Race report: Cauldron Run 10K

Cauldron Run 10K

July 15, 2017 —Topeka, KS

Place: 27/66

Time: 53:52

Another on my list of fun summer races. Well, this one wasn’t so fun. Glad I did it and all, but man, the three Hs were brutal — heat, humidity, hills.

Always nice to run a race close to home, though.

bib on shorts

Pre-race bib ready.

Weird to think I’ve lived in Topeka long enough now to do the same race twice, as I ran this one last year after living in town for six or seven weeks. I run in that area up by Lake Shawnee quite a bit, but racing in those hills is not preferred for this flat land kid.

with torch

Posing with the Sunflower State Games torch before running the Cauldron Run 10K race.

Anyway, I forgot my watch at home, which turned out to be a blessing. My goal of just maintaining a steady pace would not happen, though, as I started out fast and slowed down dramatically throughout as the heat (and my clingy black shirt) got to me — hard.

start line

Shot by Kami right after the start of the race. I look way cooler and relaxed here than at the finish, for sure.

While I struggled quite a bit running a mere 6-plus miles, it’s easy to say after the fact that it was an enjoyable experience. If you’d asked me during the race, I might have cursed a time or two.

But, not all run is great and that’s fine. Glad I did it and somehow managed to come out with third place in my age group.

bib and medal

Another item for my office bulletin board, I suppose. Most races, I put the bibs and medals in a box at home, but these I’ll post up at work — Parks + Rec connection and all.

They ran out of shirts at the race. Not sure how that even happens. Oh well. The guy seemed stunned that I didn’t care. I told him we were entered in SSG Mini Golf later that morning and I’d get one there, so it was fine.

shirt

Grey isn’t my favorite, but this is much better than last year’s white shirt.

Oh and by the way, Mini Golf went okay, too. We had to play singles separately since doubles took place during the race earlier in the morning. Mixed doubles tennis last year, but that wasn’t a suitable option this year — being six months pregnant and all.

So Mini Golf it was. Goals going in: Have fun, don’t get last and don’t fall down and hurt ourselves.

Check, check and check.

I took 14th out of 17. I’m happy with how I played. Five holes-in-one. A bunch of real golfers in that group. Kami tied for 5th out of 7. We both did better than we’d done during our practice round the previous weekend — and earned that post-event Qdoba.

SSG logo

Another fun year at the Sunflower State Games.

Race report: Freedom Run 15K

Freedom Run 15K

July 4, 2017 —Lyons/Sterling, KS

Place: 8/24

Time: 1:14:27

Made my way back to the Freedom Run for the first time in a few years. I had run the 15K in 2013, then the 5K in 2014 with Kami. Hadn’t been back since. This run is an incredibly monotonous course, starting at Lyons High School and finishing in Sterling. Basically, 8.7 miles of the 9.32 mile course is one straight shot along the highway with no turns.

It’s a small-ish race (the 5K had a good turnout of 131, although quite a bit smaller than the 255 in 2014) with only 24 finishers in the 15K. The shirts in year’s past were not exciting at all, as I wore each probably twice each.

This year, however, was different.

shirt

One of my favorite race shirts so far. I don’t even like red, but combined with the blue, the faded look and the boot design, I’m a fan. Doesn’t hurt that it fits pretty well.

Kami dropped me at the start at Lyons High School. We chatted with some running friends before she took off toward the finish.

flag

Here’s a picture Kami thought I would like. I present to you: A wall. And a flag. And some flowery things. Enjoy.

Always good to see Wyatt and Kristina Clifton and Bev Exposito. Made a new friend in Delaine Wright, who wound up proving to be a challenge. I finally caught up to her around the 5 mile mark and only beat her by a minute and change.Saw some other old running friends at the finish — ones who had done the 5K — Mark Kauffman and Ron Blanton. I know my friend Courtney Wilkey did the 5K as well, but I didn’t get a chance to see her. I’m sure there were others I’m missing. Point being: It’s a good time to run some miles and see some friendly faces.

I planned on just trying to run a steady, goal marathon pace somewhere between 8:30 – 9:00 per mile. I had no interest in flying out of the gate and racing anyone or any particular time.

