Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alternate Chili Run - December 14, 2013

What: Alternate Chili Run
Where: Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS
When: December 14, 2013
Distance: 10.35 miles
Weather: cold and windy with a feels-like temp of 13F
Goal: to push the pace a bit and have fun
Finish Time: 1:47:47

Warning: There will be some profanity in the last part of the report. Please continue reading at your own risk.

Between October 19th and November 2nd I ran a 50K, covered 50.5 miles in 24 hours, and ran a trail 5K. After that stretch I took a short break from running longer distances and kept my weekly mileage closer to 20 miles. I started to get into a rut and decided to register for the Run Toto Run 50K on February 8, 2014. Now I knew I had to start ramping up my mileage and started meeting friends on the weekends to run the Run Toto Run course. Somewhere along the way I decided to register for the Alternate Chili Run since it is the same loop and would allow me to get a better idea of what time I should shoot for as a goal for the 50K. I started running the loop once per weekend, but starting the week of Thanksgiving, I started to run the loop on both Saturday and Sunday.

Race Day:
I've been having so much fun just running the loop easy with friends that I haven't really tried to push the pace at all. With that in mind, I decided to push the pace a bit during the race, but not run it at race effort. My plan was to run the majority of the hills up to the dam (5 miles) and then walk the steeper hills that I know I will walk during the 50K.

I had wanted to get to the race between 6:30 & 7:00 so I could get a decent parking spot, pick up my packet, and relax. I arrived to the park on time only to find a short line of vehicles stopped at the closed gates. Since I would still get a decent parking spot, I took the time to relax and enjoy listening to music. After about 45 minutes, I was beginning to wonder if the gates would ever be opened up. Eventually, the cops came and opened up the gates allowing the long convoy of cars to finally enter. I parked the car, waited until I saw people picking up their packets, then braved the cold and picked up my packet.

The Race:
The race starts and everyone goes across a metal bridge, crosses a field, heads up a short section of road, and then hangs a left onto the trails. I ran at a conversational effort for the first couple of miles and was shocked to see that I was averaging under 10:00 miles.
During Mile 2
A frozen creek crossing during Mile 2 (taken the day after the race)
During Mile 3, we come to my favorite part of the course, the Wyandotte Triangle. The triangle is about a mile long off shoot of the main trail that exits back on to the trail about 25 feet or so from where you enter it. The conditions were slick during some of the many twists and turns in this section and had me taking it a bit easier than I had planned. My pace dropped during this section, but my focus was on not falling rather than meeting a time goal. I exited the triangle to cheers from the great volunteers at the first aid station.

Once back on the main loop, I picked the pace back up a bit and  ran relaxed. The footing was pretty good so I figured I would take advantage of it.
Around the start of Mile 5.
I soon get to a short, but steep downhill section that is basically an erosional gully. It's filled with leaves and a little snow.  I took it easy as I expected it to be fairly slick, but surprisingly, traction going down was pretty good.

Shortly after the downhill I get to the only hill in the first half of the loop that I walked. I power hiked up the hill, hit a flat section, then came to my second favorite section of the course, Fall Down Hill. I let gravity take me down the hill, but held back a bit due to the conditions. I could tell that an upcoming corner was going to be slick and mentioned it to the guy running behind me. As luck would have it, I fell on the corner. It wasn't too bad, basically I fell on my ass and slid around the corner. It brought back memories of sledding on one of those roll-up blue plastic sleds and hitting a bump, just a little uncomfortable. I had some pain in my left arm for about a half mile or so after the fall, but it just felt like a minor cramp.

Unfortunately, after Fall Down Hill is my least favorite section of the course, the Dam(n) Hill. The hill is at the beginning of Mile 6 and is a steep .3 mile section of roadway, with probably .25 of those miles being uphill.

Dam(n) Hill. Unfortunately you can't tell how steep it is from the picture.
As I plan to do during the 50K, I walked up that damn hill, ran the short downhill section, then walked back up the hill until turning back on the trails. This is where we reach the second aid station, also with amazing volunteers! I can make up some time on this section as it is flat to downhill.

