Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prairie Spirit Trail Run 51 miles

This weekend I had the pleasure of running the entire 51 miles of the Prairie Spirit Trail. The trail starts in Ottawa, KS and ends in Iola, KS. After a whole year of training for and running races, including 4 100 milers, and a handful of other races. I was looking for a long trail in Kansas to just go out run for fun, with out all the stresses of training and racing.

The Prairie Spirit Trail is an old rail trail and in my own back yard so to speak, only 25 miles or so from my home. I knew of the trail but never realized it was that long. I contacted the director of the Prairie Spirit Trail to see if anyone had ever run the entire length of the trail, and found out to any ones knowledge no one had ever done it. So that became my motivation for wanting to go out and run the entire trail.
If you have never ran on rails to trails these trails are smooth, flat and fast. I have 13 or so miles of the Flint Hills Trail a mile from my house that I pound on a regular basis. I want to start by saying I highly recommend the Prairie Spirit Trail to any runner or bicyclist looking for a place to get in a good run or ride. This trail was the most up kept trail I have ever run on. And with water at all the trail heads, no more than 7 miles apart, make this a perfect trail for getting in a good long run or ride.

My run started at 7am in front of the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa, KS. It was a cool morning start at 27 degrees. Not bad, as it would warm up nicely when the sun comes up and make it a perfect day for running. The first 3 miles or so through Ottawa are paved through town, then turning to a nice wide limestone trail. I was so excited to be running the first 9.4 miles went by really fast as I enjoyed the scenery with a fresh frost on the ground and farmland on both sides of the trail. I seen a couple deer, a bunch of turkeys and 3 of the biggest coyote's I have ever seen. My wife meet me at the Princeton Trail head mile 9.4 to refill my water bottles and restock my supplies. From there it was another 6.4 miles to the Richmond Trail head. These first few miles were some of the most peaceful miles I think I have ever run. It was so nice to just be out there running for fun in nature. My next stop was the Garnett Depot mile 24.9, and to my surprise there was about 15 friends of the Prairie Spirit Trail there to cheer me on. It was a nice pick me up being about at the 1/2 way point to have all these people there to see me for a few minutes. This was also where I picked up my pacer for the final 26 miles. Sherrie Klover of Bashor, KS had graciously volunteered to spend her Saturday running with me. Sherrie is an accomplished marathon runner and one tough cookie when it comes to running. And it was a pleasure to have her there running with me. From here me and Sherrie chatted and enjoyed each others company and before we knew it we were at the Welda Trail Head mile 33.1. And our crews were there, my wife Darcie and son Jarret, and Sherries husband Henry, to re-supply us with everything we needed. From here the temps rose and the wind also picked up, I'm guessing we were running into a 15-20 mile headwind for the final 20 miles. From here to Colony mile 40.9 the trail parallels Hwy 169 and is mainly in the open with no trees to block the wind it was tough going and our pace was somewhat slowed through here. Once we arrived at Colony our crew was there to once again re-hydrate and re-fuel us and send us on our way. From Colony to Carlyle mile 46.5 we were both feeling a little fatigued a typical happening that runners refer to as "hitting the wall". This stretch seemed to go on for ever and we couldn't wait get there to have out crew put us back together for the final leg. I seemed to remember from the trail map it was 6+ miles from Carlyle to Iola, so when we arrived and Henry informed us it was only 4.2 we were relieved, and re-energised to finish this thing. From here we were both ready to see the finish and the closer we got the more energised and talkative we got. When we hit the paved trail in Iola we knew it wasn't far and we began to congratulate each other on an amazing run and reminisce about why we both run. When we finally seen our crew waiting for us at the Iola Trail Head cheering us in it's always nice finish. As I crossed the finish line my time was 8:12.48 not to bad for 51 miles and running into a headwind. Sherrie was at a little over 26 miles on her garmin so we had to run an extra .2 miles so she could say she ran a marathon. I have to say I would of done the same thing. It was a moral victory for us both and I am proud to say I'm the first person to run the entire Prairie Spirit Trail. Thanks again to the Prairie Spirit Trail, our wonderful crew, Darcie, Jarret and Henry without them this is not possible. And a special thank you to Sherrie for coming out and running a tough 26 miles with me. I hope to do it again someday soon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Leadville Trail 100 Race Report

Well the don't call this the "Race Across the Sky" for nothing. For being a flat lander and having crewed and paced at Leadville last year. I have a lot of respect for this race and the altitude. Going into the race my only goal was to finish. My plan was to go out easy to Twin Lakes (39.5) get up over Hope Pass to Winfield. Then drag myself back up over Hope to Twin Lakes and then if I was still feeling good and had a shot go for that big sub-25 hour buckle go for it. The time had finally come and it was time to see how I would do in this altitude, and if all my hard training had paid off. I had my stellar crew my wife, my sister, and my day crewing for me all day. I had Ben Reeves to pace me back from Winfield to May Queen and my sister, Darcy to pace me the final 13.5 to the finish. I was feeling good and confident going in and the morning was cool and brisk. Waiting for the start took forever and I stood around talking with my crew as we waited for the start. With about 10 min to go all the nerves started to get to me and I was as nervous as I have ever been before a race. Once the gun went off all that went out the window and we were finally running all 700+ of us.

Start to May Queen (13.5)

When the gun went off at 4am we were off. I was never so glad to be running all the worrying and apprehension was gone and it was now time to do what I do best and run. The first 5 or 6 miles went by really fast and I was running right behind the lead pack of 10-15 runners. This pace was a little faster than I would have liked but, I was feeling good and having not run for 4 days I had a lot of bent up energy to blow off. I seen my good friend Rick Mayo until he had to make a pit stop. The first 2 climbs up the jeep road came and went and now was 7+ miles of running along Turquoise Lake. The lake and the view was beautiful and I enjoyed the run along the lake. The last few miles with the sun coming up glistening off the lake were especially nice. I felt really good and strong on this section but we had yet to make any real climbs. When I came into May Queen (13.5 @ 1:53) my crew was there to meet me. I skipped the aid station completely and hit my crew. The plan was to change from handheld's to my waist pack at May Queen to give me a free hand to climb Sugarloaf. When I went to put the waist pack on the clip on one side was missing. The first mishap of the day and my wife tried her best to get me back out there, we finally made the decision to go with the 2 handheld's again and they filled my belt with more Gel's and I was off. I got a little grumpy with my crew about the waist pack mishap and yelled at them some while we regrouped. I felt really bad about this once I was off and running and knew I had to apologise for being so grumpy with them. After all they were kind enough to spent there entire day and then some crewing for me. I felt kind of selfish at this point and couldn't wait to get to Fish Hatchery to make amends.

May Queen to Fish Hatchery (23.5)

I ran most of the uphill on the Colorado Trail till we hit the gravel road leading up to the top of Sugarloaf (11,071 ft). Once on the road I alternated running and power hiking till I reached the top. This whole section went by really fast, and at the top of Powerline I was glad to see some downhill. I tried not to fly down the mountain to fast and save my quads for later in the race. I was holding my position in the race at this point and still feeling really good. I was on track with my fueling 2 GU's per hour and Gatorade G2 in one handheld and plain water in the other. When I hit the paved road heading into Fish Hatchery, I realized that my plan of going out easy had went out the window and I was now racing. How or why this happened I'm not sure racing was never in my plan. I hit the Fish Hatchery (23.5 @ 3:35) way faster than I had planned. Made amends with my crew and they had got the waist pack fixed, and with that I was in and out in less than a minute. The gave me a turkey roll up to go and I was back on the road. I was having trouble eating the turkey roll-up for some reason it just balled up in my mouth and I could hardly swallow it. I ate as much as I could and tossed the rest in the ditch.

