Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer 2011 Update

It's been a while since I've posted to my blog.  It's been a busy few months at work, at home, and on the trails.  Updating my blog just hasn't been a priority.

The big news thus far is that I finished the Mohican Trail 100 for a third time (3 for 3!) on what turned out to be the most difficult Mohican on record.  There is really little else to report.  It was about as easy of a 100 as I expect I'll ever have.  It was very stressfull leading in with all the volunteer work and an injury scare, but on race day my body answered the call. 

As for Mohican statistically being the most difficult ever I only have myself to blame for that, as I laid out the 2011 course.  Perhaps I was just mentally prepared for it, since I knew the course so well.  I knew the elevation would be greater than in past years but I really believed eliminating the miles on road, in the sun, and on hard pavement, would "save our legs" in the later miles.  I'm not sure that was the case...  The extended 32hr cut-off didn't do much to increase the finish rate.  There will be changes in 2012 (for my sake I hope minor) that should address some of the challenges the 2011 course presented, and hopefully get that finish rate in the 55-65% range.  Unfortunately we can't do anything about the Ohio June humity, which in my view plays into many of the DNFs.

Other news...  I purchased a fancy new MTB last weekend.  I went out to the Dennison Bio Reserve and had a real eye opening experience.  I don't quite understand it but I manage to run the trails faster than I bike them.  On a route with constant techincal uphills and downhills a bike is NOT only makes getting up and down hills more difficult.  Fred Davis was joking with me last week that he managed to run a few races faster than he biked the same route. ...Well I think I'm in the same boat.  It was a lot of fun to change up the pace a bit and I look forward to adding MTB to my training regiment.

One final bit of news.  I've signed up for Burning River for a 2nd straight year.  I'll be entering the USATF Championship this year.  I have a realistic but at the same time aggressive goal.  I know that I'm capable of running a faster time than I've produced to date.  I also know that my biggest barrier is either stomach or mental.  My legs have never failed me.  I got through Mohican without a single stomach or mental issue...but I went into that race just setting my goal in finishing under 32hrs.  I felt great all day and figured I might as well finish up a little earlier if I was feeling well.  I never shy away from verbally laying out what my goal is.  It's just a little extra motivation for me to stick to it.  The important thing is that I (capital and in big bold letters) believe I'm capable of running this time, and in a 100 that's all that matters.  With that being said my goal is to finish on Saturday - meaning anything 18:59 or under will do.  Ideally I'd like to run sub-18 but that will require a very strong 2nd half, as I won't be going out any faster than a 8:30 50 mile split.  If I can acheive my time goal perhaps I'd be able to place in my USATF age group...which would be pretty damn cool.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Goals - Umstead 100

Here are my goal splits for each lap at Umstead.  Writing it down makes it official and will hopefully motivate me come race day, since I've put it out there for all to see.

Lap 1 (12.5 mi) - 02:05:00 total (02:05:00 lap) 10min pace
Lap 2 (25.0 mi) - 04:10:00 total (02:05:00 lap) 10min pace
Lap 3 (37.5 mi) - 06:27:30 total (02:17:30 lap) 11min pace
Lap 4 (50.0 mi) - 08:45:00 total (02:17:30 lap) 11min pace
Lap 5 (62.5 mi) - 11:15:00 total (02:30:00 lap) 12min pace
Lap 6 (75.0 mi) - 13:45:00 total (02:30:00 lap) 12min pace
Lap 7 (87.5 mi) - 16:27:30 total (02:42:30 lap) 13min pace
Lap 8 (100 mi) - 19:15:00 total (02:42:30 lap) 13min pace

Pretty simple strategy.  10 min pace the first two laps, 11 min pace the second two laps, 12 minute pace the third two laps and 13 minute pace the last two laps.  My goal is to finish between 18-20 hours and this strategy is (in my opinion) a realistic way to accomplish that goal.  My PR is 21:32:00 so this would constitue a 2:15 minute PR but I think I have it in me.  If things are going well, and I can hold 12min pace on the last two laps, or perhaps pick up the pace to 11's than I might get closer to my 18hr stretch goal.  If I'm struggling late in the race this plan gives me a 45min cusion.  Worst case scenario I should manage a PR as long as I'm still moving late in the race.  We'll have to see how it plays out on race day but I'm confident going in.

