Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mungerruns: I am an Idiot


I am an Idiot

It felt very strange last night going to bed at 9:00—so strange that I don't actually remember falling asleep, only waking up from a dream that I missed my 3:55 a.m. ride to the Fellowship of the Idiots run in Albemarle, North Carolina. What started as an informal training run as area runners prepared for the two big marathons in the region (Charlotte and Myrtle Beach) has grown to a substantial event, with 70 or 80 runners showing up for the 5:30 a.m. run.

The event is non-competitive, and even with such a large group, everyone seemed to enjoy the spirit of the event as a fun training run. As it turned out, I didn't miss my ride, and joined Chad, Todd, Jeremy, Terry, Matt, and Tim in a caravan to Albemarle, about 60 miles away. The run itself is fairly intense, billed as a 19.7-mile round trip from downtown Albemarle to the top of nearby Morrow Mountain. But I had convinced myself that it wasn't that hilly; I was going into the event thinking it would be about 16 flat miles, with a big hill in the middle, roughly a 300-vertical foot climb. As it turned out, my Garmin recorded a cumulative elevation gain of 1,210 feet—more than Big Sur—and the climb up Morrow was more like 500 vertical feet, placing it in the same league as the notorious Hurricane Point climb at Big Sur. Here's the profile of the entire run:

We arrived in Albemarle early enough to drive up to the gate at Morrow Mountain State Park, about mile 8 on the plot above, so we didn't get to see the really big hill. I was surprised to see the rolling hills throughout; there really were hardly any flat sections. When we arrived back at the start, we quickly signed in, posed for a picture, and then took off, accompanied by a police escort.

I was running with Todd and Jeremy, who I knew would be faster than me, but I wanted to see if I could convince them to start off slowly. My plan was to run roughly 9-minute miles until I reached the top of the mountain, then 8-minute miles on the return trip. That was before I realized just how hilly this run was. After an 8:36 Mile 1 and 8:20 Mile 2, I realized I'd need to slow down, so I let them go. Miles 3-6 were uneventful: 8:42, 8:37, 8:49, 8:43. Still a little faster than planned. At mile 6, there was a water stop. I asked if there would be water at the top of the mountain, and got "there will be water at various points along the route." I had about 8 ounces in my water belt, but decided it would be a good idea to stop and drink a cup, just in case.

Then I started charging uphill. There was a woman in front of me who seemed to be keeping a decent pace, so I tried to stay with her. Mile 7, with 128 vertical feet, was 8:48. Mile 8, with 75 vertical feet, was also 8:48. Now I could start seeing the first hints of sunrise on the horizon. There was a beautiful crescent moon, and Venus was also visible nearby. An absolutely stunning morning. On Mile 9, with 160 vertical feet, I passed the woman and put in an 8:40. Mile 10 got even steeper: 211 vertical feet to the top, about 9.6 miles. On the ascent I passed one guy and pulled even with another. As it turned out, there was a water station, and I drank half a bottle and used the rest to refill my water belt. Then I made a visit to one of the tiniest bathroom stalls I've ever encountered, and headed back down the hill.

Then I ran into Chad, who took my picture:

On the way back down, I passed Matt and Tim headed up the hill. They're much faster than me so they must have been taking it easy on this run. I also saw Terry on his way up. I was trying to pick up the pace on the downhill section but only passed two or three runners. Despite the very large field of runners, there was a lot of separation, and I was running by myself most of the time. Mile 10, half uphill and half downhill, was 9:08. Downhill miles 11 and 12 were 8:02 and 8:04. Mile 13, still mostly downhill, was 8:13.

It was becoming clear to me that once the downhill sections ended, there was no way I was going to be able to maintain an 8-minute pace. Sure enough, Mile 14, with a 133-foot vertical gain, was 8:40. Mile 15, 90 vertical feet, was 8:49. Now I was really starting to feel the pain in my legs, which were also extremely tight. Mile 16 was relatively flat, but I still only managed an 8:56. I took a rest at a water stop, drinking the water from my belt because I knew I could make it to the finish without additional water (I had been eating gels every 4 miles throughout the run). Miles 17–19 were not quite as hilly as the preceding miles, but I was spent, and my times got progressively worse: 9:30, 9:59, 10:05. I ran the final .26 miles at a 10:30 pace.

