Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: Year in Review

Another year has come to an end and I am still fat and slow. After a big year in 2011, I thought I would build on some of the progress I had made. Last year I ran 6 races of marathon distance or greater, including my marathon p.r., 3:33 at White Rock in December. This year, I ran one 50K, for which I was terribly under trained (as my brother will attest).

My Garmim tells the story:
2012: 555 miles, average pace, 11:00
2011: 1110 miles, average pace, 11:05

What lies ahead for 2013? Who knows. I have no races on the calendar, thus no training schedule. If I'm not careful, I'm going to head over 200 pounds and have to buy new pants. I'd better get off my butt and run!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Isle du Bois race report 2012

A year ago, Dave Hannenburg hosted his first organized trail race, the Isle du Bois trail run.  Over the course of this year, he has established himself as a leader in the North Texas trail running community, putting on a variety of well-organized, well-supported, and just plain fun trail races.  Today he held the second annual Isle du Bois race, at Isle du Bois State Park on Lake Ray Roberts.

A few months ago, I signed up for the 54K, hoping to meet or beat my time at last year's race.  But 2 weeks ago, on my last long run, it became clear that my training had been inconsistent and not up to snuff, so I swallowed my pride and switched to the 18K.  I knew I might be able to finish the 54K before the cut-off, but that the last lap would be a miserable death march.  So I went for the fun, shorter race.  Good choice!

The course at Isle du Bois is rolling, sometimes rocky and rooty, winding through the woods.  I think it's a DORBA course, but I'm not sure I would want to ride a mountain bike on those narrow, rocky trails.  I didn't break any land speed records, but I kept a pretty consistent pace, not quite a negative split.  The second half wasn't too much slower than the first half.  Per my Garmin, my time was 2:03:28. Official results are pending; I'm guessing I finished no better than the middle of the pack.

[Official results: 2:03:29. 63rd overall (out of 141 finishers). 21st 40-49 male (out of 27).]

It was great to be out on the trail again.  This was my first race since the Hells Hills 50K in April.  Eight months between races is WAY too long.  I'll have to get one on the calendar soon!

Huge thanks go to Dave Hannenbuurg and his great volunteers for putting on another top-notch trail party!  I'll be looking forward to the next Endurance Buzz adventure!

No boring shirts and medals at Dave's races!  Long-sleeved Tasc bamboo tech shirts, local honey from Nature Nate's North Dallas Honey Co., and a hand-decorated wooden race medallion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cross Country Action

Elliot had another cross country meet today. He was quite disappointed in his performance but I could tell he gave it his all. He told me that he had never run so hard in his life, and that as he sprinted to the finish he could hardly feel his legs. My hope is that his hard work and tremendous race-day efforts will eventually pay off with some ribbons or medals. Whether or not it does, I hope he will be permanently infected with the sheer joy of the run. 
Elliot is fourth from the right.
Next meet I'll bring an actual camera instead of just my iphone.
And I'll try to get a picture where he's not behind a branch.

And here's a video of his finish:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another runner in the family!

Elliot ran his first cross country meet today! He finished 26th overall. (Sadly, only the top 25 got ribbons.) His team won first place. Hopefully he'll fall in love with running and excel!

Things seen while running: premature Christmas decorations

It's inevitable that stores get their Christmas stuff up early. I saw stores with Christmas displays out before Halloween. But my neighbors don't have a commercial, profit-driven excuse. I saw these decorations out on November 12. Isn't that jumping the gun just a bit? I love Christmas, too, but can't it wait until after Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stuff I like: North Face Better Than Naked clothing

A few weeks ago, I decided to use some gift cards and store credit at Luke's Locker.  I was all set on shoes, so I decided to splurge and try some of the North Face "Better Than Naked" line.  I love minimalist, lightweight gear, so I was drawn by the idea of these clothes.  I bought a singlet ($45) and some shorts ($55).  These are pretty expensive in my opinion, but hey, they're free with gift cards!  (Thanks for the gift cards!)

First the shirt.  It's super thin, almost like women's lingerie.  But it's cool and comfy.  I like wearing it, even though you can see my chest hair through it.  It's an ideal running shirt for me.  Thankfully I live in a warm climate, and I get hot when I run, so I can wear a singlet almost year-round.  This is a terrific running shirt, but I have others I like just as well which cost much less.

The shorts are just about my favorite shorts ever.  They dry quickly (which I noticed even while running in the rain) and are super light.  They have a gel-sized pocket on each hip, and a zipper pocket on the back that's big enough for a key and license and credit card.  I like these about as much as my Hind running shorts which I bought 5 years ago and have not been able to find a replacement for.

These are great running clothes for warm-weather running and racing, and for year-round running if you live in Texas and love to run in next-to-nothing even when it's cold.  However, if I buy these again, it will certainly have to be on a major sale.  Finally, do they live up to the name, "Better Than Naked"?  Well, Kelly agrees, I do look better with these clothes on than I do naked.  For running comfort, they're almost better than naked, but not quite.  For the sake of my neighbors, though, I'll stick with the next best thing.

Goofy fake running pose.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stuff I like: Luna Sandals

If you've read Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, then you're familiar with minimalist running, the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico, and Barefoot Ted.  (If you haven't read Born to Run, you really should.  It's one of my favorite running books ever.)  Inspired by the huarache sandals the Tarahumara run in, Barefoot Ted designed Luna Sandals on the same principle, only with some modern touches. The Tarahumara might use an old tire for the sole; Ted uses a Vibram sole.  The Tarahumara use leather straps; Ted uses nylon webbing with a Fastex buckle.  But it's the same idea.
Usually those 1/2-off e-mail offers go straight to the trash, but this one caught my eye.  I had been curious about Luna Sandals for a long time, but the $80 price tag put me off.  For $40, though, I'd give them a shot.  They arrived at a time when I was in a bit of a running lull, so for the first few weeks I had them, I just wore them to walk around.  They quickly became my favorite shoes.  I've always worn flip-flops, but if I'm doing much walking, I don't like them.  I have to sort of flex my toes a funny way to keep them on my feet.  That gets old.  I've also worn several different full-strap sandals (Teva, Merrell).  I like those, but they're always too heavy and have too bulky a sole. 

