Tuesday, November 09, 2010

2010 Shut-In Trail Race

As the first Saturday in November brings a fall tradition in Asheville NC. The 31st annual Shut-In Trail Race kicked off with some early winter weather. Quick paces and a super good time.

Excited as all get out to be back in the mountains. I've been eying this event since last years race. Really wanting to prove to myself that I can learn from my mistakes

Started out a bit in control and a touch on the edge. It was a must to avoid the elbow bumping to come as the jeep road turns into singletrack. Spotted some speedy friends up ahead early on. Making a steady charge to bridge the gaps. Steady was the key. Still excited as all get out.

Plan was to break the race into 4 sections. Start to AS1 single track. (3 mi) AS1 to Bent Creek AS (9mi), Bent Creek AS to Hwy 151 (15mi), Hwy 151 to Finish (17.8mi). Could not had worked out better. Felt good in the early miles. Chasing friends seems to always make the time go by quickly. So by Bent Creek the race was already half way through. Although the climbing really starts here. As the altitude climbed the temps really started to drop. Then the snow starts.

Stayed on top of my calories early on. Correcting one huge mistake from last year. Staying steady still. Run what I can and power hike what I can't. The big test comes at Hwy 151. The final 1.8 miles is some kind of torture. Trying to keep enough ump in the bank. Hoping to correct the biggest mistake of last years event. As the wave of hamstring cramps and an IT band issue rears it's ugly head. Step by step, topping out the beast to one more rocky decent to the finish. I've just knocked 20 minutes off my 09 time. Big Thanks to the Harbison Trail Runners who went up for this event.
3:16 ~17.8 miles

This worked out great.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monthly Update

Saluda Shoals Adventure Race (August 28) Saludas Shoals Park 3 person Co-Ed Team Cuz-O. Teaming up with my wife Erin and her cousin Jeannie. This would be my first attempt at an Adventure Race.

Staring off with a 2 mile trail run - 1 mile canoe paddle in the upper Saluda. Very low water level. So I had to get out and push the rapid sections. Oh and the paddle was upstream. Ending with a 5 mile mtb ride on some very tame trails.

USMC Mud Run (Sept. 25) Teaming up with Damon, Toby S. & Todd to take on the 4+ mile obstacle course. Wow what a fun adventure. The course would be a good trail run by itself. Add in 30+ obstacles and got yourself a muddy good time. All in all we did well. It totally took me back to playing at my folks house as a kid. Playing in the mud and running through the woods.

*all photos credit to Patrick and Denny

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Silver Fox 5k Trail Run

More like speed work in disguise. It's just so hard to turn down a local trail race. So why not.

Located in Saluda Shoals Park. A nice river trail running along the upper Saluda River. The race is a Dutch Fork XC fund raiser. That means some super fast youngsters were toeing the line. As for this youngster there was really no telling, first run all week. After recovering from last weekends quad crusher. Overall the race went well. Stayed at the door of the pain cave the whole time. Just never stepped in.
Fizzled out in the last half mile. Just couldn't catch the fella in front of me. At the same time didn't get passed either. It's the small victories that count. Then my favorite aspect of this park is the frosty dip in the upper Saluda. All worth it in the end.
22:53, 22 of 142 Overall, 2nd of 8 30-34 AG
Silver Fox 5k Trail Run

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In & Out

......... is as fast as this run seemed to go from start to finish. A mid-week email jumped things off with an offer to get in a run in Pisgah. So the ball gotta rolling with pretty please honey can I go to the mountains for a run. Please please! That was Wednesday. So plans were made, routes discussed and carpooling situated. It's off to the hills for a quick day trip.

Route for the day: Laurel Mountain TH > Laurel Mtn. > Connector > Pilot Rock > FS 1206 > Pilot Cove > FS 1206 > Laurel Mtn. TH

As I mentioned before this whole run came together quick. A few blinks later I'm heading up Laurel with Cobb, wondering with the day will hold for us. After my past experience at May Mountain Marathon. Good planning of food and fluids would be the deciding factor of the fun factor of this run. Assuming a four hour run ahead of me then asses the damages for another smaller loop. That was the plan.

This run would start on a super positive note. The staring temp was 68*. Making the climb up Laurel a welcomed change of pace. All goes well till along the decent on Pilot Rock something pops me in the right calf. Hoping around "ahh something bit me" looking like some pansy. A bit of investigating as to what it was. Nothing, not-a dang thing. Still I have no idea what hit me. Epipen in hand - do I or do I wait and see. Wait and see.

