Race report: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

May 2, 2015 — Cassoday, KS

50-miler #1 / Ultra #5

Place: 23/29

Time: 12:55:39

This is it. The race I trained for for 20 weeks. I documented everything for 140 days. Seriously. I have an Excel file with miles run (912.16), time run (125:17:47), time playing basketball (26 hours), time on the bike (37 miles), time in the pool, soda drank, weight loss/gain (+3.2 lbs overall), etc.

My longest run ever coming into this had been 46 miles — 44.28 officially at KUS 12-Hour race in November of 2013. I tried and failed to hit 50 miles on a few occasions, twice on solo runs, once in a 100K, where I had to drop to the 22-mile distance. I knew I wasn’t ready mentally — and probably not even physically. So charting everything for nearly five months kept me focused on the goal of finishing my first 50-miler.

The training…

I started my training plan on December 15. Most days for those first few weeks, it was in the -20s here. I ran treadmill miles. I ran indoor track miles. Sometimes, I sucked it up and ran some outdoor single digit temperature miles — you know, when it was warm.

When February rolled around and my mileage went up, I was outdoors regularly. Mostly pavement, some trail (including a March 7 50K race), some dirt. The back-to-back 18-milers on March 21/22 were big for me. I somehow managed to run 20 seconds faster on the second day, when I really just wanted to get it done and expected some walking. Two weeks later, I ran 20 in Wichita with my great friend, Mike B. Stout, before an incredibly windy 20 solo the next day. Fast forward another week, and I ran a solo 31 in the afternoon. Battled stomach issues throughout, and still managed to get in 10 more miles the next day. My heavy mileage was done. It was taper time. One more 10/10 weekend, one of which was in 30 degrees, 30+ MPH wind, and constant rain. Nice little adventurous run that was. All that was left was to compulsively check May 2 weather reports every 10 minutes, put together drop bags, and fight off the panic attacks.

The race…

The temperature felt great at the start. I pretended it would last, and it did for longer than I thought.

Goals: 1) FINISH. 2) Don’t get last. 3) Beat 13.5 hours. 4) Beat 12.5 hours.

I honestly only cared about Goal #1. The others were really just throw-ins. In the end, I beat all but #4 — although my watch showed 12:28:40 when it hit 50 miles. So, I sorta met all my goals, maybe? Whatever.

Miles 1 – 8 — Average pace: 10:40/mile

I felt good early. The sunrise was beautiful. I was able to stay in the moment, and enjoy the scenery. Zero walking before the first aid station. I focused on my breathing and was holding up fine. Though I was glad to see the aid station and get recharged a bit. Ate a handful of Cocoa Puffs, and a few M&Ms, refilled my water bottle, threw a Jolly Rancher in my pocket, changed my shirt, grabbed my iPod, and kept going. This would be the only aid station where I did not sit down. Looking back, perhaps I should have.

Miles 9 – 17 — Average pace: 14:11/mile

I hit a wall. Hard. I was unprepared for the next 8+ miles of hills I was about to encounter. I struggled into the next aid station accompanied by some serious doubts.

My wife, Kami, was a savior here. Just seeing her was a big boost, not to mention her assistance. She was fantastic all day long. I drank some chocolate milk, popped a Gas-X pill, two Ibuprofen, and an S-Cap. This is when I puked. I hadn’t thrown up since November of 2001. I was a Junior in High School before a basketball game. Streak over. This would prove to be a huge turning point in my day. I downed a slice of watermelon, drank some Sprite, and soldiered on.

Miles 18 – 25 — Average pace: 13:42

Crazy to think I actually sped up a bit after so many miles, but like I said, turning point. Despite feeling better overall, the temps and the winds were starting to kick up a notch, and the mileage was starting to take a toll. Again, I was ready for an aid station. On the positive, at least these miles weren’t as hilly. I began to see the leaders heading back the other direction. I expected this to be demoralizing since I was much further back, but it was honestly just nice to see some other humans out there. I also got rained on for a mile or two, which felt fantastic.

