Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunmart 50 fast approaching

Well, I only have a few weeks of training left before my first 50 mile race...or should I say...run! I doubt I will be racing. I did have a great week of running this past week, though, culminating in a long, comfortable 23 mile run on saturday at Redbud. It was feeling pretty easy, and I am feeling better and better about my first attempt at 50 miles.

This weekend, David and I are going to run Steamboat Mountain again. It's an excellent workout, and we are going to run it, and then turn around and run it the other way...so it will be a 26 mile run with some pretty good hills!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Running the Mineral Wells Trailway

This has been an interesting week of running. I started out on Monday wanting to run the trails and cross country course over at Sherrod Park at ACU, however, it had rained the night before, and I didn't want to run in the mud. So, I went to Redbud and ran an easy five miles. Tuesday, I went back to Sherrod Park and ran my hill circuit. It turns out to be a pretty tough run as I made a loop out of the Cross Country course, the trails there, and back out onto the pavement for a run down to Washington street, all the way to Highway 80 and back. It's about 6 miles of nothing but intermittent hills. Wednesday was a rest day.

Thursday was an interesting day, as I ran another 6 mile run down Industrial boulevard, all the way out past the airport and back to my home. Friday, I did a recovery run of four miles, just taking it easy.

Saturday, I got up at 5:00 a.m. and drove to Weatherford, Texas to run the Mineral Wells Trailway, a trail that used to be the railroad tracks from Weatherford to Mineral Wells. It's a 20 mile trail. I ran a 10-mile out and back, and the trail was beautiful and peaceful. I took a 20 oz. bottle of gatorade with me, and it started getting warm right about the midpoint in the run. I ran out of fluids around mile 13, which was not good. I made it back alright, but was thoroughy dehydrated when I was done.

It was a good week, leading up to the Palo Duro Canyon 20k this weekend. I'm looking forward to this run...it should be an adventure.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Heading for Palo Duro Trail Run

Well, my running the last two weeks has been intense. I have been training mostly in the hills and trails around here. Trust me, if you look in the right places, there are some good training hills. I have made a nice training loop out near ACU. Sharrod Park has some trails...they are not very long, but really interesting to run through. I run the established cross country course that ACU uses, go through the trails, and then move out onto the streets like North 11th Street, I believe it is...which brings you to another pretty good hill or two. Then, if you go farther on, you can hit Washington Street which is also a good course for some hills. You can get about 10 miles of rolling hills that are fairly challanging if you do it just right.

Nothing can top Steamboat Mountain, though, and the run we all did out there a few weeks back was great. I have been going out to the State Park and running through those trails and hills, and then running down the highway toward Lake Abilene where there are a number of good hills that I combined with some long distance work. That whole area offers some nice surprises as far as training goes....if you don't mind the occasional "road kill" on the side of the highway.

This week, I will go out toward Coronado's Camp and run through the hills out there, including a 20 miler that should be pretty interesting. There are some tough hills, especially out there where all the windmills are sitting.

Another run David and I were talking about to get prepared for the 50 mile race in December at Sunmart, is to go out to Steamboat Mountain, and run the 13.2 mile course, and then turn around and run it the other way. I may actually attempt that before the Sunmart 50.

I have gotten hooked on running ultras, but am looking forward to the spring, where I am going to try to really "up my speed," by running some 5 and 10k's, as I would like to get my marathon time back down close enough to qualify for Boston.

The 10k at the Balloonfest was a really cool, well done race that I enjoyed. I was just using it as a speed workout, mostly, and wasn't prepared to enjoy it as much as I did. Next up for me, is the Palo Duro 20k Trail race in Canyon. I'm really looking forward to that. I have heard it is a tough run...but I love trails more than anything. AFter that, the Sunmart 50 is getting closer and closer. Only 9 weeks left! I'm doing a 20 miler this week, then after the Palo Duro run, I will be upping the mileage on the long runs...and will begin training on the trailways between Mineral Wells and Weatherford. It's a 20 mile trail, one way, which allows for some really long, trail runs, with no traffic, no dogs, and practically no people.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pushing on with abandon! 11 more weeks till Sunmart 50 Mile race!

These past two weeks have been incredible running experiences. One of the best workouts over these past two weeks was the Steamboat Mountain run. It was a great workout, and the hill was tough as nails, as usual, but I want to go back and train out there before my ultra...I think it would give me a great deal of confidence. Since that run, I have concentrated on one-mile repeats, and runs between 6 and 10 miles each over hills and trails, not counting the long runs of 12-14 miles.