That plan didn’t really hold up too much. I threw down a 7:52 first mile and knew I had to slow down, so I did. But not for long. Ran an 8:12 mile two and figured I might as well see how long I could hold a pace around 8:00 or so. Turns out, a while.

7:52 | 8:12 | 7:55 | 7:53 | 7:57 | 8:02 | 7:57 | 8:07 | 8:02 || 7:34 = 7:59 / mile overall

I finished in eighth place overall, seventh male and first in my age group. I’ll never understand the age groups for this particular race, as my age group was 26-35.

I got edged out in the last mile by a guy who was 38 and would be in my age group in many races. But… I’ll take the age group win, all the same.

plaque

My collection of plaques is limited. I’ve got medals, trophies, even a few ribbons — but only one or two of these bad boys. I’ll take it.

Hung around a bit after to chat with friends and get results before changing and hitting the road. Had a good time.

w Cliftons

Me and the Cliftons. Good people.

w Bev + Delaine

Bev, Delaine & me: Age group winners.

It sure was good to be back near family over the weekend.

I played in the Sterling Tennis Tournament on Saturday, July 1 — yeah, you read that right. No, I don’t play tennis. I finished 8th place…

There were 8 people in the tournament. But, man, I had a blast. I even won a set. Yeah, I know, it’s not running stuff. But it was part of my holiday weekend — and the main reason I hadn’t shaken off the soreness until probably right before the 15K began.

Final results:

First match: 0-6, 0-6

Second match: 3-6, 6-2 (4-10)

Third match: 0-6, 0-6

tennis 1

I managed to hit a few good shots. For a guy who doesn’t play tennis, anyway.

tennis 2

Tennis Skill Level: Novice.

Race report: Firecracker 8K

Firecracker 8K

June 24, 2017 — Hutchinson, KS

Place: 4/53

Time: 37:01

Always good to be back close to home. Had 10 miles planned as part of my marathon training, but I had signed up for the Firecracker 8K in Hutchinson. I had done the Firecracker race twice before as part of the Hutch Rec Race Series, but this was the first year for the 8K distance — automatic PR!

shirt

Cool shirt + bib

Since I didn’t care about my race time, I got five-plus easy miles in before the race, then ditched the watch before the race began. Man, that has been fun and liberating to run tech-free this summer. I’ve gotten a few solid training runs with it, so I’ve really enjoyed just getting out there and running without looking at my wrist every five seconds.

Side note: I couldn’t have possibly asked for better weather for a run. Late June and a race start temperature of 60-62 degrees? Phenomenal.

I tried to hang with my friend Lisa for a bit. Managed to do so for about three miles or so before she inevitably started to pull away. She was just one of several familiar faces I was able to see throughout the race. Good times that made me a little homesick. That’s likely to maximize when I’m back home (like — home, home) next month for the Rodeo Run.

with Lisa

My friend Lisa Johnson. Great runner, better person.

Lisa mentioned at the two-mile mark that our first mile was 7:25 and our second was 7:38, but otherwise, I have no idea what my splits were.

She had told me earlier in the week that she hoped for 37 minutes. I’d told her I wasn’t sure I could manage that. I was right. I crossed the finish line in 37:01 — 57 seconds behind Lisa.

I was fourth overall; second male. The first place guy finished about six hours ahead of me — or so it seemed. That dude was blazing. I was just happy to hold off the guy behind me by six seconds.

8k finish 2

Crossing the finish line.

One complaint about this event: Reading the results took about a week and a half. I enjoyed everything else about the race, but that part was incredibly tedious. I could’ve run another 10 miles while we waited. No big deal, though. I almost left without the medal, which I didn’t need — but, like I said — PR.

AG win

Should’ve worn shades, man.

All, in all, a good day. I feel like I ran a good race with all things considered.

I told Lisa and Kami that until about mile three of the race, my brain had forgotten that I’d actually run eight-plus miles up to then — but that’s about when my legs remembered.

Safe to say those last couple of miles were one part coasting and one part trying like crazy to hold off the guy behind me. It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings if he’d passed me — he was nowhere near my age group. But it’s always good to remain competitive.

This race isn’t on my must-do list, but we were back in town anyway, and it’s a course I enjoy. I would do it again.

8k medal

8K medal (first place age group) + shirt

Next up: Freedom Run 15K in Lyons/Sterling on Tuesday, July 4.

