Haiti – travel day

Well, it’s finally here! All the training is behind me and the experience of Haiti is in front of me. I am so grateful for this opportunity! Thanks again to everyone for all of your support!

I stayed at the Tischer’s to avoid having Kelly have to drive me to the airport at 4 a.m. Jase and I were up and out the door by 4:20. There were no problems with security and the flight to Miami was smooth.

I read the following card from Kelly when we arrived. I am blessed with an amazing wife who loves me, gets me, and is always there for me.

In Miami we met a lot of the runners at the gate for the flight to Cap Haitian:

I was upgraded so had a decent lunch on the flight, and was the first one through immigration. I acted like I knew what I was doing so was outside pretty quickly. Then I was approached by many taxi drivers asking if I needed a ride. After a bit, others started trickling out and we met the RAH crew.

Here’s the bus we took to the hotel. There were also several pick up trucks to carry bags!

Bus selfie:

The bus ride over to the hotel was a little crazy. I was instantly struck by the trash — it’s literally everywhere! 😦

The road was crazy. I struggled to get decent shots, but it was narrow, crowded, rutted and seemed a bit dangerous. But our driver was amazing!

The hotel is literally at the end of the road and is pretty nice.

Some of the gang went for a run. Not me!

Most of us did make a trek to an old fort…

After that we had a team meeting to go over logistics and safety, had dinner, and now it’s almost time for bed. We have a 4 a.m. wake up call and will be running by 5. 34 miles tomorrow finishing with a long climb up a mountain.

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Haiti reading list

The #roadtohaiti has not only been traveled on foot (training!).   I’ve also been reading a lot.  From Mountains Beyond Mountains, the book that helped define my “Why” for this adventure, to “Haiti After the Earthquake,” and now “The Big Truck that Went By,” I have learned so much about this little island country and its difficult and troubled past.  I can’t wait to arrive this Friday and soak it all in.

 

2018 Uhwarrie 20 miler

For 7 of the last 8 years, I’ve run the Uhwarrie 40 miler.  See last year’s post here, which has a good synopsis of past results.

This year, with the Run Across Haiti just two weeks out from race day, my coach David had the good sense of talking me out of the 40 and into the 20, though I was really tempted since the Uhwarrie 40 is my favorite race.

Race day came and I went out pretty hard, dropping in behind the lead 6 or 7 guys on the 1st climb but happily settling in there – about where I wanted to be.  But within the first 60-90 seconds, I felt really off.  My legs ached – the kind of leg ache I often get right before a serious illness such as the flu or the time I got Rocky Mountain Spotted fever.  Uh-oh.  Within 120 seconds, my stomach turned.  Oh man.  This was not good at all!

Getting up that climb over the 1st 1.5 miles was tough, and I few people passed me.  Once we hit the top and started down, I tried to settle in, but still didn’t feel comfortable.   I tried to maintain, but it was a struggle.  Between miles 3-8 I estimate at least 20 people went by, I just couldn’t do anything.  This was a mental blow and I was really beating myself up.  With all the miles I’ve put in for Haiti, why wasn’t I running better?  Was I getting sick?  Or too old?  Or what?

Sometime after mile 9, I finally managed to settle myself down.  It took me that long to just let the day be what it was going to be.  And then I started passing other runners.  Some were the 40 milers who had started an hour earlier, but I also recognized a couple from those 20 people in the 20 miler that had passed me early on.  I started being able to run some of the hills without achy legs.  I thought my original goals of sub 3:20 and top 10 were gone, but I felt better and better and was happy with that.  That continued all the way to the finish, as I ran stronger and stronger, and came in at 3:25.  I didn’t know how I had placed since there is a big mix of 20 and 40 milers, but eventually learned I had come in 11th (out of 190 finishers!).  So only 5 minutes off my goal and one place out of top 10!

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook later that day:

Uncle Uhwarrie still teaching me lessons after all these years. Today was about running with set expectations vs running with the cards you’ve been dealt on that day. After solid finishes the last two years in the 40, I went in to today’s 20 with high expectations. When I wasn’t meeting them, I didn’t alter plans for far too long. I struggled against what I thought I should be running vs what I was. Finally around mile 9, I settled myself down and went with what I had. Amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly, I started feeling better. And stronger and stronger. I finished very strong, and not that far off my expected time. As always Uhwarrie was beautiful. And humbling.

I also came to realize I needed to put Uhwarrie in my larger context.  It was never an A race, I didn’t do much of a taper (prior weeks of 70, my peek training week, and 50+ miles), and I had not trained for tough single track trails.  Haiti is all roads, and I spent almost all of my long runs on roads or the American Tobacco Trail (greenway).   Only last weekend did I hit New Hope for 15 miles of single track on Saturday and 5 more on Sunday (as part of a 10 miler with the other 5 on roads).

So…  I’m happier than I was.  But still wonder what I could do with the right training in the 20!  I’ve hit the turn in the 40 in 3:28 (too fast, suffered on the 2nd half big time) and 3:31 (had an ok 2nd half) the last two years when Ive run 7:43and 7:31 respectively.

Here’s the Strava race analysis… This seems to show I ran 55 min the last quarter vs 49 in the 1st, but I think that is a touch off.  I forgot to turn off my watch and had to crop the Strava entry, and this also shows half way as past 10 miles, while the Strava distance came in at 19.2.  I’m not sure I understand that!   Oh well, I’m hoping there’s enough evidence to show I didn’t have a bad positive split, but there’s not enough to say I had an even split either!

