy at the start.  My watch lost signal for a bit, but it didn't seem off by much, if at all.  I was doing the normal loop.  It was crowded along the creek, but after that, I was on my own.

I ran the gradual uphill and then across the road.  My calves were already sore.  I was definitely dehydrated overnight and paying for it now.  I knew it would be difficult to run with this issue.  I was hoping it wouldn't cause me problems until later though.

Some guy was cutting a log on the trail.  I like jumping over those.  There aren't many obstacles here anyway.  Shortly after that, I saw an older couple trail running.  I usually don't see many trail runners here.

I crossed the three roads and headed to the Sober's Run loop.  I was worried about going through here on a weekend, because of all the horses.  I was correct, as two came right out of the powerline.  They went uphill fast, as I was conservative and hiking up the powerline.

I knew I'd catch them though.  Not only did I have to catch and pass them, but there were four more horses in the area too.  Two were coming the same direction as me, and two were going the other direction.  Both they and I had to be careful, but I got around them.

I cruised downhill, feeling a little better, but still not great.  This loop was going by quickly though.  I saw another horse, but luckily, it turned.  I finished up the loop at right around an hour.  That was solid.

I was refilling my water bottle.  Two guys ran by without shirts.  I was surprised to see one of them was local IndyCar driver Marco Andretti.  That was fun to see and I was distracted thinking about that later on.  I thought maybe I'd encounter them again, but I didn't.

I headed out for loop #2.  This started out as more of the same.  I wasn't feeling all that strong.  I hoped that perhaps I just needed more calories and I'd get stronger.  That didn't happen though.  I was happy to get to mile 8. 

I saw a couple of the horses again on the singletrack.  My calves were continuing to really bother me.  I had on shorter socks too and started to notice a blister forming.  Getting to mile 10 was a big relief.

Again, I hiked the powerline to be conservative.  I enjoyed the downhill some more, but the soreness would not leave.  I kept plugging away, because I often feel like crap this early and can bounce back.

When I got to the end of the loop, I decided to go uphill, around the new building.  That would force me to hike and hopefully rest and recover more.  I was really dragging though, as I approached the half marathon distance.

I ran along the fun ledge singletrack.  Then, it was downhill and across the creek.  I began to realize that I was going to have to cut this run short.  I just felt like complete crap.  I did a short out and back up a gradual hill.

I got to mile 14.  By now, I decided that mile 15 was enough.  I could push on more, but it would've got ugly.  I figured the more that I beat myself up today, the worse I'd feel on Sunday. 

I ran around the parking lot.  I did another short out and back.  I was now over 15 miles and done with the run.  I was hugely disappointed, but sometimes you have days like this.

I obviously had calf issues.  I think all the small stone they put down all over the park bothers me too.  My legs can't take a lot of running here.  It's not true nature trail.  I need more stone laced singletrack.  So much of it is runnable too, which makes it tough.

I'm supposed to be back there again tomorrow.  People are meeting at 7 AM.  They are doing around 10 miles.  I'm really hoping I can hit 30 this time.  It may be a big struggle, but I'll get there.  I'd be much happier if I can bounce back with 30 tomorrow and then maybe do 15 more on Monday.  We will see what's in the cards.

It is funny to think about 15 miles and almost 3 hours of running as a failure.  I guess that I've come that far that I expect more.  I need to be able to handle a lot if I'm going to tackle the West Virginia Trilogy in the fall.  This should be good prep work.

15.02 miles - 2:38:35 (10:33 pace) 921 feet of elevation gain

Monday, August 3, 2015

J-burg Recovery 15

I wanted to do back to back long runs this weekend to prep for the West Virginia Trilogy.  However, my post On the Rocks chafing was quite bad.  I took the next day off.

I had to get out there for a decent run today.  I decided to go to Jacobsburg in the afternoon.  Then, I could get in faster miles.  I wanted to do 15 miles.

It was hot as usual, but I guess I'm finally adapting.  I was drenched by the end of course, but the temperature didn't bother me.  Of course, I ran shirtless.

I took it easy at the beginning.  It was nice and cool along the creek.  Many families were out and it was crowded.  It didn't take long until I made the turn and headed slightly uphill.  Then, I'd rarely see another soul.

The first mile was 10 minutes flat, every other mile was under that, except for my long stop.  I saw a groundhog across the trail, but it ran off.  Some trucks were clearing brush from below the powerlines.  That was annoying.

