Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Dec RUT Fat Ass Ultra

34 miles in 5:08

RUT is a local (meaning Ann Arbor area) running group that promotes running, especially the ultramarathon variety. In the last few years they have been promoting a series of Fat Ass races. For those of you uninitiated, Fat Ass races are free, and have minimal support, no shirts (usually) no awards, no frills. The key is that first one, free. tell runners there is a free race but ask them kindly to bring some food to share for the racers and you get an AWESOME spread of food. from homemade cookies to fresh fruit to your standard ultra fare. That’s what we had this day.

There ended up being 91 people on this cold day (~21 degrees at race start) but the course was in good shape (less than an inch of snow for the most part) and everyone was in great spirits (Hey, its a free race!) at 8am when it was start.

The course was essentially the same as the summer FA I did back in August two weeks after my difficult BR 100 run. That me it took me over 4 hours to do a marathon distance, and this day iw as feeling much much better. I am now deep in training (well, sortof) for my next 100 mile race in January, so I decided to make this a long training run since it was well supported and lots of other people running. I had hoped to do 40 miles, but because I had to get on the road in time to pick up my daughter in Indiana that afternoon, I had to bail after 34 miles. It was still a good hard workout.
The first loop (~13.6) was gentle and easy and after a few miles I got into a steady pace with two other guys, Brian and Eric. Smart guys (one microbiology grad student, one computer geek) and good conversation abounded including quite a but of banter on educational philosophy. Brian dropped back near the end of loop 1, and Eric and I stayed together through the transition (~5 min stop at start/finish for food and costume changes) and about 4 miles into the second loop. We had been doing 8:40ish miles up to that point which was slower than I wanted to do, but the conversation was worth the drop in pace for me. Eric cut me lose and I picked up the pace a little bit after that.

The course is well worn mountain bike trail that had a lot of roots on it. I tripped 5 times total, only once going all the way down. That time, I spun to fall on heavy grass loaded with snow so it was a gentle tumble. After the first hour, the temperature had picked up to almost OK, so it ended being a great long run in the woods. A good training run with old and new friends.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Berbee Derby 10K Results (Or: Run, for today we eat!)

71/1891 overall
7/114 age
FamilyThanksgiving, a time for family and food. With our kids at their ‘other parents’, Misty and I decided to head back to the Madison area to spend turkey day with my parents and my sister’s family. Since thanksgiving involves a lot of eating, Misty and I decided to do the Berbee Derby races to work off some calories before we sat down to a good meal. We even convinced my nephew Michael to join us. For the record, he ran this race with me back in 2006. Boy, he was young then. There were three of us, and there were three races, so we spilt up. I did the 10K, Michael did the 5K, and Misty did the 5K walk.

Since there was 3 races and this is a big city, there were thousands (>7) of atheletes plus a zillion spectators at the start, including my 72 year old mother. We got there about an hour before the first race began and it was a little chilly, but the wind was what made everyone so cold. Lets say I was glad when the race finally started so I could warm up.

While the temperature was in mid 40’s the 15-20 mph winds made for a struggle of a race. With it at our backs, no problem, but then after certain turns you were right in the teeth of the wind. I was near the front, so not a lot of people in front of me to act as wind breaks. A few sections were through the woods, which broke it up a little bit. A nice course mostly on roads, gentle hills, some spectators.

The toughest part of this race was my pace. In the 118 races I have run in the modern ear (since 11/2005) this is only my second 10K. I really have no idea how to race this distance, so I did something stupid. I started out in my 5K pace. My first mile was ~6:05. Yikes, way to fast. I slowed down a little, hitting the 3 mile mark at 18:30. I just tried to hang on, every once in a while trying to keep pace (for a little while at least) with someone who passed me. I wanted to break 40 minutes, which I did, but only by busting my butt the last half mile or so. After I finished, I said ‘Hi’ to my Mom and then (as usual when Misty does the walk) ran the 5K course backwards until I found my lovely wife and then walked with her until the end.

One good thing about being such a large race is that I knew I did not win any age group award so we took off mere moments at the end of our races and headed home to finish prepping for turkey dinner. Misty had done much of the prep before hand so it was not too stressful, and boy was that meal delish, especially since I knew I could do it guilt free. A fun race with family I love. A very thankful Thanksgiving day, for sure.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Carrollton Fall Marathon Results (or: The End of the Fall Racing Season, 2011)

2/52 overall

In my quest to run 100 marathons (or better) in one state, I need to not ignore smaller races that are so-so. This was was perfectly ‘ok’. Career marathon #73, and that’s the best description I can offer.
This race has been around for several years, but I have avoided it because its reputation was not that great. ~3mile loop with 1 aid station, boring course, overpriced. Before this year it was only once per year (in the summer) but this year they added a fall version and they had made some changes (notably making it a ~8.66 mile long course) and better aid. This is a fundraiser for a small HS cross country team, so I don’t expect a whole lot.

The course meandered through suburban Saginaw, MI along not-too-populated city streets, with not too much to look at, but with little traffic, it was nice. There were aid stations at normal intervals, but most had only water and a few with Gatorade, no gels anywhere. But again, this is meant to be a no frills marathon.
The course consisted of three 8.66 mile loops + ‘rat-tail’ in front to round out to 26.2. I was running without a watch, so I went on feel, but felt fairly good. I finished the first loop in 1:01, which is just over 3:00 pace, which is great considering I just ran a 44 mile ultra a week before. The second loop took me 1:03, and the third was complete in 1:05. Same old, same old in that my back half was 5-10 min slower than my front half.
This race represented the end of my fall racing season as I have run 5 marathons (or longer) in the last 6 weeks. This race was a nice calm relaxing ending to a good race season. Now with 5(!) weeks until my next race I can relax and up my training mileage getting ready for 2012, another year of the serious distance work

Saturday, October 29, 2011

2011 Bad Apple Ultra Results (or How to Run for 6 Hours without dying)

11 laps of 4 mile loop in 6:13
1/15 overall
Post 50<4, I am trying to redefine my running career. I am not sure yet if I want to go all the way back to doing 100’s, so I decided to try a race in the middle distance range, well MY definition of middle distance, a 6 hour timed ultra.

Inaugural races are generally to be avoided as the RD’s usually have a good idea of what to do, but forget critical things. Well, lucky for us, these folks knew how to run a good ultra. They dreamed this race up because there were no timed races in the state of Michigan so was born the Bad Apple 3-6-12 Ultra. For those who don’t know, timed ultras are a little different from any normal race. Instead of seeing who can run a pre-defined distance (26.2 miles for example) fastest, you run a specific distance loop (here it was 4 miles, sometimes they are 1 miles, other times its a 400m track. ick.) as many times as possible in a set time. This day I decided to run the 6 hour race though I had thought about the 12, but with all the other racing I had done this fall (7 marathons(+) in 9 weeks) I didn’t want to blow up.

Klackle Orchards in Greenville, MI was the site of the race which is a working apple orchard complete with hayrides, pony rides and other family friendly activities. This is one of those orchards that you bring the family too for a few hours. We actually ran through the orchard which was very beautiful. Good solid footing, enjoyable views, and perfect weather, ~45 degrees at race start, ~60 at end. It was awesome and only one time did me and another runner make a wrong turn on the first loop. No real problem as it added maybe 300m to our run which is nothing when you are running for 6 hours. Halfway through the 4 mile loop was a smaller aid station, with 2-3 people handing out a good selection of ultra food (chips, candy, soda, etc) Marathons hand out water, Gatorade and sometimes gels. When you are running for 6, 12, or more hours you need more calories. I also brought my own ‘new’ ultra food, pickle juice. I collected some from various empty pickle containers in my fridge and the electrolytes are super high and the pickle juice doesn’t taste too bad. After each of the first 6 loops, I took a healthy swig of my pickle juice and I think it helped. As with other ultras, my appetite waned later in the race and nothing tasted good. I have to figure that one out.
Another awesome part about timed ultras is you get to see people often as you pass them (12 hr racers going a little slower) and when you are passed (3 hr racers and relay racers) as well as the nice folks at the aid station and start/finish line. When I would come by the start line, I was getting all sorts of encouragement, even from people who knew me by name (I didn’t know them) which was a little weird, but cool.

My first 3 laps were all consistent, right around 7:35/mile pace. At the very beginning, there were 4 guys in front of me that went out much faster. I just wanted to have a good solid day, so I was content with my conservative pace. I wanted to try to make it all day without ever talking a walk break (a goal which I achieved) but to do that you have to start out slow. Maybe those 100 milers have helped. :) I felt great halfway through, just pounding out the miles, listening to movie audio while running through the woods, enjoying my day. About 3.5 hours in, I asked the official lap counter how many people were ahead of me and by how far because I was curious. She told me I was in the lead. This was a very small race (most ultras are) but I didn’t think all those guys in front of me had been relay members. I had passed one halfway through the first loop, but either those other three guys were relay runners or they took long breaks at the start/finish. Either way, I was in the lead and wanted to stay there. My favorite mantra came into my head, ‘Don’t blow up and you will win’. I love that mantra, and it kept me moving at mile 30, mile 35, mile 40…
As it is a timed race and the loop is large (4 miles is considered a long loop for a timed ultra) there have to be tie breakers and this one is a little confusing those not familiar with such races. Say I arrive the start/finish line at 5:50 after finishing 10 laps. The next guy gets there after HIS 10th lap in 5:55. I was there first, but it is a 6 hour ultra. So, what they do is allow you to finish any lap you start before the 6 hr clock expires. This is called a ‘bonus lap’. So, If I start my bonus lap at 5:50, and #2 starts his bonus lap in 5:55, that’s fine, whoever gets around the horn first wins the overall. So, as I came in for lap 9 (about 4:58 in) I kindly asked the lap counter to pay attention to the #2 guy and where he was because I wanted to know the next time I came around how much of a lead I had on him, because that would make a difference in my decision to do a bonus lap or not. So at 5:35 I rolled by after my 10th lap (40 miles) and she told me I only had about a 15 minute lead. So, if I stopped, which I kind of wanted to do, he could have hit the line under 6, do one more loop and beat me. So I pushed off and started my bonus lap, but backed off a little in my speed (no walking, but running at 8:20+/mil pace) because I knew that as long as I didn’t blow up, I would beat him.

