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Black Friday   Leave a comment

With tired legs…. and glycogen stores overflowing we set off to White Springs for our versoin of Black Friday.

we had both run a half marathon on Thursday…  (reports to follow)

Such a beautiful day…  so we had to get out on the road…..  okay… that’s not 100% accurate…  we were happy about the nice fall day…  but would have ridden in the cold rain if that’s what we had been given… 

Out the door at sunrise and ready to go in White Springs…  90 miles away…  by 0845

the roads were nice…  nearly deserted.

Posted November 26, 2010 by cowartm in training, Uncategorized

Pumpkin run 10 miler   1 comment




I had a chance to run one of my favorite races once again on Halloween Sunday.

History…

2004: 1:28:01 – 8:48 pace
2006: 1:28:05 – 8:48 pace
2008: 1:23:24 – 8:20 pace (broke a 7 year old PR)
2009: 1:17:20 – 7:45 pace (another PR)

So… this race has been a good barometer of fitness… and progress over the years… and is a fun race to boot… who wouldn’t want to run through a cemetery on Halloween?

I’ve had a good year of running.. I’m down another 9 lbs or so in the past year… so I should be ready to kick it up a notch…. Only I didn’t really feel that…

Three 10+ mile running days in the week leading up to the race and a 2.5 hour ride the day before where I had worked pretty hard left my legs feeling a little less than fresh.

The race starts on a narrow road… so I did my best to elbow our way pretty close to the front… with all of the folks in costume, walkers, strollers etc… it was perhaps my smartest move of the day.
Aye carrumba… a 6:43 for the 1st mile was not, however…

From that point I was simply hanging on and willing myself forward… nothing smooth or powerful… pretty or graceful. As people passed me I simply tried to hang with them as long as possible… yet watched my pace slip to 7:10, then 7:15, into the 7:20s and finally on mile 9 a 7:30… finally HTFU to a 7:04 for the last mile

Final time of 1:12 and some change.

Now Judi’s race… that’s another story…

She started out fast…



Won her age group in the 5K

Then realized she had missed the turn for the 10 mile race (see her running back towards the turn)

in the end she got 3rd place in her AG in the 10 miler but…

Got the wrong plaque… appropriately perhaps

But… we had fun

Posted November 3, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

Atlantic Coast Triathlon   1 comment

This ½ IM distance race was to be the culmination of our summer training.

Not that she summer had not already had some good races/events along the way.

Even though the race venue is only 50 miles or so from home we decided to get a room since packet pickup/bike check-in was on Saturday night… we scored a room in a hotel that was about 100 meters from the TA… that was nice.

Got up race morning… had some oatmeal and coffee… bundled up (it was 54F and I have thin blood) and walked across the street and set up our transitions… talked to a couple of friends… got bodymarked… then went back to the hotel to have another cup of coffee and lay around a while…

Got suited up… and wetsuited up… dropped our stuff of at the car (another bonus to having the room was a parking space close to the finish) after one more quick gear check, we were off to the beach.

We were cold… and not really crazy about getting in the water but… the water was 20 degrees warmer than the air so it didn’t feel too bad.

The swim course was an equilateral triangle with the start and finish at a single point on the beach… and had been flip-flopped from the original plan due to a change in current. We would be with the current across the top of the triangle… but tacking against it going out and coming back to shore.

When the horn sounded my friend Richard started running north on the beach to get a better angle on the current… and I went with him partway. I guess he went 200m up the beach and I went 150m… then we hopped through the breakers and started swimming towards the next “point” of the triangle. The swim was uneventful except for 3 things

1. I was just swimming… not swimming & stopping and looking around… not hating life and in general thinking it would never end… no… I was just swimming… just like in training… which I had actually been doing thanks to my GF “encouraging” me to swim with her.

2. I had to pee… pretty much from the onset but I waited until I was with the current so I could stop to get started if you know what I mean.

3. I missed the turn for shore and swam over 3 people who were trying to turn… This is what I heard: “umh” a few seconds later “Tum” after a couple more bumps I stuck my head completely out of the water and heard distinctly “TURN” um… okay I guess that’s the other turn buoy

Just as I got to knee deep water I stood up saw Judi who had started in the wave behind me. I got excited and started calling her name… when she didn’t hear me I started running to catch up… stepped in a hole on the beach and executed a nice combat roll on the beach… undaunted (but somewhat embarrassed) I got up and chased her down… Just in time to stop and get our picture together by the race photographer.

