Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Lately, I've been busy with work, family stuff, and holiday preparations. With all of that, I've also found time to train, put on a running event, do future trail events planning, and do a lot of web site modifications to our trailrunning site.
It's almost a "done-deal" that our 2007 trail series will be sponsored by Vasque shoes. We have a lot of nice trail races in the region, and they want to get their name out there. We already have a relationship with a local Vasque vendor who has helped sponsor our 50K for two years, so it's a good fit. I also prefer to run in the Vasque "Blur" trail shoe, since they made their appearance a year ago, when Montrail cancelled my favorite shoe model, the Leona Divide. I actually like the Blur model better, but I think I wear them out about 50 miles sooner than the Montrails. I get about 350-400 miles out of a pair, (and then my 24-y.o. son wears them for about 100 miles).
Two Sundays ago, we had quite a few runners show up to run on the trails out at WyCo Park for our 4th annual "Alternate Chili Run." It's not a race but a run with 3 pace groups. It's held at the same time as the annual Chili 6.5-mile Run that another club puts on every year on the paved roads around the lake at WyCo. We choose to run on the trails and put in 10.35 miles, instead.
Everybody got a taste of what the 'Psycho WyCo Run Toto Run' course will be like...quite a few hills and some nice scenery. Our run had 41 starters, (which was about as many as the regular paved run). That's pretty cool, because we only had 8 starters one year ago! The trails were icy that day, so we ran with "screwed" shoes. Everybody had a good time, and most of the finishers stuck around for homemade chili, after the run. Dick Ross took some fun photos of the run.
Running across the bottom of the dam.
Rick & Gabe
Good Ben, leading his group.
Keep in mind that we train on this course on most Sundays during the Winter. We usually run two (and sometimes three loops), and alternate directions on each loop. On some days, some of us run one loop, depending upon how we're feeling. We tend to have a lot of fun at this park.
This past weekend, we had a fun little group run on Saturday at Kill Creek Park. A couple of newbie trailrunners had a blast on their first-ever trail run. I got to try out a new pair of shoes made by Keen. Kill Creek is a good "test-bed" park for new shoes, because it has 2 water crossings, slick rocks, mud, loose gravel, and just about everything in just one 6.7-mile loop. By the way, the shoes were okay in the mud and dirt, but were slick on the wet rocks. They are very warm, also. I will put screws in them and use them to replace my old ice/snow runners that are 7 winters old. They will probably last just as long. (I only run in my screwed shoes about 10 times per winter).
This last Sunday morning, we had a "lucky 13" runners show up to run at Wyandotte County Lake Park. Eight runners stuck around to do a 2nd loop, and during the run, we ran into Shane Jones and his dog, to make an even 14-1/2 runners. Rick Mayo and Gabe Bevan decided to do a 3rd loop.
About 5 miles into my (20.7-mile) run on Sunday, I was running at hyper-speed down a steep set of switchbacks that we call the "Sonic the Hedgehog" section. I turned my right ankle as I was trying to hit a fast right-turning switchback. I ended up being catapulted into a very stout tree, because of it. I biffed my left knee and felt like I had broken my right forearm. I found myself upside-down on the other side of the tree. I was actually okay, and "walked it off" for about 10 yards before I started running fast again. The pain in my ankle eventually went away, and was replaced with a "warming feeling." The knee, arm, and ankle are okay, just bruised and swollen. It didn't stop me from running a fast 8-miles last night, (but I did take Monday off from running, though).
I'm trying to keep my weekly mileage at about 50 miles, for now. I don't want to be overtrained or unhealthy for my upcoming 100-miler at the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February. It will be the 5th year in a row that I've run that race, and I'd like to earn my 500-mile finisher's jacket. Last year, I had a course PR of 22:04:42.
Staying healthy is the big challenge, this time of year. It seems that everybody and their brother is sick with something. On Sunday, I felt like I should have done three 10-mile loops at WyCo, but I was feeling like I was on the verge of getting some illness. So I stopped at two loops, went home, took a hot bath, and took my vitamins and ate well. I think I "dodged the bullet" and will stay healthy. On the other hand, if I overtrain and don't listen to my body, I will end up getting really sick right before the race. I find that it is better to be slightly undertrained prior to a 100-miler, than being overtrained.
Happy trails & happy holidays,
Friday, December 08, 2006
Is Marathoning Too Much of a Good Thing for Your Heart? By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
The gist of the article is that six persons died while running marathons in the USA, last year.
Note: The person that posted the article is a bicycle rider/advocate, and doesn't choose to run (anymore).
Somebody else responded that at least 25 persons (in Kansas City alone), had a heart attack before rolling out of bed this morning. So six heart attacks during the hundreds of marathons last year was an insignificant statistic.
This was my response to the person's post:
I hear the same schlock about ultrarunning from time to time. "If you do blood-work on an ultrarunner that has just finished a 100-mile run, they will have the same chemical analysis of a person that has just had a massive coronary."
But do 100-mile participants drop dead after every race??? Heck no, it's extremely rare; (even though the average age of a participant of a 100-mile event is almost 10 years older than the average marathon participant). This just shows how little "Medical Science" knows about the human condition during endurance events.
What does information like this convey? Fear. Fear to get their lazy butts off of the couch and do something...anything.
"See, that's why I'll never do a marathon; I'd have a huge chance of dropping dead." "Remember that Jim Fixx guy? I don't want to die young, like him." "Pass the sausage gravy, please."
You have a much higher chance of dying (while running) by being hit by a car, if you run on city streets. If you're riding a bicycle, that chance quadruples. This time of year especially, BE VISIBLE AND BE SAFE.
Or, run on trails, (like I do).
Thursday, December 07, 2006
You gotta love Chuck Norris. Yes, he's been in more than a few cheesy and downright schlocky movies and/or series, but he's done whatever he's wanted to do, and stayed in good shape his whole life doing it. He's a self-made man, and is definitely an American Icon.
(I classify the term "American Icon" by any real-life person that's had an action figure made in their image). :-)
Chuck can even laugh at himself. A whole website is devoted to supposed "Chuck Norris facts," that are somewhat humorous. Whenever I want a laugh, I click on this site.
Here are a few of the site's offerings:
The chief export of Chuck Norris is Pain.
When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.
Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.
Chuck Norris gave Mona Lisa that smile.
Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost.
Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.
Now that you are a full, card-carrying member of Geezerworld, what can we expect from you next, Chuck?
What have you done for me lately?
Better yet, what have you done for America lately???
Friday, December 01, 2006
For the group run last night, we went to SM Park. The park was closed, so we parked at the entrance and ran into the woods from there. The windchill was minus 6 degrees, but in the woods the temperature was tolerable. I felt underdressed at the start, but after I got going, I warmed up a bit. My Patagonia Dragonfly Houdini is the perfect windbreak/outer layer.
At just 3.5 ounces, this baby rocks!
Eight Trail Nerds and one dog showed up. It was a blast running with our "screwed shoes." We cruised down trails and did a lot of bushwhacking, too. You never know what's under the powdered snow, so every now and then it was a stumble-fest. Woo-hoo!
We ended up playing hunter/tracker with the dog, because he took off for a while on his own. We split up and headed back to a rendezvous point, and he finally heard our calls and he sheepishly came back by finding two Trail Nerds to run back with. (He was put back onto his leash from that point on).
