Kettle Moraine 100 Mile – 2015 Race Report

This race started on June 6th, 2015.  Again most of this report is what I wrote in an email to friends.

My wife and I got to Wisconsin on Friday and saw there was a Fuddruckers in Janesville so we had to eat there before we picked up my race packet and such.  So good!

Got up at 3:20 and did my normal pre-race stuff and got to the start with good time.  Saw John Maas at the start line so asked him if he was going to win it again this year since I’m pretty sure he was going to try for it today but he just did the usual ultra response of “I feel pretty good”.  Mostly because a LOT of stuff can go wrong in a 100 mile race and a good 30% you don’t have any control over anyway.

Started at 6am which seemed earlier than it needed to be but I guess the sun was up so off we went.  Over 370 people started at once (the 100K was run at the same time) which is a lot for a trail run.  It was a nice wide ski trail for the first 8 miles so plenty of time to find your spot and settle in for a nice long run.  Usually I talk more to people but that didn’t happen much this race.  Don’t know if I was less outgoing or just people didn’t want to talk.  I usually don’t put my headphone on for at least 4 hours or so into a race because I’m talking to different people but I had them on after only 2 hours.

I tried to keep my pace down but I “felt pretty good” too going into the race.  Didn’t have the bathroom issues the night before like Zumbro.  The weather was nice and conditions were good at the start.  Got to the first station a ways ahead of schedule which I always do because I just can’t help it.  The next section was on the ice age trail which is single track and more of the trail I’m used to in MN.  LOVED it!  Probably my favorite section of race I’ve ever had.  Couldn’t help but smile cruising down every hill, the trail was super curvy with enough rocks and turns to scare you going down hill fast but not enough to slow you from going fast (don’t worry mom I was always in control and never did anything dumb like I promised).  Felt like a little kid running down a hill super fast, you know that look they have.

Anyway, the next section was a longer section where there were unmanned water stations and it would be a while until I’d see Jessie again.  I kept wondering why she kept trying to push more food and water at me since the next station was only 3 miles away.  Forgot that the next 2 stations were just water and nothing else and I’d be going through the open prairie.  I had told her and even written it down to give me lots of stuff.  She just needed to remind me how long till she’d see me again I guess.  Luckily I was cruising along really well and was able to make what I had last long enough.  It wasn’t too hot yet and was still pretty cloudy.

Coming into Scuppernong
Coming into Scuppernong

Then some more tree covered trail and some steep technical (rocks and roots) trail until the first turnaround at Scuppernong.  Of course the really bad part of the trail was right as I usually hit my first “wall” at about 28 miles into the race.  Took about 2 miles to work through it and then back to cruising.  Turn around point was 50K which at 5:33 was pretty respectable on its own so I know I was feeling pretty good.  Of course since it is a turn around spot that also means I got to see how many were ahead of me as I was running towards it since they were then running at me.  I figured I was about 35th or so which I wasn’t too happy about but not much I could do about that.  I was running well.  BUT…

I wasn’t able to keep up with my sweating.  It was now getting hot.  Probably not much above 70 but for me that’s hot especially since there haven’t been many hot days to run this year yet to train.  Plus zero wind on the trail and oh yay no more clouds just as it hits noon.  I normally need 20 oz of water an hour.  But not today.

Now I wasn’t getting dehydrated or anything but I was only peeing every 2 hours or so and I don’t like that. You never pee large quantities during the race but like to check it every hour or so just to make sure everything is working right.  Probably too much information but I warned you above.  Again it wasn’t dark but I could tell I wasn’t where I should be for optimal running.  You just learn these things about your body after a while.  Yes my electrolyte levels were fine as well to you medical people (again you just learn these things after a while) So I started dousing myself with water at every station until the end of the race to help keep cool.  And started drinking way more than normal.  Now since this was the turn around spot that means I was back in that nice long section of open prairie/swamp at 1pm with no clouds and trying to catch up with hydration.  So I drank over 60 ounces in the 2 hours to complete the 9 or so miles and watch a couple of people pass me that apparently are camels and enjoy heat and not drinking any water (hate those people!).  I just had to hope that the night would come soon and I’d get them back when I cooled down then.  It was also during this portion of the race that lots of people were cheering.

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Basically you run back to the starting line and then you go out on another loop in a different direction.  So the section right by the start/finish line you run 4 times.  I hate that part!  Even the first time but especially the last time which I’ll get to later.  Anyway, I got to see how many in front of me at the turn around again.  I think things were pretty much the same, I was low 30’s for place and John Maas was still 7th I think.  We high fived each other every time we passed other than at night in the dark.  So 100K done and 38 miles to go.  Did the same stupid section going out and actually ran it better than I thought I would since I thought the big hills would be hurting more by now.

