2014 Burning River 100.9* Mile Run

Special Thanks: To Western Reserve Running and the volunteers who made it happen. The aid stations were paradises and the aid workers were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

I was uncrewed and unsupported, but had some major help from several people and talked with a lot of people along the way that helped lift my spirits. Thanks everyone listed here; you made what could have been a very bad situation an awesome experience. They were, in no particular order:

  1. Petey

  2. Joel

  3. Sean

  4. The red haired runner from Chicago. I forgot your name sorry =/

EXXXXXTRA Special thanks: To everyone I’ve talked to over the years that helped me finally get my first hundred miler completed. Too many people to name but some include: Grant Fashbaugh,Harvey Lewis,The Connolly’s, Susan Anger,Eric Friedman, Richard Handley,and many others. And Vicki. Definitely Vicki.

Ivan Scale: 6 (last half), 7 (muddy night mountain section)

Elevation change: Site says 6k, other data indicates possibly 10k

Music: Five Finger Death Punch

Distance: 100 Miles, but may have been a few miles long.

Course: Some beautiful country roads, quaint towns, amazing trails and scenery.

Prep:

“I may say that this is the greatest factor—the way in which the expedition is equipped—the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.” — from The South Pole, by Roald Amundsen

I knew I would be uncrewed, so the drop bags, and what was in them was very important. I used aprons to organize footcare kits in easy bake oven style to help me when I was tired. I had drop bags scheduled for ~25, ~45 (before the Bog of Despair) ~72 and ~92. Last bag was really just to let me drop off stuff that was no longer needed. Besides footcare stuff they also had food and mints and ginger, batteries and other typical bs.

I would not be running with a Heart Rate Monitor or using GPS, but run on feeling at first, and reserve the use the GPS at night or when I knew I was moving slow.

I ran on bridges to train for the hills, raced at night on trails (Moon over Croom) since I almost never run them, and did altitude and sauna training to improve my performance.

Everyone has talked about how mental the late stages of a hundred miler are; I focused on the tried and true method of CTFO’ing and then working the problem (aka do what is necessary). Since I’d be alone I knew I’d need to be able to troubleshoot issues on the fly; I memorized most of Fellrnr’s troubleshooting guide. I ran through scenarios during training runs.

The Start:

The race really started for me the night before, when I was laying out my gear (who can sleep the night before?) and I realized I didn’t bring my water bottle. Hours of careful planning of what to carry, what to put in my drop bags, and I forgot the most basic piece of equipment. I’d been practicing to be focused and roll with things when they went bad, now was the first test.

A short while later I had a Smart Water bottle from 7/11 that would fit in my waist belt. No worries.

In the morning in the parking garage I starting talking to Petey, a runner who had driven from Arkansas for the race. I joked about my improvised water bottle and he offered let me use an extra handheld he had. Score! What a way to start a race. Ultra marathoners never cease to amaze me with their generosity.

The race officially started running from Squires Castle through a field and quickly onto the road. We ran along the road for a ways before diverting into a park. Cruised through hills and through very cool countryside. Chatted with a few people, two of which I found out were Midwest Grand Slammers. I knew then to slow down because I must have been going out way too fast.

We transitioned to some trails after reaching the first aid station around 8 miles. The weather was cool, and the trails were nice. We crossed a few streams, and I screwed up a step and ended up getting both of my feet wet. I wasn’t that worried at first because I use double socks and a layer of Aquafor or Vaseline.  I was in my Nike free’s, which have a cloth front. Usually they dry really quickly, but we were running through the dewy grass, and they kept picking up water from the grass. I started to get worried as I felt hotspots start to form on my feet. We hit some more roads, but then switched back to trail after the second aid station. My feet continued to pick up water from the grass.

Finally reached my bag around mile 22, drank a small cup of coke and found a place to dry off my feet. I had a partial foot kit, but most importantly no dry toe socks. This was mistake #2. I let them dry while I ate two snack sized butterfingers. I was nervous that the shoes were too wet, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I CTFO’d, and focused on solving the problem. Only solve I could think of was preventing more water from getting on them and getting to my next drop bag, which had my other shoes.

I sat with my headlamp from the morning in my hand,trying to decide if I should keep it. My other bag was at 72 miles. No way I wouldn’t be there in time given my current pace. I should just leave it. I took it with me, probably the smartest thing I did the whole day.

Ran more trails, hit another aid station and had another cup of coke.  Talked with a runner from Chicago who, after a confusing conversation, basically said I needed to be eating more calories and should consider a second bottle for the long legs.

Crap. How far are we, how much have I eaten? Let’s do the math:

2 packs of super starch (400 calories), 2 snack size butterfingers (200 calories), and three small cups of coke ( ~90 calories). So maybe about 700 calories. Probably 31 miles and six hours into a race. Mistake #3. I ate a ginger chew from my pouch (40 calories!) and vowed to keep on top of nutrition better.

Reached the next aid station and I saw people with drop bags. Wth? this was an aid station earlier than I’d expected it…While I chugged some Mt. Dew (lots of caffeine to speed the absorption of the carbs) and a partial cup of M&M’s an aid station worker explained that this was a loop, and that it was a short four mile loop. Did I want my drop bag now, or later?

Four miles? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to change into my Altra’s now, or stay in my free’s through this section. The Bog of Despair was coming up…so I left. Without changing my socks or shoes. The loop was ~6 miles. Mistake #4.

After slipping several times on fairly steep hills I knew my Free’s weren’t cut out of for this terrain but I was committed to this part of the loop. I just had to hope my feet could handle the water and hills. I was cursing myself for a bit but CTFO’d and focused on solving the problem.

Finally got back to the AS, asked for my bag and the AS people brought me all sorts of food while my feet dried I stuffed my face and reapllied all the sunscreen etc. Got out of the aid station prepared for the Bog of Despair.

I thought it would be worse. It was apparently dry this year, and my Altra Lone Peaks carried me through without issue. I joked afterwards that it was like the “Bog of Meh’. I would pay later for this joke.

I was still mostly upbeat, but starting to get more and more negative thoughts and feeling a little blue. So, from this aid station on the “Fuck it Bucket’ was in full effect. The Fuck it Bucket is:

A bucket usually filled with sweet substances for consumption when life gets you down.

A term coined by David Sedaris while talking about his brother in his short story “You can’t kill the rooster.”

“Sometimes, you just need to say ‘fuck it.’ and eat some motherfucking candy.” *said while reaching into the fuck it bucket*

From here on out, I grabbed a little candy at each aid station for my pockets. If I started feeling down, I’d reach in the fuck it bucket and eat some candy. Your body makes you sad because it thinks you’re dying. It’s right, but it’s a sucker for candy. This method was highly effective.

Ran some more, and a local told me about the places we were running by, which was really, really cool. It was like my own private tour! By now the hills were pretty intense. Lots and Lots and Lots and Lots of stairs, or downhills. My quads were feeling it pretty badly. I’d been toe hooking roots all day and I wasn’t comfortable that I could execute “the lean forward and bomb down the hill” technique without eventually ending at least the race. So I had to go down as quickly as they’d let me, but they were getting chewed up. Then I got a cramp in my abductor and had to painfully climb a very short hill for 10 minutes or so. Why am I getting cramps? Work the problem. Salt, massage, stretching for cramping. Chewed an Endurolyte and massaged my quads and abductors, followed by mule kicks and high knees. I could only guess that my abductor was taking up the slack for the quads or I was using crappy form going down hill.

I get to the next aid station after some pretty serious hills. I have a drop bag here. Yay!..until the can’t find it. I’d somehow thought I had one at 55ish miles, but it’s not until another 20 miles. Ok, maybe more food is necessary. My legs are starting to get weak. I get some peanut butter on a spoon for the fat and dip it in a cup of M&M’s while chugging coke. It’s a lot at once, but I’m getting really tired, and someone is talking about a lot of hills coming up.

It’s around mile 50. My quads suck, and there are more hills coming? I had no idea what was to come.

Run along a path under some cool bridges chatting with some guys and then we start up the mountains. Other people might call them hills, they certainly weren’t the rockies, but at this stage they sucked bad. The people I was running with were going down them very slowly and I couldn’t handle the pain in my quads. I was about to cry. Work the problem. I backed off a bit and let them go down first and went down quickly after them. For the most part it worked.

At this point a little voice said “Hey, when was the last time you peed?”. I’m at IPA level now and my mouth is dry. Crap, I’ve let my hydration get totally away from me. Mistake #5. Even though Chicago guy told me to carry another bottle earlier; I just tossed a 20 ounce mountain dew bottle back in my last drop bag.