The Lunas capture the best of both worlds: they're super simple and light, like my favorite flip-flops, and they stay on my feet well, like Tevas, only without any extraneous straps.  I wear them every chance I get.  I would wear them to work if I could.  (In fact, I have seen women at work with shoes almost as stripped down as these.  Why do women get to wear strappy sandals and flip-flops to work and men don't?  Sexism in the workplace!)

Now for the running.  I have worn my Lunas on several runs, all primarily on pavement, the longest being 9 miles.  I have concluded that the only time I would wear these to run is on flat, straight, smooth courses.  The thin sole is perfect; just a little bit of ground feel with adequate protection.  I have run with less on trails, but I think most runners want a thicker sole if a trail has any rocks or roots.  For smooth dirt, they'd be fine.  (They do make a trail version with a thicker sole.)

My problem with running in these is two-fold.  First, if you have any lateral movement at all, you will have a hard time keeping your foot in the footbed.  I noticed this especially when throwing the football around with my boys.  Quick stops or sidesteps had me on the verge of stumbling.  I can imagine that if you run on a winding trail, you would be wishing for more lateral control.  The second problem is more significant.  I love the smooth leather footbed, but on even a slight incline, my foot slides back.  Obviously, the straps keep me from sliding all the way out, as I would with flip-flops.  I tightened the straps as tightly as I thought I comfortably could, but still got some sliding.  Where I usually run, this isn't a big deal, but on a hilly course, the sliding would get really old.  I also slide some if I start quick.

I have continued to run in my Lunas, but as I look toward Isle du Bois, I think I'll start running more in my Vibrams.  For an everyday shoe, I LOVE my Lunas.  But for a running shoe, I don't think they're my first choice.  Also, as much as I love them, I am not sure I can swallow the $80 price tag.  I hope mine don't wear out until I get another 1/2 price offer in my inbox.

Buy Luna Sandals at their web site.  I just went to get the link and saw this:
You can choose between a copper brown suede leather footbed and the MGT footbed. Our new MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) footbed maintains the black, low profile, look of the naked top Lunas while improving traction and durability. For wet and muddy conditions go with the MGT footbed.The leather footbed adds comfort, helps it form to your foot, and absorbs some moisture.
Hmmm....  Sounds like I might need to keep my current pair for daily wear, and order a MGT pair for running. . . . .

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Road ID

Here's my Road ID:

I hope I never have to have someone call these emergency numbers.  I should have gotten one of these years ago. . . .

If you want to order one, use this discount code, good for $1 off until 11/25/12:


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Road ID discount!

(I know this is a shameless plug. . . . I've been meaning to get one of these for a long time, and maybe you should, too!)

Now I can be like Karno!
Hey Everyone,

I just ordered one of the best products ever. It's called a Road ID - perhaps you've heard of it. If you haven't, go to their website and check it out. Road ID is a great product that could save your life someday.

When I ordered, they gave me a coupon that I could pass along to my friends. Here's the coupon number:

Coupon Number: ThanksPaul18923790

The coupon is good for $1 off any Road ID order placed by 11/25/2012. To order, simply go to or click the link below:

If you prefer, you can call them at 800-345-6336.

You can thank me later,

Paul Mastin

Oh by the way, their website is awesome, the customer service is outstanding, and the owners are very smart and good looking. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Now I've gone and done it.

I finally got around to registering for a race!  In the 4 1/2 years or so that I've been running, I've said all along that having a race on the calendar is often the only thing that gets me out the door to run, at least with any consistency.  So now I have a target race: The Isle du Bois 50K on December 8.  This is the race I ran last December 6 days after having run White Rock.  It's only 6 weeks out, which doesn't give me a lot of time, but I figure I can get some good miles in, with a couple of long runs, and maybe run a decent race.

Last year I ran that race on tired legs and finished in 7:17.  Earlier this year I ran another 50K without much training and finished in 7:41.  A few weeks before White Rock last year, I ran Rockledge Rumble in 6:50.  Granted, IDB is actually 54K, so it's hard to compare with other races.  Maybe on fresher legs, I can beat last year's 7:17.  Break 7 hours?  Maybe.

So now it's out there for all the world to know.  Or at least the three of you who will read this post.  I'm officially in training mode, now!  Isle du Bois, here I come!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I hate trail litter

I almost said I hate trail litterers, but I don't.  By the grace of God, I love my fellow man.

GU packs and the like on the trail irritate me, but I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I understand that even a conscientious runner, who pockets his empties, might inadvertently leave one behind if it works its way out of his pocket as he runs.  It can happen.

Beer cans and cups on the trail make me angry.  When you pick up your 24 pack of Busch at the Chevron, why not pick up a trash bag, too?  Is it really that hard to put your beer cans in a trash bag and haul them out at the end of your little redneck soiree?

But the attitude behind this hypothetical conversation really boils my blood:
Turd face: Hey, I got me this couple a bags a trash, and my curb-side trash can is full.  Trash pick up ain't for 3 more days.  I dunno what I'm goin' ta do.
Butt wipe: Don't worry, throw it in the back a mah truck an' we'll haul it off.
Turd face: Where we goin' ta haul it to?
Butt wipe: Thar's some trails right over there behind our neighborhood.  We kin jes drive up the trail a ways, then toss all this trash out tha truck.
Turd face: Thanks, pal, yer a genius!
I wish I had a way to track these bozos down.  My preferred punishment would be a hefty fine, preferably payable as a donation to a trail conservation group, then several Saturdays of community service cleaning up the trails, to be served on days of major NASCAR races.  I will permit them to TiVo the race, but I'll be sure and tell them who won before they get home.

Random picture of trash.  Not my trails, but could be.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Longest Race, by Ed Ayres

One of the great joys of running, especially an all-day event like an ultramarathon, is falling into step with someone and spending the time running together to learn about each other, hear about their racing experiences, and share a bit of life together.  I have found that you can learn more about someone and forge deeper friendships by running on a trial for a couple of hours than you can by sitting next to someone at work every day for a year.

Ayres, running strong.
Ed Ayers has run a few races (quite a few, actually, more than half a century's worth), and reading his new book, The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance, must be a bit like the experience of sharing the trail with him for a few hours.  The framework of the book is a race report of his 2001 JFK 50 Mile endurance run, at which he set the course record for his age group.  He offers details of the course, the race itself, and his experiences that day, but The Longest Race is much more than a race report.

