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!!!!!

Sep 15, 2011

Heading Off Road - Naperville Trails Half Marathon

Ran a nice little half marathon in Wheaton, IL yesterday(09/11). Location: Danada County Forest Preserve Course: Crushed limestone surface with a small section of grassy horsetrack to start/finish on. Some short hills. I had run on this surface previously, but it definitely isn't the typical road/blacktop surface that most half marathons that I've run on. Weather: Cool at the start, but sunny with shaded sections and full sun along the course. Seemed warmer out. Shoes: Saucony Kinvara - Wrong choice of shoe on this type of surface as it didn't provide much traction or supprt Goal: Start off running with the 1:35/pace group or 7:15/mile avg to see how long I could hang or my knee would let me hang on. Pam and I arrived in Naperville, IL the day prior to enjoy ourselves a little shopping around, etc. We ate at a couple restaurants that we don't get to often; the Spicy Pickle and California Pizza Kitchen(probably our favorite). We picked up my race packet at RoadRunner Sports upon arrival and checked into the hotel. I felt pretty relaxed the day prior to the race. Race morning came and we woke up early even though the event was only 2 miles from our hotel. I wanted to arrive somewhat early because parking was at a premium in the park with 750+ entrants and I didn't want Pam to have to haul back/forth very far. Nice Legs! Pam and I prerace! Patiently waiting for the start! We picked up my chip prerace and spotted the 1:35/pacer. Before long after snapping some pics, we were off. I was pretty much right off the front with about 10-20 other runners including the 1:30/pacer who had no one with him, but maybe one guy. I ran right near the 1:35/pacer as we made our way our this somewhat grassy horsetrack. I knew right away because of the footing the pace was going to be a bit slow for the first mile. And it was at that. Not long after we hit the crushed limestone trail, the 1st mile came in at 8:03. No worry! Good to start off a little slower and then pick it up from there. However, as we hit some flatter, downhill sections of the course, the 2nd mile came in at 6:47. I expected that as I trailed the pacer a few strides making our way to the turnaround right past the 2nd mile. And that turnaround on a narrow limestone trails wasn't easy. And the orange cone couldn't have been any bigger :). Almost to a near stop, turn and go back the same direction as we came from. We hit the first real hill of the morning heading back and made our way toward mile 3 where we were greeted by a huge crowd of spectators including my wife, Pam. I picked her out right away as I ran stride for stride with the 1:35/pacer and gave her a thumbs up. And came through the 3rd mile in 7:09. About this time I think I felt the first real fatigue with my knee and we were only 3 miles into a 13.1 mile race. It was more of an achey pain then a pain where I thought I better stop right now. And pushed on toward the next mile on flatter section of the course, going through the 4th mile in 7:13. And I'm still with the pacer as we made our 1st pass around a looped section of the course toward the next mile marker. We came through the 5th mile in 7:19. About this time I decided to back off the pace and run my own race. My knee kept giving me fits and I felt if I backed off the pace a little it might gradually calm down. I still had the pacer in sight about 20-25 yds ahead pretty much the next couple of miles. We headed toward the 6th mile on a gradual climb up the trail and I came through in 7:20 and the 7th mile in 7:36, starting to fall off again a bit. So, I pushed on with what seemed at this point where the 17 miles I ran on Thursday were starting to catch up with me a bit. The fatigue in my legs was evident to an extent. No excuse as I found a new burst of energy and came through the 8th mile in 7:19, making my way toward the 2nd pass of the loop. About this time I'm starting to burst pass slower runners and on their first pass of the loop as I'm changing places with 2 other runners. Which I had been for the majority of the last 2-3 miles. It really started to give me some energy back as I went through the 9th mile in 7:20. About this time I noticed that my knee wasn't bothering me any longer. I felt like I had some new found strength running in the open sun in kind of in no mans land with no one around me for a stretch, and headed up a small incline passing through the 10th mile in 7:45. What the heck, I thought I had sped up. Guess not! But I did finally crack the 2 guys I was trading places with as we passed through a water stop and I pushed on toward the next mile knowing the finish was only 5k off. And came through the 11th mile in 7:26, passing walkers & slower runners encouraging them onward. 2ish miles to go. I made my way toward the 12th mile, picking it up a hair in 7:24, not looking back as I was beginning to pick off a few runners who might have gone out a bit to fast. On the other hand, I encouraged everyone on as I passed them. Off in the distance I could hear the cheering as I made my way back toward the grassy horsetrack. I entered the flat section of grass and clicked my watch at the 13th mile in 7:32, made the left turn around the track toward the finish. Finish Time - 1:36:57 Place - 27th out of 653 finishers Overall, despite my knee issue I'd definitely run this race again. This type of surface is always challenging, but that is why we race to see what we have on that day. After arriving home, we ate a quick dinner and I headed back out to the trails for an additional 7 miles. Surprisingly, I felt really strong energywise on this 2nd run of the day. And finished up with a little over 20 Miles right before dark.