Fish Hatchery to Half moon

I had decided to have my crew go to Twin Lakes instead of crewing me at Pipeline as it was only a couple miles out of Fish Hatchery. The road out of Fish Hatchery was a bitch! Why they have so much paved road in this race I still can't figure out. The pavement was a killer. I was so glad to hit the jeep road at Pipeline and from there past all the cheering crews, I was feeling like a Rock star. I kept up with my fueling and fluids and ran extremely well to Halfmoon. There the wonderful volunteers refilled my bottles while I grabbed a handful of food. Some PB&J's and pretzels would do the trick. Solid food, but the same outcome, the pretzels and PB&J's when I put them in my mouth were as dry as my mouth and I just could not swallow anything. So instead, I fuelled with GU's and Gatorade/Poweraid and some Coke at the aid station. My mouth was extremely dry and I was sucking down my water and Gatorade like a fish.

Halfmoon to Twin Lakes (39.5)

I hit a low point leaving Halfmoon. To this point I had been mostly running and was holding my own. Suddenly I was doing a lot of walking and was wondering what the problem was. Since I had not ate any solid food, I determined I was a little behind on my calories so I downed a pack of GU Chomps. A nice change from gels. I was struggling a bit through this section, till all the sudden I could see the Lakes through the trees. I was way above the lakes at this point so I knew it was all down hill into Twin Lakes. I decided to run all the way to Twin Lakes. Running downhill came easy and I started to feel good again. I knew I needed to eat when I got to Twin Lakes (39.5 @ 6:20) I would need some fuel to get up over Hope Pass. Coming into Twin Lakes was fun with several blocks lined with cheering crews. My crew was set up right outside the aid station, so I went right through the aid station to my crew. I took a seat, while my crew changed my shoes. I changed out of my Salomon SC2 and into my Mizuno Cabrakan's. The Mizuno's have more protection and the rock plate for going up and over the rocky mountain trails. While my crew attended to my needs I drank 1/2 a bottle of perpetuem and grabbed a PB&J to go. I was having the same problem with solid food but managed to choke down most of the PB&J.

Twin Lakes to Winfield (50 mile turnaround)

The first 2 miles leaving Twin Lakes is the calm before the storm. Nice, flat and fast. Other than a couple water crossings and a river crossing this was a nice break from up and down running. When I reached the base of the mountain my goal was to power hike up to Hope Pass. This is the low point of the race at 9,200 ft. to the high point at Hope Pass of 12,600 ft. Just keep moving I kept telling myself. This part was all hiking at this point as it was all up from here to Hope Pass. Moving at a pace to keep going and not get my heart rate soaring. Up and up and up we went. I was glad now we had hiked this on Tuesday before the race so I knew what to expect. (Thank you, Darcie and Darcy for hiking Hope with me.) I kept moving at a brisk pace stopping occasionally to catch my breath. Soon I was at Hopeless Pass aid station and I refilled and refueled as much as I could. From here it was a mile or so to the summit of steep switchbacks above treeline, but the views were incredible. It kept your mind off what you were doing if only for a few minutes it was a nice distraction. Once I reached the summit it was a huge relief and was now time to do some running. I took it easy running down the back side in the loose rocks, one wrong step and it could be disaster on the steep rocky trail. It sure was nice to get back to treeline on the back side and I pushed as much as I could without totally trashing my quads. Extremely happy with my effort to this point, but still not confident, till I got back up over Hope for the second time. Right before I hit the trees I seen Tony Kurpicka coming back up the trail. He is one of my ultra running heroes and I follow his progress, races and blog religiously. So to be in the same race with him made me feel like somebody. Not to mention after the pre-race meeting me and my sister meet him downtown and got a picture with him.
It was a while before I seen the next runner coming up behind Tony. He was way out in the lead at that point and looked strong when he went by me. I kept a steady pace down the backside in the trees just enough to make good progress but not to fast to trash my quads. Once I got close to the trail head I heard my uncle yell "here he comes" my aunt was down trail ready to snap some pictures of me as I went by. They yelled some words of encouragement at me as I whizzed by. All that time waiting for me to come down and in a minute it was over. From the trail head to Winfield was another rough spot, it seemed all uphill and with the dust from all the crew vehicles it made it worse. It seemed like I ran/walked forever before I made it to Winfield. Once there I was relieved a little. I would go through medical weight was down 1 pound. That meant my hydration had been good, but I also knew I was running low on calories. I had not been sticking to my schedule of at least 2 GU's per hour. My crew was there to refill my pack and get me back out there. I had arrived at Winfield in 9:30. My crew tried to get me to sit down and eat something but I was stubborn and wanted to get back out there, opting instead to take a turkey roll-up with me. With a minute or so of confusion finding my pacer who was not expecting me so soon because, I was not supposed be there for at least another 45 min. I took off heading back out walking and eating while my crew found my pacer Ben and sent him my way. Before I got to far he came up running behind me. After a barrage of questions from my pacer, he to determined I was not taking in enough calories and he was determined to get me back on track.

Winfield to Twin Lakes inbound (60.5)

Once we hit the gravel road back to the trail head my pacer kept me running as much as possible knowing when we got to the trail it would be all hiking till we got to the top.
This time up the mountain seemed a lot easier with my pacer in tow. He kept my spirits up and pushed me when he knew he could and let me rest when he knew I need a rest break. The back side of Hope is shorter but a lot steeper. And with all the runners coming down it was tough at times getting two paths crossing on such a narrow trail. We meet my friends Rick Mayo and Josh Pool on the way back up and a few minutes after that Brad Bishop. It was nice to see some familiar faces coming down as we headed back up the mountain the second time. We moved as fast as we could till I could feel my heart beating in my head, and I would half to take a couple seconds rest to let my heart rate come back down a little before continuing on. We got passed by a few runners in this section heading back up Hope but I was not doing to bad for a flat lander from Kansas. We finally reached the summit for the second time and I was extremely glad to get there and had a since of relief, but also knowing there was a long way to go yet. Once we arrived at Hopeless Aid Station my pacer took my pack to get refilled and ordered me to get something to eat. While I mingled around in the aid station, I tried to eat but again could not choke anything down. I grabbed a cup of Ramen to go and sucked as much of it down as I could before we hit the last trash can to throw my cup away. It sure was nice to be running again and downhill to boot. We ran down most of the way walking only some of the more technical and rocky sections. Once to the bottom it was back through the meadows across the river and thru a couple creeks. Running as much as I could muster back to Twin Lakes. I arrived back at Twin Lakes (60.5) in exactly 13hrs. At Twin Lakes my whole family was there waiting on me. Including my mom, son Jarret and niece Shelby and my aunt and uncle. My mom had graciously volunteered to watch the kids while the rest of the family crewed for me. My wife set me in a chair and changed my shoes and socks into a dry pair of Mizuno Cabrakan's. My whole crew kept trying to get me to eat, and again I just couldn't choke anything down. I did manage to suck down a 1/2 bottle of Perpetuem and some Coke and a few slices of watermelon. It was a nice break, but after our packs were filled we were off once again.

