Thursday, January 26, 2012

Long Haul 100

From the moment we entered the room where registration was happening for the Long Haul 100 I could tell that this would be a well organized event.  From the preprinted drop back labels to the 8 or so different wrist bands used to keep track of runner progression I could see attention to detail.  Jen Pearson may or may not be OCD but she certainly has a tremendous amount of energy and left nothing to chance.

There is an interesting story behind the race.  Jen and her husband Tim were in the process of adopting two boys from Haiti and were about to go pick them up when the Earthquake happened.  Luckily the boys were okay and they were able to complete the adoption  but seeing what had happened in Haiti touched the Pearsons and Jen (the energizer bunny) said Hey, why don't we set up a nonprofit to help the people of Haiti and we could organize a 100 mile race to help fund it?  Nevermind that neither of them had ever run a 100 miler!  Well, it worked.  They raised $10k last year and I haven't heard the tally this year but there were many more runners so I expect good things this year too.  Thanks Jen and Tim!

The course consisted of 6 repeats of a 16.67 mile out and back.  There were multiple sections of asphalt and some sections of nice smooth hard-packed sand/crushed coral but there was also a lot of grassy doubletrack, softish sand with a sprinkling of roots.  The first lap or two felt really easy and I though that this would be a real easy cruiser run.  But as the night wore on the trail got a bit softer in places and the uneveness of the grassy sections began to wear on one.  I wouldn't say that it was really terribly hard but I didn't feel so much like I was cruising either.  The course is a good one though a bit confusing the first couple of laps so you have to pay attention.

I ran controlled and easy the entire run thinking about the year to come and how I would hold up doing so many races including one stretch of 10 100 milers in 11 weeks.  I often advise runners new to ultras to not think about the whole 100 miles but just focus on the next aid station or finishing a loop.  After a while of thinking about our whole year I reminded myself of this bringing my focus back to something more manageable than 100 mile races week after week!  I finished in 23:19 barely 10 hours behind the amazing Mike Morton who ran a phenomenal 13:18.  What a pleasure to witness this talented runner!  Liz finished in 24 hours even winning the women's race.  We went to the car and napped for a couple of hours and then back to the finish line to see the last few finishers.  

Sherry Meador and Jackie Ong had started their final lap a bit after I had finished my final lap and I was a bit skeptical that they would be able to beat the clock but Sherry ran a 3:30 lap and Jackie came in just minutes before the cutoff.  Way to go, girls!  Sherry had some early morning snafu's and started the race 1:15 late and when she came storming into the finish line we thought she was going to pass out.  Talk about a strong finish.....

I have to say something about the support during the race. The volunteers were fantastic.  There was always someone there to fill your bottle, get your drop bag, and in my case, help me change my nasty socks and shoes which had accumulated a bunch of grit and sand.  Man, I didn't even want to touch those things!  There was plenty of help even in the wee hours of the morning.  And Jen Pearson seemed to be everywhere!  "What do you need?"  "How are you feeling?"  "You're doing great!"  She had a seemingly limitless supply of energy to give to all the runners.

Jen, me and Liz at Awards Banquet.
A couple of hours after the end of the race we convened at the World of Beers.  Who could think of a better place for a post-race party!  There was a complimentary beer for everyone and enough delicious food to feed an army.  Tortillas, fillings, salsa, rice, beans, quacamole, and chocolate cake.  I'm glad I had an appetite!  There was short and sweet awards ceremony so most of the time was used for everyone to get to know each other and chat without being short of breath from running.  It was a very enjoyable experience from start to finish.

Recovery for me has gone well with very little post run swelling or stiffness.  It really does make a difference no "racing" 100 miles.  After the run we went to the Clearwater, FL where my mother lives and where Liz's grandmother lives, who happened to have celebrated her 98th birthday on Friday!  On Monday we made our flight home to Atlanta without problems but ended up rushing home and right into work Monday night.  We're both RN's who work night shift and the hospital was short staffed so we eagerly grabbed up the shifts, thinking ahead to the financial challenges to come.  Staying awake all that night was not easy, but at least we didn't have to stay up all night AND run 100 miles.

Thank you again to Tim and Jen and all the fantastic volunteers at the Long Haul 100!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Start of the Madness

I never thought that I would be publishing a blog but my girlfriend, Liz Bauer, and I have started a project that a number of friends have expressed interest in following and I think this will be the best way to keep everyone up to date.  I've been meaning to write this initial post for months so here it goes.....

