Friday, December 18, 2009

Frozen Toe 10k

On January 9th 2010 we will be holding the first event on the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail. This is going to be a great event that we hope becomes annual.

This has been a venue that I have looked at for a long time. It is a great trail that I use throughout the year and join with other trails in the area to train for many of the Ultra Marathons I've done over the years. Come out and enjoy this event and kick off the New Year with a healthy activity.

The Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail is a 5.6 mile single track trail that loops around the Roanoke Mountain Campground. This is a great trail with a little bit of everything. A couple of years ago it was upgraded in a few places and is now a fast and flowy trail that is perfect for a January trail race.

Course Description:

The event will start at the New Hope Christian Church. From here you will run down Welcome Valley Road to the Chestnut Ridge Trail. At the trail, runners will run the loop counterclockwise. Once back to Welcome Valley Road you will take a right and run back to the church/finish.

Event Age Groups: 11 male and female age groups. with medals given to the top 3 in each age group. The top 3 male and female winners will receive unique awards.

Age brackets for the event include, for both male and female: 14 and under; 15-19; 20-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60 & up.

Parking for the Event: The event headquarters is going to be the New Hope Christian Church off of Welcome Valley Road.

Directions to the Start/Finish at New Hope Christian Church:

From Roanoke: Take I-581/HWY 220 South. I-581 turns into HWY 220 South. Just after the Outback Steakhouse take a left onto Old Rocky Mount Road (State Route 789). You will be on this for about .65 miles to Welcome Valley Road. Take a left onto Welcome Valley Road and the New Hope Christian Church will be on your Left.

Outback Scramble - Indianapolis IN

Every year Gina and I travel to Illinois to see our family for Thanksgiving. Typically we try to find a place along the way to trail run or, if lucky, find a place to race.

This year we were in luck. We found the Tuxedo Brothers Outback Scramble at Eagle Creek Reservoir. This thing was a blast.

Leading into the event we were lucky to find any information describing what we were in for. The race info described a race distance of 4 miles plus or minus a mile, creek crossings, briars/thorns, rope assisted up and downhills, a good chance at getting lost, and lots of other obstacles.

The race was capped at 300 people and was to start at 9:34am. If you brought canned good you received a discount on your race entry and the 3 people who brought the most canned goods got a head start. Weird I know!

The race started with a .75 mile or so lead out on a road. Then the course headed into the woods. Not on a trail, but into the woods, where you followed pink flagging. The flagging took you through the roughest portions of the woods, over fallen trees, up steep slopes, down steep slopes (some with ropes to assist you), into ravines, across creeks, zig zagging up and down just like my heart rate.

Along the course were hats (sombreros, viking helmets with horns, sequined hats, feathered hats, party hats, coiled up snake hats, you get the picture). These hats represented a choice for the runner. Grab a hat and cross the finish line with it and you receive 1 minute off your finishing time or run with your hands free and take the "real" time.

I wasn't too concerned with the hats until the guy in front of me dropped his as he was scrambling up a hill. He looked back and just decided to leave it. I picked it up and kept in in my possession for the rest of the race (more on this in a minute).

Towards the end of the race the course went into two separate fields of tall, 5 or 6 foot grass, where you could hardly see where the next piece of pink flagging was ahead of you. At the last field, I could see a course volunteer waving runners his way and directing them out of the "trail" portion and back onto a path and the final .75 miles.

The last section was a loop around a grassy field. We circled around the field and headed to race headquarters and the finish line. Everything seemed smooth. I was in 18th place and thought I could hold my own and come away a bit better because of the hat I had in my hand. As I was coming toward the finish about 100 yards out I felt something pull at my hat. It was a 20 year old trying to rip my hat out of my hand. I mean rip. He was tugging with all his might. Fortunately I was wearing work gloves for this "trail race" and had a healthy grip on my hat. The "hat thief" finally gave up and as he ran off I could hear him say "it worked last year" (repeat offender). So I finished with my swirled multicolored hat and got an extra 1 minute off my time. I was 19th overall and 2nd in my age group.

Gina and I had a great time at this event and may be back in future years.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Into the Darkness 4 Mile Night Trail Run

3rd Into the Darkness Night Trail Race October 24, 2009

Results and Pictures

Thank you very much for coming out and enjoying what I think is the area's most unique event. I hope everyone had fun out there. I am pleased that, once again, we almost doubled our numbers of entries with 208 registrants. I loved see so many 19 and under runners.

This year the course record was smashed from Caleb Kingery's 28:43 last year to the new record of 24:07 by David Cheromei (that's a 5:49 per minute pace, outstanding). The 2nd Place finisher was a surprise entry. He is a guy with great credentials and has been named USATF Mountain Runner of the Year (2002, 2003, 2004). Paul Low ended the race with great time of 27:24. This was followed by a great runner from Covington Ryan Middleton who was third with a 29:06

On the women’s side we had Christina Rolfe come in first with a 34:54 after running the memory 10mile race earlier in the day. Followed closely by 2nd place Hollie Flynn in 35:19 and 3rd place Samantha Mitchell in 37:31 in 3rd.

Congratulations to everyone. Thanks for coming out to play with us. For those of you that have never raced in a trail race or raced at night, Great Job. I think you will find that being out on trails will become addictive. If you want to find more trail locations please visit the trails section (for local info) or adventures section (for out of state info) of our website and get out there and have fun.

Also, for those of you that were in the race and found out that you could use a better light. Walkabout Outfitter has extended their 25% discount on all headlamps in stock.

Don’t forget our other sponsors. They help us make these races happen.
Gilbert Chiropractic
Mamma Maria’s
– In Salem. Make sure you order some garlic knots.
Walkabout Outfitter
Roanoke City Parks and Recreation
This event is sponsored by Roanoke Parks and Recreation. Check them out onthe web at or friend them on facebook to find outwhat is new in Parks and Recreation.
Virginia’s Explore Park
Monster Energy Drink
Roanoke Outside – Pete Eschelman has help create a large social network of outdoor recreation enthusiasts in the Roanoke & NRV Region of Virginia. His facebook page or Roanoke Outside email list will keep you up to date on what’s going on in the local outdoor world.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Running Trails at Night

Gina and I have run trails by headlamp and flashlight since we first got into trail running back in 2001. Due to time constraints, most of our fall and winter running occurs after dark. Both of us prefer to run on trails and don't want to let darkness keep us from staying in trail running shape. In addition, there are aspects of running at night that you just can't put into words.

Light Source:
My lighting preference is to use a LED headlamp and a flashlight (halogen or LED). LEDs are a very energy efficient lighting source and cast a white glow (I can't stand to buy and go through a lot of batteries. LEDs have really helped increase the run time of battery operated lights). Depending on your LED headlamp, the beam emitted will be a glow or a focused beam. There are countless options of headlamps for a variety of uses. I've yet to find a headlamp that lights up the trail and allows you to get depth perception.

When running at night you get depth perception from shadows being cast from your light source. The best way to get shadows is to use a flashlight. Holding a light lower, in your hand, helps to get the shadows you need to identify rocks, roots, and other obstacles in your way.
With this in mind I usually only run using a headlamp, but if I'm planning to run a trail fast, run a rocky or rooty trail, or run a steep downhill, I will also use a flashlight. Not only does this help minimize getting injured on the trail but it is also smart to have a backup light source in case your primary light stops working.

For those of you unfamiliar with headlamp options I encourage you to visit our newest sponsor, Walkabout Outfitter, to see their selection and to get a 25% discount on headlamps in stock.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

3rd Into the Darkness Night Trail Run

Print this post off for 25% off Petzl headlamps at
Walkabout Outfitter - Lexington and Downtown Roanoke

On 10/24/09 we will be having our 3rd Into the Darkness race. This is my favorite race to direct and promote. There is something about running at night that is indescribable. The temperature is milder, there are sounds that you don't hear during the day, there are glowing eyes staring back at you, and there's this feeling of uniqueness, that you are doing something that few people ever choose to experience. Add 150+ other runners, our unique spin, and you have a recipe that has caused people to name this as their favorite race.

In preparation of the night race the course will be cleaned up. We will be blowing the leaves off the trail to help you see and stay on course, we will remove sticks and loose rocks, and we will be placing many reflective arrows, markers, glowsticks, and other Halloween related items throughout the 4 miles. All in an effort to make this an unforgettable event.

Following the race we will be having spaghetti from Mama Maria's, the infamous Mountain Junkies pumpkin bread, and other food and drinks.

All awards for this race are homemade Halloween themed plaques. Awards will be given to the top 3 male and female overall winners, Male and Female Masters (over 40) winners, and the top 3 in 11 age groups.

Our newest sponsor is Walkabout Outfitter - they are offering a 25% discount on all Petzl headlamps purchased at their Downtown Roanoke and Lexington stores (you just need to print off this page and take it into the store).
Virginia's Explore Park
Roanoke City Parks and Recreation
Gilbert Chiropractic
Mama Maria's
RSC Rental Equipment
Monster Energy Drink

The entry fee is $20 until 10/10/09.
To guarantee getting a t-shirt you need to make sure you have signed up by this date.
After 10/10/09 the entry fee is $30 and all remaining shirts (we try to get extra) will be given out on a first come first served basis.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

13th Annual Fab 5k - August 15th, 2008

2009 Race Results - Overall - Group


Race Day Wrap Up
The morning of the 13th Fab 5k was a hazy 70 degrees. This year was one of the few years that the course had green grass from an abundance of rain. The course was mowed on Friday leaving it in perfect condition.

Since the Fab 5k is one of the only money races in the valley we usually get some impressive times. Somehow we all had a suspicion of who was going to win.

The results show some impressive times.

David Cheromei - 14:54

Randy Horner - 15:52

David Angell - 15:58

and a total of 11 people under 17 minutes.

On the women's side it was an extremely close race. Last year's winner Allie Uhl took 20 seconds off her time and fought off the 2nd and 3rd places winners at the line.

Allie Uhl - 19:08

Michelle Church - 19:09

Mary Catherine Sowder - 19:10

The 40+ crowd also had a great race.

Mark Knapp - 1st Master Male - 20:02

Simone Vandegrift - 1st Master Female - 23:54

and, new this year, instead of an 18 and under award I decided to go with an under 18. I wanted to make sure we kept this award as a High School award.

Michelle Church - 19:09

Patrick Woodford - 16:30

It was a great turnout of runners under 18. I like to see so many young runners come out to fight in the preseason to see who has been working the hardest over the summer break. Good luck during your xc season.

In addition, we had a lot of runners state that this was their first race and many who had lost a lot of weight and decided to give themselves another challenge. Congratulation to all of you. I hope this race was a positive experience. Whether you are running it competitively or just to finish, participating in a race is a big deal and accomplishment. You did something that most people will never do.

Remember our Sponsors:
Gilbert Chiropractic
Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
Rowe Sofa
Kirby Vass Insulation
Cuz's Autobody
Proceeds from this race go to
Roanoke County Parks, Recreation, and Tourism
and future races in the Roanoke Valley.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

6/6/09 Trail Nut 10k and Half Marathon

Falling Creek Park: And the Rain Came.
The first race of the year and the Grand Opening of Falling Creek Park was supposed to be on May 16th. I was going to race in the Fat Tire Frenzy, directed by Kenny Palmer, and promoted by Bedford County Parks and Recreation. Gina and I got a call the day before, stating, that the race had been cancelled due to the park being deluged by 2 inches of rain in 2 hours. The consequence of this rain was that it flooded the park, washing away most of the bridges, washing away much of the rock in the parking lot, and moving a 1800lb granite slab 25ft or so. This was terrible news to the park, Bedford County, and Kenny, who had put a ton of time gearing up for the mtn bike race.

Between 5/16 and the 6/6 Trail Nut race day we had more and more rain. Somehow, in these two weeks before the Trail Nut race, everything was put back together. Gina and I waited until mid afternoon on Friday, when the rain stopped, to mark the course. At that time, we could see, that there was little evidence that the park had been hit so hard in the weeks prior. Muddy yes, but there was no sign of the destruction that had taken place. I rode the course on my mountain bike to put up the mile markers and Gina ran putting up the flagging and caution tape. Boy was it a slippery ride for me, and slow going.

Don't forget the Trail Nut Sponsors:
When you go into these stores make sure you mention to them
that you've participated one of our races. That let's them know that their
sponsorship is bringing in business.
Gilbert Chiropractic
Joel Gardner DDC
Super Shoes
Outdoor Trails

On Saturday morning my usual routine is to ride the race course to make sure all the markings are up and that the caution tape is still in place. As we were driving I could see that Bedford County got more rain during the night. I abandoned my usual pre-race ride and decided to run the course (this would give me a chance to assess just how slippery things would be for you runners and to make sure that course adjustments or trail bypasses weren't needed). I ended up being surprised that, although muddy and slippery, things weren't as bad as I thought. The first mile of single track is the worst when wet. After that the course tread is more sandier and loamy providing for "better" traction.

The 2nd Trail Nut 10k and Half Marathon doubled in size this year. We had a total of 67 in 2008 and 149 this year. Many of you registered in the last two weeks after I had to give t-shirt numbers and weren't able to get shirts. At the early registration cut-off we had 78 signed up and I ordered 130 shirts. I misjudged how many of you would be signing up in the last weeks and on race day. Sorry to those of you that didn't get shirts (Mountain Junkies L.L.C. does guarantee a t-shirt and your preferred size if you pre-register. Althought we want everyone to end up with a shirt, after the pre-registration date, we can't guarantee anything, and give out extra shirts on a first come first served basis.).

Once the race started I knew the times were going to be slower due to the conditions which were very similar to last year. We had some pretty fast runners sign up so I was curious to see the finishing times. If I remember correctly we had 3 half marathoners pass the 10k finish before Dave Goode finished the 10k in 44:40 (2:15 faster than last year's winning time), 2nd Steve Burtis in 46:36, and 3rd Carl Saunders in 48:43. The top 3 10k women were led by Lisa Horney in 52:38 (3:06 faster than last years winning time), 2nd Leigha Schimmueller in 53:38, and 3rd Christine Rolfe in 54:10.

For the Half Marathon we had two runners that seemed to be breezing through the course. Gina mentioned that at the 5.5 mile point that they were just chatting away like it was no big deal. Separated by 24 seconds was Andy Sayers who came in first in 1:34:56 and Timothy Driscoll who came in second in 1:35:20, and Daniel Boyers in 3rd at 1:43:21. On the womens side of the half marathon we had 1st place Kelly Charley in 2:05:09, 2nd Sandra Denius in 2:14:29, and 3rd Jennifer Dietrich in 2:16:22.

Many of the runners in this, and the other R NUTS races, were new to trail running and racing. Finishing a race like these is a big accomplishment. You have to overcome the terrain, conditions, and the mental and physical fatigue of the miles. Congratulations to each of you for coming out and challenging yourselves. Thanks for participating in a Mountain Junkies LLC event. Hopefully we will see you next year.


Monday, May 18, 2009

4/25/09 Promise Land 50k

It has taken me a couple weeks to report about this race. Don't get me wrong, this is a great event, on a great course (challenging), good atmosphere, and great food following the run, but I wanted to break 6 hours. That was my main focus when I decided to enter this event for the 4th time. Off the top of my head I've finished in 6:32, 6:18, 6:07, and 6:18 this time. I felt like I was better prepared than my 6:07 last attempt. My weight is at a level I haven't been to in 17+ years. I can't event remember the last time I was below the 180lbs mark. This, I figured, had to help me get under the 6hr mark.

This event is listed as the toughest 50k on the east coast. It travels up and down from the parkway twice with a total elevation gain and loss at above 7400ft. It is a beautiful location for a race but holds some very tough and technical terrain.

My problem with this course is that I typically battle cramping of my sartorius, hamstrings, quads, and calves after about the halfway point. This time I made it to mile 21 or so before bad things started to break down. I was following my plan pretty well, hitting my splits or coming in a tad faster, drinking 20oz between aide stations. and eating something at each aide station. I was going at a pretty slow rate on the climb up Apple Orchard falls, I lost a lot of time here, and when I got the sunset fields, the thought of running 5 miles down hill didn't cheer me up. I had to take the downhill pretty easy and cramps made me take at least 4 time outs along the way.

The surprising thing in all this was that very few people passed me during my suffering (that would have been more of a downer). I ended up coming into the finish in 6:18 and 29th place. Not bad overall and concidering it was the hottest race day for this race ever. I just think of what could have been and whether I will succomb to the pressure to run this race again and attempt a 5th try at a sub 6hr finish.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k - 4/18/09

We had perfect weather for this race. As some of you know this race has been over a year in the making. It has been an interesting process but worth it. The Roanoke City Parks and Recreation workers involved in this race were a huge help leading up to race day and during the race. Thank you.

This race is part of the Roanoke Non Ultra Trail Series (R NUTS) and this course is like a mini ultra trail run. It is a challenging course with over 1250ft of elevation gain and loss, lots of rocks, and a screaming fast 1.5 mile technical downhill to the finish. This course is very similar to the Promise Land 50k that Gina and I and a couple of other Mill Mountain Mayhem participants will be running next weekend.

We had 86 participants in this first year race. I look forward to this race growing. It is by far the Roanoke Valleys toughest 10k race. Each of you should be proud of your ability to run and finish such a tough course. It is a great accomplishment whether you were a front runner or at the end. These races are here for you to challenge you. There is only one winner and if you’re like me you will never see this person except at the start line. Challenge yourself and make a goal of matching or exceeding your time in 2010.

We had 6 people participate from out of state (thanks for coming to play with us), 32 from outside the Roanoke Valley, and 18 people that were new to Mountain Junkies LLC races. One of these was the winner David Cheromei, who ran the course at an amazing 5:41 per mile pace. Hard to believe. He crossed the finish line moving so fast that he had to hurdle the metal gate 80ft away. To me this is as amazing as our last finisher, Ray Gilbarte, finishing the race at age of 71.

Thank you for participating. I like seeing each of you compete and am enjoying the little community this R NUTS series has created. I look forward to the last race in the series, the Trail Nut 10k and Half Marathon, and what can be dreamt up for 2010.
Don’t forget the Sponsors:
Gilbert Chiropractic
Joel Gardner DDS
Super Shoes
Outdoor Trails
Road ID
Dick’s Sporting Goods

Josh Gilbert
Head Mountain Junkie

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4/4/09 - 6 hours of Warrior Creek

I've been wanting to participate in a "hour" race for a long time. This was just the place to do my first multi hour event. I haven't been riding my mountain bike much this winter or spring so I choose to sign up in the Male Duo Team category. I figured 2-3 hours of riding at 100% would be enough for my legs.

So I called up a buddy from the 2008 Virginia Derailer Series and we set out to have some fun in Wilkesboro NC. Gina signed up with 2 other girls and they raced in the 3 Person Female Team category and did really well. We ended up having a group of 9 guys/gals from the Roanoke area participating in this race. It was fun group to hang with.

We headed down to Wilkesboro on Friday to get in a course pre-ride. Unfortunately it rained 3 days prior to the race so the course was a bit muddy on Friday afternoon. Fortunately the wind picked up in the afternoon and helped dry the course out for Saturday. The course ended up being in great condition.

The course was 10.5 miles of rolling, curvey, and in a couple places hilly singletrack. This course had the most berms on it of any trail I've ever been on. You could practically ride sideways in some of the curves. It was a blast and a real lung burner. The trails winded in and out around the lake so you could see water in a number of spots.

The race had a last lap cut off at 3:30 so our team only got in 5 laps. I did 2 and Vandenberg did 3. It was a great time. Ride a lap, hang out for an hour, clean up/lube the bike, eat, hydrate, and then get out there and hit it again. It made for a fun and entertaining day.

The Brushy Mountain Cycling Club (BMCC) did a great job with this event and cutting the trails. I think we'll head back here in the future.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

3-28-09 Montvale 5 & 10 Mile Trail Races

The 10 day forecast leading up to this race looked pretty bleak. It was calling for 4 days of rain leading up to race day and an 80% chance of showers on race day. And this time the meteorologists had it right.

Gina and I went out on Friday to finalized the course, verify the total distances and mileage at the water stops, and to paint and put up the flagging and caution tape. The weather for us was great until about 4pm. That's when the rain started up again and didn't stop until 4am race morning.

Fortunately, most of the course tends to hold up well to wet weather. That is if the rain could hold off. The race day forecast was right on. There was no rain for the entire race and it didn't begin to sprinkle until Gina and I were pulling away at 3pm. Perfect.

Race morning the temperature was 58 degrees and cloudy. We had 71 preregistered for this race and another 27 people signed up to battle the course on race morning. For a first year event it is very hard to predict how many people will come out. I always hope for a minimum or 100 people but it takes more than hope.

Congratulations to all that finished. It is a big accomplishment anytime you run 5 or 10 miles. Most of the world will never experience what that feels like. These races were set up to push you. To push you on to new distances and new challenges. If you can run a 5k(10k), why not a 5 miler(10 miler). If you survive, why not a 10k(half marathon). I for one know that it is mostly a mental game. Your body will take you where you want it to go.

There were some impressive times Saturday:
5 Mile
1st Male - Sam Allen - 35:20 (6:44 per mile. It was a 5.25 mile course)
2nd Overall and 1st Female - Sarah Krycinski - 40:40 (7:45 per mile).
10 Mile
1st Male - Ed Dickenson - 1:04:51 (6:45 per mile. It was a 9.6 mile course).
1st Female - Hollie Flynn - 1:27:06 (9:04 per mile)

Thank you for coming out. I hope you had a great time.
And remember to visit our sponsors and tell them you participated in the race.
Gilbert Chiropractic
Joel B. Gardner, D.D.S.
Super Shoes
Outdoor Trails
The next race is the Mill Mountain Mayhem on 4/18/09, visit for complete race details. Early registration ends on Saturday 4/4/09. Guarantee a race t-shirt, and your preferred t-shirt size, by registering early.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

3/7/09 Explore Your Limits V

Thank you to all our volunteers and sponsors for helping us make this event happen. We appreciate your support.
Gilbert Chiropractic
Dr. Joel Gardner DDS
Super Shoes
Outdoor Trails

One week prior to the race the Roanoke Valley saw it's first snow (4-6 inches) followed by single digit temperatures on Monday. I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering what the coures would look like 6 days later.

Gina and I marked the course on Friday the 6th and there was still a couple of spots covered in snow. Surprisingly much of the course was in good shape and drying out by the minute. I decided to change the 10k course this year to clear up some course confusion around the 10k trail entrance and the finish line. In addition, the new section of trail tends to hold up better when wet and is a twistier (those of you that have participated in the 10k in the past can let me know which version you prefer)

The forecast for race day couldn't have been any better; 80 degrees with clear skies. The temperature at the start of the race was 65. We had 173 registered runners signed up. At least two runners were celebrating their birthdays; Kim Bennett and Elizabeth Skaggs (sorry I forgot to mention that during the awards).

Congratulations to all that participated and especially our youngest and oldest runners.
5k - 10 year old Lizzie Boone & 11 year old Jonathan Phillips
55 year old Jean Vengrin & 73 year old Maurice Earles
10k - 14 year old Jodee Martin & 13 year old Dana Thompson
56 year old Dru Sexton (2nd female) & 70 year old Ray Gilbarte

Results are posted on

Photos were taken by JJ Wimmer. He will have the photos posted after he gets them edited and uploaded to

The next races in the R NUTS (Roanoke Non Ultra Trail Series) will be:
3/28/09 - Montvale Park 5 & 10 milers
4/18/09 - Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k
6/06/09 - Trail Nut 10k and Half Marathon
See our website for more information

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2/14/09 - 2009 Holiday Lake 50k++

This was my fourth run at Holiday Lake. My previous best time came in 2002; 5:28. This came after six months running. Subsequent times were 5:51 in a very muddy, snowy, and icy course in 2003, and 5:31 in 2005.
This Winter Gina and I have been doing a bit more running. I wanted to lose some weight over the winter rather than gain. I've wanted to start the spring road biking season around 180lbs. I want to haul less of me up the mountains.
OK, back to Holiday Lake. This is a runners course. There are only a few sections that are too steep to run, everything else is on rolling single track and gravel/dirt roads, on this 16.25 mile loop. This year the course changed a bit and we ran the course clockwise first and then turned around and ran the second loop counter clockwise.
Gina decided to come out and be my support. She was allowed to meet me at 5 of the seven aide stations. Being a numbers guy, I gave her a chart of my projected times at each aide station so she'd know when to expect me. The chart started with me running 8 minute miles, gradually slowing down in the middle and then picking it back up towards the end. I was right on these projected times until the 5th aide station. This is when I had to take a trip to the woods to take care of some, #2 business. This little trip to the woods set me back a couple of minutes and I was unable to get them back. In addition, miles 23-25 I found myself feeling like crap and having that usual, what the heck am I doing out here conversation with myself. Fortunately that faded fast and I was back on track.
I'm pretty happy with my time considering my training. This winter I have averaged about 20 miles of running (long run of 21 "Swinging Bridge 35k"), 20 miles of road biking, and some occasional miles on the mountain bike per week.
Holiday lake is one of 3 races directed by Ultra running legend David Horton ( He puts on a great race with aide stations full of food and drink and is truly happy to see you succeed and push through the pain. By finishing the race everyone gets a great Patagonia Long Sleeve shirt and a pat on the back.

Monday, February 2, 2009

1/31/09 - Mill Mountain Mayhem - Time Trail

Friday I decided to check out the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k course and fine tune the course details. This was going to be my last long run leading into the Holiday Lake 50k on 2/14/09. I took off with a full camelback mule (100oz. water, first aide kit, and food). The plan was to run the MMM 10k course for time, then take the Woodthrush Trail to the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail, take Woodthrush back to the Star Trail and back to the car at the Trailhead for a 16 mile loop.

I started the 10k at the midway point on the gravel road of the Star Trail and ended at the sign post at the top of the gravel road. I hit the Monument Trail at 12.5 minutes, the bottom of the Monument trail at 24 minutes, the Star Overlook at 44 minutes, and finished in 54:30. I hiked two sections of 100 steps on the old road between the Monument Trail and Big Sunny. The rest of the time I tried to go as hard as I could.

