Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bitten Twice by a Rattlesnake





Jenn Thompson's incredible story!  

Vernon's First Race


Ten Years and Counting

What I've been up to
It has been over a year and a half since I posted to this blog.  Honestly, I nearly forgot it existed.  For posterity sake and for the rare occasion of having anything remotely profound to formally convey . . . I believe I shall keep this thing going!

2014 marked ten years of ultrarunning.  The 2014 Capon Valley 50K was my first foray in to the sport that I have grown to love.  As an "anniversary" of sorts, I returned 10-years later.  Over the past year I also ran Catawba Run Around, Haulin' in the Holler 50K, and the Iron Mountain 50M.  One of the most satisfying adventures was a three-day self-supported fastpack with my friend Dan Lehmann.  

None of the runs/races were huge "A" efforts and my fitness level was never where I have been in the past.  I had fun, but finding the time to train 80+ miles/week has been too difficult to balance with work and family life.

The goal race for fall was the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama and I stealthily got my self in very fine shape -- the best I've been in about 3-years.  After a really solid 12-weeks of training, I was ready to roll and start tapering about 3-weeks out.  While returning from the Trilogy on Sunday night I unfortunately decided to sneak in a run at dusk.  While descending the Spring Ridge Trail, I bit the dust harder than I ever have and ended up breaking a couple of ribs.  I was lucky to escape with only that.  End of season.  Bummer.

Six weeks later, I still have lingering pain in my ribs but they are nearly 90% healed.  My eyes are firmly fixed on adventures ahead.  I am once again in the Western States lottery and have a solid supply of tantalizing races in the likelihood of not getting my name drawn.

Blogger . . . I'm back.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Balance Leadville 1210


I'm loving these shoes.  Great review at IRF: http://www.irunfar.com/2013/05/new-balance-1210-leadville-review.html

Catching Up . . . Again

Since November, I've been plagued by injury and apathy.  I've battled achilles issues intermittently over the past two years thanks to a bony deformation of my left heel (Haglund Def.) which flares-up and gives me nice cases of bursitis and insertional tedinitis from time to time.  The likely cause of my most recent case was by ramping up my mileage too quickly post MMTR -- I likely stressed the tissue too much.  Regardless, the achilles won-out for about 3-months of the WV winter.  The doldrums brought depression and doubt to my love for running.

As spring came, so with it did my desire to train and become "un-injured".  The achilles still hurts, but I've learned that running in proper shoes with a graciously cushioned heel counter, the injury is not worsened by running.  I'm glad to not let a few centimeters of bone and tissue rob me of my joy!

I had the pleasure of pacing Dan Lehmann to a successful finish at MMT last weekend.  It was enough to whet my appetite for adventure and racing.  I'm hopeful that I can balance the stresses of training (along with work, fatherhood, etc) and get in a few good races this summer and fall.  Balance, balance, balance . . . never has a word carried so much meaning as it does now at this juncture of life.

My little Beet Eater

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mountain Masochist 2012

The 30th running of the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail run will forever be known as the "snow year". When reports were given during the pre-race that there was shin to knee deep snow in areas of the second half of the course, honestly, I didn't really believe it. Granted, here in WV we had anywhere from 2-5 feet and were in a state of emergency as I headed to VA. Heading down I-81 though, the mountain tops looked bare and there wasn't the slightest hint of the devastation we experienced on the west side of the Appalachians. I wasn't concerned with the prospect of snow, but I really hate running in any more than about 4" of snow and I had specifically trained to run fast –  I knew my strength may be suspect in the snow. I was hoping the reports to be exaggerated.
 
The race started as benignly as possible from the new starting location, Wildwood Campground (which I believe to be an improvement). The pace was pretty hot up front in the pre-dawn hour. I was not buying in. I knew I was in "decent" shape, but I planned to run the first half as conservatively as possible while keeping contact with my goal placing – top ten, but also the goal of sub-7:30. I knew by perusing the pre-race list of runners that it would take a very big effort to crack the top ten.

The Start: photo- Stewart Caldwell 

I ran most of the first half in to Long Mountain with my friend Clay Warner. We ran hard, but controlled. I came through mile 26.5 in 3:42 – right on my goal. I knew that I needed to up my effort from this point and I quickly moved up from 10th to 7th by the time I reached the top of Buck Mtn. Entering the Loop (mile 33), I was optimistic of moving up even further. I was moving fast and feeling great. The goal of sub 7:30 still appeared feasible.
 
The Loop proved to be my undoing. The predicted snow was there; as reported. I quickly started losing ground to other runners. The snow was so deep that I could do no more than walk most of the 5.5-miles which make up the infamous loop. It is very frustrating to be around runners who are handling the adversity of the snow better than you are. I wanted to get out of the loop fast, but I felt like I was trapped in the Twilight Zone. Finally, I heard the cheers of the folks from the aid-station and knew that my suffering was coming to an end – only 12 miles to go, but I was way off my goal time at this point and barely sitting in 8th place with a slew of runners breathing down my neck. I was going to have to put in some serious effort to stay in the top-10 over the final miles.
 
