Tuesday, January 5, 2010
It's been awhile since I've posted anything. Lets just say life has thrown me a lot of curve balls lately and leave it at that. Other than a 50 mile run at the Oklahoma Ultrarunning Championships I haven't done any significant running since last summer.
That changed last weekend with a seasons opener 50k. Local ultrarunner and all around nice guy Chisholm Dupree hosted his 6th annual (almost) New Years Day run. This is a great grass roots event Chisholm puts on for free. Typically a handful run the 50k but most show up and run whatever distance suits them. This year he kicked it up a notch by renting out the spring creek pavillion and having hot food and a fire at the start/finish (with some help from the OTRA), by all accounts it was a successful event.
The trails were icy and frozen (never run on frozen sand before) earlier in the day and by afternoon it was a mud bog. With early morning temperatures of 18 degrees, I was surprised by the number of entrants. I was also surprised at just how much I managed to sweat in 18 degreee weather and had icicles forming in my hair at one point.
Luckily two of the OTRA trail runners of the fairer sex decided the water crossing Chisholm and I hastily reconstructed the day before the race after high runoff took out the original incarnation, just wasn't friendly enough and did a great job making the crossing more runner friendly.
At about 9:20 Chisholm made some opening announcements and Keith gave a nice prayer/devotional and we were off.
I started the run a bit tired having marked the course for several hours the previous day but quickly found a comfortable gait which I held till the first aid station at 7 miles, after that there is a short out and back along the dam towards the water tower that provided the most even footing of the race (gravel and/or tarmac). this should have been a chance to speed up but unfortunately the screws I had put into the bottom of my shoes on Christmas Eve when the ice rolled in were probably a bit too long for the flats I was wearing. Yep I was getting accupuncture treatment every few strides and have a NASTY bruise to prove it. Once I got back onto the dirt/ice of the trail it wasn't as bad but none the less I was glad to switch shoes at the end of the first out and back.
For the second and shorter (14mi) section I ditched one of my shirts and grabbed Belle (my dog) for a pacer. She was good company and I felt like I was running harder than I ever had during the second half of an ultra. At this point I was starting to have my typical stomach issues but they were relatively minor. i vowed not to eat or drink much till they calmed down. All in all I discovered I don't need nearly the calories I think I do during a longer event.
I managed to leave my watch when changing clothes at the pavillion and so didn't know the time but felt I was on track for a PR. This spurred me on the 2nd half of the 2nd half. I didn't know it at the time but the ice and mud had made a bigger impact to my pace (not effort mind you) than I realized and when I came to the finish I was actually 30 mins slower than my best time of 5:45.
None the less this race was definately a confidence booster for me coming on from an average of less than 10 miles a week for the last 5 months. I am excited about this year and thankful to Chisholm and the Oklahoma Trail Running Association for such a great event.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I'm unsure yet how I am going to approach my scheduled triathlons - but I definately won;t be spending the time in the pool or on the bike I had planned on. I just can;t gut my way through a 24 hour race - I need the confidence (and more importantly physiological adaptations) that come from 50k long runs on the weekends and relatively high mileage throughout the week.
I am on one hand extremely disappointed but on another relieved to have a single focus. I think it's that ability to put the blinders on an focus on a single goal that makes me successful at times when my training is lacking anyway.
I made a nice start today towards ramping up my mileage with a 5am run around Hefner with friends followed by speed work at lunch. Aparently the 5am group meets every Tuesday and Thursday for early morning runs. I'm thankful for the company and accountability since my recent track record with running early mornings by myself has been a bit spotty at best.
In closing I'm trying to reassess my priorities in light of some stressful work events and hope to make the best decisions to carry me the distance in October
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday - Off Road Duathlon
I had planned for a few months to do the On Road version of this event. The Friday before the event I thought why not do both. I had planned a 2 hour run for Saturday why not cruise through an off road duathlon instead.
If I had only known what I was in for. I do own a mountain bike and I had ridden it all of once on trails 2 years ago before my father in-law had given me his old road bike which I then began to ride and put the mountain bike in the garage. How hard could it be the course was the green trail which I had run several times and was described as being for a novice.
Saturday morning came and after a pretty good 5k split for trails I hoped on the bike. Everything went smoothly for about a minute. Then I hit the first of many sand banks, stopped pedaling and immediately lost traction and fell on my butt. I repeated this several times (quite a few involving trees and serious contusions) until finally by the third lap I think I had my bike handling skills down. Of course by the third lap everyone had lapped me and I was virtually alone on the course (thus avoiding the passing rider anxiety that led to several of the more severe crashes).
When I came in for the 2nd 5k I was covered in dirt brusied and bloody as well as pretty dehydrated. I walked at least half of the second 5k all the while reflecting on the mad skills the mountain bikers had and enthused by the adrenalin I had while riding the trails (when I wasn't eating tree bark that is). I finished the race in a ridiculous time but walked away (limped away actually) that this is something I want to do again.
