Posts Tagged ‘Hoka Cliftons’

JULY 28, 2015 (TUESDAY)

On the Silver Comet Trail this morning for 10.6 miles.  The SCT is one of my favorite running venues in the Atlanta area.  And, it’s not very crowded on a weekday morning.  I ran in the old Brooks Glycerin 9’s which now have 2500+ miles on them…still feeling good, but I can tell that the days for long runs in them are over.  Will they reach 3000 miles?  I think so…in small doses.

I think I’m still recovering from the Vol-State Road Race in which I crashed and burned picking up a DNF (Did Not Finish.)  That was on the heels of a debacle of a finish in the Peach State 300 in May which hit me hard physically and mentally.  In fact, if it wasn’t for my daughter, Season, being with me and helping me in the Peach State over the last 15 miles…I might still be there trying to finish.

I didn’t want to feel that way again, especially in the Vol-State.  But, I could feel it coming on after 250 miles. However, the big problem then was in my back with the lower back hurting with increasing pain with every few steps.  So, I decided to stop…to race again another day.  It’s just that a “DNF” is hard to swallow, especially in one of my favorite races.

I did wear the Altra Paradigm 1.5’s in their first race.  The shoes from a somewhat revolutionary company (based on evolutionary physiology) performed very well.  They held up well…better than the Hoka Clifton’s I had used in the Peach State 300.

So, the good run on the SCT had me thinking of trying to get my running through the recovery and feel good for the next race coming up.  I have a couple of problems to solve that I will be working on in training.  One is biomechanical.  The other, I think, is related to electrolyte levels in the long run.  Hopefully, I can solve those before the next race.

The next race is probably going to be “A Race for the Ages” on Labor Day weekend.  It will be a 24-hour run with some handicapping for those over 60 years of age (me.)

*Richard Westbrook

Richard Westbrook at the finish of the Peach State 300 on the grounds of the  Tybee Island lighthouse

Richard Westbrook at the finish of the Peach State 300 on the grounds of the Tybee Island lighthouse

In a race from Dahlonega, Ga to Tybee Island, Ga and plotting your own route, seven runners began and three runners finished. Two runners, Jeff Dean and John Gordon, finished in the alotted time. They were both crewed along the way. Westbrook was uncrewed and ran into problems with lack of food, running 2 miles out of the way at one point, and realizing certain roads did not connect as he had mapped out…all causing delays. He finished the 293.70 miles (or maybe a little more) at the Tybee Island lighthouse. We lost him twice throughout the course. We had the race director search for him the first time and we drove for hours the last night and found him. Congratulations to the finishers of the PS300. Way to go, guys!

Richard Westbrook enjoying his finisher's award at the Tybee Island lighthouse...of the Peach State 300

Richard Westbrook enjoying his finisher’s award at the Tybee Island lighthouse…of the Peach State 300

Richard Westbrook's location at end of day 5, just before Guyton, Ga.

Richard Westbrook’s location at end of day 5, just before Guyton, Ga.

At the end of day 5 Westbrook has covered 245.50 miles and is just north of Guyton, Ga. Once again, his phone was dead with nowhere to charge it for him to check-in. We drove down for his finish but had to drive around and search for him through the night with nothing but his turn sheet to locate him. Still 3 runners to finish the Peach State 300.

APRIL 11, 2015


      OK…The roadster took to the trails.  What was I thinking?  Don’t get me wrong, I like running on trails.  But, that is running on trails, not “racing” on trails.  I’m just not too good on trails.  I FALL DOWN ON TRAILS…A LOT!

      Trail running is fun and will make the runner stronger.  That’s just from the characteristics of the trail.  I guess I will be a little stronger from running the Whispering Pines 12-Hour Run.  Time will tell.  I do know that I am a little more banged up from the race.  That’s from falling down three times on this “not very technical” trail. 

      I drove to Inverness, Florida on Friday and rested and was prepared for the run on Saturday morning.  Saturday was a good looking day for the 8:00 a.m. start.  It was one of the most relaxed starts I have experienced.  Terri Hayes, the race director, just said to go over and get ready for the start.  I turned around, and the race had started.   So, off I went.

      Terri had given good instructions at the pre-race meeting.  She pointed out all the spots on the course that could be confusing.  If one listened to her instructions and followed same, there would be no confusion on the course.  The problem was that some of the runners did not listen.  The course was marked effectively and was well done.

