"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spirit of the Osage 50k

Sunday was the 2nd annual Spirit... 50k and all in all I would say that I had a really good time. The trip out to Jefferson City was rather enjoyable. Beth and I were the only ones scheduled to go but since Megan was grounded we brought her along. Nic and Sarah were disappointed that they couldn't go, but that would have left us with the problem of what to do with the dogs, and after last time I don't think they will want them to stay at the kennel again.

We stopped at REI and Fleet Feet on the way out of town. REI didn't have anything I was looking for and we ended up getting stuck in some traffic that makes Fairview Heights on the weekend look like nothing. So we wasted a bunch of time heading from REI to Fleet Feet. We finally arrived at FF and I bought some Saucony running pants because I wasn't sure what the temp was going to be like for the race. As it turned out the temp was warm enough to wear shorts. I did however wear them monday for a short three mile recovery run, and found them to be very warm and comfortable. I also bought a SLUG shirt which seems a bit small. I should have tried it on before I bought it.

So after much delay we were on our way. The drive seemed to go by quickly enough and before I knew it we were at the Hotel Deville. Beth and Megan checked in while I picked up my race packet. I made some small talk with Vicki and then I was off to the room. I wanted to drive the course just to be somewhat familiar with it, but after the delays we had getting on the road it was already getting dark so I decided the best strategy would be to follow the person in front of me. Admittedly I was a bit nervous about the hills. I don't train hills and they are definitely a big weakness in my running. I tried not to think about it so it was actually good that we didn't get to drive the course because there were some monsters, in fact because of this race I have redefined what I think of as a hill. The evening was pretty uneventful for me anyway, Beth and Megan were being disturbed by the girl's soccer team running up and down the hall out side our room. Apparently there were other runners getting annoyed with them as well because I heard it mentioned by a few people on race morning. I got to bed around 10pm and was up at maybe 5:45am. I quickly threw everything together that I would need for the run and we headed out to the start. I didn't decide until that morning if I was going to take the Perpetuem with me on the run or Gatorade. In the end flavor won out, and I opted for the Gatorade. I like the way Perpetuem works but I just don't like to drink it. The label says "orange vanilla" but I don't taste orange or vanilla. So I had my two UD hand helds one with Gatorade one with water, and some GU. I figured that, along with the aid stations would be plenty. On the way to the start I noticed that we were driving on some of the roads that I would be running on soon, and the hills were crazy. I don't want to say I was having doubts but I felt like I was going to be tested. Once we arrived at the start I walked up the hill to the pavilion where people were milling around, and chatted with a couple people. I asked Lee Hess if he brought the Slug hats he said that he did, however my wallet was in the car and once I walked back down the hill I didn't feel like walking back up, so I bought one after the race. The irony is that I thought after the race would be a better time to walk back up the hill instead of when I was fresh. After sitting in the car for a while forcing Beth to listen to the "Doldrum" mix on my ipod I figured I better head over to the starting line. Beth and I stood around talking with folks about this years Lewis and Clark Marathon which is a hot topic at races this year. I am glad that I can say "I ran with Ike". Several people were wearing their L&C shirts. I look at it like a badge of honor, the only people that had it worse that day in my opinion were the aid station voluteers (I am only referring to the race and people associated with it. I would not ever want to trivialize the experience of those who's homes were destroyed etc. but I digress). When the race started I was in the Port-a-John. I could hear David White on the megaphone "on your marks...get set ...GO." I casually stepped out and started running after picking up my bottles from where I laid them on the ground.
I started out at a moderate pace and saw John Quick not to far ahead. I sped up a bit so I could catch him and say hello. I swear John is at every race I run. He was running the Marathon so I figured I wouldn't see him after the out and back section. We talked for a bit then I was on my way again. I started to get sucked in with faster runners on the downhills, which is easy since running downhill is a strength for me. I new this would come back to bite me later so I slowed up to a more manageable pace, and ended up running with Kat Yarger for probably half of the race. She seemed to really know what she was doing so my strategy was to walk when she walked and run when she ran for as long as I could keep up. We had a nice conversation and found out that we both have a dog named Scout, small world. We ran down into Bonnot's Mill, and I have to say that is one quaint little town. If I run this race next year I want to stay at the Bed and Breakfast. The town, or at least the part that we ran through seemed like a step back to more simple times, and was sort of comforting. Then came the climb out of Bonnot's Mill, and I say climb because the hill was very steep. In fact when we were running down I was dreading the thought of running back up. I stayed with Kat and made it up fine. When we reached the turn around for the 50k out and back I dropped off my long sleeve shirt (which I knew was a mistake). Some miles and good conversation later I couldn't keep up with Kat any longer. She dropped a package of sport beans and I picked them up, caught back up, gave them back to her and then she was gone. I thought I would kick back and rest a bit then catch back up, although