Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Doctor Frank and I were running at Morris Bridge Park on Sunday (aka Trout Creek, aka Flatwoods, aka Wilderness Park) and enjoying a leisurely run through the woods on a beautiful day. We'd had the trail to ourselves for quite some time, so neither of us were paying all that much attention to anything but our feet and nature.
Hence, we were both caught off guard when a burly mountain biker came screaming towards us toward the end of our 13 mile jog. I saw him just in time, and Frank must not have understood my warning, as he was a nanosecond later in stepping off the trail. No collision, no squealing of brakes, so no big deal...... to us. The mountain biker was livid. He let loose a string of threats and obscenities regarding trail use.
Well, Mathews wasn't taking this without a few words and threats of his own. "Hey, A-H, you better take it down a notch right now, or that bike is going up your bum sideways!"
Burly mountain biker replies, "No F-U, you Pu$$y, these are our trails too!"
Mathews: "Pu$$y, well you're the one riding away!" (and thank God for that, because: A- He was a big dude. and B-He was a lot madder than I was!)
You know, I almost always say live and let live, and mountain bikers are usually the worlds nicest people, but like Slaid Cleaves says, "Sometimes you've gotta act like you've gotta pair."
Friday, November 12, 2010
All the details haven't been ironed out yet, but the course will consist mostly of 4.5 mile loops in the Vortex at Croom. Space will be limited to 50 total runners. The price tag will be modest. There will be a BBQ to follow the event. There will be awards. It will be fun!
Greg, Steve, Chris, A1 and A2 can vouch for the value of training in the Vortex, and we are all eager to see how racing in the Vortex will go (here's a hint, find out which race Chris and Steve are doing and run the other! Those guys are just too fast!)
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
It wasn't my fastest (20:47) or my slowest (32:10), but I felt that 26:07 was a solid effort. The course, while beautiful, was not designed with me in mind. Lots of steep climbs, not my specialty, with very few long runnable downhills, which is my specialty. I knew I wouldn't be winning the race when after climbing for an hour to the high point on the course, and soaking in the spectacular view, we headed out for what I thought would be a long down hill patch, in which I could catch the field. Well, as we were at the pinnacle, we did descend, sadly the descent was straight down through jagged rocks. I kept looking for Sam and Frodo as I was sure this section known as Blue Hell was near the gates of Mordor. I know for sure I saw Smegal at some point. Needless to say my specialty is NOT climbing hand over fist down a mountain and I caught no one.
The course wasn't the only thing that slowed me down. There were 7 falls along the way. Some gnarly! I hit my knee, my elbow, my wrist, my other knee, my arse. I was a stumbling and a bumbling! Those were some slippery, and well hidden rocks. In addition to the stumbles there were the "Pit Stops." Sylacauga, Alabama isn't known for fine Italian food, but it is known for greasy food. Well when you combine Pizza and grease, you get 5 pit-stops in the woods. I had carried enough supplies for 3 pit stops. Let's just say that there are two cotton running gloves a few miles apart in the Talladega National Forest than I wouldn't want to wear again, ever... under any circumstances!
Later on there were some very nice downhills and I was very happy with the way I ran, but in general given the course and my poor selection in trail shoes for the first 1/2 of the race my time wasn't nearly as good as my effort would have dictated. Happily, I was ok with that. I just wanted to run as well as I could and I did that. I didn't waste any time at aid stations nor did I walk when I should have run. For the most part I just relaxed and used that savvy veteran patience and let the course dictate my action.
Here it is in a school interview. My part is from 1:45 in till the end (boy do I look tired, er, I was!):
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Pinhoti Alabama is having a live webcast! Shoot when I went to college in Alabama the only web they had spiders in it. Their technology consisted of two Bush's Baked Beans cans and some kite string!
But, they are now part of the "new South." they have the Internet (after it was a guy from another Southern state, Tenessee, that invented the Internet, Al Gore)and they are having a Webcast for the race. Here's the link http://ultralive.net/
The bib numbers aren't up yet, but I'm sure you'll find it. Track us all:
Andy Slow as Molasses Mathews Bib #630
Andy on a Roll Barrett #575
Greg Virgin Vannette #1578
Chris Motor Mottola #633
Steve "Wheels" Wheeler #1581
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I finished spelling PINHOTI TRAIL.