      Having said that, I took a wrong turn on my last 4.8 mile loop.  But, it was my fault and not the fault of the race management.  I actually finished the 12-hour time frame while on the last loop, but we would get credit for the loop if we had started it before the 12-hour time.

      I finished my ninth loop and was wondering if I should go out on the tenth loop.  I decided to go out and was asked by Scott Maxwell, fellow runner and race director of the Cross Florida Route 40 Romp, if I wanted to use his light.  In my brilliance, I told him I would not need it because I should be finished before it got really dark.  Then, off I went.  Scott was probably watching me go and thinking, “What a dumb-ass.”   And, he would be right.

      I missed the turn because it was too dark to see the arrow pointing out the trail.  I had only made that turn nine previous times.  But, NOT this time.  I found myself on a trail on which I was not supposed to be running.  I made my way back and found my missed turn and completed my final loop.

      Outside of the missed turn and the three falls, I had no other problems except for a slight discomfort in my right foot.  I changed out of the Nike Kyotees after three loops and into the Hoka Cliftons.  The problem disappeared instantly.  Way to go, Hoka!  

      There was also a 6-hour run that started later than our run.  That added more people on the trails but presented no problems.  There were some runners who were confused with the turns.  Maybe, they didn’t listen to the race director’s pre-race instructions.  

      There were several times when I met runners coming toward me on the trail…and I was going the right way.  Some did not know where they were going, and some, like Yogi Pugh just ran anywhere she wished.  But, she did keep running.  I met her a few times running the opposite way and saw her crossing the trails running bassackwards.  The thing is…Yogi knew where she was going.  It just didn’t fit in with everyone else.  I had met Yogi in last summer’s Last Annual Vol-State Road Race while we were together trekking toward I-40 in West Tennessee. 

      Unless, you were in the front, it was very hard to know your place during the race. Fortunately, I was not very concerned with my place in his event.  I just wanted to run the trails for their benefits, see if I could run continuously, and run with efficient technique.

      The trail benefits will show up later and, hopefully, will help me in the Peach State 300 in May.  I did run fairly continuously relative to the trails and the aid stations. The darkness had me walking a bit to prevent me from tripping on unseen roots.  My technique was relatively good except when destroyed by the three falls.  But, I recovered from those in order to regain my efficiency.

      I had a 12-hour distance of 46.12 miles but was credited with 48 miles for finishing the 10th loop since I had started it before the cut-off time.  I placed 6th overall.  When finished, I was tired, and I was hungry.  Most importantly, I had survived the trails.

     Not too bad for an old roadster.

(Richard Westbrook)




Race Report:                                                                                                                                                                           Florida Route 40 Romp – 116 Miles,                                                                                                                          March 7, 2015                                                                                                                                                           Yankeetown, FL to Ormond Beach, FL

            When I read the race information, it seemed like a good idea for an adventure run and a race all wrapped up in one bundle.  That would be the Cross Florida Route 40 Romp – all 116 miles of it.  It would start on the Gulf of Mexico at the end of the road west of Yankeetown and end at Ormond Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

            In Yankeetown, that road which is county road 40 (CR40) also has the moniker of “Follow That Dream Parkway.”  By reading the roadside marker, I found that the name is because the movie, Follow That Dream, had some location shots made there with Elvis doing his thing.  That means that I will have to find that movie and watch it to see if I recognize any of the locations.  That is, if I still have that curiosity after this thing is over…maybe, I’ll just want to forget all about this event and anything connected with it.

            7:32 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, March 7, 2015 saw the start of the 116-mile race.  After a few minutes of gathering final details and preparing for the start, the eleven runners toed the starting line between two stop signs with the gulf at our back.  Unfortunately, we also had a headwind to run into, and it would last all the way to Ormond Beach.  But, fortunately, the wind was not so formidable as to greatly hamper the running, but it did make the starting miles colder than I would have liked.

            One of my goals in this race was to run efficiently for as long as I could.  I wanted to use that efficiency to bring me to a comparison of 100 miles in a 24-hour framework to see what I needed to make it better.  My last 24-hour effort yielded 73.03 miles, and that was almost a year ago.  My parameters for my efficiency would be form and pace.  Secondly, another primary goal was just simply to run as much as possible through the distance, especially the first 100-miles.

