Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dirty Kanza 200

It has been a while since I posted on my blog, but since this was my first bike race, I thought I would blog about my experence.  After winning the Hawk 100 in September of last year, I suffered thru an Achilles injury that sidelined my running.   I had been looking at the Dirty Kanza for a couple years, and thought it looked fun, but never done any cycling.  With the injury, I started spinning to stay in shape.  I decided to buy a bike and sign up for the DK in January. I spent the winter months on the spin bike. With winter dragging on and on in Kansas, I really only had 2 months of training on the bike outside, and 6 or so  80-100 mile training rides. I found out fast, I really enjoyed ridding thru the country on my training rides.  I did all my training solo, other than a couple road rides with some tri-athlete friends of mine.  There is nothing like jumping right into the fire, signing up for my first real bike race the DK 200,  having never rode over 100 miles, or been on the bike for more than 6hrs at one time.  Not to mention having no knowledge of cycling, bikes, gear, equipment ect.  But, being an endurance junky, I was really looking forward to my first DK.  It was fun to go to a race where no one knew who I was, and having no target on my back.  The DK for me was something I was going to do for fun.  However, I still thought I could put up a decent time, and set my goal of doing the race against the sun getting in before sunset at 8:47 pm or 14:47 or better.  It's like I told my friend before the race briefing "this is what ultra-runners do in their spare time".  I enlisted the help of a couple of my ultra-runner friends to crew for me and was ready to start my first  Dirty Kanza experience.  So here we go.

The Finish
Me and my Crew

The Dirty Kanza 200 Premiere Gravel Road Race thru the Flint Hills in Emporia, KS was awesome. I had an absolute blast in my first official bike race. The race started with 660 some riders. I started somewhere in the top 50 or so. The pace for the first 17 or so miles on relatively flat gravel, was  fast 20+ MPH with riders all jammed together. At this point things got a little thinned out and I decided to kick it back some, and enjoy the ride thru the Flint Hills.  I generally go out hard when I run, but I was determined to stick to my plan, have fun and beat the sun.  At one point we had to carry our bikes thru a muddy jeep road. Next up was a thigh deep water crossing. This was just like ultras only on a bike, no big deal for me. Then the hills began, and the scenery was grand, to the first check point at mile 50 in Madison, KS. I came in there in right at 3hrs and felt great. Once we left there we headed almost due West towards Cassoday, KS. The wind was blowing 20+ mph NNW making this stretch really slow bucking the wind. I was pretty much riding solo now into the wind. I had no team, or friends to draft with, so I bucked the wind alone.  Not  to mention, I didn't have much experience drafting in a pack of riders, and wasn't sure how that worked.   Could I just jump on any train?  The team riders didn't seem to take in any outsiders, so needless to say I bucked the wind alone.  If a train went by and told me to jump on, I did. But that only happened a couple times the whole race.  The gravel roads got rougher and rougher the farther away from cavitation we got, and also the hills. We were going up and down, up and down, and on rough rocky road especially thru Battle Creek. Which I have ran several times in the Heartland 100.   It was cool to be on the Heartland 100 course from Texaco Hill to Cassoday about 30 miles. I did catch a train for the last 4 or 5 miles and came into Cassoday at mile 100 in 6:55 still feeling great. Everything was going as planned and felt like I was staying in my comfort zone. I could of rode harder, but was sticking to my plan. Quick 5 min stop to refuel and hydrate, and I was off again. This next section, we started going East for 11 miles with the wind pushing me, I think I averaged 20+MPH thru here. Then we headed North and the hills, rough rocky roads, and wind began again. This section was very similar to section 2. While these sections were very scenic thru the Flint Hills, they were also a bitch, grinding up hills with loose jagged rocks into the wind again. It seemed like we were never going to get a tail wind.  The stretch of pavement was a welcome relief  coming  into checkpoint 3 in Cottonwood Falls, KS at mile 150 in 10:50. I was feeling a little rough, here after 2 sections of killer hills and wind. And not having a team or friends to draft with.  My crew had a black bean and cheese quesadilla for me, that  brought me back to life. I was still in a race against the sun.   And had less than 4 hours to go the last 50 miles. I was not sure I could make it, if this section was like the last two.  But, I was determined to ride this last section as hard as I could. The wind began to die off some, and was going to be at my back most of the way now. The closer we got to Emporia, the roads flattened out some, and were in much better shape. In spots, I was riding 17-22 mph again, and it felt good to be moving again after grinding thru the last 2 sections. (I know now why they call them Gravel Grinder races) I tried not to look at my Garmin and just ride as hard as I could. When I hit 190 miles, I has almost an hour to get in before sunset. I road hard, as the road was relatively flat now. I could not wait to hit the pavement on the North side of Emporia and the last mile to the finish. My Garmin hit 200 miles and I was still on gravel, till I finally seen the Highway. I hit the pavement and knew I was going to make it before sunset. As soon as I got into Emporia, people were lining the streets cheering you in. Thru the ESU campus, and onto the main street to Downtown, 5 blocks to go. The streets were lined with people cheering, it was awesome. With 2 blocks to go you go down a shoot with hundreds of spectators on both sides cheering and hi-fiveing you. I felt like a Rock Star, and I was elated. I crossed the finish line in 14:29.35 and 25th in my division and 60th overall. I got my awards and finisher pint glass to be filled with beer! Once thru the shoot there were spectators on the other side congratulating me, and my crew and family was there also. It was an AWESOME event. I hear there were 4000+ people downtown for the finish. I will be back next year, as this was the funniest race I think I have ever done. And think I can ride even faster.  I got to thank my Crew William Sprouse and Mark Berry, and my wife for her continued support and encouragement. It was a great day, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

