May 18, 2014 — Goddard, KS
Ultra #3, 50K #1
Going into my first 50K, I didn’t really know what to expect. Before a race, people will often ask “Are you ready?” My typical, and honest, response is “I have no idea.” I rarely know if I’m ready for a race, especially a long one, until I’m in it. Anything can happen — I suppose, especially, in ultra running.
I had run two ultras before, both of longer distances. My first was the Patriots’ Run ultra last September 11 in Olathe. The race lasted 9 hours, 11 minutes with runners logging as many miles as they could in the time allotted. I finished with 36 miles officially. My second was last November 16 in Wichita. This one was a 12-hour race of the same concept. That day, I officially logged my personal best for mileage, with 44.28 miles — even though my watch showed 46.
Anyway, this was my first ultra with an actual finish line, which was kind of cool. I had two goals going in — 1) Finish in under 6 hours; 2) Don’t get last. I really didn’t care to get wrapped up in racing any other runners, and I didn’t have a PR to chase after.
I planned to try a run/walk interval of 10 minutes/2 minutes for as long as I could handle it. I got to run the first 10 minutes with my friend Mike, who is crazy fast. He wound up finishing 2nd place overall, despite running 3+ miles too far — and then hung around long enough to help me finish. What a guy.
At around the 3.5 mile mark, the rains came. It rained pretty steadily until I got to the mid-point aid station at mile 15.5. Yeah, 12 miles in the rain. Fun times! (Note: No, I’m actually not being sarcastic). I was able to maintain my 10/2 plan pretty well through the first three hours. At that point, I tried to pull it back to 8/2. But after two cycles of that, I was getting pretty sore. A lot more walking from that point on.
My first 10 miles were each under 10 minutes, and 18 of my first 20 miles were under 12 minutes each. That’s pretty slow, but steady-ish for me, considering how far I was going.
My lovely fiancee Kami, and her sister Macey were out there for me at all the aid stations, and even in between a couple of them. They refilled my water, supplied me with all the Powerade Zero, chocolate milk, antacids (tried them to fix my running hiccups, which seems to have worked), and even donuts (yeah, donuts) that I needed. They helped keep me going really well.
One of the beauties of ultra running, at least for me, was that I felt free to stop and stretch when I felt a cramp coming on, without worrying too much about pace, etc. Despite increasing soreness, I felt better mentally all day long than I have for any of my marathons. That is probably due in large part because of my lack of any real expectations. Regardless of why I felt better mentally, it was definitely a relief.
Somewhere after the 20-mile mark, I got to see several familiar, friendly (and much faster than me) people, as they headed toward the finish, while I was heading out on the final out & back stretch. I got high fives from Micah LaPoint (overall winner, 3:50), Raquel Stucky (my friend from Pretty Prairie), and Fernando Martinez (he doesn’t know me, but I know of him because he’s fast). The latter three were all on relay teams. I even squeezed in a short chat with Mike again as he assured me Kami was not far ahead.
Experienced 100-miler Elden Galano gained on me more and more over the last 10 miles or so. I knew he would either pass me, or would come damn close. At mile 24, I saw probably the biggest turtle ever. I really wanted to snap a pic, but convinced myself to focus. I kept moving.
I did get a little bummed when I realized somewhere in those last two miles that I wasn’t going sub-6, but still understood that I’d finish with an automatic PR, which is always nice. Kami jog/walked the last mile or so with me (in jeans!), and Mike joined for the last few blocks. With about 200 yards to go, I had to walk one last time across the final street when I heard Elden yell “Run!” He later told me he wasn’t going to pass me unless I was walking.
I finished in 6:07:25, exactly six seconds ahead of Elden, who did a cheer/jump across the finish line. It hurt me just to watch it.
All in all, Country Roads 50K was a very positive experience for me. I was a little slower than I would’ve liked, and probably a lot slower than I’m capable of, but with an automatic PR, a super cool course, an affordable price, lots of friendly volunteers and a great personal support staff, I honestly have zero complaints about this race — as long as I get my race shirt in the mail, as promised. They somehow had me down for a Medium, a size I haven’t worn since probably 7th grade.