Then night fell just as I got to the new loop section.  This part was very technical.  I stubbed my feet 50-60 times and almost went down about 6 of those.  Always was able to correct somehow.  I had to slow way down though so that sucked.  Luckily I had planned on that on my pace card so I still was able to gain a minute or 2 every section between aid stations.  Towards the turn around at Rice Lake there were some flat parts in the trees.  I guess it’s supposed to be pretty but it was dark and the clouds started showing up so the moon didn’t do much for lighting up the view.

On the upside to all this darkness was I was finally well hydrated and cool again so I could eat more and really do well on the flat parts.  I was unable to tell how many people were in front of me at the Rice lake turnaround because I didn’t dare look up from the trail most of the time since there were so many rocks and roots and looking at people just blinds them with your lamp and is kind of a douche move.  I do know that I actually passed some people on the trail so that was very promising and a great morale booster.

Finally at the station after the turn around I caught another person and then saw the most glorious sight.  Ok 2nd most glorious (my wife was the first).  Anyways there were probably about 10 racers sitting in chairs.  “Die chair sitters die” I said in my head.  Most people would say you should NEVER sit down to take a break in an ultra or there is a real good chance you will never get up from said chair.  Some people can do it and still get back going but they’ll admit they lose more time than they want to by doing so.  So I knew I was easily in the 20’s now for position.  I gained a few more on the next section but knew I would probably lose one or two on the last section that I did 3 times before already.  There are always some people who seem to be running on new legs at the end of the race that fly by you.  Of course they are really only going about a minute a mile pace faster but in the dark it looks like they come out of no where.  Only got taken by 2 of them.  I think I also gained a couple at the last aid station as well Jessie thought.  I was hoping to be the person doing the taking this race but the last 7.5 miles SUCKED.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  It’s where mental fortitude takes an important roll in a 100 mile race.  I was able to keep the pace I thought I would do but there was nothing fun about that section other than the finish line.  And the 22:24:42.9 on the clock.  That was 4:24 am and it was just starting to get the smallest amount of light out.  The birds started chirping a few minutes later. Oh and I beat the storm clouds as well which was nice.  It would’ve made that last section suck even more.

Finish Line!
Finish Line!
Finally can sit down. In that bubble wrap is the copper kettle finisher medal.
Finally can sit down. In that bubble wrap is the copper kettle finisher medal.

So 100.6 miles later I had a few blisters that didn’t hurt at all during the race other than when a rock or stick would hit them somehow.  Basically pain-free.  Now that means no additional pain than what I would expect from a 100 mile run.  I believe the veteran ultrarunners when they say a 100 mile race always hurts.  Jessie has some pretty good stories of this young woman who kept passing me and yet I’d always be in front of her the next section because she kept sitting down and was complaining how she hurt and Tylenol wasn’t taking care of it, etc.  When I first heard her say her knee hurt, I thought she was injured.  But when I still saw her running past me 30 miles later I kind of knew she wasn’t really injured.  Her mom talked to Jessie a fair amount because we were always there at similar times and I get the impression the young woman didn’t know that it is normal to hurt when you run really far, no matter what drugs you take or how young you are.  Anyway washed off the dirt and tried to sleep for a few hours (not easy to sleep when no position makes you not hurt) until the breakfast was served.  Ate and then took turns driving home.

Now I have a qualifying race done for Western States 100 next year but it’s a lottery to get in so I likely won’t be able to do it.  It’s starting to suck that all these races are having to go to lotteries now.  Too many crazy people wanting to run long distances I guess.

Overall I was 26th out of 266 starters.  165 actually finished the race which is 62% and kind of low in my mind for an easier race.  Perhaps too many first timers that didn’t know what they were getting into.  I was secretly hoping to finish in 23 hours but put 24 hours on my time card I make with all the aid stations, etc on it since I sucked it so bad at the last race.  So I even beat my secret goal which made me very happy, but maybe not so much for Jessie since the time card was all screwed up with me constantly beating my times.  Anyway she was a super awesome crew.  My down time was only 34 minutes at the aid stations this race.  That’s less than my 37 minutes in my Kansas race that she crewed for me as well even with the extra aid stations this race had. I think Cheryl was pretty impressed how fast she got me in and out of the aid stations.  Thanks to my SUPER DUPER AWESOME CREW WIFE and my sister Cheryl for helping during part of the race.  Cheryl told Jessie that no one seemed to be smiling while running but she needs to come to the finish line to see that, or had been there after that super fun section at the beginning (it wasn’t as fun the second time when I had to go up all those fun hills).

I’ll just add that this race has some things to be desired in my mind.  The main thing was that there is a night run that goes on at the same time as the 100 mile race.  The race directors didn’t bother to tell those people to yield to the weaker 100 mile runners.  So they would run 2-3 people wide and not move over for anyone.  They’d shine their lights in people’s faces, etc.  I understand that the RD’s don’t have control over how people behave but they didn’t remind people and they need to do that.  Totally ruined the race for me.  The only reason I’d do this race again is because it is a qualifier for Western States and part of the Gnarley Bandit Series.

