Monday, February 11, 2013

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

I took a whole new approach in training for this race this year. Last year I did typical Ultra trail run training and I just got so slow. My weekly mileage was hard to hit running 5 days a week, and I didn't enjoy it. On top of that, I was very slow in all other races relative to my past performances. I decided I would go back to typical marathon training: 7 days a week with 2 speed days, and limit myself to 22 mile long runs. I would trust that I could use my nutrition and overall volume leg strength to pull me through 100 miles. I was concerned, but I had run Cactus really well and a 3:02 marathon in Houston in January, indicating that I was in good shape. Basically I was flipping a coin, and if this race went badly, I was just going to be a slow trail runner that was much better on the roads.  If this race went well, then maybe I had a breakthrough on trail training. As a side note, I am now seriously thinking of writing an Ultra Trail Training book – just based off of my trial/error and what’s worked for me. The best I’ve found out there is Relentless Forward Progress, but it is a little outdated.


While I was pleased with my general training leading up to race weekend, the actual week before the race ended up being pretty tough personally.  Sunny got really sick and was in bed and unable to take care of the kids, so my evenings were much busier than I would’ve otherwise planned.  I also realized Friday when I was packing that I had booked my hotel in Huntsville, AL instead of Texas…there was $200 down the drain. I quickly booked a room for Friday night and figured I would run all night Saturday so I didn't need a room Saturday – I would just roll out my sleeping bag. After driving to Huntsville, I got to bed at 8:30 after a good meal at the Olive Garden.


Loop 1 - 3:12 (9:37 pace)  I took off the first lap with Edgar and about 20 other friends. The first lap was so super easy. I was running as slow as possible and just talking with friends the whole way. I was taking a gel every 20 minutes (which I would continue to do all day and night). I dropped my light off with Suann at DamNation once the sun was up and kept going.  Around there I had caught up to Matt Crownover and I figured I was running too fast as I knew he was going sub 19. But I knew the day would heat up and I was going to start crying and walking after mile 60. I just can't run that far. I have never made it through a 100 running the whole way. The wheels always come off at around mile 80. By the end of this first loop, Shaheen and Edgar were just a minute behind me and I know they were thinking I had taken it out too fast. I knew they would come by me on the second loop, but I was so happy to feel so strong. Last year I was holding on to their pace on the first lap and it was 20 min slower.            


Loop 2 - 3:42 (11:07 pace)  I took my first Ensure (350cal) and that took a minute to settle. This year I switched from all Gatorade to all water. It was a positive change. The first loop was all gels (maybe 8 or 9). I would add more table food on the second lap. Many of the big dogs passed me the first 3-5 miles of this loop but my goal was 12 min miles for this loop in order to break 22 hours, so I was running that. By the time we got to DamNation it really started to heat up. My pace still held good. At mile 30 I was alone so I put on my music. I did run out of water with only one bottle on the 6 mile DamNation loop (I would bring a second bottle for loop 3). Ultra running is about adjustments… Mile 34 was 9:53 so I guess I was still rolling.  Maybe it was a mistake but these races are not won and lost on single miles or handfuls of minutes.  My motto today was no matter how bad it got, I would regroup and get it going again.       


Loop 3 - 4:04 (12:12 pace) Another Ensure and another quick barf/burp in the mouth and I was off again. I was about 40 minutes ahead of pace and I wanted to go as slow as I needed this loop to save something for the night. I knew after this loop the temps would start coming down. I decided to start an 8 minute run /2 minute walk pattern. That would allow me to eat every other walk break. Timing is so important in these races for me. I needed to keep the food coming. Last year I shut it down (eating) and it shut me down. Even with the walk breaks I was holding close to the12 minute pace. The goal this lap was a 13 minute pace. Great - sub 22 hours was still on the table! This lap felt a bit cooler than lap 2 as the sun was a little lower and I was getting some shade. I kept thinking this whole loop:  What if I get there too soon and my pacer isn't there yet. I was about to be 1 hour ahead of pace. I really started to kill time the last 5 miles…


Loop 4 - 4:41 (14:05 pace)  I got my pacer Michael Bordelon, my old-person-Ensure (Buuuuuuuurp) and off we went.  I grabbed my handheld flashlight but I didn't need it yet. We could make it to DamNation (mile 66) before I would need it. I would grab my headlamp there as well. I had asked Mike to push me harder this year and he was the best pacer. I would fight to back off the gas, but he kept us running.  We basically took no walk breaks longer than 2 min except at an aid station to drink soup - but even that was quick. We covered all my emotional BS and insecurities that night. What was my role in my local running community? We would talk about how I was a slave to the watch and looking at it during walk breaks was making me think I was giving all the time I had made during the day back. We would move from a 6-2 run walk pattern down to a 4-2 pattern by the end of the loop. We still nailed the goal of 14 min pace for this loop and held the 1 hour lead on our goal. We knew we had 6 hours to get thru the last loop. I was sure that I would stop running at any minute...


