Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yeah man

Not leaving stones unturned. Getting back at the ancillary work. Sweating out planks on my living room floor. Gutting out push-ups. Short walks and reminders to stretch on work breaks. Sticking with the plan.

Which consists short term of a lot of miles in 5 days this week. 10 mile cut down/ pace run (marathon-ish) this morning. Legs a bit fatigued... mind a bit fatigued. Stifling quickly any thoughts of cutting it short. Running behind a state park maintenance truck pretending its the lead vehicle in this race I'm winning...."Greg Zinner, the hometown kid living in Carolina Beach in the lead with 3 miles to go... winding back through the camp ground loop that he's so familiar with ..."

So familiar in fact that I'm starting to recognize campers who've been there since Monday. The lady at the white van who apologized for her young kid cutting in front of me. The campsite on the bend by the trailhead. That girl who seemed to be fighting w/ a guy in the morning... then later in the afternoon rode by me on bike wearing a bikini and smiled.

Changes in weather patterns. By jove it was a lot more humid earlier in the week. They all know this too I imagine.

Blue Clay trails with Natasha and Amanda. Miles. Miles. Time on feet. Water with ice cubes dumped in tastes like nectar from the Gods. Stories about fawns following and deer crashing into store fronts. An admission of solitary laughter in the woods when thinking about (yeah we get it).  Feasts at KnW.

Vision quest. I'd give you a day # we're on but I've blissfully lost track.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mother Nature and more miles

Ran about 30 miles Monday. Put down 25-26 in the morning...on my feet for 4.5 hours in the CB State Park. Started the run a little past 7am as the sun crept up the eastern horizon back out over the ocean...threatening to turn everything in its wake into one sweltering steamy jungle-like cauldron. Fortunately I caught a break as it clouded over an hour or so into the run. Tried tying a hydration belt around my waist that I had bought at Walmart the night before, but quickly discarded due to discomfiture. Had a cooler in my car filled with power aide, clif bars. sports beans, and 2 turkey sandwiches.

Physically I was pleasantly surprised that my legs weren't too thrashed from Saturdays 4+ mile cross country race and 6 hours of driving on Sunday. The race pitted the Wilmington Road Runners against our brethren to the south the Grand Strand Road Runners, and was held at Indigo Farms. The course was muddy/ grassy rutted roads around produce fields and some wider trails thru the woods. I joked early on to some fellow competitors that there should be steeplechase hurdles to jump over the huge puddles. But was one of the most fun, challenging races I've done in a long time.. and I helped my club win back the trophy.

But despite that and the drive time in the car I got in what I set out to accomplish Monday. The sun did come back out in the last hour, and combined with the high humidity made conditions almost intolerable. Near the end on one of the trails I saw several turkey vultures...had to almost laugh out loud at my black thoughts that they were waiting for me to drop dead. I thought of Kipling when I had a minute left to go: "If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run-  Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it. And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!"

Later in the afternoon back in the state park for a few more miles as a thunderstorm brewed just to the west and south across the Cape Fear River. Was virtually an unbroken and eerily menacing rumble of thunder as I bound swiftly up and down the wooded trails. The breeze picked up and was almost cool to the touch on my skin... the rumbles and booms grew steadily louder and I knew my time was preciously waning...big rain drops started to fall from the purple grey sky. Then I could see the lightning as thunder cracked a few seconds later echoing like a thousand bass drums thru the woods which swayed back and forth to the whims of the storm's increasing winds.

Another 10 miles Tuesday morning. Met a guy on bike from Pittsburgh who was vacationing here. Rode a few miles with me as I ran the trails. We chatted pleasantly about the area and things back home in PA.

We all just keep on moving. Pursuing our crafts. Enjoying the ride.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New frontiers

Total mileage from last week was 80 miles. Most ever in my life. Capped the week Sunday with some hard bouts of running in Shallotte. Didn't get out until about noon, which placed me in the teeth of the heat/ humidity which has returned with a vengeance the past few days.

3 mile warm up then found a new spot to do speed work up behind the local elementary school (I had run striders on the grass in the front before). Mapped out a 1/4 mile "track" which went around and thru 2 somewhat neglected baseball/ softball fields and included a brief but holy 30 meters in the shade along the back woods line. Ran 4 400s at about 1:19-1:20 on a 75 second rest cycle which was enough to whip me pretty good short term. Was struggling the first slow mile or so back on the cool down run to regain a sense of composure.

Later ran a 5 mile loop which included about 10+ minutes of hard running in the low 6s pace wise. Felt like I had some good pop in my legs. But as with the afternoon work out I didn't want to completely drain the tank. Enjoyed the last easy mile thinking about how this was making it an even 80 for the week and a new mileage p.r.

