Archive for March 2010

Guana 50k   2 comments

I swore that it was just a passing thing… a means to an end… dabbling in another sport.

Not really that attractive… somewhat raggedy looking… none of the trademark appeal of Ironman… no carbon fiber… or high end zoot components required.

In training for RATS http://geminiadventures.com/DesertRATS.html I had decided to do a few Ultramarathons… for training and to have some type of longer distance running experience.

My 1st ultra had been a 35 miler on the beach… extremely small and low key… and I’d loved it… but that’s the beach… I’m a beach kind of guy… having spent most of my adult life living in a beach community.

My 2nd ultra had been a 50 miler on an abandoned rail line… double out and back… I learned a lot but remained aloof to the charms of the ultra… It’s just a long day I told myself…. Running fast is more fun

So Guana… a race in my own back yard so to speak was to be my 1st actual trail run… and first 50k. The race is basically 4 – 8 mile loops in Guana State Park.

Just because there is no real high end gear… that does not mean that logistics is not a requirement… and now that I am such an experienced (ha!) ultrarunner I came well prepared…. I had a backpack full of junk… gels… crackers… Gatorade etc…

My friend Susan accompanied me to the race… on the trip down the coast I asked her what her goals for the race were… she turned the question around on me immediately (she is an attorney). I answered rather boldly that I wanted to do the race fast enough to be able to catch up to her on her last lap and run an extra loop… She just looked at me and said… I’m just going to finish… and the way she said it… and the way she looked at me made me feel dumb…

See Susan had done a something like 12 Marathons and a couple of ultras since October… she was understandably tired and also a shoo in to finish whatever she started.

So… we get to the race site.. and the RD shined his headlamp on the big trail map and started explaining the course and giving specific directions… I listened anyway but I was sure that there would be someone to follow…

At 0700 with the sun just peeking up over the dunes the RD lined us all up… and said “Is everybody ready?”

I heard one voice pipe up… “Wait! I don’t have my satellites yet”

The question, as it turns out was rhetorical… and he almost immediately shouted “Go!”

Now I had on my Garmin too… and I did not “have my satellites” either… but… WTH we started running.

I ran the first mile or so with Susan… and I was quite surprised at how quickly the pack thinned out…

Susan urged me to get on up the trail so I picked it up a bit. For most of the first lap I was catching people… but they were pretty few and far between… I found myself alone a few times racking my brain for the race director’s words about engineer’s flags and out and backs, and turns. I managed to find my way until I happened upon Matt

Matt is in the navy… I asked if he’d ever done an ultra and he said no… with a cautious smile… About that time we picked up Jim… a seasoned Ultramarathoner that I had met at the start line… nice guy… the three of us chat and run the rest of lap one together.

The clock… my only indication of pace so far… read ~1:17 when we completed the lap… I ran off to hit the duce… and thought my companions would disappear up the trail while I stopped.

When I started my second lap I could see a runner ahead… a ½ mile later I caught Jim again… and soon thereafter a heavy breathing Matt caught us as well. As Jim and I chatted about marathons, ultras, and cycling in traffic, Matt yo-yoed off the back…

I slipped away from them both at the water cooler placed at ~4mi… roughly the half-way point… I didn’t really want to stop… just run…. So that’s just what I did for the next loop and a half… I mindlessly ran… completely alone for the most part… just me… and my feet and the trail… and I loved every step. Lots of smiles to myself. Especially on the single-track part… roots… weaving… tight corners. I saw an armadillo… and a snake.

As I started my 4th loop I noticed that the clock read 4:0X… 4:07 if I had to guess… and with that knowledge I knew that I had a good shot at sub 5:30… so I just kept running…. Saw another armadillo… I was getting tired and I guess not picking my feet up… so a root got me at one point… like a hammer hitting my big toe. I caught myself with the other leg… slightly hyper extending it in the process… probably looked like sasquatch stumbling thru the woods for a few steps. Soon after this I could feel the wheels falling off a bit… and for the first time all day I was tired and beginning to slow.

About a mile and a half from the finish I caught Susan… She admitted to not having a great day but she was still in good spirits. We clowned around and laughed a bit then I set off again on my quest to catch 5:30. I wanted to finish strong but had no speed left. I even got passed by a couple in the last mile.

But finish I did… and in ~5:27… and that, my friends, was the end of the race… but not the end of the story.

To say I was spent would be an understatement… but I knew I had one more lap to go… So I ate some… and drank some…trying to pull myself together enough to not slow Susan down on her last lap.

