Note: The following is my race report that I sent out to those who donated in support of me running the Leadville 100 mile trail race to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
People act like running really long distances is something crazy. There is a quote out there, “Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultra-marathon.” Then there are those who try and make it sound natural by quoting aboriginal studies and making references to Sparta. You don’t need to go that far back.
During the Civil War there was a whole series of battles in New Mexico waged between Union troops and Confederates out of Texas. In fact, the two opposing officers (Col Canby and Col Sibley) were friends who had served together before the war in New Mexico. Another interesting note is that Colonel Kit Carson was fighting for the Union and commanding the local militia. He was chosen because he had married a local Taos woman, converted to Catholicism, and was accepted by the locals.
A group of miners from Colorado rallied to the cause of New Mexico and hastened by reports of Union setbacks in New Mexico began a forced march from the mining camps around Denver. Over the course of just a few days these miners covered the distance between Denver and New Mexico on foot. As more and more reports of Union setbacks came in the miners increased their pace until they covered over 92 miles in one 36 hour stretch. Keep in mind that this was while wearing lousy shoes if any and eating God knows what.
My point is that no matter how much technology and science and plastic and safety there is in our lives we will continue to push ourselves to do something big for a good cause. Even if we have to manufacture the run a bit. Pushing ourselves to the limit of our own endurance for what we believe in is part of what makes humans human.
We eliminated most of the real dangers in day to day life and now have to search for a way to get back to the reality provided by long runs, extreme climbing and other sports. That’s a good thing. When we can run to raise money to support the smartest people doing research into cures instead of having those smart people develop weapons to protect our society we’re in a pretty good place. Now we just need to not give up.
Science figured out how to split an atom when the stakes were high enough. Let’s make the stakes high enough to find a cure. I guess I’m preaching to the choir.
Thanks again for all your support. I kept going when the suck factor got high in part because I knew you all were out there cheering for me and contributing to beating NF. We raised over 600 dollars for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. I will repost the race report below with pictures on my website www.yetifunk.com once I have the pictures put together.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
- T.S. Eliot
I took off work on the Friday eight days before the race so I could drive with Dogface, our half pitbull, half black lab mongrel, to Colorado so that we could start acclimatizing for the Leadville 100. I overslept so we didn’t make it into Colorado Springs until almost 11PM. I pulled up to my coach’s house (Paul Dewitt) and texted him to let him know that we were outside. After he let us in we settled into the guest room and got to sleep. I didn’t get much sleep because I was worried that Dogface was going to pee on their carpet and kept taking her outside to go to the bathroom.
At 6AM we woke up and drove up to Pike’s Peak summit where we met up with a number of other runners. We were getting ready for the 3:2:1 workout to help get used to the altitude. This workout involves running three miles down the Barr trail from the summit of Pike’s Peak, climbing back up, running two miles down, back up, and then one mile down and back up. Dogface did well and we wrapped up the workout and then drove up to Frisco, Colorado where we spent the night. The next day we drove up to Leadville and set up our campsite at Turquoise Lake at ten thousand feet above sea level. We were going to camp here for the next week in order to get used to the altitude.
On Monday I met up with John D from Iowa who was also running Leadville. We drove up a dirt road east of the town and started hiking up Mt. Sherman. Mt. Sherman is a non-technical 14k mountain. Dogface, John and I started at about 9:30 and were on the summit ridge in about 45 minutes. I tied Dogface into her leash to prevent any unfortunate mole chasing incidents on the summit ridge and made it to the top in just a few minutes. I was feeling pretty good despite the altitude and we quickly made it back down the mountain after taking a few mandatory pictures.
On Wednesday Wendy flew in to Denver and on Friday the rest of the crew made it in to Leadville. Wendy was going to take care of all the crew duties. She was making sure that I had the right food, water, and any extras I would need at every aid station. Dan Fettig, Shauna Fettig, and Anna Andressian would be pacing me on the second 50 miles of the run.
On Friday night we all set our alarms for 2:45 AM and tried to get some sleep before the race start on Saturday morning.
“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.”
- Tim Noakes
“… so as we walked along the river toward Rucky Chucky, I said the words that most men say to a pretty woman as they walk along the river under a starry night on their first date: “If you were a real hardass, you’d stick your finger down your throat and clear your stomach and if you won’t do it, I will.”
- Stan Jensen, pacing Sarah Lowell at WS’97
9PM the rain started. And it was raining hard. Before long rain was pouring into the tent through the rain fly. Wendy moved from her spot underneath a leak to the dogbed which was in a dry spot and I thought “Well, it wouldn’t be Leadville without some first class misery.” Luckily the rain passed at some time during the night and when the alarm went off at 2:45 AM the sky was clear.
