Monday, May 30, 2011

A little video and a few pictures from the past few days of joining Adam Casseday on his AT Adventure Run.






Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Having a Blast at Terrapin


Jazz hands???

I'm not sure you're supposed have as much fun during a race as I had at Terrapin Mountain 50K this past weekend. There were a few things that happened throughout the day that could have turned the day to the negative side of things but I was having too much fun to care about the constant pit stops during which dropping several gels, nope none of that matter because I was in the mountains having a blast just running with awesome people. So far this year I've been enjoying running more than at any point in my life. The pure bliss of running in the mountains with a healthiness that had been long forgotten the past year and half. I will admit the nice side effect to all this fun I'm having is that I'm laying down a solid early base for the year.

As for the race, I couldn't have been happier with the day's events. My thoughts coming into the race were to use it as a fast training run as I'd logged pretty significant miles leading up to race day. For the most part I stuck to this plan. From the start I purposely lagged back as to not get caught up in the early pace of the lead pack aka Speed Demon Jake Reed. I settled into a nice comfortable pace moving steadily toward Camping Gap. Near the top of the climb I spent a little time chatting with Jordan Whitlock. Jordan has been struggling lately with a bum foot plus completing a marathon the weekend before was moving fairly well all considering. As I descended toward Goff Mountain Rd my stomach showed the first signs of going south. This would be the first of many pit stops throughout the race but oh well life is like that at times.


Terrapin Lane Aid Station

 
Departing AS3 I noticed that Frank 'The Tank' wasn't far behind so I yelled for him to catch up so we could run together. I ran up Goff Mountain Rd. battling the urge to take yet another pit stop. Making my way off the gravel Rd back on to the Glenwood Horse Trail my stomach won the battle once more. During this little break I was passed by Jim Moore and Frank. I jumped back on the trail to catch up with Frank. Frank and I soon caught up with Jim. I ran the rest of the section with these two guys chatting.

The three of us departed AS 4 to begin the climb up Hunting Creek Rd. to Camping gap for the second time. I asked Jim how many ultras he'd run, he stated it was his first. I thought to myself this guys running well but I hope he holds it together in the later stages. Jim and I gapped Frankie a little through this section but not by much as I continued to scream for him to catch. Coming into to Camping Gap I had one thing on my mind, I needed some more wiping material cause the stomach had begun to rage once more. Of course Horton was there to inform me Frank was right behind at which I replied I know we've been running together. You can always count on Ol'Horty trying to fan the competitive flames.

Leaving Camping Gap for the second time it's a fairly easy grade the first 2 miles. I ran this section with Jim in tow and Frank just a few steps behind. As we begun the first real climb of this section the stomach demanded that I take another stop. Jim continued up the mountain, as I quickly did my business and began the process of once more catching up. In past races this would have caused me a great deal of anguish but not today I was just having too much fun just simply being out there. Now I will also say that If I'd had higher expectation for this race I'm sure this would have been rather deflating…let's be real no one likes giving back hard earned time but that day it simply wasn't a huge deal. I caught back up and passed Jim in a matter of minutes. I summited and punch my bib to start the descent back to Camping Gap for the third and final time. The last mile and half before returning to Camping Gap is one of the highlight of the race for me. Here is where you get the opportunity to say hello and encourage all of your fellow runners. Through this section I cheered for several folks including Rick Gray, Sophie Speidel, Jaime Azuaje, Chris Bernard, Jennifer Nichols and many others. I was having a blast!

Leaving Camping Gap for the final time the tough climb up to theTerrapin summit awaits all. This climb is steep and not very runnable for many at this point in the race, which means it's the toughest and of course my favorite part of the race. Peaking out and bumming a gel off Frank, after finally discovering that I'd drop several while 'playing' off trail, I jetted down the other side of the mountain. Oh how the run off the top of the summit gets the juices flowing. This is descent is steep and gnarly with rocks and roots cluttering the way….It's absolutely the best…wait didn't I say that about the climb? Ok I'll just say that in my eyes you run the first 22 or so miles to get to this section of trail. About half way down I stopped to tie my shoe, as I got it tied Frank caught back up. We bombed the rest of the downhill into the Terrapin Ln. aid station. We had passed David Frazier on the out and back before the AS. I guessed he had about a 7 minute lead for third.