Woven among the mile markers and aid stations of the race are Ayres's reflections on running, the environment, and the human condition.  Ayers has been running longer than most of us have been alive.  He's run some of the great races, road marathons, trail runs, and ultras, and run with some of the great runners.  He was a co-founder of Running Times magazine, shaping opinions and publishing pioneering articles at the dawning of the modern running movement.  Here you'll find some of his distilled wisdom about running, born not of trendiness or the latest thing, but from his accumulated knowledge and experience.  He's also worked in the environmentalist movement, and offers his insights on the future of life on earth.  "Maybe the whole premise of modern society--build a great industrial civilization so that people can live better lives--was backward.  Maybe the only way it could work was by building great fitness as individual people, so we can have a more livable civilization."

To Ayres, running is an allegory for life, and life is an allegory for running.  I like his broader application of the running adage, "Listen to your body."  Ayres writes, "If you pay close attention to what your internal signals are telling you, they heighten your chances of actually doing what you dream of doing."  We learn more about ourselves when we run, and by paying attention to what we learn, especially what we learn training for and running in an ultramarathon, we can learn more about civilization and its sustainability.  Pick up this thoughtful, reflective book and you will be inspired to run and rewarded with insights on life.

You can also keep up with Ayres at his blog,, from which the above picture was shamelessly swiped.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not running

You may have noticed that over the last three months or so, almost all of my posts have been for running related books or movies, not about any running I'm doing.  And if you have paid attention to my DailyMile posts, you may have noticed that there haven't been many.  So I haven't been running much at all.  My goals for 2012 have pretty much fallen by the wayside.  I have been drinking copious amounts of Dr Pepper, taking lots of vitamin C3 (chocolate chip cookies), and watching my weight head back up to my 2008 pre-running level.  Something's got to change. . . . Lately I feel like this race is the only race I would be in shape for:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sunset Run at Tandy Hills

The following is an actual conversation (although it may be remembered differently by other parties involved).  It took place yesterday evening after the conclusion of Chloe's Person-Centered Planning meeting.

Me: Is Cathy keeping the kids tonight?
Kelly: Yes.  What are you going to do?
Me: I don't know.  What are your plans?
Kelly: Jennifer and I are going to dinner.
Me: You and Jennifer?
Kelly: Yeah. . . .
Me: . . . .
Kelly: Why don't you go for a run?

So, excluded from dinner, I did decide to go for a run.  I hadn't run at Tandy Hills for a while.  I hadn't run at all for a while.  I was reminded of a few things.

  1. When you've been running an average of 0 miles a day for a few weeks or months, you can't just pick up where you left off.
  2. Even when you're hopelessly out of shape, it can be fun to pound out some miles on the trail.
  3. If you go for a "sunset run" the implication is that at some point, it's going to get dark.  That's fine when you're running in the neighborhood, with plentiful street lights and other ambient light.  But in a park like Tandy Hills, where some trails are narrow, rocky, rutted, and/or tree covered, running in the dark is potentially hazardous.  Thankfully, I came home unscathed.
  4. Tandy Hills isn't very big, but it's easy to get turned around in, especially in the dark.  I was never lost: there's the downtown skyline the west, the tall transmission towers to the east, and I-30 to the south, so you can't really get lost.  But sometimes I still don't know where I'm going there.
(The above image shamelessly lifted from the Durango Texas blog.  I hope he doesn't mind. . . .)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Running the Sahara

It takes a special kind of person to decide that he wants to run across the Sahara.  Special as in crazy.  But ultrarunners are used to hearing about these kinds of challenges, and Ray Zahab and Charlie Engle are just the guys to take on the challenge of running across the continent of Africa through the Sahara Desert.  The two of them, joined by Taiwanese runner Kevin Lin, ran for 111 days, over 4,300 miles, through six countries.
Summarized in one sentence like that, the run doesn't seem like that big a deal.  Or maybe it does.  That's the dilemma of the movie.  How can a one and a half hour movie capture the scope of that kind of run?  It really doesn't, but the movie does give some hints as to what these men went through.  Imagine the issues of fatigue, injury, hydration and nutrition, that you go through in an ultramarathon.  Then multiply that times 111. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like fun to me.  The opportunity to see a big part of the world, including some exotic and beautiful places in six countries?  Awesome!  Doing it on foot over three and a half months?  I'm not so sure. . . .

That said, these guys are impressive.  You may remember Charlie Engle, who went on to participate with Marshall Ulrich in his run across America.  (See my review of Running America.)  Ray Zahab continues his ultrarunning, having run across the Atacama Desert in Chile and preparing for a run across the Gobi Desert in  March of next year.  (Follow his exploits at

Next time you're feeling awesome that you finished that 10K or marathon, check out these guys.  They'll challenge you to do more than you ever thought you could do.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Barefoot Running Book, by Jason Robillard

I've been following Jason Robillard's blog, Barefoot Running University, and recently had a chance to meet him in Fort Worth at one of his barefoot running clinics.  If you've read his blog, attended one of his clinics, or had the chance to meet him at a race, you'll know that Jason loves to run and is a passionate evangelist, spreading the good news of running.  In my estimation, his promotion of barefoot and minimalist running is an outgrowth of that passion.  He believes that running is best enjoyed with less on the feet, and wants to help other people discover that.
Jason is a spokesperson and consultant for Merrell.
Jason first published The Barefoot Running Book in 2010.  This new edition adds to and expands on the original, making it a more complete and up-to-date resource.  If you've read Jason's blog or attended on of his clinics, you won't be surprised by much of what you read.  Although Jason prefers barefoot running, he is very realistic about wearing footwear appropriate to the surface on which you're running.  Through trial and error, and personal preference, every runner should seek the footwear that provides the best foot flexibility, ground feel, and protection, depending on the terrain.

By the same token, although there are many schools of thought on running form, Jason's take is try them out, see what works for you.  He writes that he's learned something from Chirunning, the pose method, and others, but he's not tied to any one method.  He encourages the reader to do as he did: check them out, experiment with the methods they promote, and find what fits you best.

