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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blackhills 100 Race Report

The Blackhills 100 did not go as planed for me. I had been looking fordward to this race for some time and had trained hard for it, and exspected to run well. The family and I decided to use this race as a vacation and spend the week in South Dakota and the Blackhills. This report is going to be a little different since I bailed on the run at mile 52.4 or the 1/2 way point. I knew after checking out the course in the days before the race that this was going to be tough with lots of climbs and descent's. Little did I know it would be tougher than I thought even after see some of the aid station stops. It was still nothing I couldn't handle. So on to the race.
The race started as normal, and I tried to go out a little on the easy side knowing that it was going to be tough. The first couple miles out of town were normal and flat and as soon as we hit the Centennial trail the roller coaster started and never let up. I power- walked more hills in the first 17 miles than in any other ultra I've run. By mile 17 and the first time I seen my crew, I was already having problems with cramping. The sun comes up at 5am in South Dakota and so does the heat. This course was nothing but up and down. And it felt like we were always going up. The big climbs to the ridge were steep and with the thunderstorms the night before also muddy. So not only were we climbing we were climbing with 2lbs of mud on our shoes. Once on the ridge there were little rollers along the ridge. Which made for some great views. From mile 17 till 29 where I seen my crew again, my calf's and the inside of my upper legs were cramping. I'm not sure why it was so bad, it was warm 80-85 degrees and sunny. But, I was taking my salt tabs and drinking about 30oz of water every hour. I did run out of water twice but, not for long before I hit an aid station. At Dalton Lake (29 miles) with the cramping I was already hurting. I drank a whole bottle there re-fueled and started the climb out of Dalton Lake, this is where things went away for me, I wasn't knotting up cramping but, it was like both my legs were ceased up from all the previous cramping, and I was working extra hard to keep up as several other runners went around me. At Boxelder Creek (37) both my legs were hurting bad, yes it was tough but, I felt like I had been taking care of myself and not pushing to hard. After seeing my crew there it all fell apart, both my legs were sore as hell and ceased up. I hiked everything up and had difficulty running flat and down. This 6 mile stretch took me almost 2 hrs. Sure there was a big climb, but also a big decent, and several more runners went around me and every time I tried to keep up with them but my legs were not willing. I became even more frustrated, and this is where I started to loose the mental side of this game. Running 100 miles is 1/2 mental and 1/2 physical. I started thinking of every reason I had to quit. When I got to my crew at Pilots Knob (43) I was frustrated as hell and asking myself why this was happening to me again (re: Heartland 100 last year). Note: when things don't go the way I think they should or I'm not running like I think I should be. It's easier to give up then go on.) My wife gave me the how come and what for when I got to Pilots Knob and was talking about how bad I felt. So she put me back together and told me to get my ass to the turn around at Rapid Creek. At this point I was still in the top 10, but was loosing ground quickly. I made a concentrated effort to turn things around during this last 7 miles to the turn. Other than the big climb and decent right before coming into the aid station, this section was the easiest section on the course, and still every time I ran my legs would cease up, and several more runners went by me. I was frustrated as hell and questing why anyone would put themselves thru this. I mean at this point it was not fun for me at all. However, in a 100 mile race your going to have some bad times. When I finally got to the turn, I started doing math. It took me 2:20 to do that last 7 miles. (Which I now found out may have been longer since every one's Garmin had 52+ miles at the turn) So that was 3.2mph and I got there in 11:26 and spent 20min deciding what to do and trying to regroup. Well the straw that broke the camels back was 3.2mph divided by 52.4miles was 15+ hours if I could keep a 3.2 average. And I came out to run 100 miles not hike it in from 50. Also, I didn't have a pacer, I knew no one on the course and at the time, and I was not willing to be out there alone all night hurting as bad as I was for a 27+ hour finish. That to me just was not worth it at the time. I went in to race let's face it, and just a finish was not good enough for me at the time. Had I still been running like I should have been things might of turned out different. My wife did everything she could to get me back out there. And even though she knew if I kept going she would also be out there for that long also. She is a real trooper when it comes to crewing and she does an amazing job keeping me going and having everything ready for me when I get there. And I could never thank her enough for being there for me! So I owe my wife and son both a huge thank you for all there time and effort. And for allowing me the time and encouragement they give me to even attempt these types of races.

