Yes, it's nice if what you get is what you wanted in the first
Unfortunately, neither our friend Joe nor I met our race
goals at Hinson Lake but we will use that as a springboard
to improve our training for upcoming races. Fortunately, Jim met
his goals in this race and is in a good position as he continues
training toward his big goal this year, the 48-hour race at
Across the Years (ATY) in late December.
In this entry I'll analyze what went right and wrong for Jim and
me at Hinson Lake. I'll try not to sound like I'm whining. I'm
not; I'm just disappointed and need to do a self-critique
to help me race better this weekend at the New River Trail 50K and
continue training for my 24-hour race at ATY..
JIM'S PERFORMANCE AT HINSON LAKE = A+
What can I say? Jim did great at Hinson Lake!
He more than
doubled the distance
of any recent training
run (from 30 to 71 miles). He felt good the whole time and he wasn't trashed afterwards,
although he's been mostly resting the past week so he can start
ramping up his training for Mountain Masochist this week. His
stomach didn't bother him, he drank enough fluids to urinate
regularly, and he consumed enough calories and electrolytes to
maintain his energy.
His experiment with napping during the
night was also successful, and he returned to the course in the
middle of the night with vim and vigor for almost five more
hours of running and walking.
L-R: Jim, Lynn DiFiore, and Sue
before the Hinson Lake 24-hour run. Photo by the Lugianos.
Jim's only problem was a blister on his little toe the last
couple laps. He'll work on that before Mountain Masochist and
his other races (we both need to do more preventative taping).
He thinks the more narrow Hardrock shoes that he wore in the
middle of the race may have caused the problem. For most of the
race he wore two pairs of wider Asics 2130 road shoes, and in
retrospect realizes he should have just kept running in them.
He's in the market for some wider trail shoes (probably the
Asics 2130 trail version) to wear at
Masochist, Ghost Town, and maybe Sunmart.
Jim ran and walked a fairly steady pace during the time he was
on the Hinson Lake course (19½ hours),
averaging about 16:28 per mile for just under 71 miles,
including stops. That does NOT include the time he was off the
course from about 11 PM to 3:30 AM (4½
hours). Over the entire 24-hour period of time, his pace
averaged closer to 20:17 minutes per mile, including all of his
stops at the canopy, potty breaks, time with Cody, and nap time.
He'll try to increase that pace at Ultracentric in mid-November
so he can get more miles there and work up to about 87 miles the first day at ATY in late
It's all a gradual progression
designed for a peak at ATY.
SUE'S PERFORMANCE AT HINSON LAKE = D
I almost flunked that test. I had a lot more glitches at Hinson
Lake than Jim. The good news is that I should be able to
overcome most of them in my upcoming races. I'm one of those
glass-half-full types, remember?
Bottom line: I met my distance goal of 21
laps / almost 32 miles but I failed to run and
walk it as fast (or comfortably) as I wanted. Instead of
completing the distance in seven hours or less -- which I need
to do this weekend at the New River Trail 50K in order to be an
official finisher and get the nice technical shirt for which
I've already paid in my entry fee -- I got only 27+ miles in
that time. My pace and motivation deteriorated even farther the
last 4+ miles and it took me a total of 8:40 hours to run
Sunrise over Hinson Lake before the race
began on Saturday
I was aiming for an average 13:27 minutes per mile pace
or faster, including all my stops, during the race. That's what
I need at NRT 50K. I did that
for only the first few miles, then had to start walking more
because I just never found my running "groove." My legs felt
dead and I just couldn't go any faster. I also killed an
increasing amount of
time because I mentally lost the desire to push myself. Reality
was an average 15:44 pace for seven hours (27+ miles) and
an average 16:17 pace for 8:40 hours (just under 32
If the NRT 50K is indeed 31.2 miles, that won't cut it.
If the race is longer, I'm in even more trouble.
So what went wrong? Let me count the ways . . . and
explain how I'll try to overcome them for my race this Saturday.
