Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 100 mile 2011

I went to TX the first week of Feb to try my first 100 - Rocky Raccoon. I had done some 50 milers and was inspired by those running the Superior 100 last Sept - especially those doing it as their first or second 100! I asked what my next step would be if I wanted to bump up and was told "just sign up". Oops, I was hoping for a nice list so I could continue pushing it off by not doing the things on the list. Hmmmm.

I ran the 50 at Rocky last year so I decided to give the 100 a try. One reason: it's an 'easier' 100 - the distance is intimidating enough without doing a 'harder' one. I still think that was a good idea. Another reason: I figured I'd sneak away and try to finish one 'out of the spotlight'. I was thinking I didn't want to advertise it and then totally suck, so that was the plan. I've decided that was a dumb idea.

I had plenty of questions leading up to the race. The first question of course: can I actually run/walk that far? I also considered that Feb is not really a good time for a first 100 for someone living in MN. Training-wise I really had no ramp-up in miles. I ran 50 miles at Surf the Murph around Halloween and then basically tried to maintain as much as possible. I ran two 50Ks between Surf the Murph and Rocky - raced one, enjoyed the other!

As the race approached I was thinking: it's better to go into a race undertrained than injured. I wasn't injured, I suspected I might be undertrained. I also realized this was new territory so I started thinking this might be a process - it may take more than one attempt to figure things out and get a finish. The challenge of course was to not let that thought be a cop-out and an excuse to quit.

So what happened? The short version:

Goal: 100 miles, 30 hours or less.
Actual: 80 miles, 25:53.
Needed: 80 miles in 24:00 to continue, so ~2 hours too slow

loop 1 - ~5:00 (left at 5:10)
loop 2 - ~5:10 (total time 10:20, left at 10:30)
loop 3 - ~6:12 (total time 16:42, left at 17:15)
loop 4 - ~8:38 (total time 25:53)

How it went:
loop 1 - pretty well
loop 2 - pretty well
loop 3 - pretty well, blister care added ~30 minutes
loop 4 - wow, the wheels really fell off: more blister care, all walking, tired

Problems: I had some blister issues - the heels of both feet, and then later the ball of my left foot. I think the time spent at the aid stations having them treated was the real problem. And then there was the other deal, the bigger deal - I got tired. Not sleepy tired, but "wow this is a long ways" tired. Imagine that. :)

Here's the longer, play-by-play version:

I didn't want to spend much time texting/facebooking and all that, but I did want to report back to people on how things were going. So I had an email set up that I could do Reply All and send a quick message. And after loops 2, 3, and 4 I also thought to take a picture of the clock and upload that to facebook.

Loop 1:

The wood bridges were frost covered and slippery... I was being careful but one of the descents was too steep and out my feet went. I had 2 thoughts: "this shouldn't really hurt", and then "I was wrong" as I hit pretty hard. It definitely could've been worse. A little later we were directed around another bridge and there was a runner down - heard later she broke her leg. I was with Misty and Vicky and we stopped for a bit and then I moved on. Didn't know if I'd see 'the girls' again so started chatting with a guy that looked familiar from another race - really didn't want to spend the next 29 hours by myself! Ended up hanging around him for 2 loops, and was also happy that the girls caught us. Loop 1 was in the dark for the first hour or so.

This is the email I sent after loop 1:
"Crazy trip, nice to be running. Took hard fall off wood bridge but ok. On pace. Hooked up w/Leonard Martin ? (mother road)...
Stalking him now.

Was with misty and vicky more of this loop than expected. Now I'm chasing them and leonard. :-)

So far so good and fun..."

Loop 2:

I was the last one out of the aid station after loop 1 so wanted to catch the others but didn't want to chase too hard. Missed a turn and went the wrong way for a bit. Back-tracked and got back on the right trail. I think I hooked up with the others before the 2nd aid station. About 26 miles in I had my first bit of blister care done... popped left foot heel blister with some guy's knife, didn't pop the right ones, and a guy taped both heels. This was pretty fast compared to later blister care stops. I believe I caught the other folks again after that and finished loop 2 with them. Loop 2 was all in the light.

