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Pine Mountain Trail Race 2020 - Ultramarathon Race Report

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  • Thursday, January 07 2021 @ 07:00 PM UTC
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According to the UltraSignup page, Pine Mountain Trail Race (PMTR) celebrated 40 years this year and is the oldest ultra marathon in the state of Georgia, having first run in 1980. PMTR is a Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society (GUTS) event with Jen Raby as the RD (Race Director).




I feel like my training went well this year... 2020 was good for my running. With most races cancelled due to COVID-19, I had a long steady gradual multi-month fitness buildup. I had many weeks over 50 miles, four weeks over 60 miles, and one 70 mile week. I was lucky and able to work remotely for my job during the pandemic and this gave me extra time each day to get my run in or just to sleep longer for recovery. At some point I asked myself what I was going to do with all of this fitness? So I started looking for trail races and found that the PMTR was going to be held this year with pandemic protocols in-place.

The first time I considered (but did not run) the PMTR was when I was 40 years old, and I think at that time the race was actually 40 miles (give or take). Things didn't work out when I was 40, but now I am 46 years old and the race is now 46 miles long. This seemed very fateful. I have been to F. D. Roosevelt State Park a few times and did some trail running on the Pine Mountain Trail before, so I felt pretty good about knowing the type of trail and some parts of the course. I knew how chunky and rocky it is! This was helpful in figuring out where to train and what kind of shoes to wear.

To train I spent time on the Conquistador trail in San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park near my home in Florida. I also took a special vacation training trip to Tennessee and north Georgia a few weeks before the race, spending time at Frozen Head State Park and on Lookout Mountain. I wore all of the clothing and shoes and tested my planned nutrition during these long trail runs. I generally run in the morning without any breakfast, but for training I practiced eating before and during these runs. I even experienced one "bad" training day where I had to walk a lot and decide whether to quit and head back to the car or just keep moving. This turned out to be good practice and helped solidify my confidence that no matter what happened I would be able to finish an Ultra, even if I had to walk it in.

For the race, I camped at the state park, which meant I could walk over to pickup my packet the afternoon before the race, and just jog over to the starting line on the day of the race. It was quite cold! Low temperatures were in the 30s so my tent was a bit chilly! I did have an electric heater with me which definitely helped. One thing that didn't work out according to plan is that I had trouble getting my campfire started. Frustration and lots of squatting and blowing later, I eventually was able to cook my dinner... a nice big steak! I think the firewood I bought at the camp store must have still been wet or something (the green moss was a hint) and spending so much time on dinner prep meant I got to bed a little later than I had planned and was chilled longer than expected. When I finally got into my tent for the night, I laid out all of my clothes so I could throw everything on quickly in the morning. The race day weather forecast made clothing choice a challenge. It was very cold in the morning but I definitely didn't want to get hot during the day and the temperature was supposed to get up in to the mid-to-high 50s and maybe be sunny.




One thing I didn't expect was the sound of Christmas carols in the distance playing well into the evening. I think the music must have been coming from nearby Callaway Gardens. I didn't have much trouble falling asleep though, and didn't have any pre-race jitters keeping me awake.

I managed a good solid chunk of sleep until around 2:30am. Then I woke up (maybe I was cold?) and just dozed until my alarm went off at 4:45am. I got up and heated some water on my camp stove to make coffee and oatmeal. I also ate a banana.

I put my Garmin Instinct into GPS Ultratrac mode to make sure the battery would last thru the race. I put my phone in airplane mode so I wouldn't have any distractions but could still access all of the images of maps I had stored locally on it. I wore shorts, an underjacket, and a lightweight shell on top. I wore Injinji socks to help prevent blisters on my toes and a compression undershirt to reduce chafing around my arms and from my vest. I added Skin Strong Slather on my toes, inside thighs, private parts, nipples, and anywhere else that might chafe. (Tip: Slather does not solidify in the cold like some products) For gear and hydration I used my Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set paired with a Nathan Peak hydration belt. This combo keeps both my hands free and helps prevent the fatigue in my shoulders that develops if I carry a handheld. I planned to wear hat and gloves at the start and change to a cap after getting to my drop bag. And finally, I chose the Topo Terraventure 2 shoes because I wanted some protection from all those chunky rocks. For a headlamp I used a Black Diamond Iota, which was one of the smallest, lightest, and cheapest usb-rechargeable lights I could find (it worked great).

My drop bag contained lots of water (I brought a bunch of "local" water with me to reduce chance of stomach distress), hat, sunglasses, dry socks, calories of various sorts, and an extra set of Salomon soft flasks filled with water.