- I probably ran too hard during my training run on the
New River Trail ten days before Hinson Lake (15½
miles in 3:10 hours, a 12:33 pace -- and that
included taking 87 photos!!!) and/or didn't taper sufficiently
before the race.
I had been pleased with the pace
and feel of all my long training runs leading up to Hinson Lake
and I felt fantastic down on the New River Trail. My dead legs
were most likely a result of not tapering sufficiently for Hinson Lake.
Because I considered Hinson Lake "just another training run," I
deliberately didn't taper as much as I would for a "race
As I age I need to give my body additional time for
recovery from efforts like these. Even though I cut back on my
running mileage, effort, and weight work, I didn't
cut back enough to accomplish my goal -- even for "just a
training run." Lesson learned.
My solution? Cut back even more on
mileage and weights during the two weeks between Hinson Lake and
NRT 50K. I've been a slug (comparatively) for the first rest
week. The hardest part is cutting back on calories to compensate
for the reduced exercising!
I may have gotten a deep-tissue
massage too close to Hinson Lake, adding to the "dead leg"
I'll ask my massage therapist do
lighter work during tomorrow's session, four days prior to the race. I'm
also getting a chiropractic adjustment. Fortunately, after avoiding
speed work for several weeks and getting deep tissue work done on my
right leg several times, I've had no recurrence of the hip flexor / IT band pain I had
in August and September.
I didn't sleep well for several
nights before the race.
This week I'm trying to avoid the dire national
international economic news and political wrangling before the
presidential election so I don't get so stressed out about things I
cannot control. I'm trying to relax more and get more sleep. And I'm
definitely NOT going to peek on-line at our retirement accounts and
investments every day while the stock market is in a free-fall!!! (The
overall U.S. market has lost something like 1/3 of its value
since the DOW peaked one year ago this week.)
- The heat and suffocating
humidity during the Hinson Lake race definitely affected me. No
matter how much of this weather I've run in in the past four
months, I don't feel acclimated to it. I never did all the years
I lived in the Atlanta area,
either. Two immutable facts: I already train
in this weather, and I can't control the weather at the New River
What I can control is how much
fluids and electrolytes I take during the NRT race. Even though I
felt like I was drinking adequate fluids at Hinson Lake when I
stopped at our canopy every lap, I must have been significantly
dehydrated because I didn't have to urinate for ten hours during and
after the race. (That's happened in several 100-mile
races before; it doesn't alarm me as much as it does Jim.)
At NRT I'll avoid ibuprofen (not good for the kidneys during a
race), drink more fluids (I'll be carrying two bottles with me
so that will be easier), and take in more electrolytes. And I'll
just cross my fingers for cooler, drier weather there!
I think I managed calories OK
during the race. I took in concentrated Perpetuem and Hammergel,
chased down with water, every lap. The only other thing I drank
while running was a small can of V-8. I ate a couple slices of
orange while I ran but no other solid food until I quit. That
should work at NRT also.
- The slope of the trail at Hinson Lake is a problem for me,
and I'd forgotten that from last year.
Huh? Let me
explain about my weak left ankle and how it feels best for it to
be on the high side of the trail . . .
Back in 2001 at
Western States I ruptured both the peroneal (peroneus) brevis
and longus tendons on the lateral side of my left ankle. Surgery
didn't completely fix the problem, and that ankle turns outward
quite easily on uneven trails, roots, and rocks. The very worst
is when my left side is on the down side of a trail. I lean that
direction, putting a lot of stress on that side of my body.
So guess how
at least half of the Hinson Lake loop is slanted when you go counter-clockwise
in the race??
One area slanted down to the left
(lakeside) that gave me problems
Yep, it's sloped
down toward the lake, which is always on your left when you run
CCW around it. So the majority of my weight was shifted to the
left side of my body on that weak ankle and calf. By twenty miles, my left leg was
getting numb. Nothing really hurt, and I wasn't cramping up like
on some hot training runs, but it affected my whole body. In
retrospect, I realize I should have worn an ASO ankle support on
my left foot to stabilize it. I haven't been training in it much
since spring; I don't run rough trails much any more so
the supports weren't even on my mental radar screen.
the Hinson Lake race went clockwise, I don't think this would have been
an issue. I'll probably never be able to comfortably run more
than a 50K on that course. [In case you're wondering, I don't
have a leg length discrepancy. I do build up the outer heel a
under my left shoe insert but it doesn't do much to stabilize
the ankle. Only the ASO support does that.]
