Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mountain Mist 50K Done!

Overall time was 7hrs 47min. That is a long day but there were 360 people signed up to enjoy it with!
The course was great, extremely technical with LOTS of climbing and LOTS of mud. For those who know House Mountain here in Knoxville, picture House Mountain: make it longer, add in many more rocks of all sizes, add in ankle-deep mud over most of it (and stick that mud in the last 10 miles of the race), climb that mountain and go back down... twice, and you begin to have an idea as to how technical this really was!

The gun goes off at 8am sharp. There is no fanfare to this ceremonial start; the guy just fires a warning shot 5 minutes out and then again at 8am without any other word, signifying the start. This catches many people unawares and has them scrambling out of the door from the lodge in a hurry!

The start of the race had us meandering through a very misleadingly easy, pine-laced, single track course until the first aid station 6 miles in. It was beautiful and very cushy under foot through this section. Of course, this would not last!

The trip through aid stations 2 and 3 were not too bad although we did see the beginnings of the mud we would encounter later. At one point the mud was so thick and gummy that we all gained about three inches of height!
Past aid station 3 is where trouble started for me.
Up to this point, I had been doing pretty well. The course was fun, I had met and run with really cool people, and in general felt pretty good. It is well documented that in ultra marathons there are mental ups and downs. I hit my down around mile 17 ish... I was hurting pretty badly at this point. My knee was in real pain, my ankle was in pain and felt really unstable, and I wasn't sure I could even make the time cut-off at aid station 5. I was in a real funk.
I was actually thinking of bagging it at the next aid station with the excuses that: I was working on about 3-4 hours of sleep every night for the previous week due to work stresses, the pain in my body felt very real, and I probably wouldn't make the cut off and would be pulled from the race anyway... on and on...
That's when Tim came up behind me. I was walking at this point (and not very well at that). This guy shuffled up behind me, and I asked him how he was doing... His reply shook me completely out of my funk!
He said "I'm hurt'n pretty bad, but I came here to get a job done and I am going to do it...they're gonna have to pull me off this course!" At that point, pain left my body. My mind completely lifted and I was back! It was instantaneous!
Tim wasn't sure if we could get to aid station 4 fast enough to make the cut-off, but I felt sure that we could. So together we started running again.
Since my pain left me I was in a much better place mentally and physically than Tim, and worked with him to pull him out of his own funk. This was perfect timing for a lot of reasons. One, because we were at mile 20 or so, with the absolute hardest part of the course ahead of us, and two, because we had enough time, if we hustled, to make the cut off.
We made it with about 20minutes to spare!, and after all of this we still had about 1hr 45min to go.
The climb up the trail called Water Line (no ice on race day) is crazy. It starts at a reasonable angle, covered in rocks, but quickly gets crazy. The grade continues to get steeper and steeper until you get to the waterfall section. This is where you literally use your hands to pull yourself up using rocks, trees or anything else you can find. It's muddy, slick and vertical for a bit. This is real climbing...at mile 26!
Once you've made it out of this gully you find the Shangri-La of aid stations! There were the happiest and most fun group of people to greet us, complete with bites of potato that we could dip into salt! This was heaven.
Back on our way, feeling proud that we made the climb and with new food in us, we looked up about a mile ahead and saw another runner. He came to a stop, hung his head down and started walking back to the last aid station we'd just left. Tim and I were together still and stopped to see what was up.
us: "whoa dude what are you doing?!
him:"awe man my pain, hurt, long, hard blah blah..."
us: "that's cool if you wanna quit but you've almost made it to the FINISH! you have only 5ish miles left! It's gonna be really hard but if you quit now you'll regret it. Finish -- you'll be on top of the world!"
him: "...I'll try"
...And so we trod on. Shouting encouragements behind us as we went until we could no longer see him. At this point I was feeling pretty strong. I asked Tim if he minded me going on and he said GO! So off I went! It felt amazing to run strong at this point in the race.
I ran down a very steep and technical decent, into a flat and the very muddiest part of the race! It was wet and slick as could be, and ankle deep. On the climb out I caught and passed 5 people! Ran past the last aid station and onto the final flat section leading back to the finish!
Jack met me with a mile left, having finished in 5hrs 25mins (way to go Jack!), and wanted to run in with me (thanks Jack!). The last mile of the course is a bit anti climactic really: it was flat, windy, and really cold, and because of the weather there is very little fanfare to welcome you in. But... there is pizza! and coke, and while enjoying these in the warmth of the lodge, I noticed the guy who had decided not to quit come in, see me and sign 'thank you' with a huge smile on his face! He yelled over the crowd that he made it under 8hrs!

