Monthly Archives: October 2006

Beautiful day out

The radio said it was 61 F, but it felt more like 70. I got out after work for a little 4 mile spin around the local park system, it felt good to be in shorts and one shirt again!!

I’m repacking my drop bag again. Horton’s last email said:

“It is finally here! There is good news and bad news. The good news is that there is no rain forecast for Saturday. The bad news is the predicted high for Montebello on Saturday is 43 degrees with a low that morning of 22 degrees. Keep in mind that the second half of the course is much higher than the first half, and that means that you better make sure that you pick up a jacket and gloves when you leave aid station 10 (26.9 miles).”

I guess there is such thing as perfect weather for an ultra!!

74 Caterpillars


Or woolly bears as they are also known here. I counted 74 of them on my 6 mile run today.
I had to coax myself outside.It was very windy, and it just seemed cold out there. So I waited until noon and it was 50 degrees.
What a beautiful day!! Blue skies, lots of gusty wind, no cars on the road. I actually got overheated in my 3 layers. I ditched the hat and glove almost immediately, there was no need for them.
I felt good. I got back home, and we took the dogs out for their second walk of the day.

I have my drop bag packed for the race, my race day clothes, and my post-race bag packed. All I need to do is the overnight bag for the non-running clothes. I like to work several days ahead, because all I need is a work crisis to hit and then not have time to get everything ready for the out of town trip.
I feel good. I’m pretty calm. There’s nothing else I can do to prepare for this race besides rest and eat right. Training is over!!!
In fact, I’d love it if the race was tomorrow to get the waiting over with!!!

On the Trail-from Trail Runner Magazine

On the Trail . . .Mountain Masochist 50 Mile
Dave Horton is not vanilla.

By Rachel Toor
As featured in the April 2004 issue of Running Times Magazine

Mountain Masochist 50 Mile
Lynchburg, VA
Oct. 18, 2003

David Horton is not vanilla. When you mention his name to ultrarunners, you get a strong reaction. Sometimes it’s fanatical adoration, similar to the devotion inspired by his boss at Liberty University, the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Sometimes it’s a look of horror and disgust—and a stream of unprintable epithets. Often it’s just a shrug and a smirk. Whatever people think of him personally, though, there is complete consensus on one thing: He puts on extraordinarily well-organized events. Horton’s races—the Mountain Masochist 50M Trail Run, the Promise Land 50K, and the Holiday Lake 50+++K—are Horton’s races. The personality of the race director permeates.

Apparently it was Horton’s wife who gave his longest-running run its title. Horton decided in 1979, after running the JFK 50M, that he wanted to bring ultrarunning to his town of Lynchburg, VA. When Horton was fishing about for a name, his wife said, “Call it the Mountain Masochist—that’s what you all are, anyway.” The name stuck, and it works. It appeals to the kind of runner that Horton loves—those for whom suffering is the goal—and is off-putting to those whom Horton dismisses

The original goal for the Mountain Masochist Trail Run, according to its creator, was to make it the biggest ultrarun on the East Coast. Horton’s ambitions have changed over the years. Now, Horton says, he wants the race to have a “homecoming atmosphere.”

“What I hate most,” he says about the 240 starters in this year’s race, “is that I don’t know everyone’s name.” He certainly knows a lot of them. Many have returned year after year, not only to suffer on the course that includes 9,000 feet of climb and 7,000 of descent, but also willing—eager, even—to be reviled and rebuked by Horton if he feels that they have not run to their potential. His is a Calvinist, fire-and-brimstone, holier-than-thou, black-and-white world. After giving out awards to the winner of each race, he moves on to listing the first losers. If you don’t win, you lose. If you don’t run your guts out, you are unworthy. David Horton is known in the ultra community for originating the award for “Best Blood.”

Horton is nothing if not a competitor. He’s finished over 100 ultras and won 40 percent of them. In 1991 he nabbed the Appalachian Trail speed record, covering the 2,144 miles in 52 days (10 days faster than the old record). That wasn’t enough. Like Forrest Gump on dexetrine, he raced across the country in 64 days, the third fastest trans-continental time. This is a man who loves to push himself.

He also clearly loves people. Horton teaches a running class at Liberty. At this year’s MMTR, at least 10 of his students finished the race. They are disciples. Former student Bethany Hunter, 24, has gone on to become one of the best in the country. She’s already won the Massanutten Mountain 100M. This year she was competing against the strongest and deepest women’s field ever. As the final race in the Montrail Ultra Cup series, the MMTR attracted a number of ultrarunning big dogs. Jenny Capel and Luann Park showed up, as did Janice Anderson and Ragan Petrie. But whether it was a hometown advantage or fiery threats from her former professor, Hunter broke the course record and finished in 8:14.