The project:  Liz and I have decided to attempt to break the record for the most 100 mile races done in one calendar year.  To the best of our knowledge this record was set by Monica Sholz in 2010 when she ran 25 runs of 100 miles or greater in that year.  Our goal is to hit 30.  A project like this has many challenges and you'd think at first that the main challenge would be the physical challenge of doing so many long distance runs in such a short time but I'm thinking that the financial, organizational and travel challenges are going to be at least as great.  The journey has begun so we shall see....

Liz and I with Phil McCarthy (center) moments
after he set the national 48 hour record in 2011
at 3 Days at the Fair in NJ.  Phil won't be joining
 us in this record attempt!
The players:  Liz and I have both been running ultras for 10+ years and have probably done about the same number of races though Liz has done many more 100's than I have.  My tally is about 20+ while Liz is in the 40 range.  These totals include 24 hour races where we did 100 or more miles.  Liz has had a lot of success winning many races.  She has also completed the last 9 Leadville Trail 100 races and plans to get her 10 year buckle later this year.  I don't think any other female done this many consecutive LT100's.  She also has a pending national age group record at 48 hours of 205+ miles.  I have a hard time keeping up!  Back in '03 and '04 I was running well and winning some races but have never got back to that level of fitness.  The most important thing though, that both Liz and I have going for us in chasing this record is our stubbornness and never quit mentalities.  We just don't DNF.  We suck it up and do what needs to be done when it gets tough and are good at maintaining forward progress and not lingering at aid stations. I believe in our ability to do this and we're both very committed both emotionally and financially!

The schedule:  Below is the schedule as it stands now.  Liz did the HURT 100 while I did not.  Both of us finished Long Haul so as of now the tally is Liz-2 and Scott-1.  Our plan is not to compete with each other but to share the record in the end.  Liz is far from guaranteed a spot in Hardrock while I am already in that one so that may be how we even up.  The highlighted races are ones we've already registered for while the end of the year is still to be determined.

Jan 14
Hurt  -  HI                                             
Jan  21
Long Haul  -  FL                          
Jan  28

Feb  4
Rocky Raccoon  -  TX                
Feb  11

Feb  18
Iron Horse  -  FL                          
Feb  25

Mar  3
Doubletop  -  GA                          
Mar  10
Graveyard  -  NC                            
Mar  17

Mar  24
NJ  Ultra Festival  -  NJ                 
Mar  31
Umstead  -  NC                             
Apr  7
Philly  -  PA                                   
Apr  14
Potawatamie  -  IL                         
Apr  21
Labor of Love  -  NV                      
Apr  28
Salt Flats  -  UT                              
May  5

May  12
Zion  -  UT                                     
May  19
Keys  -  FL                                     
May  26
Nanny Goat  -   CA
Jun  2
Old Dominion  -  VA                      
Jun  9

Jun  16
Big Horn  -  WY
Jun  23
Black Hills  -  SD
Jun  30

Jul  7

Jul  14
Hardrock  -  CO
Jul  21
Vermont  -  VT
Jul  28
Burning River  -  OH
Aug  4

Aug  11

Aug  18
Leadville  -  CO
Aug  25
Lean Horse  -  SD
Sep  1

Sep  8
Pine Creek  -  PA                     
Sep  15
Mark Twain  -  MO                  
Sep  22

Sep  29
GA Jewel - GA
Oct  6
Arkansas Traveler – AR          
Oct  13
Heartland – KS                        
Oct  20

Oct  27
Javalina – AZ                           
Nov  3
Ozark – MO                            
Nov  10

Nov  17

Nov  24

Dec  1
Cajun Coyote - LA
Dec  8
Dec  15

Dec  22

Dec  29

  …..  = registered

The execution:  Lots of airplane rides!  : )  Liz and I have a motorhome that we will be using for parts of the year but we'll also be making many trips to Atlanta International Airport.  This is going to be an expensive year with limited opportunity for working so we're definitely going low budget.  The cheapest rental car, the cheapest fleabag hotels, and for many trips we'll be camping.  We won't be eating just rice and beans but no haute cuisine either!  One of the things that we look forward to most is seeing so many different courses and parts of the country.  We're also excited about meeting lots of new ultrarunning friends (as we did this past weekend at Long Haul) and seeing all the many cool people we've gotten to know over the years.  

Long Haul 100 report to follow.....