I lost some weight.
I Did a few night runs.
I hung with A2 as he nearly won Arkansas.
I put up with Dean's "Wisdom."
I purchased flashlights
I purchased back up flashlights
I purchased batteries
I purchased back up batteries
I purchased a new MP3 player
I purchased a back up MP3 Player
(darn but these 100 milers stimulate the economy!)
I made by Pinhoti playlist
I made a Pinhoti playlist for my guys.
Well, now I'll just pack and be on my way I reckon.
BTW, here's the playlist for those who want to spend 19.99 on Rhapsody or want to wait for me to send them a CD (I only charge 9.95 s & h!)
Song Reason included:
✓ Sweet Home Alabama 4:45 Lynyrd Skynyrd Forrest Gump [Disc 2] Soundtrack Included for obvious reasons
✓ The Boys Are Back In Town 4:25 Thin Lizzy Badwater Mix Rock Since it's a bunch of Dude's running
✓ Miserlou 2:14 Dick Dale Guitar Legend: The Very Best of Dick Dale Rock 2 Just a wicked cool song
✓ How Will You Shine 5:11 The Gourds Noble Creatures (2007) Country How? Dunno, but brightly I hope!
✓ Hot Hot Hot 4:11 Buster Poindexter Buster Poindexter Spoken & Audio Because it starts with my signature line, YES SIR!
✓ Mambo No. 5 3:41 Lou Bega A Little Bit Of Mambo Latin 2 A Guilty Pleasure.
✓ 14 Twist And Shout 2:33 The Beatles 1 Dunno. Always liked it since FBDO
✓ Ground On Down 5:40 Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Live From Mars [Disc 1] Alternative & Punk Me Trying to be hip
✓ Against The Wind 5:36 Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band Forrest Gump [Disc 2] Soundtrack 1 Running against the Wind
✓ It Keeps You Runnin' 4:22 The Doobie Brothers Forrest Gump [Disc 2] Soundtrack Runnin' in the title
✓ Break On Through (To The Other Side) 2:30 The Doors Forrest Gump [Disc 1] Soundtrack 1 Awesome song
✓ Pay The Alligator 3:32 The Flatlanders Now Again Country 1 Didn't think you'd already have it, and I like it!
✓ Fox On The Run 2:05 Tom T. Hall Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher [Disc 1] Folk 1 Oh, we'll see a fox on this run! Sandra's coming!
✓ On The Run 5:33 Stevie Ray Vaughan Solos, Sessions & Encores Blues 1 SRV! And Run, had to do it!
✓ Blue Side Of The Mountain 3:29 Steeldrivers The Steeldrivers Country 1 I like this one, and it has Mountain in the title
✓ Flash 2:48 Queen Greatest Hits I Rock In honor of Andy B, Flash, he's so fast (ask the invisible man!)
✓ Hammer & Nail 3:20 Paul Thorn Hammer & Nail Rock Paul's cooler than the other side of the pillow!
✓ I'm A King Bee 3:53 Muddy Waters The Johnny Winter Sessions 1976-1981 Blues I actually am a king Bee!
✓ This Time 3:31 Los Lobos This Time Rock Los Lobos, Muy Caliente!
✓ Born To Be Wild 4:26 The Knitters The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters Country 1 Tough song, Tough Course, Tough Group of MFers!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Dean's right, I've just got to get in shape. I'm just heavier than I was a few years ago. Hey, I'm happy with my progress in the last three months, down from gigantic to a little large. Big Milestone for me the other day at the Doctor, I actually weighed under 180 with some clothes on on a doctor's scale. (I would have done the normal strip down routine, but I didn't think the other people in the lobby would appreciate it!)
Anyway I have taken drastic steps in the direction of reduction. Until after Pinhoti, NO BEER. Until after Pinhoti, NO SWEETS. Until after Pinhoti, NO WINGS. Aw, these are a few of my favorite things. Hey, I may even save a few ducats. On Tuesday when our little Dark Runners running club met at the House of Brews, my tab for my water and lettuce with no dressing was a fiver. I flipped her a ten-spot and said, "Keep the Change!" It was still cheaper than a night with the sauce.
