Friday, November 23, 2007

Ultracentric Recap...

Ultracentric is finished, new National Champions have been determined, and all of it has taken its toll.

There were great conditions at the race, save the 80-degree temperatures, but that was kept in check by a cool breeze off the lake. The race was well organized, and the main aid station was well stocked, and the food was good. I liked the music also, but it was a little loud. Also the two hills on the course seemed to grow throughout the day, but really I can’t complain about the course.

I know that even when I am healthy I am not the best, but I was coming into the race with a stress fracture, and still (stupidly) tried to set a pace that would have placed me in the top 3. I had my leg wrapped, but 4 hours in (25miles) my leg began to hurt more than I have experienced ever before. I slowed, yet refused to pull out or sit down, and in the next two hours I was able to painfully complete 9 more miles for a total of 34 miles at the 6-hour mark.

The pain continued to increase throughout the run, and forced me to slow even more so that the second 6 hours I was taking 2 walking breaks every lap around the 2 mile loop instead of a single walk break every 6 miles or so. I finished a mere 27 miles that second 6 hours to put me at 61 miles at the halfway point. At some point during that second 6-hour period, I felt my toes get wet. I knew exactly what it meant; at least one of my blisters had popped, and when I checked my feet after the race, I was able to confirm that.

I continued the run, and eventually I could not get myself to run at all so I reverted to a power-walk and it worked well. I was passing people right and left while power walking, but eventually, even that became too painful. At 18hrs 6min 2sec I completed my 84th mile on my stress fracture. That last six hours I had run I had only been able to complete 23 miles, a far cry from the 34 I had done in the first 6. My overall average pace up to that point was 12:56.

I felt if I were to continue at that point, my leg would have shattered, and I would rather have only 6 weeks to recover as opposed to 6 months. I didn’t want to quit though. I decided to take an hour-long nap and see how I was feeling afterward. My cousin woke me after an hour, and my leg felt no better than when I laid down. I decided then that it would be in my best interest to drop out at that point. I was satisfied with 84 miles in 18:06:02 on a broken leg. I also set three new personal records in the race: 50k in 5:22:30, 50miles in 9:19:26, and 100k in 12:08:09. Two more PRs if you count 34 miles for my 6-hour, and 61 for my 12-hour. I guess I can’t complain about breaking previous bests.

One other thing, which afflicted me, was extensive sunburns. As I write this, my back and shoulders are covered in blisters. I started out the run in sunscreen, but it must have sweated off, and I didn’t even feel any burning sensation until long after the sun had gone down.

Even though it hurt, I know there were others who experienced trouble during the race. My friend Dane Rauschenberg for one ran into problems when he couldn’t keep food down and therefore wasn’t taking in enough calories to keep going; yet he ran an amazing 70 miles. I know what he is capable of and I’m sure he’ll be back. You can read his account of the race on his blog. know the heat (80 degrees!) took a toll on several others who pulled out before the race was scheduled to be over; 37 of the 84 runners stopped early.

As much pain as I am in, if I could sign up right now for next year, I would. The pain pales in comparison to the relationships created, the sense of accomplishment, and lessons learned during the race. As far as the relationships are concerned, the races almost feel more like family reunions than competitions. Although every ultrarunner is by nature incredibly driven, we are less competitors and more comrades when we come together.

My cousin Don noticed this. He told me he wasn’t certain about how he would be perceived by the other runners because of his inexperience. He was, however warmly welcomed into the community, and said he had a great time running. He was running the 6-hour event simultaneously with the second 6 hours of my run. He amazed me; as everyone else began tapering two weeks before the race, he started his training. He only ran 4 times in preparation for the race, and never longer than 9.3 miles, however he was able to achieve 33.25 miles in the six hour race which was good enough for 5th place. It seems he’s a natural, has been bitten by the ultrarunning bug, and will be back soon on the circuit. With that talent he showed, maybe I should be the one crewing for him!

I’ll get some pics posted up soon, but until then, keep running.

Tim Lawson

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ultracentric This Weekend

Well, I leave tomarrow for Dallas Texas to compete in the National Championship Race.... and my shin is in pain!

