Race report: Freedom Run 15K

Freedom Run 15K

15K #3

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.

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Race report: Arrowhead 5K

Arrowhead 5K

5K #39

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: Flint Hills 50

Flint Hills 50

50-mile #3

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)

Race report: Journey for Sight 10K

Topeka Lions Journey for Sight 10K

10K #18

April 1, 2017 — Topeka, KS

Place: 3/8

Time: 47:47

In just my third race of the year, I ran a small, local 10K at the Combat Air Museum here in Topeka. This was my fourth race in town since moving here 10 months ago — my second on this course.

It was nearly my smallest race ever, with just eight of us participating in the 10K. I was told it used to be a big event, put on by the Topeka Lions Club. The event, among others they have, went towards helping provide eye glasses to folks who couldn’t otherwise afford to see. So, good cause and all that.

Let’s be honest here, their advertising for the race was essentially nil. I didn’t mind. I’m a small town kid; I like the small ones.

Despite the low turnout (there was 20 or so in the 5K) I knew an overall win wasn’t likely, as there was one guy who you could just tell was super fast. And I haven’t been in 10K PR shape for quite some time. But I’ve got two 50-milers later this month, so I really just wanted to get out there and have fun running a short race.

Sure enough, fast guy took off like a shot, breezing by me about 10 steps in. He was probably in his mid-20s and finished in 35:something — a time I wouldn’t have sniffed even 40 pounds ago.

Another fellow passed me a little under a mile in. For awhile, I thought maybe I’d keep up with him, but he wound up beating me by a minute or so. The remainder of the race was basically trying to keep my pace steady and hold off the guy behind me.

I managed to do both, finishing in a not-fast-but-fast-enough-to-make-me-sore pace, coming in third place overall and first in my age group — though I was likely the only one in it.

Nothing super noteworthy about this event, but I had a good time and got in some good conversations, a neat medal and a post-race brownie. Good enough to keep me happy. I’m a simple person, y’all.

If they continue to have this event, I’d do it again. One guy suggested he’d be surprised if it continued. I maintain their primary issue was advertising. They didn’t update the event info for this year’s race until only a few weeks ago. That’s not going to get you many participants. But whatever — good day for me, anyway.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this one. Here’s a couple pictures, the end.

10K 3

Bib and medal.

10K 1

Taking off from the jam-packed start line. The crowds were intense, folks.

10K 2

Dude in white beat me by a good 12 minutes. But here I am, sorta almost looking like I’m ahead of him, but not really.

Race report: Chocolate Rush Half Marathon

Chocolate Rush Half Marathon

Half Marathon #13

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.

chocolate-rush

Hold up real quick, lemme pose for a second.

Race report: Cauldron Run 10K

Cauldron Run 10K

July 9, 2016 — Pretty Prairie, KS

10K #16

Place: 20/83

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.