Swim time: 41:16 (7 minutes better than last year)

T1 went by quickly (2:11) and I got out onto the bike course… the course was basically a double out and back with one leg to the west and one to the south… good roads… excellent traffic control. I tried to just ride steady and did a pretty good job I guess… I had no computer on my bike… just pedaled and looked for Judi on the out and backs… and pitched a shutout.

Bike time: 2:30 (22.3 MPH avg)

T2 was a bit longer @ 3:14 but 2 minutes of that was peeing I think J

The run story reads pretty much like my splits look

Mile 1: 7:07 (started my watch late)

Mile 2: 8:05
Mile 3: 7:59

Mile 4: 7:56

Mile 5: 8:14

Mile 6: 8:24

Mile 7: 8:12

Mile 8: 8:07

Mile 9: 8:43

Mile 10: 8:45

Mile 11: 8:46

Mile 12: 8:51

Mile 13: 11:29

Last .1: 2:28

My stomach really started hurting at mile 9… miles 13 and the final .1 were long and brutal.

Final run time was 1:53:29. Which achieved one of my goals… to break 2 hours on the run.

Once I finished I sat, completely spent, drank a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade. Then I got cold… and decided that it was time to go… back to the car to get a long sleeve shirt… then I stared back down the road to look for Judi. I’d not seen her on the run at all despite the fact that the course doubles back on itself a couple of times…

I was walking like an old man tho… even stopped after a quarter mile or so… put my hands on my knees… contemplated stopping right there or just going back to the car… but I just kept walking. I tried to encourage the runners about to finish but as often as not I just waved. I began to think how idiotic it would be to meet up with Judi only to not even be able to keep up with her… get dropped and miss her finish… but I trudged on.

After 15 minutes (which felt like an hour) I finally made it to an aid station. The Boy Scouts running the aid stations thought I was crazy…

They said “Water” and “Gatorade”

I said “Pizza” knowing from my last trip by that they had a couple of pizza boxes on a table for the boy’s lunch. Someone grabbed a couple of pieces for me… and then I saw a camp stool

“Can I have a seat and eat my pizza” I said

One of the dads said “sure, take a load off”

As I was eating my pizza I said “Ya know, I’m thinking about turning around right here”

They laughed and said “You wouldn’t be the first”

Then I told them that I was just going to sit and wait for my girlfriend to come by.

One of the dads started laughing again and said “You must not be into this stuff like she is huh?”

I laughed to and said… “she’s kinda hardcore”

As I finished my pizza and in the course of conversation I admitted that I had already finished and had just come back to keep my girlfriend company… no sooner had I gotten the words out of my mouth… Judi came into view running strong with a big smile on her face.

As I swallowed the last of my pizza I hopped up and started running with her… and I was able to keep pace (thankfully). She finished her first ½ IM strong and even ended up 2nd in her AG.

Since the awards ceremony was not going to be held for a couple of hours yet we decided to just head home.

A good weekend… a fun race… and we’ll likely be back next year.

PS – the 37 minute PR was nice too.

Us at the finish

Posted October 19, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

What I did on Summer vacation   Leave a comment

the above is an article that appeared in UltraRunning magazine.

Posted September 8, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

Dude, Where’s my car?   Leave a comment

This story really starts on Monday evening…

I head out on a run in a city which I was visiting for the 1st time… Meriden, CT

I will often research an interesting route or locale to run in when I’m on the road but this time I was just doing a quick trip… only one night so I was just going to wing it.

I went out the front door of the hotel, hung a left, and just started running… w/in a couple of miles I was feeling pretty loose and already kind of out in the countryside. Beautiful evening… 80F or so… greenery all around… canopy road… I was having a good time..

I’m not sure what it is tho… my Cherokee ancestors… RATS… or what but I seem to have developed a trail running soul… anytime I run on the road… my eyes invariably roam to either side of the road looking for a trail.

I’d gone out 3 miles and turned around to head home… I picked it up a little on mile 4 and just past that point I came to a road that I thought might loop back to my route. I took the road… it did not curve as I expected but it did lead to what looked like a park… closer inspection showed a nice reservoir and a board on which a trail map was pinned under glass…

Kismet I thought and without much of a glance at the map I launched myself at the trailhead.

I enjoyed the twisty, turny, bed of fir needles… with roots running every which way. A smile spread across my face. A quick glance at my watch told me that I could add a couple of miles without risking stumbling around in the dark. A mile or so in… right where the trail forked I turned around… and a plan began to form in my head… I’d come back in the morning and run the whole thing.