I have rested, iced my leg, wrapped it, and it all seems for naught because the pain yet remains!

I will push through though.... there will be hourly updates on where you can track my progress Nov. 17th to Nov. 18th, 9am to 9am Central Standard Time.

Wish me luck! and that my leg won't splinter!

I'll have a writeup posted on Monday.

Tim Lawson

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Slightly Competetive?

So I’ve been noticing my competitive side coming out…

Yesterday I went running with the Red Lizards, and we all started out at about a ten-minute mile pace, which to me felt slow. After about half a mile, I was feeling slightly impatient, I jumped up to the front of the pack and picked up the pace a little bit. A few other guys soon followed me in our faster pace, and we were soon pushing each other faster and faster.

We came to the first big hill, and one of the other guys, Jon, took off up the hill like a shot. Another guy, Robert (who’s a 5 time Ironman by the way,) followed suit and was soon leading the ascent up the hill. I didn’t want to look bad, or like I was slacking off, so I pushed myself to just stay on their heels. We were running quite a bit harder than I have in quite a while.

I thought it was comical. There were a couple points of the run in which the three of us were running shoulder to shoulder, and when one person pulled slightly forward, the other two would run harder to get just ahead of them, no one wanting to be left in the dust.

We ran by a high school, and our resident Ironman needed to use the porta-potty. Jon and I know that he is a lot faster than we are, so we couldn’t let him catch us in the last stretch to the finish. We pushed and pushed and when Jon looked down at his GPS watch, he exclaimed that we were running a 6:30 pace. I, for one, was incredibly surprised. We finished the run without Robert catching back up to us, and our average pace for the six-miler, in spite of the sluggish start and all the hills, was 7:14. Not bad for me. Running like that feels good every once in a while, but with Ultracentric just around the corner, I shouldn’t be doing that every day.

I know I need to be careful in these few weeks before the 24-hour race, especially considering a pain I have been feeling recently. I noticed a pain in the middle of my left shin that had not crept up from the base of my shin like shin splints would have, so I was worried that it was a stress fracture. I have been taking ice cold baths after running, and taking it easier on my runs to try to see if I might heal up. I have good news, after that hard run yesterday, my shin was not in the least bit sore. I’ll keep an eye on it though, after all, I have less than three weeks until the big race, and I don’t want a stress fracture to turn into a compound fracture in the middle of it.

Until next time, keep running!

Tim Lawson

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ultracentric! Just Around The Corner!

In about a month from now, I will be taking off from the Portland Airport to head to Grapevine, Texas, to run at Ultracentric, the 24hr National Championship Race. Quite frankly, I'm nervous!
The race will be run on a 2.4mile out-and-back course, and the goal of the race is to see who can complete the most miles in 24hours. I know people say this is crazy, but at least to me, it is exhilarating! I get to push my body to my breaking point to see just what I can handle, (and then come back next year and see if I can improve.)

One argument I have heard is, I will burn myself out, but when the fastest people in the world are in their 40's and 50's, its hard to pay much heed to that warning.

Others of you may ask, "will you rest?" or "what will you eat?"

As far as rest is concerned, I plan to walk approximately 5 minutes of every hour, even when I feel fresh at the beginning of the race. The body can recover quite a bit during 5 minutes. I do, however, want to run the other 55min, and not stop at any point of the race (I know this is a lofty goal, if not nearly impossible); its all about relentless forward progress. I will also bring a cousin along with me to encourage me once my spirit has been beaten out of me, and yell at me whenever I slack off. ha ha.

And as far as sustinence, I know the race will be providing salty snacks, fruit, sandwiches, soup, oatmeal, and pasta, along with two types of sports drinks and water. I can rely my cousin to help me out also by getting food ready for me so that I dont have to slow down too much when I have some momentum going.

I know it sounds boring, but there will be several world class runners on the course, and live music much of the race, and once the music is done, my mind will be so far gone, it wont matter to me. It will take all of my concentration just to take the next step and not fall over.