I finish my bonus lap at what my watch said was 6:13 to secure the official win. Turns out, the second place guy didn’t even do a bonus lap, so in the official results, I am the only one with 11 laps completed. Career W #6 in my home state in my first ever 6-hr ultra. That was a way cool feeling. My prize for winning was free entry into next years race (a ~$90 value) which is AWESOME. Way better than any trophy. One more awesome thing about timed races is everyone finishes at the same time, so the post-race party is more ‘full’ as all the finishers are right there, fresh from the event, eating good food and chatting about the race, other ultras, swapping war stories, etc. Hanging with my fellow ultra freaks is always a fun time. I fit into this beyond-marathon culture, even though sometimes I still think I don’t deserve to call myself an ultramarathoner. I know that it sounds weird, but I just don’t think I am worthy sometimes. Oh well. Great race, fun memories.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2011 Hartford Marathon Results (Or: It’s Finally Over!!)

70/2024 overall

1 word: Wow. 50 states, under 4 hours, before age 40. It was a dream I came up with oh so many years ago, after I ran 3 marathons that happened to all be in different states. As soon as I hit 10 states in Nevada (12/2007) I got into the 50 states club (obviously not a finisher) and then proceeded to start the long and expensive slog towards my goal. Doing all 50 states before I turned 40 years old (8.18.2012) gave me motivation to train hard and race often. My job and schedule allowed me to do it without going into too much debt. The logistics were almost fun to do, sometime knowing the next 9 marathons I was running. Doing 5 doubles (marathons in consecutive days) saved me some money I knew October 15, 2011 was going to be the end since sometime during the summer of 2010 when I mapped out the final 15 marathons needed. For a last-marathon-for-this-life-goal marathon, it was a nice microcosm of the whole journey.
I got to make this long road trip with my lovely wife, Misty. When I met her two and half years ago, I was halfway done with my states, and she knew that A) this was an important goal for me and B) running was what made me happy, kept me sane and even keeled. She knew I was not wealthy and that it was costing me quite a bit to do this, but she ever said anything to discourage me. She supported me completely through until the very end, taking time off to drive 12+ hours to Connecticut.

We left soon after Misty got out of work Thursday afternoon and got about 4 hours down the road and stayed in a cheap hotel in eastern Ohio. I am used to staying at crappy hotels for these trips( saves money) but with Misty there, it made it all ok. We woke up early Friday morning and drove the last 8 hours through PA and NY, making it to CT in the late afternoon. The fall colors in central PA are very beautiful. Rolling hills, a zillion different colors on the leaves, it was awesome. I dropped Misty off at the hotel so she could do a workout quick while I went to the race expo. Predictable expo for a race this size, with maybe 50-60 vendors hawking their wares to the marathoners. As usual, I bought nothing as there was nothing there I needed or much wanted. Some of the official race gear was cool, but I don’t need any more shirts/hats/jackets than I already have. The official race shirt was totally awesome, so that was cool.
SchwagI went back and picked up Misty and we headed 10 miles away to (you guessed it) Applebee’s. I have to go back into the record and count how many times I have eaten at an Applebees the night before a race and also notice how well I do the next day. I think there is a very strong correlation between the two. The night before career marathon 71 I slept surprisingly well, waking up for the first time at 4 am, which is a little later than usual.

After waking up refreshed, Misty and I arrived at finish for a Marathon Maniacs group picture about 45 min prior to race start. I had made a custom shirt just for today which read ’50 state finisher TODAY 10-15-11’ and I got lots of comments from people before and during the race. This being a large race (14,000+ full and half marathoners) they had the elite section way up front, then a second corral for qualified people who proved they can run under a certain time (3:20? I don’t quite remember) then there was the rest of the pack. I submitted my paperwork to be in the second corral, even though I didn’t think I might run up there. I don’t mind people having to weave around me, I hate having to weave around other people. Literally up until about 5 minutes before the race I had no idea how fast I was going to run. I had thought about just enjoying myself and coasting to a 3:30-3:40, or trying to bust out a sub 3, since this might be my last fast marathon for a while (more on that later) so I decided to go out sortof fast and just see how my body felt.

The course was actually very nice. Hartford is a nice, clean city but they did have a lot of little hills around. We ran along and over the Connecticut River a few times and that was quite beautiful with a cool breeze rolling down. As with most of my races, I brought awesome weather. Rainy and cold the day before and the day after, but race day was perfect.

I passed 13.1 mile mark at 1:29:16, and I felt really good. I kept that pace for maybe another 5 miles, then started to get a little tired. Since I knew sub 3 was out of the question (it never really was IN the question) I slowed to a comfortable pace, staying strong until the end. As was pre-planned, about 40 meters before the finish I did something that I had only done once before. I stopped stone cold before the huge finish line crowd and stretched out my arms, then pointing to my shirt, getting the crowd up and excited, then did my handstand. The End. All that was left was the celebration.
Mom Shirts!
My #1 fan has been my Mom. Once my Aunt Nancy died a few years back, My mom became the only person on the planet (besides me) to read this blog. She keeps track of my race schedule and always calls me after every race to ask me how it went, how I did, how I feel. To commemorate this historic finish, she made 3 embroidered t-shirts, one each for Misty, Salacia and myself. Mine says “I ran 50 under 40 under 4” and the other two were appropriately labeled. My Mommy is so good to me….

For any people out there close to finishing their 50 state quest, I urge you to finish here at Hartford. This is a huge race, but the race committee are awesome people. The Race Director had VERY nice custom plaques made for the 8 of us who were finishing our 50th state this day. There was even a short ‘awards ceremony’ for all of us at the finish line a little after the 5 hour mark.
50!More hardware will come, as I will soon receive a 50 states marathon club ‘finisher’ certificate, becoming one of <700 people to achieve that goal. I have also now become only the 20th finisher of the 50sub4 group. For that I will receive a plaque and yet another awesome shirt. I now stand amongst some very elite company including my good friend, Gary Krugger, who finished 50 states last year, and just last week became the 4th person to join the more coveted 50sub3 class. I have over 10 sub 3 finishes, but I gave up on speed a long time ago. I will not be joining him there.

Now what I hear you say. I have other dreams, other goals (100 lifetime marathons, 100 marathons in 1 state, more 100 milers, etc.) But I know that this one will always be the biggest. It is the one that other people will understand and appreciate most. It is significant. To run a marathon requires time and dedication to training. To run one in all 50 states requires logistics and physical resilience (read: not getting injured). To run every one of them in less than 4 hours requires everything to work, every time, day in and day out.

I am certainly not retiring, but I am very much looking forward to the next chapter of my running career. This has been an awesome journey, and I thank all of you who have helped me get through it. I am surrounded by friends and family that have supported me completely through this ordeal and I thank you all so much for being a part of it. I hope I made you proud.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Wildlife Marathon Results

11/89 overall
This was my warmup race to my 50th state tun next weekend in Hartford, CT. It was really fun for a few reasons, including being (essentially) in my backyard, almost perfect race conditions, and getting my long time running partner Joel through his first marathon.

My friend Rob and his running buddy Scott needed a cheap MI race, and they just happen to chose this one. When I found out he was running it, I immediately offered to let him and his friend crash at my house as I live ~15 minutes from the race start. The two of them arrived Saturday afternoon and we picked up our packets and drove a chunk of the course, that which was NOT on the Falling Waters Trail. They really liked the scenery, and the course was going to be nice with gentle rolling hills among color-changing trees. When I ran this race back in 2009, it was completely along the trail, a double out and back. I didn’t mind it, because the trail is so darn pretty this time of year, but the course change made only ~10 miles of the course along the trail.
With guests in town, I decided to host a pre-race dinner (Thank you Misty!!) for Rob, Scott, Joel, and my other running partner/fellow JCC prof John Y. I thought the years of experience and fun stories of races past would help Joel get over his jitters. He said it helped. Wonderful conversation with good friends.
The Usual Suspects
Race morning and everything was grand. Temperature, weather, scenery, just perfect. Joel and I took off, getting into a 6:46 pace quickly. At about mile 8, we started picking it up, and by mile 12 Joel was ready to go, and off he went. I told him I would run with him for a little while until he got through the first portion, as I wanted to hold him back so he would have enough to make it. He left me behind, and I slowed down a little running 7:10ish pace miles 12-21. I had nothing to prove, and didn’t feel like busting my butt.