This is the email I sent after loop 2:
"Loop 2 done... Feeling tired? (40 miles, duh) :-)

10:20ish for 2.....

Still with leonad, misty, vicky...

Too many questions - shut up, brain. Too fast? Too sore? Sticking with Leonard - help me finish or will he kill me?

Oh, Wrong Way means wrong way... Only 5 minutes lost.

So far so good I guess... Going to settle into my own thing.

Loop 3 here we go

Thanks for tuning in. :-)"

Loop 3:

After loop 2 I decided sticking with Leonard was wearing me down too much and I better settle into my own rhythm, so I did. I think I ran the early part of loop 3 with Vicky. Before the 2nd aid station I felt some weirdness with my right heel blisters and decided I better have them looked at. I think a couple blisters joined forces into a pretty big one and then popped. A guy at the aid station taped them up - I appreciated the work but I think it took about 30 minutes which is a long time. Once I got going again I think I was walking pretty well but not doing much running. Caught Vicky and finished the loop with her.

In hindsight it was crazy but my 'plan' was 3 5-hour loops to be done with 60 miles in 15 hours... leaving 15 hours for the last 40 miles. I figured 15 hours wasn't required, but coming in almost 2 hours over that was a concern. The blister care and the fact that it got dark during loop 3 and the fact that I was fading made that a long loop.

This is the email I sent after loop 3:
"Yay - new mileage record for me... 60 miles.

Anyone fall for my 3 loops even splits baloney? Yikes.

16:45ish for 60mi. Blister issues - takes time but the people are great.

Time is going to be an issue. Well, so will the miles. :-)

Ok,big night mode.... Changed clothes... Need new batteries n lights, food/drink, get out there.

Don't wait up, kids. Hehe

See ya."

Loop 4:

Loop 4 (miles 60-80) is where things got away from me. After slowing down and 30 minutes of blister care I came in later than I was hoping from loop 3, and then completely changed clothes which made that a long stop - another 30 minutes of no forward progress. I left at 17:15 which left me less than 13 hours for 2 more loops - less than 6.5 hours each and the previous one had taken me over 6 hours. I tend to freak out when I get too close to cut-offs and thoughts of doom were creeping in.

I was only walking at this point and had some new blisters. I didn't know if I could walk a 6:45 loop anyway, and realized stopping to have the blisters looked at would put me over for sure. So the seeds of doubt were already there, I was about to stop and put myself into a bigger hole, and my thoughts were something like this: "you're most likely not going to make it anyway, and even if by some miracle you push and push and push and do make it... then all you'll have done is qualified yourself to go out and push push push some more to try and do a 6 hour loop, and good luck with that".

Well is there any surprise it ended the way it did? The blister stop on loop 4 was another 30 minutes, and all motivation to push was gone. I walked by myself for all but the last part of the loop... by chance I ran into a friend of a friend and stumbling in together as the sun came up made the last part pretty enjoyable - more so than it otherwise would've been.

This is the email I sent after loop 4 - actually hours later:
"Sorry no update for so long... Phone battery died. May have a chance to send more later but I made it 80 miles. Walked with a guy
the last 4.4 miles - he was finishing 100 and I was finishing 80 - took us 2 hours for those last miles.
My feet are hamburger... Really takes the whole package to finish one of these. I'm pretty satisfied with how it went.
Was nice to go all day and then all night.

Final tally: 80 miles 25:53. Needed to be done in 24:00 to start the last loop. If it's not obvious I really faded.
Room for improvement both physically and mentally.

Thanks for being interested... or at least pretending to be. :-)



Part of me wonders if I should be more bummed... but I think I'm not because I'm encouraged: I feel like I made it far enough that now I actually believe I can do it. So now what? Well, on April 9th I will try again in Illinois at Potawatomi (the old McNaughton). Yeah, 9 weeks after not finishing an 'easier' 100 I'm going to try a 'not easy' 100... hmmmm. But I'm going with some friends, and we have a plan - so this is the next step in the process. Wish me luck. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dirty River Bottoms...

