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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Holston River Endurance Challenge (12H)

This race report is unlike any other report I've done, as it comes with a story in the beginning.  If you don't have the time and would like to go to the meat, skip the introduction section and scroll down to the section marked "First 6 Hours".... meanwhile, for the others, let me tell you a series of most unfortunate circumstances.

The Story

A few weeks back, it all started on a Tuesday, when my grandmother called, asking if I could possibly come the next week to take care of my grandfather as he would get out of a nursing home and get back to the house.  Due to his broken hip, he wasn't able to do much, and they needed the help.  I readily agreed and started making plans... because Wednesday, I would be removing 4 wisdom teeth.  That all went well but that also meant I would not be able to run for a week!  I hoped recovery would go well (and surprisingly, I was better off than 99% of the population) and only did small things like yard work and walking 6-7 miles a day to keep up some sort of exercise.  However, during the yardwork, I made some contact with poison ivy and so it became rather uncomfortable.  

Having dealt with it before, I just went on my daily grind, and made plans, as Sunday through Friday, I would be in southern Georgia, while Saturday, I would be running a 12 hour race (a great way to get back to exercise, right?) and then continue on with my journey... but there were a few more extra bumps to be made prior to the race.  First, due to me getting severe back pains from sleeping on an extremely soft bed, I slept on the ground... where I believe there may have been dust mites or something.  The next days, I was covered in bites!  After then, I slept on a blanket on the floor and my back was good and I wasn't getting bitten anymore.  I was able to do 3 runs (Tuesday-Thursday) and enjoyed helping my grandparents as they adjusted to what he could and could not do... but Friday came and it was time to go~

Driving 7 hours to Bristol was going to be tough, but it needed to be done, but to my horror, when I opened my car door on Friday, I discovered a few hundred fire ants crawling around (I think...) and was 'excited' to have passengers along with me.  I got bitten and stung a few times but since it wasn't THAT bad, I figured they weren't really fire ants, but I continued on my 7 hour journey.  Unfortunately, as it would have it, my car decided to act up.  The speedomoter and odometer stopped working, and after 4 hours, the transmission had had enough, started revving, and in the end, stopped.  I was on the interstate and there was no-one I knew close by.... and so I figured out that as my car had 2 seconds of gears every time I turned it on, I slowly drove down the road for close to an hour (without A/C) until I finally made it to the gas station.  There, I did my best, but being a Friday and past business hours, it was futile.  I was stranded.  Fortunately, my other sister who was driving to Bristol was able to take a 3 hour detour, and picked me up, and we arrived at my sister's house at 1 am, in time to sleep, get up, get ready and race at 8 am.

The Course/Race:

1.5 miles of gravel and dirt with a few little uphills.  Most of the course would be out in the sun and should the day be sunny, it would be brutal.  It wasn't hard, but it wasn't easy.  Quite a bit of turnarounds and so one would have to drop speed and then pick it up, in order to maximize efficiency.  The Timing was done by Run Corps and they always do well with exceptional coverage to insure that runners get everything done!  The aid station is also done well, and overall, the RD Netta is fantastic and prioritizes runners, giving us the best support we can receive... a race to help runners succeed.

Gear and Nutrition:

3 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 (running out of miles on these guys...)
Injinji socks with a generic sock covering it
Nike Combat Compression Shorts
Adidas shorts
KT Tape
Ben Gay
Peanut Butter Sandwiches (thanks Mary and Tim)

and that was all because I was going minimal at this race.  Training races are tough!

The Plan:

First, this was a training race.  I needed to do a decent job but have the energy to recover quickly after the race and so I can get back to training again.  I needed to prepare for the sun as it would be too hot, despite cool weather comparing to the prior year.  I also needed to break my own course record of 61.5 miles despite not being in the same shape.  With this, I needed to run smart and keep myself going forward with a controlled 'spiral' as I slowed down throughout the race.  If possible, I would like to win, but I needed to be smart first as I have another race in a month, so this was going to be fun.  With the break from running due to my wisdom teeth surgery, I needed to stay loose and enjoy the race as much as possible.  I would start off with 5 laps on the first hour, then continue with 4 laps an hour until I decided it was time and then go down a notch.  The main thing is to slow down as the race goes so I could take it easy.  I thought about doing 4 an hour to start it off, but with my training, my legs would go on automatic and it would be futile to control that in this race, so 5 it was.  I would take this all one hour at a time and only focus on that hour and the lap I was on.  I would forget anything else as it would not be important to me.

