Race report: Firecracker 8K

Firecracker 8K

8K #1

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: 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…

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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.

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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?

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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: Country Roads 50K

May 18, 2014 — Goddard, KS

Ultra #3, 50K #1

Place: 6/9

Time: 6:07:25

Going into my first 50K, I didn’t really know what to expect. Before a race, people will often ask “Are you ready?” My typical, and honest, response is “I have no idea.” I rarely know if I’m ready for a race, especially a long one, until I’m in it. Anything can happen — I suppose, especially, in ultra running.

I had run two ultras before, both of longer distances. My first was the Patriots’ Run ultra last September 11 in Olathe. The race lasted 9 hours, 11 minutes with runners logging as many miles as they could in the time allotted. I finished with 36 miles officially. My second was last November 16 in Wichita. This one was a 12-hour race of the same concept. That day, I officially logged my personal best for mileage, with 44.28 miles — even though my watch showed 46.

Anyway, this was my first ultra with an actual finish line, which was kind of cool. I had two goals going in — 1) Finish in under 6 hours; 2) Don’t get last. I really didn’t care to get wrapped up in racing any other runners, and I didn’t have a PR to chase after.

I planned to try a run/walk interval of 10 minutes/2 minutes for as long as I could handle it. I got to run the first 10 minutes with my friend Mike, who is crazy fast. He wound up finishing 2nd place overall, despite running 3+ miles too far — and then hung around long enough to help me finish. What a guy.

At around the 3.5 mile mark, the rains came. It rained pretty steadily until I got to the mid-point aid station at mile 15.5. Yeah, 12 miles in the rain. Fun times! (Note: No, I’m actually not being sarcastic). I was able to maintain my 10/2 plan pretty well through the first three hours. At that point, I tried to pull it back to 8/2. But after two cycles of that, I was getting pretty sore. A lot more walking from that point on.

My first 10 miles were each under 10 minutes, and 18 of my first 20 miles were under 12 minutes each. That’s pretty slow, but steady-ish for me, considering how far I was going.

My lovely fiancee Kami, and her sister Macey were out there for me at all the aid stations, and even in between a couple of them. They refilled my water, supplied me with all the Powerade Zero, chocolate milk, antacids (tried them to fix my running hiccups, which seems to have worked), and even donuts (yeah, donuts) that I needed. They helped keep me going really well.

One of the beauties of ultra running, at least for me, was that I felt free to stop and stretch when I felt a cramp coming on, without worrying too much about pace, etc. Despite increasing soreness, I felt better mentally all day long than I have for any of my marathons. That is probably due in large part because of my lack of any real expectations. Regardless of why I felt better mentally, it was definitely a relief.

Somewhere after the 20-mile mark, I got to see several familiar, friendly (and much faster than me) people, as they headed toward the finish, while I was heading out on the final out & back stretch. I got high fives from Micah LaPoint (overall winner, 3:50), Raquel Stucky (my friend from Pretty Prairie), and Fernando Martinez (he doesn’t know me, but I know of him because he’s fast). The latter three were all on relay teams. I even squeezed in a short chat with Mike again as he assured me Kami was not far ahead.

Experienced 100-miler Elden Galano gained on me more and more over the last 10 miles or so. I knew he would either pass me, or would come damn close. At mile 24, I saw probably the biggest turtle ever. I really wanted to snap a pic, but convinced myself to focus. I kept moving.

I did get a little bummed when I realized somewhere in those last two miles that I wasn’t going sub-6, but still understood that I’d finish with an automatic PR, which is always nice. Kami jog/walked the last mile or so with me (in jeans!), and Mike joined for the last few blocks. With about 200 yards to go, I had to walk one last time across the final street when I heard Elden yell “Run!” He later told me he wasn’t going to pass me unless I was walking.

I finished in 6:07:25, exactly six seconds ahead of Elden, who did a cheer/jump across the finish line. It hurt me just to watch it.

All in all, Country Roads 50K was a very positive experience for me. I was a little slower than I would’ve liked, and probably a lot slower than I’m capable of, but with an automatic PR, a super cool course, an affordable price, lots of friendly volunteers and a great personal support staff, I honestly have zero complaints about this race — as long as I get my race shirt in the mail, as promised. They somehow had me down for a Medium, a size I haven’t worn since probably 7th grade.

Not sure where life will take us with getting married in September, but this is definitely a race I’d like to return to do again.

Race report: Run the Line HM

For almost 5 months, Run for the Rocks Half Marathon here in Hutchinson, KS was a race I’d considered easily my best. Not anymore. This past weekend, I hit the road to Texarkana for a Half Marathon that crossed two states; I went on to run in five states in one day — Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Fun adventure! Exhausting, but glad I did it.

As for the race…

Mile 1: I took off like a shot. My older brother Jon and I don’t have a lot in common, but one thing we do share is our habit (whether “right” or not) of taking off hard early in a race. I led the race until about 1.3 miles, when the eventual winner took over.

Mile 2: Despite a double knot, my shoe came untied at 1.5 mark. I was still in 2nd place at this point. I lost 20-30 seconds retying it. I fell to 7th place, then moved back up as high as 4th, but that was as high as I’d get the rest of the race… My goal was Top 30, so that was just fine with me.

Mile 3: At this point, all my map/route studying has gone out the window. Not sure why I focused on this so much, but once I really got into it, I seemed to stop realizing (or caring) where the twists and turns might be. I just ran with it (pun intended). Maybe it works better that way? I dunno.

Mile 7-9: I reach the park that I had jogged a bit of the afternoon before when I got to town. I must have gotten a boost of energy from seeing an area I’d seen before (even just once). I owe this to my brother’s advice to run part of the course beforehand, and also my friend awesome friend Jenn — a pretty BA runner of her own, FYI. 

Mile 12: State Line Rd. — I was literally running in two places at once for almost a full mile. Have you ever done that? Pretty neat.

Finish: I probably didn’t finish as strong as I could have, but I don’t care. I recall laughing at least twice and giving a fist pump when I saw 1:27:– ticking on the clock. My PR was 1:31:32… I really wanted to beat 1:30, and in the back of my mind, 1:28:32 — to beat PR by 3 minutes. I knew I had both these times beaten.

Time: 1:28:06

Place: 18th overall (out of 546), 16th male, 4th in age group

Nike+ splits: 6:02, 6:01, 6:15, 6:20, 6:31, 6:47, 6:34, 6:38, 6:19, 6:41, 6:55, 6:58, 7:00

Shoe coming untied cost me an age group placing. Also, one less laugh at the end, and I would’ve finished with NO 7-minute splits. Bah! But, I was too pleased with my time to care. And if you know me, you know it’s very rare that I’m pleased with a time. For those who may have missed them on Instagram, and/or Facebook, here are the pictures from my trip…

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