Race report: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

50 mile #7

April 27, 2019

Place: 34/37

Time: 13:59:28

Heartland logo

Two weeks after completing my sixth 50-miler at Flint Hills 50, I went for number seven at Heartland — the site of my first 50.

Being so drastically undertrained in 2019, I’m in “just happy to finish” mode and I’ve found myself more capable of simply enjoying the miles lately. Don’t get it twisted — I definitely need to get in better shape and plan to do so. But I’m happy, so that’s what matters at the moment.

I got into Cassoday Friday evening to collect my shirt and bib. I considered skipping the drop bags this year and almost certainly will next time around. I’ve found them to be a waste of time at this point. I stress about what to get out of them and piddle around while I try to make a decision, until I ultimately don’t utilize them much, if at all.

I did send one drop bag to the turnaround at Teeterville, but that was it.

I hung out and chatted with Jason Dinkel a little bit, along with other runners who stopped by to collect their race stuff.

bib table

I grabbed a chair. People thought I knew stuff. Ha.

I then made my way to my hotel in El Dorado. That’s the one really unfortunate thing about this race — the 25 minute communte to the race. Maybe I’ll take up camping in the future. But the night before a race? I dunno, man.

At the hotel, I laid out flat Derrick and got as mentally prepared as I could for the miles to come. I had a new hat that Bryant helped me pick out. Had to rock it for this one with the buffalo on it.

I watched some playoff basketball, some Simpsons, did some work and had a pretty tough time getting to sleep. Probably close to midnight with the alarm set for 4:30. Woof.

But I made it to the race in plenty of time to see a few folks and chat a bit.

I overheard a guy named Dan talking with Jason in a panic about not having his shoes. He forgot his main pair, I believe — and had already sent his backups with his drop bag. Something like that anyway.

I asked what size he wore. Lucky enough, size 12 — same, brother. I offered him my second pair and he took me up on it. I was pretty excited to help out another runner and about the obvious joke that my shoes would run 100 miles that day.

I didn’t find out until the aid station at Battle Creek when he caught up to me that his shoes showed up just a few seconds before the race had begun. So he didn’t need mine after all. Ran a mile or two with him and chatted some. He’s from Wichita. He wound up beating me by quite a bit — just like most others.

But that’s okay by me.

My favorite shot of the day is actually a selfie I took as I meandered through the winding roads approaching Battle Creek.

selfie hills


I had the pleasure of sharing the course with lots of other cool folks throughout the day. But I found myself thinking of Chris Wilson this year, as I ran some miles with him last year and he later passed away in September at another ultra race.

Loved seeing Brent Larson out there for yet another year. He and a friend were running the 50K and I got to snap a selfie with Brent after they flew by me, but before they turned around and headed for their finish.

me and Brent

Me and Brent Larson at the Lapland aid station.

Anyway, I enjoyed the course more this year than ever. I took lots of pictures and took it all in more than ever before. Not sure why. I just noticed more about the course and simply enjoyed it.

Enjoy a bunch of random shots of the course — then I’ll get back to the talky part of the race report.

There was even some water along the course. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I ever noticed a drop of water at Heartland before — except for the year we ran through a monsoon (2017 DNF).

water 1

This course is something, you guys.

This was the fourth 50 I’ve run solo. Crazy to think more than half of them have been alone now. But that’s okay. As much as I love having Kami out there — Bryant hasn’t been to one yet — it’s nice to not feel like I have to hurry because someone is waiting on me.

I did feel bummed that I forgot to pin a pic of me and the kid to my pack like last race, but I FaceTimed them at one point during the race and even took this next pic for them.

It was kind of like they were with me, without being with me.

selfie love

SHADE, too?! What? Nice.

As always, there was a good photographer out there — and for the second year in a row, he gave me a ride back to my car after I finished. Talk about working overtime.

Here are a few of his shots — including when he caught my hat falling off. I caught it.