I met up with John D at the corner of 7th and Harrison at 3:30 AM. We both weighed significantly more than most ultra-runners (I weighed in at the pre-race check in at 186. The guy before me weighed 140). We both ran similar 50 mile times. We figured we would run together for the first 50 and then move on ahead if we felt good.
At 3:50AM the national anthem was played and just a few minutes later we were off. The first mile goes along Sixth Street before turning down a dirt road that leads to Turquoise Lake. We ran down the road, climbed a steep trail and then started around the single track that circles the lake. Before long we were in a half mile single file line. In the dark we looked like a giant glow worm, our headlamps lighting up the night. At 6AM I was able to turn off the headlamp and 15 minutes later we came off the trail at the MayQueen aid station. At 6:20 I saw my coach, headed into the aid station and out the other side looking for my crew. I yelled the “Strange Brew, Fleshy Headed Mutants” yodel and Dan responded in kind so I knew where to go. After changing out my hydration pack and dumping my headlamp I was ready to go but John D wasn’t there. I waited a minute, then asked the crew to tell him I was walking down the trail and would see him in a few.
I started up the road to the trailhead for the Colorado trail. The course follows the Colorado Trail from Mayqueen up to Sugarloaf pass. A few minutes later the course flattened for a bit and there was still no sign of John D. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and started running down the trail. A couple of minutes later I heard a yell and John D came walking out of the woods. “I told my crew to let you know I was walking on ahead” he told me. I laughed and we moved on.
As we started up the pass I tried to eat some goldfish (one of my favorite energy crackers) and immediately yacked. Not good. Since I couldn’t keep the food down I stuck with perpetuem and kept moving. A little while later we topped out. John D and I fist bumped. One mountain pass down. Five to go.
We ran down the mountain and into the Fish Hatchery aid station at mile 23. We checked in and then I met my crew at the outlet of the station. Wendy asked if I wanted more goldfish and I told her about my stomach. I told her I was ok, put on my iPod and started down the road, zoning out to the music. A minute later Paul Dewitt ran up.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m ok” I told him, “My stomach is just funky.”
“You need to keep pounding water and salt pills” he told me.
Two seconds later Wendy ran up with a handful of electrolyte tablets.
“Here,” she said “Paul said you need to take more.” I popped a few more tabs and kept moving. A minute alter John D caught up and we started covering distance fast. We ended up averaging ten minute miles for the next 4 miles. Not bad considering we were 27 miles into a 100 mile race.
I met with my team one more time at Timberline before heading into the Mt Elbert trailhead. We had 13 miles to go to Twin Lakes at mile 40. We kept a steady pace, slowly climbing the hill until the descent. Once the trail started down John D and I fist bumped a second time. Two down. Three to go.
As I started down the hill John D yelled out to be careful. It was good advice. The trail was rocky and it would not do to roll an ankle at this point in the game. We rolled into the next aid station at noon, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. My crew was surprised to see me that early and had to scramble to get my stuff ready. Paul told me to start moving while I ate.
“Run as much of the flat as possible before you hit Hope Pass” he said.
Wendy walked with me as I ate a pudding snack and then I handed her the garbage, hugged and started running down the trail. A few minutes later I caught up with John D.
Hope Pass is just brutal. In fact, Leadville runners refer to it as “Hopeless Pass”. After dropping to the low of the course (9,200 feet) you cross a river and then climb to 12,600 feet over 3 miles. We ran through the flats which this year happened to be mostly under water. This meant we were wading through calf deep water before we ever hit the river. Then we started the long slog up the mountain.
John D and I were passed a few times at first but we quickly overtook the people who passed us when they puttered out a few hundred feet on. Slow and steady sometimes works. A while later I saw the first llamas that pack the supplies up to the aid station. Two minutes later a bunch of school kids ran out to grab our packs and refill our water while their parents served us chicken broth mixed with potato soup. We thanked them and then finished the last 600 feet of climbing to get over the mountain. We fist bumped. Three climbs down. Three to go.
Then we started the long run down. Running downhill sounds great until you realize it was at a 15% grade on loose rock. By the end of the downhill my knees were screaming! We pushed through though and then ran into the halfway point at just under 12 hours. This was my second best mountain 50 mile time ever! Now I just had to turn around and do it again!
