After my 100-miler, I took a week off from major physical activity to try to keep from getting sick (because of a reduced immune system after such a long event). I've been skirting on the edges of getting a cold for the past 10 days, but have somehow avoided actually getting it.
Last week I got back into my gym/weight routine, and started running again on Thursday night. Saturday's run was in zero degrees F, with a little breeze to bring the windchill down to minus 8 or so. Four of us ran at SM Park for 11 miles or so. Luckily, we didn't have any "useful or important parts" freeze and fall-off because of the cold weather. Sunday, six of us ran a 10.35 mile (hilly) loop at WyCo Park, in a relatively warm-ish 15 degrees F. The ground was harder and more screwed-up than normal, and all of us wimped-out decided to do just one loop, except for Kyle (who had a bad cold and was hacking like a TB victim). We took down some more course markings from the race last week.
Last night (and after dark), I did a decent 2-loop run at SM Park with the Trail Nerds. We did the first 4.6-mile rocky & hilly trail loop in 42 minutes; (we went slow because we had a newbie with us). We dropped the newbie off before the 2nd loop. We ended up doing the 2nd loop in 34 minutes. It felt good to run at break-neck speed on trails, again. I'm officially back into my 100-mile training regimen! I've got a 50-miler coming up in about a month.
Usually, my immune system gets somewhat compromised after a 100-miler. (Somehow, I've avoided getting sick, even though everybody around me has been sick for the last month). What may have helped this year is that I didn't start running until 10 full days after the event. I've been lifting and working out in the gym for a while since I got back, in lieu of running. Last night, I ran a fast and furious night trail run with Caleb, Shane, and Cody. I only did one 6-mile loop, though, and then had a nice hot bath and some homemade hot soup. Better not push a good thing. I really wanted to go for two, though.
By the way, on this last 100-miler, I used Clif Bloks as my main caloric intake for the 1st 40 or 50 miles or so. Cran-Razz was my favorite flavor. They worked great! Somehow, I eased through the "bonk" of the "glycogen to fat-burning wall" that I usually experience between miles 25 and 35. (I usually have a tough hour or so somewhere within that mileage range). After I got tired of the Clif Bloks, I switched to "real food." I was craving protein. I didn't use Boost, like I usually do. It just didn't sound appealing, at the time. The "real food" that I ate was PB & J sandwich slices, chicken noodle soup, potato soup, canteloupe slices, boiled potato slices, orange slices, and a little bit of mac & cheese.
Something else I did differently: I had 2 Tylenol at about mile 65 instead of Advil, to reduce swelling, especially in my feet. I had two more at mile 90. I didn't have any more pain relievers for another 35 hours. (I don't like to use them). During the race, I also kept up with my electrolytes with SUCCEED! capsules, as needed. Knowing when and how often to take them is a good thing. For me, it's based on sweat output and hand swelling. I don't usually get to the point of calf cramps to realize I need electrolytes. I also drank about 4 bottles of Clip2 Sports drink before switching completely to water within the first 35 miles. (I alternated between water and Clip2 to that point).
Eating right is very important in a 100-miler. Here's an explanation of why: You cannot take-in enough calories during the event to sustain your effort. Your liver runs out of glycogen within 20-30 miles. Your body's own fat has to be fuel from then on, so you have to stay within your body's "fat burning range" for the entire distance. This is usually about 75 to 85% the effort you put-out in a marathon. To complete a 100-miler, you have to learn to run at that 75-85% effort the whole race. If you run faster, you will use energy faster than your body can convert the fat and bonk harder than you have ever known to in any marathon, believe me. Your food intake during the race needs to be steady. You will need carbs and some protein to help your body consume its own fat. Sometimes you won't feel like eating, but you have to force yourself to! That's why it's VERY important to learn what you can eat (and keep down) for 20 or more hours straight. My splits were fairly even at RR100. I had to artificially hold myself back, so that I would have even splits and a strong finish. One young friend of mine (from KC), didn't hold back for the first 30 miles or so. He DNF'd, even though (compared to me) he was 20-years younger, 70 pounds lighter, well prepared, and in much better running shape. I caught him by mile 40, at the main aid station. He ended up DNF'ing at mile 77 due to being extremely cold, and not being able to warm up. This is a classic sign of running out of fuel. He was flirting with hypothermia, even though it was only 30F or so, and he had 5 jackets on.