Not sure where life will take us with getting married in September, but this is definitely a race I’d like to return to do again.
April 12, 2014 — Abilene, KS
I don’t want to write this. Everything I’m about to write will be an embarrassment. It will be hard to put a positive spin on any of my thoughts from this race. But I’m a firm believer in learning from experience, both positive and negative. So here goes.
This was a bad race. A bad day. Bad conditions. Bad mentality. Bad memories. All bad.
I was prepared. I was more focused mentally than for any of my previous five marathons. My brain was ready, my heart was ready, my legs were ready… I had a goal going in of 3:42. I knew it was optimistic, but was certain I’d at least run my first sub-4, and I never really even entertained the notion that I could possibly do any worse than my PR of 4:12:37. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
I started off a hair faster than planned, but it was a sustainable pace for me. I felt comfortable. My first four miles were solid; ahead of schedule with a pace of 8:02/mile.
Mile 1-4 — 8:02, 8:06, 8:00, 8:00
Slowed down a bit the next few, and tried to settle in. I did just that, and still felt good through nine miles with a pace of 8:10/mile.
Mile 5-9 — 8:09, 8:21, 8:11, 8:12, 8:31
Somewhere around that ninth mile, I started to feel a little weird. I was having trouble breathing. A couple big hiccups (a trend for me; usually kicks in around mile 15) caught me off guard. The wind was picking up, but I knew I was going with it until mile 13. It was getting warmer. I figured it was just in my head, and tried to shake it off. But I slowed down as I neared the halfway mark, where I’d turn around and repeat the 13.1-mile loop. Pace at the half marathon mark was still 8:26/mile… I needed 8:28/mile, so I was still on track, but slowing down big time. I kept telling myself that 3:42 was optimistic, but I was still on track, and I just needed sub-4 or better.
Mile 10-13 — 8:56, 9:02, 9:03, 9:04
After convincing myself I still wasn’t done, and that I still had a lot to shoot for, I made the turnaround for the second half of the race, and headed into the wind. It was like a punch in the face, and I never recovered. As the temperatures rose, and the wind picked up, the hiccups got worse, and so did my ability to breathe. Every breath was a deep, painful inhale and a strain to exhale. Worse than usual, even. I wish it was something I could explain. Some weird form of asthma? Acid reflux?
*Web MD search makes me think it might be something like Exercise Heartburn, but I’ll read more into it before I jump to conclusions*
That 14th mile was my final mile that was under 10 minutes at 9:52. Most of the race was spent walking, as I never could regain my breath. The most frustrating part about this race is that my legs actually still felt pretty good for another 5-6 miles. But it’s hard to run when you can’t breathe.
Excuses aside, I needed to be better for this race, and I just wasn’t. The marathon is not my favorite race. It’s the longest race that I care about how fast I’m running, which is why I plan to find an ultra or two before I get married this fall, as well as find my way back onto a basketball court — aka: my happy place. I don’t like things I’m not good at (who does?), and I am just not good at the marathon. For now, anyway.
I finished last place in my age group — LAST. That has never happened to me. Granted, four of the six in my age group smashed my goal, so even at my best, I would’ve come in 5th of 6. But it’s still frustrating.
I will try again. Likely not until 2015 after I’ve become a married man, and had some time to research and reflect — but I will try again.
Since I feel like this post has been extraordinarily whiny, I will end this with a couple of positive notes:
My beautiful fiance Kami was, as always, incredibly supportive. She posed for a couple pictures, took a few of her own, made and displayed signs for me, handed me drinks, food, etc — even got yelled at to get off the course by an old grouchy lady who didn’t seem to care that Kami was helping me stay standing, as well as supporting hundreds of others, while being in no one’s way.
Lastly, my good friend Mike was a beast on this day. Under the tough conditions, he, unlike myself, was able to fight through them, and finish with a PR of 3:10. He also missed his goal, but a 3:10 is no joke, and neither is a PR, no matter what it is. He also came back to mile 24 or so and helped me hobble across the finish and narrowly avoid my personal worst. His selflessness is always appreciated.
Not signed up for any upcoming races just yet, but I’ve been shooting more hoops, and may check out a nearby 50K next month — you know, just for fun.
