Dec 19, 2010

(2) 20 Milers - 13 days Apart!

13 days ago, I ran a solo 20 miler @ Dr. TKLawless Park. A winter storm had set in, but I wasn't about to let it sway me from getting out on the sweet single track. Here is what the conditions looked like at the park on 12/05. I had recently been sick with fever/cold/congestion, but didn't want to waste the opportunity. The drive out to the park was eventful. Drifting snow across the country roads. I arrived thinking I would go for 10M at least and see how it felt, finishing the first loop in 1:28:45 with alot of energy. So, I immediately turned the corner at the parking lot and headed out for a 2nd 10M. I felt even stronger, except for the last mile, where I had to really dig deep. Finished the 2nd loop 1:26:22 for a 2:56:07 finish. I was extremely pleased with the run. Now to the 2nd 20 Miler! Since the last 20 Miler on 12/05, a considerable amount of snow had fallen. Not an extreme amount, but enough to make the trails tougher to navigate at TKLawless Park. This time, my running partner, Bob would be joining me for his 1st 20 Mile trail run. I knew he could do it because he had been training hard. We set off about 8:00AM with hydration packs on our backs in 5-6F temps. I lead the way, and right off the bat, I could tell the footing was going to be a bear. The night prior I purposely placed 19 screws in each trail shoe (Inov-8 Roclite 312 GTX) for extra traxtion. It was working fairly well. Just after the 1st mile, Bob asks me what pace are we running? I said, let's not worry about pace and just run. Knowing we went through the 1st mile in 10:10. It felt like work, but not to the point where I thought, "is this really worth it?" We ran on and stayed together through the 1st loop in 1:36:59. I was happy with that time on our feet. I was tired and I assumed Bob was to, but we turned the corner and went out for the 2nd loop. Aside from being tired from the hills and pushing through the snow, my only issue was the fact that my hydration system froze up and I did not get one drink on the first loop. No worry, I had taken 3 gels. Bob stayed with me on the 2nd loop for almost 3 miles. I had reservations in my head about actually making it the full 20 Miles. I was getting tired, my legs were getting tired. I pushed on and looked back a time or two to see how Bob was doing. The good thing is that we hiked the majority of the larger hills (just like any good ultrarunner should). After hitting the 5M point on the 2nd loop, I lost contact with Bob and didn't see him for awhile. I picked up the pace a little despite the fact that I felt like I was going aneorobic alot. After hitting the 8M mark, I pushed harder and tried running as much of the hills as possible and finished in 1:34:33 for a 3:11:33 finish. I knew Bob still pushing because I saw him slightly before he would hit the hill to get the 9M point. He came in just under 8 minutes behind me. I was happy for him. He broke a new barrier and stayed in the game. Me, on the hand am happy about my progress. I am well on my way to hopefully running another race soon. Here is a pic right after I finished running. I was so cold, I could barely crack a smile.

Nov 16, 2010

11/13/2010 - "Race 13.1 Valpo"

