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 24, 2011

Florida Sands

This weekend work brought me back to the Florida coastline. Every morning before the sun would rise a dense fog would be thick in the air, reducing visibility to less than 20 feet. The ocean breeze is heavenly, and often a life saver when the Florida sun beats down relentlessly. Running barefoot in the sand and taking a dip in the saltwater crashing waves of the Gulf of Mexico as a morning ritual is not a bad way to rise.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Colberts Ridge-Mitchell Pack Training

This past weekend I continued my backpack weight training, hauling up 50 lbs Colberts Ridge, and then hanging a left on the Black Mountain Crest Trail to the summit of Mitchell.  Most of my weight I was carrying up was water, which I dumped near Cattail Peak, reducing my weight down to 35 lbs for the rest of the journey.  I then cruised by Bit Tom, Mt. Craig, and summited Mitchell within 4 hours.

The day started off a bit windy and chilly, yet the sunshine was abundant.  At the summit, everyone had on jackets and fleeces, and I got a bit cold with my wet long sleeve shirt.  I descended and retraced my footsteps back on the Crest towards the Big Tom Trail, which I took down to the Buncome Horse Trail.  The weather turned perfect, with much warmer temps compared to the summit and no wind at all.

Overall just under 20 miles of trail with a heavy pack put in for some mountain climbing training.  The next few weeks are calling for some flatlands in Florida and Lousiana which is work related.  Another JazzFest 100k....Whoa? Hot, humid, and flat is not the best way to prepare for Alaska, I'll take whatever pack training I can get in.   

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Umstead 100 Miles

Umstead State Park - Raleigh, NC
100 miles - 23:11:47 - 60th place
We started running at 6am, it was pitch black outside and my breath was as visible as thick cigar smoke. It was a cool start. I took off at a moderate pace and didn’t want to push it too hard early on. The snake of headlights oscillated in the darkness and thoughts of the first Umstaed I ran in 2007 quickly resurfaced. This year I was determined to finish.

I had no plan, I was not on a time schedule, I just wanted to run and be free. Knowing I was not in the best shape, nor was I in the best of spirits, I didn’t expect a fabulous run. In 2010 I had several DNF’s and my body felt fatigued, so I backed off a bit. But I had signed up for the Umstead a while back, and it was on the calendar. I have gained enough experience along the years to know that this is just about strategy as it is about strength. So I had enough salt to last me 30 hours, and I was running with two bottles strapped to my waist, which many would have considered overkill considering the cool temperatures and windy weather.

First Loop (Start to 12.5 miles)
I quickly set into cruise control, and popped on my ipod and hypnotized my mind and set myself into a state of trance. Moments later I noticed I had been running for two hours and I had already finished the first 12.5 mile loop. I realized this was too fast, but was happy to know that I was feeling better than expected, so I eased off a little. First loop completed in 2:00:11

Second Loop (12.5-25 miles)
I started my second loop feeling strong and moving well, constantly sucking down some hydration and eating small amounts of solid food incrementally. By the time I made it to the second aid station (6.85 miles from the start) it had warmed up to the point I took my Houdini off and strapped it to my waist and ran in short sleeves. After the second aid station you climb a series of small hills that felt great the first few laps. Second loop completed in 2:09:16

Third Loop (25-37.5 miles)
By the time I started my third loop I began to formulate a strategy, crunching math in my head. I hypothesized that if I completed the first lap in 2 hours and slowed my pace by 15 minutes each subsequent lap I would reach the 50 mile marker in 9.5 hours. That would leave me 14.5 hours to break 24 hours. This obviously is not the best strategy, but it sure made a lot of sense by the time I started my third loop. I was convinced at this rate I would break 22 hours and finally finish the Umstead. I felt strong all the way thru the third loop. Third loop completed in 2:28:55.

Fourth Loop (37.5-50 miles)
So far my plan was working, and I was on target to reaching mile 50 in 9.5 hours. Previous to this run, my 50 mile PR was 9:44, also at Umstead. So left the aid station feeling strong, excited and not ever considering a drop at mile 50. Those thoughts can slowly creep into your amygdale and can go viral very fast. I saw my old pal Tyler Peek walking at mile 50. I was hurting a little so I walked a bit with him and offered a gu. He said his stomach was bothering and he looked like he was having a bad day at the office, so I eventually passed him leaving him behind. Moments later he passes me and takes off. After passing the second aid station I felt a small blister surfacing on my left foot as I pounded the hard packed crushed gravel downhill. It is important to note that this surface is not very forgiving and may as well be considered asphalt for me. I prefer single track, but I was out here to get this completed as I had unfinished business to take care of from 2007. I crossed the 50 mile mark in 9:22:03 a new PR. Fourth loop completed in 2:43:41.

