Thursday, January 19, 2012

Run your First Ultra Website

When  you have a few minutes, please take a look at the website, Run Your First Ultra,  I am constructing to better organize the material on the blog.  It is still a work in process with about half of the posts added.  It is taking a while because I am trying to update each post as I go.  Also, I cannot copy images from the blog directly to the website.  I have to save each picture and then post it to the web page.  I am also replacing low quality images, if I can find better ones, with higher resolution images or my own in some cases.

If you have any suggestions on arrangement or additional topics I could cover or anything else, please let me know.

David Tosch

Rules for the Trail - Part 1

I moved the original post up so the "Rules for the Trail - Part 2" made a little more sense.

A few weeks ago I read an article in Ultrarunning about things you should do to help insure finishing the ultras you start.  One of those rules in to never blindly follow the runner or runners in front of you.  Always watch for the trail marking yourself, especially at a trail intersection.

Saturday, I ran the Rock Creek StumpJump 50K in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is one of my favorite runs here in the southeast.  The run starts on top of Signal Mountain above Chattanooga and follows the Cumberland Trail.  It has 5,000+ feet of climbing and amazing vistas of the Tennessee River 1000 feet below.  It is also one of the largest 50K runs in the country with, I think, 350 runners.
After the start, the course follows a well maintained, very runnable gravel trail that circles the Signal Mountain High School and athletic fields before making it's way to the edge of Signal Mountain.  This is the location of the first aid station at mile 4.1, Mushroom Rock.  The trail then drops of the edge of the earth and descends over 400 feet in about 1/3 mile to a  very long suspension bridge across a branch of Suck Creek.

The trail then climbs up the other side of the gorge over the top of the ridge and again drops very steeply down to Suck Creek and the aid station at mile 6.1.  After a quick stop for water, runners cross the road and head up to the top of the next gorge.  About half way up to the ridge a gaggle of 8 or 10 runners including me missed a turn and headed down a really rocky, difficult trial for about a 1/3 mile before we met two runners coming back up the trail waving us back.  I remember thinking when we started down the section that I didn't remember anything this bad from when I ran the race in '08 and '09.  I turned around and ran back up the trail until I saw a long line of runners heading up the trail where we went down.

I had lost 8 or 9 minutes and because this error happened just over six miles into the run, I was now stuck behind a lot of slower runners.  I tried to get by some of them at the next aid station, Indian Rock House at mile 10.6 but there always seemed to be 10 or 12 ahead of me and no way to really pass unless someone lets you by.  I was not able to break free until Snoopers Rock aid station an mile 13.3.  For a few minutes I was able to run smoothly but finally came up behind another slow group.  I finally make my way through them but I had lost a lot of time.  Below is a picture of Indian Rock House and location of the Aid Station at mile 10.6 and 20.3.

I had hoped to better my time from 2009, 6:31:40.  I ran 6:32:??  I was close.  Maybe I need to go back an reread that article.  Here is a picture of one of many overlooks of the Tennessee River.  Usually I stop a couple of times to enjoy the view.  Not this year and you do not want to look without stopping.  It could hurt.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update on the Run for Kids Challenge

The Run for Kids Challenge is now 108 days away.

We now have six commitments to donate free dinners to the Run for Kids Drawing.  Due to time constraints, six restaurants are all I have asked.  That's 100%!  I hope to get free dinners form 15 to 20 restaurants in all.  Remember, every runner that raises or donates $100 in addition to the entry fee will automatically be entered.  If anyone raises in excess of $1,000 then we will give one of the packages to the person that raises the most money. So Get Busy and "hit-up" a few friends and family members for donations or just ask them to sponsor you.  Ask for $1.00 pre mile you run.  If no one raises any money I guess I will get to use them myself!!!

I have decided I do not like the idea of no T-Shirts with entry fees.  I am going to order race shirts for every one that enters any of the races.  I will not order any extras so preregistered runners will be the only people receiving shirts at the race.  We will order shirts for those that sigh up race day but it will take a while to get them to you.  These shirts will not be  the shirts I am offering for sale.  They will be the usual screen printed tech shirts with all the sponsors listed on the back.

The shirts for sale for $20.00 are very nice, fitted, tech shirts printed by Nduranc.  Nduranc prints with a revolutionary technique that transfers the design directly into the fabric of the shirt.  You can't feel the printed image at all.  The tech fabric still wicks as it is supposed to, even under the printing.  These shirts will have the race logo and race distance printed on them but no sponsors.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rules for the Trail Part 2

1.  Don't blindly follow another runner down the trail.  The original article posted in October of 2011 was about following a group of runners right off the trail at the Stump Jump on October 1, 2011 and probably loosing 6 or 8 minutes.  The worst part though,  was not the original time lost.  Because we were only about 6 miles into the race when we missed the turn, by the time we got back on the correct trail, we were behind a lot of slower runners.  I was not able to get clear of slower runners for another two aid stations.  This is really frustrating.  So the rule is NEVER follow another runner without watching the trail markers yourself.  Pay extra attention at trail intersections.  Did you read the post about the Xterra 21K in November of 2011, Just 6 weeks after the Stump Jump?  I didn't listen to my own advice.

