Thursday, February 4, 2016

Susitna 100 - Pre Race


On February 13-14 I will be running the Susitna 100 in Susitna, Alaska. I've have zero experience running in the snow, very little experience running in the expected temperatures and will also be required to pull a sled behind me with all of my required gear. What could possibly go wrong?

I'll be checking in at the following points:

Mi 0 - Happy Trails Kennel / N 61 deg 33.04' W 149 deg 56.33'
Mi 20 - Point MacKenzie Parking Lot / N 61 deg 25.35' W 150 deg 5.30'
Mi 32 - Flathorn Lake / N 61 deg 28.01' W 150 deg 24.47'
Mi 46 - 5 Star Tent Checkpoint (Waypoint for Scary Tree corner: N 61 deg 35.97' W 150 deg 27.16')
Mi 60 - Eagle Quest Lodge / N 61 deg 43.22' W 150 deg 11.33'
Mi 77 - Cow Lake Cabin / N 61 deg 35.37' W 150 deg 11.98'
Mi 89 - Big Hunter Loop Trail Tent / N 61 deg 36.96' W 149 deg 56.17'
Mi 100 - Finish



Race Details: Susitna 100

Spot Tracker Link: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Race Schedule





The following is a quick look at my 2015 Race Calendar as it stands today. Hope to see a lot of my friends out on these trails and roads with me!!!

January 10, 2015 - Cloudland Canyon 50 Miler
Rising Fawn, GA
Official Race Website

Description: 46 miles of trail and 4 miles of paved road within the park. We cannot reiterate how beautiful this course is! 17,000 ft of elevation change for the 50 miler. 5:00am start time guarantees an amazing sunrise. Rocky and technical, when you run this you will feel like you are in the pacific northwest.

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March ??? - Double Foot Hills Run
Oconee State Park, SC

Description: The Foot Hills Trail is a 77 mile trail which connects Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park.




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April 18, 2015 - Leatherwood Ultra 50 Miler
Ferguson, NC
Official Race Website

Description: Held on the ground of Leatherwood Mountains Resort. The race course will take place over varied terrain in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Much of the race will be on single track. Course will consist of 4 loops. There will be 3 unique loops with one loop of 10 miles being repeated. Gain and loss will be about 13,000ft, giving you 26,000ft of change.


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May 23-25, 2015 - Savannah Grit 175K stage race
Savannah, GA
Official Race Website

Description: This event will be a true test of endurance and toughness! The Savannah Grit 175K stage race will consist of:
Stage 1: 100K at the Whitemarsh Island Preserve, Savannah GA
Stage 2: 50K Tom Triplet Park in Pooler, GA
Stage 3: 25K Robert's Dairy Farm in Thunderbolt, GA
Stage 4: 1 mile sprint Wormsloe Historic Site


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July 9, 2015 - Vol State 500K
Tennessee
Official Race Website

Description: The Vol-State is a journey, an adventure and an exploration of inner space. It begins with a ferry ride across the Mississippi River, from Missouri to Kentucky and finishes at "the rock" high atop Sand Mountain in Northeast Georgia. What lies in between are 314 miles of the great unknown. From the time the Vol-Stater steps off the Ferry, until they reach the Rock, they are totally reliant upon their own physical and mental resources.

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August 15, 2015 - Death before DNF 100 Miler
Black Mountain, NC
Official Race Website

Description: This will be a semi-marked course with maps that you will be provided with in order to traverse the trail. 26 mile loop that climbs and ascends, and ascends and climbs and gets harder and harder. Aid is what you bring with you on the trail. This challenge is designed to awaken the soul and the mind in pushing your perceived limited beyond the intangible. Running alone is important. You should find what drives you and pushes you to dig deeper and endure more pain. 





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Foot Hills Trail Run - Nov 13th

I usually wait a week or so before I put a race report together. Since this wasn't a race I figured I could get a recap together as I have already begun thinking of what went wrong, what went right and how can I improve for next time....

