Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pinky Finger Run,

I have to tell you, this whole bit of keeping names “anonymous” is a bit on the challenging side!  Ok, all right, I’ll give it a go, as I thought this last weekend was worth writing about.

As I may have mentioned, my wife, the “Librarian” is a bit of a runner herself.  Actually she’s pretty good at the “run-walk” thing, and in credit to her, not nearly so compulsive as I am.  But she does make a point of two half marathons a year, and last weekend was one of them.  The problem was that about six months ago she had a bunion removed; no small surgery, and by most accounts one should plan to take about a year off of running because of it.  But not her; she’s been out training, and the weekend was the big event…

So the event takes place in a very beautiful area; a 13.1 mile out and back for the marathoners, and the half marathoners get bussed out to the 13.1 mile mark, and have to run back to the finish.  As we do every year, this is her run, and I just do the 10K, then jog out to run the last 5 miles back in with her – so I get 6.2 hard miles, then a 5 mile jog, then 5 miles of run-walk; my kind of day!  My son and his friend did the 10K as well.

So the weather was a bit drizzly, but the event was filled, even the 10K this year – it’s a very popular run, although in honesty I’ve never been all that impressed with the course.  Take it from a guy that’s struggled to climb mountains in Colorado; a “view” of a lake really doesn’t impress me all that much – plus it’s just too darn flat!  But in any case, off we went.

The 10K was pretty non-eventful for me; a bit disappointing in hindsight really.  I’ve been holding 7:45 for 10 miles on tempo training runs of late, but this weekend I could only hold 7:30 for 6.2 – although at the last minute before the run I let my son use my Garmin, so maybe if I had it I would have realized I was slacking, but who knows (In fact I have a Garmin Blog Entry I plan to make on just this topic soon).  My son did set a PR though, which was pretty cool.  So after 6.2 of at least a fair tempo run, I started my trek out to find the Librarian; and did at her mile 8.  Actually surprisingly she was way ahead of schedule, and stayed at a great pace until mile 10, where her foot started to be a serious problem.

I have to say in all honesty the respect for her toughness I had; I could see the little tear in her eye as each step went down, and I could see as her lip curled up slightly higher, and look of determination crossed her face – and for 3 miles she pushed through it – amazing!  I was very proud of her, and she went on to finish with a pretty decent time!

The next morning I went out on the very nearby local trail system called the “ASAV” (clever, huh?) and did 12 medium in great weather.

All in all a great weekend, a great couple runs, and a lot of courage!

Oh, I’m hoping to find a 50 soon nearby and cheap, but since there doesn’t seem to be any, the Trail Slammer and I are talking about finding a way to “create” one in the coming weeks.  Either a 50K or 50M, nearby, no cost.  Stay tuned on that one….

Oh, why “Pinky Finger Run?”  Do I have to hold up my hand to show you the mitten?  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

IT'S Onnnnnnnnn!!!!

Ok, that’s it.  I’ve been patient.  I’ve bitten my lip.  I’ve even smiled and nodded in agreement as I’ve heard the Trail Slammer time and time again impress everyone around him that his latest “hike”, the “Berkley”, or however they pronunciate it in them their parts, is the “most difficult run event ever known to mankind.”  I’m forever reading articles that I’ve been sent touting the awesomeness of the event; and when Runners World put in a two page story about it, well that just took the cake! (Although it’s strange; I thought we hated Runners World, but I guess their article changed everything….  Go figure…)  And I’ve even tried to be supportive when I was told that it’s a “good thing” to only complete 20% of the event.  But man, I just can’t get my head around this – but you know, I love this guy like a brother, and dang nabbit, if it makes him happy, then how bad can it be?

I’ve even tried to be supportive as he has told me that group after group has written him, voicing their concerns about his Berkly training and offensive comments – “Relentless arrogance” they would say. “Constant Bragging” they would complain “If I have to hear one more time about how fast you are I’m going to jump off a bridge” (Ok, they didn’t say that, I just added it in for effect) – in fact the TS even told me that now a group of women are training for the event, just to prove to him that it’s not that big a deal!  Apparently Groups that the Trail Slammer have offended include:

1.      AARP
2.      NOW
3.      UAW Local 27
4.      Team in Training
5.      PETA
6.      Every Runner or Person that Has Ever Run
7.      Hikers Organization of America
8.      Camper Organization of America
9.      Organization of Wildlife Animals
10.   VFW Local 428
11.   OPEC
12.   The Republican National Party
13.   The Democratic National Party
14.   Donald Trump

And if that wasn’t enough, the Trail Slammer leaves me a very offensive and just plain hurtful comment on my last blog entry.  Well that does it, something needs to be done.

