Happy Trails Savannah

Whitemarsh Island Preserve

Whitemarsh Island Preserve

With Earth Day Savannah coming up I’ve been asked to hold a trail running workshop at Forsyth Park during the festivities there on Saturday, April 19th.  Before I gave it much thought I went ahead and agreed to do this.  The story of my life…jump in without thinking.

So, now that I have accepted this task I’ve been thinking a bit about our small and fragmented trail system in the Savannah area.  Yeah, believe it or not, we do have trails!  Not many, but we do have some.  I hope that in the near future we’ll have a lot more to choose from but in the mean time what trails we do have are worth checking out.

The Trails

McQueen’s Island Trail07152012-34.This is probably the crown jewel of our trails in the Savannah area.  It was an railroad bed dating back to the mid-to-late 1800′s.  After trains lost their luster and became so 1930′s, the old railroad was abandoned and wasted away until the 1990′s when some Rails to Trails enthusiasts fixed up the trail and introduced to Georgia it’s first Rails to Trails.  By 2008, the trail was in a miserable state of erosion and Chatham County poured several hundred thousand dollars in restoring it by mid 2009.  By 2012, the trail was again in dire straits and the local running community stood up and started the efforts in getting it restored.  In 2014, the county patched up a couple of the really bad sections and abandoned the very last section of trail on the western end of it.  So, instead of the the trail being 6 miles, it’s actually 5.6 miles.  The trail, though, is a beautiful coastal trail that runs parallel to highway 80 and along the Savannah river.  The trail offers tremendous solitude and, wildlife viewing opportunities that most would not expect.  At the McQueen’s Island trail I’ve seen a bald eagle, a peregrine falcon, minks, river otters, dolphins (in the water, not on the trail), fiddler crabs by the gazillions, raccoons, possums, rat snakes, cardinals, seagulls, cormorants, pelicans, egrets, green herons, great blue herons.  No Shiz!  I’ve seen all of these!  One person I know claims to have actually seen an alligator there.  I haven’t, though, but would not be surprised if the rumors proved true. The trail is unpaved, pebbly, sandy-bottomed and flat.  In the winter time it can be insanely cold with gusts of wind getting funneled through the narrow trail.  In the summer time, the trail can be horrendously hot with the white sandy bottom bouncing sunlight off the trail and onto you that run or walk it.  If you are interested in running Lowcountry Ultras’ Cremator, this is a great training trail for that race!  Mapmyrun course: 15.2 miles

Ft. Pulaski National Monument05152011-42has several beautiful trails to run.  My favorite running in Ft. Pulaski is to enter the woods on the north western section of the island on a trail that is wide enough to drive a car through.  It cuts through a palm forest, exits by a small man-made grassy mound that deer like to frequent.  It then follows a wide grassy trail that opens up to an expansive marshland with the old fortress off on your right.  Here, the trail is actually an elaborate set of levees built back in the 1800s to keep the rising tide from reaching the old fortress.  These set of levees are amazing to run on especially at dusk as you are sure to see deer, raccoons, possums, armadillos, crap-load of coastal bird species.  In the winter, though, these levees (or dykes) can be brutally cold with nothing to hold back the incoming Atlantic ocean breezes.  In the summer, they can be equally brutal as there is no shade to comfort you along this path (another Cremator training ground!).  One of the great things about running Ft. Pulaski is that you can make a long run of it by starting your run in the park and continuing the run out of the park and into the McQueen’s Island trail.  Here’s another cool thing, you can buy an annual pass to Ft. Pulaski National monument for only $10.  That’s a pretty darn good deal.

Whitemarsh Island Preserve - 03022014-2This is a great chunk of beautiful green space on Whitemarsh Island sandwiched between the Island’s Ymca and Byran Woods Rd.  This small forest is made up primarily of super tall pine trees with a scattering here and there of beautifully long gangly, tentacled live oak trees.  I love this little piece of wilderness so much that I hold Chase the Sun Ultra and Relay there.  The only paved trail on the Preserve is roughly a mile long, skirting the edge of the woods and running parallel to Bryan Woods Rd.  The interior of the Preserve is riddled with short trails that are a mishmash of rooty, sandy, boggy, pine needle carpeted trails.  The middle of the Preserve is wide open like a typical male pattern baldness.  The trails at the Whitemarsh Preserve are popular for people with dogs, hikers, runners and walkers (not the zombie type walkers!). Runtastic course: 1.84 miles

Skidaway Island Priests landing 11162013-10- There are so many trails criss-crossing in this place it’ll make your head spin if you try to keep up with them.  The best remedy for me is to blindly run them, always taking the first right.  Seriously, there are some pretty cool trails back here but they do seem a bit disorganized to me.  Mountain bikers, fishermen and runners have been carving out trails back here since the dawn of civilization, literally!  I mean, when running the Priest Landing trails you are bound to run across an old moonshine still, farm animal trough, and other old rusting metallic thingamajobs anywhere along this forested trail system.  You may even run into old house foundations, decrepit homes built way back before indoor plumbing existed. It’s a cool area to explore when running and, its a very beautiful area as well!  Some of the trails run dangerously close along the edges of highly eroded river banks.  You can see all kinds of wildlife while running Priests Landing – deer, hogs, box turtles, mosquitoes, snakes, possums, raccoons, gnats, horse flies and, did I mention mosquitoes?  I love the Priest Landing trails but I would love it more if the trails were actually designated with names and seemed to follow a more deliberate path than the helter-skelter pattern they follow.  Your best bet for running these trails would be to park at the UGA Aquarium parking which is at the end of McWhorter rd on Skidaway Island.  While there, check out the aquarium which is pretty nice and costs only $6 admission.  Exploring the trails is free, though!  Any way, from the aquarium parking lot venture into the swampy woods there and have a blast tearing through trails – just watch for mountain bikers!  They like to zip through these trails at break-neck speeds.