Over and out.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Training Update

Thought I would post a few notes about my trainig for Umstead and how it's progressing.

Over the last few weeks I've been increasing my milage.  I was cruising on my 2 day a week regiment for a while there, just running Wednesdays and Saturdays.  A couple weeks before Regis I began making the Sunday run a regular thing.  I've even been adding in a weekday morning run on occasion.  I've done one a week for the last few weeks, with a running group in New Albany (typically on Friday mornings).  So I'm now averaging 4 days and a little over 40 miles per week.

The highlight of the past several weeks had been my speed work on Wednesday nights.  The times I've been hitting on my workouts project out to a 2:45 marathon, which means I'm seeing improvement.  All of this during what has been a pretty tough winter.  The two biggest breakthrough workouts were 6x1200 repeats (on a grade) at 5:40 pace, and an 8 mile tempo run at 6:18 average pace.  Even when training for an ultra its important to me to run fast 1x a week.

Over the last two weeks I've tried to really amp up the milage on the weekends.

Last weekend the plan was 10 Friday, 15 Saturday, 15 Sunday (CRRC Winter Run).  My actual milage ended up being a little different.  I did manage the 10 on Friday.  Saturday's run was chellenging because the bike path we ran on with MIT was a sheet of ice - we managed a slow 13.  On Sunday I decided to get up early and get in an easy 10 before the Winter Run, the late race start presented an opportunity to get in more miles that I couldn't resist.  Unfortunetly the Winter Run was awful and I had side stiches so bad that I only made it 10 miles.  It was still a 43 mile weekend but none of the runs were quality runs.

This weekend was a better weekend.  I only had time for 7 on Friday because I had to hit the road early for work.  On Saturday I ran a solid 20 miles with MIT at 7:35 average pace.  On Sunday I got in 25 miles at Mohican with Jay, Seth, Terri, Mark, Michelle, and Rob.  I had planned on doing 2.5 more but decided 25 was enough.  It was a solid 63 miles for the week and I'm tired today, not sore, just tired.

Who knows what this week will bring.  I plan on running Tuesday morning, Wednesday night, Friday morning, a double on Saturday (MIT morning and COTR Alum Creek afternoon), and Last Chance on Sunday.  That would be 82 miles for the week, which is about what I need to stay on my schedule.

My goal is to peak at around 100 miles the week of March 7-13, so that's only 3 weeks from now.  If I logged ~50 miles two weekend ago, ~65 last weekend, then I want to run ~80 miles this week, ~90 miles next week, and 100 miles my peak week.  Then it's time to taper, with probably a 70 mile week, a 35 mile week, then race week.

What is my goal at Umstead?  I'm not 100% sure.  I'd definitely like to shoot for sub-20 maybe even sub-18, but that may be a stretch goal.  I think I'll try and hit the halfway mark at about 9 hours and see how it plays out from there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Run for Regis 2011

The 2011 Run for Regis is one of those runs that will stick with me for quite some time. It was an epic run. The conditions were about as bad as they could be while still allowing us to actually run. It was like running on loose sand for 33 miles. In short, it was awesome! This is the type of run that puts hair on your chest. It hardens you both physically and mentally. These are the types of runs you need to get under your belt to prepare you for a 100 mile run.

My goal coming into this year’s race was to just finish the 50k race. The prior two years I let the elements, and the warm shelter, get the best of me and I stopped after completing the 30k distance. With Umstead looming I knew I needed the mileage and needed to cover the full 50k distance. The race didn’t go perfectly but I’m very pleased to say that I held it together, ran strong, and finished the full distance.