I get to an aid station not much further along and drink until I’m not thirtsy, then a little more as they say it’ll be quite a bit before we get to the next AS. We went through some pretty brutal mountains and hills at this stage. i don’t know if it was how far we’d gone, or the hills themselves. I did the Killian Journet thing, using my hands on my quads and knees to help me get up them. Came out on a road near a sheep farm and amused myself while baaaaing to tthe sheep and moving down the road. The road continued for a very long time, and the sun fell just as I was getting into the woods. Completely out of water, I bummed some off a couple supporting another runner in a parking lot as we came out of the woods. Ran into a group of other runners moving fairly slowly, but they seemed to know the way through some very cool but difficult to navigate rocks. Finally we came out to an aid station in a field and I was pretty happy. Ate two PB&J’s slammed some Mt. Dew, and refilled the bucket quickly, spending less than 2 minutes there before heading out on a loop.

I had to take a lot of these hills sideways, my quads were burnt up and I hadn’t been taking enough caffeine to deal with the DOMS weakness. I vowed to up my caffeine intake otherwise I wouldn’t make cutoff with some of these painfully slow miles. After a very long time in the dark a light came on right in front of my in the trail and a pacer and runner were sitting down. The runner was having stomach problems and I offered ginger and mints to try to help. I wished them good luck and moved on. Eventually, I left the valley and came back to the aid station. Food, caffeine and out to the next aid station, where I’d get my last “real” drop bag.

I did ok through the next few miles and came up with some runners who remembered me as “that florida guy” from earlier in the day. After leaving them I realized I was having mild hallucinations of the grass moving. I’d seen this before where, after moving constantly forward for a very long time your brain makes things seem like they’re moving forward even though they aren’t. Got lost here for a bit near a duckpoond and took a while to figure out where I’d lost the thread. Backtracking sucks and I’d gone maybe a quarter of a mile off the path before realizing it. The course was well marked, I just zoned out.

Reached the aid station after a brutal couple of hills and was glad to be able to sit down for a few and change my socks. Petey was at the AS with bad blisters and would drop here =/ A change of socks, more lube to stop the chafing, noodles, coffee, and lots of candy candy candy and I was out for the loop.

The descents here were worse than anywhere else, and if I remember correctly they were covered in mud. I was alone, in the dark, with drop offs to one side and a slipperly trail to try to descend with shot quads. It sucked pretty bad and I just focused on breathing and the occasional massage of the quads.

Ate at the AS, refilled with some caffeine and left again. I remember corn fields around here and not much else, until we came to a covered bridge which was an aid station.

The carnage seemed pretty bad. Lots of runners in chairs. Some sleeping or laying down. I grabbed some food and sat down to eat and almost immediately got up. I didn’t want to sprout velcro and needed to keep moving. Left for a final loop and entered some pretty steep hills. I could see the lights of runners up the mountain, and eventally see the ones behind me as well. On the side of that hill I had a moment and wanted to stop.  I was looking back down the mountain just breathing and I wanted to just lay down and walk out in the morning. In my haste to leave I’d forgotten to refill the bucket. I made a deal with myself to take ten breaths and then reassess. I kept walking after those ten breaths.

Got to the AS, took some noodles for that quick carb hit, refilled the bucket, slammed a LOT of DEW (and ate ginger as it was bothering my stomach at this point). Eighty miles down. I was ahead by two and a half hours of cutoff.

Around this time came up on a runner and his pacer. I’d stick with them the rest of the race; trying to mentally hook onto them when they’d catch up and pass me after an aid station. the pacer, Joel, offered me some Combos, and I think I said something like “hellllllll no”. He commented that we’d almost finished, just a little. My math said the same, all I had to do at this stage was not fuck it up. If my leg locked up, or something else put me down at 1mph I didn’t have enough buffer to buckly. My time was already crap, so I played everything safe from here on out. A 29:59:59 hour finish was good for the same WS lottery ticket and buckle as a 29 hour finish.

The sun came up and we ran through forest and up more damn hills, before hitting the next aid station. After this aid station he asked again if I’d like some Jelly Bellys. Wait, what? I could have been eating Jelly Belly’s this whole time? Yea, yea, I’d like some of those =) From this point on the bucket never ran empty. Thanks again Joel.

Finally reached mile 90, the last drop bag. I ditched all non essentials to cut weight. I considered dropping my disposable poncho but decided there was still ~3.5 hours left given my pace and I could in fact die from hypothermia in that time if it got bad. I was about half a mile down the road when it started to rain and I about cut my head off smiling while I put it on. It rained off and on, hard and sometimes drizzly the rest of the 3 hours. I loved the quiet of the rain, and we moved quickly here, about 16 mpm pace. I slipped on the wooden bridges as my trail shoes couldn’t grip on them and had to hand over hand as my feet slipped and slided out from under me. Someone pacing some other runners shouted that there was one more section with lots of elevation before the end and passed by.

Got to the final aid station, chugged my water and asked them to fill it all the way up with coke while I chewed two salt caps. I wanted to surprise cramping and no weakness from DOMS. Joel gave me the bag of remaining Jelly Bellys and I crossed a bridge and up slippery brick road. We crossed into the last section of woods and hit bridge and sets of stairs that I never thought would end. I had to walk very slowly because in the rain I had zero traction on them.

Finally near the river again and I can see a bridge with runners crossing, up to another large hill. Some people said we have 1.9 miles to cover in an hour and a half and I just kept going. I was done but refused to lay down and just death marched on. Over the hill, through the city we went, until finally I could see the end. I burst into a sprint. Wait, that didn’t happen. I took off the poncho, giving it to a spectator, and kept plodding along all the way to the final street before the finish.

I was fine until about two steps before the finish and it all hit me, the immense solitude punctated by the islands of humanity, that I was done, that I’d finished and not quit.

That was by and far the hardest thing I’d ever done. To everyone involved in helping me get there, thank you, thank you, thank you.

 BR_Buckle

I will get better. I know where I made mistakes and what I can do to get faster. For now time to get back to that recovery work….

 

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Croom Fool’s Run – 50 Mile Edition

Thanks to: Vicki, Marisol Cantu all the Aid Station workers for their help. Thanks Andy Matthews for putting on a great race. Special thanks to Christian Stewart and Susan Anger for convincing me to wait it out and not drop.

 Ivan Scale: 7 (most of the race), 9 for a while

Elevation change: +6,348 / -6,580 (Sports Tracks), +8428/-8665 (Garmin Connect)

Music: Five Finger Death Punch, The Way of the Fist

Distance: 50 Miles

Course:

The race is a 5 mile loop, followed by three fifteenish mile loops. First five mile loop starts out on the road and then hits single track. Start of fifteen mile loop is very rooty and technical, end is very hilly for Florida, and includes a quarter to half mile technical section. Aid Stations about every five miles.

 Race:

I took 3 scoops of Ucan Super Starch w/protein about an hour prior to the start of the race to get the motor started. I’d “carb loaded” in the days previous on cookies and other things I normally can’t eat as part of my ketogenic diet. I wore my longer Nike shorts which are much warmer than my Brooks shorts; I was pretty nervous about friction from the Brooks pair and didn’t want to risk it even though it was supposed to get fairly warm. I like to run as naked as possible because science.

I did my usual walk to the back of all the runners and set my HR monitor for 175, or about 85% of my Max HR; I wanted to run fast, but not go out too quickly.  We set off down the road which had a few puddles from the rains earlier in the night. I avoided these like the plague; I have an irrational fear of wet feet since macerating the bottom of my feet off in my first race about two years ago. Getting my feet wet is a nightmare scenario for me. Little did I know….

 

We took a turn by Renee Tavakoli onto a sandy dirt road and made decent time heading up a fairly long hill. My headlamp wasn’t working as well as I would have preferred. There was a little fog and I’m pretty sure I’d left the one with fresh batteries back with Vicki at the truck.

 

I ran for a while behind Barbara Gay Neel and Bambi Pennycuff; Barbara had decided to run her first 50 mile race while wearing a tutu. *Props*

 

I chatted with someone for a while (Jeff?) who had recently moved here from Wisconsin. Jeff didn’t seem to mind the hills. The double track turned into a single track and I started cursing myself for my mistake; I remember Sean Connolly discussing the bottlenecks that happen on this part. I was supposed to have gotten to the front before we hit the other turn.

 

I ended up running a few miles well below the pace I wanted to, and eventually just passed around on a hill where the five or six people were walking. After this I caught up runner wearing sandals….Chris Gkikas! We were on a very technical part and I was making good time and passed by him.  I saw lights in the distance and realized that we were close to Start/Finish.