I ran for 70 minutes, but some of the others went back out for round-two. What a fun time!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Let me explain...Saturday's weather was just gorgeous. I ran with 3 newbie trailrunners for 6.7 miles at Kill Creek Park early Saturday morning on one of our normally scheduled training runs. On the way home, I decided to stop by SM Park, and check out the trails on the south side of the park. Well, I ended up putting in another 14.4 miles. So I already had over 21 miles "in the bank" for the weekend when I showed up Sunday morning to run the 50K.
"Dude" is no ordinary 50K. It is advertised as a run, not a race. It's also advised that runners should take a map, the 4 pages of instructions, and a cell phone. If you were smart, you went together in a group. My group consisted of Patrick Perry and Jacqueline Jackson, and for a short time, Mike (from Colorado). I couldn't of had any more upbeat, fun, (and fit) running companions.
About 30% of the course involves following flags and bushwhacking through the woods without the pleasure of running on actual trails. This was the real fun part. The wild roses, brambles, and other assundry weeds, woods, and cat-of-nine-tails had their way with our legs & arms. Let's just say that I am now thoroughly exfoliated. We ended up taking a wrong turn during one of our bushwhacking episodes, and put an additional 4 miles onto our total. We just considered it as part of the fun.
Most bare flesh looked like this after the run. Photo by Dick Ross.
Oh yeah, the 21 miles that I ran the day before came into play during the run...(dumbass me). My legs basically felt dead from mile fifteen on. I suffered through it, and my running companions were sympathetic, and didn't pretend to notice too much. So I had a solid fifty-four miles and change for the weekend's total. It was some decent training, but nutty nonetheless.
What a fun day. Dirty Deeds Run Dirt Cheap!
Trail Nerds Rick and Gabe prior to starting. Photo by Dick Ross.
Monday, November 20, 2006
I went to Texas for my annual (job-related) training down at Texas A & M. I was there all of last week. We packed two weeks worth of training into 4 days, basically.
The weekend before I went to Texas, the Trail Nerds had a fun little trail run on Veteran's Day. Details Here. I was the race director, but I got to run in the event, too. We had a flag ceremony and played the Star Spangled Banner prior to the start of the race.
I ran every day when I was down in Texas, but only for 30-minutes each morning. When you run at 4:30 a.m., you tend to see some interesting characters. On Tuesday morning I saw one guy running with a parka and shorts, wearing knee-high white socks, carrying a 6-foot long wooden pole...I didn't ask.
This past weekend, I ran 9 miles on trails at SM Park on Saturday. Kyle and a newbie showed up. On Sunday, I ran with a gaggle of the Trail Nerds at (hilly) WyCo Park. Kyle and I opted for two loops, for a total of 20 tough miles. I didn't take-in enough calories prior to the run and I bonked BIG TIME! I was light-headed and spacey for the last 5 miles of the run. It took me a couple of hours to recover. I have to start eating better before my long runs!
Because of work issues and travel, I've neglected my weightlifting for 2 weeks, but I was back at it on Monday morning. I plan to "stay with the program" for the foreseeable future.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Here are some photos from our Vet's day race:
The start of the Vet's Day trail race on a cold Saturday morning. This photo by Dick Ross at www.seekcrun.com
The footing sucked, somewhat. It was a fun time, though.
What madman would design a course like this?
Guilty, as charged.
At times, the trail was hard to find and hilly as hell.
Running across an open area.
Stacy is finished!!! We even had chip timing, courtesy of Raul Flores.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
This is my grandson on Halloween.
Notice how the pizza slice brings out the color in his face?
This is our dog patiently waiting for Trick or Treaters.
He enjoys Halloween almost as much as my grandson.
This is our dog on part of the trail race course that he designed.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Some recent history...I've done at least a marathon distance to 50-mile distance for the last four straight weekends. My weekly mileage has never been more than 65 miles, though. This last Sunday, my body finally said "uncle." I struggled significantly for the last 5 miles of a 24-1/2 mile training run. I felt totally spent for about 6 hours on Sunday afternoon, and I had a lot of sh*t to do, (that wasn't getting done)!
So I think a rest & recharge is in order!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
My involvement on the committee consists of attending a lot of planning meetings, and making sure that I get trailrunners to attend the "public input" meetings. So far, so good. The only downside: I'm running less because of it, although I did get to run after the public meeting last night with Caleb. Caleb, by the way, uses cycling and running as his only means of transportation, so he's a great representative for us. Fellow trailrunners Good Ben, Kyle, and Shane are MTB and road cyclists also, so they can mingle very well with the cycling representatives.
Our trailrunning group is also involved with building and maintaining sustainable trails in two other counties in the area. We not only build & maintain trails and haul-out trash from the parks, but our April 28th race will give a significant amount of the net profits directly back to the same trail system that we will be running on.
We are having a positive impact! And all of this came about from a few guys & gals running together on the trails, and talking about how we could get more trail-friendly stuff happening in the area. Of course, Ed Eveld's article 1-1/2 years ago gave us some notoriety and got a lot more people interested in trailrunning. That article helped kick us in the butts to get things rolling.
Seven Trail Nerds doing trail maintenance on a hot Saturday in June for 8 hours.
Running on the North Shore Trails of Clinton Lake in September
Group training run at Kill Creek Park in Late October 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
After our 4-hour trail maintenance session, we headed to SM Park to go to a meeting about the future of that park and the trails in the park. We had a decent showing of trailrunners at the meeting to let them know our trailrunning needs. I met some interesting folks and agreed to be on the Park Board's Planning Committee to represent the trailrunning community. With this assignment, I and my "trail-friendly bed-fellows" have a chance to positively affect the future of the entire park system, (and keep it from being completely paved-over and turned into a giant commercial parking lot). The park system has already put in a large amount of new paved pathways. It's my job to help keep the unpaved options open for us, the mountain bikers, hikers, adventure racers, and equestrian users. Cool, huh??? After the meeting, I had a gaggle of chores to do at home, and ended the day with time spent updating the trailrunning website.
Sunday, I had a busy day planned, also. I had scored some tickets to see our local NFL football stadium to celebrate my son's birthday. I had also decided (last-minute) to run a trail marathon that morning as a training run. The NFL game was a noon game, so I would have to run a decently fast (training) time so that we would have time to tailgate before the game.
The weather was perfect (if not unseasonably warm), and there were a lot of the Trail Nerds at the race; each of them were doing one of the 4 different distances offered. I took the early 6 a.m. marathon starting time, to give my son and I a fighting chance for more tailgating time. He slept in the car while I was running...he had worked until midnight, and gone to sleep after 2 a.m. My legs felt a little dead during the whole race, probably from just having run in a 50-miler two weeks ago. I just took it easy and ran with Lance and Steve and others during the race, and had a fun time socializing and cheering-on other runners. In the end, I scratched-out a 4-hr, 27-minute marathon-distance "training run." I had a cool looking shirt and one of Lou Joline's hand-crafted funky medals to show for my efforts, also.
(Photo by Dick Ross)
Some Trail Nerds at the 7 a.m. Start.
(Photo by Dick Ross)
Being finished at 10:30 a.m. left my son and I with only about an hour of pre-race tailgating time, after we drove to the stadium and parked. We made up for it later, though, by tailgating after the game while waiting for the traffic to subside. The car behind us had the same game plan, and we had a decent time with these total-strangers-turned-parking-lot-buddies. Oh, by the way; it was a great game, and our team won decisively, despite a couple of "dubious calls" by the game officials. After we left the parking lot, we headed to a really good Cajun restaurant for spicy food. When we finally got home, all we wanted to do was sit and watch television with my grandson, daughter, and son's girlfriend. That was enough!