3 Days of Syllamo

This was my first year running the 3 days of Syllamo.  I had been wanting to run it for a couple years and this was the year it worked out.  The race is a 3 day stage race with a 50K on Friday, a 50 miler on Saturday and what they called a 22K on Sunday which was actually 14 miles.  We headed down to Blanchard Springs near Mt. View, Arkansas on Thursday with our friends Dave and Jessica Wakefield. We hit the park where the race would start everyday and picked up my packet, then headed to the cabin we had rented for the weekend.  Dave has been dealing with an injury for quite a while now, so he would be crewing for me and supporting me thru the races.  It was nice to have my running buddy there for advice and support thru the race.  The best thing was all 3 races were on different trails and we would get to see a lot of the Ozark National Forrest.  I must say this was a great race and Steve Kirk (RD) puts on a great race with wonderful volunteers.

Day 1 50K
The first day started out great, nice running weather and clear skies.  I wasn't really sure how hard to go out on the first day, but Dave had told me to stay up front and hang on the best I could.  There were 75 runners in the stage on race morning and we were all ready to get going.  The race started and 5 or 6 of us hung together for the first 4-5 miles.  We chatted a little as we ran, feeling everything out and getting ready for someone to make a move.  Soon Nick Lewis took to the lead and a few of us followed behind. I felt really good, but also knew there was a 50 miler tomorrow.  I ran with Adam Dearing and Aaron Norman for a bit during the early miles before heading out and chasing Nick on my own.  There were some great views on this course along the ridges overlooking the White River.  Running single track trails thru the Forrest is really my thing, and it's what I enjoy the most. The miles came and went and I came into the aid stations grabbed some food, and new water bottles and back to the trails.  I seen Dave and my wife twice during the 50K.  I ran in second most of the day and really ran pretty well, maybe a little faster than I would have liked.  But, only time would tell if I went out to hard on day on.  I finished day one with a 4:36 50K with 7000ft gain in 2nd place stage.  I would of took a 4:36 50K here any day.

Day 2 50 miles This is where the fun starts.

