Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cascade Crest Classic Race Report

Here's a quick race report:

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.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Monday, August 21, 2006

One last race before my 100-miler

Normally, I rarely post anything about running race distances shorter than 5o kilometers. I consider these shorter races fun diversions, instead of the taxing & insidious foes of both body and mind that "ultra" trail runs can be. I'll make an exception, in this case:
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

Packing for the 100-miler

I'm already starting to pack for the 100-miler that I'll be running in 8 days. It's not that I'm nervous, it's just a system that works for me. Four or five days from now, I'll say, "oh yeah, I need to take that thingy, too," and I will pack that up, too. It is part of my ritual for getting ready for a big event.

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

"Cool" 85-degree Weather Brings out More Runners

We had 14 runners show up to run on the rocky & rooty trails of SM Park, last night. I think the "cooler" weather helped, quite a bit. It's funny how relative the term "cooler" is when you're used to over a month of 100+ degree (F) weather. I ran a loop with my son prior to the group run, then I led one 4-mile loop with the group. I pushed the pace a little, and we spread out a bit. It just felt so good to run in slightly cooler temps, and not be sick, anymore.

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

Junk Miles?

Julie Berg's fine post got me to thinking about the term "junk miles."

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

Running with the Flu

I had a bout with the flu (or something) last Friday and weekend. It started with feeling dizzy, weak, and having some queasiness on Friday morning. It soon progressed to an all out assault on my gastro-intestinal tract. I had to leave work by 1 PM. I went home and hydrated with Smartwater and tried to eat something.

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.

Happy Trails,
Bad Ben

Monday, August 07, 2006

Enjoy Your Life

I love the statement made by a fellow ultrarunner, (Rob) recently, "I know that I can finish the 100 miler, but there is also that doubt in the back of my mind, which is the way I like it. I am participating because I know that some day I may not be able to do so."

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,
Bad Ben

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

50-Mile Trail Race Report: PCT Scott McQeeney Memorial Run

Last weekend, two of us Trail Nerds decided to do a decently-hilly 50-miler in the Pacific NW: Patrick P. and yours truly.

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!