Jul 9, 2013

Dawg Gone Long Run 50 Mile

6/29 - Dawg Gone Long Run 50 Mile

-I don't write many of these, but this one just seemed appropriate after I DNF the same race in 2012.

Course: Some of the best single-track around Caesar Creek lake south of SR 73. The largest hill is about 80', however the elevation changes are substantial due to almost constant rollers. Approx 2900'of "rolling".

Conditions (Actual): What a great day for a 50 mile trail run! Couldn’t ask for better weather at the end of June! Low 70's; overcast, changing to sun, changing to rain about 5 hours after the start, back to sun, back to overcast. It started raining about 1:00 – didn’t pour – just a nice shower. Felt good to the runners, but really made the course muddy for part of the second and the third lap.

When we race, most often it is to see what can we do to run our best. Get the most out of ourselves without blowing up or potentially ruining future endeavors. For some it is for the experience to be outdoors and just be glad to finish. We take risks at these ultra distances from 50 Miles and beyond that most people, even "recreational runners" consider crazy. But we keep coming back for more. Keep pushing the envelope.

Saturday was kind of one of those days where I mainly went on feel, but took risks along the way. I fueled about as well as I have for a race aside from running Ice Age Trail 50M on May 9th. I went with a liquid diet of Carbo-Pro/200-300Cals per 20oz bottle, and 4-5 gels per loop. 3 loops x 16.7 Miles! I felt my training was solid leading up to the event, even after a DNF(calf strain) @ mile 77/Kettle Moraine in early June. I wanted to bounce back, get Kettle out of my mind, so DGLR50M seemed like the logical event to tackle.

We started off at 6:30AM. It was somewhat humid, but I had been training in the heat so it didn't feel so bad. My friend Mark Linn and I started off the front, but immediately settled in with 4-5 other guys taking the lead out over the dam portion/road of each loop before heading into the woods at Caesar Creek State Park. We let them go, and I'm sure glad I did. Last year I chased people and came through the first loop in 2:18. It was all downhill from there. We live and we learn.

We hit the trail portion of the course going uphill on nice single track, and within a mile and half ventured across a creek riddled with big rocks and shin deep water. I didn't pick a spot, I just rumbled across it figuring I was going to be wet all day anyway. That proved to be true. The course from this point on became technical in nature from running through sections of waist/chest deep grass, and a lot of mud. Nice greasy clay type mud. 4 of us are running together. One guy isn't carrying anything, not even a small bottle. Another guy I knew from last year, myself and Mark all in line biding our time. Enjoying the conversation during the early portion of the race.

We get to the drop bag spot about 8-9 miles in and really I take my time here filling up my bottle with Carbo-Pro powder and grab a few more gels. Like clock work I was taking a gel every 30-40 minutes. We headed out to hit the back end of the course via another road/highway section and back on to an even more technical/root/rocky part of the trail. Made it through this section feeling great. Kept the heart rate down and came back to finish the loop to refill my bottle, eat another gel and we were off to do it all over again.

The 2nd loop started off about the same. Mark and I together along with another runner who actually was out for an afternoon run. Great guy. Talked with him the entire loop and even ran behind him nearly the entire way. A couple miles in I had to make a detour into the woods and told the guys I'd catch up with them. After the woods, I picked up the pace to catch up as they were probably a quarter mile down the course. I ended up losing Mark behind me at some point after the 8-9 mile mark and wouldn't see him again until after the finish. Like bees on honey I continued to fuel properly and was feeling great. To this point after the 2nd loop, I did not feel spent even with the temp rising and over 33 miles under my belt. Expecting Mark to maybe come in as I refilled my bottle, I took off for the 3rd loop solo.

Over the dam ahead I could see 2-3 runners making there way across back into the woods. I continued to bide my time. I had no idea who had dropped or where the early leaders were. I knew I was in probably 6th or 7th place at that point. So, after the dam I hit the woods and kind of took off a little hoping to catch the few runners that I did see. I caught two runners early before the creek crossing and settled in behind them. One was in the race, the other was just out running to get some miles in. Before long we caught another runner walking and even looped a handful of others. I got to the 8-9 mile aid station and wasted no time filling my bottle. I was out of there quickly. Two of us ran together, walking the hills smartly. Another runner followed us close but we lost sight of him within no time as we were keeping a decent pace. The last section, I knew was going to be a bear because of the technicality of it and the fact my hip flexors were getting tired from tromping through mud all morning. But I pushed on as we passed three more runners who went out fast early and we didn't look back. I knew exactly where we were as we crossed this wooden bridge and uphill getting close to the finish area.

