Stomp of Approval!!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Whispering Pines 50K pictures

Ok, My wife snapped a few pics of the events at the race while I was out running (HA! More like walking!)

Theres 2 of me, one is of me starting the second loop, the other is me walking into the chute after the second loop to drop out.

Theres a few pics of my son running is race and then after finishing. He was so pumped! Im very proud of him. He's actually competing in a duathalon tomorrow, should be fun!

Then there is one of my little princess stuffing her pie hole with something edible. You can see our tent in the background.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Whispering Pines 50K Race Report

I guess it was bound to happen at some point.

A big

Fat

DNF....

The main cause for the DNF (Did Not Finish) was my LCL flaring up again. This was very aggrivating for several reasons.

-It hasnt really bothered me in my training. I took 2 weeks off and started back up with no problems. It only spoke up once, and even then it wasn't anything even worth thinking twice about.

-I felt GREAT during the race. Energy levels were very high, stomach felt perfect, I wasn't feeling too hot, my mental state was spot on and I felt like my muscles and body could have kept going for the remainder of the race with no problems.

-The course was beautiful! The trail was solid single track thru the forest. It felt great to be out there.

-The trail was also made quite technical by all the recent rain we have been getting. David (the Race Director) told me that all the top soild of nice soft dirt had been washed out and all the rocks and roots under it had been left exposed. So the trail was very challenging for a guy with no shoes.

.....

But there were some good things that I can take away from the experience.

-David at Endurance Buzz Adventures is a great guy that knows how to put on a great event! I thoroughly look forward to running more EBA races in the future!

-When trying to run Ultras on trails, sometimes it might be best to wear some shoes. While I could have ran this course barefoot had my knee not acted up, it wasn't  necessarily "enjoyable" to have to walk and tip toe my way through the areas where I could have otherwise been running a very good pace. For once, running barefoot deffinately was a hindrance and negatively affected my performance.

-I normally dont eat before I go on a long run, but for something like a race I think I should. So I ignored rule number 1 of "dont try anything different on race day" and ate some guacamole before the race. I found some 100 calorie packs of guac at Walmart, and they taste amazing. They gave me plenty of energy and nutrition without any negative side effects!

-I got to meet a lot of great ultra runners from around the area. Mariela Botella, a highly tallented runner from the Houston area. Dat, another highly tallented guy from the Dallas area who was using this race as a training run for a 100K in a few weeks, and several other great runners who I played leapfrog with for most of the race. I even got to catch a very quick fleeting glimpse of Nicole Studer as she literally BLEW past me on her way to win the 50K in just a hair over 4 hours. She is stupid fast and was very friendly and supportive.

-We camped out the night before, and outside of a re-occuring issue with a theiving little racoon, that went great too! It was really nice having the wife and kids at the start / finish line. I feel like I let them down a little by DNFing though. But they enjoyed the experience and cant wait to go camping again! Yay!!!

Probablly the best thing from the day was that my son ran in the kids 1K race and had a blast! He came into the finish line area in 3rd place, but stopped short because he got confused and ended up crossing the line in 5th. But he could have cared less because he had such a great time! He rambled on and on and on about how much fun he had running thru the woods on the trails. Now he wants to do more races!!!! YAY!!!!

It was a good day overall. Jesse finished his first race / first trail race / first run over 16 miles long and he loved it as well.

So, now I'm going to take 2 or 3 weeks off from running to try and get my knee back to 100% for whatever race I decide to attempt next. I'm going to focus more on my diet and losing weight now. I went into this race tipping 200 pounds. I need to be closer to 180.

Oh, sorry, no pictures. My phone died while we were camping...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2 Days out...

Its roughly 11:30 Thursday night, and I dont think its stopped raining either here, or in Tyler, for the past week and a half... And it doesnt show any signs of letting up any time soon...

We've loaded 90% of our camping gear in the back of the wife's Sequoia. My son's field day has been changed to a "play in the gym all day" day. So hes not as excited about and has decided that he wants to get an early start on camping!

So we will be leaving Montgomery on our way to Tyler at some point early tomorrow morning. On the way out we are stopping for hair cuts, ice for the cooler, and hopefully (if I get my way...) breakfast from Chic-Fil-A...

