Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chippewa Moraine 50K Trail Run, take II

Yesterday was the 2nd running of the Chippewa Moraine 50KM Trail Race - "A Run For The Ages". Thank You to all involved... it was another great race! Here's my race report.

The normal pre-race activity was fun... milling around chatting with people, trying to figure out how much to wear (is it going to rain or not?), and generally just waiting to get going.

Talked to Kel who was there to do her first 50K! Which she did... Congrats!!!! Initially was trying to keep track of Kel and Mike.. ran with them for a bit at the beginning.

As things started clearing out I hooked up with a group and after awhile started looking around... "hmmm, that's Carl Gammon right up there... and Allan Holtz, Joe Lovett... I'm not supposed to be anywhere near this group!"

Turns out I would see Carl a couple times throughout the day... Carl was helping Janine run her first 50K... way to go, Carl - it doesn't get much better than that. And Congratulations, Janine!

So around 4 miles or so I decided to look at some of the data from my Garmin. Hmmmm, average pace about 12:30s. Ok, what do I have written down at home... 15:30s is 8 hours, 14:30s is 7.5 hours, 13:30s is 7 hours.... oh great, I'm on 6.5 hour pace. mr ego says "you rock!", mr logic says "you're dead meat!!"

I didn't feel like I was pushing... too much. Seemed like I was just kinda cruising along... "I think I can run this pace for quite awhile". mr logic: "your 'quite awhile' is usually way shorter than the actual race"

So I started throttling back... but that's hard to do. I let the group go and cruised along on my own. Focused on running easy... walking more of the uphills, etc. Took a bit of time and enjoyed every aid station, getting some pictures and visiting a bit. And eating of course.

Saw Karen Gall working at the first aid station... Kel and Brook and others cruised on by... I was able to get rid of my extra jacket (Mike's wife offered to take it - Thanks!).

Next aid station... talked to Mike's wife and daughter (sorry I don't remember your names) to see how he was doing... mentioned that I should probably be wherever he is right now.

Next aid station came real soon after the previous one... but I still had to grab a few things and visit a bit. Lisa was working at this one (though she stood out on the road and avoided the picture).

The last stretch to the turn-around is pretty long. Could see Kel and some others up ahead every so often. Eventually caught up to them just after the leaders started cruising by on their way back.

Gradually my average pace hit 13:00... and then at the turn-around I was at 13:30 pace/3.5 hours... so still a 7 hour finishing time if I could run even splits (mr logic: "yeah right").

It was great to see a bunch of friendly and familiar faces at the turn-around aid station... and get great support as usual. Always a mental boost!
I was talking to Londell before the race and he said he was going to be the cut-off enforcer at the turn-around. He told me I had 4.5 hours... so I joked that I was going to sit around for an hour to 'use up the rest of my allotted time' before heading back. Of course, mr ego said "you rock! Get going... 7 hours is a totally sweet time!". Even mr logic said "yeah, get going"

So, restocked with water and food and feeling pretty good... I was ready to head out for the 2nd half. (Thanks for the picture, Lynn Saari.)

The first part of the return trip was kinda nuts. A couple of us left about the same time, and as we all settled in another runner (#128) and I hooked up and ran together for the long stretch to the next aid station. (Thanks for the picture, Lisa.)

The crazy part is that we kept catching and passing people... something I'm not used to. At one point I commented that "I'm probably going to pay for this later, but isn't it fun to keep catching and passing people?" She seemed to agree.

I didn't see her again once we reached the aid station so I think she went on to finish well, and as predicted I eventually paid for the craziness. But mr ego said "you rock! it was worth it!" Because I was running with someone else and because we kept catching people, I think at this point I was still on pace to finish in 7 hours.

So with 9+ miles to go I could tell most of the fun was over and I would be trying to hang on as best I could over the last miles. Mr logic started saying "ok, you've banked quite a few good miles... try to salvage whatever you can... hopefully the average pace won't fall too far, too fast". And predicatably, mr ego was saying "you rock!".

The next miles were pretty normal for the end of a loooong run. The amount of walking increased as I just tried to run/jog/shuffle when I could... with the goal being to get to the next aid station, and eventually the finish.
I remember telling Karen at the last aid station that I was at 14:00s... so in the previous ~4 miles my average pace for the whole race dropped from 13:30s to 14:00s -- about a 7:15 50K if my math was still working. The big question was... how much farther would it drop? I felt 14:30s - a 7:30 50K was realistic, so that's what I was hoping to preserve. But the downward slide was definitely on!

