Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hat Run 50K

Hat Run 50K


Adam Helmer I’m not

I ran this race last year as my first Ultra and returned this year hoping to better my time.  That was not to be – yet I had a very good time and I think a successful race (well ok run).

Last year I stayed overnight but realizing Susquehanna Park is only 68 miles from home I decided to drive down the morning of the race.

I got to the park in plenty of time and enjoyed finishing my coffee and watching the other runners arrive.

I set up my gear in the picnic pavilion that serves as the finish and midway point.  The morning was cloudy, and chilly (about 38F when I arrived).  Although a lot of runners were in tights, I decided to go with shorts.

I had prepared a water bottle that I had added Accelerade to; it was a good idea but too small.  

Part of the tradition of the race is to give out the number of hats equal to the number of years – 18 this year.  Hats go to oldest male and female, shortest, longest distance, shortest and other fun categories.

The race began promptly at 9AM.  The first mile is a loop of the entrance road to string the runners out before entering the trail.  I wanted to start cautiously so I seeded myself pretty far back.  In hindsight this may have been a mistake – there was a little too much stop and go, and walking in the first couple of miles.  I would have preferred a steadier pace.  This may seem contradictory since my finish time was slow, but I think the slow start kept me out longer then I wanted and made the likelihood of cramps more certain.

The first and most difficult stream crossing comes early in the race.  The water was pretty high this year.  Runners were selecting several different routes.  I started across when the runner in front of me decided against this route and started back.  He knocked my bottle out my hand and almost dunked me I steadied myself  but on my next jump I slipped on the mossy rock and went down on my right knee.  I didn’t realize until much latter that I had skinned it pretty good.  Amazingly I didn’t get my feet wet.

About mile three we came out onto a field where I could finally run at my own pace.  I hit the first station in an hour.  And here I made a mistake I had the volunteer fill my water bottle but I didn’t take any additional water.  The small bottle I was carrying just wasn’t enough fluid.  Although it was chilly, it was breezy and I realize now I was losing more water than I realized.  (When I changed my shirt at the midpoint my shirt was soaking wet.)   The next five miles are a combination of single track woodland and a wide cinder trail along a running stream.  You then come back to the first aid station from the opposite direction.  This time I lingered for some Pringles and potatoes.  I took some water but in hindsight not enough.  The next five miles are the prettiest and also the toughest - all ups and downs.  The first couple of miles are along a rolling single track with great views of the Susquehanna River.  Finally after a long up climb you come out for a short run thru a field that leads to the original loop road.  There the course turns you back into the woods for a rocky run that is a trail only in someone’s imagination.

You eventually come to real trail that climbs steeply.  This will lead to a field crossing that ends in the entrance road and back to the picnic pavilion.  

I got there in three hours.  Slower than I wanted and I knew it was unlikely I would be able to do the second loop in three.  I took 11 minutes to change my shirt (should have pinned my number to my shorts not my shirts.)  I also changed my socks and shoes (mile or so into the second loop and fellow runner asked. “Hey did you change you shoes”.)

I had change into my new Ochoco’s from Keen Shoes.  I must say I thought they looked pretty cool and they felt great.  The next five miles went well; the second stream crossing went much better and I was running at my own pace.   About 4 and half hours into my run I began the old familiar feeling of cramping.  I had been taking Succeed tablets (and I had given one away to a fellow runner).  I had a few Cliff Shots with me.  I took a couple and the cramping eased up.  I am impressed with this product, I just didn’t have enough – but I will definitely make sure I have these with me on any long run.  They are much easier to take than gels and you can let it gradually melt in you mouth.

I made the 25 mile aid station in fives hours but I knew I was in trouble; my quads were screaming and my calf had already seized up a couple of times.  I took some more Pringles and potatoes and an extra cup of water.  But the next five miles are the toughest part of the course and I had to do a lot of walking.  Towards the end of the last wooded section on a short downhill I went down hard.  Fortunately no damage done but it knocked the wind out of me and I resorted to walking until I got to the field.  (In a homage to Adam my legs were scratched and bleeding from stickers I had run thru.)

With the finish in sight I found myself able to run fairly well and actually ran up the last hill (something I couldn’t do last year).  Finish was in 6hours 33 minutes.  And I felt good.  My legs were sore but I didn’t feel wiped out.  Hot dog, chili and chicken soup soon revived me further.  

I felt frustrated that I hadn’t been faster, but quite certain I was well prepared for Nashville (I was very strong thru 4 hours).  I am always amazed how quickly the six hours fly by and how enjoyable these trail runs are.