I started out at a slow pace but that pace required more effort than usual because of the uneven footing. Things were perfect through 30k. I had held back, felt fresh, and was ready to attack the last ½ marathon. I picked up that pace heading out onto the 2nd 8 mile loop and felt strong. I learned quickly that running just a minute a mile quicker required twice the effort and backed off on the pace as I began to cramp. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been and didn’t have e-caps or Advil on me and struggled a bit since I had nothing to combat the cramping. As I slowed down Mark Carroll showed up at the most opportune moment and offered me a couple of e-caps to help my cramping. It was a welcome relief to have his company and assistance and we ran together on and off for several miles. After about an hour the cramping returned and I knew that I would just have to grit and bear it, put my head down, and push towards the finish. If I had a couple Advil and e-caps I think I could have improved my time by 20 minutes but was thrilled to finish in just over 6 hours under these conditions. As a comparison, Vince Rucci, the race winner ran a 5:23, so 6 hours is not a bad time at all. As I sat in the warm shelter eating the delicious vegan chili I was satisfied and tired – as it should be.

I think it’s worth giving honorable mentions to a few runners who’s performances really stood out in my mind. There were undoubtedly many more runners who deserve mention but these were three that stuck out in my mind:

First and foremost is Mark Carroll. On the first 5 mile loop Mark was charging up the hills (something he continued to do ALL race). I questioned why he was working so hard on the uphills and he replied that he had an abdominal strain and couldn’t run the downhills. Mark wasn’t deterred. Instead of taking what the course gave him he imposed his will on the course. In the last three miles he blew by me and secured a top 5 finish. Well done Mark, you earned it!

The second shout out goes to Tracey Ross who had a great race and finished as the 3rd female finisher. In my opinion the day suited the tougher runners who are more suited to 50 and 100 milers. This 50k felt more like 50 miles. Tracey seemed to get stronger as the race went on and looked fresh as she finished the race. I think an ultra star was born at the Run for Regis. If this race is any indication I think Tracey will excel at a 100 miler, whenever she decides to tackle the distance.

The third shout out goes to someone I admittedly don’t know well at all. I ran a few early miles with a young guy named Sam who left an impression on me. I asked him what distance he was running and he replied that he was running the 50k and that it was his first ultra. I kidded with him that he picked a heck of a race to chose for his first ultra, as the Run for Regis is known for it’s poor weather conditions. I asked how many marathons he had run and he replied that he had never run a marathon, in fact he had only run one ½ marathon. I wished him good luck and complimented him on his guts, thinking to myself that he might not be able to finish this race but he’s got some balls and he deserves some credit for the effort. As I was heading home towards the Ledges Shelter, covering my final mile I crossed paths with Sam again as he was heading out on his final 5 mile loop. He was going to finish this darn thing! Incredible… What an effort from a young guy who undoubtedly has a future in this great sport as well.

I have to close with a huge THANK YOU to Tanya Cady and all the volunteers who came out to support the runners. I can’t say enough about Tanya the job she does to support the runners both at the Run for Regis and throughout the year. She is one of a kind. The number of people that came out to spend the entire day in the bitter cold to volunteer says a lot about Tanya, and means a lot to the runners. I feel blessed to be a part of such a great community.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Since I was involved in the Mohican course re-design I thought I'd share some of my thoughts related to the course, the process, change, and Mohican in general.

Every change that was made to the Mohican course was debated at great length. We discussed issues and complaints from prior years, and how we might improve the race to address certain concerns. We considered how we could reduce the amount of ashpalt and course gravel road and add more trail. Many of the scenic dirt roads from years past are now ashpalt. When the race started and finished at Mohican Wilderness this wasn't a big issue because these miles were run at night when it was a nice mental break from the trails. With the new AND IMPROVED start/finish at Mohican Adventures these ashpalt road miles were now sandwiched in the middle of the race in the heat of day. This was a major issue to address. Another issue to address were all the Green Loop miles that were being torn up by the gas company, which were replaced with baseball sized gravel roads. This would continue to be an issue going forward if we didn't consider change.