What a great day. It really is amazing to me what we are ALL capable of. With proper thought, things that seem incredibly hard, end up not even being a test. Everyone has this in them. Whether it's our athletic life, our home life, or our work - right thought makes life easy and good!

...and as always folks, please check out the latest goings on at http://www.portlight.org/ They are doing some really big things in HAITI right now and could really use our help. They are on the ground and helping in a big way!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is the course profile for the Mountain Mist 50k this weekend. I tried to just upload the image to this page so you don't have to go into their site to view it but was not able...

So LOTS of climbing! There are Many more, and steeper, and taller hills in this race so it should prove interesting! I'm ready now! Bring It !

On another note... while I was running this Sunday I was cruising along, not really 'feeling it' and so stopped about 3miles in and was about to turn back. I was doing some thinking... and here are my thoughts:
'really Duey?(a bad nickname I picked up on a boat years ago) really?...this is the best you can do? you don't feel like it? Your not tired. Your not hurt. You just don't feel like it?...and then I realized something I thought was kind of cool!
We owe it to ourselves, and our neighbors, and the world at large to live every minute of our lives to its 100% fullness.
To me this means that in Everything we do we give it 100% effort. Weather it is running, or our spiritual practice, or our jobs, or our interaction with our families, or our interactions with each other as citizens of this world.
Imagine what a great day you would have if in every interaction, with every person you came across, you were totally present to that person, and worked at making that person's experience for those moments better! Imagine this in your workout, or your job! If more of us worked on this every day I'm pretty sure that this world would be a better place for all.

The chaos in Haiti was what set this line of thinking on its course. This is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. These people don't have much. They don't even know the kinds of opportunities we have here in the U.S.. They do have love and hope. If we don't make the most of the opportunities handed to us in each moment we are doing a huge disservice to them, and everyone else, but most importantly to ourselves.
So... I intend to become a better person. To really work at being 100% present to those I have interactions with, and to, in general, give life my all! Every moment!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Direct From Portlight.org:

Update on our efforts in Haiti
January 18, 2010

Late update:

The Reeve Foundation, founded by Christopher and Dana Reeve has awarded Portlight Strategies a $10,000 Quality of of Life grant to assist in our relief efforts in Haiti. This is very big and will allow us to pursue more aggressive relief efforts over the course of the next few weeks. Along with the continuing donations of money and materials from the general public and corporations here in the US this grant will help speed up our shipping agenda and help us to get more materials in place faster than we had anticipated. Time is of the essence in Haiti and we at Portlight are grateful to the Reeve Foundation for their generous contribution to our cause. The story can be found here .

Our second shipment should be on the ground in Haiti by early this week; again this shipment includes two more of the water treatment systems and more food and medical/clinical supplies. This is a larger shipment than the first; we're hoping to identify places with more dire needs and place one of the water treatment systems there as well as the other supplies.

On Site Coordinator:
Thanks to Wunderground blogger Dak Simonton (Dakster) we were made aware of Richard Lamarque, a Haitian expatriate and 15 year veteran of the Miami Police Department who was planning to go back to Haiti this week to look for family members and to help with recovery efforts. As our on scene coordinator, Richard Lamarque will be leaving for Haiti in a few days. He is well connected there, and has a skill set and life experiences which will be invaluable to our work there. He will be travelling by ship. We have commited to purchasing a small truck to take with him. The truck will be loaded with supplies. The benefits of having a vehicle on site are self evident. The truck will cost roughly 3-5 thousand dollars; we have already earmarked $2000.00 for this; the next $3000 we receive will be earmarked for the WU truck. Please post this announcment to blogs and forward it to all your WU friends.