All of a sudden, on the uphill the guy I'm with, Aaron Kramer, makes a move. Picks up the pace with about 400-500 yds to go. It doesn't even register to me that I should go with him. So, I let him go as I make my way through the trees, enjoying the clapping and cheering of the finish area. I was done, but not hammered. I remember thinking I probably could have gone out for another loop if I had to I felt that good. Sometimes things just go our way, but not always. Saturday was one of those days for me.

Loop #1: 2:40:50
Loop #2: 2:49:34
Loop #3: 2:45:06
Finish: 8:15:30 - 3rd OverAll
-My friend Mark would come through for a top 5 finish. So, it was a good all around day for both of us.

Oct 22, 2012

Pacing a 24 Hour!!!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to pace a friend, Adam Weber at the St. Pat's 24 Hour trail race. About a month ago I pulled out of this very same event because of lack of training, fractured left big toe, and achillies tendonitis issues. I thought I might as well still take part in the event one way or another.

So, I used social media. (Face Book) to be exact and let Adam know that I would be willing to pace if he needed it. That was about 10 days before the event. I didn't hear back until the night before the race, when I got a message on my Wall asking me if I still was looking to pace. Immediately I said I'm on board. I told him I'd be out at the park (St. Patrick's Park / South Bend, IN) before 8 PM when they allow pacers.

Well, I got antsy and showed up at the park about 12:30 PM to check on things and get an update on how Adam was doing. They were roughly 4 1/2 hours into the race at that point. I spoke to the RD, Sara Miller. And to my delight, she said I could start pacing whenever I felt like it. Nice!!! I hung around a bit and waited for Adam to finish another 3 mile loop. A little history on this loop. I know it like the back of my hand, I've run it so many times. I know where all the roots are, the bad spots, etc. Adam came in and I introduced myself to him. Yes, we'd never met but on Facebook! It didn't matter. We are runners. That is what we do. Immediately I helped fill his bottle, he ate something, and I told him I'd start pacing around 4PM. He was excited. In the mean time, I spoke with a few New Leaf Ultra Runners - Joe Ventura & Joeliezer Ventura, Matt Treter(crewing/pacing) for his wife, Tiffany Treter, Jeremy Eldrige (running the 12HR), Jen Birkner and Rita Tijerina (running the 24HR). And Eric & Leah Harold even showed up to crew/pace. Nice! We had a full house :). I probably met other runners/crew/pacers, so I apologize for leaving you out :).

Jen Birkner (Matt Treter crewing) - At the aidstation

Joe Ventura - At the aidstation

Barn: Staging area. Start/Finish

After a bit I drove back home and gathered up my running stuff needed for the evening. I already had a drop box nearly ready from previous events, so there really wasn't much to do but plan for the weather. At times it looked like rain in the afternoon, but it never came. It stayed pretty much in the 50's, with patches of sun to the evening. And I was off back to the park. Nice that I only live 15 minutes from this place.

I arrived at the park, and before long Adam came strolling down to the start/finish area and we were off. The first thing I asked was how he was doing? Anything can happen in these races. He had already run 8 hours and 42 miles, so I wasn't expecting much other then I'm hurting somewhat. Two things were aching. His quads and his foot. I asked if he had changed shoes yet? He said, no! Well, when we get back round you are going to change shoes/socks. I took charge :). We ran that first 3 mile loop in 30 minutes. Too fast. Time to slow it down. He went into the barn/staging area and I handed his bottle off to a volunteer for a refill. He changed and we were off, chatting away. We'd run, walk, run, walk. Depending on his comfort level. I'd encourage him as much as possible to run. And came through mile 48 in roughly 35 minutes. Good. Slowed it down. His high goal for the day was to get 100 miles in the 24HR's. Doable, but anything can happen in these event.
And I don't care who you are.

Another few loops went by. Adam would go through many ups/downs. One loop he is feeling great. Another not so much. Night was fast approaching, and there was no sight of rain. We finished up another loop around 7:20ish PM and I ran to the barn, grabbed his headlamp while he was refilling (eating), and we walked fast out of the aidstation. The temperature didn't waver much. I know because I hadn't put gloves on yet, and my hands are usually the first to go.

We kept cranking along, talked about many things. As much as Adam may have wanted to take a break around 9-10PM, I kept him going, made sure he drank fluids every mile or so. Word of warning. Just because it is a 3 mile loop doesn't mean you don't need to drink/eat. You do because for some that 3 miles could take an hour or more, depending on how much you are walking. The majority of our loops stayed in the 40-45 min range.