Forward

My plan was to run a Double Foothills Trail run beginning and ending at Oconee State Park, covering 154 miles. My goal time was 55 hours with a sub 24 hour first leg. I would start thursday morning at 4:00am and be done by Saturday afternoon. Karen would be crewing me for the entire run and Bo, Tiana and Kelley would be coming out as the weekend rolled around to help me wrap things up.

History

The development of the Foot Hills Trail began in the 1960 and was complete by 1981. Please take a few minutes and check out the Foothills Trail Conference website by clicking here

The Start

The morning kicked off at 3:00am with the French Press brewing and the wind blowing. The temperatures were near perfect in the mid 50's and not a cloud in the sky. We packed up quickly to make the short drive up to the trail head. Pictures were taken and my BO-2000 watch (A gift Bo gave me at Frozen Head this past March) rolled over to 04:00:00. A few strides up the trail I decided that I wasn't going to look back that I wanted to see what was behind me on my return trip. My plan laid out 7 points before I'd reach Table Rock State Park where my crew would be able to meet me, snap a quick required pic, and then send me on my way. I put these check points to memory not knowing what they'd actually look like or if I'd be able to easily recognize them or not. They included:

1. SC HWY 107 @Cheohee Rd - 6.1 miles
2. Burrell's Ford Access - 16.8 Miles
3. Fish Hatchery Rd - 20.6 Miles
4. SC107 Sloan Bridge - 23.9 Miles
5. Whitewater Falls Overlook - 29.4 Miles
6. Horse Pasture Rd - 61.8 Miles
7. Sassafras Mtn - 66.4 Miles

The plan I put together was pretty spot on, but I have a few adjustments to make before my next trip. By the time I reached stop #5, I was exactly where I wanted to be, it was high noon and I'd be heading out into Laurel Valley.

The Valley

I've joked since Ive been back that LV threw everything it could have possibly come up with... but it was true. I was in a rush to head out that the mistakes started happening before I left the parking lot. I ate lunch packed an outer layer and then heading back out onto the trail. I took some amazing pictures of the streams that I crossed and loved that the sun was overhead warming me up. It was a perfect afternoon!Another few minutes passed away and I took a sip from my hydration pack... it was dry. I never filled it up, opted not to take my filter and, oh crap... let my iodine tablets on the tailgate of my truck.

My first thought was panic and that I'd only have the 20oz bottle of Gatoraid that Karen mixed for me before I headed out. My second thought was... I'll find plenty. And I did. I was able to refill my pack within the hour and had plenty of opportunity to do so through out LV. I was back on track and having fun again. The scenery was amazing and I took some great photos. I convinced myself that I'd take more on the way back and missed several places that the sun and the trees and the sky was just amazing.

3:00pm


This time was important to me because I looked at my watch as I crossed this bridge because rain began to fall. When I looked down at my watch, I found myself falling off the edge of the bridge, four steps off the ground and approaching quickly. I was holding my dinner, Pizza, in my right hand and as I threw my arm back trying to regain balance, I chucked my dinner into the stream that ran below me. My dinner was gone and I just hit the ground... hard.

It was time for a break and time to put on my extra layer as the rain began to fall harder and harder. I took a quick systems check and I was okay, but where the hell was this rain coming from? I checked weather.com 137 times the night before and there was 0% chance of rain. Z-E-R-O. But I was not wet and of course did not have a rain coat with me. I ended up banging up my left knee, but I didn't feel that until I finally stopped and put all the pieces back together. 3:00pm was also the last time that I'd be on track with my plan

Someone else's plan

The next several miles found me wet and cold and failing to make a single checkpoint according to my plan. I started getting mad with myself because I was getting addicted to staring at my second watch, my Suunto GPS watch because I felt like I was not making any progress and falling further and further behind schedule. I decided to stop and attach my GPS watch to the back of my pack so I couldn't see it anymore. I had it hooked up to a backup battery pack and was planning on using the data to document my whole run. The plan that I was now running was not mine. It was nothing like my plan and I had no idea what was going on. The only thing I knew now was that the sun was setting, I was wet, there was 6 inches of wet leaves not he trail soaking my feet and the temperature was dropping minute by minute. I decided to pull my socks off as they were drenched and were collecting more debris than anything else.