The official elevation gain is 8801 for the course based on 2011 data.  They used to say it was over 10,000.  The record times for the course make it seem like the 8801 would be the more accurate number but when I put it in Google Earth which is usually low on elevation it comes in at 10,962.  So I’m kind of torn on how they came up with 8801.  I kind of think it is closer to 10,000.  With the flat prairie sections I could see how it runs fast like it’s only 8801 and the winners are through most of the technical portion before it’s dark.  Whatever, I’m sure they’re confident on the 8801 since it’s so specific of a number.

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Cheering at Ultramarathon Races

If you ever want to make a runner in a race smile and feel good, cheer with gusto.  Any runner appreciates any cheering, really we do.  But I have to say the people I don’t even know who are cheering like I’m some sort of rock star makes me feel pretty darn special.  It’s impossible to not smile.  It’s usually some mom type looking woman or a group of them going nuts with or without a cowbell (need more cowbell!).  Sometimes there is a teenager or 2 who I presume are said woman’s offspring who are definitely not as excited by my presence and half ass clap their hands.  Again the kids support is appreciated but the woman’s is more appreciated.  Seriously there are people who cheer like I’m the most awesome person in the world and keep cheering for like 20 seconds until I’m out of view.  It’s amazing how much that can help the mental attitude of racers.  Funny signs are always good too.  The only down side is I have yet to meet any of these crazy mom cheerers at 3am.  But by 5am the next day they are back at it!

THANK YOU!!!

Zumbro 100 Mile – 2015 Race Report

I thought I would add a race report for a race I ran April 10th this year.  This is all based off an email I sent to friends so it may seem like it just happened but it didn’t.
Well I made it out alive and surprisingly can walk down stairs about as good as after any other race.  Surprisingly you ask? read on.
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Just before the race.  Way overdressed.

So the night before the race just before I go to bed at 8pm I check Facebook for any updates before the race.  Turns out it is snowing super hard.  This after the close to inch of rain during the day.  I’ve been on the course once before so I know how bad it’s going to be with this news.

Got up at 4am to drive to Theilman, MN.  Thus began the “awake clock”.  Past Zumbrota there is snow all around and the roads are slightly icy.  So now I have to drive slow and hope I get there.  Got there in time to get my bib and get stuff organized at least.  30 degrees for the temperature so I wore what I thought was appropriate clothing, forgetting there was zero wind in the trees.  I was way too hot.  There was fog everywhere which is both creepy and awesome at the same time running in the woods.  Crunchy snow on top of wet leaves, rocks, and mud.  Wasn’t surprised by the injuries I saw the first day.  Finished my first lap of 6 in 3:05 which was better than last year when I only did the 1 lap race.  Shows how out of shape I was last year after not running for 6 months.  In one of the themes of the day, I spent time changing clothes (6 times during the race) due to the weather constantly changing.  My last 100 mile race I spent 37 minutes total at aid stations, in part due to my awesome wife crewing for me.  This time it had to be at least 90 minutes.  What a waste!

So lap 2 it sleeted and rained.  This really made the course difficult.  Basically had to hang on to trees to go down hill and not crash and fall.  Slows you way down.  Messed up all my accessory muscles in back and hips trying not to fall as well.  At least I never did fall.  I was getting grumpy.  My stomach had been off the whole race.  In fact the night before I had to take Imodium and Gas-x to get things to stop if you know what I mean.  Lets just say I was in the bathroom 4 times in an hour.

I finally just stopped eating food all together during the 3rd lap.  I was surprisingly still on pace for my goal of 25 hours.  I felt much better towards the end of lap 3, in fact the aid station people could tell.  I knew I looked bad earlier by how they looked at me but their constant food pushing was the wrong thing for me this race.  At the end of lap 3 was 50 miles.  The sun was setting.  My quads were already in bad shape.  Was wishing I had signed up for the 50 so I’d be done.

But I didn’t abandon my family for 2 days just to quit.  Plus I wasn’t really injured yet.  So loop 4 started off with new socks, clothes, headlamp, etc.  I think my time wasn’t too bad with this loop.  I ran to the first aid station with someone who was going to pace someone else on the 5th loop.  It was nice since I hadn’t seen anyone on the trail since the first loop other than the 2 injured people I passed.  Don’t worry, they were already getting help from aid station workers.  9 hours is a while to not see anyone other than the aid station people.