Around Adam's 20th loop or 60 miles, I made sure he drank some Coke and ate something substantial. Pizza was the choice at the time. I slammed half a RedBull and ate some potatoes. And we were off into the dark. The sky was bright with stars and a crescent moon. Every once in awhile we come across another headlamp/runner fighting just like we were to get it done. One loop at a time. We'd gesture or say a hello and push on. With 6 Hour and 12 Hour runners already done for the day, the trail was pretty depleted of runners.

My goal now as 10PM approached was to keep Adam upright, and on trail. Through the next few hours, the leader would pass us at least 3 times that I recall. I believe he finished with 124 miles. For this course that is pretty stout, considering the amount of roots and variation in terrain. And I don't mean hills because there really is only one on the entire course. The course has fields of grass, tree covered sections with so many leaves that you can't tell what's a root/rock/leaf. And a nasty trail section along the river that is loaded with roots at every turn.

We are on our last loop. It is past Midnight. Adam at this point is wavering between taking a nap or pulling from the race. He is at 78 miles with less then hours to go. I am 8 hours into pacing him. We made a decision coming into the aidstation that he would lay/sit down for the first time all day. My job was done. Adam would take a nap, get up and run an addition 7 miles to set a new PR (85 Miles for 24 Hours). Awesome!!!!!

I had a great time!!!!

Dec 23, 2011

Running Memories - A 12 Year Run!

2005 White River 50 Mile USATF Trail Championships(pic) - Although I've pretty much been a runner since the 6th or 7th grade, which seems like a lifetime ago, 2012 will be my 13th consecutive year of running the marathon distance (26.2) or longer. I've set Personal Records that honestly mean nothing to anyone but me, but I continue to do this because I still like to challenge myself and see where the road or trail takes me. And it has taken me to many places over the years. I have traveled to locals that under normal circumstances I probably would have never thought of going. Race sites like the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, CO, White River 50 Mile near Mt. Rainier in Washington state, Laurel Highlands Trail 70.5 Mile in Ohiopyle, PA, Leadville Trail 100 Mile in Leadville, CO or even Bartlett, IL to run this race, Windburn Six in Stix - 6 Hour on a 2.28 Mile loop in the middle of winter. (pic)- 2006 Leadville Trail 100 Mile - Prerace Briefing! I've had the opportunity to run on top of mountains above 14,000ft, under water and in two different countries during the same race, and on trails through forest that I never thought I'd be. Who drives 7 Hours to run a race (Land Between the Lakes 60K) on a mud infested trail in the pouring rain in 40F temps in Grand Rivers, KY? Runners do! (pic)- 2006 Leadville Trail 100 - Pam @ Altitude :) I even met a great friend of mine, Rob Runkle from Ohio in the "portajohn" line at the 2003 Boston Marathon. We struck up a conversation waiting to take a leak :) and have stayed in touch ever since. We have run a number of races together and stayed at one another's home. Rob has run nearly 70 marathons himself. Maybe more. (pic below)- 2008 Berryman Trail 50 Mile - At the finish! Placed 3rd OverAll These are just some of the things that have kept me motivated over the past few years. To date I have run 36 marathons and 11 Ultras beyond the marathon distance(DNF - Did Not Finish nearly just as many). Five of those DNF's include (5) 100 Mile races! That monkey still sits on my back. I know you hear me Leadville, Kettle Moraine and Mohican. Down but not defeated. (pic)- Pam crewing for me near treeline leading up to the Half Moon Campground during the 2006 Leadville Trail 100 - It comes with the territory. I will get that 100 Mile finish. 100 Mile Finishes/WINS - This guy sets the standard in my opinion. Along the way I have knocked off 11 states (CO, IL, IN, KY, MA, MI, OH, PA, TX, WA, WI). That is chump change compared to what these guys have accomplished: 50 States Marathon Club or even these maniacs - Marathon Maniacs. I mean, some people say those runners have to be out of their minds. I mean, who does that? Runners do! I've run the Sunburst Marathon 7 times because the start/finish are 15 minutes from my house, the Chicago Marathon 4 times and the Boston Marathon 4 times to name a few. I've been injured (Sacrum Fracture/2005 after running a marathon - Took 7 weeks off and ran another marathon 4 weeks later), hit the WALL, PR'd and even won a few races. Heck, during my 1st Boston Marathon in 2003 I literally walked the last 7 miles to the finish with a sidestitch from HELL. (pic)- 2007 Leadville Trail 100 Mile - Coming into the Twin Lakes aidstation(mile 39ish) 2012 is going to be a fun year running. I will complete my 10th lifetime half marathon in Michigan - Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon. And to think there are runners out there who run that many in half a year or less. Check out these Half Fanatics. Trust me on this. That is what Runners do! Why do they keep going back for more? Everyone has their own motivation. I will be running at night on a trail in the middle of winter during the Planet Adventure Winter Trail Marthon. Yes, this one starts at 6:00PM! I will run in circles, yes circles during the Circle Logic Marathon. A 1 Mile paved loop 26 times! And I'll make another attempt at qualifying for a 5th Boston Marathon at the Carmel Marathon in April. 2007 Boston Marathon(pic) - I'm older now so I need to run 3:20 or faster, but really need to run at least 3:15 to even be considered because of the new standards. 5-6 years ago, qualifying wouldn't have been an issue. Heck, I probably even took it for granted being able to qualify at nearly every marathon I ran in. Set a goal and go after it. Many other races will fill my schedule including another possible crack at the 100 Mile distance. The question is can I stay motivated long enough to put in the training that is needed. If I want it bad enough then I'll train for it because that is what Runners do! Running isn't everything to me, but it definitely has become a big part of who I've become. The journey continues on. 2009 John Dick Crusty Memorial 50K(pic)