2.  Meeting runners on an out-and-back course or section:  Anytime I am meeting runners gong in the opposite direction (as on an out/back course) I move to the right and share the trail at the very least.  In my case, being a relative slow runner, if the runners I am meeting are the leaders, I get well out of the way or even step off the trail.  I expect the same courtesy as I meet runners slower than me.  The official rule is uphill runners have the right of way, but in trail running that is not much of an issue.  In fact, often the downhill runners are running, sometimes quite fast, and the uphill runners are walking.  Just use good judgement.

3.  Runners are stacking up behind you and no one is in front.  If you are holding up other runners, that is if a line is building behind you, mover over and let faster runners by.  Also, if you are running at a steady pace and another runner comes up behind you, offer to let them by.  They often will sit behind you for a while before passing.  As soon as I become aware of  another runner closing behind me, I tell them to let me know when they are ready to pass and I will move over. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to pass another slow runner by getting completely off the trail in very difficult places to get by.  Besides being irritating, it can be risky. At the Peavine Falls run in Birmingham several years ago the final mile is on a single track trail.  I came up behind someone going much slower.  I tried to get by twice and the guy would not make any effort to allow me to pass.  Finally I shot around him over a very rough section and tripped and fell right in front of him.  He said nothing just went back around me.  I was really irritated and the fall hurt.  It took me the half mile remaining to recover and get back up to speed where I came back up behind him again.  I sat there until we hit the pavement about 200 yards from the end.  He was going so slow by then I had plenty of time to rest up and the instant we hit the road I literally sprinted around him and never slowed down till the finish.  I considered thanking him for his courtesy after the race but decided to let it slide.  Don't be that JIRK!

4.  Head Lamps Etiquette:  When you come into an aid station at night, turn off your headlamp.  Otherwise when you look at the AS volunteers you blind them.  When you are running along with a runner on the trail at night, remember not to look directly at them.  You don't want to blind a fellow runner.

5.  Aid Station Workers:  Be courteous to aid station workers.  They have given up their weekend to be there to help you finish your race.  The AS volunteer may have given up a chance to run the race you are running in to help you finish.  Remember many, if not most, aid station  workers are ultrarunners themselves.  And don't forget to thank them as you leave.

6.  Don't enter races you have no hope of finishingThere are very few ultra races that do not fill up.  The popular races fill in days and sometimes hours.  More and more 100 mile races are having to go to a lottery system.  Don't waste a slot by entering a race you are not prepared for.  In general, if you have never run a marathon, don't enter a 50K.  If you have never run a 50K, don't enter a 50 miler.  If you have never run a 50 miler, don't enter a 100 mile race.  You simply cannot finish and you will probably be knocking someone else out that might be able to finish.  There is an exception as I talked about in "Training Myths and Misconceptions."  If you are putting in the very long runs, that is for example, 5 or 6 hour weekend runs, you will be able to finish a 50K without ever having run a marathon.  I you are running 7 and 8 hour long runs, you can run a 50 miler.  I would still not suggest trying a 100 miler without race experience.  There are a lot of differences.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Training by Racing

Here are my training logs from July of 2011, starting a with the week in Telluride, Colorado doing trail work for the Hardrock 100.  Believe me, that was a workout.  That was followed by the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 a little over a week later.  The point in the charts is to show how I dealt with the time between races.  This is also the first time I have run so many races in such a short period of time.  That is a really great way to train.

For me, it is a lot easier to go out and run a 50 K for a training run than to just go out and run 7 or 8 hours.  I also know that I run a lot harder in any race than I do running alone out in a secluded area.  The thing you have to figure out is what you need to do between races.  After a 50K, like a marathon, you have to give you body some recovery time.  If the races are two weeks apart, as they were in September and October where I ran a 50K on Sept.18, then 13 days later ran another , much harder, 50K, then 14 days later ran a 50 mile race, there isn't time for the usual recovery - build up - taper cycle.

It seemed to work very well to just run a recovery 2+ hour run the next weekend and race again the next.  I felt strong at each race, including the 50 miler that I did not finish.  Following the 50 mile race I did have time to go through the a short recovery cycle and build up mileage again for the 50 miler in December.  Again, I used two back-to-back races, the two 21Ks on November 12th and 13th as "HARD" runs in the training cycle.  If you don't think running back to back 21Ks on very hilly courses qualifies as a hard run, I suggest you try it sometime.  This was followed by a few more long and hard runs before tapering for the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile race on Dec. 17th.