Frank and I ran out of the AS together heading for home. I turned and asked Frank if he was going to finish with me? He mumbled something about I'll try keep up but I was having none of it. I told him jump on my back because we're finishing this together. It was nice running with Frank the last 5 miles, as we had never hooked up in a race before. With David a solid 6-7 minutes up we did a good job keeping each other honest the last few miles. We finished the last mile in 6:33 for a finishing time of 4:25:05 good for 4th with a total elevation gain of '6768.

I had a blast running but more importantly catching up with Ultra friends at Terrapin. The race, taking into consideration that I pretty much trained through with the exception of Friday's 20 minute jog with Jake, went as planned minus the plethora of pit stops. To date I've been logging quite a bit more miles than at this point in previous years. I'm feeling strong but not very fast with most of my miles being of the slower variety but with Promise land on the horizon it may very well be time to sprinkle a few tempo runs into my training schedule. With all that being said I'm absolutely ecstatic with the way my running is progressing. Hopefully with the addition of a mini taper this will translate into a solid race at PL50k. For the month of March I averaged 85 miles a week with 12,000' of gain. I had the pleasure of participating in three wonderful events for the month (CRA, Crowder 50K, and Terrapin 50K) plus one sweet solo 26 miler the weekend before Terrapin…..so that's my long winded way of saying this month ranks pretty high in the most pleasurable months of running ever. With that said I hope the month of April is better. Oh two last thing i'd like to mention. For those of you worried yes I maintain my tradition at Terrapin of crossing the finish line holding hands. Lastly lookout Ultra world Jake Reed is for real.


Finishing Up
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Catawba Run-around

**First rule of CRA there is no CRA**



Start-to-Dragon's Tooth parking

This was the third year I’ve had the pleasure of sharing these gorgeous trails with great friends in early March. Saturday morning we all gathered in the secret place to begin what would be a great day of running. As we headed out in the early morning I found myself running with a group of mostly familiar faces. The group included some stud runners Neal Gorman (Grand Slam record holder), Brian Schmidt (2010 Grindstone winner), Jake Reed (2010 Promise land winner), Harland Peelle (2008 Grindstone winner), and David Frazier (recent TWOT finisher)…quite an accomplished group of runners. As we made our way up to Dragon tooth there was friendly chatter and the normal I’m out of shape talk…sandbaggers. Pretty soon the group had trimmed down to Neal, Jake, David, and myself, apparently Harland and Brian didn’t think we were all that entertaining. The pace was a little hot early for a “training run” but I figured what the heck. We summited Dragon’s Tooth, climbing to the point for what would turn out to be the only view we’d have all day. Leaving the summit we return to the Dragon Tooth parking lot over some gnarly trail that I absolutely love…..rocks and sharp drop offs…flying over this stuff makes me feel so alive. Neal, David, and I were moving pretty quickly down the technical trail gapping Jake. Jake loves technical downhill’s (cough, cough) but I knew as soon as the trail smoothed out he’d be right back with us. The three of us strolled into the parking lot at about 1:21 into the run, followed closely by Jake.

Dragon’s Tooth Parking-to-SR 779

Those of you that have done this run know all about the dreaded North Mountain. Well I’ve got some news and some bad news. First the good news they have done a nice job cleaning the trail up and remarking all the intersecting trails. The bad news is they didn’t shorten the trail or remove any of the little hills on the ridge. I will say I do think doing North Mountain early in the run seem a lot more manageable.

As the four of us began the climb up North Mountain I found myself the leader of the group. The two young bucks (David and Jake) sandwiched in between the two old guys (Neal and I). I was doing my best to keep the pace relaxed but I had a feeling the young guys wanted to battle a bit….not me. Several times I offered to step aside to let the battle begin but each time all declined my offer. After about an hour of running on the ridge Neal had dropped back a bit and with the guys pushing me from behind I decided to take a pit stop and wait for Neal. Perfect timing as I finished Neal appeared. We ran together for next 30 minutes or so before reaching the trail that descends down to SR779. There Jake and David were waiting to confirm that was indeed the trail. As we descended I decided it was time for the real pit stop so I jumped off trail and took care of business. I ran solo the next mile into the aid awaiting us at SR779. I arrived just in time to see David and Jake bounding up the trail, thinking to myself let battle begin. I hung around awhile chatting with Keith and kidding that I had no desire to be part of that. I covered the North Mountain section in about 2 hours.