Nov 14, 2011

2011 Race Valpo 13.1 - WINDY!!!!!! (30-35mph / 40mph Gusts)

My friend Bob and I started off with everyone else right into the wind. Like a headwall really. Started off conservatively for the first mile and just let people go. I figured if things went well then we'd end up picking off a number of them down the road. I hadn't run on the pavement since (Chicago Lakefront 50M - 37.50Mile DNF). No worries. Not like it was foreign. And the wind never let up. Even when I was running straight it would push me from the left or right into the middle of road at times with the gusts. Once in awhile there would be some trees for a break. Between mile 7-8 Bob and I caught this young kid who couldn't have been more then 11-12 years old. Told him he looked smooth and to keep fighting and went by him. Just before the 8 mile marker we hung a right onto this open section of road and headed Southwest into what seemed like a headwall. Bob and I separated as another runner went right by us straight into the wind. It was all I could do to keep upright and moving forward. It was like running hill repeats but the road was pancake flat. With only 5 miles to go I started to feel the fatigue of the wind. But got a breather for a couple of miles as the wind was to my left now but still pushing me. Bob was still in my sights, but I knew there was no way I was going to catch him. I knew down the road just before mile 10 I would have to head back into the wind before making another right turn for another breather. It didn't seem like much though as it was pushing me from the left again into the middle of the road. I started to feel good again. Right around mile 11 I started picking more runners off who were either walking or really struggling. One guy who went out way to fast was walking. As I came up to him I told him, come on you can run my pace, stay with me. He did for about 100 yds and I didn't see him again. Now I was focused on going after as many runners as possible. I hit mile 12 and the wind now was behind me pushing really hard. I didn't mind it as it felt like I had a fresh set of legs. I picked two more runners off with less than a half mile to go. Saw the clock and was sure I could break 1:34. Just missed it at 1:34:08. Nice improvement from last year's time (1:36:48). Result: 27th/535 Finishers and 2nd 40-44AG. And they gave us a nice cold weather hat from Saucony along with a certificate. That was pretty nice. And a sweet technical race shirt. For a $30 race that is pretty good. Definitely going to make this an annual event. Really well organized. The volunteers were great and to be out on a day as windy as this I commend them. The postrace chili was really a nice treat along with two bananas and apple cider. Splits: Mile1 - 7:20, Mile2 - 7:16, Mile3 - 7:12, Mile4 - 6:57, Mile5 - 7:02, Mile6 - 6:53(Gel), Mile7 - 7:06, Mile8 - 7:26, Mile9 - 7:43, Mile10-7:43, Mile11-7:27, Mile12-7:20, Mile13.1-6:37 - Talk about a huge tailwind. I felt like I was running fast, but that wind pushed me hard.

