12 February 2012

Rocky Raccoon 100 Race Report 2012

Rocky Raccoon 100 race report

I flew into Dallas Friday morning and was picked up at the airport by Suanne Lundsberg.  I had met and run with Suann on two other occasions and we'd become buddies. Suann was running her first 50 miler and so she offered to pick me up in Dallas and carpool down together. We drove down checked in and picked up our race packets at the friday night pre-race check in. I got to meet a lot of people in person whom I'd only known online, that was awesome! Joe Prusaitis and team gave an excellent pre race briefing. After that we went to Chilis for dinner. It looked like everyone racing had the same idea.  There aren't a lot of dining options in Huntsville, TX.  I ate dinner with Suann, Chris, and Lesley who were great company.

As we were getting ready for bed. we checked the forecast and saw we were due for a nasty storm. I had brought a lot of shoes in anticipation of this.  If you see my name on the registrants list of a race you might want to reconsider entering as there will be some severely unpleasant condition that will make your race much more difficult: blazing heat, stifling humidity, knee deep mud, waste deep ice cold water, torrential downpours.  This race was no different. My Race equipment was: 2xu compression shorts, brooks equilibrium tops, injinji socks, UD handheld, assorted hats, buffs and Altra shoes - Lone peak and Instinct.

I slept very soundly and woke at 0345 to a torrential downpour and 65F. I showered, got dressed, attached my bib and chip,  lubed very heavily( as I usually do if its raining hard). Suann and I connected with Leslie and we went down to the lobby for coffee.  We met Jeremy in the lobby ate and then we all drove to the park. I had 2 bagels, a banana, and a handful of animal crackers. There was plenty of parking at the start line. I tried my luck at the bathroom and struck out. No problem, I had two individually wrapped wet ones for later.  I had deliberated for a while about starting in a raincoat but decided against it. I have yet to find a running raincoat that doesn't make me sweat so profusely it defeats its purpose.  Maybe someone should invent a running umbrella..

I spent some time in the tent chatting with people I had met at previous races and making some new friends as well.  The rain made the footing very slippery, combined with the roots this made for very tricky footing. We started in a downpour and I had chosen to skip starting with a headlamp. This was a really bad idea. I wiped out 2x in the first 5K. I won't be doing that again!

I ran for quite a while with David Clark who is a great guy with an amazing story of recovery from obesity and addiction. His website is http://supermanproject.org/ We spent a good deal of the first 40 miles running together and leapfrogging each other. Another person I ran with and leapfrogged for quite a while was Chris Whelchel. He was one of the other 2 runners I met out there wearing Altra Lone Peaks.  I crossed paths several times with Suann, Lesley, Jeremy and many others.

At  some point I stopped at damnation to check my feet. I knew for certain I had a few minor blisters on my toes from all the sand and mud making its way into my shoes. but I also felt like something was going on with my right forefoot. I pulled off my shoe and then my sock and as soon as I did  a large flake about 3"x5" fell right off the bottom of my foot. I was thoroughly freaked out as was a volunteer who was standing nearby and asked, "what the hell was that"? I took a few deep breaths and then checked my foot.
It was such a relief to find that my foot was intact and the flake was just a big chunk of mud/sand mix. I cleaned off my feet and lubed them up with vaseline and then into fresh socks.

At around mile 45 I hit a real low and struggled for quite awhile. I was really suprised because I had thought I was running conservatively. I was watching my  exertion level carefully and I was fueling really well.  Around that time(I think) I connected with David Murphy and ran with him for the rest of the race - I think from about 50 miles on. David is an awesome guy, funny as hell, and a blast to run with. I learned a lot from David: what a skunk run is, and that when anyone stops to go to the bathroom everyone else is supposed to take off at tempo pace.  We picked up his pacer Charlie Hogue at mile 60. Charlie helped us keep running and definitely made a difference in our finish time. I switched into my Altra Instincts at this point and also noticed that somewhere on the trail I had lost my garmin.

Sometime during the last loop I finally had to go to the bathroom. Sadly I had given out my 2 wipes to strangers in need. I ended up sacrificing my buff. Hopefully someone finds it after the downpour washed it clean and ready to use :).

The last 10 miles of the run I was feeling really great. I think the boost of having David and Charlie to joke around with made the difference. I finished in 20:43 and right after David awarded me an Idiots running club shirt and bestowed upon me honey badger status.  I'm not sure if I'm happier about the buckle or the shirt.  After the race when I took off my shoes my left foot immediately became very swollen. It was simply the result of tying my laces too tight and bruising my foot a little.

The aid stations and volunteers for this race were awesome and the participants all seemed to be having a great time in spite of the adverse conditions. I can't wait to come back and run this one again!

