It's been a busy couple of weeks.
One week ago, I ran in the Corporate Challenge 5K, which is the only paved race that I compete in on a regular (once per year) basis. I was running against 1,000 other male runners on race day. We were all competing for our various companies, trying to get points. (At least in an all-male race, I couldn't get "chicked" in this race).
I ended up 4th place in my division, which earned our team 5 extra points, in addition to my one "participation" point. It's kind of cool; now that I'm 50 years old, I can clean-up with the points, (even though I'm not fast: I ran a 23:22). Woo hoo! I did my part for the team!
The Trail Marathon:
This past weekend, I drove down to the Ozark Mountains of southeast Missouri. For once, they were a part of my annual pilgrimage to the Berryman Trail Runs. The event headquarters is in a campground between Steelville and Potosi, Missouri. The course is run on hilly single and double track trails, and is in quite the gorgeous setting.
We pitched our tent in the primitive campground near the start/finish line. The smell of the tall pine trees there always reminds me of camping in the Pacific Northwest. The weather was nice, if not a little hot for the 50-milers in the afternoon. Forty-seven degrees overnight, and mid-eighties by the afternoon.
I had signed-up for just the marathon this year, and I had a good excuse to opt-out of the longer distance. I'm going out to WS100 training camp next weekend, so I didn't want to rip myself up too badly doing a 50-miler. Especially when I know that it will be a tough 70+ mile weekend in the mountains and elements.
Saturday morning, the day of the race, I woke up at 5 a.m. feeling okay. I'd already prepared my race stuff the night before, so I donned it and got ready.
Prior to the start of the race, I got to give away some Vasque Trail Series schwag: some bottle openers, a couple of shirts, and a pair of Vasque shoes. I included Berryman in our Midwest Vasque trail series, as well as it being a TrailRunning Mag series race. David and Victoria White, the race directors, let me put up the series banners, also.
About David and Vicky and their daughter, Jessica: they have that race buttoned-down, nicely. Every detail is accounted for, and it goes off without a hitch. I love to not only run in this race, but also sit back and learn from them the proper way to put on an event. I can honestly say that most of what I've learned about proper ultra event race direction was from the Whites, the Sheridans (KUS), and Joe Prusaitis (of Rocky Raccoon, Bandera, etc).
The race started right at 7:00 a.m., as planned. There is an out and back on a dirt road at first, and then you hit the trail. This is a good thing, because everyone spreads out to their own paces, instead of bunching-up on the trail. I got into my "trail rhythm" right away. The sights, the forest aromas, and the sounds of birds waking up made for a wonderful start to my day.
I was running the race with the intention of not expending too much energy, but at the same time trying to hit the downhills as hard as I could. I wanted to give my quads a darn good pounding. My intention was to get my legs ready for the long downhills on the Western States course that they would encounter next weekend. (I was "reasonably sore" on Monday, so it must have worked).
My race strategy was not only enjoyable, but was working well for me. Maybe I'll do this more often. I was really using the downhills more than normal, and basically short-stepping all of the uphills. I noticed some of the same folks that I was letting pass me on the uphills, I would blast by them on the down side.
After the Brazil Creek crossing and aid station, I decided to wear my earbuds and listen to music for last nine miles of the run. For my Shuffle's mix, I went with easy-going Jazz, Dub, Soul, Alt-Country and Underground Hip-Hop, this time. Most notably: Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" for the Jazz, some Scientist and Sly and Robby for the Dub, Al Green for the Soul, Hank III for the Alt-C, and El-P's awesome new album for the Hippizzle. I think I'll stick with this kind of mix for my next 100-miler, except I'll add some Blues, as well. It kept me "flowing" down the trail, instead of hitting it in fits and starts, like when I listen to Punk.
The race seemed shorter, this year. Maybe it was the music, or maybe it was the cooler weather (compared to last year's record-breaking scorcher). I didn't realize that I was running up the last hill until I saw the road crossing and campground, otherwise I may have finished one or two places ahead.
The results were just posted. I was 3rd in the "Senior" division, with a time of 4:42:00. I'm happy with that result, because I haven't had a lot of long runs of late, due to being too darn busy.
A lot of the times were fast this year, and the competition was fierce. Eric Grossman broke the old record for the 50-miler by quite a bit, with a time of 6:33:27. Tom Whalen broke the old record also, finished 2nd overall, and set a new Masters record by 63 minutes! "Trail Nerd" Paul Schoenlaub took 7th place overall. There was no stopping Deanna Stoppler; she was 9th overall and first female with a time of 8:51:05. (She won my 40-miler at Free State two weeks ago, also). Dave Wakefield dropped from the 50, but finished with a respectable marathon time of 3:58:17. Brian Beckort of Indiana set a new open Marathon record with a 3:11:46. David Lawhorn of Kentucky was 2nd, and Andrew Karandjeff (a fellow SLUG) was third. First Female was Marla Luckey in 3:57:00. Don Fichtl set a new Senior record, with a time of 3:46:39. Tony Kramer set a new Grand Master record, in 4:33:20.
Pat Perry, who I'll be pacing at Western States, finished the marathon with a time of 4:10:33. He also brought 22 other folks from his Lees Summit, Missouri company (Genesys), that he has coached for the past year. It was his folks' goal to run their first marathon as a trail marathon as part of their wellness program. They not only succeeded, but they had matching shirts and had a lot of fun, also. I was honored have one of their team's shirts given to me.
Post race, there were burgers, brats, and other food fixin's. Kevin "the Mathineer" brought some of his pale ale homebrew, also. Thanks, Kevin! Just hanging out after this race is a lot of fun. I had a blast.
If you want to run a fast and runnable trail marathon in a beautiful setting, with great race direction, you've got to do this race.
Lounging around after the race.
The Digs and the Dog.
Eric Grossman, 50-Mile winner and record-setter.
Pat Perry (#1000) at the start of the race.
Dave Wakefield and me (about 1 minute after I finished).
6 months ago