About 3.5-4 miles out I hooked up with another guy... Ken Norwood, I think. We were both ready to be done and just trying to get to the finish. Again it helped to have someone else close to help me keep moving. And it felt very good to finally get to the end.

As you can see from the picture, my pace continued to drop but the finish line came just in time... I was able to get in under 7:30 for a new 50K PR of 7:26:24!!
And then it was time to join the post-race festivities!!

Thank you to Wynn and Matt and Adam... and all the great volunteers! All the hard work added up to another great race! See you next year...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trail Mix

Wow, what a nice day for a trail race. The weather for Trail Mix was great (though maybe it got a little warm for the 50Kers). After running the 25K I hung around the park and enjoyed the day, watching the 50K runners finish (and chatting with Curt, Keith, Adam, Zach and family, etc). For the 2nd weekend in a row it was nice to see people out and about after a long winter.

I've been swapping emails about this race with Lisa (aka, wildknits) and it was fun to see her there. We actually started out running together - she dropped me going down the ski hill and I caught back up for most of the wood chip section. We finished loop one at about 1:15 and I knew I was done. Lisa did great as she basically ran even splits by holding that pace and finished in 2:31. Nice job, Lisa... I think you're primed and ready for your first 50K trail race later this year! :)

Early during my 2nd loop I saw 50Kers E and Les and Karen and some other familiar faces (Rick, and Shelly?) on the out-and-back section. I was mostly just trying to hang on but this gave me a little motivation that maybe I'd be able to catch them. I did catch a few of them towards the end of the loop and then let Karen pull me to the finish.

Loop 2 took me 11 minutes longer than loop 1 for a total time of 2:41. This wasn't good enough to keep the streak going as I would've had to run about 2:28 to do that, but it is a couple minutes better than my 2007 time on the full course... so I'm happy with it. As for the streak, the plan is to start that again this next weekend at the Chippewa Moraine 50K!

Congratulations to everyone who was out there running Trail Mix! Here are some pictures I took after I was done running (not great, but better than nothing? click to see big pic).

If you look closely you'll see at least 4 new 100 mile finishers since last Fall (Woohooo!!), and two of them joined that list last weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zumbro 100

The first Zumbro 100 was held last weekend, and by all accounts was a smashing success!

I was there as a volunteer. Here's a picture of aid station #2 where I spent most of my time.

And here's a picture from the start/finish/aid station #1 area.

Thanks for the pictures, Londell.

Lots has been written elsewhere about the race, and the consensus is that the course is very tough. Lots of ups and downs, and rocks... many hidden under leaves. SteveQ described the footing on the course as 'more treacherous than Superior' and I think that's a good description. I played sweeper on the big loop part of the course with Kel and Alicia, and as we made our way over the course we were all impressed by the runners that got out there and went for it. Completing 3 or 5 loops on that course is definitely commendable!!

Note to self: volunteer again next year, and bring warmer clothes... it can get quite cold overnight in April in MN.

Congratulations to Larry and Colleen and all the runners that toed the line and made the first Zumbro 100 a smashing success!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Fool's Five

I did some speed work today, or speedier work anyway.

The Fool's Five is an 8K road race in Lewiston, MN. It's been around 31 years and is a pretty big race especially for a small town. Its purpose is to raise money for cancer research. Guest speakers in past years have included world-class runners Alberto Salazar, Frank Shorter, and Dick Beardsley, as well as cancer research specialists, motivational speakers, and cancer survivors.

I'm kinda scared of these shorter races these days, but also realize they are good for me and my running. I felt pretty good the whole way and feel like I had a pretty good day. It's always hard when I'm pushing it now to know if I'm in over my head or if I'll be able to hold on. Today I held up well and actually finished strong.

I've done this race quite a few times over the years, usually with my friend Andy (who finished in 38:00 today). In the last mile I was thinking about how I used to try and finish in 35 minutes (I never did), and now I try to finish in 45 minutes. Last year I couldn't do it, this year I did... woohoooo. Unofficial garmin time 42:34. Avg heart rate 153, highest heart rate 170.

Hmmm, I've done 3 official races so far this year. And for all of them I did the same race last year, and so far I'm 3-for-3 on beating last year's time. I wonder how long I can keep this streak going? Doh... I just realized my next race is Trail Mix, and last year's time will be tough to beat as we didn't have to run the ski hill. Should I pray for snow and ice so we don't have to run the ski hill this year?? Ha, no way!! Clear trails rule, ice and snow drool.