Wednesday, September 26, 2018

2018 GA JEWEL 100: Changing The Past with The LORD's Blessing

Photo Credit: Bottom (2016 GJ), Top Right: Jobie Williams

"You can't change the past."

Yes, you can.

You can change the meaning of past failures by not giving up on your dreams.

In fact, the more we desire to grow in character the more evident our failures will be on our way to becoming what we idealize.

And with the help, power and blessing of the Lord, we can make the past mean something different.

Failures do not destroy our dreams unless we decide they have. Failures teach us what we need to know to succeed.

As James Allen said, "Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him to himself."

I finished my third 100 mile run on my second attempt at The Georgia Jewel 100 trail race on Sunday. A race I did not finish (DNF) two years ago dropping at mile 87.

Now, when I read my old race report, history has changed, because I trusted in the LORD to provide.

2016 Georgia Jewel Race Report (DNF, 87 Miles)

Every word in that report means something different now.

Monday, September 3, 2018

2018 TUPELO MARATHON: Lessons Learned From Ahithophel & Buddy Fox

First TVA City
I have a minor, special connection with Tupelo, MS that goes back nearly 20 years. 

Before I attended seminary/preaching school (2000-2002) in Memphis, TN, and before I was married, or had children, or knew any Bible whatsoever, my Mom and I visited the birth and final resting places of Elvis Presley.

Also, my backyard has 3 TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) monster, power towers that support high voltage power lines. Noticing on the sign that Tupelo was the "first TVA city," somewhat endears this race to me.

TVA is a daily part of my life.

Running is also part of my life, but I didn't begin running until the fear of getting old set in while expecting our first child at age 39 seven years ago. My first race was the Running of the Bulls 5K. My longest was Tunnel Hill 100 Miler.

Running has been such a blessing to me, but I didn't feel that way yesterday after 8 am, three hours into my race.

One of the primary appeals of the Tupelo Marathon is its 5 a.m. start time on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend every year. The others are the medal, finisher shirt, air conditioned arena finish with free BBQ. And up until mile 17, all was well. Then the back half of the double loop course felt as terrible as the first loop felt good.

I looked like "E" for the last 9 miles

This wouldn't matter so much if I didn't have a 100 miler in three weeks.

A 100 miler that I DNF'd two years ago, and will probably be my last 100 miler for a long time to come.

So, as I struggled to finish yesterday's marathon and to stay in the moment of only a handful of miles to go, in the forefront of my mind was that if my upcoming hundred miler were yesterday's race, I'd have 83 more miles to go--impossible to do the way I was feeling at the time. 

Needless to say I was overwhelmed by more than just finishing the 26.2.

I knew that I would need to review exactly what I did wrong yesterday, and correct those mistakes, if I plan to have a chance of finishing the 2018 Georgia Jewel, so here they are.

Maybe they will benefit you in some way:

Monday, January 29, 2018

The 2018 Fleet Feet ~ HTC Grand Slam of Huntsville

31.69 miles on November 18, 2017


Warm. Cloudy. Breezy.

Those were the conditions on Monte Sano Mountain at the 14th Annual Dizzy Fifties 50K: the first race of The Fleet Feet/ HTC Grand Slam of Huntsville (GSoH).

I published a race report three years ago introducing the series found here.

This year's Dizzy Fifties 50K (only) no longer offered the sparsely entered 40 and 50 mile distances of past years, and it introduced a new course.

My GARMIN Forerunner 910XT Dizzy Fifties 50K Data

The new course used many of the same trails used in past races, but this year they were run in different directions and instead of returning to the start-finish pavilion 6 times during the race, we returned only twice before finishing.

2017-18 Finisher Awards
The three 10.5 miles loops retained the hilly northern loop and flat southern loop and had one aid station at the halfway point. Owen Bradley from Birmingham, AL won the race with at time of 4:33:57 followed by Alex Clark, Timothy Pitt, and Will Crisp.

2017 Dizzy Fifties 50K Race Results

Dizzy is a guaranteed sell-out nowadays. You gotta be ready at the end of July to sign up August 1st or you'll be on the wait list. The race is better than ever with new RD Ryan Chaffin. The leaves are beautiful on the mountain and everyone is ready for the fall racing season to get under way, especially the Grand Slammers.

I published a report two years ago with pictures of the trails and leaves on a sunny day found here.

Huntsville Grand Slammers @ Dizzy Fifties
We take a Grand Slam photo before every race and I made it into three of them this year. I'm not sure if a picture was taken at the Rocket City Marathon. There is also a Facebook page for the Huntsville Grand Slam that we use to keep each other encouraged and to celebrate our finishes.

I have finished 3 Grand Slams (2013-14, 2016-17, 2017-18).

When we sign up for the Grand Slam and each individual race, and after finishing them all, we receive our Grand Slam finishers jacket at Mountain Mist.

This year, YoungSu Hoy made a very special gift for each finisher (pic at bottom).

The second race of the GSoH is the Rocket City Marathon.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Tough & Crazy Marathon (S. Taylor)
Some informative and entertaining race reports about the Mystery Mountain Marathon already exist from its ten year history:

Wilson Clemons (2012)

Trailcats (2013)

Ultra Kraut Running (2014)

I ran the MMM as a recon race for the Double Top 100 next April and to see what my big mouth had gotten me into. After running over 20 marathons, the MMM was a new experience for me in a few ways.

To take as long as it did (7h 25m), I never got down on myself. I stayed mentally strong the entire race, even after taking a wrong turn and running an extra 3/4 of a mile around mile seven.

Not losing my positive mindset was a boost of confidence that I would need, because this marathon course is no joke. It's a battle of technical and tight trails full of roots and rocks that rates among the best I've run.

Boasting 15,000 ft. of elevation change, my Garmin adjusted number was 6,035 ft. of gain, while my Relive Video came in at 5,784 ft of gain. Another Relive Video I saw had just over 5,000 ft. of gain. Needless to say, for a marathon distance run, that is a humbling workout in addition to the mileage.


At 2:39 a.m. Sunday morning I was east bound and down loaded up and hopeful I would be able to do what others said could be done and had done. I would have my doubts around mile 19, when the 2 mile climb I'd heard horror stories about reared it's ugly head. More on that later.

From Clemon's RR (above)
The 3.5 hr. drive to Chatsworth, GA was typical of many long drives I've made before races: the unexpected fog and fear of deer darting across the road... Wondering if it was too early in the morning (or late at night) to be pumping gas and become a crime statistic.

I  did not, however, have a nagging feeling that I'd forgotten something, and that made for a good start to my 15 hour trip.

I felt ready for the race except in two minor areas: volume of training mileage and hill work; but, hey, that's part of becoming more of an experienced runner: Who needs race specific training, right?

Efficiency plays a helpful, but also harmful role before races. The never ending quest to see how few miles can I run and still get away with it?

There would be a lot of faking it in this marathon, and also drawing from years of experience to use my mental advantage to overcome my physical laziness.