Started the 5th loop just after midnight which was also when the 50 mile race started. Kevin Langton caught up to me and we talked for a while.  I say caught up because after the 4th loop my body was done and I wasn’t even tired yet from not sleeping, I knew that would come later.  My goal of 25 hours was gone.  Now it was just finish mode.  He stopped at the top of one of the hills on a rock and was looking at the stars.  It seemed peaceful but I knew if I stopped that would be bad.   I didn’t see him again until a few miles before the finish line when he passed me again.  I thought he quit but turns out he spent some time warming up in his car.  Mentally I was all over the place.  Happy that it was colder again (low 30’s), wanting this to be my last loop so I could sleep in my car, like REALLY wishing this was my last loop so I could sleep in my car.  At least the trail had dried out some so that you could at least grip the mud with your shoes and not just slide on it.

Finally I finished lap 5.  Really no question as to whether or not to start loop 6.  If you make it 5 you can do 6.  I knew I’d have to walk the last loop almost entirely.  I really have no idea how I made it down those steep hills on this loop.  The sun came up just after I started the 6th loop as it was around 6am.  Finally I could see everything since there was no longer fog everywhere, just in the valley.  Quite beautiful view from the ridge tops.  By the end of this loop it was 70 degrees instead of 30.  The 1 loop race started about 3 hours after my leisurely stroll started so I knew they would all be passing me.  We wear these pink ribbons so that the other racers know we’re doing the 100 mile and will be slow.  While it is encouraging to hear “great job 100”, it almost gets annoying when you hear it as 60 people pass you.  What’s funny is when they say “looking great”.  Now I know what they mean, but really?  There is nothing about a guy gimping along for 17 miles that looks great.  I know from experience that it actually looks pretty sad as I was one of those 1 loop people last year looking at the sad pathetic 100 mile people in their emergency garbage bag ponchos in the rain just gimping along.  If things had gone to plan I would’ve been off the course before that race even started.

So finally I finished just after noon with a time of 28:08.  I only got passed by a couple 100 mile people on the last loop.  Still ended up 12th which is pretty much where I was the whole race due to people quitting and injuries.  74 started and 46 finished which is pretty close to normal.  It’s usually about a 50% finish rate for this race.  Most races have about 80% finish rate.  It’s mentally hard to not want to get in your car and sleep since it’s a loop course and the weather has almost always been harsh at this race.  Physically doing the same super steep inclines with mud and rocks over and over again is hard to train for this early in the year in MN.

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Finishers banner that I signed

Went to bed in my car about 1pm after signing the finisher banner and eating some food (so 33 hours awake).  Didn’t sleep well obviously and got up at 3pm and had to wait another 3 hours to get my drop bags back from the course since I didn’t think to go and get them myself – I think I was too tired to realize I could just go drive and get them.  Think I got another nap in there as well.  Drove home after eating some more, showered and brushed my teeth, got to bed about 9pm.

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The dried mud.  About 800 miles on these shoes so far.  Gaiters are a necessity for this race.

So I got my second belt buckle and met a few more people.  I guess I’m a veteran ultrarunner as I had my first race that wasn’t a personal best.  This race isn’t well-known nationally yet so it’s still somewhat small with upper mid-west people mostly.  Hopefully it stays that way since southern people would clean up at it with being able to train all year.  Plus most of the other MN races I do had to go to the lottery entry format since they filled up in 20 minutes.

Being just a day after the race and away from the horribleness of having to “walk it in”, I’m glad I finished and didn’t just quit.  Hopefully I can take my kids to one of these races when they’re older to volunteer at an aid station so they can see what determination is.  Not some poster in the locker room or gym at school of a buff guy with his face all grunted doing something supposedly hard.  Instead, a real human being that you’ve watched for over 24 hours go out again and again in bad weather with no teammates to support you and doing it for yourself.  Trying to win is great.  I’ll never do it, since with kids I don’t have time to double my training.  There can be only 1 winner.  So to see so many people continue for no reason other than their determination to finish what they started is awesome.  Some of course would say that’s insane or crazy.  But really it’s just a goal.  Just like any other goal that other people have.  My kids may never be runners but after seeing a race they will hopefully know that making goals without determination is a waste of time.  Also that climbing our 40 foot hill in our backyard isn’t really that hard.

Here’s a video of me literally walking it in.  It is what it is.

100 Miles. It looks easy…but… #zumbro100 #epic

A post shared by Zumbro Endurance Run (@zumbro100) on

I have to say this is a race you either love, hate, or both.  I’m probably in the last category.  I smiled and kind of cringed every time I wore the buff I got at this race while running this summer.  I immediately signed up for Kettle Moraine 100 mile when I got home after this race to redeem myself.  I did well there and wrote a report on it here.

