Flint Hills 50
April 21, 2018
First off, I will write this report similar to the way I did last year’s [here] — where I detail my experiences hour-by-hour. Plus a little more pre-race leading up to it.
I went into this race — my first ultra without a crew — actually feeling confident for a change. I learned last year the amazing benefit of fresh legs. I loved knowing that I’d finished this awesome course before and was excited to have another go at it. I knew what the forecast said, but I was still hoping for a PR.
I left Topeka solo for Manhattan on Friday afternoon.
But not before a group shot with my team at home.
After about an hour of lounging and channel surfing at the hotel, I swung over to Manhattan Running Company to pick up my packet. Got to chat a bit with RD, Adam Dolezal. He does a great job. He’s proud of this race he’s put on and it shows. I love this one, you guys. Highly recommend.
Of course this year’s shirt was awesome in color (more green than the photo looks) and feel. But of course, for the second year in a row, the shirt won’t fit me. Bah. Oh well. I was in it for the experience anyway.
Loved my bib and number at least.
My shirt and bib.
Stopped to pick up a pretty traditional supper for me the night before a race.
Pizza Hut pasta + cheese sticks, of course.
Got my gear set up while watching some mindless television and some NBA playoff action before eventually getting some sleep.
Gear set up.
Oh, and I also snuck in some FaceTime with the wife and boy.
Oh, hey Bryant.
On to race day…
Though 18 of us signed up for the 50-mile, just 16 toed the start line — just like last year.
I updated a note in my phone so Kami could see updates from home, and so I could try to keep ahead of my pace from last year.
My A goal was to run a sub-11.
My B goal was to just PR — 11:52:57 was my time on this course last year.
My C goal was to just finish.
Bib on shorts + bright, mismatched laces because I do what I want.
After 1 hour — 5.65 miles; 8th place out of 16
I was 0.4 mile ahead of last year’s pace and moving well. Chatted a bit with a few guys early on and felt good despite the steady drizzle.
Can’t even see the rain here. I promise, it was there.
Of course, I didn’t eat much throughout the day — as usual. I didn’t keep nearly as close tabs on my intake as I did last year. I ate several cookies and lots of chips later on, but not much early.
Photo courtesy: William Layton Photography
After 2 hours — 11.35 miles; 9th place out of 16
I was still feeling pretty good despite the rains. I was now 0.93 ahead of last year’s pace and moving well past the first two aid stations — even though I missed my drop bag at mile 10. Turns out, it showed up a few minutes after I’d left the station.
So, that was a bummer. But oh well, onward I went.
After 3 hours — 16.49 miles; 12th place out of ?
My place was slipping (I put a question mark because I’m not certain when the first person dropped exactly), but I didn’t care one bit. I was still picking up my pace and was now 1.31 miles ahead of last year’s pace at the same time.
I was feeling good about my race, even though I would’ve killed for some sunshine.
No go on this day, friends.
Love having a great race photographer to capture moments.
After 4 hours — 21.1 miles; 12th place out of ?
I was ready to be done with the loop. At this point, despite my continuing improvement on my pace (now 1.65 miles ahead), I had already decided I would be changing shirts, socks and hats at the midway point.
Ran a bit with girl named Melanie around this stretch. Another guy ran with us for a short stretch. I don’t recall his name off hand, but he was bib number 5. Friendly guy. Love the running community — especially ultra runners.
There was also a guy named Keith who was real nice. I read his report earlier today. He was great out there. Inspiring stuff. But like last year — like I tell our student-athletes to do — I was just there to run my race. If it meant winning or getting last place, so be it.
After 5 hours — 24.98 miles; 13th place out of ?
I actually completed my first loop in under five hours — probably close to 4:45 or so, but after changing clothes and grabbing something tiny to eat, I was on my way out for the start of my second loop right as my watch hit the five-hour mark.
After 6 hours — 28.88 miles; 13th place out of ?
Holy slow moving miles at this point. I was still ahead of my pace, but my margin was no longer increasing — 1.63 miles ahead). Lots of walking the second loop as my legs were getting heavy, the winds were picking up, the rains were getting heavier and the mud was getting thicker.
