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.

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