First 6 Hours:

Like I planned, the first hour went smoothly.  I still went a little fast, finishing the first 'hour' in about 55 minutes, so I did my best to slow down accordingly, but the second hour also came by quickly, as I continuously ran a sub 8 minute mile average (including the walking) and made a mid-race decision to wait for the third hour to walk more to slow myself down.  Adding more walking points allowed me to continue running at a fast pace, so I was able to get my third hour to 4 laps, still finishing a little early... I was pretty sure that I would end up with an extra lap somewhere... but didn't pay too much attention to it.  The sun was starting to do its job and I made sure that liquid consumption was my priority.  I ate a little bit too, as I needed to make sure to continue to add energy to my body as I used it, and the 4th hour went down.  My sister was also running her first 6 hour race and so she was running, and paying attention to how she was doing kept me relaxed, and I made every effort to cheer her on whenever I could, and enjoyed encouraging other people as they went on around and around.  At the 5th hour, I was still doing pretty well.  I had changed shoes so I could be somewhat fresh, but with the heat starting to come out, I wasn't feeling too good.  I always have a saying which is 'fake it til you make it' and it's done wonders for me in running ultras, so I was ready to start faking as the sun rose to it's most deadly position of the day... straight above me.  It was hot, but I was ready and drank, drank, drank.  The 6th hour had come, and I was still doing my 4 an hour run with a little extra, and at the end, managed to squeeze in the extra lap, finishing 40.5 miles for the first 6 hours.

Last 6 Hours:

At this point, I wished I signed up for the 6 hour race. I would have won, felt good about it, went home, and hung out with my family and played games... but of course, I decided that a 12 hour run was exactly the training I needed to get back on my feet.  Good job me! And so I continued.  This time, I was calculating what I needed in order to win without putting in too much effort....  Most everyone was quite a bit behind me, so I decided that I would think about it after 2 more hours, and then after that, start doing some math.  I needed only 21.5 miles to tie my record, and doing that was easy even if I was walking.... but I still had a good bit of energy in my legs that needed to be pulled out, so I took the two hours pretty easy, finishing my '4 an hour' at around 1:02, and then having to switch shoes, I took a nice long rest in my chair, and started doing some calculations.  I was at 52.5 miles and ahead of 2nd by about 9 miles.... I figured that I would try to get my competitive juices up talking to them, but they were too nice to be competitive against, and so I had to make a decision.  I had 4 hours, and wanted to do well, but not destroy myself.... it's wonderful how it came down to somewhere between those two points... I figured it would be possible to get to 70.5, so I would 'try' for that, and slow down as I saw fit.  I ran with Whitney for a few laps because she was fun to talk to, and chatted while running.  Her pace was so consistent, I knew that after a while, I would need to slow down, so after about 2 laps with her, I let her go, and did my own thing.  Taking it easy, walking more, I slowed down, sometimes feeling the legs ALMOST lock up, but it never quite got there.  I drank drank drank, but this time, I wasn't too hungry, and knew it would be a bad decision not to eat, but as my stomach couldn't stomach it... it was a tough choice.  I continued drinking SWORD to replenish my electrolyte balance, and it kept me from totally locking up.  I was able to slow down, and it looked like 70.5 was possible... but I wasn't feeling it.  I know I talk about doing ones best at all times, but because of another future race, I was going to have to make a decision... so I decided to drop down and do 69 miles, and if I really really didn't want to do the last lap, I would go to 67.5 miles.  I continued on, slower than before, and there was 2 hours and 10 minutes left and I only needed 6 more laps to get to 69 miles, but my legs were telling me stories of how they haven't been running for a week... and I listened.  I jogged 3 more laps, and then for the last hour and change, I walked for 2 laps.  The final lap, I decided to shake it up and run again, and after finishing it, saw that there was still 20 minutes left on the clock.  I had time... but I was done.  I still loved running, and it was a good place to go.  I was able to win the race, make a new course record (67.5 miles!), and run with some amazing people.  Whitney came in about 9 minutes later to finish 64.5 miles!  She really kept it consistent through the race!  Had it been a 24 hour race, I would have gone down!


All in all, the race was well done, I enjoyed meeting my friends and making new ones.  Next year I won't be able to return, as I will be in Leadville getting ready for the race there, but I hope that more people come to this wonderful race!  Netta did a great job in RDing the race, and Tim did an awesome job with the timing.  There are many many other names that deserve praise, but out of fear of forgetting a few, I'll refrain from trying, but I'm grateful for every individual that made this race the way it went, runners, aid station peeps, and the families/crew that came.  It was such a wonderful experience!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Silver Rush 50

Leadville, CO - July 9, 2017.  An 'out and back' course with a few extra twists and turns.  Over 50 miles, starting altitude of 10,200 ft and the highest point at a little above 12,000 ft.  Total elevation change during the race: 8,000 ft.  It had HARD written all over it.

And I was at the starting line, about to start the race with an incline that seemed like a wall....