The thing is that I had no plans to do another race this year. I hadn't run an event since July. Really, I was content on doing just that until I happened upon this half marathon the week of the race. I had been training somewhat (on trails), but hadn't run on the road for any extended period of time since August. So, the week of the race, I talked my friend Bob into running the event as well. I really wasn't sure what to expect from this race. I mean with limited road training "pounding" and November weather in Indiana being unpredictable, what was I thinking? So, based on previous results from "this year", I figured I could manage to safely run 7:30/pace for 13.1 miles. We set off the morning of the race and made the hour+ trip to Valparaiso, IN. Arriving much earlier then we expected with well over an hour to go before the gun would go off. No problem! We managed to get a great parking spot, yards from the start/finish. I also noticed the weather was actually warmer then expected and overcast. Would it rain? I was hoping not, but what can you do if it does. RUN!!!! And we were off. My friend Bob and I started off together. I told him right off the bat that my goal was to average 7:30/pace so that I could run on Sunday. We started off way to fast. 6:41 first mile to be exact. Way to fast. 2nd mile 7:09. Ouch! I felt anaerobic right after that 2nd mile. I told Bob, it is time to rain this puppy in. So, I did. And told him at any point he wants to go ahead, by all means. The course was a loop that took us out around an airport(windy) and onto country roads(windy). Bob would go ahead of me about 30-40yds and I'd let him go, only to reel him back in. I stayed between 7:22-7:39/pace the remainder of the race, except the last mile was a little slower. Bob went ahead and finished 1:35ish and I came through in 1:36:48 - 7:23/pace - 47/447 finishers - 6th(40-44 AG). Splits - 1st(6:41), 2nd(7:09), 3rd(7:24), 4th(7:20), 5th(7:24), 6th(7:22), 7th(7:30), 8th(7:30), 9th(7:39), 10th(7:31), 11th(7:36), 12th(7:34), Last 1.109375(8:07/This last 1M+ averaged out to a 7:19/pace). I picked off at least 6-7 runners in the last mile(some walking). I was pleased with the outcome so much I decided to hit the trail the next day for a longish run. And I didn't feel beat up. I went out and ran the 10M TK Lawless mountain bike trail in 1:19:42 Ran it the previous Sunday in 1:22ish. Some nice hardware!

Sep 2, 2010

August & September are Quickly Gone!

After my last event in July - Sunburn Six in the Stix 6HR, where I ran 38.50M on an extremely hot(90F+) day, I marched on. I had planned to run a few more races, prior to this but somehow that didn't happen. Training thru August and September were quite trying at times. I ran a considerable amount of hours/mileage, but neglected to post a training run either month. I know I did run 79 miles during one week in September. I have everything written down and will eventually get it on my blog. Time to start a new chapter!

