Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life Is Too Short At Times

Poem By: Mike Edenfield

As I sit here today at my computer watching my almost 3 year old daughter "play" Wii Tennis, I think about how we take for granted this life we live.

At the beginning of 2012 I set some goals for myself. Not really "resolutions", but actual sustainable goals. This was, and still could be, my best year of running. Even after 10 years of running, this was going to be my "year of firsts." The first time I run at least 200 miles per month. The first time I run new races. The first time I PR my 50k. You get the idea.

Last night, for the very first time ever, I ran on Leap Day. But not only did I run on it, I ran right through it. I waited for my wife Jerri to get home from work to lace my shoes up and hit the road. It was raining and somewhat chilly. But more than anything, it was quite foggy. She didn't want me to go but I had to get some miles in, and some night running under my belt. It didn't dawn on me while I was out there running, how easily a life could be taken. In the blink of an eye, you or a loved one could be gone. I know it sounds morbid to think like that but sometimes we should have that mindset. That would give us the motivation to enjoy our spouses, children, families, and friends.

As I was out there last night, I was having a lot of fun. It was dark and at times pretty creepy when the fog was almost too hard to see through. When there were no cars, I would shut off my headlamp and handheld and run in the pitch blackness of the night. I stayed even and didn't push any, and the miles just rolled by. As I was nearing my 8th mile I stopped briefly to pay respects to a young lady who was 5 months pregnant. They had been hit from the side as they were pulling out onto a sketchy section of road. I normally don't do this but my wife is expecting our 2nd child in October. I just felt it was the right thing to do. Stop for a moment at the spot, pay my respects and move along. I made my way home, logging 11.35 miles with an overall pace of 8:50 per mile. Nothing major by any means, but a good quality run in the books.

I was stoked to be able to get on today and tell a few people that my left foot had made it through the run without any pain. Anyone that is friends with me on Facebook or follows this blog (I don't think anyone does) knows about the problems I was having with possible plantar fasciitis. One person I really wanted to tell was Mike Edenfield. I had met Mike, his then wife, Mica, and a slew of other fast runners from Tennessee back in 2010 while running the Mountain Maryland Marathon. I ran the full and he ran the half. Mica ran a PR in the 5k. I believe she was on the mend from an injury. Ultra fast Tracy Brooks crushed the Womens record in 3:16 flat. Every single member of their Team was real, honest, and very nice.

I have stayed in contact with John, Tracy,and Mike, thankfully through Facebook. Mike was not only a runner, He was a P90X phenom. Just all around "Health and Fitness NUT"...And when I say NUT, I mean that in the best way possible. He believed in living life to the fullest and keeping your body in the best shape possible. Mike would post doing a "plank" to my page. 5 minutes of doing something I couldn't do for 45 seconds. And he did it AFTER working out for an hour and a half. His determination to be the healthiest he could be was infectious. He, like a lot of us, let his body "go" during some of his years. But instead of saying "the heck with it", He did something about it.

And while he transformed his body in to something we would like to achieve, his attitude was even better. His photos, always smiling. His comments, always positive and reassuring. This was a Man's man.

I logged in to Facebook this morning and went to comment to his page about how well last night went. Instead, I found COUNTLESS messages from many friends of his. All saying how sorry they were to hear of Mike's passing. ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME? WHAT? I must be reading this wrong. So I scroll on his then wife, Mica's page and find even more condolences. Beautiful heartfelt messages of love and grief. All saying how much Mike meant to them. What an inspiration he was. Again...ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME? I was in shock. Nothing like his family and dear friends, like Tracy, John, Jeremy Sexton, Douglas Dibb, Michael Morrell (the list goes on and on). But shock none the less.

From what I gather from a few emails to me, Mike had went to the gym last night to get his workout in. After he finished he went to relax in the sauna. Something happened during that time and Mike had passed away. There was nothing anybody could do to save him. Just like that, he was gone. I have went back to his page as well as Mica's today to read...and to hope I was wrong. I have caught myself just looking at his photos and wondering how long we really ever have. I am not much younger than Mike was, and he was in WAY better shape. It just puts life in to perspective. It would be different if it was drug related or self inflicted. But it wasn't. He was trying to be the best he could be for his then wife, his family, and for himself. That's what is so wrong with this passing. It just doesn't make sense.

I will end this by saying I will run any and all of my races this year for my friend. No matter how hard the struggle is I will find the strength and courage to reach that finish line. I will strive to be a better husband to my wife because she deserves that. To be a better Father to my daughter, Emily, and to my unborn child. To be there always and to never turn my back on any of them. And to be the kind of friend my friends deserve. I have attached a poem at the top that he wrote just a few days before his passing and a photo below of him. He was a good man and will be missed by more than one could count.

Good Race Mike Edenfield. You were top notch, buddy!!

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:24,25). "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hashawha Hills 50k Recap

The Hashawha Hills 50k has come and gone. And with that, a lot of memories have been made. I had a great day, a bad day, a really bad day, all rolled in to one. It all started with a sleepless night of less than two hour's. I woke up at 3am to get everything ready and to grab a bite to eat. I didn't know it at the time but eating a microwave pizza at 3:30 in the morning was my first mistake of the day. Matt, Jamie and I left from Matt's house at a little after 5am to get down to the race in plenty of time. Being that I was feeling tired, I drank one of those 5 hour energy drinks. Second mistake of the day. We made it down there, found our way to the visitor's center, grabbed our bib number's and began to stretch out some before the race. By this time it was after 7 am so I took down my VESPA and ate a small waffle. Still didn't know it but eating that little waffle would be the third mistake. I should have just stayed with what work's, VESPA All-Natural Amino Acid.