Courtesy of Steve Hinzman
I ran as hard as I could to Salt Log Gap and up the big climb to Forest Valley aid-station. Shortly after Forest Valley, I caught up to and passed a pained David Hryuniak (a 2:20-ish marathoner who is relatively new to ultras). I was now in 7th, but unfortunately back into some serious snow on the ridge. I was dreaming of getting away from the post-holing when Ty Draney came flying into view from behind. More frustration . . . How the heck is he moving so fast in this stuff, I thought. He said, "Come on man let's push and finish this thing." That was just the encouragement I needed and we barreled through the snow together and blasted through the last aid-station. One last look over the shoulder and we had four miles of less snow and all downhill to find the finish in Montebello. The miles went fast now and I enjoyed running with Ty. He hammered down the final steep pitch before the"1 Mile to Go" and put some distance on me. I was happy to run the final mile in the quiet contemplation of my own mind. In the end, I finished in 8:28 – good enough to earn 8th overall and a very fine Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket. Full results here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Catching Up

Since my last post in July, life has certainly changed.  Boy is that an understatement!  On August, 8 we welcomed Vernon Roy Casseday into our lives.




 
 
Life has changed for the good -- in so many ways. 
 
Finding time to train has been difficult and interesting to say the least.  I've gotten in many sleep deprived runs.  I decided to run Mountain Masochist in the spring as a means of staying motivated to train as a new father.  I'm really glad that I've had this goal because it could have been really easy to slip into a lazy mode of just playing with Vernon every chance I had.
 
So next weekend will be the litmus test of fatherhood.  I've done far less mileage than in the past, but I filled the gap with quality.  I think being a daddy made me faster . . .

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kanawha Trace 50K

I had the pleasure of running the 2nd edition of the Kanawha Trace 50K on 7/28.  The KT trail is a unique trail made up of mostly single track from Fraziers Bottom to Ona, WV.  It is maintained by the Boy Scouts and finishes at camp Arrowhead -- which is a Boy Scout camp.

I came into the race with little expectation other than to give a solid effort and to have fun.  Yes, in the back of my mind I was hoping to win, but you just never know.  I never worry about going for the win because I feel that much of the overall result is out of my control.  All that I can control is how I run the race. 

The race started with about 1.5 miles of road before hitting the single track.  I decided to run at the top end of "comfortable" for this section to see how the field would respond.  I had a decent gap, but the speedsters behind me quickly reeled me in a few miles in.  One thing I've learned in the past few years of racing ultras is that the rule of "don't try to bank miles" is actually false.  When you're racing, it is actually ok to race.  I've started running the easy stuff as hard as I comfortably can instead of keeping an even slog throughout; a plan that most ultrarunners subscribe to.  Early on in a race when the miles are coming easy, I like to take more advantage of the freshness and "make hay while the sun is shining."

The Start (all photos taken by Dan Todd)

Over the first 10+ miles, there was a decent pack of about five or six guys.  We went through mile-10 around 1:20 I believe -- a pretty stout pace considering the terrain and humidity.  I was hoping that it would hurt them more than it would me over the second half.


Goofing around in the tunnel

By the half-way mark, I had earned a small gap from the pack.  The trail snakes around a deeply banked creek bed with several ladders over barbed-wire fences.  I tried to push this section to take away the "sighted-chase" from my competitors.

All alone in the lead now, my focus was on staying on course and not losing track of the white ribbons and flags in the ground.  Fortunately, the course was very well marked and I only lost track for about one five minute spell.  Just like all trail running, following the course is part of the fun.

I didn't look back until about mile 28 where I could see down the hill across a couple of switchbacks.  I was happy to see no one trailing closely.  The heat and the humidity were starting to wear on me, but I ultimately powered through in a time of 4:43 -- good enough to be the first finisher.


The idyllic finish beside the lake

Full results can be found HERE.

Kanawha Trace is a tremendous race.  Very interesting point-to-point course, great venue, economical price, and very nice finishers' awards.  RD Cory Richardson and his posse of volunteers have crafted a great event.  I expect this to be another sell-out race once the word gets out.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Year Ago

It's hard to believe that it's been exactly a year since all these memories were made . . .

7/14/11


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Highlands Sky 2012: Redemption

I had not planned on running Highlands Sky this year.  I had had also not planned on dropping at the MMT 100.  After the disappointment of DNF-ing at MMT, I needed a new goal.  I needed redemption.  I have to be honest.  Deep down I was starting to wonder if I was washed-up past my prime as an ultrarunner.  The last good (or decent) race that I had run was in 2010.  It took longer than I hoped to be physically normal after the AT; and even longer mentally.  I feared that possibly I had lost my edge.  Running long, slow efforts requires a different mindset in comparison to true all-out racing.  The extreme efforts had been traded for more benign executions.  Had I forgotten how to suffer?