27 January 2012

Beast Of Burden 100 - Winter 2012

This race takes place on the Erie canal towpath as an out and back(4 loops) from Lockport, Ny to Middleport, NY. It is flat, crushed limestone and there were a couple of inches of snow on the ground when we started. It passes through rural farmland mostly and is very beautiful. I made this trip with my friend Mark "Doc" Ott who is an elite/near elite ultramarathoner and all around awesome guy. We passed through Canada on the way and when we told them we were ultramarathoners at the border both guards actually knew what we were talking about. One of them  grew up with the RD, lived a block from him and was a close friend. We met his wife later that night at the pre-race dinner.  The pre-race dinner took forever to prepare. Note to self, Calamari marinara on angel hair pasta is not a good pre-race meal for you. The meal tasted awesome and the company was excellent. I made some new friends at dinner and shared race experiences. I got to sit next to the legendary Valmir Nunes who holds the course record for badwater, wow! Unfortunately conversation was impossible because he doesn't speak english and I don't speak portuguese.  We stopped on the way back and I bought a gallon of water, sun chips, and pretzels. I only managed to drink about half the water before bedtime. After days of tapering and non-stop munching I felt thoroughly carb bloated and water logged, perfect. I got an awesome nights sleep. I tried to get some gi movement in the morning but no luck.  Packet pickup was the morning of the race and we got an awesome goodie bag. Not shown below is the supercool beanie that matches the gloves.  The pack totally kicks ass and the blinking reflector had 3 modes, was super bright, and came with batteries included, ready to use for the race. The flashlight also kicked ass solid steel, 9 bright LEDs and also with batteries included. The beanie was large and deep. I know this because I have a ridiculously fat head and it fit comfortably. The chapstick and eye drops were a stroke of genius for a winter run. and the hot hands were a great idea for putting inside your gloves.

The starting temperature was about 27F and rose to 30 and then dropped to 15F during the course of the race. Mark and I went out and took the lead for about a mile. Then the lead pack formed up and I stayed with them for about 6 miles til I had to make a porta-john visit. It was beautiful and sunny out and I decided I was going to let the lead pack go and run easy for awhile because my stomach was misbehaving. I ended up making 6 total stops at toilets or porta-johns and one in the woods( individually wrapped wet ones rock).  I was starting to get worried that dysentery would take me out of this race but it finally stopped, I timed it(ya I'm a psycho) and I lost about 40 minutes to shitting, bummer.  I started working my way back up from 10th to 4th and would hold that position for quite a while. Because of the out and back nature of this course I got to repeatedly see everyone racing which was a lot of fun. It's cool to be able to wave and say hi and encourage each other. Watching Valmir run was a special treat. The guy is an absolute machine. awesome form, running economy and consistency. He would smile, wave and say Hallo as he passed. Seeing Mark was always a boost too. In fact most of the runners were very cheerful and encouraging for each other, gotta love ultra runners! The volunteers at the aid stations were  awesome: quick to fill my water bottles and get me food. You definitely don't need a crew with volunteers this good!  Aid station fare was excellent: PB&J, Coke, Mountain Dew, Grilled cheese sandwiches, Pizza, M&M's pringles, nuts, bananas, snickers, Gels were plentiful and they had caffeinated versions available.

I ate like a fiend at this race.  I try my best to keep track of what I eat for future reference: 8 PB&J,  6 grilled cheese, 10 slices of pizza, approximately a full sleeve of pringles, several handfuls of M&M's and nuts. 6 cups of chicken broth, 27 gels,   220 oz of cytomax, 88oz of heed.

I brought a lot of clothing but ended up moving fast enough to stay warm with a single long sleeve smart wool shirt, salomon XT softshell jacket, brooks wind briefs, and salomon mens' XA Windstopper tights, a single pair of injinji socks,  my altra instincts(love these shoes), and assorted beanies and buffs

I had brought 2 ipods: a nano and a shuffle which should have afforded me enough play time to cover the race but when the shuffle went dead I couldn't find the nano due to a foggy brain. I've gotten to where I really like music for a 100 miler. I listen to music all day while I work and that's just too long to go without. Also it helps me run faster when I'm really tired. I never really matched up pace with anyone for any appreciable length of time until the very end.  At one of the aid stations I was chatting with some volunteers who let me know I was in 4th place. they asked me a lot of questions about running and if I had changed clothes or socks and I said no. I don't like to. One of the girls working the aid station chimed in,"No these elite runners don't change clothes or stop much, they're just machines". I enjoyed that heart warming thought for about 10 seconds and then had to let her know that NO I wasn't an elite ultrarunner. Yes I was in 4th but Valmir was leading and 4 hours ahead of me!

With about 7 miles left to go Will Jorgensen caught up to me and passed. I congratulated him and then he slowed down to chat for a bit. Once he realized I was wearing down and might not make my sub 20 goal he decided to stay with me and coax me along to the finish line. Then he tried to convince me to sprint ahead and take 4th. I was shocked at his generosity but refused. I said, "no lets just cross together or you go ahead". We crossed together and there was some confusion about it but Will left to get dressed and I told the RD that yes we crossed at the same time but I wanted Will to be marked as 4th place. People like Will make the ultrarunning community family.

Here's a shot of Will and I. No one was out at the finish line when we came through so they came back out and took the pic hence the time.

I finished in 19:51 something..

Here's the buckle. definitely a favorite! 

Post race I had very little DOMS, and ran 6 miles the next day. I'm happy and grateful because I'm running Rocky Raccoon 100 only 2 weeks from the end of this race. I'm counting this as my last long run before Rocky and recovering and tapering in the same 2 weeks. they both suck so why not lump them together, right?