The course being A) in my town, B) on back roads, and C) small meant that Misty and Salacia could actually drive next to me while running. They found me along the course at several points to chit-chat and such. They even spent some time helping at one of the aid stations before heading to the finish line to see us. They are such sweet ladies…

At about mile 21, I see a familiar figure ahead of me. There is Joel, walking. Turns out, he was on pace to run a 2:55 and was in 3rd place until mile 20, then a cramp got him. I was not here for a good time, I was here for Joel, so I started walking with him, and we walked/jogged from there until the end. He was happy to finish, and enjoyed the experience, and he was quick to say he wanted to do it again. I was so happy for him to finish in such good spirits. It was so awesome to watch a first timer survive with a good attitude.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 Lakefront Marathon Results

3:39:51 (spot on!!)
My second official pacer experience was like any other race experience, a learning one, but fun and exciting too.
Every once in a while, my lovel wife Misty can make the road trip with me to race, and this was just such a race. We left Michigan on Friday after she was out of work, and passed off the three kids to the respective ‘other’ parent. We then pushed on to my parents house in Cross Plains, WI, arriving at about midnight. Misty went straight to bed and I stayed up and talked with my Mom for a while. It had been a long time since I had seen here, so it was very nice to spend some quality time with her.

Saturday morning my sister and her family showed up for breakfast and more lively and enjoyable conversation ensued. Because I had to work the expo, we took off mid morning arriving in downtown just in time for my shift. The expo was pretty small, but had a good time chit-chatting with two other pacers. Standard banter, favorite races, fun racing stories, long term goals, etc. After my expo shift, Mist and I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which was totally awesome. A wonderful and diverse art collection inside a beautiful building along Lake Michigan. We stayed until close, and then headed to a downtown Irish pub for a great dinner. It was like we had been on a 24 hour date, it was so awesome.

I finally went to bed after watching my mighty Wisconsin Badgers beat up Nebraska and slept quite well. 4:45 wakeup, apple, banana, and 2 cups of coffee for breakfast and I was on the bus riding from host hotel to start line, ~26.2 miles away in Grafton, WI. The start line was within 10 miles of the house my father grew up in, which was kindof cool. The other 14 pacers and I hung out in the High School for a while waiting for race start since it was about 45 degrees outside.

Pacer MarkI had checked the forecast just a day before and it was supposed to be high 30s at race start and not get much about 50 by the end so I wore running pants and a long sleeve running shirt under my official singlet. It felt fine before I started running…

About 25 minutes before the start me and my fellow pacers were up at the start holding our signs and people started congregating around their desired pacers. 5 minutes before the gun, I gave them my standard instructions. My background (give them confidence I will hit 3:40), that I will run through aid stations, that i will maintain dead even pace all day long. I also promised them a funny joke if they made it to mile 18 with me.

In the very beginning, I probably had about 70 people with me, with about 50 of those still there at mile 8. It took me a little longer to get settled in my pace. I was never more than 30 seconds off of where I should be at any specific mile marker, but I spend many miles in the front half 15-20 seconds behind schedule. I had to SLOWLY get those seconds back and managed to by the half marathon marker. My scheduled arrival time at that mat was 1:50 flat, and my chip time was 1:50:02. Boo-Ya.

The course was actually quite beautiful, with gentle rolling hills along back country roads, occasionally going by gorgeous Lake Michigan vistas. I was so focused on keeping my pace even, I had to try to enjoy the run every once in a while. The temperature started rising and I realized that I might have a problem. I was over-dressed, but more importantly, there wasn’t much I could so about it. It would have taken me several minutes to stop and do a costume change, but I was supposed to be running 8:24 mile-in mile-out, so I had to tough out the suns increasing heat in my running pants and long sleeve shirt. It made the last part of the race a little tougher than it should have been, but I learned that I have to spend a little more time planning racing attire when I am pacer.
At mile 18, I told my one funny joke (“A guy walks into Baskin Robbins…”) to about 20 people who managed to survive with me that long. They laughed. The group then began to break up. Some were feeling good and took off in front of me, some started to fade behind. By mile 23 I was pretty much alone, just being the solid even pacer dude. As I crossed the finish line in 3:39:51, there were a couple of my starters within 20 m of me who all thanked me after they crossed the line. Their thanks meant a lot to me. I really enjoy pacing, helping other achieve their marathon goals.

Since it is Milwaukee, the was of course free (delicious) beer at the end as well as a good spread of post race food. non-crappy finishers medal and yet again, a great marathon memory, especially because I got to spend it with my lovely wife. She really is fun to travel with.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 Oktoberfest Marathon Results (Or: Where Did This Speed Come From?)

5/127 Overall
1/15 Age

Last week I ran under horrible conditions including rain and mud in a slow trail race. This week was the stark opposite with beautiful weather and a fast course. The result is the fastest marathon I have run in the last 2 years in what my Mother would call ‘quintessential Americana’ town/event.

4am wake up call for the 2 hour drive to the thriving metropolis of Spring Lake, MI which is a beautiful little town on the shores of Lake Michigan. We got to run by the lake a few times, which when I saw it reminded me a whole lot of my Rhode Island race a few years ago. Those houses of course are 10-20 times as expensive. Someone told me the land lots (no house) go for about a million. Yikes. It’s a nice view, but not that nice…

An 8am race start meant the sun was up with temps ~50 degrees, 7-10 mph winds, and overcast so the conditions were pretty much perfect. The race horn went off and the (eventual) winner took off like a rocket (2:44 winning time) and I ran a little ways with Rich P, a friend whom I have lost to more than once, (he ran a 2:47 this day) and I got into a quick (6:45/mil) steady rhythm with the eventual 4th place finisher. We ran together about 10 miles talking about standard stuff. He is an accountant in the Detroit area and this was his 16th marathon. I pulled away from him for a little while, then he caught me. At about mile 23 I was only 5 seconds back from him, but eventually just let him go. What was I trying to prove? Exactly. :)
The Haul

At about mile 8, a marathon newbie caught up to us. He told us that he had not even run a half marathon before today. We told him good luck as he took off. When he was reaching the range of my voice, I called up to him asking him what his longest run before today was. He said he had done one 20 miler. I said I was asking because I was curious when (and if) he would crash so I could catch him. His response was simply ‘good luck!’. Heh heh. Yeah, we caught him at about mile 20 from cramping. He ended up crossing the finish line about 20 minutes after we did. Rookies…

For most of the race, me and my group (3-4 of us most of the race) had a bicycle escort. There was another guy guiding the leaders and we had ours just to help with turns and such as the course was in and out of a lot of residential areas. The course was reasonably well marked, but having a bicycle guide was nice. Cool guy, talked with us and even offered us supplemental water in between aid stations which was just plain nice.
When I finished in an average pace ~7 min, I was quite surprised. Like I said earlier, I have not a marathon this fast is a while. It did take some effort, but not a tremendous amount. Because I did it at such a clip, my legs were actually LESS sore than recent other long races. I am not saying I am gonna bust my ass in the next road race, but maybe I will push it a little. I enjoy racing so often for several reasons, and one is because then I can run on feel, meaning when I want to go fast, I can. 3:05 for me (these days!) is defined as fast. I could have broken 3, but I didn’t want to work THAT hard…

The finish was pretty cool. The major sponsor was a local brewery/restaurant, so we got a nice finishers glass, quality shirt, tasty (and free!) lunch, cheap and delish beer and a cool age award. Yet another small town race oozing with love and affection for the runners. I would rather run these size races than some 5000+ runner race any time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2011 Mellow Marathon Results (Or: This Race Is Muddy)

1/52 overall

This nice local race was actually one of many during the 3-day Woodstock festival of races (100 mile, 100K, 50 mile, 50K, full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5 mile, and a 5K) which included lots of music, running, rain, and mud.

This would be my 5th career marathon win and first since March, 2009. What is interesting is that those two races were very similar. Both had horrible conditions (obviously, did you see my winning time?) That race in Ruston, LA was on hard packed mountain bike trail but it had rained for 4 days before the race so it was very slippery, but not so muddy. For this race, it had only rained the previous night, but this was on running trails, so the mud was slippery and thick (several inches) in lots of places.

After a nice nights sleep in my own bed (I love not travelling for marathons!) I got up at 5am and took off for the 1 hour drive to Pinckney Recreation Area near Hell, MI. My good friend, Ryan and his wife had been there most of the night pacing some of the ultra runners. They told me the course was horribly muddy and they were right. Within a mile, we were slipping and sliding on 2-5 inches of mud. The trail is very narrow so in most places, so you couldn’t just run on the side avoiding the mud. The rain that came during 75% of the race was not helping either. I can run in any conditions, but I really don’t like running with my feet wet. Some of the half marathoners were running full speed into the middle of the mud while I was being dainty on the edges. That was until a few of them fell. Hard. Then they wised up. Ahh, experience….
At about mile 4 there is a long out and back spur so I knew I was in second place in the full marathon with about 6 half marathoners also in front of me. I had no real dreams of the win, I just wanted to try to enjoy my day and have it not suck, which today meant not becoming miserable or getting lost like my last race. Luckily, the course was very well marked, so that part was fine.

At about mile 11 into the race, a halfer and I who were running together passed the marathon leader. I asked him how he felt and he said ‘pretty good’. He was (obviously) a newbie to marathons and had just gone out too fast. Once I reached the halfway point, I knew I would be alone for most of the rest of the race, which was true except for the other distances racers I was passing as the courses overlapped quite a bit. I felt really good, and I was re-running the same loop again and knowing exactly what to expect helped.

When I got to that same out and back spur, I checked my watch and I realized had a full 4 minute lead on the second place guy (not the original leader, by the way) but I felt strong. With my ultra experience and endurance, I knew even at that point, that I was going to finish strong. I slowed the back half of the race (always do) but never blew up (sometimes do). I just kept repeating the mantra ‘don’t blow up and you get the win’.