I am running the Balloonfest 10k this weekend as a speed workout. Plus, it will be a nice change of pace to end the week with. Because next week, I start my real long workouts for the ultra. I am running the Palo Duro Canyon run in Amarillo in October as a prelude to the 50 mile race at Sunmart. But, my training starting monday will emphasize longer runs, hills, speed workouts (one mile and one-and-half-mile repeats) and back-to-back long runs on the weekends to teach myself to run on tired legs.

I am also thinking of adding in more weight lifting, and some power walking to my routine.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hill workouts and the cyclists

Well, yesterday, I celebrated my "back-into-the-swing-of-things" workout with a nice run at the State park. I decided to invent a combination workout. It consists of an hour run through a hilly section of the area, which includes a couple of fairly long hills right in the middle of the course. I ran for 15 minutes as a warmup and then ran 3 of those hill intervals, with a one minute rest in between. Afterward, I continued on with the rest of the run and headed for the trails to complete the one hour run. It was a great run that combined a steady run over a rolling hills course, hill intervals, and trail running that was a perfect training run for Palo Duro. I left there inspired and enthused again.

At one point, I was about to attack one of the hill intervals when a group of cyclists appeared over the hill and began to ascend the hill I was about to run up. I started out at least 50 yards behind them and caught them halfway up the hill, passed them and then outran them to the bottom of the hill. It was great watching them struggle up the hill as I passed them on foot. They must have thought I was insane!

I know that life is full of ups and downs, but I always feel better when I face it head on and conquer my worst enemy....me!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Marching toward the Ultra with Gusto

Well, now that I have had my one break down, I am ready to get back into the swing of things. I took a day off and my attitude shifted back to my running mode. Running can definitely get tough when you are training hard. My body is fine, but I think ultra training is more mental than physical. I can handle the tough runs once I get out there, but sometimes, I have to make myself go. The temperature definitely has had something to do with my attitude, as well.

I am going to complete this 50 mile race if it's the last thing I ever do....and who knows...it might be! Ha....!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Getting burned out?

I think maybe I am getting burned completely out on running. As much as I love it, I am thinking of quitting. I am so tired of fighting the weather, worrying if it is too hot, or too cold, or too windy...waking up sore every morning, thinking and planning the next run, or the next rest day, or worrying about missing a running day, or not completing the proper mileage that day and then feeling guilty. I am right in the middle of one of the most grueling races I have ever faced, and I'm not near enough ready for the 50 mile event! I am ready to throw in the towel, literally.

I am thinking that joining a good gym and just staying in good shape would make more sense. Why do I do this to myself?

After all the negative talk, though, I know I will rest today and come back tomorrow with a new attitude. When it gets right down to it, sometimes when it gets really tough, I tend to want to quit! That's how I felt this morning, just quit and be normal like everybody else.

Or...I could just cut down on all the super miles, and the plans to run 50 miles, and say to heck with it...just find some cute little 5k's and have fun with running, not taking it so seriously, but something inside me won't let me do that. I have to keep challenging myself. So, what happens when I finish the 50 mile race? Will I not be happy with that? Will I have to do a 100 mile race? Lord knows...I don't even know. But, somehow, I know that I will keep on going, and tomorrow, I will be out on the roads again!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Step back week, and the next big push toward Palo Duro Canyon race

Last week was a step back week. I had an intense week as I have added my one-mile Intervals and hill workouts in...however, it was a step back week, so my long run was shorter, but I ended the week feeling strong and ready for the next big push. This week, I have begun running twice a day...I am entering into the next big 4-week push, which will see my long runs going up from 13-20 miles over the next successive weeks. I have about 6 weeks left before Palo Duro, and I need to get some serious hill workouts in, so thursday, I am going out to Buffalo Gap and run the "big hill."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Preparing for Palo Duro Canyon

This week, I had another great running week. Monday, I did my usual 5 mile run in the morning, and then lifted weights in the afternoon. Tuesday, I did 6 miles in the morning. Wednesday was a rest day, and my first day back to work, so I rested my legs for the thursday, friday, and saturday workouts.

Thursday, I came back with another 5 mile run in the morning, and lifted weights in the afternoon, using supersets, which really work your endurance, as well as your strength. Friday, another 5 miles, and then saturday morning, I ran 11 miles.