Oct 31, 2011

Chicago Lakefront 50 Mile - DNF @ 37.50 Miles

Wow! What a morning. Never really expected to DNF this race. However, going in I had it in the back of my mind that this would no doubt be one of the hardest races to this point in my short life. All "paved" for 50 Miles (4 x 12.5 Mile out/back). I mean, I've run 50 Miles before (White River, Glacial Trail, Berryman Trail, Bull Run Run) and have even run longer (Laurel Highlands Trail 70.5 Mile), but all were on for the most part soft trails. And I've run more marathons on the pavement then I'd like to count right now. The last time I ran a race on pavement was a 3:27 @ Carmel Marathon in June. After that I ran a few short road runs, but mainly concentrated on hitting the trails fairly hard for the tough course at Glacial Trail 50K, three weeks out from the Chicago race. Well, in between Glacial and Chicago, I got sick. And a mighty chest cold came on. No excuses. I'm running regardless. And race morning came and we are off. I started off the front running beside Chuck Schultz, who by the way recently finished a Triple Ironman! The guy is a beast. The morning was crisp in the upper 30s. Right from the get go, you can usually tell who is going to fly off the front. And one guy certainly did and never looked back finishing in 5:32 (remember this time) in what I think is the 2nd or 3rd fastest 50M of the year. All within weeks of one another. Another guy who shot off was Inov-8 Team Manager, Mark Lundblad. A heck of runner in his own right. We started in the dark, but with so many city lights and a glare off Lake Michigan, a headlamp wasn't needed. Chuck and I would run about 2-2.5 miles together and then we got separated. From this point on I would run solo even though I'd see countless runners and bikers throughout the morning. Running solo can be hard, but I've never thought of it that way. Things were going smooth. I decided to go with a waist pack and a 10oz bottle with a couple extra pouches attached to the front. The plan was to take at least 3 gels a loop. I look ahead and a volunteer biker is stopped ahead of me. It is the 5k mark and I come through at 23:ish on my watch. I'm not breathing hard, not pushing. I head toward the New Leaf Ultra Runners / CHUGS aidstation and Brian Gaines is there to high five me as I run by. I hit the turnaround near McCormick place or roughly 6.25 miles in 42:ish on the watch and head back to the start. As I'm running back I greet other runners making the same trek. I hit the aidstation and Brian Gaines encourages me on telling me I am looking strong. And I was feeling just that way. On the way back to the start, I notice that I am in 4th or 5th spot and come through 12.5 Miles in 1:34ish on the clock. And just like that after a fill up of the bottle I am gone. Feeling really strong. The next 12.5 Miles out/back would feel nearly the same. I hit the turnaround at McCormick and not long after that a runner passes me. No big deal. Just prior to arriving back at the start, another runner yells out to me that you are in 4th place. That really was the farthest thing from my mind. I had a long way to go. I get back to the start in 3:09. Pretty consistent loop in 1:34ish. And after asking the volunteer to fill my bottle with half Coke/half water I am off. About the 3-4 miles later, my day would start to unfold. I get past the aidstation where Brian Gaines was manning with a number of other volunteers (thank you by the way) and my upper back starts to tighten up. Like my arms seemed to start freezing up a little. Weird feeling really. Then all of a sudden my right arm becomes limp/numb. I'm still running as I head toward the turnaround and greet Geoff and Paige Dunmore out for a casual run. They encourage me on. Now I feel I'm in a little trouble. My right hand turns cold. I'm thinking maybe it is a salt issue. So, I pop 2 E-caps and walk a little. I'm just past 31 miles or 4:09 in the race. I run some, walk some. My back isn't loosening up. I get to Brian's aidstation and tell him that my right arm went numb and I can't move it. However, I head out of the aidstation and run on. Before long I am walking, running, walking. I assess my issues as I'm plodding on and my back isn't giving me an inch. My arm is about the same. I hit the start area or 37.5 Miles in 5:32. Well, the winner of the race arrives right behind me. I stand there for a few minutes and realize the fun of day was gone inside me. And realized that if that is gone. I am done. I pull out of the race. I felt I ran fairly strong for 31 Miles. Today just wasn't my day. There will be other races. I'm not defeated although I may have felt that way out on the course. Things happen and I can accept that. I'll be back.

