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Honey Stinger

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Living in a virtual world

 It's been awhile since my last post. I've moved out of my house into an apartment. I've kept up with my running community through events like Fleet Feet Huntsville's #keepmovinghsv and the virtual Cookie Dash 5K. I've signed up to be a mentor in Fleet Feet's Rocket City Marathon program. I enjoy helping the participants in the program finish their first marathon. RCM will be a virtual race this year, but everyone that finishes the race will get a shirt and a medal. Fingers crossed that I will finish the Mountain Mist 50K. I'm stuck at 9 finishes. I've got to get that 10 year jacket. I've rambled on enough for this post, I'll finish by saying I've met the best people through the Huntsville running community.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Ups and Downs and All Arounds

It's been a Roller Coaster Ride for the past few months

Flashback Dizzy 50K and Rocket City Marathon

I should have seen my trail woes coming, when I struggled to finish the Dizzy 50K with a time of 8:21:45.   However, with a rainy Rocket City Marathon, I managed to finish with a time of 4:19:28, this was coming off my time as a mentor for the Fleet Feet Marathon training program.  So, putting in the miles with my training group, helped me at the RCM. But my lack of time on the trails in 2018 caught up with me when I DNF'd Recover from the Holidays 50K and Mountain Mist 50K. No matter how many miles you put on the road, it just doesn't translate to the trails.

Moving on: Team Fleet Feet

I was pleasantly surprised, when I got a note from Kathy Youngren asking me to join Team Fleet Feet.

I've always liked the store and the staff.  I've said many times, Fleet Feet Huntsville is more than a running store, it plays a role in every aspect of the Huntsville running community.  From training programs to charity work, Fleet Feet is a special place.  Not special, like special ed., but special as in really nice place.

So, I was really happy to connect with other Team Fleet Feet members at several races and events.

 Mardi Gras 5K Race for the Beads
Benefiting the Blount Hospitality House 
HTC UAH Spring Road Race 8K

And a Fun Run from Green Bus Brewery.

So, my takeaway is this, you're going to have ups and downs in your running life.  But at the end of the day, I think it's about the friendships that you make.  It's a great community, and I'm blessed to be a part of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Race for the Ages 2018

A Return to A Race for the Ages
September 1-3, 2018

The Long and Winding Road

My return to A Race for the Ages, or as we like to call it, ARFTA, took a few detours along the way. First there was the Pinhoti 100, in 2017. I along with a handful of runners mistook a sign pointing to the starting line.  It was meant for the buses bringing people to the start.  Runners in their cars were to take another road to the start.  Needless to say, I started the race late, went out too fast, and crashed 30 miles into the race.

Fast forward to this year.  I had trained for the Lake Martin 100.  30 miles into that race, the heat of the day caused me to have terrible nausea and I threw up several times on my way to a 50 mile medal.

My redemption race was going to be ARFTA.  A lovely race held at Fred Deadman Park, in Manchester, Tennessee.  Now, for those not familiar with this race, it's a little different.  You are given an hour for every year of your life.  I ran the inaugural ARFTA in 2015, when I was 48, so I had 48 hours to run the race.  That year I was coming off my best 100 mile effort at the Graveyard 100.  So, I was still in decent shape and managed to rack up 120 miles.  This year with 51 hours to work with, I was hoping to go beyond 120 miles.  However, nagging knee issues impacted my training and I managed to get in 104 miles.

(Finishing another one mile loop at ARFTA)

Now, if 104 miles over 51 hours doesn't really sound too hard, you're right.  I've often said, ARFTA is probably the easiest way to earn a 100 mile buckle.  ARFTA is as much of an event as it is a race.  Every 6 hours, you have the opportunity to sit down and have breakfast, lunch and dinner with your fellow runners.  The event was catered by Cracker Barrel.  So, the food was delicious.  Also, my friends Ryan Harbaugh and David Holliday were at the race and we had a chance to catch up. 

Lindsey "Slim" Shady Hardesty and Mica Aguilar came up on Sunday to provide a little encouragement and tough love.  (Shar, aren't you supposed to be running instead of sitting down? - Mica)

Along the way, I walked a bit with Ann Trason and heard about her idea of putting on a new timed event in and around Auburn, CA.  She's thinking of a 6 day event.  Karen Jackson and I walked a bit and she talked about getting to see her new grandson for the first time, after dropping her run at Vol State to see him.

So, you see, A Race for the Ages is a special kind of race. But don't get me wrong, 100 miles is a long way, no matter how you approach it.