“You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can. But I will make you a deep and abiding promise; it’s gonna hurt. You need to commit that you won’t quit”
- Ken Chlouber (founder of the Leadville 100)
I quickly downed some soup and then met Dan Fettig who was pacing me back over Hope Pass. We started down the road to the trail head running the downhills. As we approached the trail head I saw my coach.
“Just get over this hill,” he said “and you have this thing.”
He talked with Dan briefly as I kept walking uphill. Dan caught up and we hit the real climb. Some other runners were on the trail moving faster than me and then stopping every few minutes for a breather.
“Don’t sweat it” Dan commented, “you’ll catch ‘em.”
We kept up our steady pace with no breaks and sure enough about halfway up the mountain I started reeling people in. Someone made the comment as I passed them, “He’s like a mountain rat or something, the higher he gets, the faster he goes.” I laughed. The key was that the altitude didn’t bother me and the trail was flattening out. Still, I wished I had “Flatlander” stenciled on my butt so they would know that a guy who trained at sea level just passed them.
A few minutes later we topped out and started down the long trail to Twin Lakes. 4 climbs down. Two to go.
As we ran down the hill Dan started doing the pace calculations on what I needed to do to finish in under 27 hours. Within a few minutes of talking we had a plan together (I’d be lying if I said I remembered it) and then we were down and hitting the river crossing. The cold water felt good on my ankles and then we started through the marshy area. A few minutes later we were at the aid station and I was changing my shoes and socks. I raised my foot for a quick snapshot of my trenchfoot. Little did I know how big a part my trenchfoot would play in the rest of the night.
A few minutes later Shauna and I started up the next climb. After two hours we finished climbing the Mt Elbert portion of the trail. Five climbs down. One to go.
I was struggling now though. My feet were hurting and I was tired. I was still able to run though. After about 4 hours we rolled into Timberline. I ate some pudding snacks and then Anna started pacing me. We ran a few hundred yards, walked a bit and ran some more. Anna asked what I needed.
“Just talk” I said.
“You want me to tell you about mythology?” she asked.
“How about what’s going on on Facebook on the G-Force page?”
For the next hour Anna talked about the Jesuit school she just started teaching at and the comments on Facebook. It helped me keep going. By now I was really starting to feel it. We passed the 75 miles sign. Two miles later we rolled into the Fish Hatchery. I ate some more and then Anna and I started out on the last major climb.
Now my feet were having serious issues. We were hiking up the powerline to the top of Sugarloaf Pass. The lines were humming with electricity above us. I could see headlamps below us and above us. And every time I stepped a shooting pain would shoot up my leg. My trench foot was in crisis mode. It had translated to massive blisters on the balls of my feet. If I pushed off it hurt. If I stepped on a rock it hurt. If I ran? Fughetaboutit.
We struggled up the hill in the dark. Two hours in I lost it.
“When is this mother @@#$%## hill going to end? This goat ###$#$ tomato $$$#@@hill!” I screamed it at the top of my lungs.
Anna laughed at me.
Thirty minutes later we topped out and started down the other side. I tried to run which was a bad idea. I wish I could have ignored the pain in my feet but I couldn’t. We settled for walking. Six climbs down. Zero to go.
One more hour in and we made it to MayQueen. I stopped in the medical tent. They drained my feet quickly with a knife and a needle and then wrapped them in duct tape to help reduce the pain from walking. Right before they stuck the needle in my foot they asked for my number.
“Wait,” I said, “This won’t disqualify me will it? If so I’ll make do.”
They assured me they just needed it for tracking purposes. Two minutes later I walked out with some fresh duct tape on my feet and a little less pain.
I met Dan and we headed down the trail. Three and a half hours later we hit Sixth Street in Leadville. I tried running now and then but the pain was overwhelming. Finally we made it to the last block. Everyone was cheering. They started announcing my name. I muttered an obscenity under my breath and ran it in. Who can walk across a finish line like that? I ran across in twenty eight hours and thirty one minutes, one hour faster than last time.
850 people registered. 605 people showed up. 347 finished. I finished in 207th place. Last year only 4000 Americans finished a hundred mile race. I guess 207th at Leadville is ok.
Some other thanks:
I want to thank my crew again. They don’t get a belt buckle for their efforts and they don’t get to put a race medal up for their efforts but they donated significant time and money to come out and support me while running. I would not have made it over Hope Pass or through the last 13 miles without Dan Fettig kicking my butt to eat when I wanted to puke and run when I wanted to just stumble. Shauna and Anna kept me going through the never ending middle of the race when the excitement is gone, the finish line is distant, and the race seemed like I had stumbled into a ring of hell where you ran in the cold dark forever but got nowhere. Wendy put up with a really smelly husband who spent every free moment on the weekends running and then asked her to use her vacation time to make sure that he always had a fresh bottle of perpetuem when he stumbled into an aid station in the dark. She rescued me from heatstroke multiple times this summer when I ran out of water in hundred and twenty degree heat in Oklahoma.