The root cause of this failure is that I put to much pressure on myself to run well when I'm racing. When I first started running ultras and 100's I just went out and ran for fun and never worried about time or place. And after some success I've started racing every race, and put to much pressure on myself to preform well. When I just ran 100's for fun, I loved every minute of it and never once thought about quitting. And did OK just running for fun. In my last 2 100's I went out to race and had no fun, and both times when things went bad I just wanted to quit. I'm done racing, at least in the 100, and just going to go back to running for fun. For me running 100 is about seeing how far you can go and pushing the limits. Tearing yourself down and still pushing thru. Spending time on the trails, just me and my thoughts and nature. That's what I love about this sport and that is what I half to get back too. Get back to having fun and enjoying running thru the woods or mountains or wherever the next trail leads me. And it's time to go back and run for the love of running. I don't need to win or do well to enjoy running and it time to step back, and get back to what I love. RUNNING!

Yes I will be back next year with a new attitude and new game plan and I will get that buckle!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rock On Perry Lake 50K

The Rock On, Lake Perry 50K, 1/2 Marathon and 5K was this weekend at the Branded B Ranch on Lake Perry. Put on by the Kansas City Trail Nerds. As with any Trail Nerd event, it is always top notch. And of course Dick Ross ( was there taking FREE photos of all the runners. You know your at a great event when you see Dick Ross. Thanks for all the great photos Dick.
I had signed up for this race kind of last minute and was just going to go out and have some fun, and enjoy some time on the trails. I wanted to run a race without all the stress of trying to race. Something I've not had any success with in the past. And this race was no different. As the race got closer the more I realized that this, while it sounded good in my head, was probably not going to work out as planned. Something told me that when the gun went off, I would be racing. However, I didn't really taper for the race, so was just going to go out and see how I felt. My buddy Dave was running the 1/2 marathon and I lined up right beside him at the start. With a few pre-race instructions from Bad Ben (race director) we were off down a short road section to the single track trails. I tucked in right behind Dave and we were in the lead right from the start. We put some distance on the rest of the field in the first 5 or 6 miles to the first aid station. No drawn out stop here just a re-fill of the bottle and a Nuun tablet plopped in and off again. Dave had decided to just tuck in with me and run the first loop as long as no other 1/2 marathoners got close. The pace was good and it felt like I was running on auto-pilot. We ran hard on all the flats and downhills and coast thru the rocky technical sections and uphills. It was just like a training run we bullshitted and just ran like normal. Maybe a little faster than a training run, but we were still chatting. The miles went by fast and soon we were only a couple miles from where he would cut off and finish. The last few miles together thru here were some nice flat and smooth sections and we chatted about how if someone was going to try and catch us they would do it thru here. So, we just kept the leg turnover going and picked up the pace thru here. Before long we were back at the road where Dave would peel off and finish, and I would run on thru for another 2+ miles of trail. I decided then to just keep running with the same effort and intensity as I had been with Dave and see how long I could keep it up. I finished the first loop 15 miles in 1:50. After a re-fill of the water bottle, I was off on the 2nd loop. Much like the first loop I was running a little faster than I would have liked, but I was still feeling good, so I just went with it. I was really enjoying the run and the time on the trails. Really nothing eventful, just kept the effort consistent and ran. Soon I was back to the aid station and Dave was there with a fresh Nuun bottle and a couple gels and back down the trail. I kept thinking the wheels were going to come off anytime now, but I still felt surprisingly good. I just stayed focused and ran. The sections along the lake are some scenic views, to bad you can't take your eye off the trails long enough to really take them in. It felt like I was getting stronger and stronger and I just went with the flow. My pace was gradually getting faster and faster the closer I got to the finish. I never really looked at my Garmin all day or obsessed about every split I just put the hammer down and ran. The last 6 miles I ran really hard and it felt good to be running that strong at the end of a 50K. When I got to the aid station at the bottom of the road, I knew I only had a couple mile loop and the finish. I blew right thru there pausing only to say hey to my good friend Jessica, who was working the aid station and cheering me on as I went thru. When I got back around Dave and John were there cheering me on. I remember Dave yelling at me "3:40 are you f'n kidding me" as I headed up the road/hill to the finish. I was about ready to blow when I got to the top, the longest hill of the day is the one up to finish. And I crossed the finish line 3:43 and change. A great run for a 50K! No one was expecting me so soon and my wife and kid missed me finish. But the crowd that was there all came over to congratulate me. Bad Ben handed me my finisher metal a bag full of goodies, and the winners glass trophy. I couldn't believe I had just run a 3:43 50K and as Dave said "are you F'n kidding me." It was another great run and a great event, on the perfect day, with perfect weather and trail conditions. How could you ask for much more. This is why I love trail running even with a hard effort it just doesn't seem like work when you out there running in the woods in nature. Thanks to everyone, you all know who you are, my wife, son, the Kansas City Trail Nerds, Bad Ben, Sophia all the volunteers, my friends Dave, Jess and John for all your support and encouragement. And a special thanks to Dave for making that first loop fly by and keeping me company when he could of ran faster.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Freestate 100K

