2014 Black Mountain Monster



I better write something about this race before I forget it all!   I don’t have many photo’s yet, but if more show up on the Inter-webs, I’ll update this post…

This would be my 3rd year running the BMM24.  The 1st year, I “came out of nowhere” (with limited training, to run 99.2. miles and get 2nd place.  Last year, I was training for Leadville, so I had a lot more miles on the legs coming in, but I did not want to hinder further training by running too much, so the plan was to stop when I felt like I was no longer helping Pb.  Which I did, 19 hours into the race at mile 87, again taking 2nd place.

So what would year 3 hold, again with limited “ultra training” on my legs?  (Due to training for a fast marathon this spring — well, fast for me!)

We followed the typical plan of setting up camp early on Friday, around 4:30, to get our favorite spot, headed into town for last minute groceries, donation food, and a quick trip to My Father’s Pizza, and then headed back to camp to hang out and chill until bed time.  Don’t forget your ear plugs!  The train tracks are right next to the camp site and can be VERY VERY LOUD!

Here’s the quiet camp site shortly after we finished setting up, maybe 5:30 p.m.  It would fill in more that night, and much much more in the morning!


Race day came, and I just love the 10 a.m. start.  Allows a leisurely morning of coffee, chilling, and waiting.  Oh, and going through gear one more time…

Ray K caught this picture of me chill-axing right before the start — the sun came out and it was nice so I thought I’d catch a few rays.  ;-)  (I was talking to the kid’s back at Grandma’s…)bmm1

I almost missed the start —  I had taken the GoPro up and recorded a bit, but decided to throw it back in my tent rather than carry it the 1st loop.  And then I heard “Go!” as I was walking back, and I had to run up and get going….




It got warm after the 1st loop, so I lost the shirt….


This one is later on — I can tell because I’m wearing Hoka’s.  I only made it 25 miles before switching, but more on that below.  (I thought I’d switch after 50 miles!)


Here’s a fast re-cap.  I went in without any real expectations or goals, and that can be a problem.  But due to the lack of miles, I thought anything north of 50 would be good, and didn’t want to commit to much more.  The 1st 10-15 miles felt pretty good, so I started thinking 106 would be reasonable, and even mentioned this to a couple of 12 hour runners when they asked me what my goals were.

By mile 22 or 23, I had lost the good feeling.  :-(   I’ll copy some of my notes from the race below in a pace chart/table, but suffice it to say that writing “too early to suffer” at mile 24.8 is not a good sign just 4.5 hours into a 24 hour run!

At 50k I was feeling even worse.  I decided a break  was needed, and sat down with some chips and guacamole — the Guacamole of Contemplation.   “Why am I out here?”  “What is suffering?”  That kind of thing.  I almost opened a beverage but decided to hold off.  After 12 minutes, I was back on the course.  “I’m not dead yet… I’m feeling better” (reference to Monty Python…) were my thoughts as I started a run/walk combo, trying to get in a groove.

I somehow trudged out another 55k before succumbing to the doldrums again.  At that point (68.2) it was 1 a.m. and I decided to crawl into my tent and go to sleep.  I opted not to set an alarm, figuring if I slept through and didn’t run anymore, that that was what was meant to be, and I’d be ok with that.   I didn’t fall right asleep, listening to the race going on, but eventually I did.

Sometime after 6 a.m. I woke up, walked to the port-o-pot, and felt quite good.  Barely any stiffness in the legs at all.  I decided to make another cup of coffee, and head back out.  My logs show I went back on the course at 6:54 a.m. and knocked out another 4 loops and finished by 9:45, for a total of 80.6 miles, tied for 3rd.  (Tied for 3rd with a 72 year old man — AMAZING!)

In hindsight, I’m happy with 80.6 miles + a 5 hour nap.  :-)  (It’s the least sore I’ve ever been after 50+ miles!  Naps are good!)

Martin T went for 103 and took 2nd place, and Baki ran an amazing 108 for 1st.  Mostly amazing because he came out to run 50 hard, and play it by ear after that.  :-)

Gear:  Sport Kilt, Saucony Viratta (too small!), under armor compression shorts, a couple different ice breaker tops, buff, Hoka Stinson, injinji toe socks and Luna sock + Altra Superior for the last few loops.