Twin Lakes to Halfmoon inbound

The climb out of Twin Lakes was a killer, after going up over Hope not once but twice, climbing again was a real bummer. Nobody talks about the climb out of Twin Lakes but this got my goat. I was tired of climbing was all I wanted to do was run. Between here and Halfmoon is where things started to go south for me. All the sudden every time I tried to drink Gatorade or eat a gel my stomach would knot up. I had been fueling almost entirely the whole day on simple sugars consisting of gel's and Gatorade. All the sugar had my stomach in knots and I thought I was going to puke every time I took a sip off my bottle or tried to eat a gel. Never have I had a race where I could not eat solid food. I have always been able to eat anything off the aid station table, but not today. My mouth was so dry and when I would eat something it was automatically as dry as my mouth and I just could not swallow it. My pacer did a good job keeping my spirits up, and the plan was to get to Halfmoon and get some calories in me. It was slow going even after we hit the flat jeep road going towards Halfmoon. My energy level was low after being calorie deprived most of the day it was finally catching up with me. We arrived at Halfmoon and there were several other runners there taking there time fueling and talking about still being on a sub-24 hr pace. This got my spirits up thinking I still had a chance at sub-24 but not with my low energy level. I was stubborn and my pacer tried to get me to sit down and eat something. I took a cup of Ramen from the aid station and headed back out on the trail, leaving my pacer in the aid station. In hindsight I don't know why I never listened to my crew or pacer, or why I never realized that you need fuel to run.

Halfmoon to Fish Hatchery inbound (76.5)

We had made plans for my crew to meet us at Pipeline also so we would see my crew twice in this section. My feet were starting to blister, and my energy level was extremely low. My legs felt really good and had it not been for having no fuel, I could have run a lot more than I did in this flat section to Pipeline. I tried to run but could only make it a couple hundred yards before I would peter out and walk again. My pacer was constantly trying to get some food in me, and I kept saying in a minute or when we get to there. When I did take a mini candy bar or something I would take maybe a bit of it and when he wasn't looking throw the rest in the weeds. My stomach just couldn't handle it. It was hard to drink even water, if I guzzled it I would start to belch and think I was going to puke. So I had to just sip, sip, sip it to keep even water down.
Once we arrived at pipeline my crew set me down and made me eat something, but the only thing I could take in was watermelon and grapes, not many calories there. My pacer had rolled an ankel coming into Pipeline, but said at the time everything was ok. We soon left Pipeline and had several miles of pavement to Fish Hatchery. This section would be a good time to run but, again no fuel equals no run. We tried to run from telephone pole to telephone pole run one, walk one. That worked good for awhile but soon I was not able to make it pole to pole. This section of pavement sucked ass! This was extremely harder than I could have imagined, it was killer on my feet and I swore I got more blisters on this section than on all the loose rocky sections. We finally made it to Fish Hatchery and it was now 9:44 pm or 17hrs 44min into the race. And while I was not running well was still doing great time wise. I never did see my crew when I headed up to the Aid Station so my pacer told me to sit down and eat while he searched for my crew. I did manage to shove down some watermelon, cantaloupe and a cup of broth. I got antsy after that and headed out to find my crew. I soon seen my dad, they had been taking a dinner break themselves and missed me going up. I was wanting to put on some tights and a long sleeve shirt here as I knew at night and with my pace extremely slow, I would need more clothes. Soon after my pacer came back saying his ankle was tight and had lost a lot of flexibility in it, he didn't think he could continue. My sister thankfully, was ready to go but she had only planned to pace me the final 13, but when duty called she stepped up and jumped in. After some rearranging we were off again with my sister now pacing me. Ben had done a great job getting me this far and it was wise he not continue and risk further injury. Even though he said he would if need be.

Fish Hatchery to May Queen inbound (86.5)

With a short road section then the climb to the top of Sugarloaf (11,127ft) ahead my sister was jumping right into the fire. She lead the way and kept me running as much as she could on the paved section. She started right from the get go to get me to eat something. But as always I refused. Nothing sounded good or even peaked my interest, and if I did try something it would knot up my stomach and for the next 20-30 minutes, and thought I was going to puke. The climb up powerline was rough, no fuel means no energy for climbing, my sister did her best to keep me moving but several times I just sat on the side of the trail to regroup. The climb up went on forever and other runners were passing us left and right now, but there was not a damn thing I could do about it. At this point I was trying to do the math in my head I could walk in from here and still get the sub-25 buckle. Once to the top of Sugarloaf my sister tried to keep me running at least the downhills let's run glow stick to glow stick, and I tried, but there was nothing in the tank and I was running on empty. And again, and again, she tried to get me to eat and I refused or if I did take a Payday or something I would take one bite and feed the rest to the critters. And gels were completely out, every time I tried to suck down a gel it would turn my stomach inside out. Once we got back to the trail, there was little running from here to May Queen, the trail was rather technical and running on fumes, I was afraid I would hurt myself trying to run. We could see May Queen several times and it looked like we were almost there at one point but then the trail took us farther away. When we finally got close we were able to run into the aid station and there was my wife and dad waiting for me just like they had been all day. And again they tried to get me to sit down and eat something but at this point I was so far behind it wouldn't have made any difference. I did take a cup of potato soup with me and managed to get 3/4 of it down.

May Queen to the Finish

Coming out of May Queen through the campgrounds my pacer/sister got me running as much as she could. You wouldn't have known my sister was a flat lander from Florida and that she has never run ultra, or at night, or on trails. She acted like a true ultra veteran. She knew exactly what to do and exactly when to do it. She made sure I was still drinking and even though I was stubborn and would not eat anything, it wasn't from lack of trying. The trail seemed very technical this time along the lake, and while it was a nice night and with the view of the lake in the moonlight. I sure wish I could of run more. But again no fuel equals no run. When we got to Tabor Boat ramp there was some other crews there saying it was 6 miles to the finish. And my crew was there also encouraging me to go for it. It was right at 23 hours and only 6 mile to go that's 3 miles an hour I can do that I thought. So from here me and my sister pushed and pushed as hard as I could. My running was probally no faster than powerhiking but at least for the first time in awhile I was trying. Along the lake and then along the road at the dam we ran, and I told my sister now matter what the outcome, we were going to do this, and do it together. This was a special treat geting to acomplish this feat with her and to share this experence with her was something I'll never forget. Running has brought us together, we were never really close till I started running only 3 1/2 years ago. So this was special, really special and I was so proud of her for she was pushing her limits also, but she never showed it, she just kept thinking of me and encouraging me. We pushed across the last paved section before town and across the jeep road till we hit the gravel road headed to town. And at that instance it was like a dagger to the heart. I remember on the way out it was 3 miles uphill to the finish and it was 24:18 on my watch. Not to mention it was actually 7.5 miles from Tabor Boat ramp. From there we walked all the way up the gravel till finally we could see the lights of town and in an instance we knew we were going to finish and all the sudden new life was in me and we ran little stints up to the paved road. We were now laughing and chatting like school girls. We were doing it, and we were doing it together. With 1 mile to go now our sights were on the finish and with the time now 25:03 the only thing to do now was enjoy the moment and finish this thing. When we crested the first hill coming to town my mom was there waiting and she ran down the hill with us. There were so many thoughts and emotions running thru my head it was hard to think but, no one could erace the smile from my face or the sheer joy I was feeling at this monent. The cowbell's were ringing and I could now see and hear the rest of my family cheering me into the finish. It as amazing the feeling I had coming up that last hill. My wife and son joined us for that last bit across the finish line. We had done it "I finished the Leadville Trail 100" in 25:11, and got my finishers metal and hug from Merilee. After a few photo's and talking with my family and getting all the congradulations, I took my finishers metal and found my sister gave her a hug and hung it around her neck. I told her "I couldn't of done this without you, and I would still be out there had it not been for you". She deserved a metal too, she pushed her limits too and she pushed me also. She was my rock out there those last 23.5 miles and she encouraged me to keep going. This was special, it was the hardest thing I have ever done, and to have my whole family there with me was special. I felt so blessed to have acomplished this feat and to have such a wounderfull and supportive family is icing on the cake. Thanks to my wife, first and formost without your support, understanding and encouragement this is not possiable. I know it is not easy following me around to all these races crewing for me. Your encouragement and effort you put into this is greatly appreciated. Thank you. To my pacers, what can I say Thank you! You kept me going and even though I did not listen, you tried and tried to get me to eat. You both were great and I can't thank you enough. To my family, your encouragement, support and everything you have done to make this dream come true, I can not repay you for. You have all been so supportive of my running over the last 3 1/2 years I can't thank you enough. From fat overweight (235lbs) and out of shape Darin to Leadville Trail 100 finisher. Man I am blessed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leadville Vacation