The Freestate 100K is one of my favorite races, put on by the Kansas City Trail Nerds. This was the race early in the year I had set as a goal race to see where I was at coming back from a hip injury that plagued me much of last year and that I finally got under control in the last couple months. For whatever reason I was determined to come back better, faster and stronger. I seem to have this obsessive compulsive disorder that makes me take everything to extremes and this was no different. My friend and training partner Dave Wakefield and I, had trained hard for this race. And I was really looking forward to seeing how it would all play out. We had run the course numerous times over the couple months leading up to the race and each time we got faster and faster. (Dave was running the 40 miler) We had hatched a plan for the race and I was excited to get going. I had kind of set 3 goals for myself. 1.) What I wanted to run. 2.) What I thought I could run. 3) What I would be happy with. The plan was simple if I ran what I thought I could run, I would be right in there with the front-runners. Everyone runs for different reasons and I'm no different, I enjoy the competition and I also enjoy getting the most I can out of myself. Pushing myself to limit is part of what drives me. But even if I was dead last I would still run, I just enjoy it that much. For the people who know me, know how dedicated I am to training for and running these races. So to expect nothing but my best would be a waste of my time and effort. Racing is hard, to put out max effort for sometimes 10 to 20 hours at a time. The feeling I get from running to complete fatigue and then running more is part of the fun in this sport for me. You just can't get that feeling in a training run. The last few miles of a race are always hell and you just can't wait to be done. And sometimes I ask myself why the hell I'm putting myself thru this. I've even said to myself after this one I'm done, never to push myself that hard again. But every time that goes away as soon as I cross that finish line. Sorry I got a little off subject here, but I thought this may explain to others what drives me to do these things. The best part about this sport is everyone can compete, and I don't care if you are first or last if you have run one of these races you have accomplished something. And you have something to be proud of!

The plan was to train hard for this race and put it all out there on race day. With Dave's help, my training for this race was really good, and I was training harder and running faster than I ever had training for a race. I was feeling confident going into the race, and was in great shape and ready to see what would happen.

The week leading up to the race I was a mess, stressing about the race and wondering how I would do. I really wanted to do well at this race and it added to my stress level. I'm not sure why I always do this but it seems like a pattern with me before big races. Dave and I had both made a plan for this race and it was about time to put this plan into action.

The day before the race, I had heard they were changing the course some and this added to my stress level as I had trained on the old course and knew every inch of it like the back of my hand. The old course was always said to be short of the 100K distance and as we found out they had added some 3 miles to the course for the 100K bringing it to right at the 100K distance. Not a big deal as I had still ran every inch of the North Shore Trails and everyone would half to run the same course. We arrived at the race an hour early and I spent the time chatting with friends and other runners. Before long it was go time and I could hardly wait to get running. At the start line my buddy Dave told me to stick to the plan and have fun, no problem I thought. My wife was helping at the Kansas Ultra runners Society (KUS) aid station about 1/2 way thru the 20+ mile loop and she would crew me thru there every loop. Was all I had to do was run 3 - 20 + mile loops be consistent and run strong.

The gun went of at 7am and we were off, down a short gravel road to the single track trail we would run on all day long. I really tried to hold back at first, but found myself running right behind Dave and Rick Mayo(who were both running the 40). Going out to hard is something I really have a problem with and in the first 5 miles Dave had yelled back at me to stick to the plan, and every time he did I tried to dial it back some but was still keeping them in my sights. At mile 5 or so I could no longer see Dave in front of me so I felt like I was running in my comfort zone. At the Lands End aid station (mile 7) I had caught Rick who was already having a blister issue and left Lands End before him. From here I just settled into a rhythm and ran at a pace that felt comfortable, which was probably faster than I would have liked. Coming into the KUS aid station the first time my wife was ready for me with a new waist pack and water bottle ready to go. I caught a glimpse of the 2nd place runner and a couple others on this 1 mile out and back section of the new course. The miles kept clicking off and my pace stayed steady for the first loop. Once I got back to Lands End, another running buddy Norman filled my bottles and sent me on my way for the final 3 miles to finish loop 1. From Lands End to the start/finish is some of my favorite part of the trail behind all the campsites and along the lake, relatively flat and fast. I came into the start/finish for loop 1 in 2:45 min. a little faster than I would have liked but not far off my plan. (However my plan was for the shorter course) I got some cheers from the crowd at the start/finish area as I came in and went back out for loop 2.