in the back of my mind I new that wasn't going to happen. It didn't. She kept getting farther and farther away until she was out of sight. Now I was on my own. I greatly appreciated the help getting through some tough hills though. Left to my own I would have tried to keep running and running until I was burned out so to be at this point with energy left felt really uplifting. I'm not sure what point of the race this was maybe around 20 miles. I was passed by a couple of people and I also passed a couple of people so I still felt ok about how I was doing. I was walking the uphills for the most part but instead of strategy this was out of necessity. I was running out of water and regretted not filling my bottles at the last aid station, and then like magic I could see my car coming down the next hill. I was so happy because I had a jug of water in the trunk. Beth and Megan pulled over and I filled my bottles, and drank too much water and for a while thought I was going to hurl it all back up. I kept it down though. Beth and Megan were on their way and I was once again on mine. I thought about telling them where to get my shirt but I didn't. They told me that they would see me some where down the road again. Which I took to mean the next aid station. They were actually much farther up the road, and again I was very glad to see them. I got some more water and offered some to one of the runners coming up behind me.
I was really pleased to reach the 26.2 mile aid station in 4.5 hours. I have been trying to run a sub 4 hour marathon for a while now and keep experience setbacks toward that goal. I really thought L&C was going to be it this year, even with the horrible weather I was still on pace. I told myself that I could have made it but in the back of my mind I wasn't so certain. So out there on the course with all of those hills coming one after the other I figured if I could make it 26.2 in 4.5 hours then on a flat course I could definitely run sub 4 perhaps it would be close but I know I can do it. That was a bonus for me especially since I am not sure if I will run any marathons next year.
The last 5 miles of the course were pretty difficult for me. My feet were really hurting. They screamed in protest with every step. Where the grass was mowed on the "shoulder" I found some relief but those spots were few and far between. Coming down the hill to the last aid station the wind came up suddenly, and I really had to struggle to stay close to the edge of the road. I stopped at the aid station for a minute to gather my will to make the last run to the finish. I ended up passing a few people which bolstered my spirits. I always run better when I have someone in my sights. I wasn't sure how far it was to the finish since I wasn't checking my watch that often, but when I saw the guy in front of turn and look behind I knew he was checking for traffic to see if he could cross to the finish. I picked up the pace a bit since the end was near and headed in. There were a bunch of people there cheering me on. Beth and Megan were cheering and taking pictures. I was glad to be done. My bib slid around to the back so Vicki had a medal in one hand and a buckle in the other. I turned my bib around and traded her for a buckle.
All in all I felt great about how I did. I was really worried about the hills, and had visions of not making the cut off time or worse having to DNF. That might sound a little crazy but I thought it could be a possibility since I don't run hills. I have since run my normal course that I considered to have a few hills. Now they don't even register as hills in my mind. I run them pretty much the same as I do the flats.
Everyone was great especially the volunteers, just like at Berryman. I love it when I pull in to an aid station and the volunteers are so helpful. You just don't get that with other races. The volunteers at the two Ultras I have run care about the runners and it really shows. So thanks to every one that volunteered and Thanks to David and Vicki for putting on a great race.
After the race I bought a SLUG hat, and waited for my shirt to come back. Beth and Megan were very tired and wanted to head home so I decided to write the shirt off as a loss. Maybe I'll see it again one day. When Beth tried to start the car the battery was dead. Some nice people offered us a jump and it started right up and we were on our way. I was glad to be home. I am not sure if I will run this race next year or not but I am definitely glad that I ran it this year.
Once again thanks to every one that worked to make this event a success.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spirit of the Osage

Sunday I am going to run my second Ultra (50k). Up until about a week ago I thought it was going to be on trails. I was looking at the flier and happened to notice that it said the course was 100% pavement. I don't mind running on pavement but I was expecting a different experience. I should have read a little more carefully. The good news is that I will get to meet some more SLUGS. I've only met a few and it will be good to introduce myself. I need to try and make it to one of the weekend runs, but it is hard with my race schedule plus I don't like to drive so far just for a training run when I can run the trails at SIUE every Saturday with Metro Tri Club. Travis Liles organizes a SLUG weekend run out at the SIUE mtb trails so I will try to make it to that the first chance I get. I would like to find the easiest way to link the two trail systems together because I believe that would make for a great run. I'm sure the Vadalabene trail would be the way to go. I'll ask Jeff Schleicher if he knows the best way since know he runs both sets of trails.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I need a new battery

A few trail runs and an adventure race have been logged in the books since my last post. Everything is going well. I am in the Golden Age of running right now, and I plan to enjoy it while it lasts. I just ran a 10 mile trail race 20 minutes faster than I ran the same race last year.
Got to go my battery is about to die