My Leadville journey started a week before the race, me and the wife packed up the car and headed to Colorado on Friday August, 13th. We made it to Hays and stayed the night there. I woke early and hit the streets for a quick 7 miler. Then we headed West again for Cripple Creek, where we were going to have some fun gambling and have a few drinks to celebrate the start of vacation. We hiked a 3.5 mile mining trail that started all downhill. The uphill hike wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, I just got winded a bit easier than normal. We had some fun in Cripple Creek and headed to my Aunt and Uncles house across the mountain from Leadville, near the town of Fairplay. We would stay with them till Friday the day before the race. I spent the week hiking, riding 4 wheelers in the mountains. My sister, mom, dad, son, and niece were also were there. On Tuesday me, my sister Darcy, and my wife Darcie, went over to Twin Lakes to hike up to Hope Pass to see what I was getting myself into come race day. It was a 6 mile hike from Twin Lakes with 3,700ft of elevation gain one way. We had to cross the river first before we made to the trail heading up the mountain. We had a great time chatting as we hiked up the trail towards Hope Pass. When we got close to tree line we got excited. We would hit a clearing and think we were almost out of the trees, three or four times we though we were coming out of the trees before we finally did. My wife was starting to get a little tired at this point, but she was a real trooper and kept moving on. Once out of the trees, it was a series of switch backs to get to the Pass. It seemed like we hiked and hiked and looking up we kept thing the summit is right there and when we would get there, there was another summit and another. We finally made it after a several stops to catch our breath. When we finally made it we took some pictures at the top of Hope Pass. My wife and sister were a little wore out from the hike up and we made a decision that they would go down the back side 2 mile down and I would run the 6 miles back to the car and drive around and pick them up. It was a beautiful hike and we took lots of pictures along the way. I flew down the trail back to Twin Lakes, and drove around to the back side to pick them up at the trail head. When I arrived there they were not there yet and I was a little worried, so I laced up the shoes and headed up the trail. I only made it a couple hundred yards before I meet them coming down the trail. They were spent, out of water and food and hungry. So we loaded up in the car and headed to Buena Vista and stopped at a local burger joint for some food. Wednesday I spent the day shopping with the 2 Darcie's in Breckenridge, figured I'd give them the day off after hiking Hope with me the day before. Thursday all the girls went shopping again and the guys went and rode 4-wheelers in the mountains. Friday we were up early and off to Leadville for the pre-race weight in and meetings. After the weight in we ate breakfast at the Golden Burro. We also ran into the Kettle Moraine race directors Tim and Jason and had fun chatting with them about their race before we got a seat. After the runner and crew meetings I showed the 2 Darcie's around to all the aid stations and briefed them on how to crew me at each aid station. Then it was back to the cabin for some early dinner and right to bed to get as much sleep as I could before the 2:00 am wake-up call. Stay tuned for my race report to follow soon. All the pictures are from out Tuesday hike up Hope Pass.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wounded Warrior Fundraiser

My good friend and fellow ultra-runner Tony Clark, is raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. On September 9th, 2010 he will run non-stop, 224 miles, across Kansas from the Nebraska border to the Oklahoma Border in 60 hours. His goal is to raise $25,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project to help our wounded soldiers. He is a little over half way there with $13,000 in donations. He needs our help to reach his goal and I personally can't think of a better cause. So on August 21, 2010 I am running the Leadville Trail 100 in Leadville, Colorado. They call this race the race across the sky. With and average elevation of over 10,000 feet and a high elevation of 12,600 feet. This race historically has about a 33% finish rate. I am taking one time donations and per mile donations for every mile I run at Leadville, and all donations will be given to Tony for his fundraiser. I am asking all my friends, family, fellow runners to donate at least $.10 a mile that's $10 if I make it to the finish. Ten dollars is nothing these days, but lump a bunch of these together and it will help. We owe this much to our Wounded Warrior's for there service and keeping this country free. It's the least you can do to help those who have given so much. If Tony can raise $25,000 surely I can raise $2,500 for his efforts. This may be kind of aggressive but it's well worth my efforts. You can check out Tony's blog at: Please donate today be contacting me for your donation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Per-Leadville Trail 100 thoughts

With the Leadville Trail 100 approaching fast, my thoughts have suddenly focused on the race. My training has been good but not where I would like it to be at this point. With the long recovery from Kettle and the heat and humidity, training has been tough. I have been logging some decent weekly mileage but, I have no runs longer than 20 miles. Every time I have tried to go over 20 the heat and humidity has killed me. Going into Leadville my only goal is to finish. I have no intention of trying to race as I have no experience running in the mountains or running at an average of over 10,000 ft in elevation. My plan is to go out and have fun, first and foremost and let the chips fall where they may. I have a couple races I'm going to run in the next 2 weeks as training runs. Friday night I'm running the 40 mile at Lunar Trek and next weekend I'm running the marathon at the Rock Creek Night Race. So hopefully I'll have a couple good training runs to get my confidence back up. I'm feeling a little more pressure for this race as a lot of my family is coming out to crew for me. My wife and son, mom, dad, and my sister and her daughter are all coming. Along with my aunt and uncle who live in Fairplay over the mountain from Leadville. My sister is a runner also and completed her first marathon last November. She is going to pace me for the last 13 miles assuming I make it that far. Good Ben Reeves is going to pace me from Winfield mile 50 back to May Queen mile 87. The countdown is on and the next couple weeks I'm going to hit it hard and then enjoy my taper time on vacation in Colorado the week before Leadville.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

After Kettle thoughts and ramblings

Wow, has it already been a month since Kettle? Time is flying and before long I'll be doing it again at the Leadville Trail 100 August 22. The aftermath after winning the Kettle Moraine 100 was awesome, for a couple weeks I felt like a rock star. I had some many nice comments coming from all kinds of runners it was amazing. Having all these other runners who I have looked up to in my short ultra-running career saying all these great things about me, made my head swell up bigger than my legs in the days after Kettle. It was truly a great experience, i never expected to win or even had the thought I could win. But what a great way to have all your hard work and training pay off. I know it was not the fastest time ever ran at Kettle but a win is a win none the less and to get my first ultra win in a 100 was amazing. However, I do think the 100 is my best race, I'm not really fast but the farther we go the better my chances are of having a good finish. I seem to have some really good endurance, where that came from I have no idea. I never was a runner and never done any kind of endurance sport prior to taking up running in late 2007. Last weekend I ran the 15 mile at Psyco Psummer for fun and had a blast. Was probably one of the funnest runs I have had all year. It was nice to just go out and run for fun and not worry about racing. I had fun stopping at all the aid stations and chatting with the volunteers and thanking them. I also had a lot of people I have never meet come up and congratulate me and tell me they read my blog or listened to my interview on endurance planet. Funny thing I didn't think anyone read my blog so my posts have been really sporadic. I will try to do a better job of posting now that I know at least a few people read my blog. On a training note. My recovery from Kettle was long, it took me 3 full weeks to recover. I have finally gotten back into the swing of things with and 85 mile week and a 70 mile week last week.
Thanks again to all my friends who have really helped me a lot with my running. Your advice and constant encouragement has really helped me a lot. You all know who you are!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kettle Moraine 100 Race Report