Skidaway Island State Park – This little gem of a park has a couple of trails to offer and some amazing wildlife viewing opportunities.  The two “official” trails are short – one is 1 mile, the other 3 miles.  The trails are short but this park is so nice and worth exploring!  There’s a great observation tower on the longer trail.

bonaventure02212014-10Roberd’s Dairy Farm and Bonaventure cemetery – I’ve grouped these two together because they are next to each, sharing a boundary fence.  The Roberd’s DF is one of my favorite places in all of the Savannah area.  Two of my late dogs loved that place so much that I got permission to bury them there.  There are several unpaved jeep trails at the RDF that if run together cover approximately 2.5 miles.  Recently, I was given the green light to carve out a trail through the fragmented forest and pastures of the RDF by the owner of the land.  So, this summer I will be carving out a 3 to 4 mile trail there.  I will need some help for this task.  So, shoot me an email if interested.  I like to run from my house to the dairy farm.  I then exit the df and enter Bonaventure cemetery where I run the perimeter of the grounds.  I also include the Greenwich cemetery and end up with an 8 to 10 mile run.

Bonaventure cemetery doesn’t really have “trails” but it does have heavy tree coverage, unpaved (and paved) paths that are very runner friendly.  This cemetery is incredibly beautiful and peaceful.  Aside from Skidaway State Park, the Roberd’s Dairy Farm is the largest chunk of green space in Savannah!  Mapmyrun course: 1.87 miles

Hutchinson Island 01202014-2- Technically, there are no “trails” on this island (at least, that I know of) but there are dirt roads that are like trails, wide trails.  And, these dirt roads run alongside the Savannah river giving you great views of the Savannah shoreline on western shore and of the South Carolina border on the other side.  Truly, I love running Hutchinson Island.  It is lightly developed, scarce traffic on the roads, there’s a race track there and, those old dirt roads are great to run on!  There’s also lots of wildlife viewing opportunities on this island.  There are dear, hogs, armadillos, possums, raccoons, mosquitoes, all kinds of coastal birds, snakes, alligators.  Pretty much the same variety of wildlife that you see at Skidaway Island you’ll see on Hutchinson Island.  The cool thing is that you can catch a ferry from River street Savannah and ten minutes later you are standing on Hutchinson Island and can run to your heart’s delight there!  The biggest problem at Hutchinson, though, is the scarcity of restroom facilities on the island.  So, for those long runs you want to crank out (and, Hutchinson Island is a great place to crank out a long run) you may want to stash some tp somewhere in case nature comes-a-calling, if you know what I mean!

railroadHey, there is also that old abandoned railroad track bridge spanning the Savannah river to South Carolina to run!  That is a beautiful solidly built bridge that would make a most awesome rails to trails future project!  Any way, you can run that bridge deep into some very fierce beautiful swampy terrain!  Just take lots of water, insect repellent and a good measure of grit -as you will need all three to successfully make it to the other side!  mapmyrun course: 8.65 miles

 

 

Police Memorial Park Trail pmpt- This is a very short trail (approximately 2/3′s of a mile long) that you can catch from Kerry Street near Daffin Park.  It’s a beautiful short paved trail but it’s worth running if you’re running in and around Daffin Park.  I once saw a red fox while running through that little trail.  The trail runs parallel to the Truman parkway for about 1/4 mile and then dumps you onto Bee Rd and 52nd street.  TrailRumor has it that this trail will be extended one day all the way to Lake Mayer.  So if the rumor proves true this will be a most exceptional trail!

 

Lake Mayor – This is a very popular 1.43 mile paved loop around a lake on the south side of Savannah on Montgomery Crossroads.  It’s a nice place to run or walk or fish at.  There is a small island on the lake that is also very nice.  There’s a Truman Pkwy exit a few hundred yards away meaning that it’s a quick drive to Lake Mayer from downtown Savannah or mid-town.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) 06022013-3- this place is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Savannah, over on the South Carolina side.  Why they call it the “Savannah yada yada” I do not know.  But, what I do know is that this is one totally awesome place to visit and run, hike, walk or take your out of town visitors to!  If you want to work on your speed this is the place to do it as there are millions of alligators at this refuge.  They are sure to keep you on your toes!  There are a lot of snakes and numerous bird species here as well!  This is like heaven for an audubon birder!  There is a 4 mile gravel road through the refuge at Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, off of SC170 where you can run, drive, bike.  You can park at one part and then run to the end of the drive and then turn around and head back for an 8 mile-ish run or, be crazy-stupid like me and run back up SC170, otherwise known as alligator alley for roughly half a mile and repeat the loop, again and again!  Actually, across the highway when you exit the gravel drive-thru there are numerous trails and dykes to run.  If you go here be sure to take lots of water, salt tabs, insect repellent and sun screen as it is fully exposed to the sun with hardly a shadow to hide underneath for comfort.  Also, be careful!  Most critters out there are scared of humans but if they feel threatened or if you do something stupid you may lose a limb or two!  Nobody wants that to happen.  Also, traffic on SC170 is fast and furious!  So, hug the white line along the edge of the highway and face traffic if you choose to run the highway!