Monday, October 23, 2006
I was killing time Friday waiting for my wife's car to get out of the shop. I was sitting next to a guy at the counter at Bob Evans restaurant, eating breakfast.
The guy appeared to be in his late 50s or early 60s. He was telling me about all of his latest ills, "and how all of these diseases just seem to creep up on you as you get older, without any warning." (In his case, diabetes, foot/leg issues, high blood pressure, heart disease and 10 other things). He has had two stays in a nursing home, since he turned 45.
He mentioned that he had just gotten back from his high school reunion. I assumed (but didn't say), his 40th or 45th. It was his 30th H.S. reunion! I said that I went to my 30th a year ago and had fun. He wouldn't believe that I was older than him until I showed him my license. "Holy crap, you're almost 50," he said.
He asked what I did to stay in shape and relatively healthy, and I told him a little of my routine. He said that he works out 2 times per week for 20 minutes. I told him that that wasn't sufficient to stay in decent shape and didn't even meet the minimum for cardiovascular fitness. He asked why a doctor hadn't told him that fact? I said that it was his body, and he should be the one who takes the initiative to find out more about his own body's intracacies and requirements.
He asked about what I was eating...wheat toast (dry), egg white omelet, etc. I told him that I was splurging, since I had the day off, and don't normally eat like that for breakfast. I normally juice my own veggies/fruit and add some omega oils and protein powder to make a smoothie for breakfast. It was 10:00 a.m., and he was on his 2nd breakfast for the day! He said that he felt hungry again, and was eating 3 eggs and biscuits and gravy to "hold him over" until lunch.
I don't hold out much hope for the poor guy attending his 40th H.S. reunion. He doesn't take an active role in his own health at all. It's like he's watching a bad, B-rated horror flick from the sidelines, when it comes to his body.
I'm definitely not perfect. I like drinking my own homebrewed beer, (sometimes to excess). I have a sweet-tooth, every now and then. I definitely drink too much coffee. I don't eat a perfect diet. I don't fill every possible spot in my schedule with running or excercise routines. In short, I don't do everything that I can do to get as fit and healthy as I possibly could be. BUT, I definitely strive to stay in decent shape and eat healthily, and am always surprised by the positive results.
For instance, I rarely need pain or anti-inflammatory drugs anymore. The last 50-miler that I did and also the 100-miler that I did in February, I didn't need any ibuprophen (during or after) the race. Fifteen years ago, after running (just) a marathon, I would have needed to take Advil for a day or two for the pain, swelling, and stiffness. Now, I only need it for REAL injuries and trauma, it seems.
Fitness is a personal journey. Along the way, you get to know your own body better than any health professional, dietician, or personal trainer ever will. Heal thy self! Or, at the very least, be intimately involved in the process.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Last Tuesday, I finally decided to do the 50-mile Heartland "Spirit of the Prairie" run.
It was a last-minute decision. It was originally an idea that Raul Flores had put into my stupid head a week previously. I try to stay in (at least) 50-miler shape year-round, but I'm getting over a pretty severe injury from 7 weeks ago, so I wasn't sure how I'd do.
We headed down to Cassoday, Kansas on Friday at noon. It's about a 2-1/2 hour drive from Kansas City. We left in a convoy of two vehicles "loaded to the gills" with supplies...more on that later.
Raul and I got to race headquarters and registered for the race. We had the pleasure of meeting some new ultrarunners and running in to old buddies, as well. Fellow Trail Nerd Gabe Bevan was going to have this be his first 100-miler, and he looked ready for it. We hung around there and had the great pre-race supper fixin's hosted by the Kansas Ultrarunners' Society (KUS). We ate well, and then headed south 22 miles, to our motel stay.
We stopped at Walmart first, and picked up a couple of bags of Pepperidge Farms cookies. I had a keg of homebrewed India Pale Ale in the back of my vehicle, so I threw the tap on it, and Raul and I had a couple of pints of beer and a bag of cookies each to nibble on while we watched TV and got ready for an early sleep. Kyle Amos and his family showed up at the motel at about 7:30 p.m. Raul and I had "lights out" at 8:30, to try to sleep as much as we could before the 4 a.m. alarm setting.
We got up at 4, got ready, found a place with some coffee, and headed up the road eating bananas and cookies. We arrived back at the Cassoday starting line about 1/2 hour before the 6:00 a.m. start. It was about 39 or 40 degrees F. We would be running in dark conditions for at least an hour. The race started, and I quickly found my conservative first-half pace. I found several folks to talk to on the way out to the 50-mile turnaround. Many were doing the 100-miler, and they had a long way to go to their turnaround.
The course was on farm roads through tall grass prairie and ranch country in the middle of "Nowhere, Kansas." There were some hilly sections with long, 200-300 foot high hills, but everything was indeed "runnable." Talk about desolate! On the entire 50 mile course, I only saw 6 or 7 viable dwellings and one ghost town.
About 45-minutes or so from the half-way point, I saw Kyle Amos and (newby ultrarunner) Josh Pool in 4th & 5th place, running together back the other way. They looked strong and determined. (They would run the entire race together). I was surprised to see Raul at the last aid station before the turnaround. His sciatica was acting up, so he dropped at 25. (He had run a fast marathon the weekend before, though). I got to the mile 25 turnaround, and got back to the aid station to dig into my drop bag. I tried a new caffeine drink and took a PB & J quarter-sandwich with me. I had been eating Sharkies on the way out, and they had worked okay so far, so I would continue with this pattern. I kept my long-sleeve Golite top on, because the course had absolutely no shade, and I wanted to limit sun exposure. It was supposed to get up to 70F, but I wouldn't be too hot in that top, I thought.
On the way back, I put on my earbuds and cranked my IPod Shuffle. I concentrated on running all of the hills that I had walked previously on the way out. I was successful with this plan, for the most part. I didn't want to get passed, and wanted to take as many "roadkill" as possible on the way back. It started to get hot in some sections, but at the top of the hills you could feel a cooling breeze. I turned up my music louder. I passed 5 people in about 20 miles.
At about 5 miles from the finish, I noticed two side-by-side runners slowly gaining on me. They were 90 seconds behind me. I would get over a hill or around a corner (out of sight) and hit it hard. They must have been doing the same, because they didn't fade back. About 2 miles from the finish, they were less than 1 minute behind me. At this point, I could see the finish line off in the distance. I also saw a live rattlesnake in the middle of the road sunning itself. I about jumped out of my shorts! This was the turning point. I poured on the speed, and kept thinking, "turnover, turnover, turnover" to give my legs a boost. There was one last 3/4-mile straightaway before we turned onto the last 1/2 mile of the only pavement in the race. They were just 45 seconds behind!!! I pushed my pace up to my PPL, (pre-puke level), and held it there. I rounded the corner onto the pavement, and hit it hard. I was doing about a 7:30/minute mile pace, at that point. I turned around and looked, and they were just rounding the corner. I was a full 1/4-mile ahead. This meant that I had them by almost 2 minutes!
I ended up with a finish time of 9:48:16. I was satisfied with that time; it meant that I am finally back from injury and moving along well in my training. Fellow Trail Nerds Kyle and Josh did REALLY WELL in the 50-mile race. They had moved up in the race order and tied for 2nd place with a time of 7-hours, 42 minutes!!!