The Story of How I got there, and then some:

The thing was, I wasn't even going to run this race until I saw an Instagram post from Orange Mud.  It said that they were giving away a free entry for the Silver Rush 50 to some lucky individual that gave a good reason for them to vote on and decide.  I told myself, "Might as well test my luck!" and wrote a post about how it would mean a lot to me because a few years back, I was going to run the Leadville 100, but my dad had a stroke, so I cancelled the race, instead, flying to Japan to be with my father, who was in a coma-like state.  Since then, he's gotten better, but there's still been something missing since that race... and they decided that I was worthy!  They messaged me asking if I was serious about running the race, and I said yes!  It fit perfectly between a 10 hour night race and a 12 hour day race and a trip to Leadville would be definitely fill up that spot that I was missing from years back.  I trained hard, and despite having a sprained ankle two weeks prior to the race, I felt ready.  I was okay when I was running around Colorado Springs, and hoping that Leadville would be similar.

GEAR (and Nutrition):

2 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3
Injinji socks with a generic sock covering it
Nike Combat Compression Shorts
Adidas shorts
Long Sleeved Underarmour Compression Shirt
fav tech t-shirt
Orange Mud Endurance Pack
SWORD Mixed Berry
KT Tape
Ben Gay
Peanut Butter Crackers
Pickle Juice
Red Bull
iPod shuffle
Yurbuds Focus 200 Earphones

The Plan:

First of all, I needed to understand that the altitude would be a factor.  I was going to be slow... but I didn't know how slow.  Worst case scenario, I put myself at finishing in 10 hours because the elevation would be too much, but meanwhile, use the first half of the race to see how I do and take it easy, and use the latter half of the race to play catch up and go hard.  Walk as many of the uphills on the way, and on the way back, make it so that I would run up the easier hills.  Fortunately, I got to talk to Anthony Kunkel who told me that on the way back, the last 10 miles would be pretty much all downhill so I should be able to totally own that area of the race, should I survive the first 40.

and now, the race report!  (disclaimer:  due to me being all woozy, pictures may not be in the correct places)

Start to PrinterBoy

The start was as slow as a tortoise running through syrup as the first thing we had to go through was a hill.  It took me over a minute to hike up the hill, because hey, I wasn't going to waste my energy here.  There was a 50 miler to run!  After we went up, we went through the woods a bit, only to get on a paved part, and then we started going up.  During this time, I was still getting used to the whole breathing deal because it seemed a little harder than usual.  I went back and forth with running and walking, depending on the steepness of the hill, and bit by bit, I was able to find a place where I was suppose to be.  Since the first 10 miles is a slow uphill, I knew I had to stay smart.  I wanted to go faster and run more, but I needed to listen to my body, which was telling me that something was a little different.  I was a little weak, and so I began phase one of slightly hyperventilating as to maximize the oxygen intake during this uphill portion.  Through the run/walks, I saw the sunrise, big horned sheep, and my wish of running in the front vanishing.... this was time to survive.  Getting used to the thin air was part of my calculation, so I expected myself to be a tad slow... but this was beyond my expectations.  I thought to myself that I better utilize the downhill portions as best as I could... and then it finally came!  There was a U-turn at the ten mile point and it was mostly downhill, so I had to bust it all out to get to better oxygen and utilize gravity's power and explode.  I passed by many of the people that had gotten ahead of me during the uphill portion, but still needed more.  I continued on my reckless running and for about 3 miles, I caught up with a lot, gaining ground on those that were way ahead.  By the time I had gotten to the aide station, I was a little spent, but knew that if I was going to walk the uphills, I needed to feel somewhat like this.

PrinterBoy to StumpTown

Everyone at the aide station was nice and I just drank a little water and passed on through, because I didn't really need anything.  Therefore, without really stopping, I continued on, and ran down the downhill portion, catching quite a few people... but after a little bit, a climb came around.  It was time to slow walk.  For some reason though it wasn't too high, I still was winded as I climbed, but stopping would elongate that feeling, so I pressed on.  This climb was further up than the first, and eventually, I felt slightly dizzy.  It was not a fun feeling, but I needed to hurry up, because I wasn't even half way there.  My own personal rule was to never be passed when running, but not care when I was walking, and so it was a fun little game of rabbiting around, but it really hurt when I couldn't run even the slightest of inclines.  Finally, I had managed to get up to the highest point of the race, and I think it was somewhere around here there was an aide station, so they refilled my drink and I drank a little coke, but I had to hurry and go down... because, after all, all I had was downhill to the half way mark... but I still could not give it my all.... even with the downhill, but I knew that this was the only option I had of getting some air, and down I went.  I knew I was closer after a good bit of downhill running because I saw the lead runners who had already gone to the halfway point and returned to where we would share the road.  I would be going down, and they would be going up.  After a while, it was the opposite.  I would be going up (walking) and they would be going down.  It was so close to the aide station, and I had my Red Bull waiting, as well as my pack filled with SWORD.  I would need some replenishing while I switched shoes.  I finally came down to the aide station, and saw Anthony, who basically told me that I should hurry up because I wasn't going too fast.  Though I tried to explain how breathing was difficult, it mattered not to him.  I needed to go... I had held off my urges for 4 and a half hours and it was time.... time to kill people.