Sep 7, 2011

Back 2 Back PRs @ Dr. T.K. Lawless Park

Click on the Title to view the map of the course. Over the long holiday weekend that was Labor Day, I chose to run back2back days at Dr. T.K. Lawless Park. The trail of choice, one of my favorites, is the 10 Mile advanced mountain bike trail. This trail is full of rocks/roots/twists/turns/ups/downs. Oh, and did I mention mountain bike traffic. That to. Since 2008, I've run this trail more times then I can count. Normally, I run it the same way the bike traffic rides, but lately I've found a liking to reversing the course. Either way, there is no shortage of hills. The last month or so I felt like my fitness was getting stronger as I had recently as two weeks ago run 1:16:57 on the forward route. I had run a bunch of 1:19s/1:18s/1:17s over the last couple of years, but really felt like I was lacking that extra gear over the midway point of the course. And the fact that my knee was giving me a few issues. So, I gravitated back to the road and started working on some speed. And then the sub1:17 came. So, to the holiday weekend. I rested Saturday and elected not to run because of the high temps that hovered toward 90F. Sunday came and I started off like most runs, not even thinking about running fast. Basically just letting the trail come to me. And it did just that. It was overcast and a slightly humid 75ish degrees out. The miles just clicked by and I felt extremely strong on the hills and at each challenge the course presented to me. And finished in a new PR - 1:16:07. Wow! A 50 second PR. What the heck. The knee felt really good. I thought I might feel wasted, but in reality that feeling never came to me. I knew I would run the next day, Monday, the extra day off on the long weekend. So, I headed back out to TKL. A ton of bikers were in the parking lot and headed for the trail. It was something like 60F out. Sweet! My plan was to take it easy anyway. Especially after running a PR on Sunday. And I was off again, not worrying about pace. I just went with it trying to keep my lungs/legs in synch. Again, I felt strong on each climb. I started to really hammer the flat sections like I was running on the road doing mile repeats. The hills would come, I'd slow a bit, shorten my stride and hammer right through the top of the climbs. It was almost like I was in another realm of sorts as the bike traffic came toward me. 50 or so bikes I'm guessing at various points on the course. I didn't pay much attention. I hardly looked at my watch, but for the first couple of miles. Heading into the last mile, I decided to see if I had anything left in my legs. The big climbs were done, so I started churning and somehow picked up the pace a little and brought it home to a 1:15:59 New PR. How in the heck did I do that? I must have been running out of my mind. For as long as I've run out there I never would have imagined that I'd run sub1:16. Never thought it was possible for me to get it. Until NOW!!!!

Jul 24, 2011

Black Berry Picking During My Cool Down!

Amazing what a difference a day or even a week can make. Such a pleasant 10.50 mile trail run just past noon. Sure it was warm out, but not near the kind of humidity we've had for a straight week. I'll admit the humidity just takes the wind out of my sails. Not today! 2 pretty cool things happened on this run. 1) I was able to spot a wild turkey off the side of the trail tending to her brood of small chicks. That was pretty cool. 2) Picked some wild black berries during my cool down. Much different then the black raspberries I've been picking the last month or so.

Mar 31, 2011

Feeding the Running Addiction

So, I couldn't resist the urge! Ran roughly 6.5-6.6 Miles on the trail tonight. My friend Bob Martin joined me. We run this same loop often. Last Monday in 54:50. The course isn't all that technical, with 3 decent hills/bumps. After 7 days of no running for me I wondered what to expect. Everything felt loose at times, and way off at other times. I was able to generate some speed/spurts. The leg didn't bother me, but that isn't to say it wasn't tight. My lungs were feeling the brunt of the trail pace. My breathing was labored as I picked up the pace, hoping a much better fit Bob wouldn't just sail on by me. He didn't and matched my pace at nearly every step. I wasn't surprised as he has really trained hard the last 3-4 months. With about a mile to go, I picked up the pace more and would back off, pick it up. We hit the small patch of road section back to the car and Bob said "let's go for it." I let him go knowing there will a day when I'll do that without hesitating. Tonight I backed off smartly. Finish: Me - 53:39, Bob - 53:28 Should I be running? Maybe! Maybe not! But feeding my addiction sure felt great. Time for some stretching!

