Uwharrie 2023

I missed Uwharrie in 2022 — dropped out the week before. I had COVID about two weeks out, and while I was feeling fairly recovered, I didn’t think it would be wise to push my body that hard… But I was bummed not to get that 10th finish. And while I was lacking motivation this year when sign up came around, I really wanted that 10th mug! So I signed up and did the training… Well, enough training to get by.

I won’t write much, just update the table:

YearTimePlace1st 202nd 20
2010 7:57 (short course) 30/71
2011 8:50:22 30/88
2012 7:57:17 27/148
2013 8:49:06 33/90
 20158:05:07 17/883:49:134:14:32
 20167:31:30 7/1013:33:423:57:48
 20177:43:54 9/943:29:044:14:18
201820 miler….11/1903:25:37

I admit I’m a little disappointed in that 2nd 20… Thought I would have held up a bit more. But then again, my current training is 20 mpw (avg over the year, but with some bigger weeks before an ultra like this), so not sure I should have those expectations.

What I have found is that in a race like this, that I have run so many times, it is impossible not to compare my current self to my past self. How much of the slow down is due to age, how much due to how my training has changed, or how much is it something else?

I’m sure it’s a combination…. I know I shouldn’t compare, but it’s not in my nature not to.

(I would note that my total training time per week is likely the same, if not a little more now, but instead of running 40+ mpw, I’ve added a lot of time on the bike, and a lot more time in the gym. I think I’m probably healthier overall, and my current training is more geared towards health span than performance. But I’d still like to perform well!)

Morning after coffee… I now have 11 of the big mugs (volunteered one year), and 1 medium size mug (the one year I ran the 20).

2022 year of training and racing in review

Another year has come and gone, so it’s time to write a little about it. Last year, I shared that I only had 3 races planned, Uhwarrie 40, Florida Sea to Sea, and Barkley Fall Classic. Well, a couple weeks before Uhwarrie, I got sick, and while a week out I was feeling ok, I thought it wasn’t really wise to push the body as much as a 40 mile race would take. And I knew there was no way I could go to a race and not push. So I ended up racing just two events: Florida Sea to Sea and BFC. S2S was good — 73 hours across Florida on foot, bike, and boat, with lots of navigation, but the navigation can be frustrating due to the quality of the maps. And BFC was a great day for me — started pretty slow, but worked my way up to 28th overall out of 400 starters! I was very happy about that. Very tough course this year, too!

Last year I shared that I was keeping the same goals, so I’ll just share the graphs here which show again that I missed on most of them!

First up, elevation, and this was the lowest in 3 years! I still want to hit 365,000 one day, but that day likely will wait until we live in the mountains full time.

Next up, total time. Pretty close to 500 (though the goal was 550), and more than I’ve done the past couple years, but all in the same ballpark:

Running was basically in the middle of the past couple years, but still not even 1000 miles:

And next biking, my lowest in a while:

And next, strength training, which I had mentioned last year was going to be a focus going forward. And it certainly was this year, as you can see in the graph. I surpassed most of my strength goals (though not all of them) and find myself stronger now than I was back in Weightlifting 101 at NCSU in 1990!

And next just a couple more summaries from Strava:

Next year will be more of the same — running, biking, strength training as the focus, but always looking for outdoor activities like hiking and paddling. As of right now, I only have two races: Uhwarrie 40 and Mt Mitchell Challenge. The latter is a race I’ve tried to get into for years with no luck. This year they’ve changed it, so everyone can run the Black Mountain Marathon (which I did in 2002 or so), but if the Mt Mitchell Summit is open, the 1st 250 runners are allowed to go up. The rangers normally don’t give an indication of whether the summit will be open or not until just a day or two before, and I have to admit, I’m not that interested in running the marathon. So if the summit isn’t open, I may skip this. I am on the waitlist for BFC and do hope to run that again. And apparently I’m joining the Knight Crawlers for the Blue Ridge Relay again this year, but the “mountain goat hard legs,” that I got to run last year, are going to the ladies.

I do have at least one adventure planned — plane tickets and hotel room booked for Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim across the Grand Canyon with a group of friends that I’m really looking forward to in April. (This is something like 48 miles and 10,000’+ of elevation change). I still want to run the Grand Loop of the Linville Gorge (34 miles). Weather permitting, I may do the little loop (23 miles) there in a few weeks, but the Grand Loop is going to have to wait until after the February races.