Race report: Arrowhead 5K

Arrowhead 5K

June 16, 2017 — Kansas City, MO

Place: 97/1,871

Time: 22:35

While I don’t like 5Ks (running fast hurts, man) and have no intention of ever truly racing one again, occasionally one will pop up that I’ll decide to participate in just for kicks. This was one of those.

pre-race

Pre-race view of the finish area from up above.

Though I’m a Bears fan, I came across the Arrowhead 5K with the opportunity to finish on the 50-yard line of an NFL stadium and had to do it. I’ve done other sports-themed 5Ks before and enjoyed them. This was a good one to add to that list.

  • MLB All-Star 5K
  • MLS All-Star 5K
  • Big 12 5K
  • Arrowhead 5K
5k start

Start line area an hour or so before the race.

We killed a little time in the parking lot before the race. Probably the closest thing to tailgating I’ll ever do. Not usually my thing, but with the much smaller gathering than a football game, it made for a cool set-up.

shirt

My shirt and bib, along with the football I carried throughout the 3.1 miles.

Since I didn’t care about my time anyway, I decided I’d run the whole race carrying a football. That was a fun addition. Though my hands got pretty sweaty late in the race, I managed to finish without fumbling.

For this Bears fan, the best that could be asked of me for this one is my red shorts.

shorts

Bib pinned on and ready to go.

I had no intention of trying to race anyone; just wanted to have fun with the environment. Over 1,800 runners in total. We got to circle Kauffman Stadium as well, before circling the spiral ramps and finishing on the 50 at Arrowhead.

I did gather a little speed and passed 10 people or so heading down the ramp as we approached the field — which was good because I finished 97th overall, so that got me inside the top 100.

I finished in 22:35, which is a 7:17 per mile pace. Since I’ll never PR again (18:32 | 5:58 per mile), I never really have any 5K expectations anymore. So I’ll take that time, especially given my current fitness, the fact that I carried a football the whole way, dealt with some steep upward spirals and stopped for water at both stations.

The environment after the race was pretty cool.

end zone.jpg

Sitting in the corner of the end zone after the race.

And of course, I had the best company, as always.

post race

Kami and I on the field. Love that she’s repping the T-Birds at Arrowhead.

I had a good hot dog, attempted a field goal (don’t ask), played some catch and played a pretty epic 30-minute game of Giant Jenga. We even had a crowd gathered around after a while. Guess who won?

Jenga

Not her. #GiantJengaChamp

Had to pose for a couple of corny photos in the process, too.

50 yard line

On the 50.

on the logo

On the logo.

Not sure I feel the need to do this race again now that I’ve done it once. If it was Soldier Field, I could see it. #GoBears

Definitely love the atmosphere of the sports venue races, though. Even got a cool medal out of the day — despite the Chiefs logo, I guess.

bib and medal

Bib and finisher medal.

Race report: Tonganoxie Library Run

Tonganoxie Library Run 10K

June 10, 2017 — Tonganoxie, KS

Place: 6/41

Time: 49:17

logo

30th annual Tonganoxie Library Run

This is a race I was intrigued by as soon as I came across it. As a book nerd with an English degree and a past as a newspaper editor, I loved the idea of running a race to benefit a library.

I’m in the early stages of marathon training and my runs so far have been geared toward trying to maintain a certain pace. That is to say I did not go into this race with the intention of racing 6.2 miles. That being said, I thought it would be a fun opportunity to run without a watch and just sort of let loose. I was fairly curious if I could pull off a steady pace without a watch — which I admittedly look at far too often when I wear it.

It was a cool atmosphere, for starters. Small town compared to Topeka, but obviously much bigger than back home in Pretty Prairie. Lots of friendly folks, though and a good course with great volunteers. Great morning for a run weather-wise, too.

Another cool thing…

Flag

Giant USA flag above the Start/Finish chute.

I picked up my packet inside the Tonganoxie Library when we arrived in town about 30 minutes before the race began.

Shirt + bib

Love the shirts — the design, the color, the logo, the feel. Good shirts.