Food:  The Guacamole of Contemplation (saved my race!), corn chips, 2 or 3 VFuels, hard boiled eggs, fruit from the aid stations, boiled potatoes and salt from the aid stations, pizza from the aid stations, coffee with heavy whipping cream made at my tent X 2.   Espresso Beans.  My normal mixture of 1/3 grape juice, 2/3 water, sometimes with a squirt of honey, sometimes without.  MAPs (BCAA’s) at just about every loop.  I know I’m forgetting something…  Oh Bacon — I didn’t care for the thick cut stuff I had brought.  A gluten free cookie.

I had other things in my cooler that never sounded appetizing — sweet potato/coconut oil mush, pemmican, sliced turkey, cheese, salami…

Here’s the table I kept during the race…


  • 10 a.m. start
  • I really wanted to avoid vitamin I — but still had 2x600mg during the 24 hours
  • a couple of times I forgot to write down the times when leaving, those are denoted with a ?
  • I had to take albuterol at mile 27.9 as my lungs just could not get enough air
  • I started, from the first, walking all the big hills, and walking the big steep paved downhill; later I switched to a  run/walk pattern, sometimes as low as 1 min run, 1 min walk, when I was feeling bad, but always tried to build back to 5 run 1 walk
Lap Number Mileage Time In Time Out Notes
 1  3.1  10:29
 2  6.2  11:00
 3  9.3 11:31
 4  12.4 12:03
 5  15.5 12:37
 6 18.6 13:09 ?
 7 21.7 13.44
 8 24.8 14:24 too early to suffer; hoka
 9 27.9 14:59 albuterol
10 31 15:38 15:50 Vit I, chips, guacamole, rest
 11 34.1 16:32  a little better; run/walk
 12 37.2 17:13
 13 40.3 17:52 pizza, took the go pro out for a loop
 14 43.4 18:39 espresso beans
 15 46.5 19:24 espresso beans, rested 5 min
 16 49.6 20:08 Vit I; [ some gibberish I can't read]
 17 52.7 20:54
 18 55.8 21:39
 19 58.9 22:22 22:3? coffee
 20 62 23:15
 21 65.1 0:03
 22 68.2  0:51 6:54 5 hour nap; coffee; etc
 23 71.3 7:36
 24 74.4 8:18
 25 77.5 9:03
 26 80.6 9:43


Photo’s added after initial writing:


2014 Black Mountain Monster “preview”

That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. — Forrest Gump

So on Saturday, for no particular reason, I’m going to run a little 5k loop affectionately known as the Black Mountain Monster.  Ok, it’s not a monster because it’s a 5k loop, it’s a monster because it’s a 24 hour run.  And when I finish that 1st 5k loop, I think I might just run another.  And another…

This will be the 3rd year I’ve run this race, as it truly is AWESOME!  :-)  Great Atmosphere, great race directors and volunteers, great course, etc.  In past year’s I’ve had preview posts, so here goes again…

2012 lead-up included the Uwharrie 40 miler in February, and then not a whole lot of running after that.  I signed up for BMM24 sort of at the last minute, just to see what I could do.  And I ran 99 miles before calling it a day, with maybe 90 minutes left on the clock…


2013 lead-up includes Uhwarrie 40 miler in February, Umstead trail Marathon in March, and the North Face 50 miler NY in May.  I.e. much better lead-in than 2012, but I was training for Leadville.  My goal at BMM was to have one heck of a training run for PB, and not go too far or too hard so as to jeopardize my Leadville training.  I ran 87 miles and stopped with nearly 5 hours on the clock, when I knew I was no longer helping my Pb cause.