Synopsis: I did great! My hamstring and back didn't bug me at all. I ran a smart race. I went out conservatively to the mile 25 turnaround, then hit it harder coming back. I experimented with a new food and a new drink, and now have a couple more in my ultra-arsenal.
The rest of the story:
Directly after the 50-miler, I ate a little and took a sponge bath with baby wipes. Then Raul and I initiated the rest of our plan. We drove our vehicles out to the Mile 95.2 point on the 100-mile course and set up a "gypsy" aid station (where there wasn't one). We wanted to help the 100-milers finish their race and lend them some help at a critical point in the race.
We called it the "Mirage" aid station. Man, we had everything at our station. Music, ultrarunning videos, a generator, Christmas lights, pizza, tasty homebrew, hot Starbucks coffee, hot homemade chicken/ramen soup, water, Coke, Gel, S-Caps, Salty Snacks, Energy Bars, First Aid Kit, Toilet Paper, bananas, M & M’s, crackers, spare LED flashlights, spare batteries, and about 20 other things that I'm forgetting. We had forgotton some critical things, but with our slightly warped but inventive minds, we came up with some viable solutions that would've made MacGuiver proud.
The aid station was a hit, especially during the lightning and rainstorms that hit at about 2:00 a.m. and thereafter. I mean, it really got ugly for the runners. Fellow Trail Nerd Gabe Bevan came running through with his pacer (Rick Mayo), and was happy to be on a sub-24-hour first 100-miler. Sue Johnson came within 4 minutes of taking the overall 100-mile race, because Mark Henderson found our station to be so hospitable. He had taken a nap and hung around for almost 30 minutes!
At about 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, we started taking down the station and loading up. We got back to the finish area, hung around for a little bit, then headed up the road, back toward KC. We only had had a couple of 5-minute catnaps since 4 a.m. the previous day. I arrived at home okay, unloaded the homebrew and other "fridge items," and took a hot bath and then a 3 hour nap with my grandson. Then I was up until my normal 11:30 bedtime, to keep on my normal sleep schedule.
Next year, we'll do it again, but we'll have it down to a science. We've already made plans.
If you want to do a fairly fast, beautiful and fun ultrarun next year, set your sights on this one. It's a winner! The KUS folks know how to put on a quality event.
Race Web Site
What a claim to fame!
Salt stains on my shirt, after I finished the 50-miler.
I'm not putting those smelly shoes in my car! I think I'll let them "air-out" for a while.
Our "Mirage" aid station.
Raul Flores, waiting for some 100-mile customers.
Monday, October 09, 2006
On second thought, my wonderful wife may not appreciate me soliciting spankings from the Blogosphere. So here's the scoop for what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks:
My life has been on hold due to an impending audit (for work) from a government agency. I'm the main go-to guy for the audit, so I have to be here. I had to cancel my trip to AZ, because of it.
My running & training are going okay. This last Saturday, in lieu of actually signing-up for the KC marathon, Caleb and I decided to run down to the race from his place in the 'burbs. We went to mile 7, mile 6, mile 16, and mile 21, and watched the race from these vantage points. We also went to my son's new Starbucks.
I don't normally like running on pavement, and between this jaunt and a later run with a newbie-runner neighbor, I put in 29.5 miles on pavement on Saturday, according to my Garmin 305. I also led a trail training run the next day, (yesterday), but it was only 7 miles.
The weekend before, I drove down to SE Kansas to watch the end of the Flatrock 25K/50K. Some Trail Nerds were competing in it, and I wanted to see them finish. Two Nerds were in the top 3 finishers of the 50K, Kyle and Caleb. Both came in under 5 hours. Only 10 runners have done so in the entire 12-year history of the race. Caleb took 1st place and set a new course record by 17 minutes! His time was 4-hours, 29-minutes. Many persons have said that 4:30 would never be broken on this course. Of course, he proved them wrong, even though he got lost and used over 10-minutes of time to get back on course!
Caleb after his record finish.
Pictures from the Flatrock 50k can be found here!
The day after Flatrock, myself and some Trail Nerds participated in the Sandrat run. The Sandrat Trail Run is a 9.5 mile (approx.) trail run. The course is run on the "River Trails" north of the Kaw River and downtown Lawrence, KS. It is a wonderfully low-key but fast trail race for a small entry fee.
This year, we didn't have any "breakfast beer" on hand, due to potential legal constraints...potential jail time. (Last year, it was "rumored" that a founding Trail Nerd (me) brought some of his own homebrew).
Steve Riley, his family, and the volunteers always do a good job with this race. This year there were 100 finishers in the trail race. A gaggle of Trail Nerds ran in the race, and most did well. Kyle Amos ran with his wife Stacey. The day before, Kyle took 3rd overall in the 10th fastest time ever at the Flatrock 50-K trail race! Caleb Chatfield (the winner of the same 50K), decided to not run but volunteered for the race. A gaggle of Trail Nerds ran in the race. Many Trail Nerds came home with the coveted Sandrat for an age group or place award.
There is also a 1K Rug Rat event, and this year there were 8 competitors. It was my grandson's first race, ever! I ran with him and he ended up running the whole way. Not bad for a 4-year old.
Here are 3 of the Rug Rat finishers. The two on the left are Shane Jones' offspring. The one on the right is my grandson. He makes me so proud, (even though he is more competitive than a 4-year old should be).
I've also been busy updating the trailrunning website, and planning for our club's two big events next year. One of them is the Psycho WyCo 50Km race in February, and we're also adding a 40-mile and 100Km race in April. This is in addition to our 7 shorter race events. I also volunteered at a road race last week and have been working on my house's plumbing and AC systems. Whew. That's enough.
I deserve a spanking, or at least a photo of a female blogger licking her G4 computer! Not that that would ever happen...
I may decide to do a 50-Mile trail race this Saturday, (Heartland). Raul and Kyle are thinking about it too. If we go, we will also bring a bunch of equipment and after our 50-miler, we'll erect a "gypsy" aid station within 5 or so miles of the 100-mile race finish. We'll call it the "Mirage" aid station. Should be fun.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Since D keeps showing off her beautiful grandson, I thought I'd show off my 4-y.o. G'Son. He's an active little guy that likes doing stuff with his Grandpa, including trailrunning and getting muddy. I guess "little guy" is a relative term. He just turned four, and he's 44-inches tall, already! He is very athletic and has very good balance, for his age. He's a very social kid, too. He's also a real sweetie to most folks, but especially to his grandma, mom, and my dog (and all animals).
G'Pa Ben and G'Son on the merry-go-round.
"My imaginary friend can beat up your imaginary friend."
Future skateboard (and soccer) champion.
Blast 'em all!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I started the day early with a hella-workout on abs, back, and biceps, guided by my personal trainer, Igor. I only worked a half-day, (but still didn't get off until 2pm). I went home and caught up on some chores that have been neglected because of my recent injuries. I also had some "quality" play time with my big dog.
At 7 pm, I started running at SM Park with a couple of early night-run attendees, Good Ben and newbie, Josh. We got a little far away from the 8pm starting area and had to push the run hard to get back in time to run with the main group run. This particular Tuesday Night group was a fast group, so I decided to set a faster than normal pace for the 4-mile loop. I was wearing my Garmin 305, and later found that we had finished the last mile of that loop with a 7:16/mile pace, all on rocky, hilly, and curvy trails. The 3 of us early runners had also had two sub-7-minute miles, albeit those miles were on pavement. Total mileage: 8.76 miles.
