Race report: Heartland 100

Heartland 100

October 8, 2016 — Cassoday, KS

Place: DNF

Time: –:–:–

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Pre-race, Heartland 100.

I was ready for this race — until I wasn’t. I dropped out of my first 100-mile race after 58.1 miles, but the October 8 DNF could have easily been a DNS due to a pretty gross September 10 ankle injury. See injury below:

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The ankle.

It honestly did feel a lot better prior to race day. Fastest healing I’d ever done, I told people. Maybe it was the gradual pounding on the gravel roads of the Flint Hills. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried in the first place. I dunno. But I’m paying the price since race day.

Sure, I have fleeting moments where I tell myself “You should have kept going. You should have gone until it fell off.” But let’s be honest — that would have been beyond dumb. Some long-term healing is needed at this point.

On to the race.

It was chilly early, but when the sun began to rise, the stunning views made it difficult to feel any pain or have any negative thoughts. I love Kansas.

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The Flint Hills at sunrise, ladies and gentlemen.

After the 8.5 mile aid station, the hills get bigger and longer until the next aid station at 17. I knew this, however, having finished the spring 50 each of the past two years. I still felt decent heading into that 17th mile and beyond.

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One of my favorite shots of the day. Pretty sure I look tougher here than I felt.

My beautiful wife (and crew) Kami, did a tremendous job all day long and in to the night, as I expected she would. My other crew member (and pacer) Melissa was invaluable, as well. They were there for me when I needed them most. They almost had me convinced at mile 58 to go another stretch to the next aid station (64). Mentally, I was still in it. Emotionally, I was as prepared as possible to go the full 103+ or whatever it wound up being.

Physically, I was finished. My foot just couldn’t take the pounding any more.

I actually considered quitting at mile 25, when my foot/ankle acted up a bit and I was struggling to breathe — same song, different verse with that one.

But they convinced me to keep going.

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The view from last place was actually super peaceful. Then I said “F this” and took off, pacing a handful of runners over the next 5 miles.

I struggled until about 28. That’s when I hit a groove. I’m not sure what got into me, but I was probably a solid half-mile or more back in last place when I picked off seven or eight runners over the next few miles. I moved surprisingly well until hitting another wall around mile 34.

I again considered tossing the towel at mile 37, when this picture Melissa took summed up my feelings perfectly.

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Mile 37 feels.

Here’s another from that same aid station, after changing clothes. Had to work on the ankle a bit here…

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Kami works on my ankle while I attempt to eat some food for once.

I made it solo to mile 43, where I was allowed a pacer. Melissa joined me for those next 15, but it wasn’t more than 3 or 4 before I knew I was in trouble. I did get a small boost or two while listening to the Cubs NLDS Game 2 victory over San Francisco, which is probably the only reason I don’t look completely miserable here…

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Listening to the Cubbies near mile 47 or so.

All in all, yes — I’m immensely disappointed with how this race turned out. But given my fitness level (I’ve gained back the majority of the weight I lost when I started running in the first place) and the relatively short turnaround after the ankle injury, I’m not sure what else I could have reasonably expected.

Though I’m upset with how I did and the circumstances that unfolded, there’s not a doubt in my mind that shutting it down was the right call. Each step I take, I wonder if maybe I should have shut it down sooner. But I live to run another day — eventually.

I love the Heartland course, and I will be back. Perhaps at the 50, perhaps for the 100 again. Who knows. Either way, until next time, Cassoday…

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This place is something else, you guys.

Race report: Winged Foot 10K

Winged Foot 10K

September 24, 2016 — Topeka, KS

10K #17

Place: 20/47

Time: 57:14

This was my second race since moving to Topeka — both 10Ks. Took 20th place overall in both; what are the odds? As it was part of the Kansas Chocolate Festival, we got M&Ms in our packet, which was pretty cool. No shirts as we signed up late, but we have too many goofy race shirts anyway.

I went the first 5K loop with Kami as we kicked off our anniversary weekend, then the last part solo as she finished the 5K in 33rd out of 93.