I jogged my drop bag over to the picnic shelter, huddled by one of the heaters for a little bit, and jogged back to use the bathroom one last time. Pretty soon it was time to start! I jogged back to the dam road where the runners were gathering. After a few words from the RD, we were off!

I now realize I have zero pictures of myself from the race or even just a picture of my Ultra kit! Not even a selfie. Oh well!

Altra Vanish-R Racing Flat

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  • Friday, November 20 2020 @ 07:06 PM UTC
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The Vanish-R is a super lightweight racing flat from Altra.



Getting a shoe this light seems to guarantee that there are some compromises and tradeoffs.

These shoes remind me a lot of the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 from (many) years ago...



Both are lightweight. So extremely light! Both have a plate-like thing inside. Both have only a small amount of foam and very little cushion. Both have a very similar amount of ground feel. Neither are particularly comfortable. Neither are my favorite shoe.

The Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 are still my favorite racing shoes.

But since the Wave Universe and the Bare-X Lite 150 are no longer available for purchase, the Vanish-R could be a good option.

It is nice to see Altra adding some more minimalist shoes to their lineup. Another Altra that I am interested in checking out is the Escalante Racer (not to be confused with the Escalante). On paper, it looks like it is just a little bit more shoe and could be the sweet spot like another one of my favorite shoes, the ST series from Topo Athletic.

GATE River Run 15k 2020 - Race Report

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  • Saturday, March 07 2020 @ 06:58 PM UTC
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For the 2020 Gate River Run, the national 15k championship race, I traveled to Jacksonville with a friend the night before the race and we stayed at the race hotel. We were able to pick up our race packets and enjoy the expo without feeling the rush of race day morning. We had dinner and a beer at Intuition Ale Works on Friday night which was happily not crowded at all. The beer was excellent. I highly recommend Intuition if you are in the area.



The Hilton is almost exactly 1 mile away from the starting line... a perfect distance for warmup before the race... which we needed because it was cold and windy! This was my first Gate River Run that wasn't warm and humid and it was fantastic. With temperatures in the 40s at the start and the sun rising in the sky, no hat or gloves were needed and it was perfect weather for racing.

I did a good job of sticking to my race plan and not going out too hard, targeting 6:30 per mile based on my fitness level. In the last set of neighborhoods I had a tiny rough patch and fell off the pace a little bit before I was able to muster and charge towards the bridge.

The wind was ferocious throughout the race and if the Hart Bridge wasn't challenging enough, the strong headwind was the final battle. Coming over the top of the bridge I saw I needed to run sub-6 minute mile to go under an hour. I tried and tried but it took a long time to get moving again. The wind kept slowing me down even on the downhill.









I finished 153rd male overall, 10th in my age group, with a finish time of 1:00:10, averaging 6:27 per mile. This was my second-fastest River Run. I feel really good about this performance and I am looking forward to big gains next year.




Gate River Run 2020 was held on March 7. Results are available:
https://my.raceresult.com/148877/results?lang=en

PDF full results:
https://my1.raceresult.com/148877/RRP...mp;lang=en


T-shirt, medal, pint glass, top 10 percent finisher hat, and race shoes (Topo ST-2):


Five Points of Life Half Marathon - 2020

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  • Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 10:27 PM UTC
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This year the race start and finish venue was downtown Gainesville, FL. On Sunday morning parking was no problem, with many city lots reserved for racers to park. The weather was nice and course was great.


Photo by Enoch Nadler


Photo credit: LifeSouth Community Foundation


I enjoyed my free beer in the biergarten which was placed right by the finish, so we could watch the rest of the finishers while we hung out and enjoyed the day. They race provided some delicious free food that included burritos and donuts from local food trucks.


Photo credit: LifeSouth Community Foundation


I ran as well as I could have hoped, finishing in 1:27:59 (avg. under 6:45 per mile). I won my age group and brought home a bag of locally roasted Sweetwater coffee as the prize.







The Five Points of Life Half Marathon took place on February 16, 2020. Race results are available at:

https://drcsports.com/race-results/169

Newnan's Lake 15k Race Report 2020

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  • Wednesday, January 29 2020 @ 01:08 AM UTC
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2020 provided another perfect race day for the Lloyd Clarke Sports Newnan's Lake 15k. Weather was sunny with temps in the 40s at the start.

I didn't find any photos of me racing, but I did take a photo of the lake before the start.



I am really happy with my race. I finished about a minute faster than my stretch goal, with a time of 1:02:01 (or 6:40 per mile).

The shirt this year was great -- tech fabric with long-sleeves:



Life isn't getting any easier in the Masters division around here. Four guys over 40 were ahead of me.

The event was held on January 25, 2020. Race results are posted here:

https://results.rmraces.live/Start-2-...5k/results


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