Tuesday, October 30, 2007

25 years of Masochism!!

I am getting very fired up for my next race---the Mountain Masochist 50 mile Trail Race, otherwise known as MMTR. This event is part of the Montrail Ultra cup and is celebrating its 25 year under the leadership of David Horton. Next year, David will turn over the reins to Clark Zealand, so this is an extra special year to run the race, as it will be David's last one as R.D.

I have run MMTR twice before---in 2003, it was my first 50, and I suffered terribly with a hip flexor strain but managed to finish in 10:25 alongside Ryan Henry, whom I met on the trail and has since become a very good friend. In 2006, I ran a faster time (9:40) but I know I can break 9:30, so that is my goal this year.

Today, my training partner Bill Potts and I went into Ragged Mountain Running Shop here in C'Ville for some last minute coaching from owner Mark Lorenzoni, who has coached me for the past two years. Mark is an awesome coach and his wise words: "Even if you feel great, slow down!!" He is right. I hammered the first half last year and paid for it. This year, Mark had me run big mileage weeks in July and August and I did some intense speedwork in September and October, so I feel better prepared than ever. We'll see...the weather report looks awesome!

There will be some excellent women out on the trail...Nikki Kimball, Krissy Moehl, Annette Bednosky, and Bethany Patterson, just to name a few. Montrail will have many runners there and I am looking forward to seeing some of my Montrail-Nathan teammates.

It is absolutely gorgeous in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia right now---the leaves are turning and the skies are bright blue. I will run this race with a heart full of gratitude for my health and fitness, and the chance to play in the mountains all day with my friends. And the best part is that Rusty and Virginia will be at the finish line waiting for me...woo-hoo!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Virginia Slam

On October 13-14, 2007, my friend Keith Knipling completed the "Virginia Slam" of 100-mile trail races by finishing the fall version of the Wild Oak Trail (Hot TWOT)100 in a course record time of 27:11. The Virginia Slam is currently the Cold TWOT, the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, The Old Dominion Memorial 100, the Old Dominion 100, and the Hot TWOT. Keith was the first finisher in each these events with the exception of Massanutten, where he finished third.

Quatro Hubbard and I had the honor of running the last 8 miles with Keith, and watching his calm and focused attitude at the end of this grueling event was extremely inspiring. He was running at an easy and comfortable pace and didn't seem tired or stressed, and he ran this final 26-mile loop in 8:03, which is considered fast for even one loop. The TWOT 100 has nearly the same total elevation gain as the Hardrock 100 (about 32,000 feet total, 8,000 per loop). Keith's time at TWOT was in the same range as the leaders of the 2007 Hardrock 100 (although Keith downplayed that comparison because of Hardrock's altitude). Nevertheless, it is a remarkable achievement. I took a video of Keith running with about a mile to go, and of the finish.

Keith's father Gary, with whom he finished the Grand Slam in 2006, was at the finish line waiting to greet Keith, along with Dennis Herr, the founder of the TWOT 100 and the first person to finish all four loops. Dennis' daughter Holly was also there to lend support. Here are the guys celebrating (click for larger):

Congratulations, Keith! Happy Trails!