My optimistic, yet “so what if I don’t get it” goal going in was to maintain a pace of around 8:00 per mile. Ideally, I wanted to be faster than 8:15 or so per mile, but didn’t want to go faster than 7:45 per mile. I’m capable, but didn’t want to burn myself out. I had 10 miles scheduled for Sunday and again — this one was supposed to be for fun.

At one point, I told Kami I wanted to finish between 48 and 51 minutes. Then I said maybe I’d like to be in the 49 to 50 minute range. My goal marathon pace is in the 8:40 – 9:00 per mile range, so I thought maybe I could get down into the low-8s for this one. Maybe. Running without a watch, I wasn’t so sure. When I saw a few of the hills and had no idea what kind of pace I was running, I was even less sure.

I gave lots of high fives. I chatted up a few volunteers, joked about them moving the hills and even high fived a guy driving a moving truck going the opposite direction down one of the streets near the finish. That was cool. Just a flat out good time at this one, I tell you.

I resisted the urge to ask numerous volunteers or fellow runners “Hey, how far have we gone?” or “What time is it?” I knew if I knew the answer to either of those questions, I’d start doing math. And I’m really good at math, so I would’ve figured out my pace had I asked.

Told myself going into the last turn that I was having a great time and genuinely did not care if I was in that 48-51 minute window or even my more exact 49-50 minute window. Then, I made that last turn and eventually the clock was in sight. Forty-eight something. I’m sure I gave a shrug and a chuckle. Cool. Or whatever.

Saw it tick to 49:00, but I was close enough to the finish, I had it easily. Official chip time: 49:17. That’s a pace of 7:56 per mile.

10K finish

49:17; sixth place overall

I finished in sixth place overall. I was the fifth male and first in my age group. Earned myself a medal for it, too.

Medal + bib

My first place age group medal and bib.

Didn’t go expecting that, but I’ll take it. I was far enough behind fifth place and far enough ahead of seventh place that I didn’t kick myself for pushing it any harder.

10K AG win

Me and some other age group winners.

I really couldn’t have asked for more from this race. Kami even got to catch up with her friend, who lives in Tonganoxie. They mentioned something about a running group that meets on Monday evenings. Maybe one of these weeks, I’ll make the 40-minute drive, run with a group there so Kami can hang with her friend again. Could be fun.

Either way, I would love to do this race again next year. It’ll go on my race calendar for sure. Special thanks to David Frese and all the volunteers that put this race on. I’ll do my best to be back.

10K post-race

Dueces, Tonganoxie.

Race report: Heartland 50 (DNF)

Heartland 50

April 29, 2017 — Cassoday, KS

Place: x / 17

Time: DNF

Well, this one was… Interesting. I’ll get it out there from the get-go, in case you missed the title or stats from above — I did not finish this race. Spoiler alert: There will be no tale of triumph here.

But with it being my third crack at the Heartland 50 and fifth time on the course on the flint hills outside of Cassoday, KS, it wound up being an experience worth a write-up anyway.

shirt + bib.png

Shirt and bib for this year’s race.

Unlike in 2016, when it rained all day/night before the race, the weather was actually fairly calm this year (lol) — until race day. The rains came in around 4 a.m. and didn’t stop until, well… I’m not sure if it’s stopped yet, to be quite honest. I knew going in it would be a challenge, to say the least.

In a word: Layers.

pre race shot

Pre-race shot indoors. Ah, the great indoors.

I love this event. The course is challenging and often a struggle, but I always see a few people I know or am at least familiar with. The same was true this year. A handful of people I’d met previously or seen at other races gathered in the building before heading to the start line.

But as always, my favorite person remained the one next to me…

w Kami at Heartland

Me and my favorite friend before I embarked on the day.

I was more bundled up than usual due to the conditions. I had on a dri-fit short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve cotton shirt over it. And on top of that, a thin, hooded Under Armor shirt/jacket thing. That hood saved my world for the short time I lasted out there.

I also compression sleeves — mostly for warmth — and a newly-purchased pair of gaiters to keep rocks out of my shoes. In hindsight, I would’ve preferred rocks in my shoes. Those things chaffed badly. They probably won’t get worn again.

Anyway…

To call the conditions brutal would probably be a vast understatement. With “real feel” temps at 34 degrees, nonstop heavy rains only getting worse throughout the day and winds between 20-30 MPH and gusts of 40+, I was freezing cold and soaking wet — not a great combination.