We started at 6AM. The start is at the bottom of a steep hill and goes straight up it. The first male and female to the top get a silver dollar. I was more interested in running a smart race so I left the sprint to about 6 really motivated people, set my own pace and started walking up the hill.
After making it to the top of the hill we ran down a finger and then started up the first big climb. This climb starts essentially at the beginning of the race at 10 thousand feet and then goes up to 12k+ over the next 10 miles. I settled in behind some other runners, set a solid pace and ran whenever the course flattened out for a bit. One and a half hours later we made it to the first aid station at mile 7. I was good on water and food so I just pushed right on through making it to the top of the climb at mile ten after 2.5 hours.
The course starts a long downhill at this point to 10k feet. I set an easy pace letting gravity do the work and rolled into the next aid station (mile 13) about 20 minutes later. I quickly refilled on water and then continued the descent. After about 2 more miles of downhill we started up the next big climb. I was still feeling good and got a lift seeing a runner I did the Big Horn 50 with a few years ago standing on the side of the trail cheering us on. At 10AM I made it to the next aid station at mile 19.5 and pushed on through, still good on food and water from the last aid station. The trail climbed for about another mile before dropping about 500 feet and then started a slow climb to the top of the next pass at 12k+ feet. A few minutes later I saw the race leader coming back towards me. The guy was impressive, 30 miles into the race, somewhere around 11.5k feet above sea level, two competitors only a few hundred yards behind him and he is running like I run a half marathon on the road. To top it off he sees me, says, “Looking good dude” and high fives me as he runs past. What a cool sport!
I struggled to the top of the pass, crossed a short section of snow and then started the long descent to the turn-around point. Running into the turnaround I yelled my normal “Woooohooo!” as loud as I could and then was surprised to see a friend of mine that just moved to Denver walking up to meet me. We quickly exchanged greetings and then the tv cameras found me.
“Mind if we film a bit?”
I told them sure but I learned one thing today. I have absolutely no future on TV. The mike was a distraction and I really had nothing to say except, “Can you pass me the electrolyte pills” and “Yeah, I just want water in the hydration pack.” The camera crew lost interest pretty quick.
I stepped out pretty quickly leaving the aid station about 5 hours ten minutes into the race. I had a quick conversation with my coach and then started moving. The climb back up to the pass was brutal and made harder by hard cold rain. Still, an hour later I was on top and started running towards the aid station at mile 31.5. I felt good so I pushed through arriving at mile 37 about 7.5 hours into the race. I quickly refilled on water and started up the last climb.
Things fell apart quickly. My stomach started rumbling and before I knew what to do I was vomiting everywhere. I had been pounding water and eating so I figured I needed more electrolytes. I kept walking as I popped some electrolyte pills. The pills caused me to vomit again. Nothing to do but try again. This time they stayed down but I still felt queezy. I finished the climb to mile forty having to stop only one more time and started the downhill slowly. By mile 43 I was starting to feel good again and started pushing the pace. At 10 hours and 53 minutes after the start I crossed the finish line. This is a new personal record for me at the 50 mile distance and I set my old record at 8k feet so I felt pretty good.
The 50 miler on Saturday was my first six hour plus training run of the season. I knew it was going to be difficult. I ran this race last year and had to drop to the fifty kilometer (31 mile) course at the 17 mile point. What makes the run so difficult is incredibly steep, technical, single track terrain. There are parts of this course that most runners are happy hitting 2 miles per hour on. I figured I would use the run as a worst case scenario test for Leadville in August.
I decided to drive from my home in very flat Oklahoma to Los Alamos via the Sante Fe Trail (now known as State Highway 64) to satisfy my geeky curiosity. I was stoked about the trip both for the old west history and the physics (I got my undergrad in Physics) history. For all those interested in the old west the panhandle of Oklahoma is something you definitely only need to see once if at all. It was a boring drive. Los Alamos is an awesome town though. And the fact that Oppenheimer picked that area for the National Lab based on his love of the mountains makes it cooler.
I made it to Los Alamos on Friday morning and found a bagel shop for lunch. I spent the rest of the day relaxing until it was time for race packet pick up. After packet pickup I got my gear ready for the race and got to bed.