I made a real effort to dial it back some on the second loop to save some energy for loop 3. As I knew if I kept this pace I would pay dearly on the final loop. This loop was really uneventful, I just kept my head down and stayed focused and ran. At this point I was still feeling good with 20+ miles under my belt. Back thru Lands End again, and back down the trail I went. I was keeping up with my hydration, calories and electrolytes and everything seemed to be going as planed. I just enjoyed the time on the trails and ran hard on the flats and down hills and coasted on the uphills. Before long I was back to the KUS station and my wife was ready for me as always. In and out in a flash, at this point I knew I had a cushion on the field as I did not see another 100K runner on this out and back section. Once I hit Lands End again. (you hit the Lands End aid station twice per loop at mile 7 and 17 or so) Here Brad informed me my that my running buddy Norman would pace my the final 13 miles. (I had talked to Norman about pacing me the final 20 miles but he has been struggling with an injury also and didn't think he could go) A pacer is really nice in a long race like this to get the most out of you. Once I knew Norman was going to pull me thru the last 13 I picked up the pace back to the start finish area. Coming back into the start/finish to cheers from the crowd and my buddy Dave (who won the 40 mile) waiting on me to give me my final instructions for the final loop. I finished loop 2 in 3:08 and was 5:53 elapsed time and 41+ miles into the race. At this point was all I had to do was be steady and keep up on my calories and hydration. But, 20 miles is still a long way at this point and anything can happen.

With 40 miles down I was still feeling as good as you can after running 40 miles. I knew I only had to run 7 more miles alone and pick up Norman to get me to the finish. My pace stayed steady at a 9 to 9:15 pace till I hit Lands End where Norman was there waiting and ready to go. They filled my bottle and I grabbed some food and shoved it down and told Norman to take off. And take off he did he set a blistering pace. (or at least what seemed like a blistering pace for me at the time) At this point I was trying to do some math and thought I still had a shot at a sub 9 hour finish. (Plan 1 was what I wanted to run was a sub 10 also on the old course) So Norman kept out in front of me a good 15-20 yards and really made me work trying to keep up with him. Then I kicked a stump and flew off the trail into the weeds and all the muscles in my left leg cramped, especially my calf. It took what seemed like forever to get the cramp out and get back up and going again. For the next 3 or so miles I was cramping and it was really hard to get back into a rhythm. It all finally worked out and the last 2 miles to the KUS aid station went much better. My wife was there again and I received a lot of cheers and encouragement from the crowd there as I came through. Some more calories and Norman shot back out and down the trail. Here is where the miles started to add up on me as I had been pushing hard all day and I was starting to feel it. Every mile seemed to take forever now, and I was working really hard to keep up with Norman. We didn't talk much, we didn't need to he knew what to do, get the most out of me he could and that he did. Every now and then he would encourage me to leave it all on the trail and I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of that. With 5 or so miles to go I knew a sub 9 was now out of the question and that took a little wind out of my sail. But, no matter what happened now I was still going to have one hell of a finish, and just kept pushing as hard as I could. I had not walked all day but now the hills were getting me and I was forced to walk some. I was hurting when we came into Lands End for the final time and I did not even stop. I just gave my bottle to Norman to fill and I kept right on running. Was all I wanted to do was finish now and it was all I could think of. Norman soon caught back up with me with my bottle and a gel. My legs were toast but only 3 miles to go. I just kept telling myself to run as hard as I could my mind was still there but my legs were not. When we finally hit the road leading up to the start finish all the pain went away and the adrenalin kicked in. Everyone was waiting on my and as I crossed the finish line in 9:09.53 (3:18 loop 3)it was shear jubilation. I could hardly believe what I had just done. Not only had I won but I broke the old (shorter) course record in the process. My wife, son, Dave and Jess, Ben, Sophia, Norman and a hoard of others were all there congratulating me. It felt great to have ran so well, and have all my friends there to celebrate with me. It was an epic run for me, and where it came from I'm not sure. I do half to thank my training partner and friend Dave Wakefield for pushing me, motivating me, and helping me reach my full potential. And Norman for also kicking my ass on some training runs and for dragging my ass in, in such a great time. My wife and son for all there support and for crewing for me all day, and for always allowing me to do what I need, to run these races. To Ben and Sophia for putting on this race and many others, and for always supporting me. Thank you! I really don't know what else I can say except it was a great day for me, the trails were it the best shape ever, the weather was perfect, and everything went as good or better than planed. If only every race were like that. LOL
Until next time I'll see you on the trails.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nueces 50K race report