Find the nearest creek and soak my calf for a few minutes. By the time we got back to FS1206, there was a walnut size knot set up on my calf. Systems check had my stomach beginning to head south a bit. Still having a good time we set in for Pilot Cove. What started as a chill trail it soon tipped up. Then my walk pace set in. With the stomach cramps starting and the end was near. Really!By the time we hit 1206 again to the car was hell. My system was not amused. Walk jog walk some more. Shuffled in around 3:30 with 16+ miles. My run was over. However Cobb had some more training in mind. So he set off on another loop. While I stayed at the car and caught up on some ZZZZZZZZ.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yet Another Ride

As the temps rise so does the need for a constant breeze on my grill. So another ride in the books. This made for two rides last week. With a total of three rides in two weeks. Met up with Joe for a Wednesday night out at Harbison. First ride back on my SS since PMBAR. Nice eye opener, shows just where my cycle fitness is right now. Still feeling inspired I managed a solo loop of 2:00 around West Columbia/Cayce/S. Congaree on Sunday. Still looking at 4:2 or 5:1, run to cycle ratio during the week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rock 2 Rock 10k

Straight from the race website, "This is a technical and demanding course. A good estimate is to add about 60% on to your usual 10k time. You will not be able to run the entire course. There will be a single water station at the high point (Eden Rock)…roughly 3.5 miles into the course. Roots, rocks, downed trees, low limbs and very steep terrain are just some of the challenges…but the rewards are some sweet single track and an unmatched view off Eden rock…You will be amazed to be only minutes from I-40 and feel so remote.''
so why not give it a go.

Nestled in Camp Rockmont.....ain just outside of Swannanoa NC. An energetic crowd gathered to kick off the Mountain Festival weekend. E&I made the drive up for an outing in the mountains and to meet local friends Clay and Terri. Some chit chatting and not much warming up. We lined up and it was go time.

From the open field start the climb starts. Mostly double track then to some single track. Once the single starts the climbing slows to a fast walk. So about a mile and half in. The realization sets in that I possibly went out too hard for my current condition. That realization was soon all to real. Heart rate was through the roof and the breathing was labored. So the fast walking sections were a hidden blessing.

All along I knew Clay would be lurking, with all his not so secret hill training. He was a touch on the conservative side at the start. He would pick his way through the field to pull right up on my 6 in no time. Just as the steep section kicks in. At a fast hike pace the climb tops out a quick steep down hill. All to hit yet another steep hike to the pinnacle of the race. Grabbed two cups of water and started to chase Clay on the downhill.

This section really got steep in sections. The trail conveniently weaved through some rhododendron. Great for grabbing a hold and using for balance. By now Clay had gaped me putting two ladies between us. Wondering if was a planned move to discourage me from catching him, and it was.

Onto the final decent. The trail starts to level off a touch but the rocks keep coming. Finally I decided to let go and the leg turn over went along with it. Just focused on foot placement and not a face plant. Honed in on Clay. The flow was working for me. Hitting the line all the way down. Till Sultan came by me at faster pace. Held him as long as possible. Soon the trail would open to a gravel road and the pace picked up for the others. Now paying full retail for the previous down hill. My legs were starting to feel heavy and weak. As I was catching two ladies, they just accelerated away as the gravel went on. Soon as it started it was over. The road would let back onto the opening trail into the finishing area. A short hill gaining 15' or so had my legs going weak. Another corner to the finish. 1:02:4_ for a 10k with over 2000' of elevation gain and loss. Not to bad for a flatlander.

Monday, May 03, 2010

PMBAR 2010

Another PMBAR down in the books. Another extreme test of grit and sheer courage to survive yet another longish bike ride in the mountains, with one dang gear. After 4 attempts, the best placing yet. A freakin top 10 at PMBAR, yes!!
So for the second year, I teamed up with Clay. Whom may I add has a vast knowledge of single speed friendly and practical routes from point A to point B. A slight obsession maybe or maybe not. Any who it came in very handy for this adventure into Pisgah.

As always PMBAR starts many months before race day. Preparation miles on the trails or even day trips to the hills to test your mettle amongst the locals. What ever your poison it's generally well thought out and down to a science. Well not always. This would be my 15th ride of the season. Longest being 3:30 in the saddle. Nervous oh yeah.

So goals for the race in order of improtance
- not crash hard (1 crash but not to bad & few close calls)
- keep up with Clay (with the exception of FS1206 & Maxwell Cove)
- have a super duper time (with the exception of FS1206 & Maxwell Cove)

Now nerves in check and a set of well rested legs it was time to race/hike-a-bike up Black Mountain at near anaerobic pace. With a mystic fog lingering over Black the sense of a good day was there. Clay had the master plan nailed for the day. It was all 5 CP and no discussion about anything less. Now slap on the chamios creme and get a pushing ya flatlander its gonna be a long day in the woods. At least in my mind that is what I heard.

