Monday, September 28, 2015

9 Days Post Barkley

The Infamous Barkley Gate. 
Well, it's been 9 days since my Barkley Fall Classic "marathon" finish in 10 hours and 44 minutes. My GPS watch, and my body, say it was more like 30+ miles! Anyway, my recovery is mixed.  My muscles are back to normal and my poison ivy and chigger bites are healing nicely. Unfortunately, I've come down with a cold. I'm quite positive it's due to the stress of Barkley, lack of sleep, and poor food chocies on the road trip. Oh well, I'll survive.

A few post-Barkley things to note. First, I will not be doing this race again. The race directors already sent us a reminder to sign up, with discount, for next year's event. No, thank you. It's a long drive from Illinois and I'm not that excited about experiencing Rat Jaw, Testicle Spectacle, Deja Vu Hill, or Bird Mountain again. Slightly intrigued about the Chimney Top loop that I missed, but not enough to justify another full race. I got what I came for...a taste of the famed Barkley event. It's hard. Very hard. I have renewed respect for the real Barkley finishers each April. 100+ miles, much done in the dark, without support, is truly amazing.

Now that I'm done with Barkley, I can look ahead to the rest of this year...

October 17 is the "Last Man Standing" event at the Lake of the Woods trails.  Or Last Man "Falling" since it's fall. I hope to successfully defend my title. I finished 30 miles last year and hope to do that many, or more, this fall. We'll see what the competition brings. If I can get over this darn cold, I feel good about my chances. And, this event will be great training for the next ultra on my list...

November 14 is the Tunnel Hill 50/100 mile trail race in southern Illinois. I ran the 50 miler last year in 9 hours and 4 minutes (PR for me).  I plan to better that time this year. New PR!  Most things went well last year, but I did have a bad section for about 3-4 miles in the second half of the race where I walked a lot. I'll try to be more consistent and strong this year. First goal is to beat 9 hours...but the real goal is to break 8:30. Dreams are alive!

To keep myself motivated, and treat myself to a little gift after Barkley, I bought a new (factory certified refurbished) Garmin 610 GPS watch.  Found it on eBay for $80. Look forward to experimenting with the "training effect" metric.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Finished (sorta) the 2015 Barkley Fall Classic

Yesterday, I finished the 2015 Barkley Fall Classic "marathon" in 10:44. The race directors doubled Rat Jaw, added Testicle Spectacle, the Prison, and Deja Vu hill. They removed the easy Fodderstack trail out and back. Bird Mountain and Old North Mac trails were the same. I never got to Chimney Tops and Spicewood since I missed the 50K cut-off and only did the marathon. Even for the shorter marathon course, my Garmin GPS watch said 30+ miles and 10,000+ feet of elevation gain. I'd like to give a full and detailed race report...but what happens at Barkley, stays at Barkley. Doesn't matter. Photos and text would not capture what I saw during that 10 hours in the backwoods of Tennessee. You need to experience this event yourself. The end.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Barkley Fall Classic Race Reports (from last year)

I'm doing the Barkley Fall Classic trail ultra this Saturday in Tennessee. Just a simple 50km trail race. No big deal. I've done tons of ultras. This can't be that different. Can it?

It's the second year of the event. According to race reports from last year, it was pretty darn tough. Hills. Briars. Heat. More hills. Navigation issues. Rocks. Roots. Even more hills. The race directors have pledged this year will be even harder.  Nice of them. In case you were wondering what this race is all about, here are a few reports from last year...

Where the Trail Barks

The Barkley Fall Classic

2014 Barkley Fall Classic 50K+

Barkley Fall Classic

Race Report: Barkley Fall Classic 50K+

Barkley Fall Classic 2014

Barkley Fall Classic: Another Metaphor for Life

Barkley Fall Classic 2014

So what do these race reports have in common?  For one, they don't have very original titles. Second, the race is longer than 50km. Much longer (probably 36+ miles). The real commonality among every report...this is one hard race! Wish me well. If I survive and write a race report, I promise to have a cool title. This will be ultra/marathon #101.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pre-Barkley Race Thoughts

The Barkley Fall Classic is this Saturday (4 days to go). Around 250 runners will toe the starting line trying to finish one of the hardest trail ultras in the country. Over 20,000 feet of elevation change in a 50km race. Lots of hills! The race directors predict less than 10% will finish the 50K. They even added a "marathon" as an alternative once you hit the 22.5 mile mark. (If you ever reach the 22.5 mile mark.) Assuming you beat the cut-off, you can opt for the shorter race and try to finish the marathon in less than 13 hours, 20 minutes. Sounds easy, right?

All the training is done.  It's inadequate, but done. The "hay is in the barn" and I can only do damage now trying to squeeze in more hard wokouts. It'll be an easy taper week for me. I'm excited and looking foward to the challenge.  The weather looks to be warm and humid (high of 84, sunny). Not good. The backwoods of TN at Frozen Head State Park have hosted the "real" Barkley many times. Often, that race has zero finishers. Zero. Nada. None. Guess that's why the RDs are predicting a small percentage of finishers in the shortened version. I'm game. Hike, run, crawl. Repeat. Don't give up.

Since I can't do much running this week, I'm focusing on preparation (supplies), nutrition, and sleep. Maybe eating well, and sleeping a lot, will help me this Saturday. You never know! And it doesn't hurt to be prepared with the right equipment, supplies, and on-trail food/drink. I have gloves and a pair of kevlar arm sleeves to protect me from the briars. They may not help, but it's worth a try. If nothing else, it makes me feel more prepared and confident...that's worth something. Right?

The course has not been given to us yet. We'll get maps and a compass at check-in. Much of the course is marked (not well) on established trails, but there are off-course sections too. I hope Gregg, a running buddy doing the race with me, can navigate better than me. He's one of those boy scout guys, so he should be an asset. I just hope we can stay together for most of the race.

Wish me well as I focus on Barkley this week. It'll be an adventure. Since we aren't supposed to finish, the pressure is off, right? No matter how hard this gets, it's still the "baby Barkley"--I can appreciate that I'm not in the real deal trying for 100+ miles on unmarked and unsupported trails. This is a small taste of the real race that I've dreamed about for many years. Time to have fun.