- First of all, thank you to anyone who has helped to set out fluids. It is a big help, and always appreciated.
- It is critical that people RSVP on the group runs so we can prepare the correct amount of fluids. Last weekend we had a great crowd of runners, but I only brought enough bottles to for those the RSVPed. I could have picked up more before the run, but thought I had things covered.
- You are welcome to put your own aid/gels/gus etc at the fluid stop, but be aware that we are leaving it out in public, and there is no guarantee it will not be disturbed. I had two unopened packs of Shot Bloks disappear during a 22 mile run. I am just about 100% certain it was not a runner.
- Before the runs I will tell you what is at the fluid stop. Most runners are happy to share what they bring, but please don't assume that gels are out there for everyone unless it is said before the run. This has never been a problem, but I want to be careful that we don't grab someone's aid when they really need it.
- There will be times when the RMEC puts out gels. After Medoc we always have some extra and we will make them available on group runs. This is normally when many of you are hitting you last long run for your training, so the timing works out well.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Not to be outdone, Brian ran an equally impressive race with a 1:05:17 time. This was good enough for 15th overall and 1st in his age group. Make no mistake about it, this was a competitive race. The Second Empire Series always brings out a strong group of runners. 268 runners competed, and over 80 of the finished with a sub 8:00 pace.
Frank Lilley was also back on the prowl this weekend when he competed in the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra. The concept of this event is simple to understand, but hard to do. . . Run as far as you can for 24 hours. The heat slowed everyone down, but Frank was able to log 31 miles (a 50k) before packing it in. The winner, Mike Morton just narrowly edged out Frank when he completed 153 miles. To read Frank's Race Report, check out his blog.
Friday, September 24, 2010
- Where: Saturday, 6:30 am @ Harris Teeter
- Supported: Yes at the Tracks
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: 4-Miles, 13-Miles
Miles 3-4 is busy, see please be aware, and stay on the shoulder of the road. If you want to cut off about a mile, do not turn right at mile 4; instead just turn left and cut out the out-and-back stretch. You could also cut almost two miles if you head back to the Teeter after the mile 10 fluid stop. In short, you can make the 13 mile route 10, 11, 12, or 13 miles by making a few adjustments.
When you are running, please know your route. If you do not know the routes, please print them out! As always, it is critical that you arrive hydrated. Please RSVP below with your pace and distance. Remember, we are starting at 6:30 now to allow for some extra sun light. See you all in the morning.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
When I started writing this, it was going to be about a dozen bullet points, but the more I wrote, the less I wanted to leave out. It turned out to be excessively long. If you think about it, this race is essentially the length of eight marathons and involved six people. So this may be a long read, but it is all relative. So this is my best shot. . .
First of all I need to share the training plan below that should be followed when preparing for the Blue Ridge Relay. I cannot take credit for this list. It comes from the Running-Down blog. The author ran on the Godiva Team with Sam at RRO.
The Running-Down Blue Ridge Relay Training Plan
- Rent a van, and park it in your driveway. Dump the contents of your recycling bin and garbage can inside of it. Add a few days of dirty laundry and mix well. Put a humidifier inside and let it run.
- Get a box of food. It does not matter what it is, because you won't want to eat it.
- Rent a porta-john and put it next to the van. Request one that is already full and not cleaned yet.
- Get an old pair of sunglasses and scratch up the lenses with sandpaper. These will be worn at night and in the morning to simulate fog.
- Assemble your team of 4-12 people, and sit in the van for several hours.
- Wait until the first person closes their eyes and starts to fall asleep.
- Immediately drive 3-10 miles away, and pull over on the side of a busy interstate with cars flying by at 80 miles an hour.
- Push the sleeping person out of the van and tell them to run back.
- Return the van to the driveway and wait until the runner finds their way back. Return to step #6 another 35 times.
- If you don't live in the mountains, you will need to simulate the 13% inclines/declines by pounding your legs with a rubber mallet.