As I was coming back to the start/finish the marshals saw my bib and wanted me to head back out again (a 3rd 13.1 mile loop) and I told them, no, I was finishing. I crossed the finish line and there was nothing. Two more people asked me if I did the loop 2 times. I know there a bunch of other races, but can I get just a smidgen of joy, a half hearted handclap?
I wanted to head home, so I walked up to the awards table and asked them how long they thought it would take until my win was official so I could get my award. They asked me “Did you do two loops?” so I showed them my GPS watch and said “well, my watch did!”. I guess they were not expecting me so soon based on the horrible conditions (second place was over 4 hours). After a few back and forth iterations of the officials, I finally got my ‘gold record’ award and I was on my way. The trophy was totally cool looking, I think the coolest award I have received,. I was later telling SJ about it, and she asked if it would play. Upon inspection, it looks like there is real audio recorded on it. I think I need a record player

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2011 Old Farts Marathon Results (or How to Roll Your Own Ultra)

4:25:33 (but I ran 29.5 miles, see below)
10/69 overall
4th age
This race is billed as the ‘toughest race east of the Mississippi’, and while I agree, it is tough, I have run harder races on this side, notably the Larry Yaegle trail marathon in Louisiana. It would end up being tougher for me because of my poor attention, but still a fun race.
This race was only a 1.5 hour drive from my house so again I got to sleep in my own bed, a recent change of my marathon racing policy. When my alarm went off at 4:25 am, I woke up wondering why it was going off that early on a Saturday morning. It took me a few seconds to remember that I had a marathon that day. I chuckled at myself (out loud) once I remembered that.

It was three weeks after my Burning River run and one week after another small local marathon, and my body has been sore, so I decided to take the week completely off from running. While I was not 100% today, I was a solid 85%. Taking the week off helped, making it so I was not cursing myself for even running the race.

Being a small town trail race, the race organizers had no time limit (usually 6-7 hours for most major races) and so there were quite a few more ‘experienced’ runners. (translation very slow runners who would finish in >9 hours) of which I met several before the start of the race. Many of them have completed the 50 state circuit (some more than once) a few members of the 100 marathon club (a goal I will accomplish in a few more years) and a few Marathon Maniacs. We chatted about standard stuff (favorite races, costs of traveling to races, etc) and about 2 minutes before the race start, we all headed to the start line.

Race conditions were near perfect. The temperature was in the low 60s’ and would reach the low 70s before the end. The trail was mostly single track and in some cases looked like it was made mere days before with some guy driving through grass with a mover. There was one large grass area (with two foot high grass) that we zig-zagged through 6 times. Challenging, but not super tough. There were a few hills we went down that ropes had been put up so you could hang on to them going down the hill to prevent you from falling. I only fell one time, running on flat trail, stumbling on a rock. The course was VERY well marked, and I really appreciated it, except for one very critical part, which is why I ran an ultra marathon this day instead of a marathon.

All three races (5K, half marathon and full marathon) started all at same time. About 1 mile into the race, we turned left off a dirt road onto trail heading back towards the start line (to drop off the 5K finishers) then the half and full marathoners continued out onto another section of brutal hills, eventually coming back to the start line to drop of the half marathoners. I crossed the half marathon point in 1:50, which is a fine time considering the brutality of the course and I was firmly in 4th place.

So 1 mile past the halfway mark, I came to that spot that ~13 miles before I turned left onto the trail heading back to the start. There was just one sign and it said ‘All runners’ and had an arrow but said the words ‘loop 1’. I turned down the path and got about 50m before my brain said ‘hang on, is this right?’ I went back and inspected the sign again and it was certainly not clear. I stood there stopped for a good 30 seconds waiting for the 5th place runner to come up and help me figure out where to go. I finally decided to head down that trail, even though it didn’t feel quite right. I said to myself, what’s the worst case scenario? I add ~3 miles to the distance. Well worst case scenario happened.

I make it back to the start line (visibly upset) and I ask the race director where I went wrong. Turns out just 20 meters past that #$^@ing cone at mile 1 was another cone (smaller, on other side of road) with a sign that clearly pointed down the dirt road to the RIGHT. So I thanked them and left the start line. Again.
When I got to that cone, the race director was just pulling up in his car (making sure the cone was there) and he asked me how many ‘additional’ miles I had added. I told him a little over 3 and so he actually offered to drive me a ways down the course. I told him no, but thanks anyways and I trudged down the course, cursing myself for my stupidity.

Now that I had gotten back on track and given my competitors a roughly 26 min head start, I actually started passing people. In that last 12 miles of the race I think I passed at least 10 people. The second half was also trail but also a ~3 mile section of long rolling hills on back roads. The run was quite pleasant, just tough. When i crossed the finish line it seemed everyone near the finish area was cheering. Great ‘crowd support’ to go with the great feel of this race.

The schwag from this race was awesome. The entry fee for the race was $60 (not too bad) but for that I received a cotton t-shirt, a cotton sweatshirt, a finishers pair of sweatpants, a finishers beach towel, a nice finishers medal and a nice 4th place-in-age trophy. Hauling all that back to my car after my 29.5 mile run removed all the angst I had over my mistake. The spread of post-race food was also quite impressive. That hot dog tasted goooood.

While it was not the toughest marathon east of the Mississippi, it was a lot of fun and I will definitely be back next year to run this low-key-friendly-neighborhood-style marathon. And don’t worry, I will NOT miss that turn next time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lucky 13 (x2= 26) RUT Fat Ass Results

4:24 (ugh)
1st place (16 people did 2 loops, I was the first one who finished, I think)

Timing is everything, really. Just two weeks ago I tore my body up bad running the Burning River 100 and had not recovered yet. A local running shop (Running Fit) is a huge sponsor of running related things, organizing races, training, etc. They have started doing Fat Ass (= no entry fee, no frills, potluck style races) runs, and this one was only an hour away. I just could not say no.

This run was organized by Farra (guru to Running Fit’s Ultra Team) as a training run for people getting ready for the Run Woodstock series of races (including a few ultra distances) in September. It is a nice little ~13.5 mile loop (hence the race title ‘Lucky 13’) in the Island Lake Recreation Area near Brighton, MI. The idea was people could sign up to do as many loops as they wanted, with most people signing up for 1-4 loops. Since it was advertised, over 50 people showed up (spread over all distances, not sure how many did 2+) and we even got race shirts, I am counting this as a marathon race for my 100 in 1 quest. I can do that since it is my idea. :)

Burning River kicked my butt and I took I seriously dialed back my mileage these last two weeks. I took the three days before this race off hoping my body would be at least 80% recovered by then. I was wrong. The course was not all that well marked and I had never runs these trails before, so I got in behind a speedster (a nice Running Fit employee named Trevor) who is a 2:50 marathoner who was doing only one loop. I figured I would follow him for the first loop and then do the second loop alone. The trail is almost all single track with small hills, but tree branches and grass growing over the trail. No way of getting into anything like a stable running pace, but that’s what you get when you do a trail race. Trevor and I were doing a decent 8:15 pace which is not slow for that trail. At about mile 11, I was starting to get seriously fatigued and my legs were started to protest, so I let Trevor go figuring by this point, the trail was self explanatory (it was).

There was a light drizzle for most of the day and the trail was wet, but not bad. My shirt got soaked from wet branches, but my shoes and feet stayed reasonably dry. As I was coming into the start/finish area, (1:55 into the race) I was seriously considering stopping after 1 loop. I felt awful, I was wet and cold and the night before our power went out, and Mistique was home alone still with no power. I couldn’t come up with a reason to go back out. But I changed my shirt, grabbed a cookie and went out anyways. I have run several marathons where the full marathoners run right by the finish line for the half-marathoners at the halfway point and considered dropping down to the half distance that day (usually allowed) but I never have done it. I guess this was just another case of ‘Get out there and finish the marathon, darnit’. Those other times, I was not still sore from a previous race, unlike this time where I felt rolled hard and put away wet.

The second loop was harsh. Frequent speed-walking sections and sore legs every step in addition to the same wet trail conditions (did I mention the mosquitoes were terrible?) made for a just not so fun run. But, since I am bull headed and I always finish what I start, albeit slower than I want, I finished. Once I hot the end, I spend only a few minutes chatting with others and eating some of the large amount of food brought by the kind souls of the race before the bugs got to me and I wanted to get home to my power-less home.
A fun little local marathon, which is exactly what I am looking for with my new 100 in 1 goal. Sleep in my own bed, wake up, run a marathon, and be home for dinner. I love that part.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

100 in 1

So finally, I near the end of a 5+ year quest, to run a marathon in 50 states in under 4 hours. I have known this goal is getting close for a while, and I wanted to make sure I had something ‘in the pipe’ before I got there. I have many friends who have grand running goals that when they hit them (many after several years) they burn out since they have achieved what they set their heart out to do. I have seen runnerswho devoutly run marathons 1-2 a weekend stop stone cold after achieving some ‘goal’. I did not want that to happen to me.

I have been thinking hard about what to do next. In 2010, I started doing some ultras, with a 24 hour race (>100 miles) in April and a 100 mile race in July. I did quite well in both and thought that maybe that was going to be my next step, becoming one of those crazy 100 mile ultra people. Then Burning River 2011 happened. Without going into detail, it was really really rough on me physically and mentally. While I was good at 100 mile racing (9th and 10th in the 2010 and 2011 national championships) the actual running is rough for several reasons:
- Training 120-130 miles/week is a part time job that takes away from family time, no matter how well I schedule it
- Race costs are steep, >$200 for a cheap one.
- To do it right, you need a crew. I don’t like asking for help, so this is a big one. I have a great friend Ryan who has crewed for me in two of my 100 milers and he does an awesome job, but I can’t rely on him every time. Mistique is supportive of my racing, and will crew for me if I ask her, but it is a lot to ask of her.
- Recovery time is so damn long. 100 miles take a lot out of you. My most recent 100 miler took more than 2 weeks before I was back to normal. That’s just rough.