After a trip through the "wind tunnel," I come to a short, steep, rocky downhill section and carefully make my way down it. It is during this section that I have hyperextended a knee twice (once during training and once during a race), today, I made it down with no issues. I turn left on a flat section of trail, and pick up the pace a bit since I know of the hills waiting for me at the end of the section.

The first hill after the flat section of trail near the beginning of Mile 7. Yes, I walked it.
I have now reached Fester's Wander. The next approximate 3/4 of a mile are mostly uphill with a only a short, steep downhill section to break it up. After making it through the hills, you are rewarded with a nice, relatively flat section of trail, followed by a downhill section. Unfortunately, you also have to go back up to the ridgeline.

I believe this is shortly after Fester's Wander.

Shortly after above photo.

During Mile 8. Photo Taken by Rick Mayo of Mile 90 Photography.
After Fester's, I make it up another hill and pop out at the back of the boat yard. The section of trails that follows is a fairly decent spot to make up a little time before you start hitting the toughest hills on the trails which are affectionately known as the Three Bitches! These hills are all within the last mile or so of the course.

The first of the Three Bitches I like to call Bertha, because she is big and unrelenting.

Note: Bertha is not named after a real person. If your name is Bertha, and you happen to be reading this, don't take it personally.

My goal at some point is to run each of the Three Bitches, right now I can only run up Bitch #2 and Bitch #3. I do not have names for these hills....yet. As usual, I walked up Bertha. Once at the top I made up ground on the runners in front of me. I ended up passing some runners during the stretch between Bertha and Bitch #2 and another as I ran up the second Bitch.

I almost always forget about Bitch #3 and think I am done with hills, then I get the rude awakening. This time, I remembered about it and pushed the pace until I reached the hill. Since running the hill zaps my energy, I power hiked up it.

Heading up Bitch #3
Once you make it to the top of the final Bitch, it's easy running the rest of the way. I ended up passing the first two individuals in the above photo and caught up to the guy in the red jacket at the top of the hill. I get to the last downhill section and decide to just ease it into the finish in case the course was icy. It turns out it wasn't bad and I could have sprinted the finish, but since I didn't treat this as a race I didn't really care. I was completely surprised to see that I crossed the finish line in under 1:50:00, last year under better conditions, I finished in 1:52:xx.

Now I'm still trying to narrow down my goal. I finished my first 50K in 6:07:xx and it was on an easier course (Lake Perry). Notoriously, the WyCo course takes longer to finish. I'm thinking that sub 6:30 is feasible, but would still love to get a sub-6:00. As I start running two loops of the course for training, I'll pinpoint the goal and try to make it happen.

I received the medal from Ben and then ate some chili and drank some homebrew beer that Ben brought as refreshments. As with all the Trail Nerd races, Ben, Coco, and the volunteers did an awesome job and made the race go very smoothly! A heartfelt Thank You goes out to them all.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Through the Woods 5K RR

What: Through the Woods 5K
When: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Where: Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Parkville, MO
Weather: 44F and breezy
Goal: Beat last year's time of 29:32
Finish: 27:40
Placement: 3rd overall

Past week:
I participated in a 24 hour event on October 26th and finished 50.5 miles . I had several aches and pains during the event, but seemed to recover fairly well. I never had any issues walking up/down stairs. I had planned on running Wed/Thurs, but decided I better play it safe and take more time off due the aches/pains encountered during the event. I didn't run until the day of the race.

Race day:
I decided I wanted to get a run in before the race so I did a 4 mile run around a local park. It went well and I averaged roughly 8:45/mile.  I felt pretty good, but could definitely tell my legs had no spring to their step. Since the 5K was billed as a fun run and was only going to give medals to the top three males and top three females, I figured I had no shot at an award.