I know that just the experience is worth every bit of effort and money I put towards the race, even if I don't, which I probobly won't, come back with prize money, or having qualified for the National Team. Thats right, I said prize money.... $26,500 worth! but check out what each runner would have to do in order to get a piece of that!

I have been doing a fair amount of training for this run, but I feel like I need to get back to it now and work some of these jitters off.... and as long as I'm at it, I should get rid of this belly also. ha ha.

Until next time, keep running!

Tim Lawson

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Portland Marathon!

For those of you who are wondering, I finished the Portland Marathon in 3:50:54, faster than the 4hrs I was expecting to take.

I’ve noticed that in certified marathons I tend to run slower than I do on self supported long runs, or even some ultras. Now I think I’ve finally figured out why that is. Salt.
Whenever I run ultras or go for a long run on my own, I always bring Cell Salts with me, but in a normal 26.2 mi effort, I take whatever they’re offering (in this case, sports drinks, gummy bears, and at mile 24, Beer!)

Because I wasn’t getting all the salt I needed, I started cramping up at about mile 19. I have to say… it was odd to look down at my quads and be able to visibly see them ball up with every step. I slowed down, stretched, and within a couple minutes I was back up to a relaxed run. I finished out the race, got some chips, and was feeling better soon after.

I know it is a “rookie mistake,” and as a Marathon Maniac you’d think I’d know better, but you can be certain I wont make that same mistake again.

Now about the course, I thought it was fairly scenic, fast, and well supported. There was one little out-and-back during the race that I know some people were complaining about, but I loved it; it was completely flat, and as a slower runner, it was my only chance to watch the leaders running.

I was excited to see so many Marathon Maniac there! I know there was a plethora of marathons going on around the country, but there was still over 50 Maniacs at the Portland race.

I got to also see plenty of the Team Red Lizard members I run with on Mondays.

I had carpooled over to the race with one of the other Maniacs, Marathon-Freak, who lives less than a mile from me, and his mom, aunt, and sister. Steve - Marathon-Freak, finished about 15 min ahead of me, and so we hung out talking to a lot of the other Maniacs there, and some of my Red Lizard friends, why we waited for the rest of his family to finish the marathon walk.

Some of the Maniacs we talked to ran a 50k race the day before Portland, and will be running 2 marathons next weekend, and 2 more the weekend after, and so-on and so-forth. Crazy People…. I want to do that! I do have a big run coming up next month though, so I want to be in top form. I’ll put up a posting about it in about a week, so stay tuned.

Until next time, Keep running!

Tim Lawson

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Preparing For Portland?

Well… here it is October 2nd, and on the 7th I run the Portland Marathon. I find it comical; here I am running all over the place, and I have yet to run the Marathon in my own city!

I want to do well, but not push so hard that it may hinder my training for Ultracentric in November. I hear it may be rainy, but then again, it is Portland…. What do you expect!? As far as training goes, I haven’t really followed anyone’s “marathon training plan” or whatnot; my training goes something like this.

When I feel like running…. I go for a run.
When I don’t feel like running…. I really need to go for a run.
When I feel I may be hurting myself…. I lay off.

No matter what’s going on, though, on Mondays (and sometimes Wednesdays) I have to run with Team Red Lizard at Portland Running Company in Tigard. Its imperative… well… a whole lot of fun. You should come too! 6 PM!

And as far as eating… I like pasta! And anything else I can get my hands on. I know what I should be eating, but actually eating right… not all the time. One of the guys in Team Red Lizard joked about having a beer for me at mile 24 of the race. Ha Ha. I’ll see what happens with that.

Look for me to finish in about 3:45 to 4:00, but who knows…. Crazy things can happen in a marathon. I might be really fast! Or not.

Until next time, keep running
And good luck to all the Marathoners this weekend!