After a hard 50K the day before, now you half to get up and run a hard 50 miler. I wasn't sure how this would all play out, I was a little sore and stiff the morning of the 50. The weather was great again today and we started at 6am. This course would be a 25 mile out and back on a different trail system. At 6am we were off on day 2 and 50 miles of single track trail. The pace started slow as we climbed out of the park right off the start. Once on top of the ridge the same pack as the day before held together for the first couple miles. After we hit the first aid station at mile 4 or so the pack thinned out and Nick Lewis again took the lead. I settled in behind Nick and was feeling good after loosening up in the first 5 miles. This was a beautiful section of the course running along the bluff with rock formation over head and the river down below. It was stunning, and the views were gorgeous, it would of been nice to stop and enjoy the scenery but we were in a race. My legs felt great considering and running was feeling really good. Mostly I just kept my head down and ran hard. I seen Jarret and Dave at a couple aid station and they had my new bottles and some food waiting for me. As I was approaching the turn around at mile 21 or 22 I ran right by a flag on the jeep road we were running on. I went a mile or so before running into another runner (who was running the 50 but not in the stage race) he thought we were lost and off course. I convinced him we were fine, I seen the flag a mile back or so and there was nowhere we could of got off. So we kept on truckin' finally we seen a highway and figured that was the aid station. When we got there there was no aid station and no flagging across the road. Yep, we were off course and that was a dagger in my heart. At the last aid station Dave had said I had put 14 min on everyone behind me, and now that 14 min was gone and I still had to get back to where we got off. We turned around and ran hard, looking for a marker or something. We got back a mile plus and ran into 4 other runners also off course. And as we kept running back we ran into other runners 7 of us total by the time we found where we got off. It was the place where I last seen a flag. The flag was tied around a tree right on the road, making one think you were to stay on the road. Upon further inspection we noticed the trail heading off the road. Let's just say this turn was poorly marked. We dragged some sticks across the road so others would not do the same. (however we heard later some people even went over our sticks down the road) By this time I was pissed, I ran about 4 extra miles and lost at least 30 min. That completely diminished my 14 min lead on those behind me and was now behind the 3rd and 4th place runners. They made the turn as both of them had ran this course in 2010 and were familiar with it. I ran stupid hard trying to get back the time I lost. Finally, I seen Dave he had come back down the trail some looking for me since the guys behind me came thru the aid station ahead of me. He knew I took a wrong turn. He kept telling me to stay calm I was only 7 min or so behind them. But I was pissed what should of been a comfortable lead on them was now a deficit. I rushed thru the last aid station and had 2 miles to the turn. Again, I was running really hard to make up ground and caught the 2 guys in 2nd and 3rd at the turn. I was a little pooped at this point and was trying to stay calm as I felt better getting back into 2nd. They stayed close till we made it back the 2 miles to the aid station. Again, I rushed thru the aid station and headed back out. One of the 2 behind me stayed close and eventually caught me. It was Adam Cassoday, he was running a good pace and I decided to just try and hang with him, plus it was nice having company at this point. I stayed with Adam and we chatted about running and got to know each other.  Adam, last year ran the entire Appalachian Trail  averaging 40 miles a day for 2180 miles incredible. I had a blast running with him and we stayed together for 8 or so miles.  It was then that I started cramping a bit and realized I had not been taking care of myself.  I was so focused on getting back what I lost and staying with Adam, and having blown thru the last 2 aid stations I was boinking and cramping.  I had let my fueling, fluid and salt intake slip and was now going to pay a price for it.  I had to let Adam go and downed some salt caps, water and a couple PayDay's and a GU trying to get back on track.  This was at mile 35 or so and the next 10 miles were miserable for me.  I just couldn't go, my legs were dead and if I tried to run hard my legs would cramp.  I did all the things runners do when things got to hell in a hand basket.  I asked my self why the hell I do this to myself and generally just felt sorry for myself.  I am really disappointed in my performance for this 10 miles, I let my emotions get the better of me and was just content with the minimal effort I was putting out.  And a couple other runners got around me.  In hindsight I was not in that bad of shape, just feeling sorry for myself and could of gave more effort for sure.  When I hit the last aid station, my buddy Dave gave me a stern talking to, which I needed and told me to run the last 5 miles as hard as I could I couldn't afford to loose any more ground.  I kicked it into high gear or as high a gear as I had, and made up a lot of ground over those last few miles, and got one of the runners back and could see another ahead.  Now I was running like I should be, but why did I wait till 5 to go to screw my head back on.  Anyway, finished the 50 miler in 9:36 and 4th place on the day.  Again, a little disappointed with my performance for a 10 or so mile stretch in this race, should of finished 2nd on the day.  Would of, should of, could of but didn't.  Live and learn and I learned the hard way today.

Day 3 22K or 14 miler
The last day was rough, everything was stiff and sore and 14 miles seemed far.  So I went into the race telling myself it was only 14 miles, and when I was done I could rest.  Adam Cassoday, who was right behind me in 3rd place had an Achilles problem and drooped out of the last day.  This made my last day a little easier.  I was now comfortably locked into 2nd overall barring any catastrophe. We would run the entire 14 miles in the rain today.  So I just went out and ran at as easy of pace as I could and not give up to much ground.  Dave and Paul Scholenlaub had told me to go out as hard as I could the first 4 miles and that would loosen things up.  We'll I thought they were crazy when we started out running up hill.  I was running with Aaron Norman and my heart rate was soaring.  But when we got to the top of the ridge, things settled down some, but my legs still felt rough.  Aaron soon left me as he was still racing for position, and I was comfortable at just finishing out the day.  Finally with about 5 miles to go I really started feeling better and was able to run the last 5 miles hard without to much discomfort.  When I finally hit the road I was relieved to be done and glad to see the finish line.  I finished the 14 miler in 2:07.

All said and done 3 days of racing 95 (plus 4 extra) total miles 26,000 feet of gain in a total time of 16:19.39.  2nd Place Overall and First place Male Masters.  I really had a great time and this was one awesome race.  I feel like I learned a ton about stage racing, and can't wait to go back next year and give it another go.  Shout out to my buddy Dave and my son Jarret for crewing me in the 50K and 50 miler.  And of course my wife for her continued support of my running.  Thank you.  Can't wait to go back again next year.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rocky Raccoon 50 and Pacing