By the time I reached "the bench" I was 2:30 behind schedule and freezing. I started playing they "oh shit how pissed is Karen going to be" game. I was supposed to be to Horse Pasture Rd at 9:00pm and I figured that she wouldn't "worry" until at least 10:00pm. At 11:00 I thought she'd panic and by 12:00am I was just hoping that she'd still be there.

I rolled in frozen, wearing shorts and sandals and starving. Karen busted out the stove and quickly had a cup of HOT soup and hopped in the car to warm up and take a quick 15 minute nap. I found out from Karen that Lester and Eddie had been out there too and that they had gone to look for me. I have never felt so bad in my entire life! These guys are awesome.

One more try

 I was still cold, but everything else felt fine. Nothing "hurt" and I was only 14 miles from Table Rock. A quick  run up to Sassafras and then down to Table Rock and I'd be heading home to Oconee. At least that was my mind set when I left Horse Pasture.

It was cold. I've been cold before, but this was cold-cold. I made it to Sassafras, long overdue and had to get help getting in the truck. I don't remember the conversation with Karen, but remember waking up and saying the words "I'm done, can you text Holly and my mom." Then I cried, a lot.

The trail was simply amazing, the picture that I did take along the way could never do it justice. I choose the short straw when I schedule my vacation days from work and we got hit with this polar vortex or whatever we call it these days. My plan is doable and I think another try in March or April will let me pick up and continue where I left off. I learned so much while out there for as long as I was, those are lessons that make us better people, better runners and most importantly better friends.

I need you help!!!

So, when my run ended... I never turned off my GPS watch that was attached to the back of my pack and was also hooked up to a back up battery. I drove all the way home with the watch running. Opps, my bad. A quick google search "taught" me how to delete end points from the GPX file that were unwanted, as this is something at happens quite frequently. I did it with ease and was trilled to be able to reload the data back up to Strava but come to find out I delete bunch of  required data to actually map the course at the end of each GPX file. If you have any experience with GPX files and are able to correct this for me I'll be forever in your favor!! Please let me know: tim@lowcountryultras.com

A big thanks to my wife Holly for letting chase these white rabbits and be an amazing mom to our two wonderful children Jake and Izzy. My crazy mom who worries more about me today than she probably did when I was a kid (but probably not) and still supports my craziness. To Karen for being an amazing friend and for never giving up on me. To Bo, Tiana, and Kelley for being on standby... I'll get there next time!












Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Barkley Fall Classic

Barkley Fall Classic Course Map
The first edition of the Barkley Fall Classic took place on September 20, 2014. The race opened with 300 slots and filled in less than two week. Quickly the wait listers were pulled in with over 60+ runners dropping out before packet pick up and another 40+ runners deciding to DNS according to Race Director, Steve Durbin.

The Fall Classic was a chance for the masses to get a taste of the Barkley Marathons which takes place in the Spring each year at Frozen Head with a limited field of 40 participants and overlaps some of the trails that we would run through the park during the Classic including one off trail section know as "Rat Jaw" which gave the Classic runners a hands on feel of the real thing.

My last experience "racing" at Frozen Head the weather was less than perfect. Mid 30s, rain, sleet, snow, rain, wind and a little more rain. The Classic gave us near perfect running conditions with a clear morning in the mid 60's and a high of 80. The Classic also featured 5 aid stations most of which were manned by local Wartburg Basketball and Football player along with several Barkley legends. Everyone was amazing out there but Carl Laniak was my saving grace.