At 3AM my alarm went off and I was up and moving. By 3:45 I was at the race start, checked in and started preparing for the race. At about 4:30 my coach showed up. Paul Dewitt (my coach) won Leadville in 2003 and 2004. He was there to pace another client who is preparing for the Hard Rock 100 miler. The Hard Rock is probably the most difficult 100 miler in the world and his client (Tara) had knee surgery about six weeks ago so it was pretty impressive to see her out there running this race as a training run. We briefly talked race strategy and then got ready for the start.
At 5AM we started running. The race starts in the dark so everyone wears headlamps. By about 6:30AM we were able to turn them off as we headed up the first major climb. The people from the mountain states were chatting on the climb. Sea level flat landers like me were struggling to breath. At about 7:30AM we topped out and started running down very narrow steep single track to the bottom of a canyon. Once we hit the canyon floor we started running upstream until we made it to the base of Caballo Mountain. At Caballo we started the second major climb.
I don’t know how to describe the Caballo climb. It is two miles of ridiculously steep trail. You can’t breath because of the altitude and to make matter worse, it is too steep to run down. I tried last year and ended up taking a massive fall when I tripped on a rock. About halfway up my coach and Tara caught up to me. The Hardrock is a steep course so this was perfect training for her. I was struggling but managed to hang with the group until the top. At that point the course flattened off for a bit and I pulled ahead.
After running down Caballo I started up the next climb. By now I was 4 hours into the race and was starting to bonk so I pounded a couple of Hammer Gels and an electrolyte tablet and then kept moving. By 9:45 I was at the pipeline aide station, 1:45 before the cutoff.
The first downhill off of the Pipeline aide station is freaky steep. I was nervous going down it and I’ve climbed some real mountains before. This was about 45 degree dirt slopes covered in loose rock. After a few close calls I made it to the bottom and kept running. The next few miles were in the Caldera (a volcanic crater). Its really hard to describe but it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The area is now an Alpine plain surrounded by high mountains.
After a few miles I came to the aide station, refilled my water bottles, grabbed a couple of fig newtons and started walking. I knew I hadn’t been getting enough calories and needed to eat. At this point the course went off trail and it would be hard to run anyway so I walked while eating.
Eating while running ultras can be difficult. The distance makes you naseaus but to perform you have to eat. I have a sensitive stomach and struggle with this.
After crossing the Caldera the course led up the edge of the crater. This was an incredibly long, steep climb. At one point I stopped to eat and while resting my heart rate was going at 180 beats per minute. Not good. The course did not follow a trail so it was very steep. The view was worth it though.
Eventually I made it to the top and started running down the trail. Or rather, I tried to run down the trail. My left knee was not working right and I couldn’t run without severe pain. I started walking instead. I had been counting on a faster pace though and ran out of food and water. By the time I got to the next aide station I was wasted. I sat for about 20 minutes trying to rehydrate and get some calories. Then I started walking to the next aide station. It took about 1.5 hours to cover the next 4 miles. I was still struggling to recover and my knee wouldn’t let me run. By the time I left the next aide station I missed the time cutoff.
Dropping out of the race at 34 miles was a difficult decision. I could have finished the run but would most likely have a limiting injury with my knee. At the end of the day the goal is a sub 25 hour Leadville 100 miler and I need to stay focused on that. I actually feel more confident after this race. I am in better shape now than I was when I finished Leadville in 2008. I think this will be a good year. This course is significantly more difficult then Leadville. Leadville has 6 major climbs over 100 miles. This race has four major climbs over 30 miles. It is a whole different equation.
At the end I covered 34 miles and climbed 10,000 feet over 10 hours. It was a good training run.
I did learn some things from this run. This is why I do the training 50 milers before the main effort in August. We are trying to find the winning formula now, not in August.
1. Hydration and nutrition: I’m going to test carrying my water in a camelback and drinking perpetuem for calories during the run.
2. Need some altitude: I have 160 hours of vacation on the books so I will take some vacation and train in the Rockies this summer. Need to get ready for the altitude and hiking the mountains. I plan on spending some time this summer camping at 11k plus feet to prepare.
65 mile ring the peak run in Colorado. A 65 mile loop around Pike’s Peak.
The North Fork 50 miler in July.
I drove down to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon after doing an easy 1.5 hour recovery run. This year I managed to get a room at the Hampton Inn in Bricktown so I was walking distance to the pre-race convention.
