Friday, March 26, 2010

Mudlands follow-up

The official results are now posted here for Grasslands 2010.  I was in good company with my DNF.  There were only 7 official finishers out of about 70 starters of the 50 mile race.  The DNF percentage was lower for the marathon and half marathon, but both of those races had a much higher DNS (did not show) percentage.  I guess there is an inverse rule of racing: the lower the mileage of the race, the higher the likelihood that the runner is reasonable enough to know when to stay home. 

Immediately after the race, I felt like a loser, a quitter, a failure.  There is still some of that lingering, but it does make me feel a lot less bad knowing how many other people dropped out.  One experienced ultrarunner I heard from came from Lubbock but didn't even get out of the car!  He knew better than to get out in that cold and mud.

The worst thing about dropping out is I can't complete the 50 mile grand slam.  There's always next year.  On Monday I got an e-mail from the Palo Duro race organizers announcing that registration is now open for that race in October.  It's the first in the grand slam series.  Maybe I'll give it another shot. . . . .

Here are some more pictures (from the NTTR race site) to give you an idea of conditions.
This is Don Rice, who paced me for a few minutes at Cross Timbers (while pacing his wife).  He finished the course at Grasslands, but came in a few minutes past the cutoff, so got a DNF.  Stink!

I have no idea whose feet these are, but love the picture of the trail.
Imagine running on this for 50 miles!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

DNF at Mudlands 2010

I've officially registered my first DNF (did not finish).  From the middle of the pack at Rocky Raccon, to a last place finish at Cross Timbers, to a DNF today at Grasslands, my decline has been precipitous.  I don't really have any excuses.  I just lost my will to go on after the 19 mile start/finish aid station, so I turned back, got my BBQ sandwich, and went home.

I should say first of all that this is a terrific race.  I love the casual atmosphere and the well-stocked, well-manned aid stations provided by North Texas Trail Runners, the race sponsor.  Race directors Kevin and Stacie Boudreaux are to be commended for their hard work in hosting the race.  Great job by them and the many volunteers!
Char Thompson, NTTR President, and Tia,
who will be so happy that I posted this picture.

I ran the marathon at Grasslands last year so was looking forward to returning for the 50 miler.  Today the weather was a big factor in the race.  At the start, it was raining pretty hard.  That didn't last long; it soon turned to sleet, which I guess is an improvement, since it just bounces off you.  The rain and sleet ended within an hour or hour and a half or so, but the heavy rains overnight on the already saturated ground took their toll on the trails.

One thing I love about trail running is the variety.  Instead of running on a consistent asphalt or concrete surface, as in a road race, you get a feel for more varied terrain.  Grasslands certainly offered a variety: there was brown mud, red mud, and black mud, sticky mud, sloshy mud, slippery mud, packed mud, and flowing mud, muddy streams running across the trail, muddy streams that were the trail, muddy pools on the trail, and muddy trails through muddy pools.  There was grassy mud, and muddy grass.  Oh, and every now and then the course followed short parts of muddy roads.  And in between all the muddy sections, there were more muddy sections.
Yeah, it was muddy.

Besides the mud, it turned out to be quite a bit colder than I expected.  It started out in the high 30s, I suppose, and I fully expected it to warm up as the day went on.  It didn't.  It became progressively colder and windier.  I was wearing only shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, and a parka.  As I left the 19 mile aid station, I realized I was almost to the point of shivering.  Between the cold, the mud in which I could hardly walk, much less run, and the simple desire to get home and spend some time with my family, I decided to call it a day.  About 6:45 it started snowing at my house, about 40-50 miles southeast of Grasslands, and had gotten much windier.  I'm glad I was not out on the trail, dressed as I had been in the morning.

So I came home and showered, then spent the afternoon and evening with my family.  I did some laundry and cleaned up the kitchen.  Zippy and I went to Gamestop to get a new video game.  We all watched Baylor's awesome NCAA tournament victory over Old Dominion--Sweet 16 here we come!  We had dinner together.  I put the boys to bed.  I went to bed with Kelly at a decent hour.  And I had to ask myself, in what universe would I really rather be cold and miserable, slogging through the mud, trying to reach a finish line 50 miles away?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Runner Who Doesn't Run

Saturday I will be running the Grasslands 50 miler, the 4th in the 50 Mile Texas Style Grand Slam, so I am officially in rest mode.  Problem is, I've been in rest mode for a while, really since Cross Timbers.  I have a pretty good grasp of planning for a race, putting together a training plan with a build up of mileage and taper, but these races close together have me flummoxed.  I was beat going into CT, and now I'm feeling unprepared for Grasslands.  I hadn't planned on running a lot these last couple of weeks, but I have hardly run at all.  My body is tired and creaky.  I should be able to get plenty of sleep this week, since it is spring break, so I don't have to get up early to take the kids to school.  Here's hoping for a not-last-place finish on Saturday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some encouraging intervals

I didn't have time for a full set of Yasso 800s today (10 800 yd repeats w/ 400 yd rest in between), but I did do 6 800s, with an average pace of 3:20.  That encouraged me, because at the height of my training for White Rock, I was doing Yassos in 3:15-3:20.  Granted, the last few repeats today were getting gradually slower; had I done all 10, my average may have been closer to 3:25 or 3:30.  Once the 50 Slam is behind me, I'll take more time for speed work.  Maybe I haven't lost too much speed.  Total distance today: 5.6 miles. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

No more whining

Sorry again for whining in my last post.  I ran 6.5 miles this morning.  Do I wish I would have/could have run faster?  Yes.  Do I wish I had time to run farther?  Yes.  Do I wish my ipod would have worked?  Yes.  Am I glad I could get out and run?  Yes.  Do I know that running is better than not running?  Yes.  Will I be happy to run whenever I get a chance, run as hard as I feel like, and carve out the time whenever I can?  You bet.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First run in weeks

Leading up to the flurry of 50 milers in my pursuit of the Texas Style Fifty Mile Grand Slam, several experienced trail runners advised me not to run at all in the 2 weeks between Rocky Raccoon and Cross Timbers and between Grasslands and Hell's Hills.  Others gave similar advice, not to run for a solid week before or after a 50 miler. 

I have enjoyed following this advice, my lazy side taking over.  The last training run I ran was on January 31.  Then I ran Rocky on 2/6 and Cross Timbers on 2/20.  I felt like I recovered quickly after CT, and even toyed with the idea of running Cowtown on 2/27.  I should have resumed training on 2/28, but due to laziness, weather, family obligations, overtime at work, or some combination of the above, I didn't run at all until today.

I didn't have much of a plan, just set out on one of my long loops from home.  This was the first time to run on concrete or asphalt (except for a few yards on the trail runs) since 1/31.  I wore my VFFs for the first time since Rocky.  I ended up running 11 miles, and did not enjoy it much.  My hips hurt, my feet hurt, I went way to slow, it was too hot for my long sleeved shirt, and to top it off, I couldn't get my ipod to work, so I did not have that to distract me from my other complaints.

I finished the 11, but sure did not feel like I could run another 39.  I hope I can pick it up a bit for Grasslands and Hell's Hills.  I would like to finish both of those in less than 15 hours!  Sorry for the whining.  In my fantasy life, I am one of those runners who seem to float across the trail, who go for hours without breaking pace, who run up and down hills without huffing and puffing.  I have a long way to go.