I took two more Ibuprofen, ate some Pringles, something else I can’t even remember, drank some Powerade Zero, and changed my shirt — I actually did this at every aid station, which I’m glad I did. Definitely a nice refresher. This aid station is a bit hazy to me overall. I remember chatting with Kami and RD Jason Dinkel, seeing badass ultra runner April Calloway, and that’s about it.

Miles 26 – 34 — Average pace: 16:00/mile

My slowest miles of the day. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember these miles very well at all. All I know is that it was getting hot — fast. Lots of walking here.

I got to see Kami one more time at the aid station. I probably ate and drank some things, but again, I don’t even remember.

Miles 35 – 43 — Average pace: 15:36/mile

Puked again at mile 38. Sped up a lot from 38-40. Caught up to awesome runner, Megan Swett and three of her friends at around 39. Ran out of water at 41+ with over a mile to go until the last aid station. Remember that Jolly Rancher I put in my pocket at mile 8? That came in super handy here.

Here came the last aid station. Other than my great friend (and groomsman), Mike Stout, my favorite runner is probably Elden Galano. Elden, an 18-time 100-mile finisher, was working this aid station, and he had told me prior to the race on Facebook that he’d kick me out and make sure I finished. Seeing him was a boost, for sure.

I ate more here than I had eaten all day, and it helped immensely. Two popsicles (yes!), a handful of Pringles, a couple cookies — and that’s just the stuff I remember. As soon as I stood up, I knew I was going to finish. Onward I went.

Miles 44 – 51+ — Average pace: 15:53/mile

These miles were beautiful. I received a text from Mike reminding me to soak it all in during the final miles — and that’s just what I did. They weren’t fast, but they weren’t painful either, surprising as that sounds. The finish line was a great sight to see. On one hand, I know I put in the work and the training, and knew I was capable. On the other hand, I can’t believe I ran 50 miles! I’d like to eventually conquer the 100-miler, but for now, I’ll enjoy this, and yes — even be a little proud.

Thank you to everyone who supported, encouraged, and motivated me along the way. And thanks for reading, if you made it this far.

Until next time… Here are some pictures…

Bib + shirt

Bib + shirt

Mile 17 w/ Kami

Mile 17 w/ Kami

Final steps toward the finish.

Final steps toward the finish.

Finisher bling.

Finisher bling.



Race reports: 5K Run for Hunger + Shamrock Shuffle 10K

5K Run for Hunger

March 14, 2015 — Holdrege, NE

5K #31

Place: 1/25

Time: 21:32

Local 5K that I ran for just that reason; it was local. On roads I’ve run a dozen or more times, this was a fun one. I knew I’d be slow, and I was. A week after a trail 50K race, I still didn’t have my legs completely under me yet. I also had a 10K in Kearney later in the day, and 10 miles total on the schedule for my 50-mile race training plan.

There was only a max of 25 runners in this one. I saw a few people I knew, which was nice. I went out quick early, and led the entire way. My first half mile was solid, but I slowed down from there with a 6:43 first mile. After that, I just wanted to coast, honestly. I wasn’t going to stop or walk, but just coast. Mile 2 came in around 7:15, and mile 3 at 7:18. I don’t remember the last time I ran a 21+ minute 5K, but like I said, it was a fun/simple local race. I wish there were more of those here.

I have now run two races in Holdrege and won them both. Neat.


Shamrock Shuffle 10K

March 14, 2015 — Kearney, NE

10K #12

Place: 102/135

Time: 1:01:52

Second race of the day. Wound up with 11.5ish miles total. Knew I’d be nowhere near a 10K. I’m slower than ever in the short race distances. But I thought I’d go out hard early and see how I felt. I was top 7 or 8 for the first 1.5 or so. I believe I was in 14th place after that until the 3-mile mark.

Right around that point, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I likely would’ve maintained a top 20 finish had I kept going, but wanted to be smart and save my legs. So I stopped and sat on a bench. WHAT?! Yes. I stopped. During a race. And sat down. I got lots of sympathetic looks and comments as runners went by. They had no idea I was fine, and just waiting for my wife. When Kami came by, I ran the last half of the race with her. Saved my legs, and had 10x more fun. I’m not sorry.