Experience and training got me through the 100 with a PR. Now I'm (finally) using my mind and all of my experience for a successful recovery.
Race Report: 2nd Annual Psycho WyCo Run Toto Run 50K, 20M, 10M Trail Runs Saturday, Feb 11, 2006
This was the 2nd year that I've planned and race directed this race. It was a beautiful day to go for a run in the woods! The weather was crazy, but there was no mud (on loop one, anyway), and it was darn gorgeous out there with the light dusting of snow. The course was a little tougher, this year. We got rid of the grassy out-and-backs and replaced them with hilly single-track trails. There was approximately 5000 feet of elevation change per 10.35-mile loop. Todd Nott hit the trails hard, and flew up and down the steep hills for a 4:41:11 (50-K) 1st-place finish. Local "Trail Nerd" Caleb Chatfield took 2nd Place (4:48:34) in his first ultra. Jamie Donaldson from Littleton Colorado, blew away the female field in the 50K. There were medals for the finishers of each race and long-sleeve shirts for all. The design was by fellow Trail Nerd Jason Crosby, who completed his first ultra at the race. Another RBFer, "Good Ben" ran the race as well.
I had a wonderful team of volunteers to man the aid stations, and make the run fun for all: Wyandotte Triangle (tent) Aid Station: Matt Holmes, Jeff Perry, and Rick Mayo. Shelter 10 Aid Station: Stacey Amos and the extended Amos Clan (and a few others). Main Start/Finish Aid Station: Trudy Nepstad, Kristi Mayo, Karen Williams, Rick Mayo, Dave Boone, "Awesome" Robbie McPherson, (and many others).
In addition, I've had quite the crew of Kansas City Trail Nerds to help clean and maintain the trails, and help with the planning, marking and logistics. The park rangers and Wayne Burns of the Unified Govt Parks Department were once again, great folks to work with.
This year we had homemade food that included: Shelter 10 Scooby Snacks, Paula Keltner's cookies, James Barker's chicken soup & bean/barley soup, and other treats. This year's race was much better attended. 197 total finishers out of 213 starters. (Last year, we had 43 starters). The main reason was the addition of the 20 and 10-mile events.
Whew! It was fun, but a heck of a lot of hard work. The last 2 weeks have been real hectic, with my 100-miler PR run, and this event. Both events will be the same next year, so I'd better get even more organized.
Several people have asked me about my strength training regimen that led to my recent strong 100-mile trail run performance and finish. Well, here it is. This is my "normal" average training week, for the last several months:
Monday Morning: Weights for 1 hour: Chest, shoulders, Tri's, calves, abs (always ab sets between lifting sets, usually 15 sets of 15)...LIFE IS A SUPER-SET! Evening: 4 - 6 mile "recovery" run (on trails), or rest night.
Tuesday Morning: Weights for 1 hour: Back, biceps, calves, abs Evening: 10-mile "tempo" trail run w/flashlight on rocky, rooty, hilly trails. The last 5 miles is at MTB speed (7 to 7.5/min mile speed with a group of 20-30 y.o. Trail Nerds)
Wednesday Morning: Weights for 1 hour: Legs, abs Evening: 6-10 mile slow recovery trail run, or rest night.
Thursday Morning: Weights for 1 hour: Chest, shoulders, Tri's, calves, abs Evening: 7-mile to 14-mile "tempo" trail run w/flashlight on rocky, rooty, hilly trails. The last 7 miles is at MTB speed (7 to 7.5/min mile speed with a group of 20-30 y.o. Trail Nerds)
Friday Weights for 1 hour: Back, biceps, calves, abs No running at night
Saturday Morning: Medium-distance & slow trail run 10-16 Miles No weights or abs.
Sunday Morning: Long & slow trail run 11-31 Miles No weights or abs.
It may seem excessive, but overall fitness is very important in the later stages of a 100-mile trail run; especially core body strength. I'm pretty sick of running on pavement, so I've completely switched to trail running. No surprise there, I've been moving in this direction for years. All of my old runners' ailments went away when I did this. I now have no more PF, knee problems, or foot problems at all. I might lightly sprain an ankle about once every 18 months or so, but I'm not living with any chronic running-related injuries experienced by normal Pavement Weenies. I also never have any back problems, since I started the weights/trailrunning program. I have a personal trainer, (Igor Gantman), who guides me through my weight lifting sessions.