We all started conservatively in the cold morning air and headed out on the two-lane asphalt toward Yankeetown.  From the start, David Krupski, age 38, took the lead and kept it all the way leaving the rest of us behind.  Any challenge to his pace was short lived.  I saw this happening as I concentrated on my goals from back in the pack. 

            The pack was jovial as we headed east.  Myself, not liking to talk during a race, just listened and analyzed the other runners’ pace, form, and effort.  That told me early on who might run a good race and who might just crash and burn.  All the while, I was trying to be patient and true to my goals.

            The only one I knew in this race was Salt Shack who was a Vol-State runner last year.  Also, I knew Scott Maxwell who was probably the most laid-back race director I have experienced.  I knew Scott from the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic where he ran with me this last December as he was running the 50 kilometer while I was running the 50-mile race.  Scott didn’t give me a chance in that race.  I had to talk to him along the way…he wouldn’t go away and would not shut up.  So, I talked.  With him, it wasn’t so bad.

            We spread out quickly with several runners racing ahead of me.  I fought the urge to go with them which would force me to abandon my pace and effort.  I let them go.  Some stayed behind me and slowly dropped even more behind.  But, I was aware they were there and that they may come back on me at any point.  One cannot ever underestimate a runner.

            The first runner I gained on was Salt Shack, still in the early miles before Yankeetown.  A sidewalk started at the approximate five-mile mark and Shack was moving away from me.  He had upped his pace to catch the pack ahead of him.  I thought then that his move may be to my advantage in the later miles of the race.

            I was comfortably dressed in shorts, layered long-sleeve garments, and gloves.  I was dancing in Hoka Cliftons which felt great.  But, the shoes always feel great early in the race.  I’ll wait and see how they feel at ninety miles.  I felt confident that they will feel just as good then as now.

            The course was typical Florida…virtually flat with an occasional gentle hill here and there.  The route was on county road 40 which eventually hit state road 40.  This was across the peninsula in the more northern half of the state.  This part of the state has beautiful agricultural areas through which we ran.  This western part of the route had us on a two-lane highway.  A Saturday morning presented no traffic problems as we approached Dunnellon.

            A few rolling hills leading north of Dunnellon had us taking our third and last turn on the course.  All three turns were in Dunnellon or close proximity.  Leaving Dunnellon had me at 24 miles as I turned right on state road 40.  Now, straight to Ormond Beach.  But, first it would be Ocala.

            I felt good as I slowly approached Ocala.  I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful vistas on my left and right.  I ran through majestic horse ranches and farmland.  In between were small thrusts of forests that splashed darkened green among the open landscapes of ranches and homes.  The highway was still two-lane.   

            I like running on two-lane roads even though a lot of runners prefer the larger four-lane and divided roads for safety reasons.  I have seldom felt endangered on two-lane roads.  Even with the smallest road shoulders, I seem to have enough room for safety.  The two-lane roads are more intimate and seem to foster a deeper feel for the surroundings.  It helps make me more of a part of the terrain I’m running through.  And, here, I was in my element…at least, for the time being.

            I felt like I was fairly efficient running with good technique and sustaining my run with only walking while taking aid.  This held through busy Ocala where I passed the 50-mile aid station and had a root beer.  Also, in Ocala I had a cheeseburger and medium Coke from McDonald’s and consumed it while walking a bit.  It would prove to render good energy later in the race.

            I entered the Ocala National Forest at some point east of Ocala.  I don’t know exactly where the forest started.  Darkness came while running through the forest.  The road had wide grassland between the road and the forest growth.  With the full moon, there was enough light that I would not have to use a headlamp.  Just before it got completely dark, I heard a rustling in the growth to my left.  I looked over and saw a black bear coming out of the forest.  Before I could decide what to do, the bear did a quick u-turn and retreated to the woods.  It might have been my 65+ mile odor that offered my protection.  Whatever…if it works, I’ll take it.

            I left the forest after about twenty miles.  It was a pleasant stretch with the only malignancy being the seemingly endless flights of motorcycles rumbling through in both directions.  Where were they all going?  I found out that it was Bike Week and the thundering herds were going wherever motorcycle riders go in such things.  Don’t they make quiet motorcycles anymore?

            Before the race, I figured I might have some trouble when I got past the 75-mile point.  Perhaps, this was because of my 73-miles in my last 24-hour run last May.  But, I felt really good wobbling along at my ultra pace.  I didn’t feel unusually fatigued.  Didn’t feel sleepy.  And, I was approaching the 100-mile mark. 

