Thursday, February 27, 2014

40 miles 4 40 years

The most memorable way to hit any milestone.

Just over a year ago now I was running a 9 miler on my birthday and was asked if I was finishing up a 39 miler.  I said no but what a great idea, the seed was planted.   Later listening to a podcast interview with Catra Corbett, the “Dirt Diva”, she talked about doing the same thing.  Deal breaker, if other people did it it’s not crazy, I was in. 
Plans were made.  A 40 mile route was mapped out with stops at some of my favorite local watering holes.  Running mates were informed of the plan and I was obligated.  As Feb. 7th approached I did turn by turn directions and a schedule.  Invited friends to join in for parts.  Hoping for somewhat normal weather during the coldest and snowiest winter ever, I got 0 degrees with wind chills around -15 at the start.

4 brave souls started with me at 11:15 am running the first 9 miles of country roads to Waterville and our first stop at Shawn’s for lunch (highlighted by Rueben Balls), hydration, and a birthday celebration with my family (no school huge surprise).  I left Shawn’s with 3 others, we weaved through Waterville for 7 miles to Granite City.  Now out of the wind, running temps were much warmer.  Along the way my sister-in-law meet us with a beer and Dixie cups and ran a short way with us.  At Granite City we “rehydrated” and exchanged some runners.
     Off to Dale’s and the shortest leg of the epic run only 4 miles.  At Dale’s we were treated as rock starts, walking in to cheers, high fives, and shots on the table (Tequila, Vodka & Red Bull). 
  Again we rehydrated and did a quick jacket change and we were off to do what I thought was the hardest section, 9 miles around Perrysburg to Bar Louie.  The sun was setting, the temps were dropping, the wind was picking up, and the plow was coming.  Finally at Bar Louie to hydrate and devour someone’s tatter tots.  Great to see so many friends and family supporting me.

After a longer than planned break we left to finish circling Perrysburg for 6 miles to BWW’s.  Again a large group was there to meet and support us, but we only stopped briefly.  We were behind schedule and tired.  So 7 strong we took off to finish the last 5 miles up at Swig’s.  We got to Swig’s with 40.02 on the Garmin, 7hrs 7 minutes of running, and almost 11 hours after beginning we had reached our goal and went in to Swig’s where we had taken over.  Celebrated with some craft beer, chicken dog, sweat potato fries, and a chocolate bacon sundae. 
I’d like to thank everyone who meet me for a drink, the establishments we stopped in and caused a ruckus(they let us dry clothes, charge watches and phones, and ect.), and those who acted as sag wagons or chauffeurs.  But most of all JP (20 miles), Dianna (14), Brian (16), Tim (14), Kelly, Mike (5), Steve (7), Kevin (7), Martha (5), and Evan (5) for running parts of the course with me and of course the crazy of the crazies Tom and Mark for doing all 40 miles. 

Sound fun, want to do your own epic milestone adventure?  Of course you do, a few tips.

1.        Post your plans (if people know, your committed)

2.        Find crazy friends who are up for anything

3.       Order better weather

4.       Eat 300 calories an hour. (Need more fuel than just beer, even craft beer)

5.       Take your time (make it fun)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bobcat Trail Marathon

This is the first time I’ve attempted the Bobcat Trail Marathon in Burr Oak State Park near Glouster, Ohio.  I really had no idea what to expect, I have never run any trails in the area, I am still struggling with an injured ankle, and I have not trained consistently since August.  Still I was confident I could complete the challenge, it’s only 26.2 miles.    
This race was a little different for me due to my family making the trip, typically for a race this close I would go solo or take just my middle daughter and best crew worker with me, but this time not only did my youngest and wife come but we stayed with a running friend and his family. 
It was a nice morning about 40 degrees, ended up perfect weather for what I wore.  It was supposed to get into the 50’s but I doubt it ever did.  It had rained most of the day before so the course, which had very few road sections, was wet but only really muddy in a few places.  The leaves were down and still wet making it both slick and hard to see obstacles on course.   I think I slipped and tripped more at this race than all the trail runs I’ve done in my 4 years of trail running.  I thought most of the course was runnable the hardest sections being:
 1. The 1st 4 miles, which you don’t notice because you’re fresh and full of adrenalin
2. Miles 14 and 15 seem to be lots of climbing.
3. Miles 22 thru 25 always going up or down.   

