Monthly Archives: August 2013

Ring a Ding Dong: Goals for The Ring 2013

First Goal: Finish the Ring.  71.1 miles

Second Goal:  Finish under 24 hours.

My last Ring finish was 25.01.  Yes, two minutes over!   Two minutes less putzing around on the trail, two minutes less chatting, two minutes less taking pictures of millipedes, and I could have said “sub 25”.

I looked at the 2012 finishers who finished under 24 hours, and took an average of their aid station splits to see what would be the “window” that I need to hit each aid station.


Mileage 2011 Splits 24 hour avg Target
Milford 13.1 1056 10.1 1015
Camp Roo 25 1431 1326 1315
Crisman 34.3 1750 1631 1630
Moreland 40.7 2014 1903 1900
Edinburg 48.7 2324 2229 2200
Woodstock 56.9 249 125 130
Powells 62.7 448 339 315
Finish 71.1

 Those are my 2011 splits in the chart. As you can see, I need to carve off one hour from them. One hour!  It is not as daunting (I hope) as it sounds.  2011 I weighed more and was less trained. This is an entirely achievable goal, providing I don’t screw around too long at the aid stations.

Sandbagging alert: I’ve been trying to avoid a sore throat for the last few days. I think it is just allergies.

Ha! Proof that it is allergies!!!

It’s just allergies, it’s just allergies, it’s just allergies….

It is Thursday now, and I finally hit the “nervous” part of the taper.  I’m getting antsy,  I smile at work when someone asks if I have a race coming up..and I want to eat everything in sight.  Especially salty chips.

Ring a Ding Ding

The Ring Weekend approaches. No, I won’t go through the two or three paragraphs about what the Ring is. If you read this blog you should know.

For you cluleless (or new readers: Hi there! Love ya!) ones, The Ring is a loop trail, 71.1 miles of the Massanutten Trail, on the Massanutten Mountain Ridge.  The MMT 100 utilizes much of the MMT trail, with some side trails down to valleys (or gaps as they called in the south) where the aid station usually are.

Start of 2010 Ring

There is always discussion, which is harder, The Ring or RevRing, or MMT100.  It usually depends on which event you have just finished..that is the harder one.  I felt pretty beat up after RevRing this year; but I also felt beat up after MMT100 too…but I exerted more effort also..

There is only one rule for The Ring; stay on orange.

M Dot Reverse Ring

  I managed to violate that during RevRing 2013 and scored some bonus miles.  I will be extra vigilant on intersections.  I will also carry the map even though I’ve run around this loop five times previous.

Western View

See, there is runnable sections of the MMT

Finishing the 2010 Ring


The Mountain was still there, one year later in 2011.

Milford Aid Station. That is Slim sitting and Keith’s ass

It was a bit overcast and a little humid on the east side in the morning.

Slim was feeling a bit under the weather for The Ring 2011 and hung out with me.  He would drop me on a climb, then sit and eat a sandwich and wait; or run on ahead to an Aid Station and get to socialize before I popped in. Of course, when I got there, he was ready to go.

Slim had never seen a Signal Knob sunrise (being that he is usually done way before sun up) but the sunrise did not make his SK experience any better.  Nothing can, really, unless you are a BASE jumper and can fling yourself off at Meneka Knob.   Then you would get DQ’d for not following orange.

2011 Finish in 25.01 Yes, really, 25.01.

I ran a different race last year, the North Country 50 Mile, and sadly missed everything and everyone in Virginia.  I vowed not to do that again!

So it is the countdown for The Ring.  I haven’t started to track the weather yet, but I do believe hot and humid will be in the forecast?!

Future Race Planning

It is the third quarter of the year and time to start thinking about running races in 2014.

It is a sign of our sport that we have to be concerned about signing up for races and/or lotteries for races six months later.  But it is what is.

So here is my running dream schedule for 2014:

TWOT February
The Reverse Ring February
Hardrock July
Wasatch September

Three of those races, MMT, Hardrock, and Wasatch are all lotteries.  MMT is pretty much a given; if I don’t get in on the initial random draw, my three finishes will stack me far up on the waiting list.