I don't believe this will be an issue on the New River Trail.
Although it follows a creek and a river, it isn't
canted toward the water like the trail at Hinson Lake. The trail
is built on an old railroad bed and is a little higher in the
middle than either side. Running on the right side out and back
should be just right for my goofy ankle. The course at ATY isn't
a problem either. It's pretty flat and we change directions
every two hours.
Three of the five Fogelman kids on the Hinson
Lake fishing pier
during a break between running laps around the
- I was just plain stupid about blister prevention. I should not
have gotten one of the two blisters that developed, and I lost some time
with a sock adjustment, shoe change, and blister treatment.
I wore fairly new Drymax socks which are touted by some of our
ultra running friends as preventing blisters. I figured with all
the filing down of calluses I've been doing on my feet, my new
magic socks, and the wider Asics running shoes I've been wearing
that I wouldn't need to tape or bandage two or three trouble
spots I have. I was wrong. Changing into even wider shoes didn't
help, and I finally had to put a bandage over a popped blister
on one of my big toes. It was OK after that. I'll just bandage
it and two other blister-prone areas before the NRT race, wear
my wider shoes and trusty Injinji toe socks from the get-go,
and carry a little blister kit
with me just in case I still get a hot spot.
The other blister was on my forefoot under thick skin. The same
thing happened at ATY last year, except that time it was the other foot. I could
pop this one after the race; the one at ATY was deeper and
unreachable. Not sure how to combat this problem. I've done more
harm than good when I try to file those under-foot calluses down
with a PedEgg or pumice stone. I think more time on my feet
to toughen them before ATY will be the key to prevention. I'm
pleased with the shoes and inserts I'm wearing and believe they
provide adequate cushioning.
Rainy day-before-the-race at Hinson Lake
- After discovering my run at Hinson Lake wasn't going to be as
fast or as comfortable as I'd predicted, I lost my desire
mentally to push myself. I found a myriad of excuses to kill
I shouldn't run into this problem as easily at New River Trail.
It's a whole different format, more like the majority of ultras
I've run over the years: an out-and-back course, not
little loops; aid stations located 4-5 miles apart; a
definite cut-off time to beat at the end. I won't be checking up
on Cody (he'll be with Jim at the turn-around aid station, which
he's captaining) and I won't carry my camera. I took time to
enjoy the scenery and take lots of photos on my training run so
I won't be tempted to do either during the race. My sole focus
will be on maintaining steady forward progress, with few
Trails don't get any better than the New
River Trail for fast running!
Photo taken 9-17-08
The closer the New River Trail race gets, the more optimistic I am
about my chance of finishing within the seven-hour limit.
It will still be a challenge, however, even if the weather is
perfect, I am rested, and everything goes right during the race.
I've still got to maintain a pace that's difficult for me for
Jim is well enough rested eight days after Hinson Lake to
gradually begin hill training for Mountain Masochist 50+++ mile
trail run (MMTR) on November 1 (just under four weeks from now).
He's had a quandary all summer: how to train optimally
for his flat, smooth fixed-time races vs. this mountainous
sucker that he's DNF'd the last two times. He needs not only
adequate training on long, rough, hilly terrain, but also speed
work to maximize the sections of the race where he can run a
good pace (paved roads the first six miles and forest roads
mixed in with rocky, rooty single-track trails the rest of the way). MMTR
also poses a dilemma re: which shoes to wear.