JF Gregory Park 03302013-13- This is a very beautiful, expansive park in Richmond Hill.  The longest trail that I know of here is a 2.87 mile loop through thick woods that are alive with the sounds of gazillions of birds and squirrels scampering around hiding nuts or trying to find them.  There is a river through here that is teeming with snakes and alligators and probably fish.  Once, I even saw a river otter cross one of the trails!  It is quite a beautiful place but like all of the lowcountry during the summer it is hot and very, very buggy and muggy!  So, take lots of water and salt tabs and mosquito repellent.  The 2.87 mile loop is almost entirely paved except for one area about a half mile long that is gravely.

happyAlso, when you run JF Gregory Park be sure to visit the Happy Stump!  The Happy Stump loves visitors and willingly will take a picture with you.  It will put a smile on your face!  I promise!  Runtastic course: 3.45 miles

 

 

 

Tom Tripplett Park – this is a really nice park in the Pooler area that offers a pretty spectacular 10 kilometer trails for running and biking.  There is also a 1.x mile paved path around a small lake that is very pleasant with lots of calisthenic workout stations every few hundred yards.  It’s a nice family park.  If hitting the 10k unpaved trail I highly suggest going with someone that is familiar with that trail because it’s easy to get lost and wind up shortening your course.  The 10k trail is boggy and single track.  Stay away from this trail if you want to keep your running shoes shiny and sparkly as you will get them dirty!  Also, bug spray, bug spray, bug spray!  You will be running in a swamp!  Mosquitoes love swamps!  Enough said! Runtastic course: 6.56 miles

There you have it.  Those are some of the trails that I’m aware of in the Savannah area that includes Pooler, Richmond Hill, the Islands and, just a hop, skip and jump across the creek into South Carolina, the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.  Aside from the 10k trail at Tom Tripplett and the 5.6 mile McQueen’s Island trail most of our trails are short but they all offer a nice plot of green space in our ever shrinking green habitat of the lowcountry.   

All of these places are worth exploring and losing yourself in for a little while.  These places offer the beauty, tranquility and simplicity of nature that all of our collective souls so desire.  We need these places!  We need more of these places!

There is not a much more fulfilling experience for me than to feel the crunching of leaves under my feet, to hear birds chirping, see deer grazing without a care in the world and, to be running through the woods like my BigFeet ancestors once did.

These small greeen spaces we have allow us to reconnect with nature and to revitalize us.  And, that is what makes these trails so invaluable to the lowcountry community.  It’s what keeps us sane and dreaming.  Trail running to me calms my soul.  When I’m running through trails I feel solidarity with nature.  When running through the woods I’m back to my primitive element and, it is good!  Also, the wild critters that live among us need a safe home!

So, if you ever come across a dimly lit, highly pixelated hairy beast scampering through the woods loudly, scooping up squirrels and devouring them in one bite in the lowcountry woods do not be afraid!  It’s just me having breakfast.

If you’re not too busy on Saturday drop by Forsyth Park for the Earth Day Festivities and check out some of the workshops being offered.  I’ll be out there from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm (or less) talking about our trail systems in the Savannah area.  Hope to see you guys out there.

Happy running, happy trails!

Thanks for stopping by.

peace,

dh

04/15/2014

 

Rocking Runner of the Week: Emily Ernst

 emily2

Our new Rocking Runner of the Week is a runner and friend that I admire greatly!  I’ve nick-named her the Terminator because she is an intensely focused runner that ‘does not stop, – cannot stop! EVER!’  ;)

I call her my nemesis because for a whole year she has been the runner that I have tried to keep up with and hope to match in speed and distance.  I’ve come close every now and then but she is just too strong and too fast.

Emily Ernst is our Rocking Runner of the Week!  She is an awesome lady, very approachable, very friendly and has a great sense of humor.  She is a service woman with the US Coast Guard keeping our waterways safe.  She’s a true bonafide hero and friend.

From left to right: Verity, Emily, Sara, April at Badmarsh 50k 2013

From left to right: Verity, Emily, Sara, April at Badmarsh 50k 2013

Please take a few moments and meet this most excellent person…

~~~~~~

  • Name: Emily M. Ernst
  • How long have you been running? -I have been running for about 13 years.
  • What brought you to running? -When I was considering joining the Coast Guard, I read one of the requirements was that you had to be able to pass a PT test that included a 1.5 mile run. I had never even considered running before so I gave it shot.
  • What do you get from running? -Staying fit, great friends, a sense of accomplishment and most importantly peace of mind.
  • What kind of runner are you? (5k demon, 10k road runner, half marathon madman/mad woman, marathon zombie, ultra-nut job, make up your own description)?  -all of the above, but if I had to choose I would say a marathon mama.
  • Are you a trail runner or a road runner? -I prefer trails but since moving to Georgia have become more of a road runner.
  • Do you race? What is your favorite race? What is that you favorite race? How many times have you run that race? If you could run any race in the world what would it be? -Yes. Favorite race? Do I have to pick? If I could run any race in the world it would probably be the San Francisco 50/100 mile race.
  • How many times per week do you run? What is your weekly mileage? -I usually run 6-7 times a week. My weekly mileage is usually around 50-60.
  • Favorite running shoe? Why? Newton Lady Isaacs for training and Newton Distance U for races. The Isaacs are just a good solid training shoe and the Distance Us are a much lighter version of that. Newtons just work for me.
  • Do you cross-train? If so, what do you do for cross-training? -Yes. Physical Fitness is big part of my life. Hot yoga is a must, I go 3-5 times a week at Savannah Power Yoga. In addition I do the elliptical trainer , swim, bike and weight lift. I know it seems excessive, but it is what I like to do.
  • Do you stretch before running? Why/Why not? -Not usually before. Sometimes after. The best thing is going for a long hard run and then going to yoga. Stretching (yoga) for me keeps me straight and for the most part injury free.
  • How do you fuel during a race? (gels, real food, etc.) -I fuel with Apple Cinnamon Hammer gels. Before a race I eat a sweet potato and after I eat whatever the hell I want.
  • Do you taper leading up to a race? When do you begin your taper & what does it entail? - I usually taper the week before, but I don’t like to.
  • Do you have any training tips you would like to share? -Don’t just run.
  • What is a running milestone of yours? Pr and such? -A big running milestone for me was my first marathon. It was the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Fl. I remember before the race thinking no matter what happens, I love to run and I get to do it for the next 4 some hours of my life, so let’s get this party started. I finished in about 4hrs and 20mins and enjoyed every minute of it (well sort of;)
  • Please share a funny and or interesting moment you’ve experienced running (could be racing or training) -I was running around a park this one time in Florida when I approached a couple of geese. Apparently it was a man goose and his soon to be baby mama goose…and apparently I crossed by a little to close. Well that man goose chased me, wings flared out, squawking like crazy around the entire park. I can only imagine how funny that must’ve looked.
  • Please name three inspirational runner to you and why they are inspirational (they can be famous, family, friends) -My brothers, Austin and Kevin, are probably my biggest inspirations. All of my running friends are inspire and motivate every day with their training, accomplishments and yes their failures too.
  • Any favorite quoted that lends it self to your running and/or philosophy on life? Please share. -”Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right” Henry Ford.