Oct 12, 2011

2011 Glacial Trail 50K (RaceReport) - Thankful for my "crew lady"

2 weeks before the Glacial Trail 50K, I emailed the race director, Robert Wehner and asked if I could be moved up to the 50 Mile race. He said sure, no problem at all. Just let me know if anything changes. Well, not that I couldn't have run it, but I came to my senses and quickly switched back to the 50K within a day or so. For one I knew how rocky/technical this course can be after having run the 50 Mile event back in 2006, and although training had been going as planned I wasn't so sure I was ready to test my knee at 50 Miles. And running the 50K would give me a chance to start off running with a friend, Mike Henze (2nd American / 2010 24hr World Championships). Surprisingly, this was Mike's first 50M back in 2006. For most ultras below 100 Milers, I don't usually need a crew person and mostly rely on myself and the aidstations. Well, just so happens that my wife, Pam had the following week off after the race and I asked her to make the trip with me for a nice little getaway. Not new to this ultra stuff, Pam has crewed me at many races. I by no means planned to race this 50K as the goal was to finish strong. But if things went well then having someone at the aidstations to hand out a bottle and extra gels, it could save a little time. So, after arriving at the hotel in Sheboygan, WI, we drove to Greenbush(start/finish) so that we could scout out the aidstations for Pam to easily find during the race. The good thing is that the 50K runners only needed to hit two aidstations twice. The 1st at the HWY 67 road crossing and the 2nd at Butler Lake. And the next morning came and we were off. Mike, myself and his friend Andy were off the front with about 10 other runners. I'm guessing by the time we exited the short road section to the trail there were at least 15 runners ahead of us. No worry for concern. The plan was to go out conservative and let the trail come to us. And we did just that talking nearly the entire time heading into the HWY 67 aidstation(outbound) at the 7 Mile point. We arrived in there around 1:03ish on the watch. Pam quickly spotted me coming and had a bottle ready with a couple extra gels and I was off. She was that efficient. I was feeling really good. And just like that we Mike took off blasting out of the aidstation heading for the pines. I gradually picked up the pace to match his and he bombed down some rocky hills like they were nothing. I stayed about 20-25 yds behind. And what seemed like maybe a couple miles out from the aid, I for some reason just picked up the pace and was running solo. I wouldn't see Mike again until the turnaround. At this point, I'm humming along doing my best not to do anything stupid and hit a rock that would easily take me down. On occasion I'd catch up to a runner and we'd run together chatting awhile. For the most part, I'd say I ran the next 5-6 miles solo into the Butler Lake aidstation at mile 13.3, down the steep steps with Pam ready again to hand me a bottle of HEED and extra gels. Within 10-15 seconds I was off solo again heading for the turnaround. Making my way there, I began to notice some of the early front runners making their way back to Butler Lake. I assessed how some of them looked. A few still had their game faces on and some not so much. One in particular who had her game face on was Cassie Scallon from Colorado. She was I'd say about 6th or 7th place after making the turn. I quickly made the turn after a short downhill section in about 2:22 on the clock. This would be the last time I'd look at my watch as I headed back toward Butler Lake for a 2nd time. To this point I had experienced very few low points in the race. If one did come along it only lasted about 20-30 seconds because I refused to let anything get to me. If my heartrate went up then I'd calm it down by slowing just enough. I came into Butler Lake as Pam handed me a fresh bottle and two more gels. I was off and chasing two runners who gave me a little extra motivation. We headed through a grassy section of the trail that gradually climbed uphill. They ran it and I chose to hike it fast. Eventually I would catch both of the runners as we made our way toward the 2nd passing at the HWY 67 aidstation. Me and another runner, Joel Lammers were chatting it up a bit and thinking we had at least 10 minutes to the aidstation at least. And just like that out of the pine trees there was the aidstation. Man, that section went quick we thought. I quickly grabbed a bottle from Pam and was off. Joel jokingly said I'll see you at the finish. And I said, no I'll see you at the finish. Shortly there after he took off after me. As I crossed HWY 67 I noticed another runner walking. I caught him and encouraged him on as I ran on. I somehow found another gear and picked up the pace. I was running solo and powerhiking most of the bigger hills, making sure I didn't catch my foot on a rock that would have been more than happy to take me down. Joel caught me and pushed on as I kept him insight. We'd caught 2-3 others runners making their way toward the finish. As I made a pass, I encouraged them on and didn't look back. With about 2 miles to go I caught up another runner and ran a few strides behind him as we exited the trees on to the road. We ran stride for stride as I told him if you want to pick it up, by all means. Not long after, Joel Lammers hit the road behind us about 30-40yds. I yelled back, "come up Joel catch up." At that point it didn't matter what place we finished we were so close. As we approached the finish, I could see the clock, Pam, and everyone cheering. The guy running next to me said that he was going to pick it up. I said it is all yours, go for it. I looked at the finish clock and couldn't believe that I had run the time that I did (4:33) and ran the 2nd half faster then the 1st half. Especially on a course like this one. Finished 5th Overall (4th male). Cassie Scallon ended winning the 50K outright in 4:15, smashing the female course record by over 6 minutes. I'm guessing she will be one to look out for down the road. And by the way, she recently as of 09/25/2011 won the Lake Tahoe 72 Mile Run in 10:52. ------------------------------------------ So, when you don't think you need a crew person, think again. It certainly made my morning go about as smooth as possible. Thanks again dear!!!!!