Fifth Loop (50-62.5 miles)
I was 8 minutes ahead of schedule, and now with a blistered foot I knew better to just continue. I pit stopped in my car which I parked along the route and performed minor surgery. I received my training and fellowship in minor foot surgery at the school of the Marathon Des Sable a few years back in the sands of the Sahara which offer some gruesome experience of foot work. I patched up my left foot, and worked on my right one for preventative maintenance as I knew I would have another 50 miles to go. I also threw on a long sleeve dry fit shirt and prepared myself for more wind and darkness. I moved well considering the previous miles that had taken a toll on my body, and my mind was dialed into this run. I sang out loud, surely to the irritation of some other runners, as I passed people on the trail. I thought to myself that I could surely maintain a 3 hour pace and finish this run in sub 22 hours. It was still bright day light when I completed my fifth loop in 3:05:18.

Sixth Loop (62.5-75 miles)
My cousin Amin showed up at the start of my sixth loop in five fingers ready to go. He told me this year I would go farther than 75 miles and finally seal the deal on this run. I reminded him to bring a jacket and a headlamp as we would be going into the darkness on this lap. We both walked a lot on this lap, but tried to maintain a 14-15 minute pace, which I could barely keep up. Anytime the thought of sitting down, taking a break, or dropping surfaced, the high road of my amygdale shot it down with “you need to finish this race this time so you will never have to come back!” I used that as motivation to trick myself at that moment. Other than the blister, I was never outside of my comfort zone and felt really good until mile 75. I was at a low spot, and asked Amin to sit out lap seven, so I took it alone. Sixth loop completed in 3:20:27.

Seventh Loop (75-87.5 miles)
I headed out alone, in the dark cold windy night, completely spent, and loosing significant time due to a shuffle or walk performance. I felt cold despite having a long sleeve dry fit shirt and a windbreaker. Normally this would suffice, but my thermals were off, and I wasn’t moving well. So I shivered while shuffling. Knowing I would go hypothermic if I didn’t move, it forced me to make progress. I could feel the blisters reform now on both of my feet, worse than I have seen them in a while, but I didn’t care. At that moment, I hated the Umstead trail, I hated the race, and the only motivating force I could turn into forward motion is that if I finished this run, I would never have to come back, so I thrived on that. This was a challenge for me, but I knew if I let myself sit down, or warm up by the propane heater that it would be game over in less than 2 minutes. I kept telling myself to focus. The few runners I was able to keep up with at this point had already zipped by, this ended up being my slowest loop. Seventh loop completed in 3:54:50.

Last Loop (87.5-100 miles)
I quickly checked into the main aid station, refilled my bottles, and checked out. It was 1am, and Rob Rives is flippin burgers at the aid station. Rob had run the Linville Gorge marathon that day, which is a sadistic 10,000 of climbing in 27 miles which puts the Roan Adventure Marathon to shame in terms of elevation gain. He decided to show up in Raleigh to visit his parents and pace my for a lap. I was thrilled to have company, so Amin, Rob, and I took off into the cigar smoke like breath coolness at 1am. A few miles later I pass Ed March and Julia Davenport going out on Ed’s 7th lap. These guys are amazing! I took off and ran/walked ever few moments. I took advantage of the downhills and my feet screamed at me. This was the home streatch, and I wanted to finish badley. I wanted this to be over at this point and knew baring any disaster that breaking 24 hours was part of my game plan. My impromptu strategy paid off in the end, but my two hours of cushion time turned into less than one hours over the course of the last two laps at night. Anything can happened during the night hours.

Temperatures that night were expected to be in the low 40’s but reached 35 degrees. I kept leapfrogging Fred Dumar and we ran together for a while but I couldn’t hang onto his pace the last 2 miles. Looking back at his splits is what you really want to try to aim for, not my go out too fast and hang on for the finish! I crossed the line in 23:11:47 for my first ever sub 24 hour 100 mile finish, picked up my buckle, and laid down by the fireplace to thaw my shivering depleted body. Amazingly Tyler Peek finished the 100 miler in 18:12 a whole 5 hours ahead of me. How he bounced back like that is beyond logic. Fred Dumar finished in 22:57, Lisa Arnold whom I haven’t seen in years must have been ahead of me the entire time finishing in 22:41, Rick Grey in 24:35, Jeff McGonnell rocked it in 22:39, Anita Fromm in 21:49, Will Jorgens with an amazing 18:22, and Daniel Lieb rocks his first 100 in 25:20!

A huge thanks to all the race organizers, supporters, and volunteers. What a great event to participate in and finally complete! Now, Im off to focus on Denali.