This race is very well run as are all of John Storkamp’s races that I’ve done.  This one even has bacon!  Although due to my super slow 6th lap it was all gone when I finished.  Seriously, bacon is the most awesome thing during and after a 100 mile race.  I’m sure you can find some reports describing the course better than this one since this was just an email to non running friends who wouldn’t care about those things.  It is a pretty brutal course.  It’s not the steepest course, even in MN but it’s over 18,000 feet of gain which isn’t easy.  There are some rocks in spots and long stretches of sand.  Lots of leaves cover everything up at least the first 2 laps so you never know when you’ll find a rock, root, or large hole.  The weather is usually the worst part of this course most years.  Snow, rain, mud, ice, cold (although you should be used to cold by April if you’ve been training all winter). Not one I’d recommend for a first 100 miler.  I’d suggest wearing gloves.  Not just for the cold that usually occurs but to help save your hands while hanging on to trees going downhill and to save them when you fall.  Gaiters are a necessity in my mind.  I’m still in amazement how many people don’t use them on this course.  There is over a mile of deep sand and lots of mud to run through.  It is beautiful there and the people are great at this race.  I just need to train more hills during the winter and not charge down them so much the first few laps.  Unfortunately it’s my weekend on call next year when this race is put on so I likely won’t make it next year.

Surf the Murph 50Mile – 2015 Race Report

Here is my race report for the 50 mile race that was held on Saturday October 24th, 2015:

This was my first time running this race but I’ve wanted to do it for a couple of years since it is the closest ultra to my home.  I mainly signed up so that I would have a race this fall to keep me training all summer.  It is always easier for me to go out and do my long runs with some sort of race goal in mind.  I didn’t do anything special to prepare for this race other than read a few race reports and look at the previous race results to get an idea of what my goal time should be.  I’ve never run a race with these race directors but they maintained my belief that MN has a great group of race directors for ultra races.  Overall review is that this is a very nice race and not a bad place for a new ultrarunner to get a feel of a long 50K or spot on 50 miler.  Detailed review below.

Since the race is just over an hour away from my house I just drove to the race from home the morning of the race.  I usually get up 3 hours before any race to eat a little bit, take some caffeine so that things get going internally if you know what I mean.  If you don’t, I mean taking a dump or two before race time.  That wasn’t going to be an issue today as things were moving too much the night before and I was paranoid I was exposed to Salmonella at work Friday morning.  Race time was 6am for the 50 mile race so I got up at 3am.  Actually didn’t have much to do in the morning compared to normal since I wasn’t going to tape my feet at all for this race.  It rained all day Friday and up until race time.  That means I use my wet feet setup which is Vaseline and zinc oxide foot powder all over my feet with Smartwool toe socks.  I’ve used this many times when in extreme wet conditions.  Turns out the course dried fairly fast so it probably wasn’t necessary but still saves time over taping which can take up to an hour depending on the race distance, etc.  Ate, took a few toilet breaks, went through my checklist and took off to get there early to relax and put the Vaseline/powder on.  Ended up stopping for a bathroom break at a gas station so decided it was best to take a anti-diarrhea pill.

Got there at 5am and got my race bib and goody bag.  Got my feet, socks, and shoes ready.  It was 50 degrees so I started out with just a short sleeve tech shirt and gloves right from the beginning.  Had a buff on my head as well but soon I made it into a sweat band as I got hot fairly fast.  Gloves were gone soon as well.  Had to use the toilet again so I took another anti-diarrhea pill.  I put my toilet supply bag in my drop bag since I didn’t have any crew this race.  Got my headlamp on and went to the start line.

Oh I’ll just mention for newer runners that I always carry a zip lock bag with my toilet supplies in it to every race.  I also carry emergency toilet paper and wipes during the race as well but I think pretty much everyone does that.  My bag contains my super soft charmin ultra toilet paper, baby wipes, and body glide.  I hate crappy rough toilet paper, especially right before a race.  I’ve also been to races where the porta potty runs out of toilet paper.  The baby wipes are to make sure everything is gone.  That’s very important for a 100 miler but even in short races it can make a difference.  Then the body glide to reapply whatever was wiped off during the process.  I’ll also mention that if you have a crew during the race that can bring the bag to the different aid stations then you are really golden as far as toilet issues go.  Also if you are sweating a lot and need to use the toilet, make sure to use the baby wipe BEFORE you go.  Those salt crystals can tear you up and cause a lot of pain down the line.  You need to gently dissolve them and remove before you do ANYTHING.  On a similar note, be careful scratching your crotch area if very salty.  I made that mistake once.  Wow was I ever glad they had free samples of Vaniply in the goody bag that race.  Saved my race I think since it happened at mile 40 in a 100 mile race.

Lately I’ve been starting my long runs listening to this song.  Since I didn’t have my headphones on until the second lap I just had to sing along in my head.  Perfect cadence to this song and just fits so nice for starting a race in the dark or a long training run at dusk.