This is a great course around a lake; the lake is almost always in view on your right side.  In fact just about the half-way point they tease you by taking right by the lodge where the start finish is, if only that 100 yards or so of water wasn’t there.  The course is hilly or maybe that is just my perspective being a flatlander, but from my experience this course was much harder than the Tecumseh Trail Marathon but comparable to Mohican, I had it at 7600ft of gain and loss. 
The mile 18 aid station (when did water stops become aid stations?) was manned by the Buckeye Trail Volunteers.  I have heard of the buckeye trail but didn’t really know what it was until packet pick up where the Buckeye Trail Volunteers had some information and were more than happy to talk with us.  They did not know of one and I’ve since checked no one has posted a fastest known time for the 1444 mile trail.  Maybe I could take a month or so and do a FKT, new bucket list item. 
As for my race, I went out thinking 4:30 as primary goal, but thought 5 hours was more likely.  The first half I ran well and was near pace at the half way point (about 2:16), but my knee was really starting to hurt and because of my cold I was kind of wheezing a little bit.  I tried to push thru but by 15 miles I was hurting too bad and needed a break, my pace slowed to 15 and 16 minute miles and I started to wonder if I was going to beat 6 hours.  At the mile 18 aid station I stopped asked for some ice and rubbed my knee for a while before continuing.  Something worked, I starting picking it up again about mile 20.  After the last aid station at mile 21 I sat in with a group of five and ran with them for a while, 5 became 4, then 2, and then I went off alone not seeing any of them again until the finish.  I was feeling pretty good considering and was running much better catching a few people and passing them easily.  When I finally made it to the road I knew it was downhill to the finish, the friend I was with was there (he finished 35 minutes earlier) than I was greeted by my youngest who for the first time ran me down the hill (picture above) and then by my middle daughter, who crews and comes to most of my races ran me across the finish line (1st pix).  I crossed in 5:22:50 (52 out of 114). 
This is what I have come to call my Mohican strategy.  I run a good first half, the next ¼ I suffer and bleed time, only to make a miraculous recovery and finish strong the last ¼. 
We all when back to the cottage and finished the day with some pumpkin pancakes than a mad dash home so we could salvage Halloween for the girls (Which should have been on Thursday but was canceled for bad weather which never really came). 
Great fun race, I may be back, I know I left something on the course and could do much better, plus I really had a good time. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A long run in the city of Chicago!

I had not planned on doing Chicago, but I jumped into the free lottery when they had registration problems, and to my surprise I was in.  I paid my $175 registration fee and thought well that will take care of Illinois.  I never thought much more about doing Chicago until about 20 weeks out when I set up my training program, I wanted to PR this race and I wanted to BQ.  Fall events are sometimes tricky for me to train for because I have to work it around coaching Cross Country and they rarely run far are hard enough at the K – 8th grade level for me to use it as training, but this year became much more difficult.  I play on a summer tennis league, usually finishes up the last week of July, this year we were pretty good and kept moving on all the way to the National Championship Tournament in Tucson Arizona the 1st week in October, making me miss 3 weekends of long runs do to playing and traveling.  Also, I suffered my first real injury of my short running career when I tore my hamstring during a 5K, I do this 5K every year because it is the 1st race I ever did back in 2008.  I ran on it the best I could but was unable to run more than an hour or fast for 6 weeks.  My best run was a 17 miler at an 8:00 pace, so I went to Chicago with little expectations, the distance is easy the pace is what makes it hard.

I have never done an event anywhere close to the size of Chicago.  The expo is amazing.  So many realtors, very well organized.  Packet pick up is a breeze.  I walked the rows of booths sampling stuff like Clif Bar and MamaChia, trying on and running in a pair of Hokas, and meeting Scott Jurek and Bart Yasso.   

Race day even without the proper training I was going all out for as long as I could hold on, but I knew ultimately it was just going to be a nice long run through an awesome city.  Prerace was very well organized with loads of volunteers, signs, and gates pointing you in the correct direction.  Security check was a breeze and bag drop was easy, and finding your way to the correct starting corral was no problem.  The corral was packed tight.  The start is so congested you are bumping people and people are tripping on curbs, road dividers, and other runners.  I am not used to big events; in trail races you get out front at the start to avoid the conga line, not possible at Chicago.  The amount of support from spectators and volunteers   is humbling they line the streets from the start to the finish which is very helpful and encouraging; I have never received so many high fives.  I started to fade 15 miles in and by mile 18 I knew it was going to be a slow finish and around mile 22 started to walk through the water stations.  I finished in 3:37:22, not bad considering the lack of training. At the finish volunteers watched all the runners and had EMS and bags of ice at the ready.  Finish line party was crazy crowded and I was on a tight schedule so I did not stick around, my one complaint it took an hour to get from the finish line, through bag pickup and to the runners reunite area; most of that time was taken up waiting in long lines at the bag pickup, because people were corralled, numbered and assigned a drop bag area by time you had 1000 people picking up bags at once. 

All and all the experience was memorable and positive the crowds and volunteers are like none I have seen, but I see no reason to add this race to my must do again list.  It is expensive, crowded, the lack swag was surprising, and now I have Illinois.  Illinois gives me 10 out of 50 states, and Chicago marks the 23rd official marathon or greater event I have done since I started in Oct. 2009. 

Next up Bobcat Trail Marathon.