05/17/08 - Berryman Trail 50 Mile (Race Report)

My training partner Brett and I signed up for the Berryman Trail races back in late March. I would be running the 50M event while Brett would be running the marathon (his first trail race) or the "fun run" as the website stipulates. I was excited for him and excited for as well as I hadn't run a race since Louisville's Lovin the Hills 50K back in February. I was way under trained for that event, but finished and knew I had alot of work to do come May 17th. Sure, training can be fun, but there comes a point in time when you really need to get back in the game, back where I feel most comfortable and that is racing.

My biggest issue coming into this race was a bout with ITBand irritation in my left leg. It would come and go, but at times it was excruciating following some runs. Come late April I even emailed the RD to ask if it was possible to move down to the marathon distance as I wasn't entirely sure I would be adequately trained come race day. She said that I could once the race starts, but wouldn't be eligible for any awards. So, I completely pulled myself off the road and concentrated solely on training on the trails. In the past when training for ultras I would use a combination of road marathons/trail running. Leaving the pavement behind helped. Even during trail tempos I experienced no problems the following day and was able to bounce back. I was ready for the challenge. From this point on I wouldn't second guess my decision to stay in the 50M race.

Brett and I set off for our destination, Potosi, MO. A small town about 74 miles southwest of St. Louis. Not far from where we'd be racing at the Berryman Campground inside Mark Twain National Forest. This area of the country is quite beautiful and hilly. I did a little research on the course, but one never knows until they actually get out there as to what it’s like. Sometimes it is best not knowing what you are getting yourself into.

Course: Two loops (24.8M per loop) for the 50 mile, 1 for the Marathon, plus a short out and back for each event on a gravel road. There is one crossing of Brazil Creek per loop. The course crosses many other stream beds that may or may not have water in them depending on recent rainfall. Aid Stations will be approximately every 4 to 5 miles apart.

After arriving in Potosi we dropped our stuff off at the local Super 8. A great place to stay for the race and cheap$$. Plus, they had a great breakfast buffet. And the fact that it is located only 15-20 minutes from Berryman Campground. So, we headed out to the campground to pick up our race packets and found they were just getting things set up. It was pretty low key, so we gathered our packets and headed back into Potosi for a bite to eat and some rest as the race would be starting at 6:30AM. We did notice however that the temperature was a bit warmer than northern Indiana and they were predicting start temps in the 50s with a high in the lower 80s. That concerned me a little, but what could we do. At least we'd be running under the canopy.

Going in I really had no expectations as far as finishing time for this ultra. Brett said he'd like to run right around 5hrs. Not knowing what the course was like I through a time out there late on Friday evening prior to the race of 9hrs, but "finishing" was what I was really after.

We turned in somewhat early for a 4:00AM wakeup. I slept about as well before a race as I probably ever had. Everything was ready and we headed toward the campground. The day finally arrived. It was a cool morning, but the sun was slowly rising over a ridge. There wouldn't be a cloud in the sky on this day. We arrived at the campground as others were pulling in. Each of us put a drop bag down for the 16 mile mark after crossing Brazil Creek.

After a few late instructions from the RD, Brett and I wished each other luck and we were off on the short out-n-back section on the gravel road. The 50 Milers would cover .4 miles on the road and the marathoners 1.4 miles before heading back into the woods to start the loop. I started right off the front as did two other 50M runners and a few marathoners. I didn't know these two runners, but by the looks of it they were seasoned trail runners. I stayed close behind them from the start as we entered the trail and was right on their heels. The beginning of the trail is made up of rocky/root covered sections. There were a few dry creek beds, but most had water running through them. The cold water felt pretty good, but my goal was to stay as dry as possible. I stayed with the lead runners just before the first aid station at 4.45 miles. They were going a bit faster than I wanted to go this early and my heart rate was telling me to back off. About that time, just before AS#1, another 50M runner came up behind me and passed. I stayed with him as we headed into AS#1. We left as soon as we came in not wasting any time. I was close behind him. Not far from AS#1 he caught his foot on a rock and rolled it pretty good. I asked him if he was alright and told him to walk it off. Don't run on it immediately. This would plague him all day. Most if not all of this section was very runnable aside from navigating the rockier creek areas.

In 3rd place again, a few of the lead marathoners were making their way along the course. I graciously ran to the right side of the single track letting them pass as their day would end way before mine would. Staying with them would be a huge mistake. I would have no part of that. Over this time as I headed into AS#2 and AS#3, I made sure to power walk nearly every hill. I ran some of them, but it made no sense to waste quad strength that I would need late in the race. By this time the 50M runner who had rolled his ankle was behind me once again and I let him pass. He was running all the hills, but was having a heck of time on the downhill portions where I would trade places with him again and again. I was feeling really good. As we headed into AS#3, another marathoner came in as I was leaving. He caught me going out and we ran together, chatting it up. This section to AS#4 at Brazil Creek ended up being more horse trail then single track. Quite muddy at times, but nothing that stopped me from running through and around it. We headed down the rocky section to Brazel Creek at mile 16 on the course. You had no choice but to jump into the cool water and across. I actually didn't mind it. As soon as you get across and run through a bit of sand, the course veers to the right to the aid station at the campground. I grabbed a glass of coke and filled my hand held with half gator”barf”/half water and grabbed a handful of gummy bears. To this point I was eating Sharkey's and Energy Beans from my belt and the occasional GU.