The best part about the day's experience was that I felt strong, and my back and hamstring were barely bothering me. I haven't felt this strong in the past 6 weeks. I could have done another 4-mile loop, but I'm getting better at reading my body. It's better to finish strong and recover to run well the next day, than to extend myself and not be well rested. (It takes me a couple of hours to wind down for sleep, and I had finished running at about 9 pm as it was).
I can't say enough about my personal trainer, Igor Gantman. He helped me to have an "active recovery" from my 100-miler injuries. If I had just sat at home on the couch waiting to get better, it would have taken me 8 to 10 weeks to get better, I'm sure.
Monday, September 18, 2006
On Saturday morning, we had a fun time out in Lawrence, Kansas at the 1st annual Clinton Lake North Shore Trail Run.
This trail race was a race put on by our trailrunning group, the Kansas City Trail Nerds. The course was an 8.5+ mile run on the beautiful, rocky and root-laden trails of the North Shore trail system. This course never seems that hilly to me, but it still had an Elevation Gain (ft) of +2,570 / -2,570, so I guess it was hilly.
We ended up with 17 competitors for the day. There were 14 other events on this same day in the local KC Metro area, so I guess this wasn't too bad for a race that was officially announced one week prior.
It was a group effort: Greg Burger laid out a wonderful course. Ed Payne got the permits in order and worked the finish line, and Kyle and I brought the equipment out. Several of us marked the course on Thursday night, and Kyle and Greg de-marked the course after the race. This course is a KEEPER! Race Photos.
Sunday morning, I slept in. I had a lot of other things going on, Saturday (besides the trail race), so it was nice to sleep in a little. Sunday afternoon, I decided to do a 2-hour trail run by myself. I took along the I-Pod and had a wonderful run by myself listening to Coltrane. The only activity out there besides me were 2 MTB riders, a man walking his dog, and an innocent-enough looking Copperhead snake. The snake only held me up for 10 seconds or so, while he went about his business crossing the trail.
Friday, September 15, 2006
I ran well Tuesday evening. 10 miles on the SMP trails, at a medium pace. Thursday night, I ran about 10 miles while marking Saturday's race course with the Trail Nerds. Tomorrow I'll race the 8.5 mile course, (which is actually about 9.5 miles), then help de-mark it, for a total of ??? miles. Sunday, I plan to run for 3 hours or so at Kill Creek Park. I'll have 40-50 miles for the week, depending upon what I run on Saturday morning. I've also been getting back to my weightlifting workouts, and have had 3 good ones so far this week, with one more scheduled for this afternoon.
By the way, my son will be running in the race on Saturday. Pretty cool.
I finally set up a link to my photos from the start and finish of the CCC100 trail race.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I've found a way for D.K. (or any ultrarunner) to run across the US in just three consecutive days. It would involve buying a vintage airport baggage loading vehicle and having your crew drive it, while running on the conveyor belt.
This could open up a whole new ultrarunning class. NASCAR might even get involved. There could be a completely different version of the Daytona 500 viewed on Fox or ESPN 12.
Actually, I'm sick of all of the DK talk on the Ultralistserv, and just wanted to have some fun.
I awoke to the alarm on Saturday at 5:15 a.m., after getting a decent 4-1/2 hours of sleep. I headed out to WyCo Park for the XTerra "Dot" trail race. Caleb and I were going to make sure the XTerra folks knew where to put the aid station for the 5K/10K trail race. We also needed to run the course and make sure it was still marked right (from our Thursday night efforts). We were both going to be running in the 10K, along with some other Trail Nerds and the rest of the runners. I ran a decently smart race, even though I'm a fat, old gimp. I took 2nd place in my age division. The only reason I wasn't beat by two of the other 40-49 year olds, is my ability to run downhill quickly on rocky & technical trails. Down I can do.
Caleb took 2nd in his division (in this race), too. He was a little tired from many miles of ultramarathon training the past week at a 5:45/mile pace with some other fast area runners. Neither one of us did too bad, though. He and I both took first in our age groups for the entire XTerra trail race series, and we also tied each other for first place (overall) in the series, based upon points! Not bad. We both went home with medals and some nice North Face race schwag. After the race, Caleb and I ran the course again, to take down the signage.
Sunday, I drove out to Kill Creek Park and ran on technical trails with the Nerds. I ended up only running for 1-hour & 20-minutes, but it was a quality run, and I finished strong. The rest of the day was spent preparing race-day supplies for the next 2 races (next weekend), and brewing some homebrew in my garage.
My back and hamstring were bothering me last night and this morning, but I think I'm getting back to normal, finally. I won't run today, but will workout in the gym this afternoon.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Caleb helped me mark the course for the XTerra folk's race, last night. It's funny, because he will probably win the 10K tomorrow. (He's already won the last two 10K's in this series). You normally won't find roadrunners that will volunteer or help with a race that they are running in...especially not the winners. Trailrunners don't mind pitching-in to help. This is another thing that separates roadrunning from trailrunning. It's very similar in the biking world, too. I may be generalizing here, but many road cyclists have prissy/snobby tendencies. They seem more focused on how they look and their equipment, rather than adding or giving back anything to the sport. Maybe that's why we call them "Roadweenies." Most MTB folks that I've met are just the opposite. In fact, many MTB'ers don't mind putting in eight hours of trail maintenance every few months; thank goodness!
Back to the Xterra race. Xterra pisses me off. They put on these local trail race series' with expensive entry fees all over the country, but they don't know anything about most of the local trails, and they don't participate in any local trail maintenance or cleanup. As you know, I'm all about promoting trailrunning and trail racing, but these folks are a bunch of poseurs that really only care about the almighty dollar. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it! I hope that with time, this will change, though.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I ran on Sunday afternoon with my son, and Tuesday evening with the Trail Nerds group. The Sunday run was slow, painful and generally, pure torture. On the Tuesday night trail run I felt tons better. It was amazing. It showed me that I haven't lost any speed or fitness. I worked out on weights last night with my personal trainer helping me to find things that wouldn't strain my still-healing injuries. I did just fine, but resisted the urge to go for a run last night.
Tonight, I'll hit the gym and then run at least 6.5 miles on a very hilly group trail run. Saturday, I'll actually run in a 10K trail race, albeit at an easy pace. Sunday, I plan on running for 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending upon how I feel.
Anyway, it's good to be back on the trails!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The Cascade Crest Classic 100-miler has 21,000 feet of climb, (with an additional 21,000 feet of descent). I only got through about 25,000 feet of elevation change before I re-ruptured my
hamstring that I screwed-up back in June. Oh well, another couple of weeks of recovery. It's too bad, because my feet were unblistered and doing fine, I had just gotten over some stomach problems (by emptying its contents), and I still had plenty of energy at that point.
As far as he race goes, the course location was beautiful. Being in the rugged wilderness areas of the sheer-sided Cascade Mountains of Washington was awesome. The race organizers did a fantastic job putting the event on. This "one huge loop" course is a logistics nightmare for both the race officials and any support crews, but is pretty cool.