Jim and the Finkles (Jay and Anita) run
toward the Hwy. 60 aid station in the 2004 MMTR
During the summer and fall, Jim has been concentrating more on
distance and steady running (base work) than on speed work
(tempo, intervals, repeats) or hills. He'll be sharpening his
speed and hill work before MMTR. He hasn't decided whether to
focus on really long hills/mountains or just do less gnarly
hills at nearby Explore Park. A little of both would probably
reduce the chance of strained Achilles tendons or quads at MMTR,
but he's got very limited time now. He's been
He'll need to taper for a
couple weeks, leaving him only two more weeks of heavy training.
Hopefully, he's recovered enough from Hinson Lake to do that.
After MMTR, Jim can pretty much concentrate again on distance
and steady pacing for the 48-hour race at ATY at the end of
December. His races are close enough together, though, that he's
mostly going to be recovering from one and tapering for the
next! Two weeks after MMTR he's got the 24-hour race at
Ultracentric, where he'll try to improve on the 71 miles he ran
at Hinson Lake. Three weeks later is Sunmart (probably the 50K
and not 50 miles). Three weeks and two days after that is ATY.
Rolling trail at Explore Park. Photo taken
Both Ultracentric and Sunmart are training runs for ATY. We plan
to use the same pacing at those that we'll do in the first 24
hours at ATY.
We're considering the 50K at Sunmart instead of the 50-miler
because of pace considerations. There is a 12-hour time limit
for the 50-miler. We'd have to maintain an average pace of 14:24
minutes per mile to finish in an official time. That's
significantly faster than Jim needs to be going at ATY on his
first day to reach approximately 87 miles (16:55) or an
average of 22 minutes per mile for about 130 miles in two days
(19:12 to reach 150 miles, but he thinks that may be too
optimistic). He can do any of those paces if he enters the 50K
at Sunmart, which has a generous 11 hr. 30 minute cut-off. Then
he could either keep going at the end of the race, unofficially,
or do a double -- another longish run the next day on the same
It would make more sense for ME to run 50 miles in 12 hours at
Sunmart because my goal at ATY is 50-52 miles in the first 12
hours, with a total of 90 miles in 24 hours. I need to be
running a 14:24 pace or better anyway. However, the
Sunmart course is hillier and rougher than ATY and I'm less
likely to finish the 50-miler at Sunmart than at ATY. In
addition, that much mileage 24 days before a 90-mile attempt at
ATY may be too much for my body to recover adequately.
So we're still thinking about which race to run at Sunmart!
We'll have to decide before the entry fee increases on November
I'm not as busy with yard work right now.
Asters are low-maintenance!
Photo taken 9-23-08
My training plan through December is much simpler since I'm not
doing any hilly races. I need to continue doing steady pacing
for 10-20 minutes at a time, continue building up the time on my
feet to 12 hours at Ultracentric and maybe Sunmart, and do at
least one long run consisting of little 1/3-mile loops like I
did last year for ATY. Now that I know I can tolerate dozens of
little loops in a race, I don't feel the need to do as many long
runs like that as I did last year. They do help with blister
prevention, though. The feet are under more stress and abrasion
when running around a track than moving forward in more of a
straight line. Fortunately, at ATY we switch directions every
two hours. I don't think we will at Ultracentric; there
are too many races going on simultaneously.
A section of the Wolf Creek Greenway, a
nice trail for my long runs (9-8-08)
I have five weeks between the New River Trail 50K and
Ultracentric 12-hour run. During that time I'm aiming to do a
"long double" run (i.e., a moderately long run on one day and
another the next day) that totals about 10 hours and a long
single run of 9-10 hours on the slightly rolling Wolf Creek
Greenway. One or both of the double runs could
be our 1/3-mile loop course on the greeneway. My only other long training runs
before ATY will be Ultracentric and Sunmart.
We have our work cut out for us, don't we??
VOLUNTEERING AT GRINDSTONE 100
This past Saturday we had fun volunteering overnight at the
Grindstone 100-miler in the
mountains of the George Washington National Forest west of
Staunton, VA. We wanted to help and and visit friends. Several of our friends were bravely running the
brand new race, which has enough elevation gain and rough terrain to
warrant a 38-hour time limit (two hours longer than the nearby Massanutten 100-miler, notorious for its rocks).