StumpTown back to PrinterBoy

Well, by killing people, it's just a game where passing people counts as a kill, so my goal was to be a mass murderer... in a totally non-violent Christ-like manner.  So I started off.  I saw my first kill.  He was running up a hill and I decided that for the return trip, I didn't care if I couldn't breathe, if I thought I could run while climbing, then I would go for it.  It was only a 50 miler.  Not a 100.  I could afford a mistake or miscalculation.  I passed him and counted '1' in my head, but number 2, was right in front of me.  As it was, there was quite a number of people that were taking the first uphill with a walk, and so I continued to kill as I crept up towards the highest point.  As I was only counting people, and not time, I had no recollection of where I was going, and how much time had passed, I didn't really pay attention too much to the beautiful scenery, as I was wanting to survive.  Climbing to the highest point was not so easy, as breathing became harder, but I thought to myself, it's only for a little bit, so as long as I could somewhat hold on, I could get over that and begin my descent... but alas, I was too rash in making that decision.  Part of the journey took me to this lonely single track route on the side of a steep incline.  Fortunately, we were going across, but as I made my way through, I stumbled, almost falling off multiple times.  This was a lot more dangerous than I bargained for... but I needed to get through it, and so slowing down only slightly, I made my way through the 'treacherous' area and finally came to a point of descent, which I flew through, as gravitational pull generally helped me go the right direction and I wouldn't trip too much.  It was a glorious downhill, and following that downhill, a slight uphill to the next aide station, where I would restock and make sure everything I had was maxed out, because from that point, I was going to go without stopping too much.  It was go time, and I had passed about 18 people.

PrinterBoy to Finish

The final portion of the journey first was a climb, and this time, I had no real energy left, and so I trekked the climb, letting a few overtake me, subtracting from my kill count.  It was about 3 miles of climbing followed by a 10 mile downhill sprint, and so I didn't feel like using too much energy on the uphill... but when the journey came to a crawl, I needed to change plans quickly.  This was not going as fast as I wanted, and I needed to get to the U-turn as fast as I could.  At some point in my dazed state, I decided that I would run for 100 steps, and then walk until my breathing came to control, and then do it again.  Though seemingly small, it took a lot out of my mental energy tank, and I was able to give more than what I thought was possible, even overtaking one person who walked up faster than I could.  I continued this for about a mile, and then came the turn around and down point, where I drank some dude's coke that he had ready for those in need, and I rushed down.  With each step, I was feeling better because it didn't require too much, but it was still hard as I had used up some of my energy on the climb.  The terrain was not so forgiving, but just enough so I could pull off a few 7-8 minute miles, and though we were still in the higher altitude, I was able to maintain a fast pace.  I was hoping to not walk til I got to the final aide station, but unfortunately, I felt spent at one point and walked up a hill.  Finally, about 3 miles after the turn, I made it to the aide station, gulped coke down, and asked the people manning the station how many were within 15 minutes before me, and they responded with about 5-6 people, so I knew I could do this.  I announced (more for myself) that I would overtake all of them in the last 7 or so miles, and rushed off.  The first was only an eighth of a mile in front of me, and I was going to blow past him.  Despite the harshness of the altitude, my predator-like instincts kicked in, and I reeled him in.  As I encouraged him, I began looking for my next victim (I really sound like I'm two faced right?  I promise I'm not.  I want them to succeed and do their best, but I also want to do my best too....)  There were about 4-5 people that I could catch in front of me.  However, little did I know that they were not in front of me... but waaaaaaay in front of me.  I was going at a breakneck speed hoping they'd all be evenly spaced out, only to find myself chasing down dreams.  After realizing that they weren't going to evenly space themselves out for me, I continued on my path, hoping that my quads and calves would hold.  Up til now, my legs were fine, but I began noticing a slight tremor as my quads warned me that without enough oxygen, they would start writhing in pain, and noting that, I continued hyperventilating a little faster now, and kept on going after the people in front of me, whoever they were... and finally, I caught sight of someone wearing orange.  My next victim!  That person seemed to be doing a run/walk mix and so over time, I knew that that individual was mine, and so I chased and chased.  That person had caught up with another individual, and so I thought of how fortunate I was to have a 2 for 1 deal in front of me and kept up the pace.  Just a little bit more... and then 1... 2... I was able to pass them both.  Still a little more than 3 miles from the end.  I continued and went forward, hoping for more and there wasn't for a little bit, but another appeared.  I was ecstatic!  My quads and calves were telling me to stop, but I was greedy for more, and so I continued.  I passed another, and there was about 2 miles left.  It was now starting to be tiring.  I was actually able to race and my legs were feeling it because my desire for speed had burst forth and carried me forward.  Another individual passed, and my legs started screaming, and so after a little incline appeared... I said okay, let's walk for now.  I continued breathing rapidly, so as to forcefully oxygenate myself, and then after I thought I was ready, I turned on my engine again.  There might be one more person ahead of me.... so I started slow, and gradually picked up the pace until I managed to get out of the trails and was on asphalt.  This was where I really picked up my speed, but it only lasted for a short while because sadly, the race director decided to add to my torture by adding a turn filled path all the way to the top.  It was just enough uphill that I could still run, but not enough that I couldn't feel the pain and exertion.  I had to twist and turn so many times, at one point, I just gave up and walked... but lo and behold, the final individual appeared.  He was many turns ahead, but because it was such a twisted trail, I knew that at that pace, I could catch him before the final push at the end.  I ran on in hopes that I was right, and little by little, I saw him get a little closer, and finally, I managed to catch up towards the last little bit before the 'final push'.  After catching him and picking up the pace, I finally got out of the woods, and there it was.  The final downhill plunge.  I hoped that I could make it without falling, as it was pretty steep, but judging how my legs handled themselves, I thought I could, and push, I did.  I pushed downhill and as I came off, one of my calves writhed in pain.  So as to not make a spectacle of myself on the final 100m of the race, I glided through, hoping each step wasn't the last, and finally finished my 50 miler in 9:32:44, 39th place overall.  It was one heck of a journey, and I'm happy that I came.