2014 I ran the Tobacco Road Marathon in March, and that was about it.  No ultra runs (training or races) since Leadville last August!  I’m treating this year’s BMM as the start of my ultra training, as I have the World Championship Rogaine’s in August and Hinson Lake 24 in September.   But I’m hopeful that I have a pretty solid outing, even with the lack of miles the past 8 months, and can perhaps push Sho a bit in his attempt at a new CR.   Time will tell…

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.10.55 PM




Lucho on HR training/racing

  • Uses terms interchangeably –Base, MAF, zone 2 – all kind of the same thing

  • Depends on the type of athlete and if his athlete is using threshold or not

  • Lots of his athletes are just MAF based
  • But Triathletes use zones, ftp, threshold tests


  • Base = zone 1 / zone 2 / threshold -20 (+/- a few BPM)

    • Wide range

    • MAF is well below 50/50 fat/carb burn

    • Very moderate

    • Without an RQ / metabolic efficiency test, it’s a bit of a guess, but you have to assume the MAF formula is good (if doing MAF)

    • (really fit athlete could have MAF = zone 3)


  • Tempo = roughly MAF + 10 or threshold -10; zone 3

    • But this is different based on the type of athlete

    • Ultra-runner vs. Olympic distance triathlete

      • Triathlete should have a wider zone 3

      • Triathlete may have a 15 beats below threshold

      • Ultra may be 5 beats below threshold (b/c threshold is low)

    • If an athlete only does MAF, nothing else at all, then threshold will drop, closer to MAF

      • You’ve closed the zone 3, 4 window – and zone 4 may be eliminated

      • E.g. MAF was 5:50; dropped to 5:40 in marathon and went above threshold, so MAF + 10 was “blow up”

      • Big negative for marathoner and most other athletes like sprint and Olympic distance triathletes, but not so bad for 100 miler…

      • Trying to keep a theoretical space between what you can hold for 1 hour vs. 3 hours

      • Example of elite marathoners dropping 20-30s/mile for a short burst (mile) and being fine, but if you don’t have that window, you can’t do it…

      • Having a high end is important

      • Doesn’t take 6 months of speed work

      • Short periods of vo2max, speed, threshold work will bring it back up

      • E.g. 7 weeks, 1 speed session per week, is adequate

  • Tempo vs. threshold

    • Threshold = 98-103% of LT

    • Tempo = can hold for over an hour, or up to 2

    • A “feel”

    • HR will drift over the hour+

    • (so ignore HR)

  • Lactate threshold/FTP – zone 4, a bit into zone 5

  • Zone 5 – VO2Max

    • Close to mile repeat efforts, but no HRM on mile repeats

    • But if you max mile is 8 minutes – that’s too long

    • VO2Max cut off is 5 – 5:30 minutes


  • Mile

    • Close to vo2max, or just under, depending on actual duration

    • VO2max is 5-5:30 minutes

  • 5k

    • Start at threshold, or just under, or you start to fast

  • Half Marathon – threshold

    • But again depends on speed

    • 2 hours = zone 3/aerobic threshold

    • 1:15 – 1:20 zone 4

  • Marathon speed is zone 3

    • May start at MAF, drifts to z3 by mile 6 or 7, drifts to z4 at 15-20 => no single marathon HR as it changes during the race

    • Marathon pace is “aerobic threshold” (Canova) – 50/50 fat/carb burn

  • 50 miler

    • mostly MAF or lower for most runners

    • but those going really fast (6 hours)  – moderate tempo


  • 100 miles

    • MAF, but with fatigue and cardiac drift, HR isn’t that useful

    • Use for 5-6 hours then don’t bother

  • Notes on terminology

    • If using “zone” based training, it’s not MAF

    • Zones are based off of threshold, MAF is not

    • Can make educated guess

    • E.g. MAF+20 = threshold – just a guide



  • Just need to be close – it’s hand grenades – these are big ranges

  • Take the calculators with a grain of salt – it’s the type of training you do that indicates what you are capable of…

  • Definitely likes athletes to at least use an HRM for a while – coach and athlete need to get on the same page w.r.t. terminology…  Also need to agree on perceived exertion…


Lucho on the marathon

Lucho’s last words to me before the marathon last week:

I guarantee that there is going to come a moment where you do not like the race and you’ll want to slow. This moment will be a moment of choice. You’ll need to choose between slowing down and not running your best or suffering through to your best race. After you cross the finish line you want to be able to look back at the race and be happy with your decision.

