Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance 50 mile Run

Huntsville State Park, Saturday - December 8, 2007

7am and we're off. The first of four 12.5 mile loops to go. It's a warm day already. The heat has started early. (Not a good thing.) With an expected high in the mid-80's and humidity around 80% I knew I couldn't think about the weather I just had to run.

The first loop was great. Starting with my group, listening to friends chat, going out easy... thinking about all the miles and miles of training runs and countless hours on my feet that all went into being out here in the park. Running through the trees around the lake. I was happy.

Quickly I begun breaking the loop out into sections... The first few miles are quick, then you cross the park entry road, next you hit the jeep road, a long straight section. The hills on the road were gradual, but with 50 miles to go, you learn quickly that there's little advantage to running up any inclines. A brisk walk and you're good. Next, you go through some more small sections and you hit the dam. It's the half way point in the loop. About a half mile later you actually hit the other side of the damn, then you cruise a few hundred yards down a straight path parallel to the lake. Most of us hated this part, as you could see and hear the finish directly across the lake, but you knew it might be another hour and a half or two hours until you would be there. Cruel, but sometimes it would give me the little inspiration I needed to keep going. A turn after that and you made it to the opposite end of the lake and to 'bridge land' a collection of wooden springy bridges that carry you over the marshes across the edge of Lake Raven. At this point you have around 4 miles to wonder through the trees and your back at home. Rinse and repeat.

After the first loop, I felt hot, tired, a bit nauseous and ready to lay down - but wait, I had about 38 miles more to go! And boom, after a quick stop at pit crew central (with Caitlin, Rob, John, Hank, and the gang) I was off on my second loop. It's a mind game at this point. Break the race into the most manageable pieces tolerable. You can't think - "shit! I have to run almost 40 miles more, how in the hell am I going to do this??" No, you have to think about it one lap at a time, one section of each lap at a time, maybe even every aid station or conversation at a time.

The 2nd loop.

I don't really remember that much about it, other than I wanted to stop. I kept trying to find my love for the sport, but the heat was melting my mind. I couldn't get enough ice to cool me down and even running 25 miles (two loops) was seeming to be quite the impossible task. Okay then, the 2nd loop is done. I get back to my crew and my mind is thinking, alright I'm going to put on the biggest smile and tell everyone I feel awesome, then I get there and I actually look worn to shit my speech is starting to slur. Not sure if it was the salt, lack of calories, mild dehydration, or just pure exhaustion, but I didn't look pretty and it was just the half way point.

The 3rd loop.

I realize that I'm hitting a wall. No, not hitting, I just collided with a wall and I'm accessing how to pack things up and get out of this without loosing too much respect. I'm ready to quit. I went almost a week without eating a solid meal before this race. I had the stomach flue for almost 5 days and here I was trying to run the longest distance ever in my life. No, I didn't want to die today. This wasn't worth it. And right when I'm feeling about as pouty as you can be... Here comes Mike, one of my friends from Rogue. I perk up, throw a thumbs up and tell him that I'm trying, but I'm feeling low. He gives me some good words, and I move forward. Somehow a prayer was answered and a random guy named John, who just ran the Leadville 100 miler (and extremely difficult trail race in the Colorado mountains), decides that I'm a worthy cause and gets me to follow him, keep his pace and continue on. I follow for about 10 minutes then get stuck feeding at an aid station. Not wanting to hold John back, and not like I have a choice, I see him go. I realize about a minute later that if I don't catch up with him, I'm toast. I muster up some strength and try to catch up for about 5 minutes. I'm sure this changed my speed walk into a hobbling jog, but I felt like I was really picking up the pace. Then BAM, I hit a root and go down. Adrenaline fills my system and I book ahead to find John and his friend Penny up ahead. A few moments after that and I realize John was about at the same point I was earlier, but he's injured and knows he can't finish, especially in time for the cut off. CUT OFF! Shit, the cut off to start the 3rd lap is at 3:30pm . By this time. I had started with a 2:20 (2 hour 20 minute) lap, then a 2:30, but my 3rd lap was looking like it was going to be over 3 hours. If I didn't try harder I was going to come close to being pulled from the race. Well, as you guessed it. Something worked and I made it.

The 4th loop.