Sunday - On Road Duathlon
If I thought I was hurt Saturday it was nothing compared to the aches and pains that had surfaced by Sunday morning. My entire left side was a big bruise from my lower back down through my quads. I decided what the heck, I'll show up warmup for a mile and if I still feel bad I can volunteer. During my warmup I felt pretty good all things considered, my left knee and both ankles were giving me a bit of trouble but nothing I thought I couldn't race through.
When the starting gun went off I checked my pace pretty quickly. The majority of the pack were running 6:40 pace up hill. These guys were fast. I wisely (and completely out of character) cheked my pace back down to about 7 min and assumed I'd fade from that a bit in the second and third miles. I stayed pretty strong but kept myself from giving it all I had knowing I still had a 14 mile bike ride and another 5k run waiting for me. Either the course was short or my speed training has been paying off because I ran the 5k in 21:05 a PR for me by 25 seconds. I fumbled through transition and came out the other side on the bike and began the ride. I rode ok for me but I definitely didn't push it. In reflection I should have. My legs were pretty stiff off the bike and I don't think they would have been much worse if I would have picked up 4-5 mins on the bike leg. Off the bike I had forgotten how funny it feels to run on the backside of a bike ride. 2 years ago when I previously did a duathlon I had practiced this in training and it had helped immensely. I arrogantly thought that lesson would still be with me but two years is a long time for an unpracticed skill.
I walked far too much on the second 5k with a split of 28 mins. I did feel a bit better in the second half and started running pretty hard near the end (otherwise my time would have been much worse).
At the end of the weekend it was a great set of races with an even better set of voluteers. Everywhere I looked I came across a TRI-OKC, OTRA or Landrunner cheering or shouting encouragement.
This year I toyed around with a few different goals including running no ultras at all and just focusing on a fast 5k (for me under 20 mins would be the goal). Then my buddy Chisholm talked me out of volunteering for his 24 hour race 24 the Hard Way. Now I have to be honest I'm terrified of the idea of running in circles for 24 hours but if there is going to be a Ultra in my state I'm going to give it a shot.
It should be interesting. I had been loosely following a training plan based on Jack Daniels book on training. This method develops speed before endurance which is definitely a change for me. While I feel faster this year I am struggling with mental toughness in the later stages of a races as my recent pair of 8ks shows.
Hopefully by the end of the month I'll be back to 30 mile training runs but right now that seems a world away
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This quote was my mantra for the race and it served me better than I could have imagined. At 9AM on November 8th, 2008 Don Garret fired a shotgun blast and we were off. I was really going to do this - my first 100 mile race - on roads! I began with a slow even pace that I planned to hold as long as I could. My game plan was to run eight minutes and walk 2 for a 50 mile split around 10:30. From looking at splits from previous races and guestimates about my own ability running this pace and no faster should leave me with something left in the 2nd half of the race. There was one serious flaw in this theory but we'll get to that in time.
I spent the early part of the race socializing with other runners and met several first timers and veterans alike. I also ran with the Pirahna Brothers a bit during this section and came to further appreciate Mav and T3's sense of humor. A few times along this stretched I was passed by a huge RV. I thought who in the heck is RVing on this desolate side road. Later on I saw the rig on the side of the road open with food, restrooms and generators. Someone was getting crewed in style!
When I pulled in to the Foss aid station at 3:00 I was right on schedule. I visited a bit with the nice townspeople and sampled some local cookies, refilled my water bottles and was off. I was feeling strong and confident that if I stuck to my race plan and didn't go out too fast early on I could beat my goal of 26 hours.
The next major stop was Clinton at mile 30. This was the first weigh in station and I carefully managed my calories since as a heavy sweater I am particularly vulnerable to weight loss during a run. At about mile 28 my brother showed up unexpectedly to cheer me on and offer support. This surprise meant the world to me. As I pulled into the Clinton aid station at the Route 66 museum my brother took control like he had been crewing ultrarunners for years. He asked me what I needed and proceeded to get it while ushering me onto the scales. 5 pounds down. Not terrible but I would have to watch my calorie intake. Here I decided to change socks and take advantage of my brother's generosity and eat a hamburger. MMMMM-GOOD
Thanks to the unexpected visit from my brother I was feeling GREAT. The emotional uplift from the unexpected appearance of a loved one cannot be underestimated. I cruised out of Clinton and ran strongly to mile 40 at the Cherokee Trading Post where I was to meet my crew. I still felt I was floating through the course and would have never believed 40 miles could melt under my feet so easily. With that being said I was still sticking to my pace plan and arrived at the Cherokee Trading Post right on schedule. Mike was there to meet me with a chair and food waiting. I was having a little bit of a hot spot on the back of my heels on both feet so I changed into my Brooks T5 racers. While only 5.6 ounces you would be surprised how much cushion these babies offer. After about a 3 minute break I was off again for a 10 mile stretch to Weatherford.
Somewhere on the way to mile 50 and the Weatherford aid station night fell and I put on some more reflective gear and lighting. I still felt very strong coming in to Weatherford and it was great having Mike along to crew. He had his SUV packed with everything a runner could need and was always there at just the right time. Mike was THE MAN for the job - no doubt about it.
