Well I guess its time for me to put up a race report from the races this last weekend out at beautiful Lake Clinton near Lawrence Kansas. To start out. I don't think anyone could ask for a better day to have an ultra marathon. Sunny skies. Warm winds and plenty of friends. A picture perfect day for a picture perfect race. Bad Ben and his gaggle of Trail Nerds once again outdid themselves putting on a top notch event. Of all the races I've done I would say this race cracked the top three all time for me.
On the drive over from Topeka that morning my good friend Willie Lambert asked how I was feeling. I told him I felt pretty good and that the leg didn't hurt too much. As it was starting to show signs that I'd turned the corner on the whole injury ordeal I've been dealing with over the last two months. I didn't make any promises. I try not to do that anymore. I told him what my game plan was and that I was just going to go as hard as I could without the wheels falling off. If that was enough to get it done then so be it. If it wasn't then there' always another day. Deep down though I knew I didn't have the long runs under my belt to be a factor late. Hell the longest run I had done in the last five weeks before the race was a 20 plus miler the week after 3 Days. Aside from that I maybe had two to three 12 mile tempo runs. Knowing that I gave my self several goals to try and achieve for the day. I told myself that I'd be happy with a top 5 finish, sub 6:30 and not re injure the leg. If I could accomplish that then the day would be a success and a positive step in the direction of becoming a runner I could live with.
Willie and I arrived at the start/finish area and checked in. Then we headed back over to the van to get our drop bags together. While doing this I noticed parked across from us Mike Adams who I had never formally met so I strolled over and introduced myself. We'd talked for awhile. About the race and other stuff. I guess you could say I was fishing around for some inside info as to what type of condition he was in. Though I knew without asking that he looked to be in great shape. Besides being a phenomenal ultra runner he's one hell of a nice guy. I don't think he has a negative bone in his body. It was going to be fun running with him out there. After about ten minutes we headed over to the start. I caught up with other friends and teammates. Congratulating them on there recent race results.
Talking with friends there was almost a festive feel to the air. Everyone was laughing and joking. Just having a good time. Ignoring the fact that they were about to put themselves through 62 or 40 miles of punishment. I was so relaxed that before I was done catching up with everyone Bad Ben had already given the signal to start. I quickly hit the start button on my watch and made my way towards the front of the pack on the outside. Tucking myself into third position just before we hit the trail head.
Once on the trail I got myself comfortable with the pace being set up front by Mike. I wasn't sure who the guy was between Mike and I but after some short introductions learned it was Greg Bueler from Olathe, Ks. A super fast and also super nice Trail Nerd. So there it was. My work was definitely cut out for me. Running along and chatting it up with the boys it wasn't even a mile or so in and Mike took a wrong turn down a side trail. Not from lack of focus on his part but due to the fact that someone had switched around one of the trail markers. Luckily for us Kyle Amos, who was in good company himself with the likes of Dan Dehlin from Michigan and Tony Semperfast Clark from Wichita yelled out that we were headed the wrong way. We quickly made a course correction and after a short little rocky climb got back to the front of the train.
Rolling along now at a pretty good clip we came up on the three mile mark of the run and I glanced at my watch. It read 17:13??? I thought no way in hell are we running that fast and if we were we needed to slow it down. I'm assuming that we were around the 2.5 mile mark as I didn't think we were going much faster than 20 minute pace for the three mile. Felling good though I decided I would keep it going to the first manned aide station. I yelled back to Mike and Greg that we should probably hit the first manned in around 45 minutes. Still cranking along we came to the Red Trail section of the course which runs you along the rocky shore of Lake Clinton. This is where I had the most fun all day long. Both times I passed through. The lake was so calm and placid that it made me wish that the entire course was this way. At that moment I heard a rock splash into the water from behind me on the trail. I think Mike was just having some fun of his own or maybe he was just wanting to let me know he was still back there. Either way I snapped out of the zone I was in and proceeded to keep the pace up. Coming into the first manned aide station we weren't far off of my guess and Mike and I cruised through in just over 46 minutes.
Now I know it was my original plan to keep it going as hard as I could for as long as I could. I just didn't think that I'd be going this good. I yelled back to Mike just out of the aide station that we were flying. At this point I had to make a decision. To keep going hard or back of and conserve for the second loop. The leg wasn't barking at me yet so I decided to keep the tempo up. The next few miles I spent trying to figure out just exactly when the wheels were going to fall off.
Coming into the KUS aide station I pulled a one minute lead on Mike and Greg and I almost half entertained the idea that I had broke them but I knew deep down inside that I wasn't done with seeing them for the afternoon. One thing I've learned about this sport is that its not who's in the lead early on. More often it comes down to who's saved the most for the last few miles. The way I was running was flat out stupid and I was saving nothing back.