- Every two minutes, shake the van back-and-forth to simulate nonstop motion.
- Put Alpo dog food in your shoes, and run near hungry animals.
- Set out signs on the road so you know where to turn, but don't actually stick them all in the ground.
- Every five minutes open and close all of the van doors (loudly)
- Pass a lot of gas in the van.
Imagine training for a marathon, but the day before the race you are not allowed to sleep or eat a good meal. Now also imaging you feel woozy from motion sickness, and the race course is more challenging than virtually 98% of marathons in the country.
That is pretty much what the Blue Ridge Relay is to an Ultra team. Of the 99 teams entered, 81 of them were non-ultra teams, and the vast majority of those had 12 runners. Completing the relay as a 12-man team is still a great accomplishment, but doing it all in one van is a different story. 12-man teams have a "runner van" and a "resting van". They resting van gets four hours to . . . well, rest. They can eat, sleep, and most importantly, not drive. For me the most challenging part was the constant motion of the van. We just never really had any down time.
So back to our team. We started at 11:30 am with four other teams. Another 10 teams were behind us, but the other 85 teams had all started the race. The earliest group started at 6:30 am. John had a great start for us running sub 6:00 pace for the first 4.2 miles. He passed the baton to Derek, and he jumped in the van. Over the next 60 minutes, you could say the wheels came off.
None of us had done a relay before so we were going into this as "relay virgins". When we leave Grayson Highlands State Park we see a large yellow sign with a right turn arrow. We are now on are way! We climb a small hill and see another yellow sign that says "Caution Runners". We follow the sign and continue down a long winding road. We see Derek, and he is looking strong coasting about 50 feet back of another Ultra team. After several more miles of driving we start to look for another turn sign and get worried. Did we miss a turn?
After several u-turns, checking the GPS, and looking at the directions we confirm our worst nightmare; we missed a turn . . . over four and a half miles ago.
The rules state you cannot advance a runner in your vehicle. This means Derek needs to turn around and climb about a four mile hill back to the missed turn. Remember that sign that said "Caution Runners"? Well, there was a left turn sign before it that was lying in the weeds on the side of the road knocked over. We patiently wait for Derek to return to the missed turn. When he gets there we give him the bad news: "You have about another six miles to go".
Leg two is supposed to be a seven mile run. By the time Derek makes the exchange with Dennis at Leg 3, he had already run 16 miles. We are now over an hour behind, and the 10 faster teams behind us have already caught up. By leg four we are in last place and the sun will soon be setting.
Okay, so now we are in disbelief. Honestly, how did this happen? We can blame it on the sign, but it is the team's responsibility to know the course. We are discouraged, frustrated, tired, and none of us have even run twice yet. We continued to push ahead and try to lift our morale. I think we took our anger and found a way to channel that into a new drive.
When the sun was almost out of site, we were waiting for Jeff to pass the baton to Dave. We heard that the race director wanted to talk to us. We found a cell phone that worked and gave him a call. He was concerned about how far back we were and that the volunteers were starting to get impacted. We assured him that the team was not running slow and we were making up time. He didn't tell us to do it, but you could tell by the tone of his voice he was hoping we would skip a leg to catch up. This is encouraged when a team falls behind. It allows them to finish the race, but would result in a DQ. We opted to keep running.
The other team that made the wrong turn in leg two, had another mistake soon after. Eventually they skipped a leg. It just so happens they skipped the 10 mile Grandfather Mountain leg. This is one of the toughest on the course. Derek ran this leg in total darkness with some pacing help from Dennis. This leg was crazy. For starters, even the volunteers had gone home and some of the signs were getting picked up while we ran. The run included everything from animals in the woods, to a car that drove in the ditch. Once we realized we were last all alone now and the other team had moved ahead, it became a rallying cry to not give up . . . to be honest we were “running pissed” at this point.