His laid-back, do-what-works-for-you tone may detract from the book for readers who like firmness and certainty.  But for the runner who wants an introduction to barefoot and minimalist running, The Barefoot Running Book is a perfect place to start.  It's simple, practical, and realistic.  It may not be "everything you ever wanted to know about barefoot running," but it definitely points you in the right direction.  Now take those "foot coffins" off and run!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Terry Hitchcock's Run

In this space I have written about the feats of well-known runners like Dean Karnazes, Michael Horton, and Marshall Ulrich.  These men are world-class ultramarathoners who have run big miles, setting them apart as ultra-elites.  Joining this small group is Terry Hitchcock, whose mega-marathon run is documented in My Run.  Unlike those other runners, Hitchcock could scarcely have been considered a runner before he decided he would run a marathon a day for 75 days.  But that's exactly what he did, running from Minnesota to Atlanta, arriving in time for the start of the 1996 Olympics.

Hitchcock's wife died of cancer in 1984, leaving him to raise 3 kids on his own.  Shortly after she died, he lost his job.  A decade later, at age 56, he decided to draw some attention to the experiences and challenges of single parents, so he came up with his plan to run to Atlanta.  Although he had not run marathons before, he found a trainer to help him prepare.  He was slow (at one point he said he ran about 8 hours a day), but his endurance held up and he seemed to stay strong.

Besides the painful process of running that far, the other painful part of the film was the dissolution of his team.  He started out with a support team in an RV, but they fled, so he was left with only one of his sons to support him for much of the run.  They did get some free hotel stays, though.  The focus of My Run is more on the runner than the run himself, following his personal journey.  Runners who see the film will probably be asking, How did he do that?  Karnazes, Horton, and Ulrich are seasoned runners with impressive running resumes.  Hitchcock is just a guy.  Which is really the message of the film: regular guys can do the seemingly impossible, whether it's running 75 marathons or raising 3 kids on his own.

Here's his web site:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nice Place to Run: Port Aransas Nature Preserve

Last weekend was our annual family gathering at Sandcastle Condominiums in Port Aransas.  We've been going there for over 30 years; when I think of going to the beach, this is it! 
The boardwalk during the day.
Although we've been going to Port A for decades, I was not aware of a new addition to the Port A landscape, the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture.  After the kids were settled in for the night, a few hours after the hot sun had set, I took off for a couple of night runs.  The Nature Preserve is just a couple of miles from Sandcastle.  After a brief run on the concrete bike path behind the softball field, the nature trail begins, with a mix of crushed gravel trail and boardwalk. 

The primary use of the Preserve is nature walks, particularly for bird watchers.  But birdwatching is not much of a night time activity, so I had the whole place to myself both times I ran there.  With the moon nearly full, I turned off the headlamp and enjoyed the quiet solitude as I ran.  My only regret was that the trail didn't go on and on.  I took several loops and out-and-backs to extend my time there.
As you can see, there is NO shade. So in July, night running is best!

Adjacent to the Preserve, you can run along the seawall beside the ship channel.  It's cool watching the big tankers and cargo ships slide by in the night.  But watch out for the fishing lines!  It's a popular place for night fishing, and fishing line is hard to see in the dark. . . .

I always look forward to the family beach weekend in Port A, but now I have one more thing to look forward to--night runs at the Nature Preserve!
Aerial view of the loop around Salt Island.
Picture credits: top 2 from Bury Partners, aerial shot from City of Port Aransas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An author who's NOT a runner

I was reading Jason Jaggard's new book Spark and about half-way through I lost a little bit of respect for him.  I'm sure he's a great guy, but he shows a bit of his ignorance with some comments about running.

In a chapter called "Embracing Inspired Living," Jaggard writes:
I used to hate running more than just about anything else. My dad taught me a lot of valuable life lessons, and the one that stuck with me more than most was this: you never see a happy runner.
Think about it.  On Sunday mornings you see joggers out there chugging along the side of the road, and they don't look happy.  They look like they're in pain.  At best it looks like they're trying to do complex math problems in their heads. 
Or think about the Olympics.  The guy who wins the mile knows he'll be getting a gold medal, but he looks like somebody just came along and ripped off one of his toenails.  I don't know whether to cheer or call an ambulance.
So I don't mind telling you that I hate running.  I could easily make a list--a long list--of things I'd rather do than run.
He then goes on to talk about Dean Karnazes.  "Dean is an ultramarathon runner. (An ultramarathon is anything over seventy miles.)"

So first of all, and I know I'm being nitpicky, but where did he get the idea that an ultramarathon is 70+ miles?  "Ultra" = beyond.  "Marathon" = 26 miles, 385 yards.  Thus, an ultramarthon is a race covering a distance over 26.2 miles, typically 50K, 50 mile, 100K, 100 mile (with lots of variations).

Plus, to continue nitpicking, the mile is not an Olympic event!  I'm no Olympic historian or expert, so I can't say there has never been a one mile race at the Olympics, but I'm pretty sure the mile has never been an Olympic event.  The closest Olympic event we'll see in London will be the 1500 meter race.

I do know exactly what he's talking about.  Runners sometimes look like they're in pain.  They're sometimes doing complex math problems (calculating their splits to see if they can beat the cut off or their PR).  And he did get this right--sometimes they're losing toenails!  But none of that is exclusive of happiness.  In fact, it's all part of the happiness!  If Jaggard were a runner, he would know that.

He does come around a bit, when talking about how inspired he was by Karnazes: "After I heard about Dean, I started looking for the nearest pair of running shoes."  He doesn't really say whether he found them or went for a run, but at least the seed was planted. . . .

Run happy out there!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spirit of the Marathon

Readers of this blog are probably aware that I prefer trail races over road races.  However, I have run several road marathons and can appreciate and relate to the experiences of the runners portrayed in the documentary Spirit of the Marathon.   I love the way the film is arranged, following the training and motivation of several runners preparing for the 2005 Chicago Marathon.  Marathon legend Deena Kastor stands out.  She's remembered for her 2004 Olympic bronze medal, but up to the point of this film, had never won a major marathon.  (Spoiler: she won!)  We also meet Daniel Njenga, a Kenyan runner.  He ended up placing third with a time of 2:07:14, 12 seconds out of first place.  Fast!

Besides these elites, the film also follows the training of some non-superhuman runners, both first-timers and seasoned runners.  Anyone who has trained for a marathon can relate to some of their experiences.  It takes dedication to get up on Saturday for the long runs, for the single mom to fit in her training runs, to pay attention to what you're eating (and not eating).  The interviews and training run footage will remind you of what you love--and hate--about running a marathon.  But mostly it will remind you of what you love.