Until next time,
Mar 1, 2014 — Hutchinson, KS
I did this race for simple, albeit nerdy reasons. The St. Patrick’s 5K (same event) was my first race ever in 2012. I finished in a time of 20:59, which at the time, I was thrilled with. Last year, I did the 10K at this event. It took place six days after I’d run the Ardmore Marathon in Oklahoma, and I had a rather sore knee at the time. It rained all day, but somehow I managed to win first place overall (out of just 28) with a rather slow-for-me time of 44:19.
The last two years, this was the first race after my birthday (March 6), but this year it was held earlier, and was the last race before my birthday.
The weather this year, well, sucked. Race time temperature was three degrees. THREE. Only 14 people were signed up, and just 10 showed up to run (there were 43 in the 5K). I managed to win first place overall once again, this time even slower — 44:38. I ran a pretty good first mile at 6:02, but knew that wouldn’t keep up.
It seemed like a had a big lead for quite awhile, but the guy behind me closed the gap hard — or so it seemed. I won by 11 seconds, although it seemed like 0.11 seconds. But, I’ll take the win.
As I crossed the finish line, I noticed my shirt was basically a sheet of ice. Awesome to have Kami there as always.
Fun day with some cool, yet slightly odd perks.
I won a wooden plaque that is actually a cutting board (WTF?), a “pot of gold” of Rolo candies, a giant shamrock cookie, and a free large pizza from Pizza Hut.
Now that’s winning.
Feb 16, 2014 — Derby, KS
10-mile trail race
Holy mud. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as much mud as I ran through in this race. I went in thinking “Oh, it’s just 10 miles in the woods. It’s a cheap race. Should be fun.” Came away thinking “Ouch, ouch, my foot/knee/toe.” My blue/pink shoes are still caked in mud. I had a few little cuts on my foot and toes, and a nice sized cut on my knee from branches in the woods. Battle wounds, and whatnot… Or something.
After a 6:23 first mile on pavement to start the race, it was all over the map from there, as the course got very hilly very quickly. Also, with approximately a foot of snow having recently melted, the puddles of mud (hey, remember that band?) were deep and frequent.
After mile 2, I decided to stop caring about any other runners or what place I was in, my overall time (SLOW), etc. I had only two goals those last 8 miles: Stay upright, and keep splits as consistent as possible. My overall time was only 5 seconds faster than my Half Marathon (3.1 miles farther) PR, which seems hilarious to me. But the course was brutal, and I’m not in race shape.
Overall, this was a really fun, albeit tough day. It was cool to have my fiancee (still a new word to me) and her sister waiting for me at the finish line.
Side note: This is the only race I’ve ever been a part of where runners were stopped by a train. With about 1/2 mile left, I looked ahead to see a group of runners waiting to cross while a train went by. I secretly hoped it would stay a little longer, so I could catch up and sprint ahead of them at the finish. The train had other ideas, and I only passed a couple more people on that last stretch. Memorable moment, regardless.
Feb 8, 2014 — Wichita, KS
Place: 4/19; 1st in age group
Team name: My Kind of Crazy
This was a relay race, my first. Each of us had to run a 5K loop. Kami originally wanted me to go last so that I could pass more people toward the end. I wound up smoothly talking her out of it. You probably already know why, but if not, you’ll find out shortly. As for the race…
I have put quite a bit of weight back on and was not prepared to run fast, not that it would matter on this day. Also, there had been a ton of snow recently, and the course was a little slick, although it could have been much worse. Race organizers did a great job. I wound up running a little bit faster than planned, but was fairly pleased with my mile splits — 6:50, 6:48, 6:45.
When I got to the relay checkpoint, Kami was nowhere to be found. Thinking I simply wasn’t there yet, I kept going. Ran 1/4 mile too far before I realized it and turned around to see her hurrying to meet me. I handed her the “baton” (a plastic flower), and she took off.
I hurried back to the start/finish area to prepare my plan — asking Kami to be my wife.
With the help of my amazing friends Mike and Shelly Stout (and their awesome kids, those troopers), I was able to not only pull my plans off, but come away with pictures and videos to capture the moment.