My first thought was to dust off my old Team in Training relationships, and start up a group training for Berkly 2011.  “Gee Mr. Doctor, I’ve never run a marathon before, how much do we have to run to train for this Berkly thing?”  I’ll just reply; “Well that’s the great thing, you don’t even have to run at all!  All you need to do is practice walking up and down your stairs!.....  and oh, I almost forgot, do you happen to have a compass?”

Well, the problem is that to get in as you know the major requirement for “qualification” is that you can write a really good essay entitled “Why I should be allowed to run participate in the Berkly”.  I’m not sure that my entire Team In Training Group would be able to write a convincing enough essay, thus disqualifying them from entry.  Ok, so much for that idea.

So then it hit me.  I’ll take care of this myself.  OK TS, sure, I’ll do it!  Problem is once again that my qualifications for this event (essay writing capability) may not be up to snuff, as I’m not a great writer, and thus may not be qualified to participate.  If that’s not enough, the second most important qualification to this event as you know is the ability to read a compass, which I have NO experience in whatsoever.  I will say that my nephew is a cub scout though, and maybe, just maybe, he could train me a bit, and let me borrow his compass; but even that’s a long shot.  In fact if he can write a good essay, then, combined with his ability to use a compass, that may give him a better chance of getting in then me.   Hmmmmm…..

All right then, I’ve got a better Idea. Mr. Trail Slammer, here it is.  This Fall, lets plan a trip.  You and me.  We’ll find a way to get away from the Librarian and Trail Slimmer, and drive to this “course”.  Lets plan a few day camping trip, bring tents and compasses (and a spare essay in case anyone from the Berkly event questions why we’re on their course), and we’ll see if we can’t make a loop or two.  Now as this course is the most difficult course ever know to humanity (and maybe even others outside of humanity as well), I’m sure I’ll need to fall back very soon, and as such I’ll buy you a nice dinner.  But when I keep up with you for the days in question, all I ask for is a nice, humble apology – TO ME AND ALL THE DECENT PEOPLE YOU KEEP OFFENDING!  (And Donald Trump).

So Trail Slammer; IT’S ON!!!!!  You with me, or should I prepare to hear about how your compass is broke, or you need to mow the lawn all Fall?  Heck, maybe others would like to come witness the event?  I'll bring the lemonade!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Well That's Embarrassing...

Well, I just couldn’t let it go.  No, I guess an Ultra runner never settles, even if it results in driving themselves into the ground.  Of course I’m talking about the Indiana event, better known as the “Great Disaster of Indiana”.  Well, I have a lot of excuses, most of them probably valid, I guess.  Last 50M I ran was last fall and did very well.  Shortly after that I hurt my hip, and lost most any winter training.  I’ve been ramping up, but I’m still 10 pounds fat if not more, and frankly, I probably wasn’t really quite ready for a 50M yet.

“But no, that’s no way to think.”  Heck, this was my longest run since that last 50M, and as it turns out, if I would have just split off at the 50K turnoff I could have gotten my medal, and boasted a mediocre 50K time.  But I didn’t.  I had to keep going, because I was still able to walk.  Sure I was as usual dehydrated.  Sure I took a wrong turn and added a number of miles, which I figure really helped me get the most for my money.  But at that magical station where I could have headed for a relaxing 50K, I turned right instead, as the Librarian and my son shoved me off.  That was mile 25 – of course if you hadn’t gotten the opportunity to run extra like I did – for me it was even more.

By 31 I was dragging, throwing up every mile, and could hardly walk – the day was semi warm, very humid, and the sun was out – I was sweating ridiculously, and I have no heat acclimation.  Great.  But on I went.  At mile 36 I was up against cut offs, and knew I wouldn’t make the next station in time.  I dropped.  Arggg…

Ok, well I’ll look at this as a good thing – I was hurt, didn’t run during the Winter, ramping up training; I just have some work to do is all.  I’m already losing weight, and the training miles will be back up as school winds down.  At least 2 more 50Ms this summer, and I’m now determined to do a fall 100M.  That’s it – Blogs don’t change reality – less talk, more training….