Tim Lawson

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Barefoot Running

Ever since I got into running, I had heard of the benefits of barefoot training. Personally I thought it was just some way to subject yourself to toarture. Who in their right mind would willingly run around barefoot!!! I was, however, intrigued. After doing some reasearch online, and discovering , I decided that I could try it.
Not long after that, I ran over to an asphalt track, cast aside my shoes, and started running. about 4 miles later, I no longer had soles left on my feet. So I ran another couple miles.... Stoopid! It was night time when I was running, but I am sure that had I been able to see a little better, the inside lane of the track would have appeared red. I dont believe I'll ever forget the pain of trying to put on socks after doing that, and then I had to hobble a mile and a half back home!
That was my last barefoot experience until I discovered my Vibram Five Fingers during the 2007 Sri Chinmoy 6 day race. One of the 10 day runners, Glen Turner, wore them for what seemed to be half the race! I, quite frankly, thought he looked rediculous, but after asking about them, I decided to give them a try.

Not too long after the conclusion of the race, I drove out to Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge to purchase a pair of Sprints, and I absolutly love them! I wear them almost everywhere I go, except for work. They feel just as though I am barefoot.

When I first got them, I noticed my feet feeling a little sore, but it wasn't that I was injured, I was using muscles that I wasnt used to using. I also started out by running no more than 2 or 3 miles in them, and my feet toughened up nicely. Now I can walk around in them all day on concrete and not feel sore, or I can even run on asphalt and not leave a good amount of skin on the track.

I still only train in them twice a week or so, and I havent run more than 13 miles in them, but I have definatly noticed an improvement in my running form, and alignment issues. Also, you should see the looks I get when I walk through the mall in those things!

Well, until next time, keep on running.

Tim Lawson

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Overnight At Eagle Creek

Friday afternoon I took off for the Mt. Hood Wilderness as soon as I got off work. I planned to run the same route I had in the last blog entry, only the reverse route. My whole purpose for this run, besides the running, was to get some good photos of the sunrise and sunset on the various mountains near by. The only way to make it to my desired vantage point by sunset was to go up Ruckel Creek instead of Eagle Creek.

The climb up the trail was incredible. At several points along the way, I had to go up on all fours to prevent myself from falling backwards. 4,000 feet in elevation higher, I had made it up onto Benson Plateau and nearly didn’t recognize it. Sure, there were specific landmarks I could pick out as I traveled along, but instead of the dead brown grass I had seen just 11 days earlier, the grass was blight green, and anywhere there wasn’t grass, the ground was covered in a carpet of moss. I made it all the way up to the southernmost, wind-swept ridge of the plateau (where I wanted to take the pictures) in just over 3 hours.
I still had plenty of time before the sunset, so I set up my sleeping bag, and feasted on jerky, dried fruits and veggies, and banana chips.

The sky was far too cloudy for me to get any good pictures of the sunset, and I was getting fairly cold, so I decided to turn in and hope for a spectacular sunrise. As I lay there I realized something; I was seeing stars, maybe it would clear up after all! When I awoke at 5:30, however, I was surrounded in fog that didn’t burn off until after 7 am. I did still try to get a good shot, but I wasn’t satisfied with what I got. After a little more jerky and banana chips and GU, I was back on the trail at 7:10.

The rest of the run was fairly uneventful, but it was fun passing other people during the decent. I talked to a couple people for a little bit that were hiking from Mexico to Canada, I got some good pictures (I had my tripod this time,) and I scared a woman really badly. Well, I thought it was funny. She obviously was petrified of heights, being that she was inching her way down the tail, about 300ft up the face of a cliff, clutching the metal cable, on the inside of the trail, with all her might. The trail was only about 5 ft wide, and there I came, doing about an 8min mile, and just flew by her on her outside. She let out a couple expletives as I passed her, which gave me the impression that she either thought I was about to fall to my death, or fall and take her with me. I had to laugh, well, as soon as I was no longer within earshot of her.

I finally made it back to my car, from the plateau, in a mere 4hrs 20min. My total run time, not including my sleep, was 7hrs 34min. Much better than last time I was out here, even considering all the photos I took last time. It was fun, but I didn’t get the photo I wanted. I guess that’s just another reason to go again. J I also want to be back before the trail closes for winter. I don’t want to have to wait until next spring to go again.

Well, until next time, keep on running.

Oh yah, and if you have any suggestions for my blog, anything at all, feel free to send me an email.