So my journey doesn't end here.  After the race, I was dead and could hardly breathe, and so it took a long time to recover.  My shoulders and legs were quite sore, but I was pretty well off when it came down to my feet.  No blisters at all!  I was glad this race was over but the thought of driving to Colorado Springs right away was a little too much.  So I rested, ate a little, and drank a good bit.  After hours upon hours of resting, I decided that instead of leaving, I would stick around and put my number in for the Leadville 100 drawing.  Didn't think much of it... but when they announced my number as one of the final lucky winners, I smiled and couldn't believe my luck.  I was coming back.  Leadville 100, August 18, 2018... I'm coming for you.

Many thanks to the RD who made this race happen, Orange Mud for giving me not only the opportunity to run this race, but also how it turned into making the Leadville 100 a reality, SWORD for giving me all that my body needed physically so that I wouldn't run out of energy and keep the right stuff in me, and finally to my new and old friends from Colorado that helped me finish!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RUTS Oak Ridge

Planning 2017 has been quite interesting.  With the USA National Championships in September as my main goal, I needed steps to take and races to get me to where I needed to go.  This round, it was the RUTS (Run Under the Stars) Oak Ridge 10 hour run that would get me to where I needed to be.  I never was any good with night runs because I enjoy my sleep, so psychologically, this would be tough.  Second thing is that I needed to use this race as a training run and not as a A race.  With my new training phase, my max weekly mileage was at 40 miles, which meant (to me) that I had about 40-45 miles of race miles, I knew that racing any more than that would require more time off, which wouldn't get me ready for my next race, a month and a week from now.  I needed to insure that the races added the longer miles I need without sacrificing any of the quality I was adding to my current training schedule.

With that in mind, I was ready.  It called for chances of thunderstorms and at least a bit of rain so I prepared by bringing as little things as I didn't want to take care of anything that would blow away.

Weapons of choice:

SWORD waterbottle:  (as a SWORD sponsored race, I knew I was going to do well with electrolytes)
normal waterbottle:  Mainly used to cool myself down but also as an emergency drink
Table:  Keep all my stuff on
Fold-out chair:  Used for when I need to switch shoes or feel like chatting
Garbage bag with my shoes:  Because knowing it's going to be rainy, I prepared 7 pairs to run with
Shoes:  Asics Gel-Lyte 33 3, pretty sad they're discontinued because they are my favorite, helps tons
Socks:  Injinji socks and another pair to make sure I don't get blisters (and I didn't!)
KT-tape:  Helps support arches (and I ended to race w/out feet pain)
Nike Combat Compression Shorts:  that and Aquaphor keeps me from chafing in a not so fun place
Adidas shorts:  Just your average pair.  Light, and pretty awesome
Underarmour shirt:  After the rain, needed it because of the chafing and temperature
Ice-Bug Buff:  If you fold it just right, you can easily put in your iPod shuffle in it!
Peanut Butter Crackers:  The perfect mix of carbs, protein, and fat.