So the race started and I put myself around the 10th spot.  The course has really wide trail for almost all of it so it didn’t really matter much where I started since there was never a place you couldn’t easily pass or be passed.  I forgot to look around to see how many people showed up out of the 100 that signed up but I was thinking only about 50.  Turns out some had started at 4am that needed more time for the race.  Very nice of the race directors to do that.  I’m sure when I’m 70 I’ll appreciate those things.  I kind of wondered when I passed a man in his 70’s on my second loop just a few miles from the start how he possibly would’ve only gone 2.5 miles in 3.5 hours.  Obviously he is one that started a few hours earlier and was on his second lap as well.  He finished in 15 hours.

For the 50 mile race you did three laps of the loop course.  50K did two and there was a 25K race as well.  So if you did the 50K it was longer than 31 miles.  The website said it was about 2000 feet of elevation per loop.  The course was changed this year so I wasn’t sure what it would be.  I was kind of suspicious of what the elevation really was since I saw a few people’s gps tracks online and they were less than that.  Well my watch was a little behind the course distance which isn’t unusual for mine.  The course itself had mile markers on it which is kind of unusual but very handy to have.  I plugged my first lap route into GPS Visualizer which is by far the most accurate place I’ve found for distance and elevation.  After multiplying by 3 it came back with 49.8 miles and 5820 feet of elevation gain.  So very close to what the website said it would be and definitely within error range.  The first 5.5 miles is the most hilly portion of the course.  Then it flattens out more in the prairie / road area for the next 8 miles or so.  The last 3 or so miles were single track in the trees again so more hills but didn’t seem as bad as the beginning portion.  The course was fairly well-marked.  They had people directing us at a couple turns during our second loop and the first loop of the other races.  There were 32 trail crossings along a single loop of the course.  Yes the trail zig zags a lot.  Most of the crossings were obvious to tell where to go.  13 of them you had to turn 90 degrees or more.  A couple were almost 180 degree turns.  A lot of the flags were knocked down on my second loop already.  Not sure how they got knocked down really, seemed like you’d have to go out of your way to run over them for the most part.  The course was open to the public during the race which included horses so I’m sure the race directors weren’t allowed to put tape or large signs on the trails to make it impossible for you to go the wrong way.  That certainly would’ve been helpful for some racers including myself as you’ll see later.  Again I don’t think the directors were allowed to mark the course any better than it was and I’m sure it’s hard to get people to stand at every sharp turn directing people all day long.

Back to the race.  My goal time was 9 hours 41 minutes.  Yes a very specific time but that’s what the spreadsheet came out to with my aid station break times added in.  There was a fair amount of mud and lots of wet leaves on top of mud which is worse.  I’ve raced on much worse conditions but I was definitely happy with my gaiters keeping stuff out of my shoes.  Get gaiters people!  I only got one foot totally soaked in water on my first loop, the rest of the time it was just wet grass and mud that shed off the shoes just fine.  My first loop I talked to a couple different people for almost the entire time.  I got passed by 5 or so people but that was fine as I was hoping to be passing them later in the race.  Towards the end of the first loop there were a group of 5 guys 60 yards behind me for a while.  I yelled back that I felt like a gazelle being hunted.  They commented they were waiting for me to drop.  I laughed pretty good at that one.  If you don’t know, he was referring to persistence hunting.  After a while it was only 2 of them that caught up to me the last couple miles.  I gave one of them crap about having a stone in his shoe under his heel to get in his head a little.  They ended up stopping for a while at the start/finish aid station so I’m not sure if they ended up placing in front or behind me since I ended up stopping at an aid station on the second loop for 4 minutes in the porta potty.  Again took a anti-diarrhea pill, this one finally took thank God.  I hate wasting time like that.  I finish the first loop 14 minutes ahead of schedule with a time of 2:47.10294449_10206349388626574_7822891506957132319_n

Second loop things got spread out more and after my bathroom break, I put my head phones on.  I listened to the rest of a podcast I had started and then put on music.  The 50K people on their second loop finally started to pass me about half way through which is where I expected they would.  They started an hour later than us.  The course looked different for the first half as it was light out now.  Very pretty in spots.  If it wasn’t for the buckthorn everywhere it would be a very beautiful spot.  You could only tell where other runners were when you were in the prairie portion as the buckthorn prevented you from seeing anything in the trees.  I felt good the second loop and started eating only real food at that point.  Sugar water and gels just weren’t doing it for me that day.  Chips and ham and cheese sandwiches were the bomb!  One other guy I ran with towards the end of the second loop thought the same.  I hit the first wall around mile 28 which was during the prairie portion so it wasn’t bad at all.  Finally there were some cow bells when I came into the start/finish area the second time.  I love cow bells.  Time for the second loop was 10 more minutes ahead of schedule with a total time of 5:51.  I adjusted my goal time to around 9:15.

I love this video.  Great song to finish a race with.