You were right Karen, I was wrong

The race started promptly at 7:00am with Gary Cantrell lighting a cigarette sending the masses down the first 1.5 miles on the asphalt before reaching the famed Yellow Gate sending us up Bird Mountain. By the 6th switch back both heels began to burn. My last 1000 miles of racing and training have been in my Luna sandals and switching back was a horrible mistake. I ran in my Inov-8 Roclite 295 (same shoe I ran with in March) but my feet had changed. I pulled off the trail at the top of the first climb to see if there was something in my sock that was causing my feet to burn so much in the first 3 miles. I was shocked to see that a 3 inch blister had already formed on each heel.

The Black Dog in this race was the memory of quitting last March and there was no way that I was walking down the mountain again to give Laz and Steve the satisfaction of hearing... "I quit". I hooked up with a awesome crew from Birmingham (BUTS) as we ran across the North Boundary Trail towards the first aid station at mile 7.6 on top of Bald Knob. Chatting kept my mind off the burning discomfort as we went down the back side of Bald Knob towards The Garden Spot where running legends Mike Dobies and Joe Fejes were standing on the side of a mountain looking to punch your bib before you began working down towards Coffin Springs. I had a quick conversation with Joe about his upcoming race schedule and then headed off again.

2014 Barkley Alum, Bill Lovett and I continued to leap frog each other through out the course and he took off blazing down the trail with a small group. When I got to the top of Little Fork Mountain you could finally see what a gorgeous day it was turning out to be. I actually said out loud, "I love this place" and started back down the trail. Before I got to Panthers Gap, I felt the skin on my left heel rip and I knew that I'd be rolling into the second aid station at Tub Springs very soon. When I did, the first thing I ask was if anyone had any tape: medical, duct, masking, scotch... I didn't care. Mr. Vol State Carl Laniak came to the rescue and even made some make shift "bandaid" pads out of a paper towel. I cleaned off both feet as much as possible and then wrapped them with tape and then headed out.

The next section of trail was an out and back "6 miles total" with Rat Jaw just prior to the third aid station (the same one that I was currently at). This section sucked. My feet were trying to get use to the tape and I could still feel the skin tear as I went up. "This isn't how I wanted to meet you!!!" was how I finally met Stephanie Miller who was flying back down Fodderstack and I hobbled up. When I made the top I snagged 4 jelly beans from some awesome dude and then started back down. Down felt great, but my feet were getting wet. I pulled over on the trail and pulled my sock back... BLOOD. Four more miles till I would see Carl again and his magic roll of tape.

Our Wizard sticks and Bo
Bill and I caught back up with each again and then we ran into Bo, Karen and Brian coming off the Fodderstack Trail. We all hugged and went off in opposite directions. A few strides later, I came across Verity who was all smiles and seemed like she was having a blast out there. Working my way back up the OPM Trail, I saw a flustered Jason who took a wrong turn leaving the last aid station and headed toward Rat Jaw early. We chatted briefly and  took off, as I said good bye I took a sip from my hydration pack and it was dry. I never filled it at the second aid station and I was about to go up Rat Jaw. Like a homeless man I was begging for water, everyone was low. 1000 feet in 0.8 miles with briars neck high. Half way up... I found a 16oz bottle of liquid gold laying in the middle of the briars! I was saved AGAIN!


Coming in to Carl's Aid station again my feet felt as bad as they could possibly get so I figured why bother taping them again. I filled my 70oz bladder to the very tippy-top and my newly acquired 16oz back up bottle and headed off for 4 miles of downhill trail to come off Old Mac Mountain. I spent a lot of time walking over this stretch and tried to figure out what Katy Perry said, "it tasted like" when she kissed a girl. Come to find out later, it was "cherry chapstick".