~~~~~~

Emily and Jamie at Delirium 24 hour ultra 2014

Emily and Jamie at Delirium 24 hour ultra 2014

There you have it…

The lovely Ms. Emily Ernst, one of my favorite peeps.  I’m so very happy to call her friend and, very proud to showcase her as our latest Rocking Runner of the Week!

Thanks for stopping by.

All the very best to you and yours.

Keep running, keep moving!

peace,

dh

04/01/2014

The GSEC 24 Swag Blog

2014-01-26-new-logo-for-Dan5rv2 (1)

Here’s a little bit of a swag run down on the Great Savannah Endurance Challenge 24 Hour Ultra.  We’ve got the shirt proofs, medals and buckles proofs as well.  Also, the swag bags came in and they’re pretty sweet.  I know.  I know, what could actually be sweet about a race swag bag?  Well, these are made of recycled paper.  Run 4 a Reason is moving away from plastic bags and all the nastiness they produce and we’re sticking with paper bags for the foreseeable future.

If you notice on the GSEC logo, there is a female runner with a prosthetic leg.  That runner is my very good friend, Kelly Luckett.  Kelly Luckett is an amazing athlete.  She’s run numerous ultras and is going to Boston again this year for her ninth time running that marathon!  As you may know, the proceeds from this race will all go to Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).  I know about this wonderful organization because of Kelly.  So, the logo has her on it as a symbol of drive, determination and hope.  Kelly, symbolizes all of that to me.

Here are proofs of the GSEC 24 shirts. In case you’re wondering about the significance of the colors here’s the breakdown:

  • Yellow shirt: 24 hour individual – symbolizes earth which is the planet that the race will take place at.
  • Blue shirt: 12 hour individual – symbolizes sky and space which means you’ll have plenty of it above you as there is no shade on this course.
  • Green shirt: 6 hour individual – symbolizes water which you’ll need to drink a lot of to stay hydrated
  • Red shirt: 24 hour relay – symbolizes fire which we’ll have plenty of smoking hot mommas as most of our relay teams so far belong to “Moms Run this Town.”

 shirts2

This is what the GSEC medals will look like.  They are 3 inches across.  I cannot remember how tall, though.  Yeah, I did move away from a bottle opener medal for this race.  I felt we needed to change this up a little.

medalfinalrv1

 If you reach the 100 mile mark in 24 hours or less you will get a belt buckle (look at the pic below).  Pretty sweet looking, eh?  Every couple of years I’m going to change the theme of the buckles and medals with a different Savannah icon.  This year, we’re going with the Forsyth Park water fountain.  The next buckle and medal will have something like the Waving Girl or the girl statue with two scales (or something).  Wormsloe, will be on there one of these upcoming years.  Savannah has a very rich history and I want to share it with this race!  So, be on the look out for the changing themes on the medals and buckles.

Why am I going to change the theme of the race medals and buckles every one to two years?  Because this is Savannah’s ultra marathon!  It takes place entirely on the Hutchinson Island race track which is a free ferry boat ride across from River Street in downtown Savannah, the heart of our city.  And, this ultra is following in the footsteps of Savannah’s rich racing history (hence, the name of this race).

buckle

Finally, here is our race swag bag.  They do not look terribly exciting as most bags do not but, they’re made of paper which is better than plastic in like a zillion ways.

swagbag

The race track has been certified at 2.213 miles and, we are hoping to break many of the standing Georgia state records during this race!

I know that a 24 hour ultra is not every runner’s cup of tea but we’re also offering a 6 hour individual run during this event.  You can look at this 6 hour run as a very long training run.  Hey, we all need to put in long runs, right?  Why not on this race for 6 hours, eh?  You’re entitled to one of the medals if you run at least 3/4 of the time for any timed run.  That’s a pretty good deal, I think.

Oh, did I forget to mention that you also get a 20 ounce Amphipod water bottle just for registering for the race?  Yeah, that’s right.  It’s a great bottle, I assure you!  I have two that I use all of the time!

swag

We’re also going to have some other cool swag from Injinji and Orange Mud all thanks to our official online store, Velocity Distance Project!

There you have it…
Hope you like the stuff we’re offering for this great race and great cause.  And, hope you’ll join us as registration is still open!
So, if you want to register go to ultrasignup and join us.  You won’t regret it!  Well, you might regret it after 3 or 4 hours of running but when you cross the finish line at the end of your race you’ll forget all about the discomfort you went through and will be very proud of what you will have achieved!  That, I can guarantee!  And, you will have helped out a tremendously worthy cause!

UltraSignup_Logo

 

Thanks so much for stopping by.

I truly hope to see you at the GSEC 24!