            I refused to look at my watch during the race because I wanted to run entirely on my biomechanical feedback.  The time would take care of itself.  But, I did check it at the 100.  I was surprised somewhat to hit the 100-miles in 23:57.  A little better than my 24-hour run last May.

The last sixteen miles was like a mental cool-down.  I just tried to keep my effort evenly metered in the last few hours.  I would get there and take what I had.  What I didn’t count on was some slight nausea in my gut.  I had this problem last May in the 24-hour race, but it was more severe.  Here, I figured if I could just lay down for five minutes, the nausea would subside.  At that point, a race monitor offered some ginger lozenges for the problem.  I took the ginger, reclined for five minutes, and everything was fine. 

            I would run on to the finish which was at A1A Highway right before the beach.  But, in this last mile, I managed to fall on the sidewalk after tripping over a protruding grate.  It seems like I’m going to fall somewhere in just about every race I run lately.  Five people immediately came to my aid.  I had to convince them that I was OK and had to keep going, get over the bridge, and to the finish line.  I appreciated their concern, but I had to go.

            I finished on my feet and kept going across A1A and to the beach.  The Hoka Cliftons which started with Gulf of Mexico water was now wet with the Atlantic Ocean.  I was fourth in a time of 28:42:36.  The race was done.

            The adventure completed.  Now, to find Follow that Dream.

(Richard Westbrook)




Race Report:                                                                                                                                                                 Maysville to Macon 50-Mile                                                                                                                           February 7, 2015                                                                                                                                                 Maysville, NC

Another great looking Friday and another road trip to a race greeted me upon awakening on this Friday morning, February 6, 2015. I had a long drive ahead of me that would end in Maysville, NC which would be a little over eight hours away. Leaving on a Friday for a Saturday race is fairly common and usually no trouble. But, this one had a wrinkle in it.

This 50-miler would start at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning. That’s one minute after midnight, not the usual starting time of six to eight o’clock with the sunrise. So, I would have to leave very early on Friday morning in order to arrive in Maysville and take care of pre-race details. Very early in this case would be about 4:30 a.m.

I headed out Georgia State Road 138 in the darkness and headed east so I could run into Interstate 20. The interstate would take me to I-95. That would take me to some back roads in North Carolina as I snaked my way to Maysville. Now, I like back roads, and I thoroughly enjoyed finding my way to Maysville through the countryside. It was some more of America the beautiful.

Some organizational problems that were unique to this race because of the starting time added to the need of precision in my schedule. I had to arrive in Maysville and locate the Highway 55 Diner which was on highway 58. Their parking lot would be the starting line location. Next, a motel.

Google gave a motel location eight miles north of Maysville in Pollacksville. None in Maysville. The problem was that the motel in Pollacksville was gutted and not open for business. So, that sent me back to Maysville and on to Jacksonville…fifteen miles south of Maysville. Jacksonville is a significantly larger town, so finding a motel was no problem.

I checked in trying to explain that I may need an extension of the check-out time so I could get back from the finish, get cleaned up and head home. They gave me an hour. I took it. I didn’t think it would be enough. It wasn’t.

Next, I had to eat. That would be “the” meal before the race in about six hours. Also, I had to get gas. So, I put it together and made a trip for gas and food. Gas for $2.11 per gallon and a Big Mac for the meal. I was set.

Back at the motel, I got dressed for the race after checking the hourly temperature forecast. It was going to be cold. I decided to wear pants, windbreaker, and gloves. I would wear a headlamp over my cap.

I had to drive to Emerald Island to park and get a ride back to the start at the diner. The ride was arranged through the race management.   After finding the parking lot, I got my drop bag and climbed into the minivan. Karen Jackson was also there for a ride. She would be the only runner I knew in this race. I had met her in the Last Annual Vol-State Road Race last summer. She is one tough runner, and I figured this ride and time at the diner would be the only time I would see her. Once the race started, she would be gone.

The ride took me and five others to the diner in Maysville. We would wait there for the start. I had a grilled cheese sandwich and hot chocolate about seventy-five minutes before the race. I finalized my preparation for the race as the pre-race meeting told us the vital information we needed to know.