I checked in and then walked down to the convention center to pick up my race packet. The way the event is organized you pick up your bib on one end of the the hall and then have to walk through the every sponsors booth to get the rest of your packet. Its a little annoying but I get it. After picking up my race packet and some socks and bodyglide I went over to the memorial booth. The OKC Marathon raises money to support the Oklahoma City National Memorial and they have extra bibs that let you write a victim’s name on and run in their honor. I grabbed a bib and wrote down Capt. Guzman, a Marine who lost his life on the day of the bombing. My plan was to run the marathon and then leave my medal on his bench in the memorial.
I walked back to my room, left the bag and then went and got some food at the Spaghetti Warehouse before heading back to the hotel room. It was now 4PM and I was bored so I walked to the movie theater and saw “Fast Five”. Not a great movie but it killed some time. Afterwords I stopped at a place claiming to sell New York style pizza. It was better than the normal mid-west pizza but still not Jersey style.
I went to bed early but couldn’t sleep. After tossing and turning I gave up at 3AM and just read until 5AM. I got up, checked the weather and then got dressed. It was going to be wet and cold. The forecast was for thunderstorms and 40 degree weather.
When I left the hotel it was drizzling but not too bad. It was about a mile to the start though and a few minutes later it really started to pour. Luckily I found a parking garage about a half a block from the starting line and huddled with a bunch of other runners there until 6:15. The race was supposed to start in 15 minutes so I went into the rain and started making my way to my corral. The rain was coming down hard and the wind was blowing so I stood in place jumping up and down trying to stay warm. At 6:25 the MC came over the loudspeaker and announced that the race start had been pushed back to 7AM due to the weather. Great. All the runners now had to stand in the rain an extra 30 minutes.
At 6:45 they had 168 seconds of silence for the victims of the OKC bombing. It was a pretty moving moment with 25 thousand people standing in a thunderstorm absolutely silent for the time. A few minutes later they had the wheel chair racers start. I was pretty impressed by a couple of them who were doing the race in a regular wheel chair, not a racing chair. A few minutes later we had the countdown and off we went.
My coach had recommended that I start the race at an 8:30 minute per mile pace and run negative splits. I had been training with a target pace of 8:40s for the marathon distance but after losing 17 pounds in the last couple of months I had been beating all of my target splits. With the weather being miserable and me being tight and lacking sleep I decided to just jump in with the 3:40 pace group and try and hang on (this group was running 8:24s). I felt really tight at first and wondered if I had made a mistake but by mile two I had loosened up and started to feel pretty good.
Running with the pace group was pretty cool. Middle of the packers like myself normally run a marathon in relative isolation. But with the pace group we were one massive pack running together. Every time we came up to a group of supporters they would scream for the 3:40s. It was a lot of fun.
At about 18 miles in the storm cleared up and the sun came out for a few minutes. I took off my jacket and saw the worst chafeage I had ever seen. I had put band-aids on my nipples at the start of the race but the water had made them come off. Now I had two massive blood spots on my shirt. Oh well.
By mile 22 I realized that I still had a lot left in the tank and needed to up the pace. I started opening up my stride and left the pace group behind. In the next 4 miles I made up about 2 minutes and 10 seconds on them finishing the race in 3:37:52 at an 8:19 minute per mile pace.
The rain was coming down in full force now. I grabbed a space blanket and a Carl Jr’s burger (free to finishers) and briefly thought about walking to the memorial to drop off the finisher’s medal. I was already shaking though and had a mile to go to get to the hotel if I went straight there. I opted for the hotel and it was a good thing I did. Soaking wet and in 40 degree weather I only got colder as I walked. I even ran part of the way to try and warm up. Just about the time I was ready to wave down a passing patrol car and ask if I could get in I saw my hotel. It took me about an hour to stop shivering. I’ll have to pay my respects to Capt Guzman the next time I come through OKC.
Overall I felt really good about the effort. I have been training for the 100 mile distance so running a marathon at that pace was pretty good. My first 50 miler of the season is in two weeks in New Mexico. As a reminder to the handful of people who read this blog I am running these ultras to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. If you can spare even a couple of dollars it will go a long way to finding a cure. My fundraising link is on the right.
This weekend I ran my first ultra of the season. The Lake McMurty 50k is held at Lake McMurty State Park just west of Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Wendy adopted a black lab from the shelter on Friday night so on Saturday morning at 4AM we woke up, loaded the puppy into the car and started driving down to Stillwater. We got lost once on the way but managed to find the starting line at about 10 after 7. When I went to pick up my race packet I found out that they had no record of me registering for the 50k. This was a problem as the race registration fee was $55 and I don’t carry cash with me. Luckily the race director had an app on his phone that allowed him to run my debit card. Problem solved.