Since I didn't bring too much as it was a shorter race and a possible rainstorm, I had only one goal:  Get to 62 miles and get myself a decent 100k time.  Race the first 40 miles and then coast from there.  Here's how the race went down

The Course:

RUTS 10 hour race was held in A K Bissell Park, where they concocted a 1.25 mile loop that was on mostly gravel-like paths and one bridge and a good bit of turns to keep you thinking.  It was pretty darn flat, making running big miles an easy thing to do.  The aid station was a quarter mile from the finish line, and had all the goodies that any runner would need.  All they needed was a little excitement.... which the thunderstorm definitely provided.  Haha

Mile 1-30:
I originally had thought that I would be at the point of getting the first 30 miles done in 4 hours and then spend the last 6 hours getting in 40 miles, but because I needed to plan ahead, I decided I'd get the first 30 at race pace and then back off.  However, that being said, I hadn't planned on running with Steve Barber, who was part of a team.  I really am a rabbit and enjoy being up front, so when he went out ahead, I let him go, because he was doing a relay with Joy.  That being said, try as I might, I couldn't help but little by little catch up to him.  Then with a tad of brashness, I thought, "What if I lapped him before the hand-off to Joy?" and so for the first 5 hours he was going to run, I battled against myself whether or not to lap him because that was an immediate goal.  Having one's mind wander during the race can be good at times, but sometimes, it can also be detrimental.  That's why I chose to focus on lapping certain people.  I knew lapping Steve was nearly impossible if he put the hammer down, but I also knew who was in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.  With that, I decided that I would focus on chasing after those people one at a time so I don't get side-tracked and bonk because I overshot myself.  Another interesting thing that happened in the first 30 miles was the horrific thunderstorm.  My sister and brother-in-law surprised me by coming and visiting AND sticking through the thunderstorm while supporting me.  Wow,  I thought I was crazy for running in the typhoon winds and lightning and sideways rain, but not as crazy as those two who were sitting through it all seeing me every 1.25 miles.  As the rainwater flooded the little creek, creating a roaring river, the path I was on became enveloped in the longest puddles, and there was no way around.... so I went through.  When it's raining sideways, you don't really care about your shoes getting wet.  You just go.  Some people didn't like the bigger puddles, but I imagined that if I ran fast enough, I would be running through without giving the water enough time to get in my shoes (disclaimer:  It didn't matter) and so I went at it like a maniac.  I figured that the disco lights (aka thunder) was for me and I needed to perform, so I began to press a little harder.  The first bits of the race, I went fast because I was fresh, but as time went on, I began to slow my pace down, so with this change of pace midrace, I allowed my body to stretch out a bit more!  To some, the thunderstorm was a great hindrance (ask all the people that had their tents blow away) but to me, it was as if chains were lifted.  I finished my first marathon portion of the race in 3:27:05 and the was just at 3:59:59 for my 30 mile split.

30-41.25 miles

It was during this time that I had to make a decision.  According to Sho-math, I was good to race up to 40 miles without significant damage, 50 miles with some recovery, and 60 miles with way too much recovery that I wouldn't have enough time to train for my next race, so the question was... how much should I push it?  I decided to talk it out and see where everyone else stood, because despite me continuously telling myself this was a training race.... I still wanted the win.  The timer crew told me that I was ahead of the number two guy by about 10 miles.... but that Cathy Downes... she was 5 miles behind me... or 4 laps.  That meant that I needed to be careful.  I continued at a decent pace, but I knew that I would have to make a decision soon... my legs were slightly sore from the distance, but more than that, I was sleepy.... so Red Bull it was, and it helped me stay awake, and my sister and brother-in-law had to leave...and now I had 4 hours left.

41.25-63.75 miles

4 hours left and Cathy was 4 laps behind... techincally, I needed to do about 4 laps per mile (5mph) and if she did 5 laps per mile (6.25mph), I would still make it.... but first, recon.  After lapping me, I decided to stick with her and confess.  She said right away that she didn't care and that it's normal to want to win... and we became friends.  We started talking about running (well mainly me) and that went on and on for quite a long time.  After almost 2 hours, I decided to take an easy lap and start running with her after she caught up, and then we chatted again.  This time, being the last hour plus change, she needed 4 laps to get to her goal of 60 miles, and so I calculated the time for her and we figured out that she had a good shot at getting 61.25 miles, so we went for it.  Finishing with about 5 minutes to spare, we both had a blast and it was a great time getting to know her!