After Pinhoti, just be healthy.
My goal, next time I see Mike Melton he won't say, "Body By Budwiser," He won't even say, "Body by Bud Lite," He'll say, "Hey, Body by Crystal Lite, now I know how you broke 24 hours at Pinhoti."
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Are they filled with Ell's?
OSAR! Oh Ese A Are!
Where'd I get my Final Pre-Race Letter? Well, I got my L at the T!
Let me just say this; anyone that can run 4 x 4 mile beautiful hilly, sandy loops, and then go out on the road and run 4 mile on the road as his buddies are hanging by the truck and basking in the sun while enjoying some frosty suds, well that dude deserves a letter.
On Saturday that dude was me. I got my letter. It was an ELL of a time!
Friday, October 22, 2010
Anyway, I wanted to use the trip to SC as a chance to run some hills and enjoy some cooler weather, alas, I was under the weather, and with a little coaxing, I even went to the doctor. I was stoked because this Doc is a former National Champion Triathlete. He trained with and beat the likes of Scott Tinely, Dave Scott and Mark Allen. I knew he was going to tell me running was the perfect cure for my Sinusitis. Sadly, Dr. Sports Medicine tells me, you NEED to take 3 days off. Do NOT train until you are clear of this infection, or else you will keep the infection and Andy Barrett will beat you by 3 hours in Alabama. What? Three hours? Hey, Doc, What's up? Andy B just ran a 100 in Arkansas, he won't beat me by more than 1.5 hours! Well, says doc, if you run 30 miles in South Carolina he will.
Darn, I still got no L. That's ok, I'm going to be at Croom this weekend with the hunters. I will either leave there with an L or an arse full of buckshot (or both).
Here's a little tribute to my struggle with the second No L:
Friday, October 8, 2010
As of now, I'm at Pinhoti Trai_. It's like Christmas around here No L! Get it, No L (noel, get it!) har har.
Why should I get a Letter because Andy Barrett is a beast? Hey, 36 miles at night and I had to use a few motivational methods. (Move it sh*t head, I have a life to lead! Nurturing stuff like that :)
Anway, now that I'm tapering, letters are going to be tough to get, but I figure to pick them up through diet and exercise. I only need the L, the 100 will come from the number of miles I finish in Alabama. If I run 72 it's Pinhoti Trail 72, if I make it all the way it Pinhoti Trail 100. If I run extra, well, that'd be ok too!
Almost there, yep, almost there.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
2- Andrea is tough as a two-dollar steak!
3- Woody is fast, tough, and ageless
I don't know what there is to say about the race. It was an honor to run with Andy Barrett. We are so very proud of Andrea and her gutsy effort. A 2-Hour PR, but I didn't run with her, so I can't really speak on her race. Happily, she'll write a race report about it, and it will be poetic! But running with Andy was a personal highlight in my running career. I wish we could bottle the effort he put into that race, because it was incredible. My boy had to be tired! My boy's legs had to be screaming. Yet he never complained, not once. He did; however, darn near drop me several times, even though I ran only 36% of the race with him. It got to where we just ran. Up hill, down hill, flats, rocks (ok, maybe not so much on rocks), we ran, then we ran some more.
We also took a little time to turn off our lights and enjoy some AMAZING stars. What a clear beautiful night!
How did my boy run so fast? I don't know. I picked him up at mile 66 and he was in eighth place out of 100 starters. We quickly passed one guy, only 6 more in front of us. Coming out of Powerline, we passed two more, only 4 more in front of us. We spent the next 25 miles trying to track the guy in fourth down. Funny, Andy never even seemed to be thinking about those behind (turns out the next finisher after him was more than an hour back), he was dead focused on the guys in front of us. We kept checking the progerss of #4, and we were gaining on him. 15 minutes, 13 minutes, 9 minutes, then 5 and then 3 separated Andy and the other dude. Finally at the last aid station, Pumpkin Patch, we had whittled the lead down to 1 minute, and I got my first glimpse of the fella, and it was really just a glance, because when he saw our lights and heard the aid station workers cheer us, he took off like a scalded hound, and we didn't see him again until we were recovering in the finish area. That guy had some giddy-up.