Following Derek's 10 mile climb, Dennis tore down the mountain on the shortest leg of the race (keep in mind he ran almost 5 extra with Derek). With a flashlight in each hand he looked like an ambulance coming down the hill. His average pace for that leg was under 6:00!
Running with a new purpose, team RMEC put our head down and just pushed. When we got to the exchange zones the volunteers were both happy to see us (because they could go home), and ready to punch us (for keeping them waiting). I say that tongue-in-cheek, because the volunteers were fantastic and always friendly.
Somewhere close to 3:30 am, we caught up with the other Ultra team that skipped a leg. This was a big confidence boost, because it was some validation that we really were moving pretty fast. Soon after we caught this team they opted to no longer continue and dropped out of the race. Team RMEC pushed on.
Dave had the next leg, and got about 2.5 miles ahead before we drove off in the van. We are now carefully following directions, and make the first right turn on to a windy, narrow, tree lined, dirt road. Imagine a Halloween horror movie. This is the kind of place that even the axe-wielding-mask-wearing-murderer is afraid. The fog was so thick at this point that you honestly could not see your hand in front of your face (not just an expression, this is true). As soon as we turned on the road in the van we knew that we had left Dave out there to suffer alone. We drove as fast as we could to catch up. We were happy to finally see his blinking red light ahead in the fog and know he was safe. We pulled up beside him to see if we should drive behind or in front. Dave's answer, "You bastards!". . . but he was still smiling.
I took the next leg after Dave. My leg was on paved roads and primarily downhill. I remember hearing water rushing in the stream beside me and knowing a waterfall was somewhere nearby. I couldn't see the water but enjoyed the sounds and imagined how beautiful it probably was. At times I could turn off my flashlight and run on moonlight alone. It gave me some peace as I ran down the hill. Of course I then started to think: "Don't bears and mountain lions drink out of streams?" This encouraged me to pick up the pace.
My timeline is probably off a bit, but somewhere around 4:00 am we were driving past Dave. Squinting ahead we see a blinking red light down the road. John gets excited and starts to shout “We got one! We caught a team! I knew it! We got one!”. Eventually we knew we would catch other teams, but we were expecting it to be closer to 9:00 am.
For the first time in over 12 hours we actually felt like we were part of a race. No longer were we the team that the volunteers were waiting on. No longer were we running alone in the dark. No longer were we feeling defeated. As the sun starts to come up, we see a few more teams, but still we are well in the back. Derek passes off to Dennis for the last “running-vest” portion (7:30 pm-7:30 am) portion of the race. This was the longest leg for Dennis, and he was on weary legs.
When we drive by Dennis he waves us to go ahead and meet him at the exchange zone. This turns out to be a beautiful flat leg that runs almost entirely beside a river. We drive ahead and see another runner. Two minutes later . . . another runner. We turn the corner . . . another runner. We come to the exchange zone and the lot is full of white passenger vans . . . heck yes! We are BACK! Our team is fired up!
We jump out of the van, meet some of the teams and swap a few stories. We even meet the all women Ultra team from Asheville (impressive). By the time Dennis arrives, most of the vans had pulled off to the next exchange zone. Jeff takes the baton and heads down the road. As normal, Jeff is a beast and looks strong from the first step. Dennis is still as white as a ghost from his run, so we give him some time to clean up and catch his breath before pulling off.
When we climb the hill we see Jeff with hands above his head. He is cramping pretty bad in his gut. Jeff is tough as nails and pushes through the pain to keep running. When the race course approaches a four lane highway, there is another confusing sign that appears to point up a driveway to a church. We realize where to go and head down the road instead where we stocked up on ice and water. By now everything in our cooler is floating in brown water.
When Jeff got to the confusing sign he mistakenly climbed the steep driveway to the church. Realizing his error he came back down the other side of the hill and picked back up the course. Not a major addition of distance but he added one heck of a hill. When he finished he sat on the ground and loudly moaned, “That was the hardest one yet!”