SR779-to-Rt 311

Leaving SR779 I was enjoying the solitude of running solo. Soon enough I spotted Neal up ahead so I pushed a little harder to catch up. I’d met Neal on a couple occasions but never really had the opportunity to really get to know him. We chatted about a variety of topics. Neal is a thoughtful and intelligent guy, I figured I should hang around with him and hopefully some of that might rub off on me. The climb up to Tinker Cliffs passed fairly quickly. Tinker Cliffs is usually one of the highlights of the run but the rain and clouds robbed us of any view much less the spectacular ones seen from this point most days. We continued on towards MacAfee’s knob at decent pace chatting the entire time. Did I mention how much I enjoyed running with Neal….if I didn’t….I enjoyed running and chatting with Neal.

MacAfee’s Knob came and went in pretty much the same fashion as Tinker Cliffs…no views to speak of which was a little disappointing considering this is usually the only time all year I venture to this spot. One thing I’d like to add about this section is that the 3.4 miles from MacAfee’s to 311 has to be marked using Horton miles. That is all on that subject. Crossing 311 to my surprise Jake and David were fueling up for the last 5 miles. We cover this section in 2:33.

RT 311-to-the finish

Jake and David had left a few minutes ahead leaving Neal and me alone once more. I starting to think maybe we just weren’t that interesting. This section was much of the same. The one highlight was crossing the pastor with a 2 ton Bull standing right in the trail. At first I thought all the livestock were cows so I decided to act like an idiot and shout to get the herd moving…oops let’s just say I went around, he didn’t move…next time I going to ride him. We ended up covering this section in about 46 minutes for a total run time of 6:47:46. I was surprised we covered the 35ish miles and 9,000' of gain in this time but never felt like we were pushing too hard. I take this a sign that my training is heading in the right direction.

Jake and I hung around for a while waiting for Micah to finish up. At points we’d sit in the car to avoid the rain that had steady begun to fall. The best part of these gathering is the socializing that occurs while everyone is finishing up. I wish we could have stayed longer and enjoyed watching everyone finish but with a long drive home and the weather we decided against. Thanks to all of you….you knows who you are…that make this possible. All you newbies to this run come back to these trails when you can enjoy the wonderful views. Next for me Crowder Mountain 50K FA style this Saturday….then hopefully watching the Tar Heels take care of business in the ACC tournament.

Couple notes that may interest only me (Sorry Peter King):

* This capped off 4 straight weeks of at least 82.0 miles and 12,000’gain….I think I getting into shape.

* I’ve averaged 10.14 miles and 1744’ gain per day for 2011.

* Congrats to team member Jenny Anderson for setting the FKT completing the El Camino trail…500+ miles in 9d 5h 29m

* TheAidStation.com officially announces theaidstation.com ultrarunning team members

* TheAidStation.com is proud to announce their sponsorship of Adam Casseday’s AT adventure, Highland Sky, CMMM, and Trilogy

* For those of you who didn’t know I’m a huge University of North Carolina Fan…..watching this year basketball team develop has been one of the gratifying as a fan that I can remember. Go Heels!

*****REMEMBER for my blog readers use discount code MMG15 to receive an additional 15% off already low prices with free shipping at theaidstation.com*****

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Montrail Rogue Racers

So I've had my Montrail Rogue Racer for a week now. This morning it was time to try them out on a long mountain run. So after this run and 80ish miles on these shoes, I've got to say that I'm quite impressed. This morning's run had 6000' feet of equal gain/loss over 25-26 miles and included a little of everything....gravel road, a jeep road, some AT running and a nasty technical decent, the shoes performed wonderfully. The upper hugs my foot nicely; the outsole has significant grip, and the midsole has just enough cushioning without feeling like too much. I suggest if you’re looking for a nice neutral light shoe without sacrificing too much cushion give the Rogue Racers a test drive. Check out Jenny Nichols thoughts on her Rogue Racers.


Montrail Rogue Racers
Looking for the Rogue Racer checkout TheAidStaion.com and use MMG15 to receive 15% off your total purchase.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Little Down Time



Since Hellgate I've had no real focus to my training. I've just been enjoying running with friends and simply having fun. Last year I took some time to recharge the batteries and it did wonders for me so I decided this will definitely be an annual occurrence. I think for me personally it provides a time for the body to heal and more importantly the mind. All that being said I have been running. ;-) I have even recently logged (more like chasing him) a few miles on The Priest and Three Ridges with the one and only Clark Zealand. Folks he’s making a comeback. Below are a few things that excite me about the year.