 

I pushed hard to get to the Aid Station. I then met my pacer for loops 2 & 3 Marisol Cantu. She’s posted to the FUR Boards a few days earlier looking for someone to pace:

 

2014-03-30_1943

 

a quick search showed that she was no slouch;

2014-03-30_2035

She’d finished a tough 100 when I’d DNF’d. She wasn’t scared away by my pirate humor so probably wouldn’t hate me on the trail.

I dropped my shirt, topped off my super starch and headed out to start the first real loop. It starts out extremely rooty, many large roots that cross the path that go up to about mid shin height. Not a lot of water but a few sections where you really had to focus to not get wet feet. I passed a few people here and saw a familiar runner with a shirt “Call me Bruce” Bruce Wenner!  Bruce and the Connolly’s introduced me to Croom and I knew he was a good person to run with for a bit; in the least my chance of getting lost in the dark would be lessened…. we ran for several miles together when Bruce suddenly stepped to the side of the trail. I was more than a little bummed but kept rolling down the path.

 

Around this time the course starts to get a little hillier. While pacing him last year Sean had taught me a little trick for making up time on the downhills; you lean forward and run as fast as you possibly can down them. If you trip you’ve bought an express ticket to fucktown, but if you don’t trip you can completely make up for the slowdown from the hills.

 

It was around this stage that I tripped for the first time, not going downhill, just on a level path. My left shin hit something (root?) pretty hard and I brushed myself off and continued on. A few miles later my shin started to throb badly and soon after it started to feel like someone was stabbing me every time I took a step. This rattled me quite a bit as I was only about 12 miles in at this point; walking another 38 miles wasn’t something I really wanted to do.  So I walked for a bit, taking 400mg of ibuprofen, resetting,  and letting it rest for a minute.

 I started running after a few and realized that I was keeping my left foot tense the entire time and “clawing” at the ground with my foot. I adjusted stride and relaxed and the problem went away almost immediately. The confidence fixing this issue gave me cannot be overstated; it’s one thing to hear experienced ultra marathoners talk about calming down and working the problem, it’s a completely different thing to do it yourself.

Refreshed I pushed on. I hit the next aid station manned by Justin Radley, Christian Stewart and crew, slammed water, and took off.

At this point I’d like to take a second to talk about Croom; it’s a beautiful, beautiful place. The trail we were running takes you through pine forest, rooty oak hills, and down through hollows and old sinkholes. It’s an enchanting place that makes it easy to lose miles just taking in everything. That is exactly what I did here; focusing on my form and breathing and just enjoying a morning running through the woods.

In no time at all I hit the final aid station on the loop manned by non other than Susan Anger and Joe Ricci. I slammed two cups of flat coke, a cup of water, and ate some potato chips quickly before moving on. Joe yelled something about my tattoo but I couldn’t really understand and I can barely talk when running so I just agreed and ran on. He shouted something about next loop and I shot a thumbs up.

This is the part where the course gets hilly. I mean really, really, hilly. Lots of ups and downs; I ran up the hills as much as I could without going over my set heart rate for long periods of time and passed several people in this section. the 16 mile and 50k people zooming by didn’t do anything to reassure me that I was setting a good pace and I let that motivate me to hang onto as many as I could without getting caught up in their pace. Soon I was back in the extremely technical section and I switched between power walking and jogging to push into Start/Finish.

 Loop 2

Marisol was at my drop bags and chair and saw me roll in. I yelled for Vicki in case she was over by the truck; her phone had died and I would miss her on this loop. Slammed some coke, topped off my water bottle and said hello to Christian Stewart.

 

I ate a chocolate filled macaroon from Mazzaro’s while walking down the rooty section for a bit; I love these things but can’t normally eat them because of their massive carbohydrate content. I had one as a reward to myself for every loop, a little extra motivation to get through the hills.

 Marisol took the lead and after short while we found a pace that was only slightly uncomfortable; I set my heart rate monitor to 180 so I’d at least know if we were running ahead of my heart. We made good time and ticked away the miles. In the distance lightning and thunder boomed and added an ominous backdrop to an otherwise enjoyable run.

She’s a machine her steady pace really helped push me through where I would have faded. After a while I checked my fluids and realized I was running really behind on fluids; I was more IPA than Pale Ale or Corona. I slammed coke and water now at the aid stations as it was also getting hotter and I was really starting to be worried about fluids; my fluids strategy was to drink to thirst at the AS’s and use my small bottle for continuous fueling. I could see that if it did get hotter that wasn’t going to work. I put it away as a problem for later as it was likely something I could only fix at S/F.

We hit the last AS and again he asked about my tattoo; I explained that it was Ouroboros as I was walking away and said I’d tell him on Facebook, he said to tell him on the last loop.

We ticked away miles but by now the lighting was much closer. As we headed up the hills I started counting the flash to bang on the lighting and thunder and realized it was under a five count, or less than a mile away. With no other shelter between us and the Start/Finish we had no choice but to run faster. I discussed dropping due to the lightning, and hoped that Andy would call the race.

As we picked up the pace it began to rain heavily and soon we were running through a monsoon. A stroke hit nearby “Waaa” BANG “nnnnne”. Yea, it was only about 400 meters ahead of us. We pushed the pace as much as possible and ran through the very wet technical section. I fell hard again here as well.

We sprinted to the Start/Finish where everyone was huddled under a giant tarp.

I told the person keeping track of runners that I was done; Christian immediately said “What? Why?” I explained because of the lightning. He said “Hey man, it might pass, just wait a while.” and looked at the guy and said “let him think about it, he’s not dropping yet.” I saw the logic and said I was going to go get a beer and wait a while.

I walked with Vicki back towards the truck so I could get my rain jacket on while I waited; I told Sue I was dropping and she joked that I was short and I should just find a tall person to run with. This cheered me up a bit and asked I Vicki if she would go back out in the weather; if it was safe.

 

She said “I wouldn’t go out, but you probably would….”

 

Well, at least she knows me.

 

As I zipped it up I realized how cold my legs were getting, once I stop they tighten up really quickly; I had to go now, or not go at all. I told the timers that I was going back out, slammed a bunch of Mountain Dew and Coke, filled my bottle with coconut water, took a quick picture with Marisol (who was staying), and ran off into the rain alone.

Remember that rooty section? Well it was now either mid shin high water or a raging torrent of water. There was no keeping my feet dry and I stopped caring. Only fifteen miles left and I was figured I’d just work the problem if my feet started falling apart later. The only important thing was moving forward. Running at this point was an invitation to breaking an ankle; I had no choice but to jog my way slowly through here, tucking into my rain jacket and feeling my legs slowly get cold. The rain jacket at this point was really only serving to slow down the heat loss, I was drenched inside as the howling rain was just pouring in through the hood. I acknowledged to myself that yea, this sucked, and it was normal to feel bad about it. The answer to the question of “Are you going to quit because of this?” was “No”, so the only thing left to do was focus on the task at hand.  It also helped when  reminded myself that I run fast when cold, and I was now water cooled =)

The whole situation was completely absurd. The rain, wind, thunder and lightning pounding around me and I found myself smiling. What had worked on the previous two loops wasn’t working now; downhills were potentially deadly and uphills were slippery and treacherous.

I worked the problem, alone and completely at peace with my place in the universe.

Hit the dirt road before Mule Camp Aid station and pushed the pace through the slippery mud. I was greeted by the same guy who’d cheered me on and Wendy Violes. I’d not seen a soul since Start/Finish and wondered if I was the only Fool left on the course. I slammed some salt, mountain dew, and asked “How far ahead is Pink Socks?” asking about Sean by his trail name. I knew Sean would be in the top 5 runners.  Wendy checked quickly and said “Oh like an hour or so..” Well crap. “Well when did the most recent runner leave?” and he offered a knowing smile and said “About two minutes, if you’re so inclined……”

 

You’re damned right I’m so inclined.

 

I took off through the woods again, looking for any sign for the runner ahead unconcerned with anything but the race. I picked my way down the raging floods of the craters with quads on fire and looked for fresh footprints on the way up.

 I chased the ghost of the other runner through the woods for a long time; the rain and footing slowing me so I wasn’t redlining but able to make good time. Several miles in I saw the runner in the distance briefly through the trees and I ran faster to close the gap. By now the rain was basically over and I fell in behind him for a bit, chatting about the rain, his run, etc. I was resting and glad to have company after what I’d just experienced After several “Where the hell is the aid station?” comments from both of us I passed him…only to arrive at the aid station a quarter of a mile or so later. I slammed potassium, Mt. Dew and halfway filled my water bottle; only eight or so miles or so left in the race and only a few miles until the hills really start to kick in.