I still have a couple crazy ideas I’d like to attempt, like an Everesting attempt either on bike or foot (or both!), maybe even a vEveresting attempt on Zwift. On a bike I’m looking at 12-15 hours, and on foot, probably 28-30, so they are serious undertakings. I also saw someone do a marathon (42k’) on a Concept 2, so that would be a challenge.

I’m still extremely focused on strength. While the extra muscle is a pain to carry around the mountain, I think it is much healthier going forward into my mid 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s! I’m intrigued by Peter Attia’s “Centurion Olympics,” where you backcast from goals you have in your marginal decade… Let’s just call that 80-90, or even 90-100, and what you want to be able to do then. (Examples: Load your own luggage on an airplane, hike 3 mph, get down on the floor to play with your great grandkids..) And then you work backwards. Things like VO2Max look good for me (though I need to continue to train both zone 2 and VO2Max!), but some of the strength goals were pretty far off. And I definitely need some mobility work! 🙂

Two benchmarks that he has mentioned are a dead hang for 120s and being able to farmers carry your body weight for 2 minutes. I’m up to 90s on the dead hang, but farmers carry is just at 2×35 and I need to get to 2×75! (I’ve not tried the latter at the start of a weigh training session, only at the end, so it’s a little unfair. I will do one of these at the start with 40 lbs and see how it goes. I have carried 75 for 45-60s but it recked me for the rest of the workout!)

I also created a table of strength benchmarks based on both my weight and age, and looked at what intermediate lifters can do. Then I set my target at the lower of those two numbers. Upper body strength is in-line or very close for pull-ups, bench press, overhead press, and bar row. But lower body strength for squats and dead lifts has some serious work to put in this year. (Note, if I don’t have a measured 1 rep max, I use 120% of my best 5×5. This worked out well for most of the lifts for me where I have both, so I think it’s a decent approximation.)

Here’s the chart as of today, a little small but this is the best way to share it.

I don’t know if I can make all those green by the end of the year, but I’m going to work towards it!

See you on the mountain!

Barkley Fall Classic 2022

(I probably won’t post this for another week, after more photos are gathered, but wanted to at least write a little while everything is still fresh in my mind.)

(Still no photos so I think I’ll post now and either update later with photos or make a 2nd post instead!)

It’s six days later, and I’m still shocked and elated at my BFC performance this year! Even when I’ve not struggled at this race, my best finishes have been in the “top” 30-40%. Spoiler alert – this year I finished 28th out of ~400 starters for a top 7%!

2018 I was well trained but started cramping within the 1st two hours. Cramps moved from my feet, slowly up the body, to some muscles I didn’t even know existed, to my fingers cramping on my poles climbing Chimney Top. I think the only thing that didn’t cramp was my face! Despite the issues, I still somehow suffered through to a 50k finish, but learned my lesson — don’t burn too many candles too soon, especially in the heat and humidity. (It was a very HOT year!). Finished 108 out of 400+

2019 I was barely trained — I had taken off 6 months from running *completely*, from November 2018 to May of 2019, with ZERO running due to a sacrum/groin issue. (I had been on the bike and in the gym, though.) When I got the call to BFC in late August, I had run less than 200 miles all year, but could not resist saying “yes.” I had a more sane pacing strategy, but the lack of run volume caught up to me later in the race and my feet were shot. Finished 86th out of 400+

2020 was the covid year, when only ~120 runners started, and most of them had to have had a prior 50k finish.. It was a similar story to 2019 – lack of run volume caught up to me, but I probably felt the best I have at BFC, mainly due to an “easier” course, but also due to much color temperatures with a low dew point. Finished 37th out of 120+.

2021 – I got an invite 3 days out but had already made family plans to go to parent’s weekend at App State, including football tickets, etc. So I declined the invite. Laz made fun of me for going to parents weekend, saying:

i still remember my days in college
ridiculing the students whose parents came to parents weekend.


2022 — I ended up 29th out of roughly 400 starters! I’m still not running many miles, in fact my yearly totals to the start of BFC have been:

  • 2018 – 1322
  • 2019 – 200
  • 2020 -737
  • 2021 – 443 (did not run BFC)
  • 2022 – 608

But I have been much more serious about strength training in 2022, and am still getting out on the bike (or “getting in,” on the bike trainer!) a fair bit.