Besides the personal stories of these runners, there are plenty of interviewers with other famous runners, as well as some brief historical information about the marathon racing's illustrious history.  A well-made, inspiring film.

The movie web site is here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Showdown at Shepherd's Bush

In this day of organized races every weekend, and when it seems like everyone you know has run a marathon, or is planning to run one, it's hard to image that the marathon as a formal sporting event is so young.  In Showdown at Shepherd's Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze, David Davis takes the reader on a tour of the birth of the modern marathon.  It's not only a history of a race, but a great snapshot of the rise of the Olympic movement and sports in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Davis recounts the development of the first modern Olympics in 1896.  The organizers came up with the idea of commemorating Pheidippides's famous run from Marathon.  They devised a race from Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 25 miles.  At that time, the longest races were no more than 5 miles; the next longest race at the Olympics was 1500 meters.  With the establishment of the marathon race, which would become a highlight of the Olympics, they had "concocted an anomaly, on that would attract only the inexperienced, the ignorant, and the intrepid."  I loved the comment of the French runner who had competed in the 100 meter, then in the marathon: "One day I run a leetle way, vairy queek.  Ze next day, I run a long way, vairy slow."
The marathon stuck, and with some stumbles in intervening Olympics, came into its own in 1908 in London.  This was the first race to use what would become the standard marathon distance: 26 miles, 385 yards, a somewhat arbitrary distance to cover the course from Windsor Castle to the stadium at Shepherd's Bush.  Davis traces the lives and running careers of the participants, focusing on 3 runners.  Tom Longboat, a Canadian Indian, was a favorite going in, but dropped from the race.  The Italian Dorando Pietri finished first, but he had fallen over from exhaustion and some officials on the track helped him across the finish line, disqualifying him.  The Irish-American, Johnny Hayes was close behind Dorando and was awarded the gold due to Dorando's disqualification.

This dramatic and controversial finish made Dorando a household name.  Davis says "he was the first athlete to become globally famous because of the Olympics. . . . He remains the most celebrated loser in Olympic history."  The race also raised interest in the marathon, both for participants and viewers.  American promoters recruited these three runners and organized races in places like Madison Square Garden and baseball stadiums.  The runners travelled the country to run in these exhibition races, and cities across the country put on marathon races.  Soon, however, the world war took front and center and the first marathon craze died.  The Boston Marathon was the only race to survive.

Davis does a masterful job of placing the marathon race in the context of the history of the Olympics and sport, and putting in all the context of history.  It's an entertaining, readable history that anyone interested in popular culture and sports will enjoy.  But if you're a runner, a marathoner, one of those who is living the legacy started by Dorando and his fellow runners, you will love Davis's account.  Pick it up!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary digital review copy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This is my 200th post on Lean Forward Run Farther!

Run happy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Runner's hematuria

Let's say, hypothetically, that you go out for a longish run, and, again hypothetically, when you return home and go to the restroom your urine is dark, with blood in it.  Your first thought might be, "Oh my! What is happening to me!"  But relax; it may be runner's hematuria, which is not uncommon in runners.  If you're running with an empty bladder, the jarring motion of running may rupture blood vessels in the bladder or kidneys.  So be sure you're drinking plenty, and if it persists, see a doctor.  In the meantime, enjoy your run!

Note: I'm no doctor.  And I know nothing about your physical condition.  I just read a few articles on the internet.  Nothing in this post is meant to be the definitive word about anything happening to your body.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trail running beats road running: more evidence

My fellow lovers of trail running will not be surprised at all by this article's conclusion. But sometimes it's nice when what you know to be true is confirmed by science.

Auslan Cramb writes in The Telegraph:

Researchers found that anything from a stroll in the park to a run through woodland can have a positive effect on people suffering from depression and anxiety.  The study also showed that the positive effect on people's mental health was 50 per cent more than they might expect from going to the gym.  The researchers at Glasgow University looked at natural and non-natural environments for physical activity, including walking, running and cycling, and found that being around trees and grass lowered brain stress levels. 

The study, led by Prof Richard Mitchell, polled nearly 2000 physically active people in the 2008 Scottish Health Survey.  Only activities carried out in a natural environment outdoors were found to be associated with a lower risk of poor mental health.  Prof Mitchell said he was "surprised" by the scale of the results, adding: "There was around a 50 per cent improvement in people’s mental health if they were physically active in the natural environment, compared to those who weren't.  These aren't serious mental health issues, more struggles in general life, things like mild depression, not being able to sleep, high stress levels or just feelings of not being able to cope." 
Sansom Park trail

"It seems that woodland and forest seem to have the biggest effect on helping to lower mental health problems.  That makes sense with what we thought we knew. That is, the brain likes to be in the natural environment and it reacts to being there by turning down our stress response.  Being in areas that have lots of trees and grassy areas help to calm us down, and obviously a forest has this."

"I wasn't surprised by the findings that exercise in natural environments is good for your mental health, but I was surprised by just how much better it is for your mental health to exercise in a green place like a forest, than in other places like the gym.  The message to doctors, planners and policy makers is that these places need protecting and promoting." 

He added that taking a decision to exercise in a natural environment once a week could be enough to gain some benefit, and any additional use could have a bigger effect.  The study revealed that local streets were most commonly used for physical activity, followed by the home or garden.  Previous experimental studies have shown that exercise in natural environments has a positive effect on "biomarkers", which indicate general health, and on an individual's view of his or her levels of stress or fatigue.  Around 50 per cent of the sampled group exercised in a natural environment at least once in the previous month. 

Thanks, Mr. Cramb!  Off to the trails. . . .

Original link:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thirty-day streak

As of Saturday, I have a run 30 consecutive days.  You may recall that last summer/fall, I ran 100 days in a row.  I don't think it's necessarily the best practice to run every day, but for me, that's what it has been taking to get me out the door--I don't want to break my string of consecutive running days.  So here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of my current streak:

The Good
I'm running.  I don't actually have a race on my calendar right now (yet), and no training plan, which usually means I don't run consistently.  So, for me, the good news is that I'm actually getting some miles in.