Overall, it was an 8:48 pace—not even as good as my somewhat disappointing 18-milerlast week. But this course was much hillier than I expected. I actually went farther without fading than I did last week, and I was trying to be much more aggressive once I hit the big hills. I'll need to improve as I do more long runs, but it's still good to get these miles under my belt. This was the farthest I've ever run; it may have been unreasonable to think I could do half of this run at my planned marathon pace three months from now.

At the end of the race, I and the many other first-timers were awarded Fellowship of the Idiots T-shirts and certificates commemorating our accomplishment. One nice thing about this run is that the Y gives all the participants access to their showers, so I could get cleaned up and changed before we drove home. It turned out, this meant I missed the big group photo, but I got Nora to take my photo with the new shirt when I got home:

And here's the very serious certificate:

It reads:
Fellowship of the Idiots. This certifies that Dave Munger is a member in good standing and is granted all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. From the "Y" to the top of Morrow Mountain and BACK!

-Dave Munger, from his blog Mungerruns.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Race Recap: Beach to Battleship Triathlon, Nov. 13, 2010

While running with my buddy Tony Read the other day I realized I hadn't talked to him yet about his experience at November's Beach to Battleship triathlon.  It was Tony's first full Ironman triathlon and a huge accomplishment for him not only physically but spiritually.  Tony was kind enough to send me his account of the race, which you can read below.

Beach to Battleship Ironman
A Reflection
140.6 Miles
November 13, 2010
Sunset view of USS North Carolina from Downtown Wilmington

At 6:50am on November 12, 2010 I was walking the 500 yards though the dunes at
Wrightsville Beach to the start of the 2010 Beach to Battleship Ironman in Wilmington,
N.C. I was just about to start a race and finish a journey. The race was the before
mentioned B2B Ironman and the journey is one that started 5 years ago and both would
hopefully be culminated at 8pm or 13 hours later at the USS North Carolina docked
across the Cape Fear River from downtown Wilmington.

The sun was just rising, air temp at 39 F and the water was announced at 64 F. My
wetsuit kept me warm except for my arms and feet which were exposed. The sand
held the cold and a north wind only aggravated the exposure. For sure next time, if
so destined, footwear would be a must. The singing of the national anthem and some
announcements (including the recognition of a 70-year old first timer who tragically
finished missed the midnight cutoff by 28 minutes) and the 531 participants were ushered
into the Atlantic for the 2.4 mile swim.

Final preparation for the race started in May. It included a “base period” in which focus
on building endurance and economy and getting to race weight. It was to culminate at
the end of August at the South Carolina Half Ironman. The goal was to lose 25 pounds,
increase daily training and to do as many races as possible to acclimate to race conditions
and dynamics. This would be followed by a “build period” lasting 40 days which focused
on carb building, weight maintenance and increasing discipline distances to Ironman
length. Finally prior to “race week” was 2 weeks of “taper” to allow the body to prepare
for the big push. I wish I could take credit for this plan but a combination of input from
my nutritionist, books and friends’ experiences shaped the plan.

My weight dropped from 175 to 145 pounds, competed in 26 races - besting previous
performance in 15 of 19 of those races, completed my 50 triathlon before my 50th
birthday, religiously followed an Ironman distance schedule and topped off the “base
period” by placing first in my age group in the South Carolina Half Ironman.

South Carolina Half Ironman – August 29, 2010

In retrospect, I think the biggest impact was going to a nutritionist. By balancing my diet
and monitoring my intake I lost weight and aided in recovery. By doing this I was able to
train more and improve performance/stamina. More training and improved performance/
stamina meant more weight loss and increased confidence. A virtuous cycle was created
and to validate its effectiveness when the diet was altered for weight maintenance and
carb build the results were as predicted. I believe that the nutritional lessons learned will
be incorporated in my life going ahead. As Yoga Master Swami Sivananda states, “The
way to be always happy is to feel a little hungry.”