First, this isn't another race report... in case that's what you were thinking. :) The Thur run this week was on part of the MN River Bottoms. We'd been led to believe we might get wet and muddy and were kinda looking forward to that, but either we were in the wrong spot or we didn't go far enough or things have dried out in the last few days. Though there wasn't much for mud and standing water, there was lots of sand and trees and other 'stuff' in the area - a result of the spring flooding.

As you can see the conditions aren't horrible, but it does seem like this area could use some help from Mr. Clean. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

McNaughton, Trail Mix 2010

This might be a record, at least recently - posting the day after a race. I was trying to post this last night while everything was all roses thinking I might wake up to a different story, but so far so good. So the short story is: the last two weekends I've done the McNaughton 50 mile and the Trail Mix 50k. There was some concern that a 50k the weekend after my 3rd 50 mile finish was maybe not that smart, but thankfully it seemed to work out ok.

[btw, this might get kinda long... but if you're here then you must not have anything else to do anyway :) ]

McNaughton... a couple of us decided we wanted to do McNaughton - I had heard a couple years ago that it was a good 50 with such a generous cut-off, and Karen wanted to give the 100 another shot. We put quite a bit of effort into recruiting others and were eventually successful with Mike. So the trip was set.

Here's a link to all the pictures we took: pics
Also Mike has a couple good McNaughton posts on his blog: Westy's blog

The short story here is that I finished well. I had lots of help with 'smart pacing' throughout and being pulled along at the end... so a very good run for me. It was great to see and experience that 'sipping from the tank' early is the way to go so there's something left at the end -- you can't run fast enough early to make up for walking a whole bunch at the end, so it's good to conserve and be able to still run at the end. Seems so logical but that doesn't make it easy to do. Karen, Mike, and I all ran together at the beginning and that was very good for me.

our campsite was just down from the start/finish
line - a great place to be, easy to stop in each time around

The run started early and I always like it when the sun is coming up. It got pretty warm (especially considering we weren't used to running in any sort of heat) but otherwise was beautiful weather. The course was in great condition compared to the previous mud years - but thankfully we had just enough mud and water to make it fun. And there are lots of hills so this is a tough course even without slip-sliding around on all the climbs.

So the three of us hung out for loops 1 and 2... just easing into things and enjoying the day and each other's company on a nice run. I ran the first 2 loops in my monkey shoes - I had planned on one loop but everything seemed fine so I did a 2nd. The 20 miles was my longest run in them, doubling my previous longest actually. After 2 loops switching to real shoes seemed like a good idea and that was fine too. I think the monkey shoes get me off to a good start both pace and form-wise. And they were great fun in the streams and muddy sections.

I biffed it once in the monkey shoes - on a smooth downhill my foot slipped out and I was down before I knew it. Later I went to take a picture and my camera was gone... I realized it must've popped out of my pocket when I fell. I was hoping it'd be out in the open and someone would pick it up and turn it in at an aid station - and that's exactly what happened! Yay!! Thank You, honest camera-finding trail runner! BTW, somewhere along the line there was a discussion about my monkey shoes and possible halloween costumes so now they are my monkey/flintstone shoes. :)

this is the hill that normally has a rope... we think Andy took that too

Mike knew he'd have some issues with hydration and fueling so as expected/planned he dropped back to try and work through things towards the beginning of loop 3. And nothing against Karen but by the end of loop 3 I was trying to drop back and run on my own too. :) It seems there's just something about wanting to drop off from a stronger runner when you start feeling tired... but it didn't work for very long so I basically ran with Karen the rest of the way and she helped pull me along to a good finish. Of course, she was hanging back and being smart trying to conserve through the hot part of the day for her next 50 miles. So click click click went the clock as we kept plugging along until finally Mike and I were quite happy and relieved to be done with our 50 miles.

So once I was done it was nice hanging out by the finish, relaxing, chatting with Mike, eating, cheering for others as they came through, and sleeping. Once Karen got rid of the dead weight (me) she had a great 6th loop. Unfortunately the heat of the day took its toll and she got sick on loop 7. And since I was up when she came through and Mike wasn't (well, not really anyway) I got to feel like a jerk doing the "oh no you don't want to drop, are you really sure, couldn't you try this, couldn't you try that, blah blah blah" -- it seems like that's what you're supposed to do, at least a little bit... but shoot, when someone's sick it's kinda hard to say with much conviction "you should go back out there again and hey, it might be better this time". So she made the smart decision to bag it, and it became clear after 4-5 hours of sleep that she had made the right decision as she was still not feeling that well as we packed up and headed back to MN.