I didn’t start running to be a freak, I started running to get healthy. The racing is just fun and gives me an extra special bonus to reward me for getting out every day and slogging some miles. So after a long torturous time of self reflection, I decided to step back from the 100 mile thing for a while. So that left me hanging, I still need a new goal, something to keep me occupied for a few years. Many ideas have been given to me by friends which include repeating the states (too expensive, more time away from family) or doing 7 continents (WAY too expensive). I needed something that took me 5-7 years, is cheap, and minimizes time away from my family. 100 in 1 was born.

100 marathons in 1 state, that is my new goal. You might think that it will take me forever since it has taken me 6 years to run 64 marathons as of right now, but you would be wrong. There are over 15 marathons (or shorter ultras, under 35 miles) each year within a 3 hour drive of my house. That means I can sleep in my own bed (no hotel!), wake up early, drive to a race (no plane ticket!), run the race and be home before dinner. I am gone from my family less than 12 hours each time. It satisfies all my new desires, cheap, will take a few years, and less impact on my family.

In trying to save time in my 50 states quest, I have only done 6 marathons in the state of Michigan so far, so I am starting almost from scratch. But, if all goes to plan, I will be at 10 by the end of 2010. Whatever it takes to keep me out of trouble

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Burning River 100 miler and USATF National Championship Results

15/150 overall (~300 starters)
10th USATF National Championship
I have been focused on this race for many many months, running literally thousands of miles. I decided to try my hand at ultras a year or so ago as a ‘next goal’ after completing the whole 50 states thing. Months and months of 100-120 mile weeks (even a 140) and I felt totally awesome, like I could take on the world. Because I am lazy though, they were almost all long slow miles with little hill work. Just like I hate doing anything resembling ‘speed’ work, I hate hill work too, so I didn’t do it. ooops.

startFriday night, I got to the packet pickup and did my thing, getting my race sweatshirt (the long sleeve technical shirt from 2010 was better) and sat down to eat some so-so pasta. I actually sat down with a large group of Michigan based ultra runners, all great people whom I was facebook friends with within just a few days. I also (finally) got to meet Laurie, who is a fellow ultrarunner (winning female division in last February’s Beast of Burden) who lives ~25 min from the BR race start. Her and I have become friends since BoB and she offered up her house for me to crash at, so of course I accepted. Her husband was doing BR as his first 100 miler and she was crewing and pacing him. He finished but had a rough time. Heck, we all did. On the way back to their house after dinner, we chatted about ultra running, about North Coast 24, about dream races, etc. Wonderful and pleasant conversation.
Everyone was in bed by about 7:30 since we were getting up at 3. I was pleased that I slept as well as I did, considering how focused I was on this race. Normally, I would toss and turn all night before big ones, but not this time. Maybe it’s because I knew I would not be running that hard.

We got to the race start about 4:30, just 30 min before the start. I left Laurie and company, thanking them and wishing them well, and was off to collect my thoughts. While waiting for the race to begin, I was wearing a throw away Jackson Community College t-shirt. A guy came up and asked me “Hey, do you work at JCC?” turns out it was John Yohe, fellow JCC professor (He is in the English department) whom I have been meaning to meet for a while (he said the same thing, tee hee) who was running BR as his first 100 miler, just like me in 2010. He asked me a bunch of questions and I could tell he was a little nervous. He is a barefoot runner, but this day he was wearing his vibram five fingers to protect his feet a little bit on the trail. This course was rough and the weather also took many prisoners, John among them. While he did not succeed in his goal, he vowed to conquer the 100 mile distance. I have high hopes for him, and I might even help him a future race as a pacer.

5 am and we were off, and I was in the first 7 people from the beginning, a group that contained the real big dogs, including Badwater course record holder (and 2010 BoB winner to my 2nd place) Valmir Nunes. Amazingly, his English is still pretty bad, so we didn’t talk much. The first 10 miles are on road, so we were clipping along pretty fast, somewhere in the high 7’s. Way too fast, but I’m just dumb that way. A quick aid station stop at mile 4ish and right back on the road.

At mile 10ish I hit the second aid station, and the first with crew access, and I saw for the first time this day, Ryan, my wonder crew. Regular readers of this blog know Ryan, my awesome crew/pacer from the BoB and race director of the Jan 1 Get Off Your Hungover Fat Ass and Run 26.2 marathon. He had been at a friends wedding back in Michigan until midnight the night before, then drove down and crewed for me all day on no sleep at all. He is a monster. He didn’t know until about a week before hand if he was going to be able to crew for me at all, so I prepared ‘drop bags’ for the course. Eight green plastic containers with spare socks, shoes, some candy, and my powder rocket fuel. Having run a few ultras, I knew that I had a hard time eating any solid food, so I needed some high calorie liquid fuel source. For few months I tested a solution that was 1 scoop gatorade (for flavor) 2 scoops carbo-pro (for calories) and 2 tiny scoops endurolyte powder (for electrolytes). Pour the powder into a 16 oz water bottle and fill. All told, about 300 calories and I had about 12 of them during the race. Saved my butt for sure.

I talked with Ryan for only a few minutes and I was back on the course, no finally on trail. I was in the top 10 and feeling pretty darn good. I would be passed by several people, finishing 15th overall, but ~8 people in front of me would drop, including Valmir. Aid stations came and went, changed socks at mile 18 (shoes wet from dew drenched grass), changed shoes at mile 33, drank my rocket fuel, ate some candy. Ho-hum right along as the sky remained overcast so the conditions were not that bad. Even the hills those first 40 miles weren’t that bad, as I walked up most of them.

Just before the mile 49.1 aid station, I noticed how hard it was to get running again after a walk break. I knew that point would come, but had hoped it would not be until way later in the race. The next section was ~4 miles and the first part was flat trail, so I ran that part which was just over a mile. It was the last complete mile I would run for the entire race. It was about here, that my emotional train wreck began. Not being about to run for any reasonable amount of time with ~50 miles to go meant I was going to be out here for a long long time. Coming into aid stations, I would jog just to show some semblance of confidence, but soon after I left an aid station, I was back to my walking ways. I know it sounds silly, but I had trained for this part, power walking when tired. I was still doing 15 min miles. I was tired, and mentally drained, but I knew I could pound out 15 min miles until the cows came home. Since I never sat down and rested (ever!) I still managed a good finish time. 10th place in the 100 mile national championship and I walked roughly half the course. What does THAT say?

The emotional train wreck came about because I knew I was not going to do as well as I wanted and I had worked hard for this race. When you know 12 hours before the end that you are not going to do as well as you wanted, you have a lot of time to ponder your fate. I was thinking really hard about my running career, and in the end, I decided that this might be my last 100 for a while.

I was getting blisters in new and interesting places on my feet, but none of them were debilitating. At one point it started hurting with every step, especially when ‘running’ so I just stuck to walking as fast as possible. The downhills eventually became the worst parts. With tough race conditions, the course would have a 50% casualty rate, which is high for even an ultra. At no point did I think I would drop from the race, but I knew it would not be that fast (this was my slowest 100 miler by far) since I am a unrelenting stick-in-the-mud when it comes to racing. I might not finish fast, but damnit, I am finishing.

The aid stations were as awesome as they were last year. Nice people, getting you want you need and loaded with food choices, most of which I ignored. I ate my fair share of grapes and a few cups of ramen noodles. I have never been good and keeping solid food down but this year I tried to eat fruit wherever possible as that seemed to sit ok with me. Ryan did a great job keeping me hydrated with plenty of electrolytes which kept me alive, for sure. My favorite aid station memory was at mile ~70. I walked up to the table and saw a 1 gallon ziploc filled with fresh-picked-that-morning blueberries. I said “Blueberries!!” and stuck both hands into the bag and scooped up a double handful of blueberries and stuffed them in my face in one motion. Only after did I realize what I did. All’s fair in love, war, and ultras. Leave your ego at the start.

This race was harsh and brutal and by far the toughest race I have ever run. with an attrition rate of close to 50%, the race course won this battle. Turns out some people even dropped at the mile 96 aid station. An elite (who was in 4th place at one point in the race) dropped at mile 93 in front of me. I think the fact I never sat down all day (except to change shoes) made a big difference. Had I sat down, I doubt I would have gotten up and it would been all over.
MEO Plank
After the race Ryan and I (slowly) headed to our cars and back to the hotel for a quick (ha!) shower and some sleep at about 3am roughly 24 hours since I woke up. My feet were so bad and my legs so sore that I never really slept as I could not get comfortable even though I was dead tired. At about 8 am we headed to Bob Evans for a good meal and then I sent Ryan on his way home. I headed down to the finish line getting there about 30 minutes before the 30 hour cutoff. Saw the last finishers come in, some looking ok, most looking like death. I had pleasant conversation with John about his DNF, and with some other runners, some who finished, so who did not. Turns out everyone had a rotten day, just like me.
A boring awards ceremony, a medal for my 10th place USATF National Championship and I was on my way home alone to ponder my future. I stopped 5 times on the 3 hour drive because I was falling asleep and so I needed food and caffeine. It never really helped so I got home and crashed trying to sleep and failing again. It would be three days before I was able to sleep completely through the night. A memorable race, for a whole bunch of bad reasons. This race will be a turning point in my running career, for sure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 Concord Classic 5K Results (or My 1st Wedding Anniversary Run)

17/219 Overall
4/13 Age
1 year!