I just tried to run steady.  The legs weren't bad.  They were a little better than I expected.  Still, they didn't come around during this loop and I had to battle.  The moderate hills were a little slow.  Big hills would've certainly been a challenge.

I crossed the three roads.  I was a little concerned because the bottom of my foot was bothering me.  I started thinking about quitting after a loop.  I figured I'd wait to see if it got better.

I slowly grind my way up the powerline.  Again, I was just trying to be solid and steady.  I knew coming downhill would be great.  It certainly was, and it felt easier and gave my legs a break.

In no time, the loop was over.  I was back at my car.  I refilled my water bottle and headed back out for a second loop.  A family saw me early on and realized I was on my second loop.  At times, I startled hikers when I yelled from behind.  They are never paying attention.

I took another turn and did the solid, gradual climb.  A dog was in front of its owners and jumped out of the woods and scared me.  I continued on a consistent pace.  I got halfway through the run and was feeling okay, but not great.

I tried to focus on each mile.  The slight climbs were getting a little harder.  I knew just getting over the powerline climb would be huge.  I was slow and steady up that, but got it done.

Now, it was downhill and flat to finish out the loop.  However, I had been running without stopping much.  The legs were starting to tire and the feet were getting sore.  I battled through it though.

I saw a few trail runners on this loop.  I later saw Gary running along the road.  It was great to get done with the second loop.  I threw my handheld in the car.  I had some short distance to add.

I was around 12.4 miles when I got near the creek.  I wanted to just go out and back for a bit.  I was starting to tire, but battling.  I took the left turn again.  Now, the gradual uphill was tough.

I turned around and coming back downhill was nice.  I also looped around the other parking lot, to add some distance.  I startled a couple again.  Some little girl was pretending to run when I went by.  That was cute.

I wasn't pushing at this point.  I was just trying not to fall off.  That took some effort, but I was successful.  I went past the parking lot and to the new building.  I turned around and finished right by my car.

I had just been hoping to run a sub 10 minute pace.  I was well under that.  It was a good, productive run.  I was a little sore and tired, but not too bad.  I need a couple more big weekends in the future.

Tomorrow, I'll probably take off again.  Then, I'll likely get some elevation on Wednesday.  I want a solid and productive week.

15 miles - 2:20:30 (9:22 pace) 882 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015 On the Rocks 45K Race Report

Normally, I don't run races in the summer.  Now, I'm doing 2 in back to back weeks.  I'm always browsing Ultrasignup.  I saw a 45K, On the Rocks, in York for only 35 bucks.  I couldn't pass it up, so I headed there today.

I checked out the course last night and it didn't seem too bad.  It was certainly harder than I imagined.  It seems like I always see the easier part of the course when I do these recons.

I was being cheap, so I slept in my car at a rest area.  That meant only about 3 hours of sleep.  I certainly wasn't rested for this one.  I was also in a rush, so I only ate a donut for breakfast.  I saw my friends Helene and Dorf and that start.  However, I didn't have too much time to chat, as I was getting everything together up until the last minute.

It was a little hot today, but not too bad.  Originally, I was going to wear a vest and singlet.  Then, I realized that I could just run with a handheld and no shirt.  This course has 3 loops, so after each loop I could refill my Tailwind.  I had prepped bottles beforehand and that worked great.

The race had a small field and I started somewhat near the front.  It has a lot of flat and downhill running at the beginning.  I cruised along pretty well.  I led a couple people.  The women's leader passed me early.

The trail was fairly rocky I guess.  It wasn't by my standards, but it was by normal people's.  I hiked the first big climb.  It was runnable, but no way I was running it on the first loop.  Dorf went by and I was impressed to see him running it.  He had not been training as he had liked, so this was a test for him.

After the climb, there's a bunch more runnable stuff.  After crossing a road, we got to this loop.  I had thought it was a short out and back, but it was actually a big loop.  That made more sense, as early on, I was surprised to not see the leaders. 

I was to the first aid station a little bit later.  After that, was some runnable stuff.  This section did annoy me though.  It was built by mountain bikers, so it kept turning.  It might be fun on a mountain bike, but it was frustrating to be running.

After that, there was a long, rocky climb.  This would be the end of the loop.  Then, it was on to the part I knew.  There was more runnable curves, with some sun exposure.