But this race was really just a test for my ankle, which I had injured badly two weeks prior. Kami and I took it easy those first three miles, though our pace was still faster than I’d gone since the injury — 9:18, 10:18, 10:05 splits for our miles together.

Didn’t anticipate speeding up, but threw on the headphones and took off. Ankle loosed up and I felt good the rest of the way. While I didn’t set any records, my second half splits of 8:49, 8:16, 8:15 were quite the happy surprise.

While Kami placed second in her age group for the 5K, I took third in mine for the 10K and wouldn’t you know it, they only gave medals to the top two in each category. No worries; I’m not a big medal guy anyway, especially when I don’t feel like I’ve actually accomplished something noteworthy.

As I rapidly approach Heartland 100 on October 8, I needed this race for the simple purpose of seeing what my ankle could handle. Let’s face it, even my slowest of those 10K splits will be faster than any mile at Heartland.

This is a race I could definitely do again. Despite the size of this city, this event was on an airport/air force base and was a cool, low-key atmosphere. I like it.

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Winged Foot 10K for me, 5K for her

Race report: Cauldron Run 10K

Cauldron Run 10K

July 9, 2016 — Pretty Prairie, KS

10K #16

Place: 20/-

Time: 55:17

This was my first race in Topeka since moving here on May 31. I wasn’t remotely ready for a 10K with all my long distance training. The nasty humidity didn’t help matters either. But it was nice to feel a race environment again, even if I wasn’t “racing” myself.

The race took place as part of the Sunflower State Games at Lake Shawnee, where I do probably two-thirds of my running. I like it over there.

I had a few walk breaks, which felt silly in a 10K, but like I said — I wasn’t prepared for fast running. Went out hard in Mile 1 (go figure) and the humidity hit hard.

Had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t there for a fast time.

Regardless, I still found a way to take second in my age group and get a sweet medal. It was a fun day all around, as Kami and I took off immediately after the race to coach a 6U soccer team we’d got roped into coaching since I couldn’t get a parent to volunteer at work.

We then spent our evening and ensuing afternoon participating in the mixed double tennis competition for the SSG. It was our first ever time playing tennis.

How did it go? We stunk. And it… was… awesome. We had a great time, despite the heat. I’m sure we’ll participate in another event or two next year, whether it’s tennis or not.

As for the Cauldron Run event, I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t do it again. It’s a location I enjoy for a good price with neat medals and a good atmosphere. Oh, and snacks.

Cauldron Run 10K

My cool medal and bib — and the shirt that I have two of but will never wear. Stop it with the white shirts, folks.

Race report: Rodeo Run 8/4/1

Rodeo Run 8/4/1

July 23, 2016 — Pretty Prairie, KS

8-mile

Place: 7/18

Time: 1:04:12

Another year of RD duties in the books. I opted to switch up the distances this year, allowing runners and walkers to start and finish at the same spot.

I knew it was the right call, but I’m not sure I realized just how well it would go until race day. Talk about convenient. Participants for the later events gathered at the start/finish area to cheer on others as they waited.

Overall, we had a few less runners and made slightly less profit than in 2015. But when you consider how much better it went overall this time around, I’m thrilled with the changes. I have big ideas for how well it could go next year, as the 80th annual Pretty Prairie Rodeo looms in 2017.

As a runner, of course I opted for the longer 8-mile distance. We had 21 sign up, 19 start and 18 finish the race. I came in seventh overall, flying by two runners in the final few blocks. I never finish that well. It hurt a little, but felt exhilarating at the same time.

The 4-mile went well, won by Josh White — a fellow Pretty Prairie boy. That distance saw 33 finish the race. Next up was the 1-mile.

1-mile

Place: 31/75

Time: 9:something

We opted to only give medals to top three finishers for boys and girls in the 12-and-under age bracket. Another good decision, I felt. Too many adults took this too seriously in the past. Knowing it wasn’t meant as a competitive distance this time around (duh), it seemed to make things more fun.

Keeping with that theme, I gave this one an easy jog on sore legs, having fun along the way, chatting with a few friends and some kids. I even gave my mom a hug at the halfway point aid station. I’d never done that in a race before.