Now, to back up. I had planned to stay with my friend Carey who had moved to Oak Ridge recently, but the week before I’d be driving to TN, I got an email from TN state parks saying “we look forward to seeing you!” I had totally forgotten I had booked a primitive camp site in Flat Fork nearly a year ago. (Big Cove had already sold out! So I decided to drive the van over and camp. I wasn’t 100% sure if I’d be allowed to sleep in the van, so I did take the time to set up my tent:

After setting up I headed over to the football game to meet Carey and hang out. The runners got called out on to the field at half time, which ended up being a Coalfield blow out. I had not yet had dinner so I left after halftime and had a late Mexican dinner.

Friday morning I rode my bike around camp a little, and stumbled across Laz and crew at the start/finish area, so I jumped off and helped set up the barriers and helped hang the flags. After that it was off to packet pick up to get the maps, and then to the Prison to have lunch with a big group, study the maps more, reminisce, etc. After that I went to Starbucks to catch up on some work, grabbed some sushi from Kroger and headed back to camp, to put my gear together now that I knew the course:

It gets really dark early in Flat Fork, so I was probably sleeping by 9 p.m. I did wake up a couple times to check the time, but all in all, it was good sleep. I had set my alarm for 5:30 but when I woke up at 5:00, I decided I might as well get up and have a leisurely morning and enjoy my coffee:

Soon enough it was time to head to the start. I had decided to ride my bike the ~1.5 miles to the start rather than drive the van and have to park it in the crowded parking area, so I left Flat Fork pretty late, maybe 6:40. Got to the start at 6:50, locked up the bike, and started heading to the start line. I was probably in the front fifth of the pack when I realized I couldn’t see very well — I didn’t have my glasses on, and couldn’t find them!! Oh no! A little panic, but I went back to the bike to look around. They weren’t right at the bike, but about 15′ away where I had stopped to make some kind of adjustment to my pack or gear. Thank goodness — it would have been a VERY long day without my prescription sun glasses! I headed back to the start and ran into Carey. We were further back than I had been, but that was fine by me.

Pacing strategy was to take it easy to start — no more sprinting up Flat Fork road to get to Bird Mountain early to avoid the conga lines — especially this year when we wouldn’t go up the single track but would instead take Quitters Road up a few miles before hitting trails. I probably got to the yellow gate in 200-250th. I still took it easy up the climb, employing a 7-11 strategy — run 11 breaths, walk 7 — but only when the terrain wasn’t too steep. Too steep was all power hiking. I did pass a few here, but maybe 25 – 35 tops. Got to the 1st aid and just topped water and headed out as quickly as possible, probably passing another 15-20 folks who spent more time there than I did.

On the next two single track mountain sections, both up and down, I really started passing a lot of people. It’s a balance of not wasting energy, but also not losing too much time. I’m still glad I had started slowly, but a little bit of me wonders if perhaps the extra energy spent passing would have been better spent going just a touch faster at the start? At one point I was near some guys talking about their projected ultra-sign up finish times, and one was 13:21 (1 minute past cut-off), and another was even slower! I used that opportunity to say “I better get moving” and passed a few more. (Further conversation from those guys and one of them was a 7 for 7 50k finisher, but I felt good and wanted to keep moving.)

I don’t think there’s much need to do a play by play of the course, but will share a few photos:

And I will share my splits here, which show the story — slow to start, and fairly steady climbing up the rankings after that.

The anomaly is 80th on Prison ->Tub , which includes the prison on going up Rat. About half way up Rat I was really suffering and on the edge of nauseuosness — due to a mistake I had made at the Prison aid station. I knew heading back after the difficult out and back section, I really needed calories and salt. So I took a little more time than normal there, putting in two tailwinds in one bottle and an LMNT electrolyte packet in the other. My mistake — really laziness — was not getting out my bladder and filing it with plain water. And due to the heat and effort climbing rat, I really really needed plain water! So I had to slow and take some breaks on the climb, find a little shade from the relentless heat. It is odd that the numbers show me in 80th on that section, but only lost 3 spots overall?? Maybe a lot of those 80 missed the cut-off there or at the next one?

Once the climb was over, including the fire tower, I slowly head down to Tub and got a lot of fresh plain water in me, as well as a little more food, before taking it slowly down SOM so I could recover. After that recovery (48th) I got back in the mid 20s (place per section) for the last leg and an overall finish of 28th.