(Ryan Harbaugh and I are tacking on a few more miles)


After the race, Rose and I were sitting on the floor inside of the community center waiting for the awards ceremony to start. After 3 days of Cracker Barrel food I was ready for something else. So, we had headed over to McDonald's to get a Fillet-O-Fish and a tropical Sprite. Now, I'm going to say this, in the words of Ringo Starr, with peace and love; their was a large lady sitting at a table directly in front of us eating copious amounts of Cracker Barrel food. She was not a runner or part of any crew, as far as I could tell. At this point, I really could have used a chair, but the place was packed, and she wasn't moving.  

For whatever reason, my eyesight started to get a little blurry and I told Rose I was going to go outside to get some fresh air.  Next thing I know, I'm laying on the floor with people gathered around, and putting ice on me. Someone called the EMT's and a circus of sorts ensued. I owe a debt of gratitude to the kind people who pitched in and helped to get my temperature in check.  Although the nice EMT's were really wanting me to go the Hospital, I was totally fine after my "ice bath."  Also, I was wearing an Alabama t-shirt, and I could hear the Tennessee ER doc coming out to tell Rose that I didn't make it.  Why? What went wrong? Well, he was wearing an Alabama t-shirt, so.....  Long story short, I was fine, despite wearing Alabama attire in the midst of Vol country. 

On the drive to Huntsville, I played Back in Black by AC/DC because the long and winding road resulted in my fourth 100 mile buckle, and though it wasn't pretty, I felt like I was finally back.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Grand Viduta Stage Race April 27-29, 2018

A Three Day Journey Through Mud, Rocks, and More Mud

For those not familiar with a stage race, it's a race that takes place over several days.  The Grand Viduta Stage race is a three day affair that is run on the trails of Monte Sano mountain, in Huntsville, Alabama.  The race starts with a 13 mile run on Friday, followed by a 16 miler on Saturday, and finally a 14 mile run on Sunday.

I ran this race a couple of years ago, but last year I opted for a marathon in Nashville.  Needless to say, I decided it was time to return to the trails. I'm going for my 10th finish at next year's Mountain Mist 50K, and I really need to work on my trail running.  

Day One

Brandon Mader is the race director for the Grand Viduta, and he said the first day was going to be a lot of rocks.  It didn't disappoint.  There were plenty of rocks.  In addition to the rocks, it had rained several days leading up to the race, so many of the rocks were slippery.  The neat thing about this race is you run on several trails that are unique to this race. Wagon trail and Wildflower trail are a couple examples of trails that are not part of Mountain Mist or the Dizzy 50K.  Also, Brandon does a good job of mixing things up.  We ran down Waterline and then at another point in the race we were dumped out on Waterline again going back up.  

The first day ended with a run up Toll Gate to Old Railroad Bed, and back to the land trust parking lot.  

(Heading out on Day One)
(A well deserved beer at the end of a 13 mile Day. We had a choice between PBR and Rolling Rock.  Not even close.)

Day Two

The second stage of the race was billed as the most runnable, and it lived up to it's billing.  Although it was three miles longer than the first day, I finished 3:50, compared to 3:38.  The second stage consisted of the Cold Springs Trail, Mountain Mist trail, and Fire Tower trail, to name a few -- all nice single track.

About 12 miles into the run, a nasty fly started buzzing around my head.  I tried everything to shake him.  I sped up and lost him for a moment.  I think he was only resting, because he caught back up with me.  I took off my hat and tried to whack him, but to no avail.  Finally, he made a critical mistake; he flew into my ear.  I trapped him with my glove, and sent him to his final resting place, somewhere on a trail on Monte Sano.  R.I.P.

(Running on a pristine section of trail)

(David Holliday and Mica Aguilar)

One aspect of the Grand Viduta that is really nice, is that after each stage, you have a chance to hang out with friends and drink a few beers.  I think Ryan Harbaugh was the photographer.

Day Three

The final day of the Grand Viduta was a total sufferfest for me.  I was spent, and it showed.  It was my slowest day.  I'm used to running through mud.  We have a lot of it on the slush mile in McKay Hollow, but nothing prepared me for the endless, deep mud on the Arrowhead trail. It seemed like it would never end.  Also, due to some storms earlier in the year, there were several trees that had fallen over the trails.  Some I could climb over, but some I had to crawl under.  

Earlier in the day, Brandon had us running down K2 (Goat Trail) and then spilling out onto Powerline. This is the exact opposite way that you run this section for Mountain Mist.  So, my head was spinning.

Anyway, the race ends with a climb up Death Trail to the State Park's Amphitheater. 

(A deceiving picture.  This had to be one of the nicest sections of the third Stage.)

(Three Days of Trail Run Glory)

Finally, many thanks to Brandon Mader, Sean Allen, and all the volunteers.  Thanks to Melissa Hopper for the race photos.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Delano Park 12 Hour Run 2018

A Return to Delano

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

After this year's run at the Delano 12 Hour, I took the opportunity to go back and add up the years and miles that I've ran in this historical park in Decatur, Alabama.  The park was established in 1887, and was later named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's mother. I wasn't on hand for the ribbon cutting.