As Ryan mentioned the race has experienced quite a bit of growth over the last few years. Trail running and ultra running have seen a recent boom and we want the course to be able to accomodate this influx of runners. We wanted to come up with a course that could be sustainable for years to come. The location and accessability of some of the past aid stations, and the confusion of runners going every which way from those aid stations, made it difficult to accomodate a greater number of runners. My family has volunteered at Rock Point the last two years, assisting aid station captain Julie Bowen-Miller for the entirety of the race. We spent the days leading up to the race preparing potato soup, hard boiled eggs, just to name a few things, to ensuring the runners would have everything they needed. Mohican is a passion of mine and I am happy to say that my family shares that passion with me. For as tiring of work as it is to spend over 24 hours at an aid station catering to us cranky runners, my wife said she would miss The Rock, as will the runners. That being said, they understand better than most runners the logistical challenges associated with some of the more remote aid stations. Whether it be re-stocking aid, getting volunteers to and from the aid station, getting pacers and runners back to home base after dropping, etc. Having a more centralized race we will improve the efficiency of logistics considerably and improve the aid station workers, supply volunteers, family and crew, and the runners experience in the process.

We want Mohican to be both affordable and accessable - as opposed to races that have to cap entries and as a result have to either institue a lottery or sell out in a few minutes time. With the boom of the 50 mile race we had to consider how changes would impact both events. I know some 100 runners don't like to hear that their course should be modified for the sake of a relatively new 50 mile race. That being said the 50 mile race has made the Mohican 100 sustainable and it makes the event that much more accessable. The more people we can expose to the magic of of Mohican the better. The introduction of the Mohican Marathon will only add to this exposure and hopefully put the trail ultra bug into a whole new group of runners. With the new course and the staggard start we feel we can accomplish this without interfering with the 100 or 50 mile race, or putting an increased burden on the aid station volunteers. I encourage you to embrace the 50 mile runner and embrace the marathon runners. Remember that this might be the toughest challenge they ever attempt, it should not be treated like a minor accomplishment.  We should be supportive and cheer them on towards their goal! After all, trail running and ultra running is about the inner challenge, the friendships made on the trail, and the beauty of nature - this is no different for a 50 mile runner or marathon runner than it is for a 100 mile runner.

What makes Mohican special? The answer is different for everyone. Sections that one runner loves, another despises. At least one person mentioned that they would be ok with the race being all road. A few proposed increasing the cut-off limit, citing the number of multiple finishers who barely finished under 30 hours. Some said that very toughness is what makes Mohican special. As for me? Mohican is special to me because of all the friends I have made on the trails, all the great runners that have come before me, and because it gives me an opportunity to dig deep and find out what I'm really made of. A 100 mile race is going to be difficult regardless of the course. We feel like this course will simplify logistics, make the race more accessable for family and crew, and most importantly improve the runners experience.

All of this talk and I haven't highlighted the new sections of trail!  I think runners will love all the new single track trail being added to the course - it's both scenic, challenging, yet very runnable.  The new section of bridle trail being added, linking the course to the traditional purple section, is also very scenic and may be my favorite section of trail on the whole course.  As an added bonus, those runners who go way back will recongnize certain portions that are still marked with Mohican 100 stickers from several years ago.  Some might remember that the much loved (and much maligned) section on the red loop that used to climb from Covered Bridge up to Bridle Stageing was a relatively new trail itself.  By incorporating the "purple" trail into the course, as opposed to it being a stand-alone loop, we ease the congestion at Covered Bridge.  We're very enthusiastic about the new course and the improvements that have been made. We understand that not everyone will share that enthusiasm initially. Our hope is the feedback is overwhelmingly positive once people have had a chance to run the course, and once they've seen all the improvements made on race day.

Long live Mohican!