I stopped by to greet my crew and I was nothing but slurs and stutters. Okay, not time to talk... gotta go do this thing. I have to go finish. I want to get this over. Now, not later. Now. And I'm off. More like walking, then trotting, then a steady jog. Miles and more miles pass. 40, 42, 44 - hey I'm at the dam again. 46 - I just turned around the lake. 47 - night takes over. Headlamp on. Trees become shadows. The dark surrounds me. Bushes move. Shapes take form. I hear weird sounds. My heart races. I picture my finish and I loose my breathe. Quickly I must go. I need to leave this place and get home. I run. I run. I run. Then I see lights. The end is near. I whistle for my crew. Drop my bag and run, fast... real fast, so fast I feel like I'm about to win the whole race and I cross the finish line. 11 hours and change. Holy shit. I'm so glad this is done.

A HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thanks to my perfect wife Caitlin for all of her loving support, to my brothers John and Rob for keeping me laughing, to Hank for keeping it real, and to Trish and her family for being the extra support I needed on my last lap. Sometimes it really takes your family and friends to realize how much you appreciate life. Without them, I don't think I would have been able to finish and to them and God I say a BIG thanks!

P.S. Join me on my next adventure in less than 4 weeks when I attempt a race in Bandera, TX. I signed up for the 100K, but I'm beat. I mean real beat. It may be time to finally rest. But hey, I can still run the 50K right? Who knows. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Silicon Labs Marathon Relay - September 30, 2007

It was a warm morning. At 5:00am I wake up. I had around 3-4 hours of sleep the night before. New rule - always bring your own car out when it's the night before a race and you're going out for one beer... maybe two... Less that ideal conditions for race morning.

After my typical pre-race routine I was off in my car on my way to the race.

The race starts at 8:00, but I show up just before 7:00 to grab a close parking spot to Auditorium Shores where I first see the starting line.

I walk in and find Noah already setting up our make shift relay camp. A few chairs and a blanket never looked so inviting.

After a bit of chatting, I realize it's nearing 8:00 and I'm the first runner in the relay for my group. Our group, who entered into the corporate men's division, was composed of 4 other runners from LDR Spine. I was hired contract for the day to be a marketing consultant, thus being eligible to be included. (That's a joke)

I jump right at the front of the starting line. In my last race at Pike's Peak, I got stuck in the back of the herd and it was a frustrating mistake I won't make again. As I glance at my watch about to bolt, I feel a person tapping at my shoulder, I look to the right and there's a news camera in my face asking me if I can beat the Texas Governor Rick Perry, who's about 4 feet ahead of me. I quickly say yes, because I'm younger, faster, and stronger and I go. In hind site, I wish I could have sounded a little less like a bonehead, but that's what you get from me on little sleep and a slight hangover.

Boom - I'm off. The 12K leg is underway.

The first mile of the race, I was around a 6:45 pace, and I really felt like I was holding back. Weird, I think that was just all the excitement from the start, as I knew I wouldn't be able to comfortably hold that for the remainder of the race. Hell, I haven't run a road race since my last marathon in February. All I'm on are the trails, many, many miles of trails. I'm also training for a 100K trail race, which is the opposite of a 12K on the roads. No eating, no walking up the hills, no camelbak. Just legs moving as fast as possible and lungs pounding.

I make it from Auditorium Shores to South First to 1st street then down Congress going south of the river. I find a good pace, something between 7:15 to 8:00ish and I lock in.

I hit a turnaround point on South Congress and headed straight towards the capital. I remember this from last year's Silicon Labs Relay. Such a cool sight - running right down Congress Avenue into downtown Austin.

After I loop around the capital I realize that it would have been a good idea to look at the race map before the race. Now it's well marked, but I like to have a sense of where my next turn is, especially since this is my home town and I can equate where I need to be pace-wise on what's ahead. Next I see Gilbert, a local Austin amazing runner, leading the pack and I realize that he must have made a turn back from 1st street. I cruise ahead and see that we go all the way down 1st to hook around Austin High then back to South 1st and to the finish line.

The next 2 miles are quick. I feel great. My momentum is strong. I make it to the final stretch, the claps, hoots and hollers get louder. I look ahead and see a few guys in front of me who I know I can pass up in the last 50 feet, hey - it's my style (sorry). I jet ahead and finish to see my next runner as we slap hands and he's gone for the 1st 10K leg.

Fun race. Fun times. Great group.

Oh and to add a little icing to the cake, while having a few drinks in the post-race beer pavilion we hear from the stage that we've won third place in our division. We go to the main stage to receive our awards and get our picture taken. In the picture you can see how happy I am. It was truly and awesome time.

