Sunday, September 15, 2013

Super Heros

So, today I was running on Monte Sano trails with Alex Clark.  The weather was great, a nice breeze and temperatures in the 60's.  We were just getting in a long easy day when we decided we were going to be like Spiderman.  What better place to attempt this than in the woods with ten million spiders.  You would think that they would be respectful of our trails and make their webs between trees that did not cross the path we were on. 

If your not a trail runner you may have never experienced this, but just picture your running along and all the sudden you see this rap around your face and head.

 The next thing you do is start swatting at your head to get the spider off.  Sure enough his brother built another bigger web 5 ft away that you also run into.  You can try running with a stick and it will help some, but I think the spiders see you coming then build a web between you and your stick.
After taking turns in the front breaking the webs with our faces we were covered with small fragments of super strong silk.  You would think that during all this we would become like Peter Parker and have super human strength.  Instead, today was a bad day, there was no motivation or energy in either one of us.  I will use the excuse that all the webs zapped our energy but who knows.  The truth of it, is to be a super hero you have to spend time training like a super hero.  Which means you have to spend time working out when others wouldn't.  Whether that is running in the rain, heat, cold or spiders for that matter.  Even then there will be another person that just has more natural talent than you.  So give up on trying to be a super hero and just get out there and have fun. 
*****Disclaimer - I am in no way a super hero, I am just too dumb to let someone tell me that I can't do something. 
*****Disclaimer 2 - For total transparency, I am not an expert on spiders or Spiderman.  In fact if you know me well you know that I am a big baby when it comes to bugs crawling on me.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Slow Down

I went for a trail run today on Monte Sano, I have to say sometimes it is nice to slow down and enjoy the scenery.  Even though I run on Monte Sano all the time there are trails I never go on.  I decided to run in Land Trust, the first adventure was to climb in a tree house off Alm's House Trail.  When was the last time you went in a tree house on a run?  Then I ran down Wildflower Trail, I think this was only the second time I have run this trail.  If you have not run Wildflower you need to.  The trail runs along a creek so if it has rained recently it is even better.  Needless to say I found a spot that was a couple feet deep and decided to soak my legs for a few.  Then I decided to walk/run up the creek instead of the trail this lead to finding an old water basin that I have never seen before.  Ok, I do have to admit at the end of my run I saw some mountain bikers leaving the Land Trust parking lot headed up Toll Gate Trail so of course I had to see if I could out run them.  This lead to me discovering a new trail that runs parallel to the road.  I did catch the bikers and ran behind them until they pulled away at the end of the trail when it flattened out.  So the moral of the story is to slow down and be a kid again, go climb the tree house if you can find it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Funny Kayak Story

The Falcon family decided that it would be a good day to take a kayak trip down the Flint River today.  Thanks to NACK for providing a great rental experience.  With this being the first trip as a family we decided that 1-1/2 hours would be plenty and we rented a double for Anna and myself.  Michelle and Christian each rode in individual kayaks.  All was fun and good until I got terrified.  Anna was screaming and since she made me ride in the front I did not know why.  The way she was screaming I thought a snake was in the boat with us.  Finally she yells there is a giant spider on your back.  So I start swatting at my back and turn around to check on her.  As I do I see her standing up behind me which scares me even more.  I was afraid she was going to fall out.  She screams it is in my seat and I look down and realize it is a grand daddy long legs.  So I pick it up and throw it out.  Needless to say Christian and Michelle are dying laughing by this point.  So other than this one TERRIFIING experience it was a great trip. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Gusher Marathon race report & preparation

Thursday night I started packing everything for my trip to Texas for The Gusher Marathon.  Obviously, it takes some preparation for any race when you are traveling to the site.  I tried to make sure I had everything and was fully prepared.  I charged my Garmin and decided since it was just a weekend trip there was no need to bring the charger.  Mistake number one, on Friday when I opened my bag to get my stuff for an easy run to shake out the legs I discovered that my watch was on in my bag and it was down to two bars.  Can you say slight panic.  I went to several stores in Port Arthur and of course could not find a replacement.  So I figured I would just go with it and hope the battery would last through the race.  Another thing I prepared for was the warm weather.  I figured I would need more electrolyte pills with the heat, so I packaged them in small Ziploc bag that I could easily carry.  Mistake number two, leaving the bag on the counter in my bathroom in Huntsville.  I did not discover this until 8pm Friday night.  I saw a booth at the expo earlier that day that had some but of course they were not there the morning of the race.  So as a back up I took a small baggy of salt with me.  So much for preparation.