Coming into downtown I decided to call my wife and letter her know I was 1/2 way in and feeling great - while trying to talk, walk and dodge traffic I managed to step into a water puddle and soak my feet. My mood soured almost instantly, to add to this I couldn't see the course markings through the downtown area and traffic was heavy on a Saturday night. Mike came to the rescue and ensured me I needed to go straight until Washington Street and then turn left. Once I hit Washington he told me I had a mile to go. This was the first of many instances where I learned to distrust a cars odometer. For 20 minutes I power walked and ran strongly - still no aid station. The mental/emotional effect of thinking I could cover a mile in 20 minutes was crushing and I jogged into the Weatherford Medical Center Aid station feeling deflated and for the first time missing a planned split with a 50 mile time of 10:48.
At the aid station I needed to change clothes as I had soaked through my warm clothing with sweat, I also decided my hot spots were getting worse and I needed to sacrifice some time now to take care of them. When I pulled off my shoes I realized that I didn't have hot spots, I had full blown blisters on the backs of my achilles heel and they were located in an area that would be tough to tape. Also on my right foot the blister was under a callous - uh oh. I spent some time trying to tape up and also borrowing some supplies from the Pirahna's since I couldn't find my foot powder (it was in plain sight the whole time I later realized). After about a 10 minute stop I was off.
WoW - what happened? After leaving the 50 mile aid station it was like someone had thrown a switch, no I didn't hit the wall, my energy level was just fine - but it felt like I'd left my quads at the last aid station. I thought briefly about going back and asking the volunteers if they had seen them... Now this was unusual in the sense that normally when I trash my quads it's a gradual thing and you know its coming - however today (or I guess tonight) I went from feeling fine to be totally unable to handle the downhills all at once. Of course for this Okie this course had been very hilly. Rolling hills you might say but they did keep rolling on and on and on. Somewhere on this section a truck full of Coca Cola Cowboys dressed up for Saturday night pulled over and asked me what I was doing. The look on their faces when I told them made the whole experience worth it - to their credit they enthusiasticly wished me well in my adventure and went about their way. Over the next 5 1/2 miles to Hydro I ran the flats, power walked the uphills and just tried to survive the downhills. So much for my strategy of going slow the first 50 to have something left for the second half. I tried to not let this get to me and decided I could walk my way to a better position - if I just kept moving forward things would eventually get better.
By the Hydro aid station it was starting to get cold and my blisters were acting up again, I stopped for about 15 minutes and changed shoes again, this time putting some slick adhesives patches inside the heels of the shoes themselves changing socks and retaping the blisters - this time with duct tape which I thought had a chance to stay in place. It was here that Mike gave me one of those convenience store ham sandwiches that any other time I would have turned my nose up at - not tonight it was WONDERFUL.
Between Geary and Bridgeport I started to run strongly on the flats and uphills, still walking the down hills. Mike progressed from pulling ahead a 1/4 mile at a time to a mile at a time. Poor guy - having to drive a 100 miles at 5 miles an hour. About a mile into this stretch I was cruising along and I saw someone on their front porch waving and yelling. Taking out my earphones I could hear a very irate homeone screaming something about getting off his property. The way he was weaving he might have had an earlier date with the bottle. Looking around to see what had him so upset I saw Mike with his hazard lights on at the edge of the driveway talking loudly to another running making sure they were OK, oblivious to the fact that the some or all of us were about to get buckshot for breakfast. I passed Mike and told him to pull ahead now. Not suprisingly I ran pretty fast for the next 10 minutes or so. Somewhere on this stretch I came across Ray. Ray lives in Winona Mississippi and we had spent some time earlier in the race discussing the small Mississippi Towns. When I found Ray he was sitting on the side of the road and looked discouraged. I asked him if he would get up and walk with me a little ways. He did and while we were walking he told me he was going to drop out. I told him I understood and that it was a very personal decision but if he was going to drop out why not walk with me to the 72 mile aid station run by the Tulsa Ultra and Trail Running group. They would have a fire and warm food which might make all the difference. Ray agreed and we power walked for several miles eating and talking until about mile 65 when my pacer Reese met us a few miles early at mile 65. I was running about an hour behind schedule at this point and Reese had come out to start pacing a little before the Bridgeport aid station. It was good to see Reese and I quickly told him I wanted to start running some after Bridgeport but no matter what I wanted to get Ray to Tatur Turn.
We pulled into Bridgeport about 1am on a cold and dark night. Since I had a crew we didn't take advantage of the aid station and did the short out and back and got back on the road for Tatur Turn. This was only 5 miles but it was along 5 miles. I started running a bit more here. Before I knew it we were at the LONG bridge. This was the bridge they had warned us we would need to run with traffic and have a vehicle escort since there were no shoulders. This bridge was at least a mile long. Towards the end you could see the Tatur aid station shining like a beacon. It was unfortunately farther away than it appeared.