Tuesday

0415 – as usual my alarm goes off…. Too early.. no sense bumping around in the dark

0515 – finally quit hitting snooze

0530 – get up

0554 – standing in front of the trail map… based on the faded image in front of me and my recon from the night before… I made a plan. White trail… to red… then catch the blue trail all the way back around the reservoir… 5ish miles I estimate… or SWAG

0619 – I reach the top or the ridge… the sun is fully up now and the view is spectacular… I’m sweaty and smiling… so glad I’d come back.

0635 – Following the blue trail now… it is super technical… slow going… but I know I’m going in the right direction. Over half way methinks

0705 – I’ve left the technical section behind… nice doubletrack… just as I expected from the map… only a mile or so now.

0707 – I emerge from the woods and find myself in a subdivision… WTF? “hey, lookie there. More blue markers. Along the road” a slight detour I think…

0708 – no more blue markers.. I have no idea where I am. Yet I keep running down the road… exit the subdivision… think about flagging down a motorist then… I see it! More blue markers leading me back into the woods!

0711 – this trail looks mighty familiar… but the direction *feels* right

0725 – still on the same doubletrack – have not seen a “blue marker” for a half mile or so… I just keep running

0744: I skirt around a gate… look back over my shoulder at the sign on the gate “Private Property – Keep out” it reads… I am now on a dirt roads with houses… and moving in a direction that dos *not* *feel* right…

0745 – standing in the road with my hands on my hips… wish I had a GPS

0745 (a few seconds later) – realize I have a GPS on my wrist

0747 – figure out how to get my GPS to show me where my car is.

0747 (a few seconds later) head off in that direction – and (eureka!) find a trail – life is good

0752 – realize that there are dozens of trails… dirt bikes and 4 wheelers must teem in these woods on the weekends… keep heading in the general direction of my car

0757 – Civilization! – I see parked cars… Yes!

0757 (a few seconds later) – I realize that it is a junkyard

0759 – Apologize to the junkman for trespassing… and ask for directions… he chuckles as if he’s heard this before and points me to the road…

0802 – I know where I am at last! I have found my turnaround from Monday’s run.. the old canopy road

0814 – I’m back in my car… dirty… sweaty… tired… and late. I still have to get cleaned up… packed up and check out of the hotel…

0849 – I get a call… from the guy I’m supposed to interview at 0900 telling me that he is in the lobby. I tell him, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes. I got a little lost this morning”

Posted August 4, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

RR — BFAST Sprint Tri #3   1 comment

I resolved… before RATS even started that I was going to quit ultramarathoning and take up sprint triathlons…

And… I did.

I think I’ll copy a graded format someone used on TRI-Drs

Summary — sprint Distance Tri — 1:10:41; 6/32 AG; 52/500 OA

Long report —

a photgrapher captured us holding hands walking down the beach to the start (awww)

*Swim — 11:24; 23/32 AG. *

I have been swim training lately… and expected improvement. Felt great… strong, slippery

I even caught a couple of pink swim caps… wait! They started 3 minutes *behind* me

in the picture the girl in the pink cap was explining to me who caught whom…

Funny

Grade — F – I sucketh

*T1 — 3:01 – long run from beach to bike… but I’m slow here too

*Bike — 31:55 — 25.5 mph avg; 4/32 AG.*

No computer on my bike… just rode as fast as I could… nobody passed me but… all the fast guys finished the swim ~3 minutes ahead of me…

Grade — B+. Wonder what the race looks like for people who know how to swim

*T2 — :51; take of helmet and change shoes… even I can’t eff that up too much

*Run — 23:32; 7/32 AG.

Ran steady… only passed 2x… once by the female OA winner. Felt strong at the end and caught someone in my AG just before the turn for the finish.

Grade — B- If I don’t feel like I’m going to puke on the last mile… I’m obviously not trying hard enough.. need to work on motivation for the run when I have no one to chase/run from…

*Summary and Overall Grade.

*C – the fact that I can ride a bike does not make up for my mediocrity on the run and pisspoor swimming ability

I either need to race bikes or seriously learn to swim.

My GF, however, took AG hardware… as she had in the first two races of the series…. it’s her first season racing too… I think I pulled off acting happy for her success…

Posted July 15, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized

RR – Scenic City Trail Marathon   Leave a comment

As I am walking up to check-in… I see these two fit looking dudes talking to who I assume is the Race Director.. Both are carrying packs.. and both have these high zoot flippers attached to the webbing of their packs… the one with long hair… who looks suspiciously like Spicoli (of “Fast Times” fame) says “yeah dude… we are going to totally rock the stream crossings this year”

I think to myself… “I had no idea there would be stream crossings but… I have been training in the pool”

And just then… I hear music… “is your bed made? Is your sweater on?” Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” cranking right next to my head…

That would be my alarm… and Spicoli’s flippers were just a dream…

And thus began my morning…. Coffee dressed… out the door by 0630….

