Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ran up at Wintergreen today. Honestly, wanted to just hang out by the fire but thoughts of the San Juans got me out the door. Did a 10 miler on roads. Packed a bunch of climbing into the run and ended up with 2200 total feet. Getting climbing legs back is certainly a big project. Heading out to the Tidewater this afternoon so the next two days will be flattish.

Had to post this tonight!

And, Mike Morton is at it again, 100 miles in 13:18 at the Long Haul 100 miler in Florida. I love the way he does things his way!

Friday, January 20, 2012

After a very long but ultimately successful day yesterday I really needed a good run this morning and I got it. Calm and cold the 10 miler on rolling dirt roads was just what I needed to unwind and recharge. End of the busiest week of the year, by far, so nice to get a solid run in.

I am feeling a bit of accumulated fatigue building up which I take a good sign. Haven't felt that way in seven months so it makes me happy. It also reminds me that I need to use caution and care with this build up.

Wow, lots of traffic on the blog all of a sudden. Must be the poll about the ultrarunning capital. I am committed to the more simple, personal content of this reinvented blog and will continue with a retropost every Monday. Other than that, it's nice to be back in this new mode.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Took a nice spin on a very cold morning out to Decca. Was groggy for the first 15 minutes but slowly rolled into a decent pace. Headlamp beam is on the blink so I was risking my life a bit on Owensville Road. I think the charger doesn't really work or my kids have been "borrowing" it for reading Playboys at night. Anyway, all in all, a good run. Not sure what the weekend's gonna look like as I am traveling to Williamsburg for the VAIS Heads Meeting. At least there won't be four feet of snow!

These ads came out when I was a beginning runner and I remember loving them. Fun stuff!

Was excited to see today that the two other 8-time WSER finishers who are on track for #10 in 2013 are Dan Brendan and Simon Mtuy. What a great pair of guys to share the experience of finishing #10 with!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Had to get up and out really early today as the Finance Committee had to put the finishing touches on the Budget in advance of tomorrow's Board Meeting so needless to say I had a lot to think about on this run. Ran a good steady nine on the Monticello Trail and felt good. Not quite the post-rest day bounce I had last week but still solid. Windy and cold!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A few years ago at the end of an Ice Cream Sandwich run on the Western States course a group of us were hanging out talking. As is inevitable in these circumstances, the conversation drifted toward "what's next". Several people commented on some final tuneup races and a few others were thinking of their next training venture when wizened veteran Tim Fitzpatrick spoke up, "I am just going to let this run sink in for awhile." I remember thinking, at the time, how does a run "sink in." Now, I think I know, as it clearly takes time for the effects of a training run to take hold. So, as I roll into this year's build up I need to remember the importance of letting things sink in. In fact, I am doing that today with a day off from running after a 50 mile weekend.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I wasn't sure what to expect today after yesterday's 5+ hour effort. But, knowing that I have a big week of work ahead with a couple of early morning commitments I thought I would take advantage of the MLK Jr. Holiday and get out for a few miles. I laced them up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and just cruised along at a steady pace for 8 miles or so. It wasn't fast, by any means, but it wasn't a total slog, either. So, I got that going for me, which is nice.

Also, on my run today, I reflected back on the last month of running and realized that I've been at it, now, pretty consistently, since the start of December. And, even better than that, I've averaged a shade over 67 miles and 10,000 feet of vertical per week for the past four weeks. I wouldn't say I'm "in shape" yet but it does feel like I am getting there. And that feels pretty good.

RetroPost from July, 2007.
This was my first post on AJW's Blog. A Race Report from the 2007 Vermont 100

“OK Andy, you have five miles left, be sure to savor it!”

These were my wife Shelly’s last words of encouragement as I left Polly’s, the final aid station at this year’s Vermont 100. I had been leading the race for nearly 80 miles. I was tired, aching, and absolutely full of a feeling I had never had before. I was going to cross the line first in a 100-mile trail race!

As has been described in these and other pages previously, I have a bit of a track record finishing just short of first place in 100 milers. In fact, my good friend and fellow runner Garett Graubins wrote a piece in the November, 2005 Trail Runner on exactly that theme. He ruthlessly titled the piece, “The Bridesmaid.” In the article Garett provided painful detail on the string of 2nd place finishes I had during 2004 and 2005. Needless to say, I had to admit the article and the subsequent attention gave me a bit of a complex. I was left contemplating the inevitable question:

Could I actually win one of these things?

I had run the Vermont 100 back in 2002 and 2003 and I knew it was a “runner’s course.” Even with the course changes this year I knew it would be fast. I also knew that there were some hungry guys in the field and I didn’t know for sure what I had in my legs.