Loop 5 – 4:57 (14:51 pace) One more long sleeve, no Ensure as I was sick of throwing up in my mouth, but took a 5 hr. Energy instead. Suann, Scott and Amy helped me keep my head on at the turn around. I switched out my watch even though my 910 would have made the last loop. My XT310 never found a satellite so it was just a time-of-the-night watch. Mike would do my run/walk splits even though I was sure he was forgetting to watch the time and letting me run long. Funny how 4 minutes of running takes FOREVER after 80 or 90 miles (especially when Mike wouldn’t call it for five or six minutes…) The whole loop I was complaining about sore legs and being tired, but Mike just kept saying how my running pace was still 11-12 min pace so we were still clicking off sub 15 min miles. I was just so sure that everything was going to shut down. I kept eating and I kept hitting new mileage milestones - I had never run past 80 miles before. Then 85, then 90, and even 95 (when I died last year).  I was so mean to Mike. I would bark if he ran alongside me. I would tell him to get behind me. He would trip on a rock and then stumble past me. I just knew he was going to trip me as he fell down. We would pass girls and he would try to get me to flirt with them. I didn't want to talk about girls. After we would pass them I would say something grumpy like they probably weren't very good looking. He also kept saying we could break 21 hours and I told him it was too much pressure. There was no way I could hold this pace. I was just sure the wheels would come off. We finally had 1:20 to run the last 4.4 miles and I knew we had a good shot. It got funny the last 4 miles. A guy past us and I knew that I was still in the game because I decided I would hunt this guy for one mile and then I was going to fly by him and his pacer and destroy his spirit. I would lay down the 97 mile hammer and never let him catch me. We passed him back on a downhill at mile 3 right before the trails merged and we kept going. I started to play with Mike here. There was 3 miles and 1 hour to go. I told Mike it was going to be tough. Then it was 2 miles and 46 minutes to go, this is going to be real tight. The last mile felt amazing. I felt like I could keep going another 20 miles. We started to run faster and faster and when he stopped me for my last walk break, I said give me one minute. He said there is the finish, let's go. So we took off. Turns out he pointed out some other building – not the finish - but we were really close, so we flew down the finish chute.  


Total   20:38        27th/229 finished - 340 started


Post wrap up: I had the race of my life. It gives me hope that maybe I can run 100 miles. At one point, back when I first started running, I thought 13 miles seemed like a ridiculously long distance. Everything in life is relative, I guess. Like when I use to think raising one kid was so hard - then I had three. I am so thankful for all my friends that were out here supporting me. To my wife and kids, who get my whole Ultra obsession.  To Neil for always being there to support me. He let me crash at his hotel and get a shower. To Michael Bordelon that has paced me here 2 years in a row. For someone that has run very few Ultras, he really gets how to pace, and he understands me. It takes a strong friendship to survive the stuff that is said from mile 80 -100. Hell, I am not even sure what I said from 95-100 these last two years but I am sure it is not nice or well thought out...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rockledge Rumble 50K 2012

With a tough race schedule leading up to this race I planned to use this as a training run. I would go off feel and if I felt good go after my time for last year. (5:27) It was a bit warmer this year. Around 65 at the start and probably around 75 at the end. The course was a little different this year as we didn't have to climb the stairs after the first loop.

Mile 1-5 Murrel (46 min/9:20 pace) Ran this section nice and easy. This first 5 miles is very runnable. I was maybe around 20th place. I had plenty of runners around and it takes this first 5 miles for the runners to find their position in the race.       

Mile 6-10 Twin Coves (1:39/10:30 pace) This was the toughest section. This is where the rocks are located. Some areas have to be walked. I also stopped for a potty break where I cut my ankle on some vines. A little blood is good in a trail race.              

Mile 11-13 Twin Coves (2:04/8:30 pace) Once I hit this aid station I knew I was getting close to the turn around and I would have a chance to see the front runners. Once I saw them they looked very worn out. I think the front pack took off way too fast for a warm day. I was glad I made it to the last mile before I saw them so they went more than 20 min ahead so far.                 

Mile 14-18 Murrel (2:51/9:30 pace) I finally caught back up to some friends at this aid station. I was running very strong and my nutrition was working well. One gel every 20 min and water. One salt tab every hour starting a 2 hours. 

Mile 19-22.5 Jackson (3:37/10:00 pace) I got back to the turn around and I thought I was running well. I had passed a few 30K runners and even caught up with Laz close to the beach. My GPS was useless because it kept losing signal so I was just estimating 45 min between aid stations. Total time was still good to work off of.      

Mile 23.5-27.5 Murrel (4:28/10:00 pace) As I took off I passed Josh and he said I was just out of 10th place and I just had to run some people down. I felt confident I could run strong and catch anyone that had slowed. It is hard to know if you are passing a 30K or 50K runner especially if they are walking at the time which many people were doing at this point. I was thinking if I could make it to Murrel by 4:20 I would have a shot to break 5 hours. After a few side stiches I got there at 4:28 and figured my sub 5 was out.  

Mile 28.5-32 Jackson (5:16/10:20 pace) I felt better after leaving the last aid station. The pressure was off to break 5 and I figured I would be done around 5:15. I am pretty sure this section is a little longer than advertised at 4.4M. Just before I got to the beach I caught up to Paul Smith. I figured this would turn the last mile into real hard work. I was pretty sure he was hurting worse than me so I picked it up. He latched on to my tail so I just kept picking it up. Once on the beach we were running a tempo run. I decided to let him latch on and then once we hit the road I would lay down a 6 min pace if I had to. I started to accelerate on the road and within 100 yards I could tell he was going to let me go. I kept a strong pace till the end and even attacked the stairs as best I can.       