My wife is dead set against me doing a fifty miler but reading  the Ultrarunning magazine they gave out as a promo I am intrigued.

I must say my admiration for real ultra runners continues to grow.
Finish Line

Finishers Hat - Lots of Minnie Pearl lookalikes

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Runners' Gear

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HAT RUN 50k 25 MARCH 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006


I saw these daffodils last week on the orange trail at Tyler Arboretum. I was quite sure that they would be gone by this week. Maybe deer don't like daffodils.

I walked to these today because tomorrow I will run a 50K trail run in Susequehanna State Park in Maryland.

I am nervous about the run and the weather but I am also looking forward to it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Senator Carper congratulates the finishers. He's a pretty good runner. Posted by Picasa

The finish line ten minutes after I crossed it. Posted by Picasa

A view of the Brandywine - the race travels on this roadway.

That last hill. Doesn't look too bad in this photo but after 13 miles. Yikes!

First Place Woman - Andrea Niggemeier

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon

This is one of the races I have regularly run since I started racing. Since I ran ten miles both on Friday and Saturday I didn't expect a PR. It was cool and rainy. In fact the rain came down heavily until just before race time. Fortunately, it was mostly dry during the race. I had hoped for a sub 2 hour run and came in at 1:58. The first seven miles I was paced by my friend Mukund who kept us nice and steady.

This race is three miles thru downtown Wilmington including the ever changing waterfront. Then into Brandywine Park where it follows the exact same route as the Icicle Run.

The run ends with a slightly different finish than Icicle with a longish climb up a steep hill.

I felt the fatigue in my legs in the last miles but was satisfied overall.

It was fun running with a friend and I always enjoy the hubbub of a big race.
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Friday, March 03, 2006

A view of my trail thru the Arboretum - no Mohawks but I did see a beautiful red fox and several deer.

My Dear Runners Society friend Paul Loucks sent us an excerpt from Drums Along the Mohawk:
, a novel written in 1936.

German Flats lay 24 miles to the north and he knew he had probably
the pick of Brant's Indians on his trail, men who could run 80 miles
through the woods between sunrise and noon. But Adam knew that he
could run himself, and he knew that he would have to run on an open
trail and that once the Indians discovered that, they would know he
would stick to it. They wouldn't have to be bothered with tracking.

He eased up slightly, listening behind him. The first surge of
yelling had overshot the eastern ridge; now it returned. It would be
only a minute before they brought his tracks down to the trail. He
began to put on a little pressure to make the next bend; but just
before he rounded it he heard the war whoop slide up to its inhuman
pitch and a wild shot cut the air high over his head.

The passage Paul quoted is much longer and is an exciting account of Adam's run pursued by the Mohawks. The runner is Adam Helmer who was an historical character who did a run much as described in the novel.

I have often wondered if Indians had trod the trails thru Tyler and Ridley. But now I will also think of Adam and how would it be to be pursue for thirty miles.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

7600. That, give or take a few days, is how long I have until my 80th birthday. It is a sobering realization. It is really not a very big number. Last night I ran 6x1000 meters. With the recoveries I ran 7200 meters. Those 7600 days will fly by as quickly as those meters did.

I realize that if I bought a refrigerator today it is quite likely I will never have to buy another one. That I will buy a new car maybe three more times. There unlikely to be more than five Olympic games in my future. I am not quite to the point of not buying green bananas but I am getting close.

I am trying not to fall into new age speak or other gobblygook but it is very important that I be present every moment. That I inhabit my world fully. I know that I will be distracted at times and the practicalities of life mean I will spend time in queues, or waiting, or being bore. But even then I want to there fully.

Does any of that make sense?

I do know (and have felt this for some time) that I don’t want to waste time being angry about meaningless things. I don’t want to waste time disliking people. I don’t want to fret about things that don’t matter.

Now I understand that is easier to say these things than to live them. What matters may be a complicated calculation. But I reckon that of lot of what doesn’t matter will be obvious and I am resolved not to let those things interfere with living.

Why is this posted on a running blog? Because I think I got to this point because of running. Running has connected me with the rhythms of my body and the world around me. Being out everyday straining against gravity, watching the sky revolve thru the seasons, the weather changes, the interplay of light and dark as we progress thru the year, all this and more is a product of running.

This time of year, late winter, I find myself fascinated with the shapes of leafless trees. The intricate branching against the cold winter sky entrances me. Soon the trees will green up and their structure will disappear and I will embrace that fullness too. It speaks to life and its continuity and provides hope.

It is because of running that I will rage against the shortening day and accept its inevitability.