Although nutrition had the biggest impact and triathlon books offer great guidance, the
foundation of such an endeavor is the support, encouragement, inspiration, leadership and
teamwork of friends, family and fellow participants. Hillary Clinton (sorry Jake, Sarah
was not so inspirational) said it takes a village to raise a child and I believe the same to
be able to do an Ironman. I said to a friend who just did the Chicago Marathon that I was
with him during the struggle of this hot weather race and I felt the same as I competed in

The Race Plan
Knowing that the race would be over 12 hours, planning was critical to ensure there
wouldn’t be any added obstacles above the time, distance and conditions of the event.
This included equipment for swimming (like goggles, cap, wetsuit, chip band, etc.),
biking (clothes, glasses, socks, shoes, spare tubes, etc.) and running (clothes, shoes,
socks, hat, number, etc.). If you’ve done a triathlon you know the drill.

Aside from equipment was planning nutrition, hydration, salt replacement, stimulants,
medicinals and lubricants. Assuming using 12,000 calories the goal was to consume
3,500 calories with approximately 85% being consumed prior to the run and no solid
food after the bike. Hourly hydration and salt replacement with over 8000 mg of sodium
over the course of the event. Stimulants and medicinals were delivered in Guarana,
a natural caffeine source, and Motrin 3 and 2 times during the event respectively.
Lubrication was planned with Glide for the all needed locations except for Vaseline
between the toes.

The Swim - 2.4 mile ocean swim
When the horn went off all participants entered the water and swam probably 100 yards
out into the channel before turning north to swim 2 miles along the shore before turning
left for ¼ mile to the swim exit at a local marina. As stated earlier the water was 64 F but
the wet suit did the trick along with the physical activity. Unfortunately, unlike in years
past we did not have the advantage of the incoming tide and swam into a headwind that
caused choppy conditions. This led to a longer swim for all and personally, due to the
chop, I got a little disoriented. This led to more location verification to ensure I stayed
on course. Also at about mid-swim I felt a calf cramp coming on which in the past has be
debilitating. But the wetsuit’s buoyancy which allowed minimization of kicking and the
focus on relaxation allowed cramp to not fully materialize. My swim time ended up being
1:22 hours, slower than a goal of 1:07 hours, but the conditions were the same for all and
I was generally happy with this leg. Unexpectedly, the wetsuit and salt water had caused
two raw chafed areas on the back of my neck and at the right hand wetsuit armhole. They
ultimately scabbed up after the race and if done again I would have added Vaseline to my
pre-swim routine. I had never swam so far or so long in a wetsuit so live and learn.

Upon exiting the water we had to run out the marina, across the street and to the swim-to-
bike transition area. It was about 500 yards and along the way I stripped my wetsuit to the
waist and stopped at the showers for a quick rinse. They had a changing tent which was
great so we could completely strip down, dry off, apply Glide and Vaseline and change
into biking clothes. 400 men, naked, with jars of Vaseline was incentive to get your
business done quickly. Out to the bike rack and salt tabs and Gatorade got me on my way
out on the bike after 17 minutes in the swim-to-bike transition.

Running after swim to bike transition

The Bike - 112 mile bike
We left the Wrightsville beach area and headed inland. For the first 40 miles we headed
northwest and then 30 miles northeast before turning south for the last 40 miles back to
downtown Wilmington. The goal was to average 16.8 mph and to complete the leg in

6:40 hours. The roads were fantastic and the traffic minimal. Over the first leg, miles
1 to 40, the wind from the north was building so it had little effect and I was able to
average over 17.5 mph ahead of the goal but the second leg, miles 41 to 70, was directly
into the wind and the pace was reduced. There was also a special needs stop at mile 51
to replenish supplies that we were allowed to leave prior to the race. So by the time I
reached the apex of the ride and started to head south, my overall pace had dropped to
16.7 mph. But now the ride back to Wilmington was with the wind at our backs which
led to a faster pace.