Clark Zealand, another Hortonite, wasn’t there to defend his record this year, and Coloradan Dave Mackey took it away, finishing in 6:48. The race was close until mile 41, when last year’s winner, Sean Andrish, “gave up,” according to Horton. Andrish finished 10 minutes later, still the third-fastest time ever, and only the fifth person to break seven hours. Good, but not good enough for David Horton.

The course is not particularly difficult; most is on dirt roads and fire service trails with only small portions that are technical. Still, the finishing times are slow. Everyone talks about “Horton miles.” While the race director can’t move the Virginia mountains to make them higher or harder, he is known for measuring his courses on the long side. Most people who have run it believe that the 50 miles of the Mountain Masochist is more like 54 miles.

This year, for some, the race was even longer. A group of malicious hunters moved the white streamers marking the course. A number of the front runners were led astray until Tom Greene, the only person to have completed all 22 editions of the race, came to the crossroads. He realized that the markers were wrong and took the time to take them down. “That was a real act of kindness and confidence,” Horton says. Greene still managed to finish in a laudable time of 9:57, winning the grand masters division.

At breakfast the morning after the race, Horton greets a guy wearing his finisher’s shirt: “You earned that shirt, buddy.” What about the rest of us, I ask? Didn’t everyone who finished earn his or her shirt? He thinks for only a second. “No,” he says. “If you don’t give it everything, if you don’t run to your potential, then, in my eyes, you’ve failed.”

This does not surprise me. When I crossed the finish line, 10 hours after starting my first 50 miler, having had an amazing experience chatting with folks on the trail, taking it easy because I knew I wasn’t fit enough to race, David Horton greeted me, as he did every other runner, by name.

“Rachel,” he said. “I gave you that low number. Why did you run so slow?” Indeed, I had messed things up for him: The first five women finished in the order he’d seeded them.

I’d never met David Horton until the morning of the race. In the dark he handed me my (sixth seed) number and commented that I was smaller than he’d expected. I don’t know what he was expecting of me, or what his basis for expectation was, but he told me, that next morning at breakfast that he knew I could have run faster and had lost respect for me because I didn’t. Too old, too arrogant to be intimidated by him, I pushed back.

“I can live without your respect. I’m okay with that,” I say.

“I’m using reverse psychology on you,” he confided.

“Yes, David, I know,” I answered.

“I am 99 percent transparent,” Horton said, in a fit of self-reflection. He continued, “I’m also insecure. I feel like a fake, incompetent.” In the space of a moment he morphs from a blow-hard, castigating, tough-as-nails, win-one-for-the-Gipper kind of guy, to a sweet, gentle and open man. He says he spends the days before the race feeling like he’s “hanging on a cliff by my fingertips.”

No doubt this fear of failure, this will to perfection, this drive to overcome either real or perceived inadequacies, is what makes his races so good. It also propels David Horton to continually push his own limits, and to inspire, poke, prod, shame, and challenge everyone around him to find theirs.

Copyright ©2006 Running Times Magazine. All rights reserved.

Great run today!!

After two days off, I got out for a run. I wore trail shoes on the road, my New Balance 832s, because I wanted to make sure they were good to go for Masochist. It was cold, in the high 40’s and slightly raining, but it felt so good to get outside. I had a good strong run. My path went steadily uphill for about 2.5 miles, and I was running all of it! Turned around and did a fast downhill, followed by about 1.5 miles on the flat road. A good time, a good workout. I then stretched for 15 minutes afterwards. I had that nice endorphin rush wash all those race insecurities out. I have a ten miler planned for Saturday, then a few short runs til Thursday, when I leave for the race.

Working out

I cross trained today, 40 minutes on the elliptical. I cranked it up a notch because I felt I wasn’t get that good a workout-that helped!
It occurred to me, on the trainer, how much I love to work out. I love feeling my muscles move, loosen up and work together. I love the way physical excercise makes me feel.
I did a good 15 minute stretching session afterwards too. No aches and pain anywhere.
A massage after work tomorrow also!!!

Life Path Number

Your Life Path Number is 11

Your purpose in life is to inspire others

Your amazing energy draws people to you, and you give them great insight in return.
You hold a great amount of power over others, without even trying.
You have the makings of an inventor, artist, religious leader, or prophet.

In love, you are sensitive and passionate. You connect with your partner on a very deep level.

You have great abilities, but you are often way too critical of yourself.
You don’t fit in – and instead of celebrating your differences, you dwell on them.
You have high expectations of yourself. But sometimes you set them too high and don’t achieve anything.

Don’t you hate when these things ring true. I have very high expectations.