I had hopes of coming into the Tatur aid station and warming up by the fire and visiting with some Tatur friends and talking a while to Ray before going out on the only trail section of the course. A 5 mile run on dirt and gravel through the original route 66 alignment that was off limits to crew vehicles. Once I weighed in all my plans of rest and socializing vanished - the scale read my weight as down 12 pounds. Even though my feet and quads hurt, my energy level and morale were still strong - trust me if I was so dehydrated that I'd lost 12 pounds that wouldn't have been the case. At the time I couldn;t remember if 12 pounds down was 6% weight loss which would have resulted in a warning or 7% which would have resulted in an automatic disqualification. I couldn;t do the math and didn’t wait around for the aid station volunteers to figure it out. Once off the scale I told Maurice lets go and took off at a fast clip down the trail section - hoping Mike and Ray would understand and figure out what each of them would do next.
This section of the course was dark, cold and creepy. It was hear that my feet really started to hurt - 72 miles in racing flats - go figure. Several times I had to stop to just be still for 30 seconds before continuing and running was completely out of the question. On top of that it was cold. I told Reese as soon as we finished this section I had to get in a warm vehicle and heat up. He didn't argue - I think we were both just trying to make it through. I was just try to put one foot in front of the other and he was probably just trying to hold himself back to a walking pace I could follow.
When we finally made it to Geary I had the first of two real test of my resolution to finish. I got inside the crew vehicle and Mike and Reese entertained me with humor and stories while I tried to warm up. The outside temperature sensor read 34 degrees. I put on many extra layers and after 40 minutes Mike told me it was time to go. I got out and slogged maybe 200 yards before I had to wave Mike down to stop and get back in the vehicle. I was seriously pre-hypothermic and scared. It wasn’t a matter of desire to finish but fear of permanent damage. This time I stayed in the car for about ten minutes and put on everything we had in the vehicle except 1 pair of expedition weight long johns (which normally I couldn't wear stationary at anything warmer than 10 degrees). I got outside and made it about another 30 seconds before getting back in the vehicle. This time I put the expedition weight long johns over everything else. This time when I got out I knew if I couldn;t get warm I would have to drop - I started running - it may not have been fast and it may not have been pretty but I was running.
I started to warm up. In fact in a few more minutes I started handing layers of clothing back to Mike at each stop. My spirit started to rise. I was 80 miles into a 100 miler and I was running again. I couldn't wait till daylight - expecting my spirits and energy level to soar with the rising of the sun. By this point I had no appetite and briefly thought about eating. I decided I'd rather wait till I started bonking to eat than try to force down food now and maybe kick off a serious case of bloat/nasuea. This section is when my second serious test began. Without warning the blisters on the back of both heels popped at once. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t walk. I screamed like a girl. I couldn’t believe blisters could hurt so badly. I got in the vehicle to tend to my feet. Just taking off my shoes was agony. The reasons why the pain was so extreme was obvious when I got my shoes and socks off. The last dirt section to Geary had deposited quite a bit of sand in my shoes and socks. Due to the extreme cold I hadn't noticed. This had turned the manageable dime sized blisters into a macerated mess that covered the entire back of each foot. It was time for some duct tape. While I carry a variety of foot first aid with me, I always carry a role of duct tape for emergencies. It will stick to anything! I duct taped my heels and whimpered as I put my shoes back on. I knew I couldn’t let this break me. As I stepped out of the car and started to run I let out whimpers like an animal. Fire was shooting through my nerves. I was crying without even realizing it while running. But I kept on, eventually the pain became manageable - then blessedly it became numb. We were at mile 87 and the sun was rising.
The last three miles to Calumet is where I met and dealt with the demise of my goal for 26 hours. While I had my blisters and my quads under control (sort of) the raw pounding my feet had taken over the last 87 miles were taking it's toll. Well I might not make my goal but I wasn't going to roll over. With the rising of the son my mood started to improve and I told Reese we were going to start passing people. My goal was one for each mile left in the race. Now I'm not normally very competitive, and certainly a 100 mile race is you against the course - not other people. However this goal helped me to focus on something and run more so that's what I did. I started to get a little punch drunk and began my best/worst Mohammed Ali imitation - telling my crew and pacer "I was a bad, bad man". Steadily but surely we began to pass people, most of which had resigned themselves to walking in the last thirteen miles but some fought back and ran well. As if my Mohammed Ali imitation wasn't bad enough I started telling anyone who would listen (meaning my crew and pacer) that I ate nails for breakfast and spiked my coffee with sname venom - anything to pscyh myself out to keep going. We finally made it to the mile 90 aid station in Calumet.
By Calumet my ability to run or walk was becoming very questionable. You'd think I'd have sore legs or cramps or low energy at this point but truly it was just about pain management with the bottom of my feet being the trouble. I ran as much as I could but that was getting to be less and less. My brother showing up again unexpectedly helped raise my spirits but couldn't do much for the rest of me. I truly believed at mile 95 I would start to speed up with the finish line in sight. That wasn't the case - with 5 miles left I really came apart emotionally. At this point I never thought about quitting but it was a serious struggle not to succumb to a survival shuffle to the finish.