This was a small race, but it looked like there were some fast people there. I still suspected I'd finish around the middle of the pack.I stayed in my car until about 30 minutes before the start of the race. At that time, I started mingling with some friends and getting use to the weather. With the breeze it was a little chilly, but still nice enough for shorts and a t-shirt.

Since nobody was eating any of the provided cinnamon rolls, I decided to eat one about 15 minutes prior to the start of the race. At about 10:00 we lined up and the announcements began. I figured people would line up on the starting line so I lined up about five feet back. To my surprise, the majority of the people lined up after me. Mark that as odd feeling number one.

The race started and one of my friends took the lead for about the first 200 meters or so. I soon found myself leading the race. Me, leading a race, mark this as odd feeling number two. I decided to push a bit and see how the race played out.

I was expecting several people to come rushing past me. I was finally passed by the first person near the half mile point. I suddenly had a sense of relief and the pressure was off. My legs still had no pep, but I kept pace with the guy for a while. There was a large hill during the first mile and I walked portions of it to conserve energy. During my walking breaks, the guy in first would pull ahead, but I would catch up during the flatter sections. I was expecting someone to pass me during the walk breaks, but it didn't happen. After cresting the hill, we turned right and started to run an out and back section. The end of the first mile came at about the halfway point on the way out. I ran Mile 1 in 9:28.

During Mile 2, we finished the out and back section and I was able to see my nearest competitors. They were looking strong, but still a ways back. However, I was fading. I decided to start running for placement and not time. As such, I allowed myself to walk the hills. It was shocking when nobody passed me during my walk breaks. I could feel myself fading, but still tried to push. I finished Mile 2 in 8:45.

Mile 3 started shortly after finishing the out and back section. My legs weren't getting tired, they just lacked pep. It was my breathing that was really hindering me during this race. My breathing was getting ragged. I still tried to push, but now I had a pursuer. He was running strong and closing fast. He finally passed me at about the 2.5 mile point. I kept him within striking distance, but felt that 3rd place was secure and decided to run smart and at least keep my lock on 3rd. We made it to my favorite section of the trail, a rocky descent. I normally just run down this section with reckless abandon. Today I was more careful, but still ran down it quickly. I thought about passing for 2nd, but ultimately pulled up as I almost stepped on the 2nd place runner's heels. He definitely knew I was there at that point. He picked up the pace after turning from the downhill and I decided to let him go. I knew I didn't have the energy to catch him and I didn't know if the runner behind me was closing or not. I finished Mile 3 in 8:15. The last 0.18 was run at a surprising 6:40 pace as I finished it in 1:12.

I actually finished a race in 3rd place, this was odd feeling number three. I was spent, but ecstatic. I beat my time from last year by nearly two minutes and finished 3rd overall! For finishing in the top three males, I received a 3rd place medal, a $15 gift certificate for Road ID, a bag that stows in your pocket but can carry 25 pounds of goods, and a plastic, collapsible water bottle.

I am glad I decided to register for this race. I had brought my camera to get pictures of the course, but since I decided to race it, the camera wasn't used. Since the blog post needed pictures, I took pictures of the awards.

Front of the medal

Back of the medal

The bag that was given as a prize

The plastic water bottle that was given as a prize.
Now it's time to rest up and try to decide what I want to do next. Likely I'll just be training for the Alternate Chili Run in December.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Equalizer Run RR

What: Equalizer Run
When: October 26, 2013
Where: Des Moines, IA
Distance: Whatever is covered within 24 hours
Goals: A) 50 miles
            B) 43 miles (distance covered last year)
            C) 26.2 miles (minimum for the hoodie)
Final Distance: 50.5 miles

The Weekend Before:
On October 19th, I ran my first 50K. My plan was to run it easy, but that quickly changed at the 21 mile point when I was told I was on pace for a sub-6 hour finish. I pushed a bit and ended up falling hard at mile 24. After the race, it was painful to straighten my right leg. I decided to take it easy and only ran once (on Thursday) the week leading up to the race. That run went well, but I could still feel a twinge in my knee.