The team continued through several more legs until we finally approached the first of two “Mountain Goat Hard” legs. John was the first to take this on. The leg is seven miles in length and literally up a mountain. We saw another team cheat by doing an unscheduled relay exchange part the way up. John took every step himself and never walked one of them. He completed the entire climb under a 9:10 pace and passed four teams on the way. Unless you have seen this hill there is no way to describe how impressive this was.
At the top of the mountain, Derek was waiting to start his final leg. He has a 2000 foot decline in just nine miles. The first half was on a windy dirt road. Keep in mind that Derek has already run 44 miles in less than 24 hours so his legs are exhausted. He flew down the hill closing the gap with every step he took. Once he finished at the bottom he was able to sit in a frigid mountain stream to ice his weary legs.
Dennis took the exchange from Derek and began the second of the two Mountain Goat hard legs on the race course. This leg had a shorter but steeper climb than John’s leg. To be honest I wasn’t sure that our van could make the climb. Near the top it was actually a 13% grade. Unless you have seen a 13% grade, it is hard to appreciate just how steep that is. Dennis stomped his way up the mountain to the peak. At the peak, he got to do it all over again . . . except downhill. The best way to visualize the hill is this. If you have ever gone on a roller coaster, at the top of the hill the coaster starts to slowly aim down. It takes several seconds before you can actually see the track in front on you. It kind of looks like you are about to drop off a cliff. That is what this hill looked like.
We finish up with three more legs. Dennis hands off to Jeff; Jeff hands off to Dave; and Dave hands of to me. Running down the final four mile hill every step I took hurt. My cramping from earlier in the day was coming back to torture me. With about two miles to go, I was passed . . . it was the only person who passed us the entire race, and it was on my watch. This really defeated me. I felt like I let down the team at this point. When I looked ahead I saw another runner and I was able to get one back right before coming into the city of Asheville.
After several odd turns and countless volunteers stopping cars and pointing me in different directions I see Dennis. Behind him are four other men all wearing an RMEC shirt. I am beat and ready to stop on the spot. They hand me my trusty orange RMEC shirt and we make two more left turns where I see the finish line for the first time.
After 28 hours, 25 minutes, 26 seconds, and 220 miles we are finally done. There is a feeling of exhaustion, frustration, but ultimately pride.
I know without question I have five friends that are tough as nails and would run through a brick wall if you needed them to. This was probably the most stripped down to the core I have ever felt as a runner. I think we all felt that way a bit. There was no quit in this team. We were given the opportunity to drop out or to drive ahead. . . but we never did. Now that we are done, I could not be more proud to know that we pushed through this.
We ended up finishing 33rd overall and 5th among the Ultra Teams. Not to shabby considering the extra 12 miles we ran. Our pace for the 208 mile race was 8:12. Our pace for the 220 miles we ran averaged 7:46. If not for our errors, we could have cracked the top 20, but that will need to happen another year. . . wait a minute?! Did I just say “another year”? I swore I would never do this again!
What the hell. . . sign me up.