I've always opted for the 12 hour solo run.  However, a 50 mile solo and Relay Team option are offered. I first toed the line in 2009, and have ran it 6 times since.  I've amassed 324 miles to date, with a PR of 58 miles - that was the year, in 2016, when I won the Master's division.

2018 was a stellar year at Delano with 32 State records set by 30 runners!  I wonder if that is a State record for a race to have garnered that many records on a single day? The list of record setting runners is available on the Delano Park 12 Hour Run Face Book page. Alas, I was not one of the record setters, but it was a privilege to share the track with so many fantastic runners.

I'm in the midst of training for the Lake Martin 100 mile run, later this month. However, I'm a little concerned.  I racked up 54 miles this year at Delano, but I definitely faded.  I hit 31 miles under 6 hours, but only added 23 miles over the next 6 hours. There was nothing consistent about my running.

However, enough about me, a very sad and horrible story must be told.  If you are faint of heart, I would suggest you stop reading this report now.

The Story of DeWayne Satterfield

If you are somewhat familiar with this story and feel I am beating a dead horse, you’re right. It pretty  much is the story of a dead horse - a Stallion of a runner who left us too early, only to return.

I don't actually recall the year, because I did my best to erase it from my memory.  You probably have heard the story; the legendary DeWayne Satterfield came across the finish line at Delano, only to lay down and pass away -- next to a feminine looking cooler.

His family was distraught.  They came to me looking for answers.  They asked if there was anyway to bring DeWayne back.  They said, they knew I was aware of something called a Pet Sematary, where animals and people could be buried, only to come back to life. I told them they were referring to a Stephen King novel and movie, and that it was pure fiction.  They said, Shar, you know it is for real.  I told them, it is true ....but sometimes, dead is better.

They would not listen to reason, and I gave in.  I threw DeWayne's stinking body over my shoulder and I headed to the Pet Sematary. To be respectful of the dead, DeWayne's stinking body was not due to death, but he'd just ran well over 60 miles - runner's staunch.

(If it were only fiction)

I buried DeWayne in what the Native Americans knew was poison soil, due to a failed Auburn University agricultural project that had gone wrong.

As I waited and visited the site over the next few days, the inevitable happened.  I saw a hand reaching through the rocks.  I grabbed DeWayne's hand and pulled him up.  He smiled, and said, Hey Shar, thanks for bringing me back from the dead.  At that moment, he lunged at me and attempted to stick two fingers into my eyes -- Three Stooges style. I quickly lifted my hand between my nose and forehead in a defensive move to avert the eye poke. 

However, at that moment, I knew DeWayne would never be the same. His family and friends would soon know the truth of the Pet Sematary.

(or is it?)

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Blount Hospitality House Mardi Gras 5K

A Question

So, I started thinking about the relationship between 5Ks and Ultra Running when I saw the following post from a guy on the Trail and Ultra Running Face Book page:

"Serious question.  If you are an ultra runner, do you register for 5K races? Why?"

My response to the post was, "Yes, speedwork is essential. It compliments endurance running."

I had just finished the Mardi Gras 5K, on March 3rd, when I read this post.  I wasn't alone in making the connection between speedwork and ultra running.  Many of the responses were along the same line.

I couldn't believe the response to the post.  I stopped counting, but I bet it was over 50.  Some people said they ran 5Ks because they are usually tied to a good cause, most often a deserving charity or civic organization.  A few people said they used to run 5Ks, but gave them up for the trails.  The ones I liked the most, were a few people who said, they stopped running them because they were just too painful -- That, I get. ;)

At this past year's Spooktacular 5K, Christy Scott and I were running side by side for a bit, when either she or I said, 5Ks suck!  Now Christy is a seasoned Ultra Runner, with many trail runs, and 100 milers to her credit.  But we know the truth of the 5K.  You run as hard as you can for 3.1 miles.  There is no managing the race, gauging your pace, making sure you are properly fueling and keeping your electrolytes in balance.  No, none of that.  Just hard, hard running all the way to the finish line.

To lend credence to the connection between Ultra Running and 5Ks, the following folks were at the Mardi Gras 5K:

Martin Scheenkloth: This past year, Martin has raced at the Yeti 100 miler, the Barkley Fall Classic, the Fat Dog 120, and a stage race on Mount Everest... just to name a few of his 2017 Ultras.

Anya Gluszek: Anya, is a superb Triathlete, also she's finished the JFK 50 miler, the Dizzy 50K and she's ran a couple Mountain Mist 50Ks...Just to name a few.

Eric Fritz:  Eric ran the Tunnel Hill 100 miler this past year, the Miwok 100K, and has over 10 finishes at the Mountain Mist 50K...again, not enough room to list all of his Ultra finishes.