Aid station #4 = Trekking poles

I loved my stick pictured above but my poles with their padded-formed hand grips and wrist straps felt amazing. Before heading out on the final loop, I met up with Tim (Salt Shack). Salt asked me about the next section and took off, my legs were getting heavy and my feet were still screaming.  My trekking poles made the next climb almost enjoyable. I could smell Fall in the air and a weird fog drifted down the mountain. Coming across Low Gap, I found Tim again and we hiked together for several more miles. He's an awesome guy and gave me my favorite quote of the day: "...and in 10 steps... I.will.puke" I think he made it 6 steps. We chilled out for a few minutes and then Jason "Yeti" Green came up the trail smiling and we cruised into the finish together. It was great to close out the day with him.

Overall the race was everything that I hoped it would be. The additional struggle from my feet could have been left out of the equation but like they say... "Bad decisions make for better stories". This race was planned as my Fall training kick off and I got out of it everything I wanted and then some. It was a great weekend with great friends and can't wait to go back and be out there again!!!


Finishing sore and happy - I promise I wasn't trying to stab Steve with my pole!
Photo Credit: Teresa Sunshine

Barkley Fall Classic Profile and end results 12:14:22
Full data links:

Strava

Movescount



Pre-Race Information:

Barkley Fall Classic - September 20, 2014 7:00am Start Time

Who am I running with: Brian Reddish, Bo Millwood, Karen Jackson, Bill Lovett, Andrew Snopes, Verity Gray, Dawn Brown, Jason Edenfield and a TON of other runners!!! See the full line-up here: Runners

Where am I staying: Frozen head State Park Camping site #7 - stop by and say hello!

I don't anticipate there being much coverage through out the park, but I'll have my tracker on during the race. Click the logo below:
Track my progress while "out there": http://tinyurl.com/WazBarkleyFC

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mattamuskeet Death March Race Recap


 
Mattamuskeet Death March:


2014 MDM Badasses
The 2014 Mattamuskeet Death March is listed as "the most miserable 100K race you will  ever attempt". "MDM" takes place in Eastern North Carolina and is the dream-child of Brandon Wilson and RacENC. Seven runners finished the race in the first year and we started year two with 14 brave souls. 

I ran this race with Karen Jackson and Bo Millwood after deciding very late that I would make the trip with them thanks to a very gracious Race Director. We all met at the Host Motel, Carawans on Friday evening for dinner, a pre-race briefing and to receive our 50mm Ammo Cans that we would be required to carry through out the event. 

Bo, Karen and I with our new friends
The rules stated that as a first year runner you could not add or remove anything to your can... Karen and I speculated on the seven hour trip up what the "add" might mean but never would we have guessed that Brandon would be adding 50 marbles in to all the virgins' boxes. As the Ammo Cans were being awarded one-by-one, the race director would give a few little tie bits of information and have a good laugh with each runner before moving on to the next. Then he pulled out a "pretty princess pink" can and began to dump the 50 marbles and then says, "but race directors get special treatment here, so this can get 100 marbles" as he spins the can around and I see my flaming Lowcountry Ultras logo on the side of the box.... despair sets in. 

The race course was set up as a figure 8, running around both sides of Mattamuskeet Lake and back to Carawans Motel. There are no port-a-potties or aid stations so a crew is required. We were lucky enough to have Dylan & Kyle (Bo's Daughter and Karen's son) crew for us. They were AWESOME! Fun, high energy and ready with what anyone needed in seconds! I'll have them back to crew me at any race any time. Actually I believe that they are going to set up their own "Crew for hire" business if anyone is looking.

The race it self was long... 66ish miles but they were LONG miles...

Lowcountry Lunatics
At any given time you could see a mile down the road (unless you were running through corn fields then the turns were just mind-numbing) and the entire course was exposed. It made for a long day, but the heat was better this year than last (or so they say). It was great to have Bo and Karen to burn away those long miles, but running with three people is hard. Heck, running with another person for 18 hours is hard. We all hit low spots at different times but worked well together trying to get everyone through it and on to the finish.