I am so privileged to know you all and run with you. It was truly incredible. Way to go, way to go!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Ok, I'm running out of time to spell out Pinhoti Trail 100 (I'm at Pinhoti Tr---) so I have to get a letter this weekend. I'm running up in the hills of Clermont, here's my plan for Sunday. 20 miles. 1st 10 mile loop nice and easy, 2nd loop, charge the hills, no walking the ups, finish the loop in less than 100 minutes (that's under 10 min. miles). Come on how can I be the A Man if I've lost my A?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Croom Zoom 100 and 100K is happening, darn it!
Now, in January 2011, it may have to be low key, it may have to be a Phat A$$, it may have to even be unauthorized, but it's happening! Shoot since we are now supposed to get permits even for our overnight runs, how much harder will it be to get a permit for 150 of us to run overnight? I'm thinking we can do it!
I'll keep you posted.
Croom Zoom, The Florida Panther 100, The Croom 100, The Dill-a-Dillo Armadillo 100, the Florida 100. It's happening!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
To the 18 or so folks that came out on a Sunday night, in thee woods, in Hernando County, to help a young guy celebrate his birthday. On Thursday I was 48 years old, by Monday morning as we wrapped up our run, I was 49 years young!
We started at 8PM with 16 or 18 of us running, a few twists and turns aside, the Blue bike trail to Nobleton road. From there 10 of us went on to Ethel's stop at Nobleton Park, where I was finally able to get rid of 8 or the 10 quarters that had been jingling in my pocket for 14.5 miles. Ethel was a no-show, but we managed ok without her.
Andy and Andrea kept the griping to a minimum, even though they "Hate that stretch!" Hey A's, you may as well get used to it, because other than 8 miles in the first 1/4 or Arkansas, that's what you're getting! At least, I only gave you 5 miles of road!
When we got back to drop 1 at midnight, 7 more of continued on for the full route, Patrick (who had biked 105 miles, and run 4 on Saturday, he's really tough, of course, he also made us all tougher, our ears anyway!), 3 A's (A1 - A3 and 3 J's, John Wood, John Pyle, and Justin).
We negotiated the Vortex without getting lost (thanks Woody), then we popped out again at Nobleton Road. From there our really long trek to Croom Road Commenced. Even though they did a little trail modification on us, we somehow managed to pop out on Croom Road (thanks again Woody!) after about a ten mile stretch.
From the Croom Road drop 1, we refueled and took off again. Last time we did this section on the south side of Croom Road on the blue bike trail I was feeling good and picked up my pace. This time was similar. I started feeling good, even after 30 humid miles, and steadily pulled away from the gang. Sometime in the middle of this 9 mile leg, I started stretching my stride out and running all the hills. After a bit I was all alone and having a birthday blast. I kept pushing the pace until I hit Croom Road again. After a couple of minutes A2 sprinted out of the woods and shortly thereafter, the rest of the magnificent 7 arrived and we strolled to drop #4.
From drop 4 we all stayed together for the 6-7 miles back to Croom Road. There was a few signs of fatigue and a bit of grumbling from the crowd, but all in all spirits were high as we closing in on the completion of my 49 mile birthday run.
We refueled for the last time on Croom Road and set out for the final 2.5 miles back to the cars. Andrea, Patrick, Justin, Andy B, and I were holding steady and all running well (John Pyle and Woody had headed up the road). Not too long into the final stretch Andy B decided it was time to put the hammer down and put an end to this madness. It was finally light out. . . again (I love those light to dark to light runs!) so we could safely pick up the pace, but who wants to do that after 47 miles? Who, I guess, Justin and the two Andy's. Because when Andy B took off, Justin and I followed shortly thereafter. Justin and I worked like mad to catch Andy with exactly 1.4 miles left. We were content to follow Andy till the 1-mile mark. when I scooted around him and left those guys in the dust, for about 1/2 mile, when I died. Justin (he's solid! What a good runner this guy is!) went around me so fast I wondered if I was moving in the right direction. With 1/4 mile left Andy B came upon me and shamed me into jogging it in. He said something subtle, like, "What's the matter MFer, you were a man a minute ago!" Thanks Andy, you're right. I finished in a limping jog, and then hobbled over to the nearest picnic table and collapsed on top of it. Andy B on the other hand went out and ran a couple of hills (he's ready for a sub 23 hour finish at Arkansas.)
