Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

32 Miles on Art Leob - 71 Mike Bike Ride

The weekend started with a 4am alarm clock buzzer. The night before I packed all my gear, and prepared myself for a 32 mile trail run, and a 70 mile bike ride the next day. I met up with Tito and Jim at 5am, and racked up the bikes on the car and took off. We were on the trail by 8am. We started the run at the Big East Fork trailhead which has a 4,000 climb in 4 miles. Then we hung a left on the Art Leob and took it all the way to the Davidson River Campgrounds. I finished in 8 ½ hours. My strategy was to conserve some energy for the next days bike ride, and this was not just any old ride.

That night we camped out in the Davidson River Campgrounds. We had a small campfire going, and the night became cold. A bit tired from the run, I decided to sleep early.

The next morning we had breakfast in Brevard at Julies. These calories would be very much needed for the next hours to come. I met with eight other cyclists that all were experienced. I just bought me bike last month, and have ridden around the neighborhood a few time, nothing more. I knew that this ride would be difficult for me, but I never expected what was about to come.

Within the first 20 minutes, I was riding in the back of the pack. We were heading north on 276 from the campgrounds. It was uphill for the next 14 miles, and the grade was fairly steep. Just before reaching the parkway I felt like my legs were about to explode. I kept pumping. The group was waiting for me at the intersection of 276 and parkway, they knew this was my first ride and cheered me on.

I downed a gel, slammed some water, and got right back on the bike. This next section was all downhill. What a reward, after climbing like an animal I was rewarded with a fast downhill. I reached speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour, which might not seem to be a lot, but it was fast. We then hung a left on 215 which was another big climb, just as big as the first one. I just focused on pumping my legs, and thinking about the downhill getting ready to come. Every corner I turned I thought for sure the parkway would be there and I would find a bunch of riders waiting for me. For five miles I kept thinking I’m right there, I was going crazy. My muscles in my legs were trashed from the run the previous day, and all the climbing thus far. The thought of turning around started to surface. If I turned around now, I would have to climb more than if I just kept going. Finally, after 19 miles on 215 I reached the parkway. What a relief. I knew that the parkway would be rolling hills. When I got onto the parkway, I had a small climb, which followed an awesome downhill. This is were I started coasting at around 45 miles per hour. I found myself in the middle of a Harley Davidson crew of motorcyclist as I matched their pace going downhill. One of the riders leaned over and said your going 34 miles per hour and was amazed at how someone on a road bike was going as fast as he was. I was amazed. The parkway was up and down, and then finally 276 appeared again, and I took that down all the way to the campgrounds. Elevation gain was 6,000 feet, and exact mileage was 71.45 Miles.

This bike ride was a challenge.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Crowders 50k

Crowders 50k
Gastonia, NC
April 21, 2007

The morning was cool and a little windy, and the forecast was predicting the weather to be clear and warming up to 76 degrees. I was preparing myself to run the crowders 50k, which is roughly 31 miles. 26 runners walked up to the start, a line drawn in the gravel trail by race director Ray Krolowitz. The race started at 8:41am and we began running uphill on the gravel road, or the tower trail, up to the summit of crowders mountain. After reaching the summit, approximately a mile and half of pure uphill running/speed hiking, you start to descend a set of never ending wood block stairs, over 300 of them. The backside trail made out of gravel becomes very steep here and you find yourself running very fast downhill. After a quarter mile or so you hang a sharp left onto the crowders trail. We had an aid station here equipped with grapes, bananas, water, ice, and gu. The crowders trail is fairly rocky and technical and stretched all the way to a road which you cross and continue until you get to the main ranger station parking lot. This is the turn around point for each loop, and thus far about 5 miles of trail. We reached the summit of Crowders Mountain 6 times during this race, which is approx 6,000 feet of evlevation gain.

After my first loop I realized that the day was already getting hot for me as my shirt and shorts were already drenched in sweat. I decided to considerably slow my second loop so that I would be able to finish my third loop just as fast as the second. Pacing yourself on these longer runs is crucial, and I still struggle implementing this concept into my running.

I finished this run in 15th place which was 6:50:56. 4 runners DNF, and 2 DNS. That’s 37 min faster than the Mt. Mitchell Challenge which is 40 miles up the highest peak on the east coast. I believe with the heat the crowders 50k is more difficult than the Mt. Mitchell Challenge. The thermometer in my car read 82 degrees.

I saw some familiar faces on the trail and met some new ultra runners. The race was very well set up and the volunteers did a great job with helping out the runners, many thanks to all of them!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mt. Mitchell Ascent

Today we hiked up Mt. Mitchell despite iffy weather reports. We ascended via the Black Mountain Camp Grounds, 12 miles round trip, 3,700 feet of gain. This is my 13th Black Mountain summit. I know the trail very well, but every time it looks different when I’m there.

We started the hike with warmer than expected temperatures. After the first 2 miles freezing rain the size of tic-tacs began to fall, and I heard a few cracks of thunder (video below). The ice was pelting my head and my body. We kept hiking on.

Photos and Video

More rain fell and more wind began to blow. Up commissary ridge I stopped avoiding the large puddles of slush (slurpy like liquid mixed with small round ice pellets, just like the ones you can get at the gas station).

At the summit the temperature was right at freezing, and the wind chill was closer to 25 degrees. This photo was taken at the summit. The photo from left to right, Mohammed, David, Jim, and Mike. The view was minimal as the clouds had consumed the sky.