Although I must say I've ran this event 4 times now and dropped once, and I've never had to drop out of Barkley, so obviously this was the more difficult event...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Hate 5K's !

So I’ve sworn to myself that if I hear this one more time, I was going to invest the time to commit it to a blog entry.  And it’s happened, AGAIN!  OMG, seriously, why do people think this, I don’t get it?!  “Doctor, what in the world are you talking about?!”  Oh sorry, here it is….  I’ve heard this so many times I’ve lost count – “Doctor, you’re planning on running a 5K; that must be a total joke to you, since you run 100 mile races!”

All right, once and for all, this could not be further from the truth.  I’ll just say it; I HATE 5K’s.  There ya have it.  I lose sleep the night before thinking about them.  I dread them.  I HATE them!  And why?  The answer is simple – they HURT!  They hurt allot!  I liken the 5K to holding your breath for 20 minutes; while every muscle, every nerve, and every pain relaying circuit in your body is saying STOP THIS!  To me, holding 6:30 pace (depending on the day) for 3.1 miles, is a totally miserable experience.

Let’s face it, how fast we run a race is a function of the race’s distance.  A 100 mile run is at a pace that is nothing short of sad when compared to marathon pace – and a runner running at marathon pace running a 5K is not running to their potential.  Any experienced runner knows that a 5K is a sprint, and you’re shorting yourself if you make it any less than that.  A 50 mile run, on the other hand, is a very complicated combination of running, walking, and eating – and lasts quite a long time.  A 5K just means sprint, try to breath, and endure the pain.  And I’ll tell you, mile 1.5 to 2.5 to me anyway is about as much pain as I’ve ever felt (and it’s even worse when children and old people pass me!)

No, I don’t like 5K’s, and yes, I dread them far more than a 50 mile run, although admittedly both are much harder than Everest.

There, I’ve got that off my chest.  Next week we’ll discuss 10K’s, and how I hate those too……

Friday, May 6, 2011

THAT, is how a 50 goes……

Well now that I’m doing the blog thing again (from time to time), as you can imagine, I have a number of stories that have piled up over the months – but this is my favorite; without a doubt my best 50 mile run to date….

So it was a local run, 50 miles through a lot of ugly woods.  “Ugly”?  Well, really a lot of the course was very runable, but I’d say about 10% was pure walk / crawl.  Mud up to your waist, which you battle for one step at a time kind of thing – and use the rope that was laid out to pull yourself along with!  It’s a tuff course, but not as tough as my upcoming Indiana run, but tougher than Everest anyway.

And what was special about this run?  In a nutshell, I run it every year, but this time beat my PR by over a half hour, taking second in my age group, and finishing toward the top of the field; but how did that happen…..   Ah, I’m glad you asked….

The day started out, and continued, and ended up being – rainy.  It was cool, wet, grey and ugly.  Of course that’s just how I like ‘em!  I tend to overheat and dehydrate; a weakness of mine, and one thing that’s for sure – if it’s going to be a good day, it’s not going to be hot out!  So off we went at 6:00 AM, and this 50 mile run started out – HORRIBLY!  So I was coming off a series of bad runs anyway, and this time I decided to mix it up a bit by setting the Garmin virtual partner to 11 hours, and trying to stay ahead of them.  I had never made 11 hours before on this course, although I came close once – maybe the Trail Slammer will tell you about that one (but I doubt that’s a race he’ll recount – he only talks about the pretty ones!)  

Anyway, so my stomach hurt, my legs felt like lead, I was tired, and I quickly fell behind.  Actually the Garmin said I was doing ok, but runner after runner passed me as I slowed down – and then after multiple pit stops, I believe I was very nearly dead last.  Not even 10 miles in and I was ready to drop, because, well “just because”.  Welcome to my 2010 season!  I decided not to worry about my place, and just focus on the Garmin, which actually told me I was about a mile ahead of where I needed to be, so I took some solace, but I knew that things were bad – although the good news was that the recent interest in Ultra running has brought a lot of very inexperienced people that always make the mistake of going out too fast (and thinking they can run without shoes) – that was a mistake I wasn’t making, I can assure you!  And so painfully I trudged on – drinking as much as I could, hitting my Ensures at my drop points, and generally feeling sorry for myself.  Although I tried to remind myself that “things can, and do, change”; but I wasn’t feeling it.  And at that point I knew I must have been in dead last.