At 8AM the we started on our first loop. The 50k course consists of two laps on a figure 8 course. The first length of the figure eight is a giant lollipop loop. The second length is an out and back. I started slow at the back of the pack putting in 11 minute miles. (They averaged out to 12 minute miles when you take in to account aid station time.) At the end of the first 7.5 miles I was still in the back of the pack but running strong. I started on the second 7.5 miles feeling strong. About 3.5 miles into the out’n'back I started seeing the race leaders. At 2:49 I arrived back at the starting area, popped an e tablet, grabbed some cliff blocs and headed back out.
Now I started pushing the pace and passing the people who went out too hard. I passed the first one at mile 17 and kept dropping more people as the miles built up. I was feeling really good until mile 23 when I ate two cliff blocs and promptly threw up. Not good. I couldn’t hold down the blocs and I didn’t bring any other food source to carry on the run. I made it into the starting area and started wolfing down as many salt covered potatoes, chips and cookies as I could. I knew the last 8 miles were going to be rough without enough calories to keep me pushing. At that point Wendy came running up with the puppy. That’s always a great pick-me-up during a race. I started out in better spirits.
The next 8 miles were a constant mind game. I wanted to start walking but knew I had the fitness to keep pushing the pace. Pushing the pace won out and I passed a few more people. At this point I was still managing the sub 10 minute mile pace I set at mile 17 even though it was tough. My pace dipped a few times on the uphills but overall I was moving at a good clip. 5 hours and 47 minutes into the run I crossed the finish line with a new PR for me for a trail 50k. This was good for a 7th place finish in my age group and a 13th place finish overall.
All in all a good day.
My training for Leadville has been going really well. I hit a bit of a low point last week during a six hour training run where I got sick and had to walk for a bit. This week has been much better. I had to travel to West Virginia for work and the weather there was actually really nice so I checked out Huntington after all the meetings I had for work were done with a nice easy recovery run.
This morning I woke up and while messing around on the internet realized that the Snake Run down in Tulsa was starting in a little over an hour so I jumped in the car and started booking it South to try and make it to the race.
The Snake Run is a trail race held on a 2.1 mile trail. The goal is to run as many out and backs on the trail as possible in three hours. I made it to the starting line just as they fired the starting gun. That sounds like good timing but I still hadn’t registered so while everyone else starting running I had to pay and then put my number on. By the time I hit the trail the race had already been running for 5 minutes. This put me in a lousy spot as I was stuck trying to pass people on single track trail for several minutes. By the time I hit the first turn-around the trail had cleared a bit and I was able to start running at a steady pace.
The first lap I was pretty tight but I started to feel good on the second lap and by the third I was passing people and feeling really good. I finished my fourth lap at 2:47 and the race moved to a short 1/2 mile loop for the remaining 13 minutes. I really put the gas on and finished another 1.5 miles of trail prior to the finishing gun going off.
Overall it was a really good run and it helped refill the motivation tank after weeks of running by myself for hours on the weekend.
Just a reminder that I’m running the Leadville 100 miler this summer to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. You can support my run here: The yetifunk fundraising site
Well, I bailed on the 50k and the marathon I was supposed to run last week. That week was supposed to be a recovery week for me so I decided not to push it. I keep telling myself that the goal is a sub one day finish at Leadville, not a long list of 50k finishes in mediocre times. Still, it feels weird not to race as much as possible.
The training has been going really well. I’ve dropped about 5 pounds since starting with my coach and am feeling really good on long runs. Last week I ran 17 miles in 2.5 hours and repeated today. Deciding to work with Paul Dewitt (winner of Leadville 2003 and 2004) was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. My foot was a bit chewed up after today’s run (I lost most of the skin on one toe) but otherwise I am injury free. And my coach just ran a trail 40 miler in North Carolina in a bit over 5 hours. I saw some film footage of the course conditions which makes that time even more impressive.
My next race is in a month. It is my first ultra of the year, the Lake McMurtry 50k. I am feeling a PR coming in this race so I’m stoked for it.
I also finally got my fundraising site up. As the 5 people who read this blog know, I try to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation every couple of years. I have two nieces that are fighting Neuro-Fibromatosis, a condition which causes tumors. One of may nieces is dealing with the possibility of having to start chemo again. I’m not a great writer so all I am going to say is that it is crazy that we haven’t found a way to solve this problem yet. We should have a cure by now. Since I’m not in a position to divert some money from the Air Force to fund more research (I spent 6 years as a Marine. Believe me, the Air Force could shut down some golf courses and do something better with the money) I am trying to raise some money for the cause by running the Leadville 100 mile race this year. If you can donate the equivalent of a cup of coffee I’d appreciate it. It makes a difference.