When I started the ride there was an attempt at discretion in relieving myself during the
ride. But with constant hydration it became a regular event, 10 times during the ride, that
I had to stop and use the bathroom. By halfway I had given up on stopping at aid stations
and tried to pick my spots with some level of privacy. I was buoyed by a female police
officer who, when asked if I could go, said, “when you gotta go, you gotta go.” Bless her
heart. Also at the mile 51 special needs stop a guy said he lost all his supplies on a bump
at mile 20. I provided him with my extra salt tablets and Gatorade but was unable to
spare any food. After reflection I waited for him at mile 54 and gave him one of my Clif
bars. I’m sure it helped him and I think was the right thing to do in the spirit of the event.
Hydrating and eating went as planned as the bike provides an easy opportunity to eat and
drink as much as needed.

When I arrived in Wilmington at the bike-to-run transition the wind aided return to town
had increased my average speed to 17.4 mph and total time of 6:23 hours, about 17
minutes faster than plan. My goal was to finish the bike by 3pm and I got to the transition
at 3:02pm. Happy camper. Volunteers took my bike and directed to the bike-to-run
transition bag rack. Glen was there and I think just happy I was alive. In reality I felt fine
and I think getting off the bike on a regular basis during the ride actually was beneficial. I
went to the bike rack with my transition bag as opposed to the changing tent by mistake.
Duh! Back at the changing tent it was again off with the biking clothes, on with the lube
and back with the running clothes, new socks and running shoes. I bypassed the Glide
and went exclusively with Vaseline which was the way to go – highly recommended.
Another bathroom break, 2 gels (last solid food), Gatorade, Motrin, Guarana and salt and
I was ready to go. Remember the chafing on my neck from the swim? Well, I thought it
was sunburn and had Glen spray sunscreen on it and that is when I found out how raw
it was. As Ed Grimley would say, “that is a pain that will linger” (for those who don’t
remember look up Mr. Grimley on Google.) It was short lived and after deciding to leave
my drink belt behind I was out for the run after 15 minutes in the bike-to-run transition.

Biking through Coastal Carolina

The Run - 26.2 mile run
The bike-to-run transition was at the USS North Carolina which is across the Cape
Fear River from downtown Wilmington. The run route leaves the Battleship area and
spans 2 bridges to cross the river. The run then goes down and along the water front
before heading up and out to Greenfield Lake. To Greenfield Lake it is 6.55 miles so by
retracing the route to the Battleship it is half the run or 13.1 miles. Duplicating the route
makes up the marathon distance. There are hills on the course with the toughest being the
first bridge and when leaving the water front going both directions. The trip through the
downtown is great because of all the people and support there and over the whole race
was superb.

My goal was to run an 11:30 minute per mile pace and finish the marathon in 5 hours. By
electing not to carry my drink belt all my sustenance and hydration would have to come
from the aid stations on the course. I carried salt, Guarana and Motrin and continued a
regular regiment. I had on my Garmin and was determined to keep my pace slow as I
have a tendency to go out too fast. I did the first 2 miles at a 10 minute pace and had to
ratchet back my pace. I wanted to get to the halfway point by sunset when I would get
another special needs stop. I made it to the special needs by sunset but bypassed putting
on a long sleeve shirt and gloves and only replenished my salt and drank some Gatorade.
After leaving special needs and recrossing the bridge I decided to turn off my Garmin
and run the remainder of the race by feel. The sun had set and I was at the 14.05 mile
mark and my pace was 10:48 minutes per mile excluding the 3 minutes I spent at special
needs. This was well ahead of my goal pace but as advertised the Ironman starts on the
second half of the marathon. But I felt fine and when I came back through the waterfront
in Wilmington my sister Emily was there with Glen and they both had cow bells – seeing
them great – cow bells not so great.

In running marathons I had always reached a point where I “hit a wall.” I waited and
waited to hit this point in the race but never did. Not sure if it was the slower pace,
the avoidance of solid food (drank only chicken broth and flat coke on the run) or the

weather but as the race went on I got stronger. The last 12 miles was faster than the
first 14 with my pace at 10:39 minutes per mile. I do think that comfort played a role
and by not wearing my drink belt and using Vaseline on my feet versus Glide for better
coverage, it certainly improved my disposition. Or as some of you have noted, I might be
a little obsessive or as I prefer Calvin Coolidge’s explanation that “nothing succeeds like
persistence.” In the end the run took 4:44 hours and a 10:48 minutes per mile pace, well
below my goal.

