Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oh Boy! Oh Boy!

Lake Sacajawea

The title of this post comes from Gail. That is what she said around mile 52 or so on the Pacific Rim One Day Run in Longview, Washington. She said it as a great sigh, then said "There is the title to your blog for this run." Oh Boy was she right!

Gail and I pre-race. We go through this tent every lap

This race is pretty cool. Different than most it is how many miles can you do in 24 hours. Many folks do a 50k and quit. Some do 50 miles, some such as us do a 100k. Others go the whole night and get the full meal deal. The RD Fred Willet does what only experienced Ultra runners only. Not someone one who will do a 10k and call it a day. So we must have had maybe 40 runners at the start. The course is great but its different. A 1 mile loop around Lake Sacajawea that is probably 80% trail. And no you don't get bored on this course going around and around. There is always something to see. Other runners passing you, people out for a walk, or the ka-gillion dogs out and about.

Our good friend Sarah helped count laps for 8 hours plus!

We ran with Fenny and Jim for many miles

Olga shares her pre-race fueling secrets....a Hotdog!

I have a goal for this race, 100k or 62 miles for you non-metric Americans. I would like to get 80 miles or so but feel that is out of reach for me. I will take 50 miles on the low side if I have a bad day. Gail? I never know. She should be a spy cause she keeps her goals pretty much to her self and there is nothing wrong with that....Honey. (I am not that dumb you know!) So we got to the start 45 minutes or so before the race. We set up our little aid table with all our food and drink, plus any other things we might need such as Ipods, camera, blister kit, change of clothes and a ton of other stuff. We brought too much which was a good thing. I even made Turkey and Cheese sandwiches because I knew I would get tired of the carb-sugar thing and would need the protein.

We are both so quiet and reserved. Rare to get these two to smile.

Then who shows up? Mr. Smith. Mr "I haven't done a marathon or longer race in the last 18 months" Smith, thats who! Jeez..."so ya gonna try and go from an 18 mile training run to a 31 mile race eh?" "Yep" he says. Well good for him. Was a total shock to see him show up but it made our day. So as we get our pre-run briefing from Fred I take some pictures of everyone. This is so cool I think. I mean there are some really big time runners here, and there are some people who just like to run. I like this place.

Go Slugs!

"OK Go!" Fred says, and off we trot through the tent. You see every loop they have lap counters under this tent. Im tall so I have to bend down a bit every lap to go under the roof of the tent. See why I like this place. Since the Slugs are such important runners we always get the big bib numbers. I was number 4, Gail was 5 and Rick was 6. So every time you make a loop they yell out your number so the lap counter can write down your time. So while the three of us ran together we would go through the tent as "Four, five and six".

At the start with friends

The course is simple but different. You have a little down area after the start/finish line. Then a huge uphill of mayb 8 feet or so to cross a bridge, then go along a nice straight stretch to the port a potty, a quick 5 foot downhill then back up a steep 5 foot uphill. Then a turn and go along a sidewalk for a few hundred yards, then a turn and a gentle downhill for a 1/4 a mile or so through the park to a last climb of 20 feet or so. A little 180 degree turn and you are back at the start. So easy!

Olga and Rick discuss race strategy

I had the same fuel plans on this as I do any race. The nice thing is I had what I wanted every mile, plus what the race sets out too. Food and drink were never an issue today.

Other 100 k finishers! Yeah! Go Michelle!

By mile 6 my legs were hurting. Crap! Mile 6!! Oh well thats what I get for doing the double only two weeks earlier. I was running most of the course early. Sometimes I would walk the little hills or if I was running with someone who was walking that was fine with me. Gail, Rick and I probably did the first 10 miles or so together off and on. Someone would take a "P" break and the others would continue on. Olga and I ran a bit early on but she was a bit more determined than I was on this day. I just wasn't in a hurry.

OK got to change gears here. I stopped writing this blog at this point about a week ago. For some reason I just couldn't get into it. Not sure why? I just felt like I didn't have much to say. Strange when you run the farthest you ever have in your life. Well I will press on and post some pictures, maybe I will have some more to say about it in the future.