So true!  Not that I felt like I had much of a decision at the time when I did slow, but how much of that really was mental, and how much was physical?   How do you work on mental toughness for intensity?  (Not for endurance/duration, which I think I’ve got down… I can always put one foot in front of the other, it’s just a question of pace!)

Tobacco Road Marathon

When I 1st started training for the ATT marathon, I had a goal of 3:15.  (ATT = American Tobacco Trail, which is what I tend to call the marathon, even though that’s not its name!)

I knew 3:15 would be a big stretch for me, but I thought with Lucho coaching me, I might have a chance.  However, throughout training, it seemed like 3:20 was going to be more realistic.  But I never fully gave up on the 1st goal.  Even when, about two weeks out, my legs felt a bit achy and tired on every run, especially when I bumped the speed to under 8:00/mile pace.  And even when, a week out, my lungs started feeling congested and wheezy.  Two days out, and one day out, I was definitely on the upswing.  So what was in store?

I’ve not got a lot of pictures — only the ones Kelly and the kids took of me at mile 19 or so, and at the finish.  But here I am at 19, still looking happy!

mile 19

I came up on Tom, who has an amazing story as a brain cancer survivor.  I was really surprised to see him, as I figured he’d be under 3:15, but there he was.  We didn’t run together long as he was struggling a bit with too fast of a start, but still finished in a BQ time of 3:22.


So, what happened to me?  The splits tell the story…  I put the mile splits from my GPS next to the perfectly even splits of a 3:15, and show the time difference…

Now this isn’t quite fair — the mile splits are from my GPS, which was slightly off.  It showed a total of 26.44 at the end, not 26.2.  But this shows I had a conservative start (negative difference for the 1st few miles).  In fact, I jumped in behind the 1:40 half marathon pace group for the 1st couple of miles — until they split off south on the ATT and the marathoners headed north.    And then the differences pick up, where I’m fairly far ahead of a 3:15 as much as 2.5 minutes!

At the point the half marathoners turn south and the marathoners turn north, it’s a slight downhill — if you can call any rise or fall on the ATT a hill!  As an old railroad bed, it’s never more than 1 or 2% grade max.  But I let gravity pull me along, and even tried to hold back a bit.  I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor, but just ran by feel.  And the pace felt solid, but good.  I know come mile 18 or 19 or 20, that pace would no longer feel so good, but it’s at that point when you have to rise and hold it..

I did have the GPS on so I could use that as a pacer, and I steadily saw my average pace go down, down, down.  All the way until about mile 21, when it was 7:18/mile.  And I thought “I’ve got 3:15!  Unless I have an epic collapse!”

I even thought briefly at that time that 3:10 was within reach, but I wisely decided not to push it at all.  In fact, I thought I’d back off a touch, to preserve the 3:15.  But little did I know that the “climb” at mile 22 – 25 would do me in…  It got really hard to hold the pace, but I was doing it!

And then we left the ATT and hit the roads.  And there was this little hill, but this killer head wind. And I had to walk.  Twice!  You can see it in the elevation profile and pace graph below the splits.  And you can see in my splits… I began to really suffer, and the buffer I had built faded oh so quickly…

Mile Split Cumulative 3:15 Marathon Splits Difference
1 0:07:45 0:07:45 0:07:26 -0:00:19
2 0:07:27 0:15:12 0:14:52 -0:00:20
3 0:07:17 0:22:29 0:22:18 -0:00:11
4 0:07:15 0:29:44 0:29:44 0:00:00
5 0:07:04 0:36:48 0:37:11 0:00:23
6 0:07:23 0:44:11 0:44:37 0:00:26
7 0:07:05 0:51:16 0:52:03 0:00:47
8 0:07:16 0:58:32 0:59:29 0:00:57
9 0:07:01 1:05:33 1:06:56 0:01:23
10 0:07:09 1:12:42 1:14:22 0:01:40
11 0:07:12 1:19:54 1:21:48 0:01:54
12 0:07:16 1:27:10 1:29:14 0:02:04
13 0:07:29 1:34:39 1:36:41 0:02:02
14 0:07:28 1:42:07 1:44:07 0:02:00
15 0:07:18 1:49:25 1:51:33 0:02:08
16 0:07:03 1:56:28 1:58:59 0:02:31
17 0:07:20 2:03:48 2:06:26 0:02:38
18 0:07:31 2:11:19 2:13:52 0:02:33
19 0:07:06 2:18:25 2:21:18 0:02:53
20 0:07:42 2:26:07 2:28:44 0:02:37
21 0:07:19 2:33:26 2:36:11 0:02:45
22 0:07:37 2:41:03 2:43:37 0:02:34
23 0:08:04 2:49:07 2:51:03 0:01:56
24 0:08:08 2:57:15 2:58:29 0:01:14
25 0:07:52 3:05:07 3:05:56 0:00:49
26 0:08:31 3:13:38 3:13:22 -0:00:16
27 0:03:07 3:16:45 3:15:03 -0:01:42 26.44 vs 26.2

