Saturday, November 3, 2007
It was sad to hear the news of Ryan Shay collapsing at the Olympic Trials this morning. My prayers go out to his closest family and friends. It just goes to show how precious the gift of running and more so life is. When its our time to go its our time to go. However great a master of our own destinies we think we are as ultrarunners were not the supreme master. In my own opinion though which really isn't worth much. He died chasing a dream. Doing something he loved and believed in.
On a lighter note though I got to spend some time at the races with the family today. Last week my wife Jessica decided to sign up for the Road to Oz 4 mile run that took place Saturday morning. Along with the 4 mile run they had a fun run for the kids labled as the Munchkin run. Featuring a 1/4 mile, 1/2, and One mile run. My wife did excellent in her run as she PR'd by over a couple of minutes which was amazing I think. Lately shes been doing a lot of volunteering and not so much running. So I was proud of her when she PR'd on such a hilly course.
In the Munchkin run I decided against signing my son up for the One mile run fearing that his attention span would get the better of him and I'd have to carry him the last 200 yards. So we signed him up for the 800 and he impressed everyone with his little munchkin legs. Cranking out the half mile run in a time of 7 minutes and 35 seconds. He stopped once to catch his breath at the 1/4 mile mark in which he covered in 3:20 and one other time for a few seconds with about 300 to go. He came in dead last against a field of kids twice his age as the next youngest runner was 6 years old. Though his place is no matter to me. I love him for just wanting to run and displaying a tremendous amount of courage for his age. Hes truely the apple of my eye and I pray that he ends up loving this running thing as much as I do.
As for me. I resumed running a few days ago with my legs still being very tender. I underestimated the trashing my quads took last Saturday. I only scheduled myself to run about 20 miles this week so no worries. I should hope to build my milage back up to 70 to 80 miles per week in the next couple of weeks. Hold that for a week or two then throw in a short taper just before heading down to Sumart for which race I'm not sure yet. I'll see how I feel in another couple weeks and make the decision then. Just throwing numbers around I'd like to try for a sub 3:50 in the 50km or a sub 7:00 in the 50mile if I so choose to do so. Well as Wynn Davis would say. Thats enough of my drivel. I think the best recipie for me is to just head down there with no expectations and hope everything comes together. I hope everyones running is going well and everyone is getting the rest they all deserve.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Well it was a great day for a 50km. I want to first start by thanking everyone that stood by me over the past summer. So many people had a hand in the process. Determined to not see me throw in the towel. Each of you knows who you are. Thanks for not giving up on me. That being said lets get into the good stuff.
Race morning came just like it always does, too fast. This race wasn't any different from any other. A little slow to wake up because I knew at some point during the day I wouldn't be as comfortable as I was at that moment. After eating a bowl of cereal and taking a quick hot shower to get the 'ol body loosened up. Jessica and I headed over to the race at O'dark thirty so that she could set up her aide station at the start finish area. When we got there I was still pretty sleepy so I decided to just lay down in the front seat of my car under a nice warm blanket. After about a half hour or so I started to hear the voices and sounds of a bustling pre race atmosphere outside my car. That combined with the beams from curious headlamps peering through my car window I decided to get up.
Emerging from the car I walked over to find my wife diligently setting up her aide station. There was a nice chill to the air, not too cold but just enough bite to it to wake you up. I commented to Jessica that it felt like it did at 3 Days of Syllamo. Around this time the sun started to climb up the backside of the horizon to greet the day and the trails of Lake Perry. Finally making it possible to put faces with the familiar voices we'd been hearing all morning.
I quickly found my buddy Dave Halferty. A 2:22 marathoner who happened to be running his first ultra marathon. He and I hung out for awhile, which was a good thing. This guy makes me laugh. The last race we did together I was having such a good time that I hardly got nervous before the start. We talked for awhile about the course and what to expect from the other runners and in no time we had struck up a deal to work with each other on the first loop and then I 'd try to hang with him as long as I could on the second. Ultimately trying to drop under a 4:30 on this course. Which I thought was a pretty reasonable goal as it was a first time event and we didn't want to be too optimistic about what to expect.