I just kind of ran by my self for 10 or 15 miles...just cruisin' along enjoying the day. Around mile 29 or so our fellow Slug Eric showed up to run some with us, plus he brought drugs!!! Coffee!!! Nice! So he joined in and trotted with us. We got to Rick's last lap of his 50k and Olga grabs Gails hand and says "Lets walk". So we all walk Rick's last lap. I run ahead and get in position to take some "glamor" shots of Rick crossing the finish line with a woman on each side of him. We all got a good laugh.

Rick crosses the 50k finish with the "Hottie sisters"

"OK I'm done! Now where is my car?"

So Rick was done and I was jealous. Off we went with Eric for more miles and chatting. Around mile 10 Eric was off to his home as he had an early morning ahead of him. Around this time Gail and I kept running together. Just a run-walk-eat-drink kind of race. We would talk about whatever was up. At one point Tim Englund said "There go the Henry's" as we passed him...that was a good one. The amount of runners in the race was getting smaller every hour. As darkness rolled in there may have been only 20 or so of us out there.

The coffee delivery man, Mr. Eric

Around the time we hit 50 miles a bunch of runners who had run a 50k earlier in the day up north got on the course to do some more miles. (Yeah we are all a bit nuts) So we got another 10 runners around 9 pm or so. It did add a little fun as they had more energy than most of us. Gail and I had hit the wall pretty good. We were walking more and not happy with how we felt. Gail started to have nauseous feelings. She had never had these and now knew how I feel at many a race. She is not sure if it was the pizza or not. But others were not feeling too hot either. At this point we decided to walk two miles to see if we would feel a bit better. It did seem to work and we went back to running.

Around eleven o'clock I had 4 miles to go to reach 100k. I told Gail "My leg hurts and I need to run. It hurts more to walk than run" So off I went. I ran pretty hard the first couple miles, then I was tired and walked about half the next lap. I could smell the finish but my energy level was pretty low. The last lap went pretty good and I told the lap counters that this was it, my 100k. They said "you are done for good?" "Oh yeah..this is it!" So they watched me add the quarter mile or so to get to the 100k cone. I crossed and raised my arms. It felt good to run 62 miles but it was not a feeling of elation but more of satisfaction of completing a mission.

Lap counter sheet. Running was much easier

Gail was two miles behind me. As I walked back to our aid station she was finishing lap 60. She was pretty beat and decided to sit for a bit in our chairs. She thought a rest might help her. She was battling her demons, bad stomach, Achilles tendon pain and loss of energy. I just let her be. At this point often that is whats best. Work it out and then get on with it. I told her I would start carrying all our stuff to the cars so that when she got done we could just leave.

Gail's secret ultra marathon food, bacon

Well it took me about 6 trips to carry all our AS setup to the car. Yeah we did have a kitchen sink in there I think. It was allot! I would say goodbye to friends as they kept going round and round.
I had finished a few seconds after midnight. So in 15 hours I got my 100k/62 miles in. I was OK with that.

By the time I got the cars packed I was starting to get a bit sleepy tired. I stretched out the best I could in my car. Then I started to get light headed. "No not the I'm gonna pass out feeling" I never do pass out but I have had instances of getting a cold sweat, little tunnel vision and feel like I am going to pass out but it never really gets to that total darkness stage. What I think happens is your breath rate doesn't return to normal after a long race. The rate at which you are breathing stays the same but you don't need that much oxygen. You then begin to hyperventilate. I put my feet up on the passenger side front window with my head barely hanging out the driver side window. I could feel the anxiety coming on. I needed to relax, get my feet above my head and slow down my breathing. I even got nervous that what will I do when Gail comes up and I have gotten sick all over the car. I was a bit whacko at this point. It didn't last for more than 10 or 15 minutes when I got it under control.

Fifty minutes later Gail came up to the car. She was done!! Nice! She finished just before 1 am and got her 100k in. I am always in awe of her. So we rested a bit and then headed out for our 60 mile drive home. Now that was rough for me as I was soooooo tired. Next time I take a nap first.