The Day Before:
I started packing at around 10:00 in the morning so I could be on the road around noon. I packed a tent, blankets, camp stove, food and hydration supplies, selected the running clothes I planned to wear. The clothes included multiple shorts, pants, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, 3 pairs of shoes, multiple pairs of socks, and multiple jackets. I hit the road around 12:15ish.

I arrived in Des Moines and checked into the hotel around 3:30. I went to wally world and bought some other food items for the race. Suddenly, I got a feeling that I forgot something at home. I decided I better lay out the clothes I planned to wear at the start of the race. Shoes/socks - check. Shorts/pants - check. Shirts...where are those darn things. F@%@! I forgot the shirts. It turns out I put them beside the bag, not in it, ooops. Back to wally world I went and bought some shirts. It turns out I did have some long sleeve shirts from previous races in the car, but just like the new shirts, this would be the first time time they would be worn. Thankfully it was just shirts that I forgot, I already planned on using waterproof band-aids so I wasn't worried about chaffing.

There was a pre-race dinner and a sports bar located 37 seconds away from the hotel. I had a burger and beer and enjoyed conversing with friends, old and new. We left the bar at about 8:00 and I went back and finished laying items out for the race.

The Race:
Since the temp was in the upper 30s/low 40s, I started in shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I settled on starting the race in my Pearl Izumi Road EM N2s. My plan was to switch to my Mizuno Wave Riders after about 2 hours and then finish in the Brooks Ghost.

I met up with friends for breakfast at the hotel. We had planned to get to the race location by 7:00. We left on time, but unfortunately there was a major traffic delay and we arrived about 7:15. After unpacking everything from our vehicles, we set up the tent. Before long, it was time to line up for instructions. I thought I had time to mix up my hydration bottles, but I was wrong. Since this was a 24 hour event and only a 1.9 mile loop. I decided to go without the belt for the first loop.

At about 8:00, we were off. I fell in with a couple of runners, Tim and Britt. Just like with most of the other ultra runners I've met, conversation came easy. The loop seemed to end quickly, we ran it at about a 10:00/mile pace. After I crossed the line and made sure I was counted for a lap, I stopped at our "base camp" and mixed up my bottles and put on the hydration belt.

Tim, myself, and Britt during the first lap.
The next mile I ran too fast at a 9:18 pace. I settled down after that and averaged right around a 10:00 mile until mile 15. I stopped at the "base camp" every lap and nibbled on something or refilled a bottle as needed. After lap 6, I changed my shoes as planned and headed back out in the Mizunos.

After lap 9 (Mile 17), I started walking several sections of the course each lap to conserve energy. Then around Mile 21, I started getting pain in my left calf. It felt like a knot and was sore to touch, but it wasn't acting like a cramp. I decided to start walking from that point to start taking it easy on the calf. Somewhere around Mile 25 I was starting to get pain at the base of my shin, just above my right foot. It hurt to put too much pressure on it or flex the foot. I could still move forward, albeit slowly, so I trudged onward. At about 2:15pm (Mile 28ish) I took a break for a couple of hours to eat a sandwich and massage the calf.

At about 4:20, I changed into the pair of Brooks shoes and headed back out to start Mile 29. I decided I wanted to make it to at least the 50K point before I took another rest. I made it to about 32.75 and decided to go grab some grub with a couple of friends. Since I have never had Chipotle, that's where we went. I must say it was a pretty tasty burrito. Then again, I was hungry so it might not have been as good as it seemed.

After dinner, I decided to try and get some rest. I laid down in the tent to let my calf & shin get some needed recovery time. I couldn't sleep, so I read a book for a few hours and then closed my eyes. I woke up at around 12:30am and headed back out some more. The calf pain had really diminished, but the shin pain was still there. When I approached the rainbow bridge, I snapped a few pics since it does look really cool at night.

I did the math and figured at the pace I was walking, I could reach my goal of 50 miles, as long as I didn't take any more breaks.