B2B Marathon and Ironman Finish

I arrived at the finish at 8:02pm at full sprint and my total time was 13:02 hours. Glen
and Emily were there at the finish and took care of me by collecting my stuff and
transporting stuff and racer back across the river. Emily walked my bike back which was
3 miles – thanks Em. A quick trip to Waffle House for some hot chocolate and Em was
off to Raleigh and Glen and I back to the hotel to end the day.

The Journey
The race had ended in the span of 13 hours but the completion also marked a point in a
journey that started 5 years earlier on April 11, 2005. That is the date Jake and Tim took
me for a non-smoking treatment. From there small steps from doing a triathlon grew to ½
marathons, marathons, 50 triathlons by the time I was 50 and finally the Ironman. In a
span of 50 months there were 158 races, 13 ½ marathons, 3 marathons, 4 Half Ironmen
and on August 21, 2010 my 50th triathlon 2 days before my 50th birthday. I had lost 60
pounds and quit drinking along the way in May 2010. Not sure if journey or
transformation is the correct term but over this span of time by deciding to change and to
act my life had completely changed. I have come to the conclusion that happiness is a
choice and there are two paths we can choose. In the song “Racing in the Streets”, Bruce
Springsteen describing this choice in the lyrics “Some guys give up living and start dying
little by little and piece by piece, some guys come home from work and wash up, and go
racing in the street.” I believe this is a choice we make throughout our lives and
depending how vigorously we pursue our choice determines the life satisfaction we will
achieve. It’s easier to make those choices when you are young but as you get older
responsibility, risk and fear become deterrents to making life changing moves. My goal is
to overcome these deterrents and continue this journey, to decide, to act, to risk, to change
and to grow.

I think as time has passed since the race the accomplishment has sunk in a bit. I think on
that day I thought of it as another race but have come to realize it means more than that to
me. A quote I cut out this year and have pinned to my board is from Arthur Brooks who
says, “The key to happiness is not being rich; it’s doing something arduous and creating
something of value and then being able to reflect on the fruits of your labor.” Previously
I had referenced the foundation of such an endeavor being the support, encouragement,
inspiration, leadership and teamwork of friends, family and fellow participants. I believe
that these aspects or virtues are also the things of “value” that have been created that all
of us can reflect upon. Thank you to all for your help and inspiration and allowing me to
help and inspire as well.

Angel’s Triathlon 9/17/06: Snake and Shark help the Pony finish

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pawz too Run5K Race (for runners) and K-9 Dog Walk

Just received word from Diane Copio that her daughter Joanna is pulling together a new race in Davidson to be held on April 2, 2011.  It's called Pawz too Run5K Race (for runners) and K-9 Dog Walk and will take place at the town green.

Queen City Timing will be handling the event timing.

For details and registration information go to:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Race Recap: Frosty 50k

Matt Williams recounts his experience at yesterday's Frosty 50k at Salem Lake in Winston-Salem.  Despite challenging weather he, along with Tim Richter, Bobby Aswell, and Jeremy Alsop finished well.  Jim Crotts acted as a pacer for Jeremy for the second half of the race.  There were many, many other familiar faces in attendance.  I was fortunate enough to be able to use Matt's high-definition video camera and he put together the video nicely.

-Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Frosty 50k Race Report
"The Frosty 50k race yesterday was a study in perseverance. Had it not been for the great one-man support crew/photographer/videographer that Chad was, my running partner Tim, and encouragement from other runners, I may have not finished.

The course was a horseshoe shape. One length of the "U" was 7.75 miles, or one-fourth of the course. Racers run out-and-back, twice. The far end of the "U" was very close to the start. Not including the start and finish, there were three places where bailing out was an easy option with only a short walk back to the car. I was highly tempted by two of those during the 4.5 hours I was out there.