All the best to you and yours.

peace,

dh

03/28/2014

Rocking Runner of the Week: Chris Ramsey

Chris with his wife, Melissa after the 2013 Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trails 50k.   Chris killed that race by finishing first with a time of 3:32:14

Chris with his wife, Melissa after the 2013 Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trails 50k. Chris killed that race by finishing first with a time of 3:32:14

Our latest Rocking Runner of the Week, is quite an extraordinary athlete.  He is incredibly fast in practically every distance he takes on whether a 5k or a 100 miler.  He’s kind of a local hero and legend to runners of every age and stage in Savannah.  He is part of the Fleet Feet Savannah family which in and of itself tells you what an upstanding individual he is as the entire Fleet Feet Family is made up of extraordinary people with hearts as big as our fair city.

Although, he’s an incredibly humble man his reputation as an all around nice guy and amazing runner always seems to shine a light on him wherever he’s at in Savannah.  When he’s racing, he’s always leading the pack.

It is a great honor for me to showcase Chris Ramsey as our Rocking Runner of the Week…The most amazing runner and, most humble runner that I know. And also, an indispensable asset to the running community in Savannah.

Chris finishing up the 2013 LSM RTT 50k

Chris finishing up the 2013 LSM RTT 50k

~~~~~~

  •  Name: Chris Ramsey
  • How long have you been running? About as long as I can remember (though my memory is admittedly poor)
  • What brought you to running? Impatience–I hate playing the waiting game, so running has always allowed me to get from A to B faster and has disallowed me to spend too much time waiting.
  • What do you get from running? Anything.  Everything.  Running is my time to think; my time to detox; my time to find myself.
  • What kind of runner are you (5k demon, 10k road runner, half marathon madman/woman, marathon zombie, ultra-nutjob, make up your own description)?  Let’s go with “demon nutjob”; I’ll pretty much run anything that’s got a start and finish line…and probably anything that doesn’t, too.
  • Are you a trail runner or road runner? Is “both” an acceptable answer?  In/around Savannah, it’s difficult to be much of a trail runner, but I do tackle trails as often as I’m able.
  • Do you race?  favorite race?  Why is that your favorite race & how many times have you run that race? Though I don’t often race as much as I used to or would like, I still make sure I race a few times a year—a few 5Ks here and there, with at least one Full or Ultra marathon thrown in for good measure.  Hands down, Boston is my favorite—after taking last year off, I’ll be running it again this year (for the fourth time).  If not for Boston, I’m a huge fan of the Burning River 100 in Ohio—it’s technical enough to keep you on your toes, 100 milers are always daunting, and the volunteers and race officials are always nicer than they likely ought to be.
  • If you could run any race in the whole world which would it be and why? I’m slowly but surely creating a “bucket list”, which I’ll recite off the top of my head (in no particular order and likely forgetting key races)—Comrades, Grandma’s Marathon, Western States, Dipsea, Flying Pig.
  • How many times do you run per week and what is your weekly mileage average? It really all depends on what I’m training for, but generally I run around 5 times a week and tally somewhere in the 40s; I’d like to be much higher, both because I enjoy the miles and because I think the time spent on my feet would be beneficial to my training, but sometimes the time necessary to do so just isn’t in the cards.
  • Favorite running shoe?  Why? I’ve been training almost exclusively in the Pearl Izumi M3 and the Brooks Racer ST5.
  • Do you cross-train?  If so, what do you do for cross-training? If “sitting on my couch” or “sleeping” is slang for “cross-training”, then yes.  Otherwise, no.
  • Do you stretch before/after running? Why or Why not? I used to, and still should; I believe flexibility is a huge key in successful running.  But I leave myself so little time for running itself that I’d rather use those few precious minutes I have to get in extra mileage, rather than stretching.  Disclaimer: I stretch very feebly in the shower after many of my runs, which does little to nothing for my body but certainly helps my mind.
  • How do you fuel during a race or run (gels, real food, etc.)? Depends upon the length of the race/run–the longer it goes, the more “solids” I ingest; potatoes, brothy soups, and grapes during an Ultra, while I only tackle gels during a half or full marathon.  Salt tabs are a must for most any distance.
  • Do you taper leading up to a race? When do you begin your taper & what does it entail? I usually taper for one to two weeks out from a race–nothing overly substantial, but a definite decrease in mileage to save the legs (if your legs aren’t ready by that point, there’s no amount of cramming that’s going to get them there in that short amount of time). There’s a fine line in between saving your legs for a race and going stir-crazy because you’ve minimized your mileage to such a large degree…but it’s never a bad thing to err on the side of caution.
  •  Do you have any training tips you would like to share? Always train how you plan to race. What I mean by that is that it is key to “try out” anything you plan to use during a race–food, clothing, shoes, etc.; don’t make a race-day blunder and try something for the first time mid-race, because that very rarely works out for the legs and/or tummy.
  • What is a running milestone of yours? Pr and such? I’ve always been more interested in getting others interested in running than my own “exploits”, but Boston was (and always will be) a huge milestone for me, because I recognize how many people strive to get there and I’ll never take that opportunity lightly.  Time-wise, I’ll always be proud of my fastest Ultra and 5K falling within a month of trouble (I was obviously training correctly, for one time in my life): 5K—15:43, Umstead 100—15:35:58.
  • Please share a funny and/or an interesting moment you’ve experienced running (could be racing or training).  I’ve been chased by bird and dogs.  I’ve been delirious enough that I thought a large rock (it may have even been a bush—I’m still not entirely sure) was a cow statue.  And we’ve all been to “hilarity” that is scrambling to find a place to use the restroom when there is otherwise no access to facilities or wiping-materials.
  • Please name three inspirational runners to you and why they are inspirational (they can be famous, family, friends).  There’s no one in particular—rather, an entire generation of runners.  All those that came before us that didn’t have the advantages that we did: advances in science, technology, and biomechanics that we now take for granted (some runners were even told that eating and/or drinking—i.e. fueling and hydrating—prior  to or during a race would be detrimental to their eventual results).
  • Any favorite quote that lends itself to your running and/or philosophy on life?  Please share.  I’ve always trained using the mantra “I will succeed because I believe.”  So many people trip themselves up because they’re mentally defeated by the time they step up to the starting line; for many successful runners, they may not be the most athletic or fit, but by staying steady and strong (both mentally and physically), they can still win the day.