I pushed and pushed, time and again to run 1 min, 2 mins, 30 secs what ever I could. At one point I almost broke. By this point I was glad I had sunglasses on because I didn't want anyone to see the tears or the look in my eyes. I barely nodded my head when my crew shouted encouragement. After a short downhill run at mile 97 a sob escaped my lips and I just shook uncontrollably with emotion for a minute. Right at this point my brother drove by and asked if everything was ok - not wanting him to witness me hurting like that I pulled it together. It was tough. About this time a rancher who was turning on to Route 66 rolled down his window and asked if we were doing a marathon? Reese explained to him we were on our 4th marathon of the day and he politely suggested "you guys must be a little cracked". No doubt about that I thought.
By now I could see the final hill, over which was the entrance to Fort Reno. As I walked up this hill I saw my wife and son as well as my brother's family. Their encouragement helped me to dig deep and run to the entrance of Ft. Reno where the finish line awaited...
Or did it - a truly cruel finish once you enter in the gates to Ft. Reno a sign tells you that you have 1.5 miles to go. This was a huge blow but I started running faster. Reese told me if we could hold this pace I could still make noon (which was plan B and I didn't want to give it up). I ran for what felt like half a mile (but was probably closer to 100 yards) when a race sign proclaimed only 1.5 miles left to go. This time I couldn’t take it - I walked. I couldn't even see the finish line just 1 more hill in the distance. I had had enough hills - I wanted to finish. I walked , Reese beside me wincing and sobbing with the pain. It was beautiful, the fall colors, the trees, the grass - OWWW my feet brought me back into the moment. We crested the last hill and I could see the finish line in the distance. I started to run. I soon realized the finish line was further away than I thought and since it was after noon I decided what’s a few more minutes. I decided to walk. About that time Reese told me there was a runner behind me and he was running. No way I thought - somehow I found speed I didn’t now I had - earlier in the day I thought there would be no way I could find a finishing kick but I did. I sprinted across the line to the sounds of the theme from Rocky (others who were there may correct me but I really believe I sprinted to the finish) and immediately found a chair and became one with it.
Once I opened my eyes again I saw that my Mother, my Wife, Son and two cousins were holding a congratulatory banner they had made. I was surrounded by friends from the Oklahoma Trail Running Group and my wife was whispering something sweet in my ear. Having friends, family and my crew and pacer at the finish line meant the world to me.
Several days later I am still trying to process the experience. I know that it wouldn't have been the same experience without Mike and Brad crewing and Reese pacing. I think I'll forever be closer to each of you.
To everyone who provided encouragement and support along the way and the race directors and volunteers that made the race happen - thank you all
Friday, November 7, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday - did 30 miles at night at lake Hefner REALLY slow. Had great company with Dave and Keith for the first lap, Charlie for the second and Reese for the whole thing. Even a suprise or two in my truck when we finished. It's great to have friends like these guys.
Wednesday - did 10k at night through the surrounding neighborhoods, cold and windy and lots of traffic - just like race day
Monday - went to the OKC Running Club meeting and saw Chisolm Deupree give his presentation of his race this year at Badwater. If you think the topo map looks tough check out some pictures of the actual course. I'm still in awe. Ran 10 miles at Hefner after the meeting.
For this week I hope to catch a few runs with Charlie and maybe some others on the weekend. Generally run more often with less miles. Hopefully somewhere along the way I'll start to feel like an athlete again.
Monday, October 20, 2008
It's that thirty miles on the Mother Road that was the problem. The week of the training run I came down with a bad cold or flu along with vomiting and high fever. By Friday I was feeling quite a bit better and decided to continue the training run.
That night in Elk City I sneezed all night and didn't get much sleep and figured I was probably allergic to something in the hotel room (trust me it wasn't one of the nicer rooms I've stayed in). The next morning came early and started well enough. Unfortunately I made a bad decision to only carry a single handheld. With an average distance of 8 miles between fluids and scorching temperatures this was a mistake. Beyond that the ice chests didn't have any water just gatorade. Gatorade and I have a long history all of it bad where running is involved. I suffered that day. I mean I really suffered FAR worse than any other race or run I've ever done. Many thanks to Reese, Michael and Dan for dragging me through.
At the time I thought the high temps and lack of liquids did me in and I'd be fine after a day or two recovery - not so. Remember that sneezing - it was the start of a sinus infection that took three different rounds of antibiotics and 2 injections to clear up. Unreal - I just couldn't get well. And when I finally did I had a root canal and abscessed tooth to deal with. Somewhere along the way I just gave up on my hopes for the Mother Road.
Enough whining basically at about 6 weeks from my last run a friend of mine (Dave Wood from the Ok Trail Runners) was concerned about finishing his first 50 miler after not running for four weeks due to an injury. Wanting to encourage my friend and being a loud mouth by nature I told him if he could finish 50 at Heartlands I'd run 100 or die trying at the Mother Road. Well finish he did.
