Race report: Urban ICT 50 (DNF)

Urban ICT 50-mile

July 26-27, 2019

Place: DNF

Time: –:–:–

This one will be short. I knew going in that attempting the 50-mile was a bad idea. Unprepared is putting it lightly. I almost never run anymore unless it’s a casual race that I’m not actually racing. I’ve gotta get back into it in a big way. I also have very minimal experience running at night. I don’t love it.

But I thought I’d give it a shot. Arrived about 40 minutes before the race, checked in and visiting with a few friends.

bib and shirt

Shirt and bib.

LIsa and me

One of my favorite humans and super fast friends, Lisa Johnson. Always happy to see her!

pre race scenery

Pre-race views.

I should’ve dropped to a shorter distance and I didn’t. I’m stubborn that way. But my friend Ingrid offered to run together and I took her up on it. I warned her ahead of time it would be a struggle for me, but she took on the challenge anyway.

It was fun getting to chat and run with someone else — especially when meandering through some very dark and sketchy areas along the course.

start group

Group of us at the start.

wtf am i doing

Probably telling some dumb joke already.

We made it through the first stretch around 19 miles with not many problems other than some general soreness and whatnot. But my pace was slowing quite a bit and the soreness would only get worse — as would my ability to breathe. Talk about a trend.

Keeper of the Plains

Some of the views didn’t suck.

After dry heaving twice due to deep hiccups, by the time I reached mile 24 or so, I knew I was done. I was gasping for air like never before and really struggled to even keep moving forward. I called it a night at mile 27, as I knew even if I rebounded from this (it wasn’t happening), making it under the cutoff would’ve meant actually speeding up, which wasn’t happening either.

It was absolutely the right choice, as I puked up a lung, a kidney and some other organs once I returned to my hotel. Struggled to breathe for the next day or so. I really wish I could get a handle on that. Until that point comes… I’ll just keep trying to figure it out.

Here’s a pic that looks like I finished the race. But it was really just at mile 19.2 when I crossed the end of the first section. Never made it back through for a second.

first loop done

Mile 90 Photography is legit.

Moving on…

Next up: Royals Charities 10K — Saturday, August 10 — Kansas City, MO

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

Whoa.

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: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

50-mile #5

May 5, 2018

Place: 37/42

Time: 14:23:09

logo

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.

Anyway…

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.

hills

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.

finish

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 (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 wore 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 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: Heartland 50

Heartland 50

May 2, 2015 — Cassoday, KS

50-miler #1 / Ultra #5

Place: 23/29

Time: 12:55:39

This is it. The race I trained for for 20 weeks. I documented everything for 140 days. Seriously. I have an Excel file with miles run (912.16), time run (125:17:47), time playing basketball (26 hours), time on the bike (37 miles), time in the pool, soda drank, weight loss/gain (+3.2 lbs overall), etc.

My longest run ever coming into this had been 46 miles — 44.28 officially at KUS 12-Hour race in November of 2013. I tried and failed to hit 50 miles on a few occasions, twice on solo runs, once in a 100K, where I had to drop to the 22-mile distance. I knew I wasn’t ready mentally — and probably not even physically. So charting everything for nearly five months kept me focused on the goal of finishing my first 50-miler.

The training…

I started my training plan on December 15. Most days for those first few weeks, it was in the -20s here. I ran treadmill miles. I ran indoor track miles. Sometimes, I sucked it up and ran some outdoor single digit temperature miles — you know, when it was warm.

When February rolled around and my mileage went up, I was outdoors regularly. Mostly pavement, some trail (including a March 7 50K race), some dirt. The back-to-back 18-milers on March 21/22 were big for me. I somehow managed to run 20 seconds faster on the second day, when I really just wanted to get it done and expected some walking. Two weeks later, I ran 20 in Wichita with my great friend, Mike B. Stout, before an incredibly windy 20 solo the next day. Fast forward another week, and I ran a solo 31 in the afternoon. Battled stomach issues throughout, and still managed to get in 10 more miles the next day. My heavy mileage was done. It was taper time. One more 10/10 weekend, one of which was in 30 degrees, 30+ MPH wind, and constant rain. Nice little adventurous run that was. All that was left was to compulsively check May 2 weather reports every 10 minutes, put together drop bags, and fight off the panic attacks.

The race…

The temperature felt great at the start. I pretended it would last, and it did for longer than I thought.