Total:               5:16:32

Distance:         50K

Place:              9/59                

After I finished I had a couple of drinks and visited with all the other runners. We shared our experience with the bikes on the trail. The bikes were tough as they were all over the course. I got frustrated a couple of times as I was trying to keep going and pulling over for the bikes was cause me to have to get started all over again.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cactus Rose 50 Mile 2012

The last few months I have been training on the roads. I had run almost no trail miles. With no long runs longer than 22 miles. My concentration was on long tempos 5-6 miles, track workouts to a lesser extent and some faster log runs with 20 miles at 7:30 average pace. I felt going into this race I was in top shape but my doubt was on distance and I was taking my Ultra skills for granted. I drove down on Friday afternoon and met some friends for pasta in Bandera. I camped out the night before the race.


On race morning we had perfect weather. Mid 40s and the wind had died down. I had a drop bag at the start and the Equestrian aid station. I would stop at miles 15/25/35 for supplies.



Mile 1-5 (50 min)        I ran easy with Jorge and Shaheen was just behind us. I stopped at Equestrian at mile 5 to drop off a shirt. I was over dressed. Mile 2 has a big climb but the rest of the first 5 miles was very runnable. I had a headlamp and handheld flashlight. This really helped me the trail. I also had one handheld for hydration.

Mile 6-10 (1:46)          This was the most runnable section of the race. I still didn't need to stop for water at this aid station. My nutrition plan was to eat a gel every 30 min. I have no idea why I didn't realize till the end of the race that this was 100 cal per hour short. I wore compression socks to protect my legs from the sotol. It was not a good call because my left calf was tight and hurt the entire race.

Mile 11-15 (2:42)        This section was tougher than I was told it would be. Lots of sotol cactus so I had my first run thru that. We also started climbing up and down hills and rocks. When we got back to Equestrian I dropped off my lights and long sleeve shirt. Then picked up 4 gels I think. But maybe I missed a couple because I ran the last hour back to the start without nutrition. I refilled my handheld and took off feeling great.         

Mile 16-20 (3:53)        These last 10 miles of the loop is supposed to be hiller and rocky section. I felt pretty strong running up the hills. I was able to hold around a 12 min pace thru these miles.

Mile 21-25 (4:52)        I felt strong in this section but I was starting to get the feeling that my nutrition was really messed up. I was stretching the gels I had to 3 and 4 miles which was 35-50 min. That means I was getting less than 200 calories per hour. This was going to cost me later in the race. I reloaded my gels at the turn around and ate a waffle. I also got my music to listen to on the second loop.    

Mile 26-30 (5:55)        I got out of the aid station about 20 seconds behind Shaheen so I figured I wouldn't see her again. I started running hard and before I knew what happened I tripped and went down hard. I was lucky there were no rocks and because I was going so fast I rolled over. I was a little shaken up by the fall so I took it easy for a min to get my breath back. I started working hard again pushing up the hills and after a couple of miles I caught back up to Shaheen. 

Mile 31-35 (7:15)         I left this aid station feeling good but I was starting to go thru my handheld a lot faster as the temperature started to climb. I drank as much as I could before I left the aid station and hoped it would last. I would add a second handheld at Equestrian at mile 35. At mile 32 I really started to go thru a low point energy wise so I told Shaheen she had a shot at 10 hours and she needed to go ahead of me. It was like all of a sudden I went from 12 min pace to 13-14 min pace. It was like I was standing still. I knew I need to hammer the calories, catch-up and then get off the pity bus fast and see what I could do the last 15 miles.   

Mile 36-40 (8:20)        Equestrian had out food so I grabbed a couple of PB&Js I drank a whole can of Mountain Dew, got 2 handhelds. As I left I was determined to not just throw in the towel and prove that I could run tough and smart. I was a couple of min behind a couple of other runners and I was determined to run them down. I started to click off a better pace and I was really starting to sweat. I kept drinking and pouring water on my head.

Mile 41-45 (9:20)        Here is the section that gets runnable so I was going as fast as I could on the flat parts. I caught one of the guys on this section. I figured sub 11 hours was now in the bag and I was going to hit my goal.

Mile 46-50 (10:17)      I met Olga at Equestrian for the first time. She didn't seem so mean but I wasn't trying to rest or whine. After another mile I caught up to the other runner Mike. I run into him at so many trail runs. We were holding together great until the big climb with 2 miles to go. He was able to go down it much faster than I could. It flattened back out with 1 mile to go and I decided I would give all I had and see what I could do. I was working on the math and I figured I could break :25 but once I hit the ½ mile mark with the out and back I thought I have a shot at sub 10:20 so I broke into my finishing kick. I could see Mike ahead and I figured I could catch him. We ended up finishing with the same time.


Total:               10:17

Distance:         50

Place:              18/158            


I really enjoyed the trails out in Bandera. They have a great mix of rocks that I have been getting better on and hills. I made a bunch of mistakes and still had a great race. The camping was great and the town had some good restaurants to eat at. After the race Jorge and I hung out and then later we grabbed Elysa and went in town for pizza. The 2 downsides to that was the stairs and they didn't sell beer. FYI BYOB next time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Western States 100

We flew out to Reno on Thursday and drove in to Squaw Valley. We stayed at a condo in the village. After a couple days of race meetings and medical checks I was ready to go. I got to the starting line Saturday morning at 5 AM. It was around 38 degrees and very windy.
Squaw Valley (5 AM) – 0 The first 4 miles was a power walk up 2000' to the Escarpment. It was a winding dirt and rock road. There was no need for a headlamp as the sun was coming up. Once we got to the top it began to hail and we had very strong 30-40 MPH winds. I always have to remember when things get tough in a race that I signed up for this. At Western States you also have to qualify and get lucky in the lottery.