Quads and calves were sore from the race so I definitely need to work them out a lot more.  Form was good throughout the race, but I need to also work on my upper back as it was sore from keeping my back straight throughout the race.  I tried to get through the race without pickle juice.... but I'll put that in my diet because I think it would have helped alleviate some of the soreness my legs got in the first 30 miles of the race.  Overall, the storm didn't really affect me, so mentally I was okay, but the post-midnight run definitely hurts me mentally, so I'll need more work on that somehow... I'll definitely have to add more miles for training.  As always, RUTS was spectacular, I'd love to race all the races, but always have other things going on, so will get in as many as I can!  Really appreciate my sister and her husband, as well as the aid station and timing crew.  They were all so encouraging.  Also appreciate all the runners.  No matter what, they were all encouraging and kept on pushing.  It was awesome to experience a thunderstorm with them and still run through it.  Finishing a strong 63.75 miles and winning was nice too... but the nicest part of the race was meeting everyone and enjoying the time I was able to spend with everyone.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Run4Water Race Report

It's been too long since my last blog post/race report but here's something worth sharing.  If you're wanting to go to the race report, just skip to the Race section of the post.  I'm a story teller and I love my stories~

The Planning:

Normally, when running a race, I have this one question:  How can I perform at my best?  However, this race was completely different.  This was the final shot to qualify for the US National team.  It was my only chance to run in the World Championships for the 24 hour race!  Looking back at my training, I understood that with my current ability and training, I would probably finish a 24 hour race with between 135-140 miles.  However, in order to qualify for the team, I calculated that I would need 153 miles, given the talent of the field and who already was in the top 6.  That was 13-18 more miles than I was physically able to do... which meant one thing.  I either just do my best and be happy with a PR, or go balls to the wall and hope I don't blow up (I'd give it a 10% likelihood of success... probably less).  My question for this race was this:  Am I willing to risk not finishing the race because I ran with a pace faster than my body could possibly handle?

Obviously, I answered yes.

I have a dream and I'm willing to do what it takes to get there.  I was willing to 'look bad' or 'fail' or just have a real bad race if I had just a glimmer of hope for success.  In order to do so, I needed to plan to succeed and hope my body followed the plan.  Studying a few professional runners and their pacing patterns and then applying my own personal variables, I calculated that I would need to run this race with 4 phases.  Phase 1:  Run the first 5 hours at a 7 miles per hour.  Phase 2:  Run the next 7 hours at 6.5 miles an hour.  Phase 3:  Run 10 hours at 6 miles an hour.  Phase 4:  Run the final 2 hours at 5.5 miles an hour.  Obviously, this would only result with 151.5 miles, but I assumed I would go a little fast and get the miles needed and get to approximately 153 miles by the end of the race.  Perfect planning!  I studied Yiannis Kouros as he made the 24 hour world record and looked at his pacing and created my own plan for success, assuming my body could handle a faster than anticipated pace.  I wasn't really worried about the first 5 hours.... I wasn't even worried about the first 10 hours, but after that, I didn't know what my body would do as with my own planning, I would be up 6 miles more than where I suspected my body was capable of doing.  However, there was no turning back.  This was not a race for running as best as I could.  It was a race to see if I could handle a USA Team qualifying standard.


Due to my shoes untimely 'death' I scrounged 12 pairs of my Asics Gel Lyte 33 3s as these shoes matched my feet well and I have never gotten blisters from them... however, with all the miles they had on them and some of them being tattered up in an early demise, It would be rough on my feet... but outside of that, here's what I got!

KT tape - taped the bottom of my feet and ankle as there would be swelling, I needed the stability and compression
Injinji toe socks - best thing ever!  Extra help to prevent blisters
your average socks - second layer of protection
Nike Combat compression shorts - the best anti-chafing compression shorts ever!
Adidas running shorts - I do like the color black for running!
Underarmour compression shirt - in case it got a little too cold and no armpit chafing
tech shirt - breathable and red, fav color!
Asics Running Gloves - because I have delicate hands... not! I do get cold hands when running
Sinister 7 Buff - keeps my head warm AND holds cold water when it's warm
ipod shuffle - because sometimes, running around in circles gets a little boring
Focus 100 earphones - helps them stay in and don't have to worry about them giving your ears too much pressure
Sword and UD waterbottles - gotta keep my drinks in something!
SWORD - the best electrolyte/energy replenishing product I've ever taken that hasn't upset my stomach
water - splash myself, or drink
Coke - because we all need caffeine
Red Bull - because some caffeine is better than others....
Peanut Butter Crackers - best small source of energy that I would need throughout the race
Ben Gay - gotta keep my muscles loose!
Vitamin B pills - get some vitamin!
Aquaphor - because raw skin isn't fun to run with
extra jacket and other warmer clothes as well as some extra shorts

The Plan:

Outside of running the 4 Phases, it was rather simple.  My lovely little sister Maika was crew captain and she made sure that I got what I needed!  Each mile, I would walk for 20-40 seconds and during that time, I was given everything I needed.  During that time, I could recover, re-calibrate, and start anew!  Every mile, I was to receive a drink (rotation between water, SWORD, and Coke).  Every other mile, I was to receive two peanut butter crackers.  Every 3 hours, I needed a shoe change pit stop.  I also needed to know how fast I was going so I could figure out if I need to speed up or slow down.  During normal eating hours, she would ask me what I may want for a meal, and basically treat me like a prince for that day.  She's really the best.  She handled all that and directed the crew to help me in whatever way I needed help and that's part of what makes the race go smoothly!