This racing schedule turned out to be great timing for preparation for the Rocky Raccoon 100.  I was able to run a 2:40 recovery run the one week after the 50miler.  Four hours the second week following the 50 and my 8 hour run on the third week, ready to start tapering for the 100.  I just didn't count on a leg injury, probably a tibial stress fracture.  And No, I didn't go to the doctor.  The Dr would just tell me to take it easy and not run for six or eight weeks.  Besides, they really can't tell if it is a stress fracture until they take a second xray a few weeks later.  And, of course, there is nothing "really" broken, just damaged.  I always have something damaged!  That is why I will just get out my tri-bike and ride the next few weeks.  It is time to taper and I can ease back into running easy runs a week or so before the RR.

Five weeks after Tahoe I had built back to about 5 hours.  I also ran 5 hours on the 6th week, then ran 5 hours again on the 7th weekend, (September 4th.) On the 8th week, Sept. 10th I ran a taper run for 4 hours and then ran the Autumn Equinox 50K at Oak Mountain on the 18th.  Two weeks later I ran the Stump Jump 50K in Chattanooga, TN.

On October 15th is when I ran 38 miles of the North Face Challenge 50 mile race in Pine Mtn., Georgia.  I immediately came home and entered the Lookout Mountain 50K.  I had to redeem myself.

November 5th, I volunteered to help with the Pinhoti 100 and got very little sleep that weekend.  I did not run any.  In fact on the weekends of October 23th and 30th I did trail marking and clearing for the Pinhoti.  That was a workout.  The numbers off the bottom and side of the page of hill repeat times.  November 12, was the Ruffner Mountain 21K and November 13, was the Xterra 21K, both races here in Birmingham.  That was another first.  I never ran two races in two days.

Starting in November I began counting down the weeks to the Lookout Mountain 50 mile race down the right side of the chart.  I listed the Tashka 50K, in Tuscaloosa, on December 10 and really wanted to run it, but I could not expect to do well in the Lookout Mountain race if I did so I skipped it.

The Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Race is February 4.  I ran two recovery runs from the Lookout Mountain 50 miler and then did the 7:56 training run at Veteran's Park on January 7th.  That is the run where I think I caused a stress fracture in my tibia.  It is a little better now on the 13th but still pretty sore to the touch and there is still some swelling.  I still hoping it is only a really bad bruise.  It still has 3 weeks to heal before RR.  I am going to ride my bike for the next couple of weeks only.  No running.

50K to 100 Miles - Preparing for the Pinhoti 100

This is the next installment I posted back in  March of 2011.  The training log is pretty accurate and will give you a good idea of how I prepared for the Pinhoti 100.  I had run my first 50K, the Dizzy Fifties, on November 17, 2007.  A few months later I ran the Oak Mountain 50K on March 22, 2008.  By then, I had decided I wanted to run the Leadville 100 which, at the time seemed like a joke.  I knew I had to find a long  "Training Race" to figure out how to go about running 100 miles.  I started looking through websites on ultrarunning and found "Run100s" with a link to "Ultrarunning" magazine's calendar.  As I started looking for something that looked interesting I found the Katcina Mosa 100K in Utah.  For some reason I thought I could run that.

I signed up and started training like I thought I need to train.  Take a look at my May, June and July training and you will see why I could not even come close to running 100K in the Utah mountains.  I was only able to run 39 miles.  I don't remember exactly when I decided to enter the Pinhoti 100 but I think it was immediately upon returning home after the Katcina Mosa.  I knew I had a lot of work to do in three months to have any chance at finishing Pinhoti.

I pulled out my old training log and listed my workouts starting at the end of May 2008 up through the Pinhoti 100 in November.  This is not the main points or major runs, this is 100% of every run, bike and swim workout I did in that 5 month period.  You will notice, I was also training for a triathlon in July.  I did a lot of bike riding didn't I?  Now, looking back on my training for Pinhoti I am really amazed I was able to finish.

The times shown in red are my long runs. The bold type indicates races.