~~~~~~

Chris with Fleet Feet Savannah store owner Robert Espinoza

Chris with Fleet Feet Savannah store owner Robert Espinoza

There you have it.  Our Rocking Runner of the Week.

He’s an extraordinary runner and person.  He’s helped me out tremendously with advice on tackling different races and distances and helping to match the right shoe for me.  And, since I started putting on races Chris has been there for me hooking me up with vendors like Celebritees, Brooks and Hoka as sponsors.  I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all of the help he’s given me as a runner and as a race director.  He is a tremendous inspiration to me!

If you don’t know Chris, stop by Fleet Feet Savannah and meet him or his lovely wife, Melissa.  They both work there.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

All the best to you and yours.

Keep on running.

peace,

dh

03/24/2014

Run 4 a Reason Weekly Update

certify

So, here’s my kind of weekly update on Run 4 a Reason’s world and, so-called training.

The GSEC race track course is officially certified at 2.213 miles.  The certification code is: ga14022wc.  I’m very excited and proud to have this course certified.  We also have a few more sponsors for this event.  I’m proud to announce Velocity Distance Project as GSEC’s official online store! VDP has also hooked us up with Orange Mud and Injinji as sponsors for GSEC!  Woot!  Woot!

The City of Savannah, Chatham County and the Police Department have been incredibly accommodating for this event.  So, a Big Thank You to them! The outlying land around the Hutchinson Island race track is managed by the Westin Hotel and they have been very unaccommodating so far but, I’m hopeful that we will work out something.  I have to somehow convince the powers that be at Westin that having this event in their backyard is a win-win for them.   I mean, just having one runner decide to stay at the Westin for this event is a win-win for them, right?

Last Saturday night, a few runners met with me at the race track and we ran the course for roughly two hours simply to experience night time running there. This was our second GSEC group run.  I had a great time with these driven runners.  I finally had the opportunity to meet Mr. Michael Shelly-Moody!  We’ve been facebook friends for about a year and finally met in person!  It was great to meet Michael and, run a few miles with him.  The other runners were Missy Sailer, Jason Edenfield, Bren Tompkins and newly met runner, Ms. Kylie Ferguson.  We’ll plan one more GSEC Group run.  Next one will be a daylight run preferably on a hot day.  I look forward to running with these fine folks again soon!

The medals and belt buckles for GSEC should be arriving about mid-April.  I should have some shirt proofs some time this week.  I’ll keep you guys updated on all of this as it unfolds.

moon rise on little tybee

moon rise on little tybee

Moving onto other races, the prior weekend I kayaked to Little Tybee Island with a few friends and we surveyed the Little Tybee Conquest Half Marathon course.  That was a great trip!  The weather was ideal with a little bit of crisp air with beautiful sunrise and sunset.  The excursion occurred on a full moon weekend.  So, we got an amazing treat of watching the sun set it’s hues of pink and orange on one side of the horizon and, directly across from it we witnessed the full moon rise and cast it’s cold blue light across the incoming surf.  The next morning we had the most extraordinary sunrise!

little tybee sunrise

little tybee sunrise

The beach section of the LTC 1/2 will be the same as last year’s run – 4 channel crossings twice (one of those crossings being demanding).  The woods section of the Little Tybee Island Conquest 13.1 miler is going to be challenging but will expose the runners to some incredibly beautiful forests and marshland landscapes.  The woods section of the race will be approximately 2 miles.  The rest of the run will be on the beach.  Those that have registered for this race will be sure to have a very memorable experience.  There is nothing quite like running through an island that is uninhabited by humans!

What else?

Well, personally, my training is still moving along ever so slowly.  Balancing between my real job at SCAD and organizing races on my free time is still difficult juggle but, my training is moving forward.  Just yesterday, I ran 23 miles.  I’m shifting more and more of my running from treadmill to the outdoors.  I still prefer to focus on treadmill running for maintaining a given pace for as long as possible as well as for overcoming the mental hurdles that come from running long periods of time on a tmill.  It’s just getting so difficult to continue running indoors when it is so stinking beautiful outside with the quickly approaching spring!

atop of thunderbolt bridge earlier in the week during a 7 mile run

atop thunderbolt bridge earlier in the week during a 7 mile run

Next weekend, I’m heading up to Senoia, Ga with a couple of friends to run the Running Dead ultra.  I’ve signed up for the 50 miler.  That’s going to be quite a challenge for me as I do not feel that I’m adequately prepared for this distance.  Still yet, I’m going there to run it.  This is a self-sustaining ultra which means that there are no aid stations just jugs of water on the side of the road every 5 miles.  Runners have to provide their own fuel through-out the race.  Perhaps, there will be a fast food joint along the course!

Bren, Kelly and I are doing the ultra and will have no one crewing us.  I have full confidence that I can complete this race but it’s not going to be pretty.  I will suffer on this run and there’s no one that I will be able to blame but me.  That’s all good, though.  Ultras are meant to be tough.  That’s why we do em, right?  Whatever…

On other running news, I’ve decided that I will not run in GSEC.  There’s just too much responsibility managing a 24 hour event.  Being honest with myself, I had to admit that I could not possibly pull off both being a runner and race director of GSEC.  So, I will be fully devoted to managing this event and handling the timing personally.  That leaves me with the question of what race to focus running after the Running Dead.  Bad Marsh.  Bad Marsh is truly my favorite ultra.  It’s a great fun night time 50k with a bunch of friends.  I’ve run Bad Marsh two years in a row and just love this run!  So, I will be registering for BM 50k soon.