All in all the race was great. The ammo can and noise factor were something that you really cannot ignore, but become white noise as the race goes on. The MDM is a challenge that will test every aspect of your strength and will to continue. For me having great friends every step of the way made it possible. 

The first 56 miles of the course before my watch died: Movescount.com


This is why people want to punch Race Director, Brandon Wilson in the face

























Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't judge me by my inseam


There is a long standing stereotype in running that has not been addressed, but I cannot stand by and let it continue.

Inseam Flash Judgments or IFJ happen everyday at group runs, every weekend at starting lines and even at running speciality stores. When a guy reaches for a pair of split cut 3 inch running shorts, people immediately begin to pass judgement. They don't even bother looking at your ultrasignup.com rankings before they immediately start thinking that you're "one of the fast guys". It's not fair and quite honestly... it hurts. Please take a second and think twice before passing IFJ because it may just be the guy standing there in basketball shorts that takes the win. Together we can make IFJ a thing of the past!


One of my favorite things to hear during races is, "what are you doing back here?" and I'm never really sure how to respond to that. I'm pretty consistent with my races 4:30-4:45 50K, 20-21 hour 100s so I typically respond with a "yeah, just cruising..." But "back here" is where I find the balance of pushing myself and still having fun. I like being the "Tall-skinny guy that wears the short-shorts" but my 3 inch inseam doesn't translate to speed, at least for me. Don't forget to have fun guys, we are supposed to enjoy this!

See you on the trail!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Quintessence of Ultra Running, what you can learn from a guy named Walter Mitty

There are many things in life that motivate us: fear, self-improvement, nature, family and sometimes we find motivation in odd places, such as a mix reviewed Ben Stiller movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. The premise of the movie is based on a day-dreamer who escapes into his own world to break out of his mundane existence until the day comes when his real life adventures surpasses any and all of his expectations. Along the way he learns some valuable lessons that I think can carry over in the Ultra running world, and for me has lead to some additional motivation lately.

The Ultra Running lessons (without giving any of the movie away) can be broken down into these four thoughts:
  1. Jump
  2. Stay in it
  3. Look inside
  4. The quintessence of life
Jump

Most Ultra Runners progress along from a life-time of running, kicking things off with the mile in middle school and progressing upwards in distance as their age and experience increase. Other runners would never even consider stepping up to the “Ultra” distance because of the pure fear and unknown that the distance presents. All runners regardless of experience reach that point when stepping up to the next level is all they have. Take it from Walter, when the opportunity comes you have to jump. Don’t think twice, don’t second guess your abilities. The fact that your heart is pulling you towards the distance is enough to push you through the event. JUMP!

Stay in it

When race day finally comes, enjoy it. There are a million things that will go wrong during the race, except them as part of the journey. It is very easy to forget what brought you to this point. How many miles you’ve run up to this point. How much time you spent building up your strength and endurance. You earned this moment, now enjoy it. Don’t let it slip by, it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll miss it.

Look inside

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times… “Humans are awesome”. When all the gear has failed and you hit rock bottom dig deep inside yourself and you’ll be surprised what you can do. How far you can go and how long you can keep moving. The bottom will drop out and there is nothing but your self to decide what happens next. Magic potions, energy drinks and  Be amazing, you just have to find it in you… and it is there!

The quintessence of life

When the first three thoughts are actualized the quintessence of life is yours for the taking. It is something different for all of us. Completing a new distance, running a new PR, staying alive… it doesn’t matter. The best in life is within all of us. We have the power to be awesome, we have the ability to achieve greatness, it just takes the human will to drive us to that point! Be the greatest you that you can be.

This movie has stuck with me for the past few weeks and I really enjoyed watching it with my son Jacob because I could see the light coming on inside him as we watched Walter Mitty struggle to greatness. My kids are in fact my greatest motivator when the going gets tough but following these simple thoughts are a great way to stay focused when doubt begins to enter your mind.

I close this post off with the Life Magazine’s Motto:


To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.