• Being healthy! I haven’t truly been completely healthy in two years but as of right now that is the case. I been able to run without a foot pain the last couple months….woohooo!

• Running my first 100 miler. Horty tells me I’m not a real ultra-runner until I’ve run a 100 miler. I’d planned to do one last year but the thought of running 100 miles with my foot killing me from the beginning didn’t appeal to me. Or as Horty would say I’m just a big wimp.

• I’m totally stoked to be part of the new running team TheAidStation.com. This switch of teams will provide me the opportunity to try a bunch of different shoes. Inov-8 was very good to me the past 2 years but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little bummed to not be able to try some of the new shoes on the market. More to come on this later…

• CZ getting in shape. Clark has another gear when truly in shape. Of course this means I’ll be suffering on some runs but I’ve been trying to get in as many licks as possible the past couple of weeks.

• Horton competing in the Ride the Divide. I’m glad you’ve found a little adventure to chase this summer.

• My Buddy Adam Casseday with his wife Kadra crewing him will be running the entire length of the AT. I’m definitely planning to join him several times along his journey. Do you hear that Adam?

I’m sure there are lots more I could add to this list but for the sake of not boring anyone reading this I will spare you…plus I need to go for run. One last thing I’d like to mention I can’t wait for the Montrail Rogue Racer…..should have a pair on my feet by midweek at the latest. I think Montrail may have hit the nail squarely on the head with this shoe. If you’re equally as excited keep an eye on theaidstaion.com…..use the discount code MMG15 to receive %15 off anything storewide.


Montail Rogue Racer



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hellgate 100K


Where to begin? I have always had a love-hate relationship with Hellgate. I've never been too fond of the cold, so much of my week leading up to the race is spent dreading the elements. Then a funny thing happens as we all make our way from Hellgate parking to the start. I forget about the cold, the 66+ miles....and I begin to get so excited that I can't wait to get started running. Did I mention I absolutely love the solitude of running through the mountains in the middle of the night? As Horton would say this is indeed a very special race.


Leading into this Hellgate it looked as if this would be the most competitive field yet. There were big names (Karl Meltzer and David Goggins), the Hellgate veterans (Reed, Aaron, Keith, Jordan, Darryl, Harland, and T. Williams) then the newbies (Frank, Lantz, and Garcia) and a host of other very capable runners (B Gill, Raymond). ***Note Frank's technically not a Hellgate newbie but I don't count last year considering the amount of training done this year opposed to last*** I was very stoked to be running against such a stout field.


The race played out fairly well for me. I had a little extra motivation to finish the year up on a high note after the disaster that was MMTR. Most of the race was pretty uneventful considering I assumed the lead around mile 9 and didn’t see another racer or even their light the final 50 or so miles which made for more of a feel of me out cruising through the mountains enjoying the beautiful night all alone. Mostly things felt rather relaxed. The only rough spot I had was the section from Bearwallow gap to Bobblets gap….all three years I’ve run this race I’ve struggled with this section. I believe it’s the fact the sun has popped up and the excitement of running at night turns into the realization of 20 more miles. Another piece of excitement occurred here as I was greeted by Horton informing me that I was 2 minutes under the CR. All I’m going to say about that is Eric Grossman blazed the last 21ish miles. In the end I pulled out my second win at Hellgate in a time of 11:24:20 for third fasted all-time. After having some time to reflect I can say that I’m very satisfied with my race but I do believe there is some room for improvement. I guess that means I’ll be at the starting line next year looking to ever so slightly tame Hellgate a bit more.


Notes/congrats/musings:• Congrats to all you first time Hellgate finishers along with all you multi-year whack jobs. ;)

• Here’s a shout out to my friend Chris Reed who had one heck of year…..Chris finished 2nd in all three fall Beast races, in the process snagging one of those coveted WS spot.

• Congratulations to my training partner Frank Gonzales for a job well done finishing 2nd overall in the Beast series. For you people who don’t know Frank, he struggled through his first ultra 20 months ago at a weight of well over 200 lbs., congrats you worked hard for all you achieved.

• Keith Knipling set a PR at all three fall Beast series races. Job well done.

• Darryl Smith no matter who or what he always finds a way into the top 10.

• Nice job Kevin…I think it has something to do with your great crew.

• Thanks to all the Aid station workers for spending their night taking care of us runners. You guys where awesome.

• Last but not least Thank you David Horton for being so off your rocker to dream up and execute such a “Special” event. You my man need to check this link out: