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.