The Bad
However, other than just logging miles, I'm not doing much focused training.  For the past 30 days, I've done no speedwork, and the longest run was 10.8 miles.  My average run has been only 4.25 or so.  Race or not, I need to start throwing in some more intentional miles.  The other bad part is that all of these miles have been on pavement.  Ugh!  For convenience, I have been running in my neighborhood, and just have not made the time to get to the trails to run.  I'd really like that to change.

The Ugly
I'm still fat and slow.  My average pace has improved a little.  During the 14 running days of May, my average pace was 10:32.  It has improved some for June, now averaging 10:12.  Losing about 30 pounds would help my pace come down some more.  If I stopped drinking Dr Pepper, I might actually drop a few pounds.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Running with the Kenyans

To me, a great running book is not one that focuses on technique, training plans, diet, and form.  A great running book is one that entertains me and makes we want to get out and run!  Adharanand Finn has done just that with his new book, Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth.  Finn, a British journalist and a pretty good runner, moved to Kenya for several months (with his patient wife and flexible children).  They lived in the Rift Valley town of Iten, one of the central training grounds for Kenyan runners.

Finn jumped right into the running culture of Iten.  To hear him tell it, there are runners everywhere.  The roads get clogged with groups of runners, and there are numerous training camps.  Virtually everyone Finn is introduced to has some kind of running credential: placed in a major marathon, world record holder for this distance, medalist in that Olympic Games, etc.  That high concentration of success and speed is pretty intimidating, but Finn does his best to keep up.  He even puts together a team to train for an upcoming marathon.
Any one of these guys would probably be a top-10 finisher in a U.S. marathon.
Over the course of the book, Finn entertains us with the idiosyncrasies of life in rural Kenya (I loved his observation, which drew little comment, of the shepherd who delivered his charges one at a time in the basket of his bicycle.  I wish Finn would have taken pictures. . . .) as well as with his reports of running with these world-class athletes (he often runs with the women. . . .).  All the while, he asks the question that prompted his visit to Iten: why are the Kenyans so fast, dominating road racing the world over in recent years?

My favorite explanation is tied to the tradition of cattle rustling.  Slow Kalenjins (the ethnic group from which most of the fast Kenyans come) would get caught or killed rustling cattle.  The fast ones end up with more cattle, and in a polygamous society, that means more wives.  So slow Kalenjins are removed from the gene pool, while the fast ones spread their genes more prodigiously.  Even thought it's a good story, that's probably not the reason

Finn says, "It's just how they live.  Simply through growing up on the slopes of the Rift Valley, far form cities and the technologies that the West has invented to make life more comfortable, they have found themselves excelling at the world's most natural sport."  So it's a wide variety of factors.
The puzzle of why Kenyans are such good runners. . . . was too complex, yet too simple [to be reduced to an] elixir, a running gene, [a] training secret that you could neatly package up. . . . It was everything, and nothing. . . .: the tough, active childhood, the barefoot running, the altitude, the diet, the role models, the simple approach to training, the running camps, the focus and dedication, the desire to succeed, to change their lives, the expectation that they can win, the mental toughness, the lack of alternatives, the abundance of trails to train on, the time spent resting, the running to school, the all-pervasive running culture, the reverence for running.
 I know that if I, like Finn, spent several months in Iten, I might make some progress.  I would certainly lose some weight, and probably would get faster.  But I'm sure I'll never run like a Kenyan.  Nevertheless, Running with the Kenyans does make me want to get out and run!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My favorite Hindi-language running movie

The real Paan Singh Tomar
OK, so Paan Singh Tomar is the only Hindi-language running movie I've ever seen.  Could it be the only Hindi-language movie ever made about a runner?  I don't know. 

The titular runner, Paan Singh Tomar, didn't run competitively until he joined the army, and then only because of his voracious appetite.  Not satisfied with the rations in the regular army, he agreed to run for the army sports division so he could have more to eat.  It was an inauspicious way to start an athletic career, but he made the most of it winning the 3000 meter steeplechase in the Indian National Games 7 consecutive years.  He didn't fare well at the Tokyo Asian Games.  His coach gave him a pair of spikes just before the race, but, never having run in spikes before, he didn't run well.  Part way through the race, he pulled them off, finishing barefoot.

Irrfan Khan as Singh Tomar
Unfortunately, Singh Tomar's fame and success didn't exempt him from being victimized in a land dispute with some relatives.  As a result of the dispute, which turned into a blood feud of sorts, he ended up becoming a fugitive and getting gunned down by the police.  Tragic.

This is the first Indian movie I've seen that didn't have big song-and-dance numbers.  It would have been out of character for the story, but that hasn't stopped Bollywood before!  As seems to be the case with many Bollywood products, the cinematic quality is like a mediocre American TV show, and the acting, though hard to judge, being in a language I don't understand, seems a bit wooden.  It is a good story, though.

The running scenes are pretty entertaining.  Singh Tomar had a natural talent for running, leaving the field behind with ease.  If he had more coaching and support in his early years, and more recognition and esteem in his later years (to keep him out of trouble), he probably could have had more success than he had and would be a running legend today, even outside of his native India.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back to the drawing board

Have you ever taken an extended break from running, then when you start back up, you feel like a total novice?  I have finally started to get back into a running groove, but it has felt like I am running for the first time.  I don't have a training plan in place.  I do have several race possibilities circled on the calendar, but none for sure.  In the meantime, I have decided to try daily running again.  I have run every day for 2 solid weeks now, and am still slow and fat, but getting a little less slow.  Now I need to work on getting a little less fat.  Hopefully soon I'll start feeling less like a novice runner.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Running Under the Stars

After a long 6 weeks of no running since Hell's Hills, I got in a couple of great runs last weekend.  They weren't great in terms of distance (not very long), pace (pretty slow), or surface (paved).  They were great in that they reminded me that I enjoy running!  We were camping at Lake Whitney State Park with a bunch of families from church.  Each night, after the rest of the gang settled down, I took of for a run around the park.

There was no moon out, the skies were clear, and I enjoyed just a touch of a breeze.  A few fellow campers were out and about, but for the most part, I had the road to myself.  While I mostly ran in the light of the bright stars of the Texas sky, I did wear a headlamp for safety; I turned it on a couple of times when a car was coming.  It also came in handy when I heard the occasional scurrying sound.  At one point, I thought I saw a shape moving on the road.  I turned on the headlamp to see a skunk waddling quickly away, thankfully not leaving a trail of stink behind him.  A few minutes later, I did not see a shape on the road and nearly stepped on an armadillo.  I'm not sure who was more startled.  We frantically ran circles around each other for a couple of seconds before he scampered away into the underbrush.