The Course:

In Lebanon, TN, around Winfree Bryant Middle School, a small 0.50849 mile loop stood.  Though it started out flat, over the course of a few hours, a few hills do seem to pop up as the slight inclines become more noticeable as your body gets attuned to the race, as well as some of those speed bumps... but nevertheless, a simple course designed for high mileage.  Average temps are just crazy great!  45-65 which is good running weather for most people (I like the 65 side better, but eh, it's cool)

The Race:

Phase 1: the first 5 hours

As I needed to go at a faster pace than originally anticipated, I just needed to hang on a little more and needed a good distraction.  Running the first 3 hours without headphones and the last 2 hours with headphones really helped me out.  I figured out I had a bigger breakfast and therefore didn't need the crackers and even had a bathroom stop the first hour without losing too much time (which meant I was going about 20-40 sec/mile faster than planned) but I slowed down and was able to get to where I needed to be by the second half of the phase.  I was a little more tired, and so I think I needed more running during my tapering phase of my training so that my legs wouldn't get too stiff from not running.  Everyone was saying I was going too fast, and though I was going slightly too fast compared to my plan, I knew that it was vital that I find a good rhythm and keep it and so I continued.  I finished a little more than 36 miles.

Phase 2: the next 7 hours

Coming down from 7 miles an hour to 6.5 miles an hour was rather nice, because in my original plan, I would've been here a lot sooner.  The relief was good and I was able to keep a decently consistent pace, but by the time it was 9 hours into the race, I had built an extra 20 minute buffer that I needed to use, so I decided to use it the last 3 hours of phase 2.  Part of me thought that this would be a good break, but another part of me was thinking that in doing so, it could possibly accelerate the downward spiral, so I was at a crossroad... or perhaps the impasse.  I chose to go down to 6 miles an hour and still meet the original plan's goals, but by the eleventh hour, I felt that exhaustion creeping in.  The change of plans and my speed had caught up.  I had no care to placing up til then (I had learned that I was first for a long time, but knew Jon Olsen was going to go at his leisurely pace and overtake me, which he did during the latter half of Phase 2) but my legs were telling me that I had pushed myself and that small glimmer of hope in making the team slowly flickered out.  I'm not much of a gambling man, but given the odds of me making the team before was 0, I knew that taking the chance was a no-brainer.  However, it seemed like at this point, my body rejected the idea and I was out of tricks.  I believe I was at about 80 miles

Phase 3/4/Finish:

Unfortunately, after the heroic tale of the first 12 hours, my body was done in and the choice was now to walk to my 100 miler or to stop.  I talked with my crew and they suggested I continue on towards that 100 mile and take that 5 hours to finish... but even then, with their encouragement, my willpower depleted as I no longer had a true goal, I slowly faded.  Of course, by fading, I meant, I had a nice 30 minutes massage which to my crew was a hilarious show of me yelping, jerking, making other unreasonable noises, but it was fun.  I knew the odds were not in my favor (thanks Hunger Games) but I knew that in not attempting that, I would be cheating myself of that opportunity and I would regret that.  At 87 miles, I decided that it was time for me to drop and thus go home to a lovely 4 hour nap before going through the next day limping and hanging out with my awesome family and friends.


Did I run a good race?  Nah.  Do I regret running as I did?  Never.  Did I learn something?  Yes!  My training quality worked but my quantity needed more improvement.  As always, I'm happy to be with my running family and meet new people and make new friends.... it was an enjoyable occasion.  Thanks to Greg Armstrong for being an amazing host/director/dude/runner/friend.  The course was amazing.  Thanks to my sister Maika for captaining the crew, and all my other crew-mates, for helping her out and helping me tremendously.  There is no way I could do any of these races as good without you guys helping and dealing with me.  Thanks to SWORD for sending me an amazing care package and allowing me to use their products.  No stomach issues means high mileage!  Can't wait to show you guys off!

So much happened that day and I am happy to be able to share the road with some of the greatest athletes in the USA.  Good news is that I have 2 years to get ready for the next world championship... but I think I'll just take 6 months of training and take a stab at the USA National Title.  This race may be the end of a phase, but I'm already on the next phase and excited to see what happens now.

Side note:  Run4Water is a non-profit organization that serves to help the water crisis going on in the world by raising support and awareness through these running events.  Pretty cool organization.  You should check them out!