Rocky Raccoon 50 miler in Huntsville, TX.  I have run the 100 there twice and as it was my first 100 is ran well, has awesome volunteers, and will always be special for that.  This year, I was also going to pace my friend Sherrie Klover for the last 40 miles in her first 100.  So I would still get in a good 90 miles and feel like I ran the 100.  I was just going to take it easy in the 50, go out and have some fun on the trails.  Stop at all the aid stations and thank all the volunteers.  Normally, I blow right thru the aid stations when I'm racing and don't take time to stop and smell the roses so to speak.  So it was going to be nice to just go out have some fun with out the pressure of racing.  This is something I don't do very often but, enjoy when I do.  The 50 mile course is 3 16.67 mile loops.  For the first time in a long time, I never obsessed about my pace, splits, or anything.  I didn't even write one thing down or even have a plan.  Odd for me and my OCD.  The night before I decided to run the first loop at the pace I thought I could run if I went in to race.  There was also a storm that came in before the race and during the first couple hours that left the trail in less than ideal conditions.  There was a light rain at the start, and I started up front, but was determined to hold back and not get in race mode.  I had bigger fish to fry and that was to get Sherrie to the finish of her first 100.  The trail was a mess in spots but nothing that was going to slow anyone down to much.  I kept the pace manageable and think I ran in 3rd place the first loop.  I didn't waste any time this loop just to kind of get a gauge of what I tought I could run a 50 there.  I ran the first loop in 2:10.  Based on that, and adding some time for getting a little slower each loop, I think on a good day I could run a sub 7 on the course.  The next two loops, I just took it easy and ran aid station to aid station.  The cool thing was in 50 miles I did not use one GU, not one.  Since I had time to stop at the aid stations, I just fueled solely on aid station fair, being sure to thank all the volunteers.  Without them, these race would not be possible and they do an awesome job.  This was the first time, I tried fueling with real food, and I must say it worked good for me.  It worked so good I even used it while pacing Sherrie, 90 miles and not on GU.  I had a little of everything over the course of the day. Here is the list as I can remember: Cookies, PB&J, chips, corn chips, M&M's, Coke, Mtn. Dew, bananas, ramen, chili, cheese quesadillas (my main source), hamburgers, sausage tortillas, Payday's, powered donut's, chocolate donut's, and even a hot dog.  Yes, I ran buffet line, to buffet line. Any way the next 2 loops came and went with little fan fair and I finished in 7:50 and 7th place. Now on to my pacing report as this is where the real fun began.

Pacing Sherrie in the 100.
I meet Sherrie a couple years ago on Daily Mile and meet her in person at the Patriot's run in 2010.  We quickly became friends and she began quizzing me on ultra running.  We talked a lot over the last year about training for and running 100 miles.  So when she said she was ready to attempt her first 100 at Rocky Raccoon, I was happy to volunteer to be her pacer.  Sherrie is an accomplished marathon runner and had run a couple ultras, but all these were on the road.  This would be 100 miles on a trail way different than running on a road.  So we got her some training on the trails and converted this road runner into a true trail runner.  She took to the trails fast and the transition was smooth. After finishing the 50 Sherrie was at about mile 45 or so and meet up with Henry and Zach her husband and son.  I got a full report on how she was doing and so far she was doing great and had been extremely steady to this point.  We got some dinner and waited for Sherrie to come into Park Road aid station at 55.6 miles.  When she arrived she looked good and was ahead of schedule for a sub 24 finish.  But, there was still a long way to go.  She left park road and had 4.6 miles back to the start/finish where I would pick her up for the last 40 miles.  When she arrived she was still running great way ahead of schedule and looking and feeling good.  She changed clothes for night and got some new shoes and socks and some food and we headed out together.  She was still running so well I did not want to disrupt what she had been doing as it had been working really well for her to this point.  I just let her take the lead and keep doing what she had been doing.  We chatted and ran the first couple miles to the Nature Center mile 63, we figured we still had 11hrs to go 40 miles and get that sub 24 buckle.  Barring any catastrophe, that seemed really doable at this point.  Sherrie was on a mission I could tell by the look in her eye. As long as the wheels didn't come off, she was going to have a great run in her first 100.  She ran and I followed, only slowing down at the mud pit's. On the way to Dam road, Sherrie had to visit the bushes a couple times but, being 67 or so miles in she was doing great.  From there we made the 6 mile loop from Dam road back to Dam road.  This is a lonely section of trail and the longest between aid stations.  But with me there to keep her company we kept on truckin.  Night had set in good by now and we began picking people off left and right.  It seemed like we were the only ones running on the trail.  Every now and then we would leap frog back and forth with another runner but eventually put them behind us.  She was running that well, we just picked off one after another.  Being 72 Miles in and about 20 miles farther than she had ever run.  you would of thought she was a veteran 100 miler the was she was moving.  Still maintaining about a 12 min pace.  We were now approaching Park Road mile 75.6 and would see the crew Henry and Zach there.  The day and the miles all the sudden caught up with her and for the first time I took the lead, to try and drag her.  I ran ahead right before the aid station to get everything she needed ready when she got there.  We didn't waste much time here in and out 4.4 miles and we would be at 80 miles and one loop to go.  From here on out I would lead and she would follow.  Keeping and eye on my heels and following my line on the trails.  To this point I must say it was the easiest pace job I had done.  I had not yet had to do much, she just kept running and we kept picking runners off.  We came into the start/finish around 11:30 pm and had 6 1/2hrs to do 20 miles to get that sub 24 which even walking the entire loop was doable.  I must say I kept waiting for her wheels to come off, I mean it was her first "trail" ultra and first 100 miler and she was now over 80 miles in and been running for 17+hrs.   I just kept leading and she kept following, the pace did slow somewhat, but the later it gets in a 100 the slower it get's and by now not many people out there were running a whole lot.  As we were still picking people off left and right.  Before we knew it we were at Damnation again, one more loop of the Dam Road back to Dam Road.  This was the last time we would half to do this section.  And Sherrie was glad to get it done, it was a long haul around the 6 mile loop.  But she stayed steady and just kept on trucking like she had done this a 100 times before.  When we hit 10 to go, I think Sherrie had a big sigh of relief as now there was no question of finishing, it was just a matter of time now.  Back at Damnation, Sherrie had some soup, and we didn't waist any time in and out we were now less than 9 miles to the finish.  I led and she followed and never once complained she ran and ran.  We hit Park Road for the last time and seen Henry for the last time.  I don't think we were here for more than a minute, she was on a mission to get this thing done.  4.4 to go, that's all we had left.  I just kept telling her she was awesome, and how proud I was of her.   She was doing great and killing it for her first 100.  It was a lot of fun for me seeing her run so well and accomplishing this lofty goal in such great fashion.  I was beaming from ear to ear.  I was counting the miles down and the closer we got the better she began running again.  I just kept telling her what a bad ass she was and what an incredible race she had run.  Damn was I proud of my protege.  With only a mile to go we just concentrated on running, I was giving her play by play what we had left.  As soon as we passed the house by the road we only had a few hundred yards to the finish.  I think I was more excited for her than I was when I finished my first 100.  And she finished 2 hours faster than I did.  When we came around the bend and could see the finish, I was so excited to see her accomplish this goal.  We crossed the finish line in 22:24 an incredible run for a first timer, and 4th place woman.  I gave her a huge hug and just kept telling he how proud I was, and what an incredible race she had just run. 