So it's always a downer when someone in the group doesn't get what they were after but all in all it was a fun trip, and a good run for me with all the pacing/pulling help. It's a nice course with some variety in the different sections... and it's a tough course with or without the mud. Definitely a race to do if you're at all thinking about it. Road trip next year??


Trail Mix... so on the way back from McNaughton I got this crazy idea to run Trail Mix. 4 loops seemed like a perfect setup for more practice with the smart pacing - this time doing it myself instead of just following along with others doing the work. And I thought maybe I'd even be able to do the whole thing in my monkey/flintstone shoes, raising my longest run in them to 50k. So the plan was to run 'ridiculously slow' [note: this is a phrase that registers with my brain which always seems to think we're running 5 miles and can't compute an appropriate pace for 31 or 50 miles] early with the main goal to be able to run reasonably well on loop 4... not a walk, shuffle, walk, shuffle, "I've crashed and burned" finish. Taking into consideration the recent 50 mile and other numbers my plan on paper was to run the loops in 1:45 with the option of trying to run faster on loop 4 if everything went well.

---loop 1 : I figured it'd be hard to run a 1:45 loop and I was right - finished in ~1:33, with a bathroom stop and trying to walk all inclines no matter how small. The problem here though was keeping the pace way down on the 2nd half when all the 25Kers came flying by.

---loop 2 : I started feeling it, went to the tunes early, and was entertaining the questions: was this a good idea, am I going to have to drop? I eventually realized I was being worked over with the monkey/flintstone shoes - the body wasn't handling the impact like it should - and I decided the cushioning of my shoes would be really nice. Finished in ~1:39.

--loop 3 : I changed into real shoes and that helped a lot, gave me quite a boost right away. I stuck with the 'take it easy' approach and everything just kinda smoothed out and started feeling good again. Oh, I suppose that was the ibu kicking in. Saw Kel on the course with her monkey shoes and she ran back to the start/finish area with me. Thanks for the picture, Kel. Finished in ~1:38.

--loop 4 - since I was feeling quite good I decided for this final loop that I could 'release the hounds' [note: this is a phrase that registers with my brain but it doesn't necessarily mean anything noticeable happens]. It basically started with me running up the smaller inclines that I had previously walked. And then eventually I was actually running harder and faster than I had all day. It was actually kinda fun to be cruising along and, believe it or not, passing people. It might've even looked to my fellow back-of-the-packers like I had been sandbagging. Well, the best part of all that is the smart pacing worked - I actually did it right and it was successful... woohoo! Maybe there's hope after all. Of course, lest I get a big (bigger?) head... I didn't pace all that well on the last loop so I had to back off the last part and save some for the hill at the end. Finished in ~1:22, by far my fastest loop of the day.

As far as trail runs go, Trail Mix is an easy course... especially when they take the ski hill out like they did again this year. So the other crazy part of this plan was that even taking it quite easy, if things held together I figured I could PR. My previous 50K PR was ~7:26 at Chippewa last year. 4 loops of 1:45s would've given me 7 hours, so I thought best-case I might end up in the 6:40-6:50 range. I was so focused on pacing against my previous loops using the cool Virtual Training Partner of my Garmin that I wasn't paying any attention to the total race time... so I was pretty surprised to see 6:13 on the clock as I finished! That still seems crazy to me, like they messed up the timing or something. Oh, and as a double bonus... rumor has it the real medals we got this year are way better than what they handed out in previous years. hehe

Along the way I had some short conversations with people - I was surprised how many asked about my monkey/flintstone shoes - but I basically ran by myself, with the tunes going for most of it (for those who wonder I run with one headphone in and one out). It was a lot of fun seeing friends out there, both running and spectating... including a good-sized group from Duluth. It seems like the last couple weekends were the kick-off to the race season in this part of the country, so let the fun begin (continue)!