You can see that I can scratch-out a minimum of 40 miles, even if I run only 4 days per week. Sometimes I reach or exceed 35 miles per weekend. I always try to keep my running mileage under 60 miles. I seem to compromise my immune system and running/recovery if I keep the mileage higher than that. My schedule allows some wiggle room to have rest days (from running) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Report: This was my 4th Rocky Raccoon 100-mile finish in a row. Next year, I'm going for the 500-mile jacket!
The blow by blow: Lou Joline and I drove down from Kansas City on Thursday. It's a short 720 mile drive down I-35 to Dallas, then we caught I-45 to Huntsville State Park, Texas. It took us about 11 hours net time to get there. We got a room in a motel for that night, and ended up running into Joe (the race director) and his minions at a local restaurant. We set up camp in Huntsville State Park the next morning. We were camping in the tent/Honda Element combination, about 0.3 miles from the start. I had rented a shelter 3 months in advance, and we used that as our "KC Trail Nerds headquarters."
That night, Lou and I met up with Dann Fisher from Manhattan, Kansas. He was going to use the shelter as a base, also. He said he was "out of shape", but that is a relative statement, of course. (He's always tough, and would do ok). We also ran into Rick Mayo and his wife/crew from Liberty, MO. He was attempting his 2nd 100-mile trail run. Dale Perry and Jan Ryerse, both fellow SLUGs, were looking good to hit it hard the next day. Lou Joline, my partner in crime, is 73 years old and was going to run in the 50-mile event. (He completed the 100-miler here 3 years ago).
On race day, I got up at 4:45 AM. The race has a (dark) 6 am start. Lou's race would start one hour later. Dann showed up, and we started preparing ourselves for the onslaught of coming pain. I used my trusted and true shoe and sock combo for this course, and didn't use gaiters. I run in Montrail Leona Divides. I use Tetra toe socks, with a very thin Ultimax sock over them. If I get a "hot spot" on my foot, I will peel the outer sock back and apply thick silicone lube to the Tetra sock in that location. I never take off the Tetra toe socks or trade shoes during the race. It seems to work real well for me, and I avoided having any blisters at all, this year.
We checked in at race headquarters, and at 6:00 the race started. It was a misty and bone-chilling 37 degrees F, and I went out slow to warm up. I'm use to running faster in the dark, and will probably attempt to do so at the start, next year. Before we got to the jeep road, I got to meet Dirt Runner, and his 100-mile mentor. Rick looked really strong, and I thought for sure he would have a great race. I settled into my pace, and tried to hold myself back...(you don't want to go out gangbusters on a hundred, or it will bite you in the arse later on in the race). And that's the problem with Rocky Raccoon. The whole course is runnable. There are no real hills of consequence, so this course can tempt your "runner's psyche" into hitting the whole darn thing hard. I held back my horses, and finished loop one in 3:51.
I changed out of my tights for the second loop, as it was supposed to warm up to 70 or so. I got to meet a lot of nice ultra folks, and run into a few old trail buddies. The time passed well, and I got to mile 40 in 7:58. Right on schedule, like a Human Trailrunning Metronome. Rick Mayo had gone out fast on the first loop and was surprised to see me at mile 40. I also caught Jan here. We ran out together and those two started talking about the Lean Horse 100 that they had run and finished last Summer. I was running my pace, and slipped ahead to keep myself on track. Loop 3 was completed at 12:12 or so, right about sunset. It was a clear night and the temp dropped 35 degrees instantly. I put on my Golight top and Patagonia vest, but left my shorts on for the night loops, (# 4 and 5).
Loop 4 is always the toughest on this course, for me. It is a real mental challenge. At the start of the loop I'd put on my IPod, and cranked up the volume up to 11. An old bootlegged Nirvana tune came on, "Radio friendly unit shifter"...and I was off like a shot. When I finally worked my way around to the "Farside" out and back, the mental part became extreme. It was getting cold and misty. I was headed toward the mile 70 aid station, and saw a SUV parked on the jeep trail. I actually thought about checking to see if the keys were in it. I fantasized about "borrowing" it, and driving into Huntsville for a beer and a soak in a hot tub somewhere. I laughed at this crazy thought, but it did sound damn good. I got to the Farside aid station, (my favorite), and had some GREAT homemade potato soup and a cup of coffee, (all in the space of 45 seconds or so). I felt a lot better, suddenly. I would continue to stop for soup at the next two aid stations on that loop. I really pushed myself through the rooty and twisty single-track trail on the backside of the lake; it's my favorite part of the course. I finished the loop at 17:09 elapsed time. It was a slow loop, but I was only passed 2 times on this loop (by world class runners who had actually lapped me), and I passed 21 runners.