I must say, this was one of the funnest things I have done.  Pacing her was a privilege and I'm just glad I got to be a part of it.  I really didn't half to do anything, she did everything she needed to do and made my job way to easy.  I can't wait to see what this sport has in store for her.  But, if she ever needs me again I'll be there.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rest Days

So today I needed to take a rest day.  It has been 9 days since my last rest day.  Last week I logged 70+ miles of running and 55 miles on the spin bike.  In less than 2 weeks I am running the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler then pacing my friend Sherrie in the 100 for another 40 miles.   So why is it I feel like I'm cheating on my girlfriend tonight.   I came home did nothing, and looked at the spin bike and said "no you need a rest day and you need to start a taper".  I still feel guilty, like I haven't done enough to get ready for Rocky and really fell good so who needs rest right?  Everyone needs a rest day and I know that, but it doesn't make me feel any better about it.  I guess that's why they call me Runnerfreak!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Athens Big Fork Marathon

So the other night while talking with my wife, about all these crazy ideas I have, I thought why not start a blog and share some of my crazy ideas and thoughts I have about running and maybe even life in general.  Most people think I'm a little crazy and this blog may give some people insight into what drives me to do some of the things I do.  I have a lot of ideas for blog posts on this subject running around in my head and plan to post at least one a week so check back often.  If you enjoyed the post leave me a comment and any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. 

In early December after a run with some friends, they suggested I come and run the Athen's Big Fork Trail Marathon in Arkansas, on 1-7-2012.  It is one tough marathon with 4000ft of gain out and back.  So I add this race to my schedule and make it my first race of 2012.  I looked at the results from previous years, and thought I can do that.  So I set out to run this race and see what I could do.  Most people would taper for a race like this, but not runnerfreak.  Especially if they intended to race, and do well.  But in the week leading up to the race Runnerfreak goes out and runs 105 miles.  With runs of 30, 21 and a 50K (31 miles on New Years Day) the weekend before.  And I still felt like I could go out and race.  Runnerfreak then runs another 28 miles the week of the race.  On the way to the race, I tell the wife I want to at least run a sub 5 hour on this course (never seeing it) and you take out the guy, Tom Brennan who has won like 8 times or something and has the course record of 4:22 (yes 4:22 for a marathon that has been run since 1999 shows how tough it is) there have been very few sub 5hr finishes.  So anyway, I go out and run with the leaders the first 7 miles and let the leader go and nip on his tail all the way to the turn around at 13.1.  He was ahead of me by a minute or two at the turn. In the second half I catch him at about mile 18 or so and he tells me it's not his day and let's me go without a fight.  I run the rest of the race looking over my shoulder as there was another 4-5 runners who came into the turn within a couple minutes of me.  I wind up winning the race in 4:49 and still felt like I could of run faster.  Note: Tom Brennan did not show up this year.  Most people would be tickled pink with that, but not Runnerfreak, he analyzes every mile of the race and determines where he could of run better and faster.  That's why they call me Runnerfreak!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