Thoughts one week later? I am glad I did it. It was fun most of the time. Was it too far? Yes. Will I go farther, maybe. I really enjoy the people. But I guess most folks in the institution like those people too. Ha! Did it hurt? Yes. I can hardly run now. Been to the doc twice. Same thing on my leg as the PCT injury last year that kept me out of Waldo. The Rumble this weekend....sadly its doubtful. I'm on PT, drugs and lots of ice. So we shall see. Rest now and be strong later or run and be hurt for another month or so. Decisions.....

Thanks to all that took pictures. I did "borrow" some from you. Sarah and Bart...thanks for counting laps. Fred..nice job as run a good show. And to the Lisa's, Olga's, Tim's, Ben's and all the others. You are all so impressive. Thanks for letting us Slugs run with you. You don't know how much you all silently teach me. Eric, you da coffee man! And Rick you are back!
And all the runners that chatted with me. I know many of you and more I know your face but not your name. Thanks for sharing the miles.

Most miles winners Lisa and Tim. Nice job!

See you all soon, Bret.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shamrock 15k

Oh the joy of running in the rain and wind. Sunday our little group of Slugs got together to do Portland's famous Shamrock run. They have distances for everyone in this race. 1 mile, 5k, 8k and 15k. It is the biggest race in Portland. This year they estimated almost 20,000 runners came out. Ruby made the plan to get us all to do this race. The runners in the group were in various levels of fitness so this made a good match for all of us to do.

Trying to stay warm....brrrr!

The weather was just plain ugly Sunday. Steady rain, 45 degrees and a wind gusting over 35 mph at times. Gail and I got ready and I got us a couple of big garbage bags to wear while we were hanging out for the start. We parked on the east side of the Willamette river to avoid the massive parking mess on the west side, and walked over the bridge. It was just really blowing on that bridge.

View of the staging area from the Morrison Bridge.

We met our friends and all were running except Eric who is too old to run...oh I mean he has a rib injury which kept him out today but he still showed up to chat. Everyone was freezing waiting in the rain. But Gail and I got lucky and only my feet were cold with the garbage bag over my body.

Ruby, Abbe, and Garbage Bag Lady.

Abbe, Rick, Ruby, Eric, Gail, Bret, Katie & Tom.

Well it was close to race time and Gail ran off to the Port-A-Johns and we waited for her to come back. She never did come back and the gun went off for the start of the 15k but the line was so big it took over 5 minutes for the runners to cross the start line. I kept waiting for her to show up but I soon figured she must have already left and gotten in line for the race. I went around a fence just up from the start line and was actually behind the two cop cars that trail the final runners. I passed them and crossed the start line. Since it was a chip timed race it didn't matter when I started.

View of Start line as I took off late.

My goal for this race to was to run fast but don't push hard as to get hurt. I don't do much speed work so this could a good way to get an injury. I ran on and after about a mile I caught up to Rick and Ruby. I chatted for a bit then pressed on. The course is flat for about a mile then begins the climb up Broadway. Up at mile 1.5 or so I met up with Gail. Still running in her garbage bag! (I had taken mine off and put in my pocket for later use). I gave her a hug and continued up the hill. I always run this area at an easy pace because it is a good 600 foot climb up the hill to the top of Terwilligar hill. We go past Dunaway Park and Track and start the turn up the big hills. I still am only running 8:50's or so up the hill not wanting to get out of breath or get hurt. I then saw Abbe and gave her a little push up the hill. It was a quick "Hi" and I continued on.

On this course I just know that once we hit the top you gonna fly down the backside so just go easy. The wind was really starting to howl up on the hill. The tops of the fir trees were really swaying. (Actually numerous trees got knocked down and people lost power later this day) We hit the apex of the hill and I began to let my legs go. We turned on to Barbour Blvd and this headwind turned into an awesome tailwind. "Now I can go" I thought. My pace picked up to 7:10 or so. Not wanting to push much more as my hamstrings already were starting to sing to me. I passed tons of folks since I started last. I sometimes feel bad doing that in a race like this because I am not really fast, I just started at the end. I respect every person out here doing the 9 miles. It is a true effort!