With a few last minute instructions from the R.D. Willie Lambert. We were sent down the road to the starting line. At the starting line it read like a who's who of Midwest Ultra running. There were at least 10 runners that I could count male and female alike that had won an ultra at some time in there career. With at least a half dozen other runners there who I suspect will win a race of their own in the near future. I was in good company. So good that my buddy Caleb Chatfield felt comfortable enough to give me some shit about my wardrobe selection for the day. It was pretty funny and everyone was justified in giving me crap for it.
About three days prior to the race I started having some concerns about chaffing. Not wanting to deal with that whole mess of stress. I rummaged through my dresser to find a solution. Eureka! I thought when I fumbled across an old pair of swiming trunks that I purchased at Walmart earlier this year for like six dollars. Thinking that summers officially over and they were a cheap pair of trunks anyway. The decision was made to cut the crotch out of them and fashion them into sort of a kilt. Caleb said I looked like I needed some new shorts as I wore the ass out of them. I told everyone I had explosive diarrhea and that everything was O.K. now.
With the race underway we ran down a short section of road and then made a sharp right dumping onto the trail. It wasn't my intention to hit the trail first but everyone was having a good time enjoying the morning that the pace stayed pretty conservative from the go. D-Half was right behind me and we nonchalantly went to work. Coming off the first section of trail which I knew was exactly a mile long. I glanced at my watch to check the pace. 8:16 for the first mile. Definitely not the pace I'd expected but I wasn't complaining. I told Halferty that if nobody was going to push it early then we shouldn't either. A wise decision too. Knowing in the back of my mind that these hills would get a little bigger the second time around.
We pushed an easy pace into the first aide station around four and a half miles in just under 33 minutes. I topped off my bottle and Dave switched the lead with me just as planned. Still nobody came up to run with us at the front. Dave and I cruised into the eight and a half mile aide station feeling really good. Between this stop and the stop at 10.5 is a really runnable section of trail. So after taking it easy through the first quarter of the race we decided to open it up just a little. Covering the two mile section squeaking under 16 minutes comfortably.
At 10.5 I topped off my bottle with Heed and Halferty asked what our lead was. Another friend Kyle Brown who was working the aide station said we had six minutes over Caleb and Kyle. That's good I thought thanking God that Caleb wasn't running the 50km today. I knew though that Caleb would be working with Kyle to keep him close on the first loop. No taking anything for granted we kept running trying to build on that six minutes.
Dave and I must have got into a pretty good zone and we kept swapping the lead back and forth between the aide stations. With about one and a half mile to go to the 25km mark and the start of the second loop. We figured we were going to come in around 2:05. Sure as shit within a matter of a few seconds we hit that mark.
At the 25km mark my wife asked Dave and I if there was anything that we needed. Of course I gave my typical answer of a fresh pair of legs. I drank a half a can of Kearns apricot nectar. For no other reason than it tastes so damn good when I'm really thirsty. Dave took the lead again and this is where I had to make a gut check. We'd had been making good time and had 2:25 to play with to hit that 4:30 mark. Dave decided to keep up with the 2:05 pace. Even though I knew better and it would be suicide but I decided to hang with him as long as I could.
Just making it back to the first aide station again was hard. Dave was pushing the pace on the hills and cruising the downs. Exactly the opposite to the way I run. Trying to stay with him on the hills was putting my system in stress. The hills were killing me and I was letting him know it. We came into the aide station at 20 miles and I was on the brink of blowing up. I slammed two cups of Heed and took a Tylenol. As I grabbed my bottle from M.K. one of the many volunteers that helped that day she asked if I was wearing a skirt? I said HELL YES! I noticed Dave waiting for me down the trail chuckling a little as I knew he heard her comment. I thought to myself. I'm glad I can still entertain people in spite of my misery.
We ran out of the aide station and came to the first hill. Dave looked back and said O.K. I'm going to walk to the top of this one. Hearing that was like music to my ears. Just before that particular hill my legs were starting to get that ol' cramping feeling. I knew there was no way we'd be able to hold that 4:10 50km pace. I'm not saying that it can't be done. I just know that it couldn't be done by me on this day.
Dave and I made it to the top of that hill and we decided to take it a lot easier at this point. After pushing hard through the first 21 miles I felt that if we just kept moving forward we should have enough in the bank to hold off any late surges from runners who had run a smarter race then us. As with every race though just as I started to think things are going to work out in my favour things start to blow up in my face.
