Monday, October 30, 2006

Fun & Busy Weekend

Saturday, some of the Trail Nerds and I went to WyCo park to do some trail maintenance. We're hosting a trail race there on Nov 11th, and we wanted to get the trails in shape for the event. It's always hard work, but we always have a good time, as well. Good Ben brought donuts, and I had orange juice and coffee available to all takers.

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.

The Shirt.
(Photo by Dick Ross)

Trail Nerds at the 7 am Start
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

Heal Thy Self!

It's funny how people who strive for fitness, take an active role in their own health, disease prevention, diagnosis, and recovery/cures. The rest of the population does not seem to be that interested in the process.

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

Race Report: Heartland 50-Miler...50 Miles was just the Starting Point

Whew! What a weekend.

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.

Photo Album

Race Web Site

Prairie Chicken Capital
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.

Mirage Aid Station
Our "Mirage" aid station.

Raul in Aid Station
Raul Flores, waiting for some 100-mile customers.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Two Weeks of Activity

I've been a BAD boy. I have'nt posted for a while. Let the spankings begin!!!

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!

Wow, I did it.
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.

Little Nerds

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).

Photos of this year's Sandrat Trail Race click here.

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.