Mike and I ran to meet Kami along her route around one mile in, where I held up a sign I’d made saying “Dear Kami, Hurry up! I have to ask you a question.” The intention was that she’d catch on, and know what was coming the rest of the race — Turns out, she never quite realized exactly what the sign had said.
I then ran back to the finish area, where I eventually stood behind the finish line as she came through, still holding my sign. As she crossed the mat, I tossed my signs down, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me.
She said yes! Well… At least I think she did. Truth be told, neither of us remember for sure. She was out of breath from the race (and maybe a little surprise), and I took the smile and nod as a “Yes.” Neither of us realized how many people were there, and cheering, until we saw the videos later in the day. Most of you have probably seen the pictures and videos I’ve shared on Facebook.
I’d like to thank everyone for all the support we’ve gotten, and surely will continue to get. The whole thing went much better than I ever could have expected. This was a fun race, and an even more thrilling day.
I’ll take a fiancee over a PR any day.
Nov 16, 2013 — Wichita, KS
KUS 12-Hour Race
Place: 5/9; 1st in age group
Distance: 44.28 miles
Wow. Where do I even start for this one? My second Ultra, sponsored by KUS (Kansas Ultrarunners’ Society). I ran a 9 hour, 11 minute race on 9/11 in Olathe, and completed 38 miles (36 officially). Eventually, I’ll get into distance specific Ultras, but this was still a new, longer challenge.
I had to complete 50 miles to win a belt buckle (I guess they’re like trophies to Ultra runners or something). That’s my longest run ever PLUS a Half Marathon or so. Eek. I knew it would be tough, but I really thought I could do it.
In the end, I finished with 46.01 miles — exactly 8 miles farther than my previous distance PR. I was at 45.5 on my watch when I crossed the finish line for the last time (GPS is never 100%, plus most other people seemed to be off of their official distances, too)… Still had 10 minutes to go in my race, so I walked/jogged until I hit 46 right at the 12-hour mark. Official race distance completed: 44.28 miles.
Twelve hours is a long time to do anything, especially on your feet. It was a 1.23 mile loop around Buffalo Park in Wichita, but it never really got boring out there, which may come as a surprise to many. Got to run the first couple hours (and off and on throughout the day) with my friend Mike. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Mike is a terrific runner, and an even better person, and dad. It was cool to see his family out there supporting him — “Team Stout” as they call themselves. He was in the 24 hour race, and put in 70 (or more) miles for the second time in 5 weeks. Think about that for a second.
I tried my best to not think about pace all day long, as I really just needed to keep moving. There would be a lot of walking, regardless. Too much so, in the end, as I fell short. But anytime you can increase your longest run ever by 8+ miles, it’s a good day.
There were only nine people in my 12-hour race, and I finished with the most miles of anyone who did not get a buckle. That stings a little, to be honest. But you know what? I’ve done two Ultras now, and finished 5th in both. Amount of runners aside, I kind of like the sound of that.
My beautiful girlfriend Kami and her sister Macey were there off and on all day long, and supported me a lot, especially toward the end. I’m immensely grateful for having them there.
At work, we teach kids about feelings, and emotional warning signs. Funny, because during the course of this race, I experienced every single one of them. I went from content to sad to happy to depressed to thrilled to proud — just in the final few minutes. I confess that I started to cry a bit the minute I realized I had no chance for 50 miles and a buckle award. Quickly made myself snap out of it and just do my best in the end.
All in all, a successful day. BIG thanks to:
* Mike Stout for lots of running company + Team Stout for general support and friendship.
* Kami & Macey Hodson for support, food, and company the last few laps.
* Ron Micah Lapoint for support. He’s 10x the runner I am & had to drop out, but was still encouraging.
* Adam Monaghan for putting on an awesome 1st Annual event. Fun shirts, and cool bibs. A great runner himself, I know it was hard for him to not be running, but he did an outstanding job of organizing this thing, and was super supportive to all the runners all day long.
* Zach Adams for support and occasional running company. Realized we’d met each other at 9/11 Ultra in Olathe.
* Di — I don’t know her last name or where she was from, but she was positive and friendly all day long.