So what's next for me? Besides some rest and recovery I'm going to try to run the Ice Age 50 mile within the 12 hour cut-off (gulp). I had decided to save this for next year and I'm not sure who to blame for the change in plans (well, ok, I do know who to blame...), but I'm going to give it a shot. I don't know if I can run a 50 mile that fast, so the plan is to use my new smart pacing skills to run the best time I can... and hope it's fast enough. Anyone want to come along??

Still here? If you made it all the way through you can consider yourself an ultra reader!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Land Between Lakes 50 mile 60K...

Well it's almost time for my next road trip so I guess I better write about the last one. Somehow I find myself in a "50 mile per month" club and March's entry was Land Between Lakes in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. The trip was shorter than the Texas trip but we still ended up driving through the night on the way down. Well, Mike from Michigan ended up driving through the night... more on that later. Mike W. (Westy) sent along a CD of southern artists for our 'education' and traveling enjoyment.

Land Between Lakes is 4 races, all with an 11-hour time limit. That's right, 11 hours for the 50 mile. Basically you run out of town at the beginning, do 1-4 loops, and then run back into town. 4 loops and an extra out-and-back gives you the 50 miles, and 3 loops gives you the 60K (37.2 miles). There's no penalty for dropping down a race - you just decide not to do any more loops [or miss the last loop cut-off] and head back to town and get the appropriate finish. And you get the same award for the 60K as you do for the 50 mile - a belt buckle. So even though I didn't feel there was any way I'd be able to make the last loop cut-off I decided to sign up for the 50 and give it a whirl. And hey, it involved a road trip which was a lot of fun last time.

Last year's race included a lot of rain so we were thankful not to have any [correction: it actually did rain on those out there the full 11 hours]. The course was in good shape - some muddy spots from rain earlier in the week but it wasn't a problem. It was pretty hilly with some long gradual climbs... especially the 2nd half. I found the 1st half of the course was easier than the 2nd.

So here's the gang at the beginning...

Loop 1: I ran out of town with Rick and Steve... until Steve ditched us on the road, and Rick ditched me as soon as we hit the loop. From then on I ran by myself. It was pretty crowded on the single track loop and I kept getting passed by the same people - guess I did a better job than they did getting in and out of the aid stations. My total time after loop 1 was ~2:30 which was about 15 minutes ahead of what I was shooting for. Yup, too fast. Saw Mike, filled my bottle, grabbed some grub and got outta there. Here are solo shots of each of us during loop 1...

Loop 2: I saw Rick early on as his stomach was off. He said he wasn't doing the 50 even if he made the cut-off and I said something like "it's your duty to go on if you make it for all those who don't/can't make it". Let me just say right now that was a bunch of baloney with no merit at all - sorry, Rick. [More on that later too.] It was less crowded as people spread out and/or headed back to town after one loop. And I started feeling it towards the end of this loop... as in more tired, stiff, sore than I should be at this point in the race. Yup, too fast early on. Loop 2 was about 2:30 (I was shooting for loops of 2:25) for a total time of 5 hours... about 10 minutes ahead. Saw Mike again, replenished, and off I went.

Loop 3: I put my long-sleeved shirt back on, turned on the tunes, took off and after about 2-3 miles wasn't able to run very well/smoothly so started the walk, shuffle, walk, shuffle pattern. Early on I thought I might still make the last loop cut-off but started realizing I'd be toast if I did. I noted my marathon time was ~5:50. 50K time was ~7:05, an unofficial PR by 20 minutes. And Karen went cruising by at ~31.5 miles, still running well and by my calculations very close to making the cut-off. Going in I didn't think I'd make the cut-off but I didn't want to settle for the 60K based on that prediction... and I felt satisfied that I gave it my best (though maybe not smartest) effort. Basically it turned out my race was to see if I could make the cut-off of 35.6 miles in 7:45 - 11 hour pace for 70% of a 50 miler anyway.