Passed an older couple that were probably on their last lap of the 50k and made good time to the last Aid Station. There are several ups downs right before the aid station and I started yelling my explanation of the tattoo……and John wasn’t there. I laughed at the story destined to be unfinished; either by me dropping or John not being there. Simply not meant to be. The guy at the aid station looked at me like I was a little crazy. Not a completely inaccurate sentiment. I slammed more Mt. Dew, grabbed a handful of gummy bears and took off for the hills.  Caught up with another runner here and he had me running scared the rest of the few miles left. Every time I turned around he was rolling along with an executioner’s step.

I hit the final technical section and Justin Johnson was walking Chris Gkikas in…Chris had turned his ankle and his race was over =/ Justin told me that it was right up and hill and that I should run. I did, and proceeded to immediately trip again.

Picked myself up the final and and trotted through the water and up the hill, past one final runner with pink socks (not Sean!), and to the finish line with an unofficial time of 9:22:10.

I set out to beat my 50 mile PR. I missed that PR, but ran a hell of a lot harder, with more elevation,  on more technical trail, and in more challenging conditions than my PR race.

Mistakes were Made (aka I fucked up but lucked out):

  1. Form during loop 1 went to crap after the fall.

  2. Salt- I forgot to pack these and for some damn reason I kept forgetting to get salt tabs at S/F on every single loop.

  3. I would have had to improvise another water bottle during loop 3 if it hadn’t started raining.

  4. I should have taken an emergency poncho at the start of loop 3. If I’d gotten hurt on the trail the rain jacket wouldn’t have kept me warm enough and it could have been bad times very quickly.

  5. Shoes- I wore my Nike frees during this race; I love them, but I know the toebox is too small. I lucked out in that my feet could have really been ground down with the water. I didn’t pay for this, but it was a mistake to not get a bigger pair.

  6. I spent about 20 minutes at the S/F on my last loop. If I’d had everything available for me and gotten my shit together faster I would have been 4 ranks down, and probably would have pushed myself a lot harder in the end (would have been willing to blow up with that many people vying for position).

I’m trying to account for survivor bias in these mistakes sections; lessons should be learned regardless of DNF or Finish.

Feet:

Except for a blister under the duct tape of the big right toe, a decent bruise,  and I’ll probably lose that big toenail, but otherwise, given the conditions, my feet are in really good shape.

I’ve got a massive red spot on the front of my right leg; I suspect it’s from all of those falls…..

 Overall I came in 12th and 1 place for males 30-39. I mean, there were only *two* males between 30 and 39, but still…..

I’m completely happy with my results. This was my last race of the season and now it’s back to base building in preparation for the Barkley Fall Classic in September and tackling some 100 milers next winter.

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2014 Iron Horse 100k Race Report

iron_horse

Firstly:

I want to thank Richard Handley for crewing, pacing, and pushing me during this race. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Also, thanks to the Race Directors and Aid Station workers; it was an awesome race and it all went very smoothly.

Course:

The course was a 3.7 mile paved out and back to Start/Finish, run past S/F for a few miles, take a trail under power lines for a mile or so to an Aid Station, and then take two lollipops out from that AS. The second lollipop had an AS at the very back.

The Plan:

During all of my previous races I’d run very, very conservatively. I wasn’t sure before if I could finish the distances. I was confident I could finish this race within the 26 hours I had to complete it by, so I decided to try to *race* this one. The plan was to run ~4:45 first marathon, while conserving my glycogen as much as possible.

I follow a ketogenic diet so I knew I should need minimal carbs and based on my rough calculations from a spreadsheet put together by Dave Brillhart, some data hacked in by me from The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance,  I should be able to maintain a decent pace while primarily fueling off of fat. I only need to eat about 100 calories an hour to maintain even keel. This would help avoiding the fueling bottleneck and significant bonking for quite some time, possibly the entire race.

Lap 1

We got to the race early and were able to get a nice spot near the Start/Finish to set the truck up about 10 feet off of the trail to act as my aid station. This helped a lot mentally as I knew it would be easy to get whatever I needed to get quickly.

I drank 4 scoops of Super Starch w/protein about 30 minutes before the start to get the fat burning process started. It started raining around this time and threw my prep ritual off a bit but no big deal. Rain stopped after about 10 minutes and I spent some time talking  with other FURbies.

When the timing is done with timing chips I normally walk to the very back of the pack; there were no chips on this race so I got to the side very close to the front. Out of the many runners this would probably save me thirty seconds or so.   it was around 60 degrees and I stripped down to just a shirt, my Zensah full leg compression pants and shorts. I wanted to be as cold as possible.

Everyone started out fairly strong, and I held the pace while easing off when my heart rate got too high. Lots of people went past me, and I let them go without being too concerened.

I realized at this stage that we were in rolling hills, not flat. They’re Florida hills, but I had really wanted no hills =)

Completed the out and back and realized that I had forgotten to put on sunscreen, Richard grabbed it while I was coming in and took a quick pit stop. Stripped off the shirt as I was now warm and ran without it the rest of the day. Grabbed my waist belt as I’d run the out and back wtihout it and took off.  The hills were now in our favor so I cranked up the ipod and ran as quickly as possible while keeping my heart rate around 175.

Ran to the rolling hills under the power lines, hit the Aid Station, refilled water and grabbed a macaroon from my bag.

We were about 7ish miles in and I was feeling good, so I started pushing the pace and trying to reel people in step by step. Hit some water and had to jump around some water and turned a little weird while landing but laregly ignored it. A few miles later the outside of my left knee started aching; I was concerned and did high knees and mule kicks to loosen it up. Finished that lollipop, grabbed a cookie from my drop bag, and started the second lollipop. Lots of hills here and I ran down the slopes as quickly as I could while using good form, and ran the uphills as much as I could while keeping my heart under 180. I passed a lot of people on the way out to AS3 and realized I *really* wanted some coke. Chugged a cup of it, refilled my water and took off.

Passed up a few more people on the way out of the loop and hit the power lines and that’s when my knee started to *really* hurt. There was something about my foot strike in the shoes, the zensah tights, and the loose sand that was really aggravating it. Nursed it out of the hills and hit the asphalt and ran as quickly as I could without blowing it up.

Got to the truck, told Richard what was going on, slammed some ibuprofin, changed out of the full length Zensaa’s, and switched to my Nike Free’s, ate a macaroon and swung by the AS. Ate a boiled potato with salt. Best thing ever.

Elapsed time ~4:26, including clothing change.

Lap 2

Richard yelled at me to NOT stop again and I started moving but my left leg was completely locked. Tried high knees, mule kicks, and squatting but nothing loosed it up, I knew at this stage that it could get better, I just needed to not lose time while it was aggravated. I was super pissed at myself and frustrated at what this would do to my time. I let it go and focused on doing what I could about it.

I have a fairly good ultra walk and can do a 14 minute mile with a completely gimpy leg. So I did that for most of the way out and watched people I’d passed easily cruise by me. This sucked bad. I kept hustling and about a mile out the knee loosed up and I could run as long as I kept good form. Got back to the S/F, picked up Richard, cranked up fast music and focused on breathing, form, and cadence.

From the time I picked up Richard until the end of the race no one else passed me, and we constantly attacked the pace regardless of the situation.

We discussed early on this loop that I didn’t care about the 100k, that I *would* finish no matter what. I wanted to run a sub 10 hour 50 mile, so we were just racing the remaining 21.3 miles . I refused to talk about how much distance we had left and only talked about the next 5k we were running together or made jokes about “I only have two halves left!”.

My leg continued to lock up whenever I stopped running for any period of time. I would power walk it for a few minutes then and test it to see if it was better. If it wasn’t after 10 minutes or so I’d eat something and take more salt.

I’ve joked on Facebook that Angry Mike Tyson lives deep in my pain cave and I went to very dark places during this loop especially while my knee was locked up. I refused to slow down and I would not stop. I’m getting used to the emotions and understand that it’s just a sign to eat more and to not worry about them.

This whole time Richard is yelling at me every few minutes; I can’t hear what he’s saying over my ipod, but I understand the gist of it. “Doing Good, keep moving.”

We get to the blacktop again and Richard takes off about half a mile out from Start/Finish so that he can eat; he’s done this whole loop on a few pringles and water (!). I’m cruising about 100 feet behind a runner when I hit 50 miles on my garmin 9:22; beating my previous PR of 13:11 by three hours and fifty minutes. My yell made him jump; I felt bad about this but was elated and kicked it up to finish the “official” fifty mile portion of the race.