2008Training Log


May 31Oak Mtn-Trail run – loop
04:4022.5 mi
Jun 16Run – Houston, Tx – flat
03:2025 miles
Jun 20Lookout Mtn -Stage Race- (One stage only)
03:4022 miles
Jun 22Run – Oak Mtn – 4 Hill Reps - Green Trail

Jun 25Swim – Oak Mtn
57 min

Jun 28Run – Oak Mtn – 6 hill reps - Green Trail

Jul 02Swim – Oak Mtn

Jul 04Peavine Falls Run
01:048.2 miles
Jul 04Bike 2 laps Oak Mtn after the Peavine Falls Run

36 mi
Jul 10Swim – Oak Mtn

900 yds
Jul 13Chattanooga Waterfront Tri
Jul 17Run – Oak Mtn – Red
02:3014 mi
Jul 19Run Oak Mtn– Red+3 hill reps - Green Trial
02:5916 mi
Jul 23Run Oak Mtn–2 hill reps - Red Trail
Tornado Run8.4 mi ***
Jul 26Run Oak Mtn– hill rep

Aug 02Katcina Mosa
13.5 hours39.5 mi
Aug 06Run Oak Mtn– +2.5 hill reps - Red Trail

Aug 09Run Oak Mtn– Loop

Aug 12Run Oak Mtn
2 hrs

Aug 16Run Oak Mtn – Night Run

Aug 19- Aug 25 - Short Runs

Aug29-Sept9 Telluride  Colorado– 8 days

Sep 02Ran up Tomboy Road

Sep 03Hike up Ajax Peak from Bridal Vail Falls  3 hrs.

Sep 06Imogene Pass Run- Telluride, Colorado
03:4817 miles 8 Weeks Out
Sep 08Ran Bear Creek to Wasatch Trail
2 hrs

Sep 13Training Run for Pinhoti – I20-Cheaha
05:3525 miles 7 Weeks Out
Sep 16Run-from Home 2 Laps 3,000 ft climb
02:0513.36 miles
Sep 18Run-from Home 1 Laps 1,500 ft climb
01:117.5 mi
Sep 20Training Run - Pinhoti–Adams Gap-Cheaha-back
05:30Night back 6 Weeks Out
Sep 23Run-from Home 1 Laps 1,500 ft climb
01:157.5 mi
Sep 25Run-from Home 1 Laps 1,500 ft climb

Sep 27Run Oak Mtn
2 hrs

Oct 04Stump Jump 50K- Chattanooga
06:4850K 5 Weeks Out
Oct 07Run Veteran's Park

Oct 09Run Veteran's Park

Oct 12Oak Mtn-Trail run – loop
07:1830+ miles 4 Weeks Out
Oct 14Run Veteran's Park
1 hr

Oct 16Run Veteran's Park
2 hrs

Oct 19Oak Mtn-Trail run – loop
3.5 hr
 3 Weeks Out
Oct 21Run Veteran's Park
1 hr

Oct 23Run Veteran's Park
1.5 hr

Oct 26Run Oak Mtn
2 hrs
 2 Weeks Out
Oct 28Run Veteran's Park
2 hrs

Oct 30Run Veteran's Park
1.2 hr

Oct 31- Aug 2 - Helped with Florida Ironman

 1 Week Out
Nov 05Run Veteran's Park
1 hr

Nov 08Pinhoti 100
29 hr100 mi

*** The run on July 23rd was the run I decided to do because there was a line of severe thunderstorms headed directly toward Oak Mountain State Park and I thought it would be fun to run in the storm.  I planned to run up the red trail for a few hill repeats because it comes up between two ridge-lines until it finally reaches the crest of one of the ridges at 2.25 miles (since lightning hits the ridges, usually.)  The crest of the ridge was my turn around point.  The thunder was getting closer as I reached the ridge and started back down.  By the time I had descended about half a mile the bottom dropped out and lightning began hitting the ridges all around me.  The trail turned to a river and I could no longer tell where I was stepping.  I was a little concerned about running in ankle deep water with all that lightning so after about another 3/4 of a mile I stopped at trail head with a 3X6 cover over a park map.  As I stood there the wind picked up dramatically and stuff started raining down out of the trees.  I was very concerned that one of several  large pines by the sign might fall so I stood where I could keep an eye on them.  After about 30 seconds the wind increased in velocity even more and began to shift around to my right.  Over  another 30 or so seconds the wind shifted by about 120 deg. and continued blow harder.  Now large limbs and  pieces of trees were coming down all around me.  Instead of staying under the small shelter I took off deciding I preferred being a moving target which was a really dumb decision.  Now I was running out in the open, still running in ankle deep water, limbs were still raining down and I was still about 3/4 of a mile from the car.  About the time I decided I should go beck, the wind began to subside and the lightning seemed to be moving off.  I made it back to the car and within a minute or two the downpour tuned to a steady rain and the thunder was definitely moving away.  So I headed up for a second hill repeat.  Now I saw the damage from the storm.  Eight or ten large trees were down along the trail, including one laying across the trail.  It was an exciting run!  Since I get caught in bad weather pretty often anyway,  in the future I will leave running in storms to chance.

I would absolutely not advise to try to run 100 miles following a training schedule like this.  It is not even adequate for a 50 mile race.  Next, I will post my training log from July and the Tahoe Rim Train 100 until December and the Lookout Mountain 50 mile race.