I think without the backpack I could finish the course between 51-52 minutes. I expect to see winning times in the 46-48 minute range and the end of the train at 90 minutes. This is a tough course with 1310ft of elevation gain. See the elevation profile at

This will be a lung burner and a fun course. You'll get to see most of the moutain, have some great downhills, see the old car crashed on the side of the mountain, run along side the zoo, and have a brief chance to look out over the Roanoke Valley at the Roanoke City Star overlook.

As of now the Official Course will start where the Star Trail crosses the Fishburn Parkway and will finish at the gate at the bottom of the Star Trail. This will be exactly 10k.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

1/17/09 - Swinging Bridge 35k & 50k

The Swinging Bridge run is held in Cumberland Virginia at Bear Creek State Park. It is coordinated by the Richmond Road Runners Club. The race entry was very cheep and included a long sleeve cotton shirt. The race gives you the option of what distance you want to run; 35k or 50k. You don't have to decide until you finish the 35k whether you want to go on or not.

Results - 8th in the 35k with a time of 3:35

Race Morning:
This marked the first time I have ever seen negative numbers on the temperature gauge of my 4Runner. During the 2 hour and 40 minute drive I saw temperatures ranging from 8 degrees to -2 degrees. At the 8:00am start it was reported to be -2 degrees and expected to get to the the double digits by the end of the race.

Top - I chose two thin layers topped with a Mountain Hardwear Transition Wind Shirt Jacket.
Bottom - Tights and a cheap pair of wind pants.
Accesories - Two Buffs (My favorite accessory. One for my head and one for my neck and sometimes to cover my mouth and nose.), one pair of thicker glove liners, Sunglasses with amber lenses (when these fogged up the fog froze onto the lenses. Not the best choice early but they paid off in the end), a pair of sock liners (very thin) and a pair of smartwood socks.
Shoes - Salomon Flagstaffs. They've been around forever and I decided to run in them due to the good chance of running through water at some point in the race.

Before the race start the race director asked the crowd, "show of hands, who is running the 50k?" There were about 35 hands put into the air (I was one of them). I had every intention of using this as a training run in preparation of the 2/15/09 Holiday Lake 50k. Everyone was frozen at the start and it took a good 20 minutes for everything to get warmed up. The course was 80% single track and the rest was forest roads and fire roads. The single track sections made you feel very secluded. The trail was well blazed but hard to find on the way out due to thick leaves. I got off the trail a couple times and had to look around to connect back up. There were numerous creek crossing. Fortunately due to the 0 degree temps all of the crossings were ice except for one. I chose to get one foot wet on each trip out and back rather than waste time finding a place to cross without getting wet. In addition, this course had the most trees down that I've ever seen. I thought I was in a steeple chase. Climb, jump, scramble, climb, jump, duck, and climb again. This ended up taxing my left lateral quadracep that I injured a couple of weeks ago, so I eventually stopped jumping over the trees and just walked over them.

About 3 miles in I caught up with a couple guys from richmond and we were running at a comfortable and steady pace. We hit the first aide station at around mile 5 at 53 minutes and kept on cruising. At the second aide station, the turn around point, at mile 11 we were at 1 hour and 40 minutes. Right on the pace I wanted.

Since the race is an out and back we got to see everyone in the race as they hit the turnaround. I was at 9th place at the turnaround and doing fine. Hit the 3rd aide station at 2 hours and 25 minutes. This is where it started to change. The wind picked up a little bit, I tripped on a couple of stick/roots, and started to lose motivation. This 5 mile section felt like 10 and I decided to only do the 35k. I finished in a group of 3 people, 1 of them ended up being the first person to go out on the 50k course. There weren't many takers for the 50k. I think they had about 10 people go on for the remaining 10 mile loop.

Considering the weather conditions this was a well run race and I'd do it again. The volunteers had to deal with 0 degree weather, frozen water coolers and soda bottles, and frozen runners. It takes some great people to come out and help on a day like this. If I can get over the mental trauma, I'd like to come back again and finish the 50k.