* Colorado lady for support. I don’t know her name or who she was there for. In fact, I thought she was from Nebraska until Kami told me otherwise. But Colorado lady offered me something each time I stopped by my car, which was right next to hers. She may have been there with the guy who won the 24-hour race with 107 miles. Yeah, 107. Either way, thanks Colorado lady!
Nov 9, 2013 — Hutchinson, KS
Love Life Run 10K
Place: 2/95; 1st in age group
This was a fun event. I was nowhere near ready to race a 10K. I’ve done zero speed work these past few months, and I also have a 12-hour Ultra in Wichita this coming Saturday. But I mostly wanted to just see how I could place, then hurry back to finish with my lovely girlfriend Kami, who was running her first 10K.
My first couple miles were right where I wanted them, and actually on PR pace, but I knew that wouldn’t hold. The leader was a long ways ahead of me by Mile 2, and the third place runner was a long ways behind me. I joked with one of the volunteers that it was getting lonely out there.
Here’s a snippet of my in-race thought process, in case you wondered what I think about sometimes:
“That guy is way up there. Where’d he go? He’s really fast. I think he was at the Press Run 5K. I got 2nd there. Won some money; that was cool. Who’s in 3rd place? I don’t see anyone. Am I going the right way? Surely. Stop turning around. You’ll trip and fall. Remember in Family Guy, when he falls and goes ‘tss-ahh,’ like 10 times? Hilarious. Stop. You’re not going to fall. Look out for that stick! It’s quiet out here. This is like Tortoise and the Hare. Hare took a nap, right? I’m not fast enough to be the Hare. I like turtles more. Wait… Mile 5 already? Dude, you have A.D.D. Focus.”
Anyway… I finished in 2nd place overall out of 95 finishers. Won my age group (there were only 4 of us) with my fifth worst 10K time (42:58) out of seven tries. Collected my medal, chatted with a couple friends for a minute, then took off backward on the course to find Kami.
Before the race, we’d discussed her trying to beat 1:10, or maybe something in the 1:08 range (I secretly thought 1:05ish). When I got to her, she was still moving really well, and still smiling. I took this as a good sign, and not just because I like her smile. After running and talking with her for a minute, I looked at my watch to realize she had a great shot at beating 1:00:00. I was pumped. Naturally, she finished strong with a time of 59:03. I never doubted her, but she definitely surprised me (and I think herself) a little bit. She completed her first 10K faster than either of us expected, got her first medal, and even got to hit the PR gong — with a swing that would have made Ernie Banks jealous. She also took 55th place, beating 40 people after joking she might get last. Super proud of that girl.
Overall, this was a super fun, well-organized event with interesting perks. Fun atmosphere all-around. There aren’t many races where I walk away saying “I’m definitely doing that one again,” but… I’m definitely doing that one again.
Oct 19, 2013 — Kansas City, MO
Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon
Embarrassing. Painful. Depressing. Did I mention embarrassing? I am only posting this to remind myself just how bad it can get during a race, and maybe even learn from it.
Started slow, like everyone always tells me to. Kept a steady, albeit too slow pace through 10-12 miles. It didn’t take long for the race to beat me up, physically, but even more so mentally/emotionally.
By mile 13, I knew I had no chance at my sub-4 goal. By mile 14, my dreaded hiccups hit (just like every marathon I’ve done around the same point) and I knew I had no chance at my weak 4:12 PR. By mile 15, I knew I couldn’t even come close to a PR. That’s when I quit mentally. I was crushed. It was an emotional weekend for various reasons. I have a looooong list of excuses I could make, and have (unprepared for hills, horrendous training, mental blocks, complete lack of focus, outside stress, etc). But I won’t elaborate further. At least not again, and not here.
Fact: I’m better than this. I am not a quitter. But I almost quit several times in this one. Only reasons to continue: Big medal + finisher’s shirt (only to find out you had to pay extra for a finisher’s shirt — no, thanks). Mentally, I quit. My state of mind has improved slightly since the race, but not by a ton. I am taking a break from marathons. I stink at the marathon, plain and simple.