About the course. Within the first 3 miles we climbed 4500 feet and had a great view. We then lost 4000 feet within the next 2 miles. This pattern would repeat itself, in increments of 1000, 2000, 4000 and whatever feet. The footing was very tenuous, also, (when you could see the trail)...a lot of areas were overgrown to the point of not being able to see the trail at all. The race started at 10 a.m., and it was actually a warm 80+ degrees at the start and through the
rest of the day. There were a lot of sun-exposure areas while climbing, and that took quite a toll on a lot of runners. This year's race had about a 50-percent DNF rate, even with the generous cut-off times.
My hamstring injury had an additional side effect: after sitting on the plane for 4 hours, my back started hurting pretty bad. It has gotten progressively worse. I had to stay home yesterday afternoon from work and just lay on a cold pack with my legs up on pillows. (I couldn't even tie my own shoes, and couldn't sit up in a chair). Luckily, my "beer elbow" still works perfectly.
I will recover shortly, train hard, and be back there on race day next year. I wouldn't miss it for any reason. This race has me hooked! If anyone wants a decent fitness challenge, send in your
entry. I've got some good friends (up in Washington) that will crew for us.
I finally got to meet the bloggers, Rob and Michelle. I'll put out a more in-depth race report (with photos), later.
Monday, August 21, 2006
This past Saturday, I ran in the second 10K trail race of the 3-race XTerra trail race series. I did okay...I took first place in my age group for a 2nd straight time. Read more.
It's a pretty sad state of affairs for me to win, though!!! You see, I was running at only an 85% effort in both races, and I am not a "fast-twitch" speedy runner, by any means. My main reason for running at 85%, was to save myself for my upcoming ultra-distance trail races. The first of these short-distance series races was just prior to my 50-miler in Oregon, and this last race was 1-week out from my 100-miler. I ran at an okay pace, but a lack of very many folks in my age group significantly contributed to my having two gold medals in the series. (I'll keep the medals, though). :-)
The course was moderately technical, mainly because of the mud, and it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning with my trailrunning friends.
On Sunday, seven of us ran on the very technical & rocky trails at Kill Creek Park. I ran for 1.5 hours. My son ran with us. At over 7 or 8 miles, it was the longest run that he's ever run in his life. In fact, he ran with us on hilly trails a total of 3 times, this past week. He's continuing to lose more weight and get into better shape. His goal is to speed-up somewhat, and not hold our pace up at all, within one month. He also wants to run at least the 10-mile distance in my club's February trail race. It's really nice to see him doing (even more) positive things in his life.
Friday, August 18, 2006
I still don't have a "warm and fuzzy" feeling about the new race director and organization. One of the reasons - I don't know the people, and haven't been to this race before. Another reason is that this (new) RD doesn't answer his e-mails very often, and the web site is still a mid-90's-style BASIC information site, (and it has only been updated once this past year). Also, even potential volunteers have had a hard time contacting the race organization.
Because of these thoughts, I plan to be as self-sufficient as possible, which means packing more than I normally would pack. That way, I will have no worries (other than running), on race day.
UPDATE: The race director called me back on Sunday night. He's updated the web site, and seems to have everything in order. This helped put my mind at ease.
Today's comic strip:
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Usually, we'll have between 7 to 10 runners show up for our Trail Nerds runs on any given Tuesday night. We haven't had 14 or more show up for a night run since last Winter. Thursday night, the numbers will probably be back down again, though. It's supposed to be 100 or so, with a higher heat index. I can't wait for Fall. The cumulative effect of all of this heat is pissing me off, and my lawn looks like crap.
Wow, just 1-1/2 weeks until I run in my 100-miler. I feel strong and ready, once again. The last few days, I've been working on and testing a heart-healthy version of a recipe for Norwegian lefse bread. In the 50-miler 2 weeks ago, I had some at an aid station, and it really made my day. I think I've found a new ultra-fuel that I can keep down. I want to make some and have it on hand at the race.
Check out this cartoon. I resemble this, sometimes.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I have at least 2 "junk miles" runs per week. They are one of life's simple pleasures for me. On mine, I sometimes run with my IPod, but most of the time I'm listening to nature. Since I run with a the Trail Nerds group on almost every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, running by myself is a necessary part to my ultra race training. After all, on a 50 or 100-miler, you will be alone with your own thoughts for at least half of the distance, so you sure as heck better train for it.
Junk miles??? I think time on your feet at any pace is very much worthwhile, in regard to training for ultras. In a race distance of 50 miles or more, most of the time I'll be running at a 75% heartrate pace, or so. It's all terrain dependent, of course. So I need to find time to train in that speed range more often.
Most of my runs alone are at a leisurely pace (unless I put on the IPod). When do I do them? I sometimes run 4-6 miles on Monday nights, but usually it's on a Wednesday or Friday night. In the nicer months, I will sometimes ride my bike after the run for 30-40 minutes. Tuesday nights before the group run, a few of us run alone at our own pace for some "extra miles in the bank."
Tonight, I'm doing a little 4-mile trail loop with my son, prior to running with the Trail Nerds group. It will be at a 11 minute/mile pace or so. My 24-y.o. son is slowly getting back into shape (and trying to kick smoking), and has found that he can now run up to 4 miles without stopping, (as long as it's not on evil pavement). And what a good way to spend time with my son!
Junk on, runners!
Monday, August 14, 2006
This situation was problematic, because I was supposed to be race directing a nightime trail race on Friday night. I ended up vomiting (and other things) for about an hour, then took an immodium and an anti-spasmatic motion sickness pill, to keep from vomiting anymore. Then I hydrated like crazy and loaded up the Element with race stuff, and went to the race. On the way there, I had a Boost for some calories, and drank more water with electrolytes. My goal: I wanted to RD the race, and also run in it. It was only a little 10K trail race, so what's the big deal?
I ended up getting to run in the race, afterall. Being sick, I was laboring from the start. I kept my pace at a "sub-puke level" throughout the run, and even walked a few hills. I ended up finishing about 9 minutes off of my best training run time on the same hilly course.
After I cooled down, I got my rig loaded up and headed over to Shane's for a post-race BBQ. I was actually hungry and ate some, which was a good sign that I was recovering. The rest of the night and the next day, I still felt very tired and weak, though. All that I did on Saturday, was hang-out with my grandson in front of the TV, and watch SciFi movies for about 12 hours in a row. (I was really surprised that his favorite movie ended up being "The Day the Earth Stood Still" from 1951). Some 4-year olds have good taste, I guess. We also played with dominos and Legos.
Sunday's training run was decent, but I still felt weak and tired. I think I'm about over it all, right now, but my wife was real sick on Sat & Sun, and my son started getting the symptoms on Sunday.
I just have to take it fairly easy between now and the CCC100-miler (in less than 2 weeks). I am going to be running in a 10K trail race next Saturday, though.
My race report for last Friday night's race is below.
Race Report: 2006 Psycho Night 10K Trail Run
The first annual Psycho Night 10K Trail Run went off pretty well.
Thirty-one runners started (and finished) the moderately-hilly trail race at Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS. By "moderately hilly", I mean an Elevation Gain (ft) +1,865 / -1,865, for a total of 3730' Elevation Change for the 10-Kilometer, wheel-measured course. The hills, humidity, and 90-degree weather took their toll on some of the runners.
The race started in the light, but most runners were using a flashlight or headlamp by mile 4 or 5. The course consisted of an out and back with a loop at the far end. The loop was the wonderful "Wyandotte Triangle" single-track trail section from the infamous Psycho WyCo Run Toto Run.