Escarpment – 3.5 Single track trails and very wet. Some sections were very technical and I had to let some slower climbers that I had beat up the hill pass me as we were now going downhill. I was really working on my rhythm and finding a group to latch on to. I got some rocks in my right shoe so I stopped at Lyons Ridge at mile 10 to remove the rocks.

Lyons Ridge (7:28 AM) – 10.5 It was still raining but I was feeling better and I locked in with a big group. I always seem to end up on the front end of the group which is good because I can set the pace and have a good view of the trail. It made me feel slow but when I asked if anyone wanted to pass they all said no. I was eating just a little fruit off the tables and taking a gel every 20 min. I did get a little frustrated on Lyons Ridge as I wanted my hydration vest filled with Brew GU, but I couldn’t figure out what they were doing so I ended up just going with water.

Red Star Ridge (8:45 AM) – 16 By mile 16 I was up to 200th place and starting to pick up the pace a little. Still this was 2+ min per mile slower than I ran at RR. That tells you just how much tougher this course is than RR. I was doing salt every hour which was too much in the cold. My elbows were very sore so I didn't think I could hold a handheld until I got better electrolyte balance. I started backing off the salt. This was my fastest run section of the entire race.

Duncan Canyon (10:30 AM) – 23.8 This next section felt like 6 miles of uphill. My pace fell way off and I had no energy. I knew that the first medical check was coming up at the next aid station and I didn't know if I was too high or low on my weight.

Robinson Flat (12:11 PM) – 29.7 I was up 4 pounds at medical. I felt pretty bad and thought I was lucky to get thru without more questions. I saw my crew here for the first time. I got a dry shirt, drank my Endurox, got my music and had too many calories. The next 2-3 miles were very runnable but my stomach was so full it hurt to run. I was peeing every 5 miles all day but had to go every mile here until I emptied my stomach. I got marginally stronger thru this section. There is a fine balance and I broke the rule here. Too many calories at one time is not going to sit well in your stomach. You also need to know your course. You can load up before a walking section but not before a section that is runnable. They warned us in one of the pre-race briefings and I didn't make good enough notes. The best lessons are the ones that hurt like a punch to the gut. I got it.

Miller's Defeat (1:37 PM) – 34.4 At this point, I was really only concentrating on getting to the next aid station. I would struggle when I would think about 20 miles until I see my crew again. My hydration vest was too much and with the cool weather I realize I could have gotten by with 2 handhelds like the big boys.

Dusty Corners – 38 This is a short leg and I am really starting to feel good again. I am starting to see some strong splits again.

Last Chance (3:42 PM) – 43.3 This next section was a real challenge but I was finally strong again. It was 2 miles down a very steep drop to the bottom of the canyon. Very rocky and technical. I wish I had this section to run once a month at home -- it would make me twice the runner I am. I went down as fast as I could without cracking my head open on the rocks. I can't believe I made the entire 100 miles without ever going down. The last 1.8 miles after the bridge over the water at the bottom was straight up Devil's Thumb. I was catching a bunch of people power climbing up. This is where all the climbs at Jemez got me ready.

Devil's Thumb (5:01 PM) – 47.8 I forgot to ask for a Popsicle at the aid station. Actually I yelled for one as soon as I saw volunteers but they weren't the right people to ask... I am sure that Popsicle or lack thereof cost me an hour.

El Dorado Creek (6:21 PM) – 52.9 I am picking the pace back up as I will see my crew at 55.7. The last 2 miles was a good power hike with another guy. We had a really good visit.

Michigan Bluff (7:20 PM) – 55.7 I came into Michigan Bluff feeling real strong. My crew was glad I had gotten myself back together after looking like I was done at 30. As I left this aid station I knew that sub 24 was over but I felt pretty good. I was behind a large pack of guys. I just power hiked behind them for the first mile till the trail leveled off. Then I started cranking out 12 min miles and flew by them. For a second I thought if I can keep this up I can chase 24 hours. But I quickly came to my senses and just stayed with the mile at hand.

Bath Road – 60.6 I picked up my pacer Carolyn here. I let her know I felt good and she kept my spirits upbeat. We ran very strong getting into Foresthill.

Foresthill School – 62 We got into Foresthill and we were flying. There were some flat roads so we were running sub-10’s which, at this point of the race, felt like tempo. We got what we needed from Sunny (The best crew leader) and took off. She said Kim and Christopher were across the street eating and thinking about singing some Karaoke. I should have grabbed my Timex as my Garmin died in the next few miles. I turned on my headlamp and we started on the trails running strong. I was having a problem with the trails looking very blurry. I have been told so many times to use a handheld flashlight but I just keep buying more headlamps. So Carolyn gave me her flashlight and all off a sudden I could see so much better. I would give her a pace and she would lay it down. I am going to start working on running races without pace -- maybe just display the mileage and time of day without pace.