Well a funny thing happened at about mile 20, and in honesty it all changed in about a 15 minute time span.  Maybe the Ensures kicked in, maybe some sort of blood sugar shift, but I found myself running fairly quickly.  In fact suddenly the music improved (yep, I’m an avid I-Pod runner), and it was coming fairly easily.  The Garmin said I was gaining even more on my virtual partner, and in general I was feeling pretty good; I of course reminded myself that this will change too, but enjoy it while it lasts!

Soon I saw my first of many “targets”.  A person that had passed me probably a half hour before and I was coming up fast on them – well, that felt good, I actually passed someone; I dodged around their wheelchair and moved on to the next.  And the next, and the next.  At this point a lot of people were losing steam, and I was picking it up; during the next 5 miles I literally passed dozens of people, telling most that they’ll be passing me back soon…. but by mile 30, I was moving past fewer and fewer people as there were simply not many left, and at that point aid stations were giving me my time in comparison to the “leader” – that was encouraging!

At 36 I came into the aide station that the Librarian and my son (name to be determined) were manning, and both of them looked at me with dropped jaws, telling me I was way ahead of where they thought I’d be – well, I knew I had 14 miles left, and while that didn’t seem like a big deal, when things go bad, 14 can be an eternity….  And then I met her…..

As I buzzed along I came up to, and prepared to pass, a fairly young gal.  She seemed a bit oriental, very attractive, and generally nice.  As always, I came up along side of her and said “Hi”, she said “Hi”, and then I passed her.  But not 10 minutes later she was back!  Somehow she picked back up on me, and was alongside me.  Frankly I thought that was fine, but then she started talking.  And talking.  I heard about her latest Ultra win, and she must have told me 10 times that she was currently in third place for the women’s field.  She asked what place I was in but of course I had no idea.  Soon I couldn’t take it anymore, and mustered up the energy to again pick up the pace and leave her behind.  And ten minutes later – yep, back!  It was clear at this point that there was some amount of competition brewing between us.  She was no longer “pretty” to me, but frankly I thought she might be trying to talk me to death to get me out of the way.  Now I must say that I am NEVER competitive with other runners, only my watch, but strangely enough this was becoming an exception!  We started to “leapfrog” each other as the miles ran on.  We never separated by more than a quarter mile, and I think both of us would give a very subtle look back over our shoulder for the other when we went around a turn.  We would go into aide stations together, and neither would let the other leave without them, always under the guise of “keeping with company”.  But we each knew better.

However, I was still running well, and only once in a while did each of us pass someone, as we were towards the front of the field.  Lots of “Barefoot Runners” and the occasional new Ultra runner were laid to waste – we were a team, but again, there was a definite competitive thing going on –in hindsight I think we both finished better because of it.  We trudged through mud pits together, walked across lakes.  Until, well, I had a plan….

As I mentioned, dehydration is my Achilles heal, but on that day I was staying pretty well hydrated.  And being cool, grey and wet, I was still running very well.  We were at mile 45, and I knew an aide station was coming up at 46, and this would be my chance.  I made an effort to move ahead of her, and keep up ahead no more than a quarter mile, always watching….  When the Garmin said that I was within just under a mile of the aide station, and I saw that I was hidden from her, I hit the gas!  I’m sure I picked up a half mile on her, and soon came flying into the aide station, unseen by the talking machine.  Of course the folks there motioned for me to sit down, while they filled my water, but I’d have none of it!  I shouted out my number, and ran straight through!  No water at all – a very selfish, stupid move – but this was my mindset at the time!  I knew that I could pull off four more miles without water, although I also knew that was pushing it, as mild nausea was already starting to show itself.  But I lit it up for the last 4 miles – at that point even running the uphill’s.
 