I’m sucking down coke and potatoes when Richard asks the race crew where I’m at in the 100k standings. They say: “He’s #4…no wait, he’s #2” Richard says “Did you hear that? Do you know what that means? He’s on the out and back. Go!”

Lap 3

I’m not really sure what to think about all this; it *must* be wrong. I’ve passed a lot of people, but there’s no way I can be that close unless someone in front of me has DNF’d or all the fast people are all running the 100 miler.

I’m suck down a potato and some more coke on the way out of the Start/Finish. I want to be able to turn up the heat for the remaining 12 miles. I am also running scared because I don’t know how far back other people are behind me. The out and back is pefect though because you can see people coming towards you and get an idea of how far ahead of you they are…..then my GPS dies. I see a few people but know a few are in the hundred mile race. I hit the turn around and run for a long time before seeing a lady; she is probably 10-15 minutes behind me but looks like she’s hurting. A few minutes behind her is another lady and she looks strong and is running the uphill.

Richard joins me at the Start/Finish and we hustle through the road running almost the entire blacktop. I know that I’ll have a hard time on the power line section because my knee has always given me issues here. I’m hunting for first place (even though I know it’s very unlikely), and running scared to keep #2. How strong are the other people behind me?

The turnaround for the 100k is ¼ of a mile past the aid station, so I know I’ll see #1 here; I have to have seen this runner on my out and back, only a 100k person would be coming back on this stretch.

Then I see him, walking with his daughter. He doesn’t look strong but I can’t really run much because of the sand.

We blow through the aid station, turn around point, and start heading back; I can’t manage to run at this stage and I’m afraid to risk blowing my knee up and losing any chance of finishing in top 3.

We see the two people from my out and back about a half mile from the aid station and I know I have around a mile lead on them.

1 mile = 10 minutes if they’re hauling ass.

I’m walking so fast that Richard is having to jog every 10 paces or so, I don’t have a GPS, but I must be in the 13’s. We have 3.5 miles left. The math doesn’t work, I lose my place if I can’t run, I will get passed around .5 miles before the finish.

I take salt and more ibuprofin as we get to the blacktop and we run. It’s dark now, and we have no headlamps. The road is a sea of black and we’re running with just the moonlight to guide us. It feels like we’re doing 7 minute miles and I tell Richard I can’t keep up. He yells that this is what pacers do and that I need to run.

After a mile or so we see forms in front of us in the dark, people headed the same direction. Two of them. It’s got to be them.

They.Are.Walking

We slow and rest for a few paces. The Race Directors pass by in an old Army Jeep just as we’re about to pass them the headlights hit them….not the leader. He’s still ahead.

We charge up the hill; I’m certain that the leader has already finished, but I’m afraid of who is behind me and how quickly they’re gaining. Richard says “You need to run, you can still finish under 12 hours.”

I see the lights of the start finish in the distance; I’ve been red lining almost continiously since we hit the blacktop and every part of me is screaming to stop. I can’t read but I can see the red clock. Richard yells that it’s still at eleven hours but I need to run faster. I’m a ways away and I see that it reads 11:59:25…I push with everything I have left, run through the finish and throw myself on the grass.

Finished. Done.

Richard about crushes my rib cage congratulating me. =)

I ask what place I got; they don’t know. Uggg.

“Oh wait, you’re fourth”

Hah! They had it right the first time. I wouldn’t have fought so hard if I hadn’t of thought I was close to the lead. I wouldn’t have gotten sub 12. It all worked out anyways. For the record; I still haven’t seen official postings so this *may* change.

Either way, I ran a good race, and I couldn’t have tried harder than I did.  The RD gives me my first ultra buckle and I’m in a very good place.

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What worked:

Eating Salt- I went light on salt tabs on purpose; there were several times where I had significant muscle spams and the salted potatoes helped both my knee and the muscle spasms. I’d researched this after another runner had knee issues during Long Haul. What I found was that having the salt in your mouth reduces muscle spasms faster than if you eat a salt pill. They think this works because it tricks the central govenor.

Getting naked-It was around 60 degrees most of the day with a high of probably mid 70’s. I wore only shorts and calf sleeves all day. I had zero heat issues.

To be clear, this was slightly risky; I’d seen several people have cold problems at Long Haul when they had issues and couldn’t run any more. My safety plan was that if my knee locked up and I couldn’t move at all I’d alternate crunches or pushups to keep my core temp up while gimping out. The risk was also mitigated by having a pacer and there only being a few miles between AS’s.

Going Light-I carried only a small bottle instead of wearing a heavy pack with lots of water. Given my speed it just made sense to quickly fill up at each place.

Nike Frees-These may not be the shoes that I end up using, but the Cortana’s are simply too heavy for these long runs. Switching to them sped me up significantly.

Form-I focused on keeping good form a lot during the race. I felt like I made awesome time on the blacktop and my Garmin running data confirms that while running I had good cadence, oscillation and ground contact time. At least for the first 52 miles….

Drinking to Thirst- I used to drink based on taking X water every hour. This time I drank when thirsty with a safety plan of ocassionaly forcing myself to see if I needed more water.

Color of Pee

Protien before/during/after-My only significant soreness the day after is my left knee and bone pain in my right foot; everything else is as sore as I’d expect from a typical training run. Using the superstarch with protein and eating an awesome cheeseburger right after probably helped protect me from significant muscle pain.

Epsom Salt and Ice Bath-I also have taken an epsom salt bath and an Ice Bath. I know these work wonders and expect.

Threshold training-I’ve added a lot of lactate threshold training and it seems to be working. I can maintain a fast pace for much longer. Also, I’m mentally more used to the noise from that level of exertion, which is very similar to the end of a race.

Foot care plan- I tape my right big toe, spread vaseline over the rest of my feet and carefully put inside injinji’s. These then go inside a compression sock. I have some issues here; the surviving big toenail will probably shed because of this, but I believe all of the issues are because this pair of Nike Free’s are too small. I will address the shoe issue and continue using this plan until it stops working.

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Mistakes were made:

Drop Bag-Should have had some ibuprofin in my drop bag, would probably have saved me several minutes. I also didn’t put superstarch in my bag as planned, this caused me to be light on calories during the first loop (probably why I craved the coke).

Kinesio Tape-I should have taped my knees; I’ve had problems with them on every long trail run I’ve done. I had KT tape but didn’t proactively tape them. After it unlocked the first time I was afraid to stop for any length of time to tape them. If I won’t stop during a race then I need to tape before.

I also didn’t tape it because I wasn’t confident that the way I taped it would be effective; I was worried it would cause more harm than good. I need to tape it in practice so I can be confident on race day.

Trail running-I need to do more of this; running on the grass just isn’t the same as a real trail. I said this 13 months ago. There’s a lesson here.

There are a few more things, but for a first draft this should do.

I’m looking forward to paying back Richard when he decides he’s racing an ultra again.

P.S.- It’s awesome seeing people I know at these things. I’m looking forward to the next big race. Rhymes with “Bees”.

P.P.S.- I think this is too long, but the first draft of anything is always crap.

 

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The way I see it…

The way I see it:

TLDR:Be a helper. Everyone else is on the same path as you.

It’s dangerous to go alone

dangerours
The way I see it, we’re all on our own journey and adventure; it’s *really, really* easy to forget this fact. In Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, the hero is confronted by the new dangerous world. It’s a time of discovery, danger, and excitement, but he needs the helper to make it to survive and find their way. Everyone needs helpers, even those who end up bei. Everyone else is going through their own adventure, and they’re potentially in the middle of the dark with really fucking scary shit going down in that darkness. They’re pushing their own boulder up the hill. Give them a sword, give them a lamp, give them a kind word. Sometimes all it takes is a smile to get someone through the darkness.

helper

 

So Hum
It’s about them, but it’s also about you. You help them through their own journey, but by helping them, you change yourself. It’s impossible to see someone who is beaten down pick themselves up and go on down the trail without being changed yourself. Inspire and be inspired. You are not this. You are that.

So, the next time you see someone on their hero’s journey, help them. You’re really helping yourself anyways.

P.S.

I’m following the Hemingway style of writing, and I expect I’ll be editing this post tomorrow…

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Wild Sebastian 100- Refused to Continue

 

To start: I am in charge of my training and racing. All responsibility falls on my shoulders for any failures.

TLDR: Lots of awesome people, tough race, mistakes were made, I refused to continue, lessons were learned

Crew

Vicki-  Totally rocked at crewing. I asked for ridiculous things that I’d packed away and she knew exactly where it was. This really helped my mental state during the transitions as I wasn’t stressed about things. You rocked, THANK YOU!