I started out as I often do running gently and getting a sense of the day. An hour into the run a small group of runners had split ahead of the pack and we enjoyed the sunrise and the camaraderie. In that leading group were some talented and experienced 100-mile runners. Among them were Todd Walker, Jack Pilla, Glen Redpath and Jim Kerby. All these guys were capable of fast times and they all seemed a bit frisky. I tried to stick to my pre-race plan and just worked to run my race. As Shelly had nudged me to do the night before, “Run assertively, not aggressively.” It was a subtle distinction but an important one.

Having run Western States the month before I was truly inspired by Hal Koerner’s run and was thinking about that in the early miles of Vermont. Largely overlooked in the pre-race hype always surrounding Western States, Hal simply went out and ran off the front right from the start. It was one of the most impressive runs I have seen at Western States and given the course adjustments over the past two years, is worthy of consideration among the best. By the time I got to Michigan Bluff and learned that Hal had come through on record pace I knew the race was, at that point, for second place.

On the downhill heading toward the Taftsville Bridge at Mile 15 I thought about Hal’s run from the front and wondered:

Could I go off the front? Could I do that today?

Turning down to Taftsville on a short paved section I chatted briefly with my good friend Jim Kerby and could tell he was focused. I also could feel some spring in my legs and decided to stretch things out a bit on the one-mile downhill to the covered bridge.

With the exception of the few yards that Shelly walked with me over the next 13 hours, I ran the remaining 85 miles alone.

I was now in completely new territory. My head swirled in the ether of the unknown. After making a career out of hunting people down I was now the hunted.

“Run your race.” “Think of Hal.” “Be smart.” The self-talk was deafening. For the first time ever in a 100 miler I actually felt lonely.

By the 21 mile Aid Station I had a five minute lead, by mile 30 it was ten minutes and by 47 it was seventeen. I made a deal with myself to not look back.

“If you run your race there’s no reason to look back.” Again, haunted, or perhaps, inspired, by Hal, I changed the refrain, “You know Hal didn’t look back!” I put my head down and ran.

Shelly, meanwhile, was also in uncharted territory having to deal with, for the first time, a new animal, the “front runner.” Having become accustomed to my come-from-behind-strategy she never really had to think about the runners behind me only those ahead.

What was she to do?

Well, as we all attempt to do when we are thrust into the unknown, she improvised, basically waiting as long as she could at the aid stations after I'd gone through and then estimating how long it would take her to race to the next check point to meet me. It was fun but a totally new and somewhat disconcerting experience for both of us.

I did have the requisite “bad patch” around Mile 75 and coming into the Westwinds Aid Station at Mile 77 I was beginning to doubt the front-running strategy and lose a bit of faith in my legs. Was I succumbing to the “Bridesmaid Syndrome” once again? I thought perhaps I was but Shelly clearly had a different idea. Seemingly paying no attention to my mental state as I stumbled into the aid station muttering, “I’m tired.”
Shelly said simply, “That’s OK, drink this.” It was a painfully salty concoction of cold chicken broth with which I was all too familiar at this stage in a race. I knew better than to reject it. As I swallowed hard, I asked,

“What’s the gap.” There was a pause, a little longer than usual.

“20 minutes. Everybody looks strong, especially Jim.” I knew what that meant. It was basically code for “get out of here now!”

I took off. About 20 minutes later the salt kicked in, I downed two gels and I felt like myself again. I don’t think much time was gained after that.

Looking back now, the race itself didn't feel that different than others except that I had no one in front of me to pass. So, after about 85 miles, I decided to race the clock, and the demons of the bridesmaid. With a sub-16 hour goal I thought I'd be motivated and knowing the guys behind were chasing hard kept me focused.

In the end I did savor those last five miles and felt exhilarated and complete as I emerged from the woods a winner. The truth is, I don't know if I can ever go "off the front" again but I now know what it feels like. I also know that I can finally put the bridesmaid to bed.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today was a great day! I joined the VHTRC Crew for a Massanutten Training Run. No, I am not running MMT but having the chance to get out fpr 27 miles on the Course was too good to turn down. For sure, that last hour hurt and the fact that I missed a couple turns and extended the day a bit didn't help. But hey, 27 miles and 5600 feet of climbing in the books. Sore and tired tonight. In a good way...

It's good to be tired and good to feel like there's work to be done. To be honest, at this point in my build-up I have no idea what to expect come June. Maybe that's what happens when you get old, injured, or both but, whatever it is, it does bring focus into play which, I must admit, had been lacking before I got this wake-up call.

This never gets old!