2012 Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi 50 Trail Run – 50K


The subtitle for this blog, “A mid-life journey from couch to 50K” was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to my tendency to go a little overboard with things that I find interesting. In other words, if everyone else is doing the “Couch to 5K” plan, then I’ll probably do “Couch to 50K”. (Thank GOD I didn’t call it “…from couch to Trans-America.”) Running an ultra-marathon wasn’t even a specific goal until a few weeks after my first marathon was complete and oh, by the way, running a marathon wasn’t a specific goal when I started the blog either. So now that my journey is complete,  SPOILER ALERT    I completed 50K
I suppose I should retire.
But then what would I do? Ooh, I know…Dragon Boat Racing!!

On to the race recap… Continue reading

2012 Mississippi Blues Marathon Race Recap

It’s a couple months late, but here’s my 2012 Mississippi Blues Marathon race recap anyway.


I should start this whole thing off by saying: I’m not a talker. I tend to keep to myself unless I have something that needs to be said. I’m definitely not the type of person that starts conversation with strangers. During my last marathon, I spoke to two people and those conversations were brief. Somehow, during the MS Blues Marathon, I spent almost 5 hours socializing. Weird.

Walking up the hill from the fairgrounds parking lot towards the starting line, I met my first stranger. It was a short walk so we didn’t become lifelong buddies or anything but I did find out that we share a fondness for Saucony Kinvara shoes. I wished Kinvara guy good luck and made my way through the growing crowd looking for friends from work. Our company sponsored several relay teams and individual runners for this event and most of us were wearing our highlighter yellow team shirts. That made everyone easy to spot. Everyone, except Bryan and David. It was unfortunate that I missed them at the start because I wanted to wish them luck on their half-marathon and remind them of how much more awesome I am for running twice as far.   Continue reading

Run Resolutions

I closed out 2011 with a few easy weeks…as far as running is concerned. The holiday weeks have been plenty busy to keep Robin and I feeling worn out. That’s ok with me. Just a few more days and I (along with thousands of other runners) will ring in the new running year at the 2012 Mississippi Blues Marathon.

I’ve started a fresh running log for 2012 and closed out last year’s log. I’ve entered a training plan that will take me through the next few months, building both base and long run miles in preparation for my first 50K ultra-marathon in March. I’ve even set a goal for total mileage in 2012. Before getting into the new year’s running resolutions, I want to take one last look back at 2011.

At the beginning of 2011, I set a goal of 600 miles for the year. At the time, it seemed like overreaching. It was, afterall, my first full year of running. It turned out to be quite an underestimation as my total mileage for the year was 804! This year, I’ll set another overreaching goal and do my best to blow it away.

2012 Resolutions

1. 1000 miles
2. Run at least one more marathon than last year
3. Complete an ultra-marathon
4. Complete marathon in less than 4.5 hours
5. Work in some barefoot or near-barefoot training runs throughout the year
6. Stay healthy and excited about running

There are a few other things I’d like to make happen but they don’t really work as resolutions. For example, I’d like to get all of the kids involved in physical activities – not necessarily running although that would be awesome! I’d also like to inspire others to take up running. I’ll do what I can to progress with both of those goals but the outcome is out of my control.

Now, I’m headed out the door to start logging some 2012 miles. Nature abhors a void and that blank running log is begging to be filled.

Happy New Year!

50K Ultra Marathon

I can do this. It’s just a six hour run through the woods.

After finishing my first 5K about this time last year, I started extending my 2-3 mile training runs each week until I was able to complete a half-marathon in January. Along the way, I realized that I actually enjoyed the long runs. It’s nice to feel like you’ve actually been somewhere after a run instead of just running down the road for 15 minutes then turning around and running back. Interesting things happen when you’re out for a long run that you miss on the short “out and backs”. ( See My Latest Long Run )

Strategy becomes important when you’re racing beyond 5K. As Sports Nutritionist Sunny Blende puts it, “Ultra races are really an eating and drinking contest with exercise and scenery included.” ( Ultra Endurance Fueling ) Not saying I’m an expert at this. I bonked in the marathon but I think I know why and I’ll have it worked out before the next big race. I’m learning as I go but I think I’m a quick study.

The Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi 50 Trail Run has three divisions. 20K (12.5 miles), 50K (31.1 miles), and 50 miles. I’m signed up and looking forward to completing the 50K.