Third loop it was more spread out.  I was passing lots of 50K runners and a couple 50 mile runners.  Sometimes I’d get passed by 50K runners which I didn’t understand.  You should’ve been done if your fast enough to pass me this late in your race.  I think I gained a few places the beginning of this loop.  Things were going pretty well.  Quads were hurting some and I had some knee pain at the beginning hills.  As usual, it went away and was replaced by something else.  You just learn to deal with the pains as they come, knowing full well they’ll go away and be replaced by something else.  “Accept it and move on” mantra will help any runner.  By now I know my body enough to know what muscle I had to get the knot out of in order for the pain to go away and I’d do it and sure enough after a few miles it would be gone.  I really wish I could bestow upon all new ultrarunners the ability to know what to do for different pains but everyone is different.  That and I don’t know how to get rid of every pain, just the ones I’ve had so far.  There will certainly be new ones to show up at some point.  Plus if everyone knew how to fix things from the get go I guess I wouldn’t have an advantage with experience would I?

I passed mile marker 14 so was almost finished with the race.  I was at least 4 minutes ahead of the guy I had been playing tag with the last loop.  There is a spot in the prairie portion you can see back about half a mile and I never saw him.  I found out later he stopped at the Natchez aid station for 4 minutes or so.  I was cruising along for a while and then saw mile marker 16.  Whoops!  I missed one of those close to 180 degree turns.  I went to the finish area and found a race director.  Based on my GPS watch I figured I cut the course about 1.6 miles.  We looked at the map and she agreed and told me to run to the mile marker 1 and back before I crossed the finish line which is what I did.  So with the extra time talking to her and running another .4 miles I lost my position to the guy I was playing tag with.  That’s totally fine since it was my fault for missing the turn.  Really they could’ve disqualified me but I was glad they let me just add-on distance.  I saw in other race reports where people got lost and they had to run extra as well.  I’m not surprised people get lost on this course.  I saw 2 other people who were freaking out doing the 50K since they were pretty sure they cut the course.  I told them just to tell the people at the aid station unless they knew where they went wrong and could go back.  I’m sure there are people who cut the course and never tell the race director.  So even though I ran further, I still feel weird about not running the exact course for 1.6 miles.  The terrain was very similar on the shortcut and extra distance I did but it still bugs me I messed up.  I think that’s why I’m glad the guy I think I would’ve beat ended up finishing before me.  I don’t think I could’ve convinced myself I really beat him if I finished before him this way.

In the end I finished in 9:19:29.  I was 12th out of 59 finishers.  Better than my goal time but at least 5 minutes longer than it would’ve been had I made the turn.  Of course by the end of the race everything was feeling great with my legs.  I ran that last 2  miles pretty fast.  I had no hot spots or blisters the entire race.  I was a little surprised since I had to tighten my shoes twice during the race to keep my feet from moving around too much.  It’s nice that I only get blisters on races further than 50 miles now.  Someday I’ll get those figured out as well.  There’s always the next race to get things perfect (or worse)!

They had contests for costumes as well at this race.  I didn’t wear anything special.  I think the vast majority of people who dressed up were only doing the 25K race.  It’s too tough being dressed up in something for 9 hours or worse carrying something like a shield like I saw one guy do in the pictures.

Here’s the races official video.  You can see me at the start line and crossing a log bridge at 4:49.

Political Correctness (PC)

So after writing my about page I realized I had more to say about PC and comments made online.

So first off everyone needs to stop with the going berserk when they read something someone says online they don’t like.  I submit that most of the time you are taking what was said in a manner different from the authors true point of view.  Politely ask for clarification before calling someone Hitler or racist.  I see that stuff on comments all the time.  Sometimes things come out wrong or auto-correct does something unexpected.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and you’ll keep your blood pressure down.  If you want to change someone’s behavior or view, you won’t do it by calling them Hitler.

I’ll give some background of me.  I read Fahrenheit 451 in the early 90’s when the PC movement was on the rise and I’m glad I did.  I saw people at that period of time choose not to say anything and stifle their views on certain subjects because someone somewhere might get upset by it.  I think the same thing is starting to happen again.  Communication is necessary! We have the first amendment for a reason.  If something can be said without causing hurt feelings, we should all try to do that.  But never stifle your well thought out opinions just because someone doesn’t like it.  The devil doesn’t like words of love and encouragement, should we not say them to each other to make him happy?  Likewise, sometimes uncomfortable things need to be said, but try to say them without sounding like a douche.

One thing that really bothers me is when people (usually white) are PC and think they are more enlightened than everyone else.  The say some of the dumbest things but think they are right because they used the “correct” words.  For example, just last week I was watching Antique Road Show (The DVR changes to that channel to record kids shows so it’s on when I first turn on the TV at night) and there was a painting being appraised.  The owner described the painting as having Indians in front of an adobe house.  Now the appraiser made a point to say Native Americans the first time she described them.  You could really tell by how she emphasized the words and the look on her face while staring at him that she was scolding him for saying Indians.  She then went on to say that they were likely Sioux.  I was always taught that Sioux is a derogatory term for Dakota that the Ojibwe and later French used for them meaning snake.  There are bills put forth by Dakota leaders trying to change all geographical locations with the name Sioux to Dakota in MN.   Obviously they think the term is derogatory.  They don’t call themselves Sioux so why should we?  Point is the lady is a giant douche for scolding him when she was just as “bad” as he was.  I doubt either of them meant any harm by the words they chose.