I screen shot the forecast for Tyler. Its going to be a wet, muddy and messy  adventure for sure.

I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

LSHT, Part 3

Well, while this run was MUCH better than my last adventure into the LSHT, it was still pretty rough!

In an effort to get my last good long run in leading up to the Whispering Pines 50K, I decided to take to the trails super early with a goal of going between 28 and 32 miles. I accounted for the run to last about 6 hours, so I hit the ground running at around 4:20 Saturday morning.

What I didn't account for was that several sections of the course had been destroyed by tornados earlier in the week.

So running barefoot, in the dark, with a head lamp and flashlight while stopping every 30 feet to climb over fallen pine trees and then scampering thru all the accompanying pinecones littering the trail was quite... interesting.

Luckily I had thought ahead and was carrying a pull string draw bag on my back that contained .7 liters of Poweraid, .7 liters of water, some trail mix and peanut M&M's, my pair of Vibrams and luckily a ziplock baggie of toilet paper. So after spending over an hour climbing thru fallen tree tops and barely covering the first 4 miles (mile 1 was ran in 13:15, mile 2 was a real bitch) I decided that I was about tired of pine cones, so I sat down on a fallen oak tree and slipped on my Vibrams and took off again.

I haven't ran in shoes in a long time. And even then it was only for 3 or 4 miles on the roads. So running in trails in shoes was an entirely different experience altogether.

But it wasn't a bad experience!

Shoes as tools, right?

After donning the Vibrams I was actually able to continue on at a relatively decent pace for awhile. I even came upon a cleared out area that was COVERED in little pop up tents at some point. I can't remember if it was before or after the shoes, but I know it was still pitch black outside. I figured that it was the local Boy Scout's. I debated on giving then a good scare by either screaming like crazy or holding a conversation with myself.

This is what I was playing out in my head as I passed thru their camp...

This is good, just drop the body here.

No, that won't with you idiot. These people will find her.

Well if anyone sees you your ass is grass anyways, your covered in blood and chicken feathers.

Oh will you just shut up!

No, you shut up. You're  the one who got us into this mess.

I should never have listened to you in the first place. I knew that house wasn't abandoned, and this isn't my sister after all.

....

Sort of play it out like a Jekel and Hyde, or even better, a Smeagol and Gollum type thing!!!!

But I didn't from fear of being shot by a paranoid city dad.

Other than the trees crossing over the trail, the area from Trail Head 1 to Trail Head 6 was a very beautiful trail that was very runnable, save for the creek crossings where you went damn near straight down 15 feet into a creek bed, then right back up a 15 foot vertical climb / crawl to get back out.

I actually took a short cut trail because of the slow progress from the tornado faulted obstacles, this was the "North Wilderness Trail" and it cut out roughly 2.02 miles from the 1 way trip. This section of trail was very running friendly. Way nicer than it's southern counterpart, the Little Lake Creek Loop.

Overall, all the sections of the LSHT that I have ran have been very well marked with reflective blazes every so often, but I did manage to get off the trail at one point, but realized it after about a 3rd of a mile and was able to quickly correct my mistake. This particular turn was very poorly marked, and on the way back I showed Jesse what had happened and he said he would have done the same thing.

At one point I actually made my first human contact since kissing my wife good bye several hours earlier that morning. I met a french ultra marathoner whose last name was something like "Weisbeck". He was out on what I think came out to be around a 25 mile run. We chatted for a few minutes before resuming off in opposite directions. I always get giddy and talkative while I'm out running, especially when I meet another ultra runner, so, Mr Weisbeck, I'm sorry if I came across a little... umm... strange? Its just how I am. It was still very nice to have met you.

The plan was to meet Jesse at TH6, then return back to TH 1 either via the entire 16 miles of LSHT, or take the same North Wilderness Trail shortcut and make it back in 14 miles. I was intending on taking the longer 16 miles, but was unsure due to the setbacks earlier in the run. When I found out that Jesse mistook my drop bag full of calories and hydration I had left on the trunk of his car as one of his son's buddies bags and left it in his yard, the decision to try to make the 14 miles back with only .7 liters of water on me was an easy one to make.

To return run went great. We actually made pretty decent timing. I had to stop to remove built up dirt and sand from the toes of my Vibrams. That was annoying.