Last year, the day after I was wed to Mistique we both entered the Concord Classic. That was an awesome day wearing our ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’ t-shirts. We decided then that we would try to run this race every subsequent year to celebrate our anniversary. We entered it again and decided to wear the shirts we wore last year. Friends at the race remembered that this was our anniversary race and congratulated us (again). That was nice. I am going to like this tradition.

The Concord Classic is a notoriously fast course which is why so many people show up for it. This was no different. Lots of speedy high school cross country runners as well as many of my fast local running old folks. Traveling all over the country running marathons is fun, but it is also nice to run a race where you know 20+ other competitors running it.

Again, I don’t do anything resembling ‘training’ for this distance. I am a ultra-marathoner doing 100+ mile weeks week in - week out, and avoid (like the plague) 400m repeats or 3 mile tempo runs. Ick. What I do have is a train load of endurance. That seems to be enough, as I can still run a sub 19 5K just walking up and running. My first mile was ~5:50 as was my second mile, which is about a minute and half faster than any run I have done since April. It felt a little weird.

As with last year, after I finished I ran the course backwards and caught up with Mistique and walked with her through the finish. She is so cute when she exercises

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 Fargo Marathon Results (or I Got ‘Paid’ to Run A Marathon!)

3:39:34 (right on schedule!)

fini!State 49 ranks as one of my absolute favorite races and trips of any of them. You wouldn’t think North Dakota would be that much fun, but you would be wrong.

I have tried to save money as I have knocked off states these last few years, so as often as possible, I drive to reasonable-distance-away races, usually defined as less than 16 hours total drive time (one way) North Dakota fit that bill especially since my parent live in Southern Wisconsin, almost halfway there. The race was on Saturday, so I left southern Michigan on Thursday afternoon. 2 hours down the road, the trip got really interesting…
Back in April in knocking off Missouri, I ran with the 3:10 official ‘pacer’ for 15 miles and also talked the night before with a running friend Rob (fellow Mother Road finisher) who was the 3:50 pacer. After chatting with them, I decided to try to become an official pacer as something to do in my future running career. After that race, I emailed the head of this particular pacing team ( and detailed my credentials and I was entered in as a potential pacer. Cool.

Two weeks before the Fargo marathon, I emailed the pacing director and told him that i was already signed up for Fargo and would be there, and that I was ‘available’ to pace. He responded that he was ‘all set’ but that I should have my cell phone handy, just in case as he occasionally gets last minute scratches. Three days before the race, as I was packing, I sent him just one more email asking if he would need me. Again he said no, he was fine, but bring my cell phone, so I did.

Thursday at 7pm (37 hours before race start, 150 miles down the road) I get a call from him. Sure enough, he had an injury and he asked me how I was feeling. I asked him which pace times he needed. He chuckled and asked me again how I was feeling. I detailed my last few months of training and racing and he then told me that i could have the 3:20 group or the 3:40 group. I was 98% sure I could run a 3:20, but I though for a first time as an official pacer I should go a little slower to focus on being a good pacer and not worrying about hitting 3:20. As a pacer, your job is to run dead even pace, mile in, mile out. So after some discussion, I became the official 3:40 pacer for the 2011 Fargo Marathon.

Then everything changed. First was my lodging as I now had a (free!) place to crash. I had lined up a hotel a few months before, but turns out I clicked on the wrong Super 8 Motel. The one I reserved was 300+ miles away from Fargo. I didn’t figure that out until 4 days before the race. Of course, Fargo being not that big and the marathon/half being huge, there were no reasonably cheap hotels within an hours drive. I decided to get a campsite for the night and just sleep in my car (not too bad) and so I had reserved a site at a State Park 15 min away. Well, within 8 hours of getting that i was calling them back and cancelling that reservation.
I got to Fargo and headed to the expo, which was big and cool. I stopped by the official pacer booth, and pulled a short shift talking to runners with questions about the pace team. Jim (head pacer honcho) also gave me my free schwag (consider it payment for pacing) which varies from race to race, but this race was a serous score. A free pair of running shoes, a pair of shorts, and a new tech shirt (says ‘Pace Team’ on it, to be worn during the race) Had I stayed for dinner or been there for lunch, I would have gotten those for free. Oh, and I got my race entry reimbursed too. :)

This was also an official ‘reunion run for the 50 states Marathon people and they even had a meeting with >60 people in attendance. Being in a room full of crazies was kindof fun. This was my first 50 states reunion and it felt special, it being my 49th state.

My best friend in Graduate School was Chopper (that’s his nickname, his students even call him that) who is now a Chemistry Professor at Concordia College in Moorehead, MN (just the other side of river from Fargo. We actually ran through the Concordia College campus during the race) I had not seen him in years, so I contacted him a few weeks before the race reminding him I would be in the area. Luckily, he and his family were free for dinner and they fed me some wonderful porkchops. We reminisced, talking about educational philosophy, a little politics, about college professor who abuse their privileges, etc. It was really fun. Chopper and his wife look exactly the same as they did 13 years ago. We all seem to be aging well.
After dinner, I headed back to the expo arena (The Fargo Dome, known simply as ‘The Dome’ to the locals) for the official pacer team pre-race meeting. I met the fellow pacers (~11 of them) of which 2 others were first-time-pacers. Predictable stuff, run even pace, even through water stations, talk with your runners, keep them motivated, etc. No real surprises there. Afterwards (about 8:30pm) we all went back to the dorm (where we all got our free rooms) and sat around had some pizza and beer and swapping running stories, including stories of previous pacing gigs. They were all great people and a lot of fun to hang out with. We did get busted because technically, the campus is ‘dry’ and were were drinking (and being loud) but we were let off with a warning.

Race morning came like it always did with a shower, mocha and some fruit. about 25 minutes before the start, the pacer team walk to the start line, which took us all of about 30 seconds (the dorms were right next to the start) and we lined up in our approximate locations. With 15 minutes to go until race start, I already had quite the crowd ready to run with me. I chatted with many of them, learning about their running history, goals (besides running 3:40) By the time the race began, I had 60-70 people ready to roll. I gave them a little speech about my responsibilities (and credentials, so they would trust me that I would hit 3:40) and we were off.

I tried to keep my group motivated and upbeat, giving words of encouragement, and even the occasional joke. As were were running, more questions came at me about training, my running history, etc. The ensuing conversations (no preaching!) were nice and of course made the miles go by. I hit the first mile marker within 3 seconds of when I supposed to. At each mile I checked my GPS watch to make sure were were ok. At my WORST I was 40 seconds under the total target time I was supposed to be at. I spend most of the race 15-25 seconds under total time target at each mile. I rarely run at 8:23 pace in training so it was a little hard in the beginning, pulling back on purpose. After 5 or so miles I was in my rhythm.

The course was ok, I guess. It went in and around lots of different Fargo neighborhoods (I thought at one point the local Real Estate Agents group might be a sponsor) and we saw evidence of recent seasonal flooding. It was so bad that they waited until a few days before the race before they finally decided which course to run.

I started with 60-70 people in my entourage, which thinned to 40-50 at mile 5 and 20-25 at mile 10, none of which was a surprise. We met up with (crashed into?) the half marathoners at ~15, which caused congestion, as a that point the half marathoners were almost all walkers. There were 7000 half marathoners, so we were slaloming all over the place for the last 1/3 of the race. Aid stations were rough.

Things I saw this day I have never seen on a race course: Irish folk band playing a Foreigner song. A group of accordion players (maybe 12 of them, average age about 75). An aid station (unofficial I think) with 4 people holding boxes of Kleenex (that’s it, no water, just Kleenex). I could not figure that one out. I know I don;t get a runny nose when i race, but who knows.
At mile 20 I still had had about 6-8 people with me, and a few of them started to take off, feeling good. In the end, I only had 1 person right behind me as I crossed the finish line, but I can say that at least 7 people met their goal using me as a pacer. I did my job well. :)

I was ‘paid’ for running finishing a marathon within a 30 second window (3:39:30-3:40:00) and I did that. It being my first time officially pacing, I tried REALLY hard to run even pace. It seemed to have worked out well :)

After short congratulations conversations with a few of my runners, I went back, took a quick shower and got back on the road heading home, again stopping at my parents house for the night on the way back. It was a LOOOONG drive, but the memories were so worth the effort. It looks like I will be pacing again in October in Milwaukee. I am looking forward to that!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Chicagoland Spring Marathon Results (or why I hate running in Illinois, pt 2)

18/237 Overall 2/19 Age

fin     As I near the precious 50 states goal, I needed to go back and re-run 2 states to get official sub-4 finishes so I can knock off 50 sub 4 at the same time I knock off 50. I re-ran Virginia last March, and this was a re-run of Illinois. I attempted the 50 mile ultra back in that first year of running. Horrible sickness meant I had to bail at mile ~34 and get credit for a 50k finish. I have disliked that memory of Illinois for a long time, which is why I waited so long to cancel it out.