2012 Mississippi Blues Marathon

Mississippi Blues Marathon
My next big race will be another marathon. I’m officially signed up for the 2012 Mississippi Blues Marathon and I’m looking forward to it. This is a great race with thousands of runners and lots of things going on throughout the entire course. My first half-marathon was at this race last year. I’m more experienced and in a lot better shape today!

Run for Life Marathon Recap

marathon finishAccording to my mom, my horoscope for the day of the marathon read: …

“Aries: Your chances of achieving one of your ambitions before the month is over are quite good. Much depends on the work you do today and your ability to repeat this work.”

Things that went well:
I finished. I am extremely proud of the 26.2 decal on my car. (Yeah, I am THAT guy.) I felt great and completely enjoyed the first 20 miles. Absolutely no injuries. No IT band pain, no patellar tendonitis, no strained hip flexors…all issues I have previously experienced when pushing the distance. The Kinvara 2s rocked. I didn’t even have a blister! I was stiff the day after and only a little sore the next but I ran three miles after work – no problem. I’m ready to sign up for another marathon. Soon.

Things that didn’t go so well:

I’m happy that I finished but I’m kind of bummed about the 4:54:30 time. I was on track to break 4.5 hours at mile marker 22 but things really fell apart after that. It took over an hour to “run” the last four miles.
I severely underestimated the difficulty of the last 6 miles. Pretty much everything I had read about marathon training said “Don’t worry about the last 6 miles. The excitement of the race and the crowd of runners will encourage you.” Maybe so in Chicago or New York. There were 216 registered for this marathon and I finished behind 41 of them. Except for one water stop and a mobile medical crew, I saw two people the last 4 miles. There was NOBODY to rely on for motivation.

Looking back, I made some big but correctable mistakes. The biggest, I let myself get dehydrated. I’m very cautious of hyponatremia so I was taking endurolytes and drinking a little conservatively. Starting about mile 22, I had all the symptoms of dehydration…or hyponatremia…I wasn’t sure which so I erred on the side of not dying and tried to drink even less. I chose poorly. I weighed about 4 pounds less after the race and that was after rehydrating with 24 oz of water and even post-race pizza. That’s less than 2.5 percent of bodyweight. Not dangerously dehydrated, but enough to cause performance problems. It got up to the high 80s almost as soon as the sun came up but since it was so cool at the start, it didn’t really register with me that I should treat it as a summer run. I ditched my shirt at mile 13 but that was because I didn’t want pictures of bloody nips all over the Internet. Besides, I have abs like Jersey Shore’s “The Situation”.

Another mistake I won’t make again is using caffeinated gels. I know from past experience I can’t tolerate them on long runs but I was SURE I would need the boost so I brought three caffeinated and three regular. I finished the race badly needing carbs but I couldn’t stand the thought of taking the last caffeinated gel so it went unopened. As I think about it now, the severe nausea was probably from dehydration and not so much from caffeine but I know that at the time I could have taken a regular gel if I had one but wouldn’t touch the caffeinated one still in my belt.

No doubt about it, finishing a marathon is a major accomplishment. It is way tougher than I imagined. I can empathize with the people that give up with less than two miles to go…it crossed my mind. I have great respect for anyone that has gone the distance no matter how long it took.

Still, I can’t help thinking how much better I will do if I can figure out how to actually run the last six miles.

Custom Race Belt

Custom RacebeltHow do you carry 6 gels, 12 Endurolyte capsules, an iPhone and a race number bib for 26.2 miles? You COULD push a shopping cart but the race director might frown on that. A better option is an elastic race belt with lots of extra gel loops sewn in. Might as well get one with a special loop sized just perfectly for the small pill bottle that you’ll also want to include. Oh yeah, you’ll also want a neoprene pocket that is perfectly sized for your iPhone.

If you’re having trouble finding something that will do all of that, welcome to my dilemma. If you’re amazed beyond belief at the awesome contraption in the photo here, welcome to my solution.

No one would accuse me of being a seamstress, even if I do own a sewing machine. Really, I do. It’s cheap. It’s purple. It’s called “Pixie” something or other. It’s really hard to thread the needle (THANK YOU Google!). It’s not meant to sew two pieces of neoprene but why should that stop me? See, I’m a GUY with a sewing machine. Guys can make stuff work. Even purple pixie sewing machines.

Anyway, here’s my improved custom race belt. It holds 6 gels, a small pill bottle for E-caps, an iPhone and a race number bib. I torture tested it fully loaded for a full three miles. I think I’m set.

What do YOU carry on a marathon and how?