We left AS#4 through a small clearing and out onto the only paved road section on the course. I decided to walk half of it before heading back onto the trail into the woods. Soon after I would catch the marathoner I had run with prior and we chatted awhile. The pace felt comfortable so I went with it. He told me there are days when he'll mountain bike this course and then run it. I could probably do it but when it comes to biking I'm a green horn and would probably hurt myself on this course. From this point on we would run together until he finished. Most of the bigger (long) hills were from 16 miles on until the completion of the first loop. I would continue to power walk the hills as fast as I could while the two runners I was with would run them. Again, after the hill I would catch them shortly after.

We made it into AS#5 (19.5M) and filled up. I chose to stay away from any solid foods. Nothing looked good to me at the time. I was drinking well and popping an S-cap nearly every 1hr-1.5hrs. One of the volunteers told me he'd have ice and popsicles for the 2nd loop. I told him I'd hold him to it and laughed as we headed out toward AS#6. More climbing ensued, but alot of this section was easy running.

We headed into AS#6 greeted by two lovely ladies, filled up quickly and were gone. One more longggg climb remained and then some rollers back to Berryman Campground to end the first loop. I was feeling good as I came through the start/finish area in 3:49. Maybe a little to good as the temperature was rising. Here you had the option of dropping to the marathon distance by running an additional out-n-back if things weren’t going as planned. I filled up quickly and was out of there. Now I was thinking that maybe I had a shot at setting a new PR. Two other runners came in behind me at the end of the loop and quickly caught me. The guy who rolled his ankle early on and another runner I had not seen to this point in the race. I let them both by and stayed close behind the runner hobbling on his ankle. He quickly pulled off to the side as we headed into AS#1 and I wouldn't seem him again until the race was over. The other guy took off down the trail.

From this point on I would run solo the remainder of the race aside from coming up behind a few late marathon runners. I think at the time I was in 4th place. It was getting hotter. Each time I stepped out of the shade on the trail into the sunlight the sun seemed that much warmer. I kept moving forward. Just before Brazil Creek I came upon 5 horses and their riders on the muddier section of the trail. I quickly moved off to the side not wanting to spook them as they went by. I crossed the creek into the Brazil Creek AS and joked with the two girls volunteering, asking them if this was a school project or were they just giving up their Saturday for us. I thanked them and quickly left. Things were still going well. As I excited Brazil Creek and out on to the small road section I chose to walk the entire length of it until reaching the woods and took off once again. More climbing would ensue. To this point I still had my legs and had no problems running without having to grimace in pain because my quads hurt like in past races.

For some reason with like 5-6 miles to go I kept thinking about the lead female catching me. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it is my competitive nature or something. The funny thing is that I didn’t know who it was and didn’t see her all day. I suppose this motivated me a bit to push on harder. I had two more aid stations to go to the finish. With 6:35 on my watch I headed into the 2nd to last AS. Low and behold they had ice and a lime freeze pop. Just like the guy said that he would. I filled up my bottle and walked out of the AS. Man did that freeze pop hit the spot.

Within a quarter of a mile leading into the last aid station I noticed the runner who passed me at the beginning of the 2nd loop was limping. I asked him if he was ok as I went by and told him to walk it off to the next AS. Now I was in position to take 3rd overall and a new PR was within reach. I entered the last AS and quickly exited after a fill up. I knew there was one long climb to go. I knew I would really have to push myself at this point. I wasn’t struggling, but at this point in the race with it being over 80F, I felt depleted. I could feel the salt hanging on my face and arms. I knew the finish was near. After power walking the last climb, I took off only seeing a few late marathon runners ahead on the trail. I exited the woods and across the gravel road and could nearly see the finish area. I picked it up a bit as they rang the cowbells with people cheering me on. It felt good to be done although I would have pushed on had the race been longer. I met Brett at the finish. He had finished his first trail marathon in 5:17. I was happy for him.

Finish: 3rd Overall (8:30:09PR) - (Old 2006 PR: 8:43:55)
1st Place – 7:37
2nd Place – 7:54