First place was had by Caleb Chatfield, (26), of Mission, Kansas. He took it "easier" than he normally does because he's still recovering from a 50-Mile trail race that he won 2-weeks ago, in Minnesota. (He was ahead of the 2nd Place spot by over 22 minutes in that race, in an awesome 7-hours, 38-minutes). Bringing up 2nd place was veteran ultrarunner Kyle Amos, of Olathe, Kansas. He also took first place in the M30-39 division. He was also recovering from the same 50-mile trail race in Minnesota. There was a strong third place showing by a fast Adventure Racer named Devin Martin, (27). Greg Burger, of Lecompton, Kansas, always seems to take 4th-place in all of our "Trail Nerd" events, and this race was no exception. He even picked bib number "4" at registration. Rounding out the top five was Kati Gosnell, (26), our top female finisher. She was just visiting the Kansas City area, and decided to kick some trailrunner's butts while she was in town. The second and third place women, Jacque Jackson and Melanie Galyon, were both veterans of this course in February's Psycho WyCo race. One of them said that it had been easier this time without the ice, snow, and mud.
Nobody was injured during the race, but I fell down after the race chasing my grandson around a tree!
All of this fun was had for a measly 8-bucks! Three different shirts were available for purchase after the race. See you at the next trail race! Photos are at Dick Ross' Site.
Monday, August 07, 2006
It shows a healthy respect for the distance. It also says that with every 100 or 50-miler, we are pushing the limits of our own endurance enough to know that there is still quite the possibility of either not finishing the race, getting injured, or even dying. Rob brought up some other things in his post that I fully agree with.
My personal (Bad Ben) philosophy:
I run 50 and 100-mile trail runs for the sheer enjoyment and personal challenge of it all, knowing that I will not be able to do it forever. For all of my 50-100 mile runs, I run to FINISH, and that's all. If I'm feeling well enough on that particular day, I might do well. I'll never be a front runner; it's not in the cards I was dealt, genetically. That's fine with me, because I'm still having fun! And, if training for these runs helps keep me in better than average physical and mental shape, that's a great side-effect.
Many runners are far more serious & competitive. Many of those runners run on pavement in much shorter runs, and they just don't understand these concepts. Some of them offer me the advice that I should give up some of the more enjoyable things in my life and get more SERIOUS about my running. Well, I won't give those things up! Some have actually stated that if I'm enjoying a distance event, then I must not be trying hard enough, and should quit competing, until I am serious about it. I'm not going to become a running facsist! I know many top-rated runners that STILL ENJOY running, even though they tend to win a lot. But there are those few out there that think that you can't enjoy life and do well in running. I am truly sorry for them.
I really ENJOY my life right now, and that wasn't always the case. I try to keep a good, healthy balance and enjoy all facets of my life. My running has very little impact on my family life right now. It's great that I have a wife that enjoys traveling with me on our 4-day weekends to these events, even though she's not a runner. This wasn't always the case.
Compared with the actual ultra events, I think I love the "journey" more, which involves the training miles and the camaraderie of running with other trailrunners. It is the best part of trailrunning for me. I also enjoy exposing newbies to trail and ultrarunning. That's the reason why I started a trailrunning group, web site, and blog. Scheduling and running in 4 runs per week doesn't require much effort, when it's something that I enjoy.
Ultra-distance events are basically training milestones and vacation destinations, for me. My spouse has had her hand in picking some of my running event locations, as well. This makes it even more fun and challenging. It's one of the main reasons that I'm going to be running the CCC100 in 3 weeks...she gets to see & visit with her best friend.
Have fun out there!
(Truly) happy trails,
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Photo Album Link Slide Show
We both flew out separately and showed up on race day to run in the Douglas Fir and Hemlock forests of Oregon. Namely, we decided to run in the PCT 50/50 "Scott McQueeney Memorial" Trail Race near Mount Hood, Oregon. Wow, there were mountains out there! (And we got to run over more than a few). I had a good 50-mile race with a finish time of 10-hours, 30-minutes and change, and Patrick cruised-in with a 10:39, after taking a wrong turn. We dun goood!
The race had some dusty parts to it, and the dust affected my asthma somewhat. The views on the trail were spectacular; I'll have to take a camera on the run, next time. I reached the 25-mile turnaround point (at Timberline Lodge) in 5:10:00. During the race, I had one rough 1-hour segment of time, but other than that I felt okay. I really love technical trail, and this race was part groomed trail and part single-track technical trail, with NO ROAD running!
One fun adventure during the run:
Just 4 miles from the finish, I was held up by a herd of cows and a large bull. They had swam across a small body of water to get onto the trail. The cows moved off-trail by me yelling at them, but the bull stood his ground. A runner caught up to me and asked me, "what if the bull charges?" I said, "I'm not worried, because I know I can outrun you!" He didn't find it amusing. I picked up a large stick and started thwacking it on the ground. It broke with a loud snap and the bull snorted, then took off up the mountain (and off of the trail) with his herd of cows and calves in tow. I wasn't too upset for the delay. It only took about 3 minutes off of my finish time and it was comic relief, so what the heck?
My son and wife flew out with me. We also got to visit with my Nephew who lives in Portland, and is my son's age. The three of us Boyz went to the Oregon Brewer's Festival and had a good time. The hard part was going to the festival on Thursday and Sunday, with a 50-mile race on Saturday. I let my liver recover on Friday, at least. It didn't seem to affect me and my race at all, but my Sunday "sampling" was negligible. I guess that after a 50-miler, I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.
I go to Portland often, so I know the area very well. I won't go into more detail; just let it be known that we had a real blast out there!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The following is an e-mail that I received from Mike Schupp. Mike and Barb Schupp have run with us Trail Nerds in the past, and they have run a few ultra trail runs together.
Mike is a true renaissance man. He uses both of his right and left brains more than most folks use the whole. He can paint a beautiful portrait, play the piano, build and wire a house, or replace a transmission on his van. He and I used to run a lot of long, early morning runs together. A few years ago, he personally pushed me (and Dan Kovacs) at the St George Marathon, and helped us both to qualify for Boston at that race. He is one of the runners that inspired me to run ultras in the first place.
Barb and her smile are a joy to be around. She is a very talented runner and a great athlete, in general. She decided a couple of years ago to get her doctorate in dentistry; she was accepted into the program, and is now working toward that goal.
Both of them are very busy at being parents, as well. The two of them took some time out of their busy lives to complete this marvelous feat.
Barb and I are back from Africa. What an incredible
experience. Putting the experience into words is
difficult. Hopefully will we be able to share
pictures with you and give a better perspective on
everything. We were blest during the trip with making
all our connections, no lost luggage, injuries, or
illnesses. The flight and travel time to and from is
very long. We left Kansas City Friday morning, 6/30
and arrived in Tanzania late Saturday night (plus 8
hours). Our first nice was in a very nice lodge where
we meet out guides for . The next
day we moved to a ranch in a large animal reserve
where we were in luxury tents and took a walking
safari. Fun, but the elephants decided we shouldn’t
be there and we decided not to argue with them. The
third morning we divided our bags between what went up
the mountain and what could be sent on to the animal
safari portion of the trip. Our mountain gear was
divided between what the porters would carry and what
we would carry. The maximum weight for a porter was
about 33 lbs. We typically carried between 15-20 lbs
in our backpacks. After baggage sorted and weighed,
we headed off on a long and very rough ride to the
gate where we would check in with the park rangers.