For those of you reading this that don't know my story here is a quick synopsis. In October of 2006 I was 235 lbs and way out of shape. I was tired of being fat an lazy and it was about time I did something about it. So for the next year I changed my diet and began getting active by walking, biking and hiking and I lost 70lbs in the process. I started running about June of 2007 not far at first just a couple miles. I ran my first 5K the next month. In April of 2008 I ran my first 1/2 marathon followed by my first marathon in September of 2008 the Omaha Marathon which I completed in 3:12. Every time I ran something I wanted to run farther, so the very next month I ran my first ultra a 50K in the Rock Creek Trail Series and took 3rd place. I was hooked on trail running and started training with some other trail runners at Clinton Lake. So I decided to try a 100 and ran my first 100 at Rocky Raccoon in February 2009 and finished in 24:23.

The Kettle Moraine 100 had caught my eye last year as I followed some other local runners that ran it in 2009. I had circled it as one of my races for 2010 as some other local runners were going to making the trip also. Me, my wife and son made the trip to LaGrange on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. On Friday me and my wife (crew) talked about the race and made a plan for all the crew stops on the course as we drove to each stop to get a feel for the layout. We hiked back in a couple places to check out the trail and everything looked good and I was excited to finally get things started. With 12,000 feet of elevation gain I was expecting a lot more hills. What hills were there were short and rolling, but as I soon found out in spots one after another after another. Saturday morning had arrived and I was up early checking over everything one last time and getting some calories in me. We arrived at the start about an hour before the start time, and chatted with some other local runners Brad Bishop, Norman Decelles and Willie Lambert. I was hoping if everything went well, and I had no problems, I could come out of there with a top 10 finish. The forecast was calling for some rain so it added to the pre-race stress. After a short pre-race briefing it was finally time to get going. We all lined up behind the start/finish mats and with the countdown from 10 we were off, all 155 of us plus 100K'ers and 100 mile relayer's. I settled in behind Paul Schoenlaub for the first 4 miles or so, trying to hold myself back at the start. I decided to run at what I felt was a easy pace for me and not worry about what everyone else was doing. I soon settled in and the first 7.5 miles clicked off till we came into the Bluff aid station. There I just refilled my bottle and was off around the corner and up the hill. Miles came and went and the run felt easy at this point. I was motoring up the hills and flying down them. Much of this section I ran with a local high school kid who was running in the 100 mile relay and running the first 31 mile leg, 11miles farther than he had ever ran before. We chatted a bit and I went on my way. I was closing in on Emma Carlin (16) and my first crew stop. When I arrived my crew was there ready for me with a couple GU's and new bottles, and I was off. From here there was a section of meadows. My friend and training partner Dave Wakefield told me to take it easy through the meadows in the heat and humidity. It would take a lot out of you and you wouldn't even know it he told me. The meadows were mainly flat and it would of been easy to fly right through them. Trying to take his advice I ran easy through the meadows and refilled my bottles at Hwy 59 (18.5) and took in a couple salt tabs. More meadows laid ahead and before I knew it I was at Hwy 67 (23) and my second crew stop. While my wife restocked my waist pack I hit the porta potty. Back out my wife had everything ready and she walked me out while I ate some food and gave her some instructions for my return in 14 miles. I was headed for the first turn around at Scuppernong (31). This section was full of rolling hills and back in the wood on nice trail. It was really humid and I was draining my bottle fast. When I arrived at Country ZZ (26) my bottle was empty. First place 100 miler they said as I came in, and I shouted "oh shit" I went out to fast. I still felt like I was running comfortably but slowed my pace a bit, and was passed by a couple runners on the way to Scuppernong (31). A volunteer refilled my bottles while I grabbed a hand full of PB&J's and some peanut M&M's and I was off again. Heading back the same way I had just came, I would get to pass most of the field still heading out. I passed a few familiar faces Brad, Paul, and Norman on my way back to Country ZZ(36) First place 100 miler they said heading into the aid station "shit" I said. What is going on here I thought for sure one of the people that had passed me earlier was a 100 miler. This was uncharted territory for me. I am not used to being in the lead, but my friend Tony Clark reminded me before I left to run my race and not worry about anything else. And I felt like I was, so I just kept doing what I had been doing, running as easy as I could and saving as much as I could for later in the race. Back to Hwy 67 (39) my son Jarret had run up the trail a ways to meet and snap a couple pictures of me coming down the trail. My wife swapped out my bottles gave me a dry shirt, bandanna, some food and walked me out of the aid station while I shoved a bunch of food down. A big thanks to my crew for the great stops. It was now time to head back through the meadows for the second time only this time it was much warmer. This time thru I got a bad case of cramping in my calves, at one point I had a cramp so bad a 100 mile relay runner heard me screaming in pain, he turned around and came back and rubbed the cramp out for me. Then he walked a couple hundred yards with me till I could get running again. Man was he a life saver, wish I would of got his name to thank him. I drained my bottles fast through the meadows this time, and was dry every time I got to a water stop. I had to slow the pace to keep from cramping and was just looking for Emma Carlin (46) and the end of the meadows. When I arrived my wife fed me some fluids and salt tabs and I must have sucked down 40oz of fluids before I left. I was still hurting bad, but glad to be back on the trails with tree cover. With the heat and humidity in the morning, here came the rain, sprinkles at first that felt great and then pouring rain. It was raining cats and dogs by the time I got to Bluff (54.5) and my crew was drenched as well when I got there. With not a thought, they refilled me with GU's and food and swapped out my bottles and away I went on my way. The rain felt good and my cramping problem was getting better. Through here it was up and down and I ran as much as I could. Stopped only briefly at Tamarack (57) for them to fill my bottles and grab some turkey sandwiches. The next 4 miles was easy and I was feeling a lot better and was back to Nordic (62) before I knew it. Here my wife tells me I am still in 1st place and I was beginning to wonder what was going on. I changed into a dry shirt and put on my Go-lite rain jacket. Grabbed a handful of food and headed back out. I glanced at my watch to see how long it was before I ran into the 2nd place runner. Pretty soon here he was, Brad Bishop a friend and training partner of mine nipping on my heels about 6 minutes behind me. Then right behind him was Paul Schoenlaub. Kansas and Missouri runners running 1, 2, 3. Wow what a feeling it was for a few miles, and I kicked it in to try and build on my cushion. 6 minutes on a 24 year old would not be enough I thought to myself. Through Tamarack (67) and Bluff (69.5) I just kept my head down and splashed down the trail in a steady downpour. Stay focused and run strong I kept telling myself. Now I was hitting the south out and back of the race. Thru Duffin Road (72.1) I was running really well and the miles just seemed to click off. From here to Hwy 12 (77) I ran really well and really hard. It was still light out but night would soon be upon us. I had my handheld flashlight in my waist pack but would need my headlamp when I got to Hwy 12 and seen my crew again. When I arrived I was felling pretty good and my crew went to work on me, changing my shirts and putting on a dry rain jacket. They were like a nascar pit crew and had me in and out with a handful of food in no time. From here things took a downward turn. This section was a bitch, with ups and downs with railroad tie steps and darkness now setting in. I soon realized I had forgot to grab my headlamp, so I would have to go at it with only a handheld. It was hard to see where I was running where the weeds were over the trail in spots and with limited light it made it even worse. It seemed like I hardly ran at all in this section. Finally I made it to Rice Lake and the mile 81 turn around. On the way out one of the 38 mile fun runners kept me company for a few miles. And I can remember the frogs singing to me on the way out. Soon there was Brad again and it seemed like he was closing in. It was gut check time to see what I was made of. I had lead all day and there was no way I was going to give it up now God willing. Before long I had made it back to Hwy 12 (85) and my crew got me in and out again this time with my headlamp. I had remembered this section as flat and fast coming out but seemed like it was all up hill going back. Keep your head down, stay focused and run I kept telling myself. I soon ran into Willie Lambert and wished him luck on the Rice Lake out and back from Hwy 12. Run, run, run I told myself. I knew if I ran everything flat and downhill it would be hard for anyone to catch me now. I was in the zone and really don't recall much thought here to Bluff (92.5) as I just kept my head down and ran. Every now and then I was passing runners heading out, and wishing them luck. My wife was waiting for me at Bluff (92.5) and the last crew stop. I think I ran right through just getting some words of encouragement from the wife and it was greatly appreciated. She kept telling me I was going to do it and how all my friends back home were pulling for me. From here to the finish I ran with everything I had left. I'm going to win a 100! I'm going to win a 100! Wow, how did this happen I wondered. My head was full of emotions for the last 7.5 miles. Running everything flat and downhill and power walking the hills. I made a brief stop at Tamarack (95) and they all wished my luck as I left. Go win this thing they said as I headed out. The last 4 miles had mile markers and first came mile 4 then 3 then 2. I was soon able to hear the traffic on Road H and knew it was flat from here on in. The trail was parallel to Road H and I ran the last 1+ mile to the finish. As soon as I seen the lights and the finish line I was full of emotions. You did it! You won a 100! I told myself. I soon seen my wife standing there and a group of others calling me in with the cow bell. As I got close someone yelled whats your number? 133 I yelled back. "First 100 miler coming in." I heard them yell. I crossed the finish line to a big hug and kiss from my wife and cheers from the crowd, then bent over hands on knees and man what a relief it was. The stress of being in the lead all day was something I had never experienced and added to the stresses of trying to run 100 miles. It was a huge accomplishment for me and an experience I will never forget. Running has forever changed my life. And if I never win another race I will still be a happy man when I'm running the trails.

