Jul 9, 2013

Dawg Gone Long Run 50 Mile

6/29 - Dawg Gone Long Run 50 Mile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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