Peachstone (11:20 PM) – 70.7 Everything kind of ran together in the dark, so I skipped a few aid stations during the night. We would get to each aid station and see how far ahead of the 30 hr. pace we were. I was only around 45 min ahead of 30 earlier in the day (around the time I picked up Carolyn). By Green Gate I had over a 2 ½ hrs cushion. This area was very hilly. I kept waiting for the very runnable section after 62 that everyone kept telling me about. It never got very runnable in my eyes.

Rucky Chucky (1:39 AM) (near) – 78 I grabbed some food and adjusted my equipment to cross the river. It was like being in a dream. I have heard about this river crossing for years. Of course in the movies the elites are always crossing in the light of day... Once I got in the water it felt good. Really helped refresh my legs. The rocks on the bottom were so slick. It was so shallow I had to bend over to grab the rope. The current was very strong. Without the rope I would have definitely been carried downstream. Carolyn got across the river in about 30 seconds. I ran into Libby in the river - she was volunteering in a wetsuit in the water. I have no idea how those people were not freezing as it was about 2:30 AM and in the 50's.

Rucky Chucky (farside) Kim was there with a jacket for me. Carolyn, Kim and I then power hiked up to Green Gate where Sunny and Christopher were waiting for us. I had thought I would probably change shoes/socks after the river crossing, but opted not to once I got up the hill. Carolyn stayed with Sunny and Christopher and Kim joined me for the last 20.

Green Gate (2:18 AM) – 79.8 This was not a good section. I really needed to run some sections here and there but I just couldn't get going. This is where I needed my 5 hr energy. It was basically 20 min miles from here on to the finish. With better focus I could have cut off a couple of hours. We didn't have a GPS at this point, and I really struggled with that. I will need to practice some more races without GPS. I got so confused not knowing how far I had to go to get to the next aid station.

Brown's Bar (6:07 AM) – 89.9 You could hear this aid station for a mile or more. They had such loud music. I had some chaffing issues I was dealing with. I was applying Vaseline almost every aid station. I continued to eat gels every 30 min.

No Hands Bridge – 96.8 I started to run some downhills at this point. I was having problems calculating my pace without a watch and I didn’t know if I was going to finish in under 30 hours. After I got rolling again my legs felt better and I could have pushed more if I needed too. The bridge had the most amazing views. I wish I still had my camera here. The sun was up and it was starting to get hot. After crossing the bridge we had two tough miles of climbs to get to Robie Point.

Robie Point (9:21 AM) – 98.9 Sunny was here to run me in. This is on roads and the first ½ mile is up hill. I was so happy to be done but still I had no ability to calculate anything. I kept asking Sunny if we could get to the stadium before 10 AM. Once we got to the stadium, we ran around the track as fast as I could. Finishing time was 28:47:36.

Overall, I had such a great time. The course was much tougher than I thought it would be. We were always going up or downhill. I needed a lot more muscles in my legs to run this entire course. I struggled early-on with nutrition, but I got it down by the end. I still had areas where my energy faded but it would always come back. I learned so much during this race that will help me down the road. Hopefully I will get another shot one day. Two days after, my legs feel much better and they should be good in a couple of weeks. For now I will enjoy sleeping in. I was so overwhelmed by all the support from my running friends, non-running friends and family. My pacers and crew did a great job and I really appreciate their work. I ran the entire race in my Montrail Bajada, Injinji socks and Nathan hydration vest. I took mostly Gus, probably more than 50.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

We (Wife Sunny and oldest son Christopher) headed out of Dallas at noon on Friday. We drove to Huntsville and checked into our motel. Then we headed over to the park for packet pickup and race meeting. After that group got together and headed over to Chili’s for some dinner. Then it was back to our room and asleep by 9 PM. I got up at 4:15 AM and it wasn’t raining. It looked like we had caught a break and would start on a dry course. I started to get dressed and eat/drink my breakfast. (Endurox and a bar) I had planned to eat a bagel later on the drive over with peanut butter but my nerves had my stomach feeling full. Soon I heard thunder and I could hear the rain coming down pretty hard. I put on my 88¢ poncho and headed to the lobby to meet up with Edgar, Steve and Shaheen. My feet got soaked just running up to the motel lobby. We took off and picked up Neil and headed to the start. One quick bathroom break and I was then under the tent at the starting line.

Loop 1 - 3:35 (10:50 pace) Neil and I lined up together and got started. The first 3 miles were runnable with lots of roots. It was still raining hard. We reached the first aid station (Nature Center) in 33 min. (11 min pace) I was feeling good. The next 3 miles were about the same with fewer roots but more wet spots. We arrived at the second aid station Dam Nation at the same pace. It was starting to get light so I dropped off my light in my drop bag. The next 6 miles was a loop out and back to Dam Nation. This was a runnable section. Each time I ran this section it felt more hilly and wet each time. By now Edgar and Shaheen had caught up to us and even passed us up by a min or two. The next 3.5 miles led to Park Road aid station. At some point Neil and I asked about the first time I would go down. I said loop 3. I ended up falling twice on loop 2 and once on loop 3 but never in the mud. The last 4.4 miles back to the starting line was the fastest section. We were knocking down sub 11 min pace back. I kept thinking all along that this first loop was 30 min too fast and I would have to back off from my fast friends soon. Apparently all of their talk of just wanting to break 24 hours was just sand bagging. When we all got back to the start our bags were still in Steve’s car since no one expected us to be back this early. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I would just grab food from the aid station and I was good to go. This is the first place I saw my crew (Sunny and Christopher). They were wet but very excited to see me come thru and it lifted my spirits. After a couple min at the aid station the bags showed up. I drank a quick Endurox drink and reloaded my Endurolites.