We probably would’ve been sub-60 had we not chatted so much, but we had fun and enjoyed ourselves — as we always do. This was my 12th 10K, her 3rd. Both of our slowest. But it was a fun event with lots of people, so we didn’t mind a bit.


Good day overall with seven weeks to go until Heartland 50.



Race report: Stampede Trail Run 50K

Stampede Trail Run 50K

March 7, 2015 — Lincoln, NE

50K #2

Place: 12/14

Time: 7:38:14

I knew going into this one I wasn’t going to PR. Of course when I saw the weather would be nice, I entertained the idea, but that didn’t last long. I’ll get this out of the way early — I am not a trail runner. I’m not good at it. Or at least I’m not used to it.

With my first 50-mile race [Heartland 50] on tap for May 2, this 50K was simply meant as a long training run. Easier said than done when in the moment, though. My run 8/walk 2 plan worked for the first hour and a half or two, but not for nearly as long as I’d hoped it would. My recurring hiccups hit me around mile 12 this time — a bit sooner than usual. I really wish I could get that figured out, especially if I’m going to maintain hopes of finishing a 50-mile race. Anyway… With the inability to breathe combined with sore legs and more mud than I’ve ever seen in my life, I was resigned to walking much of the rest of the race, with brief run intervals mixed in. I was also unable to eat much of anything, as always. I imagine that’s probably related to my struggles to breathe, but again, I have no real idea…

I had never seen so much mud. Must have had lots of melted snow in the woods. As the temps rose, the mud got worse throughout the day. For long stretches, moving forward simply consisted of clogging through the mud and hoping my shoe didn’t come off with each step. The shoes were subsequently trashed post-race. They’d had 600+ miles on them anyway; they went out as heroes.

The course was at Wilderness Park in Lincoln, with three loops of 10ish miles. The second loop, I ran/walked much of the way with a girl named Emily. She decided we should finish together, which I was fine with since I wasn’t there to race and couldn’t run much anyway. But she had a pacer show up for the last 10 miles, and as I suspected they would, they took off without me. When I saw them take off, I knew I’d be finishing in last place.

I mean, technically, two (that I know of) had to drop to the 10-mile due to injuries, which is why my placing post at the top is an estimate. But… Among the people who finished the 50K, I was last. That sucks.

But I did say going in that my goals were to finish the race, and to not get injured. Those were accomplished.

Now to the fun part…

With just under a mile to go, I busted my ass in the mud. Splashed all over. My hands, my legs, my arms, my eye. So, I decided to make the most of it (picture below)… If you’re gonna be slow, be fun.


Thanks to my wife, Kami, for being amazingly supportive as always. She swears she didn’t get bored while waiting out there, but who knows. Also thanks to RD Jim Craig for putting on a great event. I even got a green cotton race shirt. My favorite race shirt yet. SO tired of tech shirts and tired of the whites, yellows, and oranges. I’m bummed that I was so slow, but glad I did this race. Fun experience in the end.

I now have just 7+ weeks until Heartland 50. Time to start panicking.



Race report: Last Run & First Run 10Ks

Last Run 10K

December 31, 2014 — Lincoln, NE

10K #10

Place: 10/50

Time: 57:14

Made the trip to Lincoln for a couple races and a little getaway for the wife and I. I’d been sick for two or three days, and didn’t even feel like running. But the races were paid for, and I was there, so…

Last Run 10K took place at 10 PM on New Year’s Eve, starting/finishing at Ploughshare Brewery in Lincoln.

Coldest race I’ve ever participated in. Real feel temp at race time was -5 degrees. NEGATIVE five degrees. Woof. Wore a ton of layers. I wasn’t really racing, after all. Lots of slow moving, even some brief walking spurts as there was lots of snow and ice on the path, and with my throat still throbbing, it was tough to breathe even without the cold air. Finished in 57:14, my slowest 10K ever — one second slower than Kami and I ran the Manhattan Beach 10K together on our honeymoon. Slightly different conditions for that one. My place is an estimation, as this was a very unofficial “race” with no official finish line, or official time kept.

First Run 10K

January 1, 2015 — Lincoln, NE

10K #11, race #80

Place: 19/70

Time: 55:15

First Run 10K started at 10:30 AM on New Year’s Day, again from/to Ploughshare Brewery. Just a bit warmer, and just a bit faster. Still lots of layers — including my TMNT hat, shirt, and pajama pants. Looked goofy, but stayed warm-ish (real feel temp of 7 degrees at race time). Again, placement is an estimation as there was no official finish line or clock being used. Despite the extraordinarily slow-for-me times and well below freezing temps, this was a fun trip. Sweet medals + cool shirts. Not a lot else to say about these races. Fun event that I doubt I’d do again, but it was fun to do once.


10898302_10100573127659832_5878790125523983079_n 10915234_10100573127639872_1845415766271456658_n

Race Report: June – December


It’s been a busy year, folks. As most of you certainly know, Kami and I got engaged in February. Married in September. Moved to Nebraska in October. Started a new job. A new life.

As far as running is concerned, I ran fewer races, fewer miles, slower miles. My last race report was my May 50K. I’d really like to do a better job of entering a race report for every race — even the small ones. It’s helped me looking back in regards to deciding if I want to run that event again or remind myself of how terrible it was. So, I pledge in ’15 to at least document how each race goes, even if it’s a just a paragraph or two on each one. The longer the race, the longer the analysis, I imagine.

For now, let me (very) briefly recap each of my races from June – December of this year.

July 4: Freedom Run 5K (Sterling, KS) — Paced Kami to her 5K PR at the time. I finished in 25:36, 54th of 255 overall.

July 11: Lunar Trek 100K (Scandia, KS) — Bonked hard early. Dropped to 22-mile race. Finished in 5:16:57, 5th of 8 overall.

July 19: Rodeo Run 5K (Pretty Prairie, KS) — Race director/runner. Finished in 21:36, 11th of 75 overall. Big success as RD.

July 19: Rodeo Run 1-mile (Pretty Prairie, KS) — Man, that was a slow mile. But a fun day. Finished in 6:35, 7th of 47 overall.

Aug 2: Run for the Son 2.5K (Hutchinson, KS) — Fun day dressed as Ninjas w/ Kami. Finished in 13:16, 2nd of 9 overall.

Sept 21: Run for the Rocks HM (Hutchinson, KS) — First ever tech-free race. Finished in 1:42:44, 29th of 329 overall.

Oct 4: Manhattan Beach 10K (Manhattan Beach, CA) — Honeymoon w/ Kami. Finished in 57:13, 1,292 of 3,309 overall.

Oct 11: Cow Pie Trail Run HM (Loup City, NE) — BRUTAL hills. SO slow, but fun day. Finished in 2:22:38, 13th of 29 overall.

Oct 18: Nebraska Spina Bifida 5K (Holdrege, NE) — Short course. First Nebraska win. Finished in 20:25, 1st of 40.

Nov 27: Thanksgiving Day 5K (Hutchinson, KS) — Missed out on pie by 8 seconds. Near PR. Finished in 18:34, 4th of 230+.

I will likely be doing a LOT fewer races now that I live in Nebraska. Mostly because there are almost no races within an hour’s drive from where we live, especially longer than 5Ks. Talk about frustrating. But also in part because I plan to start a 20-week, 50-mile race training plan this coming Monday with the intention of running Heartland 50-miler on May 2 in Cassoday, KS.

Ideally, I’d be getting myself geared up for a possible 100-mile attempt next fall, but let’s take it one step at a time. The 50-mile mark has eluded me for far too long, so I’ve finally made a plan to attack it the right way.

I’m also trying to keep my pages (links at the top of the page) updated with run/race stats, 2015 goals, race schedules, etc.

In the meantime, enjoy the new layout (until I decide I don’t like it and change it again). Happy running!

Race report: Country Roads 50K

May 18, 2014 — Goddard, KS

Ultra #3, 50K #1

Place: 6/9

Time: 6:07:25

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.

Race report: Eisenhower Marathon

April 12, 2014 — Abilene, KS

Marathon #6

Place: 107/146

Time: 4:56:15

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,