Goals: 1) FINISH. 2) Don’t get last. 3) Beat 13.5 hours. 4) Beat 12.5 hours.

I honestly only cared about Goal #1. The others were really just throw-ins. In the end, I beat all but #4 — although my watch showed 12:28:40 when it hit 50 miles. So, I sorta met all my goals, maybe? Whatever.

Miles 1 – 8 — Average pace: 10:40/mile

I felt good early. The sunrise was beautiful. I was able to stay in the moment, and enjoy the scenery. Zero walking before the first aid station. I focused on my breathing and was holding up fine. Though I was glad to see the aid station and get recharged a bit. Ate a handful of Cocoa Puffs, and a few M&Ms, refilled my water bottle, threw a Jolly Rancher in my pocket, changed my shirt, grabbed my iPod, and kept going. This would be the only aid station where I did not sit down. Looking back, perhaps I should have.

Miles 9 – 17 — Average pace: 14:11/mile

I hit a wall. Hard. I was unprepared for the next 8+ miles of hills I was about to encounter. I struggled into the next aid station accompanied by some serious doubts.

My wife, Kami, was a savior here. Just seeing her was a big boost, not to mention her assistance. She was fantastic all day long. I drank some chocolate milk, popped a Gas-X pill, two Ibuprofen, and an S-Cap. This is when I puked. I hadn’t thrown up since November of 2001. I was a Junior in High School before a basketball game. Streak over. This would prove to be a huge turning point in my day. I downed a slice of watermelon, drank some Sprite, and soldiered on.

Miles 18 – 25 — Average pace: 13:42

Crazy to think I actually sped up a bit after so many miles, but like I said, turning point. Despite feeling better overall, the temps and the winds were starting to kick up a notch, and the mileage was starting to take a toll. Again, I was ready for an aid station. On the positive, at least these miles weren’t as hilly. I began to see the leaders heading back the other direction. I expected this to be demoralizing since I was much further back, but it was honestly just nice to see some other humans out there. I also got rained on for a mile or two, which felt fantastic.

I took two more Ibuprofen, ate some Pringles, something else I can’t even remember, drank some Powerade Zero, and changed my shirt — I actually did this at every aid station, which I’m glad I did. Definitely a nice refresher. This aid station is a bit hazy to me overall. I remember chatting with Kami and RD Jason Dinkel, seeing badass ultra runner April Calloway, and that’s about it.

Miles 26 – 34 — Average pace: 16:00/mile

My slowest miles of the day. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember these miles very well at all. All I know is that it was getting hot — fast. Lots of walking here.

I got to see Kami one more time at the aid station. I probably ate and drank some things, but again, I don’t even remember.

Miles 35 – 43 — Average pace: 15:36/mile

Puked again at mile 38. Sped up a lot from 38-40. Caught up to awesome runner, Megan Swett and three of her friends at around 39. Ran out of water at 41+ with over a mile to go until the last aid station. Remember that Jolly Rancher I put in my pocket at mile 8? That came in super handy here.

Here came the last aid station. Other than my great friend (and groomsman), Mike Stout, my favorite runner is probably Elden Galano. Elden, an 18-time 100-mile finisher, was working this aid station, and he had told me prior to the race on Facebook that he’d kick me out and make sure I finished. Seeing him was a boost, for sure.

I ate more here than I had eaten all day, and it helped immensely. Two popsicles (yes!), a handful of Pringles, a couple cookies — and that’s just the stuff I remember. As soon as I stood up, I knew I was going to finish. Onward I went.

Miles 44 – 51+ — Average pace: 15:53/mile

These miles were beautiful. I received a text from Mike reminding me to soak it all in during the final miles — and that’s just what I did. They weren’t fast, but they weren’t painful either, surprising as that sounds. The finish line was a great sight to see. On one hand, I know I put in the work and the training, and knew I was capable. On the other hand, I can’t believe I ran 50 miles! I’d like to eventually conquer the 100-miler, but for now, I’ll enjoy this, and yes — even be a little proud.

Thank you to everyone who supported, encouraged, and motivated me along the way. And thanks for reading, if you made it this far.

Until next time… Here are some pictures…

Bib + shirt

Bib + shirt

Mile 17 w/ Kami

Mile 17 w/ Kami

Final steps toward the finish.

Final steps toward the finish.

Finisher bling.

Finisher bling.

50.

50.