Loop 2 - 4:02 (12:05 pace) Neil took off first as his bag was there. Neil was always very fast out of aid stations. I will need to learn from him. As I passed runners or my crew on this lap they would tell me Neil said to tell you he is just ahead and I needed to catch up. Could someone tell him to slow down for me? I finally caught up to everyone at mile 26 at Dam Nation. After we left DN I just couldn’t keep up with them. This was the hardest mental part of the race for me. I had to check my ego and come to grips with the fact that I could not run as fast as everyone else. My ego didn’t like being the slowest but my goal was sub 24 and I knew this loop needed to be 4:15 and not sub 4 hours. I remember thinking at mile 30 that I was tired and if I doubled this distance I will still only be at mile 60 with 40 to go. You can’t think about everything in a 100 mile race. You have to work on the mile at hand. By mile 36 I had come to peace with myself and I was trying to run conservative and smart. I saw my crew and they thought I looked good. I had come thru my toughest mental battle of the race all on my own.

Loop 3 - 4:17 (12:50 pace) I got my music for this lap and God and I were going to run this loop together. I started to feel I could do this but I still had this fear of legs going dead later on. I was still running strong. I noticed a new very large tree down on the Dam Nation loop. I guess it had fallen during our race. My right knee was starting to hurt. I could also feel my wet sock folding in my shoe. I decided I would get back around to the start and get some new socks. At Mile 52 at Dam Nation I ran into Shaheen. Her ankle was in bad shape and she was icing it. I thought it was time for her to drop but I wasn’t going to put that in her head. She would have to come to grips with that on her own. We walked for a few min and I told her to manage mile by mile and decide what she could do. She could not really walk so she started to run. My 13 min pace was too slow for her and she took off like a shot. I finished the loop in the light so that was good.

Loop 4 - 5:21 (16:00 pace) I got rid of my music. Changed my socks and pick up my pacer Mike B. I let him know that the last two loops were going to be slow and the goal was to get us in Sub 24 hours. It felt like we ran around half the time but the pace indicates we were not running too fast. The mud pits were growing and getting worse each loop. Each time we would hit a mud pit runners were on both sides trying to find a dry path. I would be the one guy that would just walk right thru the middle. I think the water had run off and flooded more of the course. I let Mike know I didn’t want to hear anything negative so no complaining about the mud. I was starting to get cold. I think my body was not working as hard and, thus, not creating heat.

Loop 5 - 6:15 (18:45 pace) Mostly walking. By the time I got to mile 86 my knee was real sore and I was afraid of pulling something. We calculated what we needed to do to get to sub 24 and did that. I would skip aid stations and let Mike catch up to me. I wasn’t drinking much and I was peeing every 2 miles. On the Dam Nation loop Mike gave me his shirt because I was so cold. I had heard that hypothermia would sometimes get runners on these long races. We grabbed every shirt we could find out of my Dam Nation drop bad. I had on 4 shirts and gloves and still I was cold. I remember early in the race running for 10-15 min and it was so easy. Now every couple of miles I would say let’s run for 30 seconds and see how far I could go. Many times we would turn a corner and I would say this is uphill let’s stop running. It became a joke like washing your car and it started to rain. I saw my crew for what would be the last time until the finish at mile 95. Sunny gave me a jacket and she will tell me later that I looked done. I was struggling to hold a 20 min pace walk the last 5 miles. At one point we hit one of the boardwalks and I didn’t make it up the ramp, but instead slid backwards. I jogged just a few steps so I could make it up the ramp. I would also moan as I would fast walk/jog down off the boardwalks. We were walking a 21 min pace and I was breathing heavy like I was on a tempo run. I felt I could finish but Mike and I talked a few times that if I needed 2 more miles I wouldn’t break 24. I told him if this was 3 miles longer I wouldn’t finish at all.

Total 23:31 They are going to have to mail me my Belt Buckle. They ran out of sub-24 buckles 5 people before me. I sat down after the finish and Sunny took off my shoes and socks. We got in the car pretty fast and drove back to the motel. After a quick geriatric bath I was off to bed.

Post wrap up: Knees are very sore and my abs as always. My feet took a beating. I had a few blood blisters. I am not sleeping very well but I hope that will get better as my legs come back. I took an Endurasoak bath Monday night and it helped my legs a ton. I can walk again. Just don’t tell Sunny cause this laying around the house and watching TV and having her fetch my meals is great. I have to give a big thanks to Sunny for being there for me. She had everything ready for me everywhere I needed it. It meant the world to me to have her and Christopher out there cheering me on. Also a big thanks to all my friends for running with me and cheering for me even hours after you could have gone to bed. Thank you to Mike B for pacing me the last 40 miles. He did a great job.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Palo Duro 50 Mile - 2011

I drove down Friday afternoon with Neil and Edgar. We got to the park around 8 PM and the gates were closed. So we camped outside the park in a little side camp ground. We got up at 5:30, broke camp and drove into the park. By the time we got parked it was 6:30 so we only had 30 min till the race starts. We picked up our packets, got out bags setup at bag drop and got to the starting line right as the race started. In such a rush I didn’t have a t-shirt with me so I had to run in the race shirt. At the start it was 50 degrees.