The race was held at the Raccoon Mountain Reserve… with a 13 mile trail loop up/down and around the ridgeline surrounding the man-made preserve…

The place was beautiful… and mountainous for a Florida Cracker such as I.

This race was a combined ½ Marathon and Marathon running simultaneously. The loudspeaker announced before the race that the race had doubled in size this year… I would guess that 500-600 folks toed the line.

I was really just doing the race as RATS training and towards that end had my Nathan hydration pack loaded with 150 oz of fluid… and some other junk in there as well. They had stakes to mark off where folks should line up based on proposed finishing times… I seeded myself with the 4 hour group… never dreaming that I might finish in 4 hours but… I knew that soon we would leave the road we started on for the trail and I did not want to be at the back.

I ran the first ½ mile pretty hard… trying to hold my position or even improve it… ½ mile in and we, the entire field, came to a complete stop… and waited in line to get on the trail. When my turn finally arrived I started running down the trail following, well, it looked like everyone… we were like a nation of Indians… then… ¼ mile later… we are all walking again… frustrated I yelled… “c’mon you dang Galloway runners” I think someone laughed…

And so it went… the trail was beautiful… but I dared not look around… the few times I tried I either

a. Ran into someone in front of me
b. Tripped over a rock
c. Ran into a tree
d. Ran off the trail.

The race was like a big slinky… breaking from time to time in to smaller tribes of Indians… and I, well, I got impatient… and kinda went Leroy Jenkins… vaulting from group to group… running up inclines I’d be better off walking just to get some daylight… 8 miles or so in I began to see some daylight but… I felt cooked…. I knew I’d be able to finish but was already tired and wanted to stop…

I did slow down a little and started walking some of the steep uphills… but the down-hills… I ran them like Carl Lewis… I never did eat it but… I also started paying a little more attention to nutrition and stuff…

I was still a little obsessed with passing people and tried to run down everyone I saw ahead….

Just before the halfway point the ½ marathoners turned off to the finish and we turned for another loop. Here I caught a couple of college age girls and ran along with them and talked a bit… it was their 2nd marathon and first trail run. Nice kids… I eventually dropped them to because I was on a mission… not to finish or run fast…. Nope I had to um…. Go.

At the next aid station I inquired about facilities. They said that there were some at the mile 20 aid station… well.. maybe a mile from that… of course… great! Now even tho the race was in the woods… there was not a whole lot of… ummm… cover. Well I found some brush and ran off into it to try and see if #1 would make me feel better.

Okay… here gentle reader, is where I am going to leave the factual story and instead tell an alternate one I made up..

I knew that #1 was not enough… I had to have some blackberries! I saw some and squatted down to pick some… when I stood back up my pants got caught in some briars and the force might have yanked them down a bit… now my cover was great from the approach down the trail… and this was confirmed by the rustling and voices I heard coming up the trail… what I did not take into account was the view from the other side… I realized my error in judgment as the two college girls got past me on the trail and to my horror one looked over her shoulder… saw me in the “briars” and not knowing the whole story said “Oh God”…. Well sh*t!

I started back to running and then realized that I was going to catch these girls in the next mile or so… that is when I invented the blackberries story…. Much to my relief, we did not touch on that subject when I passed them…

When I got to the next aid station I asked how many miles were left. They said that I was at mile 20… since I’d been eating and drinking like I should and thanks to the blackberries, I was feeling much better and thought for a few minutes about running a 3rd lap… I might have made it but I didn’t want to miss my flight… so I decided to just run as hard as I could to the finish.

I started passing a few more people. One dude… in a blue singlet I chased for about a mile. I finally passed him and said “you were hard to catch”… he told me “keep running strong”… so I looked back over my shoulder and said “well come on with me then” he informed me that’s just what he planned to do.

Well.. I was tiring… and might have wanted to slow down but… I’d just thrown down a challenge.. and the dude stayed a few steps behind me… I ran a little harder thinking that if I dropped him we could both ease off a little… and so it went for the next few miles… by I finally got away from him at around mile 25 but not too far as he finished only 15 seconds back.

I crossed the line and stopped running and just as I was turning away one of the volunteers ran up to me… “hold on” she said “I forgot to give you this” I was afraid that it was going to be a medal but much to my delight it was an ice cold rag… awesome.

My finish time was 4:29 and I’m pleased with that… once again more than a little surprised how much I like running trails…

Posted May 27, 2010 by cowartm in Uncategorized