Here’s another view pacing and placement that someone on FB put together that I thought was cool:

This shows the. drops per aid station as well as 50k finisher times per split and where I was.

I would add here that when I got the map on Friday, I wasn’t intimidated by anything, I had seen everything on the course other than part of the 50k finishing loop, but in talking to others, that wouldn’t be too bad. In hindsight, I was wrong about the Tub to Tub section — it was a really difficult out and back section covering all of the hard, out of park hills, in both directions. I had never been down Rat or up Meth before. As I was climbing Rat, I realized that it was going to do in a lot of people vying for the 50k finish, and I was right.

A couple of anecdotes. Love this Facebook post by Laz:

I can say for sure, the one part of the course I thought would be hard was going up Meth, and I was right! Really takes a lot of energy to crawl up the side of a “wall” that is really loose scree and sand!

The main interaction I had with Laz was as follows… I got the the Decision Point about 10 hrs 15 minutes into the race, and came in solo with not anyone I could see in front or behind. I see Laz up ahead and he yells:

“Marathon or 50k?”

I say “Be honest with me, if I go left, will I win the marathon?”

Laz: “Yes you sure would! You’d get that elusive 100% on ultra sign up, what’s it gonna be?”

Of course, there was only one answer. I came for the 50k finish, so a right turn it was, for another ~ 6 miles and 2500′ of up and down! 🙂

Finished in 12:02 and some change, for 28th place, and my 4th 50k finish!

Gear: nike dry fit shorts, XO skin thin tight under neath, Stio Eddie button down (which I took off for the bushwhack sections — didn’t want to snag the shirt or get blood all over it!), injinji toe socks, bucket hat used only in the sun, Ultimate Direction middle size pack, goat skin gloves, naked running belt, Hoka Speedgoat 5.

Food: six packs (1200 cal) Tailwind; 500 cal Vfuel (gel, in a flask); 4 or 6 LMNT packs (electrolytes); 4 date rolls, half bar from the aid station at Tub, one Justin’s peanut butter cup at Tub outbound, as my “reward” for getting to my mental half way point. So maybe 2000 cal, or just over, for 12 hours. Overall I think I was fine on calories — the nausea on Rat was due more to not having plain water.

On the one hand…

I fell short of all my goals. 😦

But on the other, I had a solid year. 🙂

But falling short of all my goals is a bit harsh — these were the distance, time, and elevation goals, that were always going to be a big stretch!

My most ambitious goal this year was to climb 365,000′, or average 1000’/day, across all sports — running, hiking, walking, biking, including indoor/virtual running and biking. And I was close!

The other big goal was to “strength train” for 50 hours. As I’m 51 and counting, maintaining strength and muscle is quite important, and while I love the endurance sports, those aren’t helping to fend off sarcopenia. Again, super close here, and just as important, the graph shows I was a lot more consistent than in prior years – not many flat line sections at all:

The distance goals for biking and running were a bit further off, but with the elevation goal, that is somewhat expected:

Biking distance
Running distance

And time – here I had 550 total hours which would include the 50 of strength… So a bit further off, and slightly less than last year, but still nearly 500 hours of “exercise.”

So, on the other hand — a solid year? Why say that? Well, I had another sub 8 hour Uhwarrie 40 (and another top 10), I did my 1st expedition length adventure race in 15 years, the FL Sea 2 Sea race, and I finished Hellgate (not quite as strong as I would have liked – blog post to come on that later). And outside of racing, I also got a couple more 14er’s in, and as you can see from the “exercise time,” spent a lot of time doing what I love — hiking, running, and biking, especially in the mountains.

At this point I’m keeping all the goals the same for 2022! It’s good to have big stretch goals even if I know it will be hard to hit all of them. I will again prioritize elevation and strength in 2022.

Current race plans are: Uhwarrie 40, Fl Sea 2 Sea, Barkley Fall Challenge

Addition projects I’d like to tackle: The Linville Gorge big loop, and to Everest (probably on the bike, and probably indoors!)

UPDATE: I forgot these two screen shots from Strava which have a a little additional info:

I like this one as it shows how I did elevation-wise per month:

And then this just included total days active and total distance:

2021 Florida Sea to Sea


Update: I’ve decided to add links to a longer article as well as the gofund.me page that was created to aid the families.



