Month: January 2018

Frosty the “Joel Man”

Frosty the “Joel Man”

So being the Ultra running couples’ blog, it was time that Hubs stepped up to share his “pearls of wisdom” with the virtual running community.  Joel felt particularly motivated this week to share his experiences with cold weather running after much whining in our household about having to go out to run in the single digit and teen temps, with possible snow and gross temperatures on the horizon for this weekend.  And naturally, the treadmill is never an option.  What follows is from the Joel Man, describing his experiences with cold weather running during Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K.

“The recent Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K may have been the coldest run I’ve ever done.  The temps that morning put a little hesitation in me as I’m sure it did to others who showed up for the run.  As with all other cold runs I’ve done, the hardest part was just getting started.  Just getting past the dread.

When we began running at 8:00 am my toes and hands were in a lot of pain.  I wondered if I could do this and wondered why I was even there.  But as all runners know, the coldest part is the standing around before, and especially after.  After about 2 miles my hands and feet felt okay.  I was sweating.  My body was warming up even in the 6 degree temps.  That’s when I felt, “I got this”.

For most of the 3 x 10 mile laps (we refer to each 10 mile lap as a ‘Dirk’ in honor of the founder and race Director, Dirk Hayes – to complete a full “Fat Ass 50K” – you have to pay homage to Dirk three times), I was running with the legendary David Jones.  He was wearing black and I could see he had ice all over his back.  In all honesty, I saw a lot of his back on that day.  I felt my own shirt and found that it too was frozen (like a wet towel stuffed in a freezer).  It may sound scary to think of being in 6 degree temps and covered with frozen sweat, but in reality, the ice probably provided an extra layer of insulation (think – Eskimos build their houses out of this stuff).

This day reinforced my philosophy that if you are facing a cold run, just get started!  You are much colder just standing around dreading the experience.”

Preach Hubs!  The hardest part is just before the beginning.  It isn’t getting any warmer folks and the Spring Races will be here before we know it, so in the multi-billion dollar words of Nike – “Just Do It!”

Looking ahead to 2018 – What Lifts You

Looking ahead to 2018 – What Lifts You

Tis the season for putting away things that are better left behind in 2017 and looking to the horizon to plan what could be for 2018.  It may surprise people who know me, but due to a lot of family “things” over the last few years, I have rarely approached the New Year with droves of optimism.  In fact, our family received another “bomb shell of worry” for Christmas this year that would make you think I would be approaching 2018 with the same measure of apathy of optimism as past years.  But oddly enough, this year does feel different.  This year feels like I’ve finally found that measure of maturity required to truly accept the grace associated with the “Serenity Prayer” . . . “Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;  accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.”

So what is different this year?

If I am being completely honest, it is my running tribe that has made me excited.  I blame them for an audacity of enthusiasm in the New Year that has hitherto been lacking.  Many of the folks in my running group, the Mad Cows, have set bold goals for the New Year.  Many of them blame me for their “bad choices”.  I tell them that they need better friends. We have folks who have gone from never running trails to signing up to run a race on the side of the mountain, at night, in the cold.  We have folks who started running 1.5 years ago and are now signed up to run an ultra marathon . . .or maybe two.  We have folks that made their goal to run a marathon in 2018 and then somehow ended up registered for a 50 miler.  My running tribe has invited me to be part of an exciting journey to run the Black Toe 12 hr Trail Race, the Strolling Jim 41.2 miler/marathon, and the sweetest one of all, the Tunnel Hill 50 miler.

So now that I have talked about the goals of our running tribe, what are the ultra running couples’ goals for 2018?  Our goals for this year are to stay in the moment and focus on enjoying each experience or alternatively, learning from each struggle.  We will not try to overlook or escape the experience by wishing it over or looking to a finish line that does not exist until we complete the run.  Our goals are to do what lifts us and during our journey, to do what lifts others.  So here are the race goals for 2018:

  • Black Toe Trail Race – 12 hour – We want to stay committed to the full 12 hours rather than get bored or tired and stop early.
  • Strolling Jim 41.2 miler – Our perpetual goal is to run the course in under 7 hours and earn the coveted “red shirt”
  • The NRC Dark Sky 50 miler – We have run 50 mile races but never one on a technical trail . . . and this race is a week after “the Jim” so the physical and mental challenge will be high
  • 100K – We have never run a 100K race.  We have run longer than 100K but never signed up for a 100K trail race.
  • The Barkley Fall Classic – This is some serious crazy.  We want to complete this prelude to the Barkley at Frozen Head State park.  We want to battle thorns and climbs and face the very real possibility of defeat.  We want to test ourselves.  We want the Croix de Barque.
  • Tunnel Hill 50 miler – We are looking to run the course in under 9 hours and bear witness to the Mad Cows who will be experiencing the distance for the first time.
  • El Camino de Lavaca – 225 mile Pilgrimage – We want to travel 225 miles in 10 days in a Texas “winter” with nothing but our trusty running shoes, our hydration packs, and each other.  If we can succeed, in 2019 – Vol State 500K, we are coming for you.