Soon after the rest came in looking fresh. We showered up, and and Andrea bought me breakfast at Denny's. It was a great birthday. Thanks all.
Oh, and I earned a letter. We're now at Pinhoti T. Just a Rail to go!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
The bit from that song that remains in my imperfect memory is the repeated, I, I, I in there, hence, the title as I have now completed the PinhotI, in Pinhoti Trail 100. How did I do it?
Well, I had a yeoman's 43 mile weekend. There was the 30 miler with Andy B on Saturday morning that turned into 24. I ran 18 quality miles before I bonked. I was sick as a dog on Friday, and knew that Saturday would be a tough run, but I knew I would get some portion done and it would be more valuable than staying in bed. So, I met A2 at 3 am, and we drove to Clermont for a 4:30 start. I ran until I couldn't run anymore, then I ran/walked 6 more for 24.
I, I, I got some good sleep on Saturday night and met Becky and Margo for 13 on Sunday morning and I felt much better. Then just to top it off, I met two work buddies who are training for their first 1/2 marathon for a 6 miler on Sunday night.
Even though none of the runs were particularly fast, or long, sometimes just hanging in is the perfect recipe. It helped me cook up an I this weekend!
Now enjoy some Gap Band:
Friday, August 27, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
P-I-N-H-O-T- _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Friday, August 20, 2010
My brother SuperDave, when he was a kid, he loved Fridays and he hated Sundays. Why, he loved the last day of school for the week, knowing he didn't have to go for the next two, and he hated the day before he had to go back for the next 5.
Well, I love Fridays, love 'em all up, but I like Sunday's too. But Friday's really are the best.
You know what they say:
You can beat your wife.
You can beat your kids.
But, you can't beat Fridays!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
After a quick stop and dip in the pool at Jon's house (man, that pool was a little slice of heaven) we headed back towards my house to finish the run. Seeing how I struggled in to Jon's, I wasn't really looking forward to the 2 miles back to my house. But almost instantly it happened. I got the second wind. I haven't had that awesome feeling in a long time. It means that all this running and dieting is starting to work. I'm getting back! The run back to my house, while not effortless, was much easier than the run had been at other point on that Tuesday.
Sure do hope this wasn't some fluke, I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
5 of us crazies set out at Croom last night 7PM and ran around the woods until 1 am this morning. It may seem whacked to some, but I got a letter out of it!
Here's where I stand: P I N H O _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _! I'm doing A-Ok.
Last nights run was an adventure.
I met up with A2 and A3 at the Winner's grill and off we went. After placing our 3 drops at various places along the route we were off to the starting point at Tucker Hill. Along the way A2 stopped his big truck, not once but twice to move gopher tortoises off of Croom Road. Surely this would bring us good karma.
The karma was working as we hooked up with Woody and Dan and took off down the trail. We made it to the first drop point about 8 miles in with no problem. We refueled and again went down the trail. A2 was feeling pretty good as he took us through the Vortex twice, if it's worth doing it's worth doing twice he must have been thinking. We quickly got back on track and trudged to drop #2 at 12 - 13 mile point. At this drop all the A's 1-3 were feeling Antsy. Oh, we weren't in a hurry, or nervous, we had just placed our drops in the midst of an ant colony. We spent the next 10 minutes swatting at these god forsaken near invisible little leg munchers.
Once we go out of there the biting subsided and we were back on track. A few stumbles aside we made it the the 20 mile drop without incident. There we refueled for the last time and got back out pretty quickly. We had a few stretches of really good running and I was feeling better than I have all summer. As we were going up E's hill, I decided that I wasn't going to walk at all for the last 4 miles, included the hills. So, off I ran.