After 1 hour — 5.61 miles

I was moving along well. Faster than my last race, which was in much better conditions and on a smoother course. Chatted up a bit for a couple miles with another guy who lives in Topeka. His name was Jay and he was running the 50K.

I ran more steadily than planned, but at a comfortable pace while we talked through the rain and wind until I finally let him go as I took a walk break around mile 5.

Pre Battle Creek

Before the Battle Creek aid station; this was somewhere around mile 6 or 7.

I reached the Battle Creek aid station 8.45 miles into the race in 1 hour, 34 minutes. There, I saw my friends Elden Galano and Melissa Bruce.

Melissa, being the just-the-right-amount-of-bossy friend she is, demanded I eat something. Pretty sure I gave her a “Yeah, yeah, I know” as I grabbed a baggie of Cocoa Puffs and continued on my merry way.

I mentioned to Melissa that I was already considering dropping to the 50K — partially due to the super dumb conditions, but also because Kami had not been feeling well pre-race. You see, we are expecting our first child (Cue: “Aww…”) and she’s been feeling it lately.

Luckily, it turns out she was feeling better than she had been before the race. But the conditions were only getting worse.

After 2 hours — 10.2 miles

I’m not sure I was even to mile 10 when I decided I’d had enough. I was going to get to her at the aid station at mile 16 and call it a day. Though my pace slowed, I was still moving steadily through the crapfest of a storm.

After 3 hours — 14.7 miles

I had occasional moments of insanity where I considered continuing. But as someone who never gets cold, I was frozen. I was soaking wet. My clothes were heavy from the rain and everything was getting worse.

Sure, I could change clothes, dry off and continue, I thought. But then what? I’m soaked and still freezing half a mile later. Like I said, it was only getting worse.

focused at 16

See?

I just wasn’t having fun. So I called it a day. I had a difficult time justifying another 10 hours in the mess that I’d already spent three and a half hours in. Not worth it for me.

While I have zero regrets, I hate quitting. But I was not alone. From the Lapland aid station at mile 16, we gave a ride to Krystle Dalke and Bob Woods, who had also opted to drop. We later heard word that a couple others had dropped at 16 as well.

If I hadn’t just run a 50-mile PR two weeks prior, I may have felt the need to try to prove my toughness and continue. But, I opted to save myself for another day, go home to a hot shower and a big burrito.

reflecting at 16

Should I keep going? Lol, nah.

While 38 started the 50-mile race, just 17 finished. That’s less than half, folks. Power to those 17. They are more badass than I am — or at least more so than I was on this day. And I’m okay with that. Great job, folks — Adele Jordan, Will Sprouse, etc. Lots of really tough runners out there who battled the elements for a lot longer than I did.

Funny thing: While one of the things I struggle with most during an ultra is the ability to actually eat anything, it was here — at the aid station where I’d decided to drop from the race — when I ate the most at once that I’ve ever eaten during a race.

Well, I only ate one thing (cookies), but a lot of them. By my count, I scarfed down four Oreos and seven — yeah, seven — gingersnap cookies. Those were amazing. Thanks, Sherri Rider!

And of course, thanks to my friends Jason Dinkel and Barry Smith for putting on this event. I know it’s not easy — especially when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. You guys are appreciated.

DNF rain

It’s too bad I didn’t finish this race, because the crap conditions made for some pretty sweet race photos.

That damned Heartland course has gotten the best of me multiple times.

Despite two 50-mile finishes, I’ve now got a Heartland 100 DNF and a Heartland 50 DNF to my resume there. Taking into account my time as a pacer in a previous year’s 100, I have now put in 198.89 miles on that course.

I expect someday, there will be more. It won’t be this fall, as I do not plan to attempt a fall 100 with Baby Mead being due October 30.

But someday — I’ll be back. Until then, Heartland…

Race report: Flint Hills 50

Flint Hills 50

April 15, 2017 — Manhattan, KS

Place: 12/13

Time: 11:52:57

Flint Hills - shirt.png

Race shirt + bib courtesy of Manhattan Running Co.

I was unsure of myself heading into this race, as in many others. My training had lagged a bit due to being busy at work and with helping coach track and field this season at Shawnee Heights Middle School (Go, T-Birds!) But I learned in a big way that there’s something to be said for fresh legs.