I have to give a big Thank You to my wife and son for crewing for me all day. This win was as much for them as it was for me. I could not have done it with out their support. My wife has been extremely supportive of my new running passion and with out that none of this is possible. Thank you Honey, you are my ROCK!

15th Annual 2010 Kettle Moraine 100 Champion (damn that sounds good)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 3 Kettle Training

Monday was a rest day from running.
300 push-ups
Squats and lunges

11 mile country road loop. Ran really well today 11 miles at an average 7:02 pace.
Pace felt easy today, it's always good to have a few good days like this before a race.
Wish every day could go this good.
300 push-ups
Ab work

13 mile Lands End out and back @ Clinton Lake. Met up with Gary afterwards and helped mark another 7 miles of the Hawk marathon and 50 mile coarse. Ran and marked the course in a thunderstorm and was a prune by the end.
375 push-ups
Squats and lunges

Rain, rain go away. After 20 in the rain yesterday didn't feel like running in the rain again today. And the treadmill was not appealing either.
350 push-ups

Played hookie from work today. Slept in till 8:00 am. Went fishing with Jarret and met the wife for lunch. Then hit the road for 13 miles in the afternoon.

Volunteered at the Hawk trail marathon and 50 mile. Had a blast helping runners all day. Was a really good time and a good friend of mine Brad Bishop won the 50 mile.

Went out for an easy 17 miles today and explored some of the undeveloped rails to trails between Lyndon and Osage. Going to do some more exploring on thoses trails again soon.
Total for the week 61 miles. 13 days till race day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Week 4 Kettle Training

Monday: Rest day from running.
300 push ups and Leg workout
Tuesday: 11 mile country road loop.
300 push ups and ab ripper X
Wednesday: 14 miles at the Governor's Mansion trails
Good run 8.12miles in 1 hour then 6 miles easy.
300 push ups and Leg workout
Thursday: 11 mile country road loop.
Good run 6 miles tempo @ 7:00 7:15 pace
5 miles easy run home
300 push ups and short ab workout
Friday: Rest day from running.
500 push ups and Leg workout
Saturday: 26 miles @ Clinton Lake North Shore Trails
26 mile trail run ran some east and some hard. Nice day for a trail run.
Sunday: 16 mile country road loop.
Didn't feel like running this morning but went out and got in a good 16 miles.
Glad I got out even though I didn't want to at first.
Good training week with Kettle Moraine now less than 3 week away. All my little ailments seem to be a major problem now. It will only get worse a the race gets closer. Looking to get in one more good week then 2 weeks easy and rest before race day. 78 miles this week, not to bad would of liked to of gotten in some more but not a bad week. Three good week in a row now so hopefully it will pay off come race day. Hoping to run somewhere around 19 hours if everything goes good. Have started thinking of my plan and got some things together will start putting more together as I have more time when I taper.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kettle Moraine training week 5

Monday: I took a rest day from running after 80 miles last week. Not a bad start for 3 week of total deconstruction and then 2 week of rest and low mileage till race day.
300 Push Ups
Leg workout squats, lunges and calf raises.

11 mile country road to Rails to Trails. 4.5 miles tempo run @ 7:15 pace. 6.5 easy on Rails.
300 Push Ups and Ab work.
Felt really good today, had a good solid run and got in a little ab work also. Meeting up with Dave Wakefield tomorrow for a trail run at the Governor's Mansion trails, so I'm sure that will be a good workout also.

15 miles at the Governor's Mansion with Dave. 15 or so miles in a little over 2 hours on trails was a good run. Thanks Dave for getting me to run my ass off.
300 Push Ups
Leg workout again today.
Feeling really good to this point and looking forward to putting together another good training week.

13 mile country road loop. Had another good run today, took it a little easier today. It was a great evening for a run.
300 push ups
Ab ripper X

No run today decided to rest for my long run Saturday.
520 push ups
Leg workout

28.5 miles from home to Melvern Lake Turkey point. Had a great run today was glad I took a rest day yesterday. Had a little extra pep in my step. Ran a consistent 8 mpm pace for 20 miles. My wife brought my sister out to the 20 mile point and she ran the last 8.5 miles with me. Always good to have some company on a long run.