We want this to be a uniquely Weather Underground community initiative. We will place WU signage on the truck and we will be able to post photos of it at work in Haiti; the WU truck will be a long term, tangible symbol of the generosity of the WU community.

We would also like to take a moment and thank Dr. Jeff Masters and
Wunderground for their continued and unwavering support as well as generous donations. Over the years the Wunderground community and Dr. Masters have helped Portlight get our message out and we are truly grateful for all the support and devotion. This community has been the Genesis of our efforts and we cannot thank the great people of the WU community enough for all that they have done to make our efforts successful.

Dire situation:
We were also made aware of the situation with the BRESMA orphanage over the weekend. The orphanage is run by two sisters, Jamie McMutrie Heckman and Ali McMutrie. The Orphanage has been without electricity since the earthquake and ran out of food and water over the weekend. Emergency supplies have been brought in by World Vision, but only in smaller amounts, requiring frequent resupply visits. To make them more self sufficient until evacuation can be arranged for the children, we have identified a water source for the a treatment system and we are currently arranging to get it and more food in place for the children by early in the week.

Methodist Habitat:
Also over the weekend we were put in touch with Methodist Habitat by Wunderground blogger Jeff Sandler (BrowardJeff). This organization provides aircraft and pilots in disaster situations for the shipment of goods and supplies; we have provided them with some funding to help defray the cost of fuel and we are happy to help them. Like Portlight, they are accepting donations and are looking for experienced pilots and aircraft to further aid in the recovery efforts; their website is
Methodist Habitat .

Tangible donations:
While we're taking monetary donations through this site, we are also taking donations of tangible materials at our warehouse in Atlanta. Remember, clothing is a secondary issue here; what is most desperately needed is food, other tangibles like botteld water, tools, outdoor gear etc. The address for the Atlanta warehouse is:

Portlight Strategies, Inc.

4900 Lewis Road

Stone Mountain GA 30083

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Portlight delivers much-needed water filtration systems and medical supplies to Haiti
Portlight.org, the disaster-relief charity that has sprung up from the hard work and dedication of many members of the wunderground.com community, has successfully shipped medical equipment and a water filtration unit capable of supplying the needs of 3,800 people per day to the Dominican Republic, where it will be trucked to Haiti via road. Portlight is working through the local Catholic Church, which is probably best positioned to deliver private aid donations to those in need. Paul Timmons, leader of the Portlight relief efforts, wrote this to me today:

This is important:
We are now accepting donations of medical equipment and clinical supplies...

Please forward this info as far and wide as you can. Any groups collecting or with access to this kind of stuff can ship it to our Atlanta warehouse:

Portlight Strategies, Inc.
4900 Lewis Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

We have good contacts on Hispaniola who are able to get this stuff where it's needed.

We are also still in need of funds!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti is in a bad way... Portlight is gathering supplies and support as we speak.
They have established relationships already in Port-au-Prince that they have been working with in the past. Once the situation stabilizes in the coming weeks they will start their influx of supplies to the area.
Portlight focuses on the specific needs of People with disabilities (PWD's)especially in the face of natural disasters. In extremely poor countries such as Haiti PWD's are commonly considered the waste of society, so in disasters such as this, it is fair to say that the needs of PWD's are great, and largely forgotten or ignored. Please give if you are able.

Also, if anyone is interested in going to Haiti to help staff a shelter let Portlight know!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Twelve days till Mountain Mist 50K! The excitement is growing as is the nervousness. I've been working out in the basement for the last week on my bike trainer (a device that allows you to ride your own bike as a stationary one indoors)and some weights, because its been so cold here.

Did a run at I.C.King on Sunday with Jack and Drew. Felt a bit sluggish and lame yet but it may be because I've not run in over a week, due to the cold and my lack of motivation to run in it!
Mountain Mist is a much harder course then the Recover race was... thus the nervousness. I know I have the ability to finish, but the doubts always creep there way in... the last race was mostly flat, this one is not, will I be recovered enough?...etc...etc. But! I Know these are not valid.