That last line shows the unfairness of using the Garmin mile splits, which were steadily increasing past exact mileage.  Otherwise it would imply I lost 90s on the last 0.2 miles!

See those two jumps on the blue line?  Just a few seconds of walking…  You can see after I stopped kicking myself for walking I did pick up the pace back to sub 7:30, at least on the downhill, but it was too late…


Ah, it was so good to be done.  The last 2-3 miles, I was hurting.  Not a bonk — nutrition was solid, but I was so tired.


So, was I mentally weak?  Or was the body really done?  I feel I’m strong mentally — when it’s just about keeping going.  Paddle for 38 hours straight?  Sure.  Run 24 hours around a 5k loop? Sure.  But hitting that last 800 on an 10×800 interval session?  That is hard!   Or fighting through the pain and fatigue on mile 25 of a marathon at sub 7:30?  Ugh.  So I will be working on that aspect of my running!

Here are the official numbers.  I’m quite happy with all the placings!official results 2

And official splits:official splits 2

Now I am in no way disappointed with a 3:17.  3:15 was always a big stretch for me.  And yeah, to almost get it, only to fade so quickly — bummer.  But I am happy with 3:17!  An 11 minute PR!  And such a great run for the 1st 2:50 or so.  :-)

(I really did want the cool BQ shirt, though!)

kelly kids

My feet are (apparently) broken…



Went to the VivoBarefoot in London, like I normally do when I am there.  They were a bit slow, so I jumped on the pressure pad, and what did we see?  No toes!IMG_2921


Next is a one legged balance – there are some of my toes!



Vivo says this means my feet are broken.  :-)  I don’t disagree — my feet still get sore and tired after 40 or 50 miles of tough trail, even in shoes, while other folks I know do not have that problem.  They gave me some exercises to do, so I’ll give them a whirl.

They also had me run on the treadmill, and said I run from the hip flexors, and barely use my hamstrings to lift…  It looks a bit like a pendulum.   I hope to get a copy of that video and if so I’ll update this post…  They slapped the bottom of my feet while I was running, and it really makes you lift the foot off quickly.  The before and after videos were quite distinct!



2013 Book shelf

Better late than never, and sorry I’ve stopped writing about each book I read.  Been a little busy.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.33.42 PM


No Better Time is the fantastic story of Daniel Lewin, and brings back memories of the early days of Akamai…

Yes, I admit it — I got sucked into the Warriors series of cat books because my 11 year old daughter was reading it!  I started and couldn’t put them down.  But there are something like 40 more, and I will not be reading those.

Read The Hunger Games again after watching the 1st movie a 2nd time, before the 2nd movie was released, and then watching the 2nd movie.  Really wanted to go back and compare. Started re-reading the 2nd book, but never finished it.

The Hundred Dresses and Mr. Popppers Penguines are 5th grade reading at HRCA, and I’m reading all of those books along with Riley.

Had to read Life of Pi before watching the movie.

Paleo Manifesto is excellent and is not a typical paleo book in anyway.

I still can’t believe the Holy or the Broken — an entire book about Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah.”

I am Malala is great.

Once a Runner was a re-read, but the “pre-quel” (by 20 years!) to Once Again to Carthage, and I wanted to read the 1st as a refresher before starting the 2nd.

There were a bunch of other books I started but did not finish, or that I’m still working through.