There were a few little inclines that I normally walk, but I was using A2's karma and ran up the little hills. When I got to Croom Mtn (this is actually higher and with more switchbacks than Devil's Thumb) I was second guessing my decision to run the entire route, but I thought, What the Johnny Ho, I'll give it a go, and I kept my head down and BAM, I ran to the top and over. Of course having run up Croom Mountain, now it would have just been wimpy to walk up the twins, or no-name hill, so even as I was tiring I kept running.
I decided I was going to run to where the Blue trail hits the Orange trail 1/3 of a mile to the finish, I was looking at the spot just a few yards ahead when Blam! I should have been looking at the trail because I went down like a salami (hard!). The ants, then this, could we be running out of Karma. The answer was readily apparent in 1/3 of a mile. When I got up to A2's truck, the driver's rear time was pancake flat. We got screwed, literally, there was a big silver screw wedged in his tire. When he got back to the truck a few minutes later I got to greet him the news, you're Karma does not extend to your truckma, because your tire is flatma! Even though the tire was only flat on the bottom, at 1 am after 27 miles of running in 100% humidity, changing a tire is no fun. But A2 barely complained as he jacked the truck up 3 times (if it's worth doing it's worth doing again, and again!) swapped out the tire and headed home.
All in all, it was a great night. Best of all, I got my O!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Big Bro SuperDave asked me to run the Race for the Cure in Charleston on October 16, which just happens to be the day he's getting married. What could I say? I said, heck yes! Shoot, the last time I ran a 5K was the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day in 2001. I ran a 19:45 and I was not happy about it! I gave up 5 K's, because I didn't want to go over 20 minutes. Now, I'd be happy with a 24 minute 5K. But, my focus has drastically changed. I do what Bill Cosby told the fat kid to do in sandlot football. "What do I do, what do I do?" Bill says, "You go long! I'll fake it to you!"
Well, now at the price of speed I go long.
But, I've been doing some shorter, faster running lately (mostly so I can qualify for an afternoon or evening beer). It's a good thing to shake it up from time to time!
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Next, (and I haven't really blogged about this, but I will when my memory fades a bit, and I can freely embellish), I earned a letter by delivering an address to the Florida Track Club in Gainesville, "Andy an Ultrarunner's Tail." This made me like Thomas Magnum and gave me PI.
PI is a long haul from Pinhoti Trail 100, but I have time, and feats of the feet must be rewarded! So, in search for my N, Orlando Ultrarunner Tracy Cook and I went to see my great friend Colorado Chase Squires to take on the Pine Valley's inaugural Northfork 50.
Andy, Tracy and Chase (together we add up to 17, a 3 a 10 and a 4) pre-race.
The trip had a rough start as I was unaware that Colorado Kool Aid is actually an alcoholic beverage. And I was chugging the stuff as if it was like.... well, Kool Aid! Fortunately Chase sent me out on a hangover curing running route the next day that involved running, sandwiches and lots of TV on the couch! Even then, it was a two-day recovery.
With me all better, Chase, Tracy and I set out for the race bright (and I do mean bright, the sun was out early, often and STRONG!) and early for the Rockies. We made it to the park in time to pick up our numbers and watch the flood of runners switching from the 50-Mile race to the 50K race in response to the 90+ degree temperature forecast. Tracy was already running the 50K as she prepares to make a run on qualifying for Boston in October. And Chase and I, well, we weren't giving in to the heat (well I did ask the race director to switch me to the 50K due to general pudginess. She was sympathetic, happily, Chase was not!)
As for the race, no lie, I was worried about finishing in 14 hours, not only because of the heat, but because traditionally I do not handle altitude well. I am a flatlander, can't cure that with reading or going to the gym (though a few pushaways couldn't hurt). So, I did seriously consider the 50K, but on race day with encouragement from my running buddies (don't worry, we'll wait all night for you to finish if we have to, and we probably will), I stayed with the 50M. I am really glad I did!