The primary goal was to set a PR in the marathon ideally around 3 hours.  Building up to the race I looked over the previous times and realized that I should be able to place in the top 5 with a slight possibility of winning.  The course was a two loop course, with a half marathon going on simultaneously with the marathon.  Each loop circled around Lamar University then went ~2.5 miles down a closed 6 lane highway with the wind at your back, then circled through downtown before coming back ~3 miles down the same highway with the wind directly in your face.  The temperatures were suppose to be mid 50's at the start getting up to the low 70's with steady winds between 10-20mph.

When we lined up I looked around and saw 5-6 people with marathon race bibs toward the front, one of which was Iram Leon.  There where some post about him on the Facebook page for the race because the race directors made the decision to let him run pushing his 6 year old daughter in a stroller due to the fact he has brain cancer.  I was surprised to see him line up in the front row but I figured it was for photos.  I figured this group of 5-6 would be the people to beat.When the race started I tried to keep the 6:52 pace needed to run 3 hours.  I was directly behind Iram and as far as I knew in second place of the marathon runners.  I thought it was odd that he would go out this fast doing the marathon and pushing his daughter.  I did not try to stay with him instead I tried to run my race.  With the tail wind on the highway I tried to keep things under control because it made it seem very hot due to the lack of breeze.  In town there was a turn around point where I could see the runners behind me.  There were a couple runners with the closest marathon runner probably a minute or two back.  When we came back out on the highway the wind was brutal.  I was alone with a runner about 20 yards in front of me.  It took me a while but I finally pulled him in hoping to draft off of him and work together.  I knew he was a half marathon runner but when I caught him he took off.  I never had the opportunity to tell him I wanted to work together to make it easier, anytime I got close he would speed up again.  Finally coming in off the first loop, I crossed the half marathon point at 1:34 in second place.  At this point I could not see Iram any more so I was not sure if he stopped at the half marathon or was that far ahead.

There was a point just before the half where we turned around again and I could see a small group of marathoners.  They were not far behind and grouped together, this made me think they probably worked together on the highway in the wind.  As I headed back out on the highway with the tail wind two of the runners caught and passed me.  At this point (~mile 16) I started walking through some of the aid stations to try to get more Gatorade down and I started eating the salt I had.  At the turn off the highway I noticed the guy in second went straight he was roughly a block in front of me and 1/2 block in front of 3rd so there was nothing we could do to get him back on course.  By mile 19 my calves were beginning to cramp and I had to stop and stretch periodically.  Around mile 21 the runner that took the wrong turn and one other guy caught me.  I talked to one of them and offered to try to work together going into the wind.  This helped me to pick the pace back up again for about a mile.  Then the cramps got worse and I had to let him go.  The bad thing was this was right before heading back out on the highway for the final time.  All I have to say about this section is it sucked.  When we got back to the campus and with a mile to go another runner caught me, I was really struggling my legs were trying to do their own thing and my calves were caving in with cramps.  I pushed the last mile as hard as I could at one point closing ground on the runner in front of me.  I had to stop one last time to stretch and the two in front of me pulled away to race in to the finish.  I did my best to push the last little bit to the finish with a time of 3:24:57 for 6th overall and 2nd in my age group.

Looking back at the results the 40-44 age group was tough as usual with 5th, 6th & 8th places overall. Also, the difference between 3rd to 6th places was only 70 seconds.  I do have to take the time to congratulate Iram Leon.  I did not mention him much in my description of the second half but that was because he pulled away and I never saw him again.  He went on to win in a time of 3:07:36.  He said he came in second behind his daughter.  It was very inspirational!

Afterthought, we all have to know our limits and what we are good at.  I am happy with my finish and time overall.  With that said, I will NEVER race another marathon. Road races over half marathon are just not for me it destroys my legs and feet.  I love the trails and ultra's and will stick to what I am good at.  The trails are much more forgiving on your body.  I will only run marathons as a pacer and help other people reach their goals, it is much more enjoyable.   