As my dad always said "Never let your mouth write a check you backside can't pay". Whoops dad - guess I forgot
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
After packet picket I decided to make a quick run to the REI in Dallas. I usually make a side trip there when in town. This quick jaunt turned into an all day affair thanks to a missed turn and me not paying too much attention until the Galleria loomed into sight (about 15 miles after my exit). By the time we got back to the hotel it was between 5 and 6 pm and the thought was to catch a little shut eye before the 10:30 check in time for the race. It was a nice thought but never really happened all things considered I would have been better off staying active as trying to sleep unsuccesfully just made me feel groggy. Of course by checkin time for the race I was def. ready for some shut eye - which was just exacerbated by the hour and half wait until the actual race start.
During the wait I alternating between lusting for a pillow so I could sleep to chatting with two runners Michael and Jauque from the Houston running club. Michael was a veteran with a couple of ultras and a sub 3 hour marathon under his belt who admitted to signing up just to shut Jauque up about the race. Jacque may have been a newbie to the world of ultra marathons but being from South Africa originally he kept me spell bound with tales of the Comrades Marathon. The Comrades is probably the worlds biggest ultra and is on my lifes list of races. From all accounts it is a very hilly tough 56 mile race. By this time the race was ready to begin - sorta. Maurice and I stepped about 15 feet behind the starting line vowing to not start out front or go out to fast (like I'd ever do that). The only problem was eveyone else lined up behind us. I kept thinking the frontrunners would crowd the line at any minute and leave us at the middle of the pack and they continued to defy my expectations. The race finally started about 5 mins. after midnight as we waited for the arrival of a local news station reporter to arrive and video the start.
The race itself had little suprises. As usual my stomach was my albatross. Although I guess there was one suprise - my ability to stay awake. Now with my previous night owl lifestyle and latter a career that often called for 24-36 hour "emergency shifts" you'd think that would be no problem for me. Well this night owl has become an early bird and by the middle of the third lap was sleep running. Thankfully Reese came by and gave me some caffine tablets (of which I should have taken several more of) which helped for a lap or two. And after the fourth lap I was really hurting. The pattern was my normal. Hold off on fluids until my stomach settles, by then I'm seriously dehydrated and have to take in enough fluids to get my stomach upset again - repeat. By the start of the seventh lap I managed to get angry and threw down my bottles and ran the last three laps hard without taking any nutrition. I was pushing hard trying to get back for a 5:30 finish pace. Unfotunately I saw the clock at the start of my tenth lap and realized I would need to run a 24 minute 5k to finish within 5:30. Normally that's no big deal for me but after 45k trust me its a challenge. This is one area I was dissapointed with myself, instead of pushing for every minute and probably finishing about 5:39 I took it easy the first half of the last lap and didn't turn it on until the last 2k and came in at 5:45. Overall a good experience and one the again reminded me I have to figure out my nutrition in the heat - no matter what I manage in training the stress of race day (or night) will make it tougher
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Now just to clarify; if anyone (myself included) things I am starting to make excuses to myself about my upcoming performance at El Scorcho - think again!
All of my races 26.2 miles and beyond have been disappointments from a time perspective. In each one of these efforts I have learned something valuable - BUT I'm starting to get a bit of stigma about race days - SO El Scorcho will be a success - it's just to psychologically important to me not to be. The question is just how high of a price will I pay for that success.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
As I arrived at Lake Hefner I suspected the race might be a wash since there was lightining quite close and it looked like a heavy downpour was going to start any minute. In all actuality the race did start on time and the only real effects were very heavy humidity.
My goal for this race was 38:15 and I started out the first two K consistently holding this pace. Somewhere between 2 and 3 K I began to slow down. For the rest of the race I did battle with myself IE It's going to hurt no matter what - the difference between failing and meeting your goal is just a little bit harder - keep going. By the return when the race takes a turn onto the trails into Stars and Stripes park I missed the turn and cost myself 10-15 seconds with "extra miles". If anyone can get lost in a sprint race it's me :)
Once we hit the second loop through Stars and Stripes park I could "smell the barn" and began to accelerate. I ran the last K quite fast. As we turned into the park for the last 200 yards I gave it all I had and for the first time actually faltered in my finishing kick.
Normally I finish races with an ever accelerating finishing kick and cross the finish line thinking I had more to give. This time I topped out and couldn't go any faster - when I crossed the line at 38:49 I knew I had missed my goal but had the satisfaction of giving everything I had on that particular race day.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
2 Hot dogs, 2 PB & Honey Sandwiches
4 gallons of water, 1/2 case Clip2, 2 cans ensure, 3 tasty libations
3 pairs of shoes and socks
9 hours 41 minutes of running
lots of love and support from family and friends
For those still reading after the "condensed" version. This Saturday was the annual Oklahoma Trail Runners Association - Green People trail event for climate awareness. This event hosted by the OTRA and directed by Katharine (soon to have a different last name) Cranwell is a special one for me. It's hard to believe just one year ago that this event was my first trail event and also my first time to run 16 miles. Fast forward a year, 1 marathon and 2 50k's later and I'm going for 40 or more miles.
I slept unusully well the night before an event even though I was down right scared of the next morning afraid I would repeat my performance at the Andy Payne marathon. I woke a bit earlier than planned at 3:30 and made it to lake Hefner in time to make an easy 2 miles before meeting my friend Reese.
