Monday, May 25, 2009

26.2 Miles of Training Today

I ran a marathon today. Only it was a training run, not an actual race. I'm preparing for my first 50 miler next month at Mohican! Today was scheduled for a 22 mile run, but I turned it into a 26.2 mile run instead since my week was crazy with work and I missed a 4 miler earlier in the week.

Actually, there was a big (loosly) organized set of training runs at Mohican this weekend for all the runners, and I had planned on going up yesterday morning. I'd looked forward to it all week, but the way that my week unfolded, there was no way I was going to make it up to Mohican early Saturday morning. Instead, I just ran a nice 4 miler yesterday and then did my epic run today.

When I woke at 11:30 am, this morning, I knew that it would have been very selfish to take off out the door and miss the day with my girls, so I planeed to hang out with them til about 5pm then do my run into the night. As it turned out, I didn't get to spend much time with them anyway, because I went to a friends house to help her with a computer problem. I tried to take the girls with me, but Jennifer insisted that they were fine here at the house with her.

I took off out the door at exactly 5pm. With me, I had my Camelbak loaded with 2 liters of icy cold water, I had both of my water bottles full of Gatorade, and a whole bunch of calories in my pockets and in the backpack. From my house I went to Marie Hickey Trail (2 miles), and did a single loop around it including Oak Knobb Trail (2.5 miles), then headed back down the road (1.5 miles) to Canal Lock Trail (0.4 miles). After Canal Lock Trail, I ran to the Blackhand Gorge bike path (0.4 miles) and ran the entire 4.25 miles to the end. Along the way, I ran Quarry Rim Trail (0.6 miles) and Chestnut Trails (2.0 miles). By the time that I had gotten to the end of the bike path, my watch was showing 12 miles.

At this point, I was feeling fine. Both of my gatorades were empty, so I was just carrying empty water bottles, and my Camelbak was still about 1/2 full. The sun was on it's way down, so I stopped for a minute and pulled out my reflective gear and my head lamp since I was going to be going through some wooded trails on my way back through. I had lost my bandanna somewhere around mile 7 and I was going to back track a bit to see if I could find it laying on the ground. The headlamp got turned on about mile 15 as I was entering Quarry Rim trail again. I was very happy that I had remembered to pack my headlamp because it got D.A.R.K. once I got into the woods again.

From the bike path, I ran back to my house. My bandanna is lost, but I'm going to take a quick 2 miler back down to Canal Lock trail tomorrow to see if I can't find it. Anyway! Whatever!! So when I walked in the back door, my watch was reading 18.78 miles, which meant I still had 7.42 miles to go before I was done. I came in the back door and Jennifer warmed me up a quick cheeseburger that she had cooked on the grill, and filled up my water bottles for me. I love her! I was in the house for about 2 minutes total and started up the hill with 1/4 of a cheeseburger hanging out of my mouth. I grabbed my iPod while she was warming up my burger so at least I had some tunes to help the last few miles go by faster.

The remaining miles were all done around the loop that I keep nicely cut on the back of my property, and is strictly for running purposes. :) It's about a 0.18 mile loop, so I have to run around it about 6 times for a mile... Which, by my calculations, means that I ran in circles a lot. :) When I was done, I was (still am as of right now) pretty well spent. The entire run took me about 6.5 hours and I did a lot of (fast) walking towards the end. I know that today's run, including the fast walking, will prove to be very valuable on June 21st.

To sum this post up, today was the longest training run I've ever done. I feel kind of cheated that I don't have a shirt, a plaque, or a medallion to show for it, but that's part of the package I guess. :) Next weekend, I plan to go up to Mohican and run my first ULTRA training run. I'm looking to do 30 miles and then begin my 2 week taper for the race. I'm actually excited about running these long distances. You wouldn't beleive how much code I figure out in my head on these runs. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Running the Trails at Salt Fork State Park

Yesterday I met up with my running buddy, Kim at Salt Fork State Park for a trail run. We had a blast and only got turned around once. The agenda was to go out and do 18 miles then come home and relax. The day didn't quite unfold that way though. We ended the run with a nice, slow paced 14 miler and great trail fun instead. Kim posted an entry about the run as well, so be sure to check it out.

I left the house at 6:15 am to meet up with Kim by 7am. As it turned out, the 40+ mile drive turned out to be a little over an hour and I was fashionably late. I made sure everything was ready by the time I got there (watch on, gel packs in pockets, sweat rag, etc..). That way I could just hop out and take off when the car was parked. As it turned out, Kim didn’t care, she was still getting ready anyway.