The moon was almost full and threw moonlight over the road as the seventeen entrants gathered in the parking lot for the start. We would run twenty-two miles on the road before we hit the beach. I was not looking forward to running in sand. And, we had about twenty-six miles of the stuff before we ended up running on the road again to the finish at Ft. Macon State Park.

I was last leaving Maysville but felt OK with my pace and effort. As the miles passed, I gradually moved up but still didn’t know my place and really wasn’t worried about it. I just wanted to run efficiently and have something left for the dreaded sand. It was going to be a lot harder to run in the sand than on the road. I was not looking forward to it. In fact, I dreaded it, and that made it a big problem…and I wasn’t even there yet. I tried to be more positive as we got closer to the beach, but it turned out that I just became more positive that I was going to hate it.

I felt good on the road running in my Hoka Cliftons which I was wearing for the first time in a race. And, somewhere up ahead was Karen Jackson running in her sandals. I was leap frogging a couple of runners as one would slow down and then speed back up and the other would intersperse walking breaks in his running. I could see runners up ahead with their headlamps turned on. In the darkness, I could see light circles on the road where the runners’ light beam hit the pavement. This served as a way to judge the distance to those runners, and I could gradually gain ground on them. It worked pretty well. I did not use my light because I could see well enough from the moonlight. Of course, it made me hard to see by the other runners.

We crossed the bridge that put us on Emerald Island. I had come up behind a couple of runners and followed them to the beach access. We entered the beach traversing a small sand dune. The access point was marked by a flashing red light.

The beach was wide and almost flat at this point. I saw this and thought that it was going to be better than I had envisioned. I was wrong. While running the three miles to the first beach checkpoint at which our drop bags were located, the running quickly became what I thought it would be…terrible.

I passed some runners by getting in and out of the aid station quickly. I continued running north on the beach trying to find some harder footing. Most of the time, I would sink into the sand and have to work harder to run slowly.

The sky was black and pinpointed with stars. It was windless. The workers at the previous station told me that it was six miles to the next station. For me, running on the beach made the miles seem twice as long. The six miles turned out to be wrong. It was seven and a half miles. And, it was the same to the next aid station. I was not having fun.

Even though I hated it, I was running OK so far. I was leapfrogging a couple of runners for most of the way. We had a beautiful sunrise as we ran. The headwind I was worried about did not exist. That was one good point.

With about five miles to go, I could feel myself crashing. I blamed the sand and the race director, the son-of-a-beach,…and anyone else I could think of at the moment. I put myself into a run-walk mode to finish this thing. The two runners I was leapfrogging earlier ran away to finish ahead of me. I blamed them also. One was Karen Jackson. I blamed her sandals.

I reached the northern point of the island which curved into a sound. This was Ft. Macon State Park. Naturally, the sand got deeper and softer. We had to punch our race numbers at two points in this area so we could prove that we ran this section on course. The finish was just to our left across the dunes, but we had to run the long way around. Thus, the two check points.

Running along the beach. Photo taken by Susan Scott.

Running along the beach. Photo taken by Susan Scott.

I was running slowly around the bend looking for the beach departure point. That would put me back on roads and make me a little happier. Still tired, still crashed, still burned, but still moving forward. I hit the pavement running, albeit very slowly. From there, it was one and six tenths miles to the finish. I felt like I could make it at that point. But, I still wasn’t sure.

I pushed it on in and ran into a parking lot at the fort. The time was a not-so-blazing 10:53:16.09 for seventh place overall. At that point, I would take it and be happy with it. I was just glad to have the beach behind me.

I sat in the nearest chair, received my unique finisher’s award and the shirt. The award was a fruit jar filled with samples of the surfaces we ran upon. They were layered starting with sand, dirt, and then chunks of asphalt on top. Like I said…unique. I drank a cup of Dr. Pepper, had some conversation, and then got my ride back to the parking lot where my truck was parked and I had started this adventure.

But, it wasn’t over. After arriving at the parking lot, I fished my key from my pocket to unlock the door. That’s when I found out I had a flat tire on the left rear. Just what I wanted after running 50-miles through the night and struggling for twenty-six miles of that in sand. Son-of-a-beach!

The flat tire was a reminder of last summer’s Last Annual Vol-State Road Race. I had finished that race of 314 miles and then walked back to the parking lot which was, maybe, three-quarters of a mile from the finish. At the truck, I found I had a flat tire. So, time and effort was spent changing the tire. Son-of-a-beach!

(Richard Westbrook)