2011 year in review. I logged 3,543 miles of running and ran 7 races in 2011, and the Chicago Marathon with my sister. I helped my buddy Dave Wakefield on his attempt to break the Fastest Known Time on the 140 mile Kokopelli Trail. While I really wanted to run more races in 2011 especially 100 milers it just didn't work out. But, 2012 is going to be big if I can get it ironed out. Will make that announcement for 2012 soon. But here's the list of races, times and place of the races I ran in 2011:

2011 Races and Events

November 5th Ozark Trail 100 20:25 2nd

Sept. 24th Flatrock 50K 4:53 4th

June 25th Blackhills 100 DNF

May 14th Rock On Lake Perry 50K 1st 3:43 CR

April 23rd Freestate Trail Run 100K 1st 9:09.53 CR

April 2nd Rockin K trail marathon 3:36 1st CR

March 4th Nueses 50K 4:32 2nd

Chicago Marathon with my sister

Kokopelli Speed Record Attempt (Pacer, Crew)

Hawk 100 (Pacer, Crew)

Here's to a great 2011 and an even better 2012. Have a great 2012 running everyone.

Happy Running, Darin

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ozark Trail 100 Race Report

Over the weekend Nov. 5th 2011, I had the opportunity to run the Ozark Trail 100 in the Mark Twain Forest in South Central Missouri. The entire race is run on the Ozark Trail and is a point to point race. This race was absolutely awesome, 100+ miles on single track trail thru the Mark Twain Forest is well, a trail runners dream. Paul and Stuart (the Race Directors) have a gem in this one, and I must say it will be hard not to go back and run this race every year. The aid stations were great the volunteers were great and the trail was awesome. I couldn't of asked for much more (other than maybe a few less leaves) in a race. We arrived on Thursday evening and shared a cabin with my friend Brad Bishop and some other runners. On Friday me and my lovely wife and son, set out to drive the course and find all the aid stations where she would crew me. The driving directions were awesome and we had no problem finding our way between aid stations. A couple times I got out and hiked back in on the trail and knew right away I was going to love running on this trail. Footing was going to somewhat sketchy as the trail was covered with leaves and all the obstacles were hidden by the millions and millions of leaves. It also appeared there would be very few flat sections as the trail was either going up or down some gradual climbs and some good ones also. After finding all the aid stations and driving the entire course, we headed back to the cabin and attended the pre-race dinner and meeting where we got our final race instructions. Then back to the cabin to get everything ready for the race in the morning. Not soon after that my friends Sherrie and Henry showed up. They were going to help crew me as Sherrie is eyeing her first attempt at 100 miles. She was also going to jump out there and pace me from Brooks Creek to Hazel Creek.  Dave Wakefield was coming down Saturday to help crew and pace me from Hazel Creek to the finish. We loaded the crew vehicle got everything situated and settled in for the night. Race morning came early as it was a good 1 1/2 hour winding drive to the start line. We woke at 3am and was on our way by 4am to the starting line. I gave my crew all their final instructions on the long drive and couldn't wait to get running. We finally arrived about an hour before the start and stood around talking and doing some final preparations. We then headed to the start line and stood around chatting with other friends and runners. Finally Paul yelled out 5 minutes to the start. I shed my sweats donned my waist pack and water bottles, gave my wife a kiss and thanked my whole crew for coming out to help me. Paul counted us down from 10 and we were off at 6am sharp. We would run the first hour plus in the dark. I settled in the first mile or two in a really comfortable pace in the front of the pack and chatted with Brad and a couple other runners. Kyle Gibbs and Tommy Doias took the lead and a few of us other runners were close behind. The pace stayed really manageable in the dark as we were all feeling out the trail and getting used to running thru all the leaf cover. As the sun started to rise   Tommy and I ran together for several miles and chatted like we had known each other forever. We came into the first aid station at Grasshopper Hollow (mile 8) together and I made a quick stop and headed back out. I was now running alone as Tommy made a longer stop than I, but he was not far behind and Kyle was not far in front of me. The miles came and went and I tried to keep myself in check and running easy. I mostly ran this section other than a few steeper climbs where I power hiked. Eventually I caught up to Kyle and we ran and chatted before arriving at Sutton Bluff (mile 17.6) aid station together. This would be the first time I would see my crew and they were ready for me when I arrived. Everything seemed to be going as planned and I arrived here right on time feeling good and relaxed at this point. A quick stop to shove down some food, grab my waist bottle pack with Powerade and my handheld with Nuun, I was in and out in no time. Me and Kyle left at the same time and headed up the road and back onto the Ozark Trail. Eventually Kyle took off and left me behind as it was to early in the race I felt to chase him as I wanted to keep in check until I seen my crew again at mile 43. From here I just ran easy, enjoyed the time running in the wilderness and really had a great time with the solitude of being alone on the trail. I hit the Stillwell Hollow(22.8) Johnson Hollow (28) and Gunstock Hollow (34.8) aid stations. Pausing only long enough to refill my bottles and grab some food to go. This was a long stretch, 25+ miles without seeing my crew and I was looking forward to seeing them again at Brooks Creek (43.5). I was really enjoying all this single track trail thru the Mark Twain Forest. The miles were easy running on such a great trail in the middle of nowhere. It was hard to enjoy all the scenery as if you looked up to long you were going down and the leaf cover did not help matters. This last stretch is where I made my only mistake of the day. I had crossed a road and never really thought much about it. But soon I thought to myself,  I have not seen a trail marker for awhile, so I ran on looking for a marker. The trail had been marked really well to this point and seemed like I ran a mile without seeing a marker and I didn't remember seeing one when I crossed the road. This freaked me out so I was running and looking back also hoping to see an OT marker on a tree in the other direction. Finally I thought I was off course and turned around running hard to get back to find where I went off or find a trail marker. Eventually I ran into the 3rd place runner Tommy and he assured me I was on the right trail. Shit, I must have waisted 10 minutes looking for markers and ran back at least 1/2 mile till I ran into Tommy. Man was I pissed, I had let my paranoia get the best of me and I had wasted a lot of energy running the wrong way hard and again when I turned back around to make up time. Tommy stayed right on my ass, and we ran the last 1 1/2 miles together to Brooks Creek (43.5). Here I sat down for the first time, my wife and now Dave took care of me getting me new bottles and shoving as much food as they could down me. I put on a new dry shirt and picked up Sherrie to pace me thru this next stretch. Tommy left right behind us as we power hiked up out of the aid station.   