I don't even know where to begin with this one. I was originally going to go down to Texas with my friend and training partner Dave Wakefield to the USATF 50 mile trail championship. I was looking forward to running with the big boys. Then I started physical therapy for a hip injury that nagged me for most of last year. My PT said no can do on the 50 miles and cut my running way back leading up to the race. I decided to go along and keep Dave company on the long drive (738 miles to Rock Springs TX). Once we got close and I seen the hills and and the course layout I got to telling myself, you may never be able to come down here again. So last minute, and I mean last minute, like 10 hours before the race I singed up for the 50K. With limited miles and no runs longer that 10 miles in the last 5 weeks, I decided to just go out have some fun and see what happens. The course was hilly, rocky, and I mean rocky, and one of the most technical courses I have ever ran on. Race morning began with a early morning wake-up at 3:15 when the wind blew my tent away with me in it. I got it staked back down and started prepping for the race. We hung out in the pavilion and chatted with other runners till the race start. I was so excited to be going to run long again and on some new trails. The race started with a big climb out of the canyon to the top of the ridge right out of the box, this got my heart and blood pumping right from the start. Once on the ridge, I settled into a nice pace in a group of 4-5 runners, a little faster than I would have liked, after all I was just going out to have some fun. The first few miles came and went to the first aid station along rocky single track trails up and down. After hitting the first aid station there was a big climb up the side of a hill where at times there really was no "trail" just a flag or ribbon to know you were on course. I ran up until my legs and lungs were on fire and then had to hike the rest of the way to the top. From there you hit some rocky ass jeep trails and the views were just awesome. This is the reason I run trails out in the middle of nowhere Texas on a trail running along a ridge overlooking the valleys down below on both sides. It just don't get any better than this my friends. Then back to the single track trail winding back and forth to the bottom and running thru dry creek beds along large washed uneven rock. Then a section along some bluffs where they do some rock climbing. It would of been nice to be able to look up and check it out but on this trail if you looked up for one second you were going down. Here I hit aid station #2 refilled my water grabbed some cookies and was off again. Next you run along some more uneven wash rock along a river and across a suspension bridge. It is extremely difficult to run across a suspension bridge as I have found out. Then along the bluff on the other side before starting to climb again. From here we climbed and climbed along a fence row on what I wouldn't call a trail but rather a mowed strip thru a rocky pasture. My lungs and legs were on fire again up and up. Then a steep loose section you could do nothing but hike up as you just trashed your legs on the earlier less steep climbs. It levels out but continues to climb to the top where and old windmill stood. From here it was a mile plus of some much needed downhill, however it was hard to really open it up on the loose rocks and you had to break yourself as you went down. Back in the canyon bottom and around a shooting range thru a low watter crossing, along the river and bluff on the other side of the camp where the race started. Across the river again and along the other side up a steep hill with steps and across another suspension bridge to the gravel road and a short loop back to the pavilion to complete lap 1. I came across with 15.4 miles on my Garmin in 2:09. At this point I knew I was running well and thought I was in first place. I didn't linger long here just re-filled my bottles and grabbed some cookies and a hammer jell and took off. At the start of lap 2 I missed the exit to the trail along the road at the cabins. I kept running along the road finally until realizing I had not see a flag or trail marking for a bit. I stoped and looked around and immediately knew I had ran by the exit to the trail as I did not remember running along the road that long on the first lap. It took what seemed like forever to get back to where I missed the trail. Here I ran harder than I wanted trying to make up lost time. If you can't tell here is where just going out to have fun really went out the window. I knew I had lost a spot or two while I ran down the road along all the cabins. I won't bore you with all the details of the second lap as it was much the same as the first strong and steady. Once I hit the low water crossing with about a mile to go I knew I was going to have ran one hell of a race. The last mile is always fun running in knowing you are in the front and that mile was the easiest and fastest mile of the race. I came into the finish to cheers from the crowd in 4:31+/- official results not posted yet in 2ND place in the 50K. Wow, that was awesome! I signed up last minute, was just going out to run for fun and had the best race on an extremely tough course and limited training. I think there is something to this no pressure racing. I did not have time to stress about the race, plan prepare or run the race over and over in my head. I just went out and ran and ran I did! Not to mention I had fun and loved every minute of it. This was a great way to start my race season. But lets keep this a secret, my PT doesn't know yet. I won't tell if you won't.