Hardrock? Odds are way against me getting in.  But I don’t get to play if I don’t enter.  So that goes onto my list.

Wasatch-this is also a lottery, which I do not know much about at this time.

So that above is my “perfect” race schedule for 2014.  Long runs/races that is.

Okay, if I didn’t get into Hardrock, then:

My second tier of races involved entering and getting selected into Western States.

Which meant I would then run the Grand Slam.  Providing of course, in my perfect world, that my weekends off work would coincide.

Now, really at the time when all this was fermenting, the only two races I was slightly interested in was Wasatch and Leadville.

The Leadville 100 has an internet shitstorm going on right now-something about 900 runners with not enough aid, traffic SNAFUs, etc etc.  There was talk on the interwebs allegedly about Leadville going to a lottery, although I cannot find that.

Well.  I am no longer interested in running Leadville with 9000 of my closest running buddies, or stressing over another lottery system.

So the Grand Slam idea is off the burner.

But back to Western States.  I think I have heard AJW blather on enough about WS$R that I am actually interested in running it.  Like, one of those races “one should” run, at least once.  So I will probably still enter the lottery.  (And the odds are pretty much against me, kinda like HR.)

So what else, hypothetically, for 2014?  Back to Wasatch.  A very tough 100 mile race.  Was the toughest in the country, before HR.  More importantly, it would be a new race for me.

I could easily load my 2014 running schedule with races I have run before and love and will run again. But I find it important to me, to try and step outside that comfort zone, and find new races.

Don’t get me wrong. I could run TWOT, MMT, Groundhog 50K, Laurel Highlands, runs at Mohican, The Ring, and have a perfectly happy year.  But my goal is to be a steadily improving ultra runner, and I think to get to that improvement, one needs to become “slightly uncomfortable”.

“Slighly uncomfortable” could mean a new race distance-say you have only run a 50K before. Stepping up to a 50 miler could make you slightly uncomfortable. A new race, to me, is always slightly uncomfortable-probably read that as ‘stressful’.  I don’t know the course, the race directors, where the race starts, etc, etc.

The Black Hills 100K and the Kanawha Trace 50K were both new races to me, so I had to deal with a new location, unfamiliar course, travel to these locations.  Was it a bit stressful? Sure.  Did it help me, as an ultra runner?  Yes.  I had to deal with situations in both races and keep a positive outlook.

So, wish me luck in  the future lottery entries.  I sure would like to be able to report on my prep for Hardrock 2014!

PSA: Packing for The Ring

I just finished packing for The Ring.

You do not need much for this event.  You are allowed one sturdy drop bag WITH YOUR NAME ON IT that will mainly be shuffled around to the various aid stations by someone.

You have to realize that there are fast folks; kinda fast folks, the mid pack, and the back of the pack.  So four different speeds of people, yet your drop bag will “probably” show up where and when you need it.

Your drop bag will  not be at Milford-Mile 13.  The first time you will see it is Mile 25-Camp Roosevelt.

The last time you see your drop bag will be Woodstock.  So gather any good luck totems you need at mile 57, cuz Powell’s Fort AS will not have your drop bag.

So WHERE WILL YOU SEED YOUR LIGHT AT??  Maybe look at splits from other people?? Hint,hint,
HERE  You will need your light!

I am picking up mine at Crisman Hollow.  Will I need it there? I sure hope not, as I plan on being there at 430pm.  But my next drop bag location will be mile 40.7, Moreland Gap, and I plan on being there at 7pm. Yes, it won’t be dark then either.  But what if I run into difficulty? Or take the scenic route?  But it doesn’t hurt to have it earlier.

What is in my drop bag?