It’s now just two days from the end of the 2021 Florida Sea 2 Sea expedition length (72 hour) adventure race, and it’s still difficult to describe what happened.   I’m writing this now while it’s still a little emotionally raw, to hopefully help me process everything.

This race was my 1st expedition length AR in about 15 years, and my first AR in maybe 10.  I have done lots of ultra running in that time, and some other adventures like the MR 340 mile paddling race, the World Rogaine championships, etc.  But this was AR — back to “my roots” in endurance sports — paddling, trekking, biking, and lots and lots of navigation.

I’ll bullet point some memories from the AR aspect of the race below, or more likely a separate post, but the reason for the emotions is as follows.   My team was coming in from our last trekking section, about to transition to the final 40 mile bike ride to the finish, around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.  This was after 66 hours of racing in which we had done ~200+ mies of mountain biking, +40 paddling, and 20+ on foot .  As we came in to the TA to check in, we were told the “course was closed.”  We immediately guessed what had happened, and it’s a blur but I think Ryan asked if there was an accident and if someone had died.  The race crew said yes, and then he broke down crying.  I think we were the first people he had to tell.

It wasn’t clear to us what would happen, other than we would wait to find out.  We made it back to our gear in a state of shock.  At 66 hours with limited sleep, I think we all dozed, but it was not restful.  In my mind I didn’t know if the course was re-opened if I would want to continue.  I didn’t think so. After an hour, the race crew called all of the racers that were in the TA together and told us the race was over.  They would shuttle us back to the finish, and even go out and pull everyone still on the course off using the big rental trucks.  

I think this was the right call given the situation.  Over the last two days as details have emerged, we found the accident occurred just a little north of the last TA, about 90 minutes before we had come in and were about to head that way.   All teams had ridden the same road (US 1) to get to the TA, and then would have taken that same road north to head towards the finish.  The accident occurred about 2:30 a.m., as a car veered into the bike lane and hit all three riders of a three man team.  One died on the scene, and the other two were air lifted to local hospitals.  I understand that those two are now in stable condition.    Also from the news reports, we found that the man who died was engaged to one of his female teammates.

My own team had our own close calls with cars…  One pick up veered close to us — seemingly on purpose, though who knows?   We also had an 18 wheeler get close enough that we all were muttering under our breath (or out loud!) and had an  extreme adrenaline rush…  While the race keeps us off major roads as much as possible, it’s impossible to get across the state without utilizing some roads.  Typically the roads are used to connect various wilderness areas, where the bulk of the racing occurs.  But you can’t get from wilderness area to wilderness area without using some roads.  We tried as much as possible to chose routes that avoided major roads, and all of the big roads are off-limits according to the race directors’ rules and clearly marked as such on the maps.  But there’s only so much you can do to make it across the state.   All riders have flashing red rear lights, as well as bright handle bar and/or head lights on.

So what was an amazing “return to my roots” of AR was marred by this tragedy.  That is what is hard to process.  I had an amazing time, even though we struggled with some aspects of the race (navigation).  Other than that, we raced well together, felt strong, and were doing well.  And it was beautiful to be in areas of FL that many people never see.   I love the remote areas of FL rivers and swamps – so beautiful and pristine – there’s nothing quite like them that I have seen. 

As we were racing I kept thinking about coming back and entering as a soloist next year, rather than a team.  I am impressed by those that have taken on this event on by themselves!    We’ll see how I feel in a week, or a month, or when sign up comes around for next year’s event.  I’m sure even more precautions will be taken than ever before.  But at the end of the day, we all take risks each time we step out the door, whether it’s to drive to town to the grocery store, or whether it is to run, bike, and paddle across a state.  We have to understand and mitigate those risks as best we can.  There is a “living” part of life that has to be fed, and each one of us feeds that differently.  For me, one important part of that is to get outside, to move under my own power, and cover epic distances, and to see and experience the beauty of God’s creation up close.  

My heart is broken for the lost life and broken lives for those close to the racer who was killed and those who were injured.  I’ve left out details of names and locations, though they are easy to find online.  I may modify this write-up to include those details, but wanted to write something while my emotions are still quite raw.

