Race Report: 2008 Promise Land 50K

At the finish of the Promise Land 50K

Click to enlarge

Promise Land finish

Bill Potts, David Horton, and Sophie Speidel at the finish of the Promise Land 50K.

David Horton’s Promise Land 50K is a rite of Spring for many ultrarunners on the East Coast. This beautiful course climbs up and over the Appalachian Mountains from the East, crosses into the Shenandoah Valley, and then returns up and over back to the start. In typical Horton fashion, nothing is easy. The run crosses the Blue Ridge at Apple Orchard Mountain (4,225 feet), the tallest mountain in central Virginia (headed South to North, this point is also the last time the Appalachian Trail rises above 4,200 feet until New England).

more …

Race Report: 2008 Terrapin Mountain Marathon

Finish of the Terrapin Mountain Marathon

Click image to enlarge

Finish of the Terrapin Mountain Marathon

The scene at the finish of the Terrapin Mountain Marathon. That’s David Horton getting friendly with a female finisher. Terrapin Mountain looms in the distance.

“You’re going to like this one a lot more than the last one.” That’s what David Horton told me at Saturday morning’s check-in of the Terrapin Mountain Marathon, “the last one” referring to his Holiday Lake 50K. While this wasn’t saying much, Horton was right — I really did like this one.

This was the inaugural year of the Terrapin Mountain Marathon, and the first time in nearly a decade that the half marathon was run. Since the race is relatively unknown, I’ll first describe the course and then describe how my race went.

more …

Heart Rate During Training

In a previous article I discussed how my heart rate varies during ultramarathons, which was in response to a post by Greg Loomis inquiring about heart rate zones appropriate for ultramarathon training. My original article focused on racing, which was necessary since knowing how to train requires knowing how you race. Now that that that’s done, I’ll provide some insight into how I train.
more …

Heart Rate During Ultramarathons

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Greg Loomis, asked about heart rate zones appropriate for ultramarathon training. Having trained consistently with with a heart rate monitor (HRM) for the past four years, and having run a few ultras during that time, I thought I might be able to shed some light on the subject. In this article, I present and discuss heart rate data from marathon and popular ultramarathon distances: 26.2 mi, 50 km, 50 mi, 100 km, and 100 mi. The data I present are from races, each run at an “all-out

The Latest in Canine Electrolyte Replenishment

Rehydrate Electrolyte Sports Drink for dogs

Click to enlarge

Rehydrate Electrolyte Sports Drink for Dogs

The latest in canine electrolyte replenishment.

Rehydrate Electrolyte Sports Drink for Dogs is the first rehydration supplement for dogs, designed to replenish lost electrolytes and spent energy to be given before, during, or after workouts or other vigorous activity. The tablets, once dissolved in water, provide an effervescent performance drink fortified with canine-appropriate levels of sodium, chloride, potassium, and vitamin C.

Call me a skeptic, but I think this looks suspiciously like NUUN. Don’t take my word for it, however — see for yourself.

Race Report: 2007 Hellgate 100K

Four years ago, David Horton introduced us to Hellgate, a unique 100-km ultramarathon starting at midnight in the middle of December (the inaugural event started Friday night December 13, 2003). The race, which traverses the Blue Ridge Mountains near central Virginia, is famous for its frigid and icy weather.

Much has been written about this unique event (see the Hellgate website for several race reports). Aaron Schwartzbard (five-time Hellgate finisher and winner in 2007), has written an excellent course summary. His mileages, however, are based on David Horton’s published numbers, which we know are never accurate. During this year’s race, I wore a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS, and in this report I provide what I believe to be accurate mileages for this event. I’ll also tell you how it went.

more …

The Next Thing in Caffeination

Altitude Profiles from the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning

Finishing the 2006 Grand Slam

Click to enlarge

Completing the Grand Slam

The finish of the Wasatch Front Endurance Run, and the completion of the Grand Slam. Photo courtesy of Stephen Speckman.

In the summer of 2006, my father, Gary, and I ran the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, a series of the four oldest 100-mile races in the United States (Western States, Vermont, Leadville Trail, and Wasatch Front), becoming the first father-son duo to complete the ‘Slam.

An interesting comparison of these ultramarathons is made by considering their respective altitude profiles, which are shown below. The data were recorded with a Polar S625X heart rate monitor that I wore during each of the races. The data are plotted as a function of time because the watch is not a GPS and there is no mechanism for measuring position or distance. Since the races are all 100 miles in length, plotting the data versus time also illustrates their relative difficulty.

Altitude profiles from the races of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning

Click to enlarge

Altitude versus time

Altitude profiles recorded during the 2006 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.

The races are summarized below:

Data from the 2006 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning
Race Total time
Min altitude
Max altitude
Total climb
Western States 25:46 15:27 990 8,575 16,360
Vermont 23:05 13:51 515 1,835 14,620
Leadville Trail 25:46 16:47 9,920 12,395 15,200
Wasatch Front 32:23 19:25 5,005 10,545 26,140

This of course is an “experiment of one” and your own mileage finishing times may vary. These races were not especially fast, and the data presented here are fairly “typical” middle-of-the-pack performances. From that standpoint, I hope that these data might be useful for people in preparing for the ‘Slam.

Race Report: Altitude and Heart Rate Profiles of the Virginia Triple

This summer I tried something new: running three 100-mile races in three consecutive weeks. The seed for this endeavor was planted some six months ago, when Mike Day made the observation on Ultra Adventures that the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (MMT 100), Old Dominion Memorial 100 (ODM 100), and the Old Dominion 100 (OD 100) were scheduled on consecutive weekends in 2007. A unique opportunity to run three 100-mile footraces in the Massanutten mountains of Virginia was too irresistible to pass up. This also posed an interesting challenge, as I have never raced the week after a 100 — never mind doing three 100-mile races back-to-back-to-back.

In this report, I examine the three Virginia 100s — coined the Virginia Triple — by comparing their respective altitude profiles, finishing times, and my physical performance (by analyzing recorded heart rate data). more …