I took off on my last 20-mile loop. Scraped from the far-flung bowels of my IPod, Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" started blaring. Kick-a$$! I was blowing by runners on the single-track trails like they were rocks and trees. I hit the first jeep trail. I counted off two more roadkill on the way to the first aid station. I filled my bottle halfway with water. No food, from now on. I concentrated on getting to the next aid station. I hit the little bit of single-track on the way there. I seemed to gain strength from it's twisty soul. I hit Dam Road aid station, chugged a coffee and went for broke toward Farside aid station. That miserable piece of straight trail seemed to go on forever. I asked the guy at Farside how he not only moved the aid station further back down the trail each time, but how he also moved the fire pit and fire. I took off back toward Dam Road aid station, blew by the aid station and then hit my favorite part of the course. The roadkill count zoomed higher very quickly. People were "clumping" into listing and tripping zombie-like groups. I would wait for a rooty downhill, and pass them like a crazy maniac yelling, "on your left!" I couldn't believe my eyes. I passed a 6'5" zombie that looked like Dale Perry from the back, and then passed a short, cute zombie that looked like Beth Simpson. Holy cow, I must be doing something right! I got to the last aid station, put a dribble of water into my bottle, and got going. An aid station person asked, do you need anything else? I said "yeah, your opinion...do I look fat in this?"
I hit the last mile of trail; flew by roadkill # 55 and 56, and rolled into the finish line at 22:04:42 elapsed time. I waited for Beth and Dale to finish, and congratulated them. I got a hot shower and 2 hours of shuteye, and started walking around to B.S. and cheer-in runners from 7:30, on. The award ceremony was fun. I had done well. Out of 196 starters, I had placed 29th, overall. I finished in the upper 14% of the race. There was a 68% finish rate for the event. Lou had finished his race first in the over-60 group. Dann had a tough time at night, but had finished ok. I didn't see evidence of Dirt Runner or Rick Mayo, and feared the worst. I thought I had seen Dirt Runner sitting with his mentor on a bench in the middle of nowhere, wearing a sweaty hoody. I was hoping otherwise.
Comments: Physically and mentally, I went into this race feeling strong, (even though I still weigh near 200-lbs). I felt strong the whole race. All of the strength training and trail-only running...especially the night speed work on rocky & rooty trails, paid off with dividends. I actually could have shaved 30 minutes off my time, if I'd had my crew person there.
The toll: No blisters, no chafing, no swelling, no pain (as of today), and I'm walking normally. I feel better after this one than I do after most 50-milers. My secret? Strength training 5 days per week, a GREAT personal trainer (thanks, Igor), tons of abs, and NEVER TRAINING ON EVIL PAVEMENT! Also, two of my trail training runs per week are run after dark on rocky, rooty, and hilly trails. We always run the 2nd loop of these night runs at mountain bike speed; and I'm not kidding here. This makes me go like a crazed banshee on the night portion of a hundred.
By the way, Lou is an extremely pleasant traveling companion. I've spent time with him at Leadville, Javelina, Berryman and many other trips. He's a great guy to have a conversation with (for 11 hours at a time). The road trips went by quickly.
I can't say enough about the quality of the food and beverages, the experienced ultra aid station volunteers, the good course marking, and the fine organization of this race. It all makes for a stress-free, quality hundred. (The course was also in the finest shape it has ever been, due to decent weather).
The run last night at SM Park was great. The running conditions were perfect, and we had 3 newbie Trail Nerds show up to run with us on the first loop. We warmed-up at a nice pace and did the loop in 41 minutes. For the 2nd 4.7-mile loop, some Half-Crazed Special Idiot (me), pushed the pace and we did a 34-minute loop on the rocky and hilly trails. It was fun, though. There were no *fatalities, and only the "usual suspect" fell down in a muddy section toward the end of the run.
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.