Of course I still continually looked over my shoulder for her, but it wasn’t to be, and a grueling four miles later I crossed the finish line at 10:42 – light years ahead of my target, and second in my age group.   As if it couldn’t get any cooler, as I crossed the line and started walking, a wave of dehydration induced nausea hit me, and I quickly walked over to the woods to throw up – how cool is that!  The perfect finish!  And a FULL 4 minutes later she came in, and of course started talking.  “I’m like, Oh my God, what, like, happened to you?  I didn’t even, like, see you at that last aid station???”  Well, I told her I didn’t spend a lot of time there, and she stared at me – her last words were “You didn’t….”  I said I did, as I wanted to get the best time I could.  We did a mercy hug, and that’s the last I saw her, but she did say she still came in third for the women’s field, so I was happy for her on that.

All right, I’m not really proud of that last move, but hey, I really didn’t do anything wrong – it’s my race to run as I wanted – but all in all, this was definitely my best 50 ever; although you wouldn’t know it by the first 20!  But things change, that’s for sure.  I finished in the rain, sick, and shaking – possibly one of the most awesome experiences of my life!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two Tails of a Run......

The Doctor's version….

Every Sunday for months now, I have had the pleasure of taking my best furry friend, “The Trail Dog”, out for a run at the local park.  Really she is a great runner, and is always VERY enthusiastic when she sees the leash come out!  We are a great team – I really love that fur ball.  In fact she knows a few words; Left, Right, Don’t pull, and Home.  Usually she starts the run by leading me, by mile 6 she’s along side or behind, but always it’s a “squirrel hunt”!  Oh yea, the minute she gets sight of a squirrel, the leash goes tight, and she does her best to show that if that leash wasn’t on, she’d be having squirrel for dinner!  Another runner may go past us from the other direction with a dog, and she’ll show little interest.  A deer 10 feet of the trail, na, who cares; but a squirrel?  That’s serious business, and she always finds energy for that!

So a few weeks ago it was a Sunday morning like any other, but really neither of us was in a very good mood at all.  For some reason we could never really get in “sync” on our run.  Every time we came up to a tree near the path, she’d jerk just the opposite way of me, and the leash would get caught up, causing her to get a quick strangulation, and me an arm jerked out of its socket.  She had to stop allot for various reasons, and so did I.  The path was wet as it had just rained, and of course she ran right through every puddle she could instead of going around it like I did, which was very frustrating, insuring that the librarian was going to let me have it when I came home with a half golden, half brown dog.

As we went on the run became worse, and our frustration level at each other seemed to grow; personally I was becoming more angry by the minute, letting her know pretty constantly how annoyed I was getting.  We’ve run hundreds of miles together – she can do better than this! It was a bad day.

 Then it happened – as we were at the height of our mutual annoyance, we started down a rather steep but short hill, and it all happened very quickly.  First of all she decided to STOP, for no reason at all!  Slamming on the brakes, I lost my balance, and was on the hairy edge of biting the dirt.  Of course simultaneously a squirrel pops out on the trail, and being the Trail dog, she goes for it, assuring my fate.  I hit the ground hard and tumbled, and apparently she felt the tension on the leash because she turned back – I recall flying through the air, looking down at her.

A few rolls later, of course in the mud, I lied their looking up, with a great deal of anger – SHE did this!  I looked up, but only for a second, because within a moment I saw her furry but backing up, and sitting right on my head!  I was in pain, muddy, furious, with a dog butt on my face!

Of course that was all I could take, and I quickly flipped that 75 pound hound onto the ground, got her on her back, and proceeded to pin her down and tell her how she may be going back to the pet store – I was sure their return policy lasted at least 8 years!  I messed her up a bit, and then we laid there until I had the strength to get going again….

We got up, I scraped the mud off myself, and we finished our run, not saying much.  I was a mess.  She was a mess.  What a terrible run…

The Doctor

___________________________________________________________

The Trail Dogs Version.

What a great run me and dad had a few weeks ago!  Dad and I go to the Local Park for a trail run every Sunday morning and I LOVE it!  PLUS, each run I get to chase squirrels up trees!  I really hate squirrels, and this is always my chance to let them know how I feel.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we had a run that was AWESOME!  Dad was in a bad mood of some sort; he was always yelling about something, and every time we came up to a tree near a path he would go the wrong way, and hurt my neck and his arm – I must say that part was a bit annoying, but all in all, it was a lot of fun!  There was a lot of mud to run through too!  When we find a wet spot in the path, dad likes it if I go through the water while he goes to the side, I think that’s because he likes to see how much of my fur I can cover with mud – it’s very interesting to him, so I try to make him happy. 