I’ll say it right now: This is the smartest race I’ve ever run. Due to that and several other factors, so far it is perhaps my new favorite one as well.

I was almost five hours behind the overall winner and one hour, seven minutes and 24 seconds behind the person in front of me. But I tell kids all the time to just do their job and worry about themselves. For once, I did a good job of following my own advice. I simply ran my own race, and it felt great.

During the race, I texted Kami every hour with some updates — partially to help her know how I was doing, partially to aide in this very race report. So, here goes…

Only 18 signed up for the 50-mile distance, although there were two no-shows, leaving 16 of us at the start. Here’s me…

Flint Hills - start

Before starting my third 50-miler.

One thing I loved about this course was the breaking up of the route with two 25-mile loops, the three different one-mile-ish stretches of pavement each loop (total of about six miles of pavement) and more turns than the Heartland course I was more accustomed to.

After 1 hour — 5.25 miles; 15th place of 16

I was keeping a smart, steady pace and never really worried about other runners — at least until later on when I tried to avoid last place.

Ate a small chunk of banana at the aid station 4.35 miles into the race. Eating during a race is always something I’ve struggled with.

The official race photographer was out and about getting good shots all day. Here’s one of me at some point in the first couple of hours…

Flint Hills - Layton Photography.png

Photo courtesy: William Layton Photography

After 2 hours — 10.42 miles; 15th place of 16

Ate another chunk of a banana at Mile 10 aid station. Seriously, that’s all I ate? Sheesh, man, I got problems.

The rains were off and on early in the day, tough steady and fairly heavy at times through mile 10.5 or so.

I took this shot to send to my friend Lisa at Mile 14.5 after the rains had cleared but some clouds remained.

Flint Hills - landscape

The Flint Hills never disappoint.

After 3 hours — 15.18 miles; 15th place of 16

Ate one cookie at Mile 12, then popped a Gin Gin candy shortly thereafter. That lasted until Mile 15.

It was during that third hour that I really started to feel soreness for the first time and the winds started picking up quite a bit. Pretty sure the gusts were in the 30s at certain points in the day.

After 4 hours — 19.45 miles; 15th place of 16

Dry heaved at Mile 16.3. It’s an odd thought, but I’m always thankful when this happens, as I really struggle with breathing during long runs and this somehow helps clear my air ways or something. Felt better immediately and kept going. This would happen three or four more times throughout the race.

Ate one Lemon Oreo, one piece of watermelon and drank one cup of Coca Cola at Mile 19.45 aid station.

After 5 hours — 23.4 miles; 15th place of 16

I don’t remember much of that stretch, which I’m taking as a good sign. I was ready to recharge a bit at the end of the loop and was already determined to run the second — versus being convinced I was quitting halfway through like I felt the last time I ran a 50.

Even as the sun came out and it began to warm up quickly, I found a way to stay upbeat for the most part.

Flint Hills - selfie.png

Selfie on the course.

One last mental boost before the end of the loop, as I crossed paths with a group of supporters who was clearly waiting on a particular runner. But they were friendly and enthusiastic, so what did I do?

Flint Hills - group shot.png

I took a selfie with them.

Back at Green Valley Community Center, where the race started/finished, I recharged a bit. I applied some sunscreen, grabbed my shades, toweled off and changed my socks.

I also ate another chunk of banana, another Lemon Oreo, another piece of watermelon, a tiny sliver of turkey from a sandwich, drank another cup of Coca Cola in addition to my regular all-day intake of water and Powerade Zero (I alternated blue and purple).

Oh, and of course I grabbed a picture with my biggest supporter…

Flint Hills - me and Kami.png

She’s my favorite.

I left the start/finish area for my second loop after 5:28, giving me 7 hours and change to complete the second loop and beat my 50-mile PR of 12:55:39. I was feeling positive mentally and knew that if I stayed smart, I had it in the bag.

I was informed that three people had opted to drop out of the race, knocking the number of us still on the course down to just 13 for the 50-mile distance.

After 6 hours — 27.25 miles; 12th place of 13

The guy behind me was entering the start/finish area as I was leaving. He stayed a little less than I did, too, and continued to gain on me for the next couple of hours. I was convinced he’d pass me.