2021 Uhwarrie 40 miler

Year 9 of the 40 miler!! I’m thinking one more to get 10, and then maybe take a break. I love this race and course so much, though, we’ll see if I can hold to that. 🙂

Anyway, this year would be different due to Covid. Half the field in all the races, modified courses on the 8 and 20 (now 16), though the 40 would remain the same. No shuttles, so parking near race start (which is a tight turny country road, so a major concern, but I heard from the RD that it went well.)

I’ll cut right to the chase… I ended up on the 1st row, socially distant with 20 other runners in wave 1, so was 2nd onto the 1st big climb. I knew that was a problem, so let 2 others get by, and within a minute, those first 3 were gone. Then I had a couple more on my back, and I was going too hard to soon, so I let them go, and they soon were gone. And I was by myself — for about 33-34 miles! Well, at mile 13 or so, one runner passed me, and a guy he was with stayed with me for maybe 5, 10 minutes top. Other than that, I was 100% alone!

I felt good and strong, and hit the turn in 3:52 — much slower than my best year, but I guess those dats are behind me. 🙂 At 3:52, though, I figured my “super stretch” goal of sub 8:00 was gone, and was thinking 8:15-8:30 was more likely. I was in and out of the turn in a minute, 90 seconds top, and just kept running. It was more lonely on the return this year, with just half the field of 40, and none of the normal 20 milers coming by.

As I watched the time, I kept thinking I somehow still have a shot at sub 8:00, so I just kept running. I knew it was getting really tight. I got to the aid station at mile 35 with just under and hour to go, and figured it was over. But then I remembered this aid was at mile 4.5 on the way out, not mile 5, so I had a little less distance to the finish than I had been calculating, and it was back on!

Coming in to mile 35 — can I still make it?

I ran much more of the last 4 miles than ever, and somehow pulled it off! Going down the steep rocky section in the last mile with speed was a bit scary, but I had enough energy to push here, and got to the finish in 7:56, good for 7th place! Again, a smaller field, but I’m still happy. And besides, my goal is time based here, not placing. (Unless I can ever get top 3 which is where the big pottery is awarded! 🙂

I’m going to update the table I’ve used in past years, and put in the splits for the years they are available, as it shows that this was my strongest 2nd half, even though I’ve had faster overall runs.

YearTimePlace1st 202nd 20
2010 7:57 (short course) 30/71
2011 8:50:22 30/88
2012 7:57:17 27/148
2013 8:49:06 33/90
 20158:05:07 17/883:49:134:14:32
 20167:31:30 7/1013:33:423:57:48
 20177:43:54 9/943:29:044:14:18
201820 miler….11/1903:25:37
(no splits included in this years official results, but those are roughly correct from my watch)

So I did break 4 hours on the return in 2016, but was still 24 minutes slower than the way out. This year, in my 50 year old body, I was only 12 minutes slower. Most years, most runners, even in the top 10, are 15-30 minutes slower, so I’m pretty happy with that!

Fuel: pre-race oatmeal and peanut butter; tailwind; 4 vFuels and 3 coconut date rolls that I carried; 1 cup of potato soup at the turn, 1-2oz Mountain Dew at aid stations 29, 32, 35, 38.

Gear: XOSkin shorts, 200 weight ice breaker long sleeve half zip top (should have worn short sleeves!), 2 buffs, one started to keep my ears warm and one to be a face covering at the aid stations, injinji toe socks, Topo Mountain Racers (so far, love these shoes!); calf sleeves (was ready to pull them off a few times but didn’t want to stop).

Oh, and a Coros Vertex – received the night before so I had literally no experience with it. My Garmin had serious GPS failures on 2 of the last 13-14 runs, so I replaced it last minute. (Actually ran with them both, and the Garmin was several miles off, while the Coros with just shy of 40 miles.)

Here is what Kelly posted to Instagram since I didn’t take a picture of my pottery:

Then race analysis from Strava:

2020 Uhwarrie 40 miler

Ok, this is very late — but I didn’t realize I forgot to write a blog post last year! Doh!

Here is what I did post to Facebook:

So I eeked out a top 10 finish but did not break sub 8:00.

Looking at the training log, it’s not hard to see why!

(Blue was swimming….)

Perhaps a better way to see it is run volume / distance:

Not a whole lot of distance there, so not hard to see why the 20 miles back took 38 minutes longer than the 1st 20!