It was hard to call the roads roads by any definition
we have, and Land Rovers are not the most comfortable
vehicles. The villages we went through were very
poor…hard to imagine living like they do. The
Tanzanians are very friendly and happy people. They
call their country the “Island of Peace.” Basically
the Masai and Chagga tribes were in the areas we
traveled. Barb decided she would have a difficult
time living in the culture where women have very
Once we were registered, it was another hour or so
ride on the rough roads to the entrance where we would
start our trip up the mountain. In hopes of telling
the story with pictures, I won’t give a lot of details
in this note. The first day was through the rain
forest, which fortunately for us, was fairly dry (not
the case on the way down). Our first night was a
Forest camp, about 9,500 ft. Day two we emerged from
the rain forest, through the Heather region and into
the Moraine to Shira 1 camp, 11,700 ft. Day three was
a fairly easy trek across the Shira plateau to Shira 2
camp, 13,000 ft. We took a side trip to climb the
Shira Cathedral which was the original top of the
mountain. We had lunch on the side of the mountain.
The meals were incredible…you will have to see the
pictures to believe. Day four took us to Lava Tower,
15,100 ft. We climbed to the top of the tower which
had some precarious rock scrambling sections. That
night we had some very strong winds…guessing 50-60
mph. Fortunately, we didn’t run into such strong
winds again. Day five we went down to Karanga camp,
13,000 ft. Day six was a hard day of climbing back up
to Barafu camp, 15,100 ft. What made it particularly
hard was the Baranco wall…1,000 ft of almost straight
up climbing, scary at points. We were amazed at how
the porters could manage the climb while balancing
loads on their heads and backs. As we approached
Barafu we first could see the camp on the next
ridge…looked like only about 30 minutes of hiking.
After a few more steps, we saw that there was a deep
gorge between us and camp. Needless to say, we were
very glad to be in camp that night.
We could see the trail we would take the next morning
to the crater…looked long, steep, and cold. We didn’t
sleep very well that night. We got up at 5:00 and
were on the climb a little after 6:00 AM. It took us
eight hours of the hardest effort Barb and I could
remember doing to reach the rim of the crater, 18,700
ft. We celebrated with a song and congratulations
from the guides. We headed down into the crater and
the 45 minute walk to our camp in the crater. The
feeling was breathtaking and beautiful. By the time
we got to camp, Barb had a very bad headache and took
some medicine and went to our tent. One other guy,
John, and I headed out for the Ash Pit (the center of
the volcano). The trek was about 45 minute climb up
to 19,000 ft across hard packed snow. The volcano is
still technically alive and there was sulfur gas
coming out on one edge. We took pictures and head
back down to camp. We had to force ourselves to eat
and drink at this point. That night the temps dropped
to 10 degrees F. Everything was hard to do in the
cold and low atmosphere. During the night my head
started hurting fairly bad. At 3:00 AM I decided I
needed to drink more water. By 5:00 AM I had consumed
a liter of water and my headache was mostly gone.
None of us slept much that night. Even our assistant
guide was getting headachy and sick. By 6:00 AM we
started the final 600 foot climb up the steep crater
wall to the Uhuru peak: the highest point in Africa,
19,433 ft. The climb took us about 1.5 hours to reach
the upper rim of the crater. From that point it was
an easy walk up to the official top of the tallest
free standing mountain in the world. What an awesome
feeling to have made it. We took pictures and then
started our descent. Going down to Barafu camp was
much easier than climbing up. What took us eight
hours to climb up, only took us 2.5 hours to descend;
most of the time we were “skiing” down through the
volcanic ash and sand…kind of like x-country skiing
our way down the mountain.
We arrived at Barafu around 10:30 where we were able
to change out of most of our artic gear into more
comfortable and cooler clothes for the next 5,000 ft
descent to Maweki camp at the edge of the Rain Forest.
On day eight we had climbed up 600 ft and descended
about 9,000 ft. The camp was in the middle of a cloud
and everything was soaking wet, but we slept like
babies. Amazing what some extra oxygen will do. The
next morning we started our trek down the final 5,000
ft to the gate. The hike was through rain and all
mud. We were glad that we hadn’t gone through so much
mud at the beginning of the trip, which would have
been a real mess to deal with. We didn’t care at this
point because we knew we would be off the mountain
soon. At the gate, our crew had a big celebration for
us and the park authorities presented us with a
certificate of accomplishment for reaching the peak.
Leaving the crew was hard. We had grown attached to
them and them to us. The meals were awesome, so much
more to tell.
That night we were taken to the Kigongoni lodge in
Arusha where we had our first soft bed, shower, and
relaxing meal in nine days. We washed out some
clothes and let them dry on the balcony as we made
ready for the safari part of our trip. The next day
we headed for the Ngorngoro Crater for 2.5 days of
animal viewing. To our disappointment, it was cold
and damp in our camp on the crater rim each night.
The setting was beautiful and the elephants and lions
roamed around out tents at night. The crew did hire a
Masai warrior to guard out camp from the other Masai.
Apparently, they consider is dishonorable to steal
from other Masai, but not from non-Masai. We did have
safari style showers. They brought us warm water, but
with the shower outside, just canvas walls, the wind
and air was cold. Still, showers felt wonderful. The
animal viewing was wonderful.
From the Ngorngoro Crater we bounced across about 150
miles of rough dusty gravel roads to the center of the
Serengeti where we again were in nice tents. The
temps were moderate at 60 degrees at night and in the
low 80s during the day. We could finally relax and
feel warm. We ended up seeing almost every animal of
Africa: lions, elephants, zebra, giraffes, wart hogs,
cape buffalo, leopards, cheetah, hippos, crocodiles,
wildebeests, topes, hart beast, eland, Thomson
gazelles, hyenas, jackals, various birds, and more.
The trip back was very long. We traveled for about 46
hours solid from when we left the Serengeti to
arriving at home. Fortunately we made all our
connections and we had no real problems. We still
haven’t gotten our nights and days completely back in
order, but being home is great. It was an incredible
experience that Barb and I will never forget.
Tell everyone hi.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Well, I'm enjoying the taper for my next race, but I really want to run more, damnit!
Saturday, I ran just 1-hour by myself (on trails), and did 1:16:00 of trailrunning on Sunday with the Trail Nerds at Kill Creek Park. The rest of the weekend was spent doing household chores and watching the Floyd Landis Show. Last night, my son and I had a glass of Bordeaux and listened to Aaron Copeland's American in Paris to celebrate.
I've had scores of people say that Floyd looks a lot like me. I will be partially silent on this issue. All I will say is, he does have a similar smile, reddish hair, and the same stubborn streak that all ultra-distance athletes need to have to git-da-job-dun. We're both tenacious mutha's. We could be twin sons of different mothers (and different generations), I guess. Holy crap; I am theoretically old enough to be his daddy! And there was that one cute gal that I met in Pennsylvania in early '75 that was selling Menonite home-baked pies on the side of the road...no...no way...it couldn't be! (Sorry; especially to Floyd and his real parents, I had a "Bad Ben" moment).
Tonight, I'm going to start to pack for our trip to Oregon. I've already put-aside my running clothes, water bottles, waist pack, and all other running-related items that I'll need for the 50-miler. I'll have to be cagey about my suitcase packing, though. My dog gets really upset if he thinks I'm going on a trip without him. That goes super-ditto for my grandson.
My hips are both fine, but Floyd has better reading vision than me.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Keep cool out there!
Here are some spoof ads to have fun with from Adbusters.