I ran somewhat consistently, though I hit a few obvious walls, as to be expected. What wasn’t expected was what happened after Battle Creek on the way back in. Sitting at mile 42.95, I was struggling. Duh. Struggling to breathe, to stay cool, to stay hydrated, to move, you name it.

The biggest issue was my legs just deciding they were done. I knew my brain would carry me the rest of the way, but the miles from two weeks prior were hitting hard at this point.

selfie sitting

Had to sit a time or two.

My legs had nothing left — until they did.

I sat for a bit, chatted with my buddy Jeff Grabbe and another girl at the aid station whose name I can’t recall — and ate bacon. Three amazing strips of bacon. A couple cups of Coke and I was off and running.

No, really — running. Not walking, not shuffling. I actually did some real running that next few miles. I’ve never been able to run like that that late in an ultra.

My 47th mile was my fastest since mile 14. How insane is that?

Not only was I not going to have my worst time ever, but I had a chance to actually pass a few folks in those last few miles. I was tied for last place at Battle Creek, but passed three runners in the final stretches. That was a new, yet welcome feeling.

I ran almost the whole stretch of pavement to the finish and was feeling good. Well, as good as possible and as good as I ever have at that point, anyway.

Very happy to have crossed another finish line — and did so running, no less.

My seventh 50-mile finish. Kinda weird to have finished just two 50K races (2 of 4), but seven 50-milers (7 of 8). I dunno, man. I like the distance, I guess.

Still not quite ready to shoot for another hundo, but hopefully I’ll conquer that one eventually.

Next up:

  • Tonganoxie Library Run 10K — Tonganoxie, KS — June 8
  • Father’s Day 4-mile — Kansas City, MO — June 15


Race report: Flint Hills 50

Flint Hills 50

50 mile #6

April 13, 2019

Place: 17/17

Time: 12:15:18


Back for another year at my favorite race — Flint Hills 50. Drastically undertrained and overworked, but anxious to get out there and see how far my legs and brain would carry me.

The motivation for this one was simple: Become the first/only 3-time finisher. Spoiler alert: Mission accomplished.

I arrived in Manhattan Friday afternoon and went straight to the hotel, where I wound up doing a little work from my iPad. We’ve been understaffed lately, meaning I’ve been putting in some extra hours. I genuinely love my job, but yeah — I was ready to get out and move.

I then went to get my packet and some supper.

Manhattan Running Company

Chatted with Adam and Todd a bit at packet pickup before finding some food.


Qdoba — yum.

Back at the hotel, I tried to relax — wound up working quite a bit more, but nothing too stressful. I took some company along, since Kami and Bryant couldn’t be there.

Frank at hotel

This is Frank. Hi, Frank.

But I made sure to take Bryant with me — I actually had the photo still in my car from my hundo attempt in October.

me and Bryant

Pinned this to my hydration pack.

I got my stuff ready to go and stretched out with some mindless television — my favorite.

Got up in the morning and headed for the start line at Green Valley Community Center.

Took a pre-race selfie — then another with Adam over my shoulder talking about something. Probably tips on how to run fast or something. I clearly missed it.

There were 21 of us who signed up, 18 who showed up and there were 17 eventual finishers. What a great day of weather we had — a real blessing after the last two years were … well, not as pleasant.

Chatted with a few folks early on, like usual. You know, before things spread out.

Layton start 1

Mile 1 — or 0.4, more accurately.

Got in quite a few miles (probably 25+ in all) with my buddy Jeff Grabbe, who I met last year at Heartland 50. Jeff is a beast, man. He had just run Prairie Spirit 50 two weeks prior. Having him with me (and leapfrogging it at times) was a huge help to my day.

I even got a couple really cool shots of him early in the race — at one point petting a horse. Lol. Gotta love ultra running, man.

As seen in the shot above, William Layton Photography does a phenomenal job at this one. He’s always so positive and encouraging out there. Oh, and he’s really good at what he does, which is also pretty neat.

Layton wave

This is on the second loop, probably around mile 37.

Jeff and I got to the start/finish turnaround together, made some necessary changes and refreshments before leaving the loop at around the 5:21 mark — a little slower than I’d been the last two years, but that was to be expected. I was also moving more steadily than I had expected, which was nice.

late race selfie

Had to rep the SHMS XC shirt. Good motivator.

I always say “Start the second half feeling positive mentally and I’ll be fine.” I was still cracking dumb jokes through nearly the entire race, so I’d say that part was a success.

I hit a wall around mile 29.5, where I sat down at the aid station to refresh a bit. A chat with a couple friendly aid station folks and a few Nutella wraps and I was on my way.

Comparitively speaking in terms of the rest of the day, I flew from miles 30-42. Eventually caught back up to and passed Jeff and a couple others. I was feeling great and knew I had a real shot to beat my PR from last year. What? But, how?

Just kidding, though. Hit a wall just after that point and struggled to battle back. Regrouped a bit more at the 43 mile aid station, chatted with Michelle Coleman, who was super friendly — as were the other aid station folks throughout the day.

Basically, I told her I was giving up — not on the finish line, but on the PR. I simply needed to regroup again. I did so, and was on my way. It was almost entirely walking from that point on, but I made my way to the finish line.

Just a couple more shots from those later stages of the race.

A girl passed me in the final 2/3 mile or so, putting me in last place — again. My three finishes at Flint Hills 50: Next-to-last, LAST, LAST. Thanks for the reminder as soon as I sat down, Adam. 🙂

But since they haven’t suspended me for being too slow, I will continue to be back at this race as long as they’ll have me — and I will continue to recruit others to join as well.

Glad I got to see Jeff out there and share some miles with him. Also, Jason Dinkel and his wife Krystal signed up at the last minute and did incredibly well. They passed Jeff and I somewhere around mile 22-23 and wound up finishing more than an hour ahead of me.

Bummed I missed out on the RD photo op.

Jason and Adam

Heartland 50 RD, Jason Dinkel (left) and Flint Hills 50 RD, Adam Dolezal. 

Adam predicted a week or two before that I would run a 12:15. I hoped he’d be wrong. I had higher hopes — although I should have known better. But check this out.

Adam prediction

Wait for it…

result time


But as I tell the kids all the time — RUN YOUR RACE. Once again, I did that. I didn’t do as well as I have in the past or perhaps as good as I could have. But I finished and had a good time. That’s enough for me.

shirt, bib, buckle

My XL shirt that fits like a medium. Ha.

Three times at Hearltand + three times at Flint Hills = 6-time 50-mile finisher.

50 x 6

Bling x 6.

Mile 1-10

2017 – 11:29/mile | 2018 – 10:40/mile | 2019 – 11:29/mile

Mile 11-20

2017 – 13:25/mile | 2018 – 11:59/mile | 2019 – 13:04/mile

Mile 21-30

2017 – 14:57/mile | 2018 – 15:30/mile | 2019 – 15:33/mile

Mile 31-40

2017 – 15:43/mile | 2018 – 16:43/mile | 2019 – 15:08/mile

Mile 41-50

2017 – 15:45/mile | 2018 – 15:45/mile | 2019 – 18:12/mile

  • 7,025 calories burned
  • 10th ultra finish
  • 7th longest run

Next up: Heartland 50 — Saturday, April 27 — Cassoday, KS

May or may not drop to 50K distance this time around. Stay tuned.


Race report: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

50-mile #5

May 5, 2018

Place: 37/42

Time: 14:23:09


Heartland 50 logo

Back for another dose of pain on the flint hills of Cassoday, Kansas. I’ve been on this course for about 250 miles or so now across different races and pacing duties.

Two weeks after my rainy PR at Flint Hills 50 outside Manhattan, the goal here was to just reach the finish line of a 50-mile race for the fifth time. Sure, I had a time I’d like to hit, but that was out the window with the heat and the weary legs.

Said goodbye to the family Friday afternoon, then to Cassoday to get my shirt and bib.

Got to Cassoday, where I immediately saw my friends and race directors, Jason Dinkel and Barry Smith. Good guys. Thanks to them for putting on such a great event once again.

shirt and bib

My favorite shirt from this event yet. This one actually (sort of) fits. Yay!

After meeting a few fellow runners and chatting a bit, I was back on the road to El Dorado to my hotel.

Pizza Hut

But not before my customary pre-race dinner from Pizza Hut.

Lounged a bit, stressed about my lack of readiness, watched some mindless TV — and a little bit of Field of Dreams — before eventually getting to sleep.

race outfit prep

Race gear ready.

Race morning, more stress — mostly about the incoming heat. But hey, at least it wasn’t going to rain for a change. Really wasn’t sure how long my legs could hang so soon after another 50, but you know what they say — only one way to find out.

bib on shorts

Bib on shorts, mismatched laces. Go time.

I started with an easy, comfortable pace in the mid-upper 10s as I chatted with a handful of runners. Usually, I don’t like talking while I run, but maybe I was more relaxed with putting less pressure on my result — or maybe I’m just becoming less of a prick.

No, it’s probably the first thing.

I got to meet, say hello to, or even share some miles with several folks throughout the day — Chris Wilson, Will Sprouse, Adele Jordan, Mike Rives, Chris Bosch, Jeff Grabbe, Jason Flores, Tiffany Fiedler, Matthew Stroupe, Ken Childress, Chrissy Whitten and Brent Larson, Cindy Knull and Rosie Saiz.

Fun people from all over the place. Love the ultrarunning community.


That early stretch of 8.4 miles or so before the Battle Creek aid station is my favorite stretch on the course — on the way out anyway.

Adele's shot

Courtesy photo: Adele. Thanks, friend!

She took that right before a herd of cattle crossed the path in front of us. That was kind of an invigorating sight to see.

peace sign

Race photographer was great, as always. Glad he was able to capture me having fun, since I wasn’t always.

Got to the aid station and did my best to refuel, though, as always, I struggled to eat anything. But I topped off my bottles, saw some friends working the station and browsed through my drop bag. I had to.

I had notes/cards waiting for me in each one.

I had to show those off at each aid station.

Mentally, I held up longer than usual during these things. I was still feeling good between the ears until around miles 38-42 when the big hills hit again.


This wasn’t that moment, but a glimpse of a hill or two.

But my legs? They were shot by mile 28 or so. Tons of walking the second half of the race — even slower than walking the last 7-8 miles. I was genuinely struggling to continue moving forward. I was resigned to the fact that this would be my slowest finish time of all my 50s by about mile 40.

Bummed about it, but still kept trudging along one step at a time.

black + white

Black and white photos make people look tougher — I guess.

I preached to myself (and others) all day long, that life — like running — is all a matter of perspective. Last race, I set my PR — my fastest time — and got last place. LAST. This time? I was by far slower than I’d ever been before and beat five people. Whatever, man.


I love distances where just reaching the finish line is always an accomplishment.

I did it. Heartland 50 finisher for the third time. Fifty mile finisher for the fifth time. Tough, tough day, but a rewarding experience like all the others.

Award + sticker

Another buffalo/horse shoe award and sticker.

3x Heartland

2015 | 2016 | 2018

5x 50

50 x 5

I’m taking a break for awhile. No running for at least a week. My legs need to recover. Need to ease back into it when ready — and of course — improve my fitness.

But I also want to have a little fun. I’ll run the Father’s Day 4-mile race in KCMO in June, pushing Bryant in the stroller. Excited about that one.

Might do the Tonganoxie Library Run 10K the week prior, although registration doesn’t appear to be open yet.

Nothing big planned for awhile — maybe not even for the rest of the year. I really did plan to try 100 this year, but I’m still not quite confident enough in my ability to finish one of those. We’ll see.

Race report: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

April 30, 2016 — Cassoday, KS

Ultra #6

50-miler #2

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.