Tim and I decided to go out at a 7:30 pace and see how it felt. It did not feel easy or relaxed, but not horribly difficult to begin with. The first place for bailing out was at the 8 or so mile mark. We still felt good there and kept going without question. The return to the start found our pace slowing, some wind blowing, and the sky snowing. We managed to complete the first half in less than 2 hours.

However, the five minutes before reaching the half-way point - and the second place for bailing out - included a discussion on how smart it would be to stop and go for the "Did Not Finish" result. I said, "It feels like the right decision now, but I may regret it in a couple of days." We both agreed that we would probably get over it. The thought of running the same course out-and-back again seemed agonizing. But after a couple of cups of gatorade, a snack and some encouraging words from Chad, we decided to continue on, slowing it down significantly and walking the few tough hills.

Our mile splits went from 7:30/8:00 minute miles to 8:40/9:00 minute miles. We made it to the farthest point out where an aid station was with very little walking. Some pretzels and water fueled me for the back stretch. Other racers were supportive usually saying, "Good job guys!" Tim's response was either, "You too. Keep it up!" or "I should have trained for this."

On one short, steep hill we started walking and a female racer who had apparently been closing in on us ran past us, looking strong on the uphill. After she was a few yards ahead of us, Tim muttered, "Overacheiver." She glanced back and said, "I heard that!" We laughed and continued to underacheive on the hill as we walked up it.

When we were nearing the next point where bailing out was easy, I was again considering it. Despite having eaten most of a Cliff Bar over the last 8 miles, my tank was saying "Low Fuel." Sleeping sounded like an awesome idea. Tim said he was going to finish it, so I stayed with him. But I remembered that on the first out-and-back it felt like a long way to the far part of the "U" and the final return to the start would begin. To help the time go by I started singing "100 Bottles of Beer" in my head. I made it to 83 before getting distracted.

The trail had permanent mile markers showing the distance from the start to the end of the horseshoe, but not specific markers for this race. Those became helpful on this last return because they were a countdown to the finish. I hadn't seen one in a while and was feeling weary and decided to walk a bit. Tim kept going, and we both saw the 4 mile marker. I picked it up again knowing there was an aid station less than half a mile away. I ate more pretzels and drank two cups of gatorade as I walked for a bit. Tim was just ahead of me, but started running before I did. We wouldn't meet again until the finish.

For the last 3.5 miles my energy seemed to hold and I felt decent. Knowing I was getting close probably helped. I did get quite cold. This section of the course had some places where the wind blew extra-cold air off the lake. My wet-from-sweat hair and shirt would try to freeze. I longed for my fleece jacket and hat.

Around some of the bends I could see the tent that was set up at the finish line in the distance. I walked up a hill or two, a couple of people passed me, and I passed somebody. The last few miles each took between 9:40 and 11 minutes. I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin at 4:24:26. I was not as exhausted as I thought I would be. I changed into some warmer clothes and we then went to Moe's Southwest Grill for burritos.

A day later and I'm actually surprised that I am not hurting as much as I had after the marathon. I believe the slower pace and the dirt trail prevented me from feeling overly beat up. I even considered a short, easy run this afternoon since it was sunny out. But my wife needed to run some errands so I had kid duty. It is probably for the better and she is probably doing me a favor.

I compiled the video and photos that Chad shot into a video on YouTube."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Run For Your Life 2011 Race Calendar

The Charlotte Running Club has gotten the scoop on this year's Run For Your Life race schedule.  Since the RFYL site isn't updated yet, treat it as tentative, as things may change.  That's more than 20 Charlotte-area races for your running enjoyment.

Start marking your calendars and I hope to see you running around.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

There's a new running blog in town - Mungerruns

DARTer Dave Munger has started a running-related blog that talks about his training and specifically its lead-up to the Big Sur Marathon in May.  Those of us who run with Dave know that he has made significant strides (get it, "strides"?) over the past year, dropping 25 pounds and getting much faster as a result of all his hard work.

To check out Dave's new blog head on over to Mungerruns.