And then there are the “other” running goals that are even more important than adding to our race resume:

  • We want to do everything possible to help our running tribe meet their goals in 2018.
  • We want to run with new runners and meet with new running groups in our local community.
  • We want to have fun.  So simple and yet somehow we as humans often find a way to lose sight of the idea of fun and muck things up.

So with that, Happy New Year dear reader.  We hope you plan audacious goals in 2018 and that you do “what lifts you” and on your journey, do what lifts others.

Dirk’s Fat Ass 50 K – because you need better friends

Dirk’s Fat Ass 50 K – because you need better friends

It was on this day, the first day of January in the year of our Lord, 2018, that the 12th running of Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K took place.  Each year, a figure of legend, “Old Man Dirk”, challenges runners to crawl out of bed at an ungodly hour on New Year’s Day to spend their last day of holiday vacation battling uncertain weather and ill-advised hang overs for the glory of running 31 miles, with no prize, and no ultrasignup statistics.  Some say that Dirk is immune to cold and fear, that he is Buri, the primeval man of Norse mythology who had no parents but rather was created “by a cow named Audhumla. As she licked the salt blocks of Ginnagagap, [into] the shape of a man”.  Others say he is one of the White Walkers, and still others say he’s a dang swell guy who makes swank chicken and dumplings and serves the running community by being a great pacer at the middle-half marathon.

But I digress.

On this day, the temperatures were 6 F.  Yes.  6.  The winds were howling and the fear of hypothermia was real.  And yet, the runners came.  A rag tag group of Divas, Cows, “RIF”ers, Boro2Squarerers, and Nemos – no men (free of all running affiliations).  They showed up  in blankets, mismatched spandex, and wore cowls.  There were 26 brave souls who toed the line and only 2 who finished the full 50K.  A Badwater master and a Bull-headed man (my hubs)!

The course is simple.  Runners start from the home aid station located at the General Bragg Trail Head of the Murfreesboro Greenway.  They run a figure-eight loop that takes them for a 4ish mile quest through the hallowed Stones River Battlefield, back to the Bragg Trail Head, and then a 6ish mile out and back to Cannonsburgh Village along the smoky Stones River.  Complete the full figure-eight and you have a completed a 10ish mile Dirk.  Do it three times, and you have a 50K.  The course is mostly flat and all paved.  What makes the run difficult to complete is not the distance, but the sweet siren song of the Bragg Trail Head aid station.

Each year, runners pay no fee to enter Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K.  The only thing required is a culinary sacrifice made to Dirk himself.  He demands cakes, pies, chilies, donuts, beer, and bourbon.  This buffet is laid out in tribute to the runners’ suffering and available to participants each time they pass the aid station – which if you complete the whole distance is 7 times.  Dirk also summons forth a fire from the bowels of the Earth to create a fire pit which warms the haggard runners.  When you pass the Bragg Trail Head, the Siren’s of “Warmth, Comfort, and Rest” call to you.  And many will answer the call.  Each year, only a few finish the distance, but all appreciate the challenge and the fellowship around the fire.

This year, two runners silenced the Sirens and completed the run.  The Badwater master ran with smooth stride and fire in his eyes.  He wore a mantel of frost and knew no fear of elements or exhaustion.  He ran with purpose and killer instinct.  He ran with some bitchin’ sexy spandex tights that made the Sirens take pause.  The Bull-headed runner could not quite keep pace with the Badwater master but was completely oblivious to the Sirens, focusing mainly on cookies and puppies.  He ran with a “here to unheard of” singular focus, layered with a strange patina of ice and sweat, and imbued with a fierce desire to finish the distance after 2 previous failed attempts.  Men of legendary stature.

Is any of this true?  Meh . . . trueish.  And besides, it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that on New Year’s Day, 26 runners braved the cold to find fellowship in frost and fire.  So next year . . . will you be with us and earn your way into running legend?