Sherrie and I would put some distance on Tommy going uphill and he would catch right back up to us on the downs. We did this for miles and finally on a long downhill he blasted by me like I was standing still.  This took a little wind out of my sail after thinking I was lost and working extra hard and then have him fly by me. This is the only rough spot I would have all day, I wanted to run harder and stay with him but felt if I did at this point I would pay later as we were not even to the 1/2 way point yet.  So I let Tommy go and just tried to be smooth and steady.  Sherrie and I ran and power hiked all the hills in this section till we hit the Highway DD (51) aid station. When we arrived at Highway DD Tommy was there changing shoes and I got a little shot of adrenalin when we left the aid station in front of him. From here I was back to my old self and Sherrie did her damndest to keep up with me. But I was on a mission now and she told me to go get em and leave her behind. I kept up a good steady pace thru Martin Rd. (59.5) aid station. When I arrived Paul was there and told me how good I was doing although he said the leader was 40 or so minutes ahead of me now. So I pushed as hard as I could to get as much as I could in what light was left. I was hoping to get close to Hazel Creek (68.5) before it got dark. I was about 3 miles out when darkness set in. The only time I got my feet wet was in Hazel Cr. right before I arrived at the aid station (68.5). When I arrived I was absolutely starving and was needing to refuel and change into night clothes and shoes and socks. So while my crew went to work getting my shoes and socks off I shoved down a couple Turkey roll ups and 2 cups of Potato soup a Rice Crispy treat, a couple cookies some coke and grabbed a couple Nutella roll ups to go after I got on some warmer clothes. It seemed like I was there forever, but with my buddy Dave now pacing me he told me not to worry we would get it back when we got back on the trail. We headed back out on the Ozark Trail and Dave soon had me running again. After the extended stop, I had got the chills and was a little stiff when we left.   Dave and I have ran hundreds and hundreds of miles together and kept telling me we were just on a nice easy training run.  We ran everything runnable, running and chatting like we have done many times before.  With Kyle still 40 or so ahead was all we could do was run steady and keep putting time on those behind us, and if Kyle hit a rough spot we would be there.  I ran nice and steady thru this section to Machell Hollow (76.1). Then to Berryman Campground at mile 81.5.  My crew was there again and shoved some food down me and informed me at Hazel Cr. the 3rd place runner was about 8 minutes behind me.  I didn't waste any time I grabbed my new bottles and headed back out alone, while Dave refilled his pack.  There was a short out and back section here to the aid station then back to the trail.  I wanted to get back to the trail and out of sight before the 3rd place runner arrived.  To no such luck I seen him coming down the trail as I was heading out.  This lit a fire under my ass, and I put the hammer down.  Dave had to work hard to catch back up to me.  I was no longer worried about catching Kyle just putting more distance on those behind me.  We worked hard running everything we could and even running some of the steeper hills.  I just shut my brain off and told Dave to run and I would follow and that's what I did.  We stopped briefly at Billy's Branch (88) where Deb Johnson was working the aid station and made me the best damn Cheese Quesedilla I ever ate.  This was the fuel I needed to push to the finish.  I was starting to get a little tunnel vision running at night thru all the leaves and I must of tumbled a 1/2 dozen times since darkness fell.  But each time I would pop back up and run on.  At times we were running what seemed to me at the time to be crazy fast for 90 miles into the race.   I just kept thinking don't twist an ankle now your to close to the finish.  The last aid station was Henpeck Hollow at mile 95, my Garmin was already 3 miles past 95 and we still weren't there.  But I knew my Garmin had been off all day and we ran until we arrived to see my crew one last time.  This stop was fast, I took 2 cookies and grabbed some food from the aid station.  I took off my waist pack and took only a handheld for the last 7+miles.  My crew gave me some big cheers as I left, and I told my wife I would see her soon at the finish line.  I took off out of there like I was shot out of a cannon.  I could smell the finish, and I was ready to get this thing done.  We were flying and I thought we were going to fly into the finish.  Little did I know we had 3 big climbs ahead of us before the finish.  Dave had ran this race in the first year when they had 1 big climb at the end then 3 miles of gravel road to the finish.  After the first climb Dave kept saying "we should hit the road soon" then we decsended and could see the river and Dave said I don't remember that.  Then we started the second climb, and was all I wanted to do was run. But instead we had to climb.  Soon we realized they had changed the course from the first year to take out the gravel road. It was what it was and we power hiked up and blasted down.  The last climb was a killer like adding insult to injury, putting the 3 toughest climbs in the last 3 miles.  But it was what it was and we attacked the last climb.  Soon the final decent and we could see the finish, the closer I got the harder we ran.  We popped out of the trail and had less than a 1/2 mile of gravel road and field to the finish.  This last 1/2 mile was run at a sub 7 min pace I'm sure.  Not bad after 100+ miles.  I was elated to be at the finish, still feeling good and running like I was.  I now had 2nd place and 1st masters runner in the bag.  As soon as my wife and crew seen our headlamps coming they cheered me in.  I finished in 20:20 2nd overall.  My wife, son, Sherrie and Henry were all there congratulating me.  It was a huge relief to get a good finish for me after my DNF at Blackhills.  Paul congratulated me and told me I had one hell of a run.  This was a great run for me and I felt like I got stronger as the run went on.   This was the best I have ever felt at the end of a 100, and was really happy with my performance.  Here is what my pacer posted on my Facebook page after the race.