The course was breathtakingly beautiful from the start by the river all the way to the mountain's top. The course was nice and flat for all of .5 miles then it went straight up, and up, an up the mountain for about 2.5 miles. I really struggled on this climb, as I expected. I started with Chase and Tracy, but soon I was tracing their steps as I chased them. They pulled steadily ahead and by mile 2, they were out of sight. I pulled into the first aid station at 3 miles all alone and passed on the bacon and hash browns (yes they really had those, Chase told them, I'm hungry, not stoned!) and snagged some watermelon, which was the only solid food I ate all day, and filled my bottles. After a mile of gradually up and down, the big downhill finally arrived, and I sprang to life. I started fairly conservatively, but after a couple of minutes I started zinging past people. by mile 5.5 I'd caught my companions, by mile 6 they were no longer in sight, but behind me this time. I was feeling good thinking, "The heck with 14 hours, 12 is possible!"
I glided into the next aid station and was met by an angelic 6 year old bearing an ice cold sponge, perfect medicine for this scorching day during which temperatures would surpass 90 degrees. Once again I grabbed some watermelon and took off. According to the volunteers, it was only supposed to be 3 miles till the next aid station, and then 5 to the one after that. Turns out the aid station was 3.5, and all straight up the hill. After 3 miles of hard walking I slowed considerably, giving back most of the places I'd conquered while cruising down the previous hill. I had to keep checking my progress against objects more stationary than me to make sure I was moving at all! The whole time I was waiting for Chase and Tracy to pass me. But I pulled into the next aid station tired and battered, but not beaten and still in front of my comrades. As I was hanging out, refilling bottles and putting ice in all my clothing (turns out George Costanza was right about that issue) I saw the bright red shirt of my Orlando friend approaching. So, I hid and told the couple working the aid station to cheer for Tracy, and say, go Florida and junk like that. They cheered her on as she bounded up to the aid station. Sadly Chase was nowhere in sight. Evidently the heat as soured his stomach (he insisted it wasn't the 14 beers the night before, but he said, "Can't mess with the routine!" and blamed the heat). I knew as I saw Tracy just ease into the aid station that I'd never be able to keep up with her in these mountains. She's a much better climber and her slight frame is better in the altitude than my frame (which Mike Melton kindly described as "Body by Budwiser). Turns out I was right. Once again, she steadily pulled away from me, finally at one point she waved, and said, "See you later Andy." I was happy she was feeling so well and running so well, also, this shook me out of my altitude induced funk. From then on, at around mile 25, I would allow no one to pass me, and I steadily moved up the ranks. On the next long downhill I even caught Tracy again. Tracy later told me that no one had passed her since before mile 20, the way she was running, I believe it! Having caught Tracy, we chatted a while until the next long ascent where she left me for good. Still, she had peaked my confidence when she told me how far along in the race we were. I figured we were 18 or 19 miles in, but she correctly placed us at more like 25. I knew I had plenty of gas left for 25 more miles, provided I didn't try to match her on the ups. So, she pulled away. From then on the closest I got to her was being able to catch a glimpse of her red shirt in the distance as I re-passed all those turkeys that had overtaken me on the that earlier dreadful 3.5 climb.
Tracy ran very well. Her 7 hour time was exactly what I had predicted before the race. I hit the 50K mark in 7:02, just a minute or two behind her, and a little math told me that I only had to run 19 miles in 5 hours for a 12 hour finish. Forget 14, I was now going for 12. Of course, I had to base this on effort, because I quit wearing a watch years ago. I don't know much, but I do know how to push myself. I don't need a timepiece to tell me if I'm pushing or slacking. Finishing in 12 hours would leave no room for slacking, as I had to go right back up the very same hills that had just pushed me around for 30 miles!
As I made the turn to the left, which meant 50 Miles, instead of the turn to the right, which would have meant a finish in .5 miles and beer, I was rudely greeted by the same 3 mile climb that started the race. Well, I'd gotten through this one before, so I knew I could do it again. I trudged up. Still, even though my progress was glacial in pace, I passed several people hanging out under shade trees. "It's hot!" they exclaimed. "Hot, it's only 92, and it's that dry heat!" I replied. So on I trudged, waiting for people to pass, yet no one did. As I cruised into the aid station at mile 34, I looked longingly at the Hamms beer on the volunteers was quaffing. No, that must wait, I said. Wait until the end of the race (or near it anyway.)