Richard-  Richard was a total rockstar on this run. After transportation situation on Friday didn’t work out he drove out and back on his own. During the race we rolled like a machine, talking through strategy for the next AS, how we were going to reel someone in, troubleshooting etc, etc.You rocked; THANK YOU!

Aid Station Volunteers- I tried not to spend any time there but all of the aid station volunteers were friendly, helpful and overall just awesome. Also, now that I’m starting to know more people in the ultra community it’s great to see familiar faces

RD’s- The Beck’s put on an awesome race. They are really nice people, friendly, and put on an awesome race. Specific example: Mike was giving me a ride back to Start/Finish is a gator and stopped to set up some glow in the dark duckies “Just to give them something to cheer them up” on a fence post. I think that’s seriously awesome.

How’d my feet do?

They did marvelously, only one small blister and my toenails didn’t get much worse (the left big toenail looked that way from the Pinellas Trail race). The bottoms have just one tiny blister, which I didn’t know about until I looked for them.

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The course: The course was a 25 mile loop in St. Sebastian State Park. Aid stations about every 3 miles.

The race plan: Go out slow, survive the day, fight in the night.

I always, always, go out too fast. I decided to run the first loop using a Heart Rate Monitor to stop from doing what I always do. I knew it would be hard mentally but would pay off later. Loop two would be about surviving the heat, and then I wanted to just grind out the last two loops during the night.

Loop 1:

I walked allllll the way to the back of the group starting out and let everyone shoot out of the gate. I was ok with DFL for quite a while as long as I didn’t start too fast. I had set my HRM for 155 which should allow me to jog and walk a lot but not overdo it. I was running this first loop entirely based on heart rate for carbohydrate sparing reasons. After a few minutes of running on the doubletrack I fell in beside a few runners and we chatted for a while. I met fellow FURbies, Lauren Hadley, who was running her first 50 as a training run for AO, and Bernadette, Roger, and Libo(sp?). We ran together for a while bs’ing and talking about AO and other things. It was coolish and cloudy and was awesome weather for running. Then, we hit the sand:

wild_sebastian_sand

I knew that there would be sand on the course, and had trained for it on beaches, but I had no idea how much there would be. I mean, there was miles and miles of this stuff. Someone later told us there was about 9 miles of it (I think he was off, but not by much) I was mentally in a good place but it was frustrating to be wading through this stuff and not to be able to run. The good news was I’d worn gaiters so I didn’t have a lot of sand in shoe problems.

I was trying to spend <30 seconds at Aid stations because Aid Stations cause DNF’s. I forget who wrote the article on this, but my plan was to grab water as quickly as possible and keep rolling.

I got to AS3 and futzed around with my aid bag but was not really thinking clearly; I realized I’d been there a while and blew out of the AS alone and was moving as quickly as my HRM would let me. This next section brought a lot of bogs and the temperature was starting to climb.

About this time I heard someone yelling a ways behind me and thought someone might be in trouble. Nope, it was just someone in her zone singing in the middle of the woods. =)

I went through AS4 quickly and got back out in decent time; the temperature was picking up and I was a little worried about hydration becoming an issue.I hit another big bunch of sand to the next AS, and started to slowly but surely pass people in this section. This happened pretty much for the rest of the race, passing one or two people for every aid station, and was a good mental boost for me.

Ran into someone Mark(?) that I’d met during my first race and had a pretty cool conversation about the Keys race and ultra’s in general. I left him after 10 minutes or so to keep hammering out at my heart rate.

Loop 2

I switched shoes to my bigger ones, changed to my safari hat, and grabbed another round of salt tabs and supplements, and got back out from the Start/Finish fairly quickly. There were a lot of people there having bad days and I didn’t want to get sucked into it. I was *very* happy to have a pacer for the rest of the course as I’d picked up Richard and he’d be accompanying me the rest of the way. We ran off my heart rate monitor for a while, and discovered that we had a secret talent; we were pretty good at getting through sand quickly. The mood was light and we were able to get through the first few AS’s pretty quickly. It was probably a mistake to keep using the HRM during this loop as we were pretty conservative on pacing while using it.

My coconut oil/almond flour that had been pretty awesome for me in training runs was upsetting my stomach and I had a peanut butter tortilla wrap at AS3 that was amazing. We got back out with headlamps and the objective of negative splitting this lap as the heat was wearing off. I had a couple of gray spots and focused on eating during these times. I managed to make it through this race without crying even a little, which is a first.

About this time the sun was setting and it started to rain. It wasn’t pouring, but it made the sugar sand stick to our shoes, and the high grass soaked our shoes. At this point blisters started to be a concern as we had a lot of ground to cover to get back to Start/Finish.

I’d been constantly moving forward for quite a while at this stage, I looked up at the moon which had just come out. There were puffy, silvery clouds all over the sky, and they were all flying into the moon, like it was some kind of vortex. This bothered me a lot. Fortunately Richard said he saw it too; Although he might have been fibbing a bit just to keep me calm.

I made a mistake during this time, and it was that I stopped eating as much. Richard was on me to eat, but looking back the calories just weren’t there. Also, although we weren’t running based on my heart rate monitor, I’d left it on and I noticed that I couldn’t get my heart rate up like I’d been able to do earlier, my percieved exertion was maxed but my heart rate was in the 140’s to 150’s. I was also getting twinges in my knees; Richard showed me how to high knee and mule kick to help fix these twinges.

We ran the rest of this loop doing tree to tree or marker to marker; our power walking was probably in the 15 minute range and we probably hit 12 minute miles during the running section. Overall we did loop two with a negative split around 20 minutes.

Loop 3

The Start/Finish tent felt like a mass casulty tent. There were tons of BMF’ers that were having hard conversations like “I’m not going back out there” and “Normally I’d let you talk me out of this but I’m done.” I needed a dry place to fix my feet and didn’t have a lot of options, but this, and my looming distance PR of 54, both hit me pretty hard mentally. After 25 minutes or so I said “I’ve got to get out of here” and we got back out with fresh socks and Richard muling my water (like I said, I owe him big time).

My legs were trashed from being so cold for so long and we tried to pick it up a bit with some running and I think my legs just weren’t warm enough for it at this stage. A few miles in my right knee starting feeling weird and “wobbly”. I tried focusing on my form and at this stage we were power walking because I wasn’t sure it would be able to take much running. I was focused on getting to AS1.

Hit AS1, had some salted almonds and focused on getting to AS2, where I was pretty sure Bob Becker would be able to tape my knee. I figured I was probably fibbing to myself and we discussed options for distance of just 75, and maybe just going to AS3 so I could at least do 100k. The last 100 meters to AS2 I really did not like the way my knee was feeling. A line from UR magazine was rolling through my head over and over again “..and he has never run again”. I didn’t think it was going to end up at that, but as I thought through the sand and the hog ruts I’d need to fight to get to AS3 I wasn’t sure I was willing to take the chance. Hurting it badly for a few miles and being out for a few months didn’t seem like a good choice.

Doc Hammer arrived about this time and taped/wrapped it but after taking a few steps it still didn’t feel like it was worth the chance. I DNF’d here, but really I REFUSED TO CONTINUE.

I’m not in a bad place mentally right now. That’s actually the hardest part for me on this; I know there were a lot of hard MF’ers that didn’t go out for loop two or three. I’m sure I could have gimped to AS3 and back to AS2 to get 100k under my belt, but I think it would have been a mistake and could possibly taken me offline for months. I think it was a good call.

Lessons Learned:

Injury- I hurt my back about two months before the race and this knocked the peak off of my training for this race. Low time on feet probably had something to do with not enough leg strength.

Packing- I need to make organization simpler. It was great having everything I had; I needed my heat gear after all, I needed all the foot things I had. The tubs helped out greatly.

Fix my hip- My right hip doesn’t have the range of motion it should. I’m pretty sure this is causing the kinetic chain issues I’ve had.  This is my first priority.

Strength Training- This is my second race where knee issues caused problems. Besides fixing the kinetic chain issues above, I need to have muscles that are able to handle the slow pace for very long times. Tire dragging and some weight training should help with this.

Altitude training- I think this helped a ton and while it’s time consuming I plan on using it for future races.

Mental strength- I was in a pretty good place for a lot of this race. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable at the higher distances and with sticking to a strategy.  Until the very very end I feel like I was mentally able to get through the blue sections with “These are normal feelings and they will pass”.

Almost forgot:

Wild Sebastian is a little different in that you can get credit for each 25 mile loop; this means that I technically completed a 50. That means I did get a little bling:

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What’s next?

I’m not going to aim for other 100 milers next year like originally planned. I think that I should finally listen to others, and aim for a 100k and try to do some fast 50 milers before stepping up to 100’s. This should give me time to develop the confidence, aerobic base, and the leg strength for the longer races.