Michael Patton
2x Mohican 100 Finisher

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Quick Grindstone Recap

This will be brief, as my race at Grindstone turned out to be quite brief.  I was running well early in the race and was enjoying myself quite a bit.  I came into the 2nd aid station positioned well and was ready for the 2nd major climb of the race - Crawford Mountain.  A mile into the climb my stomach started to bother me and I became a little dizzy.  About 2 minutes later I was throwing up and was shivering.  I struggled to the 3rd aid station after a couple more bouts of stomach distress.  I don't know what went wrong and why it hit me so quickly but I decided at aid station #3, mile 22, that I should call it a night.  I could have, in the words of Mark Carroll, walked for 10-12 hours and hope that it passed but this was the wrong course to get stranded on if things went terribly wrong.  I think I made the right decision but I'm still having a very hard time coming to grips with my first 100 mile DNF.  I need to get past this so it doesn't haunt me going forward but I also don't want to force another 100 and will wait until Umstead in spring to take another stab at the distance.  I will be back but I'm going to take my time.

Shout outs to the other Ohio runners that represented so well at Grindstone - it turned out that I was the only person who had a bad day.  In order of placing here's how the other runners faired (times are approximantions as results are not posted).

Sandy Nypaver dominated the womens race winning by nearly 4 hours (23:05 if I'm not mistaken), setting a new course record!  Needless to say she is a very talended runner with a promising future in the sport.  Well done!!!  Shout outs to her pacers Rachel and Sean who guided her through the 2nd half and got her home to the victory.

David Huss (aka Mountain Lion) ran a PR on one of the toughest courses around, posting a time of 25:25.  He ran a perfect race, stayed focused, pushed through the pain, and was rewarded for his efforts.  His pacer Steve Zeidner, and crew - headed up by his wife Katie - provided him the support he needed to acheive his goal.  Congrats Dave, you earned it!

Dave Peterman posted a time of 26:35 (approx.), showing great perseverence in the 2nd half to get that buckle with a fantastic time to boot.  Dave now has three 100 mile finished on the year, including MMT and Grindstone, very impressive!  Dave now has one race to complete the Beast Series, the Hellgate 100k+.  Shout out to Jay Smithberger who jumped in to pace him the last 50 miles after his runner wimped out and DNF'd early.

Last but not least, Regis Shivers Jr finished his 3rd Grindstone and 28th 100 in a time close to 28:00.  Regis was steady throughout the race and acheived a new course PR.  I enjoyed running a few early miles with Regis and enjoyed getting to know him.  I also spent a good chunk of the race crewing and getting to know his mom as well.  It was a pleasure meeting them both and hope that our paths cross at future races.

So even though it was a very bad day for me personally it was a very exciting day none the less.  I was able to wrap myself up in my friends races and focus on crewing them through the day instead of sulking in my dissapointment.  I am very proud of all of their accomplishments.  Well done, you all earned it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Year of the 100

Most people would be pretty content with two 100 mile finished in one year.  As I was eyeing my fall races I struggled to find anything other than another 100 that really sparked my interest as a GOAL race.  As far as road marathon's go Columbus is about as good as it gets and I may run that easy but right now, where I'm at with my running, road marathon's don't really get me excited.  Roy's race, Running with Scissors, is another race that I really want to run but but wasn't sure if I wanted that to be my GOAL race.  I really wanted to find a race that was not a 100 that would get me motivated to train hard but it just wasn't happening - mostly because I still had Grindstone in the back of my mind.  I don't want to fall into a rut where only 100's inspire me.

With all that being said I just signed up for my fall 2010 and spring 2011 goal races: the Grindstone 100 and Umstead 100.

Aside from the distance these 100's are about as different as you can get.  Grindstone is a technical 100 with a ton or elevation change.  Just competeing Grindstone in the allotted 38 hours will be an accomplishment.  Umstead is not technical and it's hills are very gradual and mostly runnable (from what I understand).  I will definitely go into Umstead with an aggressive time goal.

Well I've got my work cut out for me.  Enough typing, I've got to go run!!!!