I saw, and caught, a little ribbon snake.

We see a guy who appeared to be another ultra runner bust his ass trying to cross over a fallen pine tree. I think he was a bit embarrassed because he didn't really reply when I asked if he was alright and tried to make conversation with him. He might have just been "in the zone", so whatever.

We crossed paths with the Boy Scout's group who did confirm that the sound of me running thru their camp scared the mess out of most of "the kids", but I imagine the adults werent feeling too great about hearing someone running thru camp in the dead of night either.

At mile 25 it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to stop dead in my tracks.

I needed to poop.

There was no waiting.

Thank God I packed some toilet paper!

The romp back thru the warzone of fallen trees was MUCH easier in the day light. We were actually running at around a 9 minute mile pace between trees.

I made it back to the truck, covered in mud and blood (from all the thorns and briars) in 27.84 miles in 7:02.

I expected to be sore as hell the next day, but here it is, Monday afternoon, and only the faintest signs of any soreness. I take this as a good sign!

I didn't take a lot of pictures this time. I enjoyed running in the Vibrams on the tougher sections of trail, but it still doesn't beat running bare!

Happy running!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LSHT, part 2

Well, this run SUCKED!!!!

We headed out at sun up this past Sunday on a new-to-us section of the LSHT with a goal of an out and back course that would give us 15 to 16 miles along with some pretty scenery. Unfortunately the night before there was a really bad windstorm, so the entire trail was littered with fallen trees crisscrossing the trails, along with a lot of sticks and roots and pine cones. This made the going slow and very rough.

On top of that, my legs were feeling a bit fatigued from a moderately hard effort 15 miler the morning before, AND this section of the trails was very rooty and muddy.

Did I mention the roots?

After about 3 miles I was reduced to lots of walking, so I told Jesse he should just go on without me and that I would see him back at my truck when we got there.

He took off and actually went to the turn around point we were intending on going to, being a shod runner the roots and such didnt bother him nearly as bad as they did with me.

I continued down the trail, walking much of it, running the sections that I could (which were very runnable!) Untill I got to a road that crossed over the trail. At that point I decided that I would just take the road back to the Trailhead (TH# 6) and just wait for Jesse there.

Big mistake.

The road started out as a reasonably worn down asphalt that was pretty nice to run on.

Then it went to some rougher asphalt.

Then chip seal.

Then really rough chip seal.

Then it got worse...

I ran on one of the worst surfaces Ive ever ran on for probablly 3 excruciatingly painfull miles untill it met up with a more traveled road that was old worn down smooth asphalt. The difference was night and day. I was on cloud 9 once my feet hit that asphalt.

Although the chip seal hurt like a bitch, I wasnt worried about snapping a toe off on a root like I was on the trail.

I made it back to the truck in about 10.5 miles total distance and laid back waiting on Jesse. Unfortunately he got lost somewhere on the way back and turned what should have been only 1.6 miles back to the truck into about a 6 mile detour. But he did set a new PR for distance ran!

I feel like this section would have been perfectly fine had there not been a storm the night before. When it starts drying up outside instead of raining every other day for the last month, I think this section of trail would be fine barefoot along with the rest of the trail that I have ran so far.

It is beautiful out there though! Between the 2 of us we captured some good pictures of the trail, both nice sections and not so nice sections.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lone Star Hiking Trail, Part 1

Saturday morning Jesse and I went to try out running on parts of the Lone Star Hiking Trail (LSHT for short) and a one of the smaller trails within the LSHT system, the Little Lake Creek Loop Trail (LLCL for short

We wanted to get an early start on the day, so we parked Jesses car at trailhead #4, then he hopped in my truck and we drove on to trailhead #1. We were on the trails running by 6:05.

Its still quite dark at 6 in the morning, so we were using hand held flashlights and head lamps. I was also carrying my new Vapur Eclipse Anti-Bottle that I ordered as a solution to Endurance Buzz Adventure's (that's the people responsible for the Whispering Pines 50K) "No Cup Race" rules. In other words, the aid stations dont have cups of water. They have water, you provide your own cup.

All 3 of items of gear that I was carrying performed PERFECTLY! I will do a full writr up review of the Vapur Anti-Bottle after a little more usage, but I can already tell its going to be very satisfying!