Time to stop writing and time to visit ultrasignup.com… =)

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Pirates at Christmas- Part Three

As I mentioned on Facebook previously, two years ago for christmas I made a pirate map and my son found a treasure chest buried in our yard. Last year I buried a treasure chest for my son and he led me to the treasure at Wheedon Island.

This year, I’d like to have him find a treasure chest with a clue to a multi year puzzle. He finds these treasure chests based on maps “left by the pirates” every year at Christmas.

Here is what I’m thinking about doing:

  1. Include water in this year’s search.  There’s a beach nearby that has rocks and a relatively flat area that could easily be recruited for this purpose. I’m thinking perhaps Lassing park….or the beach by North Shore pool. Lassing park is a good one from no one seeing me bury the thing, but not good because he’s never gone there.
  2. Include riddle as part of this year’s puzzle; this adds complexity as it will mean I’ll need to sneak where ever I hide the treasure after he solves it and before he can go there to prevent someone from finding it prematurely.
  3. Inlcude a key in this year’s chest that would unlock the multi year chest. This requires that I have the at least next year’s lock before I bury the treasure.
  4. Use a fake hash/code this year, and next year include the solution for the hash. Basically, what I’m leaving this year would mean nothing, and I’d use riddles/puzzles two years from now to give him the location of the final treasure. This will give him the time he needs to get better at researching/puzzles/reading.

So in summary:

  1. This year includes bs code in the chest he finds that will be unlocked two years from now via riddles/puzzles
  2. Next year would be a physical key in his treasure chest
    1. This means I need to not wait until the last minute to get the chest (or at least the lock).
  3.  Third year chest would include the key, or clues, to unlock the riddles to give the location to the chest.

This really means that I need to get hustling on this years chest, and puzzles sorted out. I believe I may have this years chest be some sackcloth or a similar material and have the code be sewn/painted onto it; it could potentially wrap up this year’s haul of treasure and I could point it out to him if he doesn’t notice it.

 

 

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The BEER Technique

New Managers frequently find that they need to learn a new set of skills as what got them there won’t help them move to the next level. A friend of mine taught me this technique and I’ve found it invaluable in dealing with professional, and personal situations.

If I’m having issues with someone, I don’t let it fester, I take them for a BEER.

Behavior- Review with the person what their behavior

“Bob, I wanted to talk with you about how you handled that customer yesterday….

Effects- Review with them the effects of this behavior.

……when we yell at customers it causes a lot of work for everyone, and drives away business…

Expectations – Talk about what your expectations of their behavior in the future.

…in the future my expectations are that you’ll manage the situation in a professional manner….

Review- Have them respond back to you what you discussed, and review with them in the future as necessary. This is an important step as it reinforces the discussion and lets them know you’ll be reviewng their future behaviors.

…I’ll be following up with you in a few days to review any new situations, just to make sure we’re on the same page, can you recap this conversation?”

What do you think of this technique?

 

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35-36

My Goals for 35-36:

BHAG Consigliere for 3 Friends – Fail- Not for lack of trying. The idea was that I’d help three of my friends achieve a goal that they’d otherwise find extremely difficult. I found that if it’s important to them they’ll make it happen. Once I realized this was probably a wash I focused just on helping friends be awesome at what they wanted to be awesome at. Not that I don’t normally try to do that, but I focused on being very forward learning on it.

Run a 100 Mile Ultra marathon- Fail- Per my previous post, I didn’t achieve this. My second individual race and fourth overall. It was a good learning experience. If I hadn’t run this race I wouldn’t have known as much as I *think* I know now. It taught me a lot about the longer distances, and I’ve been training my ass off in preparation for next year.

 

Learn to scuba dive – Pass- Completed my final dive in early August. Still looking forward to doing the next thing, which is diving with sharks.

 

Visit Australia- Fail- Didn’t make it out there this year, although this year is looking very promising.

 

Become proficient in CSS, Python, JS, HTML- Pass- My skills have gotten seriously rusty in the last six months and I’m certainly not a professional, but I can get by on simple things and find the answer to complex things now. I’ve finally gotten past how to architect things and tie them all together, which was always my sticking point.

 

Pitch an Angel/VC investor- Pass- I was really only focused on presenting a business plan to a large group of people. Which makes me really, really nervous. I pitched a crazy business idea at StartUp Weekend after we rolled snake eyes during our market research. Gutterdrip will always hold a special place in my heart ;o)

Day Job

Things went well here this year. Continued to grow my people and give them a safe place to expand their skills. Through no small amount of help and good words from friends was promoted to a much larger role. Interesting things are also coming with recent changes in ownership.

Tampa Bay Investment Alliance

Had an awesome year but had to bow out of this group. While I loved meeting with very smart people every month. In the end investing in stocks, etc is a bet that they can return more than you can yourself. With plans for this year being what they are I decided to continue to focus and put more wood behind fewer arrows.

Not My Day Job

For the most part, things went well here this year as well. Without getting into details, new product launches were well recieved and I expect this evergreen content/IP to generate money for quite some time. I have stopped doing the minor amounts of effort for this, and won’t be doing any more for several groups. More wood behind fewer arrows.

Additionally, I had a failure in this area and learned a lot. I used what I had learned from Mindbottling, and I think that stopped my losses from being much larger.

Running

Performance Data

VDOT- Last Year – 35

VDOT-May- 39

34-35- 310.2 Miles

36-35- 960.8 Miles- not counting the run I’m doing tonight ;o)

I’ve done a lot more running this year and believe I’m a significantly improved runner. I’ve worked on nutrition, mental, time on feet and many other things. Also, starting the end of January I’ve been doing the Maffetone training method which focuses on low heart rate training. I also do leg strengthening excercises and strectches during my downtime. I also attended a Cross-Fit Endurance course this year, which taught me some very interesting things about injury prevention, form, and foot turnover. I spend at least ⅓ of my training time running Florida hills (aka bridges), and try to spend at least ⅓ on trails or on the beach to strengthen my legs. Myofascial release has helped for the big adhesions and I believe it’s kept me injury free since january. My IT band really hammered me in the middle of the year and I thought it might take running from me.

I raced twice this year, Ragnar Keys, and Long Haul 100. Ragnar Keys was fun, and I learned a lot from Long Haul. I also paced for a friend at Croom Fool’s Run, which was a good learning experience. With 4 races under my belt now I’m not as nervous at the starts.

I have also switched from being vegan to keto, which is a high fat, low carbohydrate based diet. I did it for health reasons, as well as hopefully performance improvement at ultra distances. I’m in ketosis now, but not yet keto adapted. Planning on trying it for 90 days to see how my body adapts to it, but so far, it’s been very, very interesting.

Vicki

Wow, what can I say. She’s an amazing woman and it’s been an amazing year for us. We’ve made some big decisions about things and will be doing some of those things this year. I love her more than the moon, and that’s saying a lot. =)

Tyler

He’s grown so much this year. Learning to read, being awesome to young kids in his Montessori class, helping in the garden, and floored me by comparing one of Dali’s paintings to Van Goh. He’s a little adult now, and I’m in awe of him as he grows into the man he will become. Certainly looking forward to taking him to Colorado soon. Nothing else scares the crap out of me so much but gives me so much pleasure.

Cool things this year:

  • Solomon’s Castle with Tyler
  • Ragnar Key West
  • Startup Weekend
  • Long Haul 100
  • Making several new, awesome, friends
  • Glaser museum
  • Went to Silicon Valley for the first and second time!
  • Received my Product Management Certification!
  • Lot’s of Geek Breakfast’s in St. Pete!
  • Had drinks with Adeo Ressi (even though everyone else hates him lol)
  • Made a custom treasure map for my son and had him lead the adventure to find it in Weedon Island.
  • Started a garden. Taught tyler about how we get our food and what goes into it.
  • Had my nails painted pink by Vicki ;)
  • Sang Jewel while in a friends dollhouse it was a par-tay!
  • Helped a friend learn to run. Now he can smoke me =)
  • Took Tyler to legoland
  • Whiteboard wall!
  • With the help of many others, post it noted all of a coworker’s office!
  • Survived the Mayan apocalypse
  • Tyler lost his first tooth!
  • Helped Ty learn how to use tools
  • Went to Ashville with Vicki!
  • Ran, mostly solo, a 45 mile practice run before my big race. Was an amazing experience.
  • St. Anthony’s Family festival bouncy house with Tyler  was amazing
  • Halloween with Tyler!
  • Tyler’s first baseball game!
  • Tylers first day of real school

Books I read this year:

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

The Cool Impossible

Endurance Training and Racing

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving

Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyab

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time)

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life

Power Speed ENDURANCE: A Skill-Based Approach to Endurance Training

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

Mastery

The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup (Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship)

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons

Guards Guards! (Terry Pratchett)

 

Our time  this planet is short, and I will make the most of what I have left. It’s going to be an awesome year!