Luckily all was going well. At a steady pace we pushed up and over Black > Buckhorn > South Mills > Squirrel Gap > Laurel Creek > 5015 > 1206 > 5000 > 1206 > Laurel Mtn. > Pilot Rock > 1206 > 276 > 475B > 225 > 475B > 276 > 477 > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove Rd. > Black Mtn.

10:30 - 67 miles, 16000' elevation gain.

Things that went right
- forgot my watch it's good to not realized you are 6 hours past your longest ride of the season.
- nutrition finally got it right just not enough of it
- focused on survival and not speed
- nothing came off the bike, did manage to snap a bottle cage
- frosty cold PBR at FS5000

Things that went wrong
- FS 1206, just in a funk walked a few times to change my rhythm a bit
- Maxwell Cove, just a mere 5miles from the finish and the taunting of pizza and beer had my senses on overload, it just would not translate to my legs to push harder.

After proof reading this blog post. I realize its a bit vague and mixed up. It is the true time warp I felt at the time. Some 48 hrs after and I'm still beat. My body aches and my mind is numb. Hope I'll be back for more in the future and maybe a new plan for 2011.

(all photos cred Clay)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mt Mitchell Challenge Recap

A fine intro to the world of Ultra Running. The Mt. Mitchell Challenge would not be the first pick of most folks. Why lean towards easy? This just makes the others easier in the future. Well I finished in tact (7:17:32 - 35 miles - 72th of 121).

This event was to be slated as an epic adventure. As the building anticipation of the remains of inclement weather. As most know the winter of 09-10 in the NC mountains has been great for skiers. Jay Curwin (RD) did a great job at looking out for the well being of his entrants. A mandatory re-route of the course was inevitable. Shorten the course and bringing about more asphalt than in years past.

Miles 0-3
The start was chilly. A slow jog up the road to the first hill would warm me up. The College of Montreat would be the official start to the climbing. With an elevation gain of 1020'+ in a mile (19%). Brought things to a slow walk early on. You could look around an see people shedding the excess clothing. This is where I figured out my first Ultra mistake. I was way overdressed for this party. After so many years of cycling and figuring out the proper attire for the weather, this running thing may take some more time. Dress 20* warmer than your starting temps. Lesson 1 CHECK.

Miles 3 - 12
This would be the start to the ice. It was highly recommended to bring along YakTrax for this section known as the Old Toll Road. In my preparation for this race I just could not bring myself to shell out the cash for some gear I would barely use.

So with the help of Bronco Billy's Blog about screwing your shoes for ice. I was all in on the DIY solution. It was a minimal approach, but worked well for me. It was slow goings in the real icy sections anyway. All to find out later the top female (Krissy Moehl) used the same setup. So maybe not so crazy after all. It comes down to skill. Lesson 2 CHECK.

Back to the Old Toll Road. The company of Jeff R. and J.R. all the way to the summit was a welcomed treat. The footing was good overall. Mixed in with some sketchty sections. I recall on 3 different occasions pulling the Bambi on ice. A slid down the trail pulling some form of a 360*till stopping. Oh the memories. The Old Toll Rd would eventually come to an end at aid station 2 - 2:15 into the adventure. Most all mileage was positive elevation gain. pics #143-144 here

12-23 miles
The very instant we departed the aid station a gust of wind 30+mph comes through. An immediate chill comes over you. Now the stage for the next 11 miles is set. The course changes would have us on pavement the entire time to and from the summit. I'm not complaining. It was clear of snow and ice. Just super windy and cold. By far the coldest I've ever been in my life. Reports of 6* with windchill at -10*. That was a long cold walk.

Rather uneventful just keep moving, eat and drink as much as you can. Well that became a problem once my hydration bladder froze into large chunks. It came down to putting one foot in front of the other. Plus trying to stay with my party. All the way to the summit.
Should have started at least a Jog/Walk approach to the climb. This could have help eliminated some exposure on the mountain. Lesson 3 CHECK. The approach to the turn around had us venture off the pavement to a spur trail to the summit sign. The snow was on average calf deep. After many runners ahead of us made many holes. The footing was sparatic. Start > Summit 3:45.

The decent was not my cup of tea. It was a good feeling to not be climbing for a change. I was having problems getting the legs to turn over. This was where I started to lose my running partners. Slipped into survival mode, to just maintain a steady pace and keep moving. The downhill running if not kept in check for me will punish my quads and knees. Still to far away from the finish to take the risk.

Summit Photos borrowed from Citizen Times. Top pic of Brad Kee coming from the summit. Second pick of the paved road near the summit.