...Just came back from a short run and it felt Great! Ok, maybe The Mist won't be that bad after all!
Stay tuned sports fans.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Well... its done! The first one of this season down! the Recover From the Holidays 50K (see this link for all results from this race)in Huntsville, AL has been run and finished! YAHOOO!

Jack and I hit the road at 4:30am as planned on New Years eve morning, and after an easy 3.5hr drive(thanks Jack!) made it to the start of the race with an hour to spare. The really nice folks organizing the event got us all checked in and ready to rumble... well maybe ready to hobble? The course was set up as a 1 mile quick lap followed by 10, 3mile laps (31miles total) on mostly trails and gravel, with some grass thrown in. There was only 1 short hill on the course to speak of but it was Steep and would definitely be walked.
Anyway the race started at 8am sharp without a hitch. I have to admit that I was really apprehensive about this race. I didn't really write about it here but I have been working on a bit of an ankle injury for some weeks now and really have only done about three runs since the 21 miler about three weeks ago. So I was really not too sure about an actual finish here.

So the first three laps went quite well. I held maybe a 10-10:30min per mile pace, then on lap 4 things started to go south. I started to feel really tired and felt quite a bit of pain in my knees and especially in the ankle I've had problems with. After getting lap 4 over with I wasn't sure I would continue past lap 5. Jack lapped me on this lap and after a brief hello I knew I would continue through at least lap 6 and maybe 7...
Lap 6 was rough. I was a beaten man. My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my brain hurt, I even think my eye lashes hurt and I walked most of the 3 miles!

But then something happened. Lap 7 was the beginning of my comeback! I was really working on affirming that I was in my right place, doing Exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and that Nothing can interfere with that! This was the reason I've been spending all those lonely, cold, dark mornings away from my snugly wife. I belonged exactly were I was at that exact time and was doing just as I set out to do! and near the end of the lap I realized I "Only" had 3 laps to go! ...and Dude!... I can totally do that! 9 miles! and after lap 8 I only have 6 miles left! Easy!

I ran most of lap 8 and with every step I gained strength. By the end I was ready to just grab a quick bite at the aid station and hit it for lap 9.
Lap 9 was awesome! I ran the entire lap, except for the hill, and came in from it with my fastest lap of the race... so far and smiling the whole way! On the way back to the start/Finnish/ aid station I had the pleasure of running past a guy who was out there to support a buddy of his. He decided that I was going more his speed and tagged along for about the mile or so back to the start. When we got there I told him how much I appreciated his company at the end there and would he want to hit another lap, my last of the race. He was not up to it but another friend of his named Dean was out there, not in the race but just running a bit, and would be glad to. So with my new 'pacer' set out for my final lap...
I set out from the start/finish/aid area for lap 10 with Dean and set a really fast pace. We held, I think, about a 9 min per mile pace for about the first mile, or till we hit the hill. On the way out the hill is actually a down hill and then the course would come back around to climb back up on the way back. We made it down the hill, ran a fast pace around the flat section after it and power hiked back up. At the top we started running again... all the while Dean is telling me what a great job I'm doing and just generally being really supportive. He was awesome! As we came out of the
woods and could see the finish in the distance and what a wonderful site!

With Deans help, I finished the race with my fastest lap yet BY FAR! I don't know the actual average per mile but it was under 9min miles for sure. My finish time was 6hrs 38min 30sec. There were 84 people to start the race, and 52 finishers. I was 46th.

This was a great day. I am really pleased with my performance... not happy with my overall time, but that is way over shadowed by my recovery from the mid race funk! This race was a huge confidence builder, and I feel a lot better about my next race in three weeks, the Mountain Mist 50K.
I can't thank enough the people that are so very supportive throughout all of this.
First and foremost my AMAZING Wife Nicole. She is just such a wonderful support for my and an incredible partner!
...and Jack my best friend and coach! Thanks so much for all you do. ...and to everyone else who has shown love and support of this along the way!
So now Its recovery time. I'll do my next run on Tuesday morning... just 4-5 miles or so. and from there just getting in some maintenance miles till the 23rd and Mountain Mist!!
...and as usual you can sponsor me by following the link at the top of the page to get to Portlights site!
Thanks all!