From Trailhead #1, which is the Western end of the LSHT (which itself is something like 98 miles long, adding in the additional subsidiary trails and its around 130!!!), runs thru some "managed" areas of the forest where the trees have been harvested and your running thru knee to waist high ferns under a sparse canopy of pine trees.

After a mile and a half or so, you come to a split in the trail. Staying to the left will kep you on the LSHT, going right will bring you onto the LLCL.

Both areas stay in the nicely manager areas for several miles where the very well marked single trail meanders along side various ponds and creeks, with the occassional creek crossing. There are no bridges on the LLCL, creeks were crossed the way small creeks should be crossed. By running down the bank, thru the water, then back up the other bank. This was very enjoyable, and made for some interesting and rather technical sections. It was enjoyable.... the first dozen times.

After about 5 miles things got messy.

It had been raining for a few days on and off, but I dont think it made that much of a difference. The rest of the 7.5 miles of the LLCL were a soggy muddy mess that at times literally ran thru swamps where the mud was almost mid calf deep.

Since I was barefoot the mud and water wasnt too bothersome. Jesse, on the other hand, was running with water drenched shoes for the last 7 miles. There was no avoiding it.

At some point on this section of slogging thru swamp after swamp I managed to kick the shit out of a stump or root or something that I couldnt see due to the underbrush growing out over the trail. My toe was bleeding, but it actually wasnt as painfull as it should have been.

When we finally made it to Jesses car at Trailhead #4 12.5 miles in, I switched out to my second Vapur Anti-Bottle (more on that on my review post) and grabbed some packs of trail mix and set back out to make the return trip to my truck.

There is a 1.25 mile long tail connecting the LLCL back to the LSHT called the Pole Creek Trail (we will just call it the Pole Creek Trail since the name PCT is already taken...). This trail was quite nice!  Gently rolling terrain, single track with a pine straw bed. Not very technical or rooty from what I can recall.

Once I joined back up with the LSHT I realized why people hike it rather than the LLCL. It was amazing! Very easy to follow, no swamps, fewer creek crossings and even a few bridges over the occassional swampy areas!

It was in need of some maintenence in a few sections. There were several downed trees that were laying across the trail. At first I would just leap up onto it and keep going. No real hindrance. But after 17 miles of running thru mucky swamps, steep creek embankments and lots of slippery and slick muddy sections of trail, I was fading and climbing over fallen trees became a bit of a nuscance.

There was one section that felt like a straight shot for about 3 miles, the entire time was spent either doing a gradual climb on slick mud, or doing a step descent on muddy slopes coverd in hidden roots.

The final 3 or 4 miles was back in the maintained area following along the side of a little creek, occasionally crossing thru it to the other side. This area was awesome! It was a bit on the rooty side, but very baefootable. The fact that I was running quite tired legs at this point probably made the roots a little more of a challenge than they actually were.

I made it back to my truck at 21.4 miles in just a hair under 5 hours. There was a lot of walking involved. This was my first run back in almost 2 weeks, so my conditioning wasn't where it should have been. It was still a great run that left me very sore. My feet actually took quite a beating. The soles are bruised in several areas with a few scraps. The tops are quite cut up from all the undergrowth that had grown over the LLCL in the wilderness section.

I tried to take a few pictures, but my phone was in a zip lock baggie, so the pictures aren't that great and so therefore I only took a few. Maybe my next trip out there will be a little dryer and I can snap some quality pictures!

I'm deffinately looking forward to my next adventure on the Lone Star Hiking Trail!

Monday, April 6, 2015

MAF tests.

I performed my version of my MAF test about 3 weeks ago. I have been putting off posting anything about it because I have been trying to build a graph in Excel to actually plot out my progress and results.

This is my 5th MAF test, and I think its probablly almpst as bad as my first or 2nd one as far as my pace is concerned. My aerobic system isnt on very good condition lately.

I have been running by HR on my last few runs, but after being out for a week and a half due to my knee, and eating like a junk food addict for the same amount of time, I am going to have a lot of ground to make up!

I really need to find a cheap bicycle trainer that I can sit on at the house and ride under my HR cap while I'm not running. That would give my heart and aerobic system a bunch of good quality training that will transfer over to better running effeciency.

Time to go shoppin at the local Goodwill!