On night two at dinner, I asked a friend if he wanted to come run with me, assuring him that it would be pretty short and definitely slow.  No, he said, this is my weekend to relax.  That's when it struck me: what better way to relax than a quiet, solitary run under the stars?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Amazing RiverRUN washout

Friday night marked my inauspicious debut as a race director, and it proved I have a lot to learn!  Plus it reminded us that there are some things we just can't control.

When the daughter of the previous Amazing RiverRUN director finished 6th grade, it made sense that she would pass the baton to someone else.  Since I am known to be a runner, the baton passed to me.  This annual one mile fun run and 5K has been held at River Trails Elementary for 5 or 6 years in a row, at least, so I had a good foundation to build on.

Kelly really busted her tail, doing the hard work of soliciting sponsorships.  With guidance from last year's director and a little help from our friends, we cobbled together everything needed, and felt OK about the run going in.  Then the weather forecasts started showing 80% chance of thunderstorms.  Thursday night we felt like we probably wouldn't be able to have the race, but proceeded with the plans anyway.

Friday morning was grey and rainy, but the weather was much milder than forecast, and the forecast for the evening turned to scattered thundershowers and less chance for rain.  Friday afternoon was beautiful!  The sun was breaking through, and things looked great for the race!

We ran last minute errands and got set up at the school.  I was surprised to find a fairly large number of race entries at the school, entries that had come in late in the week, after I had finalized my list for the t-shirt order.  This turned out to be the biggest failure of the day: not enough t-shirts.  We were on a tight budget, so I didn't want to end up buying a bunch of extra t-shirts only to have them go in a box to give away later.  I added about 20% to the number I needed for pre-paid entries and volunteers, thinking that would be plenty.  By the time I allocated shirts for the late entries, I had very few remaining for those who would show up to register at race time.  I felt terrible having to tell people we did not have any shirts left.  Ugh.

Some terrific volunteers came out to help with registration, course monitoring, the aid stations, and post-race food.  Besides the lack of t-shirts, I think registration went OK.  The weather was still looking great as we lined up to start the one mile fun run.  The eager runners took off, fast ones and slow ones.  They finished up and we started gearing up for the 5K.  That's when the rain started.  Hard rain.  Soaking-to-the-skin-in-one-second rain.  We had already decided that rain would not deter us.  The race must go on!  We gave the five minute warning, sending the runners out to the starting line.  (Everyone who could fit had been huddled under the cover of the patio.)

Just as the runners stepped out into the rain, someone spotted lightning.  Racing in the rain, we can do.  Racing when lightning's around, no can do.  We spent the next 20 minutes watching the rain, checking radar maps on iphones, and debating the merits of going on or not.  Finally, at 7:30 or 7:35, after reports of high wind, hail, and severe thunderstorm warnings in the area, we decided to call off the race.  We were certainly all disappointed, but I think we made the right call.  The rain slowed, but the lightning and wind continued until at least 8:30.  If we had started the race on time, we still would have had to pull everyone off the course when the lightning picked up.

The big lessons from today:
1. Order plenty of shirts!  We were at least 50 short.  I should have ordered more like 40% over what I had paid.
2. Have great volunteers.  I couldn't have asked for a better crew!  There was plenty of help, everyone had a great attitude, and they anticipated needs and were flexible enough to make everything happen better than I would have expected.
3. Don't plan a race to take place in the middle of a major thunderstorm.  What a mess.
Random lightning picture pulled off another web site.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ben Franklin, vegetarian (sometimes)

Many runners pay careful attention to what they eat.  I know I should, but I don't.  Many runners are vegetarians.  I'm an omnivore, and I do mean omni.  Benjamin Franklin, as far as I know, wasn't a runner, but for part of his life, he was a vegetarian.

I was amused by his descriptions of his vegetarianism in his Autobiography.  At 16, he decided to try a "vegetable diet," inspired by a book by someone named Tryon.  In order to have more money to buy books, he saved money by eating lighter meals, like "a bisket [sic] or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart from the pastry-cook's, and a glass of water."  He benefited from "that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking."  Later he tried to convince Keimer, the printer for whom he worked, to adopt "the doctrine of using no animal food."  Franklin deadpans, "He was usually a great glutton, and I promised myself some diversion in half starving him."

For some time, Franklin refrained from eating "animal food," following Tryon's teaching that eating meat is "unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter."  But one time, while very hungry at sea, some others on the ship were frying some fish, which "smelt admirably well."  He began to waver, then remembered that "when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, 'If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you.' So I din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet."

Here follows one of the great justifications for doing whatever the heck you want: "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."  Q.E.D.

What does all this have to do with running?  Nothing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barefoot running clinic

For some time now I have followed Jason Robillard's Barefoot Running University blog.  Jason, the author of The Barefoot Running Book, is on tour with Merrell promoting barefoot running and Merrell's line of minimalist footwear.  Tonight he stopped by Backwoods in Fort Worth for a barefoot running clinic.

Jason at another clinic.
After his talk and Q&A session, about 30 of us took a short run with Jason.  Backwoods provided some Merrell road gloves for us to try out.  I tried out a pair, and liked them OK, but similar to the Vibram Bikila, they have a stiff midsole, which, since I'm used to running in Vibram Sprints, I didn't like so much.  I ended up pulling them off and running barefoot.  Back at the store, I tried on the Merrell Trail Glove; I didn't buy a pair, but that might be my next trail shoe.

If you have any interest at all in minimalist running or barefoot running, check out Jason's web site.  He is one of those rare minimalist runners who was running barefoot before Born to Run was published.  He had been traveling around, doing barefoot running clinics, when Merrell asked him to help with educational assistance to go with their new line of minimalist shoes.  Jason's easy-going demeanor and his "I'm just a regular guy who runs" attitude will help even the most skeptical runner consider that barefoot running might be worth a try.