Dink Taylor: Dink is the creator of the legendary Mountain Mist Trail Run and a quick look on Ultra Signup, shows Dink has ran over 135 races -- and that's just on Ultra Signup. There's no telling how many other marathons and other races he's ran over the years, not to mention that he was running on trails in Alabama, before there were actual trail races in the state.  Also, it looks like Dink has ran the Strolling Jim 40 miler, 32 times, starting in 1987, and he's won it twice, and finshed in the top 3 several times.

The point of this is to show definitively that ultra runners know the benefit of running the 5K.

So, sign up for a 5K, get in that much needed speedwork, and more than likely you'll also be contributing to good cause.    

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Mountain Mist 50K 2018

Mountain Mist 50K
The Huntsville Track Club's Grand Slam

Mountain Mist 50K

In the past, I've given an aid station to aid station description of Mountain Mist.  If you're interested in that, you can go back and read my previous Mountain Mist blogs.  But this year, I'm going to just hit the highs and the lows of this year's race.  

I felt really good when the race started, and fell into a steady pace. As usual I fell 3 times, but none of the falls were serious, and I just popped up and kept going.

Actually, my falls were kind of weird.  I got tripped up twice on Powerline, by vines that were stretched across the trail, kind of like trip wires.  My second fall happened on the way up to the Fern aid station, but amazingly, I didn't fall on the second half of the course, which is way more technical.  Go figure.

While I felt I was running well, the truth of the matter is, I must have been running at a slower pace than I realized.  I made it to the Fern aid station with 23 minutes to spare.  After making my way down Bluffline, I made it to the Land Trust aid station with 18 minutes to spare.  However, as I was running down Bluffline the memory of my first Mountain Mist came streaming back. I recall coming across an elderly lady with a floppy hat, she extended a bony finger and said, "The hardest part lies ahead." I kept running, and as I looked back, she was gone.  I DNF'd that year at the top of Waterline.

I knew I had to keep pushing it.  I couldn't shake the memory of that DNF. Along the way, I came across my fellow Grand Slammer, Mitch Tiffany.  For what ever reason, Mitch and I had not connected on any of our previous races.  So, Mitch was behind me going down the Alms House trail, heading toward Waterline.  He was explaining to another runner that he was involved with Ainsley's Angels (AA).  AA is an organization that focuses on the special needs community, and AA Ambassadors push special needs individuals through races to give them the experience of the race.  Mitch explained that the first time he "pushed" was at the Marine Corps Marathon.  I've seen Ainsley Angels at some of our local races and it always brings a smile to my face to see these kids, and young adults enjoying a race.

I made it to the top of Waterline, and over to the Burritt aid station with 15 minutes to spare.  By the way, Mitch passed me and finished the race 6 minutes ahead of me. 

As I was running across slush mile, a bit of controversy ensued.  Why I always get wrapped up into these kinds of things, I'll never know.  I heard Suzanne Erickson call my name from the other side of the McKay Hollow trail.  The year before, I'd been dealing with a terrible case of back spasms that I couldn't shake.  I was overly medicated heading into the race, and on slush mile, I was overtaken by Suzanne, Casey Fritz and their gang.

I didn't want that to happen this year, so I picked up my pace. However, along the way, I came across a group of Mountain bikers.  I said, "About a mile behind me, you will see a group of ladies running in pink shirts.  If you can, slow down and see if you can help them out.  Now, Suzanne says, when she came across the Bikers, they said, I told them to "take them out." First of all I would never do anything like that.  Do I look like a Tonya Harding?  I don't think so. If anything, I was the Nancy Kerrigan in this scenario -- the innocent victim.

Anyway, I wound crossing the finish line, and racked up my 9th Mountain Mist finish, and my 5th Grand Slam. Suzanne and Casey were hot on my heels.  I've got to up my game for next year, I don't want to cut it close when I go for my 10 year jacket.   

 (Finishing my 9th Mountain Mist. The final leg of the Grand Slam.)

(Picture of the 2018 Grand Slammers prior to the start of Mountain Mist - missing a few people.)

(Running on a trail during the Dizzy 50K.  The first leg of the Grand Slam.)

(Running at the Rocket City Marathon. The second leg of the Grand Slam.)

 (Running at the Recover from the Holidays 50K. The third leg of the Grand Slam)

Finally, and most importantly, none of these races could take place without dedicated Race Directors and volunteers.  Thanks to Ryan Chaffin for directing the Dizzy 50K.  Thanks to Suzanne and Dink Taylor for directing the Rocket City Marathon and the Mountain Mist 50K.  Thanks to Christy and Tony Scott for directing the Recover from the Holidays 50K.  Thanks to Casey Fritz for coordinating the HTC Grand Slam.  Each of these races come with their own set of challenges, and this group of RDs do a fantastic job.