On a short tangent, Indians is a confusing word nowadays.  I meet many more Indians (people from India) than I do Natives so I assume when people say Indians they actually mean Indians although many still mean Natives.  Yes I don’t say Native-Americans.  I think all those hyphenated terms are annoying.  I kind of like Canada’s term First Nations but really that only applies to all the different tribal nations together.  I’ve heard Canadians say First Nation person and person of First Nations when describing an individual person and that just sounds so categorical and cold to me.  Plus the tribes that exist now aren’t the same tribes that existed thousands of years ago when people first came to the western hemisphere so First Nations isn’t really even accurate.  I know the Grand Portage Chippewa Tribe has a sign in their casino that they want to be called Natives.  See, many people think that is somehow an insensitive word.  It’s not a lower case native like you would see in an old book to describe a savage on some island.  It’s Native with a capital N.  Really if I know what tribe someone is from I say the tribe name since that is their country.  If you know someone is from Ireland, you’d likely say he’s Irish, not European.  Get what I mean?

OK, end of tangent.

PC people who get all in someone’s face lose all respect from me.  I’m sure they think they’re actually helping some group of people by doing that.  I’ve come to realize that people by and large can fight their own battles and don’t need outsiders coming in to “help” them.  Certainly don’t need the in your face kind of “help”.  To me it’s degrading that they think the particular group needs their help in the first place.  There are actually people who can’t fully speak for themselves like children, people with intellectual disabilities, people who can’t speak English, etc.  HELP THEM!  Women don’t need help from a man.  There are men who consider themselves to be feminist.  How is that possible?  The fact that you think women need your help shows you don’t understand feminism.

How about you spend your time bringing awareness to tragedies many people are unaware of.  Such as the huge problem of rape in immigrant workers and custodial workers.  The human trafficking and sex slave problems happening right here in America, not just world-wide.  The Islamic terrorists that say their religion allows them to “marry” 9-year-old girls that they abduct so they can gang rape them.  Those things completely sicken me.

Ultrarunner vs Ultra runner

I’ve seen so many different words to describe what we do and who we are that I thought I’d start this blog out with what words are correct or at least likely correct.  You see, many dictionaries only have the word ultramarathon in them and I have yet to use a spell checker that even has that word in its list.  My book form dictionary from 1994 has ultramarathon defined as any footrace of 50 miles or more and that the word was invented between 1975-80.  It also lists ultramarathoner as the noun form.  Nowadays, most people would say any footrace longer than a marathon is an ultra, but I tend to agree with the original definition.  A 50k race is just a long marathon, 50 mile and higher is where you need to train at least a little differently in my opinion.  So it seems there is some doubt as to the definition of the word ultramarathon, but not that it is indeed the correct spelling.

So here are the lists of words I’ve seen: Ultrarunner, ultramarathoner, ultra runner, ultra marathon, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, ultras, crazy/stupid people (OK that last one is what my wife calls us)

The New York Times has published articles with ultrarunner, ultramarathoner, and ultramarathon.  So even they can’t quite decide if it’s ultrarunner or ultramarathoner.  I would assume they would use words that are at least possible of being grammatically correct so anything they don’t use is probably wrong or considered slang.

So since we are the ones who actually do this crazy thing, we get to decide what the words are, or at least we should (ask Steve Wilhite how the whole GIFF pronunciation is going for him, by the way I agree with the masses that he’s wrong even though he invented it).

The sport itself is called ultrarunning.  As in “Wow look at this ultrarunning craze taking over the country!”  You will never hear that by the way unless people start including walking/gimping to their car after a marathon as being an ultramarathon.

I have never heard an ultrarunner use the word ultramarathoner so I think it should be ultrarunner.  One word, not split up.

It’s ultramarathon, not ultra marathon, and always has been according to my old school dictionary.  One word, not split up.

But I have to say most often, I and the people I know use the term ultra to describe a race.  As in  “I ran an ultra last weekend and I’m starving now!”  If the distance is involved we usually don’t even say ultra, “I ran a 100 miler last weekend”.  Note you need to say miler to separate it from a 100k race.  I just had a flashback to the old “How to talk Minnesotan” book as I’m typing now.  Perhaps how to talk to an ultrarunner should be in the works?

So to summarize these are the correct or soon to be correct words:  Ultrarunner/s, Ultramarathon/s, Ultra/s, Ultrarunning.  I’m eagerly awaiting my spellchecker update so I don’t see so many red underlined words anymore.