Overall, 73 humans and two dogs completed the 1-mile course. Good times were had by all.

I have now helped raise $5,658.58 for PPHS athletics over the past five years. It started with a $1,225 donation check during the training for my first marathon. It has continued for the past four years with the organization of this race. I plan to continue to help raising money for Bulldog athletics as long as I’m allowed and able.

Whether you’ve joined us in the past or not, you should consider it next July. Should be a great time once again.

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Pretty Prairie, KS. I love my hometown.

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The 2016 Dr. Pepper colored Rodeo Run shirts.

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2016 1-mile start

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2012 presentation of my $1,225 donation check to then-superintendent Brad Wade.

 

Race report: Night Hawk 50K

Night Hawk 50K

June 25, 2016 — Lawrence, KS

Ultra (attempt) #7

50K (attempt) #4

Place: DNF

Time: —

This was supposed to my ultimate training run for a potential 100. It would be hot, humid, dark, hilly, and all the stuff I hate. I wanted to learn to run when I’m ridiculously uncomfortable.

However, this race taught me that there’s a huge difference between pushing through discomfort and pushing through something that just isn’t fun.

Trail running, particularly the type one must endure at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, simply isn’t fun for me. The rocks, roots, low-hanging tree branches, etc. were never-ending, it seemed. The humidity made everything worse. By the time darkness hit, my decision had long-since been made.

I knew less than 3 miles in I was having a miserable time. Not just because I was struggling; I just wasn’t having any fun. I wanted to go home.

I called it quits after one 10.3 mile loop and went home to reassess. Took 5 days off from running — my most in, well, maybe since I started running.

I have since signed up for Heartland 100, minus the arduous training run I was expecting. But while 100 miles will be the most challenging thing I have ever attempted, at least that’s something I want to do.

Running over miles and miles of rocks? Not so much. If I ever want to be a rock climber, I’ll just be a rock climber. The sort of stuff this race had to offer, I never intend to attempt again. It’s just not fun.

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Goofy, flimsy hat I’ll never wear + my eventual DNF bib.

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At least the race photographer was legit. Too bad I didn’t give him a good photo op. Credit: Mile 90 photography

Cheers,

Derrick

 

Race report: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

April 30, 2016 — Cassoday, KS

Ultra #6

50-miler #1

Place: 36/37

Time: 13:38:51

I’ll keep this short since I’m rather delayed in writing this — and since you can read the column I wrote on the race while still managing editor of Wellington Daily News here — Sometimes we fail, but this is not that story.

It was not pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. Mud on the way out, wind on the way in. Damn near quit at 25. I had no intention of finishing this race after about mile 21 or so. Got talked out of it and trudged along my not-so-merry way.

Goal was to not only improve, but improve by a lot on my time from the year before. Failed miserably in that regard, but all things considered, this was a win just to have finished after enduring the physical struggles and the mental doubt that I did for as many miles as I did.

I’m already gearing up for the 100 in October, though that decision gets put in doubt as the temperatures continue to rise on these hot summer runs that have only just begun.

Maybe someday I’ll run 100 miles. On this day, I was pleased to just get through 50.

Race report: Choose Your K

Choose Your K (30K)

April 2, 2016 — Edmond, OK

30K #1

Place: 18/19

Time: 3:55:35

Race this race with my wife, Kami, on the 3-year anniversary of us being a couple. It wound up being a slow, warm day, but we had fun together.

You got to “choose your K” from a 5K to a 30K and everything in between (in increments of 5, of course)… We opted for the 30K. Me, for the miles and the better value. Her for the challenge of logging her longest run and going with me the whole time, rather than just a portion of it.

She wasn’t feeling well for much of the race, but she soldiered on and finished her longest run ever in one of our favorite cities in America. Not sure what it is about Edmond, but we love it down there.

It was our second time on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University. The previous time was for a 10K race in December. Both times we’ve been there, we’ve been met by lots of friendly folks, we’ve gotten really cool shirts and had just an overall great time.

I hope we get the chance to make it down there again.

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