Slept 10+ hours Sunday night, even though I had planned to get up early and try to get a long run in Monday am. Body really needed the rest. By the time I did get out after 11am conditions were nearly intolerable... the heat index in the mid to upper 90s. Gutted out 11 miles running interspersed with some walking. Wigged out a little on village point road at all the traffic blazing by. Literally yelled out loud "where is all this g$d d%$m F%$#*ng traffic coming from". A Fed -Ex truck stopped just down the road from me I initially thought to check on my condition

Training for an ultra is a slog and is not easy. There will be days like today. Part of the experience....we stumble, we grow. We get stronger mentally and physically.  But I've learned also its best not to force it on said days. Take what you can take and go home. Stick your head in the slop sink under a torrent of cold water and slug down your gatoraide.  Take off your squishy shoes and socks and get indoors to cool down.  There's miles to go before we sleep.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I question some days if in fact I'm crazy. More miles to run... specifically today its the 'ol 4.5 mile tempo on Snow's Cut Bridge. Which goes quite well despite my quads feeling like they are in a vise. Hi 31s, sub 7:10 pace in a hot sun and strong breeze. Repeating to myself over and over "keep churning keep churning keep churning"

On the last trip back across the bridge I look down at the gently flowing waters of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and think how quick it would all change if I jumped........ instead I spit in the wind and it flies out and off the bridge and downward and I wonder if it could hit someone down below in a boat or if it would just evaporate anyway by that point and how the lack of humidity versus a day with higher humidity would make a difference in all this...... 

But its a lot more than mathematical equations out here. I sense the math, the numbers of all of it... or the overall scope of this thing cant necessarily be quantified. And that's sorta of what perhaps I'm searching for?

Then I laugh with the thought that nothing really matters anyway.  Buddhist wisdom from those who sat under trees for years right? 

I'm merely scratching the surface.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pushing thru

Ran the Tri- Span 10k last Saturday morning in 40:44. Not an eye popping time nor a p.r.... but nonetheless was pleased with the outcome.  Enjoyed the total experience; time spent with my Dad (who ran a 24:44 5k as a 70 yr. old), friends old and new, and the camaraderie of competing in a tougher race. Its one of those races where you get a mile or two into this dog gone thing and ask yourself why in the hell did I decide to do this again ??

But I suspect the answer lies in the challenge to overcome obstacles and push thru doubts and limitations not only internally...but those imposed upon us by the three dimensional world. High humidity... long gradual uphill climbs onto bridges.  Out here you cant hide, you're exposed.  Moments of weakness turn into minutes and minutes and minutes of a slow suffocation of the will to compete, and the will do to one's best in the face of daunting adversity.  I know. I know because last year this race defeated me... I hit the mat and laid there thru the 10 count. Not this year I told myself.

Its what we all talk about afterwards. Man this course is one son of a .................

Went to the Blue Clay Park trails for the first time on Monday. Got there at 7am in a somewhat ill fated and doomed attempt to beat the heat.  Followed the intermediate trail and immediately fell in love.  Its twists and turns and sharp ups and downs thru the woods eventually trashed out my legs in a good healthy way.  The juxtaposition with the short stretches of single track thru grassy, flower dotted meadows was striking (and very hot in the sun). Saw a snake I had never seen before lazing on the edge of the trail.

Had myself prepared for the running apocalypse with a cooler filled with power aide and water bottles, cliff bars, and turkey sandwiches. Setting the goal as time on my feet again, not miles. Did a little under 4 hours. Put down another 6.5 miles then later in the day at the CB State Park. Trials of miles... miles of trials.

11 miler Wed am in the CB. Cloudy and cooler, felt like a mid summer oasis. Hellos and nods from some runners and bikers I passed.  The kinship of the road. Brothers and sisters. You don't get this kind of a connection unless you're out here in the elements. Pushing on. Pushing forward. Pushing thru.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A little r and r

Taking a few days of rest to recover from the last 2+ weeks and to squeeze in a bit of a taper before the Tri-Span 10K 7am Saturday morning. Or as I referred to the race Monday to 2 running friends "Hell- Span".  Last year it was my own personal hell; as can be the case with a personal hell it was somewhat self manufactured. In this instance mostly by not adjusting to the jungle like humidity that encases the Cape Fear River basin like some sinister invasive guest most summer mornings. And god forbid if the sun decides to break thru this dense foggy haze ....

Used the concept of "Time on my feet" Monday. Ran, walked, stood some for about 3 hours and 50 minutes in the CB State Park. Warm, muggy morning/  early afternoon. Reading on-line about 50 mile race training plans; most of which stress the importance of extending out the time period upwards to 5 hours of being upright... since the actual event itself will require one to be out there for say 10+ hours. 

Watching some short homemade videos from previous Iron Mountain Trail races.  Boy does that get the adrenaline flowing...

One step at a time.

Friday, July 4, 2014


The weeks are measured by numbers. Running vernacular. 60/ 60/ 64/ 49/ 22/ 74/ 61(and counting). Interruptions in sleep patterns and mood swings. Thirst and hunger. Occasional doubts as to "Why?"

Bridge tempo on Wednesday. It was already furnace like hot at 8am. 3.5  mile warm up. Then 6 times up and over Snow's Cut Bridge which totaled 4.5 miles, in hi 33 minutes (7:20 pace).  Mentally playing with (and liking) this new concept of moving away from where I just was. That's all it is... moving away from where you are. Picked that up from a book excerpt in Running Times from an author named Mark Slouka.

Next day its a run thru the onset of an approaching hurricane. Back in the state park I observe how the sky turns more milky white and purply gray as it lowers and lowers til its not much higher then the tree tops. There are rumbles of thunder moaning ominously to the south. Then I hear a low rustle which quickly intensifies and moves toward me like a thousand little trains coming thru the woods... then the white is on me as the rains come pouring out of the sky like one big waterfall. As I run on the trails I think about the animals and how I feel more connected to them at such times. We endure.

12x 200m at Chappelle Park to celebrate the 4th. Its hot again. Its summer. Its mileage. Its a vision quest. Its where I want to be. Its where I need to be.

Happy 4th of July. God Bless the USA. Freedom.