My legs never really got tired during the race, even after my first ever 70+ mile week. We went by the beer and donut stand and I was tempted to grab some but was on the wrong side of the street. But boy you could sure smell the beer on the street for a few hundred yards! We cruised on down Nato Parkway and I crossed the finish in 1:19:44. A respectable 8:33 pace for this hilly course. Most of my last 4 miles were around a 7:25 pace so that felt good.

I went back to the start line to see our friends cross. Gail was the only one I ended up seeing and we got together and left fairly quickly. They give you free beer and clam chowder but the line was huge. We gave our beer tickets away to a couple of women and they were very happy! Gail ended up doing a nice 10 minute pace for the run. Abbe ran a 9:30 pace and Rick and Ruby a 11:30 with their run-walk style. Tom's back locked up on him and the poor guy had to DNF at mile one. Katie did the 8k and finished with a 10:10 pace and a new long distance for the year! Good job Slugs! We have to do this more often. But please bring better weather next time.

We are so warm we can't stop smiling!!!

I didn't know Abbe was Irish?

It was a fun but very cold day. I have the Pacific Rim 24 hour run up next in Longview. I am not sure how this will turn out but the plan is to go for a 100k (62 miles). If anyone wants to come up and run with me I will be at Sacajawea Park in Longview from 9am Saturday to who knows . Figure at least 10pm Saturday night but the race goes until 9am Sunday morning. I will run as long as I can. But because it is a mile loop course (nice one at that!) and you see your car every time around it will be hard not to go home.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 2 of the Double Pictures

Some Picutres from our Marathon at Piney Point, Maryland.

This guy was playing the trumpet as his spouse came down to the finish line. Was very well done.

The school area near the finish line. Was a nice mid 70's by this time. Was great to lay in the grass and relax after the race.

Gail just steps away from finishing 26 miles the day after doing a 28 mile trail run. Go Detour!

Congrats! You got another one. 31 is it? "Yeah it was an easy day"

Gail's bloody legs after going "offroad". I will let you ask her.

Oh the happy couple. They love traveling and doing road and trail races all over the country.
But I wonder how they feel about doing another "Double"?

I guess that answers that question. Sorry I asked.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day Two of the "Maryland Vacation"

(Note: Pictures will be posted later)

Gail always tells me "It's not a vacation if we are running a race." Well she has come a long way. She even referred to it as "our vacation" a couple of times on this trip. Maybe it was the run down to sun and fun in Phoenix that helped, or maybe the nice sunny weather we had on the this trip east. Whatever it was this was going to be a big test for both of us.

We had a great hotel in Lexington Park, the city near our next race, the Lower Potomac River Marathon. I got us a suite at the Hampton Inn because I thought it would really help us relax for the race. It was money well spent. We lost an hour before this race because of the switch over to Daylight Savings Time but it really wasn't too bad. Our drive to the start line only took about 20 minutes and it was easy to find. Which was a large school of Seamanship right on the Potomac River. It was great to be inside until right before race time. This race ended up only having about 150 runners (50 no shows) so it was the perfect size for me. Crowds cheering you on are nice, but less runners on the course are my choice.

We walked out to the driveway of the school and were given a quick briefing. No Ipods because this is a road marathon and the roads are not closed (Not happy but can see the RD's point). Easy not to get lost as it is a loop / out and back course. OK she is done. Now its 7:15 and off we go.

Ouch, I moving? These were the sounds I made in the first few steps. I wasn't really sore but I was just so stiff and didn't feel like I was even moving. After about a half mile I looked at my watch, 11:43 pace! "I really am not moving! Wow!" Oh well this was to be expected. My legs hurt from the first stride in my first double. And yes Detour I was thinking "Maybe I shouldn't have done the marathon instead of the 32 miles the day before?".