Payback now. my body started to revolt from the eager pace we'd been setting. I noticed that Dave was feeling it too as he seemed to be rolling his ankles more often on all the rocks. A sure fire sign of tired legs. Soon after I noticed Dave having trouble with the rocks he rolled his ankle really bad. I'm not sure if it was his ankle or the sound of his shoe hitting the ground but I heard a pop and then he started to do the limp, walk, run routine trying to work it out.
I asked if he was O.K. and he said yes but his pace was telling me a different story. I told him that if he could we needed to keep moving. I said if we slowed down anymore than this they would be on us like a pack of wolves. I told Dave I was going to go around him. I felt bad because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have been where I was in the race. I just kept running, holding back a little hoping he would run it off and catch back up but he never did. Dave's a tough guy so I knew he'd be alright. I also knew he wouldn't want me to sacrifice my race for him. So I didn't give it another thought.
Now I found myself in a position that I hadn't been in over eight months. Alone and out front. Automatically my mindset shifted from a calm and relaxed to worried and defensive. Every damn squirrel sounded like someone coming down the trail after me. Through 24miles and back into 26 miles I was told I had a five minute lead on Halferty with five miles to go. I wasn't worried about Dave anymore at this point I was worried about who was running strong behind him.
O.K. five more miles of cramping and then I could relax. The one good thing I can say about the last five miles was that I was dang glad I do all my training out here. Every time a cramp would start to come on I knew exactly how far I had to go until the finish. I tried to imagine how it would feel the last five miles if I had never run out here before. I think all the endless switchbacks would've driven me completely mad. Suddenly as if out of nowhere the last little rocky climb appeared before me.
About half a mile to go now. There was a gentleman at the top of the hill who said congratulations Dave. Good Job! I'm not sure who it was so forgive me if my response was a little delirious. I told him thank you and that I was happy it was almost over. I crested the top of the hill and was able to hear music from the live band we had at the finish. I could barely make out the lyrics. It sounded like Cheeseburger in Paradise or at least that's what I thought it was. It could be that I was really hungry and a cheeseburger sounded really good at that moment.
Crossing the finish line in 4:41:50. I gave thanks to the big guy in the sky and looked out across the biggest bunch of smiling faces that I could ever remember. Everyone there was truly happy for me. Each and everyone of them knew what I had been through this summer. Willie Lambert gave me a huge bear hug then my wife and Caleb came over to me doing the same. My wife had tears in her eyes. She knew how much I wanted this. She told me she started getting teary eyed when she heard I was in the lead by five with five to go. She said Caleb came over and consoled her at that time. The sign of a great friend and competitor. I have all the respect in the world for this guy and look forward to having him hand me my ass at races next season. Get healthy brother I'm going to hold you to that.
After the congratulations were out of the way. Karen Lambert, Willies wife came over with a glass of chocolate milk. The perfect way to end the perfect day. I think the chocolate milk might be something that catches on too. Except we should make it like the Indianapolis 500 and turn that glass into a quart for the winner.
I'm glad things went as well as they did for me. I honestly didn't expect to have that kind of day. What I was more happy about is that everybody had a great time. Enjoying the band, the food and copious amounts of Red Bull at the finish line. I think I even caught my wife two stepping to a Willie Nelson song with overall women's champion Deanna Stoppler from Columbia, Mo. Speaking of Deanna she won the women's race handily in a smoking time of around 4:56:?? I'm glad I didn't roll my ankle or I might have been writing an entirely different report.
I want to thank all my good friends for coming out and making the race a success. It wouldn't have been possible without you. I also want to thank Deanna Stoppler and Carey Smith for the race pictures as once again Jessica and I got to the race and left the damn camera at home. Olga is going to kill me for that. Lastly I want to thank all the great sponsors of the series. Montrail, Suunto watches and heart rate monitors, Red Bull, Coors Beer, Burt Reynolds, Kermit the Frog and all the other unsung hero's that worked hard behind the scenes to make this series happen. Lets not forget the Great Plains Running Company and the Lambert's for their dedication and commitment to the sport of trail running.