Duct tape
Spare eyeglasses
Spare Shoes-I may actually experiment and change shoes at Woodstock, to try and better my “Signal Knob Experience”
A short sleeve shirt-I usually change out of my nasty sweaty wet shirt into a dry shirt sometime before dark
My calorie bags-I will eat at the aid stations, but I also carry calories-which everyone should do, and eat-between aid stations.  I have these all loaded, marked with various AS Names, and ready to go. I also have a spare BUFF and a towelette in each AS baggy.
Spare drugs-I carry Tums, Imodium, Pepcid, Tylenol, S! Caps and caffeine tablets on me. I will have a spare to swap out in the drop bag

BUFF on my head

*I will also carry, from run start, a very small Fenix light in my pack. I like insurance.*

There is also a garbage bag in the drop bag, which could function as a covering if needed.  I will monitor the weather, and maybe throw a very light weight jacket in at the last minute, but usually it’s been hot-even at night-and that has not been needed.

Taper Madness

Well, I don’t really feel like I have taper madness, although my running schedule is pretty light the next six days, which means I should be chomping at the bit to run on Saturday-which is the idea I guess!

I ran 20 miles Wednesday, then woke up with a sore throat and enlarged lymph node on my throat. I bagged the Thursday run and went shopping instead..

Friday I woke up, still with the sore throat and tired.  I also bagged  Friday’s run.  I think maybe I didn’t really eat well enough after Wednesday’s big effort, since I was also off work and therefore off my regular grazing eat schedule.

I think the sore throat is actually more allergy related, and I started taking my Allegra again.  I do not normally have allergies, but the early spring pollen really kicked my butt before I started on the drug, so it is now probably ragweed affecting me.

I ran 10 miles this morning, felt quite good considering the two days off and about twelve hours of sleep last night.

Then I spent the last few hours doing this:

I got about forty pounds of peaches from my mom.  First I made a peach tart:

Then we blanched and processed the rest of the peaches.  This year I was smarter and packaged the peaches into about two cup increments.  Since my husband does not eat them, this will keep the serving size suitable for a peachy smoothie for me.

A good peach smoothie recipe I had last week was peaches, almond milk, orange juice, with a little mint thrown in. MMM good!

We also visitied my MIL, where I picked a few cups of plums.  The darker squares are plum tarts.  The red tarts are tomato-gruyere cheese.  All came out delicious!

Twenty Miles at Mohican

The schedule called for 14-17 miles I decided to treat myself and go run nice trails at Mohican State Park, without the mud and overgrown briers of Salt Fork.

I didn’t look at my old Mohican 100 Aid Station mileage, because I was sure the Red/Green Section would be 15 miles.

I ran by myself.  There was probably a few folks I could have invited along, but I just wanted to arrive whenever I got there, and have some time in the woods to myself.

The Red Loop starts up the mountain bike trail, then splits off to a bridle trail.  The new Mohican 100 course doesn’t use this at all anymore.  I have not been on the Red Loop in about two years.  I am  surprised at how wide the bridle trail is. And how smooth the dirt is. And how well I am running on it. 

It is cool to have a marker, a measurement, of a trail or course that you have travelled in the past.  I was running on sections of this trail that I had only hiked up in the past.  I am much less fat and far more fit than the last time  I traversed this section of trail.

Soon I am running past Sand View Cemetery, stop where I have cached some water, and continue to “The Rock”.  This is where Rock Point Aid Station was, about mile 52 in the race.  The Red Section ends here, and the Green Section begins.

The Green Section is a bit wider too than remembered. About a half mile past the creek crossing, they move my trail!  They have bulldozed trees, and now the trail goes off to the right!  The little bridle trail marker has been moved too.

Hmm. Do I follow the “new trail” but I don’t know where it goes…or try to scramble through the barrier and follow the old path?   I decide to follow the new trail.  It takes me uphill, about a half-mile or so, and then abruptly ends intersecting another trail.  Hmm. Left, or right?  I know I am still below the township road that I need to cross..I go left.

I am very happy for “old Mohican” carsonite markings! I come across one, pointing the other way.  Huh? So I am back on the course? It doesn’t look familiar at all (it’s also wider, have been bulldozed in the past years..) Ok.  I run tentatively down the path, start’s not familiar at all..