So what's the rest of the story?? Well, I made it. As I finished loop 3 figuring I was done they told me I made it and could go on and finish the 50 mile. Huh? I guess the race started a little late so they changed the cut-off time from 1:45pm to 2pm... and a woman told me I made it by 43 seconds. Doh! Remember what I was telling Rick earlier?? yeah, total baloney!! :) I was happy to make the adjusted cut-off but that didn't change the fact that I was done. I had just shuffled the last 8-9 miles and did loop 3 in ~3 hours so I said "thanks but no thanks" and headed back to town. The previous 3 pictures are showing "you made it!", "I have nothing left...", and what kinda looks like a walk of shame but that's not how I was feeling - must've just been tired. :)

So how did everyone else do? Steve made the cut-off by a long-shot but chose to take the 60K finish for his first ultra. Karen made the cut-off, didn't want to go on but did anyway to be our only 50 mile finisher. I made the cut-off, didn't want to go on so didn't and got the 60K finish. And Vicky and Rick both completed the 60K as well. So the final count was 1 50 miler and 4 60Kers. And one awesome support person!

And then there was Mike, the man! Mike is recovering from injury and wasn't able to run, so he did everything else. He drove all the way from Madison to Grand Rivers through the night, and then all the way back on Sunday. During the race he crewed for us, cheered for us, took pictures... and it was great to see a friendly, familiar face and have someone to talk to at the end of each loop. Thanks, Mike - you were great and I hope you're back to running again soon!

So what's next?? The McNaughton 50 mile next weekend!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rocky Raccoon 50 mile and road trip...

Last month I completed my 2nd 50 mile trail run at Rocky Raccoon in Huntsville TX. As if getting the finish wasn't cool enough, did you catch that the race was in TX? That's right, running in shorts and a t-shirt in TX in Feb - hard to beat that when you're from MN.

Three of us took a road trip to TX and except for cruddy weather/roads on the way back and a few wrong turns ["no I wasn't kidding, when I said stay right I really meant stay right" :)] we didn't have any problems. We drove straight through both ways so there was some sleeping along with plenty of caffeine, sugar, and laughs.

There were a few things that surprised me about the trip: seems I can't eat anything in a car without spilling some of it on myself, I do ok with the "see how long you can suck on your candy without chewing it" contests, it turns out at least one (only one?) person in the world uses the term "cow field" instead of "pasture", and when deciding where to eat you should note that yelling IHOP IHOP IHOP from the back seat may not be enough - it turns out that doesn't mean anything until the driver says "well, there's International House of Pancakes, we could go there"... um, ok!

We got to Huntsville early Fri morning so had time to check out the park and some of the race course.

And before packet pickup and supper we had time to play tourist - checking out this place seemed appropriate after all the convict costume fun at Surf the Murph.

The race - the 50 mile course was 3 loops of 16.67miles and my stretch goal was 4 hours each for a total of 12 hours. This was also the pipe-dream at Surf the Murph where it took me 13:40 so "nice round numbers" and "the math is easy" are probably to blame. I was hoping to finish and do better than last time and my standard strategy is still: don't necessarily run faster, but run more (walk less).

So for loop 1 I ran faster - 3:26... I figured too fast but nice to bank some time - how much would it cost me? Figured 4 hours for loop 2 would give me 4.5 hours for the last loop. Well I started fading on loop 2 - started feeling like pushing it was going to end soon (and started asking "what in the world am I doing pushing it on a 50 miler anyway??"). Did a last surge and managed to finish the loop in about 4 hours for a total time of ~7:30. I knew I was done pushing so the plan from then on was to just take it easy and enjoy the last loop - not worry about trying to push it and forget about 12 hours.

I took quite a long break between loop 2 and 3 [~18 minutes! decided to check the blisters on my heels, put bodyglide on them, changed shoes, changed the battery in my phone for the GPS (more on that later), got some food, and whatever else - who knows where the time goes, gotta watch that!]... so I started loop 3 feeling pretty good and ran better than I expected to the first aid station. In middle of the loop I was thinking maybe 12 hours was still within reach... but then the big fade started. A number of 16+ minute miles and I knew my prediction of over 12 was going to be true. Decided it was a good attempt and I'd be happy with my time anyway. And I was, finishing in 12:26:58.