20.5 miles from home to Melvern. Took it easy today it was all about putting miles on my ragged out legs today. Was a little chilly this morning but a good day for a run. Feeling really good about my training at this point. Don't want to jinks myself but I am running really well right now and feeling confident at this point. Hoping all the hard training will pay off on race day. There is something about running 100 miles I really look forward to. Hoping for a 19-20 hour finish at Kettle but we'll see you never know what might happen in a 100. Going to take Monday off and then hit it hard again next week. 87.5 miles this week and feeling really good with 2 weeks in a row over 80 miles. Legs feel good and strong and looking forward to another good week.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kettle Moraine 100

Well here we go again, I had the Kettle Moraine 100 June 5th in Lagrange WI, on my list for this year and procrastinated signing up until last week. So now that my name is on the entry list and I only have 5 more weeks to get ready, all the worrying and feelings of not being ready are back.
Every time I have ran a race over 26 miles I have never felt like I was ready. Some where along the way in my so far short ultra career (1 year 6 months) I went from just wanting to complete an ultra to wanting to go out and compete. I'm not sure when or how that happened but it did, and I have found myself training and running harder. Most people think I'm crazy and that I probably over train, but I always feel like I'm under trained going into a race. And I always feel like I could have done more. Compounding the issues are, I still feel like I don't really know what I'm doing out there. Basically to this point I have just been winging it. I have never really had a fueling or hydration plan in place, and am not sure how I've gotten as far as I have. Maybe this all comes from experience and with more experience maybe I'll feel better about my training and racing. But for now I'm sure I will ever feel confident heading into a 100 miler. Of course maybe no one ever feels confident going into a 100. There is something about the 100 that really intrigues me and really gets my blood pumping. I love the challenge and love pushing the limits, and seeing how far I can go. I have thoughts of running races farther than 100 miles just to see if I can. And to see if I can find my breaking point. Dig deeper, push harder and never settle.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Misc. Ramblings

Yes, I know it's been a long time since my last blog. I'm lazy what can I say. Since Rocky Raccoon 100 I have been busy with work, running, training, working out and racing. My hope is to keep up better on my blog and give more insight into my training and racing. In April, I had 3 races in 4 weekends. And the one off weekend we went and watched the Kansas Marathon. April started with Rockin K 50 mile trail race in Kanopolis State Park, this race is one of my favorites as Phil and Stacy Sheridan and the Kansas Ultrarunners Society put on one great race and treat you like family. This is the toughest ultras in Kansas in my opinion. Or at least of the ones I have ran. I had trained hard for the race to see what I could do on this tough coarse. Other than a little dehydration on the second loop the run went really well. And a sub 10 hour (9:44) finish and 4th place there was a great way to start the race season. I have really come a long way in the last year. As last year was my first year running ultras. I guess I ran one ultra in 2008, but 2009 was my first full year. However, I still don't think I know what I'm doing out there. It takes time to learn, and I learn something new every race. The second weekend in April I went back to the place I ran my first 1/2 marathon exactly 2 years ago. I wanted to see how much I had improved and also got a couple fellow HME employees to run also. I didn't even have a pair of road shoes, so I ran the 1/2 in my Mizuno Cabrakans. The Eisenhower Marathon in Abilene, Kansas. This race went well as I stayed with the leaders for the first half the race and fell off a little on the return trip. Was still able to crush my previous PR in the 1/2 by 12 min. Finished in 7th place overall, and first in age, of 350+ in a time of 1:26 something. I was extremely happy with my run there and glad to see how much I had improved. The next weekend me and the wife went and watched the Kansas Marathon and although I wanted to jump in there a couple times I had a blast watching others run. Next up Free State 100K, another one of my favorites as Ben and Sophia and the Kansas City Trail Nerds put this one on at my home coarse of Clinton Lake and the North Shore Trails. I train here a lot and run these trails more than any. I really wanted to have a good run here also on my home turf. The race went well till mile 25 or so when I slipped and hyper extended my left hip. What I thought at the time was a hamstring problem but know think a hip problem, left me with a pain in my ass.

Not knowing I decided to gimp my way back and take a 40 mile finish. Free State was the muddiest run I have ever ran in and the conditions were less than perfect. But, through that I was still able to get a 6:15 finish in the 40 and what would have been good for 2nd in the 40 had I not dropped down. I was also running in the top 2-3 in the 100K at the time. This has been a good April , and I will take that and learn from it and get better. Stay tuned as I blog about my training leading up to my next big run the Kettle Moraine 100 on June 5th, in LaGrange, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rockin K 50 mile Trail Run Race Report

Let me start by saying this is one of my favorite races. Phil and Stacy Sheridan RD's and the Kansas Ultrarunners Society put on a great race and treat you like family. The run is in the Smoky Hills at Kanopolis State Park located south and west of Salina Kansas. This was my second year running Rockin K. Last year I dropped to the Marathon after completing the first lap. A decision I regretted for a whole year and was time to get some revenge. This is one of the toughest ultras if not the toughest ultra in Kansas. It's Kansas right how tough can it be. Well let me tell you Kansas is not all flat.

Me and my wife Darcie made the pre-race pasta dinner Friday night and had a good time seeing and chatting with friends and meeting new ones. After dinner we headed back to Lindsborg where we stayed the night at the Viking Motel. I did all my pre-race preparations getting my pack ready and all my gear and supplies. After that was done it was off to bed early to get a good nights sleep. Race morning was up and out the door by 5:45 to head to the start.

Race morning was a little cool but the forecast was for temps of 60-65 degrees. I had dressed a little on the warm side as the start was a cool 32. We did the usual chatting with all our friends and other runners before Phil gave us our final instructions and sent us on our way. I wanted to start out a little on the conservative side this year as last year I went out way to fast and burnt out in the first 26 miles. I settled into a comfortable pace running with Brad Bishop, Matt Becker and another guy who's name eludes me now. We all ran and chatted a little the first 6-8 miles in single file. At the first water crossing we seen Brad take a nice bath in the first water crossing, it was a little deeper than it looked, and the rest of us ran to a shallower crossing spot.

Feeling good after the first few miles my pace quickened a bit after I got separated from the group a bit. The miles to the first maned aid station at mile 13 clicked by and once there I had to shed my long sleeve shirt as the temps were rising rapidly. I left the aid station and headed out for the big bluff loop a 5 mile loop that goes down the bluff, up the bluff and back down about 5 or 6 times. I flew down the bluffs this lap and hiked up them as quick as I could. This is really a nice scenic trail and is full of challenges, hills, rocks, roots, tree sections, prairie sections with vast openness, watter crossings, rutted horse trail sections, and sand to run through. Back to the Gate 6 aid station I refilled my bladder and headed back out with a handful of food. And yes I had to have a couple of Stacy's famous cookies as I knew the next lap would be hard to choke them down in the heat. From here there were several miles of jeep roads then to trail through the open prairie. This part of the run went well and was still feeling relatively good when I was nearing the end of the first lap. Before the first lap was done you half to cross 2 creeks waist deep and at this point felt really good. Then the last mile or so back to the Coral shelter is sand, I found it really hard to run in the sand. And it took a lot of energy to run through it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rocky Raccoon 100 Race Report

What a difference a year makes. Rocky Raccoon was my first 100 and will always be special. Joe Pruisaitis and company put on a really good race and event. I had no idea what to expect this year as the harsh Kansas winter made training for Rocky extremely difficult. Most of my training miles came on the treadmill. It was almost impossible to get in any real mileage outside with the cold and snow. In the 7-8 weeks leading up to Rocky I only had a couple runs of over 20 miles. I had a good base and a lot of runs in the 10-16 mile range just nothing real long. But I was dedicated and did as much as I could when I could. We would just half to see how it all shook out on race day.

We left on Thursday night and headed to Texas, me, my wife and my son Jarret. Darcie and Jarret were going to crew for me. We drove as far as we could that night and finished up the drive into Huntsville the next morning. We had reserved a shelter in the park and planned to stay there for the weekend. After packet pick-up we stoped at Wal-Mart to get a few things for dinner and breakfast race morning. When we came out our car would not start, we tyred and tyred to start it but it would do nothing never even attempting to turn over. Finally we got it started and just headed back to the park so at least we were there. When we got back I turned it off and never could get it to start again. I worked on it for an hour checking the battery cables and such. This was added stress I did not need the night before the race. At one point I was going to skip the race and get the car fixed so we could get home. But through a bunch of phone calls and conversations with other Trail Nerds there they talked me into running and we would worry about the car later. After some dinner, Brad Bishop showed up at the shelter he was going to crash there for the night also and we chatted for a bit and hit the bed at around 9:00.
I did not sleep well at all, worrying about the car and the race, not to mention it was a little chilly in the shelter. I think I got maybe 4 hrs sleep.