For about 2 miles or so Gail and I ran together. I slowly started to get faster at that point so I said bye and went ahead on my own. I wish I would have been able to turn on my music to take my mind away from the pain in my legs, but it wasn't to be today. The course headed out to a little island that is accessed by a bridge. We do a loop down one side, back towards the bridge and do another loop down the other side before crossing back over the bridge to the mainland. At this point we are at about mile 5 or so and it feels like mile 22 in a normal marathon. Today was to be a constant battle but I was to make the best of it.

We passed back by the start area and then made a turn west to go out towards the Piney Point Creek area on a little peninsula. It was probably the most interesting viewing of the race as we went along some nice homes on one side and beach on the other. At the turnaround I felt I had a rock in my shoes or my blister that I had gotten on my big toe yesterday was acting up. (Please be a rock, please be a rock!) So I stopped and sat down and took off my shoe and sock and a little pebble came out. (Thank you, thank you!!) I got back on the course and lumbered along. By this time I was probably running just over a 10 minute pace but legs still felt the same. We came out back on the main highway and headed back north. The road is a rural 2 lane road with very wide shoulders. The problem is that in many parts the grade on the side of the road was very angled so it was a pain to run on and my knee did start to hurt here in this area. As soon as it flattened out the knee pain stopped.

On this long out back all I thought about was how slow the miles are going by today. I tried to just concentrate on the next mile but couldn't help myself from saying "you only have 13 more miles to go!" Which wasn't allot of fun. This is a very boring area to run in. Just cars, long straight aways and a few good hills to climb. Around mile 13 or so I saw the leader, Chuck Engle go by. I cheered on to him and he always answers by saying "Yes Sir!" Either I am old or it is just his way of responding but I have heard this from him in the past. Great guy if you ever meet him. His main competition was a kid who was 15 minutes late to the start and still came in second!!! He was just flying like this was a 10k and probably would have won the race if he was on time.

I finally hit the turnaround on this course which was around mile 18 or 19. I still had hills to climb and descend but it was nice to be heading back to the barn. At this point some guy passes me saying out loud "I ran 32 miles yesterday and now I am doing a marathon! Isn't that amazing!! I should be in the newspaper! Wow! Woo-hoo!!" I'm thinking, who is this guy? Buddy you are not alone out here. There are other stupid people like me doing a double too. Don't what his deal was but it was a tad strange.

The weather was great I started thinking. Sunny but high clouds so not too hot. Probably temp around 70 just like yesterday, with just a little breeze at times. I was getting fast the entire race. By now I was running 9:15 pace or so at mile 20. No one was passing me for the last 10 miles or so. My usual style of getting faster but today seemed more pronounced as the day progressed. I wasn't fast by any means but I was getting faster. My goal was just to be in somewhere around 5 hours. Just get it done and not get hurt.

At around mile 22 I saw Gail going the other direction. She didn't look too happy and yelled at me to "Come back and get me if you feel up to it." Oh I thought...yikes...she must be really having a rought day if she wants me to get the car and come get her. Maybe we I get back out on the course she will be doing better. What will I say to help her stay out on the course? Supportive but if she really wants to quit that is her choice. This is a tough thing to do. Not allot of folks have ever run 30 marathons let alone a double! Boy I love this woman!

We yell at each other across the road for 30 seconds or so and then press on. I continue to think about what she is going through. I wish I could help or at least know more of how she feels.

I hit mile 21 and run in to the port a potty, only second time this race even though I have been hydrating more than normal due to what I expect as more stress on my body and its need for extra fluids. I still gel every half hour but I am getting sick of all the but the chocolate ones as the fruit ones taste too sweet! Yuck!

The miles click off and I am getting faster. Some miles are actually under 9 minutes now. I can smell the finish. I pass more runners even though we are so spaced out on the course. By mile 24 I am still hurting but moving faster. Two miles to get this done, its in the bag now. Mile 25, I see a woman way ahead of me on this long straight road, I will never catch her as she is running. Mile 25.5 I see the woman running past a man walking. I am getting closer, I pass her and the man. Never thought I would do that. Funny how I don't make posts about the folks I pass but this one just stuck in my mind. I think it was that I was going faster each mile towards the end. Strange.