    My wife and I only get the occasional weekend ‘alone’ (known as ‘honeymoon weekends’) and since this race was close, she decided to do the road trip with me.The race was Sunday morning but we left Friday night and overshot Chicago to Madison to spend the night at my parents house. My brother, Michael wad flying into town for a special occasion, the Eagle Scout project of our nephew, Michael James. Me and my two brothers are all Eagle Scouts, so it meant a lot to us to help on on the project of our nephew. The work was on Saturday morning and Mistique and I helped out as long as we could and had to bug out at about 2pm so we could get to packet picket-up before it closed. This being an inaugural race (which I usually try to avoid) the packet pickup was inside a running store. Nice long sleeve technical shirt, no muss no fuss, off to dinner at Applebee’s, of course... I try hard not to get cocky with marathons, but there are some things I still screw up. The week before the race, it had gotten up to 90 degrees in Michigan, so I only glanced at the forecast when I was packing for the race. Oooooops. When I show up to race start with 25-30 mph winds and mid 40’s for temperature in my short sleeve shirt and shorts, I am not doing good. While waiting for the race to start I find a large garbage bag discarded in a trash can. Yeah! I put it on as a poncho (its previous owner had done the same, there were holes in all the right places) and that helped a little. Actually, it helped a lot. Back when I re-ran Virginia, it was so windy (and there I did not have enough clothes either, darnit) that i ran with a plastic bag over my torso for the first 3 miles until I had warmed up enough to remove it. This day it was rainy and windy and damn cold so I kept that darn plastic bag over my upper body until mile 25.8 or so. I looked like a dork, but I did not care. Right before the last stretch (when they might be taking pictures) I finally torn off my plastic bag. I ran across the finish line and Misty and I walked to the car (quickly). I hit the half marathon mark at 1:35 (common) and I slowed down the back half (common) but what was uncommon is how much I dropped off. I was cold, for sure, but I was also tired. As my next big race is the 100 mile national championship in late July, the month of May was slated to be high mileage. For example, in the 14 days immediately previous to this race, I had logged 206 miles. I have been rough after many a race, but this one was pretty bad. Just walking was a struggle and my legs felt like they had just done a 100 miles, not a 26.2 miler. Turns out it was just the cold. By the time Misty and I got back to the hotel room, I had warmed up enough such that I was not too bad. Crappy conditions, bad packing. Ugh. I have no good memories of this darn state.

2011 Chicagoland Spring Marathon Results (or why I hate running in Illinois, pt 2)

18/237 Overall
2/19 Age
As I near the precious 50 states goal, I needed to go back and re-run 2 states to get official sub-4 finishes so I can knock off 50 sub 4 at the same time I knock off 50. I re-ran Virginia last March, and this was a re-run of Illinois. I attempted the 50 mile ultra back in that first year of running. Horrible sickness meant I had to bail at mile ~34 and get credit for a 50k finish. I have disliked that memory of Illinois for a long time, which is why I waited so long to cancel it out.

My wife and I only get the occasional weekend ‘alone’ (known as ‘honeymoon weekends’) and since this race was close, she decided to do the road trip with me.The race was Sunday morning but we left Friday night and overshot Chicago to Madison to spend the night at my parents house. My brother, Michael wad flying into town for a special occasion, the Eagle Scout project of our nephew, Michael James. Me and my two brothers are all Eagle Scouts, so it meant a lot to us to help on on the project of our nephew.

The work was on Saturday morning and Mistique and I helped out as long as we could and had to bug out at about 2pm so we could get to packet picket-up before it closed. This being an inaugural race (which I usually try to avoid) the packet pickup was inside a running store. Nice long sleeve technical shirt, no muss no fuss, off to dinner at Applebee’s, of course…

I try hard not to get cocky with marathons, but there are some things I still screw up. The week before the race, it had gotten up to 90 degrees in Michigan, so I only glanced at the forecast when I was packing for the race. Oooooops. When I show up to race start with 25-30 mph winds and mid 40’s for temperature in my short sleeve shirt and shorts, I am not doing good. While waiting for the race to start I find a large garbage bag discarded in a trash can. Yeah! I put it on as a poncho (its previous owner had done the same, there were holes in all the right places) and that helped a little.

Actually, it helped a lot. Back when I re-ran Virginia, it was so windy (and there I did not have enough clothes either, darnit) that i ran with a plastic bag over my torso for the first 3 miles until I had warmed up enough to remove it. This day it was rainy and windy and damn cold so I kept that darn plastic bag over my upper body until mile 25.8 or so. I looked like a dork, but I did not care. Right before the last stretch (when they might be taking pictures) I finally torn off my plastic bag. I ran across the finish line and Misty and I walked to the car (quickly).

I hit the half marathon mark at 1:35 (common) and I slowed down the back half (common) but what was uncommon is how much I dropped off. I was cold, for sure, but I was also tired. As my next big race is the 100 mile national championship in late July, the month of May was slated to be high mileage. For example, in the 14 days immediately previous to this race, I had logged 206 miles.

I have been rough after many a race, but this one was pretty bad. Just walking was a struggle and my legs felt like they had just done a 100 miles, not a 26.2 miler. Turns out it was just the cold. By the time Misty and I got back to the hotel room, I had warmed up enough such that I was not too bad.
Crappy conditions, bad packing. Ugh. I have no good memories of this darn state.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 FSCA 5K Results (or hmmm… I think I will run a 5K this Morning)

5/116 overall

Just a little local 5K. I decided at about 7 am that I was going to run it at 8:30 am and my race day registration meant I got a XL size race shirt :(. Just another ‘forced speed workout’ that helps shake the rust out of my legs in my training for serious endurance events (100 milers) I actually ran this race a few years ago and got 2nd overall back then. I have gotten slower at these shorter distances just because I never train for racing 5K’s.

The weather was actually quite nice. high 40’s with a small wind and overcast. A nice tour of downtown Jackson (there are a few local road races that are in downtown) that I actually run every once in a while. I managed to keep an even pace for the race (slow, I know) which is nice considering I was never able to do that ‘back in the day’. My pulled hamstring, which I have been nursing for about 1.5 months did slow me down, but not too much.

Just for the record, the first time (and most recent) time I ran this race was way back in 2006 when I ran an 18:58 (2nd place overall). That was my 6th race of the modern era. Oh, how much I have learned in the 98 road races since then…

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2011 River Rat Marathon Results (or Cross-country Road Trip with Good Friends)

4/33 overall
State #48 was more about the road trip than the race itself.
My trusty running friend/pacer/coach Ryan arrived at my house on Thursday afternoon and we left, trying to get some miles behind us before the long driving day on Friday. My other good running friend, Gary, who currently lives in Erie, PA left right after work and drove to meet us at our hotel in Joliet, IL. Gary is used to driving late at night to races (he does it all the time) and was scheduled to arrive somewhere around 3am. When I woke up at 5:30 and saw no sign of him, I texted him asking if he was alive. Turns out, he was so tired, he got to the hotel parking lot and fell asleep right there in his car, without even undoing his seatbelt. Safe driving, eh?

We got his stuff packed up into my car and took off about 6am for the 10 hours left we had to go to make it to South Dakota. Gary slept in the back seat for a few more hours until we stopped for a pizza lunch some where in Iowa. Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are just plain boring to drive through. Few hills, long expanses of nothing much besides farms. Being completely overcast just made for a blah visual day. Conversations were standard marathon road trip banter, talking about races, past and future.

We arrived in the cow capital of South Dakota, Yankton at about 4pm local. With packet pickup at 5, we checked in to our hotel and went out for dinner. We had Applebees the previous night, so I had ribs. I had never tried that for a pre-race meal before, and it did not disappoint. This being a small town race, the packet pickup was held at the local bike/outdoor shop which was technically a wing of the local Ace Hardware store. Umm.. no expo.
Lewis and Clark (again!)
After dinner, Ryan and I did a quick touristy trip around the area taking pictures of the Missouri river. I seem to have an affinity for the whole Lewis and Clark thingie. Last October, the end of the Lewis and Clark journey in Oregon. Last month, the start of of it in St. Louis. This time, I was right in the middle of it, the race being on the banks of (you guessed it) Lewis and Clark Lake, a man-made lake behind a dam along the Missouri river. .

The three of us crashed for the night about 8pm, well Gary and I crashed. Our hotel room was quite near a local bar that had live music playing. Poor Ryan didn’t fall asleep until the band stopped, somewhere about midnight. Did I mention the band wasn’t that good?

The 4th member to our party, Morgan (Gary’s girlfriend and fellow marathoner) had flown into Omaha late the night before and drove up, arriving at our hotel room at about 3am. She was not running this race, and just came to spend time with Gary (she now lives in Phoenix).

6am and we were up and ready to go. Race conditions were so-so. The temperature was mid to high 40’s, but we had 20-25 mph winds all day long. With the course meandering in all directions, it was sortof a pain. Poor Gary has no fat on his body so he was wearing 5 layers on his torso and was still cold.

8am start and we all set off into the wind. It was absolutely brutal for many of those early miles. The course went through Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, including many miles on the banks of the Missouri river. It was a very peaceful and pretty run. A few hills here and there that were not that bad, and overall good run. The only thing I really disliked was running right next to the water treatment plant at mile 25. That was annoying. While I though the course was ok, Gary and Ryan didn’t much like it at all.

Gary is trying to run marathons in all 50 states under 3:00. He is a little faster than me, but not that much. He has accomplished sub 3 in 40 states, but here in South Dakota, he has failed, now twice. He ran a 3:07 (finishing one place ahead of me) and sadly will have to return again to attempt a sub 3. Ryan, however, had a better day. He had run 2 marathons the week before (the same marathon race course, just twice in one day) He had been sore, but was very happy to run a 3:47 this day considering the wind.

Quick showers and we all took off. Morgan had been planning to go back to Erie with Gary, so we had to go back to Omaha to drop off her rental car before the 4 of us headed east. Ryan and I took turns driving, resting when we could. We ended up dropping Gary and Morgan off in Joliet around 11pm, Ryan and I then getting to my house about 2:30am, and then Ryan took off getting to his house at 4am. It was a loooong day, but we all made it through.