On a smooth road type section, Dorf waited for me to make sure we were going the right way.  We indeed were.  We ran together to the second aid station.  Mentally, this section went by quickly, as company was great.  Throughout the day though, the section between the first and second aid stations seemed to take forever and it was a grind.

I didn't realize there were people right behind us as we pulled into the aid station.  We came out together and there was about 5 of us, including the second place woman.  The trail went steeply downhill on some technical terrain.  Then, it climbed up for what seemed like forever.  I wanted to stay in contact for awhile, so I ran a bit more of the ascent than I normally would've.  I ran on the flatter parts of the switchbacks.

The course hit another flat section and then was uphill again after that, before finishing the loop.  The loop seemed a bit long.  One of the guys was refilling with Tailwind.  I fell behind the group, except for Dorf and I wouldn't see most of them again.

I got ahead of Dorf on the downhill part, but again he caught me on the uphill.  I thought he might pull away this time, but he was still in my sight at the top.  Eventually, I caught him at the aid station and that was a big boost.  He seemed to spend more time at the aid stations.

During this part of the loop, it was difficult to tell who was in what race.  Some speedy 15K people blew by us.  I actually felt like crap around mile 12, but I had ate a GU.  That combined with Dorf struggling more than me, gave me a boost.

I pulled away from Dorf at the aid station and never did see him again.  I was cruising along, feeling better on the flat part.  Then, I trip over the only root or rock nearby.  I took a hard fall and was covered in dirt.  I was scraped on my side and back too.

I got up quickly and things didn't hurt too bad.  I ran the frustrating parts with a couple other guys.  I was happy to get back through the loop and on to the more runnable stuff.  While I didn't feel great, I wasn't terrible either.  I forced myself to keep running.  I couldn't wait to get to the aid station again.  I pulled away from the one guy before that.  I stopped and took a bunch of stuff.  I was drinking a lot and grabbing a snack every now and then.

I knew this downhill and then uphill would be tough.  I couldn't believe I wasn't even done with the 2nd of 3 loops.  Then, another slightly deflating thing happened.  I let someone pass and it was Helene.  I didn't mind her catching me, but not this early.  I just battled on though.

I got back to the start and refilled my bottle again.  Somewhere on the flat part, I lost my Buff.  I found it after the race.  I cruised on the downhill.  Now, I was all alone and wondering if I'd ever see anyone again during the race.

After the road and around the start of the loop, a guy passed me.  He didn't pull away though.  I wasn't feeling all that great around mile 20 at this point.  I ended up catching him at the aid station.  We ran together for a mile or two.  His name was Jake and he was a huge boost during these tough miles.  I ran probably more than I would've.

I flew ahead of him on the technical downhill, but he caught me coming up.  Then, we got to the flat part and I just took off.  I still had something left and took a GU earlier.  I was happy to be through the crappy part and on some runnable stuff.

Even some of the curves at the top didn't bother me.  I simply pushed through.  I never saw Jake again until the finish.  Much to my surprise, I caught the female that I had run with earlier.  She was walking and struggling.  I told her to force herself to run more.

I blew past her and was just flying.  I knew it was basically all runnable to the final aid station.  I pushed and pushed and eventually got there.  I was thrilled to make it to that point.  I fueled up a little, but didn't waste too much time.

I cruised on the descent.  My concentration was still good, so the rocks weren't an issue at all.  My feet were slightly sore, but actually I wasn't too bad.  Amazingly, I wasn't that close to cramping either.

I felt pretty awesome, all things considered.  The only issue was the brutal climbing left.  I ran as much of it as I could, but I had to hike a lot.  It was enough to slow me down, so that I couldn't finish under 6 hours.  I pushed on all alone now.

I ran through the finish and was thrilled to be done.  Helene had only finished a few minutes before and the young lady finished a few minutes after.  Physically, this is close to the best I've felt after an ultra.  I feel like I fueled pretty well and got a lot of things right.  I still felt off a little, but it was a tough course and a hot day.

My body was a bit cut up.  The biggest issue I currently have is that I'm really chafed.  My thighs are quite sore.  I wanted to do another longer run tomorrow, but likely won't be able to now.  Maybe I'll run longer on Monday.

Unofficially 27.9 miles - 6:04:09 (13:01 pace) 3831 feet of elevation gain