Reese and I planned an easy 18-20 miles on the road before I left for the Green People event which started at 8:30. Did I mention it was still quite dark at 4:30 in the morning ? I had brought a headlamp but since I need to turn my cap around backwards to wear it and that is where my sunglasses were currently perched I decided to wrap the headband a few times around my water bottle. This actually worked quite well and might possibly decide the delima I have been having lately concerning nighttime lighting. IE - I like a lower light like a flashlight provides but hate running with one.
Back to the running - Reese and I took off towards Stars and Stripes park about 3 miles away and the site of one of the two icechests I had put out the night before. From there we decided to head toward Nichols Hills Plaza about 4 miles away to meet some friends from the Oklahoma City Running Club who were planning to start a 6:00 AM.
I was feeling good and probably running way to fast for a 40 mile day. Reese being a good friend and having already run a 50 miler mentioned that in a polite way a few times. When we reached the bottom of the hill that crests at the Nichols Hills police department we could just make out our Landrunner friends beginning to start their run. Unconsiously I started to speed up, then conciously started to really speed up in an effort to catch them. Once we did I realized I may pay for my indescreitions with pace by later in the day. A few minutes later after we had all said our good mornings I was still breathing a little too heavy this early in the day. For once I decided to do the smart thing and walk even though it meant being seperated from the pack. This was a much easier decision since Reese stuck beside me like a good friend so I wasn't truly alone. We ran on the marathon course a bit more and then returned to our waterstop in the middle of Nichols Hills. After refueling we pointed ourselves back towards Hefner and retraced our steps. At about mile 17 (for me) Reese and I split up as he wanted to get in a bit more distance before finishing his morning.
I ran back to the truck and began changing shoes and socks before heading to Bluff Creek for the trail portion of the day. About this time Reese speeded in and we joked about what it would be like trying to put on fresh Injinjis during a 100 mile run. Reese graciously offered to begin crewing right then and there but I told him I could still change my own socks after 19 miles but I'm sure I'd take him up on it someday after 70 or so miles. It's always good running with Reese. He's the kind of friend that lets "lets what's said in Vegas stay in Vegas" so we've had all sorts of taboo conversations (stereotypes, religion, politics, etc.)over many a mile. I remember thinking when he left how much I'd give to have him around for those final few miles which I knew would be tough.
After a quick change of shoes, a bottle of ensure, and reloading on clip2 I drove to Bluff Creek for the beginning of the Green People Trail Run.
I arrived at Bluff Creek to see a strong turnout for this years event. Checking in I bumped into my friend Larry who had come out to do a lap with me and check out the festivities. It was great to have him there and made the next two laps go smoothly while we caught up on old times. I also saw Chisolm D. there who had run from Norman to the start of the event! That's almost 40 miles just to get to the starting line. Chisolm is training for Badwater this year and looked to be in fine form.
After the first two laps with Larry I had made the marathon distance and stopped for an ensure and peanut butter and honey sandwich. I called home to let Leslie know the day was going great and to see how they were doing at White Water. All was well and Leslie encouraged me to "Do what you need to do" - this meant a lot and fueled me as much as the calories did.
Fast forward to the last mile of lap 4 which I was trying to run in hard to make it to the poker game. As I passed Beth and Peggy at the last ½ mile Beth mentioned I was crazy for running so far (and at least for that ½ mile hard). I let her know I was probably dropped on my head as a child. Her only comment was “repeatedly”. Green People is a poker run with 2 cards for each loop completed. I had gotten in 4 loops before the poker game and won an additional extra card for the dozen cookies I had brought. So I probably had a bit of an unfair advantage. I ended up winning a gift certificate to Backwoods and joked that it would probably all go to new socks as I'd probably wear out a few pairs before the day is through.
After the poker hand I took an extended break to indulge in some of the food and drink offered. I never thought you could run after several liters of fluid and a couple of hot dogs but it's amazing how quickly your body can put fuel to use after 35 miles.
At this point I began rethinking my plans. Originally I planned on forty miles with fifty as a stretch goal that I never SERIOUSLY considered. At this point in the day I started considering it. I had never run this long without cramping, bonking, having a seriously upset stomach or more likely all of the above. I remember thinking - when everything clicks take advantage of it. I made a call to my loved ones and it seemed like Leslie and Carson were having a great time at white water so I decided to go for it.
This next section of the day was the best - between miles 35 and 42 I was out on the trails by myself just enjoying life. I did lots of thinking through these miles and came away with an even greater appreciation for my family and life's blessings. I couldn't believe how things were still flowing. It’s probably good that the trails were pretty desolate at as somewhere around mile 40 I found myself singing a Big Boys song “Fun,Fun ,Fun” at the top of my longs and wondered how long I’d been singing. My only small concern at this point was that maybe I had taken a bit too much salt as I had been doubling up on S Caps. In fact I didn't take any more salt for the last two hours of the day and felt fine.