Tim Lawson

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day Trail Run

Well yesterday I tried out a new trail, and it was incredible! I ran over 40 miles with a cumulative elevation change of well over 12,000ft!

I got out the door at about 5:20am to drive out to the Columbia River Gorge just before Hood River to run on Eagle Creek Trail. At 6:34 I was out on the trail. It was my first time on the route, so I decided to bring my little Olympus camera along so that I could share the experience with all of you. All the way up Eagle Creek Trail through Tunnel Falls and up to Wahtum Lake, there were literally dozens of waterfalls, and there were miles of cliff exposure! I was, by far, some of the most beautiful land I have ever run! With every turn there was a picture just waiting to be taken, but I did have to pass on some of them because, after all, this was supposed to be a trail RUN.

Once I got up to Wahtum Lake, I ran around it linking up to the Pacific Crest Trail, and climbed up and over Chinidere Mountain. When I reached the highpoint of the trail on Chinidere (approx. 4,300 ft above sea level, I had started at 110) I climbed up the incredibly steep hillside so I could get some pictures from atop Chinidere. From that point I could see Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens. I slid back down the embankment and continued on my way. Pretty soon I was saying to myself, “Wasn’t I just in a temperate rainforest!?” I had reached a part of the trail in which stone spires and dead, bleached-white trees stretched out toward the sun. I continued along the PCT up to Benson Plateau (elevation 4100 ft), and turned down Bensons Way to the Ruckel Creek Trail. Running on Bensons Plateau was a little nerve racking. The trails were so indistinct that had I strayed from the path… I doubt that I would have been able to find the trail again. And then I had to descend Bensons Plateau to get back to Eagle Creek. There were points at which I dropped a good 1,000 ft in elevation within about ½ mile. It felt more like a weight training session than it did a trail run. Some of the trail was so steep it almost felt like to go from standing vertically to sitting on my butt wouldn’t have been much of a journey.

I finally reached my car 9hours 15minutes and 41seconds after I had taken off. I defiantly want to go back and do it again, but I would almost rather make a weekend of it and bring a nicer camera and a tripod, than to just run. Some of the trail was fairly rugged, and there were some downed trees lying across the path, but that’s the fun of trail running. Next time I run this, instead of running all the way to Bensons Plateau, I’ll turn at the previous path to get back down to Eagle Creek and out of the hot sun, and it would add at least another mile to the route, but it would be an easier decent than to run down Ruckel Creek. Another thing about Ruckel Creek, there was no creek as far an I saw.

Until Next Time
-Tim Lawson-

Friday, August 31, 2007

My Blog is Born!

Well I did it.
I started my Blog.
And now I don't know what I will write about!
I guess I will start out by introducing myself.... My name is Tim Lawson and my friends call me crazy. I began running 4 years ago, and soon found my love of distance running.
I attempted my first ultra in '04... the key word is attempted. It was a 100k race, but 13 miles in I slipped off the trail at a sharp switchback and tumbled down the edge of the ravine. It was not pretty sight. I hobbled 5miles to the next aid station and pulled out at mile 18.
I never did give up though... I decided, after that, that I'd definitely finish the next race I ran. It was a couple years before I ran another ultra, and some might say I was a little stupid about the ultra I chose..... the second ultra I ever attempted and the first one I finished was a 6 day race back in New York City in New York in '06. I was ecstatic when I returned home after completing 285 miles in the 6 days placing eighth.
That fall I ran a 50k race... slow.... 6:15:03, and less than a month later I ran 2 marathons on back to back days in Seattle: 4:11:59 for the first and 4:30:30 for the second. I did a few more marathons after that before I ran my next ultra, another 6 day race in which I ran 315miles (505kilometers or approx.12 marathons.)
Now I am in training for Ultracentric Nov.16-17th 2007 and I hope to complete 140 miles within the 24 hours. I know its a tall order, but I am determined. Also with some family and possibly having a camera pointing at me throughout the race, I will be pushing harder than I have in any previous race.
Well.... Now you know who I am and what I'm about..... I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I'm sure I will enjoy writing them.
-Tim Lawson-