Kyle, Hazel and I drove down to the Berryman Campground in SE Missouri on Friday, and started just slightly after noon. It was a pleasant 5-hour drive in my Honda Ultramobile. We set up camp at Bob & Sara Risser's campsite and went to race headquarters. It was very hot out, even though it was after 5 pm. I was already sweating profusely while just sitting around and talking...a bad sign of things to come.
That night, we slept on top of our sleeping bags until it had cooled down enough to climb inside (after midnight). The sounds of the forest were awesome!
Race Day: Well, it was hot. We started the race at 7 a.m. sharp. It was darn humid at the start, and the temperature started to rise right away, and would continue to do during the race. (By about 2 p.m., it was Ninety-four degrees with 65% humidity). Thats a 114 degree (F) heat index! The Mark Twain forest had received a lot of rain in May, and the weeds were quite overgrown at the sides of the trail; much more so than I remember from past years' races. Poison ivy, nettles, and other worrisome flora & fauna were "reaching out to touch someone" on a constant basis. This didn't bother me too much, but I know it had an effect on a few of the runners.
I started with full intentions of finishing the two-loop, 50-Mile trail run. I opted for the 26.2-mile marathon distance, instead. It was a wise decision, (for me). I was running just fine, but at about 4-hours into the race, my heart rate would not go below 160, even on the downhills. I also had a little bit of disorientation and stumbling over rocks and roots. (I'm normally very sure-footed, and this isn't a problem). I had kept up with water and electrolytes o.k. (or so I thought), but I think that with our cool-ish May weather this year, I just hadn't had enough heat acclimation, yet. One thing that did help on the run: When I got to Brazil Creek at about mile 15, I laid in the creek for 2 minutes. This felt great! Many others did the same. You can lead a runner to water, but can you make them lay down? Apparently you can, on a hot enough day!
Race results: Eric Grossman, the 50-mile winner, was over an hour off of his normal finish time. Trail Nerd Kyle Amos took 4th overall in the 50-mile, and looked good at the end. In my opinion, he looked and felt better than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers, who seemed slightly "out of it" at the end. (Kyle has a secret weapon against the heat that I will try next time). Trail Nerds Rick Mayo and Gabe Bevan finished the 50-mile with good times, as well. My hat's off to anyone who finished the 50 on this brutally hot day! Trail Nerds Jonette, Paula, and Hazel did an awesome job in the marathon distance. Jonette and Hazel took some decent tumbles, but were more than tough enough to run through their injuries and finish in fine form. Bob "Garmin" Billings did well in his first trail marathon, and I had a nice time talking to him while out on the trail.
The race director-supplied food the night before and the day of the race was very much appreciated. David and Vickie White do an awesome job of making runners as successful as they possibly can be. The aid stations were better this year, and there were more of them. The course is just darn beautiful. You will have to put this on your calendar for next year. Hopefully, it will not be as hot.
I had a great 11-mile trail run last Thursday night, with 5 of the Trail Nerds. We ran on the BuRP Parkway Trails, and crossed the Blue River 4 times and got our feet wet. Saturday we hit the same park again, this time with 10 Trail Nerds! Rick Mayo even made an appearance. I took Sunday off, I didn't run Monday, and will run 10 miles tonight in SM Park.
For the rest of my taper, I might run a little on Wednesday night, also. I will only lift weights today (before my run), and Wednesday. Thursday and Friday I'll just be a total slacker, other than attending a Board Meeting for the Kansas City Track Club on Thursday night. After the race, we might break camp and find a motel to shower and sleep, on Saturday night. I would prefer not to, but Hazel has requested this. (I don't mind "showering" in the water faucet in the campground). We'll wing-it, depending upon Kyle's plans, etc. Sunday, we'll drive the 6-hours back to KC. Monday is Memorial Day, and I'll be volunteering at the finish line for a big local race for the Kansas City Track Club. Monday, I might brew some homebrew, also.
Last night, 10 Trail Nerds showed up to run in the woods at SM Park. Some of the new trails are finally open, and it makes for some great trail loops.
I led the group and was looking-out for snakes, because our last 2 Tuesday night runs here yielded Copperhead sightings. We did the first 4.7-mile loop in 45 minutes. (We had a newbie with us that has poor night vision, and we ran to her pace). On the 2nd loop, we hit it hard from the get-go. We were really cruising...we finished it in 35 minutes! That's at least 2-minutes per mile faster.
It's amazing to me how much your "proprioception" develops from running after-dark on trails. You can read about it in this great article.
Caleb and Kyle had run at least one loop before we started. They are in great shape. Kyle will be running a 50-miler with me on May 27th, and should do very well. Caleb is just darn fast. Caleb proved this recently on two pavement runs: he won the hilly Corporate Challenge 5K last Saturday in 16:37, and he also won the Heart & Sole 10K on the previous weekend in 34:11.
Saturday, I ran 11 miles with Dave on the BuRP Trail system. It was a slow and deliberate pace on the technical parts of the trail system, and we even crossed the Blue River four times. (The river was just above knee level, and flowing pretty well). After the run, I did a few chores and then hosted my Big Brew Day. Good Ben showed up and we took a look at fixing his bike prior to his Sunday Race. I sent him on his way at 5:45, so that he wouldn't get too F'd-up for his big AR race. Big Brew Day lasted until 10:30 p.m., when I finally had to kick the rest of my friends and neighbors out of my garage, so I could get some sleep.
