Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's All About Moving Forward

"You know you're an ultrarunner when you go to bite into a hamburger at the finish line bar-b-q and get a cramp in your jaw" - Thomas Kennedy

Well, this has been quite a week. First, I want to thank all of you that have sent your prayers and thoughts for my wife's recovery after surgery. On Thursday, she had a back fusion and I'm happy to report she is doing excellent. I don't know how happy she is about living with a Physical Therapist, but at least I try to keep her on her feet with laps around the house and using proper form with her ups and downs. I think wearing a stopwatch around my neck adds a nice coaching flair to all of this. We've begun some hill training (stairs) and intervals are coming up soon. I've about convinced her to wear a pedometer to see how much she walks everyday. Yes, I've planted seeds of PR's and time goals. I thought getting her a GPS watch might be pushing it a little. Hmmm, maybe I'll give her my old one and heck, what could I do but get a new one? Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts and we both hope her "marathon" training goes smoothly.

I know I promised a couple of times that this blog wouldn't be a review of endurance events going on around the world, but Good Grief, this stuff just doesn't stop amazing me and it keeps coming. Last week, I wrote about a new Ironman World Record of 7:45 and how amazing it was. Well, that "unbreakable" record lasted all of one week!! Andreas Raelert did a 7:41:33 at the Ironman Roth in Germany. This is getting ridiculous with the times. He did a 2:41 marathon! In addition, at the same IM, Chrissie Wellington also set a Women's WR with a 8:18:13. Not only did she run a 2:45 marathon, but she did a negative split!! For you new guys to running, that means she did the 2nd half of the marathon faster than the first! In the 30+ years I have been doing marathons, I don't know if I EVER ran a negative split. I was lucky to finish on the same day I started. With that time, she would have a qualifying time for the USA Olympic Trials! Too bad she's Australian.

Also, last week, I wrote about how tough the Tour De France riders were. I was talking about their endurance - NOT riding along at 30 MPH and getting hit by one of the Press cars, careening the rider into a barbed wire fence!!! Holy crap!!!! Now, here's where the toughness comes in. This guy gets 33 stitches, zips up his man-suit and gets back on the bike, finishing the 118 mile stage! There are definitely different levels of toughness, and this guy is near the top of the pyramid.

Got an interesting email yesterday, wanting to know if the marathon training clinic had any fee attached. I answered him, asking what clinic he was referring to. He forwarded me the latest Trak Shak (our great local running store) newsletter, stating that "Once again, starting September 18th, Al DiMicco & Ken Harkless will be conducting the Mercedes Training Runs". Sometimes, you're the last to know! But yes, as we have done for the past hundred years or so, Ken & I will be gathering up the troops on Sunday mornings and yelling "go". I have put the training schedules for both the half and full Mercedes runs on the sidebar of my website You can also find the maps there for most of our runs. We won't begin the training for 2 months, but it won't hurt to build a base now. I'll write more about the philosophy of the runs (pace, courses, schedule,etc) as we get closer. Email me if you have any questions. Oh, and yeah, it's free, so no whining!

Finally, it seems like I'm doing a lot of reading this summer and most of it seems to be revolving around the great running endurance events. This week, I'm about halfway finished with Tales From Out There: The Barkley Marathons, The World's Toughest Trail Race by Ed Furtaw. For the past 25 years, every March, an almost impossible trail run is held in Frozen Head State Park in Eastern Tennessee. Every year, the race director changes the course a little in an effort to make it impossible for "runners" to finish. He's been pretty successful with only 10 finishers in the 25 years! It is advertised as a 100 mile run with an accompanying 60 mile "fun run". There are 20 mile loops that have time limits you have to meet to be allowed to continue the next loop, but generally, the total time limit is 40 hours for the fun run and 60 hours for the whole enchilada. Sounds pretty liberal with the time, doesn't it?
1) the loops were finally measured by GPS and found to be 26 miles long making the total of the runs 78 miles/130 miles with 49,000 feat of elevation in the long run!!!! But, the Race Director still calls the distance 60/100.
2) The Race Director is Gary Cantrell, who I used to know pretty good in my formative Ultra days. He lives near Brushy Mt. State Prison and in the early 80's, James Earl Ray (the assassin of Martin Luther King) escaped into the Frozen Head area. FIFTY-FOUR hours later he was caught TWO miles from the prison completely lost, dehydrated, severely cut up, and probably glad to be caught. Gary thought, "Hell, in 54 hours I could be halfway across the state!". So, he ran in the park, saw the difficulties James Earl encountered, thought about the possibilities, and he designed this poorly marked, brier-laced, incredibly mountainous, nearly impossible race.
Good reading when you want to see what that "there's-another-world-out-there" is doing.

Ok folks, that's about it from the RWA studio for this week. Good luck to the USA Women in the World Cup Gold Medal soccer game tomorrow. I'm in the great minority here in Alabama, but this is my kind of football. I won't be at Brownell on Sunday this week, but I'll be sure to see you all someplace on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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