So, in conclusion…

GSEC 24 Hour Ultra is coming along nicely.  Our biggest hurdle at the moment is Westin Hotel on Hutchinson Island.  Hopefully, we can work out a deal that will satisfy Westin and this event.

I’m not going to run in GSEC but I will be taking care of the runners during this event.

  • We have one more group training session that will take place around middle April.
  • I am in search of volunteers for this event!  If interested in volunteering for GSEC please visit this link: GSEC Volunteer Page 
  • If interested in donating to Challenged Athletes Foundation please go to this link: CAF Donation
  • If looking for more information on GSEC please visit this link: Great Savannah Endurance Challenge

I’m still working out the forest section of the Little Tybee Conquest Half Marathon.  So, I will be taking more than several trips to Little Tybee between now and August 9th.

  • Here is an idea that I’m toying around with regarding LTC 1/2; – it’s twin brother called Little Tybee Conquest Dark Half.  This race will be just like it’s brighter sister except will take place at night during low tide.  And, instead of swimming across the channels runners will have to use kayaks that they will have to be portaged from crossing to crossing, finally to be left at the end of the final crossing where the runner will then have the chance to sprint across the sandy beach to the finish line.  You will have to run through the woods too!  Obviously, this is going to be a very challenging endeavor.  So only the gritty tough should sign up, that is if this event ever becomes a reality. ;-)

That’s it for now.

Thanks for stopping by.

All the best to you and yours.

peace,

dh

03/23/2014

Run 4 a Reason and Friends are Getting Things Done!

Friends of the Dairy trash cleanup crew

Friends of the Dairy trash cleanup crew

Run 4 a Reason is not just about putting on interesting and challenging races in Savannah and giving away the proceeds from those races to worthy charities.  R4aR is also about helping to keep Savannah green and pretty!  We want to take care of our indispensable green spaces.  We want our playgrounds where we run, hike and explore to be clean and as pristine as we can possibly manage.

That is why this past weekend a good-sized group of us met up at the old Roberd’s Dairy Farm and did some good old fashion spring cleaning! We met by the beautiful old live oak tree that has two 4×4 white markers at the base of it.  Those two markers proclaim the final resting place of Maccabee and Isabella, my late Aussies.  Gosh, I miss those dogs.

there's the live oak with Maccabee and Isabella's grave markers.  The old dilapidated dairy farm structure is in the background

there’s the live oak with Maccabee and Isabella’s grave markers. The old dilapidated dairy farm structure is in the background

After a few pleasantries and general instructions everyone split up with two bags a piece, – one for recyclables, the other for non-recyclables.  The plan was to gather and haul away as much garbage as we could from the Roberd’s dairy farm in three hours.  I can honestly comment that we succeeded beyond our expectations!

a lot of trash including something like 5 basketballs.

a lot of trash including something like 5 basketballs.

We filled up the back of Bren Tompkins pick up truck with garbage, -recyclables and non!  Where did we haul this stuff to?  The alley behind my house where we over-filled my trash bin and recycling bin.  I’m sure my neighbors and the trash picker-uppers hated me!  Lo and behold, though, the city sanitation personnel picked up every bit of garbage from my back alley!  God bless them!  Woot!  Woot!

Ms. Verity Gray of England explaining something.

Ms. Verity Gray of England explaining something.

After cleaning up the Roberd’s DF the lovely Ms. Verity Grey rushed to downtown Savannah and had her head shaved for St. Baldrick’s Children’s Cancer Research.  Bald-headed and all, Verity is a spectacularly beautiful lady inside and out!  Her head has a nice shape to it.

Tim Waz and Tom Davis measuring the calibration course

Tim Waz and Tom Davis measuring the calibration course

The following day after the DF cleaning, I met up with Mr. Tim Waz of Lowcountry Ultras, Mr. Tom Davis of New Jersey and, Mr. Jason Edenfield of Richmond Hill and we measured a 900′ calibration course, calibrated my road bike to it and then measured the Hutchinson Island race track which will be the running course for the Great Savannah Endurance Challenge 24 Hour Ultra on May 24th.

this is the gsec course.  need to clean it up a little more before submission

this is the gsec course. need to clean it up a little more before submission

The course has now been measured.  I’m currently working on the maps that have to be submitted with the measurement forms to the Georgia certifier.  Once that is done we will be on our way to having the Hutchinson Island race track certified at 2.212 miles and some change.  Exciting, eh?  I’m excited!

gsecturn

this turn is where the main aid station will be located and, just before the start/finish line.

I’m hoping to have all of the maps finished and submitted (along with the measurements) to the certifier by the end of Friday, March 14th.  Hopefully, we can get this course certified and in the books within a couple of weeks and come race day have some ultra-badasses break some records in the 6, 12, and 24 hour time slots!

Speaking of records, the women’s record for 24 hours in the state of Georgia is 103 miles, 369 yards.  I know a couple of local women that can clobber that record in 24 hours!  The men’s 24 hour record is 142 miles, 598 yards.  That will be a tough one to beat.  In age categories, though, we can have some other 24 hour records broken.  Check out the following records from Georgia Road Race Records:

georgiarecords

The amazing Mr. Garth Peterson is registered for the GSEC 24 hour run.  And, I can already see that his name will be added again to the Georgia state records for the 50-54 age group.  He can easily crank out a lot more miles than the current 50-54 age group of 79 miles!  Garth is already on the 50k Georgia State Record for age group 45-49 with a finish time of 3:41:58.  The man is a running machine!  I’m honored to have him in GSEC!