A few things about the last loop - Mike and I walked the last section of Surf the Murph so I tried to 'do better' -- does shuffle-jogging for 50 yards every so often count? I also chuckled as it got dark and I ran across a couple wood bridges figuring I wouldn't trip there and it would count as a run. I also found myself saving up the little running I had for when I'd see other people... like the last aid station where there was lots of loud cheering, and the last stretch into the finish line.

I saw Vicky on the course a couple times... and her friends Tim and Karla. I saw Karen once? I was thinking she had a pretty slow first lap... turns out she had a fast first lap and we were at the start/finish at the same time, just didn't see each other. Everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves... Tim looked pretty ragged the last time I saw him, but he was heading in for a sub-9 hour finish!

Other info: I ran alone pretty much the whole time. I listened to tunes on the 3rd loop and enjoyed that. I used S-caps and they seemed to work well (if you know what I mean). I got some pretty decent blisters on the insides of my heels from my newer model Vasque Blurs, and after changing shoes for loop 3 I got some pretty decent blisters on the rest of my heels too.

GPS - I have Google Latitude set up so I carried my phone with the gps on the last part of the race and believe it or not... there were 3 people that at least intermittently "tuned in" to see where I was on the course, and to see if I was indeed still moving -- sounds like it wasn't too excruciating. Yeah, gotta get the nerd stuff in when you can. :)

Vicky and I *only* did the 50 mile while Karen did the 100. Once I was done I waited around for Karen to finish her 3rd loop. Then waited for Vicky to finish her 50. Vicky and I bailed; I went back to see Karen finish her 4th loop; and Vicky and I tried to see Karen finish but just missed her - we're still trying to resolve who's fault that was but it didn't help that Karen finished quite a bit sooner than she had earlier predicted.

After the awards ceremony and breakfast it was time for the trip home. Besides the bad weather, the thing that really stands out in my memory is how much I loved my medal every time I looked down and saw it hanging around my neck. Yeah, wearing my race medal is not a normal thing for me... unless the other 50 miler in the car doesn't get one and has to wait to get hers in the mail!! :) Congrats to Karen on her 100 finish and Vicky on her 50 finish. The road trip was great and I'd highly recommend going on one if you ever have the chance...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Last 3 Months!!

Ok I'm way behind in blogging so it's time to catch up - here goes...

Surf the Murph 50 mile - first 50 mile finish - 13:40:36

Started out with Karen and Rick and Kel and Mike... and everyone else I guess. Was with Rick and Karen a number of times throughout the day, also with each of them at different times. I know we spent a fair amount of loop 2 together and even a decent amount of loop 3 - which is the latest in any race I've been with them. I liked the north side of the course and did a better job there. The south side of the course really wore me down and I think that's where I lost them each loop.

I also spent some time with Kel, and Bill, and a lot of time with Mike (Westy) - I leap-frogged a lot of the day with Mike. We'd be together, he'd get out of the aid station before me and then I'd be chasing him down the trail. I think we did that about 3 or 4 aid stations in a row. Finally towards the end we just stayed together the rest of the way. I think we walked it in from the horse place on the last loop and then the out-and-back section as well... though for the life of me I can't figure out why we did that. :) Ok now I remember, we were tired... and Mike was doing the math and determined we'd make the cut-off and didn't "need" to run so we didn't. Congrats on your first 50 mile finish, Mike... and thanks for the help. Congrats to you too, Kel, for your first 50 mile finish. It was a good day out there.

Karen was the first to announce she was wearing a costume so then the pressure was on for Rick and I. It was fun to wear the jailbird/escaped convict costume and people seemed to enjoy it. I'd sometimes forget about it until someone would make a comment... or Karen would look over and start laughing. I was worried the stripes would make me look fat. Somewhere along the line we (ok, Rick and Karen) decided that to more fully play the role of an escaped convict I should be swearing more. That was kinda fun. And then there was talk of Bubba and baby oil and someone said "you're easy" and that was totally mis-construed. Also Karen telling us her body is a hostile environment (for viruses) ... yeah, we had fun there's no doubt about that. :)

UMTR - Trail Person of the Year award

Pretty blown away about getting this. I'm not sure what to say besides "Wow" and "Crazy"... ok, how about "Look at me, I got my picture taken with the Trail Runner of the Year!!" :) Congratulations, Helen!