As this was over a year ago, I don’t have much memory about any of the run itself. :-/ But I did just finish the 2021 40 miler, so stay tuned for another update soon!

2020 training summary

Well, I realized I skipped the Q3 update, but here is the year end summary, and thoughts on next year.

The big goal was total elevation, which I set at 250k, significantly higher than prior years. That includes all sports, not just running — so add hiking, walking, biking, etc. With COVID hitting, Kelly and I both signed up for the Great Virtual Race Across TN, which had us both walking a lot more. Also, there was the Ascent Challenge Memorial Day weekend got me climbing a ton — 31k in a week! (That was all running…) And finally, the addition of virtual riding via Zwift also contributed. With all that said, I crushed my goal with well over 300k of climb, and have set a goal of 365k in 2021! Not sure how likely that is — depends on if I do any more virtual events, etc.

Next up is my time goal, which I set somewhat arbitrarily at 500. After looking through “The Uphill Athlete” last year, I realized my yearly hours trained were pretty tiny compared to some athletes! Now, this number does include a lot of hiking and walking — but only walks when it was somewhat of a workout, not just walks that were super casual. And again, I hit this target with just (barely) over 500 hours. I went ahead and bumped this to 550 for 2021, mostly because I want to (need to!) get serious about strength training now that I am 50, and I have made it a goal to lift 50 hours in 2021. Now, I may include mobility and balance in one umbrella – I’ve not quite decided. But I do some of that kind of stuff outside of a training session — just when I walk by a balance disc or am sitting in front of the TV.

Next up is running, for which I fell just short of my 1000 mile goal with 978 miles. I’m not disappointed in that at all, as I feel like a more well rounded athlete doing all the other sports again, especially mountain biking! I’ll keep this at 1000 for 2021, though a lot of that will depend on which races happen next year!

And finally biking…. I set an aggressive goal of 2000 miles, but I rode the mountain bike more than expected (as apposed to Zwift or road riding), which is always going to be fewer miles per hour. But I had a blast doing it and wouldn’t change that. I’ll probably change the 2021 goal to 1500 or 1750, but I am Zwift’ing more now than last year, so maybe 2000 is within shot and I should just keep it the same?

I doubt I’ll keep up with quarterly updates going forward — not sure anyone is really interested. 🙂 But I do enjoy tracking this kind of stuff, so will continue to do so. A shout out to the Elevate App, which is chrome extension which enables me to track this level of detail from my Strava data..

So a table to show 2021 goals:

Elevation (all sports)365,000′
Running1000 miles
Biking2000 miles
Strength Training50 hours
Total time (all sports)550 hours

2020 Barkley Fall Classic

Training for the BFC can be interesting — you often don’t know if you are in or not until just a few weeks out. The race fills quickly, and there is always a long wait list (which is where I seem to find myself each year). Last year I got the notification from Laz 24 days from race day. This year, with Covid, there was a slight indication the race may happen in late July — for prior finishers only, so I thought that might give me a good chance.

As race date got closer, we found that Laz was able to get permission to host 125 runners, to start in waves of 25, 15 minutes apart. The pool of prior finishers from the US, that wanted in, was in the 110 range, and Laz filled out the remaining spots with other well qualified runners — people who have finished a loop at Big Barkley, or who had finished other long/tough races.

Covid also changed pre-race activities – no packet pick up the day before, no lunch at the Warden’s table studying maps, etc. Instead, we would get maps race morning — roughly 30-45 minutes before our wave was to start! I ended up in the third wave based on my prior finish times.

Kelly and I made our way from NC over to Frozen Head, driving the van, stopping in Black Mountain for pizza, and then heading to the park. We had a spot in Flat Fork, but got word from another racer that her spot in Big Cove would be open as she couldn’t make it, and we opted for that. Parking the van in a relatively flat spot closer to the bathroom was much better than the primitive camp site with port-o-pot at Flat Fork. When we arrived a Frozen Head, we ran into THE Keith Dunn at the ranger station, and we made few purchases from the shop, before going to our site. We relaxed there a bit before heading to the Mexican place for dinner.

(A side note on Covid — we were quite amazed at the differences between NC and TN on mask wearing. At the grocery store in TN, maybe 10-15% of people had on masks. At the foyer of the restaurant, no one did, other than Kelly and I!!)