Well, I just wanted to give you a brief update on what’s been going on with Run 4 a Reason as of late…We’re cleaning up places and setting up a race with a certified course so you badass ultra runners can set some records!

This weekend, I’m off to Little Tybee Island to mark the trail through the woods for the already sold-out Little Tybee Conquest Half Marathon taking place August 9th.  I’m camping there overnight with several friends and my gopro.  It’s gonna be a great trip.  I wish I could take Mr. Gypsy with me but I don’t think he would dig the kayak trip there and back.  Gypsy doesn’t like water much (except to drink).

Mr. Gypsy this past weekend at the dairy farm.  He helped us cleaning up the place.

Mr. Gypsy this past weekend at the dairy farm. He helped us cleaning up the place.

For those of you wondering about Gypsy’s condition since he was diagnosed with cancer, he is doing remarkably well!  I’m so very thankful to God that the little guy is not only still around but still very active, happy and a bit pudgy.  Mr. Gypsy is the best!

I leave you with one more picture of the most awesome dog and best friend a man can have, Mr. Gypsy!

Mr. Gypsy on a small bridge at the dairy farm

Mr. Gypsy on a small bridge at the dairy farm

Thank you so much for stopping by.

All the best to you and yours.

peace,

dh

03/13.2014

Rocking Runner of the Week: Pam Denson

pam3

The Rocking Runner of the Week is an amazing lady that is tough as nail, incredibly driven, very funny and tremendously sweet.  She lives life fully.  If she isn’t running she is jumping out of an airplane and then running 50 miles afterward.  She’s awesome, she’s cool, she’s the amazing Wonder Woman, Pam Denson!

after completing the lsm r2t 50k in 2014

after completing the lsm r2t 50k in 2014

Here ya go…

~~~~~~

  • Name:  Pam Denson (PammyD)
  • How long have you been running? Many years….but I didn’t start running races until about 8 years ago
  • What brought you to running? I started out running to lose weight. I used to weigh about 250lbs. It wasn’t fun and I didn’t enjoy it! My, how things have changed!!
  • What do you get from running? It absolutely sets me free..spirit, soul, and body!! And once I’ve completed my run, there’s a sense of accomplishment!
  • What kind of runner are you (5k demon, 10k road runner, half marathon madman/woman, marathon zombie, ultra-nutjob, make up your own description)? Distance junkie!!
  • Are you a trail runner or road runner? In the past, I had not done any trail running due to not being able to see well, and honestly, I used to trip on everything! But I had corrective surgery two years ago, and tried my first trail run the very weekend following, and I’ve been hooked since. Truthfully, just let me run. Trail or road…I’m good!
  • Do you race? favorite race?  Why is that your favorite race & how many times have you run that race? I do race..I think. My favorite race thus far has been the Skydive Ultra! Ah-mazing fun! I completed the 50 mile Ultra, and I’m planning on going back next year to complete the 100 miler. For the most part, I like them all! Each one you learn something about yourself and what you are made of and how far you can go!
  • If you could run any race in the whole world which would it be and why?
    Bay to Breakers and Run the China Wall! A friend of mine completed that one last year and had a blast!!
  • How many times do you run per week and what is your weekly mileage average? 50-60 miles a week or so…
  • Favorite running shoe? I really like running in the Luna running Sandal. Why? I like being barefoot, so, it works for me.
  • Do you cross-train? Yes. If so, what do you do for cross-training? Hot yoga, rowing machine and some weights.
  • Do you stretch before/after running? Why or Why not? I primarily stretch after running. Actually, it’s just a habit, no rhyme or reason.
  • How do you fuel during a race or run (gels, real food, etc.)? Energy gels, pb&j’s, brownies
  • Do you taper leading up to a race?  When do you begin your taper? I taper about 3-4 to four days out from a race depending on the distance of the race.
  • Do you have any training tips you would like to share? Listen to your body and have fun!
  • What is a running milestone of yours? Pr and such? I don’t think I’ve hit it yet! Still tinkering!
  • Please share a funny and/or an interesting moment you’ve experienced running (could be racing or training) I scared a herd of deer once while running, actually, I think it was mutual.

Please name three inspirational runners to you and why they are inspirational (they can be famous, family, friends).

  1. Wilma Rudolph – I was inspired by her running as a child and actually met and had an opportunity to chat with her when I was about 15.
  2. FloJo, because she was always so pretty and so graceful, and she was lightning fast.
  3. Ernestine Shepherd…she’s not a runner, she’s an 80 year old body builder, who didn’t start lifting until she was 56 and is amazing! She reminds me to keep going!

Any favorite quote that lends itself to your running and/or philosophy on life?  Please share.

  • Go Deep. Go Hard. Go long. When against the din of discouraging thoughts, mental whining, and fluctuating emotions, you can hear that still small voice that says keep going…you know you are not done yet! Keep it rolling!

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

  • While running is an incredibly personal adventure, not one step can be accomplished without the love and support of friends, family and loved ones! Here’s to us all being under the same clown tent!
    – Much love,
    PammyD

~~~~~~

PammyD way up in the sky!

PammyD way up in the sky!

You know, one of the great things about the Rocking Runner of the Week is that I learn something new and amazing about our local runners! Although, I’ve known Pam a few years I never knew that at one time she tipped the scales at 250 pounds!  Ever since I’ve known her she’s been athletically thin.  Please notice that I said “athletically thin” and not skinny.  There is a big difference.  Pam is strong, fit, exercises regularly, eats healthy and it shows!  She is in superb shape.

Pam is an inspiration to me.  She never gives up.  She sets her mind to doing something and she does it!

Pam, it is an honor having you as a Rocking Runner of the Week!

Thanks so much for stopping by.

All the best to you and yours.

peace,

dh

03/09/2014