Blue Ridge Relay – By the Numbers:
- Team Name = Rocky Mount Endurance Club
- Van Decoration Theme = "Plain White Van"
- Over filled pot-a-potty = 216 (price you pay starting late)
- F-bombs = 100+ (Most of them used in a positive manner. . . Thanks Dennis)
- Bottles of Water = 80+
- Leg Cramps = 50+ (Most of them Michael)
- Relay Legs = 36
- Barking Dogs = 20
- Percentage of uphill running for Dave = 90%
- Swerving Cars = 1
- Swerving Pickup Trucks = 10+
- Frapacunnios = 12
- Elevation Charts that were wrong = 6+
- Number of Runners who could bench press the rest of the ultra runners = 5
- Team Members = 6
- Sore A-holes = 6
- Wrong Van Turns = 5
- Wrong Runner Turns = 2
- "Bastards" = 5 (Thanks Dave)
- Attacking Bats = 3 (Dave and Dennis)
- Teams that DNFed = 3
- Two legged Mountain Goats = 2
- Deer = 2 (I am sure more saw us)
- Cans of pepper spray specially formulated for animals = 1 (for Derek)
- Food Stops = 0
- Legs on the Blue Ridge Parkway = 3
- Skunks = 1 (smelled it. . . Never saw it)
- Human Skunks = 2 (Dennis and John)
- Cell Phones = 6
- Steepest Grade Climbed = 13% (Dennis)
- Cell Phones that worked in the mountains = 0
- Average Running Pace = 7:46
- Team of cheaters = 1 (probably more)
- Road Killed Ducks = 1
- Place = 33
- Numbers of 12 man teams beaten = 47
- Number of illegal bathroom breaks = 1 (Macaroni Grill. . . don't ask)
- Total Planed miles = 207.1
- Actual Miles Run = 220
- Longest Total Miles = 53 (Derek)
- Total "teamwork" Miles = 5 (Dennis, running at night to help teammates)
- Average Sleep Per Runner = 30 minutes
- Reward = A sticker for the car
- One determined team that didn't drive ahead when everything and everyone was telling them to.
AIR FORCE MARATHON: Big congrats to Julian and Yvonne McLeod for completing the Air Force Marathon this weekend in Dayton, Ohio. Not many people knew they had been training for the race, but both have logged lots of hot summer miles in preparation. The 49 year old Julian posted a 3:39:23, and 46 year old Yvonne finished in 4:30:35. Great work McLeods!
RUN FOR THE RED: Ron Fleming was also racing in the Mountains this weekend as he took on the new Run For The Red Marathon. A small crowd turned out for the challenging race course. To put it in perspective, Ron described the race as slightly more difficult that Grandfather Mountain. Ron placed 13th overall with a 4:20:11. Nice work on a hard course Ron!
MAGNIFICENT MILE: Brian Lankford returned to Raleigh this weekend to race in the Magnificent Mile. This year he produced a solid 5:28 finishing time, and placed 7th in his age group. Amazingly enough, this is the exact same time he ran in 2009. Safe to say that age is not slowing down Brian!
Friday, September 17, 2010
PLEASE NOTE the scheduled run time has been changed to 6:30 (30 minutes later) to allow some time for the sun to rise. There is not a planned route for tomorrow and there will not be fluids put out unless someone can volunteer to take care of them.
- Where: Saturday, 6:30 am @ Harris Teeter
- Supported: None planned
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: Create your own!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Although the "big" race is not until November, Patti headed to White Lake to compete in the Inside Out Sports White Lake Internataional Tri this past weekend. Here hard work paid off. Patti finished 41st among 240 women in the race. Her xxx meter open water swim was competed in 38:32. After a quick transition she jumped on the bike where she completed the XX mile ride in 1:24:03. This was the 41st fastest bike time among women and the 9th fastest in her age group. After the final transition, Patti got back to her roots where she ran a 48:14 10k! For the record, that time would have placed her 7th at the Golf Club Race this past weekend. . . and that was after swimming and biking!
All of this added up to a 2:55:22 finishing time, and a 5th place finish among the largest and most competitive age group. Excellent work Patti. Can't wait to see the results of you half!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Tar River Connector Trail will connect the Battle Park Trail to the paved jogging loop near the YMCA. This means there will be a safe route for runners and children on bikes to use when coming and going from the YMCA. The trail will wind along Independence Blvd and near the football field. There will be cross walks in place at the I-64 ramp, and it will connect by the dog pound.
You should start seeing progress any day now! This certainly sounds like a great opportunity for a new race. . . hmmmm.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
- Where: Sunday @ TBD
- Supported: No
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: TBD
Congrats to everyone who raced today. Please RSVP below with your pace and distance.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Hello RMEC. The Golf Club at Rocky Mount 5k & 10k is now just five days away, and we are still very short on volunteers. Please post comments if you can help out.