Jan 31, 2011

Windburn Six in the Stix - 6 Hour

Ran this event on Saturday outside Bartlett, IL on a 2.28 Mile "crushed limestone (actually snow covered this time of year)" loop. I previously ran the summer version (Sunburn Six in the Stix - 38.48 Miles). Leading up to the event, training had gone fairly well. Averaged right around 50-60Miles/week, concentrating mostly on longer weekend runs on snowy trails(to build strength) and roads(to keep some speed in my legs). My only real issue going in to the event was/is a lingering left ITBand problem. However, taping it seems to keep things stablized. Yes, I know, I need to get my lazy butt into the gym to strengthen my hip flexors(thank you dear). My wife is right, being a PT and all. My friend Bob (who would be running his first ultra type event) and I made the 3 hour trip toward Bartlett. Prior to our final destination, we made a pitstop to pick up a friend in Hammond, IN. Surprisingly, the weather was unseasonably warm. Upper 20s, lower 30s from the get go. Last year at the start it was "0". Yikes!!!! Really, I had no idea how I'd run. I knew the course, but the snowy conditions would certainly throw a wrench in the machine and slow things down quite a bit. And this is what we were up against for 6 Hours :) And after a few last minute instructions from RD - Brian Gaines, we were off. I started right off the front with a few other guys who I knew were fast(er) and led the way: Myself in Red/Black, Jim O'brien in while cap and another friend Matt Condron just behind him. The other two gents, guy in glasses and other in orange cap in the back I did not know. All I knew was that Jim would soon pass me for good and the guy in orange cap would do the same at some point. Matt dropped at some point because of a heal issue, but still managed to get in close or at the marathon distance. For the first time ever, I decided to wear a one bottle hydration pack around my waist. I had only trained with it previously on a few short 6 Mile runs and had no idea how I would hold up to it. Well, it worked out great as I attached two pouches for gels to the front of it. Oh! And a Snickers to :). The waist pack is from Nathan with a slanted bottle(no bounce). Usually I either carry a 20oz handheld or go with a WASP hydration pack. Right from the get go, I could tell the footing was really going to mess my form up more then it already is to this point. The harder you try to push, the more it messes up form. So, right away I just relaxed and did my best to keep my heartrate down. After each 2.28 Mile loop, the RD requested that everyone mark their loops down at the pavillion on this entrant board he made up. But it was also good to know that we could keep going and not have to come in every time. The honor system was in place. So, I pushed on mostly solo for the entire 6 Hours, aside from seeing/passing nearly every runner out there more then a handful of times. It was motivating really to see and encourage runners on as I went by them. And they did the same back to me. Early on my splits for the 2.28 Mile went like this. Pretty consistent for the most part. Loop #1 - 21:03/gel, Loop #2 - 21:27/gel, Loop #3 - 21:19/gel, Loop #4 - 20:48 and then I made a pitstop at the pavilion to mark the board. Loop #5 - 20:34, Loop #6 - 20:06, Loop #7 - 20:36, Loop #8 - 20:19, Loop #9 - 20:51, Loop#10- 20:52, Loop#11- 20:25, Loop#12- 20:59, Loop#13- 23:48 - I consistently drank and ate gels nearly every loop. And even through in a bite of Snickers every now and then. Loop #14 - 28:44 - Here is where the wall approached. I was feeling it quite a bit on this loop. Started to power walk for the first time. Constantly telling myself that I would come out of this. Keep moving forward. I ran to the pavilion and grabbed another Snickers and took off after marking the board. Ate half the Snickers and almost immediately felt better. Loop #15- 23:30 - After this loop as I came into the pavilion, the RD asked me, do you think you can get another loop in? I have almost 35 minutes to do it. And I took off running and eating the rest of my Snickers. Loop #16- 22:47 - I sped up enough to get back to the pavilion to run two 1/2 mile shorter loops before ending the day. Comparison (Summer & Winter Results) -Winter - 37.48 Mile / 3rd OverAll / 6-Hours Temp in the 20s-maybe 30F / Windy / Snowy - Summer 38.48 Miles / 2nd OverAll / 6-Hours / Hot/Humid and no shade from the sweltering sun / Temps ranged from 78F-91F My friend Bob ended up running a little over 33 Miles for the day. An awesome run for him since his longest run ever was 20 Miles a month or so back. A little hardware from Saturday :)

Jan 1, 2011

25K Road Run - What Better Way to Start the Year!

I've been running on the road 1 time per week and the rest of the week on soft or snowy trails. I picked up my running buddy, Bob at 6:00AM to get in an early start. Goal for the morning was to run 25K on a 1.5 Mile loop course with a short cool down at the end. Going in my legs were a bit tired. This would be my 6th consecutive day of running and I ran 10M yesterday at Dr. TKLawless Park to end 2010. We were off. I also planned to take a gel every 2 loops. After the 1st two loops, I wasn't really feeling that great. Tired really and to top it off, it was quite warm out for January 1st. During the 3rd loop I started feeling better and as the loops clicked off I felt stronger. Took the 2nd gel after 4 loops, 3rd gel after 6 loops. About this time I'm thinking that we have picked up the pace a little. The loops seemed to be getting a little quicker. By the end of the 8th loop, I took a 4th gel. By the 10th loop, I considered shutting it down a little, but somehow found the extra gear to keep it going. Break down of loops + Cooldown 11:31, 11:18, 11:28, 11:28, 11:25, 11:24, 11:18, 11:16, 11:16, 11:06 + 5:42. And finished with a beautiful sunrise!

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