It was pretty windy and a little chilly starting off, but once we got moving it was absolutely perfect weather for running. About 1 mile into the trail, Kim stated that she left her Garmin on the car. She is so laid back; I would have spazzed out and sprinted back to the car in fear that someone would have taken it. She impressed me with her “eh… so what” attitude. :) She set it on her hood to let the GPS sync with the satellites and then when we took off, she forgot it. Luckily we had my Garmin so we could keep track of our mileage and time.

The first section was all bridle trails and there was a lot of mud. The feet got wet immediately and it was a lot of slow stepping through this section. It was a great way to start a long run (slow and muddy). Love it! After the bridle trails we made our way to the hiking trails. The ground was a bit more firm through here and it was mostly running through the woods.

Salt Fork trails are absolutely beautiful. We ran through some nice hilly areas and it was picture perfect scenery every way we looked. The best part was when we ran beside the lake. I had no idea Salt Fork Lake was that big. It helped that the skiers and speed boats weren’t out yet, as it really added to the vibe having a calm lake that early in the morning.

As we were making our way through the trails, we kept coming up on the “purple loop” which led us both to believe that there is a main jugular trail that goes through all of the little side trails. That’s a pretty cool feature if you ask me. It would allow us to eliminate all the road running and just stay in the woods. Maybe next time we could test that theory.

About 9 miles into our run, I needed to refill on my water bottle so we stopped at one of the campground restrooms. This is where entered our time warp. We started back down the road a little way and found a path, we were just chatting along and then all the sudden we both recognized a big rock. We stopped for a while and tried to make sense of it, but couldn’t… Then we started heading back up the hill and got to the road. Without knowing yet where we were, we kept heading the same direction (left). Then about 1/4 mile down the road, we realized that we were going the opposite way. Still unsure how it happened, we gave into our senses and turned around. Once we got back to the restrooms we realized what we did and continued on. It’s always an adventure with Kim! :)

I also learned on this run that there have been Big Foot sightings at Salt Fork. That got me looking into the woods a little deeper as I ran once I found that out. Apparently they have bigfoot conferences at Salt Fork once a year and people come from all over the country to talk about Bigfoot. Unfortunately, we didn’t see him… :P However, it was nice to know that we were in good company out there in the wilderness. :) At one point I think we ran across some bigfoot droppings at one point though. That or there was a huge (bigfoot sized) horse that really had to go…

Anyway, we had a great run and I got to run on some new trails. They were all new for Kim too, so it was a double win for the day. When we got back to the cars, Kim’s watch was still on her hood! The good news is that somewhere between 7am and 11:30am her GPS had synced with the satellites. :)

Having great company to run with helps the miles go by so fast. Before I knew it, I was running late back to my house to spend time with the girls. On my way out of the park, I pulled off 5 ticks! 2 were attached and 3 were working their way up my leg. My skin felt like it was crawling all the way back home, but when I got home and in the shower, there were no more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Spring has sprung and the yard has been in shambles. Our yard seriously looked like a jungle until this past weekend. I got home from a week of traveling to an Amazon Rain Forest around my house. We had limbs hanging down to the ground. We had snakes in our grass, and our pets were covered in ticks. It's sad to admit it actually, but it was all true. It was too a point that the only mower that could make a dent in our yard was the bush hog. I hooked it up and went to town. It even bogged down a couple of times. :( I mowed as much as I could on Saturday and then saved the rest for the finish mower. It was so bad that we could have (honestly) bailed up our yard into square bails.

Anyway, I just got my finish mower back from "the shop" and it's as good as new again. I'm anxious to get back out there and work on the yard like a real yuppy American. It is so bad around here that when I went looking for my weed eater, I found it face down in a bucket of old car oil. :( Jennifer and I realized that we were made for each other. We are both so care free about everything until something needs done, then we stress out trying to figure out "why us".

To bring it all into perspective, we have a Ford Ranger with busted tie rods and a flat tire. We have a trailer with expired tags. We have a Honda Odyssey with no back windshield wiper and a busted door. I have a Honda Accord with a dinged up hood and all my "check engine" lights are on. I could go on, but I think I've made my point. Life here at the Hardbarger house is simply one crisis to the next. Whatever, I love it! Now it's time to go downstairs and get to work. Tomorrow is a new day and I'm gonna get that finish mower moving over the property.

If you've noticed that I haven't blogged in a while, it's because I've been busy. I haven't blogged or twittered in a while actually. Don't ask me about my training either; it's on the upswing this week too...