At 7:30ish we were standing at the makeshift starting line. The wind had picked up quite a bit and was in our faces. It was cold but nothing bone chilling. The Race Director yelled, "Go", and we were off. A good amount took of like it was a 5k so I settled in with the pack and just went. Matt was already in 2nd place and pulling away with a pack of three. Jamie was right up in the top 10 leading onto the first road, and small hill. I was somewhere in the 20 range and just floated along the road section leading to the trail. We eventually hit the trail section after about ten minutes and started running on some nice little single track. It looped in and out and was fairly flat. I walked the first hill. It wasn't too steep but I knew if I wanted fresh leg's all day, I had to be smart and walk. We did the "out and back" section where the first little stream crossing was.

If your leg's were long enough you could almost jump this. I ended up getting one foot wet and felt the ice cold of the water freezing my foot. From there we made our way to the turn around. We had to grab a thick rubber band on the first loop to prove we actually ran this section. From there we turned back around and made our way back to the main part of the trail. We ran a few more mile's of trail before being dumped out on to the road for a mile or so.

I won't sugarcoat this at all. This race was pretty blah on the scenery. It may be a great view in the summertime or fall, however, in the winter months, not much to look at all. The road went back to trail and then back to road after a few miles. The first aid station was at 8.46. I topped my water off real quick and headed to the farm field's for a quick 2.3 mile section. By that time, the leader's were passing me. Matt was sitting on the shoulder of the leader and looked at ease. It would be nice to run with that kind of ease. We turned left and onto the trail. We climbed some hills, which eventually lead us to the farm field's.

The wind through this section was strong and cold! Out of all the section's we ran, I disliked this one the most. The footing was horrible and it was cold..cold..I can't stress that enough. It was cold!! I was so happy to be done this section, but dreaded the fact that I had to do it again. I went through the aid station at 10.76 miles. I knew the big stream crossing was soon to come. It came and was cold!!

I went through an area that was about knee deep. I wanted to just run through but the splashing made it worse. It felt like it took a few miles for my feet to thaw back out. The wind chill kept it at or near freezing all day so once you got wet, you stayed wet and cold. Luckily it was all trail's leading back to the start/finish area. The scenery was, to me, the best out of all the sections. I hit the halfway mark in 2:48, right where I needed to be. Leaving the aid station I knew I was in trouble. The leg's felt good but every time I ran I could feel my stomach yelling, "I quit." Going in to the race I knew that if I wanted to qualify for the JFK 50 mile Ultra, I would have to run a 5:45 to get in. I tried to make myself believe that I could do it, but in the back of my mind I knew it was a stretch. From the moment my stomach went against me, I aimed for just getting the finish and getting a trail PR.

The mud was much worse on the second loop and sucked your shoes at times. The bad thing was that the mud weighed heavy on your shoes and tired your leg's fast.

The miles came and went and so did the dreaded farm field section. I smiled as I hit the road heading to the final aid station. I took the time to stop and thank them. I grabbed a cookie and potato and headed for the stream. The second time I hit the big stream crossing I noticed 5 people walking across a tree that was wedged over the stream. I looked at the tree, looked at the water, and went for the tree. I am so glad I did.

It was a steady run/walk mix for the next several miles. Pretty uneventful. I was near mile 30 when I took my biggest fall of the day. Two previous times I had fallen but it was on the "butt slide" hill so it wasn't too bad. The fall at mile 30 was my biggest and hardest fall ever. I was going down hill and caught my right foot on something. I heard myself make a grunting noise and the next thing I know I was slamming my left shoulder and head in to the ground. I didn't even have time to try and brace myself. I went down that fast. I didn't want anyone seeing me on the ground and popped up too fast for my own good. I should have regrouped and checked myself out. I was dirty and sore and personally embarrassed for falling. Later I would come to find out I must have pulled a chest muscle because I couldn't use my upper body and couldn't sleep. A nice lady had caught up to me with a half mile to go. We chatted our way to the finish line. We both had just run a PR and were sore so we didn't take off to beat one another to the "line." The RD was there to shake our hand and give us a super great handmade mug as our finishing reward.

I am pleased that I beat my best time, but not pleased with how the second loop turned out. I need to work on fueling and what to eat prior to running long event's. I know I need more trail training. The CAT-100 is April 28th-29th. This was a good training run for that. It gives me an idea on what I need to do, and not do.

I had come to find out that during the event some runner's had "cut" the course. The trail and turn off section's were visibly marked, and marked well. The Hashahwa Hills crew did a great job marking the course. Everything about the race was great. Good food, good aid station's. Positive attitude. And even though this race is run like a "fat ass" event, it does make me mad to know that people ran what they felt like and placed better than I did. Call me competitive in that regard, or a stickler to the rules. But a 50k is what it is. It's not a 30k, 40k, or what ever you want to run. It's a 50k. Point blank. Real ultra runner's live by the creed of being true to the sport and being true to themselves. We honor that code and frown upon cheaters. If you know the best you ever ran was 9 hours and then you run a 5:15 to 6:15, there's something wrong. I strongly oppose cheating. DNF if that's what you need to do, but don't cheat other's by cheating yourself.

Thank's a million to my Sponsor, Injinji Footwear for keeping my toes blister free and calves feeling "good" all day. Thank you to VESPA All-Natural Amino Acid for keeping my head and mind clear. And thank you to the Hashawha Hills 50k for putting on a great event. Next year I will know how to run it.