“At least you finished.” Screw that. That’s not the goal. Especially by now. I will be back. Probably as soon as April (+ as long as it takes to figure out my hiccup past mile 14 issue). But for the time being, I’m taking a mental break from 26.2. I’m running a local 5K race for Halloween with my girlfriend this weekend — I’ll be dressed as Wolverine. Then, a local 10K on November 9… Strongly considering a 12-hour Ultra on November 16 with a goal of running 50 miles (my longest ever is 38) to earn a special belt buckle award. Even that would feel less like a race, though. Long story, short: I just want to make running fun again.
The 26.2 is no fun for me at this point. And that’s okay.
Sept 22, 2013 — Hutchinson, KS
Run for the Rocks Half Marathon
Place: 20/351, 3rd in age group
My fourth Half Marathon. I was completely unprepared for this. Several reasons (okay, excuses) why I knew I would not do very well. I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis for six months, I had done zero speed work, I had just run my first Ultra Marathon 11 days earlier. Not a good recipe for success. With a 1:31:32 in this race last year, and a PR of 1:28:06 at Texarkana in February, I knew I’d be nowhere near those.
If you know me, you know I’m stubborn, and a little voice told me to go for it anyway. Through four miles, I was right where I wanted to be. Then, reality it. Slowed down each mile the rest of the way, and wound up trudging across the finish with a time of 1:36:38 — 5:06 slower than last year, 8:32 slower than my PR… I finished 20th overall out of 35; I was 13th out of 428 last year — not sure why there were 77 fewer runners this year. Weird.
Given the circumstances, I can’t be too disappointed. Granted, it’s slower than I wanted, but I knew that was coming. Besides, I got to see several people I know cross the finish line — many of them notched their own PR. I also got some awesome support from my girlfriend Kami, and her sister, Macey. It’s also a nice, local course which happens to be the only race longer than a 10K available at all here in Hutchinson. So, that’s nice.
I often pick my friend Mike’s brain about running, and I’m learning from him (I learn like I run — slowly). Like he said, the Half Marathon is a tough distance to PR if you’re not training for it. And I wasn’t. That Texarkana Half remains my best race to date, but right now, I’ll turn my sights to the KC Marathon on October 19.
I’ve run four marathons thus far. Since one was a trail race, I’ll keep that time (4:31) separate. As far as the others, I’ve improved on each — 4:57, 4:26, 4:12 … Here’s hoping I can finally break sub-4 in KC.
Sept 11, 2013 — Olathe, KS
9 hour, 11 minute Ultra
Place: 5/18, 2nd in age group
Distance: 36 miles
My first Ultra. Wow. Where do I start? I went in with a goal of 35 miles, since my longest run ever had been 34.3. But it was hot, hot, hot. Wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep moving that long, let alone log 30+ miles on a hot asphalt parking lot surface (one-mile loop course). I was able to keep an acceptable pace through 10 or 12 miles when it occurred to me: “Forget about pace today.” This was just about staying on my feet, and moving forward. I did just that ALL day (and night) long. I sat down just once from the time I arrived at 10 AM, and the time I left at 10 PM — for about 2 minutes to put my shoes back on after changing clothes.
A race lasting from noon to 9:11 PM, my “moving time” (time I had my watch going) amounted to 8:40:51 at day’s end. I crossed the finish line at 9:02 PM, having logged 36 miles officially, and 37.4 on my Nike+ Sport Watch. I jogged it out to hit 38 miles total on my watch. I finished in 5th place overall out of 18 in the Ultra division. I was in 6th all day/night long until after mile 32 when the top female called it quits. I also won 2nd place in my age group, and got two pretty awesome medals out of the deal. I’m not happy with the results of a lot of my races, but I sure am with this one. Fifth overall in an Ultra? Chalk that up to a once-only occurrence. This was my first Ultra. It will not be my last.
Before I left for the race, I posted online: “Today, I’m going to see what I’m capable of — and then do a little more.”
I’m proud to say that’s exactly what I did.
Lastly, I must thank my incredible girlfriend Kami for all her support. She graciously drove me to the race and back (3 hours each way), handed me water a couple of times, and even jogged/walked with me for 5 miles toward the end. I am immensely grateful for her.