The link is here: The yetifunk fundraising site
Thank you for helping a good cause!
Two coworkers and I left at around 5:30 PM on Friday night for the drive to Kansas City. We arrived at our hotel at around 9PM after a detour to “Taco John’s” for dinner. If you have the opportunity to eat at Taco John’s don’t. Just saying.
After checking in we walked across the street to grab a beer before crashing for the night. We got up around 6:30AM, grabbed a quick shower and some breakfast and then drove to the race start. When we got there the parking lot was already full so we had to park about a quarter of a mile down the road in another parking lot. We then hung out for about twenty minutes waiting for race start.
The race started at 8AM and the first few hundred yards were through calf deep snow before we climbed a short hill and hit the single track. The first 30 minutes were the normal single file start and stop you get at trail runs. The snow was still soft and you had to watch you’re footing to make sure you didn’t roll an ankle. After thirty minutes we hit the triangle, a section of the trail that was switchback after switchback until you pop out at the same point you entered to keep running down the trail.
After the triangle the trail became mostly flat and runnable until we hit a long downhill section that kicked us out at the base of the dam.
The course here was flat but the snow was still soft making it difficult to run. I shuffled across the clearing and started climbing back up the other side. When I got up to the road I saw the sign for the five mile mark, grabbed some suckers at the aid station and started walking up the road to the next set of trail.
The next few miles were a brutal set of climbs and switchbacks known as “Fester’s Way” after the race directors dog who allegedly chose the route when they turned him loose on a training run. The next two miles were extremely difficult to get into a good pace as you were constantly ducking trees or climbing for short distances. With three miles to the finish of the first loop the trail becomes runnable again although now you have to contend with steep hills followed by sections of flats.
I felt good to be running consistently again and probably pushed it too hard through this section finishing the first loop in around 2:07 before heading out for the second loop. I felt really good during the second loop until I hit Fester’s way where I also hit the wall for about a mile. Luckily I was able to recover and finish strong with a second lap of 2:17, total time 4:24 and 34th male finisher.
This was my first race of the year and it felt pretty good. I was a bit sore this morning but I managed to get an easy 6 mile run in. I have a 50k in two weeks which should be a good time as well.
This week was a crazy week for work but I’m stoked because I still got all of my important runs in. My job requires shipping things to customers so the massive snow storm in Oklahoma last week meant I spent a lot of time scrambling to work out transportation issues with UPS and FEDEX. To make it worse, I spent 5 hours commuting on unplowed roads on Tuesday. Thank god for the Subaru!
I ran about 36 miles this week and once I complete today’s easy recovery run I’ll be at about 41 miles total. Not a ton of mileage yet but I am only two weeks into the training cycle for Leadville.
The Saturday long run was exciting. I ran on roads due to the snow covering all the local trails and had to routinely jump off the mostly unplowed road to prevent becoming pickup truck grille art. Still, I managed to get an easy 15 mile run in. The only painful part was that I forgot to bring any food with me and I bonked pretty hard in the last mile or so.
This week I have my first trail race of the season. On Saturday I am running a 20 miler in Kansas City at one of the local parks up there. The course is supposed to be muddy, steep and technical so we’ll see how it goes. If nothing else it will be fun to get a run in on a different trail than the two I always run down here.
On the fundraising front I am having trouble getting the website set up. I sent an email off to the NF Endurance team on Saturday and will hopefully work out the technical difficulties soon.
On an unrelated front I am currently reading ” A few degrees from Hell” which is a compilation of race reports from participants in the 2003 Badwater. What a great book! I downloaded it onto my kindle yesterday and am a little more than half way through it now. If this race season goes well I may need to try and get an invitation for 2012.
My first week working with Paul Dewitt went well. I did most of my workouts during the work week on my treadmill and then got a 2 hour trail run in at Osage Hills state park on Saturday. Today I did an easy 45 minute recovery run. The weather turned nasty again today and the Oklahoma wind made it a bit miserable. Work also intruded a bit on my workouts last week as I had to put in some 14 hour days. I’m proud of the fact that I still got most of my runs in.
I’ve added another 50 miler to the schedule for July. I’ll be running the Northfork 50m in Pine, Colorado. I also may run a loop around Pike’s Peak in June with some runners from Colorado. The loop is 65 miles with 13000 feet of climb and would be a great training run for Leadville.
I’ve updated the site with a race schedule page. This page will include results once I finish some of the races.
I’m going to try and get the Children’s Tumor Foundation fund raising page up today and will add to this post if I stop procrastinating and get it done.