Next week, I will incorporate hill training in the afternoon, as I prepare for my first trail run that will be held at Palo Duro Canyon. It's a 20k run through the canyon, and it will be a tough, tough run, but a good training run for the 50 mile race in December. Total miles this week, 32 miles, an increase of 2 miles over last week.

Training is going well, so far, and will start increasing miles gradually, with longer and longer training runs on saturday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quest for the 50 mile race

This past week was a great start toward my 50 mile race at the Huntsville State Park, near Houston. I only logged in 27 miles for the week, but got lots of weight lifting and cross-training in there, as well.

Monday, I ran 4 miles in the morning, and lifted weights for upper body in the afternoon.

Tuesday, I did another 5 miles in the morning, and did lower body weight training in the afternoon.

Wednesday, I did cross training. I got in a great aerobic workout on the elliptical trainer for 25 minutes. It was a great, hard workout, and I rested as far as running goes. Seems like I should add in another 3 mile of running to my week after that...the elliptical was pretty intense!

Thursday, I came back and did another 5 miles at Redbud Park.

Friday, another 5 mile run in the afternoon, and did some walking in the afternoon.

Saturday, I was up at 6:00 a.m, and did an 8 mile run. It was a great run...I saw three deer and two jackrabbits as I ran down an old country road near my house.

Sunday is a day of rest. So, not a bad week of running and cross training. Next week will be an increase in mileage, especially on my long run.

A great start toward my march to the 50 mile race in December.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Training for the Sunmart 50 mile race

Well, I am officially entered in the Sunmart 50, and I have booked my room in Houston. Now, I'm hooked in...too expensive to pull out, now. This is a great challenge, the biggest running challenge of my running career. The 50k was quite a challenge, but this is 19 miles farther. Some people are encouraging me in this adventure, but others just say I'm crazy...I am just looking forward to the challenge.

The running adventure in Africa was really good for me. I was running twice a day, and I could feel my enthusiasm for running returning. Now, I have added some strength work to my routine, and running more in the morning, which is good because of the heat. That makes the afternoon a great time to do weight training, or finish off some mileage on a treadmill.

I'm excited because Bob Kennedy is the speaker for the Sunmart race. He is a former Olympian, and I have heard he is an excellent speaker. I am also excited because the race is the World 50 mile championships, so there will be some major players there...and the course is an incredible tree-lined trail that I can't wait to run on. I love running trails, and this one is one of the most beautiful trails around.

The training is somewhat different, but not all that different from marathon training. I'm doing more strength training, and longer weekend runs...possibly in the neighborhood of 35 miles for my longest.

I am pumped up right now...let's hope it lasts....!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Running in Africa...what a trip!

Well, Africa certainly threw some surprises at me as far as my training there. I met a girl who is a cross country runner at Alma College, and she was running twice a day, so she convinced me to keep her company on this training style I haven't used since 1972. Of course, back then, I ran a 2:30 marathon, too, so maybe this will be good for me.

Of course, I am staying in the bush outside of Accra, Ghana, and it is humid, and the infrastructure of the area is very challenging. There are no paved roads, and the only roads are dirt, with huge ruts and bumps, so running here is like running trails, or cross country! Then, there is a little matter of the large goats that stand in the road looking at us, not to mention the chickens and the roosters that dart out from the side of the road at us as we trudge along in the 95% humidity, which saps me from the beginning.

But, it has been a challenge, one that I rose to the occasion on...and there are the locals who yell "obruni," (white people) as we run by. Sometimes children will come along and jump into our arms as we approach them. The children are such a joy, and they run along beside us for awhile, laughing at us, and giving us big hugs.

The orphans are not into running as I hoped they would be...they are more into soccer (go figure), but I donated the shoes and the shirts, and they were grateful, not to the running part, but to having shoes! To having clothes! Now, all they need is food.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Last Post before Africa

Well, here it is only a few days away from my African adventure. My running has been off and on. I was in Dallas and Fort Worth for the past several days, watching the Texas Rangers play the Phillies...spending some time with family before leaving. It was great. On the way back, I got to stop in Weatherford and run the "Mineral Wells Trailway," a twenty-mile trail in the woods that terminates in Mineral Wells. There are mileage markers every mile, and there are no cars allowed, and they can't even get on the trail, thankfully. Bikers like to ride the trail, though, but they are nice and just sailed right around me. I did a nice, smooth 6-mile run, and drove home to Abilene. It was humid, but cloudy, which made the run so much better.

I am convinced that the weather is just too hot to do any serious running. My hat goes off to all those people who can run in this heat and get any good training in. When I was younger, I preferred the heat, but these days, it is rough on my old body.

I did run today out in the heat, and it was kind of fun, but I slowed way down, and just took it easy.

I am looking forward to going to Africa...it will be humid there, and hot, so I just hope I can keep up my mileage while there, and I will return and begin to prepare for a brand new running season.

I have a 2:30 flight to Dallas (DFW), then I will spend the night at a hotel near the airport. Thankfully, they have a shuttle that will take me to the airport the next morning, as my plane leaves DFW at 7:50 a.m., and I will land in New York at 12:00. I will have another five hours at JFK, then my plane leaves for Accra, Ghana at 5:00, arriving at 8:00 the next morning. I have a bunch of books, so I will get a lot of reading done while waiting in airports and hotel rooms...not to mention that long flight across the Atlantic.

I am taking malaria prevention medication, which made me have some really weird dreams last night, so I hope it is worth it. I have a mosquito net, and will take my own can of mosquito repellant. I have been vaccinated untill I feel like a pin cushion, including a yellow fever shot, which is required for a visa. I actually already have a visa, so going through customs shouldn't be too bad.

I am excited, but I will miss everybody, and will look forward to getting back and starting a new year.

I will try and post while I am in Africa, and will take lots of pictures.

Jerry Hollingsworth

Friday, June 20, 2008

Taking a break

Well, for runners to say they are going to take a break from running, that is like saying they are going to stop breathing for awhile. It has taken every ounce of energy I have not to go out and hit the roads and trails. But, I need this break, mentally and physically. I have been lifting weights every other day, and I am sore as I can be. I think I let my strength training lag, and now is a good time to build.

It's time to re-focus my running goals, and schedule my running adventures. I have several new adventures and running experiences planned for this year after my return from Africa:

(1) Palo Duro Canyon Trail run: I am running the Palo Duro trail run in early October. Can't wait for that. I have been wanting to run this event for three years, and it's finally going to happen. I am already signed up and have my hotel room booked.

(2) The MyoMed Ragnar 196-mile relay: I am hoping a team will make for this, as this will be an exciting adventure. I am excited about the possibilities. We need six more runners to make a team, it seems.

(3) The Sunmart 50 Mile: Huntsville, Texas. This will be my flagship race...the one that I shoot for that will underlie all my other running this year. I am already registered, and hotel is booked. This is a lifetime goal and achievement for me.

I may add some other runs to this schedule, but these are the ones I have already penciled in. I am refocusing my energies, my goals, and my training to have a great year.


Friday, June 6, 2008

What a crazy week!

Well, my Internet service has been down since I last posted, so I have not been able to report anything since Monday's trail run at the State Park. However, I have had a good week of running. I have not done as much speed work as I had planned, due to the winds...sometimes, you have to be inventive when living in this part of Texas. So, today, I did short high speed 30 second intervals on the treadmill. It worked out better than I thought it would. I ran a total of 4 miles, and I did 8 of those short intervals, all at top speed, resting for two minutes in between.

The rest of the week was pretty good, despite the wind. I am looking forward to a good 6-8 mile run on saturday morning, though, and hopefully, that will go smoothly, if I can get out of bed on time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hills, Trails, and the Deer

Today, I woke up early, wanting to get a good run in since I abandoned my long run this past saturday. Mentally, I was not into it on Saturday, and ran a short distance before realizing I just didn't have it. I decided to rest saturday and sunday, and just take it easy, and it was great. I had a great re-bound this morning, and went to the State Park to run hills and trails. That place always lifts my spirits, especially when I see the deer standing in the road as I run by. I did a good 6 mile run in both directions, twice, incorporating the longer hills in each pass, so it was a great workout, and I feel much better.

Good run.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tempo run

Today, I decided to do that ever important tempo run, and it was great. I went farther than normal at my race pace, which was the goal. I need to do more of these, and increase as much as I can each week, but am now running out of time...I needed to be doing these several weeks ago, and did not do as many as I had planned.

I was hoping that running at altitude last week would help me....maybe it did....ha! The workout was great.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

800's on the track

After doing a mile warmup, I did several 800's at race pace. It was an interesting workout. My speed doesn't seem to be improving any, but I did these 800's easily enough. I think I need to do more tempo runs, as they may help my speed issues a little more. Right now, I am doing well just to complete my workouts as they come up. I am a little tired, and I want to run well in the Dr. Pepper 10k, but I am not improving on my speed, and it's been so hot, I have not had good workouts to speak of.

Maybe next year, I will not compete at all during the summer months, and just run early and keep some basic mileage up.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Running with the wind at Canyon De Shelley, Arizona

Well, I finally returned from the Navajo Reservation, and I have to admit, it was one of the most inspirational trips of my life. It was full of good conversation, service work to the Navajos, a lot of great road trips, eating Navajo tacos, and just enjoying life. I got to do some real trail running for a change...not the San Angelo State park, or the short, and not very challenging trails out at Abilene State park. I was actually able to run at Canyon De Shelley, and with that, one of my dreams came true. I have always wanted to do that, but let me tell you, the trail we ran was intensive and one of the hardest runs I have ever done. The trail was mostly rock and hard packed gravel and some soft sand in places. To make it even more interesting, it started raining midway down, which made the rocks slippery. The friends I was running with were younger, stronger, and faster, but I stayed with them, even though I thought the pace was a dangerous one considering the conditions. However, the payoff was at the bottom of the canyon, and once we hit the bottom of the canyon, we came across an ancient Pueblo (Anasasi) ruin that was at least a thousand years old. We stopped and took some time to look, transfixed with what lay before us! Then, we had to run out of the canyon, and that was no easy chore, but it was exhilerating.

We also got to do a lot of hiking in such places at Mesa Verde, Colorado, and climbed rocks at Shiprock, New Mexico, and Chaco Canyon in New mexico. It was an unforgettable trip, and we finally arrived last night, and as we approached Sweetwater, we encountered the most intense rain storm I have ever driven through. What a way to end a trip!


Friday, May 16, 2008

Heading to the Mountains

Well, today is my last day in Abilene this week, so I wanted to get a good workout in. I went to Redbud and it was sort of cool, but humid. The clouds came up and there was a nice breeze. I got in a good 10-mile run, and was able to stop and hydrate every 2.5 miles. That helped a lot. I just kept a smooth easy pace, and it felt good to get a few miles in. I will be traveling all day tomorrow, going to Shiprock, New Mexico, and will soon be running in the mountains. Looking forward to it all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Running with the Navajo

Well, this has been an interesting week. I have concentrated on doing more speedwork, even in the heat, and all is well. I did some one-mile intervals the other day, and tomorrow, I am trying something new: 2-mile intervals. I will take a small rest break in between, but will run them at race pace, just like the one-mile intervals. It should be a tough, but good workout. Then, on friday, I plan on doing a ten mile run out at the state park, running the hills and trails in the early afternoon before heading to the Navajo Reservation. Saturday, I will head toward Shiprock, New Mexico and will spend the week out there working with the Navajo, and I will be taking 20 McMurry students with me, so it should be interesting. There are several other runners that will be going with us, so I should have some company to run in Navajo land....I am looking forward to that. It will be my easy week, or cut-back in mileage week, so I won't have to run that many miles, but it will all be at 5,000' and above, with lots of hills and mountains, and desert heat.

Monday, May 12, 2008

One-Mile Intervals

Today, I wanted to keep up my speed work, so I decided to do some more One-Mile Intervals. Of course, every time I do speed work, the wind is blowing like crazy, so nothing has changed in that regard. However, I was determined to complete my workout, so I ran one mile as a warmup and continued running my intervals at race pace. It turned out to be a great workout, and I completed all my intervals with only a three minute recovery period in between each, and ended the workout with a nice one mile cool down.

It always feels good to do what you set out to do, but even better when it is succesful. Last time I attempted this workout, I quit in the middle of my workout...so it was good.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Great Run

Today, I was still a little sore from my strength and conditioning workout yesterday, and I decided to just go out and run and see how I felt. I started out with a nice pace and the farther I ran, the better I felt, so it was a nice workout, and pretty fast for running through all those hills out by my house. I guess my hill training is finally paying off.

It was nice to have a good workout and it felt great to run faster.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cross Training Day

Today was one of those days where I just wanted to do something different, so I ran a fast three miles on the treadmill and then switched to lifting weights. I did what I call a circuit training set, by running three miles, and then starting right in with bench presses, dumbell flyes, dumbell rows, dumbell presses, upright rows, triceps extensions, and dumbell curls...then finished the whole workout with crunches and stretches...all with no rest between sets. It's really a tough workout, even with light weights. Next time, I will do two sets, and that will be one tough workout for sure.

It is good for a change of pace.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Terrible afternoon in the wind

Well, I guess I have had too many good workouts in a row, so I was due a bad one. Actually, it wasn't too bad...I did a tempo run today, and I met my speed goal, but the wind was so bad, it took a lot out of me, and I finished a mile short of my mileage goal. However, I made up for it, I think by doing some fartlek at the end of my run, even though I stopped short of my mileage goal.

Sometimes, I get too caught up in mileage. I should just be satisfied that I met my pace goal for my tempo run, but I know I am really hard on myself at times. I pout inwardly when I don't complete my workout goals.

Plus, I have to attend graduation this weekend, and we start our first graduation at 10:00, so I will have to postpone my 15 mile run until sunday morning. I am also a stickler for my usual workout schedule. I have been doing long runs on saturdays every morning for quite a while, and I am becoming obsessive about it, I think.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Running in the Rain

My monday run was my hills/trails workout day, so instead of going out to ACU, I ran out at the State Park. I like the long hills that are out there, as well as the "lack of crazed motorists" that sometimes like to do us all in. At any rate, the trails are a nice diversion from the roads and Redbud. I go back and forth in one route out there that takes in the roads and trails, and I charged up all the hills, and raced down the hills for striding and speed training.

It was also raining, and I loved the smell of the rain as it dampened the ground, the trees, and the plants. At one point, a deer was standing in the road looking at me, and she was so beautiful.

A great five mile run and a good speed workout.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Running with the Coyotes!

Saturday morning was a very interesting run. At the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, the biological department has created a natural habitat for the animals that inhabit the prairie, and that includes such things as Burrowing Owls, Prairie Dogs, various birds, lizards, snakes, and of course, Coyotes.

At the entrance to the nature trail, there is a sign posted that says: "Coyotes in Area, Pets are at Risk." So, being a nature lover myself, I enjoy these challenges, and these opportunities to engage in a run with the animals.

It was a cool morning, windy, of course, but otherwise a good day for a long run. I sat out about 6:00 in the morning, and got to see the sun rise over the city of Odessa. There is a trail that loops around the University and measures about 3 miles all together, but there is a trail that goes right down the middle of the habitat.

I was on mile 14 of a 15 mile run, and I zipped down that trail through a Mesquite tree forest, basically. They were pretty good sized trees. Suddenly, I look up and there is the biggest Coyote I have ever seen, sitting on the trail right in front of me. I decided to keep running, and about the time I got fairly close, he turned and ran off into the mesquite trees. It didn't really scare me, as I knew that Coyotes would not really attack humans, but I guess you never know. As someone pointed out, I was on his turf, and you never know how they will react if frightened, or God forbid, rabid!

It was a nice adventure, though, and I did see other animals out there. The Prairie Dogs were huge, and made all kinds of noises as I sauntered on by. There were rabbits everywhere that sat on the edges of the trail, watching me run by.

All in all, it was a cool run. It was nice for a change of pace, as well. Odessa is certainly not my favorite place to be, but while there, I got vaccinated for tetanus, yellow fever, and hepatitis for my trip to Africa. So, it was productive, and as a runner, I am always looking for a cool place to run, and this was a cool one!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Wind, heat, and Speed Work

Yesterday was hot, (90 degrees),and windy, (20-25 mph), and looming ahead of me was my second weekly speed workout. I was wondering if I would have time to get out there, as I had a late meeting with a student, and was pushing it timewise before having to pick up my better half from work.

I quickly changed clothes and ran a mile for a warmup, although sometimes it seems better not to warm up too much on a hot day, but when I got out there at Redbud, I saw the clouds coming up, and the breeze was fairly nice, even if it was blowing too hard. So, I began my 800 meter intervals, and felt so strong that I was way under my planned pace on all of my splits. I was, of course, 10-14 seconds slower going against the wind, as I was going the other direction. The stiff breeze did come up and keep me cooler than I realized, and the workout was a great success. I did a one mile cool down and sprinted for the car and arrived about 10 minutes early to pick up Beth. I was pleased with the workout, and I think I am getting faster, which is key this training period.

Today, I am going to do some light work on the treadmill, and lift weights for upper body. I am leaving this afternoon for Odessa to get a Yellow Fever vaccination for my Visa to Africa, so I will spend the night there and run on the trails outside of town. It is a great place to run long runs...I will do a 14 mile run in the morning. The last time I ran that trail, I saw about 5 Coyotes running along the path I was on. They didn't bother me, and I certainly didn't try to bother them, but it was an interesting experience. Hopefully, I will have a great long run in the morning.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Going with the Ultra

After much review and introspection, I have decided to keep training for ultras. I am definitely going to run the Sunmart 50 mile race in Huntsville, Texas in December. My plan is to mix ultras, trails, and road races. After all, this is 2008 and, as runners, we can have it all these days.

Right now, the plan is to race ultras in the winter, trails in the spring, and 10k's and half-marathons in the spring and summer. The 10k's will allow me to keep up my speed, as well, and I will be able to mix a variety of training elements into my schedule...extra long runs in the winter for endurance, and speedwork in the spring.

So, right now, I am definitely training for the Dublin 10k. I like that race, although it is always hot there, and I had a horrible time there last year. I didn't prepare very well, and plan to make up for that this year!

This year, I am training in the heat of the day to prepare for the hot conditions there; I'm doing more speed training, mixed with longer runs on saturdays, and incorporating more hills into my workouts.



Monday, April 28, 2008

Trail running or Road Running...that is the question!!!

I am at a serious crossroads in my running career. I am trying to decide what my real goals are as a runner. I have been running road races for a good long time, and have recently branched out into trail running and ultras. I just don't feel as excited about running road marathons, or other races since I have tried trail running.

There is something exciting about being out on the trail, immersed in the mountains, or the trees, running on dirt, and jumping over roots, rocks, and snowdrifts. Recently, while in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I ran a trail that led 8,500 feet into the mountains that surrounded Santa Fe. Once I got to the top of the trail, I could see Santa Fe, and way beyond. The feeling left me breathless, and that was just a training run.

I have also recently experienced running my first ultra. I ran a 50k, and really felt the same excitement. It enhanced my training, and kept my running life exciting and challenging. On one hand, I felt at ease to just take off and run...no real time lurking out there, or a certain pace, just the freedom of running. On the other hand, I knew my training had to be on another level, or I would never be able to finish the race, and I didn't want to DNF.

Just thinking about running my next trail fills me with youthful enthusiasm, and I have given much thought to running the Sunmart 50 mile race in December. The challenge of training for a 50 mile race is exciting, and it fills me with a new purpose, a whole new level of training beyond where I have ever been.

I have been weighing this decision against running the Dallas White Rock Marathon this year, but the more I think about it, the less exciting the road marathon seems to be.

Am I crazy, or does it seem like I am really leaning toward running the sunmart 50 mile race?

After I return from Africa, I will only have 4 months left to train for the 50 miler. That's a little less time than I would have liked, but it should be sufficient. If I can keep my mileage up in Africa, I think I could use the next four months to get ready for a 50 mile race.

Meanwhile, I am training for a 10k race in Dublin...and I don't think I would leave road racing behind forever, but right now.......?


Saturday, April 26, 2008

A saturday run in the dark

I wanted to do a nice, easy 13 mile run this morning, but didn't feel like doing the usual routes. So, yesterday, I measured off a new course near my home and was really looking forward to doing something different. I strapped my running belt on, took 8 ounces of gatorade, and 8 ounces of water, clipped them to my running belt and took off at 5:00 this morning.

I started off down Oldham Lane and ran north toward the loop, and on to South 11th street. But, let me tell you, I wouldn't suggest doing it the way I did. It was pitch dark, and there are no street lights until you start getting closer to S. 11th area. There are stretches of road there that are so dark, you can't see your hand in front of your face. At one point, just past that 7-11 store, I saw something large and black go running across the road just in front of me. I am guessing it was a dog on his way home from an all night outing. If it wasn't a dog, I don't want to know what it was!

I came back the same way and then turned East down Industrial boulevard and ran out toward the airport, but by then, the sun was starting to come up. I saw a ton of rabbits as they skitted out in front of me, a crane that came flying up over the creek down by the golf course, and a couple of armadillos that took their time crossing the road.

At one point, I came around the airport and saw an ambulance racing down one of the runways, and then a firetruck. I was hoping that there was not a plane that was going to crash land somewhere out there.

I finally made my turn and came back down Industrial, back to my quiet little street, glad that I had done my run, and I was filled with that little satisfied feeling we all get when we complete what we set out to do.

I got inside the house, made a stack of pancakes and gave into the wagging tails of my dogs, (yes, I gave them a pancake, too!), and sank into my chair, happy to be a runner!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Running "Out of Africa"

As a sociologist, and social worker, I have worked in some interesting places. Two years ago, I lived and worked in Peru, cataloguing life for children living in Shantytowns. Shantytowns are urban slums, created by homeless people, and made from almost anything that can be scavenged from the environment.

Living and working in Peru gave me the opportunity to run in the Andes Mountains. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I will never forget the sunrises from Cusco, Peru, and the sight of Macchu Pichu in the morning sunlight. Running in Peru was an unforgettable experience.

This summer, I am going to Ghana, in Sub-Saharan West Africa. For one month, I will be working at the Mercy Orphanage, in Accra. This orphanage exists because the AIDS epidemic has claimed the children's parents. I will be there studying their cognitive and social development. I will also get to visit Bonsaasa, a Millenium Village inside Ghana. The United Nations has developed a program to assist this rural, poverty-stricken village with the goal of eradicating poverty there. I will be observing the children of the village, and the schools, which have been granted their first school lunch programs. It should be interesting.

However, one of the projects I will be working on, is starting a running program for the children of the orphanage. This is a project that I hope will live on well after I leave Africa, and I am hoping that teaching these children to run, will influence their lives and give them some direction, as well as helping them to gain valuable self-esteem and help them develop goals in life.

It will be an amazing experience, and one that will allow me to run through Africa, another of my own passions. I will also blog those experiences through this website, so that others can see how the program goes.

Ultra Marathon in Fort Worth (Cowtown 50k)

My first ultra (50k) was a success. I wasn't too sure about what pace to keep, so I ran very conservatively, which turned out well. I just took my time and ran for fun. The course was fantastic, and the volunteers were great. At mile 23, we veered off the marathon course and ran through a set of trails at Trinity Park, and that was great. The change of pace was good, and I really enjoyed the run down by the river.

I began to hurt around mile 27, and my thighs were hurting. My feet at mile 28 felt like they were on fire, and the hills began to make their presence known, especially between mile 28 and 29 as we were coming back into Fort Worth.

At mile 30, a Highway Patrolman was stopping traffic for the finish of the marathon, and he was trying to be jovial. He said, "only a mile to go, now...you have it made." If only he knew. That last mile felt like it was three or four miles away.

What made my day, though, was when I got close to the finish line, and my son and his friends were standing there cheering me on. It felt great, and crossing the finish line was a great joy. I knew I had accomplished my goal, and 6 months of hard training was not in vain.

It was a great event, and I think I will consider running more ultras in the future. Perhaps the Sunmart 50 mile run will be my next ultra. We will see.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ultra Marathons

I have been wanting to run an ultra for quite a while, so 6 months ago, I decided to train for a 50k race that was being held in Fort Worth, Texas, as part of the Cowtown Marathon. I began a six month training program, averaging 40-50 miles per week. I have always been curious as to what it takes in order to complete an ultra. So, this has been an experiment of sorts. I have run marathons before, but never beyond, so it is going to be an interesting adventure. The race is being held on February 23, 2008. I am now in my final tapering phase. I have survived thus far, and have made the following observations:

(1) Training for a 50k (31 miles) is not too unlike training for a 26 mile marathon.

(2) It was more mental than physical. Toward the end of my training program, I lost my motivation and focus, and almost quit running altogether. I attributed this to needing a few more rest days in my schedule. I took a couple of days off and my enthusiam returned.

(3) I feel good. I feel tired, and am in need of much rest before the big day, so I am hoping the taper will eliminate these aches and pains I have accumulated during my training period.

(4) I believe that I can finish!

(5) Finally...I can say for sure, that a 50 mile ultra would take much more effort, more training time, higher mileage, and a whole lot of mental grit.

This has been an interesting experience, and I am hoping to finish under six hours. That is my goal. However, I will be satisfied just to finish!

Jerry Hollingsworth