Anyway, race morning came, and we drove out of the park a couple miles to pick up race packets and the maps. We pulled over so I could review them before heading to the race start. I looked at it all and thought “oh, that looks easy, not anything new that we haven’t seen.” But then, after another minute or two, I noticed the “blue loop.” Hmm, loop, what could that be? It then hit me that the shirt I had just gotten that said “double your pleasure, double your fun, two, two, two rats in one,” and the double mint gum that came in the pack, meant something! Two climbs of rat jaw!

Rat Jaw is literally the hardest mile I have ever done. 2000′ in just over a mile, much of it a bushwhack through saw briers, some of it more like a bear crawl than a hike/walk (there is no running on the Rat). In the past it has taken me around an hour and fifteen minutes to make it to the top. And this year, we’d get to do it twice! Double your fun!

So we drove to the start area, and literally I had 10 or 15 minutes before my wave was set to go. I made my final gear adjustments… Another covid note — this year there would only be water on the course. No food — so you had to carry all your own calories and other gear you thought you might need. I had asked about poles, and the answer was “no, but there are plenty of sticks on the course!” So, my pack had all my food, a fair bit of water which I could top off on the way, a light, and not much else.

I won’t describe the course any further, I’ll just share pictures. I finished in about 10.5 hours, 37th out of the ~110 starters, but 3rd in my new age category of 50+ (which is not an official category, but I did have to check!)

Photos of Kelly and I at the famous yellow gate the day before the race:

Race start:

Testicle Spectacle – the smirk on my face on the 3rd shot is because I had way too much speed on my “butt slide” technique and was about to slide off into the woods!

Summiting Rat the 1st time — I had actually caught the front of the pack — there were about 25-30 of us, with the lead group of 3-4 bushwhacking, so we caught them. I thought about bushwhacking up to help, but figured it was better to save a little energy and wait.

The bottom of Rat just before starting the 2nd climb:

And the 2nd summit of Rat:

I’d note that both Rat Jaw climbs took about an hour this year, roughly 15 minutes faster than in prior years. Most of that had to be the much cooler temps — probably a good 15F cooler!

And finally, the finish:

Another great day at Frozen Head. A lot of suffering, but a lot of smiles too. I love this race, and if I could do just this and Uhwarrie 40 every year, I’d be a pretty happy runner. 🙂

I would say that lack of run volume again caught up with me in the end — runing 10 hours/30 miles/12k’ on 15-20 mpw is not ideal. I was strong on the climbs, due to all the ascending done this year, but my feet and legs were pretty shot coming down Chimney the last few miles.

Gear: Soloman Ultra Sense (or some such), Ruhn compression shorts, icebreaker sleeveless, Stio collared, injinji toe socks, big leather garden gloves, UD pack.

Food: lots of tailwind, some vFuels, part of a bar, and some granola chews. Oh, and sushi! I had the idea to grab a California roll at the grocery store the day before, and carry that in my pack. Ate them 1st before anything else so they would no sit out too long. I would not do this on a hot year, but the cooler temps meant they would keep well.

2020-Q2 Quarterly update (late)

Yeah, I’m almost a month late, so this is a 7 month update instead of a half year (Q2) update, but it is what it is…

First up, total elevation, which was really my main goal this year, and you can see I’m pretty far ahead of my goal. The Limitless Vertical Challenge, and more time in the mountains due to less travel (in turn due to COVID), means a lot more climbing:

Next, total time for all activities and I’m just slightly above goal pace. Still have my work cut out to reach 500 hours of training before the end of the year! The additional walking I’m doing is helping.

Here is running distance, again just slightly ahead – and how I ran a lot un 2018 (orange line) until November when I started having groin/sacrum issues!

Next, cycling distance…. Mountain biking just doesn’t give the miles! I’ll have to really pick up on the trainer to have a shot here, as I’m just over 400 miles behind target. Not sure I’ll be able to pull this one out.

Finally, total distance for all activities, also far behind. This is mostly behind due to lack of cycling mileage described above.

As of now, most races are still cancelled. There’s a glimmer of hope for the BFC in September, as it may be opened to prior 50k finishers, of which I have two. If so, I will 100% be there! That will give in the ball park of 35 miles and 10-12k’ of climb. No GPS, so it’s a bit of an estimate based on the course, which changes every year. And usually gets more difficult! Time to get my elevation back on like it was for the Ascent Challenge!