But as long as I stayed on pace to beat my best time, I genuinely did not care.

After 7 hours — 31.52 miles; 12th place of 13

Ate an Oreo and drank a cup of Coca Cola at the Mile 29.35 aid station. For the past several miles, I had been counting steps and walking hills. In my last 50-miler, when I was really struggling, experienced ultrarunner Ken “TZ” Childress encouraged me to run 200 steps and then walk. I did this off and on until very late in the race when I could only muster 100 — or sometimes 50 — at a time.

This sounds, and is, incredibly monotonous, but it helped keep me focused — and most importantly — it kept me moving forward.

After 8 hours — 35.28 miles; 12th place of 13.

Ate a piece of watermelon, drank a cup of Coke and drank some Sprite as well. I also snacked on some Sour Cream & Onion potato chips off and on during these late hours. Ah, salt.

Guy behind me was still on my heels, as he and his brother (his pacer) were now just a couple hundred yards or so behind me for the next few miles. I just knew he’d get me, but was doing my best to hold him off. That, too, kept me going.

After 9 hours — 39.05 miles; tied for 13th place of 13

The dude behind me was no longer behind me by this point, as he caught up to me at the aid station. The three of us — me, him and his pacer/brother, walked together for probably near half a mile or so. He said he’d be walking the rest, but I wasn’t sure if I believed him or not — despite him saying 50K was his previous long run.

Even still, his eventual finish time was still far under my previous best time. Great performance by him — and all the other runners out there in both the 50-mile and the marathon distances.

After puking up some nasty green goopy-looking stuff that was impossible to identify since I didn’t remember eating any algae, I again felt much better and took off. After being even at 39.5, I would eventually hold on to beat him by a little more than 15 minutes.

After 10 hours — 42.89 miles; 12th place of 13

Not by an exorbitant amount, but I covered more ground during my 10th hour than during my ninth or my eighth. Hey, that’s neat. Managed to stay focused and moving throughout the day. Big win for me.

Couldn’t get my iPod to turn on, so I had zero music all day long and only the last inning and a half of the Cubs game. Otherwise, it was just me and nature. And it was kinda awesome.

After 11 hours — 46.56 miles; 12th place of 13

Counting steps was still paying off, as I was really covering some ground with the whole run/jog/hobble-but-at-least-it’s-faster-than-walking thing.

I knew I was going to smash my PR, but the majority of that second loop was spent also doing math, trying to stay on pace to beat my PR by an hour. My previous PR was set at Heartland 50 in April 2015, and I hadn’t PR’ed in any distance in longer than I care to remember.

As I hit the pavement for the final time about a mile from the finish, I knew I had it unless I fell down and knocked myself unconscious — which wasn’t a given at that point.

Mission accomplished, though.

Flint Hills - finish.png

11:52:57 (New PR)

It’s always nice to cross that finish line in long races like this — especially feeling accomplished like I did. It’s no secret that I’m my own biggest critic, so it’s no small thing when I say I’m very happy with how this race turned out.

Flint Hills - me and Kami at finish.png

The company when I’m done isn’t too bad either.

This was a great day and a sweet race that I’d definitely love to do again. Huge props to Race Director Adam Dolezal, who did a terrific job with this first-year race. I know he was excited to host this event in his hometown of Manhattan. I even got a shot with him after I finished.

Flint Hills - me and Adam.png

Thanks for a great race, Adam.

And to top things off, I earned my first buckle. Even though it’s a common finisher award for ultra races, my other ultras have given different awards. So, yeah, first buckle for me. Sweet.

Flint Hills - buckle

50 mile buckle.

Now, with less than two weeks to prepare for this year’s Heartland 50 (9 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes at the time of this post), I need to shake off the soreness and get ready to do it all again — on a tougher, longer (almost 52 mile) course. Until then…

Because I’m a stats/numbers geek, let’s wrap this up with some numbers…

Mile 1-10: 11:29/mile

Mile 11-20: 13:25/mile

Mile 21-30: 14:57/mile

Mile 31-40: 15:43/mile

Mile 41-50: 15:45/mile

  • 6, 205 calories burned
  • 7th ultra finish
  • 4th longest run ever (for now)