Sunday, I awoke feeling a little worse for wear. (It couldn't have been all of the beer, though, right)? I had to get up a lot earlier than usual to drive to Lawrence, to lead the Trail Nerds on a trail run at Clinton Lake. I hadn't been out there since the "tornado day" episode. Things have definitely greened-up since then...the trails were muddy, but spectacularly beautiful. We had a nice 16-mile run at a decent pace. When we finished, we went out for a great breakfast at Wheatfield's Bakery. Yum...good food in a Hippie restaurant in the "Berkeley of the Midwest." I bought a petite pain loaf for later that night at home. The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing and doing (very few) chores prior to grilling a nice dinner for my wife.
Monday, I got into work early, and left after 7:30 p.m. Every now and then, you've got to put in the hours to get stuff done. I didn't workout at all on Monday, so tonight I'll make up for it. I'll do chest, shoulders, tris, and abs for 90 minutes in the gym, then run three 5-mile loops out at SM Park tonight with Kyle and the Trail Nerds. Happy Trails!
I had a heck of a run last night with the Trail Nerds group. We were all in the mood for some rugged, fast running, and we accommodated ourselves thusly. It was a dark, muddy, hilly, rocky, rooty, overgrown, and a wonderfully fast and exhilarating run. Damn, it felt good to run like that! It was a very decent, "quality" 8-mile run.
I had worked out in my company's wellness gym for 1-1/2 hours right before our run, and was on kind of a high from (possibly) cinching the winning spot in our once/year fitness contest. This year, I want to take first place in the "crunches" competition. (I won't know the final result until 7 p.m. today, but I'm fairly confident). The crunch competition (for the guys) involves doing as many crunches as you can in one minute, while at a 15-degree incline and holding a 25-lb weight over your head. I did one-hundred-and-twenty-two in one minute! 122!!! What was funny was that I still did my normal massive ab-workout after the competition, along with working my chest, shoulders, and tri's, and then I went for a fast run.
I had another good workout in the gym this morning, and will have one after work, as well. Then the long (trail) run weekend looms: three hours of running on Saturday on the Blue River Trails (with multiple river crossings), followed by 4 hours on Sunday on the Clinton Lake trails. Woo-hoo!
I've been remiss in writing about any of our regular group trail runs, of late; (we have 4 or 5 per week). We had an exciting and fun group trail run, last night. Ten Trail Nerds showed up for our regular Tuesday night jaunt through the woods (after dark). It had rained about 4 inches since last week, so the trails were fairly muddy in some areas. It was warm, and the humidity was at about 80%. The foliage here is now totally fleshed-out, so it's just like we're running through a lush jungle. This jungle will be with us through the Spring & Summer months. Our trail loop has gotten a little longer, because of a local MTB club's trail-building efforts. We run about 5 miles per loop now, instead of 4.6.
On the first loop, I led for about 1/2 of the loop. We wanted to keep a steady and slower pace for some of the newbies that just run one loop. On the second half of the loop we were led by Good Ben. Within about a half-mile of the end of the first loop, we encountered one of nature's most beautiful creatures...a copperhead snake. In fact, one of us may have stepped on it, because it was in the middle of the trail (but we didn't see it at first), and it struck at Greg. It missed biting Greg, but scared the crap out of the last 3 runners in our group. The rest of us went back to check it out. The poor, scared creature moved off-trail and found a nice rock to crawl under and hide. (Not Greg...the snake).
We finished the first 5-mile loop soon after the incident. One of the newbies decided not to run a 2nd loop, (and may never be back again). A couple of others had to leave, also. So six of us stayed to run a 2nd loop. We traditionally run the 2nd loop in reverse direction, so we had to run by the snake area within a half mile of the start of the loop. (We didn't encounter the snake again). We did encounter a lot of deer, a rabbit, and one possum that wouldn't move off-trail, though. The final count: 20 mud-covered legs, no snake bites or any other nastiness' with animals, no ticks, no poison ivy, and no spider webs encountered (yet). I've found one safety tip that applies to living here and running on trails: Don't get in the way of the Food Chain!
Special Note: Copperhead snakes don't normally strike unless stepped upon, (like we did). In the past, we encounter (or jump over) a couple of copperheads per warm season, with no aggressive action taken by the snakes. They aren't as poisonous as rattlesnakes, (which we have plenty of in this area, also), but their bite can make you sick and lead to "complications." That's why running with a group on trails can be much safer than running by yourself.
I find ways to enjoy life as much as I can. Also, life's too short to treat people poorly.
I'm into long runs in the park, consuming salt, popping blisters,
eating roadkill & tree bark, and burying whiners in shallow, unmarked
graves. I also enjoy designing trail race courses that would make the
Marquis de Sade blush.
A fun time for me would include banging muddy shoes together, setting
broken bones with a machinist's vise, and duct-taping-down any part of my
body that is bleeding or just flopping-about uselessly.
What helps me to be an active trailrunner and grandpa?
1) Daily sponge baths with bovine stem cells;
2) Copious amounts of delicious & nutritious homebrewed beer; and
3) My secret elixir...Bicarbonate of Figleaf.