David Wakefield "Nice race again brother! You were really digging deep from Berryman to the finish. Really impressed with your ability to get stronger and stronger the closer we got to the finish line. It's very rare for a pacer to not have to ask his runner to give him more during the closing miles. I don't think I asked you to run once the last 20 or so. I just ran and you followed without complaint. Very Impressive!!! I hope you realize how awesome that final 50km was. You did in the dark! Under those conditions with tired legs. What 80% of the rest of the ultra running population would consider a solid effort in the daylight!!!"

A huge thanks to my wife and crew babe, you did a flawless job and I can't thank you enough.  Your support has been none short of amazing.  Without your continued support none of this is possible.  You allow me the time to train for these events and put up with all my craziness, from coming to find me when I take off on a 5-6 hour training run, to letting me go and run all night.  Thank you honey you are my ROCK and I couldn't do it with out you.

Thanks to my son, Jarret for coming out and helping and taking pictures and video.  Thanks to my good friend Sherrie and Henry for coming out and crewing for me.  Henry for navigating my wife around in the Forest.   Sherrie for pacing me.  And last but not least, my best friend and training partner Dave Wakefield for all his support, encouragement and knowledge he has given me.  For pushing me to a new level and for seeing potential in me I didn't even know I had.  Thanks buddy, you have really helped me a ton, weather you want to admit it or not.  I can't wait for you to get healed back up so we can resume our crazy training runs.  And of course your wife Jess, who like mine puts up with all this craziness.  Thank you Jessica!  And finally to Paul and Stewart for all the time and effort for putting on this great race.  100+ miles point to point on some of the most awesome trails around.  This is a trail runners dream and I will be back again and again. 

Sutton Bluff 17.6  -  2:57
Brooks Creek 43.5  - 7:44
Hazel Creek 68.5  -  12:42
Berryman Camp 81.5  -  15:57
Henpeck Hollow 95  -  18:57
Finish  102+  - 20:25