All too soon the break was over and we set out for one more… more walking than running but that was fine by me… Nice day… good conversation… the miles while difficult passed quickly… Soon it seemed we were on the back part of the course along the Intracostal… We rounded a corner and pulled up to the beach right in front of us were two boats… one Sherriff’s boat with lights flashing and a civilian boat…

Susan wanted to go see what was going on… I vetoed that idea and insisted that we keep moving. 10-15 minutes later we hear sirens in the distance… piquing our curiosity about what might have been going on back there… a mile or so further on we meet a park ranger headed towards the far side of the island… He stopped long enough to tell us that some people had found a body floating in the Intracostal… so that’s what all the commotion was about….

Well we finished… then hung around to help clean up the site a bit…

We ended the day… sitting with friends… drinking beer at a bar overlooking the Intracoastal.

I think I’m in love with this trail running thing in spite of myself…

I had an absolute blast… like a rollercoaster at an amusement park… I want to get right back in line and go on the ride again!

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Posted March 31, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

BFAS Duathlon   2 comments

I’m not going to do a traditional report this time… I got my hands on a bunch of pictures.

off on the first run… the dude in the Gator skinsuit over my left shoulder would be my nemeisis… he was one of 2 guys who passed me on the bike….

check out the guy above with the gloves on… there were many who did the whole race in gloves…. one dude had them on backwards… I guess he thought his knuckles might need the padding if he got into some fisticuffs out on the course.


I am cold… that’s my cold face.

With 6 180 degree turns wind and rain… lots of slowing down ad speeding up… I seem to have been chased by the police at some point…
Had just repassed Gator skinsuit guy somewhere along here….
Looking for the turnoff back to the TA
Oh… yeah… right turn
Off on the 2nd run…. chasing Gator skinsuit guy… who passed me in the TA depite the fact that I had the best spot possible in transition. I could see him and “Ralph” (some guy who works at a local bikeshop) who also passed me on the bike.

the lady that you can see on my left shouldre was so cute… in her mid 50s… she was doing her first race… and had a blast out there…. she had just remoounted… because she stopped, got off ther bike, and got a drink… despite her noobness she seemed to really get it… as she smiled and laughed and went hard all day.

At the finish… I’d caught both of the guys who passed me on the bike… and only got passed once… by the dude who took 2nd in my AG….

Posted March 23, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

Race Report – Gate River Run 15k- "What a difference a Year Makes"   1 comment

As I often do… I re-read my race report from 2009 the day before the subtitle of this entry is what hit me…

In 2009 I had started with the masses… after being a runner and triathlete for over a decade I had decided a few months prior to get serious about my diet and training and I was just beginning to see results.

Flip the calendar 12 months to march 2010 and the consistent work I’d put in had paid dividends… I had a seeded race number… and was hanging out in the front corral with some fast friends from the local track club. I was planning to run with Barbra, my friend from work… and had already gotten in a decent warm-up with her and her boyfriend Steve…. I felt good.. no injuries… just maybe a little tired…. And slightly bandaged up.

I’d had a full training week complete with a leg work out on Wednesday and a 10 miler on Thursday.. hard to fit everything in with ultras looming… on top of that I had my 2nd Mohs Surgery in as many weeks which meant that I had 13 stitches in my chest…. I’d stayed out a bit to late on Friday night too.. but with a group ride and long run on Spring Forward Sunday.. I thought Friday night out was the better option.

But like I said before… I felt pretty good…. Ready to run…. And to not think… because I had a plan!

Barbra is one of the best female AG runners in the city… she was aiming at a 68 for the 15k… my #1 goal was sub 70… and easily attained I thought if I just stayed with Barbra….

When the cannon went off we were only about 20 rows back… in a crowd of 16,000… getting into a rhythm was easy… just run with everyone else. It felt fast… but it was supposed to… In the second mile my legs started to hurt a little… and for one second I thought… then immediately told myself “Don’t think Meat, Thinking can only hurt the ballclub” at which point I settled back in on keeping up with my pacer.

Mile 3 I got separated from Barbra a bit… she had slipped behind me… I figured she was just letting me lead for a while… swapping the lead is something we often do in training… so I thought little of it… I would never have guessed it would be the last I’d see of her until the finish line. Soon after I lost my partner the check engine light came on…

Mile 4 – cramps and a noticeable slowing in pace… my inner Scotty was yelling “”I canna change the laws of physics! I’ve got to have thirty minutes.” I hated it but knew I needed to back off the throttle just a bit or risk blowing up.

Around the mile 6 mark some local band was playing a cover of Cake’s “The Distance” with my cramps fading I hit the gas again to see what I had left. Near the top of the Heart bridge is the 8 mile mark… I hit it in exactly an hour… my hopes for a sub 70 were all but evaporated. I ran as hard as I could down the other side and to the finish and just made it… as long as this is an acceptable way to write my finish time…

69:91

Although I’d missed my goal I had, however, shown some significant progress… a nearly 8 minute PR over the same distance the year before… not to mention the joy of the journey through those calendar pages.

Posted March 16, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized