Okay, so I have been absent from this blog for quite a while. I don't really have an excuse... I have just been busy and each time I thought about writing something I decided that I had better things to do. However, I have been running quite a bit over the last year. After my DNF in 2010 I decided that there were a few things I needed to change.
1. If I was going to wear shoes then I needed to train in them.
2. I needed to find a different method to carry my water etc. The back pack was just too much
3. I needed to keep my running going and try to increase both distance and speed.
Through all of last summer and the fall I continued to run in vibrams. I felt great and wasn't having any problems. However, each time I ran I knew that I wouldn't be able to use them on the Laurel Highland Trail. The solution to my problem came around December. We were visiting friends in Ohio and one of them suggested I try the New Balance MT101's. He showed me his pair and I was immediately draw to them. They are very light, the heal is very low, and they have a 'rock stop' sole to help on trails. After trying on a pair both my Dad and I bought them. After wearing out my first pair I have since bought a second pair. They are terrific shoes and I highly recommend them if you want something that is a step up from the vibrams. The only down side is that both my Dad and I wore a pair of shoes out in less than four months. When I say we wore them out, I mean there was zero rubber left on the bottom. They looked like racing slicks.
Right after the Laurel I started looking for a new way to haul my water. I looked at everything I could find and went to a number of stores and tried them on. I decided that I wanted to have something that carried two water bottles. One for water and one for a sports drink. After searching for a few months I finally ran across the Katoa by New Direction. It holds two 20 oz. bottles, has two side pockets for gels, and a nice pocket in the back big enough for my phone, wallet, trail bars, etc. The only down side to the pack was that it buckled in the front. I didn't mind it on short 6 - 12 mile runs but I found that as I increase mileage to 20 or more the constant pressure of the water bottles bouncing on my back would cause the buckle to hit my stomach. By the end of a 3 or 4 hour run my stomach would be a little sore. My Dad bought a Nathan's fuel belt with four 10 oz containers. Each time I spoke with him he told me how much he loved it. I ended up borrowing one from a friend and agreed with him. They are very nice... having the smaller bottles balanced in the front and back seem to really help. However, I still think it can be improved. I wore the Nathans on the Laurel run (more on that in the race recap) but may try to make my own fuel belt. I have a few ideas of what I want. Now I just need to get the sewing machine out and get to work.
Distance and Speed
This was the big one. I did have blister issues last year but that's easily solved by just changing socks on a regular basis and training in the same shoes that I wear on the run. I needed to increase my overall speed. After recovering from the Laurel I started mixing in some shorter, faster runs into my training schedule. A few weeks before the Laurel I was ran two 3 mile runs at a 7:30 min pace. This isn't really fast at all but it is a significant improvement for me. As I increased my pace on shorter runs I found that I was able to increase my pace on longer runs as well. My average pace on 15+ mile runs was about 9:30 min. Again, not blazing fast by any standard but a very respectable time for me.
After getting all these things in place I decided I was ready to do the Laurel again and registered with my Dad for the 77 mile run.