We ran the whole way down the mountain. Snow began to fall heavier than at the top as a weather system was moving in. As usual, I took a swim in the freezing waters of the South Toe river at the end of the hike.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Racefest Half Marathon

I decided to run the Charlotte Racefest half marathon 3 days ago. Why? a friend was running it, and the weather was forecasted to be cool and a little windy. I’m warm natured, and my body heats up fast. Having cooler weather makes a big difference for me in my running.

I started the half marathon in the middle of the pack. I clocked a 7:12 first mile. I passed tons of people. I thought to myself that I was going out too fast. But I had not tested my legs at this speed since I have been running longer distances with the 40-50 mile runs. Plus, I had run 75 miles at the Umstead Ultra marathon only two weeks ago. Would my lungs, heart and legs be able to support a 7:12 pace for 13.1 miles?

I ran my first half marathon ever on 3.11.06 in 1:59:29. Prior to that I had run a few 5k’s for fun, but never considered myself a runner. That was a year ago. My experience as a runner is short, but I have learned a lot in the past year. Running has also changed me as an individual.

By mile 2 I approached my friend Greg (middle in photo), who has run several races with me in the past year. It is people like him that inspire me to run faster, harder, and longer.

At mile 6, I remember looking at my watch and seeing my time as 43:30 exactly. That is a 7:15 pace. I managed to keep my pace for the first 6 miles. I still felt solid, and knew that I would be running my PR today.

I was passing people consistently up until mile 11, which is when I noticed two people creeping up on me. As mile 12 came into sight, I kicked it up a notch, and finished with a full sprint.

I set a PR and finished in 1:36:20. A few minutes after finishing, and after a few glasses of water I felt strong and knew I could keep running for another 13.1 if I had to.

The run was set up well, and the volunteers did a great job!

After the run we grabbed a bit to eat at Bob Philson’s Deli “Roast Beef & Rye.” A nice turkey and roast beef sandwich hit the spot.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Barak Obama

Barak Obama visited Charlotte, NC for the first time Friday April 13. I had the honor to meet the Senator of Illinois and presidential candidate for 2008.

Barak is just as dynamic in person as he is on television!

He even looks like an ultra runner!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Linville Gorge

Linville Gorge is a beautiful part of the mountains in North Carolina. Today we hiked down into the gorge, and up to Table Rock via the Conley Cove Trail. Snow was a special treat in April. The temperature was 19 degrees at 10am in the parking lot. This was the first time I really moved my legs after Umstead.

The gorge can be a tricky place to hike. You hike down and then back up. It reminds me of the Grand Canyon (on a smaller scale). Many people hike down and don’t realize how difficult it is to hike back up.
Some photos of today’s hike can be found at: http://picasaweb.google.com/midlibi/4707LinvileGorge

Monday, April 02, 2007

75 miles only

The time was 5:55am. I was decked out in my running cloths at the start line. Friends and families of runners were huddled in and giving their last words of encouragements as all the runners began to line up. It was pitch black dark, and the temperature was in the mid 50's. The high for the day was expected to be 75 degrees and I was on my way to starting my first 100 mile run.

It was at this time I began to reminisce about my journey to this point. Last year, in mid March I promised myself I would run my first half marathon. I ran it in 1:59:29, beating my 2 hour goal by seconds. I wasn't a runner and I ran 13.1 miles, I was ecstatic. Never in my wildest imagination would have I thought I would be attempting a 100 mile run a year later.

Between last March and the Umstead I ran several half marathons, 8 marathons, two 40 mile runs, climbed Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. That's a lot. In the months prior to Umstead I ran an average of 192 miles a month. I put some serious training into this run. I wanted to finish, and I wanted it bad.

The race director shot the gun indicating the start and all the runners took off. Running long distance requires a strategy, you can’t go all out. This is difficult to do as I later learned in the run.

I'm a competitive guy, and sometimes that comes back to bite you. I wanted to finish in 24 hours. After all, this was considered to be one of the easier ultra marathons around, right? 8 loops, 12.5 miles each loop, and about 8,000 feet of elevation gain over the entire course. The park trails were mostly finely crushed gravel and not very technical at all (not rooty, rocky, leafy, etc).

I finished the first lap in 2:07, and I knew I had gone out too fast. I needed to adjust my pace. After finishing lap 4 (50 miles) I was 9:30 hours into the race. A little early for my 10 hour goal. I felt good a this point, and remember being excited that I had passed the 50 mile portion of the run. Many runners chose to stop running at mile 50. Umstead gives you the option of just running 50 if your not feeling up to it. I decided to keep pressing on.

Around the middle of my 5th loop is when I started to really feel nausea. I was taking electrolyte supplements every hour, and guzzling bottle of water at every water stop, 4 bottle per loop. This was not enough however to my body from dehydrating. I finished my fifth loop, and knew that I was not in the best of health at this point. I told myself that I only had 3 loops to go. I could literally walk this race and finish within the 30 hour cutoff time. Nausea had kicked in really bad at the start of the 6th loop. I want able to get water back into my system. I started walking a lot at this point. I could feel my muscles cramping really bad.

I walked into the finish of the 6th loop, 75 miles and decided that today wasn’t my day. I will be back for another 100 soon however. It took me 17 hours to finish 75 miles.