As I came through the trailhead at mile 42 it looked like the Greenpeople party was finally packing up. Keith (the pres. of the OTRA) said he would be out here for several more hours and to take all the time I wanted. At the time I was feeling a bit quilty like I was keeping Keith out here regardless of what he said and after 6 loops I was looped out on Bluff Creek.
I decided to drive a mile back to the North lake Hefner parking lot where it all began to finish the last eight miles on the road. I was still expecting to bonk hard at somepoint and easy access to water and a public place seemed like good ideas. I laced on my fathers day presnt, a pair of Pearl Izumi racing flats I'd yet to run in (how bad could it be for 8 miles right) and took off.
In the words of Red Spicer "I was passing trees and rocks like they were standing still". My feet hurt just a bit and I remmeber thinking maybe these shoes were a little too light. Then I remmebered I had been running for over 9 hours and maybe it wasn't entirely the shoes fault. It was about this time that I also discovered that one application of Hydropel to the inner thighs is good for about 43 miles.
By the time I got to Stars and Stipes park I was still about two miles short of 50 miles factoring in my return trip. I remember it seeming to take hours to do two miles on the side loops at this part of the course. I noticed a burning pain in my chest with every stride forward and concluded that the nip guards I had just put on would adhere much better without 45 miles of sweat and salt accumulation.
Finally I started my return voyage. All I had to do was make it to my truck and 50 miles was mine. I was running more than walking at this point and when I got to the Bahama Breeze parking lot I knew I had 1 mile to go. No way I was not going to finish strong. I ran all of the last mile at a 9:15 pace which trust me feels like 6 minute miles when you've had a forty nine mile warmup.
As I crested a small rise to the parking lot there was Keith cheering me in. I have never been more happy to see a familiar face in my life. I mean it REALLY meant a lot to me. Keith had stealthily followed me to Lake Hefner and waited close to two hours for me to finish my final eight miles. If this wasn't enough he had an ice chest with cold drinks waiting.
We stood and shot the breeze for a few minutes as it dawned on me I was done and had really run 50 miles. The sense of acomplishment was very fulfilling. Then it was time for home where a much needed shower and then ice bath awaited...
Thursday, June 19, 2008
In all actuality it did add about three extra miles to the trip but they were well worth it. I'm excited for my friend Jamie who found a great home in a quaint tucked away neighborhood. Congrats Jamie.
Now back to the running, this one tooks us off the beaten course and past many of the establishments I frequented in my not so distance past. By any means when we arrived back at Nichols Hills plaza at mile 18 for my run, I felt strong and declined the offers of a ride and finished up with a strong 5 miles back to Lake Hefner in almost exactly 4 hours run time.
When I realized how close I was going to come to 26.2 it was very tempting to knock out the remaining 5k to get some revenge for my recent death march at Andy Payne. Ultimately the responsibilities of a family man were more important than stroking my ego so I left it at a good 23 miles for the day.
Lesson for the day - all miles are better with friends but especially long miles!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Marathon day dawned hot and humid. As a matter of fact it reached 45 degrees hotter than my 20 miler two weeks prior which was in 45 degree weather. Don Garrett started us off with a pistol shot and I really enjoyed the first loop around Overholser. I had the opportunity to meet a few ultrarunners from Missouri and Texas and we discussed El Scorcho, The Mother Road, Grasslands and other nearby races.
This year I had decided to be simpler in my training and try drinking Gatorade and using GU since these seem to be common denominators at most races. This worked well for me in the cooler temperatures of early Spring so I was feeling confident and unencumbered.
Lesson to remember - what works in the cool may not in the heat.
To begin with in the words of Don Garrett "Aid is scarce" on this course. To complicate things I have always been a sipper when it comes to dehydration - if I drink more than an ounce of fluid at a time while running my stomach tends to resemble the volcano science experiment you remember as a kid. Top this off with 90 degree weather and aid stations 3-4 miles apart and you have a challenge.
In all fairness I had learned these lessons before at SunMart in December but oh how soon we forget. I was still feeling pretty good at the halfway point which we hit about 2 hours. Quickly after that my stomach became queasy and I struggled to keep up with Karrie who I planned to run with. By the route 66 bridge on the second loop (approx mile 15) I was dry heaving and hurting bad. My stomach was officially letting me know it was not happy.
It was at this point that I decided to walk for "just a few minutes" to clear my stomach and then catch up with Karrie. Big mistake. I spent the rest of the race alternating between nausea and dehydration. I would stop consuming fluids and walk until my stomach cleared and then run. After a few minutes of running I would be extremely thirsty and try to drink at the next aid station thinking. This would start things all over again!
I walked in just under 5 hours! WOW that was a disappointment but the overall experience was positive. I have had three long distance races and fared poorly in each from a time perspective - however in each of them I have learned (and sometimes relearned) valuable lessons that I believe will pay off over time.
This race's lessons
- Acclimatize to the heat
- bring your own nutrition
- consume the minimum calories and fluid required for the distance
I immediately wanted to do another marathon after finishing. Ok maybe it was a day or two latter but I felt I had dealt myself short in this race by making a couple of tactical errors and look forward to trying again and being more successful. For the marathon unfortunately I'll have to wait for fall.