Miles 1-3 10:56 Ave. We started out on a single track trail so we got caught in traffic. Probably a good thing as it felt super easy. It was dark for the first 4 miles. At about mile 3.4 we hit the first aid station and the 50K runners split off from us and we had room to move.

Miles 4-6 9:39 Ave. I felt good and no more traffic from 1st and 2nd aid station. I took my first gel at mile 6. The mile 6 aid station would yell when they would see anyone and you could hear them from a mile away.

Miles 7-9 10:21 Ave. The sun had come up enough to turn the light off. Right before the mile 9 aid station I tripped on a rock sticking out of the ground and I went down. This was right before we had to go down the stairs. For the rest of the race every time I passed someone they would comment because my shirt was dirty. They would ask if I went down. I didn’t understand this question. It’s a trail race of course I went down. If you don’t go down then you aren’t running hard enough.

Miles 10-12.5 9:36 Ave. This is the most runnable section of the course. I picked it up here and the overall female winner caught me here and we would go back and forth over the next 2 loops.

First Loop 2:07

Miles 13-15 10:05 Ave. I had planned to slow down a little each loop as the temps rise. I was planning on 11 min pace on this loop so I am very happy with this pace. I am starting to pass some of the 50K runners as they ran a 6 mile loop first.

Miles 16-18 10:06 Ave. Still happy with how I feel and my pace. We are running in more sun but the temps are still OK.

Miles 19-21 10:40 Ave. I keep stopping at each aid station and grab a couple of items to eat. I am still doing 2 gels per loop.

Miles 22-25 9:52 Ave. Again the last section is the most runnable. Good pace and the overall female winner is pushing me a little from behind. Every time she passes me as I stop at an aid station I figure she is either going to leave me or she is going to wear out and I will catch her. It is always a little push for me to beat the overall female winner.

Second Loop 2:09 - 4:16 Overall

Miles 26-28 11:32 Ave. It is all out hot now. I hope to hold 11:30 pace on this loop. Good luck as I can feel I am starting to cook. The legs still have plenty left in them.

Miles 29-31 11:36 Ave. I am holding on and pouring water on my head at each aid station. I am taking one Endurolyte every hour. My handheld lasted 15 miles before I had to refill it the first time. I am refilling it at each water stop now. I have it filled with Gatorade and ice.

Miles 32-34 12:02 Ave. I slowed down a little at this point. This is where the 50K sounds like a good idea. It would be nice to be sitting around with a burger and a beer right now.

Miles 35-37.5 11:40 Ave. A little better here but this is the easy section with a little bit of shade. I did catch back up with the overall female and passed her for the last time. As I finished the third loop I felt good and I knew if I ran smart a sub 10 hr. was mine. I figured a sub 10 was a tough goal for me all along. I figured I was more likely to run sub 11. Enough for a Western States qualifier.

Third Loop 2:26 - 6:42 Overall

Miles 38-40 11:37 Ave. My goal this loop is to run sub 13 min pace and even if I run 15 min I will still hit my goal. I find it is hard to make it 3+ miles between aid stations with my one handheld.

Miles 41-43 13:11 Ave. Drinking all I can at aid stations to get me from one to the next.

Miles 44-46 13:24 Ave. At some point I am doing all the funny math in my head and thinking I can go sub 9:20 for the race but after the last 6 miles it looks out of the question. But it looks like I have a shot at sub 9:30 if I hold it together. The last mile here I am being chased down by a guy in a red shirt. He is closing fast and all bets are off once my ego joins the race.

Miles 47-50 10:15 Ave. So I hit the last aid station behind a guy in a black shirt and the red shirt guy comes in behind me. We all go thru the shower to cool down and both of these guys get out of the aid station right in front of me. Black shirt goes easy but red shirt guy is moving and has a pacer wearing jeans. I get behind red shirt guy and see if I can hold on. Once I get going I feel like I can redline at this point and figure if a fly by him with 3+ miles to go he will either go with me and blow up. I figure if all else fails if I can stay close I can out kick him the last ¼ mile which is on the street. After a ½ mile I dropped him and got out of his site so he wouldn’t chase. I kept pushing the whole way to see what I could do.

Fourth Loop 2:37 - 9:19 Overall

Total - 9:19:12
I finished 3rd Masters and 10th overall.

This race went much better than I expected. This was supposed to be a training run for Cactus Rose 50. After how well this went I will probably skip Cactus Rose and work on my speed for some shorter road races. I am still sore 2 days later but that is what they call DOMS. I think my lower mileage training for Lakefront caused my legs to be a little undertrained for this distance. Edgar, Neil and I had a great time. Edgar ran 7:43 and third overall and Neil ran 10:0x and finished with a beer in his hand. That would have made my run better. We drove back that night and I will be back next year. I am still learning not to race Ultras and just enjoy them. I will let the time and place sort itself out. My real talent still probably lies on the road but time will tell. I am still a little scared of running 100 miles.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lakefront Marathon

