Race report: Chocolate Rush Half Marathon

Chocolate Rush Half Marathon

February 4, 2017 — Olathe, KS

Place: 80/215

Time: 1:58:45

After a five week stretch of running at least 5 miles or more every day (though mostly treadmill miles), my ankle was slowly feeling a little bit stronger heading into this one.

The Chocolate Rush Half Marathon took place in Olathe, starting and finishing on the campus of Mid-America Nazarene University.

Another cold race, similar to the one I did on New Year’s Day, five weeks earlier. This one was windier, however, which made it that much less desirable for most folks. But the course was a good one and mostly flat, which suited me just fine.

I decided to start with a pace group for the early miles, which I never do. If I’m being honest, talking — or listening — when I run. Well, to strangers, anyway. Maybe I just don’t do small talk well. I enjoy running with friends. But when a stranger tries to chat my ear of during a race? I’m not all about that life.

Anyway, I stuck with the pace group for most of the first 6 miles or so and kept them in sight through about mile 9 or 10. I sprinkled in bits of walking the last few miles, as my recent head cold had made it tough to breathe in spurts — although not nearly as bad as I’d expected.

But my lungs worked harder than the rest of me seemed to throughout this one, as my legs, feet (ankle included) and brain all felt pretty good following the race.

Since I’ll likely never PR this distance again as long as I live, I really just wanted to run fairly consistent and finish sub-2 hours, if at all possible.

Once I lost sight of the pace group, that plan was in jeopardy, but I managed to keep my walk breaks brief and stay on track, coming in just under the two hour mark.

I did visit a little with a girl over the last few miles who said this was her first half marathon. She is a soccer player at MNU, who was talked into running by some teammates. After going together for a bit, then alternating leads between the two of us, she finished strong, just ahead of me.

My splits were good early and tapered off late. Still managed to maintain a sub-9 pace overall with an 8:58 through 13.24 miles.

8:44 | 8:30 | 8:15 | 8:17 | 8:23 | 8:12 | 8:38 | 8:34 | 8:55 | 9:41 | 9:55 | 10:13 | 10:22

Factor in the sweet, chocolatey food at the post-race festivities, this was an event I’d definitely do again.

16426072_10101182106955442_3116393621858993626_n

Race swag + my pink-laced kicks. Loved the medal from this race, not to mention the post-race chocolate.

Race report: Hangover Half Marathon

Hangover Half Marathon

January 1, 2017 — Leawood, KS

Place: 72/250

Time: 2:07:09

For the fourth year in a row, I ran a race on New Year’s Day. In 2014, it was the Hangover Half Marathon in Wichita. In 2015, it was the Last Run/First Run 10K combo in Lincoln. Last year, back to the 13.1 in Wichita.

But this year, after moving to Topeka this spring, it was the Hangover Half Marathon in Leawood/Overland Park. This one is a lot more low-key than the one in Wichita. At a cost of just $20, there wasn’t much complaining to be done. I got 13 miles and change out of the deal, plus a knit cap and an event pint glass. Not too shabby.

Oh, and some free race photography. Here’s Kami and I hanging out before the race at the KC Running store:

hhm2

With our matching Cubs World Series hoodies and all.

With the nagging ankle injury hounding me since the DNF at Heartland 100 on October 8 (almost three months earlier), I hadn’t done a lot of outdoor running since then, minus a couple for-fun 5K events and so on. So, this was a test.

The ankle held up fine, I suppose, although it’s more sore the day after than I’d hoped it would be. I’ll get back to the treadmill for the foreseeable future — seemed to help the past few weeks.

As it turns out, I was probably only ready for about nine miles or so, and certainly wasn’t prepared for hills — I rarely am. What I got, though, was 13.31 miles and a few nasty hills that left me cursing under my breath a time or two.

hhm1

After I jokingly scoffed at the race photographer for popping up at mile 11.5, I tried to force a smile.

I held a decent pace for the first 5-6 miles and had hopes of running a goal marathon pace and finishing in the 1:54 – 1:56 range. But once the unexpected hills popped up, I knew that wasn’t happening. I became frustrated with myself and my progress (or lack thereof) for the next few miles.

But for the final couple of miles, despite the soreness, I decided to just be grateful for the miles and the excuse to get the heart beating a little faster to kick off a new year. Results will come later, I figure. This wasn’t a race I came into aiming for speed anyway.

So, all things considered, I’ll call it a good day.

hhm4

Crossing the finish line. I then helped clip off other runners’ chips. Not to be generous — I just wanted an excuse to sit in the open chair.

I like the half marathon distance. Whether I’m in race shape or 30 pounds over my ideal weight, it’s a distance that is long enough to force me to work hard, but short enough the soreness doesn’t generally last more than a day or two, max.

Obviously if I’m racing, I prefer the ultras (50-milers at the moment), but for just a getaway/experience type of event, this will do. Especially at $1.50 per mile.

hhm3

Pre-race selfie + race swag and logo.

Race report: Heartland 100

Heartland 100

October 8, 2016 — Cassoday, KS

Place: DNF

Time: –:–:–

bib

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:

ankle

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.

sunrise

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.

shades

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.

dfl

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.

sad

Mile 37 feels.

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

pizza

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…

48

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…

scenic

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.

img_6357

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.

PP Main St

Pretty Prairie, KS. I love my hometown.

RR shirt

The 2016 Dr. Pepper colored Rodeo Run shirts.

RR start

2016 1-mile start

IMG_1892

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.

IMG_5461

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

IMG_5469

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

Cheers,

Derrick