Miles 23-35
Pain Pain and Pain. By this time I was running solo w/ my ipod. Yep, I busted it out on the Parkway to drown the voices in my head. So now later in the day. The icy sections were turning to slush. This slush turns out to be very refreshing when the friction on your feet is rising from the steady downhill. Steady movement.

The hardest part was the decent through Montreat. Remember that uphill section at the beginng. Well it turns out we would be going down that part also. WOW!!!!!!!!! That was some brutal basting of the feet and knees. Heck you couldn't even walk it slowly. My approach to ease the pounding was to cut back and forth across the road. It worked for a bit. Till the fact hit me. That I was indeed make this race longer step by step.

A little spur of a trail along some river was a pleasant touch. Wish I would have known that the final 3ish miles were along a paved road. Damn this was the longest 3 miles ever. Trying to mix it up a touch. I would shoulder surf on every patch of organic surface I could. Finally a lap around Lake Tomahawk to finish things up. It was a good time and an excellent event.

Also I would like to thank the Harbison Trail Runners. With three houses rented out in Black Mountain. 17 folks made the trip up. Many more thanks for the dinner and ample amounts of food and beer. I believe we all had a super time.

Goals Completed:
  • Finished
  • Had Fun
  • Gained Experience
  • Earned the coveted MMC Fleece Pullover
Goals Not Completed
  • Finished Under 7 hours
  • Finished in the top 50 or 50%
Till next year.

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's time

To suffer that is. The bags are packed with the cold weather gear and a jar full of courage. Heading up to the town of Black Mountain for the Mt Mitchell Challenge. The cool temps and ample amounts of snow has shortened the course a touch, only 36 miles for the challenge. The first challenge will be making the 10am cut off to the parkway. It's the pass to continue to the top. If not you will be turned around and givin credit for the marathon. Winch is not a full marathon either. Hope for the best. Thanks for the heads up Clay. This should toughen me up for PMBAR.

All Photo credit goes to CF

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Next Challenge

It's the Challenge! The Mt. Mitchell Challenge a 40mi. trail run. Starting from the quaint little town of Black Mountain NC. Traversing the hill side to the peak of Mt. Mitchell then returning to town. That's it in a nutshell. So whats the big deal, besides the 40 miles of running & shuffling over Pisgah's terrain. Well it will be the epic weather they have had this winter. Recently a video journal of another runners approach to the summit documented the degree of difficulty one my face. ICE, knee deep snow and more ICE. So WTF was I thinking?

This may be right up there with some other local nuts prepping for the Pisgah 36. My hats off to you fellas, take care and be safe. So what was I thinking? Really, I wanted the trifecta for topping Mt. Mitchell. To date I've competed and completed in the Off-Road and Road assaults on MM. These both by bike of course. So why the hell not try my hand at the trail run version. Why the hell not. Yeah!

To date I've been back running for 2 years now. For the last 6 months the focus has been aimed at Mitchell. The riding as of late has been very minimal. In fear of taking away mileage & time from running. WTF! So the approach has been calculated to some degree. Steadily building to longer and longer trail runs. Weekly mileage has gone from 20ish to 40+ in the last few weeks. Maybe too much too soon? Who says going out on 20ish mile training runs for 3 weeks then bust out the 30 miler is not a great idea. Got me.

So the foundation is built. Now just stay healthy for the next 3 weeks. That brings me to the Taper phase. A lost art for those obsessed with quantity over quality. I balance this thin line. It seems my build phase used too many boards and not enough nails. So this foundation is solid but this structure atop is a bit rickety. Yep I'm nursing a bum ankle. WTF! So it looks like the rollers will be getting the call up. Frustrating as hell but I have time to get it healed. Only if I'm patient, yeah we will see about that.

Oh and bye the way don't forget about V day coming up. The Silver Dog could have the perfect gift waiting for you. See link on side bar.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Brisk New Year Start

First off a huge Thanks goes out to the 7 brave riders who braved the cold and bitter winds. All to make the inaugural I.F. Memorial ride a success.
Thank You So Much

Damon, Brian, Bill, Mark, Kenny, Tony, Steve

Honestly I had no idea who or how many folks would show up. With temp in the 30*s and winds around 20mph. With only 39 miles and 20 sections of dirt, this would become an epic ride. A unique blend of riders and bikes. Including 1 mtb(29"), 2 road bikes, 3 cross, 1 hybrid & 1 fixed road.

No wrong turns, no mechanicals, no flats, no dog bites, no crazed red necks, low traffic and only one body slap to the Lexington Co. clay. Two maybe three sections were hike-a-bike due to sand. No one even whispered any complaints. It was a chill ride and no one had any agenda and we all stayed as a group the entire time. So with that I thank you once again and just maybe we will plan another outing in April. Just Maybe.

Friday, January 01, 2010


See post below on route update