Kudos to Merrell for promoting good running form and caution on the transition to barefoot/minimalist running; they've shown responsibility for providing education through Jason and on their website.  And kudos to Jason for being in the right time and place for Merrell to approach him about being their barefoot running ambassador.  He's living his dream of being a "running nomad," traveling the country with his family, living in their RV, running in beautiful places and spreading the gospel of barefoot running.  Not a bad gig!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Running from the Crazy

It's no secret that, among other benefits, running can be quite therapeutic.  I recently read an account of Brian Castner's experiences as a bomb technician in Iraq.  In his forthcoming book, The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows, Castner tells the story of his frequently harrowing experiences in Iraq, either destroying and disabling IEDs and car bombs, or, in too many cases, analyzing the aftermath.  Besides living the imagery of the bloody bombings' aftermath, he also suffers from blast-induced traumatic brain injury, which affects his memory, personality, and relationships.

Castner today.
Back on U.S. soil, he had to find a way to cope, to keep "the Crazy" at bay.  "The Crazy is winning.  So I run.  I run every day, twice a day sometimes . . .  I run as fast as I can, as long as I can, my feet hitting the pavement in a furious rhythm. . . . I run, and run, and run, and in the Is try to pound out of my head what once Was."  Running can be an escape, a coping mechanism, a release.  For Castner, it was one way to keep away from the Crazy.

His regular running buddy and fellow bomb technician, Ricky, had some pretty good running advice.  Life is a race, but not like a marathon, with a set distance.  "It's not the distance that's set, it's the time . . . and you don't get to see how much time is left. . . . Forget the starter's pistol.  There is a finisher's pistol, and it could go off at any time.  You are concentrating so hard on how far you run that you have ignored how well you run.  Or enjoyed the steps you are taking today.  Learn from me.  I enjoyed each of my steps.  Are you enjoying yours?"  Good stuff.  And you have to love a book whose last line is, "The next day, I put on my shoes and go for a run."

Here's hoping you don't have bombs going off around you, but whether you do or not, enjoy life, run well, and be ready for that finisher's pistol.

Thanks to and the publisher, Random House/Doubleday for the complimentary digital review copy!
Read more about Castner at his blog, Fever Dreams.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hells Hills Race Report

Total mileage run this year through Friday: 93.05 miles
Longest run in 2012 through Friday: 10 miles
Not exactly a formula for success for a 50K.  I knew I would need to take it slow today, so I did.  Maybe a little slower than I thought I would, but I still felt good at the end.
Mark is the family 50K champion.  Perhaps my protruding gut and his fit physique have something to do with that. . . .
The day started with a 4:30 wake-up at the Skeeter's farm house (Thanks, Stuart, for the hospitality!).  We drove from Round Top to Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville in plenty of time for a 6 a.m. start.  We got our race packets, greeted some familiar faces, and got ready to roll.  The moon was full, and lots of runners had headlamps, so Mark and I started out without lights.  Joe counted down and gave us the signal to head down the trail for a long day.

My plan was to stay with Mark as long as I could, hoping that would be the first loop of the two-loop 50K course.  After a couple of miles, it became clear that I wouldn't be able to, so I let him slip away into the distance.  Shortly after, I caught up with Fred.  He's 62, and we finished close to one another at Rockledge Rumble, so I thought I'd run with him.  He took off and I didn't see him again on the trail.  He's a strong runner!  So I plugged away on my own through the first loop.  I knew Mark was way ahead of me, and I knew Joe is very generous about letting 50K runners drop and claim a 25K finish.  But I decided I might as well head out for another loop.

As I pulled out of the start/finish area, I jokingly asked another runner if she was ready to pace me for the second loop.  She laughed, but little did she know I would tag along for half the loop.  Malea is from the Dallas area, and we know many of the same people in NTTR.  Once again, I had to give up trying to keep pace with my elders.  She's a good 10 years older than me, but clearly in great shape.  She hung back for a bit, I think, but I told her to feel free to go on without me, so she did after setting a great pace for 6-7 miles.
Malea heading into the distance. . . .
Shortly after she left, I fell in with Raul, a San Antonio police detective.  We took it easy together, and made each other feel better about walking much of the last 1/4 of the race.  Finally I cruised through the finish chute, where I saw Fred hanging out--he'd clearly been there a while!--and across the finish line where Mark met me, after waiting on me for an hour and seventeen minutes!  Poor guy.  I did warn him, though. . . .
Piney woods along the course.
This was my first time to run at Hells Hills.  It's a Tejas Trails race, so, no surprise, it was hosted flawlessly by Joe and his team of volunteers.  Trail runners in Texas are lucky to have him putting on great races.  The course was terrific, highly runnable, with some ups and downs but not a lot of climbing.  At times it reminded me of Lake Grapevine North Shore, with its short descents and climbs, and at times of Huntsville State Park, where Rocky Raccoon is held, with some long, straight portions and tall pines.  The day did get pretty warm; it was at least in the low 80s by the time I finished.  I was starting to feel overheated and underhydrated.  I considered going shirtless, but after being stuck by a shirtless, flabby runner for an unpleasant portion of a race a couple years ago, I decided that unless and until I was flabless, I would wear a shirt at all times when running.  All told, even though this was my slowest 50K to date, I still felt decent at  the end and had a good time on the course.  Maybe next time I'll actually try to train for it. . . .
The wildflowers were more beautiful than this picture can show.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My 50Ks and Hells Hills

Saturday is Hells Hills and I don't really know what to expect of the race or of myself.  I have run a handful of 50Ks, with finish times ranging from 5:19 (El Scorcho, flat and easy) to 7:35 (Toughest in Texas, hilly, rugged, and, well, toughest).  Based on what I've heard about the Hells Hills course, I'm thinking it will be comparable to the courses at Rockledge Rumble (6:50) or Isle du Bois (7:17).

At Rockledge, I was in pretty good shape, in full training mode for White Rock.  IDB was six days after White Rock, so I was a bit fatigued.  Since IDB, which was mid-December, my training has been sporadic and erratic, and I've put on a few pounds, so I'm certainly not looking for a PR.  I'm thinking I'll take at least 7 hours, but hopefully no longer than 8.

I'm not too concerned about my time or my finish place.  Mostly I'm looking forward to running this trail, which sounds like it's right up my alley.  (From the race web site: "A fair bit of rocks, a collection of rolling creek bed drop-ins and rollouts, a twisty turny riot of single-track trails, with the Wall & the Grind at the end of each loop. Not much for elevation. Mostly single-track through a forest of pines.")  I'm also looking forward to running with my brother, although he might have to leave his fatter, older, slower brother behind. . . .