Mile 26, Yeah! I turn the corner back into the college area. I see the finish. I keep pushing but not a sprint. There are 25 or so people cheering as I cross the finish line, 4:36:40 the clock says. Boy am I happy with that! Much better than I expected to do. Yeah its slow for me on an easy course like this but I got her done.

A young girl puts a medal around my neck. I am not much for medals anymore but I do like the feeling of accomplishment for that moment when they give you your medal. It does feel good. I walk around for a bit, get some water and run into the winner Chuck Engle. We talk and I say "You finished in 2:38 I bet". He says "A tad over 2:39". I was close. Just some mental exercises I like to do on the course to keep my mind off the discomfort. We have a good talk about his race and running in Oregon. I then walk in to the building and they have an awesome buffet set up for us, white table cloth and all! I grab some pasta and drink as I am pretty hungry. My plan is to stall for a bit to give Gail some time to work through her discomfort. I felt like if I get out to her with 6 miles to go or so it would be easier for her to quit rather than hopefully she has only 3 miles or so to go. It sounds mean but it is like we all feel in Ultra's. You have your highs and your lows. I am hoping when I talked with her it was her low.

I jump in the car and get out to where she is. I think it was around mile 24 when I met up with her. She is yelling at me that she is fine. I don't need anything. I try to tell her she looks great and the end is near, and you got it made etc. But she doesn't seem to want to hear what I have to say so I leave her be and feel good that she is back running and will finish this double too.

I go back and park the car and head to the finish line. I lay in the sun and enjoy the day while waiting for Gail to finish. And here she comes running it in! Whoo hoo! She got it! "Go Detour!!!!!"
She crosses in 5:38, a great time for her first double. We chat and I find out how I screwed up. Well my brain wasn't working too good and when we crossed paths on the course at mile 17 (for her) she was trying to tell me to walk back out on the course if I felt up to it. That is to come meet her on foot, not with the car dummy! Oh...sorry...I misunderstood. Opps....I guess my brain was fried too. But it all worked out. We are done!

We went inside and had some of the great food they had for us. Then hoped in the car for the short 20 minute drive back to our hotel. It was nice not to have to drive to an airport and leave now but to be able to relax and enjoy our accomplishment.

We got back and took another ice bath, less screaming from both of us this time but still was pretty uncomfortable. We went out to eat and had some drinks and big dinners as we celebrated our double. It is strange is this sport. So many of my running friends that I talk to at these races have done many doubles, so at times I feel like what we just did was not really that big of a deal. But when you look at society we are a very very small percentage of the general population. I don't mean to be boastful but I think you need to pat yourself on the back with you do feats like this. It gives you self worth. Which in turn gives you the confidence to attempt something else that you never thought you could ever do. I am so proud of Gail, she had never run much over 4 miles until she was 39 and then we trained for our first marathon. Now at 48 she has done 31 marathons or longer, a few 50 milers and numerous 50k's. You know how special that is? How many 48 year old woman can claim to do that? Not many. A few people have told her and I how bad it is for your body to do this kind of stuff. Even nurses and Doctors who she works with. Well my response is "Yes you are right. This is not healthiest thing for me to do in my life. But you know what? It keeps me from sitting on my ass watching TV every day. It gives me a goal to shoot for. I am not stupid. I won't do doubles every month. I won't push hard to get my speed up. I know my legs will only last for so long. But I feel good after I do these races. I have a glow. I like this feeling. And yes Doctor you are is not the perfect thing to do. But hopefully the strength I build from this will allow my muscles to help support my joints as I get older." Ok, OK, I am done!!! I like this blog cause I can rant like this and no one has to read it if they don't want to.

Well we are done, we headed home the next day to Portland via DC and Seattle. It was a long day but we just relaxed and watched some DVD's on the plane. It was good to be home and see the kids. I know they missed us but the sitter took good care of them.