Race Results:

LDR Spine - Overall time: 3:20:37.3, Pace: 7:08/M, Overall Mileage: 28.100 

Peter williams, Lap 1 (12K) 56:19.4 7:31/M 7.500
Tom reidmuller, Lap 2 (10K) 48:43.2 7:10/M 14.300
Noah Bartsch, Lap 3 (10K) 49:18.4 7:15/M 21.100
Randy Meyer, Lap 4 (5K) 22:45.5 6:30/M 24.600
Guillaume Quetier, Lap 5 (5K) 23:30.7 6:43/M 28.100

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pikes Peak Acsent - Saturday, August 18th

Okay, let's first start with some fun facts.

Austin's average elevation: 597 feet above sea level

Pikes Peak elevation 14,110 feet above sea level

The Pikes Peak Ascent starts at the base in the center of Manitou, Colorado and finishes at the top of Pikes Peak. In the 13.32 mile course you ascend over 7800 feet. And no, it's not as easy as it sounds.

Here's how it went...

It's a little before 7:00am. I'm at the starting line staring at the mountain, imagining how I get from where I'm standing to the top of something so far away. I look at my watch its 5 minutes to go time. I take another sip of water and boom we're off. Next thing I know I'm past the main part of the town and hiking along the bottom of Barr trail. The first part of the course is called the W's, appropriately named for the zig-zag W-shape the trail makes with the miles and miles of switch backs ascending along the side of the mountain. Quickly I realize this is more like a power hike where you have to constantly pick up the pace and jog ahead 2 or 3 people at a time, sometimes more, sometimes only 1.

Shortly after the W's we had a few little flat areas, some even with a small decline. I learned quickly that around 10,000 feet you can't even run down hill without getting out of breath. It's the weirdest feeling. Very restrictive. Almost like the mountain is commanding your respect.

A little before 9:00am, about two hours into the race I hit Barr Camp. I've heard this aid station referred to as 'Buffet Palace' before as it's stocked to the brim with volunteers filling your water bottles, handing out food and asking if you need help with anything. I take a quick break to eat some real food. In the past few hours I had only eaten a half handful of pretzels, when usually I would have eaten almost a whole sandwich by then. It's intriguing how in this type of running you learn how to eat solid food and run fine. In fact I have to take in some form of calories to sustain any kind of pace and feel good. Its kind of like when you get a headache when you hungry except when you get hungry during a long run I
swear you can feel your stomach through every muscle.

My next challenge is timberline, around 12,000 feet all trees stop growing. Why? Because there's not enough oxygen for them to survive. From here I hit A-frame, my next to last last station with approximately 3 miles to the Peak. 3 of the most difficult miles I've ever run in my life.

Soon enough I can see the finish but it seems so close and yet so far away, going directly up is your only choice. Of course you're still on switch backs, but by this time the terrain looks like Mars with little of anything growing on the ground and massive granite-looking boulders surrounding you.

I hear Caitlin and know my finish is coming soon. I try to get some energy, but I can barley move. A mix between the lack of oxygen and the extremely weird feeling of fatigue was over coming me. I felt like a zombie moving one foot at a time. I make my body move forward. Then I see it - a sign that says 'The Golden Stairs'. By this time, I've already talked to God. I pick up my pace a bit, then pay for it two-fold.
I make the final turn. Caitlin yells. I hear her. I see the finish. I tell the guy I helped early to get out of my way by saying 'they're calling for me' and I bolt. A few quick steps jumping from rock to rock and I finish. I'm overcome with emotion and my legs nearly give out. I can't breathe. A spectator grabs and brings me to a group of friends close by. Immediately I realize just how amazing this experience is and how fortunate I feel to have made it to the Peak.

This all could not have been made possible without my group from Rogue. We camped, ate, went on car trips, crossed countless creeks, and of course, ran together every week for nearly the past 5 months. Starting in the spring and running all summer long. Every rainy weekend. Making these friendships alone was worth so much.

Moving forward I've already made plans for 'what's next'.
I'm doing a winter trail running program with Rogue, stating this September and finishing mid January 2008.

I'll be training and participating in the following races.

Palo Duro 50K (10/27)
Sunmart 50 miler (12/15)
Bandera 100K (01/15 - a day before my 27th bday!)

As always wish me luck, just don't say break a leg.:)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

2007 Rogue Trail Series

These past few months have been fun. I've been training with the Rogue Pike's Peak group in preparation for the Pike's Peak Ascent and while doing so have been able to race in all three of the Rogue Trail Series races. I completed all three in the 30K distance.

overall position in the series: #25 with a cumulative time of 9:46:41

Individual race times and reviews:
The Maze: 3:01:07
This race was the first in the series. The rolling hills in this course were abundant but fun. At times I felt like I was in boot camp from all the foot work going up then down, through a water crossing, up then down, then through another stream of water. The race was also broken into three 10K loops, which made it fun for spectators and runners alike to see each other each time around. I finished strong and felt good after. I really ran this more as a training run than as a race, so taking a little time to enjoy myself made it all the more worthwhile.

The Loop: 3:04:43
A lot hotter this time around... The course also had many little plateau size steps which slowed my pace down a bit going up hill and added for a little knee intense downhill action. On my third lap I finished less than 1/100th of a second ahead of a friend who unknowingly had been ahead of me the during the whole race. After, we drank some beer and relaxed. Another fun summer trail race. Oh yeah, and Caitlin came to this one also and taped. Her taping skills are awesome. I'm planning on getting a bit of video edited and posted online soon.

The Belt: 3:40:51
What a fun race. This time it was one 30K loop all on the greenbelt were we do our training runs 3-4 times a week. It was fun, fresh and diverse, with deep water crossings to boot. I ran even a little slower on this one as well, but honestly I could have gone much faster. It was the most technical of all three course routes for me, which is great because it also became one of the most challenging as well (in a good way).

All the final results are on here.

If I can find my pics, I'll also post them here. Until Pike's....! Wish me luck training.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rocky Hill Ranch 50K - April 15th, 2007

There I was at the starting line. 31 miles ahead and I would be done. Man, I've never before been more intimidated than I was at the thought of running this race. The Rocky Hill Ranch 50K was my first ultramarathon (any race that's longer than your standard 26.2 marathon) and run on the trail not on the road.

I did the run as a training run, not racing style. 6 hours 7 minutes later I finished.

What I learned:

Take it easy - walk the up hills, set your pace back

Eat a lot - carbo load a ton before the race, indulge at the race... Eat what you crave at each aid station, which comes around only every 5 miles, but it's well supported. Anything from m&ms, to potatoes with salt and pringles and pretzels out the wazoo.

Breathe it in - I just read The Extra Mile a great book from Pam Reed an epic ultramarathoner, where she says your only a virgin once - to your first 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon and of course ultra, whether that be a 50K-100 miler. Every new race is its own unique experience and should be enjoyed in the moment. The Rocky Hill race was that for me, and despite the many hours it took to complete I enjoyed every last second.

Garmin's = Good - when you get lost in the woods, it never hurts to be wearing a GPS watch. Yes, very nerdy, but handy at plotting your course while counting miles and averaging your pace.

Well, that's done. Now what's next???

I'm currently training with the Austin's Rogue trail running group preparing for this year's Pike's Peak marathon. Though I didn't register in time to make the cut, I plan on possibly doing the Leadville Marathon (26.2 not the 100 miler). While training with Rogue we will also be doing a local series of Austin trail races called The Maze, The Loop, and The Belt. Each race is a 30K.

Wish me luck, just don't say break a leg!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

AT&T Austin Marathon - February, 18th 2007

What a race. Perfect weather, awesome crowd, a great day to set another PR.

26.2 miles of Austin, from central to south to north and everywhere between, today was a great day for running. At 7am today I went for my last long run of the Distance Challenge with around 12,000 of my friends. There were plenty of 'ups' and a few 'downs' - both mentally, physically, and of course on the actual race route..:) A quick recap...

Mile 0 - Caitlin's dropping me off, and I realize at 5:30am that I forgot my gloves. She proceeds to find some white women's cotton gloves in her purse and with a grin I accept my fate.

Mile 4 - I dropped both of gel flasks (little bottles full of energy gel that attach to the belt I wear around my waste, aka the bat belt) in the middle of the road while adjusting my fuel belt. I notice one directly on the ground in front of me then I look to my surprise and I'm missing my other flask. To my luck a sweet smiling young runner comes whipping up to me with it in hand saying. I thanks Jesus and keep moving.

Mile 14
- I get a weird pain in my foot that I've never felt before. I break to the left try to stretch in a frantic hurry, I continue and it hurts no even more. I say prayer, try to shift my footing, and keep going.

Mile 20 something - Man this must be a marathon! This is when you have to get your mind right, stay on target and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I feel a bit winded but not enough to slow me down too much.

Mile 26 - 26.2 - I see the end in sight I just crossed the capital and the turn for work around 8th and congress. I see some familiar faces and instead of the death march I muster all I have left and go for it. Sprinting to the finish I hear plenty of whoops and hollers, a 'way to finish strong' and then I hear the announcer call my name as I cross the finish line with my hands in the air.

Details: Overall time -- 3:34:59 / Pace: 8:13

That's all folks! I did it! I finished my second marathon in the past 12 months, setting a new PR and finally completed the Austin Distance Challenge!

I want to thank everyone who helped me get here, including but not limited to God, my wife, my family, friends, and co-workers. During the past 5 months, I've had to make a lot of personal sacrifice to enjoy this selfish activity. I want to let everyone know that I appreciated all your support and really have missed the late night Fridays, the countless happy hours, plenty of concerts / shows, and some dates with my wife. I plan on getting back into the groove again, but I like this new lifestyle too much to let it go. It's given me another reason to live and learn, and the satisfaction of making it through the Distance Challenge is one goal I will never forget. So, thank you again everyone for getting me here and always supporting me.

And if you've read this far, I'm sure you're wondering what's next?... Or at least I hope you are..:) Well, as for training, the next event I hope to concur will be my first Ultramarathon (anything that's beyond the 26.2 distance), the Rocky Hill Ranch 50K Ultra-trail run on April 15th 2007. Wish me luck!

3M Halfmarathon - Sunday, January 28th

This by far seemed like the fastest race in the DC series. When I started, I knew I was trying to set a new PR (personal record) and much to my liking I did.

Here are the deets:

First 6.4 miles -- 51:46.35 / Pace: 7:38/M
Second 6.7 miles -- 50:49.35 / Pace: 7:35/M

Overall time: 1:39:38.50 / 7:36/M

Due to my sweet time, I officially moved up to the coveted #5 spot in the 25-29 age group!

Distance Challenge race # 6 - DONE!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ARA 20 Miler

January 7th, 5:00am: Woke up, ate and hit the road with Caitlin snuggled up half asleep in the passenger seat. The race started at 8:00am in San Marcos.

Miles 1-5: This isn't so bad! The weather was perfect, cool (but not too cold) with some light wind. My pace is around 7:30ish... I try to back off, as I know this isn't the race to 'push it'. With 3M only a few weeks away, and AT&T around the corner, I settle back to my slightly sub 8:00 min pace and hit cruise control.

Miles 5 -10: We've got hills. Rolling hills, some ups and downs. All the while, I feel strong, and am taking in fluids and gels routinely on time. I'm feeling good.

Miles 10 -15: We've hit the turnaround... man this racing is going fast. I feel my pace slip a bit, I take a gel and I'm back to business. Bud, a friend from work, cruises by on his bike to offer some crew help. With a smile, I give him two of my 8 oz. water bottles and he shoots up to the next station to fill them up. I've learned any run over 13.1, it's good to carry fluids with you. That way you can stay hydrated on your own schedule.

Miles 15 -18: It's starting to look like a death march. I'm feeling fine. The gels are keeping me up. I'm down to one bottle of fluid left, and I'm passing some of the people I've been running neck to neck with the whole race. It seemed that some runners either bonked after mile 15, or just can't stand to run the last few hills. Really the majority of people I pass are starting a run / walk method. This is crazy to me. How could you be on pace for 18 miles then start walking. I ask a runner how he feels next to me, with a sigh he says 'IT band issues...', I give him a brief smile and word on encouragement then I'm on my way.

Mile 19 - Finish: Strong winds + hills after 19 miles = no fun. I see the final turn, then the finish line. I bolt with a rush of energy. The announcer reads my bib number and name over the loud speaker as I throw my hand in joy while approaching the finish line. He then says, 'Peter Williams must have also been out on the course playing some flag football'. For the life of me, I still can't figure out what he meant, but I imagine it had to do with the funny look on my face, and the way I was waving my arms (like I was shooting two guns in the air). Hell, I was happy, I just ran 20 miles in 2:42. That's the fastest I've ever ran such a distance.

ARA 20 miler DONE!!!! Yippee! 3M's next on 1/28. It's my PR Half Marathon race. Can't wait to hit the road!