The course then varied from the first loop, and I didn't really know where I was on the course, but after walking a few slight hills, I thought, balderdash, I'll never finish if I don't run, so I started running. It felt pretty good, so I ran some more. I passed a few more folks and hit the 40 mile aid station. 40 miles in the mountains! 40 at altitude! I can do this, I will do this!! The next 2.5 miles were a long downhill and I was feeling dandy (can't have dandy without Andy!). I narrowly avoided a cute little rattlesnake going into the aid station (me, I was going into the aid station, I don't know where the snake was going. He was a baby though, I know because he had a rattle :). I felt so good at 42.3 that when the volunteer offered me a beer I didn't turn it down! It was a sassy summer wheat, and it was great . . . while I was drinking it. It didn't taste so great as it nearly came up on the 3 mile climb out of the aid station. Darn, I knew I'd have to regain all that altitude I'd lost when I was cruising by everyone coming into the aid station, why did I have to drink that beer? Er, because it was 91 and the beer was cold, and I like beer, and it was free, and I'm not sharpest knife in the drawer!
To avoid do what Chase could not and avoid regurgitating, I actually had to sit down for about 3 minutes on a nice boulder in the shade. I gave myself a pep talk. "Hey, even if you puke you've only got 6 miles left, you can do that even with vomit all over you!" During my little break this gal that I'd passed going into the aid station repassed me, as did a couple of others. I knew that if I wanted to remain the champion of the midpackers in the race's 2nd half I'd have to get back and get going. So, after my 3 minute hiatus, I was up and at 'em. I didn't leave on the run, but on a controlled walk. When it was flat, I jogged, when it was up I walked. I was in holding until the last 3 miles which I knew were downhill. With 4 miles left I started feeling poorly again and was walking a flat portion when from out of nowhere came this fella from Charlotte who was not in the race, he was out there helping people after his buddy had finished the 50K. I said, hey, good work, he said, "You're coming with me, and I'm running!" So, I did. I hung right with him too, for about 100 feet, then I said, screw it, the downhill's coming soon enough. But then two more people passed me, once again led by Mr. Charlotte, who had circled back. I went with them again, this time, I stayed. Then I passed Mr. Charlotte and his caravan. I went off in search of the aid station and my 12 hour finish.
As I pulled into the aid station I'd repassed everyone who had passed me, and I was feeling good, but not great. I quickly got some water and took off to a nice long downhill. As I got into a rhythm I was feeling better and better. I set my sights on a couple from Denver that were running smoothly. I pushed and pushed and as I finally overtook them the lady said, "I can't believe I'm getting my @ss kicked by someone from Florida!" Well, if I needed any encouragement not to let up before race end, she gave it to me. There was no way I was going to fly by her, just to have her pass me back with 1.5 miles to go.
I ran almost all of the last 1.5. I had to slow down a couple of times so as not to pass Kristin, the lady that passed me while I was sitting and digesting my beer. I couldn't pass her because I'd made a deal with her, when she finished she was to announce, here comes Andy, so Tracy would get up and snap a picture of me as I finished. Well, I guess I stayed to close to Kristin, because Tracy didn't get a picture of me (sure she had a picture of some fat dude dressed like me finishing, but no way that was me!)
Finally, I had finished a mountain ultra in Colorado. This was a much better feeling than my only other Colorado effort at Leadville in 2008. As for my time, 12:04. Darn that beer, without it I'd have surely finished under that 1/2 day mark. Still, it was a good beer, and the course was so pretty, another 4 minutes were a-ok.
Chase was able to turn his issues around and finished in a a very respectable 12:53.
As for placing, well, I came in 18th. Not bad. I was first from Florida (yes and only!) 77 had signed up for the 50 Mile, but ony 32 finished, the rest either pulled a DNF or switched to the 50K. Chase was 25th, and Tracy was 44th out 78 in the 50K. But we all ran well, and had a great time! Most importantly, my confidence is back up and I'm injury free!
Wayne Newton may have found his heart in San Francisco, but I found my N in the The Rockies. I've never been anywhere like them. Great for sight seeing. Great for skiing. Great for training, really hard for racing!
A few more runs like the Northfork 50 and I'll go into Pinhoti just a shadow of my former self!