Whats next? Well the Slugs are all doing the Shamrock 15k next Sunday March 15th. Speed...yikes I don't haz dat! Should be fun to try and run fast again. After that I think it will probably be Sean's 60k in Sisters. That race has kicked my butt the last two years. It is a great course, hopefully I am ready for it this year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seneca Creek 50k and Marathon Pictures

Just found some of these pix online. They are from the trail race we did on Saturday in Maryland. This was a nice wide part of the trail early on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day One

Gail and I had arrived in the DC area a couple of days before the race. We had planned to fly to NYC and play around but a big snowstorm forced us to go to Phoenix and sit in the 75 degree sunshine and watch Spring Training Baseball. ( I know it is rough).

This was to be our first attempt and running a back to back marathon, or a double as it might be called. Our first one is in Northern Maryland and the second is in the Southern part of the state the next day. The first race is called the Seneca Creek - Greenway Trail Marathon and 50k. It is run 95% on trails. We parked at the finish line and were bussed about 20 miles or so to the start near Damascus, MD. at Seneca Creek Park. It was a pretty low key event with about 300 runners doing either of the two races. This marathon was a long one, actually about 28.4 miles they said. The 50k was about 32.5 miles. The way they talked you could make a decision at the end to do the 50k or the marathon. I thought that was a great idea as if I felt good I might do the 50k. Gail and I had discussed this and she didn't think it was very intelligent of me to try and do a 50k first before my first double.

The race started on a road in the park. We soon dropped on to a paved bike path and over the the first mile or so dropped about 300 feet in elevation. This was to be the largest drop on the course as we went from around a 1,000 feet to almost sea level at the Potomac River at Riley's Lock. I felt good and the weather was awesome, probably 60 degrees and blue sky. So great to run in short sleeves! After a mile or so we dropped onto some single track trail in the woods. If you are not familiar with east coast woods, they are very barren. That is that there is virtually no undergrowth in the winter, just leaves on the ground. Most the trees are deciduous so you can see for a long way as the leaves are off the trees. This makes it quite easy to see the trail ribbons from a great distance.

Gail and I ran together for the first few miles then I started passing some folks on the single track. After about 4 miles we came upon the first stream crossing of the day. There was a big line up to cross at an area where there was a rope and rocks laid across the stream. After about a minute a bunch of us said, "Who cares!" and we ran across the river on our own and the water only came up mid shin. The bank on the far side was rather steep and muddy and I had to push a womans tush up the hill as she giggled away. I then pulled another runner up and off we went, squishy shoes and all.

The trail though out the day just meandered through the woods and along the creek. You often felt miles from anywhere but would look up the hillside and see many nice homes back yards. We would cross a few major roads now and then but mostly you felt alone on the trail. We went through some pretty diverse areas, open fields, bogs, muddy areas, pine forrests, and many other types of wood I don't know the name of. I really enjoyed this trail and wish it was in my back yard.

I was feeling good today. High clouds had rolled in so it was warm but not hot with the sun out. I was drinking and gel'n in my normal fashion. I was picking off runners as I usually do after the first 5 miles or so. After awhile I was basically on my own which was very nice. The trails were pretty smooth with the usual roots and some rocks but very runnable course the entire way.

At about mile 15 I came up to an aid station, a woman approached and said "50k or Marathon?" I said "I don't know yet". She said "You have to decided here, because you have to do the four mile loop around this lake if you want to do the 50k. You look good, do the 50k" "OK" I said. Was this to be a big mistake??? My first double and I decide to make day one a 50k....hmmm...wonder how this will turn out.

Well I ate some taters and some great turkey and cheese sandwiches and went off around the lake. It was a nice loop with just some usual rollers. I started chatting with a nice woman from Florida who was training for the Miwok 100k. I slowed down for a few miles just to chat. My legs still felt great with no distress anywhere. I got back to the original AS, refueled and joined the regular trail at mile 19.

I ran into Larry Macon, marathoner of the year. This guy is 64 years old and ran 104 marathons in 2008! He has ran over 500 marathons in his life. He is the nicest guy and remembers who you are. As I came up on Larry for the second time on the day (he was doing the marathon only) we chatted and he said he had talked with Gail and said she wasn't too far ahead. So I passed Larry and off I went. Searching for the "Detour".