Sunday, March 3, 2013


With the work I do, I constantly have to remind people to focus on what they can control.  This is important to keep in mind because it is so easy to get distracted by the noise that is all around us.  Set goals then focus on the things you can control to help you reach them.  Currently, I have been training for The Gusher Marathon on March 9th.  My primary goal is to set a personal record, yet the past week I have been focusing on the weather as well as the competition.  The reality is none of that matters, I just have to trust my training and go run the best race I can.

I realized I was wasting time on the wrong things this weekend, as I played on the snow covered trails.  People always ask, "why do you run so much" or state that "you're crazy".  The truth is I enjoy being outside and running allows me to see all kinds of things that other people never see.  You don't have to be "crazy" or run as much as I do to see the things Huntsville has to offer.  These pictures were taken less than 1-1/2 miles into a run.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Goals & Mt Mist Recap

Well I am finally getting around to posting about Mt Mist.  Overall, I was very pleased with my results this year.  My goal was 5 hrs and I finished in 4:51 for 10th place overall.  To be honest, the couple weeks going into the race we had a lot of rain and I thought the course was going to be slow due to the mud.  My training was a little lack luster as well.  In the two months building up to the race I had only built my weekly mileage up to around 40 miles and that was not even consistent.  So in my mind I was thinking anything under 5:10, I would be pleased with.  I was basically altering my goal before the race even started.  The night before the race I looked back over my last post and made my cheat sheet with split times at the aid stations for a 5 hr. finish.  Here they are: 
  1.     50-53 actual  53:07
  2.   1:40    actual  1:37:53
  3.   2:30    actual  2:27:26
  4.   3:07    actual  2:59:40
  5.   3:53    actual  3:44:09
  6.   5:00    actual  4:51:25
 Wow, I did not realize until just now that I actually did run a negative split on the second half.  The truth is I fell apart after Waterline (later part of section 4).  When setting my goals I figured I would be going much slower due to the lack of training and knowing the second half is harder.  For those of you that aren't runners or have never done Mt Mist the first 3 sections are what we call the first half, which is ~17 miles.  That means the second half is only about 14 miles.  Most people run the second half slower because it is more difficult plus there are two major climbs.

So you may be thinking that is not much of a race report.  Well the truth is I wanted to talk about goals.  When you set goals in life do you look at what you know you can do or do you look at what you think is possible?  It does not matter if it is running, work or life....DREAM a little.  Do not let the goal scare you! Just look at where you want to be, when you want to be there, and then plan it out.  With enough time you can accomplish ANYTHING!!!!  Just a couple of other suggestions, once you plan it out write it down and share it with others.  This is one way to hold yourself accountable. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mt Mist 50k previous times

For those virgins of Mt Mist 50k and anyone that may just be wondering how to pace, I wanted to give you some data that you could use.  Below are the splits from all the years I have ran Mt Mist.  These are just for reference and not meant to be the best way to run the race.  The course conditions can effect the overall times.  For example, it is fast when it is frozen like in 2006 and 2011.  On the other hand, in 2010 it was very muddy.  I was also out of shape in 2010 and went out too fast.  Hope this helps you.  My goal for this year will be 5:00-5:15.  Good luck!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shoe Review

Today, I tried out the Nike Pegasus Trail shoe on muddy, wet technical trails.  One of my concerns was that the material just above the sole would keep the shoe from draining on wet trails.  I did not have this problem at all.  In fact my feet stayed dry longer than normal,  but when the puddles get deep enough the water is coming in.  This is typical for most of the shoes I wear and usually not a concern for me.  I prefer a more breathable shoe vs many of the gore-tech type shoes.  I did like the roomy toe box and the shoe seemed to fit true to size.  I have to confess even though it was very muddy and wet, most of the rocks were dry, so I did not get to see how good the traction was in that regard.  I did not slip on any of the rocks today and the shoe appeared to provide plenty of protection compared to some of the more minimal shoes I wear at times.  In my opinion if you like the road Pegasus, I would give the trail version a try.
Of course this picture is what they look like before a good trail run.

Sunday, January 6, 2013