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And the results:

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Now I have a couple of days to recover and then about 10 days to taper for Haiti!  And then it’s off to run 230 miles and climb/descent 15k feet in 8 days!  So excited!

Grandfurther

Running up Calloway is my favorite “run,” with “run” definitely in quotation marks because if I can average around 18 minute miles, I’m pretty happy.  🙂  Whenever we are in the Boone area, I try to hit this trail.  In fact, one year I summited Calloway 12 tiimes!

When I heard Tanawah Adventures somehow got a permit to hold a trail race here, I was astounded.  But excited!  The race would be The Profile Trail to the summit of Calloway Peak, then down the back side using a combination of Daniel Boone, Nuwati, and Cragway, then back to the top, and back down.  A total of nearly 15 miles and 4500′ of climb and descent.

It would be my 1st race since the ankle injury back in May.  I had previewed the course three weeks prior and came in at 3 hrs 53 minutes (definitely trying not to push too hard).  I thought anything under that would be good, as I thought my preview might not have been the full course.  Turns out race day would stop at the old trail head, about a half mile short of the new one, but would also start about a third of a mile further from the new trail head, so nearly a wash.

The first thing that surprised me was that we’d be starting in 3 waves, with your bib number being assigned based on your ultra sign up ranking.  I came in at 57 out of 150 runners, so did not make the 1st wave!  That told me the level of runner in this race was going t o be up there.  And instantly out of the gate people were flying towards the trail.  I wanted to get towards the front of my wave and pass a few of those in the 1st wave, as once you hit the single track and climbs, passing would be a lot of work.

I’ll keep it short and just say I ran very well, but was amazed at how well so many other people handled this brutal course!  I came in at 3:28, 25 minutes faster than my preview time, and much faster than I thought I could run it.  So I was happy.  (I think I was 47th so I moved up a little!)

Here I am coming down the backside.  Pictures never do justice to the steepness — but trust me this is steep!

As I was waiting at the finish I heard from Kelly that she had slipped and hurt her knee.  Eventually she made it to the medics and they wrapped her knee and gave her a 2nd pole to come down on.  I ran up to the car, grabbed some warm clothes and food, and headed out to meet her.   I then came in the last 1.5 – 2 miles with her.  Turns out she tore her ACL — completely off the femur — but was still able to finish!  But she will need surgery.  😦

Here are my lap times:

And Strava race analysis — a little faster on the 2nd half, but I think the climb is a little easier on the backside.

Run Across Haiti 2018

Ok, this is happening:

8 days, over 200 miles, one rest day, with daily distances of 13-50+ miles!

I’ll be running with Team Tassy, an organization with the following mission:

We accompany families in Haiti out of poverty through good, dignified jobs.

Additionally, “we run to show that Haiti’s not a place to be feared or to be pitied.

Last year, my friend Jason, participated in the 2017 version of , and convinced me what an amazing opportunity it was.  (Remember Jason? — I got to pace him the last 25 miles of his Umstead 100 win.)  I’ve never run anywhere near the kind of distance over a week that this will be, but I’m ready to embrace the challenge.

Jason came to HRCA last year during the athletic banquet, and talked about his love of running and love of mission work, and how this run enabled him to combine the two.   Kelly and I want to explore the world of mission work outside of our own community, especially as we approach the day when the kids are out of the nest, and while this is not a hands on mission trip but instead a fundraiser, it will allow me to see a common destination for mission trips.  In fact, Kelly and Riley are going to do a real hands on mission trip in Haiti next summer, and I hope to do the same at some point in the not too distant future.

My coach, David Roche of Some Work All Play (SWAP), questioned why I wanted to do this.  I gave an answer that didn’t satisfy him, and he challenged me to read “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” the story of Paul Farmer and his medical “mission” work in Haiti and other places around the world.  As I read it, I became more and more inspired.   (I think if I was not 47, I’d go back to med school!)  🙂  David’s recommendation to me to read this book reminds me of Phil Jackson, the basketball coach, and how he’d pick a different book for each player every season…  There’s some real insight there beyond running that David had, which made me dig deeper, and I really appreciate it.  Now when I’m really suffering out there, which I know I will (probably many times!) running across Haiti, I’ll be able to dig that much deeper and persevere.

I highly recommend the book!

Here’s a quick video of the run from last year:

Now, this is a fundraiser, and I’ve committed to raising $5000 to support Team Tassy in meeting their goal of accompanying families in Haiti out of poverty.  If you feel inclined to support me in supporting Team Tassy, here’s a link to my Crowdwise site:

Sean’s Run Across Haiti

Thanks!

AT: Family backpacking trip

For my birthday, I wanted to do a family backpacking trip.  We opted to do nearly the same exact trip we did with the HTC men’s group in early June, documented here, here, and here.  As the trips were almost identical, I’ll not go into the details of the journey.  I’ll just say that the kids did very well in the 20 miles and nearly 4000′ of climb that we did, and post some photos.

Day 1

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We stopped for a “coffee break” for me and a rest stop for everyone else.  Reece threw up the hammock and chilled while Kelly got some sun in the back.

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Here’s the kid’s tent site near Wise Shelter (just on the other side of the creek):

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Mess hall:

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Day 2

Heading out:

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(a bit of a joke as we had only walked about 5 minutes!)

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Rock climbing:

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Lunch break

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Evening camp site:

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Our site was invaded by ponies…  Some editing done by Riley:

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Day 3

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