Bridge to Peace 5K, Duluth - 1st place male 40-49 age group - 24:13

Yeah, it's a really small race. I might have to make this a yearly event until it gets bigger. Ran ahead of Leslie for about 3 seconds just for fun, before she went blasting off. It was fun to push it and try to run fast. I knew a number of people at this race so it was fun hanging out... and the post-race food was very yummy - think "baked goods at a church potluck". Put in some extra miles with Rick and Lisa after the race and that was fun too.

Tuscobia 50K - 8:54:59

This was a different event, basically a training event for the Arrowhead 135 - it was held on a snowmobile trail and the idea was there'd be little to no support so everyone had to carry their own stuff. There was a 75 mile option where the runners pulled sleds. Most runners in the 50K wore backpacks... Karen was the only one to pull a sled.

My main memory is slipping around a lot, all day long... and then just wanting to be done. I ran/walked the whole thing with Karen - Rick was with us at the beginning, as were Vicky and Mike. It was cool having some spectators - Lisa and Leslie were at a number of road crossings, and then even ran with folks at the end - Thanks for being out there!

There were a couple memorable events: the shared rootbeer barrel experience and the tripping incident. :)

2009 mileage, races

Total miles
2006: 617miles; >101 hours;
2007: 1094miles; >192 hours;
2008: 1290 miles; >268 hours; [158 runs - 8.16miles/run]
2009: 1362 miles; >317 hours; [157 runs - 8.67miles/run]

Race miles
2006: ?
2007: 22 races; 282miles; >48 hours;
2008: 26 races; 385miles; >85 hours; [12 races in the MNTRS]
2009: 20 races; 424miles; >111 hours; [counting Ragnar as 3 races]

White Tail Ridge Snowshoe Challenge - 20K - 2:50:05

Ran hard, 2 laps on a fun twisty course in the woods. Tore up my heels a bit - think I had a couple straps too tight. I've been running more aggressively this year and this race was the beginning of that, pretty much by accident: the course hit single track almost immediately and the pressure was on to not hold up the show. So I ran hard from the start and then pretty much just hung on as I tired out. It worked out pretty well and was a nice confidence boost.

Northwoods Snowshoe Championships - Marathon - 7:16:07

standard pre-race photo
Rick, is that you???

Doing this race was a big deal as it has a tight cut-off. I was running scared all day - trying to stay ahead of the cut-offs and get in under the 7:30 limit. And I wanted a little cushion, I didn't want the stress of being within only a couple minutes of making it.

The plan was to run any time the course was runnable. I needed to run the 1st half faster than the last 2 years (when I just did the Half), and then do it all over again. For the 2nd installment of the 2010 "run more aggressively" campaign I figured I'd push from the start, eventually run out of gas, and then just hang on as much as possible.

The sugary snow was really tough going... especially when trying to go fast. Thankfully on the 2nd lap I knew there were spots where it got better. I managed a faster first half by about 17 minutes. I basically pushed all day which is a new thing for me... and it worked out.

I'm certainly happy that I completed the race in the time allowed, but I'm probably most proud of the fact that I actually tried it in the first place (in the past I decided I would never attempt the marathon). Doing a certain distance is one thing, doing it in a certain amount of time is a whole 'nother thing. Congrats to Karen for finishing under the 7:30 limit as well... way to go!

Securian Half Marathon - 2:01:23

I totally crashed and burned at this race in 2008. I was too chicken to run it last year, plus it was bitterly cold. I didn't want to repeat 2008 so I ran comfortably the first half... visiting with Karen and Les along the way. And then I took off and ran hard the 2nd half. Splits of ~1:06 and ~:56 might not be the smartest way to go, but I was happy with the result. :)

Whew... I think I'm pretty much caught up now -- just one little race to cover yet and then I should be good for awhile. Congrats if you made it this far... :)