I was getting really frustrated at this point. Nearing the 29.5 mile aid station, I was getting a bit dizzy and light-headed. I wanted to quit, but wasn’t yet planning to. Just struggling to keep moving.
When I reached that point shortly after the six-hour mark, it had begun pouring for a short stretch. I talked to a kid at the aid station who is on the Wamego High School cross country team. Nice kid.
After 7 hours — 32.44 miles; 13th place out of ?
Still trudging along. Still struggling. Just trying to make it to the next aid station. Now just 0.92 mile ahead of last year’s pace. I was still convinced I was ahead of at least a couple people, though.
After 8 hours — 35.65 miles; 13th place out of 13
Talked to a guy and his kids from Topeka at the aid station. Cool fellas. Topeka man told me I was in last place. I was bummed about this fact for about half a second. Then I realized it might be a blessing.
I probably look back once every five minutes or so in a race. I may have looked back three times the rest of the race — probably some rustling sounds or something. Otherwise, peaceful the rest of the way, for the most part.
I was now just 0.37 mile ahead of last year’s pace.
I had given up on my B goal and was convinced I could no longer set a PR. No worries. Just finish, dude.
Saw this sign shortly after finding out I was in last place:
I bet Adam put this there just for me. Jerk.
After 9 hours — 39.44 miles; 13th place out of 13
Wait. I’ve got a shot to PR still after all. Just keep moving. Just needed to maintain a 16-minute pace the rest of the way. Math became my friend once again. I love math. My wife hates it. She thinks she knows how much math I do in my head — she actually has no idea. *chuckle*
After 10 hours — 43.24 miles; 13th place out of 13
Now just 0.35 ahead of last year’s pace. But it’s still possible to PR. Just. Keep. Moving.
After 10 hours and 5 seconds — watch dies. CRAP.
Math upon math upon math the rest of the way. I was going to have to compute this thing tech-free the rest of the way. Which meant adding, multiplying and estimating all at once while keeping my legs moving and my mind occupied.
After 11 hours — 46.82 (that’s an estimate); 13th place out of 13
I told the guy at the final aid station — who was that guy? Was that Ben? Adam’s brother? Or another guy? I dunno, man. I don’t remember everyone’s name. They’re all friendly dudes — anyway, I told him to kick me out of there in three minutes because I was estimating that I’d PR by 30 seconds to a minute.
It would be cloooose.
Saw Adam driving back toward me to pick up signs. Okay, I get it, you guys. I’m in last and you want to go home. I’m trying my best. Kind of weird to be gutting it out for a PR and still have people waiting on you.
Bah. Oh well, man.
As I made the final stretches, I realized it wasn’t going to be quite as close a call as I’d thought.
Crossed the finish line in 11:46:31 — 6 minutes, 26 seconds faster than last year. A new PR. Last place, but I ain’t mad about it.
8th ultra finish, 4th 50-miler (PR), 2nd buckle
I was craving Qdoba for the last 15 miles or so, so where did I go after the race?
Swimming in this Loaded Tortilla Soup, that’s where.
This was a hard race. Mostly because of the conditions, but also because, well, 50 miles is kinda far.
But I had a great time once again and I’m happy I made it to the finish line.
My handy Orange Mud drop bags, my HydraQuiver Double Barrel hydration pack + my muddy shoes, race bib and buckle.
Of course, my team at home was happy for me as well.
They even made motivational cards and notes for me and placed one in each of my drop bags so I could see them during the race.
How cool is that?
2017 | 2018
Mile 1-10: 11:29/mile | 10:40/mile
Mile 11-20: 13:25/mile | 11:59/mile
Mile 21-30: 14:57/mile | 15:30/mile
Mile 31-40: 15:43/mile | 16:43/mile
Mile 41-50: 15:45/mile | 15:45/mile
- 7,240 calories burned
- 8th ultra finish
- 6th longest run
Next up: Heartland 50 — May 5, 2018