A high enough
percentage of the runners (62 of 74) finished within the time limit that
Jim and I are fearful that race director Clark Zealand may lower
the time limit next year! Jim regrets not entering this year. If
it was a Hardrock qualifier, he would have entered. But the
Hardrock committee hasn't made that decision yet; they
wanted to see how the first-time race went.
Jim (far right) walks toward the lodge at
Camp Shenandoah, the start/finish area of the Grindstone 100.
It was a two-hour drive from our home to the race start-finish at Camp
Shenandoah, a Boy Scout camp in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. We
stopped there about 6 PM to see if Clark had any supplies he
wanted us to take to the Falls Hollow aid station where we were
assigned for the night. The race had begun at 6 PM on Friday; after 24
hours, nine of the 74 starters had already finished the race.
It was a winding, hilly drive to our aid station at the
intersection of FSR 291 and busy VA 42. Falls Hollow is the
first and last aid station on the out-and-back course (5.7
miles outbound and 95 miles on the return). We worked with
several other volunteers off and on from about 7 PM to 6 AM,
after the last runners cleared our station and headed for the
finish line. The final cut-off at Camp Shenandoah was 8 AM.
Jim (navy jacket, kneeling left) gets
runner Trey Barnes (hands on knees) some warm soup at Mile 95.
We missed the next five or six runners in transit to the aid
station but saw most of our friends who were in the first half
of the pack: David Snipes, Kerry Owens, Sophie Speidel,
Regis Shivers, Jr., Vickie Kendall, Jay Finkle, and Mike Dobies.
It got dark very soon after we arrived at Falls Hollow. The
numerous twinkling stars in the clear sky were awesome to view
but they didn't light up the aid station. We
brought our little battery-operated camping table lamp and a string
of Christmas lights, which Jim kept shining most of the night
with an inverter box running off our Odyssey van's battery. (We
were parked just to the right in the photo above, which was
handy.) Turns out, those were the ONLY stationary lights at the
aid station, other than the bonfire the volunteers started
after it got dark:
That fire was highly appreciated by both volunteers and runners
alike! The race saw perfect running and pacing weather -- warm
and dry all weekend -- but it was chilly during
the night for crews and volunteers who weren't moving around as
much. We had to make sure none
of the runners stayed too
long by the inviting fire. Beware the chair.
We stayed the busiest before midnight, as the "bubble" of
runners came in fairly steadily. Most of the runners looked
remarkably fresh and didn't need or want much in the way of food
or drink. They could smell the barn and just wanted to get done.
They had only 5.7 miles to go. We assisted runners as
needed, gave them encouragement and kudos, and helped them cross
the busy road safely. (They were on their own crossing a nearby
Runners were few and far between from midnight to 6 AM. There
was a lot of down time to talk, doze, or read.
Jim and I got a break for a couple hours during the night to
sleep but that was pretty unlikely to happen right next to the
Lots of runners slept at Camp Shenandoah
after finishing their run.
Cody stayed in the van except for several forays up the trail
with Jim and me to meet and
greet incoming runners. While I was
trying to sleep, one of the young male volunteers tapped on the
window to get Cody's attention, then opened the sliding door and
sat down to cuddle with the warm, furry dog. It was all I could do to
not giggle; the volunteer didn't realize I was lying on the back
seat. After about a minute I slowly moved the blanket away from my face and said, "Hello!"
surprising the heck out of him.
Too bad I couldn't see his face very well! He was very apologetic. No
problem -- I couldn't sleep anyway, and I thought it was pretty
After the last runner came through we took down the aid station.
Jim and I were tired enough that we
drove on home instead of staying another 2½ hours for the awards
breakfast back at Camp Shenandoah. We haven't seen any race reports yet but e-mails from
some friends indicate they really enjoyed this new race, which
is part of Clark Zealand's and David Horton's "Beast Series" of
races in Virginia. We're glad we could be a small part of the
event as volunteers.
Next entry: the New River Trail 50K -- what a pretty