This was my first small marathon. (3000 runners) Hardly anyone in town even knew there was a marathon going on. We were walking to the host hotel to catch the buses to the start and the streets were empty. We looked at each other and asked if we got the date wrong. It was 5:30 AM in downtown Milwaukee and we did not see another person for the first ½ mile of our walk. I always have a Gatorade in the morning to sip on till the race starts and to wash down my first pre-race GEL. I forgot it in the hotel. We rode the bus to the start and when we got off it was in the mid-30s at Grafton High School. We went in the school and got to hang out and use the bathrooms in the school. About 20 min before the start we went outside and walked to the starting line a couple of blocks away. I lined up about 10 feet from the start. Although small the race officials at this race take the rules very seriously. One walked up to me and asked what time I was shooting for. I told him 2:56 which is maybe top 30 the previous year. He told me if I was going to be top 10 I would need to turn off the GPS on my watch. I could have HR and time but no GPS, headphones or pacers. I figured I was good as I would have to have a great day and the top 20+ racers would have to DNF.

Mile 1 - 6:40 First mile is downhill. Any traffic was done after a ¼ mile.
Mile 2 - 6:32 another downhill mile. I realized I forgot to take a GEL before the race started. Another mistake that probably didn’t amount to much.
Mile 3 - 6:50 this mile was uphill. I took my first GEL at 3.75.
Mile 4 - 6:43 this is where the course just started to roll. Front here to the end the course was consistently going up or down.
Mile 5 - 6:34 First funny mental moment here. I am thinking like I do in all marathons how I am going to write my race report. How I am going to describe how I knew it just wasn’t my day and I just never felt good. Then I looked at my watch and realized that I was a few seconds ahead of pace. I instantly started re-writing my RR in my head. How I started out too fast and crashed later in the race. I giggled at myself and thought, could we just run this race all out and right the race report later. Just too many negative thoughts.
Mile 6 - 6:42
Mile 7 - 6:49 this mile was going thru Concordia University. We had some crowd support but it was very hilly. I think I cussed one of the streets.
Mile 8 - 6:45 this is the first time I started to struggle. I was a third on the way thru but it felt like my legs were already starting to take a beating with all the hills. I made a huge training mistake with this race. I had abandoned my weekly hill runs for more speed and social runs. I was about to pay the price.
Mile 9 - 6:47
Mile 10 - 6:40 at most marathons mile 10 is tough for me. I was mentally prepared and probably overcompensated here. This mile is uphill and still I ran a fast mile.
Mile 11 - 6:43 took my second GEL here. Started to get a side stick soon after that.
Mile 12 - 6:48 I knew I was about 20 seconds behind pace. I was hoping to hold on for now and make it up on some down hills later.
Mile 13 - 6:52 this was not a good split. I hit the halfway point at 1:28:36 about 30 seconds off pace. I figured I could still salvage a 2:57 with a nice 1 min PR.
Mile 14 - 6:44 Pretty close to pace. I just needed to hold this till 20 and then pick it up.
Mile 15 - 6:42 another good mile. Could I hold this for 11 miles? Sounds easy enough.
Mile 16 - 6:38 Wow, this is a good sign. Just 10 more miles of this.
Mile 17 - 6:50 this mile was uphill or my legs were done? I was thinking just a loop around the lake. I meant to teak my GEL this mile and just lost focus and ran thru the water stop with the GEL in my hand. Another mistake.
Mile 18 - 7:00 I really lost it here. I know it was uphill but this was easily 10 seconds too slow. I took a huge mental hit when I saw this split. A mile starting with a 7. (ugggg)
Mile 19 - 6:57 not much better. I thought I always run a couple of 7:0x miles in Boston on the hills. I could pick it back up.
Mile 20 - 6:42 I took my 3rd and final GEL. Somehow I had picked the pace back up. I was not looking at my watch and just going on feel. The problem is I need to press with all I had and instead I think I was jogging.
Mile 21 - 6:47
Mile 22 - 7:11 obviously jogged out this mile. Just a bad job of holding focus. The last 10K is a fight and I just wasn’t able to fight back for whatever reason. I think the legs were too beat up from the hills.
Mile 23 - 7:05 I had kept hearing about a big downhill at 23. I couldn’t find it. It finally showed up at the end of the mile. Since my auto splits were ahead of the mile markers it probably showed up in the next mile.
Mile 24 - 6:53 by now I knew it was just about breaking 3 hrs.
Mile 25 - 7:16 I was pretty well jogging it in and trying my best at math. This is where we hit the beach at the lake and it was starting to get warm. Around 52 degrees I guess.
Mile 26 - 6:56 I figured I was going to have to pick it up a bit to go sub 3. Funny how sub 3 was my ‘C’ goal. How things have changed.
Mile 26.2 - 6:19 I started picking people off the last half mile as I knew I was close. Passed the 4th overall female in the last 200 yards and tried to pull her but she was done.
Total - 2:59:40 Not a PR

Finished 50/1202 overall 5th in Age Group

I had a great time with my friends over the weekend and loved how they all had big PRs. I was probably in 2:58 shape but went for a PR and made too many mistakes. The biggest was my loss of focus over the final 6 miles. I underestimated the course and trained poorly. Too much trail running and slow long runs. And the biggest mistake was not doing my 12-15 mile MLR on my hill route. Because of the summer heat my long runs were too easy and slow. I think Texas runners are much better off to shoot for a marathon a little later in the year so their last two months of training can be in the fall.