Probably less than a half mile later I could see Gail up ahead of me. I had a trailer behind me for the last 8 miles or so. She would get close behind and I would offer to let her by but she kindly would say no, but once did say she liked my Marathon Maniacs fluorescent green hat because she could always see me and kept her from getting lost we she dropped back. As I approached Gail I let the gal go by me. I yelled "Hey Detour". Gail turns around and says back "Idiot!!!" We both understood she was describing my decision to do the 50k rather than the marathon. Opps another mental mistake. Ha!

By this point we had probably 12 miles to go. This race is 2 miles longer than a usual marathon and 50k. I decided pretty much then to stick with Gail for the remainder of the race. I felt really strong and would have pushed on if we just had the one race to do. But it is always so much fun to run with Gail and this was the perfect opportunity to do that. It would allows to have some fun and to keep me from over doing it as I chose the longer distance. We kept on going, chatting sometimes and going with our ipod's on at other times. We did a combo run walk and probably walked 25% of the time.

At the Berryville Road AS we had about 4 miles to go. We forded another stream which felt sooo good to me. Gail has a different opinion on cold feet during a race than I do! We climbed a small hill and a runner was laying on the side of the trail, but was with his son so we pressed on after asking if we can help. I was getting a bit tired but still felt good at this point, my GPS said this was mile 32. We came out on a gravel road and I knew the finish was close. We had a group of French runners pass us a mile or so back and soon when we were about to pass them back. We got on the last mile stretch to the finish and I told Gail "We got to beat the French!" so I made her push it up a bit. This was not a good choice for marital relations but it did keep us ahead of the French running team!

There was the finish line. Just a low key area with a timer and a few folks. We both crossed together finishing in 6:51:28. Not a bad time for this long course. We had to walk a quarter mile or so to the picnic area where they had the food. It was a nice spread with shredded chicken, hot dogs and numerous other types of food. It was a warm day so just hanging out eating and chatting was pretty nice in March in short sleeves and shorts. I felt fine after this race, no real upset stomach or such. I drank a large Starbucks Mocha Frap and a cup of coffee too. Later i would get a large Coke Slurrpee for 7-11. I love my caffeine after a race.

We got a ride back to our car with the Race Director. We told him this was a great race. Plus it only cost $20!!!! So all you big time Marathons charging over $100 take note here. This RD also doesn't use an online service and says he uses the extra money to buy more food for the finish. So for $20 bucks he buses you to the start, has a few port a potties on the course, provides course food and one of the better spreads at the finish. So if you want to know how he does it his name is Ed Schultze and can be reached at

Gail and I got back to our car by about 3:30 pm. We figured we had about a 2 hour drive to get to the next race location. We stopped at Chez Mac's for a nice fish dinner and pressed on. The drive was pretty nice as we went around the east side of DC then south along Route 4 to Lexington Park. We got a nice suite at the Hampton Inn for two nights. Gail was determined to take an ice bath as our friends who had run doubles before said this is a requirement to take the soreness out of your legs. So we decided to just do cold water in the tub first. I went and got 3 big bags of ice to put in the tub as she got used to the temperature. I went into the the other room when I heard the screams and moans start. I thought she was dieing in the there! It took a long time for her to get all the way in the water but she did it for a good 15 to 20 minutes with me pouring more and more ice in as she adjusted to the temp.

Then it was a my turn. Big tough guy would have no problem. As soon as my tush hit that ice water I was screaming like a baby wanting his mama! It took me forever to get my breathing slowed down. Man that was cold!

Well after all that we went across the street for a nice dinner. We tried to eat allot as we figured we burned a ton of calories. My GPS watch said I burned about 6,000 calories just in the race.
We went back to the room. It was to be a short night as we had to "Spring Forward" for daylight savings time. It will be nice to have the extra hour of sunlight but why tonight on the day two our our first double. Sleep did not come easy as our minds contemplated our fate the next day. Day 2 post to follow.