THURSDAY: We will be stuffing race packets this Thursday. We will meet at the main RBC building, and use the same format that we always use. We really need between 5-7 volunteers. Any more than that and it actually slows things down. We will start at 5:30 pm, and should be finished in less than two hours if all goes as planned. Each race bag will get a race number, safety pins, shirt, Wheaties sample, and a few race brochures. Nothing to fancy.
FRIDAY: The Harrison Family YMCA was kind enough to lend us their lobby for early packet pickup. We will have the early packet pickup from noon until 6:00 pm. It is an easy job to do. All we do look the runner up on our list, mark them off, and give them their race packet. We of course also want to encourage anyone who is not currently a member of the YMCA to request a tour of the facility in case they wish to join. At a minimum we need:
- 11:30 Michael, Scott, Yvonne
- 12-1 Michael, Scott, Yvonne
- 1-2 Richard, Jackson
- 2-3 _________
- 3-4 Alane Floyd
- 4-5 Liz, Jeannie H
- 5-6 Ursula, Michael
SATURDAY: If you know of any friends who would be interested in volunteering please direct them to our race website ASAP. We build a detailed volunteer plan to ensure we have everything covered. We like to tell the volunteers what they need to do prior to arriving. It makes things go much smoother. At the race website, they can register for free as a volunteer. A couple of places where we really need help
- Lead Biker: This is not a difficult job, but it is very important for the success of the race. If you can ride a bike, follow directions, and shout instructions, your are qualified.
- Packet Pickup Coordinator: We need a single person who can guide 5-7 people on race morning with packet pickup. It is a fun and easy job. I just want to make sure I can speak to the person before race morning.
Friday, September 03, 2010
According to our long run schedule, we will have a 4, 14, and 22 miles run options. This is a big week for those training for Steamtown. Treat this like a race weekend. 20+ miles is hard work. Eat some carbs today and tonight. Get to be early. Bring GUs/Gels to the run. Pick an outfit that will not chafe. Whatever it takes to make it a good run is what you need to do.
I am not sure who is in town to help with fluids. For this reason I decided to take the lazy approach and don the 6.67 mile loop. I prefer to use this route for 20+ runs. It keeps every one close to fluids and works in some short hills. You will need to add or subtract a little to hit the exact distance of your run, but that should be easy to do.
- Where: Saturday, 6:00 am @ Harris Teeter
- Supported: Yes at the tracks
- Weather: Forecast
- Routes: 4-Miles, 6.67-miles
There are several ways you can tweak this route. Steve made this suggestion, instead of going to the back of Woodstock every time, you can do the Ketch Point loop (Miller's House) or Hansford loop (Ryan's House). This will change the scenery some. If you want to run more than 4 miles but less than 6.67, just cut off the out-and-back portion at Woodstock.
The weather forecast should be nice thanks to Earl. Even with starting temps at 66F, you should still arrive well hydrated. If you are running 20+ be sure to eat as well. Please RSVP below with your pace and distance.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
- Kelly Allen: L Tomato, L Agave Blue
- Ashley Bass: L Thunderstruck
- Margaret Bentley: S Tomato
- Tampa Cooper: L Agave Blue
- Robin Johnson: XL Thunderstruck
- Jean Kerr: L Royal Blue (note: they did not send the Agave Blue - I can refund if you don't want it)
- Wayne Painter: XL Agave Blue
I have been asked by LOTS of people about extra shirts. Once I have given out the pre-paid shirts, I will take inventory of every technical shirt we have and let people know what is available on the blog. There will be a pecking order however. . .
- If you ordered a RMEC shirt but don't have one that fits
- If you do not have a RMEC shirt
- Everyone else
I know that several of you found the sizing of your shirts is not working as well as you hoped. If you have a shirt that you want to get rid of, post the details here. Include the size, style, and color. Even if you wore it once and discovered the size is not good, you can still post that. No need to have it sit in your closet.