Around mile 15 or so at the creek crossing I was trying to cross without getting the feet too wet when I smacked my head on the low hanging branch just on the other side. I yelled DAMN IT!!! and rubbed my head. The branch had slowed me down to a walk for the moment so I decided it was a good time to keep up with my S-caps. Just about to the top of the hill I heard some footsteps. Looked back to see that Mike had closed the gap. He had me in his sights and I knew I couldn't match his pace so I gave him the trail and told him I'd see him at the finish. Coming into Caleb and Stacey's aide station Caleb asked how I was doing? I gave my typical answer of "I could be doing better." Though I said it jokingly just to get a rise out of Caleb. He just told me he'd see me later and I said yeah you will. By this point I shut it down. I knew if I was going to finish I needed to start conserving something for the second loop. At around 18 miles Greg had caught up with me and again like with Mike I let him by and told him I'd see him at the finish. Both Mike and Greg were running strong as well as smart. Well on sub 5:30 pace for the 40 mile. For me now I just tried to keep the calories in me as best I could and try to keep it around 9 min miles.
Coming into the start/finish I was surprised to see Mike and Greg just leaving. So that was cool to realize I didn't lose as much as I thought to those guys. Here's where I made a big mistake though it doesn't really bother me that much to think back on it now. I probably spent a good 8 - 10 minutes in the start/finish aide station. I was still having such a good time. That while I was changing my wet shoes and talking with people. I felt no pressure or urgency to get out of there. I finally did get my ass in gear when I looked up and saw the 100km leaders come through. Who were themselves also cranking out some solid splits on pace to smash Kyle's course record of 10:02 for the 100km. I left out of there on the heals of those 100km studs and tried to hang on. I did the best I could but they were really moving. I feared at this point I was going to hit a rough spot where I'd have to pay for my overly eager start to the day. I knew it was coming so it didn't surprise me when the wheels came completely off at around mile 25. Remember now this was the longest I'd run in 6 weeks though quiting was never an option. I knew at some point based on experience that my legs would come back but when?
I was in NO MANS LAND in and out of Caleb and Stacey's aide station but I remained all smiles. No matter how bad I was feeling. The pain didn't bother me because I was having a blast out there. I pretty much stayed in a funk until I reached the KUS aide station for the second time. I came in an immediately started talking it up with Randy, Theresa and Stacey. Theresa offered me some prunes and I told her she was killing me. I asked her if she wanted me to finish or not. If I had those I'd be making a pit stop every mile. Then I spotted a Red Bull on the table grabbed it slammed it and got out of Dodge. Before I left though I asked what my time was into the aide station and they said I was 4:23 with a little over 9 miles to go. 4:23?? I thought to myself $$$ and got a huge boost.I just ran a 4:23 50km off the couch on a leg that I felt was only 80% at best. It wasn't long after that when the Red Bull I slammed kicked in so I decided to hammer down for as long as I could again. Thinking I better take advantage of the sugar rush while I got it. Of course all good things have to come to an end and I ran out of gas just before coming back into Caleb and Stacey's aide station for the last time. I didn't spend long here this time though I just grabbed a Cliff Shot filled my bottles and took off.
A little under four to go now and the Cliff Shot I had came back up. Not sure for what reason but it did. There was a Marathon runner I'd left out of the aide station with just ahead of me on the trail who heard all the ruckus of my vomit. He asked if I was O.K.? I told that I was perfectly fine. In fact I felt much better now. I told him it was just a colorful part of the Ultra marathon as I started to take off past him down the trail. Continuing to pass more and more Marathon runners now each one asking me how much longer there was to go. I could tell from most of them that this was their first trail marathon and that they were all ready for the finish line to come. Just about to finish up the last mile and I came up behind Tony Semperfast Clark who was in a spot of trouble himself. Though this guy had nothing to be ashamed of. He's a solid,fast trail runner who just happened to be going through a bad patch. He told me later in an e-mail that it was the first time he had ever run into a spot where he felt bad. He said he was kind of freaking out as he didn't know what was wrong. All I can say is Tony my friend consider yourself lucky. Every race I run I go through a rough spot and its a different reason every time. Keep your chin up amigo. You've got years to figure it out during which you'll kick lots of trail butt.
Jumping off the trail and down the jeep road to the finish I said goodbye to Tony and hello to my wife and folks who were waiting for me at the finish. I looked at my wife and mom and dad and said "Well theres all three of my favorite ladies" LOL. Sorry dad at the time I thought it was pretty funny. I love you guys though and thanks for being there. Almost there now I saw Bad Ben running alongside Kyle as he was helping him back on to his third loop hunting down another solid 100km finish. I shook Ben's hand told him Thanks for a perfect day and patted Kyle on the back telling him to go get 'em. Seeing the finish line I gave a short little sprint to the line. Crossing the finish in 6:02:08 for third overall. I figure I would've went maybe 10 minutes faster if I hadn't of farted around at the aide stations so long but it wouldn't have made it any better of a day. Happy to have a finish under my belt now this season as the injuries have kept me off the starting line most of this spring. I'm totally looking forward to having the Kettle Moraine 100 miler kick the shit out of me in a little under 6 weeks from now. To Ben and everyone involved with this race. Thank You all its definitely a must do and I am coming back next year. Hopefully 100%.