 

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The Pufferfish

I was recently having a conversation with someone about the impact of their plan for their SaaS product. It was a relatively small impact when framed the way they were looking at it, but didn’t include a very holistic view of things. The solution to this is the Pufferfish. The execution of the Pufferfish is as follows*:

  1. State the decision, and the delta from the desired state for a small use case. “Well Bob, if you do that, it will cost you $10,000 to implement this for existing customers in this location this year…” 
  2. Expand to include total existing universe “…but for all the other locations it will be the same, so that’s $70,000 a year for your existing customers however….”
  3. Expand to the expected three year universe “…given your projected growth rate you’ll add another three locations a year. That means that you’ll have sixteen locations in three years, for a total of $160,000 a year in three years…”
  4. Now talk about sales and impact to margin…. “and your margin is 10% Bob. That means that you would have to do $1.6 million in business to just cover this in three years. But really, this decision will negate $4.6 million in sales over that time. That’s a lot of cheddar Bob. The right decision is to get this right the first time, isn’t it?”

It’s worked for me several times. Why? I think it’s a mental buffer overflow. You’ve thrown a lot of numbers around and they’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a very bad idea. This tactic obviously needs to be used judiciously to prevent them from becoming desensitized to it, but it can be hugely instrumental in select cases.

What do you think of the pufferfish?

blowfish

*All example numbers are completely fictional and used for illustrative purposes only.

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Couch to DNF- Long Haul 2013

Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach.” - Marcus Aurelius


TLDR: Little mistakes add up, more DSSS and listening.

To start: I am in charge of my training and racing. All responsibility falls on my shoulders for any failures that I have. My crew and friends were awesome and I couldn’t have asked for better help.

I DNF’d the longhaul 100 during lap 4, at around mile 50 because of sharp pain/locking up on the outside of my left knee. This was after ~26 miles of pain in my right knee and thigh from my normal IT band issues. A lot of little things went wrong during the run that ended up adding up to little things. Many of these little things were either told to me, or easily forseeable.

Starting with the last thing first:
My left knee didn’t want me to bend it any more. I’d been using it to compensate for my right leg issues and I’d let my legs get cold.

My legs got cold because:

  1.  I included low cut socks (which allows blister inducing rubs) along with my regular socks. These socks were intended for emergency purposes during rain/muddy situations.
  2. I did not have enough of these and keep them separated/clearly well enough.
  3. I did not review the race plan I’d written up with everyone prior to the race so my crew didn’t understand what I was talking about
    1. The time for review is not when the clock is ticking.

All of this led to 20+ minutes of downtime trying to change socks.

 I had to change socks because I got a rock in my inside sock. I do long runs with two pairs of socks; injinis on the inside and swiftwick olefin compression socks on the outside. I got a rock on my inside sock because:
  1. I didn’t bring my trail gaiters:
    1. I didn’t bring my trail gaiters because the pair I’d brought required you to glue something to your shoe to work. I have three pairs of shoes for running, so I’d only have gaiters for one pair of shoes.
    2. I didn’t bring them as well because I didn’t see the point; all the trails I’d run on did not have many rocks, only sand

My form sucked. This trail was barely a trail at many points and required running in ruts:

  1. My preparation for this run was 99% on streets that were wide enough to accomodate my running form
    1. Because I train at night and there are no trails that are open/safe trails at night where I live
      1. Training mostly at night limits where I can run

My form also sucked because I didn’t have a solid water plan down.

  1. A very small fraction of this was because of last minute changes to the course route.
  2. I should have used mapmyrun to determine distance and back into water
    1. I need to quit being such a sissy about running without water
  3. I was distracted by thinking about water (and the brown color of my urine).
    1. Would have been better to carry my wasp backpack with 40 ounces than constantly be thinking about it.
    2. I eventually got this worked out, but by then my IT band was bothering me.
My IT band sucked because I used bad form and I didn’t do enough core exercises after injuring it in early November:
  1. My running coach told me repeatedly to work on my core strength
    1. I missed on my MED
      1. By missing on MED, I mean I just basically said “I’m not going to do that”
    2. I had multiple chances to get it fixed via exercise and massage
    3. I was warned two weeks before (right after Ragnar) that it was ridiculously tight
    4. Foam rolling reduces the pain from it, but doesn’t resolve root cause
I took tylenol during the race instead of ibuprofin:
  1. I don’t take painkillers/anti inflammatories during training at all
  2. I’m 50/50 on this being a real issue. Given the water problems I was having, and the reactions people have had to ibuprofin on long runs on their kidneys, I am not sure how this may have impacted me.
    1. Ibuprofin may have helped my knee from locking up.
I raced during my taper…
  1. and I ran fast. Two days later my right leg was really not happy with me. Dum dum dum dum dum.
I did not reevaluate my goals after getting injured…
  1. 100 miles was already a big stretch goal. Should have worked it down to the 100k or something similar.
    1. I acknowledge that I probably won’t ever do this, but I want to acknowledge that it’s a flaw. Running represents the one place where I can be as agressive and Type A as I want.
I did not effectively use pacers:
  1. I only had 1 pacer planned for this run; Adam was scheduled to come out during lap 6/7.
  2. I believe pacers would have helped me keep in a good frame of mind during the heat of the day, which is when I don’t like running the most
I am overly reliant on my GPS and my ipod during runs.
  1. I took them off during the end to save the batteries for later in the race. Mentally this caused me to freak out a little because I could not effectively evaluate my pace.
    1. I probably need to do some trail runs without GPS and ipod so I’m used to this.
What went right:
  1. Mentally dealing with bad things happening hit the wall HARD at about mile 38. I was supposed to get my headlamp at 3 and the sun was starting to set. There are some deeeeeeeep swampy parts near the trail on this run.
    1. This is about where I hit it last time. I thought that I would be able to fuel my way through this (I ate a lot more this time).
    2. I had read an article about Mike Morton’s run on LH100 last year where he had a big spill and that he just had to work on the problems that he was having.
    3. I had walked through a mental framework for how I’d deal with this before the run and did it:
      1. What’s wrong?
      2. Ok, so how do I feel about that?
      3. So, how would someone else feel about that?
      4. So you’re no different than them, right?
      5. So eat a gel, turn on Stairway to Heaven, have yourself a good cry for your sad pathetic situation, and start fucking running when they start jamming out.
      6. I really think that by acknowledging that things were screwed up and utilizing Parkinson’s law help me mentally get turned around more quickly than I would have otherwise.
        1. It’s the pity party MED.
  2. Feet!
    1. No blisters. No black toe nails. Just my same ugly ugly hooves. Considering I lost almost all because of the last one this is a major freaking win.20130121_114930
    2. I need to do more DSSS on this, as right now it’s very complicated and sometimes I have problems with sand mixing with the vaseline. I’m sure the big guys are able to deal with more feet I can currently.
  1. Friction areas
    1. There was blood last time. No blood this time.
  2. Soreness
    1. With the exception of my knees, I wasn’t and am not sore at all really. I credit this to the following:
      1. Scott Jurek’s anti inflammatory smoothie from Eat and Run
      2. Zensah compression tights- help me run below my lactate threshold and reduce DOMS
      3. Better physical fitness- running way below my lactate threshold.
        1. Running below your lactate threshold lets you fuel more on fat, which reduces damage to your cell walls
          1. See “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” for more information
      4. 5 minute ice bath once I got home. Cold shower the day after.
        1. This really, really, sucks but seems to be the best thing I can do after a run.
  3. I was much faster, which is to be expected with some experience and training. Still a victory nonetheless.
 I’d already planned on making significant changes to my training for this year, and I believe that this failure has highlighted things better than sucking through the next 50 miles would have. Success makes you blind to the things that could have gone wrong.
I will be listening to my running coach more, as well as combining LHRT and CFE to improve my core strength and move my anaerobic and aerobic thresholds. I’ll peel back into the CFE after I use the DSSS.
General outline will include:
  1. More trail running without gps and ipod (maybe HR monitor only)
  2. More core work
  3. Better logistics planning and race prep
  4. More Pacers
  5. More pacing – I need to have more experience on seeing runners that are deep in the suck. If I can get my speed up I should be able to pace someone on a run.

 

I plan to update and edit this for easier reading when I don’t have a garden that needs weeding and a child waiting on me.

 

Ted

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