Until I go around a curve, see the telephone poles and the township road! Oh yeah, I know where I am! Runnable downhill next to the road, which I will cross soon.

It had been clear cut around the telephone poles, but that was two years ago, and the trail is much narrower..and it seems much shorter thru here..but maybe I am a little bit faster going down the trail??

I cross Rt 97, and encounter a few more horse people.  I decide to hop on the mountain bike trail, and take that back to the Fire Tower, thinking it’s going to be short cut, as I am at twelve miles or so on my Garmin.

Except I don’t know the mileage on the mountain bike trail section (I’ve only been on it once or twice) and as mountain bike trails do, it meanders and twists all over the place!  I’m about out of water, and just wondering when I will get to the Fire Tower, where I will still have two miles back to my vehicle!

Finally I get close to the Fire Tower, and just bushwhack to the road. I had planned on just running down the road to the Covered Bridge, but that loses its appeal, due to no berm and high volume of traffic.  I cut off some more trail by taking a gas line gravel road directly downhill, as I know Hog Hollow Trail will intersect it.

Hey! It’s just like old times! I am on my last section of trail, tired, hungry, out of water.  It’s too bad Gabe and Regis are not with me; they would typically finish their run, and then come back down the trail to look for me.

Crossing one of the footbridges, some fierce critter stings me in the upper arm! I smack it, then stop to extract a huge stinger! Owwwww! I hope there is some Tylenol back in my vehicle!

So Garmin reads twenty miles for the day…oops.  But when you run a loop, it’s not like you can just sit down in the middle of the trail at mile 15 and call it done.

A great day on the trails.  Got rejuvenated out there. I needed that.

A Sad Week

It has been a sad week.

Monday, I went running after work, came home, showered, sat & visited with my husband and a visiting friend, and finally logged onto my computer about 7 pm.  The HR FB page told me that John DeWalt had passed away.

I grabbed my phone and saw that Bob had already texted me this, and then Slim called shortly, it seemed like we all found out around the same time.

John DeWalt was an ultra running legend.  Part of the Barkley since the beginning, and 14 Hardrocks finished…just part of his resume.  I couldn’t even tell you what all he has done. Ultrasignup shows 65 “official” races.

I feel like my great uncle has passed away.  No, maybe if my great uncle was also my friend, that could be true.

I had just discussed John in the past two weeks, with both Bob and Jim, and had sent John a card not long after HR this year, inviting him to come over to YUTC.  Glad I had got that card in the mail, so he knew we were all thinking about him.

 If you knew John, you already know about his reputation.  If you didn’t know John, well, it is a bit hard to try and summarize the man.  There has been many nice reminiscences about  John on the Barkley and Hardrock  List this week.  Andy Jones-Wilkins also wrote a nice piece for the global website.

Jennifer Roach wrote a really nice note that touched me:

“John DeWalt. Here was a wonderful man. Tough as nails. If you asked him a question, he always had a no nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip response. He would give out constructive criticism, whether requested or not. He was sure of himself. He had confidence in his advice, especially in runner  nutrition. I asked him for advice frequently, as we all did. Once, I asked him how to avoid that  spacey” feeling while doing long events like Hardrock . “Essential minerals. Put them in your water,” he replied. I took the sage advice and it worked.
Remember John’s 2009 Hardrock finish?As he approached the Rock, John was listing to one side and exhausted, but he never gave up or gave in. He just kept pushing. I also had the good fortune to finish Hardrock in 2009 and you don’t see me cheering him on at that finish line because I was still BEHIND John and still coming in, pushing hard. I was able to get there because John taught me how to do it. I never gave up or give in. This advice will hold true for any runner who approaches that big Rock. To get there takes some real grit. That’s the kind of stuff John DeWalt was made of and known for by everyone at Hardrock.
Hardrock won’t be the same. We just lost a key player: John DeWalt. He was grass roots and the finest Old Guard runner I have ever known.
God Bless John DeWalt.”

Jennifer Roach