Jul 21, 2010

7/17 - Sunburn Six in the Stix - 6 Hour Event

Initially I was not even going to do this event. I had a terrible time with the heat at Laurel Highlands in June, dropping at the 32 mile mark, that I thought why even give this race another go around. I had previously run Sunburn in 2009, but only as a training run (27M/3:27). Never intending to run the full 6 hours last year. But it is hard to pass up a FREE event, even if the temperature gets into the 90s. So, I set off for Bartlett, IL with Brett, his son Marshall and Brandon(Brett's friend) at 5:00AM for a day of running in the SUN. We arrived early enough to set up our gear as this also is an unsupported event. Before long, other runners were beginning to show. 67 runners signed up. After chatting a little and a few last encouraging words from the RD, Brian Gaines, we were headed to the start line. I was right at the front with Matt Condron. Another runner who I ran with in 2009. His goal was to equal what he ran last year. Somewhere in the 41M-42M range. Me! I was looking at 55K-60K or a max of 37ish miles. The sun was already beating down on us and a 2.28 mile crushed limestone, loop course that was totally exposed to the elements. No shade!!!!! And were off at 7:30AM, just like any other race with runners strung out like a snake. Matt and I immediately took off quickly. I could already feel the sun/heat fairly well. I chose to go with no shirt, a visor, road shoes, a 20oz handheld with 2gels and shorts of course :). The first loop went pretty smooth, but much quicker then we ran last year. If I'm not mistaken, we were running 8:00/pace last year and 18ish minutes from the get go per loop. This year it was around 7:40/pace and we came through loop #1 in 17:44, loop #2 in 17:41, loop #3 in 17:25 and loop #4 in 17:20. Way to fast with only an hour+ under our belts. What the heck was I thinking. Here we are still together. Smiling maybe? Matt and I would stay together for 3 more loops (#5-17:38, #6-17:34, #7-17:48) for tad over 2hours of running. I knew then that I had to make the call. Keep going and risk another DNF or slow the hell down. I chose the latter and it turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my day. To that point in the event, I had only stopped once to refill my bottle as Marshall handed me a couple of gels along the way. I wasn't afraid to run solo as the majority of my training was just like that. Each loop from this point on I would make a short 30-40 second pitstop at the aid point to refill and quickly get out. Never thinking that I was going to sit down or stop at any point. I was having to much fun. Even though I was extremely overheated. However, I was taking a gel nearly every loop and it was going down just fine. I was not taking in enough S-caps. I knew this, but didn't think much of it. Each time in I would drench myself with cold water on my head and neck. My next few loops went like this: (#8-20:06, #9-21:28, #10-21:26, #11-21:39). Here is Brett and Brandon motoring along: After the 11th loop, I could really feel the heat boring down on me. I needed to keep cooler while out on the course. I passed multiple runners many times throughout the morning. Quite a few were still running, but alot more were walking as well. Who could blame them. It was over 90F by now. So, after loop 11, I took a hand towel and drenched it with ice water and draped it over my head. It looked a little odd, maybe, but it kept me much cooler. To this point in the event, no one passed me and I didn't see Matt. Where was he? I knew he was out there somewhere lurking. That probably motivated me somewhat to keep moving along quickly as I could (he would tell later that was a motivating factor for him as well, knowing I was out there somewhere). Before long, there he was about 1/4-1/2 mile ahead of me. He looked about as good as I did I guess. HOT and battered. My next few loops would go like this and the slow down would begin: (#12-22:38, #13-24:16, #14-24:22, #15-27:43). The last couple of loops I had walked a little or even slowed down to the point where it felt like I was crawling. The first 7 loops and the heat were catching up with me big time. However I knew I had one more in me before I would resort to running only the shorter 1/2 mile loop to end the race. I willed myself around the course to loop #16-27:23). Looked at my watch and there was about 20 minutes to go. No way could I make another loop, so I took off and started run/walking the first shorter loop. I wasn't but maybe a 1/4 mile into the loop when Matt comes up behind me and we say a few words. He finally passes me, going out for his 18th loop, which would have been my 17th had I enough time to push for it. I ended the 1st shorter loop in 8:57. Wow! For a 1/2 mile that is way slow, but with nearly 6hours under your belt, not so much. I would run 3 more shorter loops. #2=5:22, #3-6:23. Just before I started the final loop, RD Brian Gaines shouts out, "You guys have a little over 5:00to go. You can get another one in". I ran out of there like I was just starting a race and pushed myself around the loop in 5:00 with 10 seconds to spare. The day was over! I finished 2nd OverAll with 38.50 miles (Matt Condron - 41.50 miles) A building block toward my 24 hour race in either September(NorthCoast 24hr) or October(St.Pats 24hr).

May 24, 2010

National Heritage Corridor 25K (RR) (1:55:41)

I'll make this a brief report this go around. The day prior to the race, I ran 21 Miles on the trail. Yes, to get some good mileage in. But also to challenge myself to see if I had it in me to actually push myself hard during this race. The NHC 25K is not your typical 25K race. It is 99% on a gravel surface trail (I&M Canal Trail), but as I found out washed out in a few spots and fairly hard packed on a few other sections. Overall, I liked the course and was able to push as hard as I wanted to. Time to get ready for battle: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Splits: Mile 1 - 6:57, Mile 2 - 7:30, Mile 3 - 7:16, Mile 4 - 7:17, Mile 5 - 7:22, Mile 6 - 7:19, Mile 7 - 7:23, Mile 8 - 7:19, Mile 9 - 7:15, Mile10- 7:17, Mile11- 7:20, Mile12- 7:24, Mile13- 7:31, Mile14- 7:30, Mile15- 7:38------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Battling the heat of the morning. And using the fluid stations efficiently. Myself and the guy behind me in the pic would run together for about 10 miles / push each other roughly the entire race. He fell off the pace around mile 12, where I ran solo to the finish, passing 3 runners in the process. The last 3 miles were pretty tough as the previous days long run was starting to set in. Of course the heat played a major factor as well. I found out later, the guy I was running with actually finished 3 minutes ahead of me at the Quarryman Challenge 10 Mile, two weeks prior. And he is at least 15 years younger then me :). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Temperature: 68F @ Start and would climb over 80F Place: 12th Overall / 182 Finishers / 3rd 40-44AG / 30 DNFd -Overall, I am happy with the result of the weekend. I battled through a few rough patches during the race, when I could have easily fell off for one reason or another. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A few nice pics of the park and setup area:

May 9, 2010

5/8 Quarryman Challenge 10M (RR)

Quarryman Challenge 10M - Lemont, IL Goal - 7:20/pace or around 1:13 Based on recent race finishes: Feb(5Miler @ 7:07/pace) Mar(5k @ 6:55/pace) Apr(5k @ 6:36/pace) And I even went to McMillan Running, which said I could run a 1:11 on the recent 5k time and 1:14:48 based on the 5M finish. So, I was being realistic. I went into this race knowing three things: 1) The course was fairly hilly. See here: Elevation 2) It was windy and chilly! Around 17-20mph and mid 40s for the temperature. I mentioned to my friend John, who was also racing that this brought back memories of the 2006 Detroit Marathon, when the wind reached speeds of 35mph. 3) I hadn't raced at this distance previously and it would be my longest road race in 3 years. I was pretty excited for this race to come. My original plan was to run another 5k somewhere in the Chicago area, but my left knee (ITBand issues) has been responding nicely to training fairly hard. And mostly on trails. However, would the lack of road training in the last 4-5 weeks propel me to the finish I was after? John and I made the roughly 2hr trip to Lemont, IL. We left at 5:30AM with plenty of time to get parked, pick up our race packets and figure out where everything was situated. One good thing was that they allowed us to park in a parking garage close to the start finish area. The volunteers were setting up as we arrived. I chatted up the guy at the Mizuno tent for a bit prerace as a pair of trail shoes(Wave Ascend 4) caught my eye. Definitely something I might consider down the road, but really wasn't looking to shell out $100+ prerace . We headed back to the parking garage for last minute preparations and headed 3 blocks to the starting line. I already knew what I was going to wear. It wasn't raining, so I elected to go with a Vertical Runner singlet, splits, visor and light gloves. And a trusty garbage bag that kept me super warm heading to the start. The majority of sane runners were bundled up in longsleeve and some in tights. However, I was used to racing this way in the past. 1:00 to the start. Everyone is lining up. The fast guys up front, with me 2 rows deep. I wished John well and said I'll see you at the finish. Down to 15 seconds and I knew that everyone around me had to be thinking the same as me. Let's get this thing started. We are off. Imediately on one of the "few" flat sections of this race and into a strong head wind. I start off running what seemed like a leisurely pace, not pushing to hard as 5-6 runners pass me by. I knew the hills were coming and didn't want to waste energy or leg strength in the wind. About a 1/2 mile down the road we make a left turn and almost immediately the climbing begins. I'm stride for stride with a few other runners. I'm not pushing hard as we head to the first mile marker "uphill" in (7:15). Not to bad as I didn't feel I worked to hard for it. Then it was downhill into another smaller hill and then into a fairly big downhill section. Right away I could see the leaders heading toward us. I made the turnaround at the cone and proceded to hit the next hill just like the first. However, by this time I was feeling it a little more. Weird because it was so early in the race as I headed toward the 2nd mile marker "uphill" (7:07). Man, that downhill section really must have helped as I picked it up a bit. After cresting the hill, the course took to a short downhill and then rolled through some smaller hills through the Lemont community, trading places with a few runners back and forth., as we headed toward the 3rd (7:04), 4th (7:10), 5th (7:03) mile markers. I was feeling really good at this point, but new I still had half a race to run and the hills were still coming over the next couple of miles. After the 5th mile, the course almost immediately took to a longggg downhill, to the point of almost a mile. I was stride for stride with 2 other runners. All of us commented that was way more downhill then we really had planned for at this point in the race and hit the 6th mile marker (6:50). Took a right turn and headed on a flatter section toward the start/finish area to hit the last big hills of the day. After cresting these hills, I went ahead of the 2 runners I was with, but am guessing that I may have pushed a little to hard on that section. I went through the 7th mile marker "uphill" [7:18], then a small downhill and two smaller hills before the course flattened out heading into the 8th mile marker (7:19). I had slowed, but the two guys with me, slowed even more and no one passed me. Right after 8th mile, one of the guys I was running with came up beside me and we ran together without saying a single word. At that state of the race, I'm guessing both of us were in the same frame of mind. Let's get to the finish. 2 miles to go. My goal at this point after those last two miles was to make sure I stayed with this guy. So, we ran on using each other if you will and went through the 9th mile marker (7:01). The motivation helped. My legs recovered enough from the hills and it was go time. I haven't really spoke much about the wind at this point. It was a factor, but not as much as it would be over the last mile. After cresting a small hill, we stuck together and the course took to another huge downhill and fast. We passed another runner just before the course flattened out, took a left turn and ran stride for stride. The finish line was in view. I'm guessing nearly a half mile away into the wind. He picked up the pace, I stayed with him. I went ahead a few strides. He caught up and with about 50 yards to go, I conceded and we finished within 10 yds of one another. Hitting my watch for the 10th mile (6:33). It was weird because after plowing through that wind and those hills, I didn't feel all that wasted like I thought I would. Finish Time: 1:10:46 - 7:05/pace 1st Half: 35:42 2nd Half 35:04 (Negative Spilt) Place: 36/316 I had more then met my goal. The hard, consistent trail running had paid off. I was really happy considering the knee issue, the wind and such a hilly course. John finished in 1:25:33.

Apr 11, 2010

Race that's Good for Life 5k (RR)

Well, my old 5k PR 17:23 was set in 2003, of which seems like a lifetime ago. This morning I ran my 2nd 5k since turning 40. The first one was last month, when I ran a blistering 21:31 at the Fleadh 5k in Oak Forest, IL. Today, I wasn't even sure I wanted to run a race. I've had a persistent knee issue and think I am finally getting to the bottom of it. However, the pace one has to run in a short race is not something I enjoy at all. I didn't come in prepared. I had run twice on the road since the 5k in March, mostly concentrating on trail running. I made it to Oak Park, IL to run the Race that's Good for Life 5k from our hotel in Oak Brook. I can say that I am really starting to like running these Chicago area races. There are so many more fast runners to the tune of 3 runners in this race would run under 15:00. What was really unique was the fact that there was a separate Men's/Women's race. So, this gave me an opportunity to watch the start of the Women's race and snap some pics. And believe me, there were some fast ladies in this race. Here are some pics: Fast ladies off the front. 1st Overall Female! After snapping that last photo, I headed down a few blocks to my car to get ready for my warmup. The men's race would start at 9:50AM. The cool thing about Oak Park is there are a ton of blocks to run down without much heavy traffic to worry about. So, I headed out for 10-12 minutes of slow running and fast pickups. My knee was pleasantly cooperating. No pain, even when I did the pickups, but would it respond to 5k of running hard. After the warmup, I slipped off my warmups and headed down to the start area. 10 minutes to go. I had the usual nerves, but not like usual because I had no expectations for this race. With a certified course (USATF), maybe I could run a consistent race. 5 minutes to go. I did another short warmup of about 100-150 yds at a quicker pace. Everyone was lined. All total between both races, I'm guessing 1,300 runners. 1 minute togo. Hand on watch. Fast guys up front. I'm about 6 rows back. I felt a calm come over me. The horn goes off. I start off and gradually pick up the pace. The knee feels fine. I let anyone who wants to pass, pass me. I run my own race. I'm not breathing all hard. Everything seems to be in synch. I hit the 1st mile clock (6:27). Geesh, I hadn't run a mile that fast in like what seemed like forever. I move on. I kept thinking, did I go out too fast. I didn't panic. I pushed on and concentrated on keeping the pace. It felt good. My breathing was up a little, but not out of control. I hit the 2nd mile (6:46). Slowed a little, but I still kept it under 7:00/pace. Now it was time to go. I could see runners in front of me. My concentration turned picking them off. This became my motivation and it helped as I hit the 3rd mile (6:37) and pushed on passing 5 runners going into the finish in 20:28 113/1041 Finishers. I was doubled over, but earned this small victory.

Apr 1, 2010

March (Is Gone) - PROGRESS

March seemed to go by very quickly. Despite the left knee issue, I managed to push forward and put in a decent month of training. By no means am I out of the water yet with this knee issue, but I've made progress. 19 days [23hrs 7min] running (16 trail / 3 road (including the Fleadh 5k 21:31)). Including a trail run over 3hrs(3:13). Just as important I managed to get in 12 days of solid core work. Probably didn't put in that many days of core work all of 2009. Neglect!!! So, I march on into April. I have a race or two lined up. I'd really like to keep up with the speed work by running a few 5k's, do one long run of at least 4-5hrs on the trail to get enough training in to run a 50K in May. And I'm really excited that Pam and I will be headed to Naples, FL on vacation. I know she is as well. Some R-N-R on the beach.

Mar 14, 2010

3/13 Oak Forest Fleadh 5k (RR)

My 2nd race of the season, the Fleadh 5k in Oak Forest, IL. I had trained fairly well for it leading up to the day, but a nagging left knee issue kept me wondering how much power I'd be able to generate, even for a 3.12M race. My original plan was to do a double race this weekend. The 2nd event being the Running O' the Green 8K in Tinley Park, IL. I thought otherwise with the knee issue. I made the 93 Mile drive from home on race morning with rain coming down while I headed toward the Chicago area. It was in the upper 40s and with the race starting at 9:00AM, I had plenty of time to spare. I arrived as race volunteers were setting up the race. So, I got my race packet and ventured out onto a backstreet to get a quick warmup in prior to the event starting. By this time runners of all ages were beginning to show up. I'm guessing a couple 100 runners. Now it was time to make our way across Cicero Avenue to the bike path in Methlodian Meadow. The start/finish would be in the same area. We had a few moments to spare, so I did a few pullouts to keep my legs warmed up. I chose to wear a singlet/split shorts/light gloves/visor for the race. I never did feel cold. And with no time at all we were off. About 6-7 runners flew off the start line as I expected would happen. Me, I fell in behind a younger kid who had his training legs on today. He couldn't have been more then 11-12 years old (I'm guessing), but I did my best to stay with him. Mistake maybe at the time. The start was on a downhill slope of about 100-150 yds where it flattened out. I hit the 1st mile clock (6:32), which was somewhat fast, considering I really was looking to average 7:00/pace for this race. The next mile was all flat winding through the trees. The bike path was in excellent shape. I finally caught the kid right after the first mile and went past him, only to have him catch me "again" and stay in front of me the rest of the race. In many ways, this kid reminded me of me decades earlier. Between mile 1-2, I caught two more younger runners. I hit the 2nd mile clock (7:03). Finally back to normal. However, I'm noticing a rather weakness in my left leg. Not searing pain, but the fact that I couldn't generate forward power from it. Then all of a sudden, another guy passes me. However, I knew that with about a mile to go, I wasn't going to let him out of my sights. Next we hit a downhill section, another uphill section at about 2.5Ms and then onto a shorter flat section. The kid, the guy in front of me and myself were equally about 20-25yds apart. I knew it was an uphill finish. I pushed on, hitting the 3M marker (7:10) and then caught the guy in front me as I picked up the pace to finish in 21:30. I met my goal by running 6:55/pace. I really need to work on the starting pace for my 1st mile. I really think I get way to excited about trying to keep up with everyone else that I forget that I haven't raced this distance for some 4-5 years. Despite my knee issue, I'm pleased with the progress. Definitely gives me something to work on before my next race in April - 4/03 Ringing in the Spring 5k Hopefully, by then my knee will be somewhat stronger.

Feb 12, 2010

02/14 - Frosty 5 Mile (Race Report)

Ran my first road race in nearly 3 years this morning! Having primarily ventured onto the trail scene, I more or less left my road running days behind me. Well, the injury/overtraining bug hit me again this winter, so I backed off on my training for the most part and hit the road once again.   Frosty 5M - Channahon, IL   To be honest, I probably would have never set foot in this small town if it weren't for Pam taking part in a Physical Therapy course the same weekend. The drive was only 35ish minutes from our hotel, so I thought why not give it a go.   1:00 P.M. In all my years of running, I have never started a race at 1:00 P.M. Sure, I've been on training runs at this time, but this would all be new to me. Plus, the fact that I've never run anything shorter then a marathon in the month of February. Mostly 50K events.   I arrived at the school to pick up my race packet with plenty of time to kill, collect my thoughts and try to convince myself to go out to warm up prior to the race. Well, I decided not to warm up. Not sure it would have made much of a difference really. Maybe! The cool thing is that I parked about 20 yards from the start. And just around the corner from the finish. This would be the 31st running of this certified course, 5M race and it sure didn't disappoint.   Everyone was lined up, with me about 3 rows deep. I'm guessing maybe close to 250-300 runners came out to brave the cold temps and somewhat windy conditions. We were off.   I'm saying to myself at this point, don't get caught up in going out to fast.. Always happens in these short races. Came through the 1st Mile (6:42), fairly flat with a few turns, but the roads were in great shape. Only a few patches of ice anywhere. At this point, I just went with it. Came through the 2nd Mile (7:12) and new I had slowed down, paying for that first mile.   By this time, the course takes us out into the countryside, with a few small rollers built in. As I'm heading through the rollers, probably at the 2.5M mark, I notice immediately that I have a Nose Bleed. Dang it. But I didn't panic. I've had them before, just not this year yet. So, I propped up my head and pushed on, noticing that it stopped after a few minutes. However, I had no idea if I had blood on my face or not. No time to worry now.   We then headed down this steep, long hill to the turnaround. Immediately the wind was in my face as I turned the cone and headed for the 3 Mile marker (7:16), knowing I still have to grind out the long hill that is coming. 3 runners in front of me, a guy starts walking. I gesture to him to keep plugging away, you're almost there. Despite the fact that I am feeling it pretty good at this point. I go through the 4th Mile (7:24) and run side-by-side with another guy as we push on. I pass two-three more runners, knowing in my mind that I have about 3/4 of a mile to go. I don't let up, even though I feel myself breathing harder, working harder.   I hit the last turn, with about 3-400 yards to go, I can see the small crowd and the finish clock. I push even harder, only really caring about one thing: Finishing hard. And I did, running the 5th Mile (7:00). Finish time was right around 35:36. I believe I finished in the top 40-45?   Overall, I am extremely happy with my race having not done much speed work prior. So excited, I'll be running my next road race in March.

Feb 8, 2010

Branching Out

Pam and I will be headed to Oak Brook, IL this coming weekend. While she is in a Physical Therapy course, I will be scouting out new running terrain. We've been to Oak Brook a few times in the last year. However, with the Chicago area as big as it is you would think that there would be more running trails. So, on Saturday I will head out to investigate an area called Swallow Cliff South Woods to see if the trails are navigatible. The Palos Hills 50K takes part here on March 13th, so if I decide to run it instead of Land Between the Lakes 60K, I'll have an idea of what the trail is like. On Sunday, I plan to run the Frosty 5 Mile road race in Channahon, IL. It is a short drive from our hotel. This will be somewhat different for me, only because I haven't run a road race of any distance for 3 years. However, I have been training on the road this winter. It will be an eye opener for sure.

Jan 26, 2010

18 Days Rest!

Sometimes I forget that I just turned 40 years old and can't keep going like I did in my 20s & 30s. I suppose for a short spell you can, but the recovery is so much different. These last 18 days of rest taught me that it's ok to take a break once in awhile, especially after the racing season. I find it ironic that it took me over 2 years to figure this out. Which is about the length of time I've had this nagging left knee issue. One of my goals this year is to train Easy/Hard/Easy/Hard and take at least one, if not 2 rest days per week. The days I do rest, I will make every effort to include core work and stretching exercises on those days. I really want 2010 to be very productive year of running, but also to make sure I take time out to do the things my beautiful wife Pam wants to do as well. Balance is a good thing.

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