Race morning I was up at 4 am and decided after worrying about the car all night I was going to put it out of my mind and not worry about it again till the race was over. After getting ready and eating a little breakfast I went over last minute instructions with my crew and we headed over to the starting area. After checking in we all stood around and chatted with Kyle Amos and Tony Clark till we heard the yell 15 minutes. It was time to get this thing going and I was ready to run. I shed my sweats and gave the wife one last kiss and she wished me luck and I headed up towards the front. I wanted to start close to the front to avoid getting caught in a long conga line at the start with 344 runners all starting at the same time. As Joe counted us down we were off, I reminded myself to stay focused, keep my head down and run. I could rest when the race was over but during the race I was going to go for it and see what happened. The first 30-40 min were in the dark and I ran with a hand held flashlight to start the race. I started with a handheld water bottle and a small waist pack with gels to start the race. The pace was good to start and most of the first lap I played leapfrog with a couple other runners. There was not much chatting this lap as I just stayed focused and ran. I only stoped long enough at the aid stations to get my bottle filled and was back to running. I finished the first lap in 2:50 min a little faster than I would of liked but a great start. Darcie and Jarret refilled my waist pack with jells a few Pay-Day's and some salt tabs and I switched out my empty water bottle for a full one and I was off on the second lap, 20 miles into the race. Stay focused, keep your head down and run I told myself. I slowed the pace a bit just to make sure I didn't burn out to soon. This lap I played leap frog with 2 women the whole lap Jamie Donaldson and Connie Gardner they chatted some and I just settled in behind them for aways. I chatted a little with Jamie this lap, mainly about how our training sucked with the harsh winter. Jamie is a 2 time Badwater 135 female champion, and the 2009 Rocky Raccoon women's champion. I knew if I could stay with her it would be a good day. This lap went by really fast as I kept my head down and just ran. Stopping only at the aid stations long enough to get my bottle filled and grab a handful of food.

At the end of this lap I was starting to notice a couple of hot spots on my feet. This trail is full of thousands and thousands of tree roots and is hell on feet or at least mine anyway. I came back into the start/finish on lap 2 in 3:11. My crew went to work filling my waist pack and swapping out water/Gatorade bottles. Darcie walked up the trail with me while I ate some food and I gave her some instructions for the next lap. I wanted to change my shoes and put some moleskin on some hot spots. I would also want a long sleeve shirt and my headlamp for lap 4 as it would be dark before I finished it. Darcie gave me a kiss told me how good I was doing and sent me on my way now 40 miles down and 6 hrs into the race.

Lap 3 for me was the low point of the race. I was starting to feel really fatigued and had a pain in my hip that was bothering me. For some reason I just couldn't seem to run, and it was a struggle to keep moving. I found that I could run at a much slower pace that was comfortable. At this point I thought it was going to be a long night as it was a struggle to keep moving. I ran most of this lap with Richard from Virgina as Jamie and Connie had got in and out of the start/finish faster than I did. It was Richards first 100 and he was running really well for a first timer. We stuck together much of lap 3 and chatted some to end this lap on a better note. Back at the start/finish for lap 3 in 3:42 . Darcie helped me change my socks and put some moleskin on some hot spots. She made me eat a cliff bar as she walked me down the trail to start my 4th lap. Now 60 miles down and 9:42 into the race.

At the start of the 4th lap I was really stiff after setting for a few minutes to change socks and take care of my feet. This lap started slow, but I soon caught my second wind and began running at a comfortable pace again. I think I may have been a little calorie deprived and once I got some food in me began to run good again. I kept telling myself to run as much as I could before it got dark. My goal was to get as far as I could in the light and hang on and do what I could when the sun went down. The sun soon began to set and I still had 5 miles to get back to the start/finish to complete lap 4. With only my headlamp the last 5 miles were brutal with all to roots and stumps in the trail. With 75 miles under my belt I wasn't picking up my feet really well and I swore I kicked ever root in those last 5 miles, I must have face planted at least 4 times in those last few miles. Thank goodness there was always someone around me to help me back up. It was extremely hard to get back up after running that many miles. I was really wishing I had took my handheld flashlight with me also the headlamp just wasn't working well enough to see all the roots. Back to the start to complete my 4th lap, Jarret was there waiting on me. Darcie was back at the camp with someone looking at our car. Jarret helped me get stocked back up with supplies and I put on a jacket for the last lap. Jarret ran a ways up the trail with me to send me off for my 5th and final lap. I told him to be back in 4 hours to be safe and see me finish, but not to expect me for 5 hours or so. I finished the 4th lap in 4:20 min and was now 14:03 into the race.

Stay focused, keep your head down and run, I kept telling myself. Run now and rest when you are done. With my handheld flashlight now in tow I was seeing the trail much clearer now and wasn't tripping as much. At this point in the race I told myself to run as much as I could between aid stations and rest while I ate in the aid stations. Rick Mayo had told me at Heartland he liked to headhunt at night so if we seen lights in front of us we were going to catch them. So a headhunting I would go, this seemed to keep me moving really well that last lap, I would see lights and track them down and pass them. It was kind of like a game and surprisingly I was feeling really good. In the last mile before the last aid station at Park Road I caught a guy I was racing for position Scott from Texas he had ran this coarse a lot being a local, we came into Park Road together and I just grabbed a few things and headed back out. There was no way I was going to let Scott beat me to the finish. Me and Scott had one hell of a battle those last 4+ miles. He would pass me then I would catch him and we would run in tandem till one of us had to stop and walk for a few. We did this for a few miles till I had to stop to take a leak. Scott put a little distance on me and I thought there was no way I would catch him. With less than 3 miles to go my pace was getting faster and the adrenaline was starting to kick in. Still feeling good I was going to run non stop to the finish. The closer I got the easier running got and I soon caught Scott with less than a mile to go. As I flew by him he yelled at me to finish strong he had nothing left to challenge me. I thanked him for pushing me those last few miles as I went by. I was really close now and I could smell the finish I turned the last corner and could see the lights at the finish and as I came in I yelled number 124 comin to the house. Jarret told me to yell out my number when I got close so they didn't miss me. As I crossed the finish line there the was Darcie and Jarret were right there to greet me. Ben and Sophia were there to and hugs were given all around. 18:34 Sophia told me. I was really happy with that and with another round of hugs, I felt really good. I even joked about going out for another lap and at that point think I could of done another one. Joe came over and gave me my sub 24hr belt buckle and said it came with an asterisk noting 18:34 was way better than sub 24. We took some pictures at the finish and hit the tent where I would sit down for the first time in 18+ hours. Everyone waited on me hand and foot while we talked about the race. I felt really good at the finish of this one and felt like I could of given more earlier in the race. I ran the last lap in 4:31 and my official time was 18:34.59 and 18th place overall out of 344 starters.

I half to thank my wife and son for crewing for me all day. You did an awesome job Thank You!

Ben and Sophia thanks for working on my car while I was running and for being there at the end to celebrate with me it was really fun.

What worked:
My Mizuno Caberkans and DryMax socks.
My 2 bottle wait pack I bought for night to keep my hands free.

I wasted a lot of time in the aid stations at night.
Remember to lube the butt cheeks next time.
Carry a handheld flashlight at night to see the trail better.
The GU chomps were great later in the race when I was sick of gell's.
Eat some solid food a couple times during the race to keep the calories up.

Thanks again to my wife for all your support and encouragement in this crazy sport, with out it this would not be possible.