Sunday, January 29, 2012

Run For WWP

On March 26, Jamie Summerlin (Morgantown, WV) will embark on a 100-day journey across the U.S.A. -- covering over 3,300 miles.  He is running in part as a fundraiser to support the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and other Veteran's organizations.  Check out his website:  

Please consider donating to his cause, helping with connections across the country, or sharing some miles along the way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Highlands Trail Foundation

I am excited to announce the formation of a "new" trail maintenance/advocacy group in the WV Highlands.  The Highlands Trail Foundation (a non-profit organization) has been around for quite a while with its main focus being the completion of the Allegheny Highlands Trail -- a rails-to-trails path following the original route of the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railway traveling from Elkins to Thomas.  Now that the route is nearly complete, save the final mile in to the Elkins Train Depot, the group is initiating a new committee to focus on other trail maintenance and advocacy in the surrounding areas of the AHT.

If you're a Facebook user, be sure to check out the newly created page HERE.  As spring approaches, we plan to hit the ground running with a concerted effort of improving and maintaining local trails.  One of our goals as a committee is to establish a network of trails in or very near the city of Elkins.  If joining or helping with such activities interests you and you're from the area, please feel free to join us! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Frozen Sasquatch 50K

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of running the 3rd Annual Frozen Sasquatch 50K (yes, this is a quite belated race report).  This is one of my favorite races for several reasons.  First, it's directed by my good friend Mike Dolin, secondly it's a great race to start the year on the buttery single track of Kanawha State Forest outside of Charleston, WV.  The first two years were indicative of the namesake -- Frozen -- this year it felt more like spring.  Here are my race reports from the previous two year for proof: 2010   2011.

The year 2011 was all about the AT-Journey for me.  Although I ran this race in 2011, I didn't really "race" it or any other races for the entire year as I prepared for and recovered from such a big effort.  To say that I've missed racing over the past year would be a vast understatement.  I was very excited for this return to racing, but I had reasonable expectations.  Although I had been running fairly well for about two months prior, I knew that I wouldn't have the speed to keep up with the guys at the very front.  Did I mention that I was super excited to be running a race?

Photo: Dan Todd

The race started out benignly enough and I was ushered along as the first man to hit the tight single track.  I led the way for the speedy peleton behind me up the first climb and onto the double track around mile-2.  I knew that they were going to leave me in their dust, but I enjoyed the few minutes of glory.  The lead pack stuck together for a bit -- chatting goals, making introductions, and enjoying the company on a beautiful day in the woods.  Before too many miles passed by, Michael Owen and his friend John Williams (in his first ultra) took the opportunity to break the race wide-open.  I was correct in my thinking that they were gone for good -- ultimately en route to smashing Eric Grossman's course record by 25-minutes (with the aid of the more generous condtions).  Very impressive times for sure.

I was running a "Ryan Hall race".  Not so much the new RH that obviously has honed his racing prowess (ie. Boston '11 and the recent OT's), but RH circa 2010 that was known more for running his own race and almost "time-trialing" the marathon.  A friend of mine was kind enough to give me a Garmin 405 that he was not getting any use out of.  This is not something that I thought I ever wanted, but after messing around with it some in the previous weeks, I thought it could be useful for at least being cognizant of my pacing.  I set the little trainer dude at 8:42 pace/mile which equated to a 4:30 finish and thought I'd see how close I could stay to that pace.  I looked at it a time or two during the first lap, but was definitely surprised to come through the first half in 2:08/2:09.  This was probably way too fast for my current fitness (considering the CR for the 25K was 2:07), but I thought I could do another lap in 2:11-2:15 without much difficulty.  This is where I was mistaken.  I didn't blow-up or consciously slow down, but lap two became an even-split nightmare.  What I forgot from not racing for a full year was that as the race progresses, you must increase the effort (read: pain) to keep the pace even close to even!  I kept the effort even and what I got was a big floppin' 2:26.  You can check out the fancy tech. watch info HERE.

Rounding the corner to the finish.  Photo: Dan Todd

So there it was, 4:35 and 4th place, but pure bliss to be back out on the trails RACING again.  It's fun to go your own pace for a while, but there's nothing like the race day magic to get the competitive juices flowing and to pull the best out of yourself.  I've missed the camaraderie of the sport and just being around "my people".  It's good to be back and I count myself privileged to be part of this great sport and community.