Anyway, get this.  We were running down a path, when all of a sudden, well, you know how it is, I got an ear itch.  I did what anyone would do, I stopped to itch it!  Just then I see behind me dad doing some clown dance, and apparently wanting to jump down on the ground to play with me!  Well, at that moment when you thought things couldn’t get any better, a squirrel has the nerve to jump out in front of us, possibly getting ready to attack dad!  I couldn’t let that happen, so I went after it!  Well I’m not sure what dad was doing then, but somehow I saw him actually fly over top of me!  It was crazy!  Man, that guy really wanted to play!  Next thing I knew he was laying on the ground in front of me, and I guess he decided to see if he could look muddier than me – in fact I think he pulled it off!  It was AWSOME!

Well, as we always do, when it’s time to play I tend to sit on top of people, and so I backed up to sit on him!  He really seemed to like that, because next thing you knew he had actually picked me up, and had me on my back in the mud with him!  He gave me about the best 3 minute belly rub I ever had!  After that we both just kind of laid there looking up at the clouds and making shapes out of them; I saw one that looked like a squirrel in a garbage disposal, and he said he saw one that looked like a Jacuzzi hot tub.

Finally we got up and finished our run, just me and my dad……  Possibly the best run ever!  :)

Trail Dog…..


The Hardest Course in the WORLD!

The train is coming, and I can already hear it, barreling down on me.  Every Spring I run a 50 mile race in Indiana, and every year it goes, well, poorly.  Why?  Well, the course is, in my opinion, the hardest course in the world.  Harder than Leadville.  Harder than Barkley or whatever that “hike” is.  Perhaps harder than Everest – in fact much like the Trail Slammer, not only is the run I’m doing next the hardest event ever known, but in fact, this one really is!

The terrain is awful; while Leadville has a few mountains, I think they can be handled – heck, 80% of the course in Leadville is fairly benign, the rest is a bit hilly, sure.  And Everest?  As I’ve been told by the Trail Slammer himself, that’s pretty much just a hike that tourists do when they’re in the area.  But Indiana?  Let me tell you about Indiana…

It rains there in the spring.  Yep, every run has been mostly during a downpour.  And the hills?  RELENTLESS!  Moraines I think they call them, but 50 miles of up, down, up, down, up, up, up…..  well, you get the picture…. And the trails are never well kept – so there is rarely a chance to pick up momentum – always climbing over trees that have fallen, mud pits, - oh man, I’m not EVEN kidding!

So why will this be any different a few weeks from now?  Glad you asked.  Here’s how I see it – it’s all about the training.  2008 was my best year ever – all year I trained fast, and at distance – classic marathon training – The thing is that I’m a marathoner that runs Ultras; there’s no way around that, and I train best when I train for a marathon.  I know some people that are “Ultra runners that train for marathons”; that’s just not me.

2009 came and I decided high mileage was my answer; all that did for me was insure I was sore all summer – 90-100 mile weeks just didn’t do it.

2010 – Last year I’d focus on long trail runs.  No good for me – heart rate never up, boring, and usually met with failure, and 2010 was my worst season ever.

But this year???  This year I’m back to the 2008 approach, and I feel great already!  Only Sundays are on trails, the rest of the week is me hammering out long, fast runs on the streets; this is who I am – and I think by doing it I get the best fitness I can.  Example?  How about this weekend….  Friday evening I relaxed and did 3 easy with weights and yoga afterward; Saturday morning was 20 hard – I held 8:15-8:20 the vast majority of that street run, but finished strong.  Sunday back up with 6.2 on trails with the Trail Dog (Sandy, my Golden Retriever).  But man, those 6 miles were tough!  Oh, that magic feeling of hitting the wall at 3 miles!  But back to back runs are a good thing for me, so there you have it.

Tuesdays are still hill days, and Wednesday or Thursday tempo days – 8 at around 7:45.

In comparison last year I would have been out in the woods, slogging along at a 10 minute pace for hours.

So, we’ll see – Last year my Indiana run was the worst Ultra ever (that I finished), so it shouldn’t be too tough to beat.  Set the Garmin virtual partner to 11 hours and just try to keep ahead.  Plenty of Ensure, lots of water, and let er’ rip!  I’m heavy still, but running fairly well….  we’ll see….  But no matter what, it’s the toughest course in the world!  Why?  Well, you know why…..