A fun cross country road trips with good friends, which made up for the unexciting marathon. This was also the first race that I tried my new shtick, the dyed hair. I had been toying around with the idea of dying my hair the week before big races (so people would know I was racing) and then shaving my head right after the race. Having never dyed my hair before, I was a little concerned about peoples reaction. Turns out, almost everyone loved it (even my lovely wife, Misty) so I think it will work. I won’t do it for every race, just the important ones like 100 milers, state #50, etc.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Go! St. Louis Marathon Results (or How to Run in Heat and Not Die)

72/1904 Overall
9/210 Division

State 47! Yeah! That means I am getting oh-so-close to my 50 states goal, and I tell ya, it can’t come fast enough :) This race would prove to be fun, hot, and demoralizing all at the same time.
St. Louis is only an 8 hour drive from home, so I left early Saturday morning getting to the marathon expo in the early afternoon. I met up with a ultra running friend, Rob, who was set to be the 3:50 pace group leader. During the race, he had to fall back due to heat sickness but according to him, his group had already all fallen away before so it was OK. What’s worse, is that his racing chip was not working and so (as of this writing) he does not have an official finish time. Rob and another maniac friend of his, Steve, and I got together Saturday night to swap war stories and have a few cold ones. Turns out, Steve is a fast marathoner, his average race time (he calculates it meticulously) being close to the 3:00 mark. When asked, he said he wanted to run in the 2:50 range to drop his average time a little bit more. For the record, he beat me by only 30 seconds, finishing 25 min slower than his goal. Did I mention it was hot? Everyone crashed this day it seemed.

ArchI had some free time Saturday afternoon, so I did the speed-tourist thing, this time hitting the St. Louis Arch. I had been here as a child, but forgot how HUGE the 500+ foot sculpture really was. That was way cool, and I also went to the nearby courthouse (1st courthouse in St. Louis, built in mid 1800’s, awesome architecture) and found out this was THE courtroom that started the court case (Dred Scott, slave suing for his freedom) that led the famous US supreme court decision that can be argued was what began the US civil war. Considered the worst event in United States history, that epic struggle has roots in a simple courtroom. It was cool being in a place of such important history.

And of course, the arch itself was there to commemorate (amongst other things) the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition after the Louisiana purchase. For those avid fans of my travels, you remember I visited the official place commemorating the OTHER end the Lewis and Clark adventure in Oregon back in Oct, 2010. Just goes to show you I am really trying to do more than just run marathons when I travel all over.

After a good nights rest on an air mattress at a friend-of-a-friends local apartment, I got to the race start early enough to be in the massive marathon maniacs group picture. We are becoming quite the large national group.

maniacs! Since my last marathon two weeks ago, my hamstring has been bothering me, In fact, I had not run one single mile since that last race, only doing walks and elliptical training to keep my cardio system up and minimizing impact and strain on my poor hamstring. I even got a deep tissue massage two days before this race, which helped, but it was still sore race morning. My only real goal was to finish under 4 hours, as I really had no idea what my hamstring would do. But, as a starting point, I found the 3:10 pace group and decided to start with them. It was led by a really nice 2:35 marathoner from Grand Rapids, MI named Chris. He did an awesome job keeping us upbeat, with lots of suggestions throughout for the newer racers. At about mile 5, there were still over a dozen of us hanging with him, as we rolled through downtown St. Louis, including running near the Arch and by the Anhueser Busch Brewery. The first few miles were rough on my hamstring, but it loosened up as we went, to a point where I did not feel it much at all, and that was not because it went numb from pain, promise :) I think I was just very smart to keep my form good and smooth and with no real strain, I was fine.

At about mile 15, we hit more residential St. Louis and the long slow hills began. Combined with the raising temperatures (low to mid 80’s) I started to slow, as did everyone else. The 3:10 pace group slowly left me and I tried to keep them in sight as long as possible, but it was no use. As almost always happens, my second half is ~10 min slower than my first half. This was another survival marathon, so I was totally cool with just finishing strong. No matter how much the urge to walk struck, even on those long slogging hills, I never did, not even at water stations. At mile 22 a very nice woman was handing out Starbursts which were absolute heaven. I guess my body was craving sugar it seems.

A short wait for my free Michelob (tasty, of course) and I was on the highway within an hour of crossing the finish line. I arrived back at my house with sore muscles, fresh good and bad memories of another state conquered a mere 38 hours after I left. The light at the end of (this) tunnel gets a little closer and a little brighter. I think I am starting to get excited.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Yuenling Shamrock Marathon Results (or Flat and Windy State Re-do)

86/3158 Overall
16/321 age
10 second finish line handstand (my longest ever!):

The 50 state quest is coming to a close, and I needed to re-run Virginia, so I could complete 50 sub 4 at the same time I complete 50 states. The Yuenling Shamrock marathon seemed a perfect fit. Beautiful course, great support, and only a 13 hour drive away.

This race was really well executed with great support and an awesome post race party. There was only one problem, and that problem cost me $50. There was no race day packet pickup (which is fine) but the cut off for getting your packet the night before the race was 5pm, a horribly early time for those of us who are traveling great distances to get to the race. Because it was a 13 hour drive, I had to leave Michigan on Friday night and get a little ways down the road to make sure I was in Virginia Beach by 5pm Saturday. A quick stop on and I found a cheap hotel right of the Ohio turnpike in a little town called Streetsboro. The funny thing is not only was the hotel the same one I stayed in right after the Burning River 100 last July, but the room I stayed in this time was 2 doors away from the previous stay. That was weird. Going up those stairs brought back painful memories…

I woke up early Saturday as was heading ESE by 6am, arriving at the expo about 3pm. Generally I get almost nothing at expos, but there were some good deals. My ‘shoe’ was here and on sale, so I bought 2 pairs. I also (finally?) picked up a high end handheld water bottle. Since I knew I would have little time to enjoy the beach after the race, I wandered the boardwalk for a little while. Right near the huge statue of Neptune, was a restaurant named Salacia. For those of you who didn’t know, my daughter is named after that roman goddess who was one of Neptune’s many wives. I would bet <1% of the people who eat there know the origin of the name of the place, but I thought it was beyond cute.
My cousin, John, and his family live in Hampton, a quaint town filled with retired military personnel about 45 min away from Virginia Beach and he agreed to let me crash at his home, which was nice. I ran a race not far from his home just under a year ago and totally forgot he lived there until after I returned home from that race. I made sure to exploit his family’s hospitality this time. I arrived in time for a short dinner and good conversation before an early bedtime. I knew the next day was going to be very long, so I needed to get some sleep.

5am wakeup and marathon morning followed her standard plan, with one big exception, no tape on the toes. I saw an ad in a magazine about a brand of sock that prevented blisters. What stood out in the ad was a testimonial from a world class ultra runner saying that now that she wears these socks, she never has to ‘tape or lube’ her toes anymore. To a guy who (religiously) wraps and lubes his toes before races, I was intrigued. And don’t ya know, there was a vendor selling these very kind of socks at the expo. So, I bought a pair and decided to (fingers crossed) try them during the race. So, this mornings race prep took about half the time since there was no toe wrapping/lubing. I am happy to say that my toes were completely fine. Not a single blister. I am going to get a few more pair of those socks, for sure.

My legs had been bothering me for over a week, being achy and tired even with a lot of rest and I feared that I still had not fully recovered from the Beast of Burden 5 week previous. My legs were dead and I just wanted to run on feel, so I decided to run completely technology free. No watch, no ipod, nothing, which was also a first. Oh, one other first. The temperature are race start was not that bad, but the wind 20 mph+ wind mad for a cold time waiting for the (15 minute delayed) start. My large trash bag that was keeping me warm (standard pre-race practice, but I usually ditch it moments before the gun) actually remained on my body for the first 2.5 miles. I looked like a dork running with a trash bag covering my entire torso, but I didn’t care as it was keeping me warm.
After about 4 miles I met up with a nice insurance salesman (Chemical engineer by training) named Andrew who was running his 3rd ever marathon and trying to break 3 hours. He informed me that we were on pace to break 3, which I admit, I thought about for a while, but as usual, I slowed. We separated a few times, me leaving him behind, him later catching up to me and passing me, then the reverse. Our conversations, as usually occur with people on the course was pleasant. He ended finishing about a minute behind me, setting his our new PR by ~2 minutes.
My race bib had my name on in, which has happened to me in maybe a dozen other races. In the other races, maybe 5 people during the entire race might say my name, cheering me on. But this race, I don’t know but maybe the people in Virginia are just nicer. No joke, my name was called (as it “way to go Mark! Looking great!”) maybe 150 times during the race. Not just spectators, but aid station workers and even many other runners during the few out-and-back portions.

The wind kept steady all day but the rising temperature, topping out in the low 50’s, made for a perfect race conditions. It being on or near the beach, it was a flat and fast course. As with many of my recent marathons, I ran the first half in just under 1:30, and slightly slower on the back side. I felt sore but strong all day long. My 100 miler training really had helped my endurance which this day made a huge difference. 3:06 without completely busting my butt. I’ll take it.

The post race party was probably one of the best I have ever attended. Yuenling beer was one of the major race sponsors  and so of course there was plenty of free Yuenling afterwards. And of course, I love Yuenling. The one HUGE problem was that I had a 13 hour drive in front of me and I needed to not only leave quickly, but be sober. I had one delish cup and got out of dodge. A quick shower at cousin John’s and I headed out.

I have never minded long drives alone, and I can honestly say that ultra training makes it even easier. If you can run for 20+ hours straight without losing your mind, then driving 13 hour straight is easy. It helped that there was a whole lot of college basketball on the radio. I listened to 4+ complete games.