I made it to Mile 40ish and suddenly got real foggy headed while crossing the bridge. It was as if I was buzzed or drunk, even though I haven't drank any alcohol. I decided that when I got back to the "base camp" I would stop and try to get some sleep. I made it back at about 3:00am and managed to sleep for a couple of hours.

When I woke up, I figured that my shot at the goal of 50 miles was long gone. I set a new goal of 45 miles and headed out for more laps. This time around, my calf felt fine, my shin was hurting less, but my right knee was starting to twinge. This was an issue that was left over from falling during the 50K the previous weekend. It wasn't changing my gait, so I decided to keep going. Since the calf and shin were better, I was able to pick up my walking pace and make some decent time, all things considered.

Somewhere around 5:30ish, I came up to the "Justice League," a group of people dressed up as super heroes. My first thought was, "oh great, I'm about to encounter a pack of crazies patrolling the park." Thankfully, they were the entourage of Tim, one of the runners I ran with during the first lap. We exchanged greetings and I headed on my way, my mind at ease knowing the Justice League was there to keep the park safe.

At about 6:00 I caught back up to another runner/friend, Brad, and walked the remainder of the lap with him and his family. It felt good to talk and take my mind off of the knee. It was all I could do to keep pace with him, but I managed. When we made it back to start another loop, we decided to start doing the out and back section that consisted of going down the path to an orange cone and turning around. Each out and back section was a quarter mile in length.

With just under 30 minutes to go I was told that I was at 47.46 miles. I tried to pick up the pace, but was still walking. I tried to see how a very slow run felt. It didn't hurt any more than a walk so I went with it. The orange cone was placed on a downhill section of the path. I had to walk this section due to my shin hurting too much while running it. So I walked down to the cone, back up the "hill" and ran the rest of the way. My pace slowly started to pick up and I started to feel good.  Eventually, I started to actually run. It felt really good to stretch the legs out and get some speed going. I knew I was close, so when I made it back to the finish line, I asked how many laps I had left to reach 50 miles. At that time, I was told two laps. I think I just about sprinted those two laps. I asked to make sure I was at 50. I was told I was at 49.46 miles. Crap, this meant I needed to run three more out and backs to reach 50 miles. I didn't even look at the clock, I just took off running as fast as I could at the time. I ended up finishing the out and backs and realized I had some time left so I ran, slowly to get one more finished. I ended up walking quite a bit to the cone and then slowly jogged back to the finish line.

Shortly after 8:00am, the awards were handed out. One of my friends, Dian, made some cool finisher medals for the event out of petri dishes and some advil.

The longest distance covered, actual miles, was 118 miles which made for a new event record. Talk about impressive.

Enjoying the awards with my fancy red/yellow hat.

It felt great to achieve a goal that I thought had slipped away from me. I couldn't have asked for a better finish. I had a lot of fun over the course of the event and met a lot of good people. During my walking sections, I was always asked how I was doing and getting words of encouragement from those passing me. The only thing that would have made this event better is if it was on a trail instead of an asphalt path.

Surprisingly, I never felt as bad after this event as I did after the 50K the previous weekend. I also felt better after the event this year than I did after finishing about 43 miles at it last year. To say that I am happy about both the result and how I felt after the event is a huge understatement. This gives me some hope heading into longer ultras on trails in 2014. I can't wait!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lake Perry Rocks 50K RR

What: Lake Perry Rocks 50K
When: October 19, 2013
Where: Lake Perry, Meriden, Kansas
Starting Temp: 32F
Finish Temp: 62F
Fueling Strategy: Tailwind nutrition as the mainstay, supplemented by real food at the aid stations
Goal: sub-7 hours
Finish Time: 6:07:19

 I had a good spring racing season, then came the heat of the summer. It was a struggle to get in any long runs. Then I ran Coleen's Sweaty Ass Run on August 10th, a 10 hour event in which you run a 5K  XC loop as many times as you want to within the 10 hours. I eked out 15 miles and decided I wanted to attempt to run the Hawk Marathon on September 14th. I would use the marathon as a training run to see if I could run the Lake Perry Rocks 50K.

After finishing the marathon and feeling good, I registered for the 50K the next morning and sketched out a training plan. I had scheduled back to back long runs on the weekends to get me use to longer runs without causing me too much recovery time. Unfortunately, the back to back long runs rarely happened as scheduled. The first week I ran both 11 mile runs as planned, but that was basically the end of following the schedule. I always got in the first long run, but never managed to run the 2nd long run. I had planned my longest run, a 22 miler, the day after a 4 mile race. Evidently, I underestimated how tired I would be after the 4 mile race as my 22 miler was ended at 11 miles. What that means is that my longest run between the marathon and 50K would be 16.5 miles. I realized my training was insufficient for actually racing the distance, but based upon the marathon, I figured I could still finish just under seven hours.

Race Week:
I had planned an easy 10-12 mile run around a park on the Saturday before the race. Then one of my friends asked if I wanted to go for a trail run, of course I opted for the trail run. I had a fun on the run, but we ended up doing a fairly hilly 14.5ish miles. The run was a blast and we took it easy, but I wondered how the legs would recover from the hills.

During the week leading up to the race, I ended up running three runs for a total of nine miles. On the first two runs, my legs felt tired, but on the third run, they felt pretty good. I took it easy on Friday and felt good going into the race.

Race Day:
I woke up at 2:30 so I could drink my coffee, let nature run its course, then drive the hour long trek to the start of the race. I made it to the race location at about 6:30ish and it was cold. I remained in my car for a bit until it was time to pick up the race packet. After picking up the packet, I mingled with the other runners until we had about 10 minutes before the start of the race.  At that point, I went outside to start getting use to the weather.

With about 5 minutes until start time, we started to line up.

Facing the starting line

Facing backward.
 At 8:00, we were off. I told myself to keep a slow and comfortable pace. Myself and one my friends, Casey started keeping pace. We decided to try and keep a 12:00/mile pace and see how it felt.

Sometime during Mile 1
 We fell in line with other runners and started to settle in and enjoy the run. Early in the first mile, I had a small rock make its way into my shoe. It wasn't causing any pain so I decided to wait until the aid station at Mile 6 to remove it.

The first mile was on pace, but we noticed we had really slowed during the second mile and decided it was time to make the move to pass the runners leading the conga line. Another runner, Jonathan, decided to follow us and we now were a pack of three.

Early in Mile 2, before making the pass.
 After passing, we picked up the pace a bit keeping it comfortable. By the Garmin, we kept knocking off miles at about 12:00 pace. It felt good and fairly effortless. I felt like I was in the zone. The time just flew by and before I knew it, we had reached the manned aid station at Mile 6.

Early in Mile 3

Photo taken during Mile 3 with the camera held behind my head.

Early in Mile 4.

Halfway through Mile 4

Near the end of Mile 4

Early in Mile 5

Early in Mile 5

Late in Mile 5

Early in Mile 6

Early in Mile 6

Manned aid station at Mile 6.
We reached the Mile 6 aid station in one hour. I took the time to remove my left shoe and empty out the rock. Put the shoe back on and refilled one of my water bottles with Tailwind. So the Garmin wasn't matching up, imagine that. After realizing we were averaging 10:00 miles I decided to slow the pace a bit, but not much. I figured as long as I was running well and could still readily hold a conversation, the pace was good.

By Mile 8, Casey decided to slow down to a pace he knew that he would be able to sustain throughout the race. Jonathan and I kept on truckin and maintained a relatively steady pace. The miles seemed to just fly by and before I knew it, we had reached the Mile 13 aid station.

Early in Mile 7. This section added about a pound of mud to each shoe.

Near the end of Mile 7

During Mile 11

During Mile 12

During Mile 12

During Mile 12

During Mile 13
Since we would hit the aid station again after running a two mile loop, we just ran passed and planned to hit it on the way back.

Shortly after leaving the aid station, I stopped again to check my shoe for rocks. Since removing the rock at Mile 6, it had felt like I still had a rock in it. No rock was found. I retied the shoe and started running again, but I didn't tie the shoe tight enough. Since it still felt like there was a rock in the shoe, I decided to completely remove the shoe, sock, and insole to make sure nothing was there. I also scraped off the mud to make sure that nothing was poking through the sole of the shoe. After nothing was found, I decided that my foot must have been bruised and I would just have to push it out of my mind. I was starting to slow during this section and made it a point to walk most of the hills during the 2nd loop.

During Mile 14
When I reached the aid station for the 2nd time, I refilled both my bottle with Tailwind and grabbed two more pouches that contained pre-measured amounts of Tailwind for when the bottles need to be refilled again. I decided it was time to eat something and grabbed a few pringles, a couple of small cookies, and a small pastry.

Leaving the aid station after Mile 15

 I thanked the volunteers and headed back onto the trails.

During Mile 16

During Mile 16
 I was having a little pain near the right hip, but it was sporadic so I pushed onward. I would walk any hill and run the flats and downhill sections. The pace obviously slowed, but not too terrible. My goal at this point was still coming in just under seven hours so I wasn't worried about time, I was just wanting to manage the race so I could finish. The miles were getting more tiring, but the time still seemed to fly by and I managed to make it to the aid station at Mile 21 a little before noon feeling tired, hurting a little, but not too bad. I was still in good spirits and having a blast.

During Mile 18

During Mile 20. Some evil person put the chair out to coax runner to sit down. I avoided the temptation.

Aid station at Mile 21.
At the aid station, I drank some coke and ginger ale, refilled a water bottle with Tailwind, and grabbed a few pringles. After thanking the volunteers, I set back out on the trails.

Things were going well for a while, but during mile 24ish, I rammed my right foot into a rock and hit the ground hard. My right knee hit first, then my forearms took the brunt of the force. It felt like I rolled and leapt back to my feet fairly quickly. According to Jonathan, the fall was graceful. I dusted myself off, checked the mud-caked areas for cuts/blood, and continued down the trail.

After a while my right forearm started to hurt, like it had been bruised during the fall. Other than the bruised arm I was starting to feel really food again. I commented that the fall must have fixed something because I had a second wind. The running sections were growing longer and the walking sections shorter. Don't get me wrong, I was still tired, my hip was still hurting sporadically, but I was having a blast and moving forward.

During Mile 22

During Mile 25. Due to an unstable section of trail, we were routed up the side of the hill and back on to the trail when safe.

Flags guiding the way off the trail
At about Mile 27, my left knee started to complain. I started to believe I had a chance at sub-6:00 as long as my knee would hold out. I trudged along and started to slow. I figured if I made it to the main aid station at 5.5 hours, I would have a shot. I made it to the aid station fifteen minutes later than needed and stopped to drink some coke and ginger ale. Another runner came into the station shortly after I did. I made it a goal to stay ahead of him and headed out to finish the 2 mile loop. I was hoping to finish before the race clock showed 6:10, but at my current pace, plus the big hill leading up to the finish line, I knew it would be close. I trudged on running as long as my knee allowed it. I walked the hills, but was still able to run short distances of the flats and run all of the downhill sections. I finished the two mile loop quicker than I expected and made it to the bottom of the hill with five minutes to go. I thanked the volunteers and started to powerwalk up the hill. I started to run just before cresting the hill. People started to cheer and I tried to run it in. I crossed the finish line and felt awesome. I had finally achieved a goal that I had been trying to reach for several years now. To say I was happy would be a major understatement. I far surpassed my expectations and had a blast doing so. I definitely call the race a success!

The volunteers throughout